Monday 25 April 2011

Huhne might have damaged British politics forever

I have been trawling my brain, and burning energy with repeated Google searches, looking for times when a front line politician has used such extreme language to make a point. I have failed: Chris Huhne's continued insistence that his Cabinet colleagues lie and the NO to AV campaign is willfully misleading the public and should be sued/prosecuted by the law is a first.

Those who follow politics will be aware of Huhne's interventions: calling the first Muslim, female member of the Cabinet, Baroness Warsi, Josef Goebbels; the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, a liar; following this up with a repeat attack on Sayeeda Warsi where he called her a liar too; spending all of Easter Sunday on various BBC news programmes repeating all the above ad nauseum.

Former party leaders Ming Campbell and Michael Howard did well on this morning's Today programme to deflate the row much to the Today programme's disappointment. This was the sensible and statesmanlike way to go about the business of electioneering. Both recognising that Huhne is wayward in his attacks and misguided in his use of language.

It remains to be seen what impact Huhne's behaviour will have on British politics longer term. The hope is none. Due to coalition politics he wont be sacked so will go back to writing endless policy papers on climate change while wishing he was Lib Dem leader (surely this is not a possibility now). There is a danger however, that in the heat of political battle front line politicians will from this day on stoop to ever lower ways of making points and undermining their opponents. Forgotten will be the days of making an argument, backing this up with research, costings, winning the support of third party groups along the way, in order to win a debate. Instead we will have shouting matches, a lack of respect and a political culture the public will turn away from. Political knockabout will be replaced with smears, lies, anger, rage and horse-trading.

It is ironic that Chruis Huhne is campaigning in favour of AV: claiming it will make MPs work harder and provide a fairer voting system. Amongst his ranting he has failed to explain how these would be achieved. Perhaps Huhne should be offering up a voting system where politicians need to consistently win the argument over a long-period of time in order to win an election. Or perhaps we should just stick to the current first-past-the-post system, where our politicians already have to do this, and hope Huhne's fortnight of synthetic rage will soon be forgotten.  


  1. Huhne also forgot to mention the conflict the conflich of interest in who prints the ballots and the yes campaigns election literature - and his girlfriends role in that

  2. The interesting thing is that "Hoon" (after Geoff) and "Huhne" (after Chris) have fast become common online euphemisms for circumventing swear-filters in order to lob the harshest insult in the English lexicon at shoddy, dishonest and hypocritical politicians.

  3. What are the prospects for Huhne at the next general election without AV ? Just asking ...

  4. Before the election last yearthat it was reported Clegg was over heard saying that Chris Huhne was no good for a particular position because he had "No emotiobnal intelliegnce". He has now demonstrated his greatest 'gift' is one of betrayal....

  5. I'm more worried about the damage Huhne and his coalition pals are doing to our energy security.

  6. I wonder if you're taking the impact of this all too seriously. For me, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this, a Politician just damages himself with extraordinary statements like these.

    It adds to the background reputation music which leads voters to think "I'm don't like him, he's a prick" and Huhne is marching close to that.

    Most of the Labour front bench are already in that catagory as a result not only of thier poor management when in Government but also the appalling opposition efforts which have come since then.

    One of the interesting aspects of the AV vote has been the way in which it has polarised so many of our MPs and commentators outside of party lines. Huhne has been acting like a cock, whilst on the other hand I'm not even sure what Ed Milliband's actual position on AV is?


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