ConHome: ‘Tories ponder “generous outreach to Lib Dems”’ Love-bomb or genuine?

ConservativeHome co-editor Tim Montgomerie has authored a piece today in which he outlines a debate he claims is being had by senior Tories concerning ‘the extent of outreach that should be made to the Liberal Democrats in the event of the Conservatives becoming the governing party at the next General Election.’ Here’s the meat of it:

I understand that a group of shadow ministers believe that one of Tony Blair’s bigger strategic mistakes was to row back on co-operation with the Liberal Democrats when he won such a large Commons majority in 1997. These shadow ministers believe that – contrary to Labour’s ‘under-delivery’ to the LibDems – the Conservatives should deliver more in practical co-operation in government than they promise in opposition.

The discussion is not of ministerial positions – although there might be some significant appointments to policy reviews – but of working groups on issues of shared interest. Action on civil liberties and on green issues are on the table.

Tim sincerely seems to believe that such talk is noteworthy. At the risk of raining on his parade, though, I’m far from convinced. Here’s why.

There seems to be a non-sequitur between the two paragraphs I’ve quoted above. Let’s remember that the Blair/Ashdown plan would have seen at least two senior Lib Dems join the cabinet in 1997 as part of a Lib/Lab coalition ‘partnership of principle’. The scale of Labour’s majority effectively put paid to the deal, but its watered-down legacy – the joint consultative committee on constitutional reform – lasted until September 2001, with little tangible results.

Thought it’s conceivable that the Lib Dems and Tories could find a reasonable wedge of common ground on civil liberties – at least if the Tories prove willing to adhere to the so-called ‘Davis agenda’ in government – it’s hard to imagine the parties finding it easy to work together on climate change, especially with the Tories continuing to row back from any support for ‘green taxes’. As for the idea of ‘significant appointments to policy reviews’ – well, we’ve seen that already this Parliament when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister.

There’s nothing wrong with these ideas, but this is scarcely revolutionary stuff: it’s all been tried before by New Labour (which may of course be where Cameron & Co got the idea).

I fail to see, therefore, how establishing some working groups and policy reviews will put right what these unnamed senior Tories appear to regard as one of ‘Tony Blair’s bigger strategic mistakes’ – namely not listening to the Lib Dems nearly enough! So, for all the spin applied to this novelty of “generous Tory outreach”, the suspicion lingers that this is little more than some mischievous ‘love-bombing’ intended to woo wavering Lib Dem/Tory voters.

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in News.


  • Cheltenham Robin 23rd Feb '09 - 8:25pm

    “……the Tories continuing to row back from any support for ‘green taxes’.”

    Green taxes aren’t liberal, in fact they could be described as illiberal.

  • The whole point of Cook/Maclennan – and the joint committee it led to was that it was about matters that were the policy of both parties.

    I was a supporter up to that point – issues we agreed on and where cooperation was openly discussed then it seemed to make obvious sense.

  • Martin Land 24th Feb '09 - 7:57am

    The simple fact is that the Tories will never sincerely work with anyone other than in their own narrow, sectarian interests. Anyone who has dealt with them in local government will tell you the value of any attempt to work with them. None whatsoever.

    There are too many people in this party who simply don’t get it. We’ve been fighting these bastards since the 1620’s and I seem no reason to stop now.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • David Raw
    “Very few things you need photo ID for”.............some people must lead the life of a hermit. Driving licence, railcard, disabled parking badge, passpo...
  • Alex Macfie
    John Littler: "There is also the LIberal Party running Australia" but it isn't a small-L liberal party, and does not claim to be so. It doesn't even belong to L...
  • Malc
    Are there really "11 million unpaid carers looking after loved ones at home"? Or are the vast majority just families and friends helping each other out like ...
  • Michael 1
    @Ruth Bright I appreciate the point but it appears that you don't need *photo* id to get married if you were born before 1st Jan 1983 -
  • Steve Magner
    As someone who was an active party member from 1973 to 2016 can anybody tell me whether the Lib Dems are a centre party or a radical centre left party I genuin...