Election Fever and Cleggmania

The plan was to boost Clegg, take the gilt off the Cameron gingerbread, and wreck Tory hopes of achieving a majority government

what you will never succeed in doing, either in Britain or in any other political environment, is creating three-party politics


But look at what is happening to Labour! Look at the great humming, purring spin machine that propelled the People’s Party to three election victories and humiliated a succession of Tory leaders. They are doing worse than under Kinnock. They are down to levels not seen since M Foot appeared in his donkey jacket; and with H Harman’s teeth locked in Mandy’s throat we are beginning to detect the gurgling sound of meltdown.

All of a sudden an enthralling possibility is opening before our eyes: that the cunning Labour plot to boost Nick Clegg has been the most hideous miscalculation since their 1983 manifesto. I have it on good authority, you see, that the puffing of Clegg – all that ostentatious “I agree with Nick” stuff from Gordon Brown in the first debate – was entirely deliberate. In agreeing to the debates, Labour thought it had spotted what the Tory high command had missed: that if you put Clegg and Cameron simultaneously before the nation, and the electorate saw two vaguely similar products – telegenic 43-year-old public schoolboys with an air of deep reasonableness – then all at once the Tories would lose their Unique Selling Point.

They would stop being the sole proprietors of the message emblazoned on every Conservative poster in Britain. They would cease to be the party of “change” – or at least they would cease to be the only possible party of change, because at every turn they would have to contest that title with the newly prominent Lib Dems.

The plan was to boost Clegg, take the gilt off the Cameron gingerbread, and wreck Tory hopes of achieving a majority government. With the Lib Dems surging, the Tories would be forced to rethink their plans of taking all those West Country seats. The mountain would become too high to climb, at which point Bob’s your uncle and Gordon’s still your Prime Minister.

But as the first burst of Cleggmania starts to subside, and as the first postal vote exit polls give a sign of what may actually happen in 10 days’ time, it looks as though Labour – not the Tories – may be the big losers from the frenzy they helped to create. Because the Tories are still up on 35 or 36 per cent in the polls – roughly where they were before Cleggmania began; the Lib Dems are on 31 or 32 per cent; and Labour is right down on 26 per cent, or as little as 24 per cent.

Time after time, Labour is coming third in these polls, and with that kind of distance now opening up between Labour and Tories, we are right back where we started at the beginning of the campaign – with David Cameron still possibly on course for a decent and perhaps even a thumping majority.

What matters, you see, is the distance between Labour and Tories, because most of the decisive seats of this election will be straight fights between the Government and the Opposition; and it makes no difference how many extra votes the Lib Dems pile up in third place. It doesn’t matter if they start to run Conservatives a bit closer in safe Tory seats. What matters is the swing from Labour to Conservative, and with a lead over Labour of 9 or 10 per cent, that swing could well be enough to kick Gordon Brown into orbit.

Mandelson’s mistake – if such it indeed proves to be – was to think that Clegg could somehow be promoted without damage to Labour. Of course, it is possible to “break the mould” of British politics, and that certainly happened when Labour replaced the Liberals, at the beginning of the last century, as the main opponents of the Conservatives.

But what you will never succeed in doing, either in Britain or in any other political environment, is creating three-party politics. Politics is essentially binary, because there will always be governments and oppositions, and it will always be the case that you are either for something or against it. From the optimates and populares of republican Rome to the Democrats and Republicans of modern America, societies have tended to crystallise their political debates into two broad sets of views, and there are always two coalitions of politicians who represent those views, and most human beings – often from quite an early age – tend to identify with one set of views rather than another.

In the words of Gilbert and Sullivan, “Every little boy and girl/That’s born into this world alive/Is either a little Liberal/Or else a little Conservative”. In modern Britain, there is a coalition that believes on the whole in free enterprise and strong national institutions, and those views are generally expressed by the Tories; and then there is a big Left-liberal group that is instinctively happier with higher taxes, more regulations and the proliferation of road humps. For decades that Left-liberal group has been dominated by the Labour Party, and the sensational event of the past few weeks is that Labour is being eclipsed on the Left.

