Saturday, 1 May 2010

Tectonic plates, glacial pace and the UK electorate

The following short quotes come from an interview with Nick Clegg in The Guardian for April 30th.

"In an election where the tectonic plates are moving so quickly and so radically, people have got to go with their gut instincts."

"I personally think both the Tories and Labour face profound crises of identity because they are both based on assumptions of mass support that have now evaporated. The arrogance of both the Conservative and Labour party that it's somehow their birthright to speak on behalf of millions of people. That's gone."

In the interests of full disclosure I have no partisan agenda and shall not be voting in a first past the post electoral system which I believe to be profoundly undemocratic.

What does seem clear from Mr. Clegg's remarks is that he seems to have the best sense of the mood amongst the UK electorate.

At the risk of trying to be too symbolic I thought it might be worth contemplating the notion that events in nature can sometimes act as metaphors for events in public affairs. Mr. Clegg uses the terminology of tectonic plates moving to describe the underlying dynamics at work in the UK, and I think he is right on this.

In Iceland we had the combination of seismic rumblings leading to a massive volcanic eruption where the fall out was exacerbated by the proximity to a glacier. In the UK we have the rumblings of a potential eruption which is coming up against the glacial pace at which the political class/establishment is willing to contemplate any meaningful reform of the electoral system, the cosy relationship between Westminster and the City, and the fact that inequality in Britain is becoming more and not less extreme.

Something is brewing in the UK and it may not be too febrile to suggest that if the energy which is building for change encounters a glacial response from policy makers there could be another nasty fall out similar to that from that unpronounceably named Icelandic volcano.

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