Opinion: Tories are funding Labour’s squeeze

There was an interesting article in the Guardian on Saturday.
It describes the upcoming anti-AV campaign. The Labour dominated anti-reform organisation has no intention in discussing the issues. Instead they will target Nick Clegg.

The dinosaurs have abandoned reasoned argument. A mock up of the proposed anti-reform website has the statement, “Under AV the only vote that will count is Nick Clegg’s.” Typical of the hyperbole that characterises British politics at present, and sadly not a surprising.

Since losing the general election, Labour have gone negative on the Liberal Democrats in general and Nick Clegg in particular. They calculate any voters abandoning the Liberal Democrats will vote for Labour instead. A tactic called “squeeze”.

Labour have applied this at every opportunity. Any discussion, no matter the subject, is an opportunity to attack the Liberal Democrats. The anti-reform campaign is no different.

With Labour politicians such as John Prescott, Margaret Beckett and John Reid prominent in anti-reform camp it is hardly surprising that the anti-reform campaign would be hijacked for the purposes of Labour.

What is surprising is that Tories in the anti-reform camp have not seen through it.

The line Tories are being fed by their new found Labour friends is that the “Go for Clegg” strategy, will undermine the “Yes to Fairer Votes” campaign by associating it with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. Perhaps it is just a coincidence that the Labour machine sees such squeeze as a way increasing their vote.

This leaves anti-reform Tories financing and taking part in a squeeze campaign calculated to win the next general election for the Labour party.

Something their Labour “allies” must find hysterically funny.

The anti-reform campaign has been complaining about the success of “Yes to Fairer Votes” in fund raising. No doubt they will soon be passing the begging bowl around wealthy Tories. Will these Tory dinosaurs really fund a campaign that has obviously been hijacked by Labour for its own ends?

Maybe, after all dinosaurs will be dinosaurs.

Tim Neale is a Liberal Democrat member and currently branch Secretary in Stevenage. He has been selected to run for the Chells ward in Stevenage in May 2011.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • I see no Iceberg 12th Feb '11 - 3:15pm

    “What is surprising is that Tories in the anti-reform camp have not seen through it.”

    Whaaaa ??? Is this a joke ?

    I’m sorry to have to break it to you but the Tories are still Tories no matter what Cameron says to Nick in private. They have bloggers and backbenchers champing at the bit to start pounding Clegg on the AV vote as a dry run for the next election.

    Need I remind you that Cameron is the most prominent politician in the No to AV camp and has not had a problem or spoken out against the “use Clegg as a liability” tactics ?
    And that the boy Ed is the most prominent figure in the yes camp.

    Are Labour being hypocritical and trying to use all this to their advantage ?
    Of course they are.
    But the wilful blindness that pretends the Tories aren’t at it too is breathtaking.

    I’d have also thought after the revelations that the Tories get most of their funding from the Bankers and the City their willingness to fund something damaging to the Liberal Democrats would hardly come as any great surprise.

    Finally Clegg is the only person who who can solve the Clegg “problem”.
    When you or anyone else works out how that can be achieved I’m sure he would love to know as he’s also going to be the face of the local elections and scottish elections and every election from here on in.

  • Aren’t Labour split ~50/50 on AV? Ed Milliband, the Labour leader, is in favour of it so it is absurd to characterise them as being completely against it, unlike the Tories.

    Put away your anti-Labour hatred and recognise who the true enemies of reform are. The ones sitting next to you in government.

  • Poppie's mum 12th Feb '11 - 3:20pm

    “Labour have gone negative on the Liberal Democrats in general and Nick Clegg in particular.”

    Oooh I wonder why that should be ? Look at how Clegg and his sidekicks have been about Labour.

    They spend every waking moment pretending that the deficit was purely Labour’s fault, nothing at all to do with a drop in tax receipts caused by the recession, and the banks bailout.
    They try and paint Labour as creating a stasi police state.
    They echo every last Tory lie about why the NHS needs ‘reforming’.

    If they are negative about Clegg, they only reflect what polls show a lot of people think, including millions who voted Lib Dem in May.

    Many people will feel very inclined to vote No because of Clegg.
    They feel the Lib Dems have sold us up the creek, paddling hard towards an uber-Thatcherite dystopia and the only way to get him to listen is to vote No.

    Both the Lib Dems and Tories shamelessly used tactics to vilify Gordon Brown.
    It’s only fitting if Clegg is subject to the same.

