Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The future: my hope

There is little more important to me than political reform. The economy, helping the poor and those unable to help themselves, and civil rights are all huge areas that are very important also, but I feel that without the appropriate political structure in which to manage those areas, the whole system is weakened. Without knowing that our politicians are truly accountable, transparent, and open to political compromise, as well as having a strong strand of evidence base policy making about them, the fight for the other areas of political concern is made that much harder.

It's for this reason that I am cautiously happy with the result that we have facing us now that Brown has resigned as Prime Minister and Cameron has been handed the keys.

I respect Labour for some of the good that they have done, some seriously land mark progress was made in the early days of Labour administration. But it is overshadowed (though not swept away) by the actions and principles of the latter day Labour governments.

What we need now is some hope. While it looks like meaningful reform is off the table, the referendum on AV is our foot in the door if it is so agreed. To me, there will be nothing more important in the future of our politics than the outcome of that referendum, a referendum that will essentially pit the Tories idea of continued leadership of the country against the Lib Dems ideal of people power.

I hope the Lib Dems do find their way into a coalition, in doing so aiming to work well with the Tories. They will lose supporters from the highly political that wanted a progressive left leaning coalition, but they will be a significant minority.

By working well with the Tories, critically and with their own level of power, the Lib Dems can simultaneously put a dampener on some of the more horrifying Tory proposals while showing the country from the centre-left to the centre-right that a coalition government can do important work. After all there are already rumours that regressive policies such as the marriage tax break and inheritance tax cut have been put on hold as a result of the negotiations.

After such a strong coalition performance the referendum on electoral reform will be easier to win, gone will be arguments of confusion and instability...the Tory plans to ensure blame over cuts is shared will be converted to a narrow but definite victory for a new electoral system.

We will then find ourselves in an election once more, perhaps as early as 2 years, maybe all the way at 4, but under a new AV system that will see the Lib Dems disproportionately take a surge in the seats they hold, and thus a surge in power in parliament, off the back of being a party that most people "don't mind" having if their main party choice doesn't win.

No longer will their be an argument against STV, when the victors of the dis-proportionality of the AV system are themselves using that victory as a sign for the need for change.

By 2015 we'll finally have a system, along with other necessary changes on constitutional reform, reform of the Lords, etc, that delivers a fair system of governance to the people of UK. And when that happens it'll all be because the "two-faced" Lib Dems held their nerve and accepted a place alongside their own supporters' worst enemies.

At least that's what I hope.