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.

120 thoughts on “On Being a Government Supporter

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  • Brus MacGallah

    The Nazi party has changed ever since they got rid of that Hitler guy! Let’s ignore 19 years of mass unemployment, Falklands war, supporting Pinochet and Reagan, the decling in working class life expectancy, the destruction of manufacturing industries and the promotion of the casino economy. After all it was a long time ago!!

  • Anonymous

    ‘As I said before, if they halt the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the US, that would be a good early sign.’

    But you will accept that if it happens as well craig. Just like all the rest you have accepted from the tories and all that is to come.

  • Anonymous

    ‘On Being a Government Supporter’

    On Being a Tory Supporter from here on in craig.

  • NomadUK

    It will be interesting to see what comes of it all. I have to say, though, that I really don’t share this fascination with the idea of an elected House of Lords or fixed-term Parliaments. I don’t see anything good coming from either one: so-called ‘democratic’ elections are no guarantee of good governance, and not being able to force an election deprives us of an opportunity to get rid of Government early should we choose to. Instead, you’re pushing for the kind of political miasma that exists in the US.

    We have one fully elected House, and it’s sovereign; that’s sufficient. The other House should act as a deliberative body, and that feature is destroyed by introducing the circus that is an election.

  • Sam

    Well done for standing by you principles. I disagree with you on spending cuts though. In times of recession, public sector spending props up the economy and keeps the private sector going. True, some people may be overpaid, their jobs may even be useless. However, cut their jobs and you stop them spending, leading to losses in the private sector as well, rising unemployment and downward pressure on wages, particularly low-paid unskilled labour. It won’t just be overpaid bureaucrats who will lose their jobs, it will also be nurses, teachers, and care workers. Do you think the Tories will clamp down on non-domiciled tax exiles or grossly overpaid investment bankers? I’m sceptical.

  • ingo

    Goetterdaemmerung, three cheers to accountants and tax avoiders, the duplication of services, quango’s with no understanding of what they are doing, PFI agent provocateurs who are always out for a good hyst that makes the taxpayer bleed for decades to come.

    A regressive drugspolicy, a retraction of social values, more war in Afghanmisatn and beyond, all those Tories who are friends of Israel will rejoice, they have hooked the party they least liked, ‘keeping one’s enemy closer’.

    I hope that they can work together, but my guts say NO, they can’t. Pragmatic politics is not a british strongpoint.

    Nobnody should feel that they have to be rushed into a decision, better to get it right than to half cock some of the important issues.

    STV is what the politicians really owe us. They have ab/used and degraded the system to such an extent that trust has gone and respect has to be earned, being fair to voters and give them a choice should come natural to them, regardless of party or vested interests. Off… from their high horses.

    Taxpayers are taking the economic strain, the least they can do is make sure that we get a fair electoral system.

  • Doug Allanson

    I agree with you about Sharon Shoesmith as far as it being unfair is concerned. Ed Balls clearly knew little about social work and was responding to media pressure. However your comment: ‘the large majority of social welfare, youth and community oriented jobs in local government should simply be cut as they do no good’ is rather extreme. I wonder what has led you to make this claim?

  • Alfred

    Proportional Representation, the Liberal Holy Grail, is the electoral equivalent to the renutrification of shit: give us some seats in exchange for all our second, third, fourth place losers ?” well, hey, they all did better than the BNP and Screaming Lord Sutch didn’t they?

    Nick Clegg having led the Liberals to a reduced seat count, and having earned the hate and derision of all and sundry by his bizarre attempts to get into bed with both the Tories and NuLabor at virtually the same time has only one option remaining. He must buy a revolver and shoot himself.

    Then some sensible Liberal person, if there is such a thing, can announce that the Liberals will vote no confidence in a Labor administration and that they will decide whether to support a Conservative administration on an issue by issue basis. It will then be up to the Liberals when the next election is called, and on what issue it is called.

  • Anonymous

    ‘No chance of ANYKIND of PR now.’

    Official Labour Spokesman on Sky news.

  • Mr M

    There is absolutly no obligation on Lib Dems to go to bed with any, so I hope they continue to hop between beds for their own long term interests:)

  • Anonymous

    The SNP are about to get a LOT more seats, at the next election. Thanks lib dems.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    It is not at all novel to see Liberal ministers in government in Scotland. We should never expect governments to have ‘ethical foreign policies’. They never will.