  • g – don’t make me laugh. Remind me when Labour first had AV in their manifesto? Yes, that’s right, 14 years ago. And they totally failed to deliver.

  • Poppie's mum 12th Feb '11 - 3:27pm

    “Will these Tory dinosaurs really fund a campaign that has obviously been hijacked by Labour for its own ends?”

    I dislike the Tory dinosaurs and every thing they stand for politically, but they are actually a lot more palatable than Johnny Come Lately ‘I’ve got a pledge but I can drop it, I’ve got a principle but there are plenty of others to choose from’ Lib Dems.

    A question a lot of peopel I know have pondered in the last six months, including a bunch who voted Lib Dem in May, is – are Lib Dem coaliition supporters actually just a bit odd and therefore forgiveable or deliberate dissemblers.

  • This is a very short sighted move from labour. How will all those Lib Dem supporters who have moved over to Labour since the elections feel that this small measure of electoral reform is scuppered by their new party. Labour showing once again that unwholesome mix of opportunism and conservatism that made me stop voting Labour after 1997 and will prevent me from returning.

  • Poppie’s mum
    “They try and paint Labour as creating a stasi police state.”
    Then why ID cards and data bases?
    Why the questioning by security officials when no reasonable
    grounds for suspicion exist?

  • Monitoring your every communication, movement, action. Charging you when they get their records wrong, on the grounds that you fail to make reality match their database.

    There really isn’t much painting required.

  • What an embarrassing article. It’s called the NO2AV camp. It is possible to be anti-AV and pro-reform. If you are going to berate people for negative campaigning and tribalism, it’s more effective if you don’t do it in a negative manner with an invective full of tribalism.

  • David22

    As one of those people who is rapidly turning away from the LD, AV is not sufficiently important to be a deal breaker. The Labour Party are not campaigning against AV, unlike the Coalition partners – rather it is a number of vocal ex-Ministers who I believe have every right to campaign how they want. I don’t agree with them but they are only campaigning and I will decide whether I listen to them or not. There will still be a vote in May. Why not actually have a General Election as well so we can vote on the Coalition policies as I do not think we have had the opportunity to do so yet?

    The fact that the AV bill has been tagged on to the boundary changes/MP reduction proposals which I fundamentally disagree with in the way they are currently written actually would have made me vote against the bill if I had the choice. A referendum bill can be introduced at any time. The other part of the bill will have more impact.

    In reply to the author of the article – as an ex-LD voter I will never do so again why Clegg is leader and I think that the behaviour of the party in supporting the Coalition is a disgrace. I will probably receive the normal invective from the likes of Tabman but I do not think I am the only one.

    The Coalition has made some steps forward on civil liberties (but I again caution going ovet the top – I await to see how circumstances change this approach. If there is another Soham or 7/7 will the Tories be so keen?) which I welcome but then Labour did some very good things in their time in Government as well. These improvements in no way will make up for the assault on public services and supine approach to the wealthy which the LD have voted for

  • The AV referendum is going to be won or lost on the votes of Labour supporters (currently polling 40% +). I can’t believe articles like this are either helpful or wise.

  • Aphrodite Kallipygos 12th Feb '11 - 4:44pm

    Tabman @ 3:21 pm:

    Now here’s a real laugh: Labour first had AV+ in the 1918 manifesto. That used to be, until remarkably recently, the LibDem position. Which is why I’m voting no on AV.

  • Most of the dinosaurs are sitting on the Conservative benches.
    The NO2AV camp will no doubt be licking their lips in anticipation of the help candidates like Mr Neale will inadvertently be giving them with this partisan approach to campaigning in the referendum.
    That’s assuming it will take place on May 5th.

  • What a ill informed or deliberately misleading article.

    Labour are split on AV always have been. There are Labour “Big hitters” on both sides of the debate.

    It’s not the Anti reform campaign it is the NotoAV campaign. I would vote for a proportional system but not a preferential voting system. One vote with the same value as everyone else’s is reform for me, not AV or AV+.

    As for it being a Labour dominated camp I think you will find most of the blue side of the coalition are in the camp and there are a lot more of them then there are Labour.

    Labour have been negative about the Lib Dems and the Tories since the election, the Lib Dems have been negative about Labour but refuse to denounce any Tory plans. Personally I’ve seen very little to be positive about in any of the parties front benches since May.

