Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Lib Dems and Power

According to the Guardian, Gordon Brown was prepared to do the John F Kennedy thing and offer positions in the government to Lib Dems in the House of Lords. Apparently Lord Carlisle was suggested for attorney general, Lord Leslie for something to do with constitutional affairs and Lord Ashdown for position unknown.

While like most Labour people I'd object to LibDems MPs in the Commons being part of the govt, I've no objections to the idea of LibDems in the Lords participating. In particular I think giving the post of Attorney General to someone independent of the government is a splendid idea, and it might safeguard democracy if a precedent could be set for all future governments to appoint an independent non-government-party Attorney General.

It's all got quashed by Ming Campbell under pressure from his own MPs - apparently they want to maintain "ideological purity". Maintaining ideological purity is code for being scared of power exposing them as useless. After all anyone and his dog can carp from the sidelines, but power, with all the responsibilities, contraints and pressures to compromise that it brings, is a difficult thing to deal with. Anyone most certainly can't cope with it.

This might be a moment of truth for the Lib Dems. They've been prattling on about proportional representation - but PR means coalitions. Not only that but being part of a coalition under a PR system is no different to being part of a coalition under the FPTP system - you are still representing the strand of the population that voted for you. So if they are scared of coalitions, they'd be scared of them under PR too, and we'd simply end up with a succession of unstable minority Labour or Tory governments. Perhaps this is the time for the LibDems to ditch PR and endorse FPTP, which at least guarantees that they will never take power and allows them to navel gaze to their heart's content.

As for Gordon Brown, he can say to the electorate, look I tried to be inclusive but they weren't interested. And therefore a vote for the Lib Dems is a wasted vote. Of course there are non-Labour people who arn't LibDems. If I was him, I'd still look for an independent attorney general, there must be someone on the cross-benches who qualifies.


jams o donnell said...

I wondered for a moment whther Cameron had offered the lib dems a better offer should the next election result in a hung parliament...

snowflake5 said...

Undoubtedly some LibDem MPs would like to be in govt with the Tories rather than Labour - but not sure about LibDem voters (under Charlie Kennedy the LibDems were to the left of Labour - eg 50% tax rate, no tuition fees etcm abd people voted in 2005 on that basis). I think some Labour people who voted LibDem would be utterly shocked if their votes were used to put the tories in power.

Anyway, this puts paid to people complaining that Labour is in power with only 36% of the vote. Not only did the other parties get a smaller % than us, but when we offered to have LibDems in govt, to widen the representation of the govt, we were rebuffed. They can hardly complain now.

Anonymous said...

"Maintaining ideological purity is code for being scared of power exposing them as useless."


Have you considered that it's more to do with the fact that under a Labour tie-up with FPTP the party would lose dozens of marginals against the Tories, while not making up the same number from gains against Labour because the swinging voters are not distributed helpfully. Under PR there would not be a dangerous loss like that. Coalitions under FPTP are likely to lead to wild results at the next election.

No, you havent considered that, because it wouldnt fit your scenery.