Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The absurdity of a Coalition electoral pact

It is one thing to enter expedient, temporary coalition to govern because the electorate determined such an outcome, but it is quite another to engineer a pre-determined perpetual coalition of government because the party leaders find it expedient.

Apparently, there is a book advocating lasting Conservative-LibDem fusion; a majority of Conservatives favour a ‘non-aggression pact’ in key marginals; and Paul Goodman at ConservativeHome is ‘not unsympathetic’ to the idea of a pact.

His Grace would like to nip this fatuous idea in the bud directly.

It is not that there are not some genuine areas of agreement between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties: there are, not least because of their long shared heritage of Whig and Tory disparities which have occasionally been so nuanced as to permit Churchill to defect (and re-defect) and Thatcher to claim Gladstone as her political soul-mate. Liberalism and Toryism are not mutually exclusive, and the Conservative Party has evolved as a ‘broad church’ expression of competing wings held in tension.

But one could also find accord in the stated objectives of the Conservative and Labour parties, or the Conservatives and UKIP, or the Conservatives and the Greens, or the Conservatives and the BNP.

Political parties do not generally go into an election seeking actively to cause unemployment, increase poverty, make industry less competitive or foment social division.

They do not generally differ in their stated macro-objectives, but they manifestly do in the foundational political theories by which those objectives might be attained.

Or they used to.

The Coalition has no permanent cohesive political theory: it is the product of temporary necessity to reduce the deficit. It is a bit more than a one-night stand, but it is not a foundation for marriage.

There is more than a whiff of continental ‘Christian Democracy’ in this idea, which is founded upon a notion of ‘social justice’ quite antithetical to that which Conservatives have traditionally espoused: Anglo-Saxon One-Nation Toryism is not synonymous with continental Christian Democracy.

Setting aside for one moment Mr Goodman’s list of known unknowns, it is doubtful that even the Conservative Party’s constitutional (‘Hague’) reforms grant the Party Board this degree of omnipotence. Of course they control candidates (and their selection), so they would not ultimately have to ‘persuade’ any loyal Conservative to stand aside in favour of a LibDem; they would simply order it on pain of deselection and with the threat of placing the local association in ‘support status’.

But the Conservative Party’s appetite for power demands electoral victory; that thirst for victory is predicated upon fighting every constituency; and fighting every constituency necessitates fielding a Conservative candidate in every seat.

And if the Conservative Party does not do so, there will be quite a few ‘Independent Conservatives’ crawling out of the woodwork to stand against an agreed Coalition candidate.

And His Grace would be among the first.

And this would not breach Party rules (causing expulsion) because there would be no Conservative candidate contesting the seat and so one would not be standing against the Party.

Unless, of course, the Party Board re-writes the rules under the aegis of its own Lisbon self-amending passerelle clause.

But the age of centralisation is over.

Isn’t it?


Blogger David said...

You say: 'And this would not breach Party rules (causing expulsion) because there would be no Conservative candidate contesting the seat and so one would not be standing against the Party'...
I may have understood and I come down on neither side of this debate, but couldn't The Tory party put up its own official candidate against you if you stand independently?

14 September 2010 at 10:39  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Give me UKIP over the Liberals any day. As YG has already observed, with a UKIP alliance there'd be no need for the Liberals anyway as an outright Conservative majority would have been secured.

Of course, much better if UKIP could win power on their own without having to form an alliance with the Conservatives, but that's for another day.

Ah, it's good to have you back YG :oD

14 September 2010 at 10:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very well-argued and completely correct piece - in the old-fashioned sense without the prefix 'politically'.
We do need more principles guiding us, and for the nation to be ConDemned to this rather Fluffy Government forever would be enough to get a chap slinging the rope over the beam.

Coalitions tend to produce tedious elite consensus that's totally out of touch with mainstream opinion. We just got rid of one: we don't need another one that lasts forever.
Two thirds of UK voters want out of the EU. The BBC says they're mad, and the Coalition offers a complex, weaselly semi-referendum 'block'. It's exactly why we should get back to directional politics as soon as possible.

14 September 2010 at 11:19  
Blogger Dave said...

Onwards to the one party state.
At the moment the centre ground is overcrowded, having three parties where two will suffice.
After all, we're told what we're getting. We get no choice on the structure. We get to choose the curtains or other non-essentials.
What purpose do the LibDems serve as yet another centre-left party?
The Tories will absorb some, Labour will absorb the rest, and then it's back to business as usual.
Meanwhile the far left parties like the BNP, and right wingish parties like UKIP get vilified, even though they more clearly echo the views of the electorate....

