Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Having watched Gordon Brown's oddly compelling - and no doubt thoroughly sincere - farewell performance oustide No. 10 yesterday evening, two small boys and wife in tow, I awoke to see a caravan of Fulham FC partisans rolling into Hamburg ahead of the UEFA Europa League Final.
On Freeview, that is. I have not, without warning, relocated to ply my trade on the Reeperbahn. A fat ass might go a long way, but in Jutland there is just too much competition.
A Conservative 'safe seat', the new constituency of Chelsea & Fulham returned a 60.5% share of the vote for Greg Sands in the wake of the disintegration of the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham following the Boundary Commission's review for parliamentary representation.
The ruling has not significantly altered voting habits.
"The 2006 Conservative administration has introduced a number of changes to the running of the council, including the sale of homeless shelters, charging for home-care, increasing fees for meals on wheels and selling youth clubs. The administration has also been accused of intending to sell off council housing to private developers, charging council tenants market rent for their properties.
In a report into the the treatment of a pregnant homeless woman that the council refused to home, the Local Government Ombudsman accused the borough of hindering her investigation and of maladministration."
The one thing abundantly obvious is that those same voters, presumably, in West London who returned New Labour in 1997 have changed position, if not locality. Presumably, a pogrom on those lowering neighbourhood tone is back on the agenda. Those who can, may make a million selling mobile ringtones to the proles in Barking; those who can't, should move to Streatham.
A resettlement zone in Glasgow.
Brushed under a carpet of volcanic ash where once there fell soot.
What is clearer still, though, from observing the outcome of this general election nationally - and the protracted interparty negotiations which ensued as a result - is that the Majoritarian system which exists to serve only two parties in no way reflects the demands of the electorate.
While the media, in particular the press, was quick to proclaim a marginal overall majority of seats favouring the Conservatives sufficicient cause to demand Gordon Brown's immediate expulsion - contrary to both law and precedent - the fact remains that even under a prejudiced system those votes returned were by no means decisive.
The Conservative party won only one seat north of the border, of course, but look south too and the result was far from an outright mandate.
The case for substantial electoral reform has never been clearer. All the more irritating then, when former Thatcherite, and plausible Gestapo agent, Malcolm Rifkind popped up to protest at the Liberal Democrats holding "secret talks" with the Labour Party, or to witness a retired John Prescott's vociferous tub thumping as though New Labour retained sovereign right to govern.
To write off "Little Nicky Clegg" as "merely a pretty face", as Ann Treneman did in The Times, is - if not wholly unpardonable - nothing short of sloppy hyperbole.
Clegg had every right to negotiate with candor; to seek a deal for a referendum on proportional representation.
While his party may have merely secured 57 seats under the "broken system" both Cameron and Brown were prompt to condemn, as a percentage of the vote he scored a solid 23%; an incontrovertible fact some commentators remain ill at ease with. Or care to concede.
The "first past the post" system does not serve the touted national interest.
Where seats south of the border were most fiercely contested, in some instances where entire swathes of the electorate were denied their right to cast a ballot, it would be presumptious in the extreme to celebrate a narrow defeat as indicative of victory.
The electorate seems governed by mistrust. The coalition now entering office seeks to govern on a shoestring.
Or a recycled Ratners rope.
It is only proper that the party leaving is held accountable for policy and, crucially, its refusal to put those same policies to the test. A taciturn refusal to appeal directly to the electorate at the earliest opportunity has not served Gordon Brown's ambition to implement long term policy where he felt he most evinced just cause.
Neither do I believe that the electorate generally favours those immediate wholesale cuts in public spending both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are bent on now imposing. Rather, in response to the expenses scandal and collapse of the financial services sector in no small part, the British public is more keen to prune back those inefficient layers of bureaucracy; to unravel the worst self-serving excesses insulated by state.
Whether Nick Clegg, as deputy prime-minister, holds enough cards to steer a coalition clear of selling its hand to the highest bidder remains to be seen. The position he now occupies, I would suggest, is a good deal more central to that national interest than the "tiny circle of space" derided by Ann Treneman.
▼ THE LURKERS: GERALD from "Fulham Fallout" LP (Beggars Banquet) 1978 (UK)