Meet your new overlords

Right, have we settled down? Have we got over the initial reaction to the Cleggeron civil partnership? I think we have, so it’s time to have a look at just what the ConDem government promises. From glancing at the text of the Pact of Blood, there are a number of themes that leap out. I suggest that the Lib Dems played a rather weak hand on their key policies – they haven’t got PR and probably won’t even get AV, which means they’d better hope to God this is a successful and popular coalition if they don’t want to be wiped out – but that both leaders have reason to be happy.

Firstly, let’s backpedal a bit. I always thought Clegg’s personal preference was for a deal with Cameron, but it was never entirely certain that he wouldn’t deal with Labour (especially if Brown vacated the stage) or that his party wouldn’t push him to. In TV interviews during the coalition talks, elder statesmen like Lords Steel and Pantsdown, not to mention ex-MPs Lembit Öpik and Evan Harris (the latter two getting some media gigs while between jobs, of course, although I did wonder where Julia Goldsworthy had got to) conspicuously left that option open. Now, the Lib Dem party line is that Labour wasn’t negotiating seriously, and that the whole thing was scuppered by cranky media appearances from the likes of John Reid and David Blunkett; but I don’t entirely buy that.

Here’s a really good analysis from Julie Hyland of the media shitstorm that followed Brown’s resignation as Labour leader – the key to making a Lib-Lab coalition a possibility. We had a concentrated 24-hour period of absolute fury, not only from the Murdoch and Rothermere media – Adam Boulton’s performance being particularly memorable – with the press banging on about how this was totally illegitimate, and even on the BBC dire warnings about how “the markets” – which is to say the spivs who created the economic crisis – wouldn’t tolerate Cameron not being put into Number 10. It’s clear that the Lib Dems buckled; also that Labour buckled in two different ways.

One way was the Labour leadership giving up the ghost in the negotiations; the other was the hostile response from various Scottish and northern Labour panjandrums on Newsnight. There were a lot of bad reasons for this: they don’t like PR (which would work against Labour in Scotland); they really hated the idea of working with the SNP; they didn’t like Gordon Brown. But the main reason as far as I could see – and remember, this was coming from the über-Blairite faction – was that the ConDem option would be much more efficient at imposing austerity and hammering the working class. Which kind of begs the question as to what exactly Reid and Blunkett are doing in the Labour Party.

But that’s in the past now. What are we looking at for the future?

Firstly, I’d like to repeat my wish that Britain had a genuine party system with a proper socialist party, a proper conservative party and a proper liberal party fighting it out on distinct manifestos, as opposed to a situation where the neocon scum – Blairites, Cameroons, Orange Bookers – control all three big parties. Let the neocons run on their own programme and see how well it fares against real alternatives, say I. But that, unfortunately, is not where we are.

Where we are is a situation where the Tories, in the most propitious of circumstances, still couldn’t get a majority government let alone the landslide they thought they could sleepwalk into not long ago, and where the Lib Dems, having just won support from the electorate on the basis of an essentially anti-Tory campaign, have allowed themselves to be joined at the hip to the Tories for the next five years. This suits both leaders down to the ground. It allows Cameron to nobble the Tory right, who’ve never liked him anyway, and it allows Clegg to nobble the Lib Dem left. Cameron has had to throw a few cabinet jobs the way of the right, but nothing much in the way of policy.

Neither leader dissents from the Friedmanite economic consensus that’s dominated British politics since Thatcher. There are some technical disagreements about how to deal with the crisis, but there’s no disagreement about bailing out piratical spivs and screwing the working class to make it happen. That is, from the left’s point of view, the most important point.

What’s equally important is that in terms of culture war politics, both leaders are basically liberal. This is why cultural conservatives like Tebbit, Heffer and Hitchens minor have never liked Cameron, a Macmillanite Whig by inclination, and why those on the left who have convinced themselves that the Tories are gagging to ban abortion and reintroduce Section 28 have got completely the wrong end of the stick. To anyone who’s actually followed the progress of Cameron and his inner circle of louche West London swells, the articles to that effect in the Grauniad op-ed pages or on Liberal Conspiracy have something of the air of surrealism.