14 September 2010 at 11:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

His Grace may wish to examine how other countries have decentralized and realize that this is a tremendous error. This together with simple proportional representation, which gave some countries, several changes of government a year through instability. The Liberal party has been now for some years, a party of provincial do-gooders’ who are happy only when they find something unusual that fits in with their present thinking. The present economical and social mess in Spain is a very good example of what not to do both in electoral reform and decentralization, something influencing the present liberal leader through his family connections. If the Conservative party goes down this road hand in hand with the Liberal party, you can be assured, you will finally close the door on what was once a great nation worth of its history. The Island states will become ungovernable as a union and economical disaster will follow its decline.

14 September 2010 at 11:41  
Anonymous Dick the Prick said...

Your Grace

It's too early to tell, I guess. Nick Boules (I think, the author - speculation exists if he was put up to it) may just be trying to make copy or perhaps a name for himself.

The poll numbers scare me a little. People don't like pain or considering the meium to long term; especially if they've got nothing to lose. I guess some analysis of the C2's, D, E's would be relevant. Also, should the boundary commission thing get accent with the reduction of MPs and parity of about 70,000 per constituency then we'll all have to revise our sums and get the abacus out.

The cynics amongst us may question, as Dave has said, may wonder what it means to be alligned to a party these days. Knock out the extremes in any party and what are we left with?


14 September 2010 at 11:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

I believe that the Conservative party elite realise (perhaps unlike the CofE) that they have abandoned millions of their natural supporters by jettisoning their ‘Unique Selling Point’.

Therefore, having lost the answers to the questions ‘Where have we come from? Who are we? Where are we going?’ they are thinking about developing a new identity.

The following observations would suggest a reverence for a sense of history and identity:

1. It is happening under a leader whose lineage emerges from the deep wells of our country’s history and heritage.
2. He was educated at Eton – one of our finest public schools (‘The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.’ (Wellington))
3. He is a graduate of one of our oldest universities: Oxford.

But, alas not so it seems.

14 September 2010 at 12:19  
Anonymous LDS said...

What a delight: you are back Your Grace. Sorry I missed your return yesterday but I had given up checking the site every day- that picture is rather ghastly you know.

On the thread. I think it is premature both for the "permanent pacters" and, dare I say it, "independent conservatives" to be making running on this. There is so much to do if we are to correct a small proportion of the financial and social harm inflicted on this country. We need the LibDems and they need us (a point we should not forget) for the moment. We haven't even had the spending round yet and that will put a strain on elements in both parties. I am inclined to be forgiving to those who make this kind of mood music, for in the short term (quoting Franklin) - if we do not hang together we most assuredly will hang separately.

14 September 2010 at 18:01  
Anonymous Anguished Soul said...

Welcome back Your Grace! A nice surprise awaited me when I clicked on your bookmark, you were back! Forgive me, but I almost thought you were gone for good.

I fear we are about to witness the sad demise of our nation, wholly due to the fact that we are on a collision course with the Lord Almighty. We have consistently turned our backs to Him over the years and this is our reward.

Repentance is the key, of course, but which denomination of the Church wishes to be so bold as to preach that?

14 September 2010 at 18:58  
Blogger srizals said...

The Unitarian Church I presume?

Anguished Soul said "we are on a collision course with the Lord Almighty" At last, I can agree with a Christian!

14 September 2010 at 20:16  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Your Grace, as the Cleggerons continue to live down to expectations as each day passes, I will continue to vote against the Westminster Tribe until an outbreak of political common sense transpires. Yeah, I know that isn't going to happen but at least I will have tried. You would get my vote but I'd have to sell up and move first.

15 September 2010 at 07:43  
Anonymous len said...

As the axe wielding gets into full swing I suspect the cracks will start to appear in the coalition.
The cuts appear to be at the base of the tree, not on the uppermost branches!

15 September 2010 at 08:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your grace. I was wondering if this marriage of convenience between Msrs Cameron and Clegg breaches any of the laws of the land or Church or God.

I always understood the Church to be the Tory Party at rest, now we are to be the Con/Dem party at rest!

What a prospect. I need a drink.

17 September 2010 at 15:28  
Blogger Manfarang said...

The last pack(UCUNF)didn't go too well.With areas of the UK Tory free,the Conservative Party is unlikely to win an overall majority.

23 September 2010 at 15:47  

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