Tag Archive: nick clegg



The people have spoken and they have unanimously decided…. NO!!!

No to what? Well obviously no to political reform. But also a great big vocal no to politics as a whole. Here are some of the other questions posed at the ballot that were rejected.

Q. Do you have any sympathy for Nick Clegg’s scapegoat status?

A. NO!! One thing is for sure, Liberals got hammered in England, Scotland and Wales.

Q. Have you given up on government?

A. NO!! In England Tories are still firmly in control of local councils and whilst they expected to lose hundreds of seats they actually gained 81.

Q. So do you support the government?

A. NO!! We hate tuition fees, we don’t like the cuts but we blame the Lib Dems and Labour so Tories have got through the local council elections unscathed.

Q. Have you forgiven Labour?

A. NO!! Labour fell well short of the 1,000 extra councillors they wanted to gain in England and they took a beating in Scotland courtesy of the SNP.


The public may not know what it wants but they know what they don’t want and that’s everything currently being offered.

The traditional progressive movement in England has been given a resounding kicking. The Liberal Democrats got annihilated in the local council elections losing just shy of 700 seats and 9 councils. Even here in Sheffield, where it was expected that things would be bad with Labour gaining control of the council, it was far worse than expected. Nine councillors were lost and many other wards saw Sheffield’s lowly conservatives overtake Clegg’s men.

And then there was AV. The polls seemed to agree that there was no hope for the attempt at political progression putting it 18 points behind the No2AV campaign. In actuality it was far worse than this as 68 per cent voted against thus giving Clegg his second kicking and leaving his party at a crossroads.

Can he lead Scotland to Independence?

Scotland

The one concrete result we have got is in Scotland. Ed Miliband wanted the Labour recovery that aims to eventually see them retake Westminster, to begin in Scotland. Such talk indicating Miliband’s patronising belief in Scotland’s subsidiary status didn’t have the desired effect and pushed the voters towards Alex Salmond’s ‘putting Scotland first’ approach. The Scottish Nationalist Party stormed to an impressive electoral dominance destroying the labour party who so long have ruled the lands north of the border. However, whilst the SNP are experiencing a surge in support, this may not actually point to a thirst for progression. Whilst the First Minister, Alex Salmond, now has a position to implement a referendum for independence it is not at all certain that if he does he will win. The result was massive for the party but if they don’t win a referendum on independence then it could be assumed that the results of the Scottish assembly elections were an anti labour and Westminster vote more than a victory for SNP. Salmond is a heavyweight politician operating in a pool of small fish. And whilst clearly he has voter appeal he may have benefited more from poor labour tactics than having successfully united his country over political reform.

England

Liberal Democrat attention is now being switched to the next great battle. NHS reforms will serve as the latest battleground in order to refocus and regroup the party. I have always resisted previous talk of the coalition government not lasting as ‘too early to say’ but now the government is ‘mission creep-ing’ its way to internal crisis. Divisions that were previously confined to the backroom are now open to the public. Aside from the AV campaigns and figures such as Chris Huhne, and Paddy Ashdown throwing tantrums the formerly silent but lurking Tory backbenchers are creeping into the limelight. When asked about the longevity of the coalition government conservative Peter Bone MP said: “I don’t think it will go on for the full five years that’s for sure. The only reason for the coalition was to come together and sort out the economic mess that labour left this country and once that’s done there’s absolutely no need to continue with the coalition.” He went on to say: “Liberals have got to row in behind the government and stop bleating”. This opinion is reflective of so many Tory backbenchers who don’t see this as a coalition government, but a conservative one with a few refugees thrown in to provide Mr Cameron with the votes he needs to do the bidding of middle England.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, most famous for threatening to resign unless changes were implemented to Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms, stated today: “We have become a human shield for the conservatives”. There is no doubt this is true and it’s hard to see what they can do to change that whilst remaining in government. Mr Cameron won’t throw them any bones. The Tory backbenchers won’t allow it. They’ve come to the fore as they did to derail John Major over the EU. The current PM will be wary of his history, internal party rebellions destroyed the two previous conservative PM’s and now that the Liberal Democrats are so weak and Labour are still a long way back on their road to recovery, his primary concern is to appease his own party.

