Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The ConDem Clusterfuck

OK, so it's not a clusterfuck (and I stole "ConDem" from someone, too, though I can't remember who). Or at least, it's not necessarily a clusterfuck. And as I noted on Sunday, there most certainly wasn't any easy option for Clegg to take.

Having spent some time over the last two days mulling it over, this might genuinely have been the best-case scenario for the Liberal Democrats. I sympathise entirely with the idea that a LibLab coalition would be the best option for a country that woke up tomorrow with total amnesia, but since we can assume that isn't going to happen, it seems pretty pointless - if not outright counterproductive - to start crying over spilt votes. It's just too difficult to believe the public would wear it. The bigwigs at Labour might still be too politically tone-deaf to care - and their offer to Clegg to install AV without a referendum strongly suggested that they've learned absolutely nothing about why so many people were pissed with them in the first place - but the LDs certainly should (and clearly there are plenty in the Labour ranks who concur). However much of a political opportunist the negotiations might have made Clegg appear to be, they certainly hardly did anything to damage the thesis that Labour need to spend some time in the wilderness to lick their wounds and remember who they're supposed to be.

Of course, we're at the point now where being in the wilderness could well be the safest place. The towns are about to be put to the torch, after all. Yesterday, this was one of the two most powerful practical (as oppose to ideological) arguments against the coalition: if everything goes to Hell, which is not, y'know, beyond the realm of possibility, we're going to get it in the neck as surely as the Tories do.

Well, OK. Fair enough. To be honest, though, I don't care. If we've gotten to the point where we only want power when it will make people love us, then we should, quite frankly, go fuck ourselves. The dire predictions of the long-term effect of us helping the Tories cut everything in sight are noted, but if we turn tail and run the very instant we get a sniff of responsibility because we suddenly realise it wouldn't necessarily do us any good, then we'd simply be proving right every cynical bastard who complained the Lib Dems only talk a good game because they know they'll never get to play, and I'm not getting down with those guys. Time, as the vernacular would have it, to nut up.

Besides, hiding in a hole wasn't looking like too great an idea yesterday morning, and that was before we got a fixed date for the next election. It's this development that removes one of the two worst-case scenarios I mentioned above, and that makes me think ConDem is probably the best play from a shitty hand. Essentially, it prevents the Tories calling a snap election if things go well, an election in which I think we'd do pretty badly as everyone attempted to ensure we don't have to go through all this indecision crap again. Sure, a vote of no confidence could still be held, but I don't see any way that could actually pass unless the Lib Dems wanted it to in any case. It gets us out of the uncomfortable position of losing seats if things go badly or go well, which in itself is deeply pleasing even before you consider the concessions we've squeezed from the Tories in getting this thing together.

So colour me cautiously optimistic. Though, of course, those were the tones I was wearing on Election Day, and that didn't work out so well.

Oh, and a quick sidebar: can people stop talking about how "historical" this all is? Do we really want to keep reminding people the last time the country was this fucked we were about to be invaded by the Nazis, and the last time a Liberal got a seat in the cabinet he fire-bombed Dresden? Though, having said that, it does seem curiously inappropriate that Cameron and his neolithic buddies are so Euroskeptic they genuinely can't tell the difference between the Lisbon Treaty and Operation Sea Lion.


Gooder said...

On the plus side the part that tried to suspend habeus corpus (to repeated Conservative objections) and implement ridiculus anti terror legislature is not holding the reigns anymore!

But seriously (no wait I was serious about the above) I think it seems to be working out quite well. After all the Lib dems have the biggest chance they've ever had to secure some electoral reform, the Tories should help get spending under control (people will no doubt get angry but cuts do need to be made) and the government might stop introducing six new pointless laws to the statues everyweek.

Tomsk said...

All three parties planned to cut the deficit in virtually the same way so getting spending under control was not the issue. The real question is what specific cuts and tax rises will be implemented - hopefully the LDs can curb the worst Tory instincts there.

But this government will certainly be much better on civil liberties than the last one.

So far I've been pretty impressed too by how they've come to this arrangement. It's almost like we became a mature democracy overnight. Now all we need is a mature press and public who don't howl with rage at the idea of opposing politicians working together.