Monday, May 10, 2010

Shirley Williams warns Clegg against coalition with Conservatives.

Lady Shirley Williams has become the first leading Liberal Democrat to speak out publicly against a coalition between her party and the Tories.

Speaking to the Guardian, she said she would prefer the Lib Dems to agree to vote through key Tory bills rather than become coalition partners.

Asked if she thought an alliance was a good idea, she said: "No. Instead I think it would be better for us to offer them 'confidence and supply' and let them govern as a minority government, coupled with cross-party work in two areas: we need swift cross-party action to bring down the deficit, and action on political reform."

This would also be my preference were the Liberals to have to do any kind of deal with the Tories. They should not become a coalition as they have bugger all in common, but the Liberals could be a good way of keeping the worst of the Tory excesses in check by agreeing to discuss each issue on a point by point basis.

However, where Shirley gets the notion that she will get "action on political reform" from a Tory administration is beyond me. The message which is coming out loud and clear is that the Tory party have realised that they would be dead in the water for generations should such a deal ever go through.

While it is not a surprise that Williams, a former Labour minister, has come out against her party forming an official coalition with the Tories, her party has been very tightly whipped in the last 72 hours, with even normally outspoken MPs, such as the Lib Dem climate change spokesman, Simon Hughes, not speaking out publicly aginst a Lib-Con deal.

Williams was particularly concerned that there has so far been no talk of securing the composition of the United kingdom. She said: "I am very concerned that preventing the break-up of the union has played no part in the negotiation between the Tories and Lib Dems.

"The Tory party made no gains to speak of in Scotland in this election … and recently, the Tories have been talking almost entirely about England. My sense is that negotiations cannot conclude without it being made clear how to keep the nation together, because if we do make a deal with the Tories, we are handing Scotland to the SNP on a plate."

The Tories have paid no attention to Scotland since the days of Thatcher, as they know that the Scots overwhelmingly rejected Thatcher's brutal belief that there was "no such thing as society."

Cameron attempted to overcome this with his pathetic "big society" gimmick which was overwhelmingly rejected by the Scots, who returned only one Tory MP, and completely lost on the rest of Britain who struggled to work out what the phrase even meant.

Now the Tories are turning on Cameron for his campaign which has deprived them of outright power, and people like Shirley Williams are warning Clegg not to form a coalition.

Clegg really is between a rock and a very hard place. Most of his supporters will find it very hard to swallow any agreement which sees him propping up a Tory government, and he obviously worries that propping up a Labour government will be seen as lacking legitimacy.

But, very soon, he is going to have to make his call. No matter what he does, there are going to be a lot of people unhappy with his decision. As I have said before, they are going to dump shit on his head no matter what he does. If I were him I would make sure, at the very least, that I got what I wanted before they started pouring.

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daveawayfromhome said...

So, how can Clegg be pushing for proportional representation on one hand, yet be made to feel that joining with Labour would be illegitimate, given that it would mean a ruling group with the largest proportion of votes?

Kel said...

Because the press over here have made a big thing out of the fact that Gordon Brown took over from Blair without a general election taking place. And they do this despite the fact that John Major did the very same thing when he took over from Margaret Thatcher. Their script is that Brown came to office undemocratically and that he has failed to win this election, despite the fact that Cameron didn't win the election either.

According to the way the thing is being sold over here, Brown is hated and Clegg and he would be seen as "the coalition of the losers."

It's crap I know, but the fact that Clegg is being so public about his negotiations with the Tories and so private about any talks he is having with Labour means that he takes this seriously.