Friday, September 21, 2012

No, Scotsman headline writer, that's not what Tim Farron said

Lib Dem President Tim Farron believes party should avoid coalition deal in 2015

So screamed a headline in today's Scotsman.

But if you read what Tim actually said, it doesn't quite stack up to the headline.

I always thought ‘confidence and supply’ was, for this Parliament at least, not a good option because you have none of the power and all the blame. I think in the future ‘confidence and supply’ might be an option.
“Post-2015, because we have now got fixed-term parliaments and in a calmer economic 
period, having a minority administration would be possible, entirely possible.It wasn’t last time because you knew that David Cameron would call an election in October and he would have won it.
So, all he was saying that Confidence and Supply wasn't an option last time but it might be next time. How the flippin' eck has that come out as "we should avoid coalition"? Just how?

And the Telegraph has some cock and bull story about him supporting a confidence and supply with Labour after the election. I have it on very good authority that what he actually told the Telegraph was this:

It’s up to the British electorate – whoever is the most popular party has the right to form a government and we won’t hinder that.
 At least the Telegraph mentioned that Tim was championing more tax cuts for the poorest and more house building. 

The silly season continues as each newspaper tries to frighten its readers by telling them how awful the Liberal Democrats are. I was speaking to a senior government insider recently who said that they never, ever believed anything that was written in the newspapers. I'm not sure if that's because the truth is much more bizarre than the papers think.

I've been to conferences before and then read what's been in the press about them and wondered if the journalists have been at the same event.

So, I guess the lesson for the next few days is to take everything you read with a big pinch of salt.

Charlotte Henry and I may not agree about much, but we expect Nick Clegg's Conference to be much smoother than the journalists think.



Galen10 said...

The trouble is Farron is wrong now about what should have been done in 2010, just as he and the LD leadership were wrong then.

Amid the loud cries that there was no alternative, that economic catastrophe loomed, and of course that New Labour were in no fit state, what the LD SHOULD and COULD have done was to have made a number of policies absolute red lines for joining any coalition.

Chief amongst these should have been keeping their promise on tuition fees, cancellation of Trident, and a referendum on PR (not AV).

If the Tories and/or Labour didn't agree to these demands, then the sensible course, and one which could easily have been sold to the voting public as a principled stance, would have been to offer a confidence and supply arrangement to allow government to function, but vote down those policies with which you simply couldn't go along (tuition fees, spending £500 million to keep Trident replacement ticking over, dismantling the NHS and carrying on and worsening the previous governments policies victimising benefit claimants and the long term sick... that kind of thing).

None of this is rocket science. It might also have given NuLabour an opportunity to actually clean their own stable out, in the knowledge that they couldn't simply re-hash Tory policy "lite" and expect you to support them on the basis they were slightly less bad than Dave and Gideon.

If there HAD then been an early GE in 2011 or 2012, the LD's would have been much better placed to make progress against both the Tory and Newer Labour parties on the basis of a principled confidence and supply arrangement, than they will be in 2015 having enabled a Tory dominated coalition.

I realise that the dwindling rump of LD's at Brighton have to be "seen" to be positive, but in your heart of hearts, most of you know that the game is up, and that your party is irredeemably tainted by the crass and wrong headed policies taken by your leaders in the five days of May in 2010, and your failure to exert ANY appreciable influence in the years since.

The LD's are no longer part of the solution to this country's problems, they are part of the problem.

Neil Mackinnon said...

I think people like Galen10 are just over eager to dance on the grave of the Liberal Democrats.

Being the minor party in a coalition is never an entirely comfortable place to be but if you get to implement important policies then it is worth it. Why else are you politically engaged if not to do things?

I do however, think that Tim Farron is completely wrong about a so-called Confidence and Supply formula. There is nothing in this kind of set-up for the party providing the confidence and supply. The credit for popular government policies will always go to the party implementing them while the blame will be shared by those facilitating those policies. Look at the narrative of Lib Dem haters in Labour such as Harriet Harman if you want to see what it would be like....


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