Thursday, August 19, 2010

“I couldn’t agree with Nick”

I’m deeply sceptical about Ed Miliband’s statement that he wouldn’t go into coalition with the Lib Dems under Nick Clegg.

Hopi thinks Miliband is spot on, though. He makes several very sound points, mostly boiling down to the fact that Clegg is the absolute embodiment of the Lid Dems’ rightward shift, their working with the Tories and their championing of a government agenda largely defined against Labour’s record. Hopi thinks that “whatever future relationship Labour and the Lib Dems may have, Nick Clegg won’t be part of it”.

This is probably true. But I still think Miliband was wrong.

In effect, he’s said that in the event of another hung parliament, the Lib Dem leader’s only option will be to do another deal with the Tories and ignore Labour. Lib Dems who’d prefer a coalition with Labour are being told that they’d have to dump their leader. Remember the weekend after the election when Clegg was swanning around demanding a new Labour leader? Remember, even given the limited support for Brown, how little the party liked getting an ultimatum like that from an opponent?

It may well be that Clegg and Labour couldn’t work together. But for Miliband to come out with it so bluntly would do serious damage to Labour’s negotiating position in another hung parliament. And it pushes the Tories and Lib Dems closer together.

In other news: I will definitely be voting for a Miliband as leader, although as yet I’m not sure which. I’m observing their tactics, reading their speeches and so on, but what I keep coming back to is whether the incipient white patch at the front of David’s hair or Ed’s ghost of a lisp comes across more oddly. I am shallow.


Chris said...

I have to disagree with you.

First, it's not just in the event of a hung parliament. It's in the more specific event of a hung parliament where the Labour and Tory parties are roughly similar in seats (to avoid breaking the Clegg Doctrine) and where the Lib Dems have not done badly and so would not be changing leaders anyway. Assuming they haven't changed leaders/split in the meantime).

Second, that while in that case a previous commitment to telling Clegg to sling his hook would cause, ceteris partibus, a problem in negotiating, there are benefits as well - most usefully, if slightly perversely, offering a way of balancing supporting the coalition and then later supporting Labour - and that it's a piece of political judgement that one outweighs the other.

Richard T said...

I think Ed Milliband does not understand that to many Liberals (me included) in the last analysis a coalition with the Tories was less unpalatable than some sort of mesalliance with Labour and a rag bag of unstable partners. Labour's petty authoritarianism, its carelessness with civil liberty and its statism, added to the attitude of senior Labour figures - Messers, Prescott, Reid and Straw would have made a cauld hame for a party which believes fundamentally in freedom and the essence of Liberalism which is based on Mill's philosophy.

Shuggy said...

I would have thought this present coalition would make a 'cauld hame' for anyone familiar with any of Mill's later writings - but I think we can assume Clegg et al have forgotten about these, if indeed they were ever familiar.

Can't agree, Tom. I'm not supportive of Ed's leadership bid but he's playing to an audience that couldn't stomach an alliance with Clegg. I'm often critical of Labour tribalism but in this matter the audience is right. Clegg is scum - and that is that.