“Lib Dems have made majority Conservative rule in Britain less likely for perhaps a generation”

Rafael-BehrRafael Behr, formerly of the New Statesman now at The Guardian, is my favourite political columnist. A brilliant writer, he is also dispassionately shrewd. So it is today, when he analyses the impact of the Lib Dems in Coalition.

It’s inspired by Norman Baker’s resignation – which, he rightly observes “says more about the Home Office than it does about the coalition more widely” – and examines how the Conservatives being forced to share power with the Lib Dems in Coalition has squeezed out what remains of liberal Conservatism:

It is true that the Lib Dems have inflicted serious damage on the Tories, but not in the way many of them seem to think.

The habitual complaint is that Clegg has held the government back from the path of authentic Tory radicalism, diluting its programme with welfarist sentimentality, constitutional navel-gazing, green mania and craven Europhilia. Of course, Labour says the Lib Dems have failed to defend any of those positions. But regardless of what Clegg’s ministers may have achieved, their very presence has shunted the Tories off liberal terrain to which Cameron once laid claim. They have squatted offices that might have been filled by moderate Conservatives. They have upset hardliners, who then needed placating with jobs and policy concessions.

In the eyes of many Conservatives, the Lib Dems have contaminated a whole set of attitudes that, while never likely to dominate a Tory agenda or deliver Cameron a landslide election victory, still ought to be in the repertoire of a large governing party: respect for human rights law; pragmatic diplomacy in Brussels; urgency about climate change. Without those leavening elements, the Tory focus becomes ever narrower and angrier, which is a reason why it doesn’t have a majority in parliament now and a factor restricting its appeal next May.

Rafael Behr’s conclusion is a depressing one for those few liberal Conservatives who remain. It’s also a depressing conclusion for all other Conservatives:

There are plenty of reasons why former Lib Dem voters might feel disappointed with Clegg for joining forces with Cameron, propping up a Tory government they thought they were voting to avoid. Their consolation is that the Lib Dems have made majority Conservative rule in Britain less likely for perhaps a generation. With Clegg in government, the liberal wing of the Conservative party has atrophied. It was a weak limb in 2010; now it has withered away almost entirely, and without it Cameron’s march towards the next election looks horribly lopsided.

He’s right. The Lib Dem problem is that no-one’s going to thank us for it.

You can read the article in full here.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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41 Comments

  • “The Lib Dem problem is that no-one’s going to thank us for it.”

    The Lib Dem problem is of being reduced to seeking gratitude for the unintended consequences of the leadership’s acts.

  • Scary stuff… he may well be right, and it is fine if that means another coalition with Lib Dems after the next election, but a majority held by a Tory party minus its liberal wing is scary if it were to happen

  • Peter Watson 5th Nov '14 - 11:16pm

    “Lib Dems have made majority Conservative rule in Britain less likely for perhaps a generation.”
    But minority Conservative rule is more likely.

  • Stevan Rose 5th Nov '14 - 11:25pm

    With UKIP and the SNP it is unlikely either Conservative or Labour Parties will have a majority in the next Parliament. If Lib Dems dig in on existing seats they will not be that easy to budge. The shape of the next government is difficult to predict and may require more than two partners. There is no Thatcher or Blair, for all their faults they could rally troops, to generate landslides only nondescript characterless clones in charge.

  • We need not fear minority governments, nor do we now need to fear repeated elections in the event of minorities. And especially we must not be afraid to go into opposition against a minority government. Particularly a Conservative one.

    The current leadership cannot reap the rewards of this damaged, radicalised Conservative Party’s weakness. But that is not to say that no Liberal Democrat leadership can. A scenario where elections tend towards no overall control is one full of opportunity for reform of our political system and democracy, as well as for reconstruction of our party.

  • I wonder whether the LibDems would join a Tory/UKIP coalition? I think Clegg would, but that could be the final straw for the membership.

  • David Allen 6th Nov '14 - 12:11am

    Certainly the Tories have shifted to the right. There is a smidgen of valid logic in Behr’s rather contrarian claim that it is the Lib Dems who have caused the rightward shift – though most commentators would say it is the much greater pressure from UKIP which has mainly been responsible.

