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Is the UK Coalition about to implode ?

by Helen Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 04:14:23 AM EST

Now that the fallout from the failure of the  Lords reform bill is being assessed, things are definitely becoming interesting in Westminster at the moment. There are too many strands for a comment or even a series of comments, so I thought I'd start a diary to see if the various plots can add up to a whole narrative.

front-paged by afew


Guardian - Toby Helm - Will David Cameron be able to keep his coalition, and his own party, together?

David Cameron in 2012 is not like John Major was in 1995. There is no serious threat to his leadership, and no sign of a plot to dump him. What there is, though, is the first wave of destabilizing gossip, talk in the bars and restaurants, and evidence of real unhappiness in the rightwing press.
[.....]
He (anonymous MP) then began to muse about William Hague's possible ambitions. "I think he might fancy his chances again," he said. "He is around a lot. He is behaving like someone does when they want to build a following." Hague would deny harbouring any hopes to lead his party again. But the fact that his movements, and those of others such as Liam Fox and Michael Gove, are being scrutinised by backbench MPs for the merest hint that they might be "on manoeuvres" says much about the mood in the Tory party.
[....]
Yesterday the Daily Mail - never a huge fan of Cameron but still hugely influential among the party's core voters - turned up the heat on the prime minister with a double-paged spread under the headline: "Flashman Dave and the night Tory whips drove a woman MP to tears." A menacing image of Cameron the bully, in an old-style public school cravat and with crinkly long hair, was accompanied by a piece that talked of his red cheeks and flared nostrils as he confronted the "always charming and courteous" chief rebel Jesse Norman in the Commons, minutes after 91 Conservative MPs had defied their leader on a three-line whip. The Mail also ran an editorial extolling the virtues of the education secretary Gove's policies and asking whether his next act might be to open a batch of new grammar schools, a policy Cameron has always resisted. In a third punch to Cameron's solar plexus, Mail columnist Simon Heffer quoted Tennyson, saying "authority forgets a dying King" and observing that "he starts to look like a one-term prime minister, because the Conservative Party is already visibly moving away from him."

Even more interestingly, rumours surfaced in the Mail (not linking)  suggesting that William Hague is "war gaming" the removal of George Osborne as Chancellor, a situation whose roots are analysed here;-

Guardian - William Keegan - If only George Osborne would take his eye off Balls

Believe it or not, I still bump into people who have a good word to say about George Osborne. One of them even had a part in the chancellor's education, although I hasten to add that it was not Michael Gove. However, even those with a good word to say about the most dangerous chancellor I have known have been shaking their heads at his recent behaviour.

Yet it does not take a psychologist to see why Osborne has been making unseemly insinuations, and evidently false allegations, about an unlikely link between the shadow chancellor and the Libor affair. The plain fact is that the prime minister and chancellor have become obsessed with Ed Balls.

This is partly because he gets under their skin with his taunts in the Commons, but it is principally because he has been right about the economy and they have been wrong - disastrously wrong.

But yet, there's more going on. As Simon Heffer hinted above, the split in the Coalition is not so much between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives, but is in fact right down the middle of the Conservative party, and Cameron himself is seen as being on the wrong side.

Guardian - Andrew Rawnsley - Only Cameron can rescue the coalition. But does he want to?

Unlike the Lib Dems, they (conservative right wing) refuse to accept the fundamental basis of coalition: that of give and take on both sides. This contrast came to a vivid head last week when the government had to beat its humiliating retreat over Lords reform - legislation shaped by a Tory minister and approved by the whole cabinet - because almost 100 Tory MPs defied their whips. This is a debacle with several consequences, none of them good for the health of the coalition. Tory MPs now think they know that when they see the whites of the prime minister's eyes, they can make him blink. The Lib Dems now know that when David Cameron promises he can deliver the Conservative party, his word cannot be relied on.