Here, in the Lib Dems, is the party that opposed the Iraq war, that wants to scrap our nuclear deterrent and wants a socking new tax on houses – all solid leftie causes. The more excitement and publicity they generate, the more life they suck out of the Labour Party, and the more hopeless is Gordon Brown’s position. If this goes on at the current rate, with the Tories about five points ahead, and Labour well back in third, we could not only see an absolute Tory majority; we could see the implosion of Labour, with the Lib Dems replacing them as the natural centre-Left alternative to the Tories, and everyone will be saying how brilliant it was of David Cameron to agree to those TV debates.

You can read this article in full and further news and views here in The Daily Telegraph

24 thoughts on “Election Fever and Cleggmania”

  1. Those who are so enamoured of Nick Clegg and see him as the gateway to a new age of accountable politicians should remember that, by siding with Brown on the issue, he denied us a say on the Lisbon Treaty!

  2. I cannot wait to read in the papers on the day after the election that Labour have been relegated to the history books – hopefully forever.

    This time it will take not the usual decades to undo the mess they have made but generations.

  3. Boris, will you ever grow up? It’s boys games stuff like this that puts people off voting for the Tories.
    ps I think you’re awful cute! Shame about the brains.

  4. We may be seeing the beginning of a move away from Punch-and-Judy politics to something more adult. Future Prime Ministers may not be able to pretend that a psephological malfunction, propelling them into absolute power with one-quarter of the available votes, gives them a mandate to pursue the most sterile partisan obsessions. They may have the forgo the dictator’s fantasy that they are leaders of some great popular movement. Electors may even vote for the best candidate rather than the dullard with a rosette of the right colour.

    There is some way to go, but a political establishment that commemorates the class wars of a past century will fail eventually and be replaced by something more appropriate.

  5. The Lib Dems is simply only another mutant form of Labour.

    Whereas Labour keeps our national defence but doesn’t want to support it fully financially, the Lib Dems wants to scrap our defence all together.

    Labour lets all immigrants in. The Lib Dems want to let illegal immigrants who have been here for 10 years; there are about 1million of them out there. Officially counted by… Labour.

    Nothing new. Nothing exciting.

    Vote Lib Dems, get Labour.

    This broken country is crying out loud for a new party. A new Prime Minister.

  6. http://cyberboris.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/an-explanation-of-pr-for-the-ordinary-person/

    The public are having trouble understanding the dangers of a three party system and why it is better to have a two party system. Have blogged on the subject, but we need someone with a gift for simplification to make this crystal clear to ordinary people, (like me) because it is vital we totally understand before the election. Boris, help us please! hammer it through our heads, thank you so much.

  7. One word spells out the difference between a Lib/Lab axis
    and why the Tories must win…E-U-R-O-P-E.
    Isn’t it about time Cameron cut the and got to the point?
    Unless we get our act together,Europe will be the Economy, stupid!

    And isn’t it obvious that a coalition is politico heaven?
    And that proportional representation means yo-yos from the
    Scot Nats, the Greens,the DUP, Sinn Feinn, Plaid Cymru swanning around the corridors of No 10, cutting deals with the likes of Cable and Mandelson?
    This won’t be democracy, this will be anti-democracy!

  8. The unfortunate thing to me, is David Cameron isn’t really saying much at all. He is good as disagreeing with the others and keeps saying we need change, but he keeps a tight lip on certain subjects and that worried me a little I must say. I am very much a Tory and if his silence is worrying me, then what is it doing to others we need to bring on side to vote for us?
    We need to clean up politics and the reform of the House of Lords is long overdue. David Cameron seems to be against it and that concerns me greatly. Come on David speak up about what you will do and stop beating around the bush. This is your chance grab it and do it well.
    Boris for PM next time please.

  9. we hear the party’s promising us change
    however, it is not change that we need
    what we need is reform!
    What good is change if it is not for the better?

