The Anti-Clegg Machine

Many politicians suffer a fall from grace. Tony Blair provides us with the most spectacular example, going from saviour in 1997 to reviled ‘war criminal’ just a decade later. Taking Downing Street he shook the hands of adoring crowds; now he needs ridiculous levels of security to keep those same crowds at bay. Gordon Brown suffered a similar fate. Taking office he was seen as a breath of fresh air, a remedy to New Labour’s spin; but after chickening out of calling an election, his fate was sealed. It seems laughable now, but back then he would have won a comfortable victory, securing a Labour government that would still be in place today, had it not been for a suddenly popular proposition for a tax-cut announced during the Conservative Party conference. Reeling from the sudden good press the Torys got, he bottled the one election he could have won.

This natural progression seems the same for most politicians. Even joke Prime Minister John Major was immensely popular when he took over from Margaret Thatcher. But no politician has gone from darling to demon in such a quick dive as Nick Clegg.

In many ways it’s to be expected; any politician taking part in a government dealing with such a huge budget deficit is bound to become unpopular, The doctor who severs the gangrene leg is necessary, but you won’t be inviting him round for breakfast (although you should). But why has it happened to acutely for Nick Clegg and not for David Cameron? The answers can be traced back to the last General Election.

Liberal Democrats have never had many allies in the media. As the campaigns kicked off, they were widely ignored and ridiculed. Polls suggested they were going to suffer a squeeze as supporters flocked to both the Labour Party and the Conservatives to tactically vote depending upon which side they feared the most.

And then the televised debates happened. Suddenly the public got political debate without looking through the prism of partisan media. The debate wasn’t filtered through the mind of a Times reporter, but direct from politician to viewer. This had a startling effect upon the polls. Suddenly the Lib Dems were in the game.

Following the first televised debate, the print media went into hysteria, suddenly realising that their influence was becoming undermined. Whereas before they knew they could print, “vote conservative” on election day and get the result they wanted, suddenly the public were thinking for themselves. A deluge of ridiculous anti-Clegg smears graced the front pages of the right-wing press in response. He had stolen their thunder and they would never forgive him.

When the results came in, Labour found it had pulled off an incredible victory: they had secured just few enough seats that they couldn’t form a coalition to stay in government. It was Christmas for the Labour party, they could now sit out the cuts in the safe knowledge that both their opposition parties would get the blame.

After taking over as leader of the party, Ed Miliband had two choices of how to deal with Liberal Democrats in government. He could either focus his attacks on the Tories to appear friendly to Lib Dems, smoothing the way for a Labour-Liberal coalition in the future, or he could target the Liberal Democrats in an attempt to destroy them as a party, giving those of the centre-left nowhere to go but back to Labour. In a move of pure Machiavellian cynicism he opted for the second.

And so the Labour attacks on the Liberal Democrats began, the flagship attack being the wilful ignorance of how coalitions work, painting compromises as ‘broken promises’. It didn’t seem to phase the Labour party that they had broken countless promises with a huge majority and nothing to stand in their way; the approach still became party policy.

While Labour began their offensive, Liberal Democrats were being targeted by the right wing press as a negative influence upon the coalition, and by the left wing press as traitors and oath breakers. But it wasn’t until the tuition fees debate that Nick Clegg’s role as scapegoat became properly defined.

Nick Clegg Shame On You by Chris Beckett

Nick Clegg Shame On You by Chris Beckett

Two figures are most responsible for putting the knife into Clegg’s back. The first was Ed Miliband, keen to keep up the pressure, he painted the education bill as being ‘unfair’ despite it being more progressive than Labour’s policy. The second was Aaron Porter, then leader of the NUS and member of the Labour party. He wanted a graduate tax, so all graduates would pay an extra income tax once they started earning, instead the government introduced a fixed amount fee that would only be paid once they started earning. The two policies were pretty much the same.

But this was Aaron Porter’s time to shine and secure himself a place of honour in his Labour party. He whipped the NUS up into a frenzy, denouncing the astonishingly similar policy with hypocrisy that would make his Labour peers proud. The result was a student population convinced their future was being robbed, and who was to blame? Funnily enough it was the same man the Labour party had decided to target: Nick Clegg.

Just as before the election, the Liberal Democrats had no group in the media to argue their corner, and no televised debates to get their message directly across. Support for them crumbled and all the while the smears from both the right and the left increased.

