Monday 3 May 2010

Go Home and Prepare for Government

I wrote this piece for another website but I'm adding it here, dedicated to my friend Adam, in thanks for his appreciation. :-)

There is a famous moment in Liberal Party history –perhaps some people reading this will remember it? –when David Steel, a former leader, roused the troops at the end of his conference speech, telling them to loud applause that they should “go back to their constituencies and prepare for government.”

This was a time when David Owen and the Social Democrats, fellow travellers with the Liberals in pre-merger days, were on the up and up; this was a time when the Labour Party was in disarray; it was a time when Margaret Thatcher was facing some of her toughest challenges. It was 1981. What happened? The Falklands happened, the general election of 1983 happened, Margaret Thatcher cruised to one of her greatest victories, and poor David Dee and David Dum never got their snouts anywhere near the trough of office.

It’s been something of a burden the party has had to carry over the years, a stick to beat the poor dears with, an indication of just how pompously self-inflated they could become, what a joke they are, this ‘David Steel moment’. So, no matter what their present expectations, one is unlikely to hear Nick Clegg or any senior member of his party offer such a stupid hostage to fortune. But, hold on just a moment; have I’ve got news for you – this campaign has produced its very own David Steel moment, and appropriately enough it comes from Scotland.

There Alistair Carmichael, the party’s Scottish affairs spokesman, said that it was “increasingly likely” that the Liberal Democrats would either be the largest party in a coalition or they would win an outright majority, and all on the basis of a telly debate!

The Lib Dems are surfing on the top of the wave; they are the irresistible force, moving forward by rapid stages. Their time has come; they’re set to win their first election since 1910. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls – go home and prepare for government!

Everybody loves a winner
So nobody loved me;
'Lady Peaceful,' 'Lady Happy,'
That's what I long to be
All the odds are in my favour
Something's bound to begin
It's got to happen, happen sometime
Maybe this time I'll win


  1. HAHA. Cheers. I know I'm a voice in the wilderness but to me the comparisons between the mania surrounding the double act of Clegg and Cable was an exact analogue to the hysteria over the SDP-Liberal alliance in the early 80s. Both had their suave sophisticated idiot promising nothing in a style that seemingly offered everything, and both did so alongside a trusty, homely if slightly out dated sidekick(to be fair Steele was far more a living fright than Uncle Vince). In both cases it represented the storm before the calm, as I predicted that Cameron would rebound comfortably against Tsar Nick long before he indeed did do this week. The only pity is that when the two Davis waltzed into the fore The Tories had a real leader in the form of Thatcher and in Foot so too did Labour--both were people of unshakable conviction. Kinnock of course was a wretched disgrace, but Thatcher remained as a lady of iron till 1990.
    Too bad there's no one of conviction to counter the new SDP-Liberal circus the way there was in the 80s.

  2. By the way, the fact that more people haven't realised this stark comparison is symptomatic of the a historical political culture Nu Labour brought to the fore. They're so busy banging on about the future, they've not bothered to learn anything from the past. A pox on their house!

  3. May I just say too, in addition to being spot on analysis, it gives one an excuse to post these clips....not that an excuse is needed

  4. Hallo Impish. Still trying to raise the dead I see. Loyal to the ideas of yesterday and the old traditions; very like the old Socialists really. Always digging in the past for inspiration.

    Whereas now there is a shiny new leader and shiny new ideas that owe little if anything to the past but are about that stuff that is anathema to Socialists and Conservatives alike: THE FUTURE!!

    Did I not say last year that there would be no Conservative walkover? You accused me of being an agent provocateur I remember; full as you were at the time of the inevitability of a resurgence of the Tory brand. But sadly no, Imp! I think I was right although at the time I didn't believe it either and was just being a stroppy old Socialist for the fun of it (as you guessed); but there really is a huge constituency of out of work and on means tested benefits; also people in the Civil Service etc who are not going to vote for the axe. These I think are what is alterring the dynamic. It will stay left of centre even if Cameron scrapes in with a small majority.

    It will stay left of centre until Britain has developed an industrial base of some kind and started to make money again..... alternatives industry? Cleaner nuclear fuel? High tech and long lasting need? BUT this will require finance and the only spare cash is in the defence budget. Touch anything else and you will lose your majority like lightning.

    I don't actually dislike all your prescriptions and the principle of individual freedom is good but the country needs to be richer before people will have the confidence to kick the nanny state and socialised security. Britain needs income from diverse sources and not just from a bankrupt financial services scam. There is a period yet to come of more socialism and less Toryism until the industries get control and jobs are being created. Then you will have you day....... Imp for President. Imp for Monarch! The House of Fitzgerald-Beaumont has a ring to it I really like and there are wonderful stables in London associated with the Royalty so Annette would be happy!

    Glad you are still around and I agree with something you said on a blog tonight about alternatives to MyT. There is only one MyT and whatever it is: a plastic alternative for the terminally unconfrontational that has all the hallmarks of something approved of by Dame Edna Everidge is not as good or even worth considering. Poo to the softies I say.

    new site by the way at or

  5. Adam, you are welcome. :-)

    John, thanks. I don't remember making any such accusation, just as I don't remember making any such prediction. No, matter, I'm glad you are still around also, as provocative as ever.
    :-) I'll come visit your new place.

  6. There's a great classical story about the Athenians who took chains to the siege of Syracuse in anticipation of the great haul of slaves they were going to reap. You know the rest...

  7. Old memories see. Can't rely on old minds for recent events. I can remember what we had for lunch on 23rd. June 1951, but nobody is as amazed at that as me. You don't forget grilled rat's leg with powdered egg that easily you know. Times were tough.

    I like biscuits; especially them Hob Nobs. Did you bring any Hob Nobs dear you usually do?

  8. Retarius, yes, as told by Thucydides.

    John, amazing! Sorry, no biccies. :-)

  9. Three cheers yet again for this blog. It's early, still up waiting for Bucks. But this prediction seems to be the most solid of the night thus far. Well done.