  • MJ

    “…if they halt the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the US, that would be a good early sign”.

    Yes, if one result is a halt to his extradition then I for one would be reasonably content.

  • ScouseBilly

    Craig, good on you.

    It was only ever going to be Lib-Con or a Con minority government (as the City has known all along).


  • Frank Bowles

    Craig it is unlike you to be so depressingly sensible. While reading this and nodding along, Theresa May came on the telly being her incredibly irritating self and I realise this is going to be very hard to get used to.

  • amk

    I have to wonder whether the 30% LD support at the height of Cleggmania would have held firm with AV as no one need have feared wasting their vote or letting a Labservative candidate in by voting LD.

    Even if one (or both!) Labservative party leadership promise STV for the Commons I doubt they could get their MPs to vote for it. AV is the best we can get I think until there are enough non Labservative MPs to force it through.

    STV for the Lords should certainly be pursued.

  • Owen Lee Hugh-Mann

    Halting McKinnon’s extradition is a start, but the important thing is to repeal the one-sided legislation that makes it possible in the first place. Are the Conservatives prepared to restore any of the liberties taken by New “Labour”. The ID card ought to be a dead duck now, seeing as both parties opposed it, but only the LibDems were against the introduction of the biometric passport too. The Tories support its introduction, scheduled for 2012. All UK citizens who want a passport from then will have their fingerprints added to the government database although they have committed no crime. Once the majority have been added this way, the likelihood is that the rest will be forced to add their fingerprints to the database too based on the usual divide and rule principle.

  • brian

    If nothing else let’s hope for the dismantling of the database state. That would make it all worthwhile. As for spending cuts, can we start with the space cadet getting 100k for 3 days a week at the electoral commission, well past time for her to return to earth.

  • UncleFester

    Thanks to Alan Campbell for the Con-Dem Nation. Biggest laugh I’ve had today.

  • ScouseBilly

    Brian and Owen, I partially caught a snippet of news suggesting that David Davis would be brought into the cabinet, presumably at the insistance of the Lib-Dems. I didn’t hear the whole piece and wonder if the may be any truth in this.

    Certainly I would welcome this re. civil liberties.

  • JohnM

    It’s going to be strange but at some point under PR we would have to face the maturity and compromise of exercising real power, albeit in a coalition.

    But lots of progressive policies that can be achieved in the name of liberty and enablement.

    And, of course, we are free to exercise our inner radical in the campaign for Fair Votes to get that referendum to open up to multiple choice or even a national ‘write in’ for STV 😉

  • ScouseBilly

    UncleFester at May 11, 2010 7:03 PM

    Some wag said it on Radio 5 Live a couple of hours ago too – great minds…

  • Parky

    Although severe job cuts in the public sector may be unpalitable I fear they will have to be done and it should be the useless non-jobs that will have to go along with a good few quangos and consultants.

    It’s true that these ex-public sector workers will not be able to continue spending as they did and this will have a knock on effect on the economy, however the money they were spending was borrowed money and by and large this spending on public services did not create future real wealth. It was this extra cash floating around which helped to push up house prices and generally inflate the GDP.

    Brown often referred to this public sector spending as “investment”, it was no such thing and as such he showed himself not to understand anything about business and commerce let alone wealth creation.

  • Anonymous

    Owen Lee Hugh-Mann

    Under the lib dems you will have to let government have your fingerprints if you want a british passport.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Cameron’s committment to NATO and the ‘war’ in Afghanistan.

    Obama has a wry smile on his face knowing Cameron has emerged from the political fog of a ‘hung’ process that slowed his march into Number 10. The dragging of feet by Europe over Afghanistan will now receive a boost from the Conservative war-lords who are now rubbing hands with glee.

    Britain can now lead the way and amplify the ‘special relationship’ by supplying military trainers, base building contractors, MI5 agents and foreign office civilians to bolster the hopeless task of standing up a vast effective Afghan military (which that impoverished country has no way of affording) and an incorruptable police force (an oxymoron when it comes to Afghanistan) so critical to dominance in Asia.

    The war effort is growing under the political spotlight and a massive $30B surge is taking place as an American stop-gap.

    Cameron’s real job is to boot hegemony in the arse and compel/inspire/cajole Europe into supporting NATO and prepare for a new front with Iran.

    War my friends is just around the corner. The elites are cracking the champagne tonight.

  • Anonymous

    The police want to have access to them to put in on their fingerprint data bank.

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