Monday, 27 April 2015

The hypocrisy of the great "betrayal"

Reading the Lib Dems hashtag on Twitter is a great way to self-medicate for euphoria at the moment. The false claims of the Conservatives, the hypocritical moralising from Labour, the narrow-minded xenophobia of UKIP, and the smug superiority of the Greens and the SNP (I know, we were just as bad before 2010) are enough to turn anyone's stomach.

None of these actually bother me though. In fact they often lead to interesting discussions, a useful test of my beliefs as often as not. It's the consistent crowing over the great "betrayal" and the coming "just desserts" that stick in the proverbial craw. It transcends party membership, and demonstrates a wanton ignorance that beggars belief.

Since at least my birth, in 1979, every single Government has failed to deliver its full manifesto. Every manifesto by a Government party has contained at least one pledge that they have deliberately broken. Every Government party has fallen over itself to claim the centre (right) ground in British politics. But, in all this time only one coalition has occurred.

Yet, for all of this, the big story of #GE2015 isn't coalitions as a means to stop the big two parties from continuing to say one thing and do another. The story isn't the delivery of genuinely progressive policies because the Tories weren't left completely to their own devices. The story instead is how much fun it will be to watch Lib Dems lose.

Part of the problem is that this is only the second General Election since the advent of Twitter of course. It's a fantastic social network, but it totally lends itself to bullying, harassment and schadenfreude. On this particular occasion, it's a case of schadenfreude coupled with unholy levels of righteous indignation, and very little logic.

The very reason that a coalition was formed in 2010 is the same reason that, on the face of it, the Lib Dems deserve to be "destroyed" in 2015. Since at least 1979 every Government has ignored its promises to the electorate in favour of, often dubious, expediency. The coalition was, in a way, the first manifesto led Government in at least 30 years.

The very act of negotiating an agreement between two parties required a starting point, that starting point being the manifestos of those same parties. Neither party could hope to deliver all of its manifesto, but the scrutiny of negotiating an agreement meant that both had to at least make the effort. The big mistake was not pinning more down to begin with.

In less than two weeks I expect to be in a party that has received another battering at the hands of the electorate, but that hopefully will still have a role in forming the Government. Despite my distaste for them, since the removal of Clause 4 and their erosion of freedom in response to 9/11, I hope that Labour will be the party we get to negotiate with.

Most of all though, I hope that every party that is involved in forming the next Government will be doing so having fought for every pledge in their manifesto. I hope that the British public will recognise that this is the case, and I hope that in 2020 the manifestos, the parties, and the voting public will be that much more honest and progressive as a result.

If not, the outcome of both 2010 and 2015 will have been for naught.

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