Xmas, Justice and Vince Cable


A short Xmas day post as I don't want to seem too obsessive.

First, thanks to Ben for sending me this fascinating polling report. It turns out that the Brown bounce came as a result of a growth in economic confidence after the bank bail out. Given most forecasts for next year this confidence looks perverse (as always, there is a strong contrast between voters' pessimism about the economy as a whole and confidence about their own family's prospects). This suggests the bounce , such as it is, may be short lived.

Many people bemoan he commercialisation of Christmas. Perhaps it is the fear of what is coming in 2009 but this year it feels like there has been more emphasis on the values associated with the festival. As the Gods of commercialism fail us, family, friendship and community matter more. The idea of justice permeates the symbolism of Christmas. We see it in our traditional favourites like Dickens and the simple morality tales running through pantomimes. Children are repeatedly told that receiving presents depends upon them having been good. Yet, were we to hear of any parent actually denying their children presents because they had been bad we would consider it almost an act of emotional abuse. Maybe all children are good but more likely this is another example of the gap between our strong adherence to the principles of justice and our weak application of them in real life.

The best example of this in politics is the failure of theLib Dems to benefit from being the one major Party correctly to predict and warn against the credit crunch. If there was any justice Vince Cable's prescience would now be pulling his party into a strong polling position. But, sadly, for the Lib Dems being right is an over rated virtue in politics. Which isn't to say the Lib Dems haven't contributed to their own bad luck.

Arguably, they drew the wrong conclusion from the failure of Ming Campbell's brief tenure as leader. Campbell's misfortune, possibly as a result of his earlier illness, was that his demeanour made him seem even older than he was. Assuming that it was his age that was the problem, the Lib Dems decided they should have a young leader but in choosing Nick Clegg they have someone who both lacks gravitas and is too similar to David Cameron to get noticed by the voters (except when he gaffs). We will never know, but I can't help thinking that had the Lib Dems chosen Cable they would now have a much stronger political brand and poll position.

If Cable had been in change he might have stuck at Lib Dem conference to his core message about the vulnerability of the economy rather than the confusing and unsuccessful attempt by his Party to out do the Conservatives as the party of tax cuts.                 

So, like many other commentators I give my UK politician of the year award for 2009 to Vince Cable. Sadly, for all the talk of just deserts at Chistmas all this praise won't get Mr Cable an inch closer to power in 2010.

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