Monday, August 25, 2014

Is the only good Tory a kauppatori*?

Ah yes, Finnish humour - a concept somewhat less likely than the same nation's historic fascination with tango. But I digress, and not for the first time.

There can be little doubt that the process of differentiation between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives has begun in earnest. Odd, really, because the Conservatives have had very little trouble in that regard - there are very few serious commentators outside of the Coalition parties suggesting that they are much more 'wet liberal' than a Cameron-led, Conservative-only administration would have been, and in cutting welfare spending, they're doing what most people would expect them to, even if they don't like it much.

No, the expectation is that it is for the Liberal Democrats to differentiate themselves from the Conservatives, and that this is to be done against a backdrop of public cynicism, media vendetta and the hypocrisy of Labour activists who chastise the Coalition for its treatment of the poor and vulnerable whilst their leadership talk of being tougher on welfare and immigrants.

I'll be frank - doing a post-election deal with Labour isn't attractive to this rural bureaucrat. The catch is, would five years of continuing to try to mitigate Conservative incompetence any more worthwhile. I had thought that, whilst they might not be very nice, they were more likely to rebuild the economy than Labour, and on civil liberties issues, they couldn't be much worse than Labour were. I had not given much thought to the question of basic competence...

And it is competence, as opposed to 'right-wing evil' (message to some social liberals and most Labour activists - they aren't evil, it's simply that their view of society is radically different to yours), that has been the problem. In an attempt to win over the media, the Conservatives in government have effectively conceded that, whatever it is that journalists say must be done, regardless of the evidence. So, for example, when talk was of migration, the Conservatives came up with their absurd net migration target, something which has brought about a series of inane measures whilst failing utterly to convince those for whom the pledge was intended to placate and attract.

The 'bedroom tax', Europe, legal aid, anti-terrorism legislation, and so much more, where it is either clear that it didn't work and is being reworked, or is having consequences that thinking people had predicted from the beginning, too much of it is Conservative-inspired.

So, in the event that the British public throw up their hands as if to say, "we don't know, you sort it out", Liberal Democrats will find themselves with a rather harder puzzle to solve. And I really couldn't tell you, at this stage, how I might lean if it came to it...

* a kauppatori is the Finnish for a market square - perhaps as good a description of some Conservatives as you could hope to find...

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