'No', Alex Salmond, Better Together, Clacton, Conservative, Daily Telegraph, David Cameron, democracy, Ed Miliband, England, Gordon Brown, government, Labour, Mike Sivier, mikesivier, new powers, Nigel Farage, Northern Ireland, people, politics, referendum, Scotland, Tories, Tory, UKIP, Vox Political, Wales, William Hague
At long last, a democratic vote of the people has been won by Gordon Brown.
Nobody can say this was a victory for David Cameron. Even the Torygraph which, admittedly, has had problems with the Conservative leader of late, had little to say about his role other than to say that he had been humbled by one populist politician (Nigel Farage), and came close to being “permanently undone” by another (Alex Salmond).
If the thought of seeing David Cameron “permanently undone” makes you likely to lose your breakfast (especially if you have a vivid imagination), you probably won’t be consoled by the fact that the Torygraph editorial said the same about Ed Miliband.
It went on to say that Conservative spirits have slumped, and a UKIP win in Clacton could still finish off Cameron as a political force of any kind. Is that really likely, though?
Where the Torygraph comes well and truly unstuck is in its appraisal of Labour (quelle surprise). “We now know that Labour’s wafer-thin lead is good for nothing this far from the election,” it whimpers. Do we? Do we know that? We have just seen a campaign orchestrated by a former Labour Chancellor and boosted at the end by a former Labour Prime Minister save the United Kingdom from break-up. That seems more like a solid endorsement of the Labour Party.
“For all the cross-party sheen to Better Together, behind the scenes, it was a Labour operation from start to finish,” states the Torygraph editorial in self-contradictory overdrive. In that case, Labour’s “wafer-thin” poll lead is not only an accurate representation of British feeling; it undervalues Labour’s popularity.
“The question they must be asking themselves is this: what happens when the British public start paying attention in the last weeks of April 2015? And who do they have who can have the same stabilising effect that Gordon Brown had?”
Gordon Brown was the man who de-stabilised Labour’s campaign in 2010 when he was recorded describing Labour voter Gillian Duffy as a “bigoted woman”! Now the Torygraph wants you to believe he stabilised voters and voting intentions?
Perhaps it’s a sign of right-wing disarray. They don’t know whether they’re coming or going.
But let’s get back to the by-election in Clacton, which will be the next test for democracy in this still-united nation. The Telegraph (let’s dignify it with its proper title) wants you to believe that UKIP might win it, but doesn’t the referendum result indicate that the result must depend on turnout?
UKIP won its seats in the European election on an average turnout of around 34 per cent. Turnout for the referendum was 84.5 per cent. It seems clear that ‘populist’ politicians like Farage can only win if turnout is low and they mobilise all their supporters to come out and vote. It’s the same with any political organisation whose views are seen as (with apologies to Yes supporters) extremist; they rely on middle-of-the-road voters staying at home.
Lately, that has been exactly what has happened – and we have all seen what that gave us.
It seems the tide has turned.
Practical issues: David Cameron has made it clear that he plans to honour promises made by his Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats to devolve more powers to Scotland in the event of a ‘No’ vote. Many commenters on this blog and its associated Facebook page were determined to make the rest of us believe this was a lie; they should be eating their words around now, along with a little Humble Pie, perhaps.
The timetable is swift, with agreement on new powers over tax, spending and social security to come in November and the legislation in January.
Lastly, a note of caution:
David Cameron scuttled out of his hole after the result was decided, to deliver a speech about the future. He said: “We now have a chance – a great opportunity – to change the way the British people are governed, and change it for the better.”
Isn’t that exactly what he was supposed to have been doing for the last four years – and making a disastrous, hopeless mess of it?
He reckons his government is going to draw up new powers for Wales, Northern Ireland and England as well, and he has brought in William Hague to oversee the latter. So it’s going to be a self-serving disaster for democracy, then.
If there’s one thing we can trust Cameron and Hague to do, it is flushing our rights down history’s lavatory. For all we know, they don’t even understand the proper way to sit on one.
Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike
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