The other point to be made is that this ties in nicely with the way the Lib Dems have been moving under Clegg. I referred in the last post to folks not paying attention – the prime example of that would be the coups against first Charlie Kennedy and then Menzies Campbell, and what these signified ideologically. The whole point of the Orange Book project was to dispense with the Kennedy project of left-of-centre liberalism and refashion the Lib Dems into something very much akin to Guido Westerwelle’s FDP in Germany. Clegg, in a very real way, is Westerwelle redux; and the egregious coalitionist bullshitting from the party’s leftist conscience Simon Hughes is an indication of how deep the collapse goes. One might expect no better of Clegg, a former lobbyist, but Hughes’ whole political shtick is based on him being Mr Liberal Principle.

So anyway, the Pact of Blood. What does it say?

  1. There’s going to be an emergency budget aimed at reducing the deficit by crucifying the public sector.
  2. There will be a comprehensive spending review, with an attack on public sector pensions flagged up, but the enormous white elephant that is Trident is sacrosanct. Suck on that, Liberal CNDers.
  3. Personal allowances will go up, which looks like a fiscal loosening directed to the benefit of low earners, but with VAT also going up the net effect will probably still be regressive.
  4. There’s some fairly vague talk about banking reform, but don’t bet on anything that would spook the red-braced spivs. The Bank of England will get back powers over banking regulation, and there won’t be any entry into the euro.
  5. The Tories have got their cap on non-EU immigration, and the Lib Dems haven’t got their earned amnesty. At least, there is a pledge to end detention of children for immigration purposes, which shows how low the system had sunk.
  6. Fixed-term parliaments, a referendum on AV – which may well be lost, especially if the Tories campaign against it – and a very dodgy proposal to make it harder for Parliament to vote a government out of office. There’s also the Cameron proposal for fewer constituencies of a standard size, which could very easily turn out to be another gerrymander. A committee on Lords reform, and some consideration of the devolved settlements. Also the right of citizens to recall MPs, which sounds great in theory, but just wait until Murdoch decides to target some particular MP for recall.
  7. Raising the retirement age and imposing tougher conditions on workfare.
  8. Gove’s “free schools” boondoggle is still in there. There is no mention of the Lib Dems’ crackpot policy of banning faith schools from selecting on grounds of, er, faith, so we may at least have seen that kicked into the long grass. Higher education funding is deferred to the publication of the Browne report, with the proviso that the Tories will get their way and if the Lib Dems disagree with the Tory response they’ll abstain.
  9. On the EU, the standard Tory position of working the EU system while making “sceptical” noises is retained.
  10. The civil liberties bit is what’s got libertarians excited, such is Labour’s atrocious record in this area. At the very least, the scrapping of ID cards and the National Identity Register are a good thing. Extending FOI provisions, restricting DNA databases and the spread of CCTV, libel reform, protection of trial by jury, defending the right to protest all sound pretty good, and this stuff was all in both the Tory and Lib Dem manifestos – it’s instructive that on this, Labour will be attacking the new government from the right. Note, however, that there are caveats there along the lines of “without good reason” – a government can always find a reason, like terrorists or paedophiles, to justify an authoritarian measure.
  11. Most of the environmental section is unexceptional, except to note that on the new construction of nuclear power plants, provision is made for the Lib Dems to speak against any such proposals and then abstain on any vote. This would seem to be a standard mechanism allowing Cameron to get his way, and Clegg to throw a bone to his activists without actually voting against things that his party opposes.

And, er, sin é. Cameron has his way on anything that’s important to him, it doesn’t look as if Clegg has got any of his party’s trademark policies, and the two parties are close enough anyway at leadership level to make it a comfortable mesh. Whether there are strains put on the deal by bolshy MPs or peers or activists we shall see – I’d be surprised if there weren’t – but this gerrymander that says you need a 55% negative vote for the government to lose the confidence of Parliament is presumably aimed at guarding against that.

And so we move on to a brief consideration of who’s going to be implementing all this. Apart from Cameron in the top job and Clegg as his fag, what does the cabinet look like?

