The blame game
We're almost done with the politics stuff, viewers. Normal WoSblog service will be resumed shortly, but first I thought I might as well share with you an email I received this morning.
Back on Monday, when uncertainty still ruled as to who'd be forming the next government, the website 38 Degrees invited its users to send emergency emails to Labour MPs, urging them not to block any potential "progressive alliance" by vowing to vote against electoral reform, as many threatened to.
I took up the site's call, but sent a rather less restrained mail than their suggested text, because I was so extraordinarily angry with the largely-Scottish Labour MPs whose cowardice and naked self-interest looked like scuppering the most revolutionary step forward in the history of British democracy (and ultimately did). I sent it to as many Labour members as I could click on.
"If any of you halfwits – particularly the idiots in Scotland blinded by deranged hatred of the SNP – screw this up and let the Tories in, you will NEVER, EVER be forgiven. Take your fat noses out of the trough and JUST ONCE act in the interests of the people of this country who've been stupid enough to vote for you thinking that you might do something useful in the rare moments between filing expenses claims, like bring about an electoral system in which more than 30% of people's votes count.
The alternative? Let the Tories gerrymander the boundaries so that none of you are ever in power again. If you don't have the courage to act in the interests of the country, at least try to protect your own pathetic, worthless necks by delivering PR that will keep the Tories out forever.
Otherwise, please crawl into a ditch and die."
My inbox soon filled with auto-replies, and after events played themselves out over the course of the week I didn't expect anyone to bother answering. So I was surprised to receive this this morning, from the Labour member for Wallasey, Angela Eagle MP. (Who Wikipedia, by way of local colour, tells me is Britain's only openly lesbian MP.)
"I am responding to your email about the result of the General Election, and the possibility of a "progressive alliance".
As a member of the Labour Party's NEC I can assure you that there was almost unanimous support for discussing a "progressive alliance" with the Liberal Democrats in order to prevent a Tory government, when we met on Tuesday.
However, it soon became apparent that the Liberal Democrats had no intention of reaching an agreement with us because of the unrealistic demands they were putting forward. Indeed it is now clear to me that their negotiations with Labour were nothing but a ploy to wring further concessions out of the Tories.
During the election campaign Clegg made clear he would work with the party that had the strongest support, which the polls clearly suggested would be the Tories. Furthermore, once the result of the election was known, Clegg again indicated his preference for an agreement with the Tories. Indeed the article below shows that Clegg wanted to do a deal with the Tories rather than Labour from day one of his leadership.
I would have preferred any outcome other than letting the Tories back into government. It is clear to me that they are set to use the current economic circumstances as cover to do what they always do, slash services and cut spending. You only have to cast your mind back to Cameron and Osborne's speeches at the last Tory conference to see this, when they demanded an 'age of austerity' and railed against 'big government'.
The Parliamentary arithmetic meant that it was for the Liberal Democrats to determine the shape of the new government and they have sadly chosen to team up with the Tories. I expect you share my disappointment at this turn of events, disappointment that no doubt turns to bitterness for those who actually voted Liberal Democrat in the expectation of progressive politics.
Angela Eagle MP
The email makes no mention of my frankly rude and aggressive conduct (although it does quote my original message in its entirety), so it seems likely that it's a form reply. But I'm at least impressed that she bothered to compose it and send it to people, including non-constituents like myself. It doesn't actually address the main issue, or set out her position on electoral reform, or explain what the Lib Dems' unreasonable demands were, but it's something.
I've emailed Ms Eagle back to see if I can extract some clarification on some of the things she mentions. In the meantime, it'll be interesting to see if I hear from anyone else.