Is this the day the Coalition admitted reality and buried its claim to be a radical government?

One of the iconic images of the early days of the Coalition — in the midst of the summer haze of the leggeron rose garden bromance — was The Economist’s front cover depicting the Prime Minister as a punk, representing the Coalition’s self-appointed claim to be one of the most radical governments in history.

Economically (a cuts agenda intended to rebalance the economy between the private/public sectors), socially (from free schools to gay marriage) and politically (police commissioners to Lords reform) — this ‘liberal conservative government’ was supposed to be a potent admixture of far-reaching reform.

The end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end?

Today, as Messrs Clegg and Cameron posed amid tractors in Essex, it felt like — two years in — the reality had caught up with the rhetoric. The pressures of managing a 24-hour government, on top of managing precarious coalitions within as well as between parties, appears to have sucked dry the zeal of this Government.

Some will breathe a sigh of relief. After all, it is precisely that reform agenda — on the NHS, on tuition fees — which has caused so many problems, certainly for the Lib Dem half of the Coalition.

But the Coalition was always a package deal: some things we had to lump, other things the Tories had to lump. This has antagonised loyal members in both parties. Some have walked away, while others have reluctantly (sometimes unsuccessfully) bitten their tongues. Yet, agree or disagree with the agenda, it imbued the Coalition with a sense of momentum that elevated it above the grind of relentless austerity.

Then six months ago, with George Osborne’s autumn statement, came the realisation that the Coalition would not succeed in its aim of eliminating the deficit within the current parliament. Suddenly, Lib Dem and Tory hopes of going into the next election in 2015 on the back of a ‘We fixed the economy’ banner evaporated.

Instead there are years of public spending cuts to come, and an economy bumping along at recession or just above. Combine that with dire election results for both Coalition parties, and signs from across Europe that incumbent governments are being booted out by their electorate regardless of whether they’re from the left or right of the political spectrum, and cue Tory MPs (mostly) panicking. Their hopes of a Conservative-only government after 2015 are beginning to recede into the distance.

They’ll Lord it if we drop it

David Cameron — who, unlike Nick Clegg, neither sought nor was granted by his party members a mandate to form a coalition — is in trouble. All those years of riding roughshod over those of his backbenchers from the wrong side of the tracks is now coming back to haunt the Tory leader.

Just as, after last year’s drubbing at the polls and in the AV referendum Lib Dems demanded their pound of flesh in the form of NHS Bill concessions, so are Tories now looking for their payback. Except the Tories are now attempting to un-do the Coalition Agreement (which was silent on the Health and Social Care Bill) by blocking the House of Lords reform to which their manifestos of 2001, 2005 and 2010 have committed their party.

In return, it’s claimed by Channel 4’s Gary Gibbon here, the Lib Dems are going to block the Coalition Agreement’s pledge to equalise votes by reducing the number of MPs and re-drawing the boundaries accurately to reflect population changes. Though this will make it harder for the Tories to achieve a majority at the next election, many Tory MPs will be happy enough that their seats are protected — and anyway if they’re booted out by the voters in 2015 there would always be the chance of a hospital pass to a still-unelected Lords. That’s what we call a vested interest.

There’s an irony here for the Lib Dems. Stopping the boundary changes works to the Lib Dems’ electoral advantage. The greatest threat to the party at the next election — assuming the polls are less favourable than they were in 2010 — is our incumbent MPs having to fight on new constituency boundaries. Lib Dem MPs take root in their patch: take them even a little outside of their patch and they’re much more vulnerable. Failing to reform the boundaries also increases the chances of a hung parliament at the next election, and so sustains the importance of the Lib Dems into the next parliament even if our total number of MPs is reduced.

Set against all that, of course, is the principle of Lords reform, of letting the voters have a say in who gets to make the laws of the land we all have to live by. A century in the un-making, ejecting patronage and injecting democracy into the second chamber is in the Lib Dems’ DNA. When Ben Norman wrote here on LDV in his excellent post-election reflections ‘I want my party to win, but I want our ideas implemented more than that’, he might very well have had this quandary in mind.

There’s still hope. Just.

