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Against the coalition of the losers


11:00 am - May 11th 2010

by Don Paskini    


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Jess Asato has a good article about the need for Labour to learn the lessons from the elections:

“If Labour is going to win back the key seats needed to form a government next time, it needs to identify the best campaigns across the country and replicate their winning elements. This means selecting personable candidates who are willing to work 24/7, appointing diligent consituency organisers and identifying local issues which galvanise the electorate to identify Labour as a party which cares about their day-to-day needs, not the demands of lobby journalists.”

Jess could have added that it also requires candidates prepared to vote against their party when they think Labour is doing the wrong thing – whether that’s Andrew Smith over Trident, Andy Slaughter over Heathrow, Gisela Stuart over Europe or John McDonnell over everything.

One implication of this which people haven’t yet realised is that it means that Labour can’t be part of a Lib/Lab “coalition of the losers”. Dozens of Labour MPs got elected by pledging to be strong, independent voices who would put their constituents first.

But in a coalition government, if as few as two or three Labour MPs put their constituents ahead of their party, it would lead to the defeat of the government on key pieces of legislation. Even if it were possible to get them all to vote exactly the same way on everything, it would be undesirable.

The Labour MPs in the last parliament were the most rebellious ever. How can a coalition which depends on Jeremy Corbyn, Frank Field, Tom Harris and John Hemming all voting the same way ever get any legislation passed?

The electorate gave a clear preference for independent-minded, effective Labour candidates who are rooted in their communities, who keep in touch all year round and are on the side of the people they seek to represent.

It’s vital for democratic renewal and social justice that Labour learns how to campaign effectively in every constituency and every community, spreading and learning from the good work where this already happens. This is far more important for the people who need Labour’s help most than trivia such as which Oxford educated former Special Adviser becomes our next leader.

This process of learning and renewal will take a little time, but will reap great rewards. But just at the moment, it means that Labour can’t, and shouldn’t, enter into coalition government.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Elections2010 ,Labour party ,Our democracy

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Reader comments


A more accurate title for this piece would be “In favour of handing the keys to Downing Street to Dave”.

There is an alternative (Well, more than one, actually). See for instance:

http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/05/a-rainbow-coalition/

http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/05/greens-on-board-for-a-progressive-government/

http://elliepant.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/scorched-earth-a-plea-to-labour-activists/

How can a coalition which depends on Jeremy Corbyn, Frank Field, Tom Harris and John Hemming all voting the same way ever get any legislation passed?

In my area of interest it would be nice if the legislation Jeremy Corbyn (among others) voted against wasn’t passed. We can but dream, eh?

3. Jamie_Griff

Wouldn’t this mean that the parliamentary programme tabled would be determined by what was winnable and what wasn’t? A coalition government wouldn’t put anything up for a vote that it wasn’t sure it could win for fear of bring on that dreaded vote of no confidence earlier than they wanted.
This could be a perfectly acceptable way to govern as long as consensus is reached over the extent and timing of spending cuts, European cooperation – something that shouldn’t be too hard for Labour and LibDem MPs (as opposed to Tory and Lib Dem MPs). It would also mean a halt to the endless stream of new legislation that got booted through the house under Labour and that’s no bad thing.
The Libs are blatantly going to have to drop their Trident objections for now as they have no support from either potential partner.

Another example of self-serving Labour apparatchiks, leaving the people they have betrayed for the past 13 years to the tender mercies of the Tories, or a watered down form of Toryism with the Con/LD coalition.

It makes my stomach heave to hear the parade of illiberal has-beens from previous New Labour cabinets lecture us about what a great idea it would be for them to effectively throw us to the wolves.

I suppose we shouldn’t expect anything better from such a rabble of unprincipled stooges. If nothing else convinces people New Labour isn’t fit to govern alone, this should! No period of self imposed political purdah is going to make up for the mess they’ve made. I doubt many people have any confidence they can re-invent themselves.

The anti-coalition brigade should be seen for what they are: a bunch of atavistic luddites who hope the sack-cloth and ashes of opposition will pave the way for a triumphant return to the old days of Labour/Tory duopoly.

Nice try guys, but think again… you’ve been rumbled!

They should set a short-term timetable for electoral reform, one budget and some more routine matters then that’s it.
Back to the polls with a new electoral system.

Labour/Tory combined got 96.6% of the votes in 1951.
This time it was 65%.
If there’s one thing the public is saying clearly, is that a two-party system is no longer adequate.

How can a coalition which depends on Jeremy Corbyn, Frank Field, Tom Harris and John Hemming all voting the same way ever get any legislation passed?

The last time I checked the first three were all Labour MPS and, guess what? the last Labour government survived with them in the PLP. Just because there is a coalition does not mean that they will suddenly turn all loopy and decide to side with the Tories. In fact, they may well be more likely to vote with the party rather than against it. The rebellious MPs may think a little more and may make some effort not to let legislation to get in the position where they will rebel.

lead to the defeat of the government on key pieces of legislation

There are several important things in here. “key pieces of legislation” if the Lab-Lib is going to decide something radically different from the social justice that is key to the party then quite rightly it deserves to die. Otherwise, if the MPs decide to vote against what the party (rather than the leadership) regards as being key then the rebels do not deserve to be in the party let alone the PLP. The point being that the leadership must be careful that “key pieces of legislation” are acceptable to the party (something that too often did not happen during the Blair years).

I am not a fan of coalitions or minority governments, but one advantage is that the leadership cannot take MPs for granted and hence they will be far more careful about their legislation and be far more willing to explain their reasons.

Few people think that the party (or the public) were in favour of the Iraq war, yet the PLP voted for it. The Iraq war vote would not be passed under the current proposed coalition. It is worth thinking about that.

Also, over 50% of those that voted voted for LibDems or Labour. Lab-Lib were the winners not the losers ::smile::

Rebelling when there’s a comfortable majority is a luxury not so easy too enjoy when, in a coalition, even an abstention has the potential to trigger an untimely election.

This puts the focus for change on fixed parliaments at national constitutional level and the need for more democratic participation in producing the election manifesto within the party.

Galen – a coalition of the losers would last about six months before it collapsed and ushered in a new election with a Tory landslide. That’s what I define as “leaving people to the tender mercies of the Tories”.

claude/Richard – a PR referendum will be defeated if introduced by a Lib/Lab government. It is not even clear that they have got the votes to get AV through parliament.

“The last time I checked the first three were all Labour MPS and, guess what? the last Labour government survived with them in the PLP.”

Because it had a majority of 65, so could cope with rebellions. Many of the MPs who could be counted on to vote the Labour line come what may got defeated, and the rebels got re-elected. This is the new politics in action, and it means that a Lib/Lab coalition government couldn’t get its legislation through.

9. Mark Lightwood

So you think it’s better for the Tories to get in, mess the country up with their cuts, then you can come riding to the rescue at the next election?

Country < Party = standard for Labourites.

Don

With all due respect….

Bollox.

Keep the Tories from power at all cost. Only a short time in power will be enough for them to wreak havoc.

This outweighs the other (worthy) factors you set out here. Hardworking local MPs committed to their constituencies can still get a lot done even if they have to toe the odd line to keep on keeping the Tories and their ‘economic stability’ narrative out.

