Tags: politicality

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A pact, huh? That’s pact spelled m-i-n-e-f-i-e-l-d

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

So – no definite result in the general election and a chance of some sort of coalition. We’re all supposed to put our tribal loyalties aside and work together for the common good.

I’m not very good at that.

I know it’s not what you’d call noble, but I am what I am – and that happens to be someone who grew up under Margaret Thatcher and has seen a lot of Labour local authorities and, frankly, doesn’t much fancy either of them.

There is a difference – I don’t like Labour, don’t trust Labour, and am frankly terrified of some of the policies they have lined up and ready. But I actually hate the Conservatives.

Not every individual Tory, of course – many of them are decent types. But the party itself, its ideology, the assumptions behind it. The very core of its existence.

I also don’t actually have a lot of faith that day-to-day policy decisions or individuals in cabinet make much difference. The big stuff, yes – but no junior coalition partner gets to make those decisions.

As a result, I’m looking at the choice over whether to go into alliance with one of the bigger parties from a purely partisan viewpoint. It’s not very altruistic, I know, but I’ll leave public spiritedness to others.

So this is what I sent to the party when it canvassed views, asking people to set out who they are and what they think:

Me: Parliamentary candidate in Feltham & Heston 2001, ex-chair of Hounslow party, multiple council candidate, now living in North Hertfordshire. Activist since I was at school, though drifted off to the Greens for a few years as a student in the early 1990s. Award-winning Focus designer.

I’ll keep this brief.

I don’t believe a referendum on PR is winnable. So no deal that involves PR should be accepted unless it’s a guarantee of legislation – anything less is not worth the inevitable damage that will come from a pact. At the moment, the country can see the election was unfair and will accept reform. By the time a referendum can be held – may be year or 18 months from now, they’ll have forgotten.

Whichever party we do a deal with, we will in effect have lied to voters in marginals where we’ve strongly campaigned to say only we can beat that party. We will destroy a lot of goodwill with any deal, and possibly find ourself wedded to that party for a generation.

I truly believe that our best option – for our own future – is to step back and let the Tories stay in office long enough to fail, while hoping at the same time for a Labour civil war. I understand that MPs may feel their duty to the nation trumps party advantage. I can understand that viewpoint though I’m too partisan to advocate it myself. I believe we can do more for the country in the medium and long term if we avoid short-term entanglements.

In terms of policy, sorting out the Digital Economy Act is an essential one. If we have any influence over the Tories, so is protecting the BBC from Murdoch and preventing weird religious loonies from running schools.

On a personal note, I don’t honestly believe I could remain in the party if we did a formal deal with the Conservatives. Demand and supply I could stomach – welcome even, if it involved giving the Tories enough rope to hang themselves.

Not so brief after all. Sorry.

Good luck, and don’t sell us out for a mess of pottage.

Andy Darley
Hitchin & Harpenden party

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Labour of love

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

I’m no fan of the Labour Party at all, or its doings, but I was impressed by one item among the usual drivel in its latest local newsletter.

This county council division - Hitchin North on Herts County Council - will be a tricky defence for Labour next year, as the district council wards have been trending Tory for a while now and the People’s Party’s vote has been plummeting.

The ‘Contact’ leaflet that came through the door yesterday was the usual fare, claiming credit for this, criticising that, and piously hoping for the other. Nothing that couldn’t have gone out under the logo of any of the other three parties in the area, and probably has.

A nice personal touch came in the form of an obituary to a long-serving stalwart of the local party, and then there was this:

Martin

Local Bearton ward councillor Martin Stears has recently entered into a civil partnership with his long-time partner Ian Handscomb. Martin has changed his name to Martin Stears-Handscomb, and we wish them every happiness for a long future together.

As do I.

What impresses me is the fact that Labour put this on a leaflet - it won’t win them votes in this marginal division (which includes Stears-Handscomb’s ward), in fact it will probably lose them instead. But they still did it.

It’s always unsettling when your opponents do something that impresses you, and which you know you might have thought carefully about before doing yourself (even if you’re certain you would have, in the end, done it too).

I suppose, if you’d run an obituary in your leaflet then you’d probably run a wedding too. And if you’d run a wedding, you’d be the most grievous of hypocrites not to run a civil partnership.

But it’s still a brave step.

