I have not written anything on my blog for a while because I am still reeling from the shock of what happened during the General Election and the days following it. Has the country gone insane or what? How could we have allowed this to happen? We are now being led by kind of people I wouldn’t even trust to order a takeaway.
The media are now comparing Cameron and Clegg to any number of comedy double-acts; Ant & Dec, Morecambe & Wise (how dare they?), and so on. Although on the face of it this is amusing, it does not really acknowledge the awful truth, which is that a great many people have voted for these two because they believe they ‘do good television’. The Leaders’ Debates (LDs) were fun at the time but, as a number of academics have pointed out, we do not have the USA’s Presidential system in this country, we are governed by Parliament. Therefore, it could be argued that the LDs distorted the debate.
There is evidence, however, that the true LDs obsessives were the media themselves and this is proven by Clegg’s – in truth – poor results at the ballot-box. If the media were to be believed, Clegg would have had a substantial share of the vote, and the Liberal Democrats would force Labour into the third position, but thankfully, that did not happen. Did the electorate finally see through Clegg’s smarm-offensive? My own opinion is that people still feel that voting for the Liberal Democrats is a wasted vote in the UK’s first-past-the-post system – this is the way it has always been, and this General Election was no exception. The media seem to have overlooked this in favour of canabilising their own footage and propaganda.
Despite Clegg’s poor performance he is now Deputy PM, so how did that happen? This is where Cameron and his fellow Tory Toffs enter the equation. It is well known in the UK’s political history that the Conservative Party is the most opportunistic of the three main parties, and this is why it has had the greatest electoral success. They will do anything to be in power. Cameron does not strike me as a man of principle, nor does Clegg, and these are politicians who have a great deal in common. I am not talking about the similarity in their ages, the fact that they both went to public school, or even that they resemble tousle-haired members of an aging boy-band – all of that is well known and written about elsewhere. The main thing they have in common is that they both fervently believe that they have a god-given right to lead and regard any policy-objectives or ideals as baggage, and if any of that baggage becomes too heavy or slows down their progress, they will choose to jettison it at the first available opportunity.
Of course, Clegg was the one who disposed of his first. Who would have thought a Liberal Democrat leader would (practically) ditch his party’s signature policy of Proportional Representation so quickly? Cameron has promised Clegg a referendum on it apparently, during which the Tories will oppose PR with every fibre of their being. That will do the coalition a world of good I imagine; so much for ‘stable Government’.
Added to this is Clegg’s original campaign. Most of the policies he was proposing were more left-wing than Labour, which begs that question of how these vast policy differences were reconciled with those of the right-wing Conservatives. As for Vince Cable; he seemed to talk some sense before the General Election, agreeing – for the most part – with Gordon Brown’s approach to the economy. Now, like the Conservatives, he wants immediate budget cuts. How can his opinion change so drastically in the space of a week? Are the blackmailing him with dirty pictures or threatening to execute his family? Much as that idea would confirm all my suspicions about the Tories, I think that the answer is probably rather more banal; they were previously making empty promises, and they are so shallow that they exchanged all their principles for a fancy job-title.
It is also shocking that all of the front-bench, with the exception of Teresa May, are all white, upper-middle-class men – this is despite Cameron’s pledge to broaden the Conservative Party’s ethnicity and gender. There have been a few attempts to smoke-screen this, but they have appeared rather ridiculous and stage-managed. The cabinet now contains the kind of people that one would imagine to attend the fictional gentleman’s club, Drones, in P.G. Wodehouse’s novels, and they seem to have the same levels of intelligence. A lot of Cameron’s appointments seem to be sick-jokes; Teresa May for Equality and Women’s Minister (she hates gay people, all immigrants and does not like other women much either), Eric Pickles for the Community (give me strength!), William Hague as Foreign Secretary (he has little time for ‘foreigners’ even when he meets them in their own countries), Liam Fox for Defence (this is man who is so fanatically neo-Con he may have made Milton Friedman think twice), and so it goes on – what a depressing roll-call!
This is, of course, the argument that the Liberal Democrats are being philosophical and want to ‘change things from within’, but so far there seems to be little evidence of that happening. As for Clegg, he doesn’t seem to be aware of the fact that Deputy Prime Minister is a rather meaningless job-title. What does it qualify him to do? Stock the parliamentary lavatories with toilet-paper? One thing he should be doing, however, is to keep reminding Cameron that although he is Prime Minister, he isn’t really Prime Minister. That goes for the whole of his Government. This whole coalition has little credibility when one analyses it more closely.
Consequently, how long can the coalition last. Cameron has already shown his cards, the very fact that he is arguing for fixed-term parliaments from now on (something the Tories have previously been vehemently opposed to) shows that he is painfully aware of how weak his position is. Cameron has shown us that he is desperate for this legislation to go through; if it does we will have his Heath Robinson administration for another five years. This is his first order of business – not saving the economy, strengthening his own position. Do we really need such a self-serving PM with a majority held together by spit, chewing gum and aeroplane-glue at such this crucial moment? We have two middle-eastern wars on the go, and an economy that can crash and burn.
I have heard people recently saying that we have a ‘moral obligation’ to support this coalition, whereas I believe that it is imperative that we do not. The majority of the electorate voted for the centre-left and instead got the most right-wing Conservative government in history, and the spin-machine has gone into overdrive. We must oppose this government at every available opportunity, and Cameron’s attempt to create a fixed-term parliament is the first thing we should oppose. If we are stuck with this coalition for five years it will be dangerous.