Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Lightweights triumph in UK General Election

It used to be said that you were getting old once policemen seemed to look young. I have long thought that politicians were a more appropriate comparison given how elderly our leaders were in the 1950s and 1960s.
Tony Blair was the first prime minister in my lifetime older than myself. Ever since his appointment in 1997, the gap seems to have been getting bigger. Thank goodness Ken Clarke and Vince Cable are in the new Cabinet – they got their bus passes before me.
There is, however, no guarantee that with age comes either wisdom or virtue.
Until recently I was ready to condemn those youthful career politicians who had no experience of life outside of politics. But I have had to accept that the old order in Westminster has failed.
The death knell was struck by the MPs expenses scandal. But Gordon Brown’s raid on the pension funds, the illegal invasion of Iraq, and the run on Northern Rock were among the issues that first contributed to the loss of public trust.
Perhaps the day of the political lightweight has arrived. No one but an Eton-educated, televisual chancer like David Cameron could have embarked on a conversion to a game-changing coalition inside a week. The Tory right must be spitting blood as they see their party hi-jacked. The LibDem left has been bought off by Cameron’s surprisingly generous coalition terms.
Labour, meanwhile, while roundly rejected after 13 years in government, hasn’t been obliterated. It is the only major left of centre party in the UK and under a new leader may yet bounce back in a matter of a few years.
The LibDems, despite losing a handful of seats, has got its grip on power. For the rest of us the party has proved the moving force for much needed constitutional reform.
Meanwhile the Tories are back in office in a manner, which should restrain its wilder excesses.
The British electorate could never have guessed at the outcome but its ‘plague on all your houses’ voting may well have produced the best possible election result.

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