Monday, May 10, 2010

Obama's Kagan Choice Is As Ugly As Nick Clegg's Abandonment Of UK Electoral Reform-- The Reality Of Politicians Never Lives Up To The Hype


I'd much rather think about the drama around the hung Parliament in the U.K. than about Obama's predictable but disappointing nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. I think I'll sit that one out and see if fellow moderate Democrats like Ben Nelson and Arlen Specter can defend the vicious and baseless attacks the right will use to go after a nominee who should make them a lot happier than she makes progressives. They don't know how to accept surrender gracefully.

I don't know an awful lot about Nick Clegg. But I'm not very inspired by what I've learned watching the election campaign in the U.K. and the bargaining in its aftermath. Perhaps he'll come through in the end. What's at stake though? Well, that's the question. Everybody wants to rule the world, of course. And they're worried about ruling the world after the next elections which are certainly going to come sooner than most people would prefer. And, then, there is that one little principle we talked about yesterday, proportional representation, the principle the Liberals, and then the Lib-Dems, have been fighting for for just short of a century. And now they have it within their grasp. But they also have Nick Clegg as their team captain. He doesn't seem to have the intestinal fortitude to go for it.

His party grassroots certainly supports him going all the way to get it. Polling of Lib-Dem supporters show that an astounding 90% support Clegg’s decision to enter into discussions with the Conservative party based on the fact that they had the most votes (36%). More important, however, is that 80% say that without "significant progress on electoral reform" the Lib-Dems should dump the Tories entirely. I'm sure Obama would take the same weak, middle of the road position Clegg seems to be taking. If he walks into government with anything less than proportional representation in the bag, he will have failed dismally and spectacularly and go down in history as a worthless shill. Some on the left, in fact, feel that the best thing that could happen for Labour right now-- other than Gordon Brown's departure from leadership-- would be an unprincipled Lib-Con coalition.
A briefing paper published today by the Fabian Society shows that a decision by Nick Clegg to join forces with David Cameron would provide an opportunity for a major electoral revival by Labour at a second election in 2010. It would also place many Lib Dem MPs in danger of being unseated.

If the Lib Dems team up with the Tories it would be a betrayal of the expectations of many progressive voters who voted Lib Dem last Thursday. Many supported the Lib Dems in the belief that they were a progressive, liberal party of the centre-left. Many more will have voted Lib Dem as a way to keep the Tories out.

For example, a YouGov poll just before the election showed:

• 43% of Lib Dem voters described themselves as centre-left or left, compared to 29% who described themselves as centrist and just 9% who described themselves as centre-right or right.

• 39% of Lib Dem voters described the Liberal Democrat party as being centre-left or left, compared to 33% of Lib Dem voters who described the party as being centrist and just 5% who described the party as being centre-right or right
This suggests that somewhere between a third and a half of Lib Dem voters could find themselves alienated if Clegg teams up with the Tories. Our analysis shows that this alienation of progressive Liberal Democrat voters from a Liberal-Tory pact would suddenly put scores of seats into play for the Labour Party at a second election in 2010.

...At a national level, the Lib Dems have positioned themselves as opponents of the Tories for the last two decades. A Lib-Tory pact would make Labour the sole source of opposition to the Conservatives in many seats, allowing Labour to persuade many former Lib Dem voters to switch to them.

There are 25 seats that would swing back from the Conservatives to Labour if just one-in-five Lib Dem voters in these seats switches to Labour. These would include many seats in the South and the Midlands that Labour lost at the General Election, such as Hendon, Thurrock, Broxtowe, Bedford and Hove, as well as the Tories’ prized gain in the North East, Stockton South.

Fifty-five seats would swing back to Labour if one-in-two Lib Dem voters in these seats switched to Labour. Though a tall order, along with seats taken off the Lib Dems, this could be enough for Labour to regain a majority at a possible second election in 2010.

Tories Feel Power Slipping Away, Blink... Then Panic

Petrified that their chance to run the show could go by the wayside-- perhaps forever-- David Cameron and the Conservatives reacted to Gordon Brown's resignation and the opening of formal talks between Labour and the Lib-Dems by caving in to the Lib-Dem demand for electoral reform, or did they? William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, says he's made Clegg a "final offer," which amounts to a national referendum on some kind of proportional representation scheme. Labour has offered to make it law and then go to the voters for approval. So which party will the Lib-Dems choose?
Speaking outside the House of Commons, Mr Hague urged the Lib Dems to accept the Tory deal, arguing that to join with Labour would mean "a second unelected prime minister in a row" and the imposition of voting reform without first consulting the public in a referendum.

This was later denied by Labour sources, who said they would pass a law on AV [Alternative Vote] immediately, but then hold a referendum to allow voters to approve or reject it. There were also unconfirmed reports Labour was offering the prospect of full proportional representation at a later stage.

Mr Hague said a deal with the Tories was the only way to guarantee the "strong, stable government" the Lib Dems say they want, as it would give the two parties a "secure Parliamentary majority of 76."... Mr Hague said that in a possible referendum, Conservative MPs opposed to change in the voting system would be "at liberty" to campaign against it.

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At 3:31 PM, Blogger Niceguy Eddie said...

Clegg's a whore and a sell-out. If he goes though with pursuing power by forgetting what he wanted it for in the first place, he will at best be largely forgotten by history. At worst, he will be remembered only for any harm that comes of it.

I'm not sure what to say about Obama/Kagan personally. I'm disappointed as well, but I'm also one of those 'wait-n-see' types. She can't be anywhere near as bad as who McCain/Palin would have picked. (Can you imagine? THOSE TWO replaceing Souter and Stevens?!) I still shudder at the thought.

Good post.


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