    Behr argues that, to keep Tory right-wingers happy, Cameron has tended to favour that wing of his party, giving them more government posts and more influence than they might have had in a purely Conservative government. It follows that the Lib Dem claim to have made Coalition government less nasty is a false one. The Tory right wing has successfully insisted otherwise.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Nov '14 - 12:23am

    It’s the Conservatives fault for appeasing UKIP rather than taking them on. Rather than thank the Lib Dems, new core voters like me are now actively thinking of voting for an independent in May 2015.

    If I am not going to stand myself then I think I should vote, but I am now sufficiently dissatisfied as to start checking out what other options I have. I am too loyal to my principles to vote for any of the other main parties, but there might be a good independent.

  • When people talk about politics “for a generation” I’m always tempted to dust of those academic works from c.1992 about how Labour couldn’t win a general election….

  • The LIb Dems have made a Tory majority more likely; for example just how many Lib Dem marginals is the battle between the Tory party?

    Besides that, the implosion of the Lib Dems seems to have coincided with a surge in support for UKIP. Coincidence perhaps?

    Either way, it’s not a Tory majority that’s more likely but dare I say it even a possible UKIP/Tory coalition given the way they’re polling at the moment. That would be catastrophic for this country and I hate to say it but if the Lib Dems do get annihilated at the ballot box come May, that will have helped it a long little at least.

  • stuart moran 6th Nov '14 - 6:13am

    You would hope a wing to the right towards UKIPs position would make the Tories unelectable – unfortunately they have the money and the media behind them which tends not to focus on the many Tory-inspired disasters since 2010

    The thing about UKIP though is that a not insignificant part of their vote is from people who are ‘left wing’ on many issues but who roll all the frustrations with the world into a focus on immigration. I think a day of reckoning will come when UKIP are seen for what they are – über-Tories- and indications from polls etc is that this is not what the voters really want

    History will tell us how the Tories managed the challenge of UKIP – Labour reacted to the extreme left in the 80s and 90s and didn’t pander to them. Kinnock is looked on more favourably by history than he was at the time. It was not an easy task to do what he did. Cameron I think will be seen as a very poor leader in the future – not just of the country (I find him the epitome of a PR man and cannot think of anything positive of consequence that he has done) but of his party

    In the short-term though we need to see some sort of engagement with the voters which explains to them some of the realities we are going to have to face and what we can do to meet them in a way that is fair and sustainable. Unfortunately, I fail to see any of the ‘progresisve’ politicians being able to do this and anyway the people are not listening having been encouraged in their cynicism by a mass media that wants to stop certain people from voting….

    I personally think we have not only passed ‘peak oil’ but have also gone past ‘peak democracy’. The countries holding all the card in the era of globalisation have no democratic structures to speak of and even the West is seeing a drop off in voter participation encouraged by a venal political class and barriers to letting people exercise their rights (I speak more of the US here than in the UK but I can see it coming…..).

  • I know some people are desperate to salvage something from the coalition even if it’s only a claim to have tempered the Tories, but the fact is they did not get a majority in 2010 because they weren’t popular enough and virtually every incumbent government loses support over the lifetime of a parliament.
    The difference between the Tories swing to the Right and Labour’s swing to the Left in the 1980s is almost unanimous press encouragement as opposed to almost unanimous condemnation.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Nov '14 - 10:47am

    If Coalition has forced the Conservatives to move to the right in order not to be mistaken for Liberal Democrats, and if it has meant the right-wing of the Conservative Party has had to be placated with favours, why hasn’t the same applied to the Liberal Democrats? By this argument, shouldn’t we have shifted to the left and dropped Orange Bookery in order not to be confused with liberal Conservatives, and shouldn’t Liberal Democrats who are to the left of the party be getting handsomely rewarded in order to placate them over the reality of the Coalition?

    My feeling is that the Conservatives have moved way to the right of their own accord, it has nothing to do with the Coalition. It is similar to the extinction of the liberal wing of the Republican Party in the USA, which did not require any sort of coalition. The consequence of this big shift to the right is that hard-bargained compromises between the Liberal Democrats and what the Conservatives REALLY want still come out looking very, very, right-wing, and so the work the Liberal Democrats have put in towards getting those compromises goes unseen.

  • Leekliberal 6th Nov '14 - 10:51am

    malc 5th Nov ’14 – 11:48pm says ‘I wonder whether the LibDems would join a Tory/UKIP coalition? I think Clegg would, but that could be the final straw for the membership.’ Surely this is taking Cleggaphobia to a new level of fantasy!

