Sunday 12 December 2010

Clegg is not the only one in Trouble

I miss my little politic snarls.

I've been, through necessity, focussing on the day to day health side of things, but my passion is politics and the bit I always loved was the cut and thrust, the chess-game strategy.

I knew Clegg wanted a deal with Cameron. I knew months before the election. I also knew Cameron wanted a deal with Clegg. He knew he'd lost it. The minute opinion polls started showing his lead narrowing to 8 or 9 points, he knew it was unlikely he would win a majority. He needed little Nicky and he courted him like a lover.

Wasn't Nicky eager to be courted? How similar he and Dave were, how noble their aims. He saw them as lone rangers, both creating a Brave New World of Liberal-Conservatism. Both clear thinking pioneers who would show their less visionary parties the New Way. They wanted the same things - Nicky would throw off the shackles of his left wing, sandal-wearing Democrats and Dave would annihilate his crusty, right-wing dinosaurs.

And they pulled it off!! Neither could quite believe his luck when the Democrats agreed to prop up the Tories and the Right Wing Blues were so desperate to return to power, they sold their soul for an AV referendum.

But both shared the same fatal flaw. They believed their own hype.

When Nicky suddenly found himself ahead of Labour in the pre-election opinion polls, he really believed he could take over as the second party. He told us breathlessly how things could change, politics could change. He truly thought his party's time had come. Sadly, I think he believed there could be a better way. He was reckless. He glossed over what was vital and concentrated on what was possible. He became purist, declaring his was no party for "disillusioned Labour voters." He forgot that politics is not purist. He forgot that his party was formed by disillusioned Labour voters.

And Dave. He really believed that Labour had failed at everything. He believed Blair had been successful only because he said one thing, then did another. He thought his party were fully signed up to his centrist, hug-a-hoodie agenda and that any dissenters would die off gracefully.

But he didn't do the legwork. He didn't drag his party, kicking and screaming to the centre as Blair had. He fundamentally misunderstood Blair's success, then thought he could replicate it. The biggest mistake of all was forgetting that he didn't win. When Blair swept to power with a vast 179 seat majority, he had captured the zeitgeist. He could support any policy because the people trusted him. If he said one thing, then did another, it took a very long time indeed for people to wonder if it was a good thing after all, if actually, they were being shafted.

Why didn't Dave win? Why, with the most unpopular opponent for decades, the worst financial situation for a century and a tired, 13 year old governing party, couldn't he romp home?

It was that niggling fear, that whisper in every heart, that unresolved flaw. Nasty Party.

By 1997, the public realised the Tories had failed.

By 2010, the public realised that Labour were tired. The two are very different.

There were undoubtedly things the public had despised about Labour and there were things they believed Labour got wrong. Iraq, Immigration, 10p tax, supporting the feckless, spending too much. But they knew hospitals had improved and unemployment had stayed low. They knew there were more nurses and police officers and teachers. They knew about the minimum wage and Sure Start and free nursery education. They just hadn't seen much of that action for a while. They didn't believe Gordon had the vision to get the action back.

We've all watched the slow destruction of the LibDems. We've watched in astonishment as Vince called for instant cuts, Hughes voted for welfare reform and nearly ALL voted for raising tuition fees. We've watched their share of the vote fall from the twenties to the teens, to 11 then 10 then below 10. They've held centre stage so well, we all forgot the side show.

Cameron has been in water as hot as Cleggs, but Conservative MPs know how to play the game. They know when to roar and when to stay silent. They know about numbers games and they know about coups. Oh, if any party knows about coups it's the Tories. No other party wields the knife so brutally.

They swallowed the bitter pill of offering electoral reform. They gritted their teeth when Cameron tried to neuter the powerful, backbench 1922 committee. They ignored the ring fencing of International Aid and they even held their nerve as the Tory Holy Grail of Defence was slashed.

But there was a charismatic rebel in David Davies. An astute, experienced old-timer who knew what his party wanted in a way Cameron never would. He rumbled a bit, but he played his cards close to his chest. He whispered and soothed and undermined. He set out a defensive game, but all the while his rooks and his bishops and his knights were creeping close to checkmate. He knew he would have to wait for the killer move and wait he did.

Tuition Fees was a gift to David D (not Dave, far too woolly for real Conservatives.) I'm sure he lobbied and agitated, counting every Lib Dem rebel and providing a Tory to match them. If he had thought the Libs would vote against, he would have made sure enough Tories did too and the government would have fallen. Checkmate to the right wingers and bye bye Dave and Nicky. They didn't and the bill passed, but David (or perhaps some other Tory rebel) had a quiet (and no doubt utterly gentlemanly) word in Dave's ear. "If the Libs do that again, we'll vote against you and it will all be over." No more anti-Tory policy, no more liberal claptrap, we have you by the balls Dave and now you do what we want.

