Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Be careful what you wish for

For a long time I used to* think that a return to consensus politics would be nice. Back to the 1950s, for example, when even the Tories believed in public services such as the NHS and were even faintly proud of its unique Britishness. But, as with so much nostalgia for that decade, the memory plays tricks. There's no such time as the good old days.

Now that we seem to be moving into a strange new political era, with the leaders of the two main parties welded to the centre of British politics and troubled only by having to drag some of their reluctant MPs and foot-soldiers along with them, I'm recalling some of the downsides of consensus.

It's dull. It leads to complacency; in the 1950s people really did believe that British was best. As a result we stopped trying and thought that stamping 'made in Britain' on our manufactured goods excused a dismal failure to invest in new plant or to adopt new working practices. Our manufacturing industry has never recovered.

Also it gave us what Harold Wilson always referred to as "thirteen years of Tory misrule". And did I mention that it was dull?

Where might it all end this time? Will we perhaps get some grand coalition after an election which brings a hung parliament? Neither the Tories nor Labour has much stomach for a coalition with the duplicitous 'we'll promise anything to get elected' LibDems. Both main parties have been the victims of too many such coalitions in local government and are well used to being stabbed in the back by fellow cabinet members from the party that wants us to think it's above nasty politics.

Perhaps such a coalition could lead to a new centre party with 'traditional' Conservative and Labour people breaking off either side. Or perhaps it won't. As I observed, not entirely originally I admit, in the comments box on Skipper's blog: 'it's always dangerous to make predictions, especially if they're about the future'.

Too busy to blog? No, but anxiously waiting for the bathroom to be free.....

* NB je rends hommage à Marcel Proust


At 19:23, Blogger Weird News said...

Nice blog! Keep up the good work.



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