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Nov '14 - 10:57am

    Adam

    Either way, it’s not a Tory majority that’s more likely but dare I say it even a possible UKIP/Tory coalition given the way they’re polling at the moment. That would be catastrophic for this country and I hate to say it but if the Lib Dems do get annihilated at the ballot box come May, that will have helped it a long little at least.

    Yup, I’ve been saying this in response to the “nah nah nah nah nah” attacks on the Liberal Democrats since May 2010.

    Labour supporters have whipped up this idea that the Liberal Democrats are bad people due to the Coalition, and how wonderful it would be if we were all destroyed to punish us for accepting what the votes of the people and the distortional representation system which they support and we don’t gave us. So, we get no thanks from the Conservatives, who just see us as blocking the path to right-wing nirvana, and no thanks from Labour who want to see us destroyed in order to restore the good ol’ two party system in which they have plenty of safe seats and don’t have to work very hard in order to retain their position as the Opposition to the party that rules us most of the time.

    Well, in May 2015, Labour will have their dream. It won’t be very pleasant. It’s looking like the constant “nah nah nah nah nah” WILL result in a loss of LibDem seats to the Tories, and hence a majority Tory government or a Tory/UKIP coalition. But at least Labour will have a nice comfy Opposition position, and no nasty LibDems challenging them in their one-party local states like they used to have.

  • Charles Rothwell 6th Nov '14 - 11:20am

    malc: That (the prospect of the LDs’ supporting a Tory/UKIP coalition) would see my party card going into the shredder immediately. There are limits to what anyone with a conscience can accept (as watching interviews with Tories with brains (as opposed to mixtures of simplistic nostrums and opportunistic tacking served up with a huge side order of fear) such as poor Ken Clarke etc. make you realise). There is little doubt that we are experiencing the “breaking of the mould” for which the 1980s were a false dawn and I doubt very much whether two (at least?) of the three main party leaders will still be in place in a year’s time. The start-over which has been needed in British politics since at least the mid-1960s (and for which Liberals have been calling for generations) will be here at last!

  • malc’s comment about Clegg is simply am internet type gratuitous insult. Ofcourse if UKIP backed down on their opposition to the EU, (also gay marriage, scapegoating immigrants, dismantling the NHS and the BBC etc) then … who knows?

  • paul barker 6th Nov '14 - 11:55am

    With The Tories averaging around 32% for the past few years it ought to be impossible for them to get a Parliamentary Majority. Unfortunately with Labour in meltdown it might well become possible. All the Tories need for a Majority is an 11% lead over Labour, that no longers looks so difficult.
    We may left as the last obstacle to to a Government commited to taking us out of The EU.

  • Helen Tedcastle 6th Nov '14 - 12:23pm

    Martin
    ‘ malc’s comment about Clegg is simply am internet type gratuitous insult. Of course if UKIP backed down on their opposition to the EU… then … who knows?’

    It seems to me that Malc’s comment is a referral to Clegg’s perceived love of ministerial privilege/ working with Cameron. For pragmatists, anything is do-able, ‘ for the good of the country at this time of austerity… etc’ ad nauseam…

    Maybe this view is incorrect and Clegg is completely principled and it’s the party that has shifted, not him…

  • Nathew,
    The lib Dems have not lost support because of Labour attacks. The bottom line is that support for the party was strong amongst students, the disabled and in areas of the country where labour were seen to have become Tory lite. It was widely predicted and entirely predicable that great swathes of this vote would leave given the coalitions policies. The gamble was the belief that they would be replaced by soft Tories and that people would come to see the Lib Dems as a party that could one day even form a government. What actually happened is that the old vote left for the Greens, SNP or Labour and the soft Tory vote actually turned out to be even less liberal than The Hard Tory vote, hence it went to UKIP. On top of which there’s a serious leadership issue.

  • Those of us that saw the BBC south today on devolution: Did you hear the slip that UKIP do not support English devolution nor regional assemblies? Extreme right wing power centralising party they are.
    Would ALL Tories feel happy moving into a possible coalition with UKIP after the GE ?
    Could the LibDem recruit those disaffected centrist conservatives from the Tories to LibDems ?

