I missed the real-time events of last night that saw Gordon Brown resign as PM and David Cameron replacing him. I was instead at a branch meeting discussing strategy concerning the cuts we now are coming, regardless of which of the three parties in whichever combination was in power. I admit I was surprised at the speed of events. I had expected Gordon Brown to resign that night, but I was not expecting David Cameron to rush into Downing Street as quickly as he did; I expected him to do so in the morning instead. As if an omen of things to come, or some sort of manifestation of Scotland’s reception of the news, a cold wind swept in as I watched the events as they continued to unfold after the meeting. As if to hammer the point home it snowed heavily this morning as I walked to work. The dockworkers and construction workers I meet regularly during my commute were quick to stop blaming Iceland for the weather and accuse the LibDems and Tories for the foul weather, and older workers were recounting the miners strike and the poll tax demos of the 80s.
“Thank you and good bye”
Gordon Brown’s sudden departure marks the end of the New Labour project which, over the last 13 years had blurred the differences between Tory, Labour and LibDem to one of various shades of grey. Not all of the New Labour project is necessarily wrong. I think that their realisation of the need to communicate their message effectively and not be defined by others is, indeed, an important element of modern politics that should be retained. Throwing out the ideals of labour in the process of ‘marketing’ the Labour Party however is akin to not just throwing the baby out with the bathwater but to throw away the whole bath.
I hope that the Labour Party will, while it is back in opposition, will remember that it is a party of labour. It is now the main opposition in the UK and will, though it’s position and it’s very being as the organised political force of the working class, be forced to the front of defending workers rights and opposing the Liberal Conservative reaction. I reckon though that the New Labour project will seek to ressurect itself, and it is likely that a New Labourite will take on the mantle of the next leader. New Labour will, however, be forced to adopt a more Old Labour position though, and we may well see a New Old Labour hybrid, which would certainly be better than nothing.
The Shortest Suicide Note In History?
There are already some Labour and (ex?)LibDems who are decrying the coalition deal as ‘the shortest suicide note in history’ and warning that the LibDems, as a party, has not just surrended key policies for the sake of power, but are also facing electoral suicide in the future. In Scotland the LibDems, previously thought of as ‘rural Labour’ are being branded turncoat Tories and face liquidation in the upcoming Scottish elections, as well as the next UK election. I personally would not be surprised if the right wing of the LibDems is effectively absorbed into the Tories as a result of this coalition. I can also see much of the LibDems left wing deserting to either Labour or the Green Party. For sure, there will be many LibDems who will be unsure of what to do and will eventually reconcile themselves to the Liberal Tory position. Power can be very effective when it comes to doublethink. While the tensions within the LibDems are clear, it is also possible that the right wing of the Tories could split and build up the support for UKIP. We could very well be seeing a radical change in UK politics, one which could see the Greens propelled to a mass party, the LibDems liquidated and UKIP strengthened.
Hopeful Monsters & Bermuda
The Liberal Tory coalition risks trying to please both LibDems and the Tories and in the process alienate everyone. Alternatively it could prove to be very popular and become the natural part of government in the UK from now on. I certainly am in favour of the changes to the voting system, the replacement of the House of Lords with an elected chamber based on proportional representation and fixed term elections. These are all good moderate reforms in my opinion. I am less impressed with the change of the no confidence vote from 51% to 55% however, and my opposition to nuclear weapons and public cuts should be clear.
I’m not sure what the Liberal Tory Government means as far as Bermuda is involved. I am curious to see how their economic policy will develop and what the ramifications of that is for Bermuda. Neither party’s manifestoes made any explicit mention of the UKOTS, nor do I remember seeing anything focusing on tax havens.
At most I think the developments in the UK could strengthen the call for political reform in Bermuda, namely the need for fixed term elections and an elected Senate (preferably based on proportional representation). I believe that there is wide support for these reforms outside of entrenched political interests, and I am one of many who have advocated these as minimum reforms to the system. The UBP, affiliated with the Conservatives, will be hoping to model the Tories electoral success and attempts of ‘detoxicification’. The BDA will no doubt identify itself with the LibDems and will be watching to see the outcomes of this coalition on the LibDems long-term viability. Both the BDA and the UBP stand to benefit from strengthening their ties with the LibDems and Tories and can take advantage of material and ideological support that the UK parties can offer them. The PLP, affiliated with the Labour Party, and also preparing for a Leadership election, will be affected by the ideological discussions that will develop as the Labour Party chooses its new Leader and takes on the role of Opposition. The PLP is almost equally influenced by the US Democratic Party and the UK Labour Party (and to a lesser extent South Africa’s ANC) so it should make for some interesting reading by PLPers over the next few months.