Quietly and with the patience of the chess-master, David has manoeuvred himself into the role of puppet master.

I'll hazard a little guess now. I like a prediction. When the coalition formed, the elephant in the room was Europe. The Libs are pro, even the orange bookers like Clegg and Alexander. The Tories are against and will never be anything else. Just wait for the next controversial ceding of powers to Europe or excessive budgetary demand. Dave will have to design a policy that suits his Liberal fig-leaves, but David will know his moment has come.


  1. Thats quite an insightful analysis. I too think that Cameron didn't succeed in changing his party membership to something far more pallatable for Joe Public a la Blair.

    Could it cause him problems in the future? Yes, I agree when a big important issue is at stake the core membership will find it very hard to keep quiet in the background.

  2. Sue,

    I have some great news for you! I have ben following your Wikio Rankings... [for some time now saddo that I am]. You were last month

    238 in the UK rankings for politics blogs!

    that on its on is mega impressive...

    Well the good news is this,,,,,,,

    It has now climbed to 141 in the UK.... The top 100 UK political blogs is within your sight!

    Keep up the amazing work! :) :) :) :) :) :)

  3. OMG Eoin!! Is that true?

    That's very exciting!!


  4. Wonderful stuff Sue.

    Made my Sunday.

    You should take up fiction writing in earnest.


  5. Sue,

    To put your 141 into perspective...

    Political Betting are ranked 95...

  6. I think you'll overtake Political Betting by Feb :) :)

  7. Great stuff Sue. Such a shame that Labour being "tired" has resulted in the extreme right of the Conservatives getting their way by using the excuse of financial deficit.

  8. Oh my God again!!!

    You are kidding me about PB?

    Bloody Hell. Can't deny overtaking Smithson would be nice ;)

    Colin, thanks, you're a gent.

    Hey Eoin - You and me, 1 & 2 by next Xmas?? I don't even mind if you're 1

  9. How do you know by the way? Have you got a link?

  10. Sue,

    This is the link... check your wee line out? Your like a Top of the Pops new release... watch that line

  11. An outstanding post, wonderfully written.
    What a star you are. Such a perceptive insight into the current political situation, and I think you have it.
    Spot on!
    You have a great career ahead of you too.

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  13. My CAPTCHA was rednot.

    Red they are not! BUt I do think that there is a quiet revolution happening among the British people, especially the young. It is quite exciting, or it would be if it had not taken this governement to wake the People up.
    But that is the cyclical way in politics, and when you said Labour is "tired" I think you have it in a nutshell.
    They needed to be reenergised.

  14. Thanks Pam, what a lovely thing to say.
    I just friend requested you on Facebook, lol

  15. Eoin, Is here political betting as to when Sue will take over Political Betting? :-)
    I am not surprised, Sue is so talented. Don't know about fiction, Colin, she seems to be doing Ok sticking tomthe facts ;-))

  16. Sue


    I hope you don't mind me saying this but whilst reading I felt that I was thinking my thoughts not reading those of someone else. I will return to your blog daily.

  17. Great post Sue.
    I'm even more cynical than you about Nick Clegg.
    I think he's a Tory, not a Liberal Democrat. I don't mean that as an insult, IMO he really wanted all along to be a Tory. He joined the LDs because at the time he started off in politics he would have had no chance of being elected as a Conservative.
    Nick Clegg's name was on a list of members of the Tory Student Association at the same time he was at university.
    He worked for a Tory minister.
    Then he joined the Tories in a coalition and ditched most of the main LD policies.
    Some say things will be better for him if he wins the AV vote. But not so long ago he was scathing about electoral reform. ER has long been one of the key demands of the LDs, which in a way defined them and differentiated them from the other parties.
    A low-taxation, anti-PR, anti-welfare, small-state, privatising, individualist is a Tory by any other name. Sure he's pro-Europe, but there are others on the left of the Tory party who are pro-Europe too.
    If he looks like a Tory, sounds like a Tory and acts like a Tory, well guess what? He probably is one.

  18. Thanks Malcolm.

    There's some other health stuff in the way at the mo, but hope you like that too.

    Julian - Indeed.

