Solving the World's problems with common sense and a flamethrower.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The Start of Something New?

The dawn of collaborative politics?

Wow. What a day (and a half).

I've now been up for just over 36 hours, utterly unable overnight to take my eyes off a developing drama that rivalled anything TV writers could come up with. And now the evening is here, and whisky in hand it's time to reflect.

And here we are. Hung Parliament, and the initial offers are on the table to Prince Nick the Kingmaker. And that's what I want to talk about.

Firstly - I think credit is due to Nick Clegg. Despite a performance overnight that must have had his morale in his boots, he still had the integrity to stand by his original promise and offer the Party with the most seats first chance to negotiate for Lib Dem support.

Then we had Colostomy Brown's response. It wasn't statesmanlike. It put me in mind of a child, offering promises that will never be kept so they can stay up and watch the Dr Who special. "Pleeeeeeeeease, I'll tidy my room EVERY day, promise, just let me have another half an hour" became, from the mouth of the former Prime Minister, "pleeeeeeeeease, I'll give you a referendum, and discuss matters of mutual interest, I promise, just let me stay in No. 10." It was undignified, rank with the stench of desperation and, when all is said and done, would never happen.

Don't forget - and you can be sure that Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are well aware - if you make a deal with Gordon Brown, you're actually signing yourself over to Peter Mandelson. Who really isn't known for his integrity. And if Labour's Manifesto promises aren't subject to legitimate expecation, how could the Liberal Democrats - or anyone else - trust what they offer in the pit of despair and the frantic scrabble to keep hold of the levers of power?

Then, there's David Cameron.

Cameron spoke from an odd position. He knew he could try for a minority Government, and made his knowledge of that obliquely clear, yet he chose to speak from a position of compromise. He spoke with knowledge of the Liberal Democrat positions, offered clear, detailed (and most importantly, televised) guarantees to some of those positions. He specified his own limit points, and offered a negotiation point on the key issue of electoral reform.

I personally think the final outcome of those negotiations will - should be - a Committee of Enquiry to establish the best method of voting reform, followed by a Referendum on the adoption of the voting method. Perhaps with a Conservative option to campaign against, just as a sop to those in the Conservatives so anti-PR.

I think that Clegg and Cameron have acted with dignity, maturity and the best interests of the country at heart - and having thought about it, I believe a negotiated Con-Lib collaboration could be good for both.

For the Conservatives, it is time to realise that the old two-party system is in its death throes, and people are tired of seeing large vote shares for minority parties result in small seat gains. Those in the Conservative party who refuse to acknowledge this - tough. Go and talk to Douglas Carswell, and realise FPTP is outmoded, outdated and needs to go.

A collaboration with the Liberal Democrats will allow the Conservatives to make a start on the rebuilding of society we so desperately need. Labour will fight us all the way. With the Lib Dems on board, we have more chance of making change happen.

Finally, transparent compromise politics with the Lib Dems will help dispel the last of the 'nasty party' smears which still reverberate around the Electorate. That's why it's good for the Tories.

For the Liberal Democrats, collaboration with the Tories will properly entrench multi-party politics. It will grant them a power they would not normally have under FPTP - the opportunity to drive through some of their own changes to rebuild society. And it will give them a chance to take electoral reform to the people, who can then decide. Those in the Lib-Dems screaming they'll never work with the Tories - tough. You're in the wrong party, go and join Labour.

Overall, it felt to me that today was the day that British politics perhaps began to grow up. A period of compromise, of good consensus law after years of three-line-whipped majority decisions, of shared aspiration for the country instead of ideological cant.

I've said before that I thought a strong majority was needed. Perhaps it is, but on reflection perhaps that majority need not come from a single party. I believe that what we've seen today could be the start of not just the nation's regeneration, but of the political system.

I hope that politicians and activists of both parties will look closely at this, think objectively and with national interests at heart, and behave with the dignity and sense of compromise their Leaders have shown today.

And let's go to work.

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increasinglymiffed said...

You've been up too long! I gave up at 04:00 yesterday (and was up again at 07:30) after my laptop self-destructed.

I hope you're right, though this post reminds me of many of my own hopeful moments.

The best we can hope is that together, we can wreck the Labour party. What will the millions of fools who have fallen for their story do then, though?

Mark Thompson said...

Very good post.

It sounds like we broadly agree with each other (see here>) although we are coming at it from slightly different perspectives.

Dippyness. said...

I agree....Many won't. A lot are unable to look at the bigger picture of the economy.
IF Clegg & more importantly, his party are willing to put ideology on hold, we may scrape out of this hole Labour have got us in.

Rumbustious said...

I think the most important thing is that the people of this country see our political system, like most others in the world, for what it is.
It is genteel gang warfare. It is the Mafia without guns.
The stitch up that is currently being worked out is nothing but a sham.
Why do we want a strong government?
The government is supposed to govern to the will of the people, but it doesn't do and never has. I tells the people what is best for the country and the country is composed of fields and trees etc. It looks upon the people as the cash cow to be milked dry...and then some more.
The government should not make laws and policies. It should present suggested laws and policies and let the people decide which to adopt. Under those circumstances we would need an intelligent government, which would be impossible with the current type of person putting themselves forward for a ticket on the gravy train.