Labour, Lib Dems, Northern Ireland

Here’s what I think.  Cameron can’t do a deal on electoral reform.  He’s too weak right now and his new Hannan-style MPs won’t let him.  Boris is salivating. Nick Clegg can’t do a proper deal with the Tories because his MPs, and most members, won’t let him do that either.  And I doubt he want to anyway.  Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg’s parties and members are in many cases on the same page and together we have  315 MPs.  Until now, I assumed that if Cameron got close then the DUP would see him through.  But he’s not quite close enough.  I spent a year in Northern Ireland once, and I got to know a (very) little about how politics there works.  The SDLP and the single Alliance member will support a Labour-Lib Dem coalition.  And now I think the DUP, looking for a new leader, will put Nothern Ireland and their budget there first.  Many number of the DUP are solid, working class folk.  They don’t want to be cutting services to their constituents in Northern Ireland because they’ve cut a deal  with the wrong party in the UK.  Their opponents there would punish them and constituency politics there are still volatile.  So the DUP will see the wisdom of taking a Labour-Lib Dem arrangement over the threshold. And Sinn Fein will continue to stay away from Westminster.

And for anyone who think Gordon and Nick can’t work together – forget it.  Clegg knows no party can change the leader of another – it’d be the end of the latter.  And Brown can certainly work with Clegg.  Clegg cleverly put vote share at the heart of the equation, so he can do a deal with Gordon in perfectly good faith.  Which is why Gordon Brown’s got years as pm yet.  And why progressive politics is set to dominate 21st Century UK.


  1. But what’s your supposed deal between us actually going to deliver? I’m sure you won’t want to offer us anything more meaningful than Cameron’s talking shop on electoral reform. I wonder if Cameron and Brown have been talking to see how low they can set that particular bar.

    Do you think that Labour is just going to continue governing and we Lib Dems will just meekly sit there and let you do it?:-)

    In some ways there are as many differences between you and us as between the Tories and us. Don’t get me wrong, the Tories make my hair stand on end – especially as my daughter is about the same age I was when Thatcher came to power, and I remember my secondary schooling being punctuated with cuts, insufficient resources, crumbling, leaking buildings and strikes. I really don’t want her to go through that.

    Yet Labour can be just as bad with the sort of control freaky, authoritarian legislation and an any colour as long as it’s black attitude to people that makes me shudder.

    It would be nice to think that whatever government emerges from this would be allowed a bit of breathing space to settle in, but presumably whoever isn’t in power would just make endless fuss and noise and generallly do its best to drag it down.

    Maybe everyone’ll behave like grown ups and be perfectly reasonable but I can’t really see it.

    • I guess it depends on whether the Lib Dems want to hold power to change things. If you do, then there’s a choice, surely?

  2. Well, yes, but both you and the Tories don’t really want to change the things that really matter to us that much……..

    And you didn’t answer my question about what you thought we could deliver together in Government……

    • Hmmm. Caron, the way I see things, the Lib Dems want voting reform to ensure that future elections produce a result not structurally dissimilar to what we have today. That means the whole business of bargaining post-election, with the purpose of achieving set political aims, is fundamental to what the Lib Dems are about. As a party, you’ve choices to make. Unless folk choose to be a voice of permanent opposition, then they’re going to have to prioritise and then get the best fit with another party. It isn’t going to be a love-in. It’s much hard-headed than that. I simply think that Labour and Lib-Dem make the best fit. Worth reflecting that the Lib Dems went no-where at all at this election (I predicted on Twitter the same 23% as last time at the peak of the hubris). The media hype, and the Guardian, et al, support, came from the fact that the left-of-centre commentariat (of some of them) thought the Lib Dems could be part of a broad progressive consensus in governement. It’s really up to you guys to decide if that’s true.

  3. Well, co-operation with other parties is pretty essential to any PR system. . I think that the Holyrood coalitions did fabulous things – tuition fees and free personal care and STV for Council elections as well as the smoking ban and better FOI.

    The difference between this Parliament and Holyrood is that in Holyrood the parties are in better proportion to the votes cast. Not so in this Westminster election, when by rights we should have around 100 seats more than we do.

    Although we have gone down in seats we have gone up in vote share and are at our second highest level since 1928. You are almost back to your 1983 low. We’re on our way up and you’re on your way down – in this election at least.

    The Parliament the people voted for yesterday isn’t the Parliament they got – how can it be that a 6% differential in votes can turn into a 200 seat difference? It’s not right and for me implementing a new proportional system (not this AV nonsense) is essential.

    The challenge for Labour is whether it’s prepared to work with other parties to develop the progressive agenda as it did in Holyrood rather than just expecting everyone else to follow its lead.

