Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Coalition Desperados

The Liberals, as they watch their political life flash before their eyes, have become ever more desperate. Like a drowning man going down for the third time, they grab and snatch at every straw, in a frantic hope of finding some justification for clinging to existence. Even in their Cornish bunker, the opinion polls show them, in a number of the seats they hold, dropping to fourth place! Yet, their spokespeople continue to delude themselves that the polls are wrong. They may be, but only in suggesting that the Liberals will get more seats than they will end up with. In the meantime, Nick Clegg throws out one desperate justification after another as to why people, who don't actually support the Liberals, should vote for them anyway, and why, contrary to all concepts of democracy, a Liberal Party with just a handful of seats, and which has been sizeably rejected by the voters, should still get Ministerial jobs!

Clegg first came up with the idea that people should vote Liberal to prevent a Tory Government that was too right-wing, or a Labour government that was too left-wing, coming to power. If you want a moderate government, Clegg argued, you have to vote Liberal. The lunacy of that argument was obvious. We have just had five years of the most ideological, right wing government for many years – and the Liberals not only brought it about, by siding with the Tories rather than Labour, in 2010, but for the last five years, the Liberals have been loyal, active members of that right-wing government. In fact, the Orange Book Liberals like David Laws, and his successor Danny Alexander, have been marked by being more Tory than the Tories!

The Liberals were quick to abandon their opposition to Tuition Fees, as well as to impose other attacks on workers, by pushing through a 10% rise in VAT, for example, along with the Bedroom Tax, and swingeing cuts in services. But, Clegg's argument that if you wanted to oppose a right-wing Tory government, you should vote Liberal is defective for another reason. Given the reality of the British electoral system, a vote for the Liberals is largely a wasted vote. Anyone who actually wanted to prevent a Tory government, therefore, should logically vote Labour, not Liberal!

But, Clegg's argument is ridiculous for a more obvious reason. It assumes that Ed Miliband and Labour represent some kind of extreme left-wing party, which quite clearly they do not. Labour today maybe slightly to the left of Blair and Brown, but it could hardly be described as being even as left-wing as Harold Wilson's government's of the 1960's and 70's, let alone the Labour Government of 1945. All that Clegg has emphasised, by claiming that a vote for the Liberals is needed to put a right-wing influence on such a Labour government, is just how far to the Right the Liberals have been dragged as a result of their effective merger with the Tories over the last five years.

Perhaps recognising that this justification for a Liberal vote was rather ludicrous, Clegg has now come up with an equally ludicrous plea as to why we should vote Liberal. Vote Liberal, he says now, to ensure a stable government, and avoid the need for a second election! How ridiculous is that? If you really want a stable government, the answer most certainly is not to vote Liberal, Green, SNP, Plaid, or for any of the other irrelevant sects. The key to a stable government is for either Tories or Labour to win an outright majority, not for votes to be fragmented amongst a range of parties with no chance of forming a government, and no legitimate right, being such a tiny minority, to even have representation in the government.

Yet, its precisely on that basis that Clegg now wants to cadge votes from wherever he can get them, in the hope of clinging to the Ministerial limo. The Liberals, however many seats they end up getting, currently have support from only around 5-8% of the population, or about half the support for UKIP. Using the argument the Liberals have previously used to justify coalition governments based upon electoral support and proportional representation, they have no legitimate claim to be part of any government, and certainly much less than any involvement that would be due to UKIP.

What Clegg is really pleading for is enough votes to prevent Labour getting an outright majority so that he can resume his government with Cameron. A couple of days ago, I wrote that the Liberals would probably have to oppose an EU referendum, which would cause an inevitable fracture of the Tory benches. But, it now seems that Clegg realises that Liberal support has been so decimated that he will have no bargaining power with his Tory allies. Even the raison d'etre of the liberals as a pro-European party, now seems to be up for grabs by Clegg, as they try to cling to ministerial office.

