By ‘you’ of course I mean you people who voted Tory. I do hope you Lib Dem voters don’t make the same mistake twice:
Anyone who thought Andrew Lansley‘s political career was over had better think again after tonight’s meeting of the Tory 1922 committee.
The health secretary was cheered to the rafters when he appeared before the 1922 committee to explain the “pause” in the government’sNHS reforms.
My mole described the scene:
The minute Andrew walked in there was sustained banging of desks. He was very very very well received. The support was genuinely warm.
The enthusiastic reception for Lansley was designed to send messages to two people:
• David Cameron needs to tread with care amid concerns among some Tory MPs that No 10 has suggested that Lansley is an isolated figure in the government’s “listening exercise” over the health and social care bill.
• Nick Clegg, who announced his support for major changes to the bill at a meeting of his parliamentary party on Tuesday night, will face a furious response if he turns too harshly on Lansley.
You voted against AV, which might have better represented the majority who don’t agree with any of this. But no, in your ignorance you enabled this party to continue dismembering the NHS, to continue its unnecessary policy of ‘savage’ budget cuts, its thorough marketisation of higher education (which will destroy it for the – you guessed it – majority). You voted against the Lib Dems in the local elections, when they haven’t acted as a discernible brake on the Tories, and in doing so sent the Tories the message that they could do as they pleased. Even the police hate them! We have a voting system which allows a party which most people didn’t vote for to try its utmost to dismember as much of the areas of the public sector which most people value and a population with attitudes so insufferably stupid that given the chance to send a message that this has to stop then didn’t!
You people have brought what’s to come on yourselves. The destruction of London Metropolitan University is only the start for higher education, and when one of Cameron’s advisors says the NHS will be shown ‘no mercy’, you can only imagine what’s next. There’s no alternative, I hear you idiots cry? Of course there bloody is. Even the ultra right Sarkozy in France is talking about a Robin Hood tax to make the bankers pay the financial cost of the damage they caused. And of course even the senior doctor brought in by Cameron to review the ConDems’ reforms is utterly opposed to them:
Prof Steve Field, chairman of the NHS Future Forum – set up last month to undertake the coalition’s “listening exercise” – flatly rejects the health secretary’s plan to compel hospitals to compete for patients and income, which he says could “destroy key services”. The proposal, contained inAndrew Lansley‘s health and social care bill, has led key medical organisations to warn that it will lead to the breakup of the NHS and betray the service’s founding principles.
The film shows senior police officers assuring members of UK Uncut who had peacefully occupied Fortnum & Mason that they would not be confused with the rioters outside, and would be allowed to go home if they left the store. They did so, and were penned, handcuffed, thrown into vans, dumped in police cells and, in some cases, left there for 24 hours.
Isn’t all that supposed to have stopped? Haven’t we entered a new era of freedom in which the government, as it has long promised, now defends“the hard-won liberties that we in Britain hold so dear”? No.
In May 2010, after becoming deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg pledged that the government would “repeal all of the intrusive and unnecessary laws that inhibit your freedom” and “remove limits on the rights to peaceful protest.” The Queen’s speech firmed up the commitment by promising “the restoration of rights to non-violent protest”. So how did this grand vision become the limp rag of a bill now before parliament?
Because a) Clegg is more interested in power than principle and b) Clegg presumed he had about as much influence as Tony Blair had over George W Bush. But there’s far more in play than just those issues. Clegg also wants to prove (apparently at any cost) that coalition politics can work in the UK, but he’s labouring under a massive misapprehension – coalitions are supposed to be based on red lines and principles, not a supine desperation for approval by the dominant party. The betrayal of UK Uncut and attack on the students in Trafalgar Square are reminiscent of the worst authoritarian excesses under New Labour, and Cameron, Clegg and Home Secretary Theresa May appear entirely comfortable with them, then again this isn’t surprising. They’ve always known their ‘savage’ cuts would cause severe social unrest – apparently free-market ‘Orange Bookers’ find that a price worth paying. If it’s a choice between liberty and the unfettered free market, we know what’s most important for Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats. Monbiot goes on to say:
I don’t believe Clegg’s claim, which seems to have gulled the usually sceptical Observer journalist Henry Porter, that this act is the beginning, not the end, of the coalition’s reforms; and that, in Porter’s words, “there may even be a great repeal act down the road that would look at some of the laws not addressed in this bill”. Perhaps he is unaware that the original title of the current legislation was the freedom (great repeal) bill.
