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Are Labour playing dirty with us?

May 10th, 2010 Posted in Liberal Democrats, UK Politics by

campbellOne of the most ubiquitous faces on television over the past week has been Alastair Campbell, and during Labour’s election campaign the hilariously sinister smirk of Mandelson was never far away.  Could this afternoon’s high political action be a reminder of the media-driven dirty politics that these two became famed for?

At the time of writing, there’s been little (or no) word from the Lib Dems all afternoon. Rather, there were initial rumours communicated to the BBC. Gordo then stormed out, with little notice, and declared that he was stepping down (at some or other point in the future) and is followed up by Labour MPs briefing the press that the Lib Dems have approached them to resume (or begin talks).

And still no word from the Lib Dems. Or, for that matter, the Conservatives.

Is it therefore possible that the Lib Dems began talking to Labour, behind closed doors, as a means of playing the two sides off each other – a perfectly common tactic to secure the last final concessions from the Tories. And that Labour, pouncing on this, and perhaps some strife among Tory and / or LD MPs with regards to the coalition, decided to go public – in a (possibly successful) attempt to force Clegg’s hand?

They may also be gambling that this, in itself, is enough to break up the LD/Tory flirtation for good. The interweb is currently hosting thousands of bitter Tories, riling against the Lib Dems – and if anything like this is happening in the Westminster village, it may be too much for Clegg and Cameron to resolve (even if they want to).

Just a thought.

Overall, I don’t see how a Lib-Lab rainbow coalition could possibly work.  Yes, I’ve seen the maths – it could, feasibly, be enough. But its majority would be so tight, especially among such disparate parties with no uniting party loyalty, that maintaining control would be extremely difficult.

Such a coalition, I think, would fall within 6 months to a year. As for the (alleged) referendum on PR, this would be tainted by its sponsors: a Lib-Lab coalition that would be heavily resented among a huge chunk of the electorate (certainly in England).  We would take a share of the blame for all ensuing disasters, and the Tories would likely clean up at the next (FPTP) election.

While the petulent Tory attitude to this situation – that simply giving them power is “the right thing to do”, driven by their arrogant assumption of being the natural party of government – is extremely unattractive, the result of the election does mean that they hold a stronger hand than us or Labour.

PR is important, but this is a very dangerous situation. Tread carefully, Nick.

UPDATE: ARRGHHH! Nick’s now on the meeeja, saying that no deal with the Tories was done, so he’s talking to Labour. The Tories, similarly, now have a chance to fo to the press and say they’re cutting us off.  Extremely tough situation. Have we lost the media tactics, or does all this genuinely reflect what’s happened behind closed doors?

15 Responses to “Are Labour playing dirty with us?”

  1. Ross Says:

    I think it’s a good thought. My instant thoughts to Brown’s speech and the presence of Campbell on the BBC this afternoon were ones of an attempt by Labour to undermine the Lib/Con discussions. And no surprise, Nick Clegg’s name is even more mud with some Tory voters and are pleading with Cameron to walk away from the talks.

  2. Keyo Says:

    Can i presume Clegg and the libdem voters are quite happy for all the cuts to fall on England?

    To get a deal with the nationalists the government would surely need to promise no cuts in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland: the English taxpayer, who voted overwhelmingly Tory on Thursday will be stiffed once again.

  3. maas101 Says:

    The Lib Dems one shot at PR and it’s been blown. Teaming up with the Tories, taking credit for even small electoral reforms whilst distancing from the inevitably painful cuts would have set them up for the next election. Siding with the failed Labour government they will take the blame for the inevitable meltdown and allow the Tories to clean up.

    Kiss PR and any chance of lasting electoral influence goodbye..

  4. Julian Harris Says:

    Keyo – a reasonable point, but this is the result of the electoral and fiscal systems supported by Labour and the Tories.

  5. Ziggy Says:

    Apart from a vocal minority most lib Dems probably consider themselves centre left & therefore a coalition with Labour seems more natural

  6. Angela Harbutt Says:

    I am not so sure I agree with Julian…. As I say in my post.. (see my post at 1730)..I think that is posible that this is a Clegg/Cameron ploy to force the rebel Tory backbenchers (who otherwise were all over the airwaves talking about their preference for a minority Tory govt) to toe the Cameron line… I think Labour just bolted as soon as Clegg opened the door…perhaps as Clegg/Cameron knew they would ????

  7. Dick Puddlecote Says:

    It’s a right kick in the teeth for Lib Dem supporters in LD/Tory marginals is what it is. Labour are nowhere to be seen in most of them for a reason and they were the most loyal. We could see a hell of a lot of them go blue next time if Clegg sides with Labour.

  8. Ross Says:

    I hope you’re right, Angela.

  9. Ross Says:

    Well William Hague has said this evening: “In the interests of trying to create a stable, secure government we will go the extra mile and we will offer to the Liberal Democrats, in a coalition government, the holding of a referendum on the Alternative Vote system, so that the people of this country can decide.”

  10. Roger Says:

    So who is winning in the Lib Dems at present the Liberals or the Social Democrats? I fear that the MPs who can see the reality of co-operation will be overuled by the mob in the party.

    What worries me is the fact that I can hear it already and that is ‘the man in the street’ saying that they are all up to their old tricks these politicians.There is a strong chance that the nasties like Alastair Campbell will shaft politics as a profession.

  11. Keyo Says:

    Clegg ‘new way of doing things’ hows the auction going?

  12. Keyo Says:

    Clegg has been exposed as a chancer, coalition is supposed to be put together for the good of the nation, not for party gain.

  13. Julian Harris Says:

    Sure Keyo, the Tories are completely free of self-interest and party gain. They have no interest in obtaining power and getting better jobs for themselves. Everything they’re negotiating is purely driven by altruism and “the national interest”.

    With such angel-like status, I wonder why we bother having elections in the first place. Wouldn’t it be more efficient if the natural party of government just took control for the long term?

  14. Keyo Says:

    People should refer back to what happened in 1923. At the Election the Conservatives had 37.1% of the total vote with 248 seats, the Liberals had 29.6% with 158 seats and the Labour Party 30.55 with 191 seats

    The Liberals decided to support Labour,but the parties soon fell out and another election followed within 10 months. The Liberals were crushed and the Conservatives won overwhelmingly

    The Liberals should revisit this experience.

    Brown Cleggs cancerous politics

  15. Keyo Says:

    Remember Clegg you must now support us on all future wars, Eh Eh

    Place in the cabinet,