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.

London Looks Pretty Daft From Over Here!

It’s the day after and some Lib Dems are still standing. It seems someone was on hand with a knife to cut the nooses and drag each and every one of them into parliament to make them actually vote. The vote passed, but only just. Around half of the liberals rebelled, voting against, with a handful abstaining. It is sad that they felt they had to oppose it, given that it is generally agreed by any independent body that studies the figures that this is a much more progressive bill than the current state of affairs, but then those protesting outside weren’t interested in such frivolous things as ‘facts’.

I was watching from Prague as the vote came in, rather thankful to have found BBC World on my hotel TV set. The BBC were flicking between the inside of the commons, packed to the gills, and parliament square, even more crammed. In the segment I saw they were interviewing a student who was claiming that it was the police who’d been provoking the confrontations. Fair enough, I can understand that. But then they went to a gentleman beside him, an English Teacher, who said that this bill ‘brought in by millionaires’ was damning his students to pay 30 quid a week, a sum poor families couldn’t afford.

This statement alone shows the amount is disinformation floating around the minds of the protesters. No-one is going to be made to pay up-front. They will pay back their fees when they begin earning over 21k – when they can afford it. The concept of making higher earners pay more is a LEFT policy, not a RIGHT one. A lot of students who fail to get high earning jobs will never be made pay back the full cost of their loans. Why? Because if you can’t afford to, you won’t be made to.

But such logic was beyond the British public gathered in London yesterday. There were calls to “bring down the neo-liberal state”, though what they wanted to replace it with I can’t imagine. Labour? A bunch who brought in detention without charge and invaded Iraq? Yes, I guess they were much nicer, let’s usher them in!

What was most tragic was the sense of doom in the crowd. You would think the legislation being passed was to end education entirely, rather than ask students to contribute once they begin earning. “They have voted away our futures,” one said whilst being interviewed by the BBC. What utter nonsense. Perhaps they’ve voted away a trip to the pub, or a takeout tikka-masala, or whatever 7 pounds a week would have bought you. That’s not your future.

It sounds like I’m anti-protest, but I’m not. I’ve been on quite a few protests in my time, it’s just they were over strong moral issues like war, nuclear armourment, or infringement of civil liberties. This is an issue over how to finance a service through difficult times. Something to debate about, sure. Something to write to your MP about, definitely. Something to get into a scrap with the police over? Er.. not really. It’s embarrassing how selfish our students have behaved. Utterly, utterly embarrassing.

Oh, and any who claim to be anarchists who attended the protest: anarchism is about freedom from the state, ie. Universities being free to charge for their services, and civilians being free from taxation to pay for services they don’t support (in an anarcho-commune universities would be funded through charitable donations). Clearly these numbskulls think anarchism is about kicking in a window. Idiots.

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.

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.

The Death Of Nick Clegg

Image supplies by Liberal Democrats on Flickr

Image supplied by Liberal Democrats on Flickr

If opinion polls are to be believed, and there are those who are starting to doubt them, Nick Clegg has the highest rating of trust of all the leaders. In fact, when it came to him as an individual he consistently polled highly. It seems we, the public, like him a lot. So what’s his reward for winning our affections? We’ve given him a death sentence.

There is nothing Nick Clegg can do over the next couple of days that will not destroy him. Our political system, as shown by last week’s general election, has descended into the politics of hate. People no longer vote with their hopes, they vote with their fears. Nick Clegg has to now either prop up a Tory government, or a Labour one. Both sides command an awful lot of hate in the minds of the electorate, who will not forgive Clegg for what he has to do.

Not propping up another party (but allowing the Tories to run as a weak minority government) is unlikely and would set the Lib Dems back years in their campaign for electoral reform. Proponents of first-past-the-post would claim this proves that Britain is not ready for coalition governments and we need our current system to (more times than not) deliver decisive victories. Such a view would destroy the Lib Dems.

