Monday, May 10, 2010

Brown's bombshell puts Labour back in the game

Wow! With a heavy heart this morning, I was becoming increasingly convinced that the Lib Dem team was going to do some sort of deal with the Tories. Now it all seems to have changed and, literally, anything could happen. It's been funny how all the Labour people on Twitter who've been breathing fire on us for the last couple of days are now being very nice and the acid is now being snorted on us from the blue side.

I was very impressed with the dignified way Gordon Brown stepped aside. It was inevitable but he did it well. I've blogged several times about him - his government has generally been shambolic, but he is very difficult, despite all the glumness and dourness, to dislike. I hated Tony Blair (a word I use advisedly) with a passion unrivalled in its intensity, much more than I ever hated Thatcher but although Gordon exasperates me frequently, personally I think he's a good man at heart.

Now, if I were in a position to choose who I was going to get into bed with, I would want to make sure that they aren't going to snore, or fart, or hog the duvet or eat cheese and onion crisps in bed, or, preferably at all. There might be some circumstances in which I'd choose to sleep alone.

This metaphor transfers rather easily to the situation in which the Liberal Democrats now find themselves. It goes without saying that neither of the prospective partners will have perfect bedroom manners.

Option 1: The Tories


Likely to be more stable
Not dependent on petty nationalist demands to get every other vote through the Commons
More common ground on things like ID cards and privacy issues
The chemistry between the teams seems better
Our influence could take the sting out of them and save people pain


They are the Tories and in the past when they have governed alone they have been vile
They are xenophobic, homophobic in part, socially reactionary and too quick to want indiscriminate cuts
They don't give a flying puck about the poor
They do give a flying puck about protecting their rich friends
They hastily offer a referendum on AV which, frankly, isn't enough
The political consequences in Scotland particularly could be pretty dire if we can't show that we have made a difference to people for the better

Option 2: Labour


More suited economically
Many Lib Dems and voters would feel better about an arrangement with Labour than the Tories
At last, we have a woman on the negotiating teams.


Where to start?

A fairly significant chunk of the Labour Party really loathe the idea - as I speak John Reid is calling the idea of a coalition between us for everything on the BBC

Even without that, the arrangement is unstable

Every vote could be a real fight - much more stressful on whips and MPs, especially if the nationalist parties decide to pick petty fights on every issue.

We would start out with one retiring Labour leader and in 4 months' time the dynamics could change when the next one is in office. It's a hell of a gamble and Stephen Fry painted a very bleak picture of what could happen if it all falls apart.

Can you see the likes of Tom Harris trooping through the voting lobby to implement electoral reform?

They are instinctively of the sort of authoritarian mindset that thinks it's ok for the police to stop you for taking photographs and allow people who make jokes on Twitter to be prosecuted for it. What would happen to our Freedom Bill?

Option 3 Going it alone, or confidence and supply agremment with the Tories


It means that our influence in the Parliament will be more easily measured on the issues which arise


May not last long. The Tories (because it would be David Cameron as PM if we did this) would soon tire of us trying to amend their bills and there could soon be another election in which we are cast as the evil ones.

I sense that we are moving into the endgame and I guess we will know the outcome within the next 48 hours. The Tories are clearly getting frazzled by today's developments. The markets have been quiet today as their Tory friends have been happy in negotiations. What do you bet that they go crazy tomorrow now that their involvement in government seems less likely?

Just as an aside, Adam Boulton took complete leave of his senses on Sky News earlier - I wondered if he was going to land a punch on Alistair Campbell at one point. Are we to understand that the Murdoch media empire is a little displeased with today's developments?

1 comment:

dan.phillips said...

Hi Caron,
While I agree that AV is not good enough it is all that's been offered by either party. As it's not a genuine PR system, is this issue in danger of us looking like partisans in the face of a recession? All the talk from the lib dems has been on this issue and not on say ensuring the 10k policy sticks as well as other parts of the economic programme.

If these talks continue for much longer we could be seen to fiddling while Rome burns.


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