10 May 2010

A pig flying down Whitehall?

“Two weeks to save the Tory Party” screamed the headline in the Spectator Magazine two weeks ago. And not for nothing. What the Cameron-sceptic Conservative writer divined was that electoral reform could destroy his party’s chances of ever being in government again.

An outright victory was what was required to avoid such a consequence – any kind of accommodation with proportional representation, he opined, could see the party confined to the back benches for all time.

Hard it is to imagine the Tory Party ever accepting a genuine risk of abandoning first past the post. On the other hand, on this day, exactly seventy years ago, Winston Churchill – not much loved inside his own Conservative Party – replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister at the head of a rare and hugely successful coalition government.

We are in a time of omens in which we search for routes through the voters’ wisdom in refusing to trust any party to deliver us from the evil of deficits.

Hard it is to imagine what many have described as the most Euro-sceptic leadership the Tory Party has ever know, doing a deal with a man who has lived the most Europhilic life of any man in present day British politics.

The war disposed of ideological difference in 1940. Will the fight against the deficit do the same in 2010?

The current impression is that it will. But impressions are a dangerous thing in politics. If Clegg wants to see off the Conservatives on Europe, his best bet in a coalition is to demand the Foreign Office. He doesn’t need Vince Cable in the Treasury even if the political classes think the voters do.

The Tories can keep the Lib Dems in check by dumping the Home Office on them – the curse of two defeated MPs, Charles Clarke and Jacqui Smith – or the Ministry of Justice.

More likely still, the Lib Dems will tolerate ONLY the fight against the deficit – support the Tory budget and the outline Queen’s Speech (but retaining the right to fight every bill within it) and put a minority Conservative government into unstable power.

Finally, is this the most unlikely statement we shall hear today? “I resign as leader of the Labour Party to allow immediate elections for a successor – I shall remain prime minister to carry us through the current constitutional moment. I shall then make myself available to serve in whatever subordinate position my successor as Labour leader deems appropriate.

“In the event that the current Clegg/Cameron talks fail, I shall leave my successor free to conduct his own discussions with whomsoever he pleases, in order to attempt a stable Government to take Britain forward.”

Have I just seen a pig flying down Whitehall?

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78 reader comments

  1. Moonbeach says:

    I wonder if those who advocate PR are learning anything from the present negotiations?

    We have the worst economic conditions for years, we are at war and the sticking point seems to be our voting system.

    Fiddling whilst Rome burns springs to mind!

    1. Mel says:

      I realise what economic conditions we are in but that does not mean that I am not going to advocate for a fairer more just society. On the contrary – it means just the opposite. Some of the things that have happened during my life time which have brought our people to its knees may well not have happened had their have been a fairer system where parliament was not protected by such snobbery, money and tradition of the higher classes.

    2. Paul Begley says:

      It’s precisely because the economic situation is dire that some kind of coalition/arrangement has to be negotiated. Neither main party (Lab/Con) is currently trusted by a majority of the electorate – in particular, trusted to share out the pain “fairly”. So the voters delivered at result which compels either of them them to find a compromise with other parties, which will act to moderate their instinctive choices.

    3. Andy S says:

      Consider what i said in Gary’s Blog….

      a pseudo Cameron minority Govt:-
      – 3 parties jointly agreeing on a solution for the deficit
      – a Lib/Con formal agreement on as much common ground as possible
      – a ‘free for all’ on everything else including political reform.

      – priority for the deficit
      – medium term stability
      – no deal on PR…MP free vote and or referendum

      – country satisfied
      – Parties do not lose face
      – MPs happy
      – Electorate happy

    4. Paul Begley says:

      On Andy S’s point – the Lib Dems floated the idea of an interparty council (all three economic spokesmen plus the Governor of the Bank of England) to address the deficit, as part of their campaign. Shirley Williams just repeated the idea on C4 news.

    5. greg mcnulty says:

      Why did jon snow open the 7pm news last night with campbell?

  2. Noel Bell says:

    The Tories can keep the Lib Dems in check by dumping the Home Office on them – the curse of two defeated MPs, Charles Clarke and Jacqui Smith – or the Ministry of Justice. Indeed, I’d like to see how Nickmania copes with the Home Office.

  3. Margaretbj says:

    There is so much more than politics going on. Pride has taken a fall across the board.I still feel though that Gordons motive is more altruistic than his competitors, perhaps it is just a gut feeling or perhaps I also have a sort of bias toward any perceived underdog myself.