So Clegg must prove that coalitions can work. However, an alliance with the Tories would mean no PR and hatred from the anti-tory sections of their own party. Support in Lib-Lab marginals would disappear and they would be set back decades. The Conservatives, eager to shake the Lib Dems loose, would wait until the opportune moment and declare an election, increasing their majority and ending any concessions they might have given the Liberals.

The final option is to form a coalition with Labour and various other smaller parties. Whilst this would be legitimate in British constitutional sense, the right wing media would explode in outrage. The Lib Dems would be accused of acting in their own interest and would never get any good press again. Labour hating supporters in Lib-Con marginals would dwindle, setting the Liberals back decades. Finally, once Labour have a different leader without the baggage, Labour would call another election to rid themselves of their liberal obligations.

Each option ends up with everyone hating Clegg. There is nothing he can do that won’t damage the Liberals in some way. In 2010, with the choice of Clegg, the public were given their first real chance of putting honesty and hope back into British politics. Their repayment is to destroy him.

A Final Plea

Tomorrow is polling day in the UK. Setting aside all my usual bile and ranting, here are a few reasons why you should vote Liberal Democrat.

A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for a sensible tax system. With an economy failing and too many unemployed, it makes sense to reduce the amount of tax low-income earners have to pay. This encourages people to seek employment instead of claiming benefits. With the extra money in their pockets they can stimulate the economy by increasing spending on the high street. It also puts them in a better position to handle the higher energy bills that are inevitable as we try to shift to greener energy sources.

A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for a rational foreign policy. The Liberal Democrats were the only major party to oppose the Iraq War. With that conflict becoming so unpopular later, it is easy to forget just how brave this was at the time. Many saw this as an act that would destroy the Liberal Democrats, making them appear weak and gutless. Quite the opposite. Against mainstream fleet-street and political opinion, the Liberal Democrats made the right call and proved that they think rationally about issues, despite what might appear politically convenient at the time.

A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for a stronger Britain. We do not need Trident, the idea that we should spend a hundred billion pounds on a weapon we will never use is ridiculous. Some claim that without a nuclear deterrent we will be under threat, but in the modern globalised world, with so many close allies with nuclear weapons, the idea that we would be invaded is preposterous. America will not allow another nation to attack a close ally. We should lead the way in disarmament, using it as an example for Iran, and syphon the money into better equipment for our troops or into cutting the deficit.

A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for reducing our debt. Above all other parties the Liberal Democrats, under the stewardship of Vince Cable, have managed to set out the most cuts and savings. It is widely accepted that Cable is the politician most qualified to lead us out of this mess. Lets make him the Chancellor.

A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for cleaning up politics. Every party had politicians who claimed something silly in the expenses scandal. But only the Lib Dems didn’t have politicians who “flipped” their houses to get us to pay their mortgages, an act widely accepted as the most outrageous. The liberal democrats have consistently campaigned to make politics more transparent and accountable.

A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for voting. Only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to reform our electoral system, as the other parties benefit from the ridiculous FPTP. If you support the Green Party, you should vote Lib Dem. If you support the Scottish National Party, you should vote Lib Dem. Even if you support UKIP, you should vote for the Liberal Democrats, because once we have proportional representation, your votes will finally count. If you live in a safe seat, vote Lib Dem to register your distaste at having your vote wasted every election.

A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for honest campaigning. Only one party didn’t resort to scare tactics and instead stuck to a positive message. Both Labour and the Conservatives regularly resort to fear to sure up support, and unfortunately it usually works. A victory for the Lib Dems would tell these cynical opportunists that we’re better than that, and we can see through their lies about hung parliaments and runs on the pound.

A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for free politicians. Both the Labour party and the Conservatives rely on huge donations from single persons or organisations (The Unions for Labour and Ashcroft for Conservatives). The Lib Dems actually have the largest number of people donating, but a tiny fraction of the money the other parties have. That’s why you’ve seen so many adverts and broadcasts by the Conservatives and so few by the Lib Dems. We cannot allow an election to be won by one party outspending another. We cannot allow Ashcroft to buy Britain.

