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...a blog by Richard Flowers

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Day 2510: How DO you answer the HUNG PARLIAMENT question?

Thursday:


It's actually REALLY easy!

The BBC's Questionable Time show brought us the BIG DEBATE, Mr Nick Clogg in a pink tie against the blue background versus Mr Chris Huhney-Monster in a blue-check tie against the red background. Your host was Mr David Dimbledonkey with ANOTHER pink tie, though his had gold highlights…the ONLY Liberal Democrat gold on show!

Already, the debate has sparked a LOT of chatter, and not a little HEATED banter, in the Liberal Blogosphere, but the BIGGEST and MOST IMPORTANT question remains to be answered:

Why wasn't I on telly facing the other two leadership candidates?*

No, sorry, that's not it. It's:

If there was a hung parliament, which of the other parties would we support?

We need a SIMPLE answer, a DIRECT answer and an answer that is CONSISTENT with our philosophy and message.

This is it:

If there was a hung parliament TODAY, then we would choose NEITHER of them. If THEY change, then we would listen.

Two sentences; job done.

If the media person challenges you with, "yes but what about AFTER the next election", you can come back with: "the opinion polls ask people how they would vote if there was an election today, not how they might vote in two years' time. And today, we could support neither of them."


It is, of course, a REALLY STUPID question. A "when did you stop beating your wife?" type question, because almost every answer is BAD. The media LIKE asking that sort of question because they think that it makes THEM look clever and the politician look SHIFTY. (They like it even more if they can choose some member of the public to play patsy and ask the question for them, as happened on Thursday.)

Just suppose that the media were to do what they NEVER do and ask Mr Balloon: well, all the polls show that you still CANNOT GET A MAJORITY at the next election, so which of the other parties would you support in a coalition?

Suppose that Mr Balloon says: "well, obviously we support the Thatcherite agenda so we'd back Mr Frown and the Labour."

But that is stupid, because he immediately alienates all the Liberal and centre-right voters who want rid of the Labour and their CRUSHING AUTHORITARIAN POLICIES, a large part of the electorate, and indeed a large part of his own party.

Let's SIMPLIFY and say that there are just six sorts of people: ones who always vote for the Labour, ones who always vote for the Liberal Democrats and ones who always vote for the Conservatories PLUS people who might choose the Labour OR the Liberal Democrats, people who might choose the Labour OR the Conservatories and people who might choose the Liberal Democrats or the Conservatories.

Three of those groups, HALF, might vote for Mr Balloon, and his job is about balancing the interests of the three different groups that might favour HIM. BUT if he says that he'd support the Labour, then not only do the people who might choose Liberal or Conservatory (and so don't like the Labour) choose to vote Liberal, but the voters who swing between the Labour and the Conservatories will vote for the Labour since that is who they would get anyway!

It is a LOSE:LOSE situation. He is giving up the possibility of persuading TWO-THIRDS of those people who might do so to choose him rather than the Liberal Democrats or the Labour.

So instead Mr Balloon is going to HAVE to try and explain that it DEPENDS… on the outcome of the election, the deals that are on offer, the mood of the country… he's BOUND to look like he's ducking it.

Of course, Mr Balloon isn't going to get ASKED the question.

Mr Huhney-Monster was quite right to point out that people never CONSIDER a "grand coalition" of the Labour with the Conservatories, even though it happens all the time in Council Chambers across the country and even though they have practically the same policies.

But it wouldn't happen because Mr Huhney-Monster is ALSO quite right to say that it would soon be defeated and replaced by the Liberal Democrats (not least, because we would finally have the coverage of being the Official Opposition).

Instead, the Labour and the Conservatories are happy to have a BUGGINS' TURN COALITION, where the Ministerial Limousines have different bottoms on their shiny seats but the policies ALL STAY THE SAME.

From 1987 onwards, the Labour were just waiting for THEIR go at running the same policies. And now the Conservatories are only hanging around because they expect that THEY will get to deliver the same policies again soon.

That is why we could not support EITHER of them.

THEY have to change. They have to accept proper Liberal policies. They have to have a FAIR electoral system. Then we will listen.


We need a SIMPLE answer, a DIRECT answer and an answer that is CONSISTENT with our philosophy and message.

This is it: if there was a hung parliament TODAY, then we would choose NEITHER of them. If THEY change, then we would listen.



Oh, and the answer to "when did you stop beating your wife?" is "I have NEVER beaten my wife, and only a toerag like you would even THINK of beating his wife! You disgust me, sir, GOOD DAY!"






[*] Well, it's embarrassingly obvious really: in order to make sure that there was a FAIR CONTEST, I asked half of my Parliamentary supporters to nonimate Mr Clogg and half of them to nonimate Mr Huhney-Monster and half of them to nonimate ME.

Yes, I know! Daddy Richard has now explained to me all about ADDING FRACTIONS and I THINK I see where I went wrong… I left Daddy in charge of the nonimations!

Never mind. I had a chat with Mr Charlie and he explained that being leader would be nothing but a bother as the press would be all over checking on how many sticky buns I'd had every day, going through our bins looking for croissant wrappings and quizzing Ms Sandy Toksvig about my Danish. And when Sir Mr the Merciless told me that the Leader of the Liberal Democrats does not AUTOMATICALLY get to go to the Royal Première of the next JAMES BOND film… well I decided I would be better off on my sofa, watching!


The TROUBLE is that this means that I have to decide between Mr Huhney-Monster and Mr Clogg.

I have already met Mr Huhney-Monster, but I should probably not decide until I have met Mr Clogg too. (Yes, this is a HINT about next week's diary!)

1 comment:

Jennie said...

* links back to you from this (http://community.livejournal.com/theyorkshergob/9374.html) entry *

* blows a kiss at your fluffy cheek *