Thursday, 31 January 2013

Was the Boundary Changes Vote A Death Crack?

When I was a little kid I used to play Conkers with other children at school. I gather it's a sport that is no longer encouraged - probably for 'elf n safetey' reasons. It's clearly a miracle that so many of us survived the perils of conkering unscathed.

It became highly competitive and near scientific. My friends and I spent hours throwing things up into huge trees trying to knock down conkers in the belief that the conkers on the trees were much harder (and therefore much more likely to win in competition) than those found on the ground.

We elaborately soaked them in vinegar, baked them in the oven and carefully drilled holes in the centre to avoid creating cracks in the conker's hard centre. Some became so hardened that they never broke.

Competitions were serious events. Crowds would gather and we would swing our conkers on thick peices of string at others attempting to break the competitor's prized conker off the string and win the match.

But often, sometimes quite some time before the competition ended, an event would occur which would, more often than not, predict the outcome.

The shout would go up. 'It's a Death Crack!'

One of the conkers was showing a split. Not just a small crack but a deep fissure which observers knew from experience signalled, if not the imminent, then the almost certain result.

And that's a bit how I feel about the vote over boundary changes that the Conservatives lost yesterday.

For the first time since the Coalition government was formed, the Liberal Democrats voted with the Labour party to defeat the Conservatives and broke the coalition agreement. 334 MPs voted against proposed changes to parliamentary boundaries and 292 voted in favour.

Despite their hapless protestations that they were doing otherwise, the Lib Dems both put party advantage over democratic principle and fairness, and broke the coalition deal, by voting against the main Governing party who they are bound to support.

But did this abandonment of the word and spirit of the agreement that created, maintains and defines the purpose of the current government shatter it?


There was surprisingly little fuss. One might have suspected a procession of disgruntled and outraged Conservatives being seen in front of TV Cameras but there were almost none.

Quentin Letts of The Daily Mail has written a piece here describing this entitled 'In 23 Years as a Parliamentary Reporter, I have Never Felt Such Disgust for our Political Class'

He is clearly outraged, as are some other commentators, yet the Conservatives haven't made much of it.


Perhaps it's simply because, like a little boy playing conkers whose meticulously prepared conker has sustained a potentially fatal blow earlier than hoped or expected, they don't shout. Instead they quietly concentrate with an effort of will and hope that their prized possession will be able to sustain more of the inevitable blows that it will suffer, without being blown prematurely to smithereens.

To pompously paraphrase Churchill - This is not the end of the beginning but it is perhaps the beginning of the end.. for the Coalition.


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