And then along came the AV referendum which stepped up the anti-Clegg propaganda to incredible new levels. Joining in with the Labour smear campaign, the conservatives used Clegg as their poster-boy, accusing him of breaking promises despite the fact he was compromising to keep the government (they were a part of!) running.

Throughout the AV campaign, Ed Miliband has been playing his cards with the cunning of a true opportunist. He knows the best result for him would be a ‘no’ vote to disillusion the liberal left. Already today he is blaming Nick Clegg pre-emptively for a defeat, painting himself a the pro-reform candidate that the liberals should be standing behind. But all this is simply posturing. If he really wanted to win the referendum, he would have put a stop to the scaremongering and fictitious attacks launched by his own party on behalf of the ‘no’ campaign. Instead he allowed it to continue whilst making a half-hearted attempt to secure a ‘yes’ vote, just so he could say he did.

So how does the future look for Nick Clegg? Not good. Both the left and the right want to break up the coalition so they can have an immediate election and feast upon the remains of a slain Liberal Democrat party. This will galvanise them to keep up the pressure on the one man holding it all together.

There are reasonable attacks that can be made against the man: he’s dull, not a particularly inspiring speaker and lacks passion; but he certainly isn’t a liar, cheat or a monster. The saddest aspect of this horrendous bout of hatred is not the life of an earnest man being ruined, but that we the public could be so easily manipulated by such an obviously political attempt at character assassination. It had all the sophistication of a playground bully, and we are still falling for it.

5 Tips The Government Won’t Try

In a time when public finances are being cut to pay off an enormous deficit, here’s five methods the government could use to ease the process (yet are too chickenshit to try):

5.Scrap Trident

A suggestion hotly debated in the general election. Scrapping Trident would save billions of pounds that could be put to better use elsewhere. Even if that money never left the defence budget, it could still be put to better effect equipping departments we actually use. Trident if a very expensive symbol, and as long as we foster a good relationship with the USA, we don’t need it.

4.Relax Copyright Law

Currently the government is looking to strengthen copyright law. The way they figure it, piracy should be cracked down on because of the loss in revenue piracy causes. This is a short-term view. True, relaxed copyright law does eat into the earnings of those already established, yet it also stimulates creativity in the those just starting out. Rather than trying to roll back the clock on the internet, the government should be trying to adjust to the times, reappraising how money can be generated from an industry out of date.

3.Legalise Prostitution

The oldest profession in the world holds that title for a reason: it withstands boom and bust. Legalising would not only protect the vulnerable, reduce sex crime and create a healthier society, but it would generate much needed tax revenue and employment. The persecution of this profession is finally coming to an end as people realise policy can’t be dictated by an out of date morality corrupted by religious dogma. We are not a Christian nation, but a secular one, and the laws should reflect this.

2.Reassess the nature of Justice

Prison is increasingly becoming an institution difficult to justify. There seems to be three motivations for incarceration: punishment, rehabilitation and isolation. Isolation (to protect the public by keeping the guilty person locked away) is the only one of the three that prison actually comes close to satisfying, and with rising prison numbers and authorities under pressure to release prisoners early, not even then. We need a complete reappraisal of what we want our justice system to achieve, with punishment, rehabilitation and isolation separated into different sentences, rather than lumped together into one. Only then will our justice system start to see re-offending rates drop and prison numbers reduce.

1.Legalise Drugs

Yup, you guessed it. The big one. Legalise drugs, destroy the black market and create a thriving industry. The economic impact of this would be huge, reducing crime, preventing illness, stabilising Afghanistan and reinvigorating schools. Departments such as Defence, Justice and Health would make huge savings, and the treasury would receive record tax revenue in return. This one is so obvious that it is astonishing we aren’t considering it. The only thing that prevents this rational policy is overwhelming public opposition, but as the Coalition has shown us, that isn’t always a impassable obstacle.

Election Pain and Tactics

As the AV Referendum nears, both sides of the Coalition are beginning to gnash their teeth and growl across the wide pit that is government. So simpler would it have been if this was a Coalition between the Lib Dems and Labour. In such an instance, the Labour rebels would have been hushed up, turning the divide into a simple government vs opposition debate. Instead the Coalition is split along party lines, with a rather confused Labour party joining both groups, like teenagers trying to start a scuffle in the playground. It is a cluster-fuck of epic proportions.

