Friday, May 06, 2011

The morning after

It may seem an odd thing to say, but I am not political - or at least, not party political - or at least, I haven't been party political up to now. I have fairly strongly (and apparently unsuccessfully!) backed the AV campaign. The fundamental reason for this is because I believe in weak government - government that takes place by consensus and co-operation between parties, rather than through the control of one political party. My adult life, until this time last year, has been spent under governments which have doggedly placed the concerns of vested interests and ideologies above their responsibility for the nation, and consequence of this is that the nation has mortgaged its future, and we will basically be paying the price for this forever. Seriously. There were good things that we had as a nation 25 years ago that we will simply never have again, thanks to the last two governments. The wealth of our nation has been squandered.

In England, this seems to be simply not understood by the electorate - either that, or the "electorate" (if millions of votes can be represented as a single entity) simply wished to register a huge howl of protest at its discomfort. The idea of people returning to Labour at the moment is absurd - it has a new leader, but there is nothing to suggest that it has any better idea of how to govern than when it was turned out of office last year. The fact that even in opposition, they are still talking about allowing the deficit to continue to increase confirms this - just how much of the national income do we have to spend on interest payments? And what is going to happen when the base rate starts to increase? I don't understand how anybody with any sense of how government finance works can sleep at night at the moment.

The idea of people realistically thinking that the junior partner in the coalition could or should have been able to do more than they have to change the direction of the senior partner is also absurd. I don't understand why the Liberals should be punished when they have actually done what they can to make sure the impact of the fiscal tightening is felt by and large by those who can afford it (I say this as someone who by this time next year will be literally thousands of pounds a year worse off) - or, for that matter, why the coalition should be punished for trying to sort out the pile of poo that the economy was left in by the last government, or, for that matter, how anybody can tolerate the smug self-righteousness of anybody in the Labour party criticising the current government.

As for the referendum, it looks like there goes our chance for electoral reform for the next generation - and probably the only chance the nation had to save itself from government by ideology rather than consensus. It's interesting that even with a big reaction against the coalition government, the share of the vote in England was: Labour, 37%; Conservative, 32%; Liberal, 15%. The strong government approach would give one of those parties the mandate to run the government according to its party ethos. A weak government approach (of the sort that I'd prefer) would point out that no party is attracting even 40% of the vote, so no party should consider that it has a mandate to rule according to its party ethos. Only by working together can political parties claim to have a democratic mandate where the vote is split in this way, and the reason the vote is split is because no normal people believe in the ethos of parties any more. A voting system which more clearly highlights the subtleties of what people are looking for in politics - as AV would have done at least a little more - would have served the nation better than the current system, which keeps asking people the same question that they stopped being interested in 30 years ago.

More money may have been raised by the "Yes" campaign - but they had a lot more work to do, given the opposition of most of the press. It has been acknowledged that the "No" campaign simply made stuff up - something which is okay in a referendum, apparently, because no candidate is affected as a result. Hmph. A lot of candidates stand to benefit from these lies, and a lot of voters stand to have their votes ignored.

But the people have spoken. We had the opportunity to think about the issue, to ask questions and so on - and we weren't interested. As I said earlier in the campaign, as a nation, we probably get the government we deserve.

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