My hope was that the Coalition would have a ratcheting-up effect, that the novelty of working together for a finite period of time would inject an urgency into a government that would desire a legacy. For a while that seemed to be the case. But buffeted by mid-term woes it appears the Coalition is retreating to lowest-common-denominator policies in which blocking the other party’s reforms is more important than promoting your own.

There’s still a chance, of course. We’re only two years through a five-year parliament. But it feels like the reforming blood is draining from this Government’s body. Those Lib Dems who rejoice in that fact should pause to think what that means for public enthusiasm for coalitions (with any party) in the future, or indeed for any measure of electoral reform that makes coalitions more likely.

For years we Lib Dems were cautioned ‘Be careful what you wish for’ when crossing our fingers in hope of a hung parliament. That warning is so much truer of the very real prospect of this Coalition failing.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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27 Comments

  • Joseph Donnelly 8th May '12 - 10:10pm

    Theres been a bit of a kerfuffle on twitter and blogs about this idea that Clegg didn’t sound too keen on Lords Reform today so it means we are dropping it.

    I suspect it will be in the Queens speech tomorrow as the full bill…if so are we expecting to lose the battle and then get Cleggs ‘smidgeon of democracy’ (his phrase today) by getting a small concession like 50% elected or something like that. Or will we push it to a referendum?

    Or was Clegg today just saying economy is his top priority over Lords reform to push our new line of rhetoric that govt. can do more than one thing at once, obv we as Lib Dems care most about the economy but all parties committed to lords reform so lets pass it quickly.

  • “Failing to reform the boundaries also increases the chances of a hung parliament at the next election” – Only if the Tories are ahead. If Labour maintain the kind of lead they have at the moment, the reverse would be true! Tricky!

    I think a dull next 3 years would succeed in extinguishing the last vestiges of political interest that remain in this country, along – indeed – with any enthusiasm for coalitions or fixed-term parliaments.

  • David Allen 9th May '12 - 12:10am

    The Coalition will be remembered as a major reforming government. They have reformed university access, they have reformed our health business, and they are reforming the schools educational enterprise.

    They did, of course, flatter to deceive when making a false feint toward electoral reform, They will shortly make a similar false feint towards reform of the House of Lords. It all depends, of course, on whose reforming agenda truly matters.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th May '12 - 6:16am

    Unfortunately, it looks like Lords Reform will be another AV. Labour will forget they are supposed to back it, and use it as an excuse to criticise the LibDems for focussing on “irrelevant” side issues while the economy deteriorates and/or the Conservatives get away with ever more “rich get richer and poor get poorer” stuff. The Conservatives and right-wing press will atack us unceasingly for it, using twisted and distorted language to which we will be unable to get out a reply because those who should be our natural allies on this are also too busy LibDem-bashing. Our supporters (what’s left of them) wil focus on what we’ve had to give up in order to keep Lords Reform going.

    I say drop it.

    As with electoral reform, the problem is the public aren’t interested because the public aren’t interested in democracy. We must campaign and put the case first of all for democracy before we can get across the finer principles of the improvements we want to democracy here as it currently exists. As I keep saying, one of the shocking things about the AV referendum is how in effect so many people voted “No” to AV and hence “Yes” to FPTP in complaint at what was actually the effect of FPTP (Conservatives strengthened way beyond their real level of suppot, LibDems weakened to well below their real level of support) – even after a “NO” campaign which put those effects as the main benefit of FPTP.

    I can see that any referendum on Lord reform will end up being seen as one where “Yes” means you support the main political parties, and “No” means you dislike all the parties (the press will ensure it comes across that way by going in and on about the independence and fine thinking of the cross-benchers and hereditaries, never mnd what the reality might be). “Yes” will lose badly, so Lords reform will be lost, not just now bt for the foreseeable future.

    It’s hard to say “drop it” when, like electoral reform, Lords reform is something I’ve suported strongly all my adult life. But I have to say – drop it, please drop it. I don’t want another campaign like the AV one, I have no confidence in the leadership of our party to manage this one any better than they managed AV.

  • Excellent article. Hits several nails on the head, unfortunately a bit depressing too.

  • It’s a question of priorities. Lords Reform can and should happen, but at this point in time it takes up bandwidth that is better utilised for sorting out the economy. Indeed this should matter most not just to the general public, but to all of us.