It is perhaps the unpredictable nature of this referendum that has everyone on edge. The polls seem to fluctuate quite dramatically depending upon who you ask. One minute the ‘Yes’ group are flagging, the next they’re pulling into the lead. On the day it’s all going to come down to who can get their vote out, and with so many Lib Dem voters disaffected, this could dramatically hamper the ‘yes’ campaign.

Rather more predictable is the local elections. Expect a slaughter of the Liberal Democrats, big gains for Labour, and a Conservative Party holding firm, mainly because the Tory voters have nowhere else to go. The week following the inevitable disaster for the Lib Dems is going to be followed with countless interviews with disgruntled ex-liberal councillors blaming Nick Clegg for it all. I have no doubt that there will be many calls for his head and the end to the coalition, but this would be a dire mistake.

Nick Clegg will not survive another general election. This is true, yet it would be so even if he wasn’t unfairly carrying the blame for every unpopular decision the government’s taken. Being the smaller party, the Lib Dems were ultimately the ones who had to make a choice to join the coalition or not. The Conservatives pulled over in their white fiesta and said, “I’ve got sweets in here if you’d like to get in?” and the Lib Dems were the ones who had to decide whether or not to climb on-board.

This pact makes any electoral campaign difficult. Do you hammer the coalition partner, or side with them? The idea of Nick Clegg and David Cameron taking bites out of each other in a televised debate is preposterous. The only sensible option for a smaller party facing such circumstances is to formally end the Coalition in the run up to the general election, elect a new leader and campaign as an individual entity. Sleepwalking into an election as the junior in a Coalition could easily see them getting dumped by the Tories, the moment they secure a majority.

Would this mean that the Lib Dems would be distancing themselves from the Coalition? Certainly not. Such a process is all part of the reality of Coalitions, and the Lib Dems should be proud of what they’ve gained from such a weak hand. At the moment the public and the Labour party don’t understand how coalitions work and it is the duty of the Liberals to show them.

The only other option available would be to merge the parties, and that would be very messy indeed….

The Rise Of The Stupid

It is a well known stereotype that the older a person gets, the more cynical they become. After being fooled, let down and deceived so many times (even though in the minority of encounters) they can’t help but view the world through tinted glasses. Is it possible the same can be said for a democracy? Does a state ruled by the people for the people naturally slide into crippling cynicism?

The general election of 1997 was perhaps the last hurrah of British politics. We’d been let down too many times and, perhaps naively, threw our hopes behind the Labour party. By 2010 that dream had been repeatedly thrashed and, like a triple-divorcee contemplating a possible date, the electorate were left doubting if they could ever again believe the words of a politician.

The split in the public was reflected in the election result – a hung parliament. No specific party was given the endorsement needed to form a government, though by the size of the Conservative result it was clear the public wanted them to play a role in whatever coalition was formed. After a few days of political negotiation the inevitable happened: a coalition between the conservatives and the liberal democrats.

And then, just a few months later, it began: the rise of the stupid.

As if on auto-pilot every announcement is now greeted with cynical fantasy – selling forests to local organisations? It must be so they can be chopped down! Devolving power in the NHS? It must be to privatise healthcare! (rather amusing that one, consider for a moment the huge row the Americans just had over the hint at state interference creeping into their private healthcare system) Changing the way universities are funded? It must be to stop poor kids getting an education!

And now – reform of our political system. The most important piece of legislation this country has seen in a generation is being shouted down by cynical fantasy arguments that shouldn’t exist in a democracy, yet thrives in ours.

The No to AV campaign shouldn’t be allowed to get away with claiming that switching to AV would cost £250 million, given that this is a complete fantasy. Neither should they be able to infer that if AV fails, this money (that doesn’t exist) would go towards flack-jackets for soldiers or cardiac equipment for sick babies. In a healthy democracy the public would laugh at such ridiculous scaremongering tactics, yet in ours the argument grows traction. The public, so cynical in their approach, are willing to grasp any negative claim as gospel, believing that anything from the political sphere is to be opposed.

The rot is deep within our culture and has been spreading for sometime, but is now reaching epic proportions. Logic no longer counts in British politics. It seems to have been replaced with a strange national masochism masquerading as scepticism. Democracy by sophism is rising and there’s little that can be done to stop it.

