Posts Tagged ‘General Election’
I remember holding a straw-poll just after the general election. It was a fine day and a fair number of allotment holders had gathered in the ‘shed’, there was much talk about the negotiations being carried out by the Lib Dems with both Cameron and Grumpy Gordon. Over a third of us had voted Lib Dem and there was a good deal of speculation as to what Clegg – who had bewitched many of us with his TV debate performances – would do.
The course of action favoured by most of his new disciples was that he should opt for allowing the Conservatives to form a minority government with the promise of support so long as its policies were acceptable to the Lib Dems. This would enable the risen stars to act in the national interest whilst leaving them free to maintain their own identity. Even better, they would have retained the right to force a general election on any issue on which they had widespread public support. The result could easily have been a triumph and the first Liberal government in living memory.
But the lure of high office took Clegg along another path. He entered into a marriage of non-equals, and the latest Mori poll tells us that should an election take place now, almost two-thirds of those who voted Lib Dem would no longer do so. In fact a straw poll on the allotments yesterday showed no one willing to contemplate any alternative to the two traditional giants. Tim Farron, the president, said at the Lib Dem conference that “without the Lib Dem influence the Conservative dominated government would have been a “nightmare”. He missed the point which is that without the Lib Dems there would be no Tory-led government.
In reality the Lib Dems have excercised little restraint. The Tories’ ideological prescription for down-sizing the state and pushing ahead with its neoliberal agenda means that the NHS and the welfare state are seriously at risk. The Tories are using the opportunity of the financial crisis to transfer taxpayer’s money from the state to the private sector, not because it is more effective, but because that is what their ideology demands. The Lib Dems have made it possible for the Tories to do pretty much everything they dreamed of doing, with just a little bit of tweaking at the edges as a sop to their junior partners.
On the NHS for example, every expert in the land is warning of its imminent demise and privatisation. The concessions supposedly wrung out of Lansley by the Lib Dems make no difference whatsoever to the thrust of the bill. Had the Lib Dems retained an independent status it would never have seen the light of day.
It is difficult to see how the party that, for a few short weeks, Nick Clegg took to the brink of electoral success can survive at all from the mess that he has created. If, as we all hope, the government succeeds in its economic policy, the credit will go to Cameron and Osborne. Should it fail, the blame will almost certainly be placed at the hands of people such as Alexander and Cable.
In fact any successes will not be shared. Cameron has reasonably claimed success over the intervention in Libya. Do you recall any of his TV appearances on this ever including a mention of Clegg? On Europe, Cameron has undoubtedly been grateful for the option to point at Lib Dem opposition to demands from the right of his party for a referendum and a withdrawal from the Human Rights Act. He is able to tell his right-wing supporters what they want to hear without actually doing anything, thus avoiding a damaging split with the pro-European Tory wing.
Nick Clegg likes to invoke as a comparison the coalition that served the country so well in World War 11. It is pure nonsense. The marriage then was one of equals and so great was the external threat that the nation recoiled from political dogma. There were no ideological debates to be had, Corporal Hitler saw to that.
Nick Clegg’s big address at the Lib Dem conference was every bit as well acted as we have come to expect. He was reading ftrom an autocue and yet still managed to convey the impression of someone sincerely pausing for thought, of someone reaching into his very soul to find the truth. But even in that he did make one huge error.
He chose to launch the bitterest possible personalised attack on Miliband, Ball and others. He publicly burned his boats so far as any possible liaison with Labour is concerned should there be another hung parliament. Perhaps it doesn’t matter, since the possibility of one becomes more remote by the day.
Who knows who will emerge from the next election for both Conservative and Labour parties are less than impressive. But the odds are that one of them will. People will regard a vote for the Lib Dems as one for the Tories. The inevitable outcome will surely be a total redistribution of that impressive Lib Dem vote on a pro or anti Conservative basis.
I take no pleasure in believing this. Just for a fleeting time I, and millions like me, thought we were witnessing the birth of a new age in British politics. We were transfixed by the relatively unknown Clegg. Alas, he lives in cloud-cuckoo land!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S MIDWEEK QUIZ; 1. Hertfordshire 2. A miller 3. Frank Morgan 4. Andy 5. Rome 6. Canada 7. Michael Bentine 8. Nijinsky 9. Grass 10. As a Tomato
Over the years we have often bemoaned the ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system, which has always struck we chicken keepers as less than democratic. It often leads to the government being voted for by less than half the electorate and that has to be wrong. But over time there has been a lessening of enthusiasm for Proportional Representation given that it would involve MPs being allocated from a central pot. We have good reason to be grateful to our local representive who, being himself a local, understands well the issues that trouble us both at the allotments and in our homes. We have therefore reached the view that the present arrangement is the better option. One option we never considered was an Alternative Vote (AV) system of the kind now being proposed in the May referendum.