    The one thing remains clear is that under our consitution the tories do not have a mandate to rule. It would be easier for Gordon to say ok, carry on, see what mess you can make of it, but he isn’t doing that, he knows the situation and like any other who can forsee likely occurences and consequences of certain actions he is sticking to his guns.

    Things have a way of repeating themselves and experience teaches us not do do them again when mistakes have been made. It is always difficult to learn from others mistakes.

    Ah well, my apple blossom tree has blossomed again and I will bore myself another year by singing Max Bygraves apple blossom song, again, a benign repetition.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Margaret ,Brown and altruistic are not compatible.

    2. Margaretbj says:

      Adrian just call me a pearl
      or a pearl fisher or the fisher king with blind eyes.

    3. Paul Begley says:

      The press has muttered about GB not resigning, and various commentators on here have complained bitterly. But no Tory or Liberal politician has uttered a word of criticism. Why? Because the outgoing PM is expected to stay in office until a new government is organised – someone has to answer the phone if Barak Obama or Angela Merkel rings. It’s nothing to do with personal ambition.

  4. John Smith says:

    In politics, expect the unexpected. Is David Cameron hungry for power or is he in it for the good of the country? Ditto Clegg. I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. After all (most) politicians don’t follow the vocation without expecting to be in power at some time as well as having the notion of a duty to serve the public.
    Has Gordon Brown tacitly admitted that he realises that the game is up, or were the Sunday shennanigans in the Foreign Office another throw of the dice. Altho I can abide GB without being a fan, I can only imagine how frustrating the current impasse is for him. He can’t go, he can’t get on with staying and nominate a cabinet and so can only periodically raise his head above the parapet. Maybe in a delusional moment he does see pigs on the wing.

  5. Mike Hind says:

    Baffling as GB’s retention of the keys to no 10 may be, on reflection I wonder if Labour strategists aren’t playing a long game. The replacement of Brown last year would probably have ensured a 4th term. And Mervyn King summed up what a poisoned chalice that would be.
    So far, this debacle is pointing toward a minority Tory government with limited Lib Dem support (as you describe) setting out on the path to eventual electoral oblivion once it drives through the measures it never described before the election. Meanwhile, Labour withdraws to sort out the leader issue and create a backroom dialogue with the Lib Dems so the latter can cosy up with their more natural allies when the Government collapses in 12 – 18 months. Amid the current information vacuum there are 2 inescapable facts; Labour’s only serious electoral liability is Gordon Brown and a genuine alliance between the ‘nasty’ party and the ‘nice’ party is impossible to envisage. Strangely, the ones with everything to lose and little to really gain are the ‘winners’ of this election and the party whose time seemed to have really come at last. My money’s on Labour to be back in power early 2012.

  6. Saltaire Sam says:

    There are almost certainly some ‘porkies’ flying around Whitehall at the moment, Jon.

    Wouldn’t it be great to sit in on the meeting of Tory MPs tonight so we tory sceptics could hear what the party is really like?

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Saltaire,haven’t i explained enough over the last four weeks!!!!

    2. Saltaire Sam says:

      Is that what you were doing, Adrian? I thought you were just following the usual right win path of automatially opposing all the wise thoughts coming from the left :-)

    3. Jim Flavin says:

      You certainly did Adrian- lower wages , longer hours -etc etc . Someone mentioned ” share out the Pain eequally” – the exact words of the Irish PM a few months ago – and we may be far from finished with the pain .IMO there are two main problems
      1. tackle the Rich -Taxes paid etc the bankers – the bonuses etc .It was all those tax dodging that helped put Greece down — – as well as the Olympics !!
      2 have a defense system that is realistic – the cold war is over . What use is haveing gigantic immoral weapon systems that cost a fortune – and are unuseable – who exactly will a Nuclear weaponn be fired at – The Taliban !!- the Chinese , Iran – No – they are a gigantic waste of money . The US has approx 10,000 nuclear warheads – what use are they . Even suppoing some other terrorists got Nuclear weapons – and fired them [ a Doubtful proposition] – waht do u do – Fire 100 back at them and obliterate some country / countries ?? Madness – yet there are some to whom that makes sense -” Nook ” everone against us -?? . The money by less of these useless armaments s would solve many problems in many countries .

  7. Meg Howarth says:

    Economics has to be top of the agenda, you’re right. But that means it’s not only the deficit that has to be sorted but the causes of the mess, namely the debt-based economy which allows the banks/financial institutions to create 97% of the UK’s current money supply.