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Oh how exciting - it’s election time again

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.


Party election time again. Bah, humbug. Reminds me far too much of student union elections 20 years ago.

As far as I’m concerned, casting a vote for someone in an internal election requires the willingness to positively endorse that candidate.

This is in contrast to a general election, where it can at times be necessary to hold your nose and vote for a complete wombat because they happen to be our complete wombat.

In an internal election, where all the candidates pass the basic test of having shared goals and broadly similar political philosophy, and where frankly it rarely makes a blind bit of difference who wins, noses can remain unpegged and ’sod the lot of you’ becomes an option.

I always go into these elections hoping for someone to believe in and support. During the last leadership election I did a lot of soul-searching and rhetorical questioning, before eventually deciding I couldn’t endorse either candidate and choosing not to vote. I have a vague memory I might have, in fact, literally returned my ballot paper with ’sod the lot of them’ scrawled across it, but that could be my increasingly addled brain playing tricks.

Since then, Nick Clegg has exceeded my expectations of him. Admittedly, my expectations were so low that he could have done that by walking on his hands across Westminster Bridge, naked, with a bunch of daffodils stuck up his chuff. But, even so, nice one Nick.

So I did at least make an attempt to choose a candidate.

Charlotte Gore’s well-argued semi-endorsement notwithstanding, Chandila Fernando’s candidacy cannot be taken seriously. He’s like the business studies student who no-one’s heard of that runs for the union executive on a platform of ‘you’re doing it all wrong’, and then disappears without trace when he loses. It’s true that Fernando asks a lot of questions that need asking - but he fails to convince on the other side of the equation, that he has the potential to provide and implement answers.

With great reluctance, I’ve also had to strike Lembit from the list of possibles. I’ve been supporting the man and voting for him since he ran for president of the National Union of Students, and I’ve always been a fan of the way he can mix levity and gravity so effectively (no asteroid / paragliding jokes please, there’s a serious point there). But at the moment I think he’s got the balance wrong, and I can’t vote for him until he sorts it out. Contrary to what detractors suggest, he’s not a knob - but he’s acting like one. When he stops, I’ll be back in the fan club.

So that leaves Ros Scott. As I recall, every student election needed a wide-eyed ‘gosh I’m an ordinary member standing up for the ordinary members and I promise I’ll always listen’ candidate. I was one myself, once, back in 1988. Earnest, well-intentioned, not part of the ruling clique - what’s not to like? I’m really not sure sure why I’m recoiling against her. Possibly I just dislike being told what to do by a lot of smug, self-satisfied bloggers (honourable exception: her husband, who appears to have been transplanted wholesale from Sir Thomas Malory). Possibly I dislike the feeling that the great and the good of the party have rallied around her as a ’stop Lembit’ candidate.

In the end it came down to two factors. In favour of supporting her, I will generally vote for a credible female candidate in any election where I’m otherwise undecided. Against her, she has the support of Duncan Borrowman.

I thought long, and I thought hard.

And in the end I put my ballot paper in the shredder.

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It all sounds a bit familiar…

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

The longer this government lasts, the more its rhetoric sounds like the bad old days of the Thatcher years - and the easier it gets to spot its mistakes coming.

Today we see a leak of new ‘work for dole’ plans, which have had the Tories hopping up and down claiming they published the same ideas six months ago - but, if they did, they cribbed them from some dusty document left over from the days when the favourite target of the popular prints wasn’t asylum seekers but benefit claimants.

Political discourse was dominated by questions of eligibility and whether or not great swathes of the population were work-shy, and if you happened to be on the margins of the workforce (as I then was) you were permanently looking over your shoulder.

Yes, there are undoubtedly people who take the piss. And if you read police blogs you’ll be familiar with the concept of the evil poor - a real-life version of Shameless with the jokes taken out.

But you don’t tackle them by trotting out all the half-baked platitudes of a discredited government whose obsessive Puritan work ethic left it unable to comprehend how it was possible for a person to live a life not defined by their economic activity.

In fact, these proposals have nothing to do with trying to end a lifestyle choice of benefit-funded criminality. Linking a person’s eligibility for benefits to their ability to keep their nose clean is the place to start looking for a way of doing that - a difficult idea to make work in practice, but surely the root of the answer.