I haven’t come across many who have any interest of any kind in the referendum so beloved by Nick Clegg. Of those with a view, the majority believe that AV is a non-starter and would only distort democracy by giving more power to those voting for organisations like the loathsome BNP and the dotty UKIP crowd. It would also boost the prospects of the Lib Dems, hence its promotion by Master Clegg.
But by and large I doubt if any of us had even the intention to vote. Now things look a little different, our having read the view of Lord Falconer, the former Labour cabinet minister and patron of the No campaign. Writing in the ‘New Statesman’ this week he contends that if the outcome is a Yes it would be advantageous for the Lib Dems to delay the general election until after AV is introduced in 2015, under the terms of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituences Act. But if the No camapign succeeds we face a quite different scenario.
Falconer contends that should Clegg lose the referendum, there will be no reason for delay – the quicker the Lib Dems get out of the coalition, the sooner they will be on the road to recovery with the electorate. All of which perhaps helps to explain why more than half of Labour MPs are supporting the No campaign despite their leader Ed Miliband pushing in the opposite direction. It probably also helps to explain why the opponents of change are going to great lengths to portray the vote as one of confidence or otherwise in Nick Clegg!
I confess that it hadn’t occurred to me before but now realise that the stakes are high. Anyone concerned by the rapid rate of cuts has the chance to vote No to Clegg and, in so doing, lead to the fall of the government.
Falconer could well be right and if the electorate comes to see this as a verdict on Clegg there could be a dramatic development post-May. At least I now understand why Ed Miliband, who favours AV, is insisting that Clegg maintains a low profile. But that simply won’t wash for everyone understands that the only reason that the Lib Dem negotiators entered a coalition was the offer of a referendum.
It does begin to look as if whatever the result, Nick Clegg is doomed. The Lib Dems are insisting that Charles Kennedy become their ‘face’ in the campaign so win or lose we may soon be spared the implications of the junior partners in the coalition acting as lapdogs before the Cameron throne.
Who knows, even the NHS could be saved by what had appeared to be a non-event!
QUOTES FOR TODAY; “I go to the theatre to be entertained. I don’t want to see plays about rape, sodomy and drug addiction. I can get all that at home”….Peter Cook “I saw the play under adverse conditions. The curtain was up”……Robert Benchley “You people in the cheap seats clap your hands, and the rest of you just rattle your jewellery”…John Lennon, at the Royal Variety Performance of 1963. “The play was a great success but the audience was a total failure”….Oscar Wilde What is my play about? It’s about to make me very rich”…..Tom Stoppard “I daren’t tell my Mum I’m starring in The Vagina Monologues. I’ve told her its called The Geneva Monologues and is about women in banking”….Maureen Lipman “Nudity on stage is disgusting. But if I were 22 with a great body it would be artistic, tasteful, patriotic and a progressive religious experience”….Shelley Winters
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Hong Kong 2. The Professionals
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Where did the Bloody Sunday shootings take place? 2. Which British Army unit was involved?
We were making a door for the new hen-run when Billy asked if we had seen the byelection result from Barnsley. We hadn’t due to the fact that all of the coalition-supporting papers had conveniently forgotten to mention it. But his Guardian had squeezed it in on page 9. Small wonder that the headline included the word humiliated for the Lib Dems came rank bottom in a field of six. Labour held the seat with a 13.53% increase and their candidate (Dan Jarvis) was trailed by Ukip, Conservative, BNP, Independent candidate, with Mr Clegg’s party, which came second in the general election, bottom with a paltry 1,012 votes. And this despite their fielding an excellent candidate who is the son of the celebrated barrister George Carmen.
Sadly the party that promised to change the face of British politics has lost the respect of most of those that supported it. It has committed the cardinal sin of demonstrating a total lack of integrity. Most fair minded observers saw their entry into a coalition as reasonable but no one expected them to simply rollover and abandon every commitment they made. Clegg’s behaviour over tuition fees needs no reminder, but there has been a succession of other issues where they have shown feet of clay and a Conservative Party, which was not elected to govern, has been able to pursue arguably the most right-wing agenda for decades.
