Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

I've realised what's been really bugging me...

Over the last few weeks, as the Government's situation has gone from bad, to worse, to diabolical there has been something in the way that Gordon Brown and other ministers have tried to defend him and their position that has been really niggling away at me and I have realised what it is.

Almost every defence that you hear has an implicit (and sometimes explicit) assumption that only Labour can govern. That it is only Labour and Gordon Brown who in fact have any right to govern.

I have heard Gordon Brown himself respond to questions about whether he should stand down with phrases like "No, because we need to do x to fix y problem" or "We are tackling the problems with the economy". It is as if nobody else and no other party could possibly even be considered able to govern at all.

Now, of course that's politics. You position yourself as the answer and try to paint your opponents as the opposite. However I just get the feeling with this lot that they have reached the point where they have been in power for so long that they genuinely think they are the only ones who can do it.

I have a long enough memory to remember what things were like under John Major towards the end of his reign. I recall (although I cannot find a link to it) some government adviser or somesuch resigning in about 1996 and getting into the papers by talking about how the Conservatives seemed to feel that they had "a divine right to govern". I also remember john Major in the run up to the 1997 election in a rather odd admission that he was going to lose publically offerring to train Tony Blair in how to handle European conferences. It showed that Major really felt that nobody could do it properly but him.

This is arrogance of the highest order. Gordon Brown should put himself in the shoes of himself from 13 years ago and remember how scornful he was of such claims from the then moribund Conservatives. They need much better reasons for people to vote for them than "we've been in for a while and others aren't up to the job". That is an argument for perpetual incumbency and as Major found out in 1997, it doesn't work. It just makes the "Time for a Change" argument resonate all the more.


Kalvis Jansons said...

So how is your 10 pound bet feeling now?

ceedee said...

Similarly Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East MP) twitters, without any sense of irony:
"Seriously tho, we accept we have a huge task ahead of us to restore people's faith in politics, and Labour. But we can do it."

Thank heavens Labour are around to sort out the horrible mess...

Richard T said...

If you cast your mind back 12 years, the same proprietorial sense of the right to power went through the Conservatives. There was outrage in the Telegraph when the voters dared elect Blair. Perhaps this comes from being too long in power so that party political interests blur into governing.

There is an argument that the British political system relied upon the regular alternation of parties so that no one party became entrenched in power and hence the party interest could not become paramount and the patronage exercised by the state was not distorted by political considerations. Now under the conservatives, nomination to quangos was biassed by party and the same has happened under labour.
in the 18th century this was the old corruption. Plus ca change...

All this adds to the view that the political system is broken and needs a root and branch fix starting with a written constitution based on an considerable extension of election as opposed to nomination with all nominations being subject to confirmation by the legislature.

Caron said...

That is just the Labour Party for you. They do have this arrogant demeanour about them. There was a little bit of me that did wonder if they were genuinely scared about letting the Tories in and the effect that that would have on the recession.

However, if you look at how they behaved in their former Council fiefdoms up here, which operated the former Soviet Bloc standard of customer service, you realise that it's just their attitude that they have an inalienable right of government and we should just live with it. Great what a bit of STV can do though - there are only a couple of wholly Labour controlled Councils left in Scotland - it's marvellous.

During the Glenrothes by-election they put out a leaflet with Alex Ferguson basically saying that the voters should think themselves lucky they had a Labour Government I wrote an incensed blog posting about it at the time.