Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Friday, 7 May 2010

And next?

Looking around the blogosphere and in the mainstream media before the election it was easy to see that, where ordinary people were speaking their mind. They knew what they didn't want, but were uncertain which of the other options to choose.

Some reporters and political pundits knew what they wanted, and of course political activists of all colours knew how they were going to vote and, naturally, nailed their colours to the mast. Unfortunately many pro-Labour activists couldn't stop themselves being rude and aggressive, couldn't stop themselves from trolling newspaper sites and blogs, making ad hominem attacks, couldn't stop themselves from calling the other parties rude names and couldn't stop themselves from blaming everything on Margaret Thatcher - who has been out of office since 1990.

Comments left by ordinary folk, alongside newspaper articles, on the BBC and, on non-aligned blogs were all saying the same -
"We're not sure,"
"We don't really like any of them,"
"We don't trust any of them,"
"We don't really want any of them to have a clear win," and, most damningly, especially as all the parties had a very long time to work out clear policies and clear strategies,
"We don't know what any of them will do after the election."

And that's what the result seems to show. Britain has voted for 'None of the Above' - but has also indicated that it doesn't like Labour and doesn't really like the Lib Dems either.

As Englishman's Castle says
"Democracy - Winner, people want to vote and won't be taken for fools. And as the grubby deals are done today, they will know them for what they are. And we won't forget."
Mrs Rigby thinks the Englishman is right, mostly.

We Rigbys made our decisions quite late. Mrs R voted for the returning MP who is good, who has worked hard, who has done their best for their electorate. This MP is seen in the area, has a locally recognisable face and, frankly, deserved to get a whopping majority - and did. Mr R wasn't so sure, he looked at the national picture and reluctantly used his vote for one of the four candidates.

The same sort of thing seemed to happen within the wider family and the junior Rigbys dotted around the country, some of whom were voting for the first time, had their own reasons for voting as they did. Those at, or aiming for, University would have liked to vote for a party that would either reduce or abolish tuition fees to bring us in line with Scotland - but nobody offered them that choice. The much older Rigbys, whose savings have been disappearing at an alarming rate, were in a similar situation.

So this 'hung parliament' thing is a creature of the politician's own making.

Did any of them want to win? Did any of them want to take on the poisoned chalice that is government of the United Kingdom, when everybody with an ounce of sense knows that policies, essential policies, must be harsh, must be cost-cutting, must be anti-inflationary - otherwise the country will go the way of Greece, but without the riots, because we Brits aren't allowed to riot without prior consent from the Police.

Let's look at the campaigns.

Labour tried hard to capture retain votes - by claiming the other guys (especially the Tories) were the real baddies - but couldn't hide their record of total contempt for the working population. The constant 'going on' about tax credits wasn't as successful as they hoped because, well, because people can see it as a sham - as explained by a comment somewhere or other in which a working woman explained that she earns £xx, pays tax and national insurance and then gets about the same amount back in 'tax credits', bringing her income back to where it started. The woman said she would prefer to simply pay less tax, which would take away an expensive layer of bureaucracy.

Conservatives tried to be the nice guys, but some of their ideas were confusing, and didn't take into account that a lot of Brits want out of the EU. Even so they did exceptionally well, despite what the media might say, because the gain of 97 seats is the largest 'swing' since 1931.

But, during the campaign they didn't seem to like the name-calling, it was as if they found it uncomfortable and didn't like to retaliate. Perhaps because of this, they failed to explain their policies and show what their 'change' would be - which, after 13 years of Labour's obfuscation and lies, was more than a little unsettling.

Cranmer points out, in a partisan sort of way,
It is one thing to reach out to the ‘middle ground’, but quite another to do it at the expense of one’s core vote. The Party leadership might just consider that these turnips, dinosaurs and backwoodsmen are not all out-of-touch, anachronistic eccentrics, but often intelligent and discerning individuals possessing of more conservative philosophy in their little fingers than some of the Party’s key strategists appear to manifest in their entire beings.

Those who have consistently and unwaveringly voted for the Conservative Party have done so because they are conservatives. They have the innate intelligence to see beyond the superficial, anodyne and banal. Their notion of diversity is more than skin deep: it is not dependent on gender, ethnicity, sexuality or disability, but on profession, achievement, religion, philosophy and worldview. The shifting sands of a nebulous and platitudinous ecumenical ‘broad appeal’ are no substitute for the rock of the ‘broad church’ laity.
The Liberal Democrats? Well, unfortunately for Mr Clegg the media had a chance to scrutinise his background and his party's policies after that first debate, and didn't like what they saw. 'They say' there's no such thing as bad publicity, but there is when it comes to electioneering and the LD's pro-EU stance may have cost them votes.

