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  • How long will this ‘betrayal’ charge carry on for?

    by Sunny
    12th May, 2010 at 5:32 pm    

    Sure, it’s early days, and there are a lot of people who want to vent their anger at the Tories getting in. So it’s no surprise to see that so far this has resulted in some very inane analysis and breast-beating about how Clegg ‘betrayed’ the Labour party.

    I don’t want to be a party pooper this early but I also want to avoid this meme setting in and people becoming ideologically entrenched.

    1. If you want to blame someone for losing the election, blame the Labour party for carrying on with an unpopular leader, a crap campaign (the highlights of which all mostly came from Labour supporters than the campaign itself), and a complete lack of vision about why electing Labour meant something other than ‘stay the course, I can handle the economy’.

    2. Blame the Labourites who poured cold water over the negotiations with the Libdems. Remember them? I don’t remember anyone going out there and forcefully making a case for a Lib-Lab alliance in the media, with some serious concessions.

    The Tories have offered some serious concessions to the Libdems. This isn’t to be sniffed at because it might mean the coalition survives and flourishes for a full five years. Which means the nastier elements of the Tories are neutralised because Cameron can rely on the Libdems for support. Simon Heffer and his Telegraph column can bugger off, Cameron can say.

    3. I also hate to break it to Labourites, but many still don’t see Libdems as rational voters who might actually dislike large parts of the Labour agenda. Might be something to do with the whole Iraq war, ID cards, control orders, 42 days, 10p tax, little progress on the environment, wasting money on Trident etc. We still don’t know what concessions Labour offered, but it was pretty obvious many of them gave up trying after GB’s resignation.

    I doubt there will be a horde of Libdem voters clamouring to now join the Labour party. Sure, some will. But it won’t be enough to build Labour into a bulwark against the Tories and Libdems. I bet many of them will actually be happy that some of the policies they voted for will actually be implemented.

    4. Over the longer term the danger is that if coalition politics becomes the norm, and I spoke to someone yesterday who said that even under FPTP it’s likely Hung Parl will be the norm, then Labour either has to absorb more Libdem voters, or entice them into a coalition next time. Screaming betrayal now won’t help either aims.

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    1. Tom Johnson

      Quiet down all you angry Labourites. RT @sunny_hundal: How long will this 'betrayal' charge carry on?

    2. Leon Green

      RT @sunny_hundal Blog post:: How long will this 'betrayal' charge carry on for?

    3. Richard

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: How long will this 'betrayal' charge carry on for? <- neatly sums up my own thoughts

    4. Helen Lambert

      Good points, well made RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: How long will this 'betrayal' charge carry on for?

    5. Richard Jordan

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: How long will this 'betrayal' charge carry on for?

    6. Mercedes Rochester

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: How long will this 'betrayal' charge carry on for?

    7. Kim Lofthouse

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: How long will this 'betrayal' charge carry on for?

    8. earwicga

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: How long will this 'betrayal' charge carry on for? < Well said Sunny!

    9. Adam Bernard

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: How long will this 'betrayal' charge carry on for?

    10. Simon

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: How long will this 'betrayal' charge carry on for?

    11. This is what “new politics” looks like? « Sugar the Pill

      [...] Dems now that Clegg has sacrificed the Party’s soul. And sure, I understand the point that others have made about the need for not in-fighting on the Left - but this is the Tories, for the love of God. [...]

    12. Amor Vincit Omnia » Blog Archive » Make Alliances, Not War

      [...] There are several reasons why I think jumping onto the demonising bandwagon is a bad idea, so let’s get what is probably the most obvious one out of the way with now that way you’ll all have plenty of time to go gather some stones to throw at me. This outcome isn’t the fault of the Lib Dems or their supporters; in the end the Lib Dems only ended up with the choice of Labour or Tory as coalition partners because of the hung parliament result of the election and they never stated that they would only go with Labour if that were to happen. For more detailed reasons on why the ‘betrayal’ charge doesn’t stand up in the cold light of reality can be found here on Pickled Politics [...]

    13. Liberal Conspiracy » An open letter to Labour supporters, from a leftie Libdem

      [...] This outcome isn’t the fault of the Lib Dems or their supporters; in the end the Lib Dems only ended up with the choice of Labour or Tory as coalition partners because of the hung parliament result of the election and they never stated that they would only go with Labour if that were to happen. For more detailed reasons on why the ‘betrayal’ charge doesn’t stand up in the cold light of reality can be found here on Pickled Politics [...]

