Opinion: Adonis’s complaint – Ashdown was not mind-numbingly stupid with the memory span of a goldfish

Andrew Adonis’s account of the days after the public voted in a hung Parliament in 2010 have already received a rightful savaging by Andrew Stunell. Given that we already know the Mandelson/Balls preparation for coalition talks with the Liberal Democrats was a quick cup of tea, you might think that not even Andrew Adonis’s account could make Labour’s preparation for a hung Parliament look even more amateurish or non-existent. Yet his 5 Days In May manages that.

His book kicks off with a complaint from Peter Mandelson that his attempt to sound out Paddy Ashdown on a hung Parliament in advance of the election by walking up to him in public on a train and starting to chat resulted in Paddy hot footing it to the toilets rather than in staying to talk.

Imagine Paddy had stayed sat there, chatting away happily. Imagine then the political gossip stories that could so easily and so damagingly have spun off reports of that encounter. If someone walks away from you when you walk up to them in public like that, you shouldn’t blame them, you should thank them for showing some basic common sense.

But even if the train carriage had been completely empty of other people, why would Mandelson have expected a Liberal Democrat to stay and chat meaningfully? After all, remember what happened to Ming Campbell when Gordon Brown tried talking to him about a coalition back in the early days of his government? Someone in Labour leaked the story at time and in a way designed to maximise the damage to the Liberal Democrats.

When you’re own party has such a record of setting out to deliberately sabotage such talks, only someone who expects others to have no more of a memory span than a goldfish would then take umbrage at someone being reluctant to places themselves in an embarrassing situation again.

For Andrew Adonis’s complaints about the Liberal Democrats to start with a moan that Paddy Ashdown showed both basic common sense and the merest hint of a memory shows how weak they are.

Don’t blame the Lib Dems for Labour lack of preparation and unwillingness to deal fairly with other parties, Andrew. If you want a different outcome from a future hung Parliament, you need to get your own party in order.

An apology: I apologise, of course, to goldfish for repeating the myth that they have short memories.

* Mark Pack is Party President and is the editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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  • Lets just hope we dont have to negotiate with them again in 2015, I think its unlikely but it all depends on how much damage UKIP do to The Tories.

  • Tony Dawson 16th May '13 - 4:19pm

    “His book kicks off with a complaint from Peter Mandelson that his attempt to sound out Paddy Ashdown on a hung Parliament in advance of the election by walking up to him in public on a train and starting to chat ”

    Memories of a loud conversation overheard on a certain plane flight to Inverness come to mind! 🙁

  • I don’t know how many more times it needs to be said, but there was absolutely no chance of the parliamentary Labour Party backing a deal with the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition. On the Saturday afternoon following the election I remember seeing Frank Dobson on BBC News 24 completely rubbishing the idea (I’m sure the footage still exists), and he was not alone: Reid, Blunkett, Prescott, Skinner and so on all hated the idea. There seemed to be a palpable sense of relief amongst sections of the Labour Party that they could now go back to doing what they liked to do best – oppose. And bearing in mind Mervyn King’s prediction that whoever won the election would be “out of power for a generation” it was hardly irrational for those who had presided over the mess we found ourselves in should want to dump it onto someone else.

  • Leekliberal 17th May '13 - 8:18am

    It is a depressing thought that the fantasist Adonis would probably be a member of Labour’s negotiating team in the event of a balanced parliament in 2015.

  • Since Labour and Tories seem to have a pact of swapping government benches between them, the thought of these two parties forming a ‘grand’ coalition which is arguably what the majority of people voted for in 2010 and letting us have the opposition against both of them seems like the impossible dream. Forming a coalition with Labour and/or Conservatives is a bit like choosing between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, pragmatism and the National interest must dictate who we work with.

  • David White 17th May '13 - 1:22pm

    Although I continue to decry our/my party leaders for agreeing a formal coalition with the horrid OldCons, it is patent that, overall, NewLab treated us like something nasty they wanted to scrape off their brogues before going a major sulk.

    Coalition negotiations could be even more entertaining after the next election – certainly, I hope so! The thought of NewLab discussing ministerial posts and an agenda with the frightful Farage fills me with immense anticipatory joy!

    Yes, I know: that’s most unlikely, but it would be almost as much fun were Far(out)age to be negotiating an alliance with Tim Farron, the new post-Cleggy LD leader.

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