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The Alliance

Monday 10th May 2010

I’m not calling it a coalition, if indeed that is what we get. I’m calling it the Alliance because then the government sounds like something from Star Wars, and that’s just cool.

Anyway I’ve had an uneasy feeling since the election result. Not about the result itself – that’s quite interesting (it looks like Labour will shortly be out of government – of which I approve. And Jacqui Smith also lost her seat, which is what is known as a “Fucking Result”. I saw a blog the other day which said this was a bad thing; words fail me to be honest. Real shame about some of the other people who also lost out though). No, the general reaction is what’s made me uneasy. All through Friday, #dontdoitnick was trending on Twitter, because of the fact that the Liberal Democrats were (are) in talks with the Conservatives. Can’t remember where but I’ve read someone saying we’d been “LibConned” as well. Conned, you see, from Conservatives, and Lib from Lib Dems. Oh the rapier wit…

I’ve also read a fair few posts like this, criticising the Liberal Democrats for basically talking to the Tories. Not for anything they’ve agreed, just for talking to them. It’s a bit tiresome really.

Anyway the reaction to the whole thing – the idea that the two parties talking is the worst thing in the world – really didn’t sit well with me, and it’s taken a while for me to work out why.

I’ve been impressed by the Tories and the Liberal Democrats for the way they’ve handled this. Obviously I don’t really know what’s going on as I am not privy to the talks, but from the things we’ve heard it sounds as if discussions are really quite amicable, and that both parties are trying to bash out a deal. The speeches Cameron and Clegg made on Friday were both graceful and statesmanlike. Obviously they’re bound to be, because they want to work together and make friends, but it seems that both parties had the right attitude. Of course not everyone has had that reaction, but we’ll gloss over that…

Obviously proportional representation is a hot topic at the moment, and people criticise it saying “it ends up in weak governments”, “it always gets coalitions”. Well, I think the last few days have been refreshing. We’ve had the spectacle of two political parties apparently trying to put aside their differences and co-operate. I’ve often criticised politics for being too adversarial, too much about beating the other team and not about working constructively.

The parties have (apparently) been working constructively, and perhaps the new parliament will be formed in that sort of co-operative spirit. The parties themselves seem to understand this, but judging by the response on Twitter and the Blogosphere, a lot of supporters are still stuck in this old adversarial mindset. The time and place has passed, and there are more important things than sticking one to the other side. Politicians have impressed me lately (and I really don’t say that much), but their supporters have just depressed me. The point of politics isn’t to win; it’s to do good. Just because “your side” didn’t win, no need to be so bitter about it and oppose something that hasn’t even happened yet.

I suppose that a lot of it is down to Irrational Tory Hatred, but that’s another phenomena I’ve never fully understood. I mean I loathe a lot of things about Labour but I don’t exactly have a hatred for the party, yet for a lot of people the Tories seem to provoke a raw visceral hatred; as if Tory MPs drink the blood of dead babies and stamp on kittens for fun. Most bizarre.

In other news, I’m seriously considering joining the Liberal Democrats. How does one go about doing so? And what’s the cost?

And now I’m going to go read about concrete. My life is so rock and roll…

Posted at 2:45 am | Posted In: PoliticsRant Tagged:

5 Comments:

Andy

Monday 10th May 2010, 3:47 am

Joining the Lib Dems is easy, you go here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/join_us.aspx and fill in the form, it’s £6 a year if you’re under 26.

It is good to see them working together, if this ends up in a deal is another matter. Clegg, after all, has to deal with getting approval from 75% of the Parliamentary Party and the Federal Executive, or a special party conference if he can’t do that.

I mean, there’s issues where the Lib Dems and the Tories are on similar ground and we could work together, like civil liberties, ID cards, devolution of powers, etc. but others where there are violent differences, e.g. Europe and immigration, and the biggest sticking point of all, electoral reform.

We’ll see if we can reach an amicable compromise.

As for the irrational Tory hatred, most of it goes back to Thatcher, I think. She did an awful lot of stuff that many people to this day find repellent, and would mean they’d never vote Tory.

Personally, I’m not voting Tory because I’m a left-leaning liberal, me voting Tory would make absolutely no sense at all.

Andy

Monday 10th May 2010, 11:05 am

Incidentally, “For the Widows in Paradise” is an incredible song.

Lucy

Monday 10th May 2010, 1:18 pm

If I were to join any political party I think it would be the Lib Dems, possibly the Greens, but I’m instinctly wary of party membership of any variety. Basically what happens (as it did to J) if the party you’ve joined starts moving in a direction that you’re opposed to?

My worry about a LibCon coalition would be that a) the Lib Dems would be fobbed off with a Jenkin’s Inquiry Mark II into electoral reform that would be quietly pushed under the carpet, thus losing our chance of a fairer system again and that b) just too many of their policies, especially on social grounds, would be just too incompatible for the Lib Dems to have a real say in anything.

I also agree, though, that talks do not equate to a done deal, and I personally have a lot of respect for Clegg for sticking by his principles as he has done.

Now will someone let the poor people get some sleep at some point?!

Dickie

Monday 10th May 2010, 2:57 pm

Andy:
Yeah, the point I was trying to make is that it’s bit hasty to slam them for talking before we even know what – if anything – they agree on. And like you say there is significant common ground between Labour and the Liberals (more than between Lab and Lib?), so it doesn’t seem that un-natural to me that they’re talking.

See, I don’t understand much of the hatred for Thatcher either. Much of the criticism levelled at her seems to be completely removed from the state Britain was in at the time. The Tories essentially cleared the deadwood; the state was propping up failed or failing industries, and we needed to move on to newer things. And arguably the result of all that is the relatively solid economic base that we now enjoy (by that I mean that irrespective of any financial fuckups, I think that we have a bunch of reasonably prosperous industries in Britain, and we also have the skills and knowledge to prosper from new and growing ones). Of course her government was far from perfect (privatisation WTF? Even if privatisation was the right thing to do, I think it’s safe to say that it was very badly managed), but I don’t think she deserves to be vilified either

And yes, it’s a wonderful song. Just started listening to Sufjan Stevens and his stuff generally seems pretty good.

Lucy:
That’s one of my reservations about joining – it’s better to stay a balanced observer rather than to get involved and perhaps more “tribal”, if that makse sense? But then also perhaps by getting involved, you have slightly more of a “voice” or whatever? Hmm.

And I agree. If any coalition is formed and there aren’t promises on electoral reform, then that really is bad. But I do trust Clegg – and as Andy says any deal needs to get approval within the party, and I wonder if they’d accept something without reform.

Fiona

Monday 10th May 2010, 11:00 pm

‘The Tories essentially cleared the deadwood’

I think it might have been the entire communities suddenly on or below the breadline without jobs or nearby means of supporting themselves that might have caused some of the criticism, at least round the Co Durham neck of the woods. On an economic level, yes, supporting new industries at the expense of the old was probably a good thing that had to be done, but it was really not done very well. It didn’t take into account many of the actual workers who were affected, and seems to have left everyone north of the Tees wondering if it was just them, or whether they really *had* been suddenly collectively struck dumb and brushed under the proverbial carpet. Much as I hate the word ‘disenfranchised’, I think it’s a fairly textbook case, and I think for a lot of people it was, and remains, very, very personal.

Unrelatedly, I agree with Lucy. As seems to be the case impressively regularly recently. Good show.

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