a great time to be a crazy backbencher

So how did I spend the election night? As it happens, I decided to go to bed about 1am, noting that I was beginning to get as drunk as most of the people on the BBC obviously were and there was still a while to go before any really substantive data came through. Did anyone else notice this, by the way? I’ve never seen so many important people visibly pissed before. The ruling class drinks in psychic defence, as Mr. Pop would say. And the inhabitants of the best election night thread ever.

And I am amazed that my wave of doom from yesterday has passed. I’m also delighted by the virality. Horrified by our fantastic electoral system – 800,000 more LD votes than last time, and a smaller parliamentary party? Guilty for not going to campaign for Susan Kramer. Informed that actually, “the markets” don’t care about us and there is plenty of other stuff happening in the world. Delighted by BNPFAIL and Charles Clarke and David Heathcote-Amory and Nancy Mogg and Jacqui Smith and Peter Robinson joining us all in obscurity.

I do have a serious point in this post, which is credibility. Tories on the Today programme this morning were talking about offering electoral reform for the Lords and local elections; this is not a meaningful offer, as a proportional Lords wouldn’t be much different from the current one (which has been fixed to be roughly even). For the Tories, it’s cost-free, and therefore meaningless in terms of signalling theory.

More seriously, what credibility does David Cameron have to offer anything?

To make any realistic offer from the Conservatives to the Liberals credible, they have to prove that they’re willing to pass PR for the Commons with Liberal votes against their own backbenchers.

One thing we do know about this parliament is that it’s going to super-empower everyone’s backbenches and the odds-and-sods – this is what happened in the Major years, and he had a (bare) majority. And the last-ditch Tories hate PR – hell, some of them probably aren’t fully reconciled to the Reform Act of 1832. They have nothing to lose but their safe seats; they would have every incentive to hold the government hostage at every opportunity, and they’d be roared on by the extra-parliamentary Tory right.

We simply can’t accept promises from Cameron, because there is no credible assurance he can deliver on them. And it is simply unacceptable for the outcome of an election in which 51% of the public voted for either Labour or the Liberals, and no overall majority emerged, to be that a party with 36% of the vote forms a minority government. Demonstrate tomorrow. 2pm Trafalgar Square. If you’re not in London, why not put the show on right here?

(I just noticed that the BBC results page now puts Lib-Lab ahead of Tories-DUP-Lady Sylvia if they somehow manage to bribe her round. And you’ve got to count in the 4 NI MPs who take the Labour whip.)

According to the boy Band, “London lost it for Cameron”. So meanwhile, here is some music.


  1. Matt McG

    As mentioned in ‘another place’, I’ll probably head down to Trafalgar Sq.

  2. Tom

    I’ve got the kid, but will try and make it. He went on the 2006 Lebanon demo, so he’s pretty much a veteran. Fewer flying shoes at this one, I suspect.

  3. The Tories will *never* get Lady Sylvia. But I’m deeply depressed that they can get Nick Clegg. The received wisdom about the Kennedy leadership seemed to be that the Lib Dems had got too cosy with Labour and needed to return to equidistance. Well, here’s equidistance in action: you end up driving potential sympathisers back to both parties, because Tory voters think you’ll do a deal with Labour and vice versa.

    In policy terms the Lib Dems are almost entirely to the left of the New Labour Right, and in some areas they’re to the left of the Old Labour Left. They are, in short, A Party Of The Left – it’s the way they’ve been moving at least since Ashdown. (If that doesn’t play well in the West Country – or in Home Counties marginals – so much the worse for the West Country and the Home Counties marginals. Chasing Tory votes can damage your political health – look at New Labour.)

    I’m afraid Clegg is going to make a deal with Cameron. At best it’ll make me, and thousands of reluctant Labour voters like me, feel we were right to withhold support from the party, and kill any chance of gaining support from Labour voters. At worst it’ll break the party. I guess it depends to some extent what ‘it’ is. Something really minimal might work – “we’ll support you in confidence votes (and not necessarily on other bills) for precisely as long as it takes to get the next election organised” – but that’s not how I read Clegg.

    • yorksranter

      well, given the pathetically feeble “offer” Dave from PR just came out with, I don’t see it happening. OK, he had his chance to “go first” and he offered us a bucket of shit. Now he can go and be Leader of the Opposition until they shoot him in the back.

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