Saturday, 3 January 2009

Oborne on Lab Lib Dem alliance

If there is substance to Peter Oborne's conjecture in this morning's Mail that there is a deal in the offing for Brown to bring the Lib Dems into government, this could be Brown's and Clegg's biggest miscalculation to date. The Lib-Lab pact negotiated between David Steel and Callaghan in 1978 didn't save Sunny Jim and neither will such a pact save Brown. And in 1979 the Libs lost a third of their votes as a result.

What's been absolutely clear from recent elections and by elections is that people have been voting not for Dave's Tories or Cleggie's Libs but against Brown's Labs. The anti-Labour vote has been split between the two, the Lib Dems taking votes from those who can't yet quite bring themselves to vote Tory. Public feeling against Labour will be stronger than any other electoral motivator. If Clegg allies his party to Labour, the Tories may gain some extra votes but the Lib Dems will certainly haemorrhage support - much more than the third of their votes they lost in '79. The Greens may now do quite well from lost Lib Dem votes. The country will see this as trickery, as denying the people the chance to be rid of Brown, and the outcome for both Labour and the Lib Dems will be disastrous.

For this reason I believe we should give every encouragement to the Lib Dems to join Brown's doomed government.


lilith said...

Oh yes, Raedwald, this is so. Our local MP, David Heath, just sent out a questionaire about what is making the natives restless. In the "any other comments" section I wrote
"We HATE Gordon Brown, I mean really HATE him"..

Heath is a proper MP. He does his job, but his other problem (apart from Clegg) is that he is considerably less pretty than the Conservative candidate.

I wouldn't mind voting for the delectable and amusing Annuziata anyway. So he'd better let Cleggy know, or his seat is toast. Locals around here burst into spontaneous loathing for Gordon Brown with very little provocation.

lilith said...


Anonymous said...

The Lib Dems have always been a weird group. They're less a coherent political party grouped around a common ideology (as, say, the Tories and Labour are) and more a loose agglomeration of one-issue voters grouped around a core of old Liberals and anti-Labour soft leftists.

The party's structure has always been weaker and more prone to fracture than the other major parties - which is probably not surprising given that the Lib Dems are the successors as much to the old SDP as to the old Liberal Party and that the SDP, in its turn, was a splitter party.

The Lib Dems might work as a third party in parliament, as a sort of stalking tiger on the flanks, always threatening to take seats that Labour could not take from the Tories or that the Tories could not take from Labour. When they move beyond this, when they try to pose as a government-in-waiting or as though the party was the voice of a coherent ideology, they fall apart: the hard leftists (and there are plenty in the Lib Dems) turn on the centrists; the pants-wetting ex-hippies turn on the NooLibs; the ex-Tories turn on the ex-SDP-tards.

It would be political suicide, not just for Clegg's leadership but for the Lib Dem project, if they were to seek to enter government with Labour. The party would fracture, just as it has so many times in the (not so distant) past.

Bring it on. Here's to Chancellor Cable.