11. Stuart White

Don: you are really raising two objections to the Lib Dem – Lab coalition idea: (1) there are too many independent-minded MPs to sustain a coalition which has only a bare majority and (2) in order to work, a coalition would have to suppress independence and this would work against the relection of Labour MPs.

On your second argument: at most all you have done here is point to one possible electoral drawback from coalition. That is hardly conclusive since there could be electoral benefits to Labour or the wider left – which is what I am interested in – that more than offset this cost. You haven’t made an argument that, if the coalition worked, these benefits wouldn’t exist or wouldn’t offset the cost you think you’ve identified.

For example, if the colaition did manage to get PR – or even AV – through, that would be a game-changer, fatally weakening the ability of the Tories to form a government by themselves ever again. That sounds like a pretty big benefit to set against the rather speculative cost you are pointing to.

And I am not altogether convinced that this costs exists. From an Oxford East perspective, one reason why Andrew Smith held on is that he positioned himself to the left of Labour on a range of issues – Trident, PR and Green New Deal – so as to hold on to Labour voters who might otherwise peel off to the Lib Dems or the Greens. I don’t see how his positioning on these issues would be jeopardised by a coalition government which, in its overall complexion, would have more sympathy for Andrew’s views than a majority Labour government would!

I think your first argument is actually stronger: How could a coalition be sustained if Labour MPs continue to be independent-minded and continually rebel against it? I think most of the Labour rebels you mention would be less likely to rebel than in the past because (a) the costs of doing so are bigger than in the past (bringing down the government) and (b) the general thrust of policy might in some ways be more to their liking, e.g., on civil liberties.

But I agree that there is a rump of rather reactionary tribalist know-nothing diehards like Tom Harris who pose a problem.

So what do we do with a problem like Tom Harris?

Nick Clesgg is going back on his words about supporting fairness and supporting the party with the most seats and votes !!! This is political suicide for the Liberal Democrats who i was leaning towards until this fiasco!!!
Creating a stable government that is ajoke all the labour party will be concentrating on now is who will be the new leader their minds will not be on the economy.Or is it they are trying so hard to keep hold of the leadership cause they dont want anyone else looking at the books?? No no no to Lib Dem/ Labour coalition. Nick keep to your word or we should hold a second election asap.

7

You may be right, you may not: but again it would by symptomatic that elements within the Labour party would rather actively bring down a Lab/LD coalition, and usher in a Tory majority, or promote a Tory minority govt or Con/LD coalition, than see if it could be made to work. Like I said, self serving, arrogant chancers the lot of them.

There’s every chance the electorate would punish Labour MP’s heavily in an election brought about by the awkward squad feeling they couldn’t stand cooperation with the LD’s, or wanting to head off into the hills to flog themselves into renewal under whichever political pygmy takes over from Brown.

“So you think it’s better for the Tories to get in, mess the country up with their cuts, then you can come riding to the rescue at the next election?

Country < Party = standard for Labourites."

No, I'm saying we didn't win enough seats to be able to be part of a coalition government.

I too wish that Labour had got more seats so that a coalition deal were viable. But it isn't.

I wonder how many of the people now calling for a Lab/Lib coalition actually lifted a finger before the elections to try and make it a possibility.

‘I wonder how many of the people now calling for a Lab/Lib coalition actually lifted a finger before the elections to try and make it a possibility.’

Me.

“Keep the Tories from power at all cost. Only a short time in power will be enough for them to wreak havoc.”

Yes, which is why 6 months in comedy coalition which fails to get its policies passed, followed by an election and a Tory landslide, is a bad idea.

17. Mark Lightwood

“I’m saying we didn’t win enough seats to be able to be part of a coalition government.”

Yes, you did. Add the Lab, the Lib, the SDLP, the Alliance, Sylvia Hermon, the Plaid – enough to get over the barrier. You don’t even need the SNP or Green. Mix gently = progressive alliance.

If it wasn’t numerically possible they wouldn’t be discussing it.

“I wonder how many of the people now calling for a Lab/Lib coalition actually lifted a finger before the elections to try and make it a possibility.”

I voted and campaigned for Labour, even though I am a Lib Dem. In fact it looks like a lot of people who voted Lib Dem or Green in the past, voted Labour to, wait for it, KEEP THE TORIES OUT.

And now you want the Tories in? Even though we could, just about, keep them out? Just so you could use the ensuing destruction as an argument for people to vote Labour?

“So what do we do with a problem like Tom Harris?”

Let him join the Tories. If he thinks it’s not worth fighting to keep them out, take the whip away.

I think it is time for Nick to be straight with the country, and continue his policy of straight talking and honesty. He said that the party with the most votes deserves the right to try to govern, so he should give the Conservatives this choice.

There are clearly irreconcilable differences between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats which is why Nick has to now give the Tories the option to go it alone in a minority government. If they don’t feel they can do this, then they should accept a coalition between Labour and the Liberal democrats as the only other working option to form a functional government.

At least if the ball is left in Cameron’s court, this will not be seen as a political stitch up.

11

No he isn’t, you’re being tendentious. The LD’s gave the Tories a fair crack of the whip, they’ve all tried to be very statesman like, but things have changed with Brown’s resignation, and the changes it has engendered.

The Tories got the first crack of the whip, but they have no God given right to power on the basis of 39% of those who voted and a minority of the seats. Clegg didn’t give them a blank cheque.

If you can’t see that, you don’t really understand the principle of a reformed system… and doubtless the LD’s won’t be too unhappy if you take your ball home in a huff!

“But I agree that there is a rump of rather reactionary tribalist know-nothing diehards like Tom Harris who pose a problem.

So what do we do with a problem like Tom Harris?”

Succinctly put, but it is actually wider than that.

What are the policies which a Lab/Lib government could actually guarantee a majority for?

– on Trident, Labour MPs would rebel against any attempts to review the decision to renew Trident (manifesto commitment)

– on civil liberties, the best that could be hoped for is the status quo (can’t really expect Labour MPs who campaigned in favour of current legislation to vote to scrap it, though might pass with Tory votes)

– on cuts to tax credits, Lib Dems will press for cuts, Labour MPs can’t possibly support this

– on cutting public spending, the campaign group (let alone the Nats) don’t believe that cuts are necessary

– on electoral reform, there is a majority for a referendum on AV (probably, as Labour manifesto commitment), but a majority against AV without referendum, or PR referendum.

So what would this Lab/Lib coalition actually do?

My friends, horse trading is the true business of politics and I for one support the concept of a Lib-Lad minority government.

The success of the coalition would rely on both parties engaging closely with their sister parties the SDLP and Alliance and other parties such as the SNP and the Greens.

Once this is achieved the coalition would have a technical majority, in which the Tories would find incredibly difficult to overturn.

Therefore the Lib-Lad could govern and reform our political system of the next three years, before calling a general election in the spring/summer of 2013 (or off the back of a successful Olympic Games.

Hi Mark,

Fair dos if you campaigned for Labour.

““So what do we do with a problem like Tom Harris?”

Let him join the Tories. If he thinks it’s not worth fighting to keep them out, take the whip away.”

But if you remove the whip from everyone who opposes a coalition, then there isn’t a Lib/Lab majority anyway.

15

“Yes, which is why 6 months in comedy coalition which fails to get its policies passed, followed by an election and a Tory landslide, is a bad idea.”

That’s just one scenario… there are loads of others just as likely, probably more.