Instead, these proposals are transparently the same old attempt to reduce the social security budget by restricting the number of people who receive benefits. But the problem with that is there’s no point at which you can draw a line and say you’ve succeeded - the temptation becomes irresistible to announce just one more measure to crack down further and claw back just a bit more.

And before long you’re back where we were 20 years ago - with a government that wastes more and more valuable time and money in futile and intrusive attempts to direct the lives of ever-increasing numbers of harmless citizens, while the true urine extractors swiftly learn new ways of making the system work for them.

It was ever thus, I suppose, but it’s just so bloody frustrating seeing it start all over again.

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David Davis resigning as an MP? Blimey!

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

News just breaking that the Tory shadow Home Secretary David Davis is resigning - not just from the shadow cabinet but from the House of Commons.

This will - of course - trigger a by-election in a key Lib Dem target seat. And the BBC report, sparse though it is, suggests that’s not just a side-effect of Davis’ decision, but the whole point of it.

This is what the Beeb’s report says at the moment (no doubt it will soon be expanded).

Shadow home secretary David Davis is set to resign as an MP, the BBC understands.

It is thought he wants to trigger a by-election in his Haltemprice and Howden seat.

Mr Davis has been a passionate opponent of plans to extend the terror detention limit to 42 days.

It is thought he has privately threatened to resign if the Tories wavered on the issue. He will make a statement shortly.

There is absolutely no way in which this is anything other than desperately bad news for David Cameron, who needs this like he needs a hole in the head.

I’ve always thought Davis was one of the better sort of Tories, and was much struck by a joint TV interview he did with Mark Oaten about civil liberties when the latter was the Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson.

They were barely distinguishable in what they said, which at the time I thought reflected more on Oaten than on Davis. But now I’m not so sure.

I suppose it’s too much to hope that this is all pre-arranged with Nick Clegg and Davis is going to re-stand at the by-election as a Lib Dem?

Edit: apparently, it is. He’ll be an independent, unopposed by us.

Our not standing against him is a sensible decision - but will the Tories put up a candidate? Cameron is spinning it as a jolly brave decision by a jolly fine chap.

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Huhne overtakes Clegg - sort of

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

Look - it’s close, OK? Too close for the difference to be meaningful. And it may not actually be good news for Huhne anyway. But there has been a small but measurable swing to him from Clegg in the attention they’re both receiving among bloggers.

The turning point was the Calamity Clegg dossier, which rather underlines the potential downside of this - the mere fact he’s being written about doesn’t guarantee that nice things are being said about him. But didn’t Oscar Wilde once argue that it was better to be notorious than unknown?

If you feed both their names into the BlogPulse trends tool from Nielsen and ask it to compare what proportion of the chatter in the blogosphere is about each of them, the results are interesting. Here’s the graph:

Trends in blog posts over the last two months.

You can see very clearly that, apart from the spike caused by the launch of Huhne’s campaign, marginally more attention was paid to Clegg during the first two thirds of the campaign. There wasn’t much clear air between them (compared with what you get if you add John Hemming to the mix, or even CK or Vince after the first ‘will they stand?’ flurry was over) but you could see a slight advantage.

And then came the day of the dossier - Huhne attracts more interest, for obvious reasons, but he managed to keep at least a marginal advantage for most of the time since then - although there’s a hint in the last couple of days that they may be even again.

So what does it mean? Not a great deal, probably, except that Huhne has once again managed to muscle his way into the forefront of people’s attention. How good a thing this is for him and the party depends on what they’re actually saying.

And, of course, neither are exactly setting the world apart compared with more important issues like Britney Spears:

Graph with added Britney

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Mr Smug, Mr Smarm and my naked ballot paper

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

With time running out in the Lib Dem leadership election, I’ve finally thought of something that might make me vote – even though the one thing I’ve been certain of all along is that I don’t want either candidate in charge of my party.

When the election kicked off I was desperately hoping a third candidate would emerge so I wasn’t stuck with the unappealing choice between a candidate I didn’t rate and a candidate I didn’t like. Anyone would have done - John Hemming even - but no such luck.

Chris Huhne had failed to impress me as a possible leader during the previous contest. I seem to remember writing at the time that a grey man in a grey suit could never be a successful leader of a political party which needed to fight for every scrap of attention.