Whatever you may think of these proposals for the Lords, the Lib Dems burn with an entirely understandable resentment that they have repeatedly done their duty by the coalition by swallowing a lot of things they don't like, but a blocking minority of Conservative MPs simply will not reciprocate when it comes to something that Lib Dems care about. From my conversations with very senior Lib Dems I have absolutely no doubt of this: if Lords reform does not progress in September, the Lib Dems will respond by killing the redrawing of constituency boundaries which are estimated to be worth an extra dozen to 20 seats to the Tories at the next general election. Moreover, they will veto the boundary changes as an explicit act of payback for Tory sabotage of Lords reform. It won't be a case of Nick Clegg quietly licensing his backbenchers and peers to work with Labour to vote down the boundary changes. All Lib Dems, ministers included, will vote against.

The Conservatives attach enormous importance to the small haul of extra seats they expect to gain from these boundary changes - a sign of their lack of confidence that they can win the next election. If the Lib Dems vote down the boundary changes, some Conservatives predict that the anger among Tories will be so intense that it will be the death knell of this government. So it is possible that the coalition will collapse in poisonous acrimony and Ed Miliband will be prime minister by Christmas.

He concedes that this is actually unlikely, but right now the Tory party is on the point of a many sided war, with right versus left simply being the most obvious of fault lines. Quite frankly I could consider another diary simply trying to guess which factions will emerge and be hopelessly wide of the mark as unimagined "points of principle" emerge as fault lines to create another micro-faction.

What is likely is that there will be a reshuffle in September, but to what purpose remains unknowable so it is likely to be presented as a routine shuffling of the pack but one can expect that loyalists will rise and the disgruntled will sink.  But whether the Coalition can create a new grand plan that will sustain them through to 2015 is doubtful, which means that it will be difficult for Cameron to find reasons to keep his fractious backbenchers in line, which means they will be at each others throats for some time to come.  

Display:
Given the sky-high blind arrogance of so many Tories, it is a miralce that the party still manages to deceive so many non-upper-class people into voting for them.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 11:04:22 AM EST
Yes, but it's the same trick the repugs perform in the US.

Don't get it, but whatever it is, it obviously works

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 11:07:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But IMO the repugs are more self-conscious and pragmatic about demagoguery than most Tories from local councillor upwards.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 11:19:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it's just that the billionaires who run the Rethuglican Party are better coordinated and have better media control than their Tory equivalents.
by rifek on Sat Jul 21st, 2012 at 09:19:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When the left/liberals go against the silent majority on social/cultural issues, it pushes the working classes into voting for the right and against their own economic interests. Why does this happen? Because the working classes of the West have become so wealthy since the war ended, that they now consider economic issues secondary to social and cultural ones.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 04:39:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, let's impoverish everyone else and have the socially backwards paradise the working classes long for?

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 04:43:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see how you reach that conclusion?

My argument is that as long as you don't overstretch on social progressivism, you will keep economic progressivism. Overstretch and you might well lose both.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 04:49:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well - we do rather seem to have completely lost social progressivism already, don't we?

Depending on what you mean by 'economic progressivism' we may well have lost that too.

But here is a thing - social progressivism isn't particularly about cash. It's about having a vision for the future.

Economic progressivism has no vision at all. It's about the next quarter, or occasionally about the next year.

If you limit your politics to economics, you have a car with an overheated engine, no brakes, and no steering wheel.

Perhaps this isn't an entirely good thing.

I'd suggest that the tragedy of Thatcher, Sarkozy, Merkel, Cameron, Blair and the rest, isn't just that they're clearly lying little shits and unpleasant people.

It's that they have no vision beyond strictly limited self-interest. They have no ability to plan for a more creative and enjoyable future.

Getting rid of the banks isn't going to be nearly enough. We need to find people with passion, imagination and intellect and put them in charge of things - not just to make things happen, but to make it possible for better things to happen.

At a guess we're not going to find those people among the usual suspects.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 06:00:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
At a guess we're not going to find those people among the usual suspects.

hardey ha..

if those 'unpleasant little shits' would move out of the middle of the road, we would be able to get somewhere better.

they're fifth columnists who open the town gates to the robbers without.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 06:34:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The middle of the road is the best place to be hit by a bus or a hit-and-run driver.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 09:24:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed. Squatting in the middle of their own side is understandable, straddling the centre line facing each other brings total stasis.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 08:23:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes? Bill Clinton is quite the charmer, as far as we know. That doesn't change anything about his New Democrats policies.
by IM on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 04:05:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are assuming facts not in evidence. a) a good part of the working class doesn't think it is wealthy If they don't seem to care about economic issues it is because they have resigned. And b) the divide in so called social issues is a young/old divide. Not a class divide.