    And we need a fair taxation system. The best yet would be a tax on land – supported, Adrian, by some Tories, eg, Samuel Brittan, Fred Harrison (author The Inquest etc), as it was by Churchill as well as the ‘father’ of economics, Adam Smith.

    As to how the political classes see Vince Cable: I think VC is tougher than to succumb to Cameroonian pressure to play a Tory economic card. In an interview with the Guardian on 10 April (p9), this is what he had to say:

    ‘I think we went in to this election with general agreement that there were three massive issues: the massive government deficit, what we do about the banking system … and the issue of fairness and how you create a tax system that is fairest’.

    We need a new economics as well as a new politics. The Tories won’t want this. They are the party of the super-privileged.

    Ending the ideological battle will require other than a Con/Lib coalition.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Meg i need an explanation of this land tax

  8. adrian clarke says:

    Pigs certainly are flying .They started the minute both Labour and Liberal policies were rejected,but the Tories didnt quite get the number of seats to rule alone.Instead of the losers trying to control the situation.I do not understand the constitutional procedure for the Tories to say ,we are the governing party,here is the Queens speech,based on our policies .Vote it down if you dare.
    Perhaps you could explain the procedure Jon

    1. Margaretbj says:

      Quite right Claire. Musicality in prose has been lost. With a little bit of rhythm in phrases, we could actually enjoy the sound of words again and not damning exclamatory ,cacophony.

      I think it is Jon that said “I am not believing of ” a little quirky but I do enjoy music.

  9. John Byrne says:

    Hard it is to imagine why this moment has driven you to Yoda-speak

    1. Claire Nahmad says:

      Because ‘hard it is’ has more rhythm than ‘it is hard’ when you want the kind of emphasis Jon was after!

  10. adrian clarke says:

    Mike i wouldnt bet your house on it .If the Tories rule on their manifesto,and the Lab/Lib bring them down , i could see a huge backlash against Lab/Lib

  11. Mel says:

    If the Lab/Lib bring the Tories down if they rule on their manifesto the support for the Lab/Lib together will be immense. And I think Mike is right.
    The Cons in making false promises to the Libs, which is what they will be doing, may well be digging themselves one hell of a hole. Because at every way the Libs will shout it from the Westminster rooftop when the Cons have gone back on their word. And if it is the Cons who are clearly seen to have deliberately stopped this from working for their own single party power greed end of game for them I’m afraid.
    A lot of those new Con votes were from uncertain voters and tactical voters – they were not true Con believers – and they will be willing to change their vote just as quickly next time as they did this time. The Cons are lulling themselves into a false sense of security to believe that these are stable votes that they will have for life.

    1. Kes says:

      How can you know what “false promises” are being made?

    2. adrian clarke says:

      mel it is nice to know you are a party to the discussions.perhaps you can explain how the liberals could say they were negotiating,yet at same time were secretly talking to Labour.Do you consider that an ethical position ?
      Can you explain how the major party with the least votes and having lost votes , can have so much power.Is that the merits of PR. That the country could have a government of parties rejected by the electrate.You also seem to know how and why people voted Mel.Can you explain how you know that Mel.

    3. Mel says:

      Adrian I can argue the results from my side, you can argue the results from your side in a different way and as the election worked out both of us would be equally right – both parties would be winners. There was no winner on any side.I believe Clegg did what he said he was going to do and opened up talks with Cons first. I can remember hearing at the wkd that he had notified Cameron that he had talked to, or would be talking to Brown. I believe his team have been seriously negotiating with the Cons and once it was becoming clear what was being offered and what they would be working with opened up the discussions with Labour. It wasn’t any sneeky dirty deed discussions. it was the right thing to do. If it had been the other away around I would have wanted him to do exactly the same. I would be very disappointed if someone in his position did not have negotiations with both parties and made a decision which will effect all our lives from being clear on what one side has to offer.
      You are right in what you say on my comments of the voters but I do believe the country voted for change and not for one party. If they had gone out to vote for one party one party would be in now.

  12. Saltaire Sam says:

    As I understand it, Adrian, constitutionally the current PM has the first right to try and present a Queen’s speech. It’s only because Gordon Brown is such a reasonable man that he has bowed to the morally correct path of allowing the party with most votes and seats to have a go, even though with all Lord Ashcroft’s cash and everything else in their favour they couldn’t convince the country to give them an overall majority.

    1. Moonbeach says:

      Is this the same “reasonable” Mr Brown that loosed the dogs of hell on his own Chancellor?

