It’s one thing MPs getting caught with their pants down. It’s quite another when they’re all getting caught with their willies in the till too.
Headlines as hilarious as this, coupled with the impending failure of Brown’s last gamble at the G20, all make a Tory victory more certain by the day. No-one wants Labour to lose more than I do. But there is one set of circumstances under which I would consider voting for them: to prevent a Tory landslide.
Look at the state of them now: led by a sociopath who (I can’t work out which) is either a reckless gambler betting everything on somehow bucking the recession, the markets and the rest of the world’s governments, or a saboteur deliberately wrecking the public finances to force the Tories into huge spending cuts. He is surrounded by a cast of knaves who have, quite rationally, realised that they will be out of a job, and in many cases out of a seat, in a year and are focused on milking the public purse for all its worth while they can. New Labour is morally, intellectually and electorally finished. They are the economic inheritors of Thatcher, but twice as authoritarian. Anyone who wants to see a strong centre-left in Britain should hope, if anything, for an immediate election to put them out of their misery. Old Labour collapsed after being captured by one set of special interests (the doomed miners), and New Labour after various others (the City, the neocons, and the more bloated parts of the public sector). It is best for everyone concerned if Labour has a short civil war and a long spell in opposition, and it will probably take eight or ten years for them to come up with a coherent set of ideas appealing enough to undo what they have squandered up to now. For years the Tories wished they’d lost in 1992.
I am prepared to give David Cameron the benefit of the doubt: although it’s still not easy to divine specific policies, his apparent views on fiscal responsibility, the environment, education and civil liberties make him more appealing to me than any of Brown’s possible successors within Labour. But I wonder, beneath the smooth brand management, whether his is still a (not the) nasty party.
The blogosphere, as a barometer of grassroots opinion, suggests they might be. As new social media developed under a Labour government, it was natural that conservatives, in opposition, would make better use of its opportunities (taking their cue from the US, where the right dominated the internet, at least until Obama’s campaign, as a response to a supposedly liberal traditional media). Most political blogs, with the exception of Political Betting, are depressingly partisan. And although some right-wing bloggers, like Guido Fawkes, are an entertaining and sometimes informative alternative to newspapers bound by the developed world’s most restrictive libel laws, most of his commentors turn out to have predictable views on climate change, capital punishment, gays, etc. It may be that it’s simply easier to be abusive and inflammatory when hiding behind the anonymity of the internet, and perhaps the Young Turks are still outnumbered by retrograde but fairly harmless Blue Rinsers, but we should judge a party by its base as much as its leadership. A small Tory majority, or better still a Tory-Liberal deal in a hung parliament, held to account by a Labour opposition rediscovering some long-dormant decency, seems the least bad outcome. One of these seems likeliest at the moment, and (given the systemic bias against the Tories) things will still have to get quite a lot worse (if that’s possible) for a landslide to be on the cards, and therefore for me to hold my nose and perversely vote Labour.
I suppose, though, that at least a rampant Tory right wouldn’t come up with anything like this. What a perfect summary of this government’s philistinism and neophilia in one policy. As if school leavers aren’t historically illiterate enough. As if their attention spans aren’t short enough. As if we don’t already have a surfeit of unemployable communications graduates. What, having learned nothing at school, will these twits of tomorrow tweet about? Jade Goody?
As if to prove the point, your faithful but bog standard comprehensive-educated correspondent has again ended up blogging about… blogs.