Sunday 16 May 2010

A brave new world for British politics!

We have a new government! A proper coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

I can't believe how well the Lib Dems have done out of this deal, five cabinet members and Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister. I didn't see that coming.

Regardless of your political persuasion, you have to admit it's an exciting time in UK politics. If only for the fact that we're entering into a period of the unknown! We don't do coalitions in this country. That's for the continentals!

Who knows what's going to happen? Can this coalition really last for the next five years?

It's easy to be cynical about so many things, particularly politics. But if this coalition lasts a full parliamentary term, it will be an amazing achievement.

It's certainly been an historic week in British politics. I was at home on Tuesday night watching the BBC's coverage of Gordon Brown resigning as PM, followed by David Cameron accepting the Queen's request to form a new government.

It was one of those moments where you knew you were watching history taking place. I can imagine that in 100 years time from now, students studying British politics and history will be looking at this period in great detail.

The end of 13 years of New Labour and the beginning of the first coalition government since World War Two.

I'm slowly beginning to warm to the idea of a Lib/Con coalition. I'm not a Tory voter, but I did vote Lib Dem in this election. I'm hoping that they can be a counter balance to some of the Tories more natural right wing inclinations.

On Wednesday It was hard not to notice the chemistry between David Cameron and Nick Clegg as they gave their first press conference in the garden of Number 10. Culturally speaking they do have a lot in common in terms of background and education.

What they succeeded in doing well, was in generating a feeling of enthusiasm and optimism for the coalition. You'd think it was what they both really wanted all along.

It was all about being above traditional tribal party politics. It's no longer just about party interest, it's all about the national interest.

It didn't always feel that way, when you look at how the Lib Dems conducted themselves during the post election negotiations. However, this does look like the new politics we've been hearing so much about, and yes the novelty of it all does look quite exciting!

The trouble is, I think back to 1997 and New Labour's landslide victory. It was such a beautiful sunny day, the day after that election. It felt like a new dawn, there was so much hope.

13 years later, a little older a little wiser I can't fall for that a second time! It's more a case of 'Lets see how this plays out' It's only week one. There's a very long way to go yet.

What Clegg and Cameron have done so well, is sell and present the idea of coalition to the public brilliantly. The trouble is you know behind the scenes there are so many backbenchers, grass root supporters and organisers from both parties who are totally sceptical about this deal.

If I was a Tory backbencher I wouldn't be pleased with this coalition at all. Cameron's given way too much to the Lib Dems. As I Tory I would have preferred to go it alone as a minority government, no matter how difficult that would have been.

With the Lib Dems, I've always seen them as being distant cousins of the Labour party. Yes they have their differences and disagreements, but they have more in common with Labour than with the Tories.

Only yesterday the Times was reporting that Vince Cable the new Business Secretary was in contact with Gordon Brown telling him he didn't want to be in a coalition with the Conservatives. Is this really a surprise when Cable used to be a member of the Labour Party?

From a Lib Dem point of view I wouldn't be totally happy or comfortable either. It'll be interesting to see how things play out in the West Country, where the two parties are in direct opposition to each other.

If they want some inspiration perhaps they can look to my home town of Birmingham which has had a Lib/Con coalition council for the last couple of years. From all accounts they seem to have worked quite well together. It's all about compromise apparently.

Regardless of how uncomfortable some people may feel, political power is intoxicating. People can talk about the 'National interest' But most politicians want to be in power, how else do you get the chance of making a real difference.

You can't help but feel that there was a certain level of desperation on both sides, that this deal represented the best opportunity for the Lib Dems and the Conservatives to get into government.

At the moment I've got an open mind, I'm going to sit back and see how it all unfolds. Something inside me says that long term, this deal will benefit the Tories more than the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems shouldn't get too comfy.

We also shouldn't forget Labour. For what on the surface was a disastrous election defeat, they've actually emerged in quite good health, and will soon be in a position to attack both the Lib Dems and the Tories particularly when we approach the next election.

Certainly fascinating times ahead for everyone.

1 comment:

  1. At long last we have a new Government but many of us feel the coalition. Isn't it.