      You can’t seriously believe that Mr Brown was loathed by so many of the electorate (according to polls) and performed almost as badly as Michael Foot because Lord Ashcroft donated money to the Tories?

      Spending other people’s money for no real benefit is what Mr Brown is good at. UK has almost become bankrupt under his time as Chancellor and PM. I long to read how history judges him!

      We now need a Government that can rebuild the coffers before the next ‘boom and bust’ Labour Government takes power.

  13. Kes says:

    I wonder whether the conventional wisdom that the Conservatives have too much to lose from PR is correct.

    There is a high probability that all three main parties, which are currently loose coalitions, would fragment to some degree initially. Over time, I suspect that the core Conservative vote would recover strongly in the face of continued tax and spend lunacy elsewhere. We’d probably end up a bit like Germany where there is mostly a bi-polar result with the option of a “national” government now and again for limited periods.

  14. Brian Philpotts says:

    Cameron will form the next government on whatever terms Clegg finally decides to give him. It will be even more doomed than Brown’s, because the Thatcherites behind Cameron will never honor their commitments to the LibDems, who will agonise interminably before bringing them down. Fed up with first past the post minority “mandates” the elctorate wanted an end to Thatcher(or Blair)ites hidding behind the “never risk putting it to the people” approach. Hopefully Brown will be the last PM to exploit it. “Tax & Cut” was the invisible writing in all the parties’ manifestos guaranteeing they all lost. The spirit of the blitz and “Export or Die” were the positive politics and leadership that last got Britons to dig themselves out of a hole.

  15. Saltaire Sam says:

    For all its uncertainty, this election has at least produced a measure of humilty in our politicians and if a few days forcing them to give and take around a table is the price we pay for PR, I’m all for it.

    The introduction of PR might also reduce some of the yaboo politics that we so often see the rest of the time – after all would it be sensible to be too rude to someone on whose vote you might later depend?

    1. Mel says:
    2. anniexf says:

      Humility and Tories? An oxymoron, surely?

    3. adrian clarke says:

      Saltaire, i’m looking forward to Pr.A system where the loser and the rejected can steal power.I am sure the public will love it too..Especially the English.where the Tories have an overwhelming majority and are ruled by the Scots and Welsh

  16. anniexf says:

    If the LibDems do any kind of deal with the Cons that enables them to inflict their abhorrent policies on us, I shall return to Labour. However there seems to be a chink of light – Clegg has had talks with Brown this morning. I wasn’t convinced by Hague’s brief upbeat statement earlier today about the progress of talks; if they were that good there would have been something a bit more concrete to tell us.
    Cameron doesn’t have a mandate to govern any more than Brown. As Margaret BJ said on an earlier blog, we the public have effectively told them all that we don’t accept any one of them is fit for solo government; so they’d better do the honourable thing & look hard for something in common so we can get out of this mess sooner rather than later.

    1. Mel says:

      Unfortunately it has come to light that Cameron and Clegg had another meeting this afternoon. I think the meetings with Labour were sensibly for Clegg and his team to be aware of their full options.
      I think the country has underestimated just how clever Clegg is and I really do believe that any agreement made with the Cons will be a long way from a sell-out. And it’s worth remembering also that the Libs have the most democratic process within the workings of their party of all three parties which keeps their leaders quite humble and gives them little chance to be carried away by personal power. Whatever has been propossed has to get the backing of 75% of his MPs and 75% of the Federal Executive. for this to happen he will have to be putting something very substantial on the table indeed.

  17. Tom Wright says:

    A Lib/Lab coallition cannot work, and will be damaging and hugely divisive to our politics.

    Without a proper working majority, such an alliance would depend on Plaid and the SNP.

    With most of the English electoral map looking rather Blue, the political fall out would be enormous – England ruled by Scotland and Wales against the clear wish of its electorate, who cast vastly more votes (let’s not forget those electoral anomolies where constituencies have few voters are almost exclusively in the Celtic nations).

    The media will cry fowl and the English electorate will back it. Let’s not make English independence a media cause celebre.

  18. John Smith says:

    Jon, when all that is now speculation turns into something concrete, will you write the book on what went on behind the scenes? It will be fascinating. (I’d do it myself if I had the contacts.) When you’ve done writing, I’ll apply for an autographed copy. Do you have the cacoethes scribendi.

