We are not Labour Lite

So, you’re Gordon Brown, and you’re putting together your first government after winning a tightly fought leadership campaign (OK, so I made the last bit up). You have a pretty decent majority, and plenty of experience to choose from. So what do you do? You pick up the phone to the Lib Dem leader and say ‘can I borrow a couple of your best people?’

Do what? Why on earth would you do that? Well, there are several plausible reasons, but all of them should leave Lib Dems scurrying away post haste:

  1. Gordon Brown has so many enemies in his own party, that he struggles to find enough good people that will work with him.
  2. Gordon Brown feels such enmity towards Blairites that he won’t hire anyone remotely tainted by Blair.
  3. Gordon Brown looks at the lack of talent in his ranks and realises he doesn’t have anyone of the stature of men like Paddy Ashdown, whose shoelaces most New Labour figures are not fit to tie.

But I reckon the real reason is more like this:

Gordon Brown is staring into the abyss. At the next general election, it is going to take a miracle to win another outright majority. The Lib Dems have a real chance of holding a pivotal role – one in which they could hold the balance of power. So, he calculates, now is the time to get into bed with those annoying Lib Dems. He calculates (because GB is always calculating) that if he’s in bed with us, we would be much more likely to join him in a coalition – leaving the Tories out in the cold. He’s also probably calculated that if the Lib Dems appear to be ‘in bed with Labour’, it will be much more easy to portray the choice at the next general election as a two way rather than a three way one – thus depressing our vote. Finally, Gordon’s calculator will have told him that a Lib-Lab alliance at this time would split the Lib Dems, causing us internal upheaval and quite probably resignations.

Not for the first time, Gordon Brown has got his sums wrong. For his plan to work, we would have to be more hungry for power than we are wedded to our principles. This is a grave miscalculation. If being elected is more important than your principles, you certainly don’t join the Liberal Democrats. There is still a lingering public perception that we are some kind of ‘Labour Lite’, and yet our fundamental principles are so very different. We have to communicate those differences to the public at large.

To get into bed with New Labour just as the New Labour project is sinking would be a disaster.

4 thoughts on “We are not Labour Lite”

  1. Why did Brown bother asking in advance? He should just have announced his full list of Ministers once he got in, including both a Lib Dem and a Tory in each department, and said that people who didn’t want the job were free to resign.

    Those approached need to ask themselves what it is about them that Brown found so attractive politically. The Lib Dems also need to ask this about each of them, as well as what the point of their own party is if it is going to pass up offers of Ministerial office, even including at Cabinet level. Everyone needs to ask what the reply from Ashdown, never over-troubled by self-doubt, would have been if Brown had offered to make him Foreign Secretary; also, to consider that, just as Sarkozy gave the Foreign Ministry to Kouchner, the only prominent French Socialist to support the Iraq War, so Brown has tried to bring in Ashdown, a pioneering neocon cheerleader from the Yugoslavia days, and who recently surprised no one by coming out as holding the same views on Iraq.

    The Tories need to ask themselves why nobody bothered to do try and do a deal with them (although I suspect that that would have been Phase Two, and might yet be Phase One And Only instead). Labour Party members need to ask themselves why not one of their number – MP, Peer, or able to be raised to the Peerage for the purpose – was deemed capable of doing any of the Ministerial jobs in question, including one at Bevan’s NHS. Labour MPs, in particular, need to ask why, at least where these particular positions (and how many more after this?) are concerned, the man whom they gave a clear run for Leader would rather have a Lib Dem Peer than ANY of them.

    And we all need to ask ourselves and each other what we are doing to replace this whole sorry lot with proper parties and proper politicians, speaking and acting for us.

  2. Brown’s miscalculation of how power hungry LibDems are hilights his own hunger for power. He simply cannot understand that people might still, after many years in politics hold ideals above power…

  3. Dan,You are being very reticent about listnig how you scored in this “bit of fun” test. I must conclude from this and your comments that there is a nasty surprise lurking in there somewhere which you desperately want to keep quiet about. Normally you are very a very straightforward guy, so we have to be a bit suspicious. I think you’ve found you are closer to another party than the Tories and you are in denial. I hear that the local Tories have a very good, council funded political officer who can help you back to the path of true blueness.As to the other points you raise, I’m rather surprised by your comments. You clearly haven’t been keeping up to date with politics lately. What did David Cameron say about how marvellous he thought Lib Dem policies were?I suggest you have a look at the Lib Dems website if you are interested. I suppose I could print them all here, but as they are already listed there it would be a bit pointless.

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