 While I don't have proof at my fingertips either, at least I do have an example: the pirates in Germany get a very considerable share of working-class votes. And diffuse as they are, social conservatives they are not.

by IM on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 04:03:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect this whole "the working class is social conservative" spiel is mostly based on party leaders deciding that the working class wants what they are ready to give them. Uneasy about job security and cuts in the healthcare system? Well how about we restrict immigration?
by generic on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 06:54:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the UK the working class are famously racist. Labour was never entirely immune to this.

Unfortunately they don't get that immigration and job theft are always allowed because they lower wages.

So it's trivially easy for demagogues to encourage immigration for business, then turn it into a political issue at election time.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 07:39:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Worse here in the US, which is why we have a significant part of the electorate riled up over a non-white president.
by rifek on Sat Jul 21st, 2012 at 09:22:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I recomend Krugmans The Conscience of a Liberal, where he discusses the Civil rights issue from this perspective. Or just talk to some working class people. My impression is that social radicalism, or whatever you would like to call it, is very much concentrated to the upper middle class: journalists, teachers, doctors, academics and so on.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 10:37:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When the left/liberals go against the silent majority on social/cultural issues, it pushes the working classes into voting for the right and against their own economic interests. Why does this happen? Because the working classes of the West have become so wealthy since the war ended, that they now consider economic issues secondary to social and cultural ones.

Insofar as cause is generally recognized to precede consequence, this story is untenable in the face of the historical experience of Western Europe. Union busting came first, the ugly parties followed in its wake like stink on a dogshit.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jul 22nd, 2012 at 10:09:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure how things stand in Denmark, but around here unions are not in the least busted.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Jul 22nd, 2012 at 12:15:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The gutting of their ability to prevent strikebreaking and maintain closed shops is already complete. The rise of part-time, temporary, "flexible" work has destroyed the ability to organize several whole sectors.

But more importantly, with the shift from full-employment policies to permanent-unemployment policies, the sack regained its power to compel obedience, and workers are not yet reduced to the sort of devil-may-care desperation required to effectively organize in that sort of environment. Unless current policies are reversed, they will be. But that will be then, and this is now.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 03:57:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have found Moral Foundations Theory interesting. Test here.

Basically 'the left' go to 'Care/harm' and set up camp, while conservatives draw on 'Loyalty/betrayal', 'Authority/subversion', 'Sanctity/degradation'.

With Britain being rigidly class-based, few 'poor' people believe in what Pratchett referred to as 'Vote yourself rich. However there is plenty of energy to invest in your assorted granfalloons.

-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Jul 24th, 2012 at 10:26:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting.

Having just done the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (don't seem to be able to include the picture of the result) I note that at least at that one conservatives are more even then liberals in that they care about the things liberals care about (harm/care, fairness/reciprocity (including issues of rights)) almost as much as they care about the conservative issues (ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity) while liberals care much more about care&fairness then loyalty&authority and even less about purity. Not sure if this is an effect of calibration of the scale.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jul 24th, 2012 at 12:10:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
there was a quote from a Journalst the other day saying that the only thing keeping the hatred of parts of the coalition under control was fear of the electorate

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 12:41:09 PM EST
I think the right wing of the Tory party have convinced themselves that the country is crying out for raw conservativism and that they should stop consorting with either LibDems or liberal tories and go their own way.

Nigel Farage (UKIP leader) was purring his way through the paper review today.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 01:04:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
be interesting, you have a reshuffle coming up in September, some people are going to have to take the fall. In any sane world there would be a whole range of senior politicians retiring to the back benches to lick their wounds, the question is are there any people capable of stepping up to replace them, and of the obvious candidates, would anyone be willing to be crew on this ship of the damned?