    What we need is for these parties to listen to each other
    hear what each other propose instead of telling us why what they propose is wrong.
    The tory supporters, myself included, have with some force, showed their support for the party
    We are accused of improper behavior as we express our oppinions regarding the lib dems and why we believe the tories will do the best out of the three to help our country recover.
    Should we be targeted for merely showing the public the truth? Do they wish to discover it after they have voted?

    We need a party who can take all of the manifesto’s , take the best points from all and work towards improvement in all sectors. Now we see a good idea targeted as a boost for the oppositions campaign?

    We are in debt, not just financially, we live in a world where crime is rife and morals, respect and harmony are much the opposite. Humans thrive on conflict however, conflict does not have to be negative. Can we not satisfy our needs by debate, discussion and compete to make ourselves better people? We look for rewards, for prizes and power. What better reward than self-respect, knowledge and knowing that you had the power to help someone, and you did!

    We need
    To improve the nhs, cut shift times and allow the doctors and nurses to be awake enough to perform well. We need incentives for improvements in performance, not incentives for failures. If we throw money at these services who have no plans of improving, knowing as long as they continue to provide a less than efficient service, we will raise wages and provide paid holidays, extra cleaning staff to cover the current staff that could easily do what is needed but dont… we will throw money away forever.

    We need regulation on banks,stop them lending money to people who have no way of paying it back and never escape debt due to this. We need decent sized wages for these employees, and for politicians. If they want to do good for our country that will be enough for them, we will soon see who has our interests at heart.

    We need to provide permanent teachers in schools, not locums who only teach for the money. We need teachers to respect the schoolchildren more before we will see them do the same.When you get to collage you learn as you are not made to feel worthless, knowledge is passed on for the benefit of those who want it. Schools seem to make children feel uneducated, well, that’s what they are, they are there to learn. We need to tackle bullying i was bullied, so my teachers took away my break and lunch to keep me away from the bullies?

    We need to improve the police force, put more police where they are needed. We need to attack drugs by providing things for would be drug takers to do so they don’t turn to them and in turn on to crime.We need more counseling services and projects, many people fall victim to a bad way of life as they are not getting the help they need. We cant carry on and wait for people to find these services, we need to seek them out! Peers alone will make someone feel that seeking help is wrong.

    We need to re-educate the public, teach respect and morals. Let people understand that helping some one is more beneficial to yourself than defeating them. we should put good living into the syllabus. We need to target homelessness which will lower crime and increase peoples belief in Britain.

    Take all who are not entitled to benefits off them! If they are opposed to working because they will not be able to earn enough to support themselves, then we allow them housing benefit, judged on earnings so they are contributing to society not slowly slipping into the realms of the economically inactive.

    We need to support good causes, hold events and competitions to encourage people to help others. this is not impossible even whilst we are in debt,who said we need cash incentives? If we change the way we think as a society, condem bad behaviour and support learning, if we persist in doing so and “never surrender” then one day we may get somewhere.

    We should regulate immigration and bring in a law that means you have to (unless in very special circumstances) contribute to our economy for 10-15 years before we allow benefit claims to be approved.

    We need to source more products from within the uk and become more self reliant. Then We need to break away from the E.U. If a country falls into debt within this alliance, they may be bailed out but at what cost? Why exactly have we given 146 billion to them in 12 years? What have they done for us? Have they provided forces to help us defend our selves in a war, i see no invasion outside my window. Have they respected our right to use our own currency? or have they done what they can to make the euro worth more targeting us for doing what we have been doing for as long as Britain has been Britain? Do they judge each country on individual needs and adjust their regulations accordingly, or do they say what goes without a thought for those it effects?

    Do we wish to be spending the euro talking belgium and cursing our brussel sprouts every sunday, we have already had enough of what brussels – sprouts! Why should they be given the chance to decide our budget, laws and what ever they propose to do? They do not live here , what they are doing is as of much use as giving people wandering through the sahara… jacobs cream crackers!

