The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Don’t Get Mad, Get Even

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 24, 2009 @ 02:25

My reform proposal would involve this building an an exhumation of the dismembered corpse of Guido Fawkes. And a bottle of gin.

My reform proposal would involve this building and an exhumation of the dismembered corpse of Guido Fawkes. And a bottle of gin.

Or failing that, just get angry.

Today’s cryptic post opening is a reference to Mr Nick Clegg.

Recently, we looked into his behaviour with a certain sense of admiration, and a definite sense of respect that he seems to be up to something, and getting lots of positive media coverage in the process.

Well – today’s instalment of the Clegg Files is in the Daily Telegraph, where he is quoted discussing how the eventual passage of the act which is supposed to clean up politics is little more than a damp squib. Or in his words “inspid”.

I’ve yet to decide whether the way the Lib Dems have handled this issue has been good or bad. For a start, I think they’ve played a very dangerous game of raising expectations. From the outset they have been trying to hit the hardest with it – and trying to make a great deal out of their reformist credentials: accusing other parties of jumping on the bandwagon. Fair enough.

But, in a sense, the expectations of major reform were always going to be dashed. Because no reform ever lives up to expectations. Except maybe devolution: the one truly revolutionary reform of the British constitution in recent decades that has delivered.

The problem is that it was always obvious MPs were not going to vote for something that created not just a rod for their own back but a cat-o’-nine-tails. Nick Clegg must surely have known this: which makes me think his strategy was to pretend he had faith Parliament could reform itself, and then use its inevitable failure as yet another example of how the whole system is rotten to the core and needs reforming.

Because, after all, have we not just witnessed the same thing over constitutional reform? When Gordon Brown suddenly piped up with a lot of ideas, including completing Lords reform, maybe even changing the electoral system – it was in fact a masterstroke. Have any of these ideas surfaced since? Are they going to?

No. It was yet another fantastic piece of spin making it look like you’re a Real Reformer while at the same time planning nothing of the sort. And once the media circus has moved on, the whole thing is quietly ditched. Just like what Blair did with the Jenkins report into electoral reform.

So what is a Clegg to do? He’s obviously ratcheting up the anger over this issue, but he can’t ride that wave for ten more months. I’m sensing that though the public are still angry about the expenses scandals, they have now reached a phase where there’s little more to be said or done. The damage has already happened: and no more political capital can be made from it. There are very few votes left to change sides.

Unless Clegg is planning to continue building up a picture of the Rotten Parliament, and a rotten democracy, with a serious plan to tear the whole thing down and start again, he may well be wise to think carefully about what he’s doing. He doesn’t want to be undermining Parliament purely for the sake of it. What would be the point in trying to make yourself the architect of anti-politics if you aren’t proposing the serious changes necessary?

It’s difficult for the Lib Dems to get noticed at the best of times. But if he wants to look sincere on this, now is the time to switch to a genuinely radical plan for reform. An elected constituent assembly, perhaps.

Anything less would be perceived as tinkering at the edges of a system that has manifestly failed to reform itself.

We should play no further part in such a silly game.

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