Today on Adrastos’ obsession with British politics:
I spent much of my day off watching the BBC stream yesterday’s political machinations in the UK. It was alternately fascinating and depressing. It was fascinating to watch the Tories and Lib Dems form the firstBritish coalition governmentsince World War II and somewhat depressing since, for all their flaws, I’m a non-citizen Labour backer or is that fellow traveler? No, I haven’t forgotten about the Iraq War but that was a case of the party being dragged kicking and screaming in support of the Prime Minister who led them out of 18 years in the political wilderness. And Blair is long gone after having passed the poisoned chalice to his successor.
There was a brief possibility that there would be a Center-Left coalition between the Liberals, Labour and some minor parties but those negotiations went nowhere. In retrospect, the Lib Dems staged that little pantomime to get better terms from a desperate David Cameron. There’s still somegrumbling about the deal on the Tory right and among Lib Dem MPs.It also remains to be seen how the wingnut Euroskeptic branch of the Conservative party can co-exist with the Europeanist and Social Democratic wing of the Lib Dems. They claim to have drawn “red lines” around the issues they passionately disagree on but I expect the lines to get blurry and even bloody over the course of the next Parliament.
On the surface, Nick Clegg drove a hard bargain: he’s now Deputy PM and his party received some cabinet seats BUT the Tories hold the most powerful jobs. As to electoral reform, all Clegg got was a promise to hold a referendum that the Conservatives will be free to oppose at the polls once it passes the House of Commons. Clegg is distinctly the junior partner in the coalition and I think Cameron will eventually suck the marrow out of his bones and throw him on the political scrap heap. That’s what happens when a goo-goo posh boy meets a power hungry one: they get eaten alive.
As to Labour, some time in opposition is what they need. If the “Hail Mary pass” coalition had been formed, the right wing press would have spend its lifetime denouncing it as the coalition of losers. Labour needs a new leader and to retool its message and positions on civil liberties issues in particular. The good news for Labour is that the new government is planning deep spending cuts that will look particularly partisan because they’re likely to come in parts of the UK where the Tories and Lib Dems are weak. Unless the Lib Dems can plausibly claim to have restrained Tory spending cuts, they’ll be the big losers at the next general election. Nick Clegg is, of course, not the first politician to have sold his soul for office and he won’t be the last BUT the Lib Dems are supposed to be somehow purer than the others. Yeah, right.
In classic fashion, Gordon Brown’s leaving was better than either his premiership or candidacy. He was gracious and self-deprecating, which perfects my longstanding Brown-Al Gore analogy. The best speech Al Gore gave during the extended 2000 election was his concession.
The Posh Boys held a joint presser today and proclaimed a new era; blah, blah, blah. They claim that the government will last for a full term but I have my doubts; one of them will betray the other long before 2015 or their MPs will want out of the deal. Here’s a clip of the Posh Boys with their first single A New Politics:
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