Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Deal is Done

As Gordon Brown stepped outside 10 Downing Street to announce his resignation for the second time in two days, I was sat in the library revising poverty and inequality for my Economics of Social Policy exam on Thursday. It seemed fitting. Since I came to any kind of political awareness, this country has been governed by the Labour party, a party founded by the working class to protect its interests against those of big business, against those of the rich. Labour has achieved a lot in its thirteen years of power- minimum wage, child tax credits, gay rights- yet I have never considered supporting it. Yes, there was Iraq, the sustained attack on civil liberties, cash-for-honours and cash-for-influence; but Labour's greatest failure is its record on inequality. The fact that the richest 10% of the population are now more than 100 times richer than the poorest 10% makes for a sad epitaph on the New Labour gravestone.

Not that the Lib Dems will be getting my vote again any time soon. Details are continuously emerging of the deal they have come to with the Conservatives, with Clegg set to be deputy PM and four other Liberal Democrats taking posts in Cabinet. I fear that the yellow bird I placed my cross next to last Thursday may well have been brought to the ground by a pellet from the Tory shotgun, bringing down with it an amnesty for illegal immigrants and a less Europhobic Britain. The resulting main course will likely be an assault on public services, enacted in the Tory's emergency budget. The decision to go into coalition with the Conservatives will surely not be popular with a lot of the parties grass roots, so whilst Clegg may be dipping his hand into the fire successfully on one side, he should be prepared for a flame-thrower from the rear.

And finally, David Cameron, privilege etched from ear-to-ear, enters Downing Street. Though it is not the result I wished for or feel is best for the country, it is the right outcome considering the result last Thursday. He does not hold the mandate he wished to so will have to tread carefully, leaving less of a footprint across the parts of the country that rightfully fear what the Tories could do. Though it is never good to be in opposition, there are worse times than this. Labour must regroup, take time electing a new leader, and consolidate the working class support that prevented it from suffering a deserved hammering at this election. It is only once it has re-established its connection with the people it is supposed to represent that it can look to enter government as a progressive force once more.

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