On Being a Government Supporter 120

It appears very probable now we will have a Tory/Lib Dem coalition. That would put me in the extraordinary position of supporting the government, for the first time in my life.

I would still much prefer the Lib Dems to remain in opposition. To a large extent that is for pragmatic reasons – I very much fear a coalition with the Tories will be electorally disastrous for the Lib Dems. But will I resign from the party? No, I won’t.

Part of the reason for this is my revulsion at the list of dreadful authoritarian New Labour figures who have been coming forward to rubbish any Lib/Lab deal. David Blunkett, John Reid, Jack Straw – these people truly are enemies of liberty and I find them more repulsive than any of the Tories, even Jacob Rees Mogg.

The proof, of course, will be in what the new government actually does. I do not view AV as an improvement on FTPT, and it appears the Tories will not touch the real reform of STV. But there are other areas of democratic reform that would be real achievements – fixed term parliaments appear on the cards.

But what about an elected House of Lords? A House of Lords fully elected by STV might be a way of breaking the negotiating deadlock, with the Commons remaining on FTPT for now. But just how attached are the Tories to the patronage of appointing their donors to the House of Lords? Pretty attached, I imagine.

On the economy, I tend to the libertarian side myself and favour spending cuts more radical than anything we are likely to get, particularly in local government where bureaucracy and useless departments proliferate and pay scales are much higher than equivalent jobs in the national civil service.

You may be surprised, for example, that my views of the Sharon Shoesmith affair are that she was unfairly treated, that it is ludicrous that we should imagine government can stop all murder and evil, that the large majority of social welfare, youth and community oriented jobs in local government should simply be cut as they do no good, and that the real scandal is that the woman was on a remuneration package similar to that of the Permanent Under Secretary of the Treasury.

If you ask me how to rein back the deficit, I would say that you can make a start by looking at the career of Bill Taylor, a full time Labour Party apparatchik who made a fat living his entire career out of various Polly Toynbee type aspects of taxpayer funded bullshit – and rakes in even more now by doing it on a consultancy basis. Read through Taylor’s career, and then abolish throughout the UK all public spending in any area in any way related to any sector he worked in.


So you will gather I am not moved by the argument that the Tories must be resisted at all costs because of spending cuts. I like spending cuts. What to cut is, of course, the area of dispute. The Tories appear to be wedded to Trident, but will they kick it back a bit through a defence review?

It will be novel to see liberal ministers in office, but hard lessons have taught me not to expect too much from that. When the FCO was embarking on its positive policy of encouraging the gaining of intelligence through torture,


Peter Hain and Bill Rammell were both FCO ministers – and both have a genuine commitment to human rights. But somehow the system takes good men prisoner.

So, I wait to see if the coalition comes, and if so what it does. As I said before, if they halt the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the US, that would be a good early sign.

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120 thoughts on “On Being a Government Supporter

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  • ScouseBilly

    Sad to say I know ex-social workers who did their best but were overwhelmed, under resourced and ineptly managed.

    Good people, wasted opportunities…

    But the unelected quangos (jobs for Nu-Lab cronies), the proxies for ministerial responsibility need immediate attention.

    Good night.

  • Anonymous

    I have fallen into an upside down parallel universe.

    Craig Murray becomes a tory.

    Charles Crawford becomes a Guardian Writer.

    I turn the tv on and Ian Dale is on the BBC news.

    I’m going mad, help.

  • Owen Lee Hugh-Mann

    “I thought Gordon Brown’s departure very dignified: ‘Thank you – and goodbye.”

    I thought it was a case of hypocrisy to the very end, claiming to have worked for a fairer Britain despite being “extremely comfortable” with the “filthy rich” and having increased the gulf between richest and poorest to its greatest since the Second World War.

    For sale on ebay:-

    Moral compass. Rusty and in generally poor condition. Needs some attention as has not been used for 13 years. No longer required due to owner retiring.

