Sunday, 15 May 2011

Clegg's orphans and the "Yes" debacle

After a week in which we have had buzz-words aplenty, a new and failed dog-whistle of "muscular liberalism", and the report that one of Cameron's closest advisers sees the NHS as a great opportunity for the further extension of crony capitalism, there is a clear problem.  Labour are engaging in internal contemplation over what was, by all assessments, a drubbing in Scotland and a stalling outside their heartlands in England and Wales, and the media are more interested in Chris Huhne's alleged penchant for Tory-style blame shifting than what is going to happen next.

Time to reflect has now been had.  Clegg is now living on borrowed time - his shiftiness and his apparent preference for the Orange Book platitudes is evidenced by his continued delusion that Cameron will now do something decent.  If Lords reform is scuppered, and the privateers continue to bulldoze what's left  of social capital into the hands of outsourcing rapacious Tory funders, then there is no reason for the Coalition to continue - especially if by then there has been some contemplation by the left as to what it needs to do.  This one will run and run.

The real bile should be directed at the "Yes to Fairer Votes" brigade.  There has already been trenchant criticism on "Liberal Voice" and from others, although the sympathetic media has tended to be much more generous. I consider the "Yes" campaign to have been a betrayal of everyone who has been fighting for some measure of electoral reform for the last eighty years, populated by people seduced by a London-centric celebrity culture and who believe that securing sympathetic coverage within their own media community represents a far more important outcome than taking the argument into the heart of the enemy.

Despite having the carpet-chewing pin-up of Nigel Farage on board, which would have surely given the Daily Mail and Daily Express food for thought, they chose to avoid politicians at all costs.  As the Tories were clearly not playing by these rules, this was failure number one.  Demonstrating the breadth of political support across the spectrum was left until the last minute.

There were no leaflets, precious few billboards and no real effort to explain why preferential voting represented an improvement on the existing system.  The campaign relied upon student union tactics, hectoring e-mails that were frequently patronising and belittling to those of us who have been round the block for the reformist cause, and a "luvvie" image that would not have played well with people outside a middle-class ghetto had they ever been aware that the campaign was ongoing.  It does beg the question as to whether the campaign was infiltrated by Situationist-inclined Cameroons.

For those of us orphaned by the failure of both Clegg and the AV campaign, there is now time to reflect, enjoy the summer and remember that most political changes do not occur at the first time of asking.  At least AV is now off the agenda - now we need PR along with a radical shift towards citizen power.

Bile on this blog will be less frequent.  However this does not mean giving up, just abandoning trust in those who have proved themselves both slippery and incompetent.

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