Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Devils and deep blue seas
Or indeed red seas. The dramatic potential of the current political stand-off is enormous. I would not want to be Nick Clegg. As someone said, it is heart versus head. The heart of LibDemdom surely beats in closer sympathy with the heart of Labour than with that of Conservatism of any description. The head may say something else about stable government, financial crisis, duty to the country, possible party advantage, how all this will play to the present and the future...
If Clegg goes with the Tories, most LibDems will feel deeply uncomfortable and disorientated, not to say unhappy. The electorate will, presumably, feel that this has all happened by some strange conjuring trick and that the product is bound to be a three-legged monstrosity that must lead the strangest of lives, if it lives at all. Half the country will hate Clegg for going Tory.
If, on the other hand, Clegg goes with Labour, and they both strike a deal with the Scots Nats and, say, Plaid Cymru, the fury of the Tories will be beyond anything so far experienced. The more patriotic English will feel like second class citizens, the BNP will get another fillip, and the break up of the UK is likely to be precipitated. Clegg will be hated by the other half of the country.
The hung will be hanged.
However, one of the most revealing sights of the post-campaign coverage was a TV interview with the upstanding male and female Tory members of a Tory shire. They were all adamant that they'd have no truck with anything the LibDems might want as part of a deal for supporting Cameron. Absolutely, solidly, nothing. Every one of them. It was: Dammit! It's our country, it's our right to rule it, and little upstarts like Clegg can get stuffed because he's getting nothing from us.
The entitlement simply oozed from their thick skulls. It hung like a miasma about them. They couldn't begin to understand that there would have to be compromise of any kind.
Being foreign, I have never fully felt the visceral element in British politics. Nor are my feelings led by ideology. I can quite see that someone might have a different idea from me, and that, it may, sort of, work.
Intellectually, of course, I am perfectly capable of understanding visceral feelings and have some of my own, just not in the UK political realm. I can imagine feeling the full UK range, while not really feeling it. I don't know whether that is part of the poetry kit, the foreigner kit, or just something personal. I 'feel' no closer to a toff than to a chav. A man or woman is just a man or woman to me.
But my repugnance at this snapshot of the sense of Tory entitlement was visceral enough. It was not loathing exactly, just a deep gut-level abhorrence.
What to do with all these viscera?! Nick Clegg, whatever you do, the viscera are after you!