Letter: Talks are a fraud
Saturday 05 December 1998
The tribalism of British politics, which he sensibly deplores, is an inevitable consequence of majority rule in a political structure with few checks or balances on the executive. No amount of co-operation rhetoric will end it.
The litmus test of co-operation would be for Labour to modify its policies to seek a consensus with the Liberal Democrats. Their determination to stick with closed lists of candidates for the European elections eloquently demonstrates that the Joint Consultative Committee is a fraud.
Administrations with absolute majorities destroy debate and consensus. If they are swayed by argument they are accused of a U-turn, when they should be congratulated for using their minds. So decisions are taken in back rooms and stuck to even when mature reflection makes it obvious that they are wrong. Since the outcome of every "debate" is known before it starts, Parliament de-generates into the mud-slinging farce that we see every day.
When I led a Liberal Democrat group on a "hung" council the Labour leader would ask me privately what I thought my group would agree to before he met his own. He would then tell his more extreme colleagues that he agreed with them but those bloody Liberals wouldn't go along with it.
He would tell the rest that I had reluctantly agreed to try and persuade my group to support them.
We then had a genuine debate without a back room in sight and with U- turns galore. We actually tasted democracy.
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
As Better Call Saul launches, here are the other spin-off shows we need to see
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Hard line on immigration could cost Tories the election