Thursday, March 02, 2006

Schroedinger's Party 

So at 1500h Thursday 2 March the box gets opened and we find???

In one way this is a bit like the imaginary ‘Schroedinger’s Cat’ experiment that illustrates the paradoxes in Quantum Theory. Highly oversimplified summary: Put a cat in a box with a phial of poison gas and a clock-activated device to smash the phial. Leave in box for period so that there is a 50 percent chance that the phial is smashed. Under the weird worldview of Quantum Theory while the cat is in the box it is neither alive nor dead – opening the box collapses, the system to one or other of these states, either alive or dead but we don’t know until then. Until the box is opened the cat is in an indeterminate state neither alive nor dead.

Ok it is a bit mind bending but lets play with the metaphor. At present we have a whole range of possible futures for the LibDem Party. The new leader will makes some of these possibilities more real and make others less so. Right up to the point where the result comes in, all of us have been able to work together making hopeful assumptions about the future balance. After the result these assumptions collapse into a definite ‘face’.

Each of us, including those who back the winner, will have to review our positions, and really only then will we begin to understand the consequences of the past months.

We will also lose a protective screen covering the leadership dance earlier this year. Up to now the public have not had a definitive ‘alternative picture’ to Charles Kennedy as public embodiment of the Party. When the new leader comes forwards the public will at last begin to make comparisons and then we will really begin to see whether we will indeed pay a price for his ousting. The joke about it being better not to have a leader during the Dunfermline by-election may just have a thread of truth in it..

It is from this afternoon onwards that we show how mature we are as a party, and indeed how alive we are. Lets hope we can raise to the occasion as well as Susan Kramer did last night on Newsnight .

As a Chris Huhne supporter I am of course aware of his cat-loving tendencies so the Schroedinger metaphor has added meaning for me!

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