Advertisements

What is the point of first past the post? It doesn’t represent the public. It serves only to represent a single political group as the winner rarely gains a majority worthy to represent its constituency and insures safe seats for politicians. This allows them to feel free to use public money to fund anything from pornography to duck houses.

The arguments from the No2AV campaign have relied on an advert portraying people being too stupid to understand a format requiring the writing of numbers in order: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-obZ9OG_XKA

And a poster showing a boxer being knocked out by an opponent and still winning despite this being impossible under AV as boxing is a one on one situation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVRtL20Ue54&feature=player_embedded

But the argument that winning a foot race, even by a nose, is justifiable as being fully representative seems to be doing enough to win with the ‘No’ campaign in the lead by anything from 5 to 10 percentage points depending on the poll.

Why?

The King is born!!! Oh, the King is dead....already

The public have no appetite for change. People will complain about politicians and the press will get delirious with rage at expenses scandals but it means nothing come election time. We’ve become an old country set in its ways. We alternate our governments between labour and conservative as their main competition has been over who can be closer to the political centre ground. We have a monarchy that trudges on despite holding no influence over the country and its subjects anymore. The economy is lurching in the face of competition from China, India and Brazil. Our place as a ‘former’ world power is at last truly dawning and there doesn’t seem to be any enthusiasm to snap the country back into life.

We’ve had two by-elections recently in Barnsley and Oldham East after the previous Labour MPs were imprisoned. You would have thought that criminally pissing away voters’ money would deter the people from entrusting your party again, at least for the foreseeable future. But Labour not only held onto the seats but actually increased their share of the vote by over 10 per cent in each district.

The voters trundled into the booths and collectively put a cross in the box next to Labour because that’s what they’re supposed to do. “We’re from the north. We vote labour. We don’t want Thatcher’s Britain.” The same happens in the south with middle England as staunchly conservative as ever only to be riled out of their dozy middle class lifestyles if there is a perceived threat to…..trees.

AV won’t win because the politicians don’t want it to. The Tories like their safe seats. They represent the moderate right against the left wing. If the voting system represented a straight fight between the right and the left, then labour and lib dem votes would be intertwined possibly decimating the Tories in a number of their close seats.

Labour are split over the issue because they realise the above, but they also don’t like the idea of losing votes to the lib dems who are often the common mans’ second favourite party and could do well under AV.

It could all have been so different……

For real reform it takes a leader who can win the support of the public and develop enough energy to encourage people to act in the name of progression. Think Martin Luther King, Emmeline Pankhurst or Vladimir Lenin. Nick Clegg could have been that man. For a while he was the knight in shining armour destined to lead the country to greener pastures. He fearlessly strode into the field of conflict (TV leadership debate) and after a ferocious battle where much blood was spilt (some verbals and polite disagreements) the gallant knight emerged heroic and victorious (1% gain in vote).

But then it went wrong.

Mel Gibson ain't no English Bitch

I don’t remember Mel Gibson signing an agreement at the end of Braveheart saying: “Fair cop mate, your English boys won. It was a good fight (but never really that close). Do us a favour sport (King Edward), I’ll be your deputy if you fancy?” It wouldn’t have gone down well with the Scots and would probably have confused the film critics. But that’s what Clegg did because he hadn’t seen Braveheart. He fucking hates Mel Gibson films.

Since then he’s had to choke on tuition fee increases that decimated his strong student support and battle his own party about Andrew Lansley’s proposals for reforms to the NHS. Clegg’s Merry Men aren’t happy. Vince Cable (Friar Tuck) is getting into arguments with David Cameron about immigration speeches. Danny Alexander (the ginger merry man) is falling out with George Osborne about ‘dirty tricks’ in the AV campaign. All the while the liberal democrat Godfathers Emperor Ming Campbell and Charles Kennedy are hardly thrilled about the whole coalition deal.

Clegg could have pushed through electoral form. He could have ridden the crest of a liberal wave that refused to elect the Tories outright despite knowing labour were not so much a dead horse but long decayed. His victory is that there is a referendum on electoral form. He has taken it this far but to ensure this he had to sign his political life away. Now Ed Miliband won’t even share a platform with him during the YES2AV campaign. It’s a sad state of affairs for a man who sacrificed his party to gain power and attempt to make real change to the country. If AV wins it will now be Miliband’s victory. If it doesn’t then Clegg’s surely done as a political force. Tuition Fees increased, Trident will be replaced rather than scrapped and electoral reform has slipped away.

