Posts Tagged ‘Straw Poll’
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
We knew that it would be wet and dull today, it is a Bank Holiday and old traditions must be observed. That goes back a long way, almost to the days when my old Gran use to regularly declare that laughter is the best medicine. For many years I have regraded that as simply an old adage but today we learn that she was right. Bob brought to the allotment this morning a copy of the Telegraph which carries a report into the findings of research carried out at the University of Maryland. Yesterday Dr Michael Miller reported to the European Society of Cardiology that tests carried out involving the use of comic and serious film clips revealed that reactions to the funny scenes helped the blood vessels of patients to expand, improving circulation and reducing blood pressure. Conversely, watching war films caused blood vessels to constrict – a symptom of mental stress which, in the long term, can lead to heart disease and strokes.
The good doctor told his audience of scientists that proof positive exists that laughter is “great for the heart”. It is, he said, “consistent and similar to the benefit we might see with aerobic exercise or statin use”.
Now that is welcome news for we allotmenteers since we usually read only bad predictions centered around what we do. We smoke, drink, eat chips and chocolate; you name a harmful activity and we do it. Now we realise that our continued ability to breed chickens at the average age of eighty-something is down to belly laughs. And that is another thing that we do!
The ‘revelation’ confirms what ,I guess, most people already knew, we love to laugh. Suddenly it all clicks and explains why in a recent straw poll, conducted during our allotment brew-up, over 90 per cent of my pals named Boris Johnson as the man they would most like to see in Number Ten. It was not a political verdict, it was reward for the fact that Boris is a complete ass and unwittingly gives us more laughs in a single interview than Cameron or Miliband could provide over a full year.
Perhaps the problem for most people is that we all take ourselves too seriouly these days. Give anyone a uniform, just a yellow jacket will do, and expect an immediate transformation to Captain Mainwaring. Give an order of the British Empire (what empire?) to a locale crone and everyone else starts to curtsey in the chip shop queue. Yes, you don’t need to struggle for subject matter if you prefer laughing to NHS pills. And maybe a new potential is about to loom.
The great Tory dream of elected police chiefs is back on the cards despite the fact that Liberal peers caused its temporary rejection. In true Lib Dem fashion those in the Commons are advertising for candidates so the odds are that the great Cameron dream will become reality. The plan is to hold the first elections on the same day as next May’s local elections.
The potential for slapstick comes from the fact that all the candidates are likely to be local political animals. So Tory constituencies will have a right wing police boss hell bent on hammering council estate youths for so much as looking in the direction of posh areas, whilst Labour constituencies will have a left wing gaffer focussed solely on stopping every Mercedes on the road with an incentive offered to officers who can find a reason to prosecute.
I say this because local councillors, from whom the aspiring brass-hats will emerge, tend to be to the extreme left or right of the national parties. Police canteens will serve either chips and pies or caviar and champagne. The potential for cock-ups and corruption will increase tenfold but the potential for ‘Private Eye’ – the bible of every belly-laugher – will double.
From now on I shall treat the need for daily laughter in the way that hitherto I have treated five veggies. In the unlikely event that by evening someone somewhere hasn’t done something completely daft, I shall play Fawlty Towers and watch Manuel in action!
Tomorrow’s medicine is already guaranteed. Albert has headed off for Blackpool for a relaxing day’s sunbathing. provoking him in th worning should be easy!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S SUNDAY QUIZ; 1. Halle Berry 2. Thanksgiving Day 3. Jemma Redgrave 4. Van Gogh 5. A cob 6. I’m Still Waiting 7. Offspring 8. Genesis 9. Leytonstone 10. A juke box