The minor parties, whether officially in coalition, or on a confidence and supply basis, would have a vested interest in supporting a Lab/LD coalition. It isn’t rocket science: I can’t see why people with your views seem so convinced that the sky will fall, indeed like you actually would prefer it that way!?

Is it just guilt and shame for the nauseating New Labour experiment? Or do you feel the public should be punished for not voting you back into power? Priceless.

13

“I too wish that Labour had got more seats so that a coalition deal were viable. But it isn’t.”

Continually repeating your tired mantra doesn’t make it any more true!

A coalition is quite possible, and will be the “nature of the beast” once achieved. Get over it!

Here’s a thought: pass fewer pieces of legislation after many more comprehensive efforts at getting people on board. Better than the knee-jerk reaction of New Labour at least.

History has shown us that everything the Liberal Democrats team up with the Labour party, Labour double-cross Lib Dems. In the 1920s when Labour nearly distroyed the Liberal Democrats and Tony Blair’s report on election reform.

Labour have stuffed the Liberal Democrats twice and probably do it again!

27. Mark Lightwood

Don @19 and 21

There’s no reason they have to agree to a massive amount of legislation. The LibLab government could keep their legislative programme really simple:

– electoral reform
– budget

That’s about it, really. Other than that, they’ll do the usual like Afghanistan etc etc

Don @15:

‘Yes, which is why 6 months in comedy coalition which fails to get its policies passed, followed by an election and a Tory landslide, is a bad idea.’

I see what you’re getting at, but I think you simply make to many assumptions about the inevitability of a Tory landslide.

It is equally possible to envisage a scenario where the coalition gets on ok for a year or more despite some policy impasses, the electorate recognises that the world didn’t fall apart because of coalition, and that actually a bit of tactical voting here and there to keep 10 more Tories out might not be amiss, so that a Lib-Lab coalition is strengthened in 18 months, while at the same time Labour is renewing itself as a social democratic party of sorts.

I’m not saying that will happen, but it’s as plausible as your scenario, and I simply don’t accept that we should throw the poor to the Tory wolves just because of something that might happen in a few months.

I’ve no need to remind you, of all people, what the Tories have lined up in the way of an emergency budget and allied (e.g. General Power of Competence) legislation

Don,

I am affraid that this is utter nonsense. Your misinterpretation of Jessica’s article rests on the assumption that the next General Election will be fought under FPTP. It further assumes that political parties can only renew themselves in opposition and not in Government. The Austrian Social Democrats who were in power (either on their own or in variying coalition governments) between 1969 and 2000 have renewed themselves successfully more than once during this time. Sometimes external circumstance provides the biggest impetus to change and renewal. The banking crisis caused the hegimonial neo-liberal elite consensus to collapse and has therefore kicked the macro-economic planck from under the ideological feet of NewLabour. Labour has changed already is in the process of changing further as it adapts to a post-crisis, post neo-liberal hegemony world.

It would be treason on the hundreds of thousands of voters who faced with the crisis came back to Labour or voted Labour for the first time with the clear expectation that Labour will do its upmost to protect them from the worst possible consequences of the crisis.

Let’s not squander this progressive moment!

“Keep the Tories from power at all cost. Only a short time in power will be enough for them to wreak havoc.”

Not with the Leb Dims (typo, but amusing so left) in coalition keeping the more stupid elements out. Particularly with concessions on constitutional issues (even without PR, the other stuff about fixed term parliaments and lords reform are worth the price).

Realism = cuts are going to happen regardless who is in power and it’s better the tories take the hit for them whilst labour regroup and put themselves in a strong position 2/3 years time.

31. Mark Lightwood

Why would there be a Tory landslide in 6 months? Both Tories and Labour would see their vote go up because people want a decisive government, with the Lib Dems squeezed. But after 13 years of Labour government, people didn’t give the Tories a landslide. Why would they give them one 6 months later? Half of the seats the Lib Dems would lose would go to the Tories, half to Labour, so the situation would remain relatively unchanged, maybe a slim Tory majority.

But not a landslide.

I didn’t expect stuff from the John Reid/David Blunkett School of Ultra Loyalty here!

32. Stuart White

I think the key issue is whether the coalition can deliver on electoral reform – specifically, at least a referendum on PR.

Nobody regards the proposed coalition, on the existing arithmetic, as viable for anything other than a short-term – 2 year or so – government to manage the deficit in a more equitable way than the Tories would and to introduce game-changing reform of the electoral system.

But if the problem of Labour rebellion is such that the coalition can’t deliver meaningful voting reform, then I agree with Don that it looks pointless.

However, I don’t see why Labour can’t commit to a referendum on PR while allowing Tom Harris and other dissenters the freedom to campaign against it. It would be wholly unreasonable for Tom Harris and others to stand in the way of that.

Once again I agree with Mark!!!

34. Alisdair Cameron

It’s vital for democratic renewal and social justice that Labour learns how to campaign effectively in every constituency and every community, spreading and learning from the good work where this already happens.

Aye, but what’s the message? The current Labour turmoil exposes the rifts within the party, between NewLab (and within that Brownites vs Blairites) and those actually of the Left.
Also, relating to coalition, and as Don rightly points out, those shouting for a ‘progressive’ coalition don’t outline what progressive means, and it’s a weasel word, cited by authoritarian NewLabbers very frequently. In fact, there are bits of overlap between all three parties. It’s just the vast majority of commentators can only see the Lib/Lab overlap, not the Lib/Con or (deep breath) the Lab/Con overlap.

35. Stuart White

Correction to what I said at 31: even if the coalition couldn’t deliver PR it would not be ‘pointless’ if it also managed the deficit more equitably than the Tories.

The argument from Don’s side on this will be that even if a coalition limits the cuts for the vulnerable in the short-term, you risk a Tory landslide, or at least a majority, in the near future which would produce even greater cuts than if the Tories were allowed to form a minority government now.

I accept there is that risk – but I think we’re all well into the murkier depths of the crystal ball at this point.

Here’s a thought: pass fewer pieces of legislation after many more comprehensive efforts at getting people on board.

^^^This.

37. Mitch Matthews-Dublin

I’m a piad up Lib Dem and there are no terms in which I would support a Lib Con coalition, we came to far and stood alone for to long for our leaders to hand over power to the Tories.
We face the prospect of possible economic meltdown in the next few years and we need a quiet government of all the talents – no more Brown’s, Carmon’s or anyone else who wants to put there selves before the needs of our country.

30

“I didn’t expect stuff from the John Reid/David Blunkett School of Ultra Loyalty here!”

Indeed! It was the same with whichever nutter they had on TV this morning, some know-nothing Labour ultra MP from Scotland spouting on about how they’d never sit down with the SNP. With luck the good folk in Scotland will wise up and take them down a peg or two at the next election.

I wonder how many of the people now calling for a Lab/Lib coalition actually lifted a finger before the elections to try and make it a possibility.

Hey, I did too!

Though this is a compelling argument (and Jessica’s point is also spot on) – this also then implies that the Democrats in the US are doomed because they don’t have enough senators for a super-majority.

“It would be treason on the hundreds of thousands of voters who faced with the crisis came back to Labour or voted Labour for the first time with the clear expectation that Labour will do its upmost to protect them from the worst possible consequences of the crisis.”

