While I remain of the view that this ToryDem Cleggeron Coalition is the right Government at the right time, it is hardly the sort of quantum change we really need in Britain.
A few wimpy ‘noes’ against perhaps the most unpleasantly arrogant Speaker in Commons history is not what you’d call a clean sweep of the ancien regime. Those of us hoping to see the Beastly Bercow in a tumbril on his way to an appointment with the guillotine have been sorely disappointed. More seriously, Cameron will regret bottling on this one: John Bercow is the kind of pillock who will become insufferable now he feels safe.
There are 220 new MPs, but the only difference I’ve noticed in the new intake so far is that whereas previously they lacked wrinkles, now they seem to have spots. When interviewed, however, they all spout the same robospeak as taught (no doubt) from Highgate Political Nursery onwards. This too shows a disturbing lack of change.
Most important of all, there is nothing in the aspiration of this Government (although we may learn more from the intent document due out later this week) to suggest it will busy itself with anything beyond fighting fires in a sort of non-stop crisis management Master Class. Perhaps it is expecting too much, from an administration saddled with 1000 urgencies, that it might tackle the half-dozen truly important problems we face. But even so, in the first week or so it has displayed the familiar chronic reliance on a largely smug and badly-informed civil service.
As for Her Majesty’s New Opposition (don’t mention the ‘N’ word any more) they have a leadership contest to face. This is the standard fate of those who lost, and thus very Old Politics. But the sight of the same swamp-feeding giant reptiles feeding on the antediluvian concerns of basic pond life is positively dinosaurus diplodocus. Miliband Major says new is the new old hat, and Milband minor says old is the new hat. Hat herself says she won’t run. And Ed Balls will I suspect find it impossible to resist running on the No Moving Forward ticket – if only so he can blame Lord Ashcroft/Mandelson/Ashdown when he loses. Burnham A of the Fourth Remove is still taking soundings. By the time he’s finished doing that, morbidly obese feminists will be singing peace songs, so I’d imagine we can discount his challenge.
But this sort of sport is unfair, on the grounds of being like laughing at Gordon Brown or catching Lord Mandelson lying. Perhaps more worthy (albeit impossible) would be the pursuit of something – anything – either new or genuinely humble in what the wannabe Labour leaders have to say.
Ed Balls told The Independent yesterday that “People knew we had done great things…but they thought we’d stopped listening”. A Party which had even started listening might ask what on earth these great things were that Labour did from 1997 until 2010 – and why the poor got both poorer and more alienated under its politically correct (but governmentally incorrect) period of power. Mr Balls’ very talented but narrow cul-de-sac of a mind is not so much an example of New Politics as a load of Old Cobblers.
Face to face with Gordon Brown at an unstaged local meet-the-people event in Bristol three weeks ago, an ordinary English bloke with no agenda beyond frustration told the late Prime Minister, “You and your kind will be swept away by events”. I think for me this was the most honest and accurate feedback received by the Political Class from our Island Race during the last election. Time will tell how many of the members of that class were paying attention.