    1. Sean — on 12th May, 2010 at 5:38 pm  

      Interesting post Sunny. In my (limited) conversations wtih die-hard Labour supporters, they have a deaf ear to the charges of authoritarianism that you highlight in #3. It’s going to be very hard for them to change on this.

    2. Cruella — on 12th May, 2010 at 5:57 pm  

      Sorry Sunny but I have to take exception to some of this. I think much of the blame has to go to the Murdoch press who made a song and dance about one accurate use of the word “bigot” but couldn’t be bothered to discuss the drastic cuts to education, surestart, benefits, etc that the Tory manifesto implied. Murdoch is known to have been personally shouting at people telling them to get Cameron elected. When I saw and heard what Brown said I was often impressed but when I read the coverage it implied he was awful. Not that there wasn’t a way to do it better - indeed it did seem that Clegg expressed the ideas of the left a lot better, but then did the one thing the left didn’t want - but we have to look at the press and say they want to run the country and so far they’re succeeding. We have to focus on our own media outlets and grow ways for information to be circulates that aren’t controlled by big corporations. Blaming Gordon Brown for not being able to get the press to back him is churlish I think…

    3. Kulvinder — on 12th May, 2010 at 6:07 pm  

      fwiw a libdem tempered tory government is probably the best result the public could have had; the alternative (say an outright tory victory) would be far worse.

      If i had the choice in january this is exactly what id have wished for; that said i can’t help but laugh at don.

      As for labour DM will win the leadership election but i, frankly, can’t see him retaking them to power; labour need to take a long hard look at their failures on things like civil liberties, the inane law making and arrogance. Id hope they don’t just shuffle the top order of mps and pretend everything is different; window dressing won’t do - they need to take a different look at the country and themselves.

    4. Shatterface — on 12th May, 2010 at 6:11 pm  

      ‘ We have to focus on our own media outlets and grow ways for information to be circulates that aren’t controlled by big corporations.’


      Blame the meeja all you want but Sunny’s right that whole swathes of would-be Labour voters were repelled by a series of unjustifiable wars and the erosion of civil liberties.

      While most of us are deeply sudpicious of the Con-Lib pact we know for a fact where Labour were heading: more of the same.

    5. ChristopherMars — on 12th May, 2010 at 6:11 pm  

      As a Labour voter I don’t feel betrayed by the Liberal Democrats; they’re well within their rights to compromise for power if they want. Liberal supporters and members of the Labour party have compromised a lot in support of the outgoing government, and it would be churlish to not expect the same of the Lib Dems. But whatever the flaws in Labour’s campaign, policies, or negotiating strategy (which let’s be frank with the best will in the world was never going to work) it was the Lib Dem’s choice to go into government with the Tories and it will be their responsibility to explain the compromises they make as part of that government.

      In five years time, when ID cards were a long forgotten failed policy we may be asking how Lib Dem supporters countenanced some of the policies they are now bound to support.

    6. East Londoner — on 12th May, 2010 at 6:15 pm  

      No one in the Labour Party can reasonably claim that it was the LibDems fault we lost so many seats, the reasons for that lie within the Labour Party.

      Nick Clegg did not want to form a coalition with Labour. The only thing that stopped him signing up by Saturday evening was internal opposition, proper talks with Labour only started on Monday afternoon by which time the deal with the tories was effectively done. The briefing that Labour members of the team were “sneering” and “unkeen” came from LibDem sources and was completely untrue. Prior to the meeting on Monday afternoon efforts by the Labour party to open talks had been rebuffed, there were vague talks about talks. Yes there were folk within the Labour Party less than enthusiastic about a coalition with the Liberals but that applies to the tories too.

      Nick Clegg has got almost what he wanted - Deputy Prime Minister (actually a non job just a title). It is too early to be shouting betrayal from the rooftops (though dropping their pledge on an amnesty for illegal immigrants is hardly a good start) we must wait to see how this develops. However it is not the fault of the Labour Party the (non) talks failed, they were never intended to succeed.

