Political Promise

100 Days of Moaning

In Jamie Barclay on August 23, 2010 at 8:12 am

By Jamie Barclay

Political Promise’s newest writer Jamie Barclay gives his perspective on the ‘100 days’ of the coalition, which has been celebrated/poo-pooed this week.

Faith, forgiveness, trust, belief, loyalty and even dignity are words that in recent years have become somewhat disassociated from mainstream British politics; many voters are disillusioned, wavering in a smog of misperception and becoming progressively more suspicious and sceptical. People feel lied to, and so they should. What began under Tony Blair was a grinning leap to the centre, aloof from the days of Foot and Kinnock. It was refreshing, exciting – it split the Conservatives and kept them out of power. Even after thirteen years they were unable to secure majority victory. The Balkans, Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland are achievements that should leave New Labour’s legacy marvelling;  juxtaposed to this ended a dreary, desperate and disillusioned plunge from grace under the brow of Gordon Brown. Various senior Labour figures now admit they felt they were fighting a losing battle during the election, blaming the former Prime Minster. Labour is bitter in defeat and unhelpful in opposition.

The recent criticism of Alan Milburn, Lord Hutton and Frank Field are a reflection of the narrow minded rhetoric that seeks to undermine the coalition before it has been given sufficient time to show what it can do. The covetous and acrimonious remark from John Prescott: “So after Field & Hutton, Milburn becomes the 3rd collaborator.’ They collaborated to get Brown OUT. Now collaborating to keep Cameron IN” serves to remind us of the infighting and backstabbing typical of New Labour. If these individual can assist in desperate times, why does Andy Burnham (the man who constantly reminds us of his working class roots) murmur of self-service; surely it’s the opposite – these individuals are seeking to serve the state despite their political loyalties. Ed Miliband is trying to provoke tensions within the coalition by claiming Nick Clegg would have to resign before a Lib – Lab pact could ever be agreed. Such claims are shallow. Negotiation and compromise within the coalition cannot be avoided; policy disagreements will lead to small fractures and hurt feelings. Labour is once again clutching, but this time without Straws.

Mr Cameron’s persistence and patience represents a renewed Conservative ideology, and indeed stands to deny Thatcher’s: “There are still people in my party who believe in consensus politics. I regard them as quislings, as traitors… I mean it.” The coalition is being judged harshly because New Labour has scarred the electorate and because as a party they were not prepared to admit when mistakes were made. This summer’s recess has proven that the coalition can operate effectively. With Clegg steering the helm at home, Cameron has had the chance to stamp his print abroad, developing further economic ties with India and rebuking Pakistan’s lack of effective anti-terrorism.  Our current political arrangement has led to a healthier and increasingly pragmatic level of decision making encompassing a broader range of opinion and expertise that would otherwise be lost or more likely ignored, as it has been for the last thirteen years. This represents maturity within UK party politics; a realisation that perhaps neo-liberalism is applicable across varying fields; that mandates can be horizontal as well as vertical; and that in fact politicians can be reasonable.

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