UKIP? Pity about Mr Farage, he was very lucky to survive the plane crash relatively unscathed, but his party is on the skids. UKIP polled, at the time of writing, 914,811 votes - 3.1% of votes cast nationally. That has to be enough to give the party a wake-up call. The electorate knows it's been stitched up by Labour and the EU, the electorate knows the Lisbon Treaty has been signed - and UKIP didn't suggest there was a way out, didn't say that it would be difficult but they would have a go at leaving the EU. Had they done so they might have polled many, many, more votes. As it is, votes cast for UKIP were enough to split the electorate in some fairly crucial seats, which allowed some discredited MPs to be returned to Westminster by a narrow margin*.

And the Electoral Commission? Maybe they did 'follow all the rules', maybe they made sure all the diversity and any other sort of 'targets' were met, but in the end they couldn't manage to organise an election that wasn't smeared in controversy. From today's reports it would seem they couldn't make sure that everybody turning up at every polling station had a ballot paper, they couldn't make sure that everybody trying to vote was treated in the same way, couldn't work out a way of making sure that there were the right number of votes cast and bizarrely, seemed to allow a system where British people allowed those in Asia to vote on their behalf.

Britain, in the spotlight and fighting a war to make sure another country is 'democratic', had international observers making sure we had a 'fair' election - and it would seem we failed that test too.

No doubt we'll hear the same tired old lines of "an enquiry" and yet another "x-year plan". They'll tell us "lessons will be learned" - and the politicians we haven't voted for, that fewer than 30% of the population voted for, will try to broker a deal. They'll do it because "it's their constitutional right". Yep, that's the same constitution the same politicians have told us we don't have, so they want to write us a nice new one. It's the same constitution that some ex-MPs are trying to use as a keep-out-of-gaol card.

They don't care that it isn't 'decent', they don't care that they've got fewer seats, they don't care that they've been trounced in England - all that is meaningless to them in their desperation to cling to the keys of Downing Street.

They'll meet in secret to carve up the policies and make power-sharing agreements with political groups that have even less support. Will they consider the wishes of the electorate? Probably not, we've done our bit until the next time, in five years.

And afterwards, after all the dealing and talking - if they're successful?

Afterwards they'll tell us, the electorate, to like it. They'll tell us it's called "democracy" and they'll tell us it's their "duty" to be in charge of the country. And they'll do it because they can, pure and simple.

And if they make their deals we'll soon find out how they treat those who didn't vote for them. They've done it before - this and this is what they do to people who live in 'nice villages' - and they'll do it again - so be prepared to be the working-poor, whilst those who do nothing other than vote Labour once every five years live the life of Riley - because Mr Brown, in his speech at CitizensUK showed his true colours. Watch his speech, listen to his words. He was speaking from the heart and telling us his vision for our future.

And Mr Clegg? He won't know what's hit him! Although it could be either a Nokia or a keyboard.


EU Referendum has a worked out the UKIP effect 2010 - the full list


Macheath said...

Enjoyed reading your analysis.

Re the Tories; don't underestimate the Class War phenomenon that played such a large part in the Mirror's campaign for one.

In conversation with friends, relations and chance-met strangers, I repeatedly heard the words 'Eton' and 'Bullingdon' uttered in explanations of misgivings and a lack of trust.

The man can't help his background, but to place him and Osborne at the head of the campaign (with Boris cheering from the sidelines) may have been a mistake.

Anonymous said...

UKIP did enough.
Richard North at EUReferendum is currently putting together a list of seats which could have returned a Conservative if UKIP and the BNP hadn't fielded candidates.
IMO Cameron should resign after this dismal failure to destroy Labour. 307(?) seats is a humiliating return bearing in mind he was polling c42% in the middle of last year.
Cameron lost this election.

Mrs Rigby said...

@ Macheath - the "class war" divides town vs rural, simple as that, politics of envy. If you lived on the 19th floor or a tower block wouldn't you be envious of somebody with a big garden?
Boris would have won votes, so would Dan Hannan - but he's EU so not meant to get involved.

@ Anon - linked to that now, thanks.