  • Stef

    We’ve endured 13 years of a government

    …that has supported wars of aggression across the world and has the blood of hundreds of thousands on its collective hands

    …that has trampled on civil liberties at home and condoned torture abroad

    …that has presided over a widening of social inequality and reduction in social mobility

    …that has given away the economic future of at least the next couple of generations as indentured serfs to the banksters

    and people are whinging that the frontmen for these abominations have changed!?

  • crab

    just watched the new pm’s speech where traditionaly all of the great principles which are to be demeaned in the next few years are passionately lauded. awe, dont let em keep ye down folks. [:

  • Richard Robinson

    Duncan McFarlane – “If Scotland goes independent it wouldn’t need nuclear weapons – and the UK on it’s own can’t afford them any more.”

    ?? If Scotland goes independent, there isn’t a UK, is there ?

  • glenn

    Richard: It isn’t just Scotland and England which make up the UK, you know.

  • The Daily Mash

    “Meanwhile the prospect of a Labour-led ‘progressive’ coalition has been welcomed by thousands of limbless Iraqis, torture victims and people whose DNA is now kept on a database because they signed a petition in the post office about a new bypass.

    Abdul Al-Kaleem, a former limb owner from Basra, said: “I admire the British Labour Party. They managed to progress my legs off very efficiently, while my Uncle Karim was progressed over a wide area.

    “I remember being handed what was left of his chin and thinking ‘yes, this is definitely progress’…”

  • lwtc247

    @ Stef

    The frontmen have simply given way to new frontmen that will do exactly the same thing.

  • Terry

    The truth is that this isn’t a real coalition at all. It’s the Tories in all the great offices of state and the Lib Dems bought off with a few non contentious depts and ministerial positions.

    Look at how the great offices were divided in a real coalition:


    The Lib Dems haven’t even got much in terms of the big policy issues.

    No wonder Gove has been looking in all his interviews as if he were overly constipated in his efforts to suppress guffaws of laughter.


  • A different Owen


    Your views on social work notwithstanding, the conclusion that UK government spending should be reduced is fallacious (especially now). It reflects the unfortunate success and pervasiveness of some of Neoliberalism’s most dangerous ideological commitments.

    I’m pretty sure that whatever your feelings about particular sections of local government, you are nonetheless a principled thinker and would have no wish to participate, however slightly, in these continuing, needless outrages.

    Can I recommend to you the writing of Prof. Bill Mitchell, for a robust argument as to why you are mistaken about this?






    All the best…

  • Brick


    “I am happy to say that I have never met one [a social worker] and more to the point, nor has anyone in my very large and undeniably working class extended family.”

    A remarkable family indeed in which no member suffering a disability needed a social worker to assess their needs or because of frailty in old age needed some social work service. A large family where no teenagers got themselves involved with the youth justice system, in which no member suffered serious mental health problems, nobody became a foster carer or adopted a child and a family in which no members have ever found themselves in the Family Courts disputing residence and contact issues about their children.

  • Craig


    nope we didn,t need any of those. I suffered mental illness, but didn’t see a social worker. We look after our own aged relatives, thanks.

  • Craig


    In fact I resent your implication that needing government help and being socially dysfunctional and borderline criminal is the norm for working class families. Typical Toyndee rubbish supporting a huge parasitic industry with some of the most overpaid bosses in the country.

  • Brick

    No implication intended Craig. Just pointing out that, apart from the headline grabbing scandals, social workers are involved in arranging a lot of valued and uncontroversial services which a great many families, and not just working class families, avail themselves of from time to time as the need arises.

    I do agree, however, about overpaid bosses.

  • glenn

    Brick: My family has never required the assistance or intervention of social workers either, and we’re all working class (i.e. we all work for our living). Considering my contemporaries while growing up, there was nothing that remarkable about us in that regard.

    Do you really think the seething masses in this country need an army of social workers to manage them and pick them up/ redirect them, as they go blundering through life?

  • Brick

    Craig, I think you have accepted the picture created by the right-wing press of social workers roaming round the country in gangs imposing their ideas about how to live upon the general populace whilst failing to notice abused children.

    In reality social workers, far from imposing themselves upon the seething masses are trying, with very few resources, to respond to overwhelming volumes of requests for their assistance from those masses. Your liberal heart will be gladdened to read (try to ignore the jargon) this definition of the values of social work from the International Federation of Social Workers:

    “The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. … Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work.”

