We would be “suicidal” to do a deal with Labour

So say “senior party strategists” to the Guardian today:

Nick Clegg would resist overtures from a new prime minister as strongly as he would the current one, senior Liberal Democrat figures have told the Guardian.

The Lib Dem leader believes Labour is finished regardless of who leads the party, and as one close aide put it: “The sort of discussions they [Labour] need to have can’t take place in government – they need to go into the wilderness to reflect where they stand.” The view damages the hopes of some on the centre-left who believe a change of prime minister would encourage the Lib Dems to pursue a working relationship with Labour, particularly if a deal on proportional representation was on the table.

As the article goes on to point out, yesterday’s PMQs (not covered here, sozza, family birthday) contribution from Clegg was the first explicit characterisation of a new political dividing line:

He [Gordon Brown] just doesn’t get it. His government is paralysed by indecision, crippled by infighting, exhausted after 12 long years. The country doesn’t have a government, it has a void. Labour is finished. The only choice now is between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

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  • Knotty Ash Lib Dem 4th Jun '09 - 10:14am

    Whilst I agree with this, in cities like Liverpool a deal with the Tories would be equally suicidal.

  • KALD – genuinely intrigues here. In places in the North where we’re the opposition to Labour, surely we must be picking up right-leaning voters as the “in lieu of the Tories” candidate. So why would a TOry deal be suicidal?

  • KALD – genuinely intrigued here. In places in the North where we’re the opposition to Labour, surely we must be picking up right-leaning voters as the “in lieu of the Tories” candidate. So why would a Tory deal be suicidal? I would have thought that would have been more of a problem in the SOuth.

  • Yes, but there’s no evidence that anyone on your side is even considering this, is there?

    It seems to me that it’s mainly right-whingers who are promoting this meme so as to get economically liberal floating voters into the Tory fold.

    If it did happen, I’d be upset. But I refuse to take the idea seriously.

  • I think this only applies to the present situation. If, after an election, Labour have the largest number of votes / seats but can’t form an overall majority, all bets are off.

  • David Allen 4th Jun '09 - 12:41pm

    Why all this talk about deals? If Labour have any sense (which ok, they probably don’t), they will install Johnson ASAP, and propose an AV+ referendum, for which they have a parliamentary majority. They don’t need a deal with us, so we shouldn’t offer them one.

    It doesn’t matter whether we are “tempted” or not. If Labour are genuinely prepared to do it, they should do it now, off their own bat.

  • David Allen 4th Jun '09 - 1:35pm


    Yes, that’s a possibility I suppose. But it still doesn’t imply this emotive word “deal”. If Labour bring forward a bill and there is a vote in parliament, would we vote against a PR referendum? I hope not!

    Would that look like a “deal”? Well, the Tories would want to create that false impression. All we would have to do would be to make clear by our words and actions that it ain’t so.

  • Malcolm Todd 4th Jun '09 - 1:39pm

    I’m slightly confused by the “no deals with anyone, no way” tendency here – are you expecting to win a majority in parliament sometime soon?
    It would be suicidal to prop up Brown now (and irrelevant while he has a majority), but the choices for the medium term are coalition or eternal opposition. Do you imagine our voters are too stupid to realise that we’re unlikely to govern alone?

  • “it’s the left as well because they (for obvious reasons) want it to happen”

    Not obvious to me, I can’t discern anything left-wing about this government & propping it up is a reactionary act in my view!

  • The Lib Dems may now have a window of opportunity. They might have a rare chance to topple Labour as the main party of opposition.

    Unfortunately I doubt they have the wherewithal to do it. That was proved when they elected Nick Clegg instead of leaving Vince Cable in place.

    There was nothing you could have done about David Penhaligan getting killed but that was another lost opportunity.

  • David, with you on Labour going for AV+ or STV – This would be the pragmatic thing to do. If they dont grasp the nettle of reform (because enough think sometime in the distant future they will get back under FPTP) then Cameron is likely to do his version of reform as part of a ‘popular mandate’.
    The problem is DC will also reduce the number of MP’s – from Wales and Scotland. Entirely logical action with devolution.
    Labour are then stuffed. At least with some form of PR they have a look-in.

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