A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Will they ever learn?

You would have thought after the Lib Dems showed their true colours by creating a reactionary Coalition government with the Tories, abandoning all their key pledges and voting for catastrophic cuts to public services, that the entire Labour Party would have woken up to them being our enemies - and the enemies of ordinary working people - not our potential allies.

You would particularly think the Guardian would have been ashamed of its pre-election advocacy of the LDs.

But it seems some of the advocates of dangerous and deluded deals with them pre-election are still harbouring pro-Lib Dem fantasies.

This article - http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/16/labour-liberal-democrats-grassroots-alliance - is frankly incredible.

It opens "Cross-party efforts are being made to rebuild a grassroots alliance that could take Labour-Liberal Democrat co-operation out of the deep freeze before the next election."

"Grassroots members of both parties are reaching out to each other, in the short term driven by the need for pro-constitutional reformers in both parties to work together ahead of the May referendum on the alternative vote due on 6 May."

If this is true, it is madness.

I support AV but because I see it as a way of killing the Lib Dems, not resuscitating them - because it will mean they can no longer persuade Labour people to vote tactically for them in areas like the South West (there is no need for tactical votes under AV), so the true weakness of the Lib Dem core vote will be exposed.

I will be quite capable of working in a single issue campaign with LDs on the specific issue of AV without giving any quarter to them on the wider political question of their alliance with the Tories.

We are currently in a position according to last night's YouGov poll where Labour is 5% ahead of the Tories because the Lib Dem vote has gone down by 12% and ours up by 12% whilst the Tories are still on 37%, the score they got in May.

This proves there is a direct correlation between weakening the LDs and strengthening Labour.

The opportunity exists for a fundamental realignment of British politics where all progressive opinion unites behind Labour and the LDs are left as a tiny right-wing rump in permanent alliance with the Tories.

I don't know any ordinary Labour members who are "reaching out" to the Lib Dems. They must be figments of the Guardian's imagination.

Apparently soft-left faction Compass' position is this:
"The influential campaign group Compass is attempting to create a progressive alliance on the left, balloting its supporters on whether it should open its membership lists to members of other political parties including the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, as well as non-aligned."

Shame on them and the other people quoted in the article. You have shown yourselves to be utterly, and laughably, out of touch with mainstream Labour opinion.

If there are still progressives in the Lib Dems who don't support the Coalition's pernicious policies we should be encouraging them to defect to Labour or break-away and form a new party. We should avoid anything that gives succor to the Lib Dems as a party or makes them think that after the destruction they have wrought by getting into bed with the Tories that they will be able to casually rehabilitate themselves as a party of the centre-left.


Anonymous Labour Lefty said...

Excellent article, Luke

9:47 am, November 17, 2010

Blogger Nick said...

Hmm, I notice that you have carefully avoided mentioning Progress, which the article reports is working alongside Compass on this project.

10:40 am, November 17, 2010

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

That's not correct.

If you read the article carefully it says Progress supports the AV Yes campaign - just like I do. It doesn't suggest they are pursuing deep and meaningful interaction with LDs like Compass is.

10:51 am, November 17, 2010

Anonymous tory boys never grow up said...

Given that 32% of LibDem members in a recent LibDemVoice survey have already worked out that Clegg was either quite ineffective/very ineffective (a higher figure than all the other muppets in Govt.) I suspect that the strategy of encouraging them to break away or form another party is something that may well bear fruit in the near future.

1:17 pm, November 17, 2010

Blogger Tom said...

"I support AV but because I see it as a way of killing the Lib Dems, not resuscitating them - because it will mean they can no longer persuade Labour people to vote tactically for them in areas like the South West (there is no need for tactical votes under AV), so the true weakness of the Lib Dem core vote will be exposed."

I think this will happen too. Looking forward to it.

Parties without core votes do not deserve any others.

3:14 pm, November 17, 2010

Blogger Bob Piper said...

Spot on Luke (apart from your enthusiasm for AV which Comrade Spellar has a much better line on)

4:05 pm, November 17, 2010

Anonymous Neil said...

Strange article. The second half about countering all those nasty, neutral sounding Tory supporting groups was interesting but the first section conflates two different issues.

From a pratical, on the ground point of view I'll be out next May supporting the AV referendum while simultaneously trying to unseat the Lib Dem councilor in the ward I'm contesting. The problem is that drives a wedge through the local pro-AV campaign. That will be replicated the length of the country. The only "working with" I do with the Lib Dems at present is trying convert their angry student members over to Labour.