Of course, the Tories get all the top jobs. The boy Gideon gets to be Chancellor, which should make us all jittery, and William Jefferson Hague gets the Foreign Office. Given Dave’s track record on foreign policy, this raises the appalling vista of Hague having to be the voice of reason. Meanwhile, Crocodile Shoes has gone to the politicians’ graveyard that is the Home Office. She should at least provide entertainment value. As Cristina Odone points out, neither the left nor the right like Theresa – the PC left despise her for having voted for retaining Section 28 a hundred years ago, notwithstanding her mea culpas since, and for being unsound on abortion, while the unreconstructed right deride her as the Tories’ answer to Harriet Harman. Whatever about that, since her recent predecessors at the Home Office include Mr Brightside and Wacky Jacqui, it’s not like the designer shoes she’ll have to step into are intimidatingly big.

That strange wee man Gove takes education, and will be introducing compulsory Dungeons & Dragons for the kids. At justice we have Fat Ken, presumably to add a bit of gravitas, where I’d really have liked to see the civil libertarian David Davis. For the leftist trainspotters out there, ex-Trotskyist Eric Pickles takes charge of local government. Eric pledges to empower local authorities, which would be a neat reversal of the Thatcherite power grab that did him so well in Bradford. Sayeeda Warsi, the living embodiment of Tracy Flick, is in there as Tory chairman. And Columbo Letwin, who Cameron esteems but doesn’t let out in public very often because of his disturbing propensity to tell the truth, is given a discreet job at the Cabinet Office.

The Lib Dems at cabinet level are very much of a piece, Orange Book neocons to a man. Nice, cuddly Uncle Vince gets the business portfolio, though he’ll have to recuse himself from any discussions of the oil industry. David Laws, former vice-president of JP Morgan, gets the number two slot at the Treasury – that’s right, an investment banker put into the Treasury. Chris Huhne at energy will be in charge of constructing those new nuclear power stations he’s opposed to. And Danny Alexander is the new proconsul for Scotland. Interesting that the job didn’t go to the Lib Dems’ Scottish leader, Alistair Carmichael, but then Carmichael has often made public his disagreements with Orange Book nostrums, so he doesn’t really fit in with the new orthodoxy.

There are a couple of appointments that have me worried. The extremely belligerent Doctor Fox taking defence, and promising to be the second coming of Al Haig, is one. Owen Paterson being made Norn Iron proconsul is to be expected, although his role in trying to broker a revived UUUC prior to the election surely puts a question mark over both his judgement and Dave’s. And I’m not sure about putting Cheryl Gillan in charge of Wales – she does have the advantage of actually being Welsh, so we’re not talking about a return to the John Redwood period, but appointing a Welsh Secretary whose constituency lies outside Wales looks suspiciously like a reversion to an old Thatcher/Major practice. The Tories and Lib Dems between them hold eleven seats in Wales – were none of those MPs considered up to the job?

And then there’s Iain Duncan Donuts, architect-in-chief of Cameron’s Dickensian “Big Society”, running the DWP where his task will be to out-evil James Purnell. This worries me, and it even worries me that Cameron has been talking a lot about “the common good”. Clifford Longley is very excited about this, tracing the roots of the phrase in Catholic social thought, but I seriously doubt if Cameron even knows what Social Catholicism is. The thing about IDS is that he used to be a hardline Thatcherite but says he’s changed his ideas and become concerned about the poor after reading the Catholic bishops’ social manifesto Taxation for the Common Good. Given the Old Labour proclivities of the Bishops’ Conference, and that the “Big Society” seems to owe more to Samuel Smiles than Leo XIII, I’m a little sceptical about this, and more than a little worried about this idea of farming out the functions of the welfare state to the voluntary sector. What’s even more worrying is the Lib Dems’ Steve Webb being IDS’ sidekick – to know why, read Webb’s contribution to the Orange Book, which managed to mix the worst aspects of Cameroonian “Broken Britain” rhetoric and New Labour pettifogging statism into one great melange of silly.

I would further point out that our devolved Department of Social Development doesn’t vary benefits but mirrors what’s decided in London. If I’m worried, Alex Attwood should be terrified, because there are a lot of benefit claimants in his constituency and he’ll have to implement whatever mad scheme comes down the line from DWP.

