Political Promise

Is There Really Ideology Behind the Cuts?

In Jamie Barclay on September 10, 2010 at 1:40 pm

“Nick Clegg, having previously been compared to both Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler in the space of two weeks, is in possibly one of the most testing predicaments any Liberal Democrat leader has ever encountered”, says Jamie Barclay.

Nick Clegg, having previously been compared to both Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler in the space of two weeks, is in possibly one of the most testing predicaments any Liberal Democrat leader has ever encountered. The man facilitated an unlikely government who has just announced a £4 billion spending cut plan, much of which is to be taken from state welfare, education, housing and health – in other words the core institutions designed to increase social mobility and support the needy. This has enraged Lib Dem grass roots supporters around the country, over 40% of those who voted for the party have said they will at the next election defect to Labour or the Conservatives.

Yet – aren’t these cuts necessary evils? If there was another way then surely the government would use it? They are aware these cuts are going to seriously damage their ratings, and communications from inside have even suggested that the Tories expect Labour to be ahead by Christmas. Labour’s great plan to keep investing in the public sector is a joke, as Greece well knows. Economic ideology has thus been sacrificed by the Liberals; an eventuality that I believe could not have been avoided.

However, The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill has now passed its second reading in the Commons. This achievement should not be overshadowed by the cuts. The Liberal Democrats have tirelessly denounced the present FPTP system, claiming it lacks proportionality and favours the two larger parties. The logic of this argument makes sense, even if perhaps the practicalities do not. Without agreeing to form a majority government with the Tories this would could never have happened. Even the Tory whips are having difficulty muffling their indignant backbenchers.

What does this suggest? It suggests that Nick Clegg is a good mathematician. If the cuts equal, for instance, negative one (-1) and the referendum on the alternative voting system equals plus one (+1) then together they can be taken as zero (0). Does this suggest that Clegg has therefore achieved nothing? No, it suggests that he has manoeuvred a Liberal agenda through a Tory led government which otherwise would be sitting at negative two (-2). Once, and if, a more proportional voting system is introduced the Liberal Democrats are likely to have a more significant influence in parliament, giving them future opportunity to reverse or amend economic policy. This would give them a chance to add another positive to the equation. The potential score: (-1) + (+1) = 0 + (+1) = 1, in favour of the Lib Dem agenda.

The applied weights are subjective and the totals are simply tools I am using to illustrate the rationality behind the current Liberal stance. I can see why the fury of the grass roots burns as brightly as the bras did in the 1960s, but what’s the point in having principles if you don’t take a chance and apply them. Richard Armour once said: “Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.” It seems that over one year later the majority of the time this remains the case. In this instance however I believe that Clegg is making difficult, but necessary, calculated decisions.


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