The tribal nature of local politics makes it hard to conceive of much meaningful local engagement whatever the article says.

Agree with Tom in his point. I'm in one of those South West constituencies and I do think the Lib Dems perhaps underestimate how much they benefit down this neck of the woods from the anti-tory rather than pro-Lib Dem vote.

4:42 pm, November 17, 2010

Anonymous Barry said...

Whilst it is a truism that "all parties are coalitions" the Lib Dems stretch across the spectrum from left to right. So, as the centre-right gets into bed with the Tories it should be possible to detatch centre-left Lib Dems such as Sharron Brook (the Barnsley councillor who has joined Labour) without looking for formal links with their party organisation.

6:12 pm, November 17, 2010

Blogger johnpaul said...

Neil you are right,Its good progress are supporting AV too,

6:22 pm, November 17, 2010

Blogger Robert said...

I agree with most of your article Luke, I just wondered whether it applied to the Greens also? I’m not too keen on an alliance with the Liberals but the Greens I wouldn’t mind so much.

6:45 pm, November 17, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a chance in hell that I will be voting for AV,as for working with the Lib Dums not a hope,trying to get rid of the MSP up here,so a no,no from me.

7:08 pm, November 17, 2010

Blogger Hughes Views said...

Yes, yes - but -

Labour activists in most of the SW and, I believe, much of the SE of England face a real dilemma. If we campaign against the Lib Dems too successfully across our regions we may pick up some council seats but we would help hand parliamentary seats to the Tories. About a dozen here in the SW.

Is that what we want? Cos that's what'll happen...

That's the problem. The Lib Dems may be our enemies but they're not quite such awful enemies as the Tories.

The Lib Dem core vote may be weak but there are huge numbers of their voters who will never vote Labour. Look at where their second preferences went in London.

I solve the problem (or, more accurately, avoid it) for myself by campaigning in nearby Con/Lab marginals rather than doing much in my own Con/Lib constituency. But that option isn't really open to members in many parts of Devon or, especially, Cornwall and anyway many members understandably want to campaign on their home turf.

So what are we to do?

7:45 pm, November 17, 2010

Blogger Merseymike said...

Our main contacts with FibDem members is to welcome them into the Labour party!

11:19 pm, November 17, 2010

Anonymous Dave Collins said...


Have given my, lengthy observations and suggestions on LL, but given you're an NEC member and they are too lengthy for comments section am also emailing to you ...

Best Regds

Dave Colllns

2:09 am, November 18, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its not clear the Compass membership support this approach but I guess we'll know after the AGM...

9:58 am, November 18, 2010

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


under AV that stops being a problem. Labour supporters in Con/LD marginals would be able to vote and campaign for Labour and give their second preferences to the LDs if they want to stop the Tories.

10:39 am, November 18, 2010

Blogger Hughes Views said...

I hope you're right Luke but I'm not convinced.

For starters the polls suggest we're unlikely to get AV. And even if we do the Southern Discomfort problem remains.

If we campaign too successfully against the LibDems we'll probably drive many of their voters into being abstainers. They'll add LibDem to the list of parties they can't stand.

Or if their core vote really is as weak as you suggest and we drive them into third place, their second preferences will split and won't be enough to win the seats for Labour.

Either way the Tories win.

It's being so cheerful that makes me so welcome in Labour circles...

1:27 pm, November 18, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"voting for catastrophic cuts to public services"

Presumably, a reference to the cuts in legal aid that the Labour Party does not really oppose.

"Under successive Governments, the legal aid budget has grown to the point where it now stands at more than £2 billion. That is not sustainable, especially in the current economic context"

Sadiq Khan, Shadow Justice Secretary, who goes on to say:

"Let me be clear: had we been in government today, we, too, would have been announcing savings to the legal aid budget"

But Labour can oppose some cuts such as the recent delay to the Trident nuclear status symbol.

2:18 pm, November 18, 2010

Blogger Merseymike said...

Hughes Views: understand what you are saying - but it appears that the FibDem vote in the SW has started to crumble in any case, and wonder if it will make that much difference? I've always found it intriguing that Labour voting seems to literally stop outside Plymouth, Exeter and Camborne. There must be a fair bit of tactical voting going on. But then, Labour have never really been competitive in the SW. There isn't really one extra seat we are likely to win there next time

But in the NW it often works the other way - and in some of the marginals as well. FibDem voters in some of those seats are more likely to vote for us because of dissatisfaction with the coalition, particularly in the north and midlands.

9:36 pm, November 21, 2010


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