I feel dirty.
I feel ashamed, dirty and soiled. I am worried about keeping a dark secret that might creep out in conversation in a tired and unguarded moment. The secret? I am rather pleased about the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition now in place. Writing those words, immediately leads to a sense of panic to try and justify my position to friends who’s politics I agree with, and to prevent the mickey taking from those who I don’t. I’m going to relax though and just take my time a little as I have not been this scared, encouraged, apprehensive and hopeful about politics for some time.
I voted Liberal Democrat at the last election and have done for some time now. I have never liked the Tories as I think their policies are guided purely by self interest rather than out of any concern for our society as a whole. I was massively looking forward to the election result after what I thought were some excellent performances by Nick Clegg, especially in the first leadership debate, and the upswing in LibDem support in the polls. It didn’t translate to votes though (that’s another post in itself), and I awoke along with everyone else on Friday, bewildered, despite the polls telling me in advance that a government simply wasn’t going to be there. BBC News 24 then became my friend, and I have never watched as much political programming as I have this last week, though I will still avoid Sky like the plague for this sort of journalism. My heart leapt when it was announced that Labour were also entering in to negotiations but on conclusion of the Liberal / Conservative talks, I found to my suprise, that I wasn’t as upset or angry as I thought I would be.
Numerically it was never a goer to do a deal with Labour, back bench revolts would have led to votes failing fairly shortly in a progressive alliance govt, despite the similarities in politics. An early General Election would have come calling with a minority Tory govt as well, and I really don’t think that this is an option with the current crisis in Greece. As a result, the coalition is a moment I’m actually rather proud of as intrinsically British. Two parties with completely different ideologies have come together and used common sense to hammer out an agreement. They have agreed where they can, compromised where they can’t, and held their ground on beliefs they will never surrender. I know some people will greet it with cynicism, but at this early moment, I genuinely hope it pans out well. The fiscal state we are in, is as bad as any we have been in for some time, and we need a stable govt to tackle it. I also think that some (not all) of the policies I disagree with on the Tory side, have been ameliorated by having a coalition Govt and toned down. Likewise the Liberals have a chance for the first time in 70 years to put some of their policies in to effect, and I am hugely excited by that.
I still have concerns we will not get the real reform I want – voting reform. Stephen Fry states far more eloquently than I can before the deal was done, why the Tories will never go for electoral reform. Now the deal has been done, a referendum is promised but only on the Alternative Vote system rather than the fairer proportional representation system. I also think the Liberals will lose more support from people who having voted for them, do not quite understand the reasons as to why they have joined up with the Tories. So here I am, slightly freaked out by the fact that the party I support is currently in love and cracking jokes with the Tories. I can’t wait for normal service for resume and for me to carry on taking the mickey out of the Tories and campaigning against them, but although my heart is groaning right now, I actually think my head is right, and a good outcome has been achieved in the circumstances.