Thursday, 27 May 2010

The history lesson

I wish I had before the election. You'll remember that I argued right after the election that I made the now-obvious mistake of voting LibDem on the premise that, as a (now determined) foreigner in your country, I didn't fully see your political spectrum in its true colours; that, having arrived after the election of Labour in 1997, I came to see the LibDems as the only viable (in a FPTP system) alternative to the left of the government.

BUT, now, Vernon Bogdnor's article in last week's New Statesman explains why, really, nothing of the Con-Dem pact should come as a surprise, and why many (my wife among them, who has been ever so good in not singing 'I told you so' as I mope around the house) were right not to believe in the idea of 'progressive coalition' on the left. Some highlights:
The present coalition between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats has long ante­cedents. The Conservatives were in coalition with dissident Liberals in 1895, when the Liberal Unionists joined them to resist Home Rule; from 1916 to 1922, when a group of Liberals led by Lloyd George joined with the Conservatives to win the First World War and secure postwar reconstruction; and again, in 1931, in the National Government. [...]

The Liberals have formed coalitions with the Conservatives, but they have never been in a peacetime coalition with Labour. Though it may be a bit much to conjure the ghost of Ramsay MacDonald, as John Reid and David Blunkett did during the fraught period that led to the creation of the new government, it should be rememberered that the Liberals have supported minority Labour governments - in 1924, 1929-31 and during the Lib-Lab pact in 1977-78.

Ominously, Bogdanor points out that 'coalition government has always benefited the Conservatives.' Uh-oh.

However, I was not the only one fooled it seems.

The last YouGov survey before the election, on 5 May, found that 43 per cent of Liberal Democrat voters described themselves as centre left or left, as compared with 29 per cent who described themselves as centrist and 9 per cent who described themselves as centre right or right. Moreover, 39 per cent of Lib Dem voters thought the party was left or centre left, as compared with the 33 per cent who thought it was centrist and 5 per cent who thought it was right or centre right. Nick Clegg appeared to agree with them: last year, he wrote a pamphlet entitled The Liberal Moment, in which he argued that "progressive conservatism" would prove a contradiction in terms. A Populus poll for the Times on 8 May revealed that, while a minority Conservative government was the favourite option, attracting 53 per cent support, a Liberal Democrat-Labour arrangement was preferred to a Liberal-Conservative one by 51 per cent to 46. In forming the coalition, the Liberal Demo­crats may have ignored the views both of their members and those who voted for them.
This we already knew, in a sort-of way, so it's nice to have the numbers to support it. So there are a lot of us naive numpties. But are we entirely to blame? Could Nick and the wafflers of the centre-right have been playing a bit of a game with us?
Nick Clegg was tactically shrewd in not making his preference known; had he done so, the Lib Dems would have secured fewer than the 57 seats they won. But in Oxford West and Abingdon, the seat lost by Dr Evan Harris, leaflets were delivered to electors telling them that voting Liberal Democrat was the only way to keep the Conservatives out, given that Labour, a distant third, had no chance. David Cameron agreed, saying that if one voted on the Thursday for the Lib Dems, one would wake up on the Friday with Gordon Brown. Perhaps the leaflet should have said that voting Liberal Democrat was the only way to keep the Conservatives in; indeed, after the election, the defeated Harris endorsed the coalition with the Conservatives. Perhaps in Labour-Lib Dem marginals, electors were told that voting Liberal Democrat was the only way to keep Labour out, since the Conservatives, a poor third, had no chance? As a campaign guide published by the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors declared: "You can secure support from voters who normally vote Tory by being effectively anti-Labour and, similarly, in a Tory area secure Labour votes by being anti-Tory."
Ah ha! So we was tricked! The LibDem manifesto was political Rohypnol, slipped into our drinks by the friendlier, left-leaning charmers of the party, while Laws and the right of the party rubbed their hands in anticipation of our drugged, compliant corpses. Vince, oh Vince! I believed you when you said - like Alistair - that cutting now would hurt the still-feeble recovery. I trusted you! And now look. I feel so... terribly, terribly... afraid of a double-dip recession. Have you no shame?

Bogdanor's full article, again, is here. He says a lot more, besides, about why the LibDems had no choice, really, and the truth about potential electoral reform, the only good thing that might come of all of this. Do check it out.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

This can't be right...

in this completely fucked-up election, it seems that there is no end to weird shit.

Just as Cameron's car was heading to the Palace, I received a tweet from someone called 'Dollywagon', whose analyses of the 'Twitter Political – Top 30 most influential tweeters today' reveals -- beyond any reasonable comprehension -- that our very own excretera was the THIRD most 'influential' political tweeter from the 7th to the 10th of May.

No. I don't believe it either. But here's what it says:
We used the Influence Engine to analyse political activity on Twitter for the period 1200hrs Fri 7th May until 1200hrs Mon 10th May (today). Our analysis looked at an individual’s success in having their tweets picked up and distributed to other people within the network of Twitter’s politico-sphere. Here is the list of the UK’s Top 30 most influential tweeters on political subjects
I mean, WTF Country doesn't even begin to cover it. I'm expected everyone else on Twitter to reply and inform me, pityingly, that they, too, received this message, that it's some kind of scam. In the meantime, I'm basking in happy ignorance at my apparent POWER. So, here's the list:


Yup. That's me. Just behind @nick_clegg and @c4election. And ahead of @guardiannews, @libdems and @uklabourparty. Obviously. I'm watching @bbclaurak on News 24, standing out in front of Number 10, and I'm thinking, 'What do you know? You're like, what? 22nd on the list? You know nothing!'

