Monday, October 22, 2007

There is a real choice

Martin Kettle wrote an excellent piece on Saturday arguing that we should not fall into the trap of believing that there is no real choice to be made between Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg for the job of Lib Dem leader because their politics are exactly the same, although it is fair to say his real target here was probably not the Lib Dems but those of us who argued that there was no real choice between his old buddy Tony Blair and the Tories.

Unfortunately, however, Messrs Clegg and Huhne themselves seem to be doing their best to encourage what Kettle terms this "cynical and disdainful" view of political debate.

If the two candidates have indeed signed up to a non-aggression pact over policy, it is a particularly daft move on Chris Huhne's part. Huhne is older, greyer, duller and more cerebral. He cannot possibly beat Nick Clegg in a style v style contest, only by presenting it as a battle of style v substance.

For my part, I continue to believe there are real policy issues at stake in this contest, even if the arguments between the candidates are slightly nuanced. Electoral reform is one such issue.

This morning, Huhne makes clear that PR for Westminster should remain a pre-condition for any post-election deal with either of the two main parties. By contrast Clegg is on record as having said the Lib Dems should stop banging on about PR, because it "makes people think we are only interested in getting our bums on seats."

I am not suggesting for a moment that Clegg does not believe in PR for Westminster, just that it clearly isn't as high a priority for him. Given that politics is the language of priorities, it is nonsense to suggest that such differences of emphasis do not matter.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yup I agree. British Politics is so much about what you represent in a limited space of time with a limited amount of interest from the people. The question is what do the Lib Dems want to say in this window - coincidentally I believe PR is absolutely vital to the LD's place as a third party that wants change. Huhne for the win!

P.S - Really enjoy your blog Paul, good to see a non-tory blogosphere exists somewhat.