Just on this point – the disagreement is not about whether it is desirable for Labour to stick up for the people who voted for us, but about what the best way to do this would be.

At the moment, if the Tories try any really bad stuff, it can be voted down. In many ways, this is the appeal of the Tory/Lib coalition.

A Lab/Lib coalition might even make more sense in a few months time, if the Tories and Libs can’t work together, when Labour has decided on trivial things like who its leader is going to be and how to avoid going bankrupt.

What are the policies which a Lab/Lib government could actually guarantee a majority for?

… [List of examples snipped for brevity]

None of those are actually going to bring down a government though, are they? And of course, there may be various possibilities for compromise

So what would this Lab/Lib coalition actually do?

Pass a Queen’s Speech and a Budget, and survive a confidence vote?

One of the realities of government without an absolute majority (aka “elective dictatorship”) is that nobody gets to do exactly whatever the hell they want. Some of us consider this a good thing. If the government’s so hobbled that it can’t really do much of anything beyond the absolute minimum to keep things running, that’s not necessarily the end of the world.

“Though this is a compelling argument (and Jessica’s point is also spot on) – this also then implies that the Democrats in the US are doomed because they don’t have enough senators for a super-majority.”

Dems have a larger majority in the House than the Lab/Lib coalition would have. Imagine if they’d tried to get healthcare reform through with a majority of 5 reps. As it was they nearly had to restrict women’s rights to pass healthcare, and that was with a majority of 50+.

One of Pelosi’s strengths is that she is a brilliant Whip, but also has room to allow reps to vote against when their district requires it. There isn’t that margin for error here, and it would be good if people acknowledged this now rather than it coming as a nasty discovery when parliament starts.

43. Watchman

Just a minor point about arithmetic and logic on this thread.

Several people seem to think that because the combined Labour+Liberal Democrat vote = 51% that this gives them a mandate to rule because the Conservatives only got 38% of the vote (and seem to be ignoring the minor problem of the number of MPs needed…).

But have they noticed that a Conservative+Liberal Democrat coalition would have a larger share of the vote (and presumably under this logic, more legitimacy) than Labour+Liberal Democrat? Or does direct comparison of likes not take place in the desperately parochial heads of anti-Tories.

And the reason this is relevant is that Don makes a very good point here, and seems to grasp the danger this coalition would present to all concerned. But many people on here seem to see the Conservatives as unbridled evil and don’t realise that this is not actually the view of the majority of voters (yes, over 60% of people didn’t vote for them, but I didn’t vote for the Greens, and I don’t think they’re evil…). Non-bigotted voters will perhaps see a desperate power grab by a number of parties, all making conditions which will inevitably favour certain areas over others, to be led by a man who was not a prime ministerial candidate and will be elected by a party that lost huge amounts of support at the last election, and involving the setting aside of manifesto pledges and campaign promises. They won’t see this as an attempt to ward of the evils of a Conservative government, but as the losers and minor players attempting to seize power at the expense of the electorate. And remember, a voter does not have to switch to the Conservatives; he or she merely has to not vote and the support is lost. Democratically there is no problem with this coalition, but in terms of strategy, I can see the Conservatives longing for it to happen…

Don’t be under any illusion about “non-core” Labour voters feeling that you aren’t being “Labour” enough. If you want to wander off into the long grass of Reid/Blunkett ideological purity, the same fate awaits you as the Tories post Major.

Many people voted labour to keep the Tories out, pace Scotland where thanks to FPTP you have a huge number of MP’s, which is rather at variance with the results for the Holyrood parliament.

The real treason lies in the blase way many in the Labour party seem to regard the prospect of the Tories getting anywhere near power, when they could work to prevent it.

Might it be because they are so riddled with the crypto-Thatcherite New Labour virus that you wouldn’t actually recognise radical, progressive policies if they jumped up and bit them on the arse?

Don – I’m talking about Senators, not Reps.

Also, a weak majority would mean Labour would have to think harder about the different parts of the coalition than just ignoring the lefties.

At the moment, if the Tories try any really bad stuff, it can be voted down. In many ways, this is the appeal of the Tory/Lib coalition.

Not necessarily. If the Libdems do go with Cons – it won’t be in their interest to fall apart immediately

42

I don’t think all Tories are evil… but handsome is as handsome does, and we all know there are huge ugly trolls hiding under the rather elegantly constructed Cameronian bridge to the big society.

Whilst it may be true that Con/LD is a larger % than Lab/LD, it matters not if you can’t come up with a mutually agreed programme: signs are they can’t. Perhaps the non-evil Tories should be asking themselves why? A big part of LD reluctance is the feeling that the sould of the Tory party still has something of the night about it.

It’s almost comic to watch the Tories rush out policies on AV … Osborne looked like he could hardly keep the bile down as he announced it thru gritted teeth.

The reason the Tories could, and hopefully will fail, is that no enough people believe their conversion, and not enough people voted for them. The fact that the same goes for Labour, and that the LD surge failed, just shows that people aren’t as stupid as the parties often take them for!

But have they noticed that a Conservative+Liberal Democrat coalition would have a larger share of the vote (and presumably under this logic, more legitimacy) than Labour+Liberal Democrat? Or does direct comparison of likes not take place in the desperately parochial heads of anti-Tories.

By this argument, the most legitimate outcome would be a Lab+Con coalition – but nobody considers that option because it’s absurd. Many (including many LibDems) feel that a LibDem+Con coalition is equally absurd. Parties have platforms, and in order to form a coalition, those platforms have to be in some way compatible.

The Iraq war vote would not be passed under the current proposed coalition. It is worth thinking about that.

Actually under PR, the Iraq war vote wouldn’t merely have passed, it wouldn’t have been close enough to be much of a debate. Most of those voting against it were safe-seat Labour MPs. Under PR, these would tend to be replaced by conservatives, right-wing LDs or (under a proportionate party list system) central office party-line hacks.

Anything supported by the two main parties will pass in PR. It’s only partisan things like sure start, tax credits, the minimum wage, the Good Friday agreement that would be blocked.

I hear much almost hysterical writing about an economic apocalypse with Tory governance. Now I am not a Tory , but wonder if anyone contributing can give a coherent and factual case based not on twenty years ago but on empirical evidence of today?

50. Watchman

Dunc,

“By this argument, the most legitimate outcome would be a Lab+Con coalition – but nobody considers that option because it’s absurd. Many (including many LibDems) feel that a LibDem+Con coalition is equally absurd. Parties have platforms, and in order to form a coalition, those platforms have to be in some way compatible.”

Actually no two parties have compatible platforms, so any coalition requires compromise to some extent. Labour and Conservative could conceivably find common ground should they feel the need to exclude the Liberal Democrats, but they both see each other and not the third party as the enemy at the moment. My point was not however based on likeliness (although I still think Mr Clegg is rather backed into a corner by his comments on supporting the largest party) but on pure mathematics and the idiocy of trying to add the votes of two parties together as legitimisation!

51. Watchman

soru,

“Anything supported by the two main parties will pass in PR. It’s only partisan things like sure start, tax credits, the minimum wage, the Good Friday agreement that would be blocked.”

The Good Friday agreement? The result of negotiations started under John Major, and continued under Tony Blair. The agreement which was not opposed by any major political party outside of Northern Ireland? Definetly partisan…

Mind you, you’re right on the danger of PR on allowing political consensus issues through.

