Friday, July 30, 2010

House Points: We should enjoy being in government

This week's heartfelt, if disgustingly loyalist, House Points column from Liberal Democrat News.

World Wide Words has a short article on these Dutch expressions. Interestingly, it seems that the one you hear most often today - "Dutch auction" - originally had no pejorative sense but has acquired it by association over the years.

Going Dutch

The English language embodies our history, and there is a little group of expressions that remind us of a forgotten corner of it. ‘Dutch courage,’ ‘Dutch treat’ and ‘Dutch concert’ were all coined in the latter half of the 17th century when we were fighting wars with the Netherlands and naturally forming a dim impression of our enemy’s characteristics.

Today, as the Commons has shut down for the summer, I am going to evoke another of those expressions and write like a Dutch uncle.

Because what I want to say is this: enjoy being in government. Not just because we had all grown rather tired of the alternative. And not just because it is great to see people like Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne and Vince Cable in the cabinet where they belong.

Enjoy it because of the progress we are making in the areas we care most about. On reform of government we have a referendum on the Alternative Vote, fixed-term parliaments and moves towards an elected second chamber.

On education we have the pupil premium to direct extra spending to benefit poorer children. And on liberty we have measures like the abolition of identity cards, their accompanying database and the ContactPoint Database of all the nation’s children (brought in lest someone blame the Labour government for something one day) too.

We should also enjoy being in government because it was always going to be like this. For generations Liberals and the Liberal Democrats have been a third party campaigning for electoral reform. We were bound to get our first taste of government in the modern era as the junior party in a coalition. So you have to ask those Lib Dems who are feeling disaffected what they thought government would be like.

And if you still feeling unhappy with government, do please make sure you are not suffering from an inferiority complex towards Labour. It is no part of Liberalism or Liberal Democracy to defend every quango and every pound of off-balance sheet spending by the last government. It is time to lose the cringe.

While I was writing this it occurred to me that our leader probably has a Dutch uncle. So perhaps Nick will appreciate this column.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for saying this. I hope people listen, too much bellicose (!)handwringing from some quarters. When I suggested on LDV that I wanted to Liberal Democrats in government enjoying themselves I was shot down by the Cromwellian tendency, who thought that that would look smug. Blimey, no satisfying some people.

The idea that government was meant to be difficult, particularly in the aftermath of an economic meltdown, just seems beyond some Lib Dems. And they seem far too sensitive to all the howls of mock outrage from Labour, rather than just telling the rattle and scarf mob where to get off.

(Paul McKeown)

It doesn't add up... said...

Another way to put this is that Labour are now the Opposition. Part of the job of government is to oppose the Opposition. And you won't get to be the real big political cheeses unless you do oppose them and provide a credible alternative: othrwise, why should voters vote for you rather than them?

Anonymous said...

yes john, enjoy being used a a fig leaf for the most devastating and economically unnecessary cuts to the state since, well, ever! enjoy the privatisation of the NHS! enjoy the setting up of free schools outside of local authority control! enjoy the spitroasting on AV both parties are giving us! At least we have the abolition of ID cards (Tory policy anyway), an elected second chamber (Tory policy anyway) and the abolition of the Sustainable Development Commission! And at the end of it all, let's revel in 13% opinion poll ratings.

Jonathan Calder said...

Do not underestimate the fun of annoying Labour trolls who cannot even get my name right.