Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Election Fever Mounts


How long before a 'Grand Coalition' between the Tories and Labour?

Well, with a week to go, the 2010 British General Election is certainly managing to live up to early expectations as the 'worst election ever'...

On the one hand, we have the Conservatives, whose entire rationale, as the name of the party suggests, is to 'conserve' the existing capitalist status quo on behalf of those whose interests the system serves best. In this election, however, it is trying (and largely failing) to portray itself in an oxymoronic (and increasingly desperate) fashion as the 'party of change' and 'progress'.

On the other we have simply the desperate party of New Labour - whose whole rationale for existence was built around the theory of 'triangulation' to get into power - which meant in practise a steady shift to the right politically on the grounds that its core supporters had nowhere else to go - a strategy that appeared to work well enough, though the resulting compromises in order to maintain power for powers sake led to a complete abandonment of the founding principles of not only the labour movement but the labour party itself. It has long alienated its core support and has managed to also alienate most of its new support and now seems to be in something of an existential crisis. The banal case of 'Bigotgate' reveals much about where following the politics of 'triangulation' tend to lead you...

And then we come to the Liberal Democrats, who despite being one of the oldest parties in British politics have in quite remarkable fashion managed to present themselves in this election as a 'brand shiny new party', completely different to the other main parties - apparently simply because their leader Nick Clegg looked into a TV camera instead of talking to the person he was supposed to be talking to during the first leadership debate, and because it seems very few people watching had ever noticed even his very existence as a human being until this leadership debate.

There is one very good reason why no-one had taken any notice of the existence of Nick Clegg before this moment - there is really no earthly reason why anyone should have. I once saw Clegg sitting in a Starbucks by himself drinking coffee at Manchester Station (he is MP in nearby Salford) a few years ago. It was in the run up to the 2007 internal Lib Dem leadership election, in which Clegg was running against Chris Huhne (pronounced 'Who?'). Clegg looked every inch the typical yuppie businessmen with his suit and posh coffee and he was talking loudly into his mobile phone. No one around him seemed to either know or care who he was, but me being the sad political hack that I am, spotted him a mile off. I was, I'm afraid to admit, a little excited to have spotted him sitting all by himself and even actually - and this reveals the kind of nerd I am - pointed him out to the women working in WH Smith as I went and bought a copy of Private Eye. 'That's Nick Clegg, probably the next leader of the Liberal Democrats'. By the complete lack of interest this little piece of information provoked, I may as well have just as well been asking her where the nearest toilet was. Indeed I think she may well have actually regarded me as a human being with more respect had I asked her where the nearest toilet was.

However, over the last week or so people are talking about Clegg as 'the man', the deal maker, the power broker and so on for any future coalition government in the very likely looking 'hung parliament' that British politics seems to be heading for. As the front cover of this weeks Private Eye, notes, 'Vote Lib Dem, Get either the Labour Party or Tory Party free!' - the most likely coalition government being either a Lib-Lab Pact (with its accompanying distinctive whiff of the 19th century, which would hopefully remind people of the urgent case for independent political representation of the labour movement) or a Lib-Tory administration (which might help New Labour become electable again - not least because there is a chance of PR being introduced which would help minor 'third parties' like New Labour). However, given the nature of the three main political parties, all so similar to one another - all committed to major public service cuts and privatisation and so on - surely - and especially if the Lib Dems do get into power and PR is introduced - it is only a matter of time before we see the spectacle of a 'Grand Coalition' as in Germany between Labour and Conservatives. Won't that be something exciting and new to look forward to? Meanwhile, away from the TV cameras, real politics does, believe it or not, somehow manage to go on...

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3 Comments:

At 5:20 pm, Blogger paddington said...

Just one very small and very pedantic point: Nick Clegg is an MP in Sheffield, which is separated from Manchester by some quite tall hills. An error which, perhaps, rather proves your point.

 
At 11:11 am, Blogger Snowball said...

Thanks Paddington. I was just thinking this - the long suffering people of Salford of course have to endure the infamy of having Hazel Blears as their MP...

Hazel Must Go!

 
At 9:13 am, Anonymous mauri shoes said...

Good looking guy,look the mans suit they wear.

 

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