52. Luis Enrique

I think people worried about Labour leaving the country to be cut to shreds by the Tories need to take another look at that IFS chart showing the 3 party’s expected budget paths that Sunny put up in a recent post.

[And maybe think a little about the economic consequences of either trying to raise enough taxes to cut the deficit without cuts, or alternatively failing to cut the deficit]

Excellent article. Completely agree

In Scotland, Labour and the SNP seem to have a rivalry that subsists in which party can think up the more Stalinist policies.

That is a very poor reason for not being prepared to work together- can they not just agree that they’re all tossers and get on with it?

55. XerxesVargas

Letting the Conservatives in would be awful. Anything Labour can do with the Liberals to stop it needs to be seriously looked into.

They could maintain a coalition, as the nationalists, particularly the SNP, would never support the tories. Can you see the SNP or Plaid having to go back to their parties to explain how they brought down a Lib/Lab coalition to be replaced by a Tory administration.

We need PR though. It has to be central. And proper PR too, not this FPTP lite which is AV.

If nothing else this election signaled the end of the two major parties. Even if this
opportunity is missed to get some form of PR, it will be back at the next election. Once we get some form of PR then the tories and labour will cease to exist in their present form.

56. Michal Polak

I think any wonderfully brilliant displays of independence by Labour MPs in opposition will be massively trumped by the fact that it was Labour – *Labour*, of all people! – who will have made David Cameron the Prime Minister. If the Labour Party forces the Lib Dems into the coalition with the Tories, many anti-Tory voters will find it very, very hard to forgive. “Vote Brown, get Cameron”?! Well thanks, next time I will really try hard to make sure I vote for the party that does not put its narrow-minded tribalism above the interests of the working people.

“If the Labour Party forces the Lib Dems into the coalition with the Tories, many anti-Tory voters will find it very, very hard to forgive. “Vote Brown, get Cameron”?!”

How on earth has Labour *forced* the Lib Dems into coalition with the Tories? Our leader resigned specifically because Nick Clegg said that his presence was an impediment to doing a deal, senior ministers urged people to vote Lib Dem before the election to beat the Tories, Labour has (wrongly in my opinion) bent over backwards to help the Lib Dems and facilitate a coalition.

If the Lib Dems end up doing a deal with the Tories, then it is their own choice. Don’t blame Labour.

58. Michal Polak

Re: Don Paskini

You don’t seem to be following the news closely enough. Listen to Reid, Blunkett, Hoey, etc. etc

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/11/general-election-2010-live-blog

Or in fact, just read the original article above. The tribal instinct of some Labour MPs seems to be, let Cameron govern with the Lib Dem support, people will then get really mad at the Lib Dems and ‘come home’ to us. Well sorry, that’s not what’s going to happen for many of us.

59. Michal Polak
60. Mark Lightwood

Re: Don

I voted Labour to keep the Tories out, particularly so that there would be enough Labour MPs to stop the Tories governing.

It is one thing for the Lib Dems to govern with the Tories: they are the third party, and could get some concessions from them. I still wouldn’t want them to do that.

But for Labour tribalists to sabotage any chance of a deal with the Lib Dems, purely for electoral gain, is disgusting.

People will not forgive you for letting the Tories into power, much as they won’t forgive the Lib Dems doing the same.

Solution? Liblab.

Pagar @ 52

The SNP have a self denying ordinance against voting in ‘English only’ Bills. Speaking as both an SNP voter and someone who would be sympathetic, in principle, to a ‘progressive’ (or merely anti Tory) alliance I am not sure how the SNP could square that circle. There is no way that the SNP could really do anything other than a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement.

“But for Labour tribalists to sabotage any chance of a deal with the Lib Dems, purely for electoral gain, is disgusting.”

No one is trying to sabotage a deal for electoral gain. Opponents of the deal are just pointing out the problems involved and why a deal might not work.

Surely we need to have this discussion now, rather than rushing into a deal and then discovering all the problems afterwards? If some Labour MPs won’t vote for electoral reform, better we know that now rather than after a deal is done.

The argument against a League of Losers ™ is basically that it won’t work. But there are two separate reasons why it won’t work. The first is the mathematical one that’s getting people so exercised here.

Minority administrations are a logisitical nightmare – with almost every vote on a knife-edge the pairing system breaks down (just as it did in the 90s). You can’t have ministers away on trips, you can’t risk even a teeny tiny revolt by a handful of irrelevant backbenchers, you can’t, in this case, annoy your minority bedfellows. It will break down eventually, and the only question is when.

But there’s a second reason it won’t work. It may not be entirely clear who won this election, but it’s abundantly clear who lost. For the primary losers to stay in power would just feel ‘wrong’ to the public at large. And people have a habit of punishing wrongness like that at the first opportunity. As that towering intellect Sion Simon said, you get Prime Minister Miliband for 20 minutes, and then Prime Minister Cameron for 20 years.

Obviously, I’m all in favour of a Lab-Lib-SDLP-PC-SNP-ALL-GRN-Hermon coalition Government. But you might not be seeing it from the same perspective as I am.

We can’t tell from the election results whether most Lib Dem voters voted Liberal to keep the Tories out or as an anti-Labour vote (or because they favoured the Liberals, or because they were voting for an individual MP), so anyone claiming a particular amalgamation of different parties has more democratic legitimacy than another one is just speculating.

The only thing that is clear right now is that it is the Lib Dems who are holding the cards. Both main parties have made major concessions to them (especially Labour on electoral reform who may have gone further than our membership would like) and it’s now the Lib Dems’ choice.

I remember the last time the Labour Party tried to protect me from Tory cuts etc ..i was unemployed for 14 years …

No one has remarked on the low election turnout of 65.1%. That was an improvement on 2001 and 2005 but it was still the third lowest since 1945:
http://www.ukpolitical.info/Turnout45.htm

I reckon a large part of the electorate feels thoroughly disillusioned with politics in general and with the three main parties. For all the political spin about the most keenly fought election for a long time, the expected surge in support for the LibDems didn’t materialise.

Thankfully, there were no signs of swings in voter sentiment to fringe parties like UKIP and the BNP either. A significant part of the electorate opted not to vote. FWIW we’ll need the pollsters to analyse who the non-voters were and why they didn’t vote.

In Scotland, Labour and the SNP seem to have a rivalry that subsists in which party can think up the more Stalinist policies.

Um, there’s the small matter of the future of the UK over which there are a few differences, to say no more than that. Not only would a Lib-Lab coalition not have survived, it would have done irreparable harm to the Union because it would have depended for its very existence on not only Scottish votes but the votes of MPs who belong to parties committed to dismantling the UK. We already know people like the closet English nationalist Polly Toynbee don’t care about this – and there’s no evidence that London-based ‘left-leaning progressives’ were even aware of the problem – but there can be no doubt that the function of a ‘progressive coalition’ would have been to serve as grave-diggers for the UK. But it’s not going to happen now anyway. Perhaps those papers who declared that the ‘liberal moment has come’ and all the pundits who advocated a vote for those nice Lib Dems might want to take a break from pontificating about the situation and pause to consider the possibility that they are part of the problem rather than the solution.