    It would be better if more moves towards a German-style apprenticeship system and vocational training could take place. Furthermore, I’d like to see an infrastructure programme that replicates the aims and ambitions of National Broadband in Australia; some piecemeal measures have been announced for the UK, but nothing on this scale.

    While this is more “managerial” or “technocratic” than “radical”, I think the appetite for “radical” change has been undermined by what the Tories mean by the word (for them it appears to be a synonym for “reactionary” in many respects). It’s better, perhaps, to be perceived as competent and accomplished.

  • jenny barnes 9th May '12 - 8:20am

    “Let’s announce a 5 year plan in a tractor factory” What could possibly go wrong.

  • Matthew Huntbach

    I agree with the substance of your post and I think there are a couple of things that need emphasising

    HoL reform was tried by the last Government and they kept falling down on not having a clear view what they meant by Lords reform. Numerous votes on numerous ideas with no real force behind it.

    I think the Labour Party in principle support the reform but are right to wait and see what the proposal actually is before committing. The majority of Tories do not really support reform and so will try and scupper it if they can

    I am not in favour of referenda but the principle of having one for AV means it is difficult to oppose

    In terms of the AV vote, Labour was at best lukewarm (although Miliband was clearly in favour) but the LD had been warned about the coupling of the bill to the boundary changes/reduction in seats and that did not help the situation. If the boundary changes part is now dropped then that shows poor judgement from the LD leadership (and don’t give me the excuse that it was in the LD manifesto, we all know the context was much different).

    This is one of the great shames of this coalition. The Tories are pretty much fundamentally against any change to the voting system/HoL, even if it benefits them. I am sure if there had been a LD/Labour coalition there would have been a much more radical approach to constitutional reform (and if there wasn’t then shame on Labour). It is a shame the maths didn’t work out

  • Richard Swales 9th May '12 - 9:18am

    The trouble is that parliamentary procedures are so inefficient that “waste of parliamentary time which could be better used” is a winning argument in the UK. Until you reform the procedures to make it run quicker, then you will keep running up against this either .. or … type of objection.

  • Dominic Carman 9th May '12 - 9:34am

    I agree with the comment above from Matthew Huntbach: Lords Reform, although highly desirable in theory, seems likely to be another AV in practice. Crucially, the vast majority of people do not care about the issue – it is seen as marginal and completely irrelevant to their lives. Instead, the party urgently needs to devote its energy to policies which appeal to a broader electorate, not just a myopic caucus of LibDem members. If we fail in that task, we are likely to pay a very heavy price indeed in 2015.

  • @Matthew

    I disagree. I think do it honestly: “We believe Lords reform is an important, modernising measure for our political system. However our priority, first, last and always is to ensure that the British economy is providing enough employment and prosperity to secure the nation’s well being. We will be focusing on this for the remainder of the Parliament.”

  • Simon Hebditch 9th May '12 - 10:22am

    House of Lords reform is irrelevant at the moment and it will end up like the AV referendum. The central issue both in the UK and across Europe is the economy and the Coalition has entirely the wrong policy. Nick Clegg’s awful article in last Saturday’s Guardian was the worst example of politician rubbish you will ever hear. First, say sorry to the candidate who lost, then say you will “learn” from the experience and finally say that you are going to keep on with your plicies because there is no alternative! No change there then.

    It is clear what should be done -the party needs to come out of the Coalition. The grounds for that move must be the wrong direction in which the economic and fiscal policies are being pursued. It would not be credibale for Nick Clegg or Danny Alexander to make such an about turn so the party leadership needs to change, and a revived centre left party can then credibly leave the Coalition. We need to get on with it!

  • Matthew Huntbach………………………because those who should be our natural allies on this are also too busy LibDem-bashing………………

    It’s hardly been a ‘one-way-street’, Matthew. Nick and Danny seem unable to string three sentences together without ‘lamblasting’ Labour.
    Under the coalition, the political exchanges (on both sides) are the most ‘spiteful’ I can remember; as for PMQs the least said the better.
    We have many ‘natural allies’ in Labour but Nick/Danny seem to have forgotten this. In March 2003, 139 Labour MPs voted ( against their whip), with us, on the Iraq war. Oh for our Mp’s to have had the same courage over the NHS bill.

