My word, they are ALL at it!
No sooner had I published yesterday's diary this morning, than who should come on the telephone but MR BALLOON! He said to me:
"What ho, Millennium, old sock! Look, I want to make some changes, new changes, changes for the better, new changes for a better kind of newness, a newness that brings real change…"
And I said "GET TO THE POINT, YOU 'LOON[*]!"
So he went on: "Basically, it's time I changed that idiot Mr Gideon Oboe, and I wondered if you'd be my Shadow Chancellor?"
And I said: "I am SORRY, Mr Balloon, but I will say to you the same as I said to Mr Frown: I AM NOT A CONSERVATORY!"
"And do not call people "old sock", it is RUDE!"
[*] No I'm not – 'LOON is short for BALloon, obviously!
Actually, the interesting question here is for the Conservatories.
Has Mr Frown gone to THEM – as Mr Michael Crick'd Neck implied on the Newsnight Show – and made a similar offer?
Mr Crick'd spoke of government jobs for "someone of the calibre of a Chris Patten or a Seb Coe" (i.e. Conservatories who are mainly wet and better than the rest of them by being only mostly rubbish).
The Conservatories are making a lot of fuss about Sir Mr the Merciless CONSIDERING Mr Frown's idea – i.e. having the courtesy to his colleagues to talk it over with them first before agreeing that we were all against it and saying "No, thank you!" And yet SURELY Mr Balloon has been CONSIDERING a similar offer…
So, what are the options?
Has Mr Balloon actually said YES? Is next week's BIG SURPRISE going to be the announcement of Queen Maggie as Mr Frown's new MINISTER FOR EUROPE?
Or does Mr Balloon not think any of his Conservatories are good enough to go into government?
The Liberal Democrats have made it perfectly clear that we have a PRINCIPLED OBJECTION to working with Mr Frown until he CLEANS UP HIS ACT. And yet the Conservatories have so much more IN COMMON with the Labour. And everyone knows they do not have any PRINCIPLES!
Yet if he has said "No" why have the Conservatories not come out and said so? Do they have something to HIDE?
Or is he REALLY saying that there was NO ONE in the Conservatory ranks who was even worth ASKING.
Are you not supposed to be MODERATE and CENTRIST nowadays, Mr Balloon? Did not Mr Gideon Oboe make an ASS of himself by trying to invite some of those SAME Liberal Democrats to join YOUR team? Aren't you supposed to be a LIBERAL Conservatory?
Why are WE worth asking into Government when YOU are not?
Perhaps Sir Mr the Merciless should ASK Mr Frown at his first Prime Monster's Question Time: "Sorry as we were that we could not work together, Mr Frown, did you not also ask Mr Balloon to join your government of all the talents? And if not, why not?"
Since the Conservatories seem to think that even CONSIDERING sharing power with another party makes you UNFIT for government, I assume that they are automatically ruling themselves out of any future coalition. (Or do they have different standards for themselves to everyone else?)
On the other fluffy foot, it seems only FAIR to give Mr Balloon the same chances as Mr Frown. So…
There are THREE things that we need before we could even CONSIDER teaming up with the Conservatories:
First Mr Balloon, you must stop being VACUOUS!
I know it seems like a big thing, but if you could just bring yourself to pick some key policies and stick with them for more than a few days, give us the detail rather than the airy-fairy vision and tells us what it will cost.
For a start, you could come out with UNEQUIVOCAL opposition to I.D.iot cards… and detention without trial… and the DNA database, and ASBOs and hounding Hoodies (who DO deserve HUGS)… and secret rendition flights, and 3000 new crimes, and exemptions to Freedom of Information, and 81,000 people in prisons and… okay, it IS quite a big thing, but please START!
Second, Mr Balloon, you are just going to have to stand up to the Tombstone Conservatories and tell them that we are in the European Union for good.
The Liberal Democrats believe that people work best when they work TOGETHER. Climate Change, terrorism, population movement – all of these things need us to CO-OPERATE with our friends in Europe (and America and everywhere else) in order to find a solution. Freedom can be a FREEDOM TO JOIN IN as well as a Freedom FROM Control.
If you really want to impress us that you are serious on "giving power back to people" then get onside with us for reforming the institutions of the Union so that the Parliament, the people's representatives, is the body that is in charge instead of the undemocratic cabal that is the Council of Ministers.
The European Union was not and is not the ANSWER to all problems, but it certainly makes it a whole lot easier for people to get along without a WAR if there is a club they can join that makes people richer and freer and happier.
British foreign policy shouldn't be ignoring everything that is FOREIGN. That does not mean surrendering to Europe, quite the reverse. There are so many things that we can bring to the European table. The new members from Eastern Europe have been among the first to realise that. If you would just stop being obstructive about everything, then we might be able to come up with a proper Liberal Free Trade agreement instead of the Common Agricultural Policy, or the Common Fisheries Piracy. But equally, there are things that we can learn from Europe. Their interest rates are CONSISTENTLY half those of the United Kingdom
And finally, you must give us a proper FAIR ELECTORAL SYSTEM. This is so that people's votes really actually count, and then you should hold a general election so that their votes are really actually counted!
We could not support the Conservatories in gaining power under the CURRENT system if they do not gain a majority, because you are not being honest about which Conservatory Party you really are. Caving in to your right wing over Grandma Schools like that makes all of us worry that you do not mean it when you claim to have changed, and we would be nervous of supporting a bloc that was really an old style Nasty Party in disguise.
But a new electoral system might change that, particularly one like STV where voters can choose which FLAVOUR of a party they prefer – NuLabour or Palaeolithic on the one fluffy foot, "Hello Trees Hello Flowers" Balloonists or Tombstone Conservatories on the other.
But even then Mr Balloon, you have to accept that we might choose to join up with Mr Frown. Or with a different party. Or with no one. Whoever we can get the best shared programme with. Because we are standing because we want to bring people LIBERAL DEMOCRAT polices, NOT just to make it look like you have FRIENDS.