  • This article sums up why the Lib Dems are in so much trouble, they need to look at what happened to the DoDo.

  • I am a great believer in PR, and thus I would under normal circumstances be in favour of AV. But I will definitely vote against it. Why? because if AV is successfully passed then Mr Clegg’s position will be strengthened, so for me it is simple – anything to stop Clegg, as a politician the man is dreadful, and I DO mean dreadful. ENDOF.

  • Tony Dawson 12th Feb '11 - 9:23pm

    “if AV is successfully passed then Mr Clegg’s position will be strengthened, so for me it is simple – anything to stop Clegg,”

    An admission that you are seriously less-principled than the man you criticise. This is constitutional. Your criticism is political/personal.

  • Tony Dawson

    It depends how you look at the situation. If you think that AV is the most importnat thing at the moment you would be correct. From my point of view it is a good thing but not as important as challenging the attack on the public sector being brought about by the Tories.

    I do not believe your party supports these in reality and the best way to undermine them would be to change the leadership of your party. This would probably be helped by making life more difficult for Clegg and forcing a No in the referendum. Anything that leads to this may be more important than one single policy such as AV.

    It doesn’t mean I agree with what has been written but there is an argument for it – you have to realise that a lot of supporters in principle of AV see it as secondary to stopping the Coalition’s other policies.

  • @bazsc. Perfectly put.

  • call me confused but is it not the case that ed is supporting av and ‘call me Dave’ is opposing it?

  • Tony Greaves 12th Feb '11 - 11:36pm

    A lot of the pro-Labour comment here really shows how lacking in principle or honesty a lot of Labour people really are. A referendum on a major constitutional issue? Oh- let’s just use it to attack one politician we don’t like.

    But those of us who have been fighting the Labour Party all our political lives know this anyway.

    Tony Greaves

  • I used to believe in PR, but never AV. I don’t see why BNP and UKIP supporters should get several votes, while those of us who vote for mainstream parties will usually only get one. Didn’t Clegg call AV “a miserable little compromise”?

    From the way things are going, I don’t think we need electoral reform any more. Those who are blinkered enough to think this coalition has merit will vote Tory next time. Those who want it replaced will vote Labour. Tonight’s YouGov poll shows that 80% of voters have reverted to two-party politics, and that at 9%, the Liberal Democrats are polling lower than ‘Others’.

  • It’s really quite simple. Both sides in the referendum debate recognise that Clegg’s name is a sure-fire vote loser.

    That’s why “Tories in the anti-reform camp have not seen through it”. On the contrary, those Tories who are keenest to defeat AV agree with their new friends from Labour allies that putting the spotlight on Clegg is a good idea tactically.

    Equally, on the pro-AV side, it isn’t only John Denham who thinks Clegg would do best to hide away!

    Yes Mr Tabman, I do rather go on and on about how disastrous Clegg is for our party. There is a reason. I didn’t work for the party for the last 30 years just to see a bunch of right-wingers hijack it, drive it off into oblivion, and torch it.

  • richard heathcote 13th Feb '11 - 1:28am

    This is another article bashing Labour and doing very little to hightlight the Tory position on things,

    “This leaves anti-reform Tories financing and taking part in a squeeze campaign calculated to win the next general election for the Labour party.”

    do you honestly beleive this rubbish your writing?

    As far as ive read the Labour leader is campaigning for a yes the Labour party seem pretty split, the majority of support for the no vote is from the Conservative party yet all we hear is that Labour are engineering a way to win the next GE.

    “Since losing the general election, Labour have gone negative on the Liberal Democrats in general and Nick Clegg in particular.”

    this one makes me laugh though I must admit, after reading these blogs for a number of months to make a statement about Labour being negative, have you listened to or read the ammount of anti-Labour bile that has come from the Lib-Dem ranks for the last 8 months, and prior the GE result the ammount of negative comments about Gordon Brown?

    I dont want to read what ammounts to little more than Bashing Labour, I want to read the reasons why should I vote yes to AV. If the case isnt compelling then quite simply I will be voting no.

  • Tony Greaves

    Do you actually think that many people get excited by AV – PR perhaps but not AV which also has flaws. In my view it is a better system but not by much. Calling it a ‘major constitutional issue’ is a little overblown.

