Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A view from the political wilderness

In February’s Parliamentary Monitor magazine, Lord David Owen (no spring chicken himself) says that Sir Menzies Campbell is too old to be leader of the Liberal Democrats and should be replaced by "a young Turk" ( it goes without saying that I could probably help him out on that score-hee,hee, hee!) Trivia such as who should be the Lib Dem leader need hardly concern us….The weighted average of opinion polls suggest that the inevitable outcome of the next election will be a hung parliament. That should concern all of us.
Lord Owen or “Dr. Death” (as he was known by Libbers during the dismal years of the “SDP-Liberal Alliance”) has raised the prospect of a Lib-Dem-Conservative pact as a possible outcome of the next general election. He said there was now a lot of common ground between the two parties. "If Cameron has the largest number of MPs but not an outright majority, I hope he can deal with the Liberal Democrats and come to an arrangement” I think people can see a lot of Conservative policies are acceptable now”
Dr. Death, of course, has a fine track record in administering the kiss of death to a variety of political parties and generally causing matyhem, to say nothing of his bungling in the Balkans.....so his words should be treated with some caution. But what is to be done? Deal or no deal? Should the Lib Dems be “hunted down like animals until scared and shivering they are torn to pieces by a merciless pack”? (if I may cite Mr Newmania) Or, short of offering PR for the House of Commons, do we give a little, as myself and Mr Dale would prefer, perhaps PR for an elected House of Lords and so on? Just think what a Lib-Lab. Coalition would be like. It's not a pleasant prospect, is it?

18 comments:

Serf said...

PR is the devils work and should be opposed by all true believers.

There are ways in which we can work together with the Lib Dems, but there are also too many differences.

Why not let them try and get into bed with Gordon Brown and completely destroy their brand image in the process.

Two years later, we win an outright majority.

istanbultory said...

Indeed, indeed. The Lib Dem brand image is already in terminal decline in my view. I am tempted to let Ming jump into bed with Gordo and pass on a coalition option altogether. Yes, an outright majority would probably come our way as a result. But think of the ravages that a Lib-lab govt. could inflict on the country during the intervening years. It doesn't bear thinking about.
A Ming-Gordo coalition might somehow impose PR all round and then where would we be? PR is already used in council elections in Scotland. I suspect that Labour might impose such a system on England in any case. The same applies for a "reformed" House of Lords...In all fairness, PR has allowed for something of an unexpected renaissance for the Conservatives in Scotland and Wales. Let's think things through...

Newmania said...

Now hang on a doggone minute there boy( Dep Dawg voice), you want to ally with the Liberals ?
The Party won`t have it ( see DT figures). I think there is local dimension here IT. Remember we are at eachothers throats all year and the Lib Dums are without question the most dishonest and cynical of all the parties.I prefer the SWP and certainly large parts of the Labour Party. Not suprising as the Fib Dums are way to the left in reality of the New Lab wing.


I accused Iain Dale of being a Liberal Conservative .He is very ambitious , and why not, he would be a fine MP . I felt from his incendiary response there was a sore nerve somewhere.It isn`t a game of diplomacy, there is a purpose and journillists tend to forget this .

"In all fairness, PR has allowed for something of an unexpected renaissance for the Conservatives in Scotland and Wales. Let's think things through..."

Um thats because we are dead in Scotland and Wales.I think PR would be workable locally and whithin a manifesto to devolve power to local areas you might have a point.PR in England
NEVER
NEVER
NEVER

I fear greatly the contagion of contact with LIBS , IT. They are vile lot of liars and opportunists and this unlanced moral poison has infected previous suitors.

Would you kiss a girl with weeping sores , fetid breath and early stage leprosy. This is what you are asking for. I admire your stomach IT but I detest the Liberal Party and will not be on the side of any foreplay whatsoever.

Can we please try to win the election before getting all defeatist abotu some appalling blood gorged endgame. Ian dale loves all that stuff of course. He is a courtier by nature...which is what you get with PR

C4' said...

If Cameron dares to try a deal over PR with the Fib Dims, Hauge, Davis and Fox would boot him out of office and Hague would take over as leader again.

istanbultory said...

I fear the contagion... but am none hopeful about a workable majority emerging at the next election. Hopefully, I'll be proven wrong. In Wales, we are less dead than we used to be but in Scotland the outlook is still grim. A Conservative-Labour coalition,N?

istanbultory said...

C4, Hague redux? Fox has had his day, surely.

Newmania said...

I may have got a little carried away there IT but silly though it sounds there are elements of the Labour Party who , frankly , I would willingly swap for some of our wet apple shining lot Liberal Conservatives. It isn`t what they belive its that they belive nothing.

If the Libs could be bought with a meaningless sop maybe ..I can`t see them going for it without full blown consenting PR on the table in enticing undergarments .

The Blackguards

istanbultory said...

PM Gordo will be in a position to offer the Lib Dems all kinds of enticements and blandishments. We may not even be in a position to compete even. I don't think the Lib Dems will be easily fobbed off this time around...

C4' said...

If Cameron is dumped, then Hauge would be the only credible choice. If both Fox and Davis ran for the leadership, they both know it would split the Thatcherite vote in a leadership and allow Osborne to become the new leader. Davis is getting old and Fox is not popular enough to win the contest, so both men would back Hauge as a comprise candidate.

