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Things we’ve learned in the last 24 hours

Posted on May 11, 2010 by

1. That the Tories hadn’t offered the Lib Dems anything on electoral reform. The sudden, desperate and resentful least-possible offer of a referendum on the absolutely useless AV (which does almost nothing for the Lib Dems) was a panic reaction to Brown’s game-changing resignation.

2. That Adam “Raging” Boulton is the UK’s unasked-for answer to Glenn Beck. “I just care about this country!”

3. That maybe the Tories were right about the BBC after all, albeit for the wrong reasons. The public-service broadcaster’s post-election coverage has been an absolute disgrace – while we expect Murdoch’s Sky TV to display Conservative bias, and it’s perfectly allowed to do so, the BBC has a duty of impartiality which is has utterly abandoned since last Thursday.

The corporation has adopted a position of blatant opposition to any government other than a Tory-Liberal coalition, endlessly bombarding Labour, Lib Dem and other representatives with completely invalid propaganda attacks taken straight from the pages of the Mail and Express, eg the ridiculous, endlessly-debunked  “unelected PM” line.

The UK has NEVER elected a Prime Minister, and the BBC knows that perfectly well, so why has the question been fired over and over again at countless representatives of the “progressive” parties, literally hundreds of times in the last 48 hours? Does the BBC suddenly expect one of them to rip off their mask, be revealed as Tom Cruise and give a different answer?

Meanwhile, Tory representatives have been thrown softball after softball, mostly along the lines of “Don’t you think it’s terribly unfair of the losing parties to talk to each other when you’ve gone so far to try to get the Lib Dems onside?” by reporters like Nick Robinson, the former Young Conservatives chairman who has more or less given up on any pretence of disguising his allegiances.

Labour representatives against the “progressive alliance” like John Reid and Diane Abbott have been given unchallenged platforms on which to make extended attacks on the idea, without ever being asked any of the screamingly obvious questions that arise from that position, such as “So are you saying you think we should have a Conservative government now?”

4. That mind-bogglingly, not a single correspondent that I’ve seen (and I’ve pretty much been watching the news non-stop since Thursday night) has pointed out that the arithmetic of the prospective “progressive alliance” is only fragile and unstable if the Tories are prepared to force a vote of no confidence on every Commons division.

Nobody seems to be aware that the SNP government in Scotland has survived for three years despite being outnumbered by the opposition by a HUGE margin (around 40 seats), for precisely this reason. Voters don’t like opposition parties who bring down elected governments which are supported by a majority of the electorate – as any “rainbow coalition” would be – and tend to punish them at the polls, particularly if they’ve done it at a time of economic crisis.

In practice, even with a working majority of only four or five votes – or even without any formal majority at all – the “progressive alliance” would actually be very likely to enjoy considerable stability.

5. That similarly, so far as I’ve seen NOBODY has raised the notion that a Lab-Lib-others coalition could very plausibly pass a PR referendum bill, hold the referendum and then call a new PR election. That would completely answer the fragility issue, (as it would almost certainly return a government with a very comfortable Lib-Lab majority) and would also be the democratically proper thing to do (particularly with a new “unelected” Labour leader in place), and therefore likely to be supported by the electorate.

I’m just an idiot off the street and all these things are staggeringly obvious to me, so what the hell are the BBC’s highly-paid political journalists doing for their taxpayer-funded salaries?

6. That the Tories are really, really rattled. It seems as if it had genuinely never even occurred to them that the Lib Dems might consider working with Labour, and that coalition or Tory minority were the only possibilities. But Brown, who appears to have suddenly revealed previously-hidden political skills in the last week, has spectacularly outmanoeuvred them, first with his statesmanlike waiving of his constitutional right to have the first attempt at forming a government, and then with his truly spectacular suicide-bomb attack on Monday afternoon.

William Hague’s dazed speech, strewn with blatant flat-out lies, offering the Lib Dems an AV referendum, revealed the full extent to which the Tories thought they could push the Lib Dems around, and every speech or interview with a member of the shadow cabinet since Brown’s resignation has been characterised by barely-concealed fury.

7. That it’s going to be REALLY hard for a Con-Lib deal, which is theoretically very much still possible, to be resurrected after this morning’s front pages in the right-wing press.

8. That Labour’s blind, incandescent, inbred hatred of the SNP might yet snatch defeat from the jaws of unexpected Labour salvation.

Stay tuned, viewers!

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16 to “Things we’ve learned in the last 24 hours”

  1. Derek

    I happened to watch The Wright Stuff yesterday and today. Yesterday Matthew Wright was saying Brown should announce when he intends to go. Today he was saying he shouldn't have done such a thing. 
    He needs to make up his mind. But then he had a Tory sitting a few feet away from him and didn't attack him..
    Do you think 'the public' (which are largely morons, natch) are swallowing this line from the press? Will the public be outraged if we don't have a ConDemNation?

