It's a rum old thing, this hung parliament malarkey, and amongst my circle its causing quite a stir.
First there are my Lib Dem friends who obviously believe in their ideals more than they want to be in power. A few of them are very angry that Clegg and co have decided that having a chance to pull the levers and press the buttons is worth a bit of compromise and have resigned their membership. Interestingly, those I have spoken to would have done the same had the 'rainbow alliance' taken shape as well.
A few of my Labour supporting friends are purple with rage. I'm having trouble finding out what it is precisely that has angered them so. They're certainly angry because they lost (and yes, I know nobody won, but that doesn't mean Labour didn't lose), but that anger seems to be divided between Brown, the electorate and the Tories and Lib Dems (the best suggestion I've heard for a collective name is Dem Tories).
Brown because of his performance both as Prime Minister and during the campaign. There seems to be a feeling that he let the side down, but, crucially, that he should still somehow be Prime Minister. Weird.
They're angry at the electorate for voting for the other parties, and this is one of the more telling effects of New Labour's 13 years. There is this disbelief that people would dare to oppose the bright new dawn which has spectacularly failed to break for the last decade. Note, that isn't that people would disagree with it, but that they would have the temerity to actually go out and vote against it. How dare they? Stifling dissent and discourse may work within the party, but you can't control the public, try as you might.
The Lib Dems are now seemingly the class traitors. Setting up camp with the Tories? I can almost hear the phrase 'after everything we did for them' leaving their lips. The high pitched whine of 'it's not fair' will not be far behind. Labour still had stuff to do, visions to wossname and social 'justice' to . . . whatever it is you do with social 'justice', reject it if the election is anything to go by. It's almost as if the Lib Dems have been viewed as the Labour second XI and their cosying up to the Tories is obviously a monumental betrayal.
Most opprobrium has been kept for the Tories. Thatcher. Poll Tax. Fox Hunting. Poshness. Private Schools. The Miners. All that guff. It doesn't matter, in politics it is ancient history, it's akin to refusing to go to Rouen because of the Norman conquest, it's an irrelevance now. What Labour supporters fail to understand is that non-members or supporters don't share their blind, violent hatred of the Tories. From where the average joe is sitting, the Tories are marginally better than Labour because they've not spent the last 13 years fucking about with stuff. If you say 'Conservatives' to Average Joe, he isn't going to spit on the ground, or cross himself, or stand in a circle of salt. His bottom lip isn't going to start trembling and he's not going to wet himself in panic and run off to mummy. Unfortunately for Labour, their whole campaign was based on telling people that the Tories are really nasty. Well, we know that, but you failed to persuade us that you are less nasty. The fact of the matter is that Labour lost the support of the public. It was not taken by the Conservatives, or Rupert Murdoch or climate change deniers or anything else. You simply trod on our toes too many times.
So how do I feel about this coalition?
Well, it's a stitch-up, but that's the reality of the system we have. I don't like it, I'd like it to change, but we are where we are.
What have we lost? Very little as far as I can make out. Mandleson no longer has any power. That is a very good thing. One of the most shambolic and unhinged leaders in this country's history is himself history, another tick in the good column. The most illiberal, paranoid, controlling and devious government we've had has been sent packing. Another good tick.
I'm struggling to think of things to put in the bad column under the heading 'things lost'.
What have we gained?
Not a great deal. I'm hopeful that perhaps the Lib Dems will act as a brake on the Tories more outlandish policies, and vice-versa. A stable government is fine, a strong government is always bad news for people that aren't that government's mates. So a tick in the good column, we've a stable yet weakened government. That'll do for now.
It would also appear that we've gained a Great Repeal Act. ID cards and the odious database that went with it and HIPS seem to be the first things to go. Hopefully the power of the pseudo-plods and inspectors will be next, along with the retention of the DNA of the innocent. Another plus in the good column.
I'll be more than happy to see these nasty, grubby measures gone, but don't expect me to be high fiving Dem Tories, this is not a high virtue, this is doing stuff that I would expect any party (except the BNP and Labour) to remove from the statute as a matter of urgency. The fact they seem to want to do this is pleasing, but I'm not about to give a good deal of credit for something that you should be doing as a matter of course. It would be like giving an OBE to someone because they gave their kids some dinner.
So, early indications are that I can live with this government, I don't hate it. Yet. There's plenty of time and policies to come that can change that though.