And since then I’ve learned from contacts that his press connections from his time as a journalist don’t necessarily represent a reservoir of stored-up goodwill that he can exploit. The broadsheet hack and ex-subordinate of Huhne who told me “a more self-contented man you will rarely find” didn’t strike me as itching to write positive pieces about how well the Lib Dems were doing under his leadership.

My problem with Clegg, on the other hand, stems from his manner - he flunked the all-important ‘first impressions’ test quite spectacularly when I met him and the famous charm that’s supposed to make him the great communicator simply repelled me.

Distilled to its basics, he seemed false - that deadly quality the Big Brother / I’m a Celebrity worshipping masses despise above all others (except being a nonce, or an asylum seeker, or the manager of the England football team).

Nevertheless, I was prepared to consider voting for him as leader when the contest started. I was aware that, while my objection to Huhne was based on his abilities, my objection to Clegg was based on a personal prejudice that others might not share. Plus, the press wanted him as leader and after what they did to Ming I couldn’t see the point in disobeying.

Not so now.

Clegg’s stuttered his way through the campaign, showing flashes of the qualities his supporters revere but no consistent demonstration of Messiahdom. Like the perfect ripe peach, he’s beautiful to look at but bruises dreadfully the moment he’s thrown to the floor and kicked around a bit.

Consider it this way: if Nick Clegg were a yachtsman he’d win every single fair-weather race handily, leaving his rivals trailing in his wake as he cruised nonchalantly into the distance with a glass of chilled white in one hand and a cute blonde on his other arm.

But in foul weather racing he wouldn’t make it to the first marker buoy before disaster struck and he sank like a stone, struggling feebly as he disappeared beneath the waves.

So where would Chris Huhne be, in that overstretched and laboured metaphor?

Not in the race at all - he’d be in a submarine underneath it, ready and waiting to torpedo the leader. One moment the hot favourite is sailing serenely along, the next they’re fatally holed below the waterline and Huhne’s sewing another bar onto his Jolly Roger.

It’s a talent he has, and he’s demonstrated it in both leadership contests so far. Campbell’s aura of gravitas - gone. Clegg’s reputation for communication - gone. It may not win him the race, but it leaves his victims fatally weakened and easy meat for the circling sharks of the press and the other parties to devour at their leisure.

Which is a pretty good argument to vote for him in this leadership contest, when you think about it.

And I am thinking about it, seriously. Because if he can do that to our chaps, think what he can do to the enemy.

From being ‘definitely not Huhne, but twist my arm and I might vote Clegg’, I’ve now moved to exactly the opposite position.

You see, the way I look at it, our next leader has just one task beyond the basic one of demonstrating the minimum level of competence to avoid the party being laughed at - and that’s to nobble David Cameron by fair means or foul.

The Labour government was crumbling long before Gordon Brown took charge of it - his task was to stick his thumb in the dyke and delay the inevitable for as long as possible. He’s in the process of failing, thanks in part to Twinkletoes Cable’s surgically precise brutality.

So that’s half the task done already, but if Cameron is still on the field of play at the next election it won’t help us as we’ll be hit from both sides: a resurgent Tory party and a Labour ’stop the Tories’ scare campaign.

Be clear on this: the threat isn’t from the Conservative Party as a whole - when seen in bulk they’re still the same mix of swivel-eyed loons and chinless nonentities they’ve been for years. The threat is from Cameron, who has the knack of making you ignore the rest of the party and concentrate instead on the handfuls of magical pixie dust he’s throwing in the air to obscure them.

Remove Cameron, however you do it, and there’s no-one to replace him. End result: ice cream and jelly for Liberal Democrats.

Based on his performance so far, Chris Huhne might just be the man to kick Cameron in the knackers. He won’t rely solely on the power of argument, and he won’t be content (as Ming told me he was) to wait for Cameron to self-destruct.

And I hate the Tories with such visceral loathing that I’m almost keen to see how he’d do it.

Based on his handling of Clegg, he’ll twist something Cameron once said into something it didn’t actually mean, and then dominate the agenda by endlessly demanding the poor sod clarify what he meant by it.

Instead of skipping gaily through the flowers saying “hullo clouds, hullo sky” like Fotherington-Tomas, Cameron will find himself tearing his hair out repeatedly denying he ever suggested that single mothers should have their children taken away from them or that a 15ft wall should be erected on the English-Welsh border.

