Sunday, May 03, 2009

On fanciful talk of defections from the LibDems

Paddy Ashdown created a bit of a stir when he claimed that some Labour MPs might defect to the LibDems.

This is so off-base, where to start? First of all the searing memory in the Labour party is of the split in the early 80's when the SDP broke away. It's not just about the fact that the Labour party dislikes disloyalty above all things. It's also about the fate of the MPs who defected to the SDP - 28 Labour MPs left to join the SDP, along with loads of PPCs and activists, and they thought they were leaving a Labour party that was "finished" and going on to form the next government. Actually, they were trashing their careers and going nowhere.

By contrast, parliamentary candidates like Tony Blair, standing for election in 1983 for the first time, stuck with the Labour party, fighting from within to make it electable. He then became leader of the Labour party and Prime Minister for 10 years. If Vince Cable had stayed put, he would now be chancellor, but instead has to content himself with appearances on TV when they need a third voice. The lesson is clear - stay and fight your corner and you eventually prevail. Flouncing out pays no dividends. Politics is a long, long game.

In addition Ashdown and others who believe that Labour will lurch left have absolutely no understanding of the make-up of current Labour activists nearly 30 years after the SDP was formed. The party is a different animal.

It's not just the Labour party that has changed of course. The entire political landscape has changed. The Tories are now further to the right than they've been in 60 years. They are also more euro-sceptic than they've ever been, more isolationist, more fearful of the rest of the world. This closes off options.

It's a cliche to say that the left of the Labour party has nowhere to go - it was true in 1996 and is true now. But what is new is that the right of the Labour party also has nowhere to go. If like me you are centrist in the grand scheme of things (which means on the right of the Labour party), believing in and engaged in commerce, and understanding that globalisation needs rules and safety nets, and that the EU supplies these in Europe and that we have to be in the EU; if you rather like the world and it's peoples, instead of fearing and hating it, there isn't anywhere else to go apart from Labour.

Pro-europeans like Peter Mandelson and Charles Clarke need the Labour party as much as Dianne Abbot and Dennis Skinner do. That's why no MPs have crossed the floor away from Labour since Gordon Brown became leader in 2007, and why there won't be any coming up in the next few months. We are all locked together in mutual need and must help each other to get anywhere.


broncodelsey said...

'Actually, they were trashing their careers and going nowhere.'

But that's exactly what they can see happening next year if Brown is not dumped.Many of the so called New Labour MP's got into parliament in 97 and many will lose their seats next year being in the most vulnerable constituencies.The likely scale of the defeat and public hostility could result in Labour being out of office for at least a decade.

What's so strange is that every poll (with the named leader question) prior to Brown's coronation, showed him as an election liability and yet they still proceeded with the coronation.

The three previous Labour electoral defeats were all accompanied by lurches to the left.
The very nature of the make up of the post election PLP, with a majority of union sponsored MP's,old Labour MP's in safe seat's and the cull of New Labour MP's in the more marginal seats makes this ineviatable.

Just add Harman or Cruddas as leader and you will have a party Michael Foot would be proud of.

DevonChap said...

Have you ever looked at LibDem poliices? They are the most pro-European party in the Uk mainstream.
You think that Vince Cable should have just sat tight, thought about advancement and mouthed things he didn't believe so the could one day be Chancellor. Isn't that the definition of a careerist? It shows more character to fight for what you believe in without the expectaion of high office as a reward.
By your logic there should have been an exodus of LibDems back to Labour once the SDP failed. But there wasn't was there.

Quietzapple said...

Indeed Snowflake.

A byplay on this "story" occurred on BBC's "Breakfast."

When Simon Fanshawe pointed out (in his own words) that the article's authors - Jasper Gerard and James Kirkup - are a Lib-Dem functionary and A Dully Tele propagandist and that the piece's lack of substance in the face of its headline might just possibly be motivated by their political interests . . .

. . . Charlie State, the male presenter of the programme, was scandalised and attacked him, so that Fanshawe backtracked very mildly.

We-e-e-ell . .

This prog's presenters obviously have got too used to hosting Dully Tele propagandists . . and have done the obvserse of going native.

Is there a modern version of the Glasgow Media Group constantly surveying such biases?

Anonymous said...

Comedy value post - you must be nervous. Especially this: the Labour party dislikes disloyalty above all things... Um, have you seen the Labour Party recently? No Disloyalty? Bless!

You post seems to summarise to say "it wont happen because Labour people are loyal and it would wreck their career anyway". The first part is demonstrably and obviously false, the second part is hardly a strong moral argument.

snowflake5 said...

DevonChap: "You think that Vince Cable should have just sat tight, thought about advancement and mouthed things he didn't believe so the could one day be Chancellor. Isn't that the definition of a careerist"

He should have stayed and fought for his beliefs - instead he acted in a careerist way - believing there was no chance of his advancement under Foot, he went elsewhere...

As for the "pro-European" beliefs of the LibDems - no one is certain exactly what they believe in, they say different things to different people.

Broncodelsey - you make an error that only old labourite are in "safe" seats. Plenty of New Labour people are in safe seats too.

Quietzapple said...

Similar people are puffing up the BNP.

It is deeply regrettable that some Labour politicians, notably leaders like Blears, Hodge, Harman fuel such speculation.

Enoch Powell wisely pretended that he did not know the names of his opponents, worth more than quite a lot of advice.

We have PR in the Euro-elections, we should expect a few freaks to win seats, and to bang on about it simply overhypes both their chances, the strength of their support, and their prospects.

broncodelsey said...

'Broncodelsey - you make an error that only old labourite are in "safe" seats. Plenty of New Labour people are in safe seats too.'

In the parliament channel re-run of the 1979 election (last week), Anthony Howard was interviewed by Dimbleby on the morning after the Labour defeat and asked if he thought that Labour would now swing to the left (due to the composition of the remaining MP's),Howard was emphatic that any swing would be rightwards!

As they say the rest is history!