      What is true is the oft repeated statement “Vote Clegg, wake up with Cameron”. How that will pan out we shall see

    7. AdamR — on 12th May, 2010 at 6:16 pm  

      A thoughtful and well written post here. Not something I would normally say (as someone from the more moderate end of Toryism) but I agree with Sunny. It is nice to see some rational thinking from Labour rather than the ranting, ‘you’ve betrayed us/it was all Murdoch’s fault/the Tories will beat the poor and eat babies’ rhetoric spouted by some on the nuttier end of the left.

    8. badger — on 12th May, 2010 at 6:17 pm  

      Cruella - I just love the way in which people like you blame the Murdoch press without any sense of irony whatsoever. Would this be the same Murdoch press that helped keep the Labour party in power for 13 years or would that be a completely different Murdoch press in a parallel universe? The Labour Party really needs to move away from the vacuous argument that if something is done in the name of the Labour Party [Murdoch press/ privatising the health service/ war in Iraq etc] it’s OK but if exactly the same thing is done in the name of someone else it is morally corrupt. This seems to be the whole of the “progressive” grudge against the Tory/ Lib Dems and it really is pathetic.

    9. Don — on 12th May, 2010 at 6:29 pm  

      i can’t help but laugh at don.

      Feel free, mate. I’ve been doing some harsh and hollow laughing myself, but I’m almost over it now.

      I guess this is not the worst possible outcome, given that not too long ago I was waking up in the night in a muck sweat and screaming ‘Tory Landslide’.

    10. soru — on 12th May, 2010 at 6:31 pm  

      Which means the nastier elements of the Tories are neutralised because Cameron can rely on the Libdems for support.

      Except the Lib Dems can be neatly split into two groups:

      1. those who are fully as nasty as the Tories, except with a greater level of self-delusion - they actually think they are the good guys.

      2. those who were duped by group #1.

      Short of an unprecedented number of bye-elections coming up, the second doesn’t have a hope in hell of slowing down the Tories nasty side. And the first will be actively leading them on.

    11. Shamit — on 12th May, 2010 at 6:34 pm  

      Sunny -

      You supported the Lib Dems civil liberties agenda - you were one of the first ones to ask for regulation on banks, and you want a green economy more than most.

      So I wondered why you wouldn’t support this government’s agenda as they have laid out? If they falter or pursue something else then of course they need to be told so however why not give them a chance.


      The Labour party, I believe like all great institutions would renew itself, and I hope they don’t lurch too much to the far left. Like Sunder said the other day, the leadership election process could be the key to renewal.

      Like all governments this one will make mistakes and the labour party needs to bide its time and develop ideas that not only brings in the core but persuades those floating voters who have shifted to Tory this time to come back. I am sure they would do it and I hope Labour is an effective opposition and establishes itself as an alternative government.

      Even with the coalition the transition from the shadow team to government was well managed by the Tories - Labour needs to build up a team that can provide options to both the core and the floating voters.

      We are still a centre left country - aren’t we?

    12. Kulvinder — on 12th May, 2010 at 6:48 pm  

      i’ve only just read about the tyrone election in NI, the SF candidate beat Rodney Connor - an independent - by four votes!!!

    13. Dalbir — on 12th May, 2010 at 7:11 pm  

      There was no way we could have continued with New Labour. The idiots have managed to demoralise large sections of country, extinguishing any ‘feel good factor’ for many. It is hard to know what to feel. When I voted, it was always labour, since I was allowed to cross the ballot paper. But the way they lost their direction and became distant to the working class and involved themselves in pseudo-imperialism lost them any mandate and moral authority.

      I just hope Labour go back to their roots - a bit. The way ‘spin’ has become central to politics under Bliar is just sickening.

      I have no idea what Cameron plans, but I did say previously that this new alliance may well restrain the Tories from their more horrific ‘aspirations’.

      It should do Labour a world of good being out of power for a while. That being said, it is a shame that this country still struggles to let truly new blood into the power game, like we have seen in America. It seems like we are stuck with crusty toff white blokes or their female equivalents as leaders for a while.

      Won’t somebody inspire me….pleeeeaase!

    14. earwicga — on 12th May, 2010 at 7:15 pm  

      Great post Sunny!

    15. Sarah AB — on 12th May, 2010 at 7:48 pm  

      Not much chance of many of their female equivalents getting too much of a look in any time soon Dalbir - but maybe the appointment of Baroness Warsi as Chair of the conservative party is to be welcomed?