    LibDems need to focus the GE campaign on the marginal seats against the Tories.
    We need to stop our 2010 voters wandering towards the Greens or Labour, by reminding them those will be lost votes under FPTP.
    The Labour party has never been a liberal party (just look at their internal structure). I wonder what they will if they do get in power?
    The Green Party is however a sincere party which have recruited some LD former activists which has made their party more inclined towards liberal policies, even to the point of the way their party works: We may eventually need an alliance with the green movement in the same way as the SDP in the 1980s.

  • Paul Barker: Labour are presently at or about or just above their 2010 voting outcome, and a little below their 2005 return. The Liberal Democrats are 70% down on their 2010 vote. Who is in “meltdown”?.

  • matt (Bristol) 6th Nov '14 - 5:19pm

    Theakes, whilst I agree Labour’s support in opinion polls is not obviously slipping down, yet, are you tuned into the reports what seems to be going down inside the Labour leadership?

    ‘Meltdown’ might be too strong a term, but it does not yet appear to be a party that can ruthlessly target, campaign and screw every inch of opportunity out of the next year to battle down the Tories’ parliamentary majority.

    The votes are there, the potential in terms of popular support is there, for a centre-left coalition. But the SNP rise, the UKIP attack, the lack of trust and respect between Labour and Lib Dem leaderships, will not make this credible or possible this time round.

    Many of us surely must hope that our party can make as dignified a retreat from this coalition as possible (what ever you think about the motives for – and the manner of – going into it), lick our wounds, repair our sense of direction and not get sucked into another one too soon, as much as we may feel that coalition and pluralist politics is the ultimate way forward for the country.

  • paul barker 6th Nov '14 - 5:56pm

    For those without time to look at the polls, there havent been many this Month yet but if we look at the last 10 Polls of October we see an average Labour lead of 0.6%. For the last 10 Polls of September the average lead was 4%. Most of that fall was down to to Labour dropping rather than The Tories rising. That fall isnt the only reason for the current mini-panic in Labour, theres the Scottish Polls & the reported collapse in Scottish Labour membership as well.
    What outsiders need to grasp is that Labours constitution makes a Leadership challenge effectively impossible . The fact that anyone is prepared to try to dislodge Milliband is a measure of their desperation.

  • Tony Dawson 6th Nov '14 - 6:02pm

    “paul barker

    “Labours constitution makes a Leadership challenge effectively impossible”

    There are very good reasons why the Leaders of all three major (sic) Parties should fall on their respective swords. Unfortunately for the Parties concerned, the reasons why they need to fall on their swords are closely related to the reasons why they never will.

  • Paul:Judging from some comments on this site there are some Lib Dems who are “desperate” for change, We should be careful about worrying about Labour, at 6-7% in the polls we must worry about what is the best future for ourselves .
    Existing in the present bubble seems to be getting us nowhere. Let us focus on us.

  • Jonathan Pile 6th Nov '14 - 6:28pm

    Labour is finally imploding – a leader as inspiring as Michael Foot, no economic plan and increasingly an anti-business narrative. They too are running scared of UKIP – starting to ape an anti-immigrant agenda. Things are finally on the turn and Nick Clegg ,come May will be proved right about keeping to the centre. I said the opposite in June and I was wrong. We need to unite the party, reconnect to our 2010 left of centre past voters but finally the electoral iceberg is drifting towards Labour and it’s well deserved.

  • Unintended consequences abound in politics. The of the SNP losing their independence referendum will probably be that the party dominate Scottish politics for generations.

    The result of the Lib Dems enabling a Conservative government could well be fewer Conservative governments. But you don’t, and shouldn’t, get thanks for that. You will be judged on your motives and intentions rather than unintended consequences and the motives seemed to be get a few 2nd rather minsters in exchange for betraying a promise over tuition fees to your core vote. Result, good bye Lib Dems… Sometimes things really just do work out for the best 🙂

  • By the way, the reason for Labour’s vote falling a few points in the polls is a 15 to 20 point drop in Scotland, and those seats will go to another centre left party, the SNP.

  • a Wonk question maybe, but what % reduction in Labour’s UK poll rating is attributable to their huge slide in Scotland?

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Nov '14 - 10:58am

    Glenn

    The lib Dems have not lost support because of Labour attacks. The bottom line is that support for the party was strong amongst students, the disabled and in areas of the country where labour were seen to have become Tory lite. It was widely predicted and entirely predicable that great swathes of this vote would leave given the coalitions policies.

