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Showing posts from December, 2010

The next general election may be closer than we think

A nuclear bunker in south-west London housing ConDem Minister Vince Cable's constituency surgery. Picture: Sea Change staffer

Back in 2001, when I stood for parliament against the Liberal Democrat Ed Davey in Kingston & Surbiton, we were debating his party’s nonsensical, uncosted manifesto pledges. Believing they didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever forming a government, the Lib Dems felt able to promise pretty much anything they wanted to the electorate. Naturally, I was well briefed by the Labour Party on the financial burden the policies would impose on the hard-pressed British taxpayer and the spurious calculations that lay behind them, so had a lot of good ammunition up my sleeve.
One of Ed’s first lines of defence was his academic credentials and he reminded the audience that he had a Master’s degree in economics. In one of my slightly sharper contributions to political discourse in south-west London, I observed that it was amazing how people could hold a Mast…

It isn't a vote about student fees. It's a vote about democracy.

I don’t have a particularly strong point of view on how a student's time at university should be funded. The whole business is very expensive and there’s a legitimate debate about how much of the cost should be shouldered by the taxpayer and how much by the graduate. Maybe there’s no ideal answer. I do, however, have a strong point of view about self-serving, hypocritical politicians who say one thing to get elected and then do the reverse when they’re in office.

The unctuous Nick Clegg – and unctuous is one of the nicer words I can muster to describe the Lib Dem leader – isn’t just leading his party members into a cul de sac. He’s threatening them with oblivion. One reaction to this debacle might be simply to shrug one’s shoulders and take pleasure in the two-faced Tory lookalikes getting their comeuppance. The problem is that their behaviour doesn’t only damage liberal democracy. It damages democracy as a whole.

What might voters be entitled to conclude from the last general ele…