The trouble with us Lib Dems is that, ‘dirty tricks’ bleating from by-election losers notwithstanding, we play far too fair with our opponents. While they spout nonsense about how ‘just one vote for the Lib Dems in this seat will let Margaret Thatcher / Neil Kinnock eat your babies’, we hop up and down feebly saying ‘um, excuse me, that’s not actually true’ and getting ignored.

If the only way to destroy Cameron is to lie, cheat, mangle the truth, hit below the belt and generally behave like a cross between Karl Rove and

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<p style="border: 1px solid black; padding: 3px;"><b>Originally published at <a href="http://www.andthenhesaid.com/journal/mr-smug-mr-smarm-and-my-naked-ballot-paper-706.html">And Then He Said...</a>. Please leave any <a href="http://www.andthenhesaid.com/journal/mr-smug-mr-smarm-and-my-naked-ballot-paper-706.html#comments">comments</a> there.</b></p><p>With time running out in the Lib Dem leadership election, I&#8217;ve finally thought of something that might make me vote – even though the one thing I&#8217;ve been certain of all along is that I don&#8217;t want either candidate in charge of my party.</p> <p>When the election kicked off I was desperately hoping a third candidate would emerge so I wasn&#8217;t stuck with the unappealing choice between a candidate I didn&#8217;t rate and a candidate I didn&#8217;t like. Anyone would have done - John Hemming even - but no such luck.</p> <p>Chris Huhne had failed to impress me as a possible leader during the previous contest. I seem to remember writing at the time that a grey man in a grey suit could never be a successful leader of a political party which needed to fight for every scrap of attention.</p> <p>And since then I&#8217;ve learned from contacts that his press connections from his time as a journalist don&#8217;t necessarily represent a reservoir of stored-up goodwill that he can exploit. The broadsheet hack and ex-subordinate of Huhne who told me &#8220;a more self-contented man you will rarely find&#8221; didn&#8217;t strike me as itching to write positive pieces about how well the Lib Dems were doing under his leadership.</p> <p>My problem with Clegg, on the other hand, stems from his manner - he flunked the all-important &#8216;first impressions&#8217; test quite spectacularly when I met him and the famous charm that&#8217;s supposed to make him the great communicator simply repelled me.</p> <p>Distilled to its basics, he seemed false - that deadly quality the Big Brother / I&#8217;m a Celebrity worshipping masses despise above all others (except being a nonce, or an asylum seeker, or the manager of the England football team).</p> <p>Nevertheless, I was prepared to consider voting for him as leader when the contest started. I was aware that, while my objection to Huhne was based on his abilities, my objection to Clegg was based on a personal prejudice that others might not share. Plus, the press wanted him as leader and after what they did to Ming I couldn&#8217;t see the point in disobeying.</p> <p>Not so now.</p> <p>Clegg&#8217;s stuttered his way through the campaign, showing flashes of the qualities his supporters revere but no consistent demonstration of Messiahdom. Like the perfect ripe peach, he&#8217;s beautiful to look at but bruises dreadfully the moment he&#8217;s thrown to the floor and kicked around a bit.</p> <p>Consider it this way: if Nick Clegg were a yachtsman he&#8217;d win every single fair-weather race handily, leaving his rivals trailing in his wake as he cruised nonchalantly into the distance with a glass of chilled white in one hand and a cute blonde on his other arm.</p> <p>But in foul weather racing he wouldn&#8217;t make it to the first marker buoy before disaster struck and he sank like a stone, struggling feebly as he disappeared beneath the waves.</p> <p>So where would Chris Huhne be, in that overstretched and laboured metaphor? </p> <p>Not in the race at all - he&#8217;d be in a submarine underneath it, ready and waiting to torpedo the leader. One moment the hot favourite is sailing serenely along, the next they&#8217;re fatally holed below the waterline and Huhne&#8217;s sewing <a href="http://www.rnsubmus.co.uk/photodp/jrships.htm" title="RN Submarines" target="_blank">another bar onto his Jolly Roger</a>.</p> <p>It&#8217;s a talent he has, and he&#8217;s demonstrated it in both leadership contests so far. Campbell&#8217;s aura of gravitas - gone. Clegg&#8217;s reputation for communication - gone. It may not win him the race, but it leaves his victims fatally weakened and easy meat for the circling sharks of the press and the other parties to devour at their leisure.</p> <p>Which is a pretty good argument to vote for him in this leadership contest, when you think about it.</p> <p>And I am thinking about it, seriously. Because if he can do that to our chaps, think what he can do to the enemy.</p> <p>From being &#8216;definitely not Huhne, but twist my arm and I might vote Clegg&#8217;, I&#8217;ve now moved to exactly the opposite position.</p> <p>You see, the way I look at it, our next leader has just one task beyond the basic one of demonstrating the minimum level of competence to avoid the party being laughed at - and that&#8217;s to nobble David Cameron by fair means or foul.