Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Politics as usual?

This is an early post. Events today in Britain might make it obsolete by nightfall.

The developments last night have naturally produced a wide spectrum of responses. This is the one which most closely reflects mine:- Brown's shameless move tonight will stun the millions of voters who had expected him out pronto. The Lib Dems will look dreadful for entering talks to keep him in for the four months he craves. If Clegg is willing to enter "formal discussions" to make this Brown's voter-defying act possible, then he has brought discredit to himself and his party. Tonight's extraordinary events could strengthen Cameron's hand. It is Clegg who is aiding and abetting this lunacy.

So, is this from the right-of-centre Daily Telegraph? No, it’s not. The centrist Times? No. It’s actually from the left-of-centre, LibDems-supporting Guardian.

Perhaps the writer feels, as I do, that the inexperienced and possibly naïve Nick Clegg has been high-jacked by the formidable New Labour machine and now finds himself between a rock and a hard place. One thing’s for sure – he’s never going to be able to claim to be a man of principle ever again. But maybe he won’t care as long as his party gets what it’s long been denied. At least for a month or six.

Meanwhile, it’s encouraging - impressive even - to see some Labour MPs distancing themselves from an expedient, neck-saving deal which they know many of the voters – possibly most of them – will see both as shabby and, worse, unstable. And hugely at odds with the pious sentiments being expressed by Gordon Brown about a government that will be able to address the UK's challenges.

As I wrote yesterday, events may well redound to the eventual benefit of the Conservative Party. Or, as Andrew Gilligan writes - A Lib-Lab coalition would be democratically preposterous, defying the laws of political gravity. But for that very reason it could, in the medium term, be the best possible outcome for the Tories. It would be losers propping up losers. It would be hugely difficult to keep together, lacking a majority of its own and requiring life-support from various nationalist parties. It would be vulnerable to all sorts of unsavoury Celtic blackmail, enraging the already long-suffering English (whose own voting intentions were very clear.)

Last quote - The voters wanted a “new kind of politics”. Well, now they have got it. Though it’s almost certainly not what they expected. Or really wanted, I venture to say.

Such is politics. In which a week is a (very) long time, of course. Roll on the rest of this one. 

Bottom line – The Conservative Party is now in a no-lose situation. Either they get a deal with the LibDems now or - possibly better for them - they get a real majority at the inevitable second election in a few months’ time.

Perhaps the New Labour team isn’t as clever as I thought it was.

Meanwhile, bugger the voters.

Fascinating, if depressing.


Graeme said...

I'm afraid Colin that the piece you attribute to the Guardian may be hosted by that paper but is actually written by the editor of the Spectator - which would only be described as left of centre by the most right wing fringe of the BNP. It's quite funny to watch from a distance a party that appointed most of its post-war prime ministers by methods that could never be called transparent, asserting its "right" to govern based on having a little over a third of the popular vote. All other possibilities, no matter how representative, are of course entirely illegitimate. Anyway, the markets favour the Tories so why are we thinking about the votes anyway?

Colin said...

Yes, next to a piece by the incomparable Polly Toynbee, who has turned full circle on GB. And back again.

As we know, circumstances change principles. Whichever side of the political divide you are on. The DT has an equivalent commentator in Mary Rydell. Employed just to annoy the readers, I guess.

But the point of the article was that Labour and LibDems were strengthening the chances of the Toires to govern in due course. Something which most Guardian readers will

view with abhorrence, I´m sure. So it was in the right paper, addressing the right readers. With (possibly) the right message.

Unless he was playing a double game . . .

Colin said...

Something went awry on this computer (library). There is a lot of white space between the ultimate and penultimate lines of my last message. And this (cheap?) computer won´t let me correct things.

Graeme said...

Well there is of course a strong current of opinion that says the Tories should be allowed to run a minority government and suffer alone the consequences of implementing their policies. Also, they say the knives are out for Dave if he doesn't get into number 10, even much of his own party doesn't believe in his big society. The way to deal with the white space in the comment would have been to copy and paste the text, delete the comment and then reinsert it. But given that I've commented about it already it becomes harder to do!

