Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Lies, smears, tantrums – the new politics hasn't arrived just yet

Share
Related Topics

With all of us agitating for a new politics it's remarkable how resilient the old politics is. A different voting system ain't going to change that, so don't grieve (or exult) too loudly when the results come in.

The No But Yes campaign has been an orgy of old politics – especially among the pepsi-boys of the new generation. Lies, smears, slurs, counter-slurs, tantrums, threats, double-dealing, backstabbing and Baroness Warsi being likened to Goebbels. They're hard-wired to behave like this even when it's against their interest.

There was a moment in Prime Minister's Questions yesterday when Cameron caught Ed Miliband a terrific haymaker – but only because Labour hasn't learnt the old lesson from William Hague's leadership. A new politician will instinctively be able to cut himself free of the living corpse of a previous administration. "My predecessor was a giant – but we'll never do it like that again, obviously." That's the short version. Hague couldn't do it to Mrs Thatcher and this one can't do it about Brown or Blair.

And so Cameron was able to belt Miliband's extraordinary interview remark back at him: "I'm not going to defend what happened just because I happened to be in the last government."

The hopelessness of that position needs to be felt rather than analysed. But old politics is inclined to say, "I, however, am an optimist" – not understanding that we hear it as, "I'm not ashamed to say I'm psychotic".

MPs' attachment to existing formulae on either side of the House is astonishing. Yvette Cooper accuses Cameron of his own accusation, "taking the British public for fools". Cameron fires Blair's fusillade at Miliband "bandwagons", and "opportunism" while he demands alternative policy as Blair used to demand of him. Miliband complains Cameron "doesn't answer the question" as Cameron complained of Blair, and with a line much-loved of Iain Duncan Smith (Conservative leader between Hague and Michael Howard), Miliband has taken to saying "We can't believe a word he says". It didn't work then either.

On it goes. Bob Ainsworth claimed – as his shadow claimed – that the military covenant was being destroyed. Cameron went into Libya because he refused "to walk by on the other side" and Miliband calls every administrative variation a "broken promise".

"Same old Tories" is at least as well-worn a line as "Labour always leaves a mess behind that we have to clear up".

Underlying this is the enduring illusion of Westminster: "Next time it will be different." Vote us, the opposition, into government and promises will be kept, waste will disappear, manufacturing will be reborn, communities will order their own affairs (bidding, indeed, for nuclear power stations and airports to be built in their midst). These incumbents are liars and incompetents, which is why the fabric of the country is being destroyed.

If that is the illusion, it's one the electorate doesn't suffer from any more. No, if there was a glimmer of new politics it was the way Cameron managed his Coalition through the first 12 months: good manners, good humour and an ease in admitting he is neither omniscient nor omnipotent. But that, alas, isn't lasting either.

twitter.com/simonsketch

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Retail Sales Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This fragrance store are looking for enthusias...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting and rewarding role ...

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Executive - UK / International

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a long-established, renown...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - Signs and Graphics

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The key requirements of the rol...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Old London Bridge; how to fight UKIP; and wolves

John Rentoul
Muslim men pray at the East London Mosque  

Sadly, it needs to be said again: being a Muslim is not a crime

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible