Is there something of the Lee Harvey Oswald about the Liberal Democrats?
I think the analogy fits. You know how the theory goes. Triangulated cross-fire: various teams of shooters home in on the target, and one sacrificial lamb. “I’m just a patsy!” as Oswald put it. The gunmen could have been anywhere; the County Records building, the grassy knoll, the Texas School Book Depository. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the attention is diverted to the patsy.
And so we have it. The Conservative Party fixed on their target which is, essentially, us. The shots come in from everywhere: Gideon from the Treasury, Cameron from Number 10. Clarke, May and Gove send in their bullets too, attacking all that we have built in the education system and in our advances in equality. If one misses, just like the bullet that missed on Dealey Plaza back in 1963, you can be sure the others will strike us right in the neck or, worse, pretty much decapitate us. If the abolition of the Future Jobs Fund doesn’t impact you, the abolition of the Child Trust Fund will. Or even the Whitehall and public sector cuts may take your job from you.
But how do they get away with it? How will the public’s attention be diverted?
Cue: the patsy. “But Clegg sold out on voting reform”... “Cable sold out on his economic policies”.
And there you have it. The media goes wild. “Don’t be stupid”, they’ll say when you speak up about the cuts, “they need to happen.” And then their focus turns to Clegg the sell-out. They show us, sinisterly, how Clegg, Cable and Laws went back on their previous stance. And in ‘63? The focus was on Oswald: his background, pictures of him holding the gun, stories of his defection to the Soviet Union. And the conspiracy theorists, like those of us who bemoan the politically-motivated cuts, are called lunatics, naive and lacking in knowledge.
There are two losers on each side of the analogy. In 1963, John F. Kennedy was one of them; taken away in a coffin along with the hopes of millions of Americans and even millions of people around the world. And Oswald was the other. Oswald was charged, tried and sentenced the minute he was dragged out of a cinema, pleading ignorance and innocence and ended up being shot in cold blood. His demise preceded any chance he had to defend himself. In 2010, we are Kennedy and the Liberal Democrats take up the role of Oswald. We are the ones battered by the cuts and with our futures thrown into uncertainty. The Liberals are hung out to dry with their reputation in tatters. The patsies, the sacrificial lambs, slaughtered by the Conservative Party so that they can get away with their crime. Just like Oswald, they are pictured with their offending weapon: their previous political stance.
They too, will surely be shot down.
Luckily, I think the analogy ends when we consider when the true criminals will be able to be held to account. The final wave of JFK assassination documents are to be released in 2017, some 54 years after the event. I am sure that we can rely on our public at large and the rejuvenated Labour Party to hold the real criminals to account in far less than a tenth of that time.
We can tell the public now that getting rid of the Future Jobs Fund is a politically-motivated attack on people's chances of finding a job in this tumultuous economic climate. And we can ask them how they can fund a Border Police Force but not a Child Trust Fund scheme. We can tell them now that "free schools" is a policy that will only benefit the rich and that socially deprived areas where education does need to improve are not brimming with people who have enough spare time on their hands to start and run a new school; they need the state to provide them with the basic right of a good education. And we can also tell them now that any affronts to our democracy in the form of the proposed 55% rule will not reach the statute book.