    Sure, but here you are already suggesting that there is something dramatically different that the Liberal Democrats could have done, and that they are bad people for not doing it. Well, yes. Labour has been very much pushing this line since May 2010, with the hope that it will bring over many former LibDem voters to them, without them having to do much to formulate a coherent alternative range of policies. That’s just what I mean by “nah nah nah nah nah”.

    Now, if it really were possible for an alternative coalition to have been formed in May 2010 with a completely different set of policies, it would have to be led by Labour, wouldn’t it? So if Labour believes that, shouldn’t they be putting forward what those alternative policies more in line with those of the Liberal Democrats in the general election would be? Attacking someone for doing something when you yourself are unable to present a coherent alternative is, in my view, reprehensible. It’s something I consciously avoided doing when I was Leader of the Opposition to Labour in the London Borough of Lewisham. However, it is what Labour ALWAYS does when they are defeated – seeing how damaging that could be was part of my motivation to make sure I didn’t behave like that myself when I led the opposition.

    Labour don’t like having to form coherent policies and having to go out and win actual positive support for them. Oh no, Labour think they have a right to rule, seeing as how they are the divinely ordained party of the working class, and therefore, all they need to do is go “nah nah nah nah nah” at anyone who isn’t them, and when the vote swings away from the Tories it will swing to them. Well that’s easy-peasy, so much easier and peasier than actually having to say HOW you would pay for full subsidy of universities and to keep the NHS providing full treatment for free, and so on, and to persuade the people who would have to pay the taxes for it to do so.

    Labour know full well that they were not in a position to form a stable government in May 2010 as even with the LibDems they would not have had a majority. If they did not underneath know this, then they would be saying what the alternative coalition policies would be. It would be the constructive way to attack the Liberal Democrats “Look – this is what we are proposing, it is more like what you want than the Tories, therefore why don’t you back it?”. But they don’t do that because they can’t. They want to give the impression that the Liberal Democrats are bad people for agreeing to the Coalition while underneath accepting that there wasn’t an alternative.

    The weakness of the Liberal Democrats in the coalition comes from their small number compared to the Tories and because they had no other choice, no alternative bargaining position. If Labour had provided then with one, the Liberal Democrats would have been in a far better negotiating position. But they didn’t because they couldn’t, all they are about is “nah nah nah nah nah” because they have nothing more to offer than that.

  • David Evans 7th Nov '14 - 1:24pm

    Oh dear. What a sad attempt at rationalising an appallingly bad situation for the Lib Dems. Take a large dose of things are going badly for Labour, a chunk of the Tory left is being trampled by the right, Nationalist populism is on a massive up in Scotland, and the rise of UKIP and trying to turn it into a reason to be cheerful about ourselves. The simple facts are British politics has taken a lurch to the right with their easy solutions to complex problems (it’s those other people’s fault, be those other people immigrants, the English or whoever else you choose to blame).

    We should have been in the perfect position to benefit from Labour’s problems. Moderate left of centre Labour voters who do not like authoritarian Labour politics should easily find a home with us; instead Labour voters don’t trust us at all, and Nick has said on several occasions he doesn’t want them. The split in the right is partly because the growth in that area has made it big enough for there to be two parties on that side, largely because the protest vote – not those who hate all politics, but who hate the way political parties behave once in power and until 2010 believed we would do it differently – have deserted the us and the left and gone to UKIP as the ones so far untainted by it all. And the growth of the SNP has been accelerated by the collapse of the Lib Dems in Scotland, which is now growing into the Labour areas we were fighting to get in.

    But yet the pretence is that this is somehow something that the Lib Dems have brought this about because of being in government. Well if making a mess of being in government, going substantially to the right ourselves, destroying half of the activist base, being afraid to hold our leader to account and charging like lemmings to the abyss is considered a triumph by some, please excuse me if I don’t join in the celebrations.

  • “…it also risks tipping British politics well to the Right”

    British politics has already tipped well to the right. Surely you can see this?

    The impact of UKIP, a party with just one MP (like the Greens) and a ramshackle, Blue Peter sticky back plastic organisation is out of all proportion to its size or electoral profile.

    Both “major” parties are dominated by fear of us. We know about Cameron, but look at Miliband now…

    The only party of the “three amigos” which doesn’t try and match our agenda and out UKIP UKIP is your good selves. How is that working out for you?

