The Dissenter's Voice

The ocassional comments, opinions, rambling and rants of a liberal dissenter in New Labour's Britain

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Brown's mischief and Lib Dem misjudgement

The last 24 hours have been bad news for the Lib Dems, we have looked at various rtimes shambolic, indecisive, divided, secretive and greedy and there is little point blaming either Gordon Brown or the Guardian. The truth is we have brought this on ourselves.

The problem started with the ill advised passages in Ming last conference speech, when he set out his 5 Tests for Gordon Brown. As was warned at the time these were predictably, even inevitably seen as a coalition negotiating gambit and they effectively opened the door to endless press specultation on whether or not the party would support a future Brown Govt. Given this we can hardly blame Brown for stirring up the water a little with his offer.

I can't believe that the party leadership for a moment seriously entertained the idea of having Paddy join a Labour Cabinet, however I cannot help but suspect that there has been a certain amount of testing the water on future co-operation. There are some people hovering around the current leadership who hanker for the days in the 1990's when there was a talk of a long term project 're-uniting' the progressive centre-left in an anti-Tory coalition.

However, times have changed and 10 years of Labour Govt have shown that they are frankly neither progressive nor particularly centre-left. Despite that these nostalgic grandees still see to believe that there is still room for working with a Brown Govt. There can be no more private chats about co-operation, no more secret liaisons, Ming has to make clear that he is not interested in working with Brown, now or in the event of a hung Parliament. If not then we will increasingly be seen as an irrelevant appendage to a tired and largely discredited Govt.

When we doubled our seats in 1997, we did so having abandoned equidistance between Labour & the Tories so that we could ride a wave against a govt that has palpably lost its way and energy. Today, we see to be endanger of doing exactly the opposite, abandoning equidistance so that we can support a Govt that looks set to be drowned by the incoming tide.