You know, it’s only a matter of time before people start saying, “Gordon Brown wasn’t that bad, was he?” And given how awful New Labour could be, that’s saying something.


  1. joe kane said,

    May 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Maybe this is the image you’re looking for –
    The inevitable outcome of that x-factor election
    Go Lassie Go
    13 May 2010

  2. robert said,

    May 14, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Democracy British style – if there was an election tomorrow which liberal conservative would you vote for? Red orange or blue the City gets in.

    The New Labour gang have a total grip on the Labour Party so even if the coalition crashes and burns it’ll be another almost identical bunch of market oligarchs replacing them. The left outside Labour is locked out by FPTP and sectarian stupidity. The NHS may survive in some form because its too popular with the middle class to be easily dismantled but this crisis gives our masters the chance to kill off the rest of the welfare state. We have American style workfare on the statute book and IDS brief will be to save costs by making the scheme he’s inherited from Purnell ever more brutal.

    What is to be done?

  3. Newton Emerson said,

    May 14, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    A minor point, but one that crops up too often – Trident is only a tiny white elephant. Scrapping it would cover three days’ health spending a year or 47 hours of annual welfare spending. The replacement is budgeted at £1 billion a year over 25 years, which is the kind of sum that just vanishes into UK departmental budgets (health especially).

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      May 14, 2010 at 10:37 pm

      True enough. To really slash the deficit quickly you’d have to shoot a whole wheen of white elephants.

  4. Liadnan said,

    May 14, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Firstly, I’d like to repeat my wish that Britain had a genuine party system with a proper socialist party, a proper conservative party and a proper liberal party

    As someone who has wanted a proper liberal party to vote for as long as I’ve been able to vote, I see more of a scintilla of a gleam of such in the coalition than I’ve seen before. Leaving Ukip and those who’ll piss off in that direction to be the proper conservatives. Where your proper labour party is, I don’t know. But I suppose it depends on what you mean by proper liberals.
    In a hundred years, will we see this as the final working out of the Lloyd George – Asquith – Others split of the 20s and 30s? Or take it back further, to Dizzy and the 1867 Reform Act?

    I think you’re wrong about Cameron not knowing what Social Catholicism is, but time will tell.

    Descending to reality, will Naomi Long take the LibDem whip? Am confused about the Alliance. A (Catholic) friend of mine (Nick Whyte) is a party member and true believer but my Bogsider wife, while avoiding saying anything nasty, has a curl to her lip while she says little. Are they mostly just fluffy prods (incl atheist prods) parallelling the SDLP? Am ignorant and in need of eddication.

  5. Rob said,

    May 15, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Of course, as was pointed out to me by one of my more informed legal colleagues, given the the way the British Parliament works, if a majority (i.e. over 50% but under 55%) of Parliament decides they want to get rid of the government, they simply have to vote to repeal the legislation that puts the 55% in place, and then engage in the ordinary vote of no confidence. Such is the brilliance of the lack of the ability to entrench any law in the British Parliament.

  6. harry monro said,

    May 15, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Rob, what does your friend think if the Lords blocked repeal of said 55% law, how do a fractious opposition arrange time in the House and the Lords to legislate against a government?
    I think we can all see that if a government were reduced to 47% of the MPs it would be on borrowed time, but what I think many of are arguing is this. After a current motion of confidence is lost an election is caused. 50% (of the House on the night) + 1 does that. This increases the threshhold significantly, 55% of the all seats in the House, even those seats SF and their voters chose not to fill. It gives a tottering government a huge advantage in trying to bribe new allies to join it to keep it in power. It could suddenly look to parties like the DUP to nurture it in return for legislation. This is the road to very dubious Nation Governments in the future; and yes I don’t trust Labour under this new “constitution” either.
    Love the photo, but isn’t of the Labour leadership rivals?

  7. Cian said,

    May 15, 2010 at 9:15 am

    One minor point. JP Morgan have lots of vice-presidents. Its a middle management grade.