Take, for instance, a publication found on openDemocracy titled “Fight Back”. A collective work praising the rise of demonstrations against the coalitions broken pledges and cuts to public services. It is a belief, held by this group and others, that through modern means of communication the public can strike back against a morally corrupt government. But it is sophism. Whilst on the one side damning the coalition parties for breaking pledges in the name of comprise they praise their own organisation for putting aside ideological differences in favour of finding common ground. As one author writes: “it would be a great shame now to descend into ideological fetishism”. In other words, “we need to get rid of these cowardly compromisers and replace them with people like us who are willing to put aside our beliefs for the common good”. The startling hypocrisy should be obvious, but it seems the more these groups grow, so does the self-congratulation and intellectual mutual masturbation, putting aside the glaring contradictions inherent in their words.

This mentality could be clearly seen in the furore over the forest sell off plans, a harmless attempt to devolve power and improve the quality of our forests that was demonised until the image held in the public’s eye was completely different from reality.

Yet the beast that is awoken cannot be easily lulled back to sleep. The NUS shamelessly whipped its membership into a frenzy over the raising of tuition fees, and yet now, after the protests are over and the resentment remains, it is they who have to reap what they sowed. It’s been reported that the NUS sent letters out to their membership admitting that they greatly exaggerated the impact of the government’s proposals and pleaded with students to work with universities. Having manipulated the masses, they are now paying the price. What’s done cannot be undone.

A movement is on the way. A great rise of the stupid. They compare their efforts with those of the Egyptians, an insulting comparison that could only be made by a people that do not know what tyranny really is. It’s a movement similar to the tea-party in the states, but from the other end of the political spectrum. And like the tea-party, they aren’t interested in logic. Just outrage.

The Axeman Sharpens His Tools

Oh God. How do they manage it? Why can’t the Lib Dems just hold themselves together? It seems every day there is a new scandal with them doing something stupid, and today is no different.

This morning, The Telegraph revealed a conversation their reporters had with Vince Cable whilst posing as disgruntled constituents. Whilst the revealed comments were embarrassing, it was the sort of minor misstep that would be forgotten in a few hours.

Unfortunately, just as Clegg and Cameron had finished mopping up the first mess, a second revelation broke on the BBC. It turns out the Telegraph decided not to publish remarks made by Cable about the Murdoch bid to take-over of BSkyB in which Cable claimed that he’d “declared war on Murdoch” and it was a war he expected to win.

Now, any rational human being will be able to see just how toxic Murdoch has been to democracy around the world, yet in the crazy world of business and politics, this apparently makes Cable’s position untenable. Right now the government is scrabbling to provide a response, no doubt everyone lining up to smack Vince around the face out of frustration.

The big question is what will happen to the Coalition if Cable has to leave? Is there any Lib Dem talent left? Is this a deliberate attempt by Cable to commit political suicide?

Rather amusingly, The Telegraph is against Murdoch taking over BSkyB, so they now look like they’re picking and choosing what they release based upon commercial interest. So well done Telegraph, you’ve managed to smear shit on everyone apart from Murdoch, the only person who deserves it.

Two Households, Both Alike In Indignity

It’s been tough for the Liberal Democrats and Coalition supporters over the past few weeks. Many on the liberal flank of the unholy union have been getting jittery, talk of rebellion on the forthcoming tuition fees bill is rife and the party is openly mocked for renegading on their pre-election pledge.

But for those who have struggled to understand how a coalition works and are horrified by the Liberal’s concessions, they should keep a close eye on today’s announcement by Ken Clarke.

If free education is something close to a Lib Dem’s heart, then crime sits in every Tory’s gut. Before the election (and indeed, probably before any election) the Conservatives campaigned under a ‘tough on crime’ banner, promising more prisons, harsher sentences, and abstinence programs for drug addicts.

And yet, despite these promises to their electorate, the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has announced that instead of creating more prison places, there will be less. Less prison places, more community sentences. Why? Because the evidence suggests that prison does not work, and community punishments do.

“I think the prison system is not doing some of the things it’s meant to do. That’s stopping us preventing the rise of a criminal under-class who commit more crime when they are out.”

Ho ho ho. What a crazy mixed-up world this is, when a conservative party is proposing sensible policies on crime. He also wants to put more emphasis on putting drug addicts into treatment instead of prison and identifying inmates with mental illnesses.

