Friday, April 22, 2011

Opportunist? Moi?

David Cameron, 12 May 2010, asked if he thought coalitions were a good thing:

"We did both have a choice. We could have gone for a minority government backed up by the Lib Dems. But we sat down and looked at it and both thought this is so uninspiring, it's not actually going to do what we came into government to achieve. We want to give the country good government."

David Cameron, 18 April 2011, arguing that AV will lead to more coalition governments:

"That undermines accountability and that's not right. That's what I believe AV could give us - power with less responsibility and pledges with less accountability."

Yes, yes, I know he tries to make a distinction between coalitions in 'exceptional circumstances', which can apparently be a 'good thing', and the idea of coalition governments becoming routine. But he doesn't give any reasons to back that up, as far as I can see, so really it's little more than the age-old tactic of acknowledging the glaring flaw in your own argument in order to fool people into thinking you've addressed it. Really, Mr Shiny-Face, are you seriously trying to exploit people's dissatisfaction with your own government to try and scupper AV? That's a pretty breathtaking move.

Incidentally, I also think this is another example of the Tories playing a much cleverer and nastier game than the Lib Dems when it comes to coalition politics. Notice the detail of Cameron's 'AV-means-more-coalitions' argument:

"I can absolutely put my hand on my heart and say in preparing our manifesto we really did go through every pledge and thought, 'We could be accountable for this. We aim to have, and believe we can have, a single party government so don't put anything in your manifesto you don't believe you can deliver,'" he said.

"If you move to a system where coalitions become the norm rather than the exception I think you might find politicians start being very casual about what they put in their manifesto because you can put in policies that you know you can get rid of as you form a coalition."

Indeed, politicians "may start to put things into their manifestos that might sound good but they can't deliver because they know that in a coalition they're not going to have to answer for them."

Things like, ooh, I don't know, let's pluck a hypothetical example out of the air... pledges to scrap tuition fees? Is it just me, or is the subtext here, 'Well, personally I take my manifesto pledges very seriously - but some people, like Nick here, are sadly not quite so conscientious, and I think you should all bear that in mind when casting your vote.'

Nasty, cynical stuff.

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