  8. Cian said,

    May 15, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I think the 55% thing is a bit of a distraction. If a government lost a vote of no confidence and couldn’t form a new government, but their party insisted on hanging on they’d face the mother of election defeats.

    I think the bigger problem is that the fixed term thing seems unworkable in practice. Unless you stop the party of government from triggering an election, then what’s to stop them voting to dissolve parliament?

    • harry monro said,

      May 15, 2010 at 12:07 pm

      I agree up to a point, after all the state is ultimately armed bodies of men and women. If though theTory boys did have to abandon one of their planks rather quickly it would be a nice start.

  9. Cian said,

    May 15, 2010 at 9:27 am

    There were also good things about Labour. It wasn’t all bad. They were very good on gay rights (can’t imagine we’ll see much progress on this from the ConDems), they (rather stealthily) transferred quite a bit of money to the poorest, they spent a lot of money on the public sector (does anyone remember how run down everything was in the dying days of the Major administration. From hospitals to parks). They may not have done it in the best way possible, and had all the faults mentioned above, but does anyone imagine we’ll get even those things from the Tories? I’m not even convinced by the civil liberties stuff. The Tory libertarian fringe is not particularly strong, and the pressures to crack down are quite strong in this country.

    And there’s been no mention of the biggest problem this country faces economically. Not the deficit (the problems of which have been greatly overstated), but our imbalanced economy and trade deficit. Its a fucking huge elephant in the room which nobody wants to mention.

  10. David Ellis said,

    May 15, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Splinty: how do you think the vote on speaker will go on day one? Tory split resulting in a short-term boost in popularity for the coalition (not so nasty are they) just before they start the cutting? Oh the cutting.

  11. johng said,

    May 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Excellent piece.

  12. Doug said,

    May 15, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    According to Polly-Wants a Cracker in today’s Guardian the Lib Dems were offered titbits by Labour negotiators not a million miles from what they couldn’t refuse from the Tory Doughboy.

    For a sniff of ministerial perks and five minutes of fame, the Lib Dem leadership have written their party’s long term death warrant. People like Ashdown are aware of this but have been powerless to change the minds of those who think this may be their only chance of power and sod the manifesto. They may keep all their MPs and most of their activists onside but a lot of voters will not forget. A substantial number of LD MPs get in with tactical anti-Tory votes. Well, they can kiss that prospect goodbye now. They might also get severely punished sooner than the next GE – I await the verdict of the voters in next year’s council elections, with a certain amount of glee.

    Has anyone else noticed how the Coalition has polarised opinions on class lines – witness the spectacle of Hislop sneering at Brown and defending the ‘new realism’ on HIGNFY. The visceral hatred of the English middle classes for anything Scottish (or Welsh, for that matter) has been one of the themes of the last few weeks.

  13. Innocent Abroad said,

    May 15, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    I wouldn’t get too excited by that 55% thing. It all depends what the polls are saying at the time.

    As for the NHS being “popular” with the middle class, this may be a result of health fringe benefits (BUPA membership) being cut back by employers. It’s also worth noting that most of the additional expenditure has gone to Big Pharma – via lots & lots more doctrs’ prescriptions – another lobby that can look after itself.

    As the OP says, it would be nice if Labour were a left-wing Party but they aren’t and apparently the Unions don’t think left-wing politics good for their members. That is what puzzles me, to be honest.

  14. Brigada Flores Magon said,

    May 15, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Very perceptive piece. Your reference to Mgr Pecci is spot on–I can’t imagine any of this lot being up to speed on ‘Rerum Novarum.’

    • De Northside Socialist said,

      May 15, 2010 at 10:30 pm

      I expect some of us are all too well aware of the Catholic church’s attitude towards the left and the organised working class…like many things, it may sound good in the encyclicals emanating from the Vatican, however in actual living reality e.g. the Dublin lockout in 1913 and the Irish State and society since independence, the actions of the RC clergy show the true class loyalties of the Catholic church as an institution is always to the bosses and the elite.

      The quote from Wikipedia below is interesting as it exemplifies how the Catholic church likes a worker to behave as a “frugal and well-behaved wage-earner”.