A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for freedom from the press. We live in a country were every newspaper is partisan in some way. Most notably is the Murdoch press who take pride in their ability to dictate who our next government will be. A long time ago they decided that Cameron would be the next Prime-Minister and have smeared the Lib Dems at every opportunity to sway the vote their way. This year, with the power of the internet, we have the ability to finally throw off the shackles put around us by Fleet Street and reject their partisan ways.

And finally a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for hope. There is only one result that will heal this country, and that is Nick Clegg walking into Number 10 on Friday. Any other result will feel like more of the same; we’ll continue resenting politicians, distrusting every word they say and bitterly regarding the whole process as corrupt. David Cameron and Gordon Brown are divisive figures. Nick Clegg, for all his strengths and weaknesses, is not. David Cameron might “look more Prime Ministerial” according to polls, but those same polls show barely anyone trusts him. On the issue of trust Nick Clegg’s approve rating is through the roof. Perhaps it is a sad sign of how low British Politics has become, that honesty is a quality we don’t associate with the post of Prime Minister.

In America, the people recognised a chance for a new beginning in Obama. Sometimes you need more than a promise of a tax-break here or cutting waste there. Sometimes you need a line under the past and a breathe of fresh air. Sometimes you need to believe in a world that can be made better, and that change can happen against all the odds. Too long we’ve allowed hate, big money and biased press dictate our future. It’s time we took it for ourselves.

Good luck tomorrow, I’ll keep believing.

Ade Grant

Lost The Plot

This election doesn’t seem to based in reality any-more. At first I could keep track of it, I looked at the polls and they seemed to indicate my own feelings on how the campaign was going. Yup, the Lib Dems were getting a surge in week one. Yup, the Tories fought back in week two. And yup, the Labour party imploded. All makes sense.

But watching the debate on Thursday night, and viewing the subsequent polls, I have to say I have lost my grip on reality. The debate was an outright win for Clegg, who came under fire for all sorts of things, but managed to keep his head and fend them off. Brown bombed as normal, showing he has no mastery over his appearance; he gave a apocalyptic speech about the dangers of a Tory government, but then decided to smile at the end like a tinpot dictator sentencing his nemesis to death. Cameron was utterly despicable, false and as generally grimy as we’ve come to recognise.

The polls however, disagreed. They found Cameron won the debate. I couldn’t believe it, was the rest of the country watching a different debate? Had my own prejudice made me completely miss a good Cameron performance? Or is it like John Carpenter’s “They Live”, in which only the hero can see beneath the appearance of his fellow citizens, to the sinister alien creatures masquerading as man?

Today in The Times I finally got some light shed upon these polls. It seems Cameron had come out on top: as appearing as a prime minister. Clegg came out on top as most impressive and most honest, which are the sorts of things I was looking for. In fact when it comes to honesty, Clegg is far ahead of the others, much more so than their lead in any other respect.

Yet is this given prominence in the press? Seemingly not. We are clearly still under the heel of fleet street, and they are gunning for a Tory government. They have, after all, sucked up to them for the past few years, and on May 7th they’ll want what’s due.

The debate has also been shifted into issues that don’t really exist. Just how did immigration become an issue? It’s totally pointless, there’s nothing any of the parties can do about immigration. 80% comes from the EU, something no party is willing to restrict. Illegal immigrants are far to expensive to deport so no party is willing to do that. Asylum seekers can’t be restricted because of an international agreement (plus the fact we’re not monsters). The actual immigration that seems to be being debated is such a tiny proportion we could counter it simply by increasing the number of free condoms in schools.

The dangers of a hung parliament seems to dominate the news too. Where did that come from? There’s no evidence a hung parliament is dangerous, quite the opposite, nations with permanent hung parliaments in Europe seem to do very well. How is this even up for debate? It’s nonsense.

Also, the Euro. No party is proposing we join it, but for some reason there’s a lot of posturing and attacking going on about whether people like the idea or not. I might like the idea of naked Thursday, but unless I put it forward as a political pledge, then it’s entirely irrelevant!

