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)

Thursday, 13 May 2010


It's an odd sort of feeling isn't it, the silence?

There's no haranguing, no nagging, no belittling, no criticizing and no demeaning comments from those elected to government. Instead there's a mixture that's mid way between being a party atmosphere and the lull at the centre of a whirlwind.

Mrs Rigby notes the Liberal Democrat Conservative Coalition plans to repeal lots of laws, including this
-restoration of rights to non-violent protest
Now Mrs Rigby has 'gone on' about this before. She notes they haven't used the same wording, but in last November's Queen's Speech of the Labour government said they would repeal
...legislation limiting protests around Parliament. Generally extends to whole UK.
Except they didn't. That law had meant that any protests had to pass Police scrutiny - so there weren't many.

During the term of the previous Conservative government there were quite a lot of street protests, and quite a lot of street violence too. That was brought to an abrupt end by Labour - who made a law against it. Some protests were okay - such as those against capitalism - but they were heavily policed, whilst others seemed to slip through the net and made a few headlines which were blithely ignored by parliament. It was all a bit odd, to say the least.

Anyhow, last weekend we saw what may have been the first 'protest' against this new government. Those protesters were calling for 'fair votes' - that's all, just 'fair votes'. The same people seemed to have turned up outside Downing Street on Tuesday night too, and booed the new Prime Minister, which sort of sets the scene.

Yesterday, at the Cameron/Clegg press thingy they said there would be a referendum on "Alternative Vote". It was true, and it's confirmed in the coalition agreement - so surely it would satisfy these protesters?

Probably not though, because amongst the organisers were those who want only one thing - to be in charge of the country. But they aren't, so it's tough luck. There are winners and losers for every election, time they got used to it, and time they had to make do with rules made by other people too.

The odd thing is that, apparently, lots of Lib Dems are moaning* about the coalition as well. (* See comments with article)

It's hard to understand what they really want, and it's hard to believe these people have a firm grasp of reality.

Phew! This is why it's so odd.

You see, almost everybody we Rigbys know is delighted to see the back of the Labour government. The only exceptions are those who are active members of the Labour Party and staunch Union members, but even they are being realistic and have acknowledged that they didn't win the election, they came second, and the leaders of their party weren't able to form a government of all the colours.

There's no longer any point in bleating about, "Oh, they didn't really win because they didn't get a proper majority," because nor did Labour, who came second. The Lib Dems came a poor third in terms of seats, although they didn't do so badly in terms of votes cast - but they got 3,878,709 votes fewer than the Conservatives - who came first.

So the party that came third is now in active government. It's the first time the Liberals have been anywhere near government since the Lib/Lab pact of the 1970s, and that fell into disarray rather quickly. The last Liberal Prime Minister was Asquith, and he left office in 1915.

So, Mrs Rigby thinks it's really odd that some Lib Dems don't seem pleased to see Nick Clegg in a working coalition. She thinks it's odd that these people don't seem to realise that the existing constituency boundaries were a stitch up, and they should know they would never, ever, have been able to do anything about it - until now, when they can, because their party is in a proper coalition and will be able to give instructions to the Boundary Commission.

So, why aren't they pleased?

Mrs Rigby thinks it's really odd that these people aren't they delighted to see some of their flagship policies on the political agenda. It couldn't/wouldn't have happened any other way.

Can't these people understand compromise? Can't they understand that this is their very best chance, for almost a hundred years?

Can't these people also see that the Conservatives - who got the most votes and won the most parliamentary seats at the election - have also dropped some of their key policies? Can't they see that some Conservatives have been pushed aside to make sure that Lib Dem politicians are in high office?

Did they truly think Mr Clegg could have won the election? Did they believe all the media hype and the opinion polls?

Or would these people have preferred Mr Clegg to go into some uneasy relationship with Labour, along with all the other parties with one or two MPs, each of which would have had to lose many, if not all, of their own policies in order to 'power share' with Messrs Brown/Balls/Mandelson/Campbell?

All these people voted against Labour. Yes, they also voted against the Tories, and the Greens, and UKIP, and BNP and so on, and so on - but the brutal reality is that the people they voted for didn't have a snowball's chance of being in government. Absolutely none at all, no chance. Zero.

So, Mrs Rigby wants to ask some straight questions of all the Lib Dems who are moaning ...

Firstly she asks you to look at the facts.

Your political party is in the most powerful position it's been in for donkey's years.

Your leader is Deputy Prime Minister - a position he couldn't have dreamed of holding, not even if he'd agreed to make a pact with Labour because others with power would have demanded a share.

Your leader knows very well he'd never have made it to government without a fair bit of help from another politician/political party.

The coalition programme/agenda/agreement is a mixture of policies, some are Conservative and some are Lib Dem - which is a heck of a coup.

What is it you're moaning about?

Lib Dems - why aren't you shouting from the rooftops? Why aren't you partying?

The oddest possible answer is quite unpleasant.

Is it possible that these so-called Liberal Democrats only joined the Liberal Democrats because they didn't like the Conservatives, so were using underhand 'tactics'?

Were/are these people really Labour supporters after all? Were they people who would, truly, have preferred to see Labour still in government, all on their own.

But that's the stuff of the conspiracy theorists, not necessarily part of the real world, so Mrs Rigby will dismiss it.

She'd like to know if you're complaining because you don't really like the idea of compromise, and don't like the idea of making a deal?

Or is it that you enjoy complaining and only thrive on moaning?

Is it that you like to think up hare-brained ideas that you know think will never happen - but like to whine about not having a say?

You've got your say now. You and your party are in government and will, probably, stay in government until 7th May 2015.

Why don't you like it?

Come on, tell us - or be quiet and stop moaning. Give us all a break!


Jim said...

Yes I think this coalition may prove to be the undoing of the Lib Dems. There are two camps - the genuine '3rd way'ers who are all for consensus, PR, coalitions with either side depending on who give the best deal, and there are 'Labour lite', who would only ever consider dealing with Labour, and hate the Tories.

The latter will forment trouble as the cuts bite over the next months and years. They could conceivably bring down the coalition at some point, and precipitate another election, at which point they would get annihilated at the polls, because they would a) be totally split, and b) would be open to a charge of 'Vote Lib get Lab'.

John R said...

The old joke used to be that the Liberal Party was for those who couldnt make up their minds between the other two parties.

Actually the problem they have, that you describe so well, is that the joke was pretty much spot on. Very very few LibDem polices are really unique to their party (although they'll ty to claim otherwise). They are a mishmash of ideas that can also be found in the Lab and Con manifestos. That's why the coalition document was so easy to agree, each side could see things they recognised in the others ideas.

So what really kept the LibDems going was that they enjoyed grumbling at the other two. No matter who was in charge they could be moaned at because they werent Libs.

Unfortunately for them that's got to stop as now they ARE the government and they really dont know what to do or say. It'll be fun watching them grow up - quickly I hope.

Trubes said...

Hello Mrs Rigby,
First visit to your site and there is nothing more I can add, You've said it all, succinctly...
Well said and thank you!


Mrs Rigby said...

@ Jim.
Yes, wholeheartedly agree. It look as if they're beginning to wear their true colour(s) - which isn't orange.

@ John R.
Yes - they could always complain, but now they've been put on the spot, and in the spotlight. Rabbits in headlights shouldn't wear sandals.

@ Trubes.
Thank you. :-)