    16. leftleaningliberal — on 12th May, 2010 at 8:00 pm  

      This is not the betrayal that counts - the lib-dems are not an appendage of the Labour Party which has no god given right to lib-dem support. The danger lies for the lib-dems in alienating voters, some of whom would never vote Tory. I could not imagine any circumstances under which I would vote Tory and by extension, I will never vote lib-dem again. The lib-dems are engaged in a centre-right government and that makes me sick to my stomach!

    17. Col — on 12th May, 2010 at 8:11 pm  

      “maybe the appointment of Baroness Warsi as Chair of the conservative party is to be welcomed”

      Or why not a cabinet post? I mean no one has ever elected her, in fact she was rejected by the voters, but what the hell - make her a Baroness and side step democracy.

    18. Dalbir — on 12th May, 2010 at 8:17 pm  


      I think we need real change in the politics of this country. We need to break away from the old pseudo-feudal heritage. Right now, most of the politicians seem to come from a common pot.

      We need a strong ideologically motivated candidate for 21st century Britain, from outside of the box. But what we get is the usual crap. We need someone who resonates with lots of us, across the various class, racial divides.

      I can dream.

    19. JM — on 12th May, 2010 at 8:43 pm  

      A tired and emotional Nick Cohen tweets:

      ‘Here’s my writing sorted out, Will crucify every fucker who voted Lib Dem, one by one, in the national press. Better you had voted Tory.’

      He’s so hard!

    20. Chris Baldwin — on 12th May, 2010 at 9:37 pm  

      “2. Blame the Labourites who poured cold water over the negotiations with the Libdems. Remember them? I don’t remember anyone going out there and forcefully making a case for a Lib-Lab alliance in the media, with some serious concessions.”

      Although I supported the idea of a Lib-Lab coalition, the fact that it could be derailed by a few dissenting voices on the Labour benches (if indeed that is the reason - I’ve yet to see any real evidence that it was) suggests that it was probably always too precarious to be viable.

    21. KJB — on 12th May, 2010 at 10:30 pm  

      I agree with Sunny. :-D Also, the second paragraph of what Kulvinder said - that’s exactly what I think is going to happen. New Labour is still way too prominent for the more left-leaning Labourites to really make a change.

    22. Don — on 12th May, 2010 at 10:41 pm  

      We need a strong ideologically motivated candidate for 21st century Britain, from outside of the box.

      No. That seldom ends well.

    23. Boyo — on 12th May, 2010 at 11:32 pm  

      Which just goes to show what a Tory boy you really are. Progressive my arse.

    24. glenn — on 13th May, 2010 at 12:05 am  

      It is absolutely true that the lib dems have no obligation to favour the labour party and the deal with the cons was to some actual lib Dem supporters logical. The problem is that in a lot of marginal seats they were seen as an non-Tory electable alternative to labour. The evidence that Lib-Dem voters, as opposed to activists and members, are not happy with a con-Dem pact is everywhere. There are no ifs and buts about it, the lib-dems will lose a lot of seats in local elections and that will render them a liability to the Conservative Party.
      Also the Labour Party is not the same party that stumbled through the 1980s bickering amongst itself and easily picked off by the right-wing press. This election proved two things. One was that even with a vastly unpopular leader the Labour Party knew not rip themselves apart and the other was that the printed press has lost most of its influence. Arguably without Brown Labour would have won, which is why the Conservatives made the deal they made.
      Personally. I voted lib dem or abstained for the entire Blair era. I voted Brown because Clegg was so obviously itching to do a deal with the Conservatives even before the first vote was cast. Talking to a lot of my friends who voted lib dem as an anti-Tory centre-left alternative to labour and against the Tories, they do feel duped. This is going to to be even more the case in Scotland and Wales, but also in a number of marginal seats in England. Plus when the cuts and VAT rises start to bite, the people in power will lose votes not those in opposition. It is worth remembering that Margret Thatcher owed more of her electoral success to the Labour Party’s internal struggles and poor leadership choices than to her popularity, this is also the reason there is a Lib Dem party rather than simply a Liberal Party. Expect mid-term or earlier wipe-out and squabbling in the con-dem ranks.

    25. shariq — on 13th May, 2010 at 12:06 am  

      Brilliant post Sunny - I would add that I think that this is a great opportunity for Labour to sort itself out. Will hopefully have a post on that soon.

      Apart from that , I’m not sure that people realise that a lot of lib dem seats are in blue areas where labour is the third party. Despite their best efforts, they couldn’t get a bunch of seats from the labour heartland.

