Saturday, May 08, 2010

Ten thoughts after the election

Division. Isn't this a divided country? And it saddens me. A hung parliament is what "the people" want, according to Sky News, and yet they don't. Most people just hate the other lot.

Weakness. Arguments in favour of first past the post say that it delivers strong government. It doesn't, the weakest government in my lifetime was the tail end of John Major's. It pandered to the Eurosceptic right by chucking them the bone of rail privatisation. A disaster. This is an opportunity to bang heads together, and fair play that Major is acting as a broker.

Clegg's Sheffield rally moment. I think Nick Clegg is a good speaker and won the debates. However, he got carried away. I heard him whoop on a radio interview and thought he sounded like he was getting a bit triumphalist. He was certainly brought down to earth. The Lib Dems are good local campaigners, but so too are the well-funded Tories when they get going and the Labour grass roots in London and the North East hardened their resolve in the final week. He's negotiating with a weaker hand now.

Coalition. So, we face a coalition. Fear not. Parties are coalitions. Take our local contest here. Labour's Richard Scorer hardly agreed with his leader on anything. Our Liberal Democrat, Andrew Stunell, comes from the non-conformist Christian wing. Our neighbouring MP is a former SDP centrist, our council leader is a Labour man at heart and our newly re-elected councillor is from the lentil faction. I'd rather that bunch to blunt Cameron, than him pandering to the anti-gay Theo-Cons in his own party who've done very well out of this election. Don't expect a coronation of David Milliband as Labour leader either, the left are on the rise.

Top marks and no marks. George Osborne was kept well out of sight. He was highlighted as the Tories' weakest link at an early stage. Will he be able to keep a front bench position? My fantasy cabinet in a government of national unity - fanciful, I know - would include William Hague, Liam Fox, Ken Clarke and Rory Stewart. It would also include Nick Clegg, Paddy Pantsdown and David Laws. Even Labour's Lord "More Andrew Than" Adonis could get on with sorting out the railways and the airports. I struggle to name good women politicians either, and that is a great shame.

Vindication. At Insider we backed four candidates. Three won: Rory Stewart (Tory, Penrith), Simon Danczuk (Labour, Rochdale) and Mark Hunter (Cheadle, Liberal Democrat). When I saw the fourth, Susan Williams (Tory, Bolton West) on the BBC Town Hall debate I was sure she'd lose, her body language and projection was poor. And she jibbed out of our election debate at Manchester Business School. She lost by 92 votes. And my predictions were pretty good too: "Conservatives to have the largest bulk in parliament - 302 seats (306), Labour 240 seats (257), Lib Dems 73 (57), Others 18 (10), Northern Ireland 18."

Bloody students. Sorry, but I have nothing but ire for the students who turned up at 9.55, straight out of the pub, with no card, expecting to vote. You had 15 hours to vote, get over it. I do feel for the people who were inconvenienced by these latecomers. However, the problems at polling stations prove just how bone-headed and lacking in foresight some people in the public sector can be. It's a wasteful, lazy and unproductive part of our economy that has sucked in management talent. It needs tackling.

Traditional media or social media? There was a lack of impact by the national newspapers. Guardian readers ignored their paper. The Sun has not won it either. The BBC was the best of all media, Nick Robinson slightly self-important, but they are pure class. Locally, BBC TV in the North West was absolutely dreadful. It wasn't the social media election either. Twitter was fun and if you follow good people it is terrific. But on the whole it is a liberal/left wing echo chamber raging with tribalist anti-Conservative sentiment, spilling over into bile. The trending topics were usually very pro-Labour and Guardian inspired, like an extension of the risible Comment is Free. One bloke said he'd done his democratic duty, another supposedly intelligent and professional chap I know asked if that meant "assassinating Cameron". Some seem to react like there's been a military coup by "right-wing junta".

Hope not hate. The collapse of the vote for fascist parties was good news. Delighted that the BNP and Respect were both trounced and the public rejected their brand of ugliness.

Friends. My old University pal Suzannah Reeves won Old Moat ward on Manchester City Council for Labour. A teacher and former head of department at Marple College, public life needs good people like Suze. And she's got almost as many kids as us.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Well written, nice piece but I don't think the election suggests that the UK is divided. All three parties are quite closely positioned, even the Conservatives working hard to not be seen as NHS bashers, and keeping their illiberal theo-cons hidden in the campaign. Truth is that the UK has evolved into a fairly liberal population with some influential but small cliques left to buy the Daily Mail.

My personal view is that the election was not very important in the history of the isle. Truth is, we are walking a precipice now. The incoming government has to pull off a difficult choreography in reflating the financial services tax revenue whilst moving the economy off this addiction before the next crash. Put like this, I'd speak up for GB - in these times we are better to have someone who has been burned than a young ideologue like Osbourne. But whoever is in charge, a precipice we must walk.