This tells us two things, without a doubt:

1) that search engine needs lubrication, or something.

2) Twitter really is full of shit. I've obviously found my home.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Last little goodies...

There is NO WAY this should have escaped your attention:



I guess Boulton didn't like being outed -- again -- as a Tory-whore-boy. I'm sorry. I mean a Fat-Tory-whore-boy.

Well, now, what can I say?

Short of 'Fuck off.'?

I suppose, 'I'm sorry' would be a good place to start, since it seems that my vote has gone to help elected a Conservative government.

I feel very dirty. And not in the good way.

Like Lady Macbeth, I'll try to scrub and scrub this shit from my hands. But I reek. I suck.

I don't know the details of the Conservative-Liberal alliance. Or the #ConDemNation as it's being tweeted. I'm too depressed to check, or wait. This is my fault.

I always write about how the British press, and the British public -- and, in the last few days, large numbers of British politicians -- don't really understand their/your own electoral system. And you don't. But it seems that I didn't completely get it either. Having only arrived in 1997, flying into an already-Blair Britain, I didn't really understand your political spectrum. Because for much of the last 13 years, if I've wanted to vote left of the government, I've had to support the Liberal Democrats. Against the war in Iraq. Against silly corporate tax breaks. But I didn't understand, really, what the LibDems were about, or what they stood for. I heard the words of left-leaning LibDems and assumed that they were ok. Kennedy, Hughes, Ashdown, Steel. Good eggs, I think.

Vote Nick, get Dave. I suppose I knew it was possible, but I didn't see it coming. Suffice to say, I won't be voting LibDem again. Even as a second choice in a alternate-vote system, which they'll be lucky to get.

Still, I suppose that it had to happen sometime, that the Tories would worm their way back into Number 10 at some point. And, if it had to happen, these perhaps aren't the worse circumstances under which it's happened: a weak government, uneasy alliance, about to face a fuck-hell of economic pain, which they will exacerbate with poor economic policy.

Let's just wait and see what happens. Hopefully, we won't have to wait for long. In the meantime...

Bring the Revolution!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Well...

you fucked up. We asked you not to, but you fucked it up all the same.

However, you didn't fuck it up completely.

So, now we wait. But one thing is clear:

Nothing is clear.

The Tories have not won this election.

The Tories have no mandate to assume sole control of the government.

Cameron and his minions and The Mail and The Express will huff and puff and try to bully you into believing that the Tories have won, but this is wrong. This is how George Bush and his allies in the media and the Supreme Court -- and the baying Republican mobs -- bullied the Americans into suspending political process. We cannot let that happen here.

The Tories, their supporters, and the right-wing press need to shut up now and give the political process its time -- the proper and perfectly legitimate political process that all parties signed up to before this all started. And we must resist any attempts to subvert this process, even if it doesn't work out the way we'd like it.

It might very well happen that the Tories will get to work with a coalition or even work with a minority government (it would go everything they said they believe in, e.g. the need for strong government, but nevermind). Personally, I'm hoping for a Lib-Lab coalition, in some form, at least in the short term, to secure certain priorities -- electoral reform, and preventing the Tories' planned cuts. And it's GB's first call.

Let's see what happens. But DO NOT allow the Tories to hijack the process.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Here we go. Don't fuck it up.

I'm off to vote this afternoon, after I pick up the kids from school. I can't wait for the questions from the boys. 'That one is David Cameron's puppet, isn't it, Daddy? Will anyone vote for him? Please tell me that pudding won't win, Daddy? Please?'

Ok. So, I wave my right to secret ballot. I think the secret ballot should be allowed anyway. You should have to justify who you vote for, and, if you're reason isn't good enough, you're vote shouldn't count. 'I want to vote for Cameron for change'. Nope. Fuck off. 'I want to vote BNP because we need to do something about the immigrants.' Nope. Fuck off and go learn something. 'I want to vote Labour because I think Gordon Brown would look good in a dress, and I really want to see that.'

Ok. I'm intrigued.

So: I'm probably going to vote for Nick Clegg. And I say that not misunderstanding how British democracy works. I know you don't actually vote for the party leader -- a truth the debates have somewhat clouded; more on that some other day. No. The Cleggster is really running in my constituency, Sheffield Hallam. And I know I shouldn't, really. I am not a massive Lib-Demmer. According to votematch.org.uk, I should vote Greens (though, strangely, Lib Dems came a close second -- I assume that's because there is no Nutty-Old-Lefty Party candidate in my area). So apologies to Steve Barnar. Maybe next time.

And I mean that. Because I am voting for the Cleggmeister not out of love, but tactically, in the expectation that this is the last time I ever need to vote tactically again. I am voting for the Cleggeramma to give him a mandate to reform the electoral system. This is the only clear mandate that can possibly come from today's vote. No party is going to obtain a majority to implement their agenda, not that they bothered to share their agenda with us anyway. No party will have a clear mandate to make the cuts they want. The only clear demand from the electorate, it seems, will be for a new political system, and for co-operation. (Perhaps, if 'Lib-Lab Coalition' was on the ticket, that might win, but it's not, so we make do.)

And if you are still in doubt as to who to vote for, here's a quick guide. A bit Lib-Dem Happy, but funny anyway. I've got a feeling we'll need a laugh tonight.

Ok. So go and vote. And don't fuck it up.

Seriously. Do not fuck this up.