This legislation shows every sign of having been stopped and searched, fingerprinted and stripped of any content that might have rebalanced the relationship between people and power.
He’s right. Clegg’s early boasts mimic Obama’s promise to close down Guantanamo Bay – they promise change to get power, which when pushed turns out to be the objective they care about most. Neither Britain nor America has the slightest chance of change we can believe in – it’s no wonder young people are fighting back.
From his appeal to disaffected Lib Dem voters in yesterday’s Guardian:
Our society is at risk of being reshaped in ways that will devastate the proud legacy of liberalism. We see a free market philosophy being applied to our schools, wasteful top-down reorganisation of our NHS, and the undermining of our green credentials with cuts to investment.
At some point you have to conclude that this is not a mistake here or there, but part of a pattern. The pattern is of a leadership that has sold out and betrayed your traditions, including that of your recent leadership: Steel, Ashdown, Kennedy and Campbell.
Oh dear. Miliband attacks the ConDem government for precisely the neoliberal, free market policies which he freely associated himself with in the New Labour government, and which, if he became party leader, he too would espouse. Where does he think faith schools came from? Where does he think foundation hospitals came from? And it’s rather ironic to see the man responsible for the Vestas fiasco in the Isle of Wight complaining about a government not standing up for investment in green industries. The truth is that all three major parties are equally in support of neoliberal economic policies now as they ever were – would Miliband really say he didn’t care about the housing market? Would Clegg on his own suddenly confess he was against increases in consumer spending, funded by easy credit? It’s appalling for him to suggest to Lib Dem voters that their interests would be best suited by joining a Labour Party helmed by him. But he goes on:
We are proud of our record in government, from the children lifted out of poverty to the transformation of our NHS, but I believe I am winning the argument that we must turn the page on New Labour and the mistakes it led us to. For example, the argument is being won that a graduate tax based on income would be fairer than tuition fees and a market in higher education. The argument is being won that on issues like ID cards and stop-and-search we became too casual about the liberties of individuals. And I believe the argument is being conclusively won that we must recognise the profound mistake of the Iraq war.
Erm what? This was the party which was supremely indifferent to people becoming super rich, so whilst children were lifted out of poverty, the gap between them and the newly super-rich grew unlike any other time before in British history. The government did nothing whatsoever to tackle the problems of tax avoidance and evasion, was at the very least complicit in the American programme of extraordinary rendition and contracted out torture, thought it right to be able to detain people without charge for forty two days, and made up the reasons for the Iraq War. Is that really a record to be proud of? He isn’t even saying sorry for the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis killed in a war without legality or purpose! He and his party continue to believe in the state curing all problems, and came to believe themselves the ultimate arbiters of risk for everyone. So in order to save everyone from risks which could never be substantiated, they felt they had to subjugate the rights of everyone. Anyone remember the Independent Safeguarding Authority? How liberal is it really to suggest that everyone be considered a paedophile in the workplace unless they can prove otherwise?
Miliband hasn’t argued for an improvement in the voting system. He hasn’t articulated any ideas about how better people could be attracted to the political classes, nor how to devolve power away from the Whitehall mandarins who thought arresting the (then) Shadow Immigration Minister was a good idea. Someone more liberal would suggest no longer destituting asylum seekers, or allowing the police to construct a vast, unaccountable database of protesters. It’s an appeal of the vilest cynicism, promising just as little substantial reform from the nightmare of New Labour as his brother. If Miliband wants Labour to become the home of progressive politics he needs to realign his party fundamentally, not just try to steal other parties’ votes, and certainly not preach about other parties betraying their traditions.
