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100 days of Con-dem Nation

August 23, 2010

I have a confession to make. As it says in my ‘Me’ page, I’m a student of Politics.  However I am a Politics student who is really bad at talking about politics. Now, by politics I mean what most people think of when they think politics; who the government is, what decisions they’re making and how the country’s going to pot (which is actually quite different from what you learn in a politics degree, thats more theoretical.) It’s not that I don’t have opinions on these things, its that I can’t express them. I did very essay based A levels and at that level you are not required to have opinions, you simply discuss the pros and cons and come to a non-committal balanced conclusion. I’m really good at that, to the extent that now, if a discussion occurs about at political issue (…or any issue) I can’t actually get an opinion across because I automatically balance it out before I speak. Basically I have an argument in my head and reach a balanced conclusion, by which time there’s point in voicing my original thought or the conversation has moved on. In part it’s also to do with my overall lack of confidence in myself and dislike of being wrong. But mostly too many essays at A level… that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

However, this country has had a ground-breaking year in politics , so it has occurred to me that I’d better get me some opinions. As this week marked the 100th day of the coalition government, it seems the perfect time to embark on this task.

My first thought when the coalition was announced was ‘Well, another election in October then’. Like many people I couldn’t see how two parties that are so ideologically difficult, at least on first glance, could possibly work together effectively. However, for better or worse, this now seems unlikely to be the case. For me, the coalition makes the best of a bad situation. It’s fair to say I’m pretty liberal, at least when it come to social policy matters, not so sure about fiscal policy as I avoid economics like the plague. In simpler terms, I read the Guardian. I actually quite liked Gordon Brown, I liked that he was such a contrast to Blair and I long for the days when personality and media management didn’t play such a  big role in politics. However I also recognise that it was time for a change in government, if only because the public had become disillusioned with Labour and that was limiting productivity. That said,  I am still pretending Cameron isn’t PM. I voted Lib Dem on the hope that they would triumph in my constituency, even though it was a slim possibility. I was expecting a Conservative government, the Lib Dem hype in the opinion polls before the election didn’t convince me, although I was expecting them to achieve slightly better results than they did. I’m happy that the coalition allows the Lib Dems to gain some experience in government, I think that a government with absolutely no previous experience would have been disastrous. Being in opposition can surely only prepare you so much, its not the same as actually running things. Hopefully one result of the coalition will be that the Lib Dems will be a more viable option in the future, rather than the outsider third party. That is, if this spell in government doesn’t alienate their supporters or put off others from supporting them in the future, something that seems to be a worrying possibility. The LD’s have plummeted in the opinion polls, currently they are only gaining around 14% which is half what they were scoring in May. In contrast Labour are achieving around 38% which is the highest they’ve reached since 2007.  Seeing as Labour don’t even have a leader atm, I find that quite disturbing (on that topic, I’m for Ed Miliband. David looks like he’s been moulded from plastic. Would not be surprised if he didn’t have a belly button) I like the concept of the coalition, collaboration in politics makes sense when there are so many viewpoints to consider, but I think if it is ultimately going to harm one party then it was the wrong move. I know its idealist and naïve , but to me staying true to your principles should take higher priority than grabbing a chance at power.  That’s what the most jarring thing is about the coalition, the fact that, whatever they say publicly, senior members of both parties must be feeling betrayed.  I read at the weekend that Clegg has said that implementing Graduate Tax is now of more importance than electoral reform. This was in the Telegraph so obviously is taken with a pinch of salt but still, if I were a LD  MP I would be seriously pissed off.

As to the performance of the new government so far, I don’t have an awful lot to say as much has centred around the economy, which I admittedly know very little about. The cuts do seem a bit brutal though. One thing I do feel strongly about is the proposed changes to the NHS. I learnt a lot about the history of the NHS from a Social Policy module and it seems to me that they are just returning to a structure that has already been tried and failed. I can sort of understand the logic behind centralising services and budgets around GP’s but also think that it creates too much power and pressure in one place.  I approve of the scrapping of ID cards and the delay on the increase in cider tax. That’s about it so far.

Well there you go. This has taken me ages to write, partly because I’ve been a bit busy and its got pushed aside, but also because it was quite hard. It’s not exactly groundbreaking stuff, or really any good, but its a start. Practice makes perfect etc.

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