Of those you'd think likely to be in a shoulderblade cutlery bisection situation, the major candidates, you'd think that Hunt May  and maybe Landsley would be likely to fall

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 02:14:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think hunt may well go. Lansley knows where some very embarrassing bodies are buried and May is too popular among the rank and file. Whether they keep their current posts is another thing, Lansley may move but May can make a good case for saying she was set up

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 02:46:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm thinking a different pattern, It may be that hunt is lined up to take the fall that everything that goes wrong with the olympics, But with Cameron taking such a deliberate stance over hunt at the Leveson inquiry, he may feel that he has to stay firm to that comittment, in which case May is the obvious second choice.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 05:37:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Education in brief: Is Gove going? | Education | The Guardian
And what of Gove? The rumour is that he is off to the Home Office. But politics is an unpredictable business, and six weeks is a long time. We'll see.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 11:29:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Helen:
the right wing of the Tory party have convinced themselves that the country is crying out for raw conservativism

How right do you think they are?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 03:10:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
how right or how correct ?

In terms of politics they are essentially economically neoliberal who are social authoritarians.

In terms of being correct, they are in the kingdom of far, far away. That's not to say the media won't weave a tale that scares people into voting for them, but in terms of what they actually intend, it's miles from what the public say they want.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 04:07:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They're voting their prejudices, and they can afford to do it.  The party has no real way to punish them for stepping out of line.  The LibDems, on the other hand, have no alternative but to vote the Tory party line, courtesy Clegg's Corrupt Bargain.  If they break the coalition, they'll immediately roll over and head to the bottom.
by rifek on Sat Jul 21st, 2012 at 09:26:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the only thing keeping the hatred of parts of the coalition under control was fear of the electorate ...

The core of democracy everywhere.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 03:58:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hmmm I missed a "For each other" from the middle of that

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 05:30:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lords reform

The obvious tactic for Mr Clegg is to try to cut a deal with the Labour leadership, over the terms of the programme motion to limit the times of debate. If that can be done then the right wing of the Conservative Party becomes irrelevant on the issue. The question is do the Labour leadership care more about implementing their own constitutional reform agenda or undermining the coalition by playing partisan games?

Coalition breakup

In 1922 the Lloyd George coalition, of Liberals and Conservatives, broke up because Conservative backbenchers and junior ministers had had enough of the Welsh wizard. The Tories repudiated the pro-coalition leadership of Austen Chamberlain, at the famous meeting at the Carlton Club (commemorated in the name of the 1922 Committee, the caucus of Tory MPs).

During the 1930s the Conservative right wing resented being marginalised by the need for the National government. However Stanley Baldwin had the political skill and popularity to manage his party, so as to avoid the government being blown up by a Tory rebellion.

The question is, will Cameron be more like Austen Chamberlain or Stanley Baldwin? I suspect the answer is Chamberlain, but we will see.

by Gary J on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 03:55:03 AM EST
I doubt that Labour have any appetite to see any part of the Coalition programme succeed, especially as that is a Lib Dem Coalition quid pro quo for accepting a Boundary commission report that will act in conservative interests.

I think Labour want Lords Reform in principle, but not this reform and especially not at that price

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 04:09:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This.

The proposed Lords reform doesn't reflect the details of the reform proposed in the Labour manifesto. There's no reason for them to vote for it.

Further, stopping the Conservatives gerrymandering has to be a priority if we want to remain a democratic country.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 05:55:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be in the Lib Dem interest to agree to almost any change in the existing bill, to appease Labour. However, Labour will consider that the House of Lords is less important than boundary changes for the House of Commons.

The most likely outcome is that Labour will move the goalposts, as much as they need, to avoid reaching a Lords compromise.

We will then have to see if the Liberal Democrats are bluffing, on voting down the Commons boundary changes. I think, given the timescale, that they probably are but trying to play hardball politics and not going through with a threat is going to look appallingly weak.

by Gary J on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 06:55:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is, if the Lib Dems make concessions to Labour, this will give Cameron the excuse to give the whole Tory party the go ahead to vote against the bill...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 09:20:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Labour will surely do anything to avoid helping the libdems achieve a victory over their tory partners. With the current non-democratic electoral system, Labour will be seeking to marginalise the libdems definitively.

