Oh the poor dearies in Swraj Pauland. The last time they were in such a fug was before the internet, before Becks met Posh, even before that nice lady with the handbag — no, not Mayawati, but Maya Maggie — thumped a copy of Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty on the table and proclaimed, “This is what we [the Conservative Party] believe.” Today if her successor David Cameron plonks The Constitution of Liberty on any table, the hoodies in Manchester will probably look up and say, “Cor, that’s the new Arctic Monkeys mp3, innit?”
As I write this, Swraj Pauland hasn’t yet figured out who’ll be its new prime minister. But one thing’s for sure: it’s a well hung Parliament out there and Amar Singh’s still in Delhi.
The panic is palpable across the Suez. And yet, as I stare into those dreamy eyes of Shibu Soren whose framed picture is on my table, I realise that the panic is that of a child who’s just been told that mummy and daddy didn’t bring him home from a nice, cheery hospital but that he was the product of dirty, mindless, first-past-the-post Westminster-style sex.
It’s not the first time the people whose original language we’ve co-opted have had an election where no single party has won a majority. The last one was in 1974 that involved a high-octaved Pranab Mukherjee-like pipe-smoker being at the helm of the wobbly dinghy as Swraj Pauland walked the gangplank that would ultimately lead that country to, among other things, punk music, aforementioned lady with the handbag and, er, Baron Paul of Marylebone.
“The country has spoken, but we don’t know what they’ve said,” former Liberal Democrat Party leader Paddy Ashdown said on Friday. Are those guys there for real? Don’t they know that political parties are supposed to ignore the Babel of the nation and just put words into the mouths of the electorate once the bobbins have voted and declare, “We have been given the people’s mandate”?
James Forsyth in the March 10 edition of the Tory-venerating Spectator sounded like an MDMA-popping Kurtz from The Heart of Lightness when he went on about the coming apocalypse: “[A hung Parliament] would shift the locus of power from Whitehall and Downing Street back to the tea rooms, corridors and cloakrooms of the Commons. Party leaders and their aides would have to wait on backbench MPs rather than the other way round.” Crikey! I don’t know about the tea rooms and cloakrooms, but is he suggesting that our noble nation doesn’t chug as well as it’s supposed to chug because of the importance given to people like the CPI’s D. Raja, the DMK’s A. Raja, the JMM’s Shibu Soren ‘Kierkargaard’, the All India Majlis-e Ittihad al-Muslimin’s A. Owaisi, and the Yadav Lords of Bimarushire (pronounced ‘Bimrusher’)?
It would do the satraps in parties such as the Scottish Nationalist Party and the Ulster Unionist Party to get some tips from the likes of our National Conference or the Peoples Democratic Party. The British Nationalist Party can take notes from the Shiv Sena, while the Trinamool Congress would be only too happy to coach the Monster Raving Loony Party how to play the coalition game.
Swraj Pauland thinks it can only get out of its many messes — the economic doodoo they’re in being on top in the in-tray — if it has a strong, majority government. Someone should tell them they sound like a bunch of ponces when they think that. Have they tried to come up with a common minimum programme? Have they even started to lock individual party members in B&Bs so that they don’t start walking? (I forgot that these folks don’t even know they could switch parties if the incentive was good.)
Instead of moaning about their horses not winning outright, the Jane Austen-ish boys of Westminster should learn fast how to trade them.