This could all be straight out of the Lib Dem’s Big Book of Crimefighting and no doubt those of a liberal persuasion will be delighted. One significant delight is the dropping of the Tory pledge on mandatory sentences for carrying knives. On this Clarke said:

“Serious knife crimes will get serious prison sentences, but we’re not setting absolute tariffs.”

This will anger many Tories who campaigned under a ‘tough on anyone who looks like they could be a criminal’ stance, and indeed there is already talk of a rebellion from Tory back-benchers.

But this is the price of a coalition. Without the Liberal Democrat wing there is no chance Ken Clarke would be able to push this ahead. Indeed, it is doubtful such a sensible and liberal conservative could hold such a position in government at all. This will anger many conservatives, but the reply is the same as it was to the lib dems who are getting ansy about the tuition fees: you didn’t win the election so you have to compromise.

The fate of Ken Clarke’s proposals may well rest in the hands of the lib dems. If they rebel on Thursday over the education bill, then that will give an excuse to the Tories to rebel over crime. And this will cause a downward spiral to the end of the coalition, a snap election, and ultimately victory to Labour who will slime their way back into power without a shred of conviction between them.

We wait with baited breath.

How Many Students Does It Take To Screw A Party?

How easy is it to trick a student? From looking at the escalating (I refuse to use the term snowballing) protests, I would say ‘very’. The Right always lives up to its reputation of being made up of arseholes and right now the Left is truly showing itself to be as thick as two short planks.

Next Thursday the Lib Dems are going to line up and collectively hang themselves, just before the vote on raising tuition fees. Perhaps then, with fifty or so yellow corpses dangling from London Bridge, people will finally say, “gosh, they really didn’t want this did they?”

For those Lib Dems who don’t obey the party whip and do themselves in, they will be forced to choose between fucking the country, or fucking themselves. Ouch. Tough.

Because, despite the many moral and philosophical reasons why education should be completely free, this current proposal is about all we can do for the time being. We’ve got no cash, so sorry students, you’ll have to pay the state back once you get a fancy job with your degree.

But that’s not what the student protesters think. They have fallen for Labour’s line like a twelve year old girl being offered cigarettes by her seedy English teacher. Labour are claiming that the cuts to public finance are the part of some ‘whim’ on depart of the government. “We wouldn’t be making these cuts”, they bellow, sounding like a scumbag father, kicked out of his family home for spending all the family allowance at the bookies, then telling his children that if he was in charge instead of their mother, he’d buy them that Xbox she claims they can’t afford.

“These are ideological cuts” they cry, but this statement is meaningless. Any debate on what should be spent by the state is ideological. It’s ideological to make those spending commitments in the first place, and then just as ideological to cut them. The motivation might be based upon facts, but the act is always ideological. Claiming this is in some way new or bad is quite frankly moronic.

There’s a lot of chatter about students becoming radicalised into the socially active students of the 60’s. Sadly this couldn’t be further from the truth. There doesn’t seem to be any urge to right the wrongs of the world, just a dissatisfaction at getting a bill at the end of their course.

Students are so gullible they believe that bad headlines and angry comments at Question Time means they are making progress for their cause. What they don’t seem to realise is that Britain is obsessed with bad headlines and angry comments. We thrive on it. We don’t really care about the cause, we just want to moan. In a couple of weeks we will have moved on to the next issue to rant about and student fees will be forgotten. It’s our way.

But the Lib Dems, swinging from their ropes, won’t have forgotten. They’ll remember quite clearly never to try to help students again.

RIOT!

Riot! Smash! Destroy! No Compromise! Down With The Rotters!

Yes, the streets of London have become a battlefield. We’re talking full on destruction, the end of times, Revelations, and all that. OK, perhaps not. Perhaps it was just a small bunch of tits who got carried away, but there is a larger bunch of tits who can’t be dismissed: the NUS.

First of all, I’m not wholly against violent protest. I think there is a place for it, though that place is rare and only in cases of extreme immorality on behalf of the state. After protesting the Iraq War time and time again, perhaps a little violence might have tipped the scales in our favour? After all, the government sure showed us that no amount of peaceful protest was going to change their minds. Not one bit, m’laddio. But even in that case, with all the ethical urgency and life or death outcomes available, violent protest would probably have proven counter productive, turning opinion against us, rather than against Blair and The Sun.