This is one of the many evils of the UK electoral system. Another, minor, evil is the endless bickering over gerrymandering. A much greater issue is that the system no doubt favours economic disparities between territories.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 09:21:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't fault Labour for this.  Clegg had his chance to cut a deal with Labour, with ridding the world of "first past the post" as part of it, but he went with the Tories instead and got nothing.  Now the Lib Dems as a party no longer have anything to offer Labour.
by rifek on Sat Jul 21st, 2012 at 09:36:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why should Labour deal with the Lib Dems at all?  If the coalition fractures, so do the Lib Dems, with Labour raking in most of the chips.
by rifek on Sat Jul 21st, 2012 at 09:30:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the schism in the tories is becoming unmanageable. UKIP are becoming very attractive to a lot of right wingers and may well win several seats at the next election. At which point you may start seeing sitting MPs defecting.

At that point the LibDem Orange bookers may join the liberal rump of the Tory party and the rest may either join labour or re-form the original Liberal Party. But that's at least 5 years off.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 04:12:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This isn't 1922 nor even the national government. In both cases the Tries had a majority of it's own and the remainder of the coalition was mostly window-dressing. This time they actually need the Liberal Democrats.

Of course the question is: Do the Tories really know this?

by IM on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 05:37:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now the opportunity has arisen, stopping the Conservative's proposal to gerrymander the Commons has to be Labour's priority. Indeed it should be every person's priority if we'd like to keep living in a democracy, rather than a one party state.

Lords reform will be irrelevant if we allow the Tories to gerrymander their way into power. If they win a majority in the next election we will see further boundary changes - Britain will become a one party state.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 05:57:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not think that the idea of having more equal constituency electorates can properly be described as a gerrymander. It is a step towards the democratic ideal of one person, one vote, one value.

An issue exists of whether it would be better to base constituencies on census population rather than registered electorate. Most countries seem to use population rather than registered electorate. Tweaking the system in that way would answer concern about under registration of qualified voters, particularly in large cities.

The changes in constituency distribution will reduce, although not eliminate, the pro-Labour bias which has existed in the electoral system in recent decades but it does not create an unfair pro-Conservate bias. Unfortunately it is not possible to eliminate the possibility of some systematic bias developing, without replacing single member constituencies and first past the post voting with multi member proportional vote elections.

by Gary J on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 07:19:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There always several way to do this. The Tories will try to convert safe Labour constituencies into safe tory constituencies. A Labour majority would try to create swing constituencies instead.
by IM on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 07:25:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Parliamentary boundaries in the UK are drawn up by politically neutral boundary commissions. The new rules constrain the commissions more than the old ones did, but also reduce the opportunities in the process for the parties to influence the final report.

The rules, both old and new, prevent the political consequences of proposed boundaries being taken into account. A party will obviously consider political consequences, in deciding what boundaries it would prefer, but its submissions to the boundary commission have to be expressed in terms of factors permitted by the rules such as community ties

by Gary J on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 08:02:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Several changes to the rules for the boundary commissions are part of the bill. Every single one of them seems designed to give the government more say in the process. This very much looks like the beginning of an attempt to undermine the democratic process.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 09:23:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Calling first-past-the-post a democracy is already stretching the word in my opinion.

I would call it "non-dictatorship" or something like that.

by cagatacos on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 07:56:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Notwithstanding my previous post, I think the answer is no, not yet.

The failure to pass Lords reform will open up more cracks in the coalition, but not cause it to fall.

The threat not to support the boundary changes was made by a, plausibly deniable, former aide of Nick Clegg. Lib Dem ministers are carefully avoiding, at least on the record, confirming or denying what they will do.

However the boundary commissions are not required to report until October 2013. It would usually be a few months after that before Parliament votes on the draft Orders in Council which would implement the boundary review. Who knows what the position will be by then.

by Gary J on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 04:41:38 AM EST
I would hardly dismiss Menzies Campbell as a former aide to Nick Clegg. After Vince Cable he's probably the only senior LD at Westminster with any credibility left

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 06:59:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I may not be up to date on what backbench MPs and former leaders are saying. I was not aware that Sir Menzies Campbell had said anything.

As far as I am aware Ministers have avoided confirming or denying the threat. I saw Jeremy Browne's interview on The Sunday Politics yesterday, when he very carefully declined to answer Andrew Neill's questions on the point.

by Gary J on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 07:23:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Simple and short answer - no.