    26. dave bones — on 13th May, 2010 at 1:49 am  

      They had to do a deal with the conservatives because they all live in a stupid bubble and those inflicted with power have it the worst. Politicians spend their time arguing about an increasingly narrow amount of diference and because of the TV debates people could see what a narrow difference there was.

      They have a skewed vision of this difference because of history and because of the bloody bubble. “England does not love coalitions”. Bollocks.

      If the tabloids who were screaming about coalition are unhappy I am happy. If young guys like Clegg and Cameron are able to change their tunes and work together because “the electorate” wanted to knock their heads together then good.

      The tabloids have only got to trip themselves up a few more times and they will be finnished. Better still they could bang their heads, loose the black and white and wake up in glorious technicolour.

      If This guy is unhappy I am happy. Besides Cameron is big into Cooperatives now. Once he gets a glimpse of what cooperatives can do he will pretend it was his idea and shut up. That is all politicians are for.

      Its time for the new politics. And about bloody time too.

    27. Kismet Hardy — on 13th May, 2010 at 4:29 am  

      The way I understand modern politics, LibDems are Wet, Wet, Wet to the Tories’ Take That. Both look bright but dated, and make shit that sounds sort of okay for a bit. Labour are Sugababes. Chopped, changed, past their prime. Even their fans don’t give a shit about the new line-up.

      Right. Where’s me New Model Army?

    28. blanco — on 13th May, 2010 at 7:16 am  

      Hi Sunny, excellent post!

      Can you please cross-post it onto LibCon please? (the blog, not the govt)

    29. Paul Moloney — on 13th May, 2010 at 11:51 am  

      If anyone out there is wondering what’s happens when an idealistic small party gets into bed with a right-wing behemoth, I suggest they read up on the recent history of the Irish Green Party.


    30. sorge — on 13th May, 2010 at 1:34 pm  

      This is sage advice! Calling the Lib Dems class traitors may have been cathartic for some this week (I tried it myself) but it’s time to sharpen up our critique and move on. Some voices, including the New Statesman, are starting to sound merely petulant in blaming everything on the perfidy of Clegg & Cable, and are betraying their rather naive assessment of the Lib Dems’ sense of mission.In any case, the disappointment some of have felt this weekend cannot sustain the long haul ahead. I think that the promise of a 5 year term should be taken seriously as that will be the time scale to persuade people, especially in England, to back the Labour party.

    31. cjcjc — on 13th May, 2010 at 1:52 pm  

      Very sensible advice.

      But your (Lab’s) problem is that it’s not clear that the longed-for-by-many leftward shift (in economic policy that is, obviously a civil liberty shift has to happen) will attract more people to Lab.

      Of course it’s not impossible that at some point we get a “genuine” left-wing party (Lab rump), a “genuine” right-wing party (Con rump + UKIP) and a big LibCon / ConDem or even LibLabCon centre, containing the “modernisers”/”Orange bookers” from all three parties.

      Let’s face it, D Miliband would not have looked out of place at yesterday’s love in would he?

      It’s going to be a very interesting few years.

    32. Mike — on 13th May, 2010 at 2:05 pm  

      Good post.

      The reality of the situation is that Labour are not a progressive party.

      Illegal wars, cosying up to bush, cash for peerages, 42 day detention, child detention at yarlswood, removing the 10p tax band, pensions not linked to earnings, thousands of new crimes, more people in prison than ever before, bailing out bankers but not workers.

      Doesn’t sound very progressive to me. You talk the talk, labour people, but your record stinks.

      Blair’s lies and Brown’s lack of good policies have ensured a generation of young left-wing people will never join the Labour movement.

      Some go to respect, some go to pressure groups. I voted Lib Dem and am proud to see my vote making a difference. This new coalition have been more progressive in one day than Brown was in his entire premiership.

      Mike (left-liberal)

    33. Avi — on 14th May, 2010 at 7:13 am  

      The Liberals naively encourage the respectability of anti Semitic discourse in Europe — didn’t Jenny Tonge indulge in some utterly bizarre and unfounded blood libel canard about Israel apparently dealing in body parts? Didn’t Clegg have the utter gall to lecture Israel on human rights in Gaza? Do these guys get their lines from the “Elders of Zion” forgery? I am incredulous each time I see these Brits get on their high horse on ‘moral issues’, whilst we all know they are kicking butt in I-raq for their own benefit, whilst blaming “Jewish cabals” ( yeah, LOL ) for getting the Brits into the war — more “Jewish tentacles” anti Semitic stuff of course.

