This is the second of my essays today on 'you see, the system does work' April Fool's Day. This one about the British General Election. In response to an article in The [London] Guardian.
First thing to say is that, even now, after some forty years of being involved in elections on both sides of the Atlantic, I still get a tingle at the beginning of any election, be it for dogcatcher, co-op board director, UK Parliament or US President.
Elections are all about the most basic human choice. At the end of the day, after all the fanfare, millions, billions, slanging, lying, banners, babies and barnstorming, elections are about human beings, each having one vote only, designing their destiny.
The guy who cleans my grocery store bathroom this evening has one vote. I have one vote. The billionaire backing my Republican state governor has one vote. You can make it count. Or you can find some reason not to do so, and whine afterwards about how the result wasn't the one you wanted. It's your choice.
Next point is that a lot of folks in the UK are getting all aerated about the possibility that we may have a Parliament with no one party or even group of parties having an overall majority. So, the argument goes, making stable government an impossibility.
Actually, history has shown that some of the most stable governments have come from parliamentary systems where the party make-up looks like a patchwork quilt.
The reason being that political leaders are constantly having to discuss, negotiate and compromise in order to introduce new legislation. So very little frivolous legislation gets considered. Only the important stuff. Where there is some sort of consensus. Makes sense to me. I'm looking forward to it.
Third point. I hope that Nick Clegg is a part of that negotiating. In the US, I'm a Democrat. In the UK (I'm a dual citizen), I still count myself a Tory - even if a somewhat left-wingish one.
I think that the immediate past LibDem-Tory Coalition Government has been one of the best things to happen to the UK in the past forty years. You got Tory business sense with LibDem compassion. And by and large, they got it right.
The only reason this pact worked was because the leaders of the two component parties exercised good judgment, compromise when it was needed, hard-headedness when it was called for, and incredible courage when it was least expected.
Nick Clegg is the living epitome of a public servant putting the welfare of his people before his own party and his own personal ambition. His party will get a drubbing at this forthcoming election. Nick may well lose his seat. But, for what it is worth, and I may be one of the Tories in the universe to say this, he has my admiration.
I mean, how can you say anything nasty about a political leader whose first election photocall is with a hedgehog and a party of schoolkids? C'mon.
No, I reserve the nasty comments for Lord Ashcroft, whose firm conducted the poll the subject of the attached article.
Elsewhere it is reported that Lord Ashcroft is resigning his seat in the House of Lords. Good. Ashcroft is a thoroughly nasty piece of work. We're not allowed to say that, because he is also very litigious. Bollocks.
He was a very secret member of a group called the Savoy Mafia, which in the Eighties, helped to organize illegal arms deals in the UK, and funnel profits and 'commissions' back to senior folk in the Conservative Party. You remember this. My book. The book, as you also probably know, is due to be published commercially this coming June.
When the dust finally settled at the end of the Eighties, Thatcher had resigned as Prime Minister, and non-Thatcherites got to controlling the Conservative Party, Ashcroft became the keyholder for all the naughty money that had been tucked away in Switzerland. Some $600 million at last count.
His remit was to use that money to influence the Tory Party specifically, and British politics generally, to ensure that we had the 'right' government policies in the UK.
In 2010, Ashcroft funneled millions into a whole swathe of Tory marginals. Now, he produces 'influential' polls once a week, which he quite openly states he hopes will influence the outcome of the current UK General Election.
This would account for what The Guardian cutely describes as 'poor relations' between David Cameron and Ashcroft. Cameron recognizes Ashcroft for the crooked greaser that he is. Notwithstanding the fact that the rest of Westminster and Whitehall cower at his every footfall.
I am also not surprised to learn that Ashcroft is thinking of once again becoming a 'non-dom.' He wants to get back to managing his Belize empire. Where he owns a whole shipping line. And pretty much personally set up its offshore banking industry. All of which proved very useful in his drug-smuggling, money-laundering and arms-dealing operations over the past few decades.
Something you will read little about in UK or US newspapers. Because Ashcroft sued the crap out of The [London] Times when it dared to suggest (accurately - er, I managed to get hold of the redacted documents from the DEA, through several FOIA requests, snigger) that Ashcroft had been the subject of DEA investigations for drug-smuggling and money-laundering.
We also know the latter to be true because the US citizen who was the source of the leak about Ashcroft was later prosecuted by Dubya (Randal; scroll down).
Of course, I open myself to litigation from Lord Ashcroft for saying all of this ... pause, waits ... nope, nada. Shame. I could use the free publicity.
Bottom line? Even if it is in a weird and roundabout way, including citizens like me taking it upon themselves to pay attention, take notice, ask questions and then write down the answers for others, the system works. Happy April Fool's Day!