In fact, you would think that it was Labour that represented the real threat, rather than the Tories, because currently we have an alliance of all other parties against them. The Liberals have clearly phrased their red lines to rule out a deal with Labour, should Labour be stupid enough to offer them one; the Tories oppose Labour at all costs, even preferring a win for the SNP, and a fracturing of the state, than a Labour victory; the SNP ludicrously claim they want a Labour victory in England and Wales, but call on voters there to vote for anyone other than Labour, whilst in Scotland, where the SNP is in power they chant “Red Tories Out”, and launch physical attacks on Labour supporters. No wonder the Tartan Tories of the SNP have the fulsome backing of Rupert Murdoch's Sun!

The Liberals political cretinism is demonstrated by the other arguments they have raised to justify a renewal of their increasing merger with the Tories. Clegg argues without any constitutional justification that the Liberals would have to speak first to the largest party. That is because he expects the Tories to be in that position, and wants to create the conditions of a new Liberal-Tory government, seizing office. But, the argument in principle is ludicrous. It is at odds with the way all coalitions are formed in Europe, i.e. on the basis of shared ideology.

For example, suppose UKIP were to be the largest party after the election. Is Clegg really telling us that the Liberals would give Farage first dibs at creating a government, and that the Liberals would seek to facilitate them?

But, this kind of deal making on an unprincipled basis is taken to even more extremes by the SNP, which illustrates clearly the reactionary nature and consequences of nationalism. The SNP do not want to be formally part of the government in Westminster, they say, but they do want to have a say in the government, based on no other grounds than nationalism. They say that on the basis of SNP MP's being elected, they should have a right to a say in Westminster, but SNP MP's have no more right to a say in Westminster than any other MP, from any other part of Britain, or from any other party.

If 59 Labour MP's were elected in Scotland, there is no reason why a majority Tory Government would give those Labour MP's a seat around the table at Westminster, than if 59 Tory MP's were elected in Scotland, a majority Labour government would give them a seat around the table either. In fact, it would be interesting to see how the SNP, and particularly their kitsch left entourage, would respond to such a situation. In the 1950's, the Tories had more than 50% of the vote in Scotland, through the 1960's, they still had more than 40%, in fact, its these Tories that defected to the SNP. So, if that was the situation now, would the SNP and their kitsch left supporters demand that a Labour government include these Scottish Tory MP's in a government, or that they consult with them, and include them, just because they are Scots, and irrespective of the fact that they are Tories?

But, that is precisely the logic that results from nationalism. It subordinates all class antagonisms to a single national antagonism. And, the SNP position, like that of the Liberals, is really just a desperate plea to be included, despite the fact that they have no real mandate to be included, and no bargaining power to demand to be included. It is in fact, the impotence of the SNP that leads to their vitriol against Labour, even more than their opposition to the Tories.

In reality, what the SNP are doing is calling upon the Scottish people, workers and bosses, to forget about their class interests and join together simply as Scots to oppose the people of the rest of Britain. Given that the majority of Scots, like the majority of people in the rest of Britain, are workers, what they are really doing is calling upon Scottish workers to abandon their two century long alliance with other British workers in favour of an alliance with Scottish capitalists, and the kitsch left hangers on of the SNP are aiding and abetting them.

On the one hand, the SNP, and if they are successful in winning a majority for their position, the Scottish people, are declaring political war against the people of the rest of Britain. At the same time, they are demanding that the people they have declared war against, give them a seat in government, or some other privileged position, to have a bigger say than others, or than their support deserves. Generally speaking, people do not invite their enemies into their decision making bodies, especially given the reality that war is the continuation of politics by other means.

The vitriol with which the SNP have attacked Labour in Scotland, and the attempt to prevent democratic debate, shows just where that trend of nationalism leads in breeding reaction, and division amongst the working-class. Its clear where the dangerous trajectory of such an approach leads, and a look across the Irish Sea, demonstrates it clearly. How long before a small minority of Scottish nationalists having been unable to win a majority for their position by the force of argument turn instead to the argument of force.

Anyone who doubts what happens when a small minority, unable to get its way by reason and argument, turns to simply control the streets by force, has only to look at what has happened in the last three years in Libya.

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