Reason being that there is nothing that the Lib Dems won't do to stay in the coalition. They have reneged on their NHS promises, civil liberty promises - they will bend the knee and pass the boundary changes no matter what the Tories do on Lords reform - or indeed on any issue.

So the coalition will continue to the next election.

The Lib Dems will be reduced in numbers and we better pray we find a way to keep out a Tory government or we can say a further goodbye to the NHS and we'll find ourselves watching the Tories pass yet another gerrymandering bill, probably focused on the West Lothian question. Proposals are already circulating.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 06:01:50 AM EST
the threat to the Coalition comes from the right of the Tory party, not the left of the LDs. They are on the verge of PUMAdom

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 07:00:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the tory right on the other hand are cougars!

What do you mean in this context with pumadom?

by IM on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 07:08:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Party Unity My Arse. In other words, they don't care about holding the party/coalition together, they're gonna go their own way and damn the consequences.

Which in this case implies that the Conservative party will be torn apart in a fratricidal strife as the neoconservative near-UKIPs slug it out with the more liberal One-Nation Tories. I'm sure there will be some defections to UKIP, but tories as a breed are much less inclined to jump off a cliff into principled obscurity if it is likely to isolate them from the lucrative extra-parliamentary revenue streams which come as part of the remuneration package of a modern conservative MP.

so the fighting may be more savage as all sides are defending their corner. And thus more entertaining

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 08:43:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you are underestimating the strength of existing party ties, given the electoral system we have to work with in the UK.

A total disruption of the Conservative Party, leading to a major reconfiguration of the party constellation seems quite unlikely.

A more likely possibility is of Cameron being deposed and spending the rest of his career as a discontented backbencher. However, if the Tories in the cabinet remain united, it is not obvious who would trigger a leadership contest.

The most likely thing is for the Conservatives to remain more or less united, until the next general election. If Cameron wins that, then he continues as leader. If not, he will then be replaced, with far less risk to the aspirants for leadership than a challenge in mid Parliament..

by Gary J on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 10:20:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Tories need a new Darling

It's becoming more obvious now. The wayward curls, the sagging jowls, the general air of world-weariness and dogged determination. Just as animals and their owners grow to resemble each other, so George Osborne is slowly morphing into the man he most loathes in British politics, Gordon Brown.

But the emerging physical similarities are where comparisons between Brown and Osborne end. Unlike most of his predecessors, Gordon managed to seamlessly move from Number 11 to Number 10. Osborne, exposed as less fleet of foot in recent times, looks increasingly like he will be forced from office amid the utter collapse of his economic policy as we sink back into recession.

All of which presents an interesting dilemma for the government. In order to restore their credentials on the economy when `Osbornomics' becomes so discredited that even Michael Fallon refuses to take to the airwaves to defend it, the government will need a new salesman to flog its new economic direction.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:10:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
St Vince ??

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:15:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
suggestion is a job-swap between Hague and Osbourne

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:26:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What ?? Osborne is going to become The Mekon ???

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 03:57:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 04:08:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a Milliband with the chin to be Dan Dare?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 04:51:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No.

(Simple answers, etc.)

The closest thing seems to be Ed Balls.

Which is not necessarily a recommendation.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 05:05:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IM:
the tory right on the other hand are cougars!

You mean, they like getting bonked by young men?

That's such an old-fashioned stereotype, my dear.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 09:14:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a honourable tradition of sexual scandal in the tory party. On they other hand unlike the republicans they seem to accept open homosexuality now, so they shouldn't have this army of closet cases.
by IM on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 09:39:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But unless the Lib Dems rebel, the coalition won't fall.

Cameron will happily keep throwing bones to the right to stay in power.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 09:14:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah yes, I see what you mean. No, I think the Tory right will simply refuse to compromise on anything the LibDems want which is not already Conservative policy, at which point I think even Clegg would admit there was o point continuing.

