I have to be fair. They are trying something. And they may be successful. But at what?
The first comes from way back at ‘the discussion’ in the RDS. A group of those who had left on principle trying to get away from the narrow principle which loosely bound them. And almost succeeding except for the final bow and the standing ovation which shone the light on the audience as the social conservatives they really were. The balance between listening and telling had not been struck as sweetly as it might and I left thinking this is career politics with the thin veneer of reform.
The second comes from the sheer lack of weight, heft, sparkle or vision. A nameless and spineless mumbling on the radio to caricature the void of thrust or content around the only president. Except that there are two presidents, in a formless and temporary marriage, not long for this world. Highlighting how little they have to differentiate them, how desperately they need the next headline and how tricky it will be to bind opposites – something which only genius and crisis can achieve and neither of those two are available.
The third is to come, being both agile and principled is not possible and so it will fail. Despite all the febrile ground which 80 years of corruption, laziness, crisis, indecision, nimbyism and 10 of outright panic has exposed, it will fail. It is not possible to be open, agile, modern and retain the perception of principled and safe which the targeted electorate requires. The existing machine will continue unperturbed unraveling first openness, then principle and then basic cohesion. The wrong electorate was targeted and the wrong mandate has been sought. Kingmakers do not become Kings. Or Queens.
To be successful you need to be half the price or twice as good. Twice as good among the 18-35s would have been possible, hell 10x as good would never have been easier if that strategy had been tried, but with old fashioned ways of discussing social views, incorrect choice of candidates, lack of coherent social media strategy, no innovation in political engagement (giving your ideas is not enough to a very instant feedback generation) no attempt on this wide open group was ever made. Half the price cannot work unless the model is completely different and it is not. The model is still people and face to face and bums on seats and how is your road. The machine is already quite good at that. That’s why they didn’t die when they both allowed 2008 to happen.
What we have is some very interesting ideas – conscience votes and open cabinets and flat structures which will subside over time to the practicalities of the school run. We have no-one willing to sacrifice themselves because there is no need. So what we have is simply a weaker machine. Full of great people, wonderful bluster and necessary hope but ultimately a distraction to how removed the young are from the political process. A wonderful opportunity has been deliberately missed and we can only blame ourselves. Again.