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Cameron and Clegg must make a suicide pact

UK post-election Mexican standoff

After the furore of the Greek debt crisis, the week ended with Brown, Cameron and Clegg in a Mexican stand-off to be the next Prime Minister of the UK.

As I’ve written before, it was time for the Conservatives to win and do their thing. If I’m honest I thought they’d squeak a majority.

But the folk memories in Wales, Scotland, and the North run deep.

Southern English constituencies have turned decisively blue everywhere that was red, but tribal loyalties far from London brought out voters who hate the Tories even more than they hate Labour’s wars, liberties with civil liberties, and the 2.5 million long jobless queues.

The Conservatives are still paying for the 1980s. Perhaps understandably so.

I believe what Margaret Thatcher’s government did was vital for the country, but they didn’t have to do it with so little empathy. The juxtaposition of cocky Essex boys making ‘Loadsamoney’ while mining communities turned into jobless ghettos has now passed down the generations in Wales and Scotland.

Labour’s nurturing of a dependency culture in the aftermath – plus a spicy dash of greedy bankers raking in crazy bonuses – has made things even worse.

Brown’s poisoned the chalice

Knee-jerk Labour tribalism could be even worse in five years time.

Gordon Brown has utterly failed to admit to the debts the country has run up, and claims Tory cuts of a mere £6 billion will cripple us. (His own VAT reversal didn’t, so why should cutting waste? Especially given that early cuts could reassure investors and bring down the cost of Government borrowing.)

£6 billion is a trifle compared to what’s coming. I predict growth and even a revaluation in the Government’s stake in RBS and Lloyds will do more heavy lifting than most pundits expect, but it won’t stave off big cuts and more tax rises.

Yet in opposition, I expect the Labour party to continue telling its faithful supporters who are on the public purse (whether public sector employees or those on benefits) that every Conservative cut is an act of cruelty, and that Brown would instead have magicked money out of thin air (also known as PFI and the gilt market).

Accordingly, as I wrote last Autumn Cameron will do his bit for Britain and be hated for it. (Even Bank of England governor Mervyn King now agrees!)

I don’t write this as a paid-up Tory: far from it. I’m a classic swing voter. I decide what needs doing most, and cast my one vote accordingly.

But I’ve had it up to here with Gordon Brown’s mendacity. From his pension raid in the late 1990s to his sudden enthusiasm for PR the day after the election, he bumbles and obfuscates when it suits him, and then acts decisively when he knows the spotlight is on him or he’s in the clear.

The thought of him sitting opposite the Conservatives, safely away from the difficult decisions he claims he wants to make, and condemning cuts he knows are vital – it’s almost too awful to contemplate.

With luck he’ll be gone by Monday.

Cameron and Clegg should share the burden

As for Nick Clegg, hopefully he will step up to the mark – even if his own voters don’t seem to understand they’ve elected politicians, and are now angry to see them doing politics.

Some of the Lib Dem policies are worth the Conservatives looking at anyway, particularly the £10,000 personal tax allowance.

Maybe it could be partly paid for by the ditching of the Conservative’s electorally toxic inheritance tax plan. Whatever you think of that idea, it hails from another time and place now.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • 1 Faustus May 8, 2010, 1:13 pm

    Absolutely agree with you regarding the Tories obsession with removing inheritance tax – it is the ultimate rich man’s tax cut. We should be making the tax system favour work and earnings, which is why the LibDem’s idea (stolen from UKIP by the way) of raising the personal allowance is a decent one.

    I think Cameron’s strategy was hopelessly wrong in this election – he should have been much more honest about the economic crisis we face, and radical in thinking (where are the Keith Josephs of the Tory party today?). As the IFS suggested, the Tory economic proposals are no better than Brown’s in dealing with the deficit.

    In some ways it would have been better for the Tories if Gordon Brown were heading a weak minority government now, so that they could pounce with a real mandate when things get worse.

  • 2 Lemondy May 8, 2010, 1:48 pm

    I think this is the best possible outcome for the election. I expect that however the government is formed, the Lib Dems will be effective in moderating any extreme or stupid Tory policy like the inheritance tax plan.

    What we have lacked for the last 13 years is an effective Opposition, because both the Tories and Labour moved to the middle ground, and together committed most egregious policy mistakes – Iraq, and the government spending spree.

    If Labour can chuck out the Blairites and the Brownites and become a truly left-wing party again, I expect that they will pose an effective Opposition – by actually OPPOSING the Government. I think this is vital for good government.

    You’re certainly right that there is a risk to further entrenching anti-Tory sentiment and even contaminating the LibDems with it. As time marches on I expect that the severity of the debt situation – and its lasting effect – will become clear to the more moderate amongst Labour voters.

  • 3 The Investor May 8, 2010, 3:12 pm

    The trouble is people don’t appreciate diverted disasters. Think how many discuss the ozone hole or the USSR or even the Y2K bug as if they were non-events.

    The obvious truth is we never saw what might have happened because of actions taken to prevent it.

    Similarly, Tory cuts will hopefully stave off a meltdown the average voter won’t imagine.

  • 4 The Investor May 8, 2010, 3:16 pm

    Ireland: while there are similarities for sure, the UK wasn’t as wholly dependent on a housing boom, low interests rates and massive inward investment and migration to bubble up it’s economy.

    Absolutely there are similarities, but the UK economy has much more strength and depth, and assets. Not enough to be descibed as in fine fettle by any means, but in my view sufficient to escape basket case classification.

  • 5 Simple in France May 8, 2010, 3:58 pm

    It’s very interesting to see that in the UK the left is linked with the war in Iraq and recent ‘liberties with civil liberties’ while in the US it’s the right.

    It should be an interesting couple of months coming up in the UK.
    .-= Simple in France on: Do you need a financial makeover? =-.

  • 6 The Investor May 8, 2010, 5:44 pm

    Yes, part of the genius of democracy is there’s always someone to blame. 😉

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