What’s wrong with people? I mean this quite genuinely. WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU ALL???

Oh yes, the scores:

LABOUR: 2.5
CONSERVATIVES: 3
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: 6.5

(Brown 0, Cameron 1, Clegg 2)

Nightmare Scenario

It is May 7th. The results for the UK General Election are in, and there is no party with an overall majority. What political pundits had been predicting for weeks has finally happened: a hung parliament.

Nick Clegg, jubilant at the Liberal Democrat victory, goes to Labour ready to strike a deal, but there is one problem – Labour aren’t interested in making one. With the economy in disarray, a strong Tory opposition and public resentment, they feel it’s in their interest to let the Tories make the cuts and take the heat for what is destined to be a short parliament. In three years, they hope, Labour will be revitalised and ready to make gains through the first-past-the-post system.

So with no deal in hand Clegg goes to Cameron, hoping to tempt him into a coalition. One problem – Cameron is just as reluctant to work with the Lib Dems. Electoral reform would destroy the conservative grasp on British politics, and with the rank and file of both parties detesting each other, a coalition is nigh impossible.

So there is no electoral reform and no deal. The Conservative party forms a minority government and starts putting forward legislation. The Lib Dems feel at least they now hold the balance of power, but wait! Suddenly they are being accused of holding parliament to ransom and stopping measures needed to take Britain forward. An angry right wing press hounds them until they are forced to abstain from voting, allowing the Tories to push through legislation ineffectively opposed by Labour.

And so, with record numbers of seats, it’s as if the Liberal Democrats don’t exist at all.

This is my nightmarish prediction of what will happen on and after May 7th. I hope I’m wrong, but I think the Lib Dems are being overly optimistic about the other parties capacity for doing what’s best for the national interest. These are, after all, parties who’re addicted to a political system biased in their favour and will see any change as detrimental to their future.

Cameron will never agree to PR, so in a hung parliament the Lib Dems have two viable options. First, to support Labour with a PR deal, but Labour are playing this election as if they want to lose. Are they really willing to sacrifice a system to heavily biased in their favour, just to secure a short and unpopular parliament? Secondly they could request that they instead form the government backed by Labour. After thirteen years in power, are Labour going to really let the Lib Dems, who they’ve mocked at every turn, become their new masters? The likes of Ed Balls are too proud for that.

So it looks grim for the liberals. Their only hope is to win this election, but they would need a swing of at least 15 points to do that. It’s fantasy, surely? But lets not underplay the public’s thirst for a clean up of politics and a new start for Britain, something neither of the old parties can offer.

Clegg should go for broke on Thursday. I suspect he’d going to play on the defence out of fear of losing his current status in the polls, but he needs to realise that it’s not enough. Only a victory will bring the changes this country needs, the other two parties are not built for coalitions. They don’t know what democracy is.

Good enough to aired again today.

The Taste Of Flesh

The wolves are gathering, and it’s flesh they want. Not just anyone’s, but Nick Clegg’s. I mean this metaphorically.. or maybe not, there is a certain deranged glint in Cameron’s eye, and Ed Balls always looks hungry.

Proportional Representation is the subject of the day. Nobody saw this as being a major topic for the election, Labour and Conservatives hate the idea as it would strip them of a system biased in their favour. The Liberal Democrats, whilst being passionate about electoral reform, have always found it a deeply unsexy topic, something for political junkies to get excited about, but not the average voter.

So it was assumed that proportional representation, as a topic, wouldn’t get a look-in in this election. It would exist only in the back pages of the Lib Dem manifesto. Ignored and unloved.

Not so now. Now its out in full view without its pants on. The Liberal Democrats want a frank talk about its natural splendour, whilst the Conservatives want to draw everyone’s attention to the dangly bits. Labour, now trailing in third place without hope of government unless propped up by the Liberals, are courting PR, without any promises. They’re willing to touch the dangles, but they’re not going to like it.

