Ah, the irony of the New Politics – plus ca change and all that. Politics has descended into a grotesque spectacle of blackmail, and bungled devolution is to blame. As James reported last night, talks with the Tories ran aground on sands that are the territory of Holyrood and Scottish Liberals presented every obstacle possible. Plaid MPs prostitute themselves at a £100 million a piece and Northern Ireland's political parties and funding will be dealt with as a block, which means that the progressive coalition will have to cosy up to Sinn Fein and the DUP while the English taxpayer foots the bill.
This morning, the SNP’s Angus Robertson presented an amuse bouche of a stable government, reliant on appeasing the Celtic fringe:
“Well, 85 percent of voters in Scotland did not vote for the Conservative Party, and the idea that we could have a coalition cobbled between the third and fourth parties - because that is what they are the Tories and Lib Dems are in Scotland - would be totally unacceptable.”
Given that the electoral system discriminates against the Tories in Scotland and that the SNP don’t stand in England, the logic of his statement is non-existent.
Liberal Democrats spooked at the prospect of losing votes for dancing with the blue devil. But for many Lib Dem voters in southern England, the south-west and the rural north-west, the devil's hue is red. Clegg has demolished his credibility and if this deal is struck his party will be annihilated.
David Laws has impressed during this crisis; he and his fellow Orange Bookers are the people to watch. Political considerations aside, they have a moral imperative. White with fury, I did not appreciate the depth of my convictions until this desperate ruse was announced. The world’s oldest parliamentary democracy has been blackened. It may have escaped the noble Lords Ashdown and Mandelson’s notice but Labour and the Lib Dems did not stand on a joint ticket. Indeed, Gordon Brown described the Liberal Democrats as a threat to national security. The progressive alliance has no legitimacy and it is contemptible to suggest otherwise.