And today we have yet another example. Vince Cable had let it be known that he was determined to fight to the death the News Corporation’s proposed takeover of BSkyB, a plan that will create the largest private media company Britain has ever seen. News Corp is expected to have a turover of over £9billion by the time of the next election, that will be almost double of that of the BBC whose licence fee has been frozen by Jeremy Hunt, the minister who has surprised no one by deciding not to refer the bid for further examination.
Once Cable had been removed from the responsibility by Cameron it was always clear that Rupert Murdoch had won. The behaviour of Conservative ministers has been breathtakingly improper, and I am not referring merely to the Christmas visit that the Camerons paid to James Murdoch. Columnist John Crace probably sums up the natiuonal mood of cynicism today when he composes a mock conversation between Cameron and Hunt. Hunt tells the prime minister ” After a lot of thought, I’ve decided that if News Corp pretends to hive off Sky News then it can do what the hell it likes”. Cameron replies “Good show! I’ll tell James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks when Sam and I go round for dinner tonight”.
What has this to do with Lib Dem integrity. A lot. Just weeks after Cable had made clear that the party would “wage war” on this, the Lib Dem spokesman on media policy, Don Foster, was quick to declare support for the Murdoch deal. And from Uncle Vince not a word and no resignation as a minister.
Perhaps I am missing something here but I find it hard to understand even one thousnad voting for what has become a rabble prepared to pay any price just to share the trappings of power. Few will blame Cameron for doing what a Conservative government with a large majority would be expected to do, even if his judgement does seem to be all over the place. But he has no large majority, he simply has a large number of Lib Dem MPs as voting fodder and no willingness to stand up for what they supposedly believe in.
If what happened in Barnsley yeaterday doesn’t sound alarm bells ringing nothing will. These are early days but one poll predicting the wipe out of every single Lib Dem candidate at the next election doesn’t sound too far-fetched!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; “ Obama has attacked Cameron for advocating a no-fly zone. Unfair, because what Cameron meant was he wants to rid Libya of all flies”…John Crace “Did you hear about the woman who stabbed her husband 37 times? I admire her restraint”…..Roseanne “I’m all for bringing back the birch, but only between consenting adults”…..Gore Vidal “John Prescott has the face of a man who clubs baby seals to death”…Denis Healey “Tony Blair is only Bill Clinton with his zip done up”….Neil Hamilton “Tony Blair has as much charisma as a pair of dentures grinning in a glass of water”….Trevor Bayliss “As God once said, and I think rightly…”….Margaret Thatcher “I wish my flat was filled by one big man in his blue underpants”…Edwina Currie on John Major “At least it wasn’t Ann Widdecombe”….Pat Dessoy, John Major’s sister “To say nothing, especially when speaking, is half the art of diplomacy”……Will Dufant “Success means having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money”….Johnny Cash
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Join the European Community 2. China
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which USA President’s wife was named Thelma Catharine Ryan? 2. What was Saigon renamed in 1975?
We are splashing around the hen runs as against the sliding of a fortnight ago. Hard to say which is the worst but at least the risk of Albert losing more front teeth is lowered. Mind you much more of the incessant rain will see the chooks issued with stilts. Every DIY book I’ve ever read has warned that hens must not paddle about on wet surfaces, but since the side of runs are not covered I have yet to solve, what is to me, the greatest mystery since Lord Lucan. Billy commented that should the chooks be Lib Dems they will float around, but the jibe struck me as possibly premature for today is the day on which the much maligned Nick Clegg may turn the tide.
Of course the reverse could happen, he could finally drown in a flood of Oldham and Saddleworth votes. The polls suggest that this may be the end of the Lib Dems but yesterday, whilst at a funera,l I spoke to several people who were in Oldham over the weekend. They were canvassing and told me that the overwhelming impression was that the result is too close to call. We shall see, but unlike the politicians we should draw our own conclusions before we know the outcome.
Without doubt the Lib Dems should win. At the general election they came within a hundred or so votes of toppling Phil Woolas who was subsequently disqualified for allegedly telling lies about his Lib Dem opponent. But, and it is a big but, they were then riding the crest of the ‘I agree with Nick’ wave. Now things look a little different and many who voted Lib Dem then feel betrayed. Students certainly do and it could be argued that what Clegg did over his tuition fees pledge was every bit as dishonest as the words of brother Woolas.
