...a blog by Richard Flowers

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 3070: Captain Clegg Clobbers Cameron and An Elephant Described by a Committee of Blind Men


A week ago, I was raising my fluffy foot for a REVOLUTION!

Guess what! We got one!

Two days ago, I was demanding that we make Mr Balloon come off the fence, stop posing as a reformer and put up or shut up.

Guess what! We have!

Today, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Captain Clegg, gets the front page splash in the Grauniad ,setting out a one hundred day plan to save British Democracy in an article that, just like when he called for the defenestration of Mr Speaker of the Housemartin, once again seizes back the initiative!

A referendum on voting reform!

An elected House of Lords Club!

An end to the corrupting influence of big donations to political parties!

A bill to enable recalls of MPs!

And all inside of one hundred days, presumably to be followed by a swift Autumn election.

People WANT a General Election now, and quite right too. But we HAVE to have the reforms in place first, or we'll just clear out one lot of crooks in order to let in a new lot. Remember how everyone felt in 1997, when the Conservatories were swept out and Lord Blairimort came in with promises to clean up politics and be white-than-white?

Can you REALLY face that sort of disappointment again?

Because that is all that Mr Balloon's call for a snap election is offering unless we make REAL CHANGE NOW.

One hundred days of reform, a swift Autumn election, and a real fresh start!

It's all too good to be true… so what are the problems?

Well, actually I'm NOT going to bang on about SINGLE TRUNK VOTING. I've already explained why STV is the BEST. So why put up with the Hard-Labour-inspired fudge that is AV+?

Politics is described as "the Art of the Possible".

(Admittedly, at the moment that "art" looks more like finger-paintings from a bunch of toddlers popped to the eyeballs on tartrazine-flavoured juice and throwing a tantrum 'cos the sweeties have been taken away. But never mind that right now.)

The POINT about Captain Clegg's PLAN is that – if the other two Parties are REALLY SERIOUS about reforming politics – it is a plan that could REALLY WORK.

No, seriously.

Just look at the campaign for justice for the Ghurkhas. We – and by "we" I mean Ms Joanna Lovely AND the Liberal Democrats (and the Conservatories tagging along at the end) – WE managed to get the Government to change its policy.

Most of the reforms in Captain Clegg's plan have ALREADY been discussed and agreed or very-nearly agreed:

The cap on Party funding was all ready to be signed off at fifty thousand pounds until Mr Balloon walked away from the table.

Elections to the House of Lords Club have been voted on and agreed by Parliament.

And, likewise, the Jenkins' Commission did all the work and came to a compromise on the reformation of the electoral system. All we need for a referendum is for Hard Labour to FULFIL their 1997 election promise. Ten years late, of course, but better late than never.

If we are to MAKE IT HAPPEN, and happen in one hundred days, then we need to be bringing people on board (not opening up new arguments).

But I might suggest that we want to bring in the Conservatories too! We should invite THEM to bring their Open Primaries suggestion to the table.

Open Primaries PLUS a proportional AV+ voting system, so the voters get to choose BETWEEN the candidates for the Parties AND get a vaguely proportional outcome… it almost sounds like the sort of idea that someone might come up with who has HEARD about STV but never SEEN it…

(Yes, that's An Elephant Described by a Committee of Blind Men!)

As a SALVE to the conscientious reformer, might I suggest a look at the Scottish model. There they have a Parliament elected with AV+… and that Parliament voted to implement STV at a LOCAL election level. So now the people in Scotland have had EXPERIENCE of STV, and know that it works, and that it actually worked rather well. Hopefully it means that people will be ready to accept STV at a national Parliament level too.

But I'm NOT going to bang on about that because that's not a problem.

So what is?

Well, firstly, where's our coverage?

The front page of the Grauniad is a GOOD START… but we want the BBC website and telly and radio to be shouting it out, just the way they did for the Conservatories.

Frankly I was SHOCKED by the meeja's kid-glove handling of Mr Balloon and his so-vague-it-can-hardly-be-called-a-policy of "oooh, I might CONSIDER restricting the powers of the PM" (no doubt to be followed six months after a General Election by "oooh, I CONSIDERED it but I decided NOT TO"). Seeing the SOFT SERVES offered up by the normally-excellent Mr Andy Marrmite, and the wall-to-wall love in that Mr Balloon got on Tuesday ("Representation of the People Act? What Representation of the People Act?"), I am only surprised we didn't get to the "…and is there anything else that you would like to share with a grateful nation, Prime Monster-in-Waiting?" question.

What do WE get? Nothing in the The Today Programme headlines at 6am; nothing again at 7am; our policy folded into the story about yet another Conservatory facing the sack for employing her family/using her second home allowance to build servants quarters for her brother; and some jokes about "oh it MUST be serious if they'd cancel their holidays" during the review of the papers.

Never have the BBC been more NAKEDLY the TOOLS of the Establishment, mocking the reforms we so urgently need. Shaming.

Captain Clegg has provided a REAL and PRACTICAL outline of just what a REAL REFORMER could and should do. We can't do it alone – but if the OTHER Parties want to claim the mantle of "reformer" then they are going to HAVE to answer the question: "why won't you go as far as the Liberal Democrats?"

We say "It can be done… and this is how!" so we need the meeja to be putting that to the other Parties. Are they going to join us or be ROADBLOCKS to REFORM…

…just like Mr Speaker was? And look what happened to HIM!

Which leads to the second problem, what do we do if – or more likely WHEN – the Tweedletories in the other two Parties ignore us?

Parliament will be back from another holiday recess on Monday, and that will be Day One. The very least we need is a BIG COUNTER on the Liberal Democrat websites saying:
ONE WASTED DAY – You could have had all-party agreement to accept the independent expenses system by now…


THREE, THREE WASTED DAYS… ah ha ha ha haaa {/Count von Count}…

FOUR WASTED DAYS – You could have had the ability to recall crooked MPs by now…

…and so on.
But what do we do when the next Parliamentary holiday comes round? On July 20th, Hard Labour and the Conservatories will be packing their trunks and saying goodbye to the circus. What do WE do?

"Bar the Gates!" is Captain Clegg's battle cry – and one of the respondents on Comment is Free asks "How exactly do you propose that 'we' 'bar the gates of Westminster and stop MPs leaving for their Summer holidays' without actually getting arrested? I'm quite prepared to chain myself to the gates as long as you and the rest of the Lib Dem MPs are chained up next to me."

Well, chaining Captain Clegg to the railings is certainly one idea, and perhaps we shouldn't too quickly dismiss the visual and outrageous!

Better still, could our Liberal Democrat MPs organise a SIT IN in Parliament itself? If the other two Parties are SCARED to fix the System, we can hold the debate ourselves. We might even win the debate! Er…

Or if you want a more PRACTICAL demonstration… how about an ACTUAL DEMONSTRATION – a million people marched to stop the War (which, OK, didn't actually stop the War) but the Liberal Democrats were a great big VISIBLE part of that. I am sure that LOTS of people would want to March on Parliament in order to make their feelings felt!

Let's do it!

Rise Up people and Fluffy Elephants of Great Britain!

Reclaim your Liberal Birthright and Take Back Power!


1 comment:

Lionel de Livi said...

I'm with you my favourite pachyderm and I'm sure I can persuade Mister Stephen to come along for the ride too. He's already Tweeting about this.

As King of the fluffy jungle I'm sure I can muster cross-species support for this.

If not I may have to eat som....sorry don't know what came over me there.