Sunday 21 November 2010

Uncle Vince's Logic Gyrations

I sometimes feel sorry for Uncle Vince. On more than one occasion he's sat there on the front bench looking like his soul's been forced through an industrial strength cheese grater. But like the Tories, he and his fellow Orange Book'ers have learned that power always comes before principle. So way before Vince hits the Strictly dance floor for the Christmas special, he's had plenty of practice gyrating and contorting "in the national interest".

latest move however has all the elegance of a John Sergeant/Ann Widdecombe pairing. Vince says the Coalition agreement between the LibDems and Tories trump any commitments and promises made in the party's manifesto. In his own words:
We didn't break a promise. We made a commitment in our manifesto, we didn't win the election. We then entered into a coalition agreement, and it's the coalition agreement that is binding upon us and which I'm trying to honour.
Someone ought to tell Vince he's being a silly sausage. If I promise to my nearest and dearest to take her out for a drink, but then a couple of acquaintances ring up and invite me and not her to dinner, by accepting their invitation I break my earlier promise. Justifying my actions by saying I had a better offer would be like dousing her anger with paraffin. And so it is with tuition fees. Whichever way you slice it, a broken promise is a broken promise and Vince's attempt to make it look like anything else comes across as feeble and desperate.

As we now know, the LibDem leadership made another rod for their back by signing personal pledges to vote against tuition fees, even at the
very moment they were considering abandoning the pledge. By signing them, Uncle Vince, Little Dave and all the rest made personal guarantees to their electorates over and above the party position. This means the crisis of LibDem support is simultaneously a crisis of their standings as politicians.

No amount of political wash powder will shift this stubborn stain on their character in a hurry.


skidmarx said...

I thought Jon Sopel could have properly nailed him with the line:
"You made a pledge. Have you broken that pledge?"
Though he did make him squirm quite a bit. We are seeing the welcome collapse of his party's ability to be all things to all men, and the enthusiasm for PR that led to. They still seem to think that a claim of a sudden discovery once the election was over that Labour had ruined everything will restore their support back from it mid-last-century levels, if accompanied by some sort of economic revival. Maybe not. Their reputation (belied by some of their electoral activity) for honesty had already been tarnished by David Laws "I had to filch public money to protect my private life", and if they can't answer "if you would stick to one pledge, what pledge would that be?" with "the one we solemnly signed to inspire so many students to vote for us, of course", they are in historic trouble.

claude said...

Vince Cable and what's left of his party are pathetic.
Oblivion is awaiting.

Boffy said...


I agree entirely. As I pointed out in my blog Vince Cable Talks Bollocks, his line that "we didn't win the election" makes no sense. Their commitment was not "We will vote against a rise in fees if we win the election"! That would make no sense. They made the pledge believing they would NOT win the election, and so were free to say whatever they liked as they normally do.

It is on the contrary the fact of finding themselves in Government that has exposed them for what they are. It shows we need a real democratic revolution that goes way beyond tinkering with the electoral system, or a limited right of recall. The latter is a start, but we need a root and branch building of democratic structures to put content into the sham democracy we have.

I was thinking about that today watching The Politics Show on about Anti-Social behaviour. People accept a duty to serve on Juries, and firms have to give them paid time off to do so. I think we should have a similar duty to serve on neighbourhood policing units, and firms should have to pay while you are fulfilling that Civic Duty. That is what the Big Society is supposed to be about, and would also be a real means of creating grass roots democracy and involvement.

Robert said...

Yes the Liberal democrats and Nick Clegg personally pledged not to raise tuition fees.

Liberal Democrats. Because they're worth a good kicking.

There's always been a tension between social liberalism and economic liberalism and the Orange Book faction have transformed the party into a right wing free market party like the FDP in Germany. I very much doubt they'll attract many left leaning voters come the next election. If the AV referendum is lost and we keep FPTP there is a very good chance these orange weasels will be wiped out next time round. On that Great Day I will be crackig open a bottle of champagne.

Sccoper said...

Liars in coalition with another bunch of liars. The result is horrendous and makes you realise that what you thought of as a more principled political party (Lib Dems) are actually nothing of the sort.
Both coalition parties are screwed now as both have managed to alienate their core voters by adopting the worst of each other's policies as far as the voters go. The LibDems back track on their fundamental policy as noted here while the Tory's pretend to be Eurosceptic however once in power prove to be exactly the opposite.
The only bonus for the Lib Dems is that Huhne has been let loose on the Energy policy and promises to cost this Country dearly as a result. If nothing else, Huhne's idiotic policies will sink the coalition alone but they are giving us enough reason never to want to vote for them again.
Like Barrck Obama, this is a one term government which has promised everything but has quickly been exposed as venal and mendacious as the previous bunch of shits.

Chris said...

I have to say I prefer Boffy's title!!

On extending democracy, this is something I have been saying for a long time, for example I think we need to revolutionise the way we set council budgets, we need to make it more democratic, take power away from councillors and give it to the general public. And yes we need to fundamentally change the ownership arrangements of local provision. The system we have has not worked.

Contrary to what Boffy says however, I think the Tories are the ultimate class warriors. They don't fudge, compromise, even without a mandate they have the balls to implement the most extreme set of changes to society since, well, the last bunch of Tory bastards. The political task is to make Labour have the balls of the Tories.

Phil said...

I wonder if the LibDems would have suffered as much had they entered a coalition with Labour? I suspect not.

Nick Fredman said...

"Oblivion is awaiting."

In terms of the evidence from some similar developments over the last 15 years in Australia, which went from being the laboratory of social democracy in the early 20th century to the laboratory of neo-liberalism at its end, you've got that at least to look forward to. Many of the cuts and attacks, such as a greatly increased deferred tertiary education tax (a clever form of user pays invented by the Labor government here in the late 80s, after a militant campaign against an attempt to re-introduce up-front fees), and slashing of higher education budgets, recalls the former conservative government's moves from 1996. These were "responsibly amended" by the "progressive" Democrats who held the balance of power in the upper house i.e. the power to stop the tory cuts. They went from a hey day of 9 senators out of 80 and over 10% of the vote at that time, to no representation anywhere and the humiliation for them and satisfaction for us of being beaten by Socialist Alliance in a number of seats at the 2007 and 2010 elections.

They've been replaced by the Greens (in 2010 over 10% of the vote and 9 senators) hardly perfect or entirely consistent but much more clearly leftist and specifically pro-union. The latter are doing a pretty good job of a broad left party in an informal coalition with Labor, e.g. allowing them to govern but not taking cabinet responsibility and forcing them into embarrassing parliamentary debates on Afghanistan and gay marriage.

Phil said...

Cheers for that, Nick. Do you fancy writing a guest post on the struggle against top up fees in Australia? If so drop me a line on philbc03 at yahoo dot com