Nick Clegg has today claimed that voters are finally hearing his admittedly very timid message on what precisely the Lib Dems are doing for them, apart from indebting their children to an insane degree. Unfortunately, having only heard the enchanting whispers of his closest viziers inside the Westminster bubble, he is completely unaware of the utter betrayal felt by the majority of those that voted Lib Dem in the last election. The coven surrounding him has apparently ignored the fact that the Faustian pact he made with Cameron will cost perhaps hundreds of Lib Dem councillors their seats, and the political career of a thoroughly decent ex policeman standing for London Mayor.
It is a fact that most voters do not vote for the candidate, but for the party. In this case, Brian Paddick could promise to end poverty in the East End, cure all known disease, and silence Bill Cash, and he would still be tarred with a brush that says “Yes, your flagship, single-reason-I-will-vote-for-you policy is to massively improve education, but the last time your party said that over half of those in a position to do anything about it actively voted not to, or abstained which is even worse”. If a brush can say all that of course.
Brian Paddick is in an unenviable position of being what is nominally the third party candidate. In the last mayoral election, where the top three candidates were the same and the Lib Dems hadn’t yet been in government, Paddick still only got 9.8% of the vote. Assuming the decimation of the rest of the party spreads to him, he is in for an absolute drumming. The polls for the past month don’t look as cataclysmic as they might, putting him at somewhere between 5-10% vote share, which is up from the 2% YouGov had for him in early 2011, though pollsters tend to advise a four % swing either way is feasible so maybe he’ll get -2% of all votes cast.
The advice that poor policeman Paddick should take is the following: Pull out of the election tonight. If the Liberal Democrats come behind UKIP or, if the Bromley voters have their way, the BNP, it will be the end of an electable Lib Dem party for years. London shouldn’t be a bellweather for the rest of the country’s politics, but it is; it’s just the parties involved are different. In Scotland, the SNP can take up left wing issues in opposition to a once dominant Labour, in Wales Plaid Cymru are doing the same. Both have sound policies, albeit with an unpleasant aftertaste of nationalism, and neither need a liberal party. Northern Ireland has never really hosted the main political parties, and now in England there are so many minor parties that the Lib Dems aren’t even considered as a protest vote anymore.
Even if the assumption is wrong and Mr Paddick does spectacularly well, scoring 15-20% for example, this would be a major disaster for the party faithful. Nick Clegg and sons would take this to mean that people actually do agree with what they have done, and press on kowtowing to the tories for the next three years of this parliament, meaning many more defections . It is not a pleasant catch-22 for any paid up member of the party.
I realise Brian won’t pull out, as he has been called on by the party to be a sacrifice to Ken and Boris for a second time, and no doubt some small part of him thinks he can win. He can’t. Luckily in the London elections the voters are allowed to put down a second choice. We need that to be Ken.
Whilst he has been an inexcusable idiot on occasion, think of the alternative. Four more years of Boris. Four more years of nothing at all. Ken achieved things such as the congestion charge, the ill named Boris Bikes and he at least attempted to reduce poverty. Alexander Boris de Pfeffer Johnson, of the House of Hanover, cousin to David Cameron, has done nothing tangible, except show the rest of the world that in British democracy it isn’t your policies that get you elected, it’s your hair.
I am seriously in danger of agreeing with some of what David Cameron is doing. Notwithstanding the fact that he presides over a party that espouses an impossible and unrealistic moral code that they themselves can’t adhere to, he has actually done some good things in the past few months.
The first noticeable improvement in policy was the acceptance that Israel is the main obstacle to a two state solution in the middle east. Then he came out in support of gay marriage, despite puerile whining from the rest of the Conservative Party. Then he even backs the Forfeiture committee’s investigation into making Sir Fred Goodwin back into Mr. Fred Goodwin.
In the past week, Europe has resembled something like school playground. Due to David Cameron using his Veto last week, the French have lashed out with several, vindictive and frankly, rather childish statements about the state of the British economy; despite the fact that Angela Merkel pointed out that Britain still had an important role to play in helping to sort out the Eurozone Crisis. It’s worth pointing out I feel, that in a note of poetic irony, Standard & Poor are expected to downgrade the French credit rating within days, whilst Britain’s remains as stable as ever. There have been calls from many influential people, that to ensure the survival of the Eurozone, that Greece should be allowed to bow out gracefully, and with as much dignity as it can muster.
In a speech somewhat overshadowed by other events, Nick Clegg yesterday made a marked attack on the Conservative policy of a tax break for married couples. Perhaps emboldened by the Prime Minister’s recent actions, backbench Tory MPs have reportedly been increasing pressure for the manifesto policy to be enacted by the Government, a move that would clearly not meet with the Deputy Prime Minister’s approval.
The speech was supposedly designed to lay out Clegg’s political philosophy, but while the contents of the speech went much further than the comments on marriage, it is indicative of his present standing that his political voice is now heard only within the context of the Coalition. The issue at hand is, though, extremely important. Clegg may have entered government seeking Lords reform, changes to party political funding and a narrowing of inequality, but the austerity agenda to which he has so firmly tied his party will undoubtedly overshadow any of this. The effects of George Osborne’s economic policy will be felt well beyond the Treasury. What Conservatives may feel is merely support for the institution of marriage appears to others just part of a wider symbolic attempt to reinforce the traditional institutions of marriage, the family, the church and voluntary organisations as the role of the state is so brutally undermined. Read the rest of this entry
‘If you can’t decide, you can’t lead’. That was the scathing assessment David Cameron handed out to Ed Miliband in the Commons on Monday over Ed’s apparent reluctance to inform the country what he would have done if he had been in Cameron’s seat in Brussels last Thursday. Unfortunately, on this rare occasion, I would have to agree with our Prime Minister. Read the rest of this entry