Saturday, May 08, 2010

Crossing the RubiCon?

This is going to be a very quick post. If you want deeper, more robust analysis, go to the lovely Elephant or Daddy Alex. With 15 minutes to go to Doctor Who, you are not going to get any more than a few random thoughts from me.

Firstly, a few right wing commentators are getting their knickers in a twist and describing the current series of civilised negotiations between the parties as "chaos". They have clearly led very sheltered lives. This is a perfectly normal part of the democratic process in most of the rest of Europe and beyond.

Secondly, I like Nick Clegg's style. He takes the trouble to go and talk to the 1000 demonstrators outside where he was meeting the Parliamentary Party. Can you see either David Cameron or Gordon Brown doing that?

Thirdly, I grew up in the 80s. I hate the Tories with an absolute passion. Thatcher came to power when I was roughly the same age as my daughter is now and my education was punctuated with poor or no equipment, not enough teachers, strikes and my school was falling to bits. Do I want this for her? No way! However, the first 10 years of her life have seen an authoritarian Labour government which has been complicit in torture, has eroded our civil liberties, damaged our standing by taking part in illegal wars and has repeatedly crapped all over the poorest and most vulnerable. I really loathe and detest them too. Almost equally. Trying to choose between them is like being on some trashy game show and having to choose between eating a wichety grub and a kangaroo's testicle. Either way, I'm going to throw up. Having said that, the stakes are high - the country needs a decent government and we have a responsibility to look at all possibilities of building one. That means, unfortunately, talking to parties we don't like.

Fourthly, the 24 hour news cycle is a hungry beast and tends to over analyse every sigle word that people say for hidden meaning. This is not helpful and we probably shouldn't do it either.

Fifthly, it is in the interests of both Labour and the Tories to derail this process. They want to maintain the current duopoly that the current electoral process creates. Of course they do. Turkeys don't have a habit of voting for Christmas. They are trying to make out that it's all down to Nick to do a deal with them on their terms. Actually, their leaders have to behave like mature adults.

It is in our's to make it work. That doesn't necessarily mean forming a coalition with anybody, but it does mean that we need to be open, businesslike and willing to explore all the possibilities.

For me, electoral reform, so that people can get the Parliament they ask for is critical. Not a talking shop, not a convention, but actually implementing it within 5 years. The others will try to stitch us up on that but we mustn't fall for it.

If we can't achieve that, then no deal. End of.

I am taken with the idea of no deal with anybody and us taking the role of arbiters, or protectors, of fairness in the new Parliament - that would give us more influence than having to be the compliant and obedient junior partners in a coalition and people would be able to see how we tried to fight for them.

1 comment:

Will said...

I had started drafting a comment about this from an outsiders' perspective, of course, but sadly, it was too long! For what it's worth, I agree with you - I think you're better off out and free to agree or disagree with the Tories as you see fit.


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