      Yeah, like the Neo Conservative group was “all a Jewish plot” man.

      The sooner we get a real walk it like you talk it guy, a talk tough guy like Miliband on the case, then we will know you Brits are getting somewhere.

    34. Sarah AB — on 14th May, 2010 at 7:53 am  

      I thought Miliband - assuming you mean David not Ed - was quite tough on Israel though? I agree about Jenny Tonge - though what she said wasn’t quite as bad as your comment perhaps suggests.

    35. Sarah AB — on 14th May, 2010 at 7:55 am  

      It’s early - so apologies to Avi if I’m misjudging him - Avi wouldn’t be someone with a quite different name trying to put people off the idea of David Miliband becoming Labour party leader would he?

    36. Refresh — on 14th May, 2010 at 9:27 am  

      Did anyone see Mahdi Hassan on Question Time last night?

      Decimated the dream front put up by Heseltine and Hughes.

      Definitely set the tone for the next few years.

      That and this article, again its Johann Hari -

      ‘Johann Hari: This is not what the people voted for

      In any other European country, where they have democratic voting systems, the result of this election wouldn’t even have been close

      Friday, 14 May 2010′

    37. bananabrain — on 14th May, 2010 at 10:01 am  

      I agree about Jenny Tonge – though what she said wasn’t quite as bad as your comment perhaps suggests.

      you have got to be fecking joking. if there’s one thing that has virtually eliminated jewish votes for the lib dems, she is it. they didn’t even expel her from the party for what she said, just removed her spokesperson role. and go and look at the palestine solidarity campaign’s utterly batshit, no-conception-of-balance platform - plenty of lib dems are prepared to sign up to that, which makes them either too stupid to be allowed in politics or too unpleasant to be credible as opinion-formers on the middle east.



    38. Shamit — on 14th May, 2010 at 11:55 am  

      Refresh -

      The entire article is nothing but an attempt to hide facts with fiction and extrapolate his particular ideology to conclusions which are not grounded on reality.

      Let’s start with the small ones:

      1 - Surestart was a cpy of the programme called Headstart and it started long before Cooper was in government. And so her piloting it through legislation is a bit rich however no one denies she is very clever and her running for the Labour party leadership would be a good thing for politics in this country.

      2. - Hari wants the Labour party to lurch to the left - hmm. Now, that would be the first instinct especially as David Cameron has with the help of the Liberal Democrats has made an interesting claim across the entire centre spread of British politics ie he right now owns, the centre right, the centre and the centre left.

      A lurch to the left might provide some distinction but unless it can reclaim the centre in some way - its not going to translate into wins in elections.

      3 - This obsessive idiotic compulsion to deride Blair does not relfect well on the author. I know you would disagree, but Labour won three elections under Blair even with a lot of people voting against him in the Iraq war.

      4 - What this author fails to give Blair credit on is how he transformed the political culture. The coalition that you see today is partly because of the transformation of political culture as well as repositioning of parties that was started by Blair. And as many have argued if Blair had a little less majority then he might have been leading the first transformative coalition

      Whether most on the left realise or not - we are a centre left country and Cameron’s values are not that different from the rest of the country -

      5 - This idiotic argument about a progressive majority in the election is just bollocks.

      Labour’s biggest competitors in Scotland were SNP - who claim to be better progressives than Labour and Tories did not make much difference in most constituencies there

      And what about those seats which liberals took from Labour?

      So every vote not in favour of Tories is an anti-tory vote but not every vote against Labour and Liberal Democrats are not anti-labour and lib dem votes. Idiotic logic I would say. For the record, 69% voted against the Labour party in this election and 77% voted against the Lib Dems.

      God this continuous rambling about oh how Blair ruined the country - listen and the public says they like leaders like Blair - who are balanced not ideologically driven, socially compassionate but support economic growth. That is the lasting legacy of the third way and it would dominate british politics for years to come no matter how much Melanie Philips, Mehdi Hasan and Johann hari want it otherwise.