  19. adz says:

    When the majority of british people realize what is really happening, then maybe we will start to see a gradual change. People like myself are few and far between but I tell you what, no for long.
    We will not see a change for the better during any of our remaining days. What we need to be thinking about, is our great grandchildren’s grandchildren.
    adzmundo The Venus Project & CND

    1. anniexf says:

      Your confidence is commendable but I fear that even my grandchildren’s children have little to look forward to but a desecrated planet. I daren’t speculate down further generations; but my grandson is saving every coin he finds lying on the ground, to plant trees. A potential colleague for you, adz.!

  20. the-Richard-of-Nottingham says:

    Jon, Obama made an excellent point in a speech touching on the information age today.

    “…information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation,” Obama said

    With that in mind it’s easy to see how we’ve ended up where we are in this election, and harder to see how this thing finishes. Perhaps slower information would allow for a better solution.

  21. Paul says:

    I agree Richard, but impossible to deliver in this era of ‘information overload’ coupled with the economic downturn.
    Time is money and the desperate pace at which things progress makes for cloudy thinking across the board. If information was used as a tool of empowerment and mistakes were scrutinised and rectified then, maybe there would be a more positive outcome for all.

    1. Meg Howarth says:

      Surely nothing is impossible, Paul, if we don’t wish it?

    2. Paul Begley says:

      At the risk of sounding pedantic, I wouldn’t say we have information overload. We just live in a very, very noisy place. For example, consider the 24 hr news channels yesterday. The actual news (results of the various meetings, GB’s statement) took about 15-20 mins to deliver. The other 23.5 hours consisted of stock footage, opinion, repetition, speculation, discussing the staggering implications etc, etc. Information less than 2%, noise more than 98%.

  22. Saltaire Sam says:

    If, as now seems possible, the lib dems and tories are unable to agree on power sharing, that will open up a very difficult situation for Mr Cameron.

    Not only will he have failed to deliver what should have been a complete victory, he will have consigned the tories to another period in opposition.

    And once there, will he feel free to try and vote down a labour-lib dem Queen’s speech after all his talk of national interest and the danger of spooking the markets?

    Surely the worst possible outcome right now, would be another month-long election campaign?

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Saltaire more left wing wishful thinking.Clegg is too sensible to commit political suicide, though i dont mind if he does

    2. Tom Wright says:

      Not only difficult for Cameron. Its the worst possible outcome for the nation as a whole.

      A lib/lab coallition, would be a minority government constantly at the risk of a vote of no confidence, dependent on the support of Plaid and the SNP. I’m guessing as you’ve named yourself after the Scottish flag you haven’t spotted the problem. England voted Tory and the electoral map is solid blue.

      The divide in Parliament would be quickly be picked up by the media pundits and would make an English parliament a cause celebre.

      Frankly a 2nd general election is a way better outcome. A lib/lab coalition threatens disaster.

    3. koomkwat says:

      Its political suicide for Nick if he supports the tories, people who voted lib dem would not stand it. The electorate must be taken seriously in the votes that have been cast. It is the main message that has been sent to these politcians. He cannot betray his voters in a climate of mistrust in politicians! It is a concern that England voted tory and may end up with Labour although this can only be rectified by PR. It looks very much like a win win for left wing politics, Gordon Brown Rocks!

    4. adrian clarke says:

      Saltaire,one doesn’t have to vote down a lib/lab Queens speech.It will not be long before such a coalition , led by Brown,has to go to the country.I pity them both then.I know Brown will go in September,then we will have another unelected Prime Minister

  23. Arthur Complainer says:

    Flying pigs? Pass the oinkment, please! :-)

  24. Wilma Miller says:

    I find it strange that so many people can’t accept that the Tories have integrity. Having lived in Scotland all my life I find it impossible to see the Labour Party, Mandelson, Campbell et al as anything but ‘chancers’ who have brought out the superglue in a ridiculous bid to keep power.

    1. Saltaire Sam says:

      Living in Scotland, you have had the benefit of not having to put up with them. Trust me, they would sell their grandmother into slavery if they could make a buck

    2. Moonbeach says:

      You are quite right. The present Government has destroyed the Labour Movement. The optimism we had in 1997 has descended into a parody of Animal Farm.

      I read the unbalanced vitriol of those who think Tories are bad and always to be feared with sadness.

      I do not know whether Mr Cameron will be good, bad or indifferent. But I have no such doubts about Mr Brown and Co.

      It is time for a change. I say give him a chance.

  25. Saltaire Sam says:

    Quite right, Jim. Presumably the nuclear response to the London bombings was to bomb Dewsbury? Trident is a complete waste of money, immoral and typical of so much old fashioned thinking by our politicians, who are far too macho for the country’s good

  26. Lindy says:

    Perhaps we should be mindful of what Mervin King said: that whoever forms the government and so has to take all the drastic measures to get out of recession will subsequently be in obscurity for a considerable time. Let the tories get on with it amyone?

