You had to feel a little sorry for politician Simon Hughes last night on BBC television's Question Time. The leading British Liberal Democrat MP came up against a barrage of criticism over the Lib-Dem's decision to jump into bed with the Conservatives.
The prominent London leftie must be as uneasy as most people on his wing of the party about the new coalition - because they would have preferred an alliance with Labour. But Hughes eloquently rebuffed critics and stuck to his principles over the new marriage made in political heaven.
He also outlined why the Labour Party were unwilling to do a deal because, with so many of their MPs opposed to electoral reform, they couldn’t deliver on their promises to the Lib Dems with whom they were negotiating.
And what’s more, Hughes said that the dinosaurs of the Tory right-wing, in stark contrast, showed strength in their willingness to compromise. Pity that the former Lib Dem president and spokesman on energy and climate change has not yet been rewarded with ministerial office.
I was astounded with the hostility from the TV audience. After all, as Tory big beast Michael Heseltine pointed out, the British people voted for it, whether consciously or not, and the general election results that produced a "hung parliament" showed that a coalition government was the likely outcome.
The problem with the British people is they vote for something, then moan about it afterwards. I believe that Con-Dem government will be the watch words that will change the face of British politics forever. In fact, if successful, it has the distinct possibility of killing off Tory Thatcherism and providing a new era of Liberal Conservative progressive policies, with the left then becoming an irrelevance in British politics. For now at least…
No longer are the Conservatives the "nasty party", as the new Home Secretary Theresa May famously called them years ago when they were struggling with their neo-Thatcherite identity on the British political landscape. They are now the new liberal centre politics that fairly reflects the progressive opinion of the majority of British voters.
Now it’s the Labour Party, whose "New Labour" project of Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, Gordon Brown and Alistair Campbell attempted to occupy the same ground, who are desperately trying to re-invent themselves. I can see there being a Liberal-Conservative coalition for many years to come, if the collaboration in government works.
David Cameron has been clever indeed. He saw an opening to prevent Labour getting into bed with the Lib Dems and pounced. Like always, Labour, under lack lustre Gordon Brown, missed their chance. He disastrously bottled calling a general election three years ago when he was handed power by the forced resignation of prime minister Tony Blair. Brown needed a mandate from the British people to have any legitimacy as the new prime minister.
Then he failed to transform New Labour into a progressive party on issues like civil liberties, political and banking reform where they ended up being to the right of even the Conservatives.
That is one of the reasons why they were rejected by the electorate, particularly their core left of centre voters, in the general election.
Now Brown has lost out to the Cameroons, who must be celebrating with glee. Quite frankly, as Hughes said, you go into politics to wield power and make a difference. And when you get the opportunity, you have to seize on it, not stay on the sidelines in glorious opposition. So Cameron and Clegg seized the moment and their audacious move is for the better.