Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Back to blogging

I am emerging from three months' silence on this blog that was partly though not wholly the result of the No vote in the AV referendum, which sent me into a bit of a decline from which I am now recovering.

By voting day it was clear that we were going to lose, but the extent of the defeat was a shock. This is how I felt about the result:

I also felt:
(1) angry about the outrageous lies put about by the No campaign and its lackeys in most of the press,
(2) even more than ever inclined to think that referendums are a bad idea,
(3) doubtful as the value of any sort of political activity, which in my case always seems to turn out to have been a waste of time.

One small crumb of comfort was that my London borough was one of half a dozen places in the country where the Yes vote actually won. Most of the others were also in London, plus Oxford and Cambridge I think. This reinforces my belief that London is not in England. Someone or other made a half-serious suggestion that in those places, at least local elections should be conducted by AV.

Nick Clegg has a lot to answer for. Settling for an AV referendum as the price for Lib Dem participation in the coalition was a reckless gamble, and if I were a member of that party I think I should have wanted him to resign the leadership when the gamble so spectacularly failed. It is now clear that no proper thinking had been done beforehand about what terms the party should insist on if the opportunity arose. AV just happened to be on the table because it was previously bandied about, in a half-arsed way, as a possible compromise with Labour (not the Tories), and that was not because anyone in the LD party actually wanted AV but because one or two significant Labour figures, such as Alan Johnson, had earlier made favourable noises about it. Once the negotiations with Labour were clearly going nowhere for all sorts of other reasons, the idea ought to have been dropped.

The end result for party politics is that the LibDems appear to have self-destructed as an electoral force with nothing much to show for it. Many of the supposed "liberal" achievements of the coalition, though certainly welcome, were things the Tories were committed to doing anyway (no Heathrow expansion, no ID cards).

But more important to me than the fate of one party is that electoral reform is now off the agenda for the rest of my lifetime, so I am now condemned to spend the rest of my years in a profoundly undemocratic polity with no prospect of any significant improvement.

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