  • “starting to APE an anti-immigrant agenda.”

    A remarkably infelicitous phrase if you don’t mind me saying…

    Worse, it is of course mendacious. You are conflating opposition to uncontrolled immigration with being “anti ” immigrants as people. They are discrete concepts, do you see?

    And even if you don’t see you should check out what the great British public think outside your Westminster bubble:

    “Despite uncertainties involved in measuring and interpreting public opinion, the evidence clearly shows high levels of opposition to immigration in the UK. In recent surveys, majorities of respondents think that there are too many migrants in the UK, that fewer migrants should be let in to the country, and that legal restrictions on immigration should be tighter.”

    “Approximately ¾ of people in Britain favour reducing immigration.”

    “Large majorities in Britain have been opposed to immigration since at least the 1960s. ”

    Source: The Migration Observatory, Oxford University.

  • “Well that’s easy-peasy, so much easier and peasier than actually having to say HOW you would pay for full subsidy of universities and to keep the NHS providing full treatment for free, and so on, and to persuade the people who would have to pay the taxes for it to do so.”

    They have given up trying as far as I can see. Labour is currently pitching to those who take out from the State more than they put in. They don’t seem to be able to cobble together a majority, even from this “core vote” because UKIP is attacking this core vote in their heartlands. (I have said this to you many time Matthew, I know you don’t agree, but wait till the election).

    If Labour wins any sensible higher rate tax payer who can will leave the country.

  • Stevan Rose 7th Nov '14 - 6:21pm

    UKIP is like a Hollywood set. Just a plywood facade with no substance. The British people are expressing a protest opinion to scare the real players. Possibly some will have a protest general election vote, once. It is rare for by-election spectaculars to be repeated at general elections though. Splitting the Tory vote and letting Labour and Lib Dems through to unexpected victories is one possible and ironic outcome. That might split the Tory party itself with the moderates doing an SDP style move. Thus we can safely predict an expanded Lib Dem Party majority government in 2020, with Deputy Leader / Deputy PM Cameron driving through PR. Well as likely as UKIP lasting to 2020.

  • Matthew,
    Quite simply I don’t think any kind of coalition was nessessary. Forming one was a choice not an obligation. I don’t really care what Labour do. In fact I think Labour made the same mistakes in Scotland as the Lib Dems did here in England. People vote for representation. If they vote for one thing and then get the opposite they start looking elsewhere. Labour’s problems in Scotland are the result of years of ignoring their core vote and imagining that they could take them with them no matter what policies they adopted in power. The Lib Dem did a similar thing, but because the voter base is smaller the results are even more marked. In truth as many former lib dems have gone to the Greens as Labour and in Scotland to the SNP. I think this is because voters have needs, beliefs and ideals and it is in fact these and not political parties they are voting for.

  • David Evans 8th Nov '14 - 8:27am

    Jonathan, what you said in June was right. All that has changed is that UKIP has got stronger as Labour has failed to get its message over. But Nick’s strategy has still lost us almost half our councillors and a third of our members. There is no chance of our left of centre support returning so long as Nick remains and we know it.

  • Going back to the original piece at the top of this thread by Stephen Tall, young Stephen tells us that Rafael Behr is his — “…. favourite political columnist. A brilliant writer, he is also dispassionately shrewd..”

    Really? This supposedly “brilliant” writer in part of the article which Stephen refers to actually resorts to the following piece of lazy, ill-informed cliched nonsense —

    ..”…..,,,,,Baker – notorious in Westminster as an indulger of wacky conspiracy theories and performer of bizarre folk ballads on YouTube; a model of his party’s unruly, pre-coalition, sandal-clad style. ”

    One might conclude from this that Rafael Behr is nothing more than a Westminster Bubble snob who has managed for years to earn inflated salaries by writing lazy rubbish.
    He should spend less time looking down his nose at politics and politicians and more time actually engaged in some real analysis.
    He should try a bit of original thought and writing instead of trotting out the same old tired “sandal-clad” cliches.

    I am not sure that there is much evidence of Mr Behr being “dispassionately shrewd”.
    More like shrew than shrewd.

  • “a Wonk question maybe, but what % reduction in Labour’s UK poll rating is attributable to their huge slide in Scotland?” about 2% off the national polls will be as a result of Scotland.

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