    We should give the public a right to decide how much tax they are willing to pay but, tell them exactly what level of services and quality of life they will get for their money! Judge peoples need upon their actual needs not the ‘group’ which they fall into which has a very large difference between each end of the scale.

    There are so many things that are just so obvious, i do not understand why they are not being done? We are currently building ‘political berlin walls’ segregating us from each other due to our political beliefs. We should be pulling down all those that already exist, take away all those barriers that are stopping us being the best we can be. All the time we are building up the new walls we are consuming time, resources and money doing so! To pull them down we need only take a sledge hammer to them, then we still have the sledge hammer to take home. That hammer is made from respect , caring , acceptance , willing to do good and if we use it we can help our country, attitudes and society recover. With the added bonus of going straight down the road instead of going 5 miles out to avoid the walls and wasting petrol while doing so.

    If it was me standing i would try and be the best i could be and the country the very best and show the rest of the world it is possible. perhaps then they will do the same.

    But no, lets just all watch the bickering , backstabbing, lies and twisted words.
    Im sure it will be best for us all in the long run.

    “every morn bought forth a noble chance,
    and every chance bought forth a noble night”

    our mission?

    “is not to win the battle
    but to win the war”

    – Winston Churchill

  10. J.d-F all good stuff, but fails to address the process, your targets are ideal, but how long will it take to get them to that state, and as you know in this country if it cannot be done in 1 Parliament it is unlikely to get going, and will constantly be mocked by oppositions who have no other desire and no principles, other than regaining power with promises to take the same target and start again. It would need a period of power probably more than 3 Parliaments to even start showing results and the upheaval it is going to cause will not survive our parliamentry process. We are still fighting the influence of the marxist dominated 70’s thats 40 years ago how are we going to turn it around in less than that especially as some of the people responsible for that period are still in influence.

  11. “We need to clean up politics and the reform of the House of Lords is long overdue.” — Lorraine Goodrich

    Cleaning up politics is like food :  it will always be needed, often elusive.

    I have, however, two questions for Lorraine Goodrich :  How would she like to see the House reformed ?  What benefit would she expect that reform to confer upon society ?


  12. Some people liken Clegg to JF Kennedy (!). Clegg was born in 1967 ( Cameron 1967, Brown 1854 ). Clegg does look a bit younger than Cameron but that where the line ends.

    JF Kennedy was a patriotic man. So patriotic that even people the world over and me respect him for his patriotism.

    Nick Clegg is not a patriotic man. His blood is so diluted that he doesn’t know where he belongs- hence he plans to ditch the sterling, scrap the Trident, give amnesty to all illegal immigrants ( at least 2.3 Million illegal immigrants have come here since 1992, not 1 Million. Google: 2.3 Million illegal immigrants ).

    Those are just a few alarmingly damaging plans only a traitor would do to his country.

    Sir Sean Connery set up a ” Dress To Kilt & Friends of Scotland ” charity fashion show at Club M2 in New York on 7 April 2010. Everything was going well until 2 male models in kilts on the catwalk kissing each other. Sir Sean Connery, sitting in the front row, was stunned, turned round and whispered in his wife’s ear: ” I cannnnn’t be-lie-ve it ” ( ! )

  13. @Norman Dee: I know , its not going to happen. The problem is why? really why? Should it be so hard to bring about changes that benefit us all? Its far easier to bring about something that will be detrimental both to the country and the individual, so why is it so hard to do some good?
    This may sound silly but, i like to help people and i do not understand why we are all so obsessed with doing exactly the opposite? Its a far better feeling when you help someone than it is winning an argument. Although helping someone requires effort, most people are not willing to use any energy to merely help someone else. They are veryy happy to have an argument, make someone else feel bad, because they get the adrenaline buzz , if they stopped and tried to do something good… it may require more time and work but the benefits far out weigh that of a quick fix of adrenaline. Then i suppose that makes me just as bad? Helping someone as it makes myself feel good? does it?
    I give up to be honest. Its too much for me , i haven’t even worked out what i am having for breakfast yet, this i feel is nigh on impossible to solve. Breakfast however, weetabix or toast!
    I shall just cross my fingers hope for the best and vote Tory!