David Cameron and Nick Clegg will create more than 100 peers to ensure that controversial legislation gets through Parliament.
The coalition government has agreed to reshape the House of Lords, which is currently dominated by Labour, to be “reflective of the vote” at the general election. That saw the Tories and the Liberal Democrats together get 59 per cent.
None of Labour’s 211 existing peers can be removed, so the coalition must appoint dozens of its own to rebalance the upper chamber. Lib Dem estimates suggest that the number of Tory peers would need to rise from 186 to 263 and Lib Dem peers from 72 to 167.
The first wave is expected soon, to enable additional ministerial appointments to take place, with further announcements within the parliament.
But the Lords isn’t supposed to reflect the popular vote in each election, surely? And when it’s elected in future by PR it won’t reflect the same sentiments as the House of Commons, so why should it do so now? I can understand the wish not to bring about the political deadlock which so paralyses the American political process, but this isn’t the way to do it. If there’s to be constitutional reform, even transitory reform, it can’t be a partial thing. For the parties promising it to be abusing it as long as they can get away with smacks of rank hypocrisy at the very least. The Lib Dems are good on so many other aspects of this challenge, that it’s surprising they should be happy with such shameless political gerrymandering. There’s nothing ‘new’ about these politics.
Geoffrey Robertson asks whether new Home Secretary Theresa May (and indeed new Deputy PM Clegg) will see reason on Gary McKinnon’s behalf, following her party’s and the Lib Dems’ long opposition to his extradition:
The first acid test for Britain’s new government is not the economy, but whether it is capable of an act of simple humanity. Can Theresa May deliver on the repeated promise of Tory and Lib Dem leaders to end the torment inflicted by the state on Gary McKinnon, the hacker with Asperger’s syndrome, whom the Home Office wants to send to lengthy imprisonment and likely suicide in a US jail? His courtroom cruelty is scheduled to begin again on 24 May: the time has come to end it, once and for all.
So, over to May, then. Her main difficulty will be to override her Home Office advisers, who have for years fought an unremitting, expensive and merciless battle against this poor man and his indomitable mother. They will, perhaps, tell their minister that if she reverses the Smith-Johnson decision, the Americans might take her to court for judicial review. But this is unrealistic: the Obama administration is unlikely to challenge a decision of the new British government. And even if it does, it is unlikely to be successful. And even if that happens, parliament is sovereign and can sweep away any adverse court decision simply by passing the Gary McKinnon (Freedom from Extradition) Act (2010).
Of course the truth is even simpler than that. Alan Johnson admitted that he did have the power to stop McKinnon’s extradition – he was just loath to use it for fear of setting an unwelcome precedent. Theresa May has an enormous task on her hands, not just to prove to a sceptical public about her suitability to be Equalities Minister, but to prove that she’s less of a hostage to the (as Robertson puts it) ‘uncivil servants’ in her department than her immediate two (if not four) predecessors. If this coalition is to mean anything, if its civil liberties agenda is going to have any believability whatsoever then at the very least Gary McKinnon’s extradition should be halted. Given that what evidence there is wouldn’t stand up in court (and none is needed to extradite him to the US) no further action should probably be taken against him.
I’ve been wondering for a few days what the real, unique selling point of getting into coalition with Clegg was for Cameron. Was it out of weakness, given the right was calling for his head, after he failed to pull off a majority in the Commons? Was it because he could decapitate them after sharing the blame for the upcoming budget cuts? My personal opinion seems to be shared by a number of Tories, and is cross-posted from conservativehome:
“Cameron is deliberately using the alliance with the Liberal Democrats to reduce the power of the Conservative Right”
I’ve already published two sets of findings from the ConservativeHome Members’ Panel:
- 43% of grassroots members think Cameron gave away too much to Clegg in order to get a coalition deal (51% do not); and
- Tory members approve of Coalition by more than three-to-one.
