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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Don't be fooled. This is Tory rule by Mark Steel

Mark Steel

Right – who knows a way of making "Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition out out out" scan properly? Events haven't been made easier by the news coverage, which involved reporters telling us "Oh my God it's historic and the two of them look so lovely together, and they're in the GARDEN, ooooo I haven't cried so much since I last saw Breakfast at Tiffany's." After the press conference the BBC's reporter gasped "It's EXTRAORDINARY, and when was the last time you could hear birdsong during a press conference?" I thought she'd carry on "It's as if the thrushes and blackbirds have arranged their own coalition and all the fluffy animals will be in the cabinet and the Home Secretary will be a lovely smiley caterpillar."
A much more stable solution was to keep the chaos going for four years, when it would be time for another election. So every day the news would say something like: "This morning William Hague offered the Lib Dems two places on the British Council of Buddhists, and the job of England football manager to Danny Alexander, but in a dramatic twist at 3.00 pm, following pressure from Paddy Ashdown, Peter Mandelson appeared at the Treasury and hung himself, thus removing a crucial obstacle to a pact with Labour."

Then Caroline Lucas of the Green Party could have nipped to the palace to say to the Queen, "Tell you what, I'll take over shall I?" and run the place while the other parties didn't even notice. Instead there's this "new" arrangement, in which the Tories have said to the Lib Dems: "We pledge to do exactly what we were going to do anyway, but if you can find some spare chairs we'll let some of you watch." And when the Tories say they're willing to consider electoral reform, you know for some that means we should get one vote each for every field we own.

So while I understand how so many were repulsed by Labour, and appreciate the vagaries of our voting system, it would be only fair if everyone who voted Lib Dem "to keep the Tories out" was made to queue up to get a good slap. Because this will be a Tory government. For now, both parties hail the partnership as a success. A Tory commentator said yesterday: "The friendly greeting given by David Cameron to Nick Clegg at Downing Street was a highly encouraging start." Well what did he think Cameron would do? Say: "Oi Clegg, never mind shaking hands, be a decent fag and toast me a crumpet while I chat to Nick Robinson"?

But nothing that made the Lib Dems distinctive, such as cancelling Trident or offering an amnesty to asylum seekers, will be even up for discussion. Instead they'll be boasting: "The new Budget is a positive example of coalition rule, in that the Conservatives made the economic decisions, but Vince Cable decided on the font it was published in. There were tough negotiations but the closure of the nation's libraries will now be outlined in Times New Roman, so both sides have made compromises, proving this arrangement does work."

But one issue apparently agreed upon by all the main parties is a government had to be found that would satisfy the markets. Because to solve the economic crisis caused by the people who run the markets, we must pick a government that doesn't upset the people who run the markets.

A consensus has been created that the deficit must must MUST be cut, as if to oppose cuts in welfare and public spending is as futile as trying to stop the laws of physics. So we'll now have a period of new modern politics, in which a Prime Minister from Eton and a Chancellor from St Paul's in coalition with a chap from Westminster Public School force the bulk of the population to pay for a mess they didn't create, rather than upset the richest one per cent who've enjoyed an unprecedented rise in their wealth. On the other hand the Liberal Democrats have already achieved one of their major aims, which is the introduction of the Single Transferable Voting system.

The way it works is fairly simple: you vote Liberal Democrat and you get the bloody Tories.

First published in The Independent on 13th May 2010

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