68

The results of this election, or eventual coalition won’t have the significance you claim. The Union is already ailing, has been since the Scottish parliament was established. The Labour ultras both north and south of the border might like to think forward, and wonder what happens to them in the event independence does happen.

And of course.. the Scots are just going to LOVE a Con/LD government in Westminster…. not! The two countries are already widely divergent in political terms… just look at the results from last week. It’s a Tory government that makes seperation more likely, not Lab/LD coalition: Scots will once again see that no longer how many Labour MP’s they elect, they will have Tory (or Tory/LD) policies rammed down their throats.

As for Stalinist solutions, the Mayor of New York is over here to learn from Boris Johnson about installing CCTV cameras on the Tube.

“There are currently 12,000 cameras on the London Underground network. . . Boris Johnson has said he now intends to raise the number of cameras on the Tube network by more than 2,000 over the next few years.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8674181.stm

Friends and colleagues with more technical expertise tell me that face recognition software has got to be very proficient. Never mind, just remember that ID cards are a gross intrusion on personal liberty.

Shuggy is spot on, a “rainbow” coalition would have started the break up. Scotland and wales would not be subjected to spending cuts, and without progress on english devolution its quite likely that a very ugly form of english nationalism would emerge.

68 & 71

Great, another fallacious meme takes hold.

A rainbow coalition would NOT have started the break up. The fractures are already there, and it’s just as arguable that a Con/LD claition, or Con minority admin, would be a much greater danger to the Union.

The Scots, as they have done before, voted Labour in droves to try and keep the Tories out. It didn’t work last week any more than it did in 1979. How do you think they will react at the next Holyrood election, and UK general election, after years of Tory/LD coalition? I wouldn’t mind betting the LD’s will get a hammering in Scotland, and the SNP will gain support from disillusioned Labour supporters.

I don’t buy the oft repeated theory that the SNP and Plaid would have been able to influence things to the detriment of the rest of the UK. A Lab/LD coalition, even a minority one, COULD have worked as the minor parties would have had an incentive to cooperate, not see it fall. It would still have been better than the alternative.

The prime reason it isn’t going to happen is the inability of some Labour MP’s and activists to live with it…as they’d rather see us with a Tory government. Control freaks to the last.. we should have known.

If the Labour party were “just offering their manifesto”, then obviously that was never going to work. Civil liberties has been mentioned on the BBC as a sticking point. For chrissakes, if that’s true, they definitely did NOT want a deal.

“The prime reason it isn’t going to happen is the inability of some Labour MP’s and activists to live with it…as they’d rather see us with a Tory government. Control freaks to the last.. we should have known.”

Labour MPs, including senior cabinet ministers, called before the election for people to vote Lib Dem in some areas.

The leader of the Labour Party announced his resignation in order to make a deal possible.

What did the Lib Dems do to help make a Lib/Lab coalition possible?

And since the answer is “absolutely nothing”, why blame Labour for the failure to make a deal?

This is an excellent piece. There are many and varied reasons why we should not do a deal with the Liberals.

Some of these are constitutional-political – the current system rightly puts a legitimacy premium on coming first in the popular vote and the party would be punished for “escaping” the public’s electoral judgment. Secondly, our electoral system is not something to be bartered over in the short-term interests of “progressive alliance” building.

Some are policy-based and/or matters of practicality – there are tensions in numerous areas between Lib Dem and Labour policy, and how long would a Lab/Lib coalition dependent on minor parties and the good will of Tory-sympathising Nick Clegg last?

And some are matters of party strategy – of which the arguments in this piece form an important consideration.

Don may not thank me for saying this, but I am glad that his wise head has concluded the same as the wise heads of Messrs Harris, Reid and Blunkett in this matter…

#73

Labour clearly weren’t just offering the manifesto, as a referendum on full PR was certainly not in the manifesto.

That said, I think it’s right that any deal offered should be in the spirit of the manifesto, as Labour MPs were elected on it.

It would be typical if the Lib Dems sidle up to the Tories then blame their decision on Labour not offering enough (even though clearly on electoral reform Labour have offered more than the Tories). It’s your choice, make it then deal with the consequences.

Looks like you’re getting your way Don. Lib-Con pact about to be announced.

Time will tell whether it was for the best or not.

@ Shuggy

My point about Scottish Labour and the SNP is that they are both socialist, collectivist, socially authoritarian parties and when you look at the level of support they have in Scotland there is clearly an overwheming left of centre illiberal consensus in the population.

The fact that the Barnett formula funds this cosy neo-Stalinist experiment makes the Scottish parliament appear even more crass and self indulgent.

Tim – as you say, Labour actually (wrongly in my view) offered far more than the Tories. In fact, the offer on PR was very much beyond the manifesto offering, and utterly wrong as a result.

But in any case we will now see Clegg pick the lesser Tory offer, and then all of us in the party, whichever wing we sit on, will have our answer to whether the Lib Dems are a progressive party…

80. Luis Enrique

Ben,

will we? might not a “progressive party” think its best course of action is to enter into a coalition with the Cons in order to try to bend policy on a progressive direction?

don’t confuse “a progressive party” with “one that will only cooperate with Labour”

Look, I have a standard policy – whatever Tom Harris says, the opposite is best.

Also, the idea that Labour offered a lot is crock. Brown didn’t really endorse tactical voting during election. Blair didn’t either. Only Ed Balls did half-heartedly in a New Statesman piece. It seems a lot of Labourites didn’t listen to Ed Balls when it came to the crunch.

Secondly, the idea that Brown went thanks to Clegg is also pure horseshit. Brown knew he had to go anyway. This was a good way of going and looks very dignified. I think he did the right thing, given he came second, but he definitely did not do that just to appease Clegg.

Lastly, Labour has NOT offered a referendum on full PR. Some offered AV+, but it would go via a Parl vote first. Libdems are rightly sceptical that such a vote wouldn’t go through via Labour. I dont think it’ll go via Cons either but that’s another matter.

Other than that, I’ve not heard what Libdems have actually been offered. Anything on Trident? Taxes? Green issues? What? Nothing.

82. Stuart White

Alix and Don @ 73 and 74:

I think you are both right!

There are some in Labour who clearly and strongly want a deal with the Lib Dems and are willing to negotiate in good faith to this end.

There are others who don’t want the deal at all, for good and less good (purely partisan and tribal) reasons.

And there are others who are open to a deal, but have sufficient reservations about it that they aren’t willing to go very far to make it happen.

I am very dismayed by the opposition to PR in Labour and by the aparent unwillingness to make progress on issues like civil liberties where Labour has a very bad record.

But Alix and other Lib Dems should at least be grateful that Brown made the intervention he did – it strengthened the Lib Dem hand in negotiations with the Tories and means that if there is a Tory-Lib Dem deal, it will likely be more favourable to them than it would otherwise have been. It flushed the Tories out on AV….

So it seems the unelected leaders of Labour have rejected a coalition of losers (Alastair Campbell/Adonis/Brown/Mandelson) .

Is anyone left who supports the ‘progressive pact’ except Guardian columnists and Sunny Hundal?

You’re only kidding yourself, Luis. It’s just not going to wash. You know that. This is as clear a slap in the face to the left-leaning forces in the Liberal Democrats as it is possible to be. And they will reap the consequences of what they sow this evening every time they try to justify themselves on the doorstep.

This was a good way of going and looks very dignified.

In the same way that a man clinging to a window ledge by his fingernails looks very dignified?