The third is something Cameron needs to nip in the bud:
I’d disagree that it’s something he needs to nip in the bud. It’s entirely possible that Cameron has acknowledged that a significantly right wing Tory Party still can’t win a general election outright in the UK. By going into coalition he can sideline his right wing nutjobs and tack towards the centre. Obviously that poses significant dangers for him, but pulling any sort of success off with the coalition may very well yet be his ‘Clause 4′ moment – the point at which he stared down the elements in his party who had prevented it from becoming electable in its own right. If Cameron has used the coalition to ‘seal the deal’ with his party (which he had blatantly not done going into the election), then it poses severe challenges for the incoming new Labour leader, be it a Miliband or a Cruddas. I’d be very interested in seeing what a Tory leader not in hock to the most extreme elements of their party could end up doing.
Of course we didn’t, but of course we can’t vote for a coalition – you can only ever vote for the one party you’d most like to represent you in parliament. So why the vicious diatribes are continuing is a complete mystery to me – we got the result we voted for, regardless of actual intent. But commentators are disagreeing, suggesting that the ConDemNation coalition is illegitimate and not reflective of the will of the people. From Johann Hari:
Elections are supposed to be an opportunity for the people to express the direction in which they want the country to travel. By that standard, this result is an insult. Don’t fall for the people who say the Lib Dem vote was “ambiguous”: a YouGov poll just before the election found that Lib Dem voters identified as “left-wing” over “right-wing” by a ratio of 4:1. Only 9 per cent sided with the right. Lib Dem voters wanted to stop Cameron, not install him. So before you start squabbling about the extremely difficult parliamentary arithmetic, or blaming the stupidly tribal Labour negotiators for their talks with the Lib Dems breaking down, you have to concede: the British people have not got what they voted for.
Clegg has betrayed progressives across the length and breadth of Britain. He had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to repair the century-old rift on the centre left and forge a radical and progressive alliance in favour of electoral and constitutional reform. I suspect Labour will now sit on its hands in any future referendum and the Lib Dems might be on their own campaiging for a “Yes” vote. Their new partners in government have already stated their plans to oppose any change to our dysfunctional first-past-the-post system.
Clegg has also betrayed the longer-term strategic interests of his party for crude and short-term tactical gains.
What neither of them calculates however is what the likely effects of forcing the Tories into a short-lived minority administration would have been. Getting blamed as the party which refused to underpin ‘strong and stable government’ would have been an appalling (and probably disastrous) moniker to enter an October election with, which remember the Tories could easily have fought and the Lib Dems not. It’s all well and good to decry the loss of a mythical ‘progressive alliance’ with Labour but a) that coalition would have been an unstable, minority alliance and b) has collective amnesia suddenly struck about Labour’s 13 year record? ID cards, abuse of the National DNA Database, attempts to lock people up without charge for 45 and 90 days, interference in inquests and the right to jury trial, destitution of asylum seekers and the detention of their children, the Digital Economy Act, Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, denying the vote to prisoners, the Iraq War, RIPA and SOCPA legislation – were ANY of these pieces of legislation and invasions of privacy, breaches of civil liberties and human rights ‘progressive’? I think not. Why Hasan, Hari and others ignore these points is a complete mystery to me.
I don’t like the Tories in Number 10 - I really don’t. But we have a Great Repeal Bill on offer, which is likely to include some, if not all, of Deputy PM Clegg’s Freedom Bill, and indeed have seen initial successes such as the end of ID cards and the National Identity Register, not to mention the end of detention of refugees’ children. Is it entirely likely that early, and ‘savage’ budget cuts will cause serious social and economic disruption over the next 12 months? Yes, and the Lib Dems might well damage themselves beyond repair by being directly associated with them, but given that Labour rebuffed their advances to attempt a coalition with them, I don’t know why there’s so much sniping at a party which at long last finds itself to enact large swathes of its platform. It was the best out of a bad set of choices. How on earth is that a betrayal?
