coalition barter: the currency and cloak of dishonest politicians #GE2015

Paul Waugh suggests the following:

Meanwhile, my Twitter timelines are full of people lambasting – even pillorying – Mr Miliband for having effectively said that he’s either going to deliver what he promises in Labour’s manifesto via a Labour government acting on its own – or, alternatively, will choose not to enter into “darkened room” deals, and thus will not govern at all.  (Talking of which, one wonders what happened to beer and sandwiches – once equally criticised, but surely less terrifying in hindsight than the rooms of dark forces which will shortly be unleashed; perhaps these latter would be the preserve – both forces and food & drink – of any conversation with the Farages of this world.)

It’s been one of my constants throughout #GE2015 that I would like to know where everyone’s red lines stand.  The problem, for me, isn’t what they’re all prepared to promise; far more the confusion lies in what they’re all prepared to jettison – how far they’re prepared to renege on manifesto commitments – in order to fashion a five-year government.

Quite apart from my gently tribal relationship with Labour, this is why I discarded outright from the beginning any engagement with the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats.  With the currency and cloak of dishonest politicians everywhere, they used the excuse of coalition barter to deliver practically everything neither dared to think out loud before the 2010 election.

From top-down reorganisation of the NHS (read a long-term, much coveted strategy for privatisation in other fields too) to a tripling of tuition fees, a free-for-all in education, a journalistic perversion and muzzling of the BBC, a demonising of the weakest and poorest in society on behalf of a name-clearing of those primarily responsible for the global idiocies which destroyed our sharing economies, as well as a whole host of other sadly coordinated tactics designed to turn citizen against citizen, the crass culpability for the chasm between what they said they would do and what they ended up doing got lost in the “tough realism” (read a self-interested pursuit of power) of that political negotiation which has become a dreadful dynamic of horse-trading at its very worst.

The reality is that last night Red Ed showed he was Honest Ed: if he can’t have the opportunity to deliver what we vote for, he doesn’t want the obligation to sign away – in backroom deals, too eagerly and too unfairly performed in (by now) all-too-familiar darkened rooms of dishonest politicking – another five years built on a foundation of lily-livered, ownership-rejecting, policy-making people and livelihood destroyers.

You can’t have it both ways, Tories and Liberal Democrats: you can’t hanker back to a world of conviction politics a la Thatcher, only then to argue the only leader prepared to stand by his manifesto – whatever! – is a politician of minor principles who deserves to have rotting tomatoes thrown at him for having the gall to believe he should stand true.

For Ed’s resilience isn’t bloody-minded “either me or nothing” grandstanding.  He understands, perhaps more clearly than the rest of us care to, that the tragedy of the last five years has come about exactly because of the underlying process of coalition barter I have described today.  The tragedy, really, that came about because both Tories and Liberal Democrats knew what they really wanted to do before the 2010 election – but didn’t have the guts to make this clear.

And there is no way, in my mind, we should ever give a second chance to – never mind trust in – people, politicians and political representatives who, more than anything else in their trajectories, refuse to take ownership for their politics.

This is why I so firmly believe it is time to give a political ideology of leadership at all levels – from Prime Minister to ordinary suffering workforces, their families and friends – the chance we’ve always given its alternative.  So often have we judged our leaders on the basis of how they can sit atop the pyramids of privilege I mentioned yesterday.  But, sincerely, I’m not looking for another balancing-act, sales-oriented CEO – who promises everything before an election and delivers quite the opposite with the excuse of negotiation to salve their conscience.

If conscience they still remember as an attribute worth pursuing.


I’m looking for something else.  For a facilitator and enabler who will release as many people’s energies as possible, and in the only collaborative way the 21st century really does well.

Vote Labour, if you can –  but not to get a second-best Cameron.

Vote Labour, if you can – to get a first-class citizenry.

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