      “Rerum Novarum is subtitled “On Capital and Labor”. In this document, Leo set out the Catholic Church’s response to the social instability and labor conflict that had risen in the wake of industrialization and that had led to the rise of socialism. The Pope taught that the role of the State is to promote social justice through the protection of rights, while the Church must speak out on social issues in order to teach correct social principles and ensure class harmony. He restated the Church’s long-standing teaching regarding the crucial importance of private property rights, but recognized, in one of the best-known passages of the encyclical, that the free operation of market forces must be tempered by moral considerations:

      “Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice.”

      • harry monro said,

        May 16, 2010 at 8:57 am

        Some other gems from said document
        “The socialists, therefore, in setting aside the parent and setting up a State supervision, act against natural justice, and destroy the structure of the home.”

        “Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal. The first and most fundamental principle, therefore, if one would undertake to alleviate the condition of the masses, must be the inviolability of private property.”

        “Socialists may in that intent do their utmost, but all striving against nature is in vain. There naturally exist among mankind manifold differences of the most important kind; people differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition. Such unequality is far from being disadvantageous either to individuals or to the community. Social and public life can only be maintained by means of various kinds of capacity for business and the playing of many parts; and each man, as a rule, chooses the part which suits his own peculiar domestic condition.”

        On another theological front the Mail annouces Frank Field as working for the Tory boys, is he an Anglo-Catholic or one of those evangelicals?

      • De Northside Socialist said,

        May 16, 2010 at 10:11 am

        Just to add, it is interesting that some in the Catholic church in Ireland, and their supporters, are calling for greater understanding and tolerance towards the institution and complaining of a liberal media agenda in Ireland to undermine the church.

        When the Irish RC church was in it’s heyday, it showed little tolerance towards radical, socialist and Marxist ideas, perhaps those who took part in the well-documented actions below were also not up to speed on the finer points of ‘Rerum Novarum’.

        In any case, I believe that radicals and socialists should engage in debates regarding religion and religious ideas in an intelligent and tolerant manner, which makes Splintered’s site so interesting:

        “In 1932 the Revolutionary Workers’ Group opened a socialist bookshop at 64 Great Strand Street, which they called Connolly House. James Larkin Junior was one of the leaders of the RWG and also an elected member of Dublin City Council. The group published the weekly news-sheet Irish Workers’ Voice.

        A Lenten sermon delivered in the Pro-Cathedral on 27 March 1933 against the “dangers” of socialism led to a mob being formed and marching on the bookshop. They ransacked the building and set it on fire; three people who were in the building were lucky to escape with their lives. Other shops selling radical and republican literature, such as a shop in Parnell Street run by a Mrs Basset, also came under attack. ”

        “In this way £100 was raised to establish the shop, which was called New Books.
        This shop lasted a little longer than Connolly House, though history repeated itself in 1956 when it too was attacked. During the 1960s it was the only bookshop in Dublin during those years selling the writings of Marx, Engels, and Connolly. “

      • De Northside Socialist said,

        May 16, 2010 at 10:22 am

        Sorry, I found one more interesting quote related to the attack on Connolly House:

        “Over several nights during late march 1933 crowds attacked buildings in Dublin associated with the far left. Connolly House on Great Strand Street, headquarters of the Communist Party, or Revolutionary Workers Groups as they were called at the time, was eventually stormed and set alight on the night of Wednesday 29 March. Gardaí estimated that the crowd numbered five or six thousand. Attempts were also made to attack the Workers’ College in Eccles Street and the Workers Union of Ireland office in Marlborough Street.

        These events were a dramatic illustration of the strength of anti-Communist feeling in 1930’s Ireland. Such feeling was not dependent on an actual Communist threat: the numbers involved in the Irish Communist movement were tiny. Nor was fervent anti-Communism the preserve of the extreme right – it permeated almost all Irish political forces, including the mainstream Labour Movement. The violence of March 1933 must be seen in the context of an atmosphere of anti-Communist hysteria whipped up by the Catholic Church”

        Brian Hanley in History Ireland Volume 7 (2), Summer 1999, p5-7

      • Phil said,

        May 16, 2010 at 5:59 pm

        Frank Field, eh? That must cost him the Labour whip, surely.