</p> <p>The Labour government was crumbling long before Gordon Brown took charge of it - his task was to stick his thumb in the dyke and delay the inevitable for as long as possible. He&#8217;s in the process of failing, thanks in part to Twinkletoes Cable&#8217;s surgically precise brutality.</p> <p>So that&#8217;s half the task done already, but if Cameron is still on the field of play at the next election it won&#8217;t help us as we&#8217;ll be hit from both sides: a resurgent Tory party and a Labour &#8217;stop the Tories&#8217; scare campaign.</p> <p>Be clear on this: the threat isn&#8217;t from the Conservative Party as a whole - when seen in bulk they&#8217;re still the same mix of swivel-eyed loons and chinless nonentities they&#8217;ve been for years. The threat is from Cameron, who has the knack of making you ignore the rest of the party and concentrate instead on the handfuls of magical pixie dust he&#8217;s throwing in the air to obscure them.</p> <p>Remove Cameron, however you do it, and there&#8217;s no-one to replace him. End result: ice cream and jelly for Liberal Democrats.</p> <p>Based on his performance so far, Chris Huhne might just be the man to kick Cameron in the knackers. He won&#8217;t rely solely on the power of argument, and he won&#8217;t be content (as Ming told me he was) to wait for Cameron to self-destruct.</p> <p>And I hate the Tories with such visceral loathing that I&#8217;m almost keen to see how he&#8217;d do it.</p> <p>Based on his handling of Clegg, he&#8217;ll twist something Cameron once said into something it didn&#8217;t actually mean, and then dominate the agenda by endlessly demanding the poor sod clarify what he meant by it. </p> <p>Instead of skipping gaily through the flowers saying &#8220;hullo clouds, hullo sky&#8221; like <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fotherington-Thomas" title="Wikipedia on Basil Fotherington-Thomas" target="_blank">Fotherington-Tomas</a>, Cameron will find himself tearing his hair out repeatedly denying he ever suggested that single mothers should have their children taken away from them or that a 15ft wall should be erected on the English-Welsh border.</p> <p>The trouble with us Lib Dems is that, &#8216;dirty tricks&#8217; bleating from by-election losers notwithstanding, we play far too fair with our opponents. While they spout nonsense about how &#8216;just one vote for the Lib Dems in this seat will let Margaret Thatcher / Neil Kinnock eat your babies&#8217;, we hop up and down feebly saying &#8216;um, excuse me, that&#8217;s not actually true&#8217; and getting ignored.</p> <p>If the only way to destroy Cameron is to lie, cheat, mangle the truth, hit below the belt and generally behave like a cross between Karl Rove and <a href="http://www.thestate.com/local/story/239149.html" "ric="&quot;Ric" flair="Flair" endorses="endorses" huckabee"="Huckabee&quot;" target="_blank">Ric Flair</a>, then maybe that&#8217;s the way we should play it. </p> <p>And one thing&#8217;s for sure - Nick Clegg&#8217;s not the right man for that particular job. Because if we&#8217;re about to march willingly towards the <a href="http://www.fireflywiki.org/Firefly/SpecialHell" title="Firefly wiki" target="_blank">special hell</a> reserved for bad politicians, we at least need to make sure the man leading us there is capable of killing, not wounding, when he strikes the blow that sends us that way.</p> <p>So I&#8217;m really, really tempted to vote Huhne.</p> <p>Except, even as my pen&#8217;s hovering over my naked ballot paper, there&#8217;s a part of me saying &#8220;No - it shouldn’t be that way&#8221;.</p> <p>Maybe the political reality is that we need to play the man, not the ball. But I&#8217;ve never been very good with reality. I don&#8217;t want to live in a world where that sort of tactic is the right sort of tactic. And I don&#8217;t really want to endorse it with my vote.</p> <p>So that&#8217;s where I am at the moment. And if you&#8217;re a Huhnista and you&#8217;ve read this far - leave a comment and give me a reason to vote for him.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t base it on his policies, because I don&#8217;t care about policy. Both candidates passed the PPC selection process, so they&#8217;re ideologically sound and that&#8217;s good enough for me.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t base it on his personality, because I don&#8217;t think he&#8217;s got much of one and I don&#8217;t particularly like what he has got.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t base it on his ability to communicate, because if what you&#8217;re communicating is wrong then the better you are it the more damage you do.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t base it on how I&#8217;ve got him all wrong and he&#8217;s actually a nice guy, because that will remove the only quality that makes him worth voting for in my eyes.</p> <p>Instead, reassure me that he&#8217;ll be as lethal aiming outwards as he has been aiming inwards.</p> <p>Because if I&#8217;m going to sell my soul to the Devil, I want to be as sure as possible that the reward will have been worth the cost to my idealism.</p> <p style="border:thin dotted black; padding:3mm;">If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my <a href="http://www.andthenhesaid.com/journal/feed/">RSS feed</a>. 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Venus transit

