Sunday, 18 April 2010

The hollowness of 'Cleggamania'

Cue the confetti and fireworks as the triumphant knight in shining yellow armour stands outside the doors of Number 10 with the recently knighted Sir Vince Cable by his side...

Another 20 Mums standing outside of a school on a sunny afternoon have been probed deeply by pollmasters and the results are in, Nick Clegg is the nations saviour. A man who this time last week was known by a very small section of society has now all of a sudden become somewhat of an idol across the UK... Not bad for 90 minutes of mediocre work.

Here's the thing, since the first 'Leaders' Debate', Nick Clegg has become a household name, his performance has been hailed as a 'breath of fresh air' and 'what the country needs'.

We've seen poll surges like never before showing support for the Liberal Democrats to be reaching unforeseeable heights (topping a YouGov poll (18/4/10) by 1%!).
All over sites such as facebook and twitter, people are coming out of their political shells and pledging an allegiance to a man who they discovered by chance last Thursday evening.

Everyone knows who he is,
do they know what he is?

But I have to ask the same question I have since the boom of 'Cleggamania'... Do people realise that they're voting for a party and not a personality?

Ask any of the newly christened Liberal Democrat supporters some of their party's policies... Very few will be able to name them or will respond by calling a Conservative voter a 'fascist' or quoting Clegg's joyous rhetoric that they're voting to change the old and tired two party system!

Dozens will slam David Cameron and his Eton/Oxbridge education... Clegg went to a top London independent school and then onto Cambridge where he studied Archaeology and Anthropology... At least Cameron is well versed in Politics, Philosophy and Economics; shame on him for achieving a first at arguably the best University in the world. How dare he!
We can't say the same of Clegg though can we because he's new and fresh and most certainly not one of those evil Tories!

I think the point I'm making is quite clear, people are looking face value at Clegg and comparing him to their skewed pre-conceptions of the other two parties. With the Liberals having very little concrete history the only ideas people have of them are that they sit on the fence and advocate the odd joint or two.

Let's have a look at some key points from the Lib Dem manifesto and see whether it is the fantastic nation changing doctrine it'll soon be billed as or whether cult of personality has reared its ugly head into our political system.

  • Ruling out the Trident nuclear programme and 'like-for-like' replacements... Will save £100bn
Brilliant... Remove the nation's nuclear deterrent and give Britain its final coffin nail. Why would you wish to be unarmed in this current world?
Yes, America an Russia have once more depleted their arms but they still have the power in their arsenal to end the world 20 times over, luckily for us they're our 'allies' and shouldn't be sending any attacks our way soon, but what of rouge states that are proliferating nuclear material such as North Korea or Iran?
We drop Trident (or replacements), save £100bn (Lib Dem figures), have a nuke free nation and then get a few mega tonnes of Iranian uranium bombard our streets... We gain £100bn but lose over 60 million people. Hyperbolic and theoretical but totally plausible. We would be sending a child into a fight against a man wearing brass knuckles.
A contradiction to their manifesto pledge of keeping our troops equipped surely!

  • Scrapping the National Curriculum in favour of a new 'Minimum Curriculum Entitlement'
I admit, the National Curriculum is flawed. It's forever being tampered with and consists of hundreds of pages worth of over simplified instructions but why would we want a minimum? Surely that's just a sugarcoat to make under performance seem more acceptable.
So what is this MCE? According to the Lib Dem website (Link), it will be the slimming down of the current 600+ page NC.
Fair enough but what changes will be made? How will it affect pupils currently in the school system? Will it and the proposed 'General Diploma' devalue the GCSE/O/A-Levels of millions?
All we know is that there will be less tests for little kids to get stressed over...

  • Raising £17bn by re-jiggering the tax system and distributing the money to the people, not to repair the budget deficit.
Fantastic news... On your first £10,000 you will not pay tax (try not to earn any more though, you'll regret it!) and even better you'll get £700 from the government in savings.
Of course the surges in capital gains tax, theoretical £3bn from aeronautical taxation and the air of uncertainty as to who really gains anything is forgotten because Vince Cable has become a celebrity politician who's risen out of our archaic two-party system and has fended off Alistair Darling and George Osbourne.
£4.6bn will going back into the nations coffers because the Liberals will hunt down every single tax evader and shake them by the ankles until every last penny hits the deck... No other government in history has ever tried to stop tax evasion and here come the Super LibDems ready to change that for good. Was the sarcasm strong enough?

Above I've given three Policies from the recent Lib Dem manifesto.

They may not relate directly back to you or the facebook generation of voters but do they not seem a bit far-fetched? Too ambiguous?
The Liberals have told us how honest they're being with the public. How they happily published economic tables in their manifesto but when you really read into it, £17bn comes in the form of theoretical scenarios and numbers plucked from the air.

A vote for Lib Dem is a vote for a hung parliament. What benefit is there in that?

The UK will look unstable from the inside to those outside and without a clear mandate we have a very scary situation whereby we do not have a firm leadership and our system will be hanging in jeopardy.

This Thursday, Clegg will face a stern grilling on his foreign policy which by the looks of it wants Britain to sign every dotted line the EU dishes out and increases our national expenditure on aid. His 'plucked from the air' numbers will be roasted and mutilated before being served as a worthless entrée before the nation.

Instead of saying how much you love Nick Clegg, remember you aren't voting for him (Unless you live in Sheffield Hallam), you're voting for his party and their policies and then when you've thought of that, say why.
If a person gives me a justified reason as to why they're voting Lib and details how their manifesto affects them so positively I will be more than happy to accept their view but if all they can tell me is that I'm an elitist, fascist, Thatcher loving Tory who wants to suck the land dry I'll just simply have to tell them not to waste their vote.

Judging a book by its cover is cliché and generally discouraged but somehow people are judging before knowing the books name!


No comments:

Post a Comment