    • An AV referendum had rather more votes than whatever version of PR Lib-Dems favour to suit their politicians’ interests. It’s versions I’ve come across have the merits of simplicity, and preserve the single member constituency.

      Progressive? Isn’t that a buzz word PR men Chameleon & Clegg adopted extraordinbarilly quickly? One can see why.

  4. I appreciate that the DUP is “working class based” and has lost its Leader in the election. At a time of crisis they may well go for a Labour leaning guy. And Brown is trusted in a crisis by 40% of us ahaead of Chameleon (36%) and Clegg (12%) so their new leaders may feel his duty is clear.

    Worth noting that the DUP carried Gordon through the 42 days vote after a deal of some kind the nature of which was probably pretty anodyne.

    Had Chameleon not been trying to stitch somnething up with the less numereous UU MP (or was it MPs?) at the time he might havew brought down HMG at that poinht.

    Mick Fealty of Slugger O’Toole told DT posters of Chameleon’s cleverness in his wheeler dealering at that time, but didn’t acknowledge the connection with the 42 days.

    My view is that Brown’s Queen’s Speech is critical. My guess is that he can move it if he hasn’t resigned, and Bercow will allow him to speak. I’ve not read the rules and believe that the precedent will be stronger than this new memorandum, so HM Queen will wait for a Brown adnministration and see that tested in the Commons first.

    If the programme includes an AV and H o L referendum, and some other useful stuff it will be hard for most Lib-Dems to vote it down.

    Wish I regarded this as entertainment. The ‘British’ media are so biased, inc the ToryBBC, that I feel like am foreigner in my own country. Well done my lad for taking down so many BNP posters though.

  5. […] on his blog, Labour MP Eric Joyce makes a convincing argument for a Lib-Lab-DUP pact, although I think […]

  6. I think that the prospect of a link up or coalition with the Lib dems is a poison chalice for Labour as well as the Tories and Gordon would be well advised to pass the chalice straight onto David Cameron and let him sup the poison
    A) From a Labour perspective
    1) The numbers just don’t add up even if every single LD MP comes totally on board then we still have not got a majority even with the SDLP we would need to get the DUP and possibly SNP and PC on board as well each of thses parties have made it very clear that it is to protect their country against the Public expenditure cuts that any goveremnt is going to have to make eithr in the short term or long term , a Labour Chancellor would be held hostage which would alienate English voters which we need to win back
    2) Coalitions and minority administrations are going to be short term as realtionships will break down A considerable proportion of Liberals will consider it untenable for Clegg to support Labour and Gordon Brown in power
    3) The accusation that we are a coalition of losers is correct neither Labour or the Lib Dems did at all well in this election we will be harried by the Tory press and the Liberals won’t like it either . we should give Cameron a chance to try and govern and watch him fail as he surely will
    4) The Liberal democrats are not a unified party with a clearly agreed national strategy , we have seen completely contradictory policy approaches depending on region and whether it is a Labour or Conservative MP they are fighting with the spotlight of public opinion on their poliicies and policy differences the tensions will not be sustainable
    5) Cameron will have his own significant problems paying the price of Lib Dem Support on a coalition with his own backwoodsmen , who have already been very critical of his conservatism with a human face. He can’t sell Proportional representation he can’t sell europe , major problems on immigration .

    He will have to try a minority administration and then see if he can buy the votes on every single issue from minority parties and the Lib Dems. this will place him under huge pressure as he is determined to slash public service costs and expenditure in the North Scotland Wales and Ireland but won’t get support he will probaly have to increase Pub expenditure in these areas and alienate English Support in his heartlands who will see themsleves having to subsidise profligate devolved governement preserve services which they are denied in England eg: prescription charges, tuition fees etc.

    Cameron’s Conservatives will have a terrible time either as a coalition or minority administration and will need to call an election in the short term. Any party that has supported them in their programme of cuts will be seen as allied to them . It will be in each of their interests to keep a political distance from the Conservatives.

    Meanwhile Labour has to sit back and watch the Conservatives and the Liberals implode with internal arguments and retribution and then reap the returns on the general election that will follow this year or early next year.

    So Gordon should wait a few days and allow Cameron and Clegg to find a compromise arrangement then put his resignation in to the Queen and pass the chalice to Cameron

    John Francis
    Lewisham Deptford CLP

  7. […] called ‘Progressive Alliance’, which appears to consist over everyone but the Tories. Eric Joyce MP and Boxthejack seem broadly in favour, but Dave pours cold water on the idea. Dark Lochnagar takes […]

  8. Comments by David Steel suggest that he would support moves towards a Lab-LibDem agreement. But he might insist that Gordon goes.

    If that happens it will be made out that the Lib-Dems decide who is to be Labour’s Leader.

    Contempt is appropriate for those who misrepresent at every turn.

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