A pact, huh? That’s pact spelled m-i-n-e-f-i-e-l-d

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

So – no definite result in the general election and a chance of some sort of coalition. We’re all supposed to put our tribal loyalties aside and work together for the common good.

I’m not very good at that.

I know it’s not what you’d call noble, but I am what I am – and that happens to be someone who grew up under Margaret Thatcher and has seen a lot of Labour local authorities and, frankly, doesn’t much fancy either of them.

There is a difference – I don’t like Labour, don’t trust Labour, and am frankly terrified of some of the policies they have lined up and ready. But I actually hate the Conservatives.

Not every individual Tory, of course – many of them are decent types. But the party itself, its ideology, the assumptions behind it. The very core of its existence.

I also don’t actually have a lot of faith that day-to-day policy decisions or individuals in cabinet make much difference. The big stuff, yes – but no junior coalition partner gets to make those decisions.

As a result, I’m looking at the choice over whether to go into alliance with one of the bigger parties from a purely partisan viewpoint. It’s not very altruistic, I know, but I’ll leave public spiritedness to others.

So this is what I sent to the party when it canvassed views, asking people to set out who they are and what they think:

Me: Parliamentary candidate in Feltham & Heston 2001, ex-chair of Hounslow party, multiple council candidate, now living in North Hertfordshire. Activist since I was at school, though drifted off to the Greens for a few years as a student in the early 1990s. Award-winning Focus designer.

I’ll keep this brief.

I don’t believe a referendum on PR is winnable. So no deal that involves PR should be accepted unless it’s a guarantee of legislation – anything less is not worth the inevitable damage that will come from a pact. At the moment, the country can see the election was unfair and will accept reform. By the time a referendum can be held – may be year or 18 months from now, they’ll have forgotten.

Whichever party we do a deal with, we will in effect have lied to voters in marginals where we’ve strongly campaigned to say only we can beat that party. We will destroy a lot of goodwill with any deal, and possibly find ourself wedded to that party for a generation.

I truly believe that our best option – for our own future – is to step back and let the Tories stay in office long enough to fail, while hoping at the same time for a Labour civil war. I understand that MPs may feel their duty to the nation trumps party advantage. I can understand that viewpoint though I’m too partisan to advocate it myself. I believe we can do more for the country in the medium and long term if we avoid short-term entanglements.

In terms of policy, sorting out the Digital Economy Act is an essential one. If we have any influence over the Tories, so is protecting the BBC from Murdoch and preventing weird religious loonies from running schools.

On a personal note, I don’t honestly believe I could remain in the party if we did a formal deal with the Conservatives. Demand and supply I could stomach – welcome even, if it involved giving the Tories enough rope to hang themselves.

Not so brief after all. Sorry.

Good luck, and don’t sell us out for a mess of pottage.

Andy Darley
Hitchin & Harpenden party

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I'm Andy Darley. Sometimes I want to say things. This is where I do it.