Friday, 10 February 2012

Schisms between Left and Right in the Coalition

Happier times, but now is there a drift?
As the Coalition continues to trundle forward it appears that limbs of the two parties, the Libdems and the Conservatives, are trying to pull the fabric apart. On the right of the Conservative party we have Europsceptics and those who are frustrated with the Human Right's act and Abbu Qatada's release. On the left an army of angry Libdems who are getting more and more angry over Austerity cuts and the worrying drift to the right that has happened within the party.

The Conservative right, who have never really liked the idea of the Liberal Democrats being in Government with them, in fact if anything a necessary evil to help prop up their majority in May of 2010 and now a parasitic symbiont that is passing through their policies under a bigger party's guise and blocking them from doing what they want or feel needs to be done.

The case of Abu Qatada is a prime example of our two parties not agreeing. The case is being used as an extreme example of the problems of the Human Right's act.
The Right cannot see why the man cannot be held for an indefinite period of time or be forcibly deported to Jordan. To add salt to the wound the Government's efforts are being thwarted by the European court of Human rights.

Although the Qatada case is fairly extreme, I find myself agreeing with the courts.

Should Qatada be deported to Jordan he faces possible torture, as do witnesses in any trial. On top of that he has not actually been charged with anything and under law you cannot hold a person in prison without charge. Control orders, likewise imprison someone in their home and restricts movement, whom they speak to, police can make unannounced visits - basically you are owned by the state and your freedoms revoked which is just wrong. If they are guilty of an act and there is sufficient proof to have them found guilty by a jury of their peers then fine if not - I'm sorry - but they should be freed.

The state, wanting to control its citizens, to hold them indefinitely without trial or conviction, forcible deportation and removing their freedoms is, to me reminiscent of a certain far right German Government from the middle of the century. If you open up that box, even a little, you sacrifice the very freedoms and ideals that you are trying to protect, and it is a slippery slope to the Nacht und Nabel laws.

The European Court of Human rights, separate of course from the European Union and Common Market, is there to assist Governments making decisions that effect Human rights and therefore are a force for good. In this case torture can never be condoned.

Another source of tension is Sarah Teather. Peter Bone MP, asked at PMQs this week why she was still a government minister as she did not turn up to the pivotal vote on Welfare reform. Sarah Teather had always objected to the bill and when she was held up in Sheffield, by design or, as she has told everyone, by work the Conservatives have seen it as a slight.
True, under normal circumstances, a Government minister should vote with the Government - however this is a Coalition, and in the agreement no one needs to vote a certain way. If Ms Teather was strongly opposed to the policy, as many Libdems are, how could she vote - in good conscience for it?
If anything absentia from the vote is preferable for the Government than voting against. The point is she is a Libdem, and she stuck by her principles in the same way as those Conservative Eurosceptics who voted for a referendum did despite the whip.

On the Libdem side, there are left leaning Liberals who are horrified by the extent that the party seems to have drifted to the right and even become a diet Conservative party. Others believe that Clegg et al have sold their souls for their Ministerial positions and that the Coalition is truly pulling the party into the Darkside.

I must admit, there are times I agree.

However, I take solace in the good work that the parliamentary party are also putting through and the ends that justify some of the means. The nation is in a dire state and working with the Conservatives is the only way for improvement as Labour still seem entrenched and blameless.
Yes, there are bitter pills to be swallowed, and these aren't the decisions or policies that we would put through on our own but we're in Coalition and we're going to have to do things we don't want to do and agree with things we don't always agree with in the same way they are.

This is for the benefit of the country and both parties will need to rein in their respective wings to keep the Coalition on course.

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