30-30-30 we were told was the scoring at last night’s political X factor show. The Lib Dems and their sympathisers in the media are working hard to say people want a hung Parliament. We are told that floating voters in the audience expressed approval when Mr Clegg appealed to politicians to work together for the public good.
There are several different reasons why some people want a hung Parliament. The most common, that we would be better governed if politicians brokered compromises instead of arguing it out, is perhaps the most dangerous. In my experience this country’s biggest mistakes in the last 20 years have come from policies backed by more than one political party. There is nothing as dangerous as the whole political establishment agreeing about something. They impose a suffocating blanket on anyone who disagrees and who might be right, as they cannot bear to be shown up as wrong.
Good government needs strong opposition. It is the need to face challenge and to listen to criticism which hones policy and improves administration. Agreement creates laziness and sloppy thinking.
Consider three big errors. The first has been the boom and bust presided over by Labour. They should take the main blame, and it was their policy of changing the regulatory and monetary arrangements which caused it . However, the Lib Dems agreed with Labour’s policy of a so called “independent Bank of England”. Conservatives opposed it at the time, but subsequently stopped challenging it. Lib Dems always liked it. The MPC has regularly failed to hit targets, the government has called the big shots over money printing, the Bank was stripped of its powers to regulate the credit creating banks, yet intelligent people sitll talk about the “success of Labour’s independent Bank”.
The second was the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq to stop weapons of mass destruction-weapons which turned out to be illusory. Conservatives did the “decent thing” They supported the Prime Minister over a matter he said was one of national security on the grounds that the Opposition should co-operate at a time of war, showing national solidarity. They took the PM’s claims and intelligence on trust, instead of opposing.
The third was the Exchange Rate Mechanism. All three main parties pursued this damaging policy which gave us inflation followed by a needless recession. Nick Ridley and I from within the government followed a lonely course trying to stop the folly. We watched in horror as the whole UK political establishment became gripped by this absurd idea that the UK currency could be kept stable agaist the DM, and that this would create a stable economy!
Please spare us more of these establishment disasters. I have had to fight too many battles against the establishment tribal view – it always takes too long, and if you do eventually win it is usually because the damage done by the consensus has been so great.
The second reason some people want a hung Parliament is that they are fed up with the whole system and want to change it. They think change would come from the deadlock a hung Parliament could create. They too might be disappointed. A hung Parliament might simply end up delaying any difficult decisions, thinking they could carry on spending and borrowing too much and pretending there is no deficit problem to be tackled. Ask politicians to compromise and they usually do so at the expense of the electors – compromise will probably mean spending more, regulating more and passing more power to Brussels and quangos, given the views of the Lib Dems.
The third group who say they want a hung Parliament are UKIP. They should grasp that we can only have a hung Parliament if the federalists have yet again won a majority of the seats. Far from getting us out of the EU a hung Parliaernt will ensure we drift even further into it.
Promoted by Christine Hill on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokinbgham RG40 1XU