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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Vote Clegg and get Cameron!

The return of Tory Britain....brought to you courtesy of those ‘progressive’ Lib Dems. I have been in the habit of putting the word ‘progressive’ in inverted commas when writing about the Lib Dems, and I think I’ve been vindicated by yesterday’s events.

Throughout the campaign the Tory party and the media warned voters 'Vote Clegg, get Brown’. In fact it turned out to be 'Vote Clegg, Get Cameron'. Not that we should be all that surprised by two very posh Oxbridge graduates from wealthy elite backgrounds deciding to go into government with each other.

The writing was on the wall a long way back- I think it was our old friend Charlie Marks who first coined the term ‘David Cleggeron’ , back in December 2007.
(Charlie, take a bow, and please, please, return to blogging!)

One last thing- I bet the distinguished 'progressive' signatories to this letter feel like right wallies now.


Czarny Kot said...

There will be a whole generation of well-meaning but naive students who will now be put off voting for life.

The Lib Dems' main selling point is electoral reform. Thinking long-term, if PR is introduced it might be all worth it but personally I do not think that will happen.

Gordon Brown bowed out with real class and dignity. Out of the 3 main party leaders, I would prefer him as PM. However, his personal qualities and the fact that he has been treated shabbily by most of the media do not change the fact that he has been central to the 13 year 'New Labour' project and all that it entails, both good and bad.

Seeing Clegg jump into bed with the Tories is not a pretty sight but if Labour loyalists want to know why one of thier own is not in Downing Street they should look closer to home.

Czarny Kot said...

PS: I can't stand the word 'progressive' when used in a political sense.

olching said...

Well, let's list those 'progressives':

Richard Reeves, John Kampfner, Professor Noreena Hertz, Susie Orbach, Shazia Mirza, Camilla Toulmin, Brian Eno, John le Carré, Henry Porter, Alex Layton, Gordon Roddick, Yasmin Alibhai Brown, Philip Pullman, David Aukin, Nick Harkaway, Lisa Appignanesi, Francis Wheen, Alan Ryan, Raymond Tallis, Julian Baggini, Jeanette Winterson, Rodric Braithwaite, Richard Dawkins, George Monbiot, Ken Macdonald, Philippe Sands, Misha Glenny, Anthony Barnett, Richard Sennett, David Marquand

A couple of them might feel slightly sheepish today, but what marks liberal party politics out as 'progressive' is its lack of principles.

It's not so much that the LibDems have formed an alliance with the Tories that has annoyed (in many ways, they were between a rock and a hard place), it's the fact that it's a full-blown coalition with every single LibDem overturned:

- No real voting reform (certainly not PR)
- No opposition to trident
- No mansion tax
- accepting the Tory line on Europe and immigration (regardless of what others think of that - it's about the ease with which Liberals overturn their 'principles')
- accepting quick Tory cuts
- They didn't even get the Chancellorship or Home Office!

I could go on and on and on.

David Blunkett probably said the 'most right' thing he has ever said in his life:

Liberals are harlots.

jock mctrousers said...

" ....there are millions of hard-working people on low wages who deeply resent those who get extra benefits from the system..." John Redwood on R4 World at 1. Scroungers on the dole? Another day, same old... Real message: " You haven't the guts to fight the rich, so kick granny's crutches away and get it out your system".

Neil Clark said...

Hi Czarny- totally agreed. Brown was by far and away the 'least worst' of the three main party leaders.
olching-spot on as ever.
Richard Dawkins doesn't believe in God but he did believe in the banker's boy Nick Clegg. More fool him.

The Lib Dems not only didn't get the Chancellor or Home Office, they didn't get Defence or the Foreign Office either, which went to two hardcore neocons- Fox and Hague. I wonder what Dawkins- who opposed the Iraq war- thinks about that.

DBC Reed said...

Too right that they are working to an American neo-con agenda.The only thing they really agree about is destroying public services.Or worse they're out to destroy the mixed economy .The latter is pretty well part of our unwritten constitution making their actions as bad as the poor deluded Commies who once tried to put everything under public ownership.Everything in private ownership is still extreme to the point of being subversive of the British state.There comes a point when these people who infest the Bogosphere saying they abominate the state become Enemies of the State.

neil craig said...

To give Clegg his due it does seem that the reason negotiations with Labour broke down was because too many Labour MPs wouldn't promise to vote for PR & the Labour party generally seemed more interested in the coming leadership battle between the thuggish balls & Miliband the moronic tailor's dummy. Didn't really leave much of an option.

As regards the "progressive" label - it means somebody who supports progress. Nobody who supports windmillery, banning GM, prevetning the "continuous economic expansion" we are alleged to be suffering from or who opposes nuclear power or space development can ever, under any circumstances claim to be remotely "progressive". Indeed nobody who is not willing to publicly denounce the Green Luddites (of all parties) & the medievalism they stand for can honestly be called "progressive".

Mr. Piccolo said...

This might be off topic, but what do you folks think of the possibility that Cameron might be a "new kind of Tory?" Specifically, I am thinking of Cameron's connections to Phillip Blond and his "Red Toryism" concept. As an outsider, I really don't know that much about this whole "Red Toryism" or "new kind of Tory" idea but, to put it very simply, it seems to be about devolving more power to the common people, which is perhaps a good thing.

On the other hand, my cynical side thinks this is perhaps just a way to wrap Thatcherism up in a populist mantle, but I am not sure. What do you folks think?

P.S. Again, I apologize if my comment is off topic.

jock mctrousers said...

'Red Tory' LOL. That's just a rerun of Blair's 'Third Way, Communitarianism, Stakeholder society...' you name it. Just another line of nebulous bullshit to give the media hacks something harmless to babble about to distract the punters while the politicians' paymasters sell off everything and steal all they can get as long as they can get away with it. The rich don't need Britain anymore; that's the first thing you've got to understand. The function of the government now is just to rob us of whatever little we've got left. That's the meaning of 'Red Tory' and 'Lib-Dem' and will be the meaning of 'Labour comeback'. It's just a scrabble for some low-level jobs in the capitalist hierarchy, rewarded with directorships and lecture tours etc. Mugging people in the streets for drug money is a more honourable occupation.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Mr Piccolo, great to hear from you. Yes, I think Jock's right- Cameron is not a genuine post-war 'One Nation' Tory, in the mould of Harold Macmillan or Sir Ian Gilmour, but a Thatcherite who supports privatisation. The Macmillanite Tories did accept the post-war consensus and the mixed economy. What we are about to witness, as Jock says, is the final dismantling of the 1945 settlement. State schools and hospitals, The Royal Mail and all other public assets, including public libraries, will be flogged off on the grounds that the deficit needs to be reduced and that the state's withdrawal from these areas will improve 'delivery of services'.

Anonymous said...

We have to understand what's going on in the world these days and what privatisation really means.
We have to understand that every state, every single government in the world has to be left without income so they have to take loans in order to function. And this is why privatisation is so important. Loans then will be paid to the bankers via taxation. Government in today's world is just a vehicle to establish a money supply in one direction from populus to the rich and end of the story... as simple as that.
Those governments who don't want to participate in the game but unfortunately don't have nukes will be returned to the stone age one way or another.

Sorry if this sounds off topic but explains why there is no real and substancial difference between these three parties, and doesn't really matter who wins and who PM will be. They are all supported by the elite, they are already chosen and we are here just to rubber stamp the choice.

Czarny Kot said...

Here's something to think about:

Think of how many times you have read or heard the words 'neoliberal' or 'neoliberalism' in recent years. You get it everywhere-- newspapers, magazines, blogs etc..

People may disagree on what it actually means and whether or not it is a good thing or a bad thing but surely no-one can deny that it is a term which is heavily used in mainstream, intelligent discussion.

Now think about how many times you heard the term being used in the general election campaign, or at any other time from the big 3 parties. Personally, i've never heard any of them use it.