(pic from my Lewishamdreamer Flickr profile)
Clegg’s putting his money where his mouth is. Some of you don’t like it, but he’s read the political wind, seen now is the time for coalition government, which after all is what proportional representation would deliver, and pulled an extremely unlikely coalition off. If PR really is that important to you, you’ll appreciate that some coalition formulations will be distasteful, but are the will of the electorate. If Clegg had stood to one side he would have betrayed the entire basis for wanting electoral reform in the first place, and by leading by example he may yet prove to a sceptical electorate just how right the call for change in the voting system is.
Last week Jackie Ashley said:
I think he would be mad to engage in a full coalition, with cabinet seats and the rest of it. That would infuriate his activists and make him jointly responsible for Tory cuts. He needs to offer a deal from the outside, while he reviews the biggest mystery of the past election, which is why the Lib Dem poll bounce did not translate into any advance on the ground. It isn’t all the fault of the unfair electoral system.
And that’s the danger of course – that he gets tainted by being in power (particularly with such economically ruthless Tories) but there’s only so long the party can stand by and watch others take and use power, before they start looking a little pointless. It’s all well and good having noble policies and ideas, but it’s pointless if they aren’t used, which (sorry to say) means compromises have to be made. It’s undesirable but it’s the way of things, but Clegg clearly came to terms with that and decided to risk everything by moving his party back into government for the first time in three quarters of a century.
The electorate have shown that they will not be cowed by the media northe markets into voting for a particular outcome. Instead, they have sent a message that has confused everyone by its unfamiliarity. What can it all mean? Well, clearly they are not happy with the government as it is, nor are they convinced that the Tories offer something better. Instead they have voted for something different and sent the parties away to hammer out a consensus. Under a PR system, there would be a mandate for such an administration. It is only the familiarity of our current electoral arrangement that allows the media to treat the result as some terrible misunderstanding.
Clegg’s decided to show us what it would be like. And of course if he does provide ‘sound and stable government’ through this coalition, he’ll have made a better case to the British public for PR than any party political broadcast or policy document could ever hope to. By agreeing to a high-risk referendum on AV and perhaps hoping he’ll prove the case for PR by example he gets to play a high stakes poker game. On offer is genuine, lasting change to the political system itself; if he plays it wrong however the Lib Dems are essentially dead.
So Brown has finally done the honourable thing and offered his resignation as a price for coalition with the Liberal Democrats. He’s offered an immediate switch to AV via legislation, and a later referendum on STV. So shouldn’t the Lib Dems join him in a minority coalition? Erm no.
How can the Lib Dems possible ally themselves with the party which unrepentently ushered in our surveillance state? Right through to last week they were crowing about just how authoritarian they needed to be, ironically for a country they insisted wasn’t ‘broken’. Could Clegg work with Alan Johnson, who is still defying the European Court of Human Rights on his department’s abuse of the National DNA Database? And what about the Home Office’s defiance of the Court on prisoners’ voting rights? Could Clegg work with Prime Minister David Miliband, who is still defending the government’s right to torture, and trying to prevent us knowing about it? Could New Labour ever walk away from ID cards, given that its ID strategy for the 21st century depends entirely on them and the real problem – the identity register?
Would a New Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition repeal New Labour’s Digital Economy Act? Would they shut down the Independent Safeguarding Authority? How on earth could New Labour ever agree to any aspect of the Freedom Bill whatsoever? Given that there are no moves visible (yet?) showing the demise of New Labour, how could this coalition be better than one with the Tories? Don’t say have it be led by Nick Clegg because that’s just not going to happen, despite his popularity. Unless New Labour dies or the Tories offer AV+ for the Commons at the very least, I can’t see a coalition of any kind working, at least not without destroying the Lib Dems. Brown’s manoeuvre was super, no doubt timed by Alistair Campbell and Peter Mandelson, but he really must not be the only stumbling block to working with the Labour Party.