Yes, electoral oblivion awaits, but that will happen anyway. They might at least salvage something if they walk away saying "we tried but when it was unbearable we wlaked". Simply becoming lobby fodder for the Tories may be a bridge too far, even for the LDs

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 09:58:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But there is a huge inertia built into the FPP system. You have vast swathes of the UK where Labour pretty much doesn't exist, and elections are between a Libdem and a Tory. Likewise, in other regions it's Labour vs Libdem. Even if the Libdems lose practically all their seats in the next election, this will still be the case, and they will undoubtedly bounce back some time in the future, barring an unlikely change in the electoral system (PR, ironically, might marginalise them more durably).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 10:53:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The safe seat angle turns out to be a bit of a myth. Blair won two landslides that demolished many Tory safe havens.

Even after a term with Gordo the Unpopular, the best the Tories could do was scrape into power on the back of an opportunist turn-coat from a party many of them despise.

I think the Lib Dems have already alienated at least two thirds of their likely voters, and what's left isn't much.

A few of the right-wingers will likely to defect to the Tories, where some of them may even keep their seats. A rump of die-hard independents with little influence will be left.

So the next election will be a straight Labour/Tory fight. Unless Milliband gets something horribly wrong, Labour will pick off many of the unpopular Lib Dems in constituencies that used to be LD vs Tory.

Tories will consolidate the rest, but with some serious bleeding to UKIP.

So even if the coalition survives to 2015, it has almost no chance of getting through the next election. There simply won't be enough LD MPs to matter and the Tories are insane if they think they can win a straight majority without them.

We can expect the Tories to play the Europhobic anti-immigrant cards, but the economy will surely be in an even worse state than it is now, and at best that's going to be a rearguard action.

The next election is Labour's to lose.

I think most of the LDs will continue to hang in there for now, because it's better to have a job than not have a job. But the cracks will become increasingly obvious next year.

The real danger isn't from the Lib Dems leaving but from the Rabid Right getting too ambitious. If that happens things could fall apart very quickly.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 12:36:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Any chance of the UKIP obtaining a sufficiently large number of seats in an 'economy gone to hell' election scenario for them to be a viable coalition partner were the Tory party willing?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 01:58:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, there's actually two chances, but Slim just left town

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:14:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hope Nun sticks around then.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 05:29:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
2015 is 3 years from now - which is a very long time, so just hanging in there is a perfectly reasonable strategy. The odds of the economy turning before then around despite the worst efforts of the UK government are fairly good, and all kinds of political events are sure to take place and rearrange polling numbers repeatedly before then.
by Thomas on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 05:14:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The odds of the economy turning before then around despite the worst efforts of the UK government are fairly good

Uh - no. They really aren't.

There is no growth base. Even if the ConDems throw money at infrastructure - which is not a bad idea - their ideology means they'll have to raise taxes to pay for the spending.

Retail is dying, manufacturing is hanging in there but not improving, and Cameron seems obsessed with dinky little know-nothing start-ups, when he could spending useful money on better broadband and giving non-dinky IT entrepreneurs access to better funding.

So to repeat - there is no growth base. Resource prices will continue to increase, with taxes. Benefits and the NHS will be cut.

None of these make for an improved feel-good factor going into 2015.

And that's before the remaining bankster price fixing stories hit the news, and Cameron is seen trying to apologise for them.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 05:23:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So it hangs on the odds of an external economic boom filtering through to the UK economy?

Well, that would seem to be a "quasi-external" boom, given the dominant influence of the EU economy as a whole in that.

So, what are the odds that the EU gets its act sometime in the next year, which would enable the start of a recovery in 2014 and an acceleration in 2015?

That would seem to be equal to the odds of a strong UK economy, if no domestic growth drivers are available ~ in part because they are not there, and in part because those that are there requires the opposite of a Tory policy to take advantage of.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 07:54:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU will hit bedrock when either Italy or France are where Spain is now. Which is in 12-18 months.

The problem is that they might break out the explosives.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jul 22nd, 2012 at 10:26:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which raises the possibility of the LibDems exploding ~ if the prospect of gaining election as representing the breakaway faction that took down the Tory government becomes clearly greater than the abysmal prospect of gaining election as a LibDem ... then the closer the next election comes, the smaller the reward for hanging on until sure electoral oblivion when the next election must be called.

Any increase in the perceived odds of an early election would decrease the perceived benefit of the "hang on and then rebuild in the wilderness" strategy.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 05:16:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to me that the coalition has two parts. First, the leadership's agreements and handshakes and back-slapping and press conferences with smiling faces and carefully worded press releases. Second the actual floor votes on any particular bill.