    There are some who see this as an anti-Clegg opportunity but surely that is the way with all politics – any chance to humiliate an opponent will be taken. Also, politicians do not always vote the way of their conscience. See your own party for examples of that.

    I actually look at two ways of voting at the AV referendum. Yes to change for a minor improvement in voting, No to undermine Clegg and the coalition in the hope of slowing down or stopping the cuts proposed. You LD can actually avoid the need to vote ‘No’ by starting to show some more influence on what the Tories are doing.

    I am also absolutely disgusted by the tagging of the referendum bill (uncontroversial as it is just and enabling bill for the voters to have their say) with a much more controversial change to the number of MPs – to me this in the long run prove to be the more far-reaching change to the constitution than AV – a Government being able to dictate its own rules to the Boundary Commission without need for cross-party consensus. How about Labour increasing the number to 700 after the next election or reduce it to 400 if it will help it? This was a disgraceful compromise by the LD. Change was needed but not in this way

  • Ok… let me make this clear…

    In a referendum the people who vote decide, not Labour, not Liberal Democrats, and not the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats are obsessed with Labour, don’t Liberal Democrats get it at all?

    You can blame Labour if you want, you can blame who or whatever you want, but the truth is the responsibility and fault is with Liberal Democrats.
    But don’t take my word for it, I am just guessing, we will soon see how far off the mark Liberal Democrats are in 12 or so weeks…

  • @Tony Greaves
    If anyone votes against AV just because they do not like Clegg that would be truly pathetic. Personally I will (as it stands) vote against AV because I do not see it as an improvement. I could not have listed the candidates in order of preference at the last election as only the Lib Dem did not represent a group of policies or recent practices that I found abhorrent.

    Personally I don’t believe in preferential voting but a proportional system. If Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler and Margaret Thatcher (in order of severity of leadership styles!!) lead and campaigned for STV then I would vote yes. I simply do not see this as a step in the right direction as there will still be a massive onus on the majority parties to avoid further reform.

    Articles like this one that misrepresent the position of Labour (and their supporters) as wholly against voting reform (not just AV) have the potential to do more harm than good. Anyone who has truly looked can see Labour are split on this, portraying them as anti AV will only encourage the more tribal of their voters into voting no rather than making a decision on their interpretation of the facts.

  • @bazsc this is a tedious little canard about the referendum and the boundary review being in the same bill. It is an electoral administration bill it makes sense. Reducing the number of MPs was in both coalition parties manifestos.

  • I am thankful that we have seen a coalition in action before we have a referendum on AV; it has shown the electorate exactly what we can expect.

    As for AV publicity I have only seen anything related to that on political sites, nothing on mainstream media, but I suppose it will come, if the 40% rule is in effect the AV vote could fail on that alone, but I expect a NO vote if we get over the 40%.

    I think some people will vote no, not solely because of Mr Clegg, but because they do not want anymore coalitions or more power to Liberal Democrats.

  • Siom

    This ‘tedious little canard’ my pompous friend is actually a significant change to the rules of the boundary commission and was rushed through with little parliamentary discussion on a timetable for the referendum.

    This may have been in the Tories’ manifesto but it may have escaped your attention that they did not win the election. Your party linked a reduction in numbers to PR – pity we are missing the PR bit isn’t it.

    Both your comments and the way the bill was introduced show contempt and arrogance – the things you rightly blamed the last Labour Government for.

    It seems that the LD are trying to turn their guns on Labour as they are the only target available. Each day it appears more and more hollow as the real opponents should be your Coalition partners. Go and have a look at Conservativehome to see what the grassroot Tories are thinking. Can you imagine your reaction if parts of the Labour Party suggested withdrawing from the ECHR!

    Get some balls and target the biggest enemies of Progressive politics – a few crumbs on civil liberties are not enough I am afraid

  • apologies – clearly meant Simon

  • “I think the reason why Labour supporters are finding it difficult to vote Yes is because they benefit from the existing voting system which disproportionately favours their party.”

    Geoffrey Payne. The current voting system also favours the Tories – 36% of the vote gave them 47% of the seats. The reason why many Labour supporters such as myself don’t want AV is, sadly, that we no longer have a party to which we want to give a second preference vote.

  • @ Bert Finch

    “The reason why many Labour supporters such as myself don’t want AV is, sadly, that we no longer have a party to which we want to give a second preference vote.”

    I have to agree, and it is a well made point, in such simple tones…

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