@Nick_Clegg tells you to get out and vote (and I’d agree if you haven’t already):
Others aren’t so sure:
Either way, in this election there are vested interests which are terrified you’re going to take their power away from them. So ruin the HateMail’s day. Ruin Murdoch’s day. And at the very least don’t whatever you do vote Tory (or BNP for that matter but I sorta hope that’s self-evident to anyone reading this). Jonathan Freedland and Johann Hari offer last minute salutory reminders why not.
I’ve been told by my polling station’s returning officer that turnout was the heaviest she’s seen. In my constituency – a so-called ‘safe seat’, I really hope that’s a good thing.
I have to vote with what I believe is right. The temptation was to switch my vote from @DarrenJohnsonAM to @TamLewisham – the Clegg effect was (and presumably still is) propelling the Liberal Democrats through to coalition government, and in my view there’s nothing more important than getting proportional representation and repealing New Labour’s authoritarian state. But Mike Marqusee breaks that argument:
The government the signatories are asking us to elect (and to vote for with enthusiasm) will continue the war in Afghanistan, the subordinate relationship with the US, and the international and domestic “war on terror” with its terrible human toll. It will continue to harass immigrants and pander to xenophobia and racism. It will implement public sector cuts on a vast scale, to the detriment of the living standards of the majority and in obeisance to the global financial elite. By adhering to the neoliberal dogma that unites Clegg with Cameron and Brown, it will exacerbate the inequalities that have already reached obscene dimensions. And in the unlikely event that it takes anything like the steps needed on climate change, that will only be because a popular movement has dragged it by the scruff of the neck.
I really wish this weren’t such a strong analysis. Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems want a proportional voting system to – continue more of the same. They offer a complete departure from governmental obsession with databases and surveillance, from rejigging the relationship between the individual and state, but they’re still tied into the same neoliberal nonsense as the Labservatives. Where’s the talk about social housing? Where’s the substantive talk on climate change? Why are they talking about ‘savage’ cuts to public services, instead of a Tobin/Robin Hood tax?
The Green Party offers a living wage, the removal of market forces from the health service, a Robin Hood tax, a high pay commission and an end to the privileged status of faith schools. They’re against destituting asylum seekers, don’t agree Trident should be replaced and would cut tuition fees and City Academies. It may not be perfect, there may be flaws but it’s sure a start and tomorrow I shall be voting enthusiastically for Darren Johnson.
Gordon Brown is continuing to take entirely the wrong approach to the Lib Dems in advance of Thursday’s general election:
“I look at the Liberal policies. I look at them. Is there a plan for the future? They’ve got a policy on taxation that is built on a fiction about tax avoidance. They’ve got a policy on immigration that doesn’t make sense. The one that particularly annoys me is the one on child tax credits – they want to cut them.”
Erm if he’s talking about Clegg’s offer of a de-facto amnesty for existing ‘illegal’ immigrants, as Clegg himself put it last Thursday it’s simply common sense. It’s about people who are already here and who want to be here and to contribute. Why keep them in the black economy? That’s a policy which makes no sense. And is he really serious about a ‘fiction about tax avoidance‘? Even if the evidence weren’t compelling that he was wrong, it still smells like rhetoric designed to placate just the City figures who are in the metaphorical dock this election. It’s an argument on the wrong side of history.
“We’re talking about the future of our country. We’re not talking about who’s going to be the next presenter of a TV gameshow. We’re talking about the future of our economy.”
Tony Blair anyone? Pathetic. He’s going to crash and burn on 6th May.
