Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Clegg faces party backlash over Tory alliance.

I said yesterday that I didn't find Nick Clegg's proposed Tory-Lib Dem alliance very credible and wake up today to read that many Liberals are making their displeasure known.

Nick Clegg faces a backlash from grassroots Liberal Democrats if he moves his party too close to the Conservatives in a hung parliament.

Two surveys of party members and councillors have warned the Liberal Democrat leader that most of his activists are instinctively hostile to co-operation with David Cameron.

The truth is that there are several issues on which the Liberals are even more progressive than the Labour party, so quite how Clegg feels he can get his party to back the Tories is simply beyond me.

And, as I pointed out yesterday, in the event of a hung parliament, the chances are that more people will have voted for the Labour party and the Liberals than voted for the Tories. So how is Clegg upholding democracy by backing the party who gained less votes for their right wing agenda than the other two progressive parties combined?

Mr Clegg would have to win approval for his tactics from senior colleagues and a special conference of rank-and-file party members. Their centre-left sympathies were made clear in a poll last week which asked activists to choose between Mr Brown and Mr Cameron for Prime Minister after the election. Their verdict was definitive: 58 per cent named the Tory leader as the worst option, with 42 per cent for Mr Brown.

The result mirrored a poll of Liberal Democrat councillors in the autumn, when nearly twice as many said they would like their party to support Labour (31 per cent) in a hung Parliament against just 16 per cent for the Tories.

Feelings have also been running high on Liberal Democrat websites since Mr Cameron offered his olive branch to the party. Christopher Lovell, president of Leeds Liberal Youth, said: "A Conservative government will pursue fundamentally different objectives from a Liberal Democrat one and, although there may be an ... overlap in policy, many Liberal Democrats would find it hard to support even a small amount of what a Tory government tried to do."

Jane Watkinson said: "Both parties are a compromise to what we stand for but, if it came down to it, Labour are closer to our values as we do share common ground in aspects such as constitutional reform and taxes."

The notion that the Liberals could prop up a Tory government strikes me as simply daft. How can you prop up a government whose beliefs are diametrically opposed to your own? That strikes me as nonsensical.

Click here for full article.

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