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!


Angela France said...

I feel really sorry for Nick Clegg. Whatever he does, someone will be screaming 'betrayal'. As a long time Lib Dem voter, the thought of the tory alliance makes me shudder - but I can also see that he has little choice but to try to do something with the party with the most seats for the sake of a workable government.

In the north, where Labour is the opponent in any seats Libdem fights, Labour is the enemy and a coalition would be frowned on - while in the South West, many of the marginals are Lib dem/tory so it is the tories who are most reviled by Lib dem voters.
The man can't win. If we get a fairer polling system out of all this - which surely, we must - then that's the silver lining - but I suspect Clegg will be sacrificed for it.

Billy C said...

"I 'feel' no closer to a toff than to a chav. A man or woman is just a man or woman to me."

George, you speak like a true Englishman. (I can't speak for the Scots or Welsh or those from Northern Ireland because I'm not one of them.)

"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."

Extremists without compromise are, unfortunately, not only a British thing. They're the reason why the world is in chaos: the reason why rockets are still falling on Israel: the reason why Palestinians are still being marginalised in their own lands: the reason why young girls are having acid thrown in their faces because they want an education, and the reason why male statues are having their genitals covered in parts of the USA. So many other reasons, too.

I am neither a supporter of the Tories nor the Liberal Democrats, but I prefer a steadying influence from two sides rather than a minority extremist outcome.

Clegg, in my very humble opinion, has made the best of a bad job, and to his credit, Cameron has done all he could to steady the ship. This is not a time for cynicism. Our future depends on them working together for a common good. Every good Brit worthy of the name should wish them success.

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George S said...

Listening to callers into Radio5 - all the viscera on display there.

Politics isn't the same as supporting a football team. It is the art of the possible, not 'my party, alive or dead and anyone but those bastards.'

Coirí Filíochta said...

Last night I was wanting Lib-lab rainbow; but when I woke this morning the first thing I thought was of the new reality in Westminster and thought; actually I'd rather it was this, because it seems to me I was conning myself; falling for the Labour spinners right to the last.

1: People didn't want the tories in because of memories of Thatcher; but Thatcher did what was needed at the time, plus the country wanted her.

2: It was the unelected Lord Adonis (aren't labour politicians supposed to be anti-Lord?) and thuggy Al; who were the dark artists winding up the fear; and now there's a brand new start, with a guy who might be a toff; but he seems decent enough.

2: Now they are out; the scales have dropped from our eyes; and it will be interesting when the Tory's report on the state of the UK Plc balance sheet; see exactly how much debt Gordon ran up.

3: With a balancing influence of the Libs; this could actually turn out to be one of the best administrations ever.

Who knows?

Good luck to them anyway.