Thursday, 13 May 2010

Waking up to the ConDemNation

A dear and erudite friend texted me this morning with his customary wit and wisdom: 'I haven’t felt that sick seeing those two public school ****s standing in that garden since sometime around 1989… Cromwell would be ****ing outraged.'
True, and I do like to feel a bit of loathing and fury myself, it’s good for the soul in the right measure. And yet, over the whole comical Con/Lib business I think I could keep my shirt on - were it not for this outrageous fixed-term stitch-up. 2015 before we get a chance to return a verdict on these jokers? Unless there’s a 55% no confidence vote? C’mon you Con/Lib ****s - you're having a laugh. Jack Straw called in right on this morning’s R4 Today: "completely undemocratic and totally unworkable."
"Let's say this rule was passed where you require 55 per cent of the Commons vote to have an election. What if 51 per cent of the Commons was against any confidence in the government and was refusing to pass legislation? You then get into the extraordinary position where parliament could not be dissolved...but government would be completely unworkable."
To my mind Jack Straw hit quite a vein of form in the latter years of New Labour, and he writes well in today’s Times about the present and future dilemmas:
"Our overall result was not good — the second-lowest share of our postwar vote. But expectations had been so low that there is real relief that we did better than anyone expected even three weeks ago, when polls put us in the low 20s, below the Liberal Democrats. Palpable relief, too, among so many colleagues in marginal seats who never expected to be back… Above all, relief that we have to stand on our own, sort out our future without being engulfed in the miasma of a coalition deal with the Lib Dems… [A]lliances are not, in the end, a matter of calculus but of chemistry. It doesn’t work between Labour (new or old) and the Liberal Democrats... So what of our future?... First Labour must take the lead in defining its record, and in honouring Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s legacy. If we don’t, our opponents will seek to do so in a pejorative way… Second, we must avoid the visceral divisions that followed our 1979 defeat, putting us out of power for 18 years… Third, we must look carefully at the message of the election. It was broadly good in Scotland and Wales, not bad in conurbations and towns such as mine, but in what the psephologist Peter Kellner describes as the motorway corridors in England, it was far from good. Getting back the vote of “decent hard-working families” is imperative... The good news is that all of the potential candidates get this…"
I hope so, Jack, I really do.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Lib-Labbery: The Eve of Destruction

On occasion this blog is as guilty as any of clinging to certain comforting delusions as though they were nursery blankets. Moreover, it delights to see Rupert Murdoch (inter alia) in an impotent rage, and his Sun newspaper groping around on the toilet floor trying to relocate its famous sense of ‘humour’.
But the unhappy truth remains that Lib-Labbery cannot work, or certainly not in this curious moment that we’re living through. The British people won’t wear it, not based on this arithmetic. It’s said that coalitions can grievously wound the smaller party, and here I wouldn’t mind so much, but I can only see the larger party getting gored in the process too. I do believe Labour has to regroup around a bit of the forward thinking and reforming instincts that Tony Blair first advanced and then got utterly distracted from while he was PM. I also think that process will be much assisted by Miliband or Johnson as leader. But I can’t see it being conducted anywhere other than in Opposition. If Labour and the Lib Dems have so much in common, let them work that out together fruitfully in a time and place when the people aren’t waiting for a government to get formed in the midst of an economic horrorshow. I was never too keen on David Blunkett or John Reid while they held high office, but I must concede they’ve talked a few truths in their time while I was finding certain lies more consoling. They’re both right on the present issue, I’d say: I can't see that Labour will be forgiven for this particular effort to retain office - if, by whatever crazy contortions, it actually comes off. The Con/Lib notion at least makes sense by dint of numbers, though Clegg must see the ruin that will await his party then. But it seems to me, however glumly, that the proper course is Cameron now rolling up those much-vaunted sleeves of his and forming a minority government. On a purely tribal level, I think this will also, in the long run, prove the least worst option for Labour.
The photo above is (c) PA/Getty.