Friday, February 08, 2008

LibDems signal support for Tories

Very significant article in the FT where they say the following:

Nick Clegg says his Liberal Democrats could support a minority Conservative government after the next election, if David Cameron proposes genuinely “liberal” reforms in areas such as civil liberties, public service reform and the environment.

.........Mr Clegg’s legislative shopping list is remarkably similar to the priorities identified by Mr Cameron’s team for his first Queen’s Speech. They include a focus on civil liberties, education reforms, the environment and more local decision-making.

In other words, the Lib Dems have decided they are a match for the Tories, and Labour should expect the two of them to do a deal in the event of a Hung Parliament. This is HUGE. It completely turns on it's head the politics leading up to the 1997 general election, where Labour supporters voted LibDem in places where the LibDems were second to the Tories, or in the lead, with the explicit reason of "keeping the Tories out".

In these areas the LibDems originally gained ground in the 1980's when they were the Alliance, and voters who weren't Tories but couldn't bear Old Labour went to the third party. However Michael Foot, Militant and Old Labour have long been consigned to the dustbin of history. There was no reason for Labour voters to continue to vote LibDem except simply convenience and expedience in that the Labour party in the run-up to 1997 didn't want to spend a lot of time reclaiming these constituencies, preferring instead to concentrate their fire-power on Labour-Tory fights.

The new LibDem-Tory coalition changes everything. What on earth is the point of Labour voters tactically voting LibDem if it results in a Tory government? It underlines again how politics is changing. Not only new generations with new ideas coming through, but old coalitions and old tactics being made redundant.

This LibDem overture to the Tories has been coming a while now, and it is a relief that they've made it public. At least we now know where we stand. Labour activists in Labour-Tory marginals should take a screen-print of the FT article and put it on their leaflets. Especially if they are in those constituencies that the Tories won from Labour in 2005 without increasing their vote at all, because some Labour voters switched to LibDem. Ditto if Labour are up against LibDems either in general or local elections. And the Labour party need to start making plans to reclaim those areas we left to the LibDems and Tories, not least because Labour voters in those spots are now disenfranchised.

1 comment:

snowflake5 said...
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