...a blog by Richard Flowers

Monday, May 10, 2010

Day 3416: Captain Clegg and the Path to the Dark Side


It seems that a lot of people may have voted for Liberal Democrats to "keep the Conservatories Out!" and are now a bit miffed that we might let them in.

Well, sorry, but we never promised to keep the Conservatories out – we only promised that you'd never have to vote tactically again if we could at all help it.

It's our BROKEN, WINNER-TAKES-ALL system that makes us HATE and FEAR other Parties, and in many ways that's WORSE than all the other ways that it poisons our politics.

Seriously, this is what the "New Politics" was ALWAYS going to look like: we WANT people to TALK, and to NEGOTIATE and COMPROMISE.

People HATE and FEAR the Conservatories because of what they did with UNTRAMMELLED power during the reign of Queen Maggie.

Nowadays, almost everyone agrees that SOME changes did have to be made, but equally that the Conservatories were way too harsh in the way that they made them. Could they have been as BRUTAL if they hadn't had a monopoly on power with only a minority of support?

If Queen Maggie had had to negotiate and explain, to listen and to compromise perhaps not only would it have been better for everyone else BUT ALSO everyone else would not have ended up with paranoid terror of the Conservatories ever coming back.

FEAR, as the thousand-year-old Fozzie Bear once said, is the path to the DARK SIDE. FEAR leads to HATE, HATE leads to ANGER, ANGER leads to thirteen years of police powers and terrorism acts. Wokka wokka wokka, he added.

What we've seen this last weekend is that people CAN behave like GROWN-UPs when they HAVE to. Wouldn't it be nice if they have to behave like grown-ups ALL THE TIME?

That is why it is so important, SO important that we reform our electoral system. And THAT is why it is so important that we make these negotiations with the Conservatories work. I KNOW we hate and fear them – we've got to do BETTER than that.

Two points:

First, a BIG part of the Conservatories case for the winner-takes-all first pass the port electoral system is that coalitions are WEAK. If we make this work, it proves them WRONG.

Second, if we do reach an agreement with the Conservatories it proves that we CAN reach a deal with the Conservatories. Because otherwise we will ALWAYS get the "Lib-Lab Pact" thrown in our faces and be told – not least by Hard Labour – that we can only ever be a junior partner to the forces of the LEFT.

(And I am SO tired of being told, by Hard Labour or their stooges, that I am part of the "left-liberal consensus". As Mr Harry Wilcock once said about I.D.iot cards – "left-liberal consensus"? I am a Liberal and I don't approve of that sort of thing!)

Look, even at the heights of "Cleggmania" we were NEVER expecting the Liberal Democrats to poll more than 50% (even if 49% was pretty darn close), so if we really, truly BELIEVE in trusting the people's vote, then we would ALWAYS have had to negotiate a partnership with one or other Labservative.

We're NOT in this to sit on the sidelines heckling; we're here to make a DIFFERENCE. And that means doing politics DIFFERENTLY.

So that's what's in it for us, but what's in it for the Conservatories?

Well, how about the chance of REAL GREATNESS.

Lord Blairimort's biggest problem – apart from being a psychotic monomaniac with a messiah complex, of course – was that he was great at ACHIEVING power and never had a clue what he wanted to DO with it. He was swept in on a great wave of "time for change" and revulsion at the old Conservatory sleaze, but didn't really know HOW he was going to make sure "things could only get better". This meant that his first term was wasted making everyone very cross by following Conservatory spending plans and his second term was wasted making every very cross by following Replutocrat INVASION plans.

Lord Blairimort wanted to go down in HISTORY – which of course he WILL, but not in a GOOD way – but even he sensed in himself the lack of true VOCATION. He wanted to be a "great reforming Prime Monster", like Mr Lloyd George or Mr Atlee or, er, Mrs Queen Maggie.

The reason that he WON'T be remembered as a great reformer is because his vision didn't extend beyond getting elected and then re-elected.

Now Mr Balloon has arrived, with a campaign straight out of the New Labour playbook, swept into power on a great wave of "time for change" and revulsion at the old Labour sleaze and what's he going to do now? His manifesto is less a platform more a collection of sound bites and idea bubbles – "hug a hoodie", "vote blue go green", "big tent society", "save my job"… no, that one was slipped in by Mr Vague.

Mr Balloon, self-styled heir-to-Blair, has always showed every danger sign of being another election-friendly policy vacuum.

But we could save him from himself.

The Conservatories will be negotiating saying "we got 307 seats; you only got 57" and we will be going in saying "I think you'll find that we got 23% of the vote and you got 36%, so we'll be splitting the power 40:60 if you don't mind".

But think about what we REALLY offer the Conservatories: a programme for government that is consistent, thought-through and ready to roll.

A Great Reforming Parliament: the Great Tax Reform Bill, to make the tax system fairer; the Freedom Bill, to roll back the intrusive state powers that Hard Labour have seized; and a new Great Reform Act, to empower a citizens convention and really, really usher in a politics for the New Millennium: the politics of fairness and consensus and individual freedom and empowerment

If you were Mr Balloon with THAT on the table, could you really, REALLY turn down the chance to be remembered in one breath with Churchill or Queen Maggie just because your resident wingnuts were unhappy with changing a system that was really only brought in by Labour less than a hundred years ago with the abolition of multi-member seats?

For goodness sake, STV is even known as BRITISH Proportional Representation. You know, like calling the EMULSIFIED HIGH-FAT OFFAL TUBE the British Sausage, it may just be all in a NAME if you want to get people to swallow something.

I have seen Hard Labour twitterers tweeting and bleating that to deal with the Conservatories is to do a deal with the devil. "If you handle dirt with clean gloves," they say, "it's not the dirt that gets cleaner."

Well maybe that's true, but if NO ONE handles the dirt then we all DROWN in it.

Hate and Fear are the path to the Dark Side. We have to have a BETTER answer.



James said...

Hurrah for the Elephant - common sense at last!!!

neil craig said...

I doubt if many people voted LD primarily to keep the Tories out. I know the awful Peter Hain did sort of tell Labour voters to do so in some constituencies but looking at the fall in LD support they clearly didn't. What we are seeing is Labour supporters or points left telling the LDs they have a duty not to go with the Tories (& to go with Labour). Equally many Conservative bloggers are saying the LDs have a semi-constitutional duty to support the Tories with no impudent remarks about PR> The LDs must make PR a sticking point & then act responsibly to give Britain a government.

Unknown said...

You talk a lot of sense for one so young, little elephant.

It's intersting that you, me, Alix and Daddy Alex are kind of saying quite similar things. I called it taking the sting out of the Tories in the same way that we took the sting out of Labour in coalition from 1999-2007.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of Labour, why is it, do you think, that that the Scottish electorate seem to think that Labour actually does them any good? They did sweeet nothing for them in the 1980s and 1990s when the last Tory outrage of a Government did its worst.