How tragic then, that instead of getting violent over bombing innocents, our students chose to get ‘so passionate that they couldn’t control themselves’ over having to pay a bit more in fees for their education. Now, forgive me for siding with a Conservative administration, but doesn’t that strike you as a tad selfish? It doesn’t come across as a principled stand, but more as an attempt to be a bit richer in the future. It’s not even as if they have to pay the fees up front, they pay them back once they are earning above 21k. If your degree proves worthless when it comes to getting a job, then – hurrah! – the state isn’t going to come knocking.

Now, I’m saying this with full sympathy for their cause. I believe that education should be free, but I also am a pragmatist who understands that things provided by the state need to be paid for, and there currently is no money. It’s a huge shame, but students need to foot-the-bill. It’s better that than, say, shutting down the NHS, or ending primary school education and leaving it up to parents.

So should students feel pissed off? Certainly. Should they be getting violent? Certainly not. It makes them look like toddlers throwing a strop.

But I began the article pointing the finger of judgement at the NUS, rather than the violent few. What are they doing wrong?

It seems the NUS, furious at the rise in tuition fees, have decided to punish the Lib Dems for abandoning their pledge to oppose tuition fees. They have threatened a decapitation strategy of every Liberal MP who votes for the bill. With such harsh opposition, MP’s such as Nick Clegg, might lose their seats come the next election.

Surely, I hear you say, that is the correct thing for a pressure group to do? The Lib Dems did, after all, break their promise and need to be held to account. Shouldn’t the NUS flex their muscles?

No, and here is the reason why. If the NUS punish the Lib Dems harshly, it could cripple our democracy.

The British public no longer want to vote for just two parties. The choice between Labour and Conservative is one that is no longer palatable in the modern era. Some will want to vote Liberal, some Green, some UKIP, SNP, etc. This shift is only going to continue, eating away at the old system where one party would control parliament over the other.

In this multi-party future, the only way of getting a government that can pass legislation is for coalitions to be formed (something very common in Europe). It could be Liberal-Conservative, Labour-Green, Conservative-UKIP, anything, as long as it controls a majority in the house of commons. These coalitions will need to negotiate a platform for governance, somewhere between the two parties ideologies, depending upon how many seats that party has. For instance, imagine a coalition is formed between the Green party and UKIP. In this imagined outcome the Green party has 320 seats and UKIP has 50. Obviously the Greens have the greatest sway in this case, and their policies would be close to the Green Manifesto with some anti-Europe concessions. If the seats were reversed it would be a mostly Euro-Sceptic government, with a few policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In elections, all parties would still campaign of what they would do if they got a majority by themselves, but if they formed a coalition, then obviously what they do would be somewhere between them and their new partner, depending upon how many chips the electorate dealt each of them.

So why are the NUS threatening our democracy? If they punish the Lib Dems for compromising, then it will scare political parties out of either promising anything vaguely ideological that couldn’t be negotiated in a coalition, or they will cease forming coalitions at all. In either eventuality groups such as the NUS can kiss their goals goodbye as British politics is either brought into a fearful state of stalemate, or turned into an awful homogeneous gloop, with no politician willing to propose something difficult to deliver.

What should the NUS be doing instead? They should be out campaigning for the Lib Dems, trying to give them a majority next time, instead of forcing them to compromise with the Tories. Sadly it looks like they want to destroy the one real political ally they have.

Stupid bloody students.

A Tentative Return

It has been a long time since my last post. The world of politics has been ticking along, mostly with Labour trying to break up the coalition like a jealous spotty teenager without a partner to the prom. And that is all they’ve been doing – their leadership race is even duller than the last Lib Dem one, and that’s quite an achievement! It seems only the Tories can have a decent leadership battle, probably because their contenders always range from the mad to the outright deranged.

Still, better not speak ill of the new “allies”. A lot of Lib Dems are furious with their party for getting into bed with their arch-enemy. So much so that the party’s approval rating is dangerously low. But I’m not angry, not in the slightest. I’m actually very proud. This was the grown up thing to do. No, more than grown up, it was heroic. The Lib Dems threw themselves on the hand-grenade that was a Tory Government, shielding the rest of us from the worst of the blast. We may not realise it, but the Lib Dems have saved us from destruction, even if it means they’re blown to bits in the process.