I agree.

Sunny – Labour did a lot more than the Libs to try and make a coalition work.

No one can think of a single example of anything that the Libs have done which would have helped create a Lab/Lib coalition (indeed quite the opposite, Clegg went out of his way to create the possibility of a Tory alliance and criticise Labour). And the Guardian and liberal-leftie campaigning groups such as Compass didn’t put any pressure on Clegg at all before the election to rule out a deal with the Tories, but just uncriticially backed them on the assumption that if there was a hung parliament then it would be a Lib/Lab coalition.

It is a bit rich to criticise Labour in the circs for what has happened

87. Luis Enrique

Ben,

I have no idea how the various “forces” (factions?) within which parties are going to react to what, and maybe there are other senses in a Lib-Con pact won’t “wash” too, so maybe you’re right overall, in some sense.

But really, put yourself in the position of a “progressive” with many disagreements with Labour (i.e. a Lib Dem) how can you be sure that cutting a deal with the Tories so that we get a Lib-Dem moderated Tory govt is not the best move? I really don’t think you can conclude that if the Lib-Dems work with the Tories that they are “not progressive”, whatever the hell that means.

Look, don’t let me intrude on the private grief of the so-caleld liberal commentariat on this issue. Not least, I don’t really want to be around when your head explodes for trying to justify the unjustifiable, Sunny. But I must pick up on the below:

“Lastly, Labour has NOT offered a referendum on full PR.”

As I understand it (please correct me if I am wrong, anyone) “Labour” (by which I mean our negotiators – who knows whether the party would have worn it) was offering AV without a referendum, just like that (which would be an utterly improper and undemocratic approach in any case) amd then a referendum on some variant of “PR” – covers a multitude of sins, of course. If it was AV-plus, that’s really pretty proportional.

This is a big concession. The Libs won’t take it. They will be punished by half of their unstable coalition for it.

The job for those of us who are committed to the representation of working people now is to rebuild the Labour Party and to ignore the likes of the Guardian and whatever other ineffectual fools thought Clegg was some radical Che-like figure. Such political irrelevancies are about to be consigned to the dustbin of history. I’m sorry your world-view turned out to be based on sand, Sunny. I really am. But some of us knew that already.

89. Mark Lightwood

Hi Don

LibLab is over. Cameron will be PM tomorrow.

Hope you and all the other people in Labour agitating for opposition, and for the Tory rule which will destroy the Lib Dems, are happy!

90. Mark Lightwood

Tory MPs and Peers shut their mouth whilst the negotiations were going on.

The Conservative Party, the FUCKING Conservative Party, were able to keep disciplined to give the negotiations their best chance of working out. No leaks, no briefings, no bullshit.

Ten minutes after the LibLab negotiations begin, people like John Reid and David Blunkett start whoring themselves out across the media to sabotage any possible pact.

The chances of the LibLab alliance working were slim – possible, but slim. But of course, what you wanted is for the Liberals to put country before party, rein in the Tories’ excesses, and crush them at the ballots in October.

You got what you wanted. I feel dirty for voting Labour last week. My MP was one of the Cabinet members who vocally opposed the deal. Fuck him. He is toast. I should’ve voted Lib Dem.

Mark my words, the country will make Labour suffer for this.

#81

You underestimate the restraints on what ministers (and indeed ordinary Labour members) were able to say during the election. They went as far as it was possible to go on tactical voting (Balls arguably went even further than it was possible to go) without their enemies being able to haul them in front of the NEC on grounds of breaking party rules by calling for a vote for a party standing against Labour.

My understanding is Labour offered a (whipped) parliamentary vote on AV AND a referendum on PR. Personally I would vote against PR in a referendum and think most of the country would do too, but if having the referendum was the price for keeping the Tories out I imagine most of us would go with it.

Sunny – Labour did a lot more than the Libs to try and make a coalition work.

Errr, like what?

93. Mark Lightwood

” those of us who are committed to the representation of working people”

Hahahahaahahahahaahahahahaaha!!!

Labour represent working people?

When they’re letting the Tories back in to ***** working people?

Mark, the evidence doesn’t support your blame game.

I know this is what it’s going to be like. We will be able to tell a lot by whether people unite to oppose the Tory-Liberal coalition, or whether they engage in doubtful and transparent attempts to blame the party that would never *in a million years* enter government with the Conservatives and offered large and painful concessions (some of which I was unconvinced of) in terms of leadership and changes to the electoral system in order to make an alternative fly.

Your reaction to a party entering coalition with the Tories is to throw up your hands in horror and then swicth your support to that party away from the party that was trying to put an alternative together. You’ll excuse me for saying something doesn’t add up there…

Just sense the derision in this report in The Mail:

“They were sure they had it in the bag – even after the exit poll came in”
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1275522/UK-ELECTION-RESULTS-2010-They-sure-bag–exit-poll-came-in.html#ixzz0nTCdSwk6

That is not a reassuring augury for the electorate about a government run by a small clique and it’s one of the reasons the prospect of a coalition government – almost any coalition outcome – should be very welcome news.

96. Luis Enrique

If it’s true that the Lib-Dems are really themselves 50/50 coalition of members who lean Labour and hate Tory, and those who lean Tory and hate Labour, then they’re f8cked both ways aren’t they, because whatever they do “the party won’t stand for it”.

Ben, how can you call a Lib-Con coalition “unjustifiable”? Even if you regard the Lib-Dems as really just Labour of a different tinge on a single dimension left-right scale, on might still justify a left party cooperating with a right party. If you are prepared to see more than one dimensional left-right, it’s even easier.

This is what hung parliaments are about, and what PR would be about, parties will have to work with their opponents, and there is no natural law that Lib+Lab versus the Tories is the only acceptable outcome.

97. Mark Lightwood

“away from the party that was trying to put an alternative together”

Blunkett
Reid
Andy Burnham
Tom Harris
Sadiq Khan
Ed Miliband

Trying really hard to put an alternative together I see..

“in terms of leadership and changes to the electoral system”

Brown had to go. If you don’t think it was inevitable you deserve to remain in opposition forever. What is painful about PR? No more safe seats for lazy Labour MPs? Bad for lazy Labour, good for democracy.

“Errr, like what?”

For the hundredth time – we encouraged people to vote Lib Dem (at a time when Nick Clegg was gloating about the election becoming a 2 horse race between Libs and Tories and talking about replacing the Labour Party), we changed our leader and offered a referendum going further than what the Tories had on offer. Plus we offered them 6 seats in the cabinet.

In the real world, this was a good offer. And I think people have conceded the point that the Lib Dems offered absolutely nothing to make a Lib/Lab deal possible. Maybe those of you who are outraged by what’s happened should ask them why that was.

Mark, it’s not just about Brown, it’s about cabinet seats – good Labour people losing their offices in order to try and keep the Tories out of government. Whatever you think of PR, if you cannot see that it would result in a net loss of Labour seats then there is little point in having this discussion with you.

In fact, you display the demanding lack of grace so reminiscent of your new party (though did you ever really back Labour? You seem to have a lot of bees in your bonnet.) Now that’s fine, but politics is about the art of the possible. Labour offered as much as it could possibly deliver. And the Liberals have decided to do a less advantageous deal with the Tories instead. You have to spin that, I realise. But you’re going to have to get better at it very quickly. And people will see through it, I’m glad to say.