  2. MojoJojo

    I think in the short term AV would be very good for the lib dems, since they would be a lot of peoples second choice. In the long term it favours 2 parties who are very popular and similar, so they are lots of peoples first or second choices – but if the Lib-Dems got in under AV they could hange the voting system to STV.
    I think the Tories wouldn't have much trouble spoiling any coalition either – without the biggest party (both popular vote and FPTP), the populace will feel cheated. Whether they have any right to feel cheated is besides the point when it's what the press will be teling them.
    Personally, I don't want a Labour lead coalition in. I think it would tear itself apart worse than the Major government did, and on top of the cuts that are coming, could easily make Labour unelectable for a decade or more and possibly wipe out the "selfish" Lib-Dems completely.

  3. RevStu

    The Guardian's report this week showed that AV would have made very little difference to the LDs' number of seats. But if Labour ARE offering it for free without a referendum, to be followed by a referendum on proper PR, that's got to be a no-brainer.

  4. RevStu

    "without the biggest party (both popular vote and FPTP), the populace will feel cheated"

    No it won't. Roughly a third of it will.

  5. Craig Grannell

    I wrote this earlier today: <a href="">Helpful hints for the bbc and anyone else who doesn’t understand british electoral process and current coalition arguments</a>. Works nicely as a companion piece to Stu's one here.
    Point 8 is the one that worries me. Is the SNP man enough to ignore Labour's idiocy and 'support' the coalition by voting through things it agrees with and abstaining on everything else? That way, it gets a short-term sour taste but would return in the next election at least twice as many seats.

  6. Craig Grannell

    Balls. Apparently the wee editing box on this site hates URLs. Sorry about that.

  7. AJ

    Labour will be wiped out for a decade or more if they don't get in, simply because the gerrymandering and moves to secure the Tory position after they get in will ensure this.
    There's simply no way that Labour and especially Liberal Democrats can lose out of a coalition pushing through PR.
    The limp AV offer is pointless by comparison. If they are going to change it and have the chance to they should do it properly while they can, not go with this poor second best and then hope for a second lottery win level of luck to get the right conditions to reform it again. This is a change that will last and benefit us for generations to come. It's not a short-term thing.

  8. RevStu

    @ Craig: I have 100% confidence that the SNP would rise above Labour's petty hatreds, yes. Unlike Labour, the SNP leadership is pragmatic and intelligent, and can clearly see where its best interests lie.

  9. Simon

    You protest about the bias of the BBC, but your argument is one that is completely one sided.
    There is one consequence of this result; PR is dead for a generation. Who wants to vote in an election, only to have the parties negotiate policies behind closed doors.

  10. RevStu

    The difference being that I’m just some muppet with a blog who’s perfectly entitled to have a biased view. The BBC is a state broadcaster funded by a compulsory levy on the taxpayer which has a legal duty of impartiality.

    Sky can suck as much Tory cock as it likes. The BBC doing so is not acceptable.

  11. Paul R

    "There is one consequence of this result; PR is dead for a generation. Who wants to vote in an election, only to have the parties negotiate policies behind closed doors."
    I do. Absolutely I'd prefer that parties negotiate their policies in an open forum, but every time I see the House of Commons it's either nearly empty or a schoolyard slinging match. If the only way we can get politicians to behave like grown-ups and actually *debate* policy is to let them do it in private and tell us afterwards what's been reconciled, so be it.

  12. John M

    Thoroughly enjoy reading this, and I hope you won't take offence (as none is meant) that I will be telling anyone who'll listen (which given the level of engagement with the real world around me typically will probably be no one) that the best political commentary I've read over the last few days has come from a games journalist.
    Purely in the interests of dissing the media efforts to roll over and play dead for the Tories, you understand.

  13. Karl

    None of my online comments have been published by the Beeb. I guess calling them self-serving cunts was a tad unpalatable for them.
    I like this comment though:
    "How can a strong, determined, deficit-cutting government be formed out of the present mess?

    I am sorry to say, in my opinion, Britain's financial state is going to get worse – a lot worse and pretty quickly at that.

    I just hope I'm wrong!

    Mike – Londoner living in Barcelona."
    Typical of Right Wing expats living abroad (in one area of Torrvieja they set up a bar called the Bulldog, with a sign saying 'no Spanish' – try that over here!). If you leave, then you don't really have any right to whinge.
    Even Robert Peston has jumped onto the sucking-the-Conservatives' dicks bandwagon. But as I said in a totally unrelated blog post today, "Bandwagon jumping  isn’t such a good idea when the bandwagon is now full of doggy doo and ebola."

  14. AJ

    It is a bit rich to see someone moan about things when they've buggered off or are claiming non-dom to avoid paying taxes, but then no doubt there are quite a few of the Tory supporters along these lines. Always a delight to see them speak out.

  15. Tom Camfield

    The approximate figures for FPTP, AV and STV are here:
    AV would have made a huge difference: Con 281, Lab 262 and LD 79. It doesn't look like the Lib Dems improve too much, but that's 21 extra seats and they're now able to give either party a majority.
    Also, no one seems to be mentioning Lords reform. Both Conservatives and the Lib Dems want it, Conservatives want the majority of seats to be elected, if the Lib Dems can choose the voting system then they'll have a big chunk of the second chamber where they'll be able to pass laws… that would be a massive win for the Lib Dems.

  16. Tom Camfield

    Oh and the "unelected PM" is actually a soft ball, anyone with a brain simply replies "like John Major".

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