Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Independent calls for a coup.

I listened to LBC radio last night in incredulity as the presenter asked if the Queen should step in and dissolve parliament so that a general election could be forced in Britain, as the public - so they claim - have lost all faith in both political parties.

Leaving aside the fact that I don't think such power is actually within the Queen's remit, I was left wondering who the public are supposed to vote for if they have, as claimed, lost faith in both political parties. Are we seriously saying we must have a general election so that the Liberals can form the next government? I think not. We all know that were there to be an election tomorrow that it is Cameron's Tory party who would sweep into power.

Which is why I am so surprised to see this morning's Independent leader column, arguing that "drastic action is now needed to secure a general election".

When does a government forfeit the moral right to govern? It is a question that has an uncomfortable relevance in Britain today. Labour emerged from the 2005 general election with a solid, if unspectacular, mandate to govern Britain. Yet that mandate has been draining away at an alarming rate ever since. And now, with Labour on course for a disastrous performance in Thursday's European elections, the party's authority is on the verge of being wiped out altogether. If the Government's democratic credibility looked shaky before, the expenses scandal of recent weeks has blown its moral authority apart entirely.
The paper makes a token effort to show that this crisis is not one for the Labour party alone, but seems to argue that the party in power pays the price for the crisis no matter how right or wrong that seems.
It is rather unfair for Labour to suffer more than other parties in the expenses fall-out; MPs of all affiliations have abused the system. But Labour is the biggest party in the Commons. With greater representation comes greater scrutiny.
The Independent then argues that a general election is a matter of urgency and provides only the worst reasoning as to why this government might want to continue. Arguing that the cabinet might force Brown out of office, they state:

However, what makes such a coup less likely is the desire of Labour MPs, many of whom would be facing defeat even with a new leader, to hang on to their salaries for another year.

This would, suffice to say, be the most dishonourable justification of all for allowing this broken administration to stagger on. It would confirm every suspicion of the public about the self-serving rapaciousness of MPs.

I am simply stunned that The Independent are making this argument. I know that LBC have been feasting on the MP's expenses scandal for weeks now; but only yesterday James O'Brien, one of their talk jocks, was speculating about how hard it was to keep public anger going on this matter.

The assumption made by the Independent is that this is a problem which can only be sorted by a general election, a general election which we all know the Tories would win, despite their being just as embroiled in this scandal as their Labour counterparts. The Independent's justification, that, "with greater authority comes greater scrutiny" is absolute bollocks.

Quite why this newspaper has decided to embrace the arguments of right wing radio shock jocks is utterly lost on me.

Their letters pages over the next few days are bound to be interesting. We now have a leading progressive British newspaper demanding that a British cabinet pull off a coup which removes their own party from power. That's simply astonishing.

Click title for Independent leader column.

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