  • We need to look again at our manifesto and do more of it. Stick to what we said we would do, and be radical. Matthew H is wrong, reform of our political system IS a priority, it is the cause of the underlying problems, so the sooner the 100yr project is completed the better. Instead of acquiescing to the stupid remarks of the media (readily endorsed by Balls and co) we should stand strong and challenge them. Get on with the job, don’t get sideswiped, or we deserve oblivion!

  • There are 3 years left of this 5 year window. They will be the best chance for change for several decades, rather than trying to cling to 40 seats and hoping for the best. Push on, via a referendum if necessary.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th May '12 - 3:30pm

    peter

    Matthew H is wrong, reform of our political system IS a priority, it is the cause of the underlying problems, so the sooner the 100yr project is completed the better.

    Yes, I agree that many of our problems come down to faults in our political system, it was one of the motivating factors that got me to join the Liberal Party (as it then was) in the first place. However, since then we have seen a detachment of most people from the very idea of democracy. Arguing for reform of the electoral system or having an elected second chamber assumes people understand and appreciate the very idea of representative democracy. We need to sell democracy first. It would seem more urgent to me to reform OUR party in order to reawaken the idea of democracy as a participative thing – let us have less of us being about our leader, and more of us being about a network where people come together and gain power against the forces of wealth and privilege by doing so. When we have done that, I think the case for constitutional reform will be more readily accepted.

    I fear that trying to push Lords reform now, when it will be seen as just a LibDem pet project, will doom it. As with AV, people will vote against it because they think that’s a way to get at us. What might sell it – as it might have sold electoral reform – is the argument that it will stop such an extremist unrepresentative government as we have now enforcing its unpopular policies on us ever again. But I don’t suppose our party leadership would run with that campaign theme.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th May '12 - 3:56pm

    Stephen Tall (in the early days of the coalition)

    Economically (a cuts agenda intended to rebalance the economy between the private/public sectors), socially (from free schools to gay marriage) and politically (police commissioners to Lords reform) — this ‘liberal conservative government’ was supposed to be a potent admixture of far-reaching reform.

    And this message doomed us, because it suggested the cuts were not an economic necessity, but done as part of this political agenda. As a result, when Clegg and Alexander argue that the cuts are a necessary measure to reduce the deficit, people just don’t believe them. The coalition could and should have been portrayed from the start as simply the only viable outcome from the balance in Parliament given by the 2010 general election. When you write, Stephen, of the “Coalition’s self-appointed claim to be one of the most radical governments in history”, just who is making this claim? Was the Liberal Democrat party as a whole making it? I don’t recall so. Was the Conservative Party as a whole making it? I don’t recall so either. So what right had either of the leaders of the two parties to make that claim if it is they that made it?

    The result of this claim is that the coalition was seen as a willed ideological project, rather than something forced on both sides out of necessity. A coalition formed out of necessity is by nature cautious, and caution is the correct approach in times of economic difficulty. We should have sold it this way from the start – and I think most of us in the party who agreed to the coalition, some of us lime myself very reluctantly, saw it that way. So selling it as some sort of radical project, as a willed coming together of minds was NOT what we voted for when we accepted the coalition. Yet because it was made and because the Liberal Democrat leader initiated a policy of making himself seem n equal partner in the coalition, it came to be supposed that this government, a government which in economic terms is the most extreme right-wing government ever seen in this country, certainly since the turn of the last century, was what the Liberal Democrats wanted in the first place. No wonder so many of our former voters have turned away from us in disgust.

    It didn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t have been this way. The coalition was always going to be difficult to swallow, most of us who accepted it did so knowing that would be the case, but it was made FAR worse by the way it was portrayed, as you in your article put it. So, who are the guilty people, who were these ‘self-appointed” people who made it that way, and so damaged our party, so insulted those of us who have given a lifetime to it by pushing it in a way that we had not agreed to and that would so damage our lifetime’s project of political work? I think we have a right to know, so that we can make sure those people are dealt with as they deserve.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th May '12 - 4:10pm

    Stephen Tall

    Suddenly, Lib Dem and Tory hopes of going into the next election in 2015 on the back of a ‘We fixed the economy’ banner evaporated.

