Sometimes you read something that exasperates you so much you want to Fisk it on your blog immediately. Courtesy of the letters editor of the Guardian, I bring you the blood pressure-raising article of the day: apparently it’s all
Nick Clegg’s the Lib Dems’ fault that the AV referendum is about to be lost.
Yes indeed: the Coalition Agreement was nothing more than “a squalid little deal stitched up behind closed doors”, which has aggravated the British distrust of coalitions. (Really? In what other country to parties negotiate in public before forming coalitions? And is calling a Special Conference to vote on the coalition deal not sufficiently open?)
Worse, we “shredded the hopes of the centre left for a new progressive majority based on a more open, less tribal alliance of parties and political groups, along with their electoral promises.” (According to the BBC, we “shredded” 25% of our manifesto and got the remaining three quarters turned into government policy. Not bad for the third-largest party, and better than the Tories’ 60%.)
And where is this progressive majority of which you speak? Simply pointing out that the Conservatives have not won over half of the vote since 1931 doesn’t wash – in what way are the SNP or UKIP “progressive”? Besides, Labour has never won a majority of the vote (even Attlee in 1945 won 49.7%); this doesn’t result in the commentariat declaring the existence of a “conservative majority”. Anyone who seems to think that liberals must automatically (and only) ally with Labour denies us the right to make our own decision.
Of course, according to Mr Willmott (and indeed Mr Miliband) the Lib Dem crime is simple: we went into coalition with the “wrong” party. This “wrong” party offered to implement much more of our manifesto than Labour did (Labour were even insisting on keeping the National Identity Register!). It was also the party that won more votes and more seats than any other, a position that Nick Clegg had clearly said during the election campaign would make them the preferred partner. The only surprise about the Coalition was that the Conservatives were willing to take the concept so seriously, having slammed it as devastating for the country during the campaign.
What all this reveals is something rather sad: when it comes to political coverage and – especially – comment, Britain’s best general daily newspaper sees red. Admittedly there are those like Allegra Stratton and Julian Glover who provide informative and insightful analysis, but they are drowned out by the likes of Simon Hoggart’s snark-filled diary column and the columns of those like Mr Willmott. How is it that the Guardian seems to be dominated by a state of mind that is so blinkered?
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