      9 - Blair did not lose this election - the centrist voters and the liberal left went out of the big tent in droves and it was what made Labour lose in England. And rather than trying the lurch towards the left, the Labour party needs to find ways of having a message of social compassion along with civil liberties and a strong economic growth. In other words, they need to come with better ideas and with a talent pool like they have it should not be a problem

    39. Avi — on 14th May, 2010 at 12:01 pm  


    40. soru — on 14th May, 2010 at 2:21 pm  

      This is what I wrote on this topic about 2 years ago , following one of the coup plots:

      Brown Labour is in the same position as an ice dancer standing on one leg – stopped spinning, so fell over.

      Some positions are inherently unstable: trying to balance everything on a tiny fraction of the middle class in marginal constituencies is one of them. The cartoon draws itself, with Brown in a tutu and ‘Worcester Woman’ the tiny tip of the skate touching the ice.

      You can’t fix that by standing on the other leg instead, you need to move to a position where all limbs are firmly on the ground, nothing left dangling. Give everyone who should be supporting Labour at least one reason to do so, and nothing that prevents them from doing so.

      I think that analysis still holds true today. Blair screwed the pooch for his successors by simply being too good a politician, too persuasive a bullshitter. He could balance in unnatural positions that worked for him; no-one else could reproduce them. Who else could have talked Labour, and much of the country, into invading Iraq?

      The Conservative and Liberal Unionist Party are now, contrary to what some have said, in a potentially very strong position. They don’t have to come up with one unified narrative that works for everyone whose vote they want. Instead, they can perform the standard advertising trick of market segmentation, like a airline offering both first class and discount tickets.

      Pretty much anything that might be brought up as a reason not to vote for it can be turned around into a reason to vote for it’s other brand. First class too expensive? Look how cheap economy class is! Economy too cramped? look how big the seats are in first.

      No need to choose between arguing that you are defending the country from dangerous terrorists, or the populace from dangerous government: the CLUP can do both at once.

      Whichever scare story you fall for, it still gets your vote. It doesn’t need to make any sense, any more than a burger needs to be a salad.

      As always, the only counter to the politics of fear is the politics of hope. The point of the future is to be be better than the present. When no alternative exists, one must be built.

    41. andyb — on 14th May, 2010 at 8:52 pm  

      ” Over the longer term the danger is that if coalition politics becomes the norm, and I spoke to someone yesterday who said that even under FPTP it’s likely Hung Parl will be the norm”

      Why should we accord any validity or authority to this someone?

    42. Shuggy — on 15th May, 2010 at 7:49 pm  

      If you want to blame someone for losing the election, blame the Labour party for carrying on with an unpopular leader, a crap campaign (the highlights of which all mostly came from Labour supporters than the campaign itself), and a complete lack of vision about why electing Labour meant something other than ’stay the course, I can handle the economy’.

      I would agree the Labour campaign wasn’t very good - but they still came second and not third like the party you voted for - partly because people know deep down where the Labour party stands and where the Conservative party stands. Not so Lib Dem voters like yourself.

      Comment #10 is sublime and contains a lesson you might want to consider.

      Take this, for example:

      “Many Labourites are pushing the idea that Nick Clegg is almost certainly likely to jump in bed with the Conservatives. I think it’s highly unlikely but I could be proven wrong.”

      Change ‘could be’ to ‘have been’. And after?

      “I don’t claim to understand Libdems that well”

      I think this circumspection is sensible, given recent events.

      It’s not that you were wrong - many of us failed to resist the vice of making political prophecies - it’s your response that is the problem. This last line was in a post entitled, “We are now officially the voice of opposition”. Not we. You voted for the government. Have you concluded that this was a mistake? I’m a little confused as to where you stand. Bit like the Liberal Democrats in that respect.

    43. Trofim — on 15th May, 2010 at 8:19 pm  

      Re the article by the ludicrous Johanne Hari cited by refresh @ 36:

      Here is an excellent short critique of it by Norman Geras:

      He can demolish the guff emitted by juvenile chatterati such as Hari in a few words.

    44. Refresh — on 15th May, 2010 at 10:31 pm  


      I read Geras’ child-like analogies. Not all that interesting.

      In a nutshell all he is saying is that regardless what Hari and many others wanted, within the rules of the game they got what they got.

      Am I wrong?

    45. douglas clark — on 16th May, 2010 at 12:06 am  

      Refresh @ 44,

      I don’t actually believe in any of this collectivist conciousness stuff. I think we voted - some for one thing and others for another and that was the outcome.