    And there you go again. What “Lib Dem hopes”? This is a Tory government with a little LibDem influence. It is obvious from the start it would be this, Liam Fox was quite right (factually if not morally) to say that the LibDems with one sixth of the MPs of the coalition could not expect much influence in it. If I had believed that this government, whose broad economic thrust was inevitably going to be a thoroughly Tory one, was going to turn round the economy in five years, then I’d have been a Tory supporter. I’m a LibDem not a Tory because I don’t believe that Tory economic policy is any good for our economy. So who are you to put words in our mouths and suggest that LibDems as a whole had “hopes” that Tory economic policy wold work out fine? Just who are these “LibDems” you claim had these hopes?

    My view on the formation of the coalition was that it should be given about two years, that would be long enough to remind people who had forgotten or were too young just what a Tory government is like, it would have been long enough to demonstrate that Tory economic polices wouldn’t work as claimed – and then we should pull the rug out from under them. I remember actually expressing that view on election night as the results were coming in and it was becoming plain we would have a Tory-led government which would rely in the LibDems to continue.

    So, two years later, who got it right? You can look at my record – this is NOT “hindsight” on my part.

  • If Lords reform falls then the new boundaries have to fall also, that much is obvious.

    Every Liberal Democrat knows that the current voting system is hugely stacked against a party with broad appeal, and in favour of those with concentrated areas of support like Labour or the Tories. Even were Liberal Democrats to achieve levels of support in the high 30%s similar to that of the other two parties, all the experts and models show we’d still have a serious shortfall in seats – probably only 100 seats to show for a national vote share of 33%. Over the years both the Tories and Labour have benefited from this inbuilt unfairness which has delivered them illegitimate majorities on levels of support not much greater than this.

    Having secured a position in Government, it would be truly scandalous if the only political reform secured during that period were for a relatively modest unfairness (which in reality is an inbalance in illegitimate benefit rather than any absolute disadvantage) between Labour and the Tories to be “corrected” through implementation of new boundaries, but for the rest of the current constitutional settlement to remain unreformed.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th May '12 - 9:46am

    Matthew Green

    Maybe we’ll have to let Lords reform fail – but we must make sure that Tory and Labour fingerprints are on the corpse so that we can maintain our claim that we are the only party who favours genuine political reform.

    Yes, I can agree with this. It’s the point I’ve been making again and again about AV – if we’d had strong Labour backing for it, it wouldn’t have been seen as a “LibDem thing”, so it wouldn’t have ended up being treated by many as a referendum on Nick Clegg. AV was a “miserable little compromise”, but even that miserable little compromise would have been enough to strengthen the LibDems and weaken the Tories to the point that a Labour-LibDem coalition would have been viable. So, if we’d done this properly, first of all we’d have made clear the coalition in the form it took was done only because there was no other viable government, secondly we’d have made clear that the reason for this, the reason why we have a coalition so balanced in favour of the Conservatives, is the distortion caused by the First Past the Post electoral system. From that, we should have turned round the AV referendum so that a “No” vote was seen as support of the coalition as it exists because the FPTP distortions forced it on us, while a “Yes” vote was seen as an anti-coalition vote because it was a vote to reform the electoral system so that sort of thing would not happen again.

    All this was shot down and destroyed by the decision of a few at the top of the party to portray the coalition from the start as an idealistic meeting of minds between the Conservatives and the LibDems, a coming together of political principles – as Stephen Tall put it in his article.

    To be sure, I would like Labour’s support for AV so feeble it was invisible from some and outright opposition from others to be held up in future when people complain about the sort of government we have now, and the sort of government FPTP is likely to give us in future. I do believe AV in ending the “must vote X to stop Y” argument would have had a more radical effect than it seemed when one just considered it in terms of vote shifts between the three big parties, and so while not PR was a worthwhile reform. So, yes, I do in time want Labour’s failure to give it strong backing to be held up in evidence against them.

    If we had strong Labour backing for Lords reform NOW, we could proceed with it in confidence. It would no longer be possible to portray it as a “LibDem thing”, or more colourfully “the 30 pieces of silver the LibDems got for selling out their principles to the Tories”. Suppose the main argument for Lords Reform made now was that a democratically elected Lords could block the extremist and unwanted policies coming from this unrepresentative government? I think then it might be possible to build up some popular enthusiasm for it.