  14. I have a sneaking suspicion that the pollsters have overestimated how many more votes the Tories have to get than Labour to secure a majority – but then what do I know, I work in a circus?

  15. I find it hard to believe that everyone has forgotten that the last minority Labour government covered the era known as the winter of discontent; the last thing we need is a repeat and end up taking our begging bowl to the IMF. If we are not to learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.

  16. The basic premise of this article is that ‘A vote for Clegg is….’

    If voting for Party A instead of party , where both are preferred to party C increases the chances of the last party getting in, the electoral system is broken.

    If my vote need not be courted as I’m in a safe seat (I’ve seen one flyer) – but my friends down the road have a big influence (marginal seat), then the voting system is broken.

    If the number of seats returned is reverses the ranking of the parties in the popular vote (as happened in England last election, where Tories one more votes than Labour but got fewer seats) then the electoral system is broken.

    I’m not a fan of list-based PR, but this is not the only possibility. STV, Instant Runoff and AV are all alternatives which maintain the constituency link. We do seriously need to look at the electoral system and ensure that accidents of geography do not change the worth of a vote, and that vote splitting cannot occur, i.e. if 60% want ‘A or B, but not C’ and C gets 40% of the vote, then if only A stands, they get 60% – but if both A and B stands, then C might get in. Crazy! There are real life examples where where parties did not field candidates to avoid the splitting effect, e.g. Hamilton.

    Instant runoff if a reasonable alternative from my point of view, it maintains the constituency link, whilst avoiding vote splits.

    Unfortunately, when you make a list of the desirable properties of a voting system, you can prove that it is impossible to satisfy all requirements. It’s a matter of balance – FPTP breaks more of the desirable properties than almost any other system. For me, I don’t think proportionality should be a dominant factor in any choice, avoidance of ‘vote splitting’ is much more important.

  17. While out canvassing, Gordon Brown called an old woman a bigot for daring to ask him a question about the influx of immigrants. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/election2010/2952263/Brown-brands-gran-a-bigot.html

    That’s it! The labels keeps coming: racist, bigot, homophobic, nazi, fascist etc…

    Brown told the old woman: ” 1 Million immigrants from Eastern Europe come to Britain but 1 Million Brits also move to Europe “. EUROPE.

    He should have said: “…but 1 Million Brits move to other countries like Canada, USA, Oz or Spain, Italy, France… not Eastern European countries, to get away from the madness created by Labour “.

    Look at the photo of Gordon leaving the old woman’s house, folks. With his silly grin, he looks like Christopher Lee Dracula!

  18. @Edith:
    I will admit i have no severe hate for Gordon but neither do i like him. He in my eyes has not done enough to make me hate him, i just tolerate him. I was at one point wondering if we still had a p.m or if we had gone back to the arms of the monarchy?
    Yes he did not regulate the banks sufficiently nor provide the correct aid for troops although, thinking deeper into this.. I would guess that he was not in fact the main reason behind this.
    I would think with his lack of authority, even as p.m that it was not him making the choices, it could of even been clegg. After all he sems to take the word of the tainted messiah as gospel?
    Or rather my word that clegg used lol
    I am sure that he took the ‘squatting within number 10’ from one of my posts ?
    Then again he is an actor so he could of picked it up when he started squatting in parliament? He already has a home, that pays better wages..the E.U!

    Anyhow i shall stop clogging up the site with my waffle (thank god recited in unison )
    If you would perhaps like to see my view on the argument it is up n e.v in the comments …
    (it will be the longest one lol)


  19. More labels under Labour: Eurosceptic, xenophobic, little Englander, politically incorrect… Also anti-the people, anti-the country… never “anti-the Party”.

    Example: Peter Mandelson told the press recently: “People who say Britain is still in deep recession are talking this great country down.”

    Sounds as if Britain’s a communist country currently.

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