14 April 2010

Civil liberties (or lack thereof), the Lib Dems and saving the UK from minority dictatorship

Strange spin on the imminent Liberal Democrat manifesto launch from the Guardian: "Nick Clegg goes to war with Labour." And yes, Nick Clegg is criticising the Government's record on civil liberties. But hold on.... the Tories don't gave a shit about civil liberties either, guys. Doesn't any of the Guardian editorial team remember Michael Howard as Home Secretary? The guy was an authoritarian nut.

Nonetheless, Nick Clegg is quite right to castigate Labour for the imposition of a police state, where environmental protesters are subject to brutal beatings by the police, we are spending billions of pounds on an ID cards scheme that will be totally ineffective, etc. etc. It's good that someone has the balls to stand up to the fascists at the Daily Mail, because Gordon Brown sure ain't got them. In fact he is good mates with the odious Paul Dacre, the Mail editor.

The rather abstract feelgood cover for the Labour manifesto should have consisted of three short senteces in red on white, as big a typeface as they could fit on A4 (or whatever size it is this time):


Laying down your credentials from the very start. That's what it's about. Remember the dearly departed Malcolm McLaren? He got it right with the Pistols album. NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS... HERE'S THE SEX PISTOLS. A clear statement of what it was about, straight out of Year Zero. Political parties, take note.

The hilariously titled Tory Manifesto, "Invitation to Join the Governmnent of Britain", should have been called "Invitation to get screwed over" but at least shows the Chaps have a sense of humour.

The best ever manifesto cover remains Labour 1997. Tony Blair's grinning mug, back when he seemed like the Messiah, and simply: "New Labour. Because Britain Deserves Better". In its own way as iconic as "Never Mind the Bollocks". I also liked the "little red book" from 2005 because of its sheer understatement.

I think playing hard on civil liberties will help the Lib Dems - would be nice to see them get 25% in this election and I'm happy for Clegg to attack Labour if it means they tend to take votes more from the Tories than Labour. With the Tories being squeezed by the Lib Dems and UKIP from opposite directions, we could yet see them as low as 35% or so in the final poll... which would (most likely) mean a hung parliament, although a strong Labour showing ("strong" being strictly relative here - I mean 32% or so, on a par with their 1987 shown which was seen at the time as disastrous!) could still mean a Labour majority.

I'm now of the view that Labour being (say) 20 seats short of a majority and a coalition with the Lib Dems would actually be a better outcome for the country than a Labour majority. Because the ludicrous situation where Labour could get an overall majority on about 33% of the vote has brought home, once and for all, that British "democracy" is f***ed, and it will only be fixed if the Liberal Democrats are involved in the government - because they're the only major party recommending STV. Also, we are a lot more likely to make progress on civil liberties under a coalition than under another majority Labour Government. The question is: can Clegg get enough votes to emerge with the balance of power on May 7th? I don't have huge confidence in him, but on the evidence of recent interviews (including the Paxman grilling where I think he did pretty well), he may be just about up to the task.

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