The time now is for all progressives of goodwill to unite against the new government. Liberal Conspiracy should play its proper and valued part in this. We will all have to bury hatchets and forgive each other and work for the greater good, and against the Cameron-Clegg axis.

And I think people have conceded the point that the Lib Dems offered absolutely nothing to make a Lib/Lab deal possible.

What did they offer?

The Good Friday agreement? The result of negotiations started under John Major, and continued under Tony Blair. The agreement which was not opposed by any major political party outside of Northern Ireland? Definetly partisan…

I was thinking not so much of the agreement itself, but of the 1997 decision to talk to Sinn Fein before they disarmed. To be fair, thinking about it further, it’s not clear that actually required a legislative majority, it might have been doable solely on executive authority. But it was certainly controversial and partisan at the time.

Similarly, it is pretty much a commonplace that Israel’s form of true PR is a big obstacle to any inititiative on a peace deal there:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/29/israel-proportional-representation

102. Charlieman

@63 Tim J: “Minority administrations are a logisitical nightmare – with almost every vote on a knife-edge the pairing system breaks down (just as it did in the 90s).”

I think that some of the changes that have taken place since the 1974-1979 and 1992-1997 governments favour minority administrations and coalitions.

Parliamentary committees are the primary method for amending bills — in theory, these are committees of “experts” and enthusiasts in their chosen topic. When they are effective, parliamentary readings become rubber stamp exercises. Thus, if low/no majority government does a good job at creating those committees, there will be few divisive debates that can raise the no confidence question.

Late night sittings no longer exist and procedure reforms prevent the classic filibuster. Bills will not be talked out.

We don’t have enough information to determine whether pairing will be honest in the future. Given that all MPs, whether newly elected or a returnee, are on their toes about integrity owing to the expenses scandal, my presumption is that they will all present themselves as straightforward. Few would choose to act as back stabbers in return for a bit of tribal glory.

The age and political experience of newly elected MPs will be important, especially when they have worked in local government or cross party campaigns. I hope that a lot of them feel like me, that parliamentary committees are where legislation is analysed in detail.

The previous paragraph should be of encouragement to Labour supporters assuming that there is a Con/LibDem pact. According to convention determining membership, there should be strong progressive representation on all parliamentary committees.

“it means that Labour can’t, and shouldn’t, enter into coalition government.”

Does Liberal Conspiracy need to be renamed? I thought that was the whole point of it. Now apparently the answer is that there shouldn’t be a coalition if it isn’t in the Labour party’s interests. ‘LabourList’ is an excellent name.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Anna Martin

    RT @libcon: Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/afw08I

  2. Karl Thomas

    RT @libcon: Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/csh1WZ

  3. Ayaan Nakamura

    RT @libcon: Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/afw08I

  4. Catherine Nicholls

    RT: @libcon Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/afw08I >my heart says lib-lab, my head says lib-con. This sums it up perfectly

  5. James Hargrave

    Libcon: Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/afw08I @placefarm for you

  6. Frankie Rickford

    RT @libcon Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/92oi96

  7. sallybrealey

    RT @libcon: Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/csh1WZ

  8. Tom Flynn

    RT @libcon: Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/csh1WZ

  9. Rob Watson

    Compelling argument on the case against a LibLab coalition http://bit.ly/cEfxU0 (via @wdjstraw) Best keep out of it & #joinlabour

  10. Lucy Sweetman

    RT @libcon: Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/csh1WZ – totally agree.

  11. Sarah

    RT @LucySweetman RT @libcon: Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/csh1WZ – totally agree.

  12. Jason Keen

    RT @wdjstraw: Very compelling argument from @libcon on the case against a LibLab coalition http://bit.ly/cEfxU0

  13. DaveHill

    Don Paskini/Liberal Conspiracy: Against "coalition of losers" http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/05/11/against-the-coalition-of-the-losers/

  14. James Dray

    RT @wdjstraw: Very compelling argument from @libcon on the case against a LibLab coalition http://bit.ly/cEfxU0

  15. Helen Lambert

    Labour's rebellious MPs were elected by pledging to put constituents before whip- joining a coalition would betray voters http://j.mp/aAGKhg

  16. ashleyelizaball

    Agreed RT @sunny_hundal: RT @wdjstraw: Very compelling argument from @donpaskini on the case against a LibLab coalition http://bit.ly/cEfxU0

  17. Alex Butcher

    @bristolwestpaul read this? http://bit.ly/c4fboN Seems particularly apropos for independent-minded Lab people like yourself

  18. Mags W

    RT @Jon2aylor: RT @wdjstraw: Very compelling argument from @libcon on the case against a LibLab coalition http://bit.ly/cEfxU0 #ukelection

  19. Liberal Conspiracy

    Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/afw08I

  20. House Of Twits

    RT @libcon Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/afw08I

  21. David Skelton

    RT @libcon: Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/afw08I >– Interesting piece

  22. johnhalton

    RT @libcon Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/afw08I /// Spot-on.

  23. Tweets that mention Liberal Conspiracy » Against the coalition of the losers -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liberal Conspiracy, johnhalton, House Of Twits, Karl Thomas, David Skelton and others. David Skelton said: RT @libcon: Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/afw08I >– Interesting piece […]

  24. Liberal Conservative

    RT @libcon: Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/afw08I

  25. Mick Williams

    RT @libcon: Against the coalition of the losers http://bit.ly/afw08I

  26. Will Straw

    Very compelling argument from @libcon on the case against a LibLab coalition http://bit.ly/cEfxU0

  27. C4News election

    RT @wdjstraw: Very compelling argument from @libcon on the case against a LibLab coalition http://bit.ly/cEfxU0 #ukelection

  28. Keith Wilson

    @bweatherson Some of the articles on @libcon may interest you, esp: http://tinyurl.com/34kgc5k

  29. Chris Iw

    RT @c4election: RT @wdjstraw: Very compelling argument from @libcon on the case against a LibLab coalition http://bit.ly/cEfxU0 #ukelection

  30. sunny hundal

    RT @wdjstraw: Very compelling argument from @donpaskini on the case against a LibLab coalition http://bit.ly/cEfxU0

  31. Luke McGee

    RT @sunny_hundal: RT @wdjstraw: Very compelling argument from @donpaskini on the case against a LibLab coalition http://bit.ly/cEfxU0

  32. Hopi Sen

    Counterpoint! John Reid is wrong by me http://bit.ly/9HtDm7 he 's right by @normblog http://bit.ly/cAp8Ue @donpaskini http://bit.ly/cEfxU0

  33. Stop the coalition talks: the rating agencies are about to pronounce « Though Cowards Flinch

    […] whether a Lib-Lab pact is a good idea or not.  That’s not important any […]

  34. No gold at the end of the rainbow | Left Foot Forward

    […] objections that are well worth considering. The first, pointed out by Liberal Conspiracy’s Don Paskini, is that: “The Labour MPs in the last parliament were the most rebellious ever. How can a […]

  35. Jonathan Taylor

    RT @wdjstraw: Very compelling argument from @libcon on the case against a LibLab coalition http://bit.ly/cEfxU0 #ukelection

  36. Why I’m not a member of Progress « Though Cowards Flinch

    […] makes it all the more sickening that Don Paskini would compare these people to deeply principled rebels like John […]





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