Saturday, August 21, 2010

the Liberal Democrats could yet save the country from ruin


As the UK electoral system is as transparent as mud I'm not sure what would happen if Nick Clegg did the sane thing and took the Liberal Democrats out of the ConDem coalition. One thing would be sure: Cameron and Osborne' insane, sociopathic Slashathon would have to come to a grinding halt.

Now there seem to me to be several reasons why Clegg isn't going to do this: cowardice, naked ambition, insanity, some bizarre concern to limit damage to the economic system which seems to hold more sway over the nation's fate that the votes of its electorate. I suppose its possible that Cameron and Osborne may be holding his children hostage in a basement in Bolton with several ugly Northern characters on hand ready to do unspeakable things with the obligatory blowtorch and pliers. Regardless of the true reason, they are all utterly morally bankrupt. Well, maybe not the kidnap scenario but then I clearly made that up so lets not dwell on it (although the number of people likely to die as a result of Tory policy over the next five years is undoubtedly much greater than the number of children Clegg has). As Richard Murphy writes:

"We have a financial crisis in the UK. It was not caused by the government; the crisis was caused by a collapse in our national income. That was, in turn, caused by the collapse of the banking sector. That crisis then resulted in the income of the government collapsing."
"Neither of these issues created a government spending crisis, because what we have is a government income crisis."
"Any deficit reduction policy aimed at cutting spending is wholly misdirected."
And so:

"[A] crisis in the nation's income which created a crisis in the government's income is being addressed by cutting spending – which was (by and large) under control. That makes no economic sense at all and does suggest that the spending cuts agenda is purely political."

The people in charge if the ConDem coalition are guilty of conducting that wholly misdirected assault upon government spending. As we all knew they would, the Tories are tearing the country apart again. This time there can be no doubt that their policy is driven exclusively by ideology and has little basis in fact or evidence (pdf).

My point is, therefore, that Clegg is propping up an ideologically driven assault on the government of the United Kingdom by people who are convinced that public services in the country can only be efficiently provided through free enterprise regulated solely by market forces. Its the Shock Doctrine and he either hasn't realised this or he actively supports it:

The problem wasn't just that the [Coalition Provisional Authority] was understaffed, it was also that it was staffed by people who lacked the baseline belief in the public sphere that is required for the complex task of reconstructing a state from the ground up. As the political scientist Michael Wolfe puts it, "Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are unlikely to do it very well." He adds, "As a way of governing, conservatism is another name for disaster."
The Shock Doctrine pp354
Naomi Klein
As Clegg's public humiliation grows at the hands of his Tory masters one really begins to wonder whether he has allocated an appropriate degree of consideration to the consequences of his continuing support for this apocalyptic political movement. Without LD support the Tories' plans would be considered on a case-by-case basis by the various political elements in a crude approximation of democracy (gasp!). There might even be another general election. Regardless, what has arisen from an election that at one stage offered the most hope in a generation for meaningful political reform is something utterly regressive with absolutely no prospect for reform. It is the worst of all outcomes. The irony is that it doesn't need to be. I only hope that sufficient LibDems come to appreciate the potential that lies in their hands to remedy the situation. I don't think that Clegg has the balls but his party is sufficiently inexperienced at handling real power that many party members and even MPs retain some semblance of independence and- more importantly- the backbone to wield the power they hold.

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