(Brown writes his letter wishing David Cameron well – from a great set of photos on his last hours here)
The waiting is over. We have a new government, what some are calling the ‘ConDems’. My feelings are mixed. They range from huge disappointment and concern at the return of a Conservative administration, to relief that the ‘boil has been lanced’ and that the Labour movement can begin to regenerate.
I think it will be very interesting to see how this coalition evolves and copes. Personally, I think Clegg and the Lib Dems have taken the wrong decision, but have been forced into that decision by a baying media. The vast majority of the press have been vitriolically anti-Brown, and this has spilled over into some unwise comment on what the ‘right’ thing to do is.
In particular, I think the guff that has been spouted about the prospect of an ‘unelected Prime Minister’ is ridiculous, and good minds like William Hague should have done better than sink to that. No one ever votes for a Prime Minister. This is not a presidential system. End of.
Secondly, I think too much has been made of the supposed moral right the Conservatives had to form a government, and I think Clegg has been unwise to give in to this. In terms of votes cast, Labour + LibDem represented more people in the country that Conservative, so would have been a valid coalition. Indeed, with huge gains in local council representation, Labour did have a perfectly valid mandate to seek to form a coalition. But Sky didn’t want that. Nick Robinson didn’t want that. And so it was briefed against from the beginning.
However… binding themselves to each other I actually think will only do both the Tories and the Lib Dems harm. And a period in opposition will allow Labour to regenerate. Like all organisms and organizations, a period of ‘jubilee’, of rest, of deconstruction and reconstruction is healthy. And once that has happened, and – as Mervyn King of the Bank of England predicts – this administration is booted out because of the economy, we will see a return to more social, communitarian values in a Labour government soon. My bet? By 2012.
I think the media should be ashamed of themselves, but won’t be. We’ve lost a statesman in Brown. He wasn’t perfect, but he was far from the demon they made him out to be. Murdoch will be happy today. The BBC, nervous. The public sector too – as well expressed by one grim scribe on the Underground last night:
Time will tell. And time will heal.