        My parents, years ago, went to hear Frank Field addressing the local Christian Socialist Movement. My father said he wasn’t sure what you’d call Field’s philosophy, but it wasn’t very Christian and it certainly wasn’t socialism.

  15. Nick said,

    May 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Really good analysis this. One wee thing though the Scottish lib dem leader is Tavish Scott MSP ( ) not Alistair Carmicheal

    • McGazz said,

      May 16, 2010 at 7:04 pm

      Tavish Scott is the LD leader at Holyrood, Carmichael is the LD leader at Westminster. I know, it’s bloody confusing 🙂

  16. robert said,

    May 16, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    I agree this could be the end of the Lib Dems. They will have virtually no power within the coalition but will end up as the fall guys for the Tory cuts. There will be no more tactical votes from Labourites come the next election and the next time they have to face the voters these orange weasels may well be slaughtered.

  17. David Ellis said,

    May 16, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Robert: wrong, wrong, wrong. This coalition will lead to an electoral pact. It is the tory party that is fucked. From now on it will be clear that aristo politics is the realm of the fash. Shafting the working class and the ancient regime in the name of multinational capitalism is what the Liberals and the Tory liberals will do.

  18. May 17, 2010 at 12:58 am

    […] Sunrise on the new coalition in the UK. That blog is […]

  19. Paul Moloney said,

    May 17, 2010 at 10:54 am

    ““In this way £100 was raised to establish the shop, which was called New Books.
    This shop lasted a little longer than Connolly House, though history repeated itself in 1956 when it too was attacked”

    That’s fascinating; it was my great uncle, Sean Nolan, who founded (or co-founded) New Books on Pearse St. According to an aunt, my granny would not walk past the shop in case it got blown up. I’d always wondered where she got this worry from; I guess if the shop _had_ been attacked at some point, it does give her concern some credence.


  20. joe kane said,

    May 17, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    With regards to the Scottish context,
    I thought these observations might be of interest –

    So, the contrast North and South of the border to the respective alliance discussions was stark. There was an English media outcry when it looked as though the Tory alliance was being undermined, there was a Scottish media silence after ‘our’ preferred alliance was sabotaged.
    A week in the life of the Scottish media
    Newsnet Scotland
    16 May 2010

    ….during the election campaign and its immediate aftermath, Labour ignored the Lib Dems who WERE talking to the Tories, to attack the nationalists, who vowed they would not.
    The Big Lie
    Go Lassie Go
    17 May 2010

    Here is a letter in the Herald (Glasgow) on why so many Scottish Labour Party MPs are so right-wing –
    Iain Macwhirter’s comment that “it is perverse that a relatively prosperous middle-class country such as Scotland … should have no significant party of the right” is wrong (We rejected Cameron but will we now face English backlash?, Opinion, May 9). The Labour Party is the significant party of the right in Scotland. This is why it is successful in the leafy suburbs and enjoys the support of some of the wealthiest people in the country. Canvass returns I have seen in West Dunbartonshire indicate that Labour’s share of the vote in the most salubrious areas outstrips any other party. The issue is that the historic bedrock support Labour has enjoyed is programmed to think it is a party of social justice while in truth it is a party of privilege, causes deprivation and widens the gap between rich and poor. It has an impressive ability to sprinkle selective deafness dust on those thirled to its original noble principles.
    Graeme McCormick
    Letters; Sunday, 16 May 2010

    all the best

  21. robert said,

    May 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    All the more reason for Scotland to go independent – these right wing Scottish Labour MPs who voted for tuition fees and foundation hospitals knowing it wouldn’t affect their own constituencies would be out of Westminster.

  22. robert said,

    May 21, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    And apparently cuddly Uncle Vinnie has plans to privatise the Post Office. When Mandy tried it there was enough opposition from Labour backbenches to stop him. I fear I’m very soon going to hate this government even more than the last one.

  23. Innocent Abroad said,

    May 22, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Robert, I thought what stopped Mandy was that he couldn’t get what he considered to be a reasonable price. If so, I’m unclear why Cable should be able to do better.

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