Never before has the dark world of politics been so left bare to the naked eye. There is no talk of policies, or the will of the people. It’s all about tactics and polls, theorising about how the system can be manipulated to suit each end. Nick Clegg knows he’s in an impossible spot, he can only get votes if he presents himself as a viable alternative to the two others, but all the media want to do is talk about a hung parliament and how he would fit in one(a conversation that plays right into Cameron and Brown’s hands). In his closing speech on Thursday Clegg should distance himself from this argument. He should tell voters not to vote for him to keep another party out, but to put him in. Difficult, but only then can he pull himself out of the current rut.

Cameron is now breaking into his stride. He has found a theme, and its one of complete evil. Anti-electoral reform, anti-coalition, scaremongering and misleading, his campaign has been the embodiment of the right wing tabloids who swarm around him like nazgul. Almost all pretence of the compassionate-conservative liberal greenie has been dropped, revealing the nasty beady-eyed Tory we all knew was lurking inside.

Brown, on the other hand, is becoming increasingly superfluous to the campaign. It appears he is irrelevant, doomed to disappear from politics; even in the case of a liberal supported labour government he would be shot and dumped in the Thames at the liberals request.

So Brown has nothing to lose, Cameron has sensed power slipping from his grasp and so reacted like a rabid wolverine, and Clegg is besieged on all sides.

And they say we don’t have a presidential political system.

Leaders Debate 2, The Empire Strikes Back

If I was a Liberal Democrat, I’d be searching for a way out of this strange artificial reality. True, it is nice that things have so unexpectedly turned their way; their polls have risen, the press is taking them seriously, the whole election debate is about how everything has been forever changed by their rise. But can this possibly be the real world? It’s a dream, a fantasy concocted by their damaged brain hooked up to a life-support machine.

But while we’re stuck in this dream, lets discuss it. Last night there was the second of the Leaders Debates, this time hosted by Sky News and on Foreign policy. Nick Clegg had a lot to live up to this time around, all eyes were on him to see if he’d pull off a repeat performance. David Cameron, on the other hand, had the pressure of an irate conservative party behind him, a party in turmoil over the rise of the looney liberals, whose fortune has scuppered Tory hopes at an outright win.

The panic that is currently rife in the political establishment is clear to see. Labour are suddenly claiming we’re going to get destroyed by Iran if we don’t have Trident. The Tories are warning that anything other than a vote for them will cause economic meltdown. All the right wing press are smearing Clegg so desperately they don’t care how petty and moronic they appear. With all this as the backdrop, Clegg took them on in the second debate, right in the lion’s mouth: Sky News.

Did he do as well as last time? Or was he obliterated by collective outrage? Well, neither. Both Brown and Cameron went for him, trying to tear his throat out and leave him bleeding in the middle for all too see, but Clegg managed to deftly avoid their blows, though without landing decisive ones himself. This was always going to be tricky for Clegg. The British public are incapable of having a sensible discussion on Europe and Clegg was forced to admit his pro-European stance to a scowling studio. But over-all he held his own.

Highlights include:

Final summing up speech by Clegg which was uplifting and inspiring.
Charlie Brooker on Twitter responding to Brown’s likening of Cameron and Clegg to his boys squabbling at bath time, “Brown’s boys must have bloody boring bathtime squabbles.”

Lowpoints include:

Two absolutely daft questions from the public. One on the pope and the other on how candidates personally try to reduce their greenhouse emissions. Both questions can only be answered one way so we were given the same response from each. No candidate was going to say “The Pope’s a rotter who should be shot” or “Sod the environment, I hate sorting through my rubbish for plastic and glass”. Don’t people realise when they’re asking a question that politicians can’t give a variety of answers to?

So, a win for the right wingers this week with their sustained attacks on Clegg. Can he fight back for the final debate? We’ll have to wait and see..

LABOUR: 2.5
CONSERVATIVES: 2
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: 4.5

(Leaders Debate 2 Score: Cameron 2, Clegg 0.5, Brown 0.5)