Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Endorsement of Its Enemies

It is often said of the BBC that since it is criticised equally by politicians of the left and politicians of the right, it must be doing something right. The same sort of thing might increasingly be said of the new coalition. Criticised by an unholy alliance of right-wing commentators and the just defeated Labour Party, we might infer that it must be doing something right.

The rancorous comments against the coalition of Melanie Philips (Daily Mail) and Mehdi Hasan (New Statesman) on Question Time tonight - both of whom are commentators with no need to engage in practical politics - reflect two defeated agendas that are currently writhing around in pain, thrashing wildly out against the thing that has defeated them. Heseltine and Hughes both gave bravura defences of the new arrangement, with Heseltine quite correctly pointing out to the audience that this is what "you, the masters of democracy", have created. We can't really spend years complaining about how politicians just don't work together across the party divide, and then start complaining when they do.

3 comments:

Ben Ross said...

No one can praise or criticise the coalition until it has done something. You sit high up in that chair of yours Giles, believing that you know better than this critical commentators, but you are lavishing praise on something that has not given us any reward. I will grant the coalition its honeymoon, but you cannot say they are working together (they've had one meeting) nor can you suggest that this is going to lead to the death of Labour.

Quite the reverse, Labour will come back from this much stronger. There is no opposition distraction in the Lib Dems anymore. Labour are the party of the left. Governments gradually become more unpopular over time, and a party with only 50odd seats cannot afford to become more unpopular. I will repeat the phrase countless Labour members have uttered on twitter, but it still holds true, "i know many people who voted Lib Dem who are regretting it".

consultant said...

Nice to see that there is still a reason to turn to this blog for reasoned and insightful comment, even if it no longer comes from the blogger himself.

GM said...

As a One Nation Conservative I am undeniably pleased with this coalition. I do not suggest it will lead to the death of Labour, even if it has for the moment defeated both Labour and the Tory right. My view on this is that I suspect Labour will indeed come back strongly - they are not in anything like the dire position the Tories were in in 1997, despite their recent significant rejection at the polls.

I also fear for the Liberals - delighted as I am that they are in coalition with the Conservatives, I do wonder about their long-term future. A look at the faces of Simon Hughes and Vince Cable in recent days suggests seriously apprehensive rather than triumphant men. Perhaps they have indeed put the interests of their country above those of their party.

All that said, the bile heaped upon this coalition even before it is out of the starting gate reveals a distinct insecurity from both left and right. The coalition is a natural outcome of the way our electoral system delivered the voters' verdict last week. The Liberals could, I suppose, have opted out of doing anything - clearly Labour weren't able to offer anything of substance - and the Conservatives could have tried to limp on as a minority government, seeking solace in a possible election victory further down the line. Neither option would have been particularly constructive. What would you on the left have had them do? By trying a new realignment, they have opted for something more interesting, even courageous, and it might just work. Optimistic moments are rare in politics, but I think this is one such.