This just doesn’t FEEL right

18 05 2010

Anyone who knows me even a little will tell you that I am Spock like in my application of logic and intellectual rigour to problem solving.

But this just doesn’t feel right.

For the past 30 years I have been a supporter of the Liberal Party and, more recently, the Liberal Democrats. For all of that time my politics have been to the left of centre and for most of the last 20 years I have found myself to the left of New Labour as it strove to occupy the centre of Britsh politics. I cannot bring to mind anytime that I have found myself agreeing with any policy put forward by the Conservative Party.

Yet I now find the Liberal Democrats in a formal coalition with the Conservative party, one which seeks to keep a Tory Prime Minister in Downing Street for the next 5 years.

It just doesn’t feel right,  so I’ll revert to type. Let’s  bring some intellectual rigour to bear. Let’s look at the evidence.

A YouGov poll asked people whether they would consider themselves to be left, centre or to the right of the British political spectrum. 54% of Labour supporters put themselves firmly on the left, as did 43% of LibDem supporters. By contrast, 57% of Tory supporters put themselves out on the right. So it would appear that most British voters would, like me, put themselves to the left of centre.

This is confirmed by the actual voting figures, around 60% of voters putting their cross next to parties of the progressive left. So while Nick Clegg had said that he would talk to the party with the most seats/greatest individual share of the vote,  there does seem to have been plenty of scope for him to have sought to form a coalition of the left, with Labour and parties such as the SNP, with whom they have worked successfully in Scotland for a number of years, and Plaid Cymru.

So what made Nick Clegg decide to throw in his lot with David Cameron?

What has he agreed to? Trident stays, there will be huge cuts in public spending this year, Tory immigration policy remains untouched, Teresa May and George Osborne have posts of influence in the cabinet.

What has he gained? A referendum on voting reform, ID cards scrapped, a voice in cabinet for Vence Cable et al and a fabby new job for himself (but lest we get carried away, John Prescott was deputy PM!).

For any Liberal voting reform is a hugely important issue but will a referendum actually result in a change tio the voting system? The different types of voting system that might be adopted all offer a degree of proportionality but all are notoriously difficult to explain. Might the electorate, when faced with a complex array of options, simply revert to ” I don’t understand it, so I don’t trust it, better leave things as they are.” This past election seems to suggest that while the electorate may express a desire for change, Cleggmania, when it comes down to it many lose their nerve. Some 1m people who said that they were going to vote LibDem actually reverted to the Labour or Tory tribalism on the day of the election.

But even if electoral reform is delivered will it be at a price worth paying? Trident will remain, public services will have been slashed and foreign policy will remain in the hands of the xenophobic right.

I’m not sure…but it doesn’t FEEL right to me.