The Futility Monster

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

A Coalition For Calamity Clegg

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 10, 2010 @ 09:30

This should be being played 24/7 in Cowley Street at the moment...

OK, I’m being mean as usual. Clegg is no calamity. At least, not yet.

If the unthinkable happens, and there is a coalition, what will it all mean?

In January, I wrote this post. Apart from a slight factual inaccuracy about the Lib Dems “triple lock” process it now looks eerily prophetic. Little did I know at the time that what I was writing could possibly come to pass. I thought I was dreaming…

I suggested that the Lib Dems might get the Home Office, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and one other. Apparently, the Lib Dems are currently being offered exactly that, with the third one being transport. I would like to crow about my extraordinarily prescient analysis, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

My real point however is this.

British political culture is used to yearly reshuffles. Mostly its a show of authority on a Prime Minister’s part. It reminds everyone who’s boss, and who has the power of patronage. It rewards loyalty and talent (ostensibly) and punishes dissent and failure.

If the Lib Dems take a coalition, and portfolios, it will make things very interesting. This yearly dose of fun becomes no longer do-able. If Cameron gives the Home Office to Nick Clegg, he can’t just sack him when he’s had enough. Nick Clegg has to stay there. He can’t exactly move him around to reassert his authority.

In truth, this is probably a positive development. British politics is too often like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. Year after year of shuffling the same old faces into different holes. It’s supposed to re-invigorate the government, but all it really does is ensure an astonishing lack of continuity, and a guarantee that once in a while – and usually way more often – each department will get a stunningly talent-free Secretary of State.

But this has its own risks.

The Home Office is the biggest graveyard in politics.

Currently the Tories have Chris Grayling as the shadow for this department, but there’s no way he’s getting it, coalition or no coalition. If there’s a coalition though, it’s the perfect excuse to demote him. No need for delicate discussions about how he just wouldn’t be right for one of the three Great Offices of State. Win-win for Cameron.

But lose-lose for Clegg.

There is no way in hell that anyone can have success at Home. It is a fire-fighting department, lurching from one disaster to another. The incumbent gets run ragged and loses all credibility.

That will happen to Nick Clegg too.

And he won’t be able to be re-shuffled.

It will be the albatross around his, and the government’s, neck.

All this is going to be a big shake up for the British political culture. How will the media adapt? How will the public adapt?

Still, we might not get a coalition anyway…


2 Responses to “A Coalition For Calamity Clegg”

  1. Peter Reynolds said

    Well that’s just typical Lib Dem isn’t it? Can’t come up with something yourselves so you have to hijack a classic from my generation. Ain’t there no obscene nigga-rap or sumfin’ weird from a lesbian transvestite boy band? You know, sumfin’ sorta relevant for the in’erne’ generation? So you nick some sixties anthem instead! Typical Lib Dem!

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