In today’s Observer, Andrew Rawnsley speculates about the possible collapse of the coalition if Tories can’t be persuaded to support the LibDem holy grail of House of Lords reform:
Deep in the piece is this rather extraordinary line:
“The Conservatives attach enormous importance to the small haul of extra seats they expect to gain from these boundary changes – a sign of their lack of confidence that they can win the next election.”
I find it extraordinary that any political commentator can write so uncritically about an unpopular party opportunistically gerrymandering to secure power. That – effectively – the Tory definition of fair constituency boundaries is one which will deliver them more seats and that this isn’t seen as electoral cheating on a disgraceful scale.
The proposition that the Tories need to do this because they (not surprisingly) lack the confidence to win the hearts and minds of voters on the merits of their arguments institutionalises a kind of electoral bullying.
The lessons of the playground tell us that bullies throw their weight around because they are unconfident, weak, unpopular and cannot secure friendship or support by other means. Instead they, cheat, scheme and rough up those who they consider to be a threat and enforce tribal loyalty through force and fear of retribution.
A confident party which had a genuinely popular offer to the electorate would not need boundary changes in order to increase its chances of winning the next election.
Tories should be embarrassed by the nakedness of their fear.
The only thing more embarrassing than that is the failure of any other political leadership to stand up to them.
Our political playground will be dominated by thugs if we don’t stop cowering in front of them.