Sunday, May 09, 2010
Building the Future
I have been left of centre for a while. I lived through the last recession as an unemployed man and I as such, I was able to listen to Peter Lilly blame the unemployed for being unemployed and declare that the 'something for nothing society is coming to an end'.
In the last two recessions the policy of letting the markets sort it out was brutal with unemployment rising massively even after the recession was over. This time it has not been so. Maybe just maybe that is something to do with having a slightly more caring government at the helm. I don't relish the thought of the man who assisted Norman Lamont then, moving into Downing Street now.
Many people want to see progressive government. This includes many Labour and Liberal Democrats. Indeed in this part of the world for both those groups the Tory's are the common enemy. So it is natural for them to seek some sort of Lib-Lab coalition. Or to sit in opposition.
But as I sat in the Stag's Head on election night two things struck me. The Politics society had issued everyone with a sticker on the way in in their chosen party colours. I noticed how there were hardly any red stickers in the room...but there weren't many blue either. There was a whole bunch of yellow. It was a fact that the student vote this time seemed to have gone Lib Dem. The second thing I noticed was the look of horror that crossed one of the Tory voting students face as he listened to the news that his party had not only come fourth in Scotland, it's share of the vote had actually gone down.
I worry about a minority conservative government. Because it will disenfranchise too many people. Not just the students with yellow badges. The blue party has not sufficiently broadened it's appeal. There are still swaths of the North of England, Scotland and Wales, a lot of inner cities, and minority groups who still do not feel David Cameron represents them. And if he does a deal with the DUP and thus protects that part of the UK from cuts he will further damage the Union.
But while there are many areas in which the Conservatives do not have a mandate, in some they do: In defence in, dealing with immigration, with regards to the EU and the Euro, in poll after poll, the Conservatives came top. We live in a democracy so I accept that (with, of course, my palm clasped repeatedly to my own forehead). And while there is growing support for electoral reform, at the moment those wishing for PR, are far from the majority. And finally, the conservative are far and away the biggest party in England.
We are in difficult times as a country. I rainbow progressive coalition would be weak and, missing out the largest party, would lack an obvious mandate. We need a strong Government. However the Conservative Party should not make the mistake of thinking strong government is synonymous with a Government that implements their policies. You cannot completely implement that which only 37% of the voters agreed with. But a genuine compromise backed by nearly 70% of voters could lead to a new beginning.
Which is why I want the Liberal Democrats to put Mr Cameron into Downing Street. And I want Mr Cameron to compromise as much as is necessary.
I know first hand how difficult this will be for local Lib-Dems. After all we have just lost one of the finest MPs on the South Coast, which is painful. It took me nearly a year to get over loosing my nan, it took me 6 months to get over my first broken heart but I don't think I'll ever get over loosing Sandra Gidley as my MP.
But we have to do this. Because if we don't, if we refuse to be in Government, or if we form a coalition of the loosers then we will with give the electorate no choice but to give Mr Cameron a landslide victory.
And this is about the future. I voted for the future on Thursday. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be better if it is built on some Lib-Dem policies.