If you scroll back through the history of this blog you’ll find a lot of bile about Cameron. I stand by those statements, the man was god-awful during the election campaign. But now that he’s been freed from his back-benchers and grass-root supporters by the liberal wing of the coalition, he’s doing quite well. It’s very odd, but I can feel the resentment ebbing away..

Perhaps this is all a cruel trick and in a couple of months I’ll be screaming blue murder, but for now all is pretty good. It will be better if the lib dems stop stuffing up and getting caught up in scandal (I’m looking at you David Laws and Chris Huhne) and instead got gutsy and started following the lead of California (more on that to follow in a couple of days).

Outside of politics I’ve been working on the next collection of short stories. It’s called “Doctor Tetrazzini and His Life Affirming Theory” and will contain follow up stories to both “Rotten Philosophy” and “The Frog’s Paw”. More information to be given shortly.

Best Of A Bad Situation

Every MP in each of the main parties must now be wishing the result had been slightly different. The Tories must be kicking themselves; if they had only a slightly greater shift in their direction, they would never have had to do a deal with the Lib Dems.

For the Liberals, just a few more seats to them or Labour would have meant a progressive alliance, something that would have sat much better with their grass-roots.

Labour was left in the uncomfortable position of losing the election, but not by enough. In the party’s interest, this was an election to lose. Lose and regroup is the aim of all tribalist members of Labour. Sadly for them, they had just enough seats to make a “rainbow alliance” possible, so had to go through the false dance of entertaining the notion. When the talks fell apart they revealed themselves as the tribal and selfish clan they are.

So the bizarre situation of a Conservative Liberal Democrat Coalition has arisen, sending shock waves through both parties, and Labour rubbing its hands with glee. Fuck the country, Labour’s thinking, this will shoo us in next time for sure!

But will it? And will it be the disaster the Liberal Democrats grass roots think it will be?

Throughout this campaign I’ve been supporting the Lib Dems with the main opposition in my mind being the Tories. In a coalition I always assumed the Liberals would side with Labour. If the seats had fallen slightly differently, that is no doubt how it would have gone down. As it was, Labour made it impossible. The Liberal Democrats did not have that choice. A rainbow coalition needed support from all the nationalist parties, and Labour announced very quickly it would not work with the SNP, putting a nail in the coffin of that idea.

So it was either allow the Conservatives to form a minority government, or join them in coalition. Many Liberals would vomit down their shirts at the idea (as I’m sure many Tories are doing right now too), but if they think calmly for a moment, they will see this is the best choice out of a barrel of shits.

David Cameron is under fire from his party. He didn’t do as well as he’d hoped, and they are claiming it was because he pursued the centre ground too much. They wanted him to retreat to the right more on immigration, tax, deficit reduction, crime etc. In a minority government he would have been at their mercy, and so the party would have been dragged to the right, giving us a ghastly conservative government reminiscent of the 80s.

With a coalition with the Lib Dems Cameron has instead been dragged to the left, firmly straddling the centre ground. Indeed, he is now forced to maintain a social liberal stance to hold the coalition together. By sacrificing the country’s goodwill, Clegg has saved us all from Conservative back-benchers.

Not only that, but he’s got Liberal policies being enacted and conservative policies scrapped. By forcing the two parties to work together, the Liberals can now try and shape conservative thinking in their direction. We could be on the cusp of a new era of socially liberal politics. Before he became party leader, Cameron was on the extreme social-liberal progressive wing of his party. Sadly, in all his time at the helm he sank further and further away from that. Now that he’s in bed with the Lib Dems, he might just have the courage to return to his roots.

Of course, in all likelihood it will end in tears. These are two parties that loathe each other and pull in very different directions. What we may see is a split that’ll dwarf anything that ever existed between Brown and Blair. But perhaps the obvious gulf between Cameron and Clegg will help ease the divisions? Disagreements might be seen, less as a betrayal, but as a genuine and expected tussle of ideas.

Only time will tell, and already the Liberals are feeling the pain. I sympathise,but congratulate them. This isn’t what any of us wanted, but they’ve done the best with the hand they were dealt. This is grown up politics, crossing the line and doing deals with those you disagree with. I can’t stand Cameron, but I’m glad he’s got Clegg in there with him, keeping an eye out for all of us.