The popular press would have you believe it, but then again they have an agenda. Look deeper and look at what needs to happen next week more thoughtfully and you get a different outcome. From the Economist:
Our latest poll, conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion, a Canadian pollster, suggests that there is still plenty to play for. It puts the Conservatives in first place among those certain to vote with 33%, followed by the Liberal Democrats on 30%, Labour on 23% and other parties on 14% (see chart, and for full details see here). After pondering the specific swing in marginal seats, the pollster reckons these results would leave the Tories the largest party, with 294 seats, but 32 short of a majority. Labour would have 174 seats, and the Lib Dems 150.
The poll confirms Mr Clegg’s commanding personal lead over his rivals.
And that’s all you need to know. Was Clegg ever likely to get the largest number of seats from his position in this first-past-the-post system? Absolutely not. But if Clegg really gets anywhere near 150 seats he’ll have done far more than he set out to do, and get proportional representation onto the top of the political agenda. I don’t doubt for a moment still that Cameron will press right ahead and form a minority Tory administration, but in rejecting PR (which he’ll do, and there’s no way the Liberal Democrat Party would ever allow Clegg to join in a coalition with him) he’ll ultimately destroy himself and govern with no popular mandate, at just the wrong time in history. The electorate remains incandescent with rage about the expenses scandal, still feels betrayed by a New Labour government which delivered far less than it promised, and hates politics and politicians with a passion. Calling Cameron the winner last night is meaningless, when the sentiment which Clegg tapped into three weeks ago is still very much in play, and still demands satisfaction.
Labour meanwhile are still playing games with the authoritarian state, and wondering why the voters have given up on them. Gosh I wonder why?
Read my liveblog of the third and final leaders debate in this general election campaign.
(from The Guardian)
This is an extraordinary political moment. An election seemingly destined to produce a narrow Conservative victory has been seized by the voters and turned into a democratic contest – a contest not just between parties, but over the shape of our democracy itself.
The MPs that assemble in Westminster next month could usher in one of the great reforming parliaments in British history, one to rank in the history books alongside 1831-32, 1865-67 or 1911-1914. The next parliament could see cherished progressive liberal aspirations realised: a proportional electoral system; wider and better-defended civil liberties; a new, internationalist approach to foreign affairs and immigration; reform of the tax system to share wealth and curb carbon emissions; and an assault on the vested interests of the financial sector.
The question for progressive liberals is what election result now offers the best chance of achieving these goals. Certainly not a Conservative majority. Despite some welcome commitments in areas such as civil liberties and localism, the Tories remain instinctively opposed to the deep democratic reforms the country needs.
But a return of a majority Labour government under Gordon Brown would not provide a strong enough guarantee of reform. Labour has a long list of achievements over the last 13 years, of which it can be proud. But Labour has also presided over a ruinous period for civil liberties and has failed to deliver wholesale political reform.
Labour does now promise fixed-term parliaments, an elected House of Lords and a referendum on the alternative vote: too little, too late.
The question is where the energy for the future of progressive politics is to be found. It is a contemporary political fact that the stronger the performance of the Liberal Democrats on 6 May the better the chances of progressive reform.
The Liberal Democrats are today’s change-makers. They have already changed the election; next they could drive fundamental change in our political and economic landscape.
Some of us have already pinned our colours to the Liberal Democrat mast. For others, the decision to back the Liberal Democrats in this election is a difficult one. Long-standing party loyalties, even in a less tribal world, are not easily suspended. But May 2010 offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape politics for the better. It must be seized.
Richard Reeves, John Kampfner, Professor Noreena Hertz, Susie Orbach, Shazia Mirza, Camilla Toulmin, Brian Eno, John le Carré, Henry Porter, Alex Layton, Gordon Roddick, Yasmin Alibhai Brown, Philip Pullman, David Aukin, Nick Harkaway, Lisa Appignanesi, Francis Wheen, Alan Ryan, Raymond Tallis, Julian Baggini, Jeanette Winterson, Rodric Braithwaite, Richard Dawkins, George Monbiot, Ken Macdonald, Philippe Sands, Misha Glenny, Anthony Barnett, Richard Sennett, David Marquand