      What is hard to understand about that?

      It is a simple truth, but it seems to me self evident. It is quite worrying that it takes Professor Norman Geras to point out what should be plain. Politics 101, if you will.

      There are clearly folk raging against the arithmetic, but they are ideologues, folk that over-read a failure of all three major UK parties to actually win a dominant market share. Which is all that has happened. Consequent re-alignments are inevitable.

      It is entirely reasonable for all parties to reflect, adapt or persuade. That is what they are there for.


      I think Shuggy is right that Soru can turn a phrase or two, indeed @ 10 is sublime.

      It is also a pretty standard bit of rhetoric applied to a new situation. Soru should have a column in a national newspaper.

    46. Traintastic — on 16th May, 2010 at 12:11 am  

      Good article Sunny.

      I take Mike’s point that this could end up being a more progressive government than Labour. Not that that would take that much nowadays, but it would be a start. If so, then it shouldn’t matter to anyone what party colours it goes under. If the Lib Dems can keep the Tories worst instincts on a muzzle, then perhaps those two parties really can govern reasonably together. In any case, Labour is not currently a viable alternative and has been losing its grip for several years.

      Some Labour supporters don’t seem to understand that their government had become very unpopular, and for quite respectable reasons. Complaining about the Rupert Murdoch, the Lib Dems and Tories et al ducks that. The public were largely fed up with Labour. It would be nice to see some evidence of understanding and contrition among the party and its supporters. Only then can Labour get its act together again and offer a credible challenge, which will be good for British politics.

      If they stick with demonising Clegg and co, pointing the finger at anyone but themselves, then they will be in the wilderness for years. It’s what happened to the Tories when Blair got in, and to Labour when Thatcher did. The public at large won’t vote for any party of any political colour whose core membership and leaders they consider to have lost the plot.

    47. Shamit — on 16th May, 2010 at 9:02 pm  

      “Progressive coalition” -

      1) Labour brought in ID cards - this coalition repelled it.

      2) Labour sought to keep DNA of innocent people in the DNA database - this coalition is definitely throwing it out.

      3) Labour especially under Gordon Brown and his cabal (which includes Ed Miliband) focused on centralised Whitehall control on everything - localism went out of the window the day Blair left office.

      4) Pay discrepancy in the public sector is shameful - and now the new Government is bringing legislation which would ensure there is no more than 20 times between the lowest and the highest paid. I would argue like the States, India, Singapore - no government employee should be paid more than the Government Chief Exec. ie in our case the PM. Under labour, living wages have been a myth among the lowest paid - that is a disgrace.

      5) Gordon Brown and his special advisors, the two Eds made sure Frank Field could not do anything with this benefits reform agenda in 1997 - 1998; even though Fields was appointed by the then Prime Minister to reform it.

      I can go on and on. Blair was progressive (in the right way not the way Guardian and Indy columnists define it) and Brown and his cabal including Ed Miliband are very much on the other side.

      So, any progressive coalition which includes Labour cannot be progressive - people change, voters change, countries change - Blair understood all that, the Brown lot did not.

      And Hari, Tonybee and others are upset because, how did the common folks vote the other way when they told them how to vote - and form this so called progressive coalition.

      They are putting down democracy with their intellectual snobbery - and Guardian & Indy are losing more money than most newspapers in the UK. And, they called it wrong this election and they should accept it and move on.


      Saying that, I do think Labour has a good chance in the next election - they are about 50 seats short from the Tories. The caveat is they need come up with a credible leader who can grab the centre ground and come up with better ideas on delivering public services and helping economic growth.

      And anyone with the Brown cabal stigma would get hit big time and that is what is going against Ed Miliband no matter what the bloggers on the left and the intellectuals say.

      Btw, Charles Kennedy is right to voice concerns about Lib Dems joining the coalition. Before the election I wrote that Lib Dem votes would get squeezed and its going to get squeezed even more next time around. And Nick clegg has helped Cameron own the entire centre ground of British politics -

      David Miliband can challenge him on that but Ed Miliband and Balls would have a tougher time. But knowing the labour party and their hatred for anything remotely sounding like blairism would choose one of these two and that would help Cameron.

      So, what would the high and mighty of the column world - who also never really had real jobs in their lives ie creating wealth and helping in the nation’s productivity say about that.

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