Ideology or pragmatism?


Tuition Fees Demonstration (courtesy of Flickr)

The toughest task for a government is to deliver on its election promises. An election manifesto is usually pretty true to the principals of the party in order to appeal to those who are politically aligned. There will be some watering down so as not to isolate themselves from everyone else, but essentially it will reflect the policies the prospective government would want to implement. The problem is that when you are in government you are expected to fulfil the promises your election campaign was founded on, when you fail to do so you are seen to be failing. This has been made abundantly clear in the recent Lib Deb tuition fees fall out. But is that fair? And is that right?

I am a sceptic but I do believe that when one enters politics, whilst there are numerous other benefits, one does so to make a difference and is, at least at first, ideologically motivated. Ideology is at the core of a politician, without it they stand for nothing. How much it takes to force a politician to admit that they are wrong has been seen again and again by a Labour government that refused to use the word “sorry” or admit wrongdoing as though to accept it would be to condemn them to death. So when so many of the Liberal Democrats make a u-turn as significant as the one they have made recently, are they to be castigated or commended?

We know why free tuition is unworkable, we understand that higher education needs increased funding in a time of budget cuts; we generally accept that budget cuts need to be made, yet as soon as it happens these practical realities seem to be cast aside in the name of ideology. “HOW COULD YOU GO BACK ON YOUR WORD!” roar the student protestors whose political interest was revitalised by a third option not yet tarred by the brush of political scepticism. Whilst the Tories and Labour parties are perennially mistrusted and demonised, the Liberals were seen as white knights coming to clean up parliament with good faith and honesty. There was a definite sense of fresh optimism during the election as the Liberals were seen as having a chance. Polls saw them as making giant leaps, Nick Clegg was the undisputed king of the television debates. And then, by hook or by crook, they were involved in a coalition government and they were in a position to make a difference.

However, suddenly problems arose. The party that rode on the crest of a wave of student votes had to appease their vital supply of support. The key issue for the lifeblood of Liberal politics would of course be tuition fees which for so many students appears to have been the sole cause for voting. Apparently, aside from that one policy, the entirety of the Liberal Democrat manifesto could have been thrown out and it would still have satisfied the tens of thousands who have marched and protested.

Free tuition is not viable. I’m not saying that because of the current economic climate, I’m saying that because of the bloated nature of higher education in this country. Whilst Labour was commendable in pushing more and more people into university, it has resulted in a great deal of unsustainable institutions wholly dependent on government funding. Wiping out tuition fees would put even greater stress on a government that is already slashing its budgets across all departments. So why are people upset that this unworkable and frankly ridiculous pledge is not coming to fruition? Because they said they would. The idea appears to be that the Liberal Democrats should ignore context and practical issues and push for free education simply because they pledged to do so. It’s almost as though Clegg and Vince Cable wanted to screw over their supporters. It must be the hardest decision in the world to sacrifice your party credibility in order to serve the government and the country, yet the protestors reject this. It seems to have been taken as a personal attack rather than a sign of competent governing.

So were the Liberal Democrats wrong to promise something they could never have delivered? Of course they were, but is it not better that they have admitted their mistake and progressed in another direction, rather than refusing to give up on its policies and desperately flog a severely dead horse. Labour wouldn’t have admitted they were wrong they would have delayed the implementation of the policy until the next election. When they were elected, they campaigned on welfare and making society fairer. It was thrown more and more money and grew and grew until it was a massive inefficient black hole of public spending. Yet rather than admitting it was bloated and failing, they threw more money at it. Wars were started on false pretences and apologies or admissions of guilt were hardly forthcoming.

Is it not refreshing that the likes of Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are showing that unlike their predecessors, they can admit when they were wrong and are practical enough to look at another solution? Those who feel deeply wronged are acting as a child who was promised a new bike but only got an apple. “Sorry son, but Daddy isn’t that well off at the moment”. Unfortunately in this country it appears that to admit guilt is worse than to blindly deny it and as a result the Liberal Democrat party would do very well to recover from the tuition fees debacle.