It seems to me that if the Lib Dems win the pressure on Clegg will ease. If they lose by a whisker he will be able to argue that a few votes either way is not decisive. But if they lose heavily he is surely finished. Over half of his MPs are already in rebellious mood and a heavy defeat would convince them that they have nothing to lose by pulling out of the coalition.
Of course a significant defeat for the Lib Dems raises other questions according to who wins. If Labour do so, despite the Woolas effect, it will certainly strengthen Ed Miliband’s arm and confirm that if the colaition collapses and David Cameron goes to the country he will have a fight on his hands. If the Conservatives win – an unlikely outcome given that their campaign has been deliberately low key – Cameron would rightly face any election confident of securing an overall Tory majority.
I have been surprised at just how seriously the political chattering class is taking the possibility of a coalition collapse. But everyone that I have spoken to bases the thought on a Clegg hammering in Oldham. Young Nick says that isn’t going to happen.
But his promises are not to be relied upon! Come tomorrow morning his fate may be sealed or, like Houdini, he may have escaped yet again.
SEX STORY WITH A DIFFERENCE!
The ‘dead days’ between Christmas and the New Year are tough ones for hacks charged with filling their columns. No great surprise then that the Telegraph embraced with enthusiasm a Press Association report of a sex study conducted in the USA.
The study found that couples who do not have sex before marriage have a more satisfying sex life than those who do. In fact their rewards also include ‘better quality sex’. In this day and age it was rivetting stuff and may well have caused many a couple to wonder.
Clearly the paper had difficulty fitting in the whole of the sensational revelations for it didn’t include the name of the sponsor of the study. Private Eye helped out by revealing that it was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, aka the Mormons!
THE THUMB THING IS CONFUSING!
The Sun can always be relied upon to provide important advice on the nuances of differing cultures and has printed a helpful guide to hand signals and their meaning around the world.
Th entry for the ‘thumbs up’ sign reads “This means ‘cool’ in the UK but in Iraq and Afghanistan is a vulgar insult”.
But wait! Just three pages later the Sun’s military awards include a picture of a British airman surrounded by smiling Afghan boys , all giving enthusiastic thumbs-up signs. The caption read ” Thumb-thing special…young Afghans give a hopeful sign for the country’s future”.
Or did they?
HOW MANY MORE MUST DIE MR LANSLEY?
We have complained previously about the decision to withdraw the offer of a free flu jab to the under fives. Now three-year-old Lana Ameen is dead, the latest victim of an appalling decision. Yesterday her Dad (who is a doctor) and Mum released a photo of their little girl on a life-support machine in the hope that it will shame ministers into reconsidering their terrible error.
Given the havoc that he is imposing on the whole NHS it is probably too much to hope that Lansley will listen. But he should and right away!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Michael Caine 2. John Hurt
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. How many were unemployed in Britain in 1971; 800,000, 1.8 million, or 3 million? 2. In which country did Kerry Packer build a media empire?
It is puzzling to read excited media speculation about the possible ‘turn-out’ at the General Election. One writer could hardly contain himself at the thought that it might be ‘as high as 60 per cent’. Is that high? It rather sounds as if forty out of every hundred either don’t know who to vote for or simply can’t be bothered. But which is it?
Undoubtedly there are those who find the effort of walking down the road every five years too big a burden. But the possibility is that millions are utterly disillusioned with Brown, Cameron and Clegg alike and cannot bring themselves to support any of them. If they represent a large slice of the silent 40 per cent our democracy is in a sad state. Then again the turn-out has been at these levels for many decades and maybe the lazy-bones have it.
Some experts argue that we need to know. They go on to contend that there is a way. Voting should be, they argue, mandatory but the ballot paper should include an additional line reading ‘none of them’. One imagines that the establishment would not like this prospect, one that could become a nightmare fo it should the largest vote be recorded for the ‘none’.
But it could lead to the re-emergence of Independents, it could even lead to news of a new Party. Who knows? But it would be fascinating to know why it is that a huge slice of the population never exercises the franchise that pioneers fought so hard for.
Alas, it is hard to believe that such a truly democratic move will ever take place. After all, Turkeys are renowned for not voting for Christmas!