Angry with Labour; Depressed about the Tories; Hoping for a Clegg masterplan

So there we have it, a full-blown Tory-Lib-Dem Coalition. David Cameron in office and his boy George already installed next door. Having read through several papers and been glued to the BBC website my first emotion has been anger at the Labour Party.

Anger that Labour Party MPs and Peers did not have the discipline to stay silent until at least the negotiating team had an opportunity to do their work; anger at the Labour negotiating team for being so arrogant as to not offer any real concessions to the Lib-Dems (particular venom here to whoever decided to send Ed Balls into the mix) and, most of all, anger that the Labour party just did not want it enough – after a strong grass-roots campaign, activists were let down by a parliamentary party that had got arrogant and lacked the desire for power the Tories clearly have, figuring some time for renewal in opposition was preferable to taking the hard choices that any future government would need to make.

Depressed at seeing David Cameron on the steps of Number 10 and feeling sick at the thought of George Osborne in Number 11. The Lib-Dems might have softened the blow, but still we are going to see drastic cuts to public-sector spending in this financial year – costing tens of thousands of jobs and untold misery to so many families in need; an unneeded and unenforceable annual cap on immigration; not to mention a patronising and regressive tax break for married couples. In short, regardless of the positives brought about through coalition, we should not forget that this is a Tory government and we should expect it to act as such.

And so to Clegg – Huge credit should go to him and his team for squeezing every last drop out of the Tories desire for power. 5 seats in the cabinet, the title of deputy PM and significant concessions on tax, education, civil liberties and, of course, electoral reform. But PR still seems a distant goal for the House of Commons and foreign policy, particularly Europe looks likely to be dominated by the Tory side of this arrangement.

So what is the long-game for Clegg? He is currently committed to a 5-year fixed-term parliament, but it seems unlikely that the coalition will last that long. Although his MPs are happy with the new arrangement, many voters and activists are far less comfortable, some have already jumped to Labour – expect more to follow. This alone could be enough to undermine confidence in the current arrangement. Clegg is a smart guy and would have calculated all this during the negotiations – he clearly believes that the opportunity to deliver some key planks of Lib-Dem policy will be enough to give him lasting change at the ballot box. Only time will tell on this.

In the meantime, people like me are rather left in limbo – willing the Lib-Dems to show they have not sold-out cheaply for a shot of power, but not yet convinced. A detailed policy document comes out later today, perhaps this will reassure us all.

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5 comments

  1. Here here.

    The thing about Lib-Con is that it’s the RIGHT thing to do. It’s not pleasant or nice, just right. They got the most votes. They have been given a mandate by more of the UK than any other single party to lead. Due to our governmental set up, the they needed a bigger majority to rule outright but failed to get one, thus, a coalition.

    The responsible thing for Clegg to do was to seek to form THIS alliance, rather than one more self serving (the traffic light coalition, or whatever it was called). This he has done, and it will be interesting to see the finer details of it later today.

    I dislike the Tories enormously, but what I really dislike is that so many people voted for them. It’s a bitch, but it IS democracy.

    I think those who are against the coalition but in favour of PR would do well to remember due to the votes cast in GE2010, 12 MP’s would now exist from the BNP.

    Maddening as that is, we can’t flinch from a fairer voting system. If we acknowledge that Parliament should be truly representative of the people of the UK, then the fact that 2% of us want to “get rid of the foreigners” they should have their views heard. Then it is up to those of us who oppose bigotry, racism and fascism to engage with those who promote it or vote for it and change their minds. It is up to us to educate them.
    Is this harder than rigging a vote so you don’t have to? Yes.
    Is it right? Yes.

    And that’s the point. Doing the right thing isn’t the same as doing the easiest thing or the nicest thing. It’s doing it because it’s right. Just ask Nick Clegg. He’ll tell you.

    ——–
    For a full list of the number of votes cast there’s a table on the GE2010 wikipedia page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_2010

    For The ERS breakdown of what may have happened under different voting systems, have a butchers here: http://bit.ly/csPelJ

    1. Much more eloquently put than me! I agree totally… one of the things I like about PR is that forces people to engage in genuine debate. Just look at what happened to the BNP when voters in Barking were engaged in debate about immigration and race? (Albeit by Eddie Izzard!)

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

    2. Thanks for that, Rufus. As a Lib Dem voter the coalition makes me a little uneasy but I voted LD because I supported them and their policies, not because I was tactically attempting to keep out another party. I fail to see how you could be bitter about the LDs doing exactly what they said they would rather than jumping into bed with the party you ‘really’ wanted to vote for. If anything it just confirms how f****d up our electoral system is.

      I would’ve loved a Lib/Lab deal that could deliver on PR but there was just no mandate in the end, and Labour apparently weren’t willing to do the deed anyway. A coalition with the Libs taking the excessively right wing edges off the Tories might be the best we could have hoped for; I’m willing to wait and see.

      Anyway, I’m sure you realise that you can’t draw a straight PR translation from those FPTP results. First of all, the electoral reform society have extrapolated based on straight PR, which no-one is really advocating (I personally favour something along the Swedish lines, in particular the ‘4% of the national vote’ threshold that takes care of some of the single issue nut-jobs). Secondly, under PR many people would have voted differently; tactical voting is irrelevant, for instance.

      Oh, and thirdly, under a PR parliament the party system comes under the spotlight like never before, and many parties (LDs included) would likely splinter into their constituent parts, because they no longer need to be tied up in a monolithic pact to have their opinions heard.

      But I’d really like to echo your point about the BNP. The possibility that they might get some seats in parliament terrifies me, but if that is the democratic will of the people, then so be it. We must engage with their ‘arguments’, rather than pretending they don’t exist (which is why I thought it was right to have Dick I Beg Your Pardon Nick Griffin on Question Time). They were – not just defeated, but comprehensively stuffed – in Barking & Dagenham, for precisely this reason.

  2. I was also depressed seeing Cameron become Prime Minister & even more so when I found out Gideon became Chancellor!
    Although saying that, I must say I cheered when I heard that the Lib Dems had completed the deal for a coalition with the Tories… going as far as it spurring me on to becoming an official Lib Dem member!

  3. It’s heartening to read some pragmatic comments about this Lib-Con coalition. So much bile directed against the LDs from Labour supporters who forget they had 13 years to deliver electoral reform. If anyone should be called “two-faced” it’s the Labour Party for only embracing electoral reform when it became apparent it was losing its grip on power.

    Not that I’m ecstatic about Tories being in number 10, but then that’s what comes from being a genuine Liberal Democrat, not a self-serving Labservative who voted Lib Dem for tactical reasons and then complaining when it blew up in my face!

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