He’s a very naughty boy

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

Ahem.

In recent days I have made it pretty clear that I don't want to see the election for the leader of the Liberal Democrats won by Chris Huhne. From this, readers may have drawn the conclusion that I want to him to lose.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, I'd like to see him victorious. I'd also like to see Simon victorious. It's just, I'd like them to be slightly less victorious than Ming. Races aren't generally won by everybody who takes part, but I'm hoping that this one will end with everyone looking like winners* because then the party wins too.

Consequently, I was a bit concerned when rumours surfaced this evening that Michael Crick planned to give Huhne a monstering on tonight's Newsnight. Not hugely concerned, because something about this one didn't smell very dangerous owing to the general lack of excitement in the rest of the media, but a bit concerned.

In fact, the resulting revelations turned out to have the seismic impact of a fart in bathwater. I'd even go so far as to say, a very small fart in very shallow bathwater.

There was the now-obligatory photo of him as a student, looking up at the camera as he and a band of long-haired colleagues stormed some university building or other, a photo that gives me the wiggins because in it he's the spitting image of a girl I slept with during my student days who woke up the next morning, took one look at me, and promptly decided she was a lesbian.

But I digress.

There was a slightly cringeworthy claim by the man himself that he didn't know whether or not he was a millionaire. There were a few interviews with former friends revealing the startling and dubious facts that he's an economist, and that he could afford to run a car as a student (could these items be linked, I wonder?). And then, after the ceremonial raking up of the past was concluded, came the hammer blow. Except it was more like a tap on the knee with a rubber mallet.

So the Eastleigh Lib Dems used European publicity money to part-fund some literature promoting him when he was still an MEP and Westminster hopeful, leading to a complaint from the Tories that was rejected at the time? And he produced a leaflet that those poor fragile flowers in the Labour Party thought was a bit harsh?

Big whoop.

A funding dodge that was on the right side of legality by a whisker, and a campaigning trick that hacks of all parties (including me) have used from time to time. It's not exactly disgusting practices and dead dogs by the wayside, is it?

More importantly, it's not cash for questions or dodgy donations from motor racing entrepreneurs, either.

In fact, it's such a stunning expose that - at the time of writing this, a good couple of hours after the item was broadcast - the BBC doesn't even have a story about it on its news site.

Crick, I thought, looked ridiculous on occasions - especially when he talked of hundreds of pounds of European money in the sort of accusatory tones most reporters reserve for wasted millions.

I'd have liked to have seen Huhne deal with him better, though. There was a glorious moment when the normally EU-enthusiastic Huhne was able to mock Crick for arguing that European law rather than British should apply, but it was a very lawyerly, PMQish point and it probably didn't help much with the wider viewing public, such as it would have been.

Huhne tackled him by nit-picking, when it would have been far preferable to have seen him take a more robust line of action - such as delivering a swift kick to his backside then dropping him head first into a pond, for example. Still, you can't have everything.

All in all, this did very little to damage Huhne's reputation - or to enhance Crick's.

* except the unfortunate Mr Oaten.

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