This lack of open debate might explain why 'progressive' has replaced 'left-wing', 'left of centre', 'social democratic' etc..

Looking at the list of people who signed the letter it would seem that being a professional atheist is all that matters in order to be progressive.

Neil Clark said...

anonymous: absolutely right. Privatisation is really what it's all about.
Czarny- brilliant post. To be classed as a 'progressive' today, or be on the 'progressive' side, all you need to do is to be a professional atheist and support socially liberal positions. In Hungary there's a party called the SZDSZ, which is fanatically pro-privatisation, fanatically pro-big business and finance capital,(and pro-war) yet it's labelled 'progressive' because it criticises the Church and supports gay marriages.
There was nothing genuinely 'progressive' at all about the Lib Dem manifesto, they called for further privatisation and enthusiastically support the neoliberal model of globalisation.

Mr. Piccolo said...

@jock mctrousers and Mr. Clark

Thank you very much for your insights. Reading the bit I did read about Red Toryism, it did seem rather nebulous. It sort of reminded me of George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” and “ownership society” all of which turned out to be nonsense. Unfortunately, many usually well-meaning social conservatives support privatization and other schemes because they think it will return us to a better time, and they get hooked in by the “compassionate conservative” and other rhetoric.

The odd thing is that in many cases the time period people (understandably) pine for (like the 1950s, for example) was (relatively speaking) an era of labor union strength, heavy government intervention to restrain the worst aspects of capitalism, and a commitment to a strong social safety net. This was even true of some of the center-right parties like the One Nation Tories, the various Christian Democrats on the Continent, the Gaullists, and even some U.S. Republicans.

That being said, I still find some decentralist or less state-oriented philosophies to be very persuasive, guild socialism being perhaps the best example in my view.

@Czarny Kot and Mr. Clark,
I could not agree more on the use of the word “progressive.” There are probably many religious and socially traditional people that are also what used to be called “left-wing” or “socialist” on economics, but they aren’t given a voice in the mainstream. I doubt someone like R.H. Tawney would be given a “seat at the table” nowadays. He would be too Christian for the “progressives” and too socialist for the “conservatives.”

jock mctrousers said...

"...labelled 'progressive' because it criticises the Church and supports gay marriages." So far so good, but there's one 'religion' that can't be criticised. See if you can guess which one.

Czarny Kot said...

There is nothing wrong with being an atheist, I am one myself.

I just think it should remain an amateur sport.

The status quo has become so entrenched that a superficial coating of socially liberal policies ( some admirable, some not ) is enough to make one look like a radical / progressive.

A side effect of this is that positions which are really mainstream and- in my own opinion- not dependent on traditional Left/Right politics are seen as the domain of the fanatically religious and/or far-right.

I'm thinking of things like abortion, well-managed immigration etc..

PS: Having seen John Prescott on C4 News ('I've got my bus revving up!') I cannot decide whether his performance was legendary or tragic, brilliant or pathetic.

neil craig said...

Surely if supporting privatisation were to be a touchstone of what "progessive" can't be then there would have to be firm evidence that publicly owned businesses are significantly more technologically innovative per £ invested than private ones.

For example it would have to be proven that trains, largely publicly owned worldwide, have improved in speed, comfort etc more over the last 65 years than cars, overwhelmingly privately owned.

I suggest that the opposite is true in which case it is much more easily arguable that opposing state control is progressive. I wouldn't personally make those touchstones but certainly it is literally impossible for anybody with any slightest sympathy to green Luddism to honestly call themselves "progressive".

Anonymous said...

"it would have to be proven that trains, largely publicly owned worldwide, have improved in speed" ... "I suggest that the opposite is true"

Show me a road where you can travel in an electrically powered vehicle at a sustained 300 km/h or more, while watching a movie on your laptop and drinking a glass of wine, and we'll talk.

peezedtee said...