    OK, so I think it is over to Labour. How about they make the running on Lords Reform and do it from this angle? But no, they won’t will they? Because it would involve them actually committing to something rather than gaining support merely from being the opposition to the current government, and it would get in the way of what is clearly their number 1 political priority – destroying the Liberal Democrats so we can return to the good old two party system that has served this country so well (last bit in irony font).

  • It is too easy to blame Labour for everything. There has been plenty of that in the last 2 years.

    The decision to go into coalition with the Tories against the wishes of at least half of the people who voted Liberal Democrat (at the General Election), who did not consent to the coalition and the enabling of a right wing austerity heavy with no apparent strategy for growth Conservative government, was a Liberal Democrat decision.
    Britain is not Greece, we have 15 year bonds not 15 month or week lending arrangements such as Greece. The threat to the economy and the immediate need for government was overstated.

    The electorate accepted some cuts with a growth agenda. It did not get it.

    That basic breaking of trust, didn’t endear the electorate to promote a situation where the Liberal Democrats would be in a stronger position. This may have been short sighted when it came to the alternative vote but trust is needed when changing democratic processes, especially with those who are the main proponents of it.

    Responsibility for that situation, must be considered by the Liberal Democrats. It is too easy to blame Labour for the AV failure, who were split on the issue. The Conservatives were not split on the issue and clearly opposed AV as they oppose Lords reform.

    If Lords reform is vital than the Liberal Democrats should consider withdrawing from the coalition to leave a minority Conservative administration, and build a consensus with Labour for reform of the House of Lords to isolate the Conservative right who will force Cameron to block it.

    This would accurately reflect the position of the electorate and enable constitutional reform.

    ’ If the Liberal Democrats leave, so it is argued, Cameron will destroy them in a snap election. But the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act precludes a snap election. An early election can only be called if there is a two-thirds majority of MPs voting for dissolution, or failure to achieve an alternative government 14 days after the defeat of the current one following a no-confidence vote. Therefore, were the Liberal Democrats to leave the coalition, Cameron would be forced into continuing as the prime minister of a minority government.’

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/13/coalition-tories-lib-dems-grassroots

  • Paul Catherall 14th May '12 - 1:18pm

    @David Allen 9th May ’12 – 12:10am
    “The Coalition will be remembered as a major reforming government. They have reformed university access, they have reformed our health business, and they are reforming the schools educational enterprise.”

    I think the vast majority of progressive voters would agree with the above ^ however for negative reasons, is University really more accessible or better funded with fees of 9K, is the NHS really better off after the health bill with the promise of a fragmented US comissioning style service, is statutory education really better for the expansion of unregulated academies and free schools? These reforms just represent a mess which will blight lives for decades.
    It is hard to see how the LibDems can ask the wider public to forgive them for these terriblly regressive refroms which take us all back 60 years to an age of inequality, an un-meritocratic state, poorly planned and unregulated services and incometent governance.

  • what’s with this ‘voting for or against Lords reform’? Who is voting? the only people who will be voting will be the MPs and the Lords themselves. The electorate have already given the three main parties a mandate to do it, so get on with it! (and for those who say ‘it was not mentioned on the doorstep’ that shows they agree with what the parties were proposing to do.. ) People would only mention it on the doorstep if they opposed it. Calling for a referendum is just a ‘long grass’ move.
    Referendums on ANYTHING should be only after objective, balanced and agreed factual information has gone to every voter at Govt expense. Referendums should not be allowed to become party/media games, and also it needs to be recognised that each time we have one it weakens the implied authority of our Parliament.

  • “The electorate have already given the three main parties a mandate to do it, so get on with it!”

    Actually, I saw rather a perceptive comment on this argument a while ago.

    When all the main parties have the same policy, voters actually have no opportunity to express an opinion about it, unless they feel so strongly on the particular issue as to vote for a minority candidate who has no chance of winning.

    You can hardly claim the electorate has voted in favour of Lords reform, when in practice the choice it was offered was “Yes, yes or yes?”

  • We need to go on the attack big time and make House of Lords reform exciting and relevant. Posters showing how much the Lords cost us and saying how many nurses that would pay for, photos of them snoring with a headline ‘Who was Sleeping when the Banks were Collapsing’ etc etc.

    We love abstract concepts but nobody else does. Appeals to history or high-falutin’ political theory ain’t gonna cut it.

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