Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Clegg Was "Going Through The Motions" With Labour.

It is being reported this morning that Nick Clegg was merely going through the motions when he started negotiations with the Labour Party.

Apparently, he was doing so in order to appease his backbenchers who had insisted that he open negotiations with them before they would endorse his deal with the Conservatives.

Insiders say it was the Liberal Democrats, not the Labour Party, who were going through the motions. Earlier, Nick Clegg had had a decidedly mixed response when he presented an outline deal to Liberal Democrat MPs; several wanted to let their heart rule their head and do a deal with Labour.

It seems that Mr Clegg needed to reassure these pro-Labour MPs that an agreement with Labour had been explored and exhausted, before they would swallow a coalition with David Cameron.

Labour sources are insisting that, whilst there were a number of Labour MP's insisting that Labour should accept that they had been defeated, the numbers were never really a problem, the problem was that Nick wanted a deal with the Tories.

They are convinced that the make-up of Mr Clegg's negotiating team was a revealing sign of his true intentions all along – to do a deal with the Tories.

The prime mover David Laws was (like Mr Clegg) a member of the "Orange Book" brigade who favoured market-based reforms of public services and had been wooed by the Tories as a possible defector. Danny Alexander, Mr Clegg's chief of staff, and Andrew Stunell, the party's former chief whip, did their leader's bidding, in the eyes of the Labour team, while Chris Huhne, who might have been more sympathetic to a deal with Labour, played a low-key role.

Conspicuous by his absence was Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats' deputy leader and once an adviser to John Smith, the former Labour leader. He has had a remarkably low media profile in recent days.

When the talks with Labour were still alive, he was due at the Treasury at 11am yesterday for a meeting with the Chancellor Alistair Darling but the plug was apparently pulled on Mr Clegg's orders.

Clegg's views on matters like public services have always been viewed by some Liberal Democrats as leaning towards the Tories rather than towards Labour, and his actions since the election have certainly bore that out.
But by suggesting a greater role for private firms in the public services, the so-called "orange bookers" sparked an internal row with those in the party advocating what many saw as a more left-wing agenda.

That group, led by the likes of party president Simon Hughes, suggested their opponents were going down a Conservative path at a time when the party needed to attract disillusioned Labour voters.
Clegg has placed the Liberal Democrats in severe danger. The message, "Vote Liberal Democrat, get a Conservative government" is now undeniable. And he has certainly killed off forever the notion that anyone would vote for his party in order to keep the Tories out, which has been happening for years in seats where the Labour presence was small.

Labour will, in any future election, target the 6.8 million people who voted for Clegg, saying that they are the only progressive party in Britain. And, watching Clegg courting the Tories, whilst merely going through the motions with Labour, will certainly live long in the memory.

As I have said a thousand times, I know of no-one who voted Liberal Democrat hoping to get this result. And yet, this appears to have been Clegg's preferred choice all along.

I really hope Clegg can manage to hold the Tory party back from their worst excesses, but the fact that he has agreed to the £6 billion in spending cuts going through this year, despite the fact that he campaigned against them, is hardly a great first sign.

And that's the problem for Clegg, his fingerprints - and those of his party - will now be found on every slash in public services the Tories make. And, if the Tories are anywhere near as brutal as past Conservative governments have proven to be, Clegg could be in the process of destroying his party forever.


daveawayfromhome said...

"suggesting a greater role for private firms in the public services"

I really hope that you Brits are smarter than we Americans have been about this idea, and nip it in the bud when it turns out (and it will) to be a bad idea that saves not one single penny (in fact, it often increases costs), but merely transfers wealth from the workers to those company's owners/management.

Kel said...

I'm appalled Dave. It's all much more right wing than I thought.

Sophia said...

Hi Kel, It's Sophia Here. I have not been blogging and reading blogs because I took a full time job last year. However, I am very saddened by the outcome of the British elections and the 'coalition'.
I think that mr Brown is a decent man and an able politician, much more than the posh boys who are running the UK now. One has to remind himself that Brown took over from a labour made very anemic by Blair, an economic crisis, and 13 years in power...I think Brown did pretty well actually at the elections...

I can't bear Nick Clegg. I formed my opinion of him the day he went on saying publicly that for him to do a deal with labour, Brown must step down. Who is he to tell labour which leader they should have, shocking ! I wish someone from Labour can come out now and tell the liberals which leader they should have...

Clegg's success is very circumstancial. Actually he lost the elections...He is really a caricature of how British are perceived by the outside world, arrogant and and too much confident...

Kel said...

Hi Sophia,

Clegg's behaviour has been disgraceful and there has been fury amongst Liberal Democrats at the road down which he has led their party.

Many people voted Lib Dem to avoid a Tory government and Clegg has betrayed them.

He'll never be forgiven for what he has done by a huge swathe of the electorate.