It is true that we who voted Clegg (actually, in my case, Simon Hughes) got Cameron, but the point you are all missing is that the Cameron we have got is not as right-wing as the Cameron we would have got with a Tory majority government. The far-right extremists of the Mail and Telegraph et al. have had their wings clipped. (Why else do you suppose Melanie Philips was so incandescent on Question Time last night?) Coalitions are all about making compromises. The parliamentary arithmetic for a Lib-Lab coalition just didn't add up, because Labour in England did so badly in the election. Meanwhile, we have got several fairly radical things out of this. Hague may be in the FO but he is not getting what he wanted on Europe. AV is not PR but it is a step in the right direction. No airport expansion. Fixed-term parliaments. No ID cards. Inheritance tax threshold stays where it is. Higher income tax allowances for the lowest paid. An elected House of Lords. These are all things Labour ought to have done, but didn't. Some of them we would not have got if the Tories were governing alone.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Neil:
You say-
For example it would have to be proven that trains, largely publicly owned worldwide, have improved in speed, comfort etc more over the last 65 years than cars, overwhelmingly privately owned.

Have you ever travelled on trains in the continent? Then you'd see the difference between publicly-owned trains and Britain's privatised ones. Check out Austrian Railways-
incredibly comfortable, amazing legroom, and that's standard class, not first class.

Anonymous- agreed.

Peezedtee- good points. Of course what we’ve got is preferable to a Tory majority govt. And it's true that most of the critics of the coalition on the right are fruitcakes- like Melanie Phillips. But do you think that the Lib Dems will be able to moderate the hawkish neocon elements in the Cabinet ie Hague and Fox?. And don’t forget that the Orange Book Lib Dems are as enthusiastic about privatisation and cutting state provision as the Tories.

peezedtee said...

Neil, no the LibDems won't entirely be able to moderate Hague and Fox but that is a price we have to pay for getting some of our way on other issues in a situation where no one party got an overall majority so no one party gets all its own way. Even there, though, it should be noted that Hague is not getting his desired "repatriation of powers from Brussels", for instance. I can live with these compromises for now, and meanwhile radicals can continue to argue their case on a wide range of issues.

olching said...


It is true that we who voted Clegg (actually, in my case, Simon Hughes) got Cameron, but the point you are all missing is that the Cameron we have got is not as right-wing as the Cameron we would have got with a Tory majority government.

But the alternative wasn't a Tory majority, it was a Tory minority government with some toleration concessions. All Clegg et al have done is give more clout to a 'not-winning' party.

neil craig said...

Yes Neil but trains today are really remarkably similar to those of a century ago - diesel or electric rather than steam but that is pretty much it. Whereas modern cars are not recognisable compared to the model T ford let alone earlier vehicles. Even the carriages are recognisably the same style & similar weights making them far heavier than modern buses (& therefore belying the "Green" claim that they use less energy).

Perhaps I have a libertarian bias but I am quite certain that it is now technically possible to run an entire country's rail system automatically, without drivers, 24/7 & with single carriage units every few minutes which would greatly increase capacity & convenience & reduce prices. This is well within modern computer capacity & far easier than automating road vehicles, which aren't guided by rails. We could have a modern transport system whereby for a low price we could quickly & easily move al over the country with far less fuss & faster than driving, if we had such an automated system. If trains weren't structurally natural monopolies & thus centrally controlled & cars not market driven this would have been done. Centrally controlled markets do not innovate nearly as well as those run from the bottom up. It may be possible for socialists to devise a mechanism whereby the means of production are run bottom up in which case socialism should become a viable alternative again but I see no sign of the intellectual effort being put into it. If anything "leftist" politicians tend to act as a further brake on innovation for example they have produced prerssure to keep train drivers (& formerly fireman's) jobs at all costs. Whatever the short term political advantages of that it puts them on the wrong side of Marx's opinion, which I share, that that political progress is towards the most efficient methods of utilising the means of production.

Roland Hulme said...

I find it funny that completely independently to you - having shamefully not read your blog for a few weeks - I've been doing the 'progressive' in inverted commas thing as well - but as usual, for radically different reasons.