December 12th, 2010
|09:14 am - Triumph of the dumb|
I think that the experience of the coalition is a big lesson that people who present as clever can be out-thought by people who present as stupid. That being aware that you are intelligent can lead you to make big mistakes. This is partly why I am interested in the current politics: it's like watching a big parable about the hubris of high IQ. It's not a sin to privately think 'I am quite smart' but it's a mistake to think that the clever models you create within your mind are watertight boats to sail in the real ocean.
Andrew Rawnsley has an article about it today.
This idea will eat away at Nick Clegg's authority over his party and ultimately prove fatal for the coalition if it hardens into a fixed view of how this government works. The idea is that the Lib Dems have become the coalition's fall guys, the hapless human shields for David Cameron and George Osborne, the useful idiots of the Tories.
This is clear to me, and that the Lib Dems have been outsmarted by the Tories is clear to me. Despite being, person for person, a lot smarter. I think it's because they have too complex a model, with too many factors, whereas the Tories have a very simple model, which they are simply implementing. Just running a machine which eats up the Lib Dems like fuel.
I'm not sure to what extent Clegg is complicit in this. I imagine there has been no overt discussion of complicity, but I wonder to what extent becoming a Tory peer (a thought he must have entertained) makes him feel sick, or makes him feel quite nice. But further I am not sure to what extent Cameron's clique are playing a straight bat with Clegg. That is, are they really trying to create a centre-right party (or a permanent coalition which functions as one), by jettisoning the right of the Tories and the left of the Lib Dems? This is what many people think is the covert aim, and it might be what Clegg and his immediate team imagine will happen.
I am not convinced. I think it is possible that the model is even simpler, and even more ruthless than this. It may be that Cameron's people want to get in, make some money*, and fuck off. They may not really have any long term aims at all - let the country sort itself out, let the Tory party and the Lib Dems go to hell, they will be long gone. And then they will have outsmarted us all.
* By this I mean 'set up a system that directs money in a certain way', not 'write themselves cheques'
"people who present as clever can be out-thought by people who present as stupid."
My uncle's phrase for this, after national service, was "bullshit baffles brains".
I know there are others and I can't think of a single one now.
|Date:||December 13th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)|| |
I think your possible simpler model may be quite right. I think it is always giving a group who is in power, or who wants to be, too much credit to think that they are playing a long game.
I look at the Lib Dems over in England and see them getting eviscerated (quite rightly) over the university funding issue. This is a pattern I have seen in Irish politics too. Years ago, Labour got into power here as the junior partner in a coalition with Fianna Fáil; FF used them or allowed them to be used as the scapegoats on certain issues; all the people who had voted Labour felt betrayed that they weren't living up to their campaign promises; Labour's support took a decade to recover. More recently, the Green Party went into coalition with Fianna Fáil and exactly the same thing happened. Many die-hard Greens (including me) will never vote Green again after the way they have shown themselves as weak while in government.
The Green leader promised that he would never lead his party into coalition with Fianna Fáil; so as soon as the election was over, he resigned his position as party leader, the Greens went into government with Fianna Fáil and he merrily accepted a position as junior minister. That was his Nick Clegg moment.
I imagine the Green Party's support will also take years to recover once the government falls, as it probably will in January if not sooner.
So, it seems that while it looks like the best path for a small party is to get into power as part of a coalition, in practice IMHO, it is the worst thing they could possibly do. Counter intuitive, but there you go.
I didn't know the Irish situation mirrored ours so closely. I am often surprised at how lacking in wiliness our leaders are. Whether it's by accident or design.