I told you so
During the campaign I warned against tactical voting and talking up a deal with the Lib Dems that just wasn't going to happen.
Commenters on those posts accused me of tribalism and sectarianism and not understanding the new politics.
Turns out I was right. The Guardian, Observer and Compass have been dupes of the highest order.
The Lib Dem leadership are quite happy working with the Tories. They see their place on the political spectrum as like those of their sister parties, the German FDP or the Swedish liberals - a bourgeois party allied to the right.
The first cabinet meeting will be like the scene in Animal Farm when you suddenly realise you can't tell the difference between the humans and the pigs.
I accept that a Lab/LD coalition was not viable because it did not command 326 seats. But there was nothing forcing Clegg to work with either party. He could have allowed a minority Tory government to be formed then voted on legislation on an issue by issue basis, working with Labour to block bad laws. As it is he has committed to a joint programme with a common whip. This is more like a merger than a coalition.
Lib Dem councillors and members and voters (43% of LD voters identify as on the left) who disagree with this sordid deal which will ram through cuts just as savage as the 1931 National Government have choices. They can join the only remaining major anti-Tory party: Labour (http://www.labour.org.uk/join/), or they can set up a radical or social Liberal party on the Nordic model which would be a potential coalition partner for the left in future elections.
They could join the Greens - Greens I was talking to at Hackney's count expect this - but Green MP Caroline Lucas refused to join negotiations on a non-Tory coalition this week, announcing she would vote on an issue-by-issue basis.
There are a large number of Labour supporters who have voted tactically for the Lib Dems over the course of many elections, particularly in rural areas. These people have been absolutely conned out of their votes. If recall of MPs comes in they should petition to have Lib Dems they helped elect recalled. Meantime they could have a look at the Trades Descriptions Act.
The opportunity here for Labour is huge. Research by the Fabians shows that:
- 19 Lib Dem seats - a third of their total - would fall to Labour if just one-in-four Lib Dem voters switches to Labour in those constituencies
- 30 Conservative seats would fall to Labour if just one-in-four Lib Dem voters switches to Labour in those constituencies
- 55 Conservative seats would fall to Labour if half of Lib Dem voters switch to Labour in those constituencies. Together with seats taken off the Lib Dems, this could be enough for Labour to regain its majority at the next election.
On the centre-left Labour is now the only show in town.
We need to elect a new leader fast. I'm relaxed about all the current runners and riders as long as none of them say anything silly against Trident replacement. And we need to rebuild our membership base and organisation and get out of a bureaucratic, cautious, government mentality and into a bold, campaigning one.