Note to the 2010 MPs: “Grow a couple”
In previous posts I have remarked what a great political and constitutional opportunity the UK now has. But it depends far more on individual MPs than on their leaders, constitutional historians, greybeard commentators or anyone else.
Until Parliament sits, everything will look as though it’s a matter of leaders doing deals on the basis that they can deliver blocks of docile MPs who will vote according to party whipping. Good, we have to sketch in at least a temporary government and opposition.
But the real world of this Parliament will be more interesting.
Fact (1): The country has refused to back any particular party. This leaves it entirely open to individual MPs to open their eyes, get bold, and do the right thing.
Fact (2): All the parties promised to deliver unspecified pain to save the economy. This leaves MPs free to give their vote to whichever leader gets a decent programme together.
Fact (3): It will be Parliament and parliamentarians who will be seen to have failed if this country cannot now deliver a plausible economic policy. Conversely, this Parliament could go down in history as the one which rescued the UK’s small-g government and its economy.
Speculation: I imagine that the next government will be headed by David Cameron. His Tory MPs will be prepared to be pretty tough, if he is. I am pretty sure that enough non-Tory MPs will be alert to the nation’s need for firmness now. I’d be fascinated to see what argument might be adduced by those non-Tory MPs who don’t row in behind a policy of keeping a triple-A credit rating.
I am pretty sure David Cameron would have secured more seats if he had campaigned as a recognisable Tory type: a leader committed to good, sound, Cabinet government at the head of a stable team enjoying the confidence of a competent, professional Whitehall. Instead he decided on a Blairite strategy of presidential charisma. In short, as my ” romp through the intellectual traditions of British conservatism” Mr Cameron’s Makeover Politics (SAU, 2009) argued, he decided to seek power in the manner outlined in my Mr Blair’s Messiah Politics (SAU, 2006, and described as “acute and entertaining” by Rod Liddle in the Spectator.)