Hauge has cabinet experience, is a former party leader, brilliant at the despatch box, more experienced than he was between 1997-2001, wouldn't have Portillo stabbing him in the back all the time and is still younger than 50 years old (he would be around 48 at this future period).

Ellee said...

Serf, Many thanks re the PR vote of confidence.

I wonder how seriously these issues are considered by CCO, I feel it is too soon to be thinking along those lines. I'm still hoping for an outright win, especially if Labour continues to do as well as it is now.

Mark Valladares said...

Never an easy decision, coalitions. You do have to consider the view of the public - if they've just given Labour a good kicking (and I'm willing to hold their jackets whilst they do so...), propping them up is pretty suicidal.

But then, I live in Dulwich & West Norwood, where we were in coalition with your colleagues in Lambeth and are now in coalition with their counterparts in Southwark. There wasn't that much difference between the manifestos... we both think that council tax is too high, both think that forty years of Labour in Southwark was forty years too many, and both want to improve services and cut waste.

So anything is possible, but with Cameron as leader, it's harder to envisage. Couldn't you pick a leader with principles rather than good PR?

istanbultory said...

Mr Valladares,
Welcome. It's rare that a non-Tory surfaces in these parts. Most gracious of you to drop by. It would seem, as you have pointed out, that there is considerable scope for Lib-Con co-operation in local government...
Mr V, surely the notion of forming a coalition with one of the "Big 2" shouldn't necessarily produce agonies for the Lib Dems given that your Party hasn't had its feet under the Cabinet Table since 1945. Neither Labour or Conservative will offer you PR for the House of Commons. This is an unalterable fact of British political life. Realism is called for on that score, dear boy. Considering the fact that Blair was less than honest with Paddy Ashdown or Roy Jenkins over the issue of PR in 1997, you might (I suspect) choose not to deal with Labour in 2009. Judging by the tone of the Tory fraternity on this thread, my side is not quite ready for an accommodation at this point. Personally, I take a somewhat different approach.
David Cameron is endeavouring to appeal to the middle ground where the next general will be won, whether we like it or not. He may even be uncomfortable with that, however, he knows where the Conservatives have to gather votes and his strategies will necessarily reflect that. He is a pragmatist who wants tax cuts, reformed public services, strong law and order and the preservation of something like our traditional way of life.Continually chanting the mantras of the 1980s will permanently consign the Conservatives to the barren wastelands of opposition- a domain with which Lib Dems are somewhat familiar.

james higham said...

Do you think he was deliberately Dr. Death or it just happened?

Mark Valladares said...

Heavens, I'm not expecting your gallant leaders to offer us PR, not this time, at least...

At the moment, the key difference is that Conservatives expect to be in government, we would merely like to be there. And in the same way you have your Ultras, so do we.

The question is, what happens if you don't win next time? Or the time after? Or if Gordon really believes that he can do a deal? We at least have a meaningful choice, potentially divisive though it is. Your options are much more limited.

Many of us in the Lib Dems are always argued that discussion of coalitions before an election are a distraction, colouring all of our coverage and obscuring any policy messages we want to put across. To be frank, and I hope that you don't mind that I am, if you keep on talking about the terms of a possible coalition, the media will start to assume that you can't win.

Been there, done that, worn the T-shirt...

istanbultory said...

As you say, "the media will start to assume that you can't win."
That's the problem. The media has collectively reached this very conclusion and created a perception that makes ife extremely difficult for us, to put it mildly.

Mark Valladares said...

http://liberalbureaucracy.blogspot.com/2007/02/coalition-with-tories-unthinkable-or.html

Just to prove that Lib Dems aren't all crypto-socialists...

istanbultory said...

Mr V, lose/shoot/expel the beard and sandals brigade and we can cut a deal.

Mark Valladares said...

You'd have to find them these days, as they're becoming increasingly endangered (thank God for the Greens, that's all I can say). Votes on the Royal Mail and a 50% tax rate are rather more indicative, I might suggest (for your less well-researched colleagues, we voted for allowing the Royal Mail to seek private funding and against a 50% tax rate), and the vote on Trident next month might surprise some of your more tribalist colleagues.

We'll disagree on Europe, I suspect. I tend to the view that Europe can be a good thing (note that I don't say 'is'). The problem is opening it up to proper scrutiny, involving the public more and keeping it from getting involved in things that it has no place getting involved in. Your colleagues, especially those who take the "EU - no at any cost" stance, increasingly give the impression that they believe that the argument for a freer Europe can't be won. They're wrong, and globalisation will prove it to be so.

Free and fluid markets make people freer and a Europe targeted towards opening up markets and creating opportunity is surely something that most Conservatives would support. Just because the machine makes poor products, doesn't mean that it's a bad machine, merely that its instructions need more work.

It's interesting that the new talent amongst the Liberal Democrats tends towards market-based solutions and against a nanny state, although admittedly, some of our MPs can be a bit embarrassing with their calls to ban things. But then, not all of yours have been shining paragons of free-market, laissez-faire virtue either.

What is it about politicians? Give them the means, and they just have to interfere. Makes me proud to be a bureaucrat...