  19. my god sue, you are a fantastic writer you should be making mega bucks from your talent. i have just been doing a quick scan through your earlier posts and it is obvious that you have a gift

  20. Sorry to pour some cold water on all this eulogy (justly earned BTW) but I don't see DD being other than a catalyst (stalking horse?). His vote against tuition hike drew in a few more and gave some new boys encouragement. To that extent you are on the right track but I do not believe he will grasp the leadership from DC. This is because his reputation in the party is unprintable,well, let's just say 'untrustworthy'. I believe an Event will be the more likely catalyst and I am sure you are right that an EU issue is a good bet.

    However, if it does not arise until 2012 (say) the cementing legislation for 2015 will be in place. The coalescents are inextricably bound together.

  21. Very well written!

    (Also read the comments: congratulations on sailing up the political blogging charts!)

  22. I agree Howard.
    I didn't go on to analyse what might be the result of DDs scheming, but I think the irony is, if, hypothetically, he DID ever try to bring DC down and stand himself, the public wouldn't elect him anyway. They don't want the Nasty Party, but most Conservatives do.

  23. Of all the political analysis I have heard of this coalition from the broadsheets, BBC, Sky etc. this is by far the best. Just fantastic!

  24. Blimey essois, you're making me blush ;)


  25. "They don't want the Nasty Party, but most Conservatives do."

    You do enjoy gratuitous little insults like that don't you Sue?

    How the hell do you know what "most conservatives" want ?

  26. I think this country are finding out pretty quickly what Conservatives want, and it aint nice!
    CAPTCHA conable!

  27. Colin - I spend hours on Facebook reading Tory trolls who constantly claim the coalition is too centrist. They want to preserve the Defence budget, pull out of Europe and privatise schools and hospitals. Many of their comments are offensive and shocking.

    I also read the Telegraph, Independent and Guardian, all of whom discuss a disconnect between the grassroots of the Conservative party and the coalition leadership. Cameron claims to have moved his party away from the "nasty party" image, (Theresa May's words remember, not mine)but he doesn't appear to have taken his members with him.

    And no Colin, I don't enjoy "gratuitous little insults" Don't be so bloody rude.

  28. I'll stop when you do dear-& I see no sign of that whatsoever :-)

    Back to Facebook for another high Sue?

  29. You'll stop when I cut your comments if you can't be polite.

  30. Sue

    That would certainly put a marker down for your Blog-that only the owner is allowed to be impolite-& that she alone should be permitted to define what is impolite.

    Coming back to your impoliteness -11million people voted Conservative last May. If the OPs are to be believed, 12 million might do so if there were a GE today.

    THe proportion of these people who are party members is miniscule & how many of them do you imagine take the trouble to post on political blogs?

    But you have said that "most" of those people, who currently indicate they would vote Conservative want that party to be "Nasty".

    I repeat -that is a gratuitous insult to people , the overwhelming majority of whom you know nothing about.

    I realise that your mobility is constrained Sue and that the internet must be a welcome relief for you .

    But to imagine that the world of cyberspace in which partisan political obsessives pour bile upon each other for a pass-time , represents the real world in which most people live -between & during general elections-is quite ridiculous.

  31. Colin - I used a term that many use to describe - as you well know - the right wing of your party, coined by one of it's own ministers. I used it in that spirit. (As you also know.)

    Here's a pretty comprehensive example of the generally held view that Cameron is more left leaning than most of his voters :

    But you can check almost any opinion poll to find the same evidence.

    What a nasty, patronising, man you are Colin! You post unpleasantly on my site, then claim censorship if I threaten to remove your comments. That's a bit like insulting a host, then claiming you have a right to stay for the end of the party.

    As you know, I've had plenty of practise at toughening my skin against you politically Colin, but I've made it pretty clear that comments like :

    "I realise that your mobility is constrained Sue and that the internet must be a welcome relief for you .

    But to imagine that the world of cyberspace in which partisan political obsessives pour bile upon each other for a pass-time , represents the real world in which most people live -between & during general elections-is quite ridiculous."

    are totally unacceptable. You imply my illness makes me somehow ignorant, unaware of "real life". You made a similar comment a few days ago when you suggested that I was unable to discuss regeneration intelligently because of the medications I have to take. I let that comment go, but I found it so offensive at the time, that I had to ask a mutual friend if I was over-reacting.

    I set up this very blog to challenge the view that sick or disabled people were somehow inferior or incapable. I may not have a comments policy, but I should have thought even the most casual visitor might understand that offering that view might be the only really offensive sin they could commit??

    Please don't post here again Colin. If you do I will cut ANY comment, not just those that offend me. I don't accept that you have the right to insult ME just because I write on a public forum, but I certainly don't aggree that you have the right to offend my sick and disabled readers.

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