Mike the Traditionalist said...

The white space adds to the excitement and gives me time to reflect on what you are saying before I reach the next statement. Just like the results of the UK election. Bit of a pause and then something else pops up. How do I know you are not doing this on purpose?

Colin said...


Yes but the machine wouldn't let me C&P and I didn't feel (at siesta time) like typing it all out again. Low quality WP software on the library machine, I guess.

Colin said...

I like the idea of a Tory party being dragged towards the centre. Wonder how it will come off but it looks like we will soon know.

And a referendum on voting processes looks inescapable, another good thing as it will decide things one way or another. For at least a year.

Guiri said...

"A Lib-Lab coalition would be democratically preposterous, defying the laws of political gravity."

- A Lib Lab coalition Government would represent 54% of the voters. How is that more democratically preposterous than the previous Government - voted for by 36% of the voters in 2005.

When was the last time a UK Government commanded more than 50% of the vote?

Colin said...

Well, I guess the writer meant

1. The two parties were each comprehensively out-voted, on two separate and different manifestos,


2. It wouldn´t work in practice in view of the parliamentary numbers and the need to keep (very) small parties happy.

moscow said...

Hi there,
Is this a bit of a Diana day again then? Passions running high in the land of the frosties? I watched Boulton and Alastair Campbell yesterday. Shameful! You'll never catch me again taking lessons about democracy from this lot.
At least not lying down.

According to you and the bitchy tory press Germany should have become a basket case by now. All those coalitions (Ampel, Jamaica, Rot-rot, Rot-Gruen, Schwarz-gelb) all of them with totally different manifestos! Good Lord!
Colin there is no such thing as totally different manifestos. Where do you get these odd ideas from?

The real problem is that British politics is 100 years behind the rest of Europe. Wellcome to the 21st century then.

Colin said...

Hi, Moscow

As ever, there is (more than) a grain of truth in what you write.

I've already written today (To Graeme) that I like the idea of a Tory/LibDem coalition. And yesterday that electoral reform is overdue. The country needs the sort of centre-right that Cameron is trying to establish. As well as a centre-left. Which is not was not represented my Messrs Brown and Balls. Especially Mr Balls. Not to mention Mrs Balls.

BTW - Did someone really upset you when you lived in the UK? It's surely not anything I've written . .


moscow said...

Upset? Not really. But why do you always take everything inmediately to the personal terrain?
And always slightly below the belt?
I know you have tendency to be acerbic Colin, but could I ask for a bit of restraint from you - at least sometimes?

Besides that, I do dislike the line the Tory media takes on on Europe (for the last 25 yrs). You snigger, but the latest events show that I was right to fear the consequences of wave upon wave of negative press. After all, the bond traders and the rating agency officers also read the Telegraph and the Murdoch papers.

Colin said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to upset you. It's just that you give the impression of having a personal animus against everything British.

I guess I am mis-reading you.

Graeme said...

Well i think we should record the key points here for future reference. Labour-Liberal talks = shabby wheeling and dealing in smoke filled rooms with the intention of subverting the popular will. Conservative-Liberal talks, on the other hand, are a historic and statesmanlike exercise of responsibility, in putting their differences aside in the best interests of the nation. Everyone got that? Any questions?

Colin said...

Graeme, I've seen at least 15-20 Labour politicians distancing themselves from the process, acknowledging that Labour lost the elections and agreeing it was right for the Conservatives and the LibDems to from a coalition. Perhaps you are underestimating public revulsion at the prospect of Labour clinging to power. The nature of the process itself is incidental.

Of course, the numbers and permutations allow anyone to argue any case they like. All equally valid or invalid. You starts with the outocme you wants and uses whatever numbers are to hand. On both sides of the divide.

Roll on the perfect democratic voting system.