  • Craig


    I don’t doubt you are right. Sometimes I go into polemical mode to try to shake people out of complacent thinking, and express things in absolutist terms I do not really mean.

    But I seriously do doubt the value of youth workers and community workers and many other such, and I think senior level local government salaries are obscenely over-inflated.

  • Richard Robinson

    Yes, thanks to the various responders, I have heard of Wales (annexed to England by force, I think ?) and Northern Ireland (issues outstanding, still. Perhaps it ought to go with Scotland rather than England ?). According to Wikipedia (yes, I had to look it up) the term ‘UK’ came into use in 1800, when Ireland was incorporated into it.

    Yes, I imagine the remnant would continue to want to call itself that, but with Scotland + most of Ireland gone from it, it’d be something of a rump.

    I don’t really have any axes to grind here, except that the general extent of “not even beginning to want to think about this” that I see south of the border worries me. It could grow up to be a big problem.

  • glenn

    No worries, Richard… this helps explain the various components:


    You’ll find the Welsh and Scottish in particular get a bit ticked off if they’re referred to as ‘English’. It’s primarily the fault of the English, of course, who like to give the impression that England and Britain are synonymous, and that Wales is a little village somewhere in England. So foreigners can hardly be blamed for having that impression.

  • Richard Robinson

    “It’s primarily the fault of the English, of course”

    I was educated in England. I didn’t even realise there was anything much I was ignorant of, till I started spending time & making friends north of the border. A fun test :- “what happened in 1707 ?”. Try this either side of the border …

    I lived off in the northern Highlands once, for a while. I had the pleasure of friends coming to visit, and remarking on how they’d never been to that bit of England before. “Er, no”. “Oh, well, what’s the difference ? It doesn’t matter”.

    Numbers. Relative population size.

    Incidentally, I have seen claims that “Wales” derives from the same root as “walnut”. Old English for “foreign”.

  • technicolour

    According to the Welsh, they used to own England!

    Richard, what are we supposed to be thinking about? Is it the fact that people in England will be left shrieking no! don’t leave us! as every other bit with a border turns its back on them?

  • Richard Robinson

    “Richard, what are we supposed to be thinking about? Is it the fact that people in England will be left shrieking no! don’t leave us! as every other bit with a border turns its back on them?”

    (for clarity, I’ll use “we” = “English”)

    “We never liked them anyway” seems more likely, in the short term. But what then ?

    I don’t know what we should be thinking about, or what the issues would be, except that England is in this Union too, how do we stand back and think it’s nothing to do with us ? Does it not have any consequences for us ? Does the rump “UK” just carry on, pretending nothing happened ?

    Nuclear disarmament NotB would be “interesting” enough, but what about the rest of the armed forces ? Do they split ? Would that finally put an end to the ‘punching above our weight’ zombie ? To take just one example.

    I don’t even begin to have a clue what it would mean, if places an hour and half’s drive away from where I live separated themselves out completely from the state I know. I find it hard to think it would make no difference.

  • technicolour

    Personally, see it like a pair of Dr Who doors – quick, dive through before they slide shut on you.

    But this could be pessimistic. I’m feeling that way, I notice. Maybe, devoid of the ‘mean’ Scots, the ‘dark’ Welsh and the ‘crazy’ Cornish; England will become like a cross between Hobbiton & the Teletubbies? We can take pride in our – what do we do here again? Oh yes, financial services.

    They’re sliding…

  • Richard Robinson

    tech – “what do we do here again?”

    Good question. Why Oh Why Will Nobody Think Of The Markets ? We’re a’ doom-oh, no, we wouldn’t be able to do that one any more, that would be Them, not Us.

    “Hobbiton & the Teletubbies” – Alfred’s genetic themepark.

    We could all set up offices managing services to clean each others’ offices ?

    I guess we would come up with things, in the medium/longer term, but it might be “disconcerting” until we got used to it.

  • technicolour

    “We could all set up offices managing services to clean each others’ offices”

    It’s a plan!

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