Thursday, May 13, 2010

Welcome to ConDemNation

It's a little-known fact that I live my life by a moral code I like to call "What would Aragorn do?" For those that don't know, Aragorn is one of the characters in Lord of the Rings. Yes, I know he isn't real. Stop laughing. Lord of the Rings harks back to an era when honour and principles actually meant something.

So imagine if you will, the Lord of the Rings. The threat of the dark lord Sauron is evergrowing and the whole of Middle Earth stands in the shadow of Mordor... The battles are ferocious, there are losses on both sides. And then, right at the end, at the black gates of Mordor, Aragorn decides "actually, there's not that much difference between us and Sauron. We could probably work something out". They're later seen chatting and joking together, without a care in the world. Can you imagine how Frodo would feel?

And that's kind of how I feel about Nick Clegg leaping into bed with the Tories.

In the run up to the election, it wasn't easy to know who to vote for. I felt that Labour had lost their way somewhat and the country needed freshening up. However, at the same time, I knew I didn't want the Tories in. So voting for the Lib Dems seemed to make the most sense, with the hope of a Lib / Lab hung parliament that could bring about real change.

So I ended up voting Lib Dem - and in my constituency, the increased Lib Dem vote watered down the ruling Labour vote, and the Tories took full advantage and won the seat.

If I had known that the Lib Dems were going to jump into bed with the Tories, I'd have never voted for them. In fact, there's a real chance I'll never vote for them again. How many Lib Dem activists must be be recoiling in utter horror at what's transpired? THEIR party has let the Tories in? I know for one - if I'd have given up my time to canvass for them (and I did seriously consider it), I'd be furious now.

To be quite honest - I want my vote back.

One last word - Nick Clegg is playing an unbelievably dangerous strategy. Yes, I understand that Labour weren't really interested in forming a coalition. Yes, I know that the Lib Dems may soften the Tories' darker side. I even get the fact that principles without power (the default position of the Lib Dems since the 20s) is eventually pointless.

However, the Lib Dems picked up an awful lot of disillusioned ex-Blairite Labour supporters in the past election. By throwing his hand in with the Tories, all Clegg has succeeded in doing is sending those voters back to Labour in their droves.

Nick Clegg may be a man of principles. And he will get experience of government, plus the chance to actually implement the changes to this country he so clearly believes in. However, it remains to be seen how many of his supporters will feel disillusioned, lied to and utterly betrayed. I personally would never have voted Lib Dem if I'd have known that they'd end up backing the enemy. I suspect short-term power may well lead to a longer-term backlash. And for those of us that are old enough to remember the election of 1997 - the Tories know all too well what happens when the electorate feels betrayed.

I think Nick Clegg's only chance is for this parliament to run the full 5 years and hope that we've all forgotten by then. I think that a snap re-election would see a very different outcome.

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