The best political day for years
One ought to take some risks at such a time. Mine is to say that this is the best political period for decades.
I am almost sure the country is in better political and constitutional shape than it has been in my adult lifetime. The political class is in terrific form. There’s a new tone about. The right is free of Thatcherite stridency. The left has elements of Foot-ite Leveller crunginess, but that’s looking like a dying or anyway a minority trope. Caroline Lucas seems a better sort of green than most we’ve seen.
Today, Sunday 9th, we have heard excellent things from John Rentoul, Nick Cohen, Lord Owen, Michael Portillo, David Blunkett. Nick Clegg will with luck match the open-mindedness of David Cameron and has already set an amazing precedent by inventing the Clegg doctrine of the “people’s mandate”, or the “moral mandate” for minority parties in hung-parliaments. The new parliament may be more lively and serious than we have seen for decades. Sure, Labour will face a colossal identity crisis, and the right ought almost to be able to sympathise.
We have probably come to the end of a ghastly 20 years for the right. Our natural party, the Tories, messed things up until giving David Cameron the leadership. (UKIP bled away some of the poison at the price of some electoral damage.) We had to grind our teeth whilst New Labour only governed well, when it did, almost by chance, granted its total failure to play Westminster and Whitehall with any dignity.
True, I think David Cameron has made some colossal mistakes, and not least in failing to make sure he was seen as wanting an entirely different style of government to New Labour’s. Still, as Michael White almost suggested in his TLS remarks on my latest book, Mr Cameron’s Makeover Politics, he may well have plenty of chances now to be an amazing Prime Minister.
If he blows it, someone else may succeed in his place. I mean that the political culture is not likely to fail us.
I am also hopeful that an entire generation of comedians and broadcast commentators – at least their drearily dissident, and childish, carping style – will also get swept away.