The first is the public face of the coalition, but the second is what actually counts. It doesn't matter what Cameron or Clegg or anybody else says unless they can actually deliver the votes.

So I would say that the coalition has already collapsed, but as in the case of the Titanic, it may take the people in charge some time to realize it.

by asdf on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 10:07:23 AM EST
good way of teasing it apart.

Right now, the leaders would contend that this has been a single vote over a contentious issue that can be fixed. ie keep calm and carry on.

Reality intrudes and points out these two Constitutional changes were the last items on the agreed list and that the two parties do not have an agreed agenda, or even items they might agree upon to form an agenda for the government's future legislative programme.

So, the coalition has collapsed, but whether there will be a formal point where Nick clegg says "we are crossing to the opposition benches and will vote against you from here on" is another thing. Right now I imagine that could well be discussed at the party conference in september, but till then we have a parliamentary recess during which who knows what fun might ensue.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 11:04:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't seen this one in the Salon, so I'll throw it in this thread for comments... 'Stop apologising,' says Clegg (The Independent, 15 July 2012)
The Deputy Prime Minister said his party needed to have "self-confidence" to tell people what it has achieved. Speaking at the Social Liberal Forum conference in London yesterday, Mr Clegg said: "I have had it with apologising, with this defensive crouch. We have spent all our time worrying about what the latest letter-writing campaign in The Guardian is.

"If there is one thing that has chilled me to my marrow in the last two years, it is meeting friends who I have campaigned with for years who have stopped knocking on doors. We are sensitive violets. A few people shout at you, you get a few doors slammed in your face so we retreated; but we cannot afford to do that."

He added that those who doubt his influence should read the right-wing press: "I am some sort of Rasputin figure who fooled this hopeless toff Cameron into getting into government."



If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 11:21:59 AM EST
Delusional

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 12:15:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Party leaderships are always positive, whatever the reality might look like. It is in the job description, got to raise moral (or at least try to).

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 12:37:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
one of the Big points of outrage at the moment is the closure of the Leeds hospital child heart surgery centre, Every single MP from the county has smelled the way the wind is blowing, and has signed a letter condemning this cost cutting measure. Every single one apart from one that is, Step Forward Nick Clegg.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:13:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Party leaderships are always positive, "

Not this time methinks! No one likes/forgives a Judas.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 11:15:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean party leaderships have to sound positive and upbeat about the chances for the party. The contrast against reality can be brutal and the positivity look absurd, but that does not change the job description.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 02:35:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A swedish kind of death:
The contrast against reality can be brutal and the positivity look absurd

risibly so...

which leads to them staying in the bubble even more, making them ever further out of touch with reality on the ground.

clegg is supping with way too short a spoon.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 05:09:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian - Jackie Ashley - Beware the coming storm: cuts will break this coalition

The Institute for Government is right on the button, however, when it says the coalition needs a much clearer and tougher sense of priorities. The original agreement was a laundry list from both sides. Now, in the middle of economic woes, with a big funding crisis looming, laundry lists are ridiculous. Get the big things right, and the rest can be ignored. So this week, Cameron and Clegg will be shoulder to shoulder again, talking about new infrastructure spending - rail investment - to try to get the economy moving. It will be more piety than hard numbers, one suspects, but at least it's the right subject.

As the Lib Dem blogger Mark Pack has spotted - and the same signals are coming from Tory ministers - the Treasury wants to bring forward the next spending review from 2014 to next year. He calls this the coming storm, and he's right.

Why? Last week the Office for Budget Responsibility argued that another £17bn of cuts or tax rises are needed by 2017 to get public debt back on a sustainable trajectory. Many of us would argue that this is yet another example of the disastrous mishandling of the economy so far, and the utter failure of the money-printing programme from the Bank of England in getting real loans to real companies. But the Tories will argue that, in effect, things have turned out so badly they've got to be made still worse. And the Lib Dems will eye the consequences with total horror. For all the sound and fury recently about Lords reform, it may well be the economy, in the end, that breaks the coalition.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 12:34:39 PM EST


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