  27. Saltaire Sam says:

    Well, we know one thing. ‘Vote Clegg get Brown’ was way off the mark. Wonder what else DC got wrong while campaigning.

    1. Kes says:

      It was “Vote Clegg, get whomever Mandelson wants”

    2. adrian clarke says:

      saltaire,by the way the talks are it looks exactly right ,even if it is only to september..Mind you a clear majority did not vote for Clegg nor for that matter Brown .I hope now that you get your way and Clegg does an agreement with Labour.I suspect in the fortcoming election(for it will be soon if that happens) the Liberals will be wiped out

  28. anniexf says:

    Gordon Brown is to step down as leader of the Labour Party – now Clegg’s off the hook, as he said he wouldn’t support Brown in a minority Government if the voters had indicated they didn’t want him.
    The way’s clearer for Clegg now – PR a definite Labour policy. What more could he ask for? A pig just flew over his head!

  29. Saltaire Sam says:

    What happens to Cameron, if he can’t do a deal with Clegg who goes off and forms an alliance with labour? Would Lord Ashcroft stomach DC as leader in those circumstances? Perhaps we’ll have two resignations by the end of the week!

  30. Saltaire Sam says:

    For all his faults – and he has a few – Gordon Brown has acted with great dignity since the election. And, canny politician that he is, he may have just had the last laugh over David Cameron. Delicious.

    1. Paul Begley says:

      Yes – I wouldn’t play poker against him! No good cards in his hand (he was finished as Labour leader, regardless), but somehow he gets the Tories to concede the principle of electoral reform.

  31. Jan Benfield says:

    Does Brown’s announcement of resignation mean that he will acutally resign – or will there be a “popular” request for him to continue? I mistrust his statements of intent.

  32. Igatz Mice says:

    “Nothing in his (political) life became him so well as the leaving of it …”
    When will we be able to say this of GB?

  33. Kate Fox says:

    On Friday Jon Snow was clearly wearing his ‘Hung Parliament’ tie – red, blue and yellow (with matching socks).

    Is tonight’s multiply multicoloured tie his ‘Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’ tie, or perhaps his ‘Rainbow Coalition’ tie?

    I really should get a life…

  34. annemarie says:

    Gordon Brown has tirelessly fought for social justice and will be sadly missed by many ordinary people who hold him in great affection. The media has been savagely against him, constantly telling us how unpopular he was. Sadly, he has now been toppled by lesser men. His knowledge and experience to steer us through the recession is unrivalled. The only good thing is that he will not have to work closely with ‘light-weights’ Clegg and Cameron. Ed balls and David Milliband are not in his league (Ed Milliband seeems more genuine). I don’t think Clegg had the depth nor strength of character to work in partnership with Brown. Gordon Brown is a great statesman and has been a great primeminister.

  35. NR says:

    Is it just me or does the only deals any of these MPs seem to be working towards is an inevitable book and film deals will be in a few years time! the longer they procrastinate, the more twist and turns – the better the story line for their autobiographies and the box office returns. It woldn’t surprise me if they had ex-hollywood script writers acting as consultatnts behind the scenes in whitehall. look out for “Deal breakers!” in cinemas near you from 2011!

  36. mel says:

    What an amazing day in politics-what a shame I was at work missing this afternoons events because what a tantalisingly delicious plot it has all turned out to be. I had the 24 hour news on at the wkd when brown nipped out of no 10 to the foreign office – he was gone only a matter of minutes. Too few minutes for the 2 off them to be trying to find ground – they had already found it – the plot had already been hatched. The conservative hand was forced and as has been said previously labour have had the last laugh. My dream was a lab-lib coalition but I don’t think really they can be talking seriously of this – even I have to admit that the numbers just can’t stack up – this rainbow alliance would be just too rocky. I’m hoping they can pull something out of the hat again – I’m hoping this was browns first trick not his last – but what more is there to pull. Still we are talking about brown here and I agree with a comment earlier – I wouldn’t want to play poker with him! Been a long day – night night fiery bloggers!

  37. Saltaire Sam says:

    Tuesday am. As much as it pains me as a grumpy old labour supporter, to me the only workable solution is con-lib-[lab. The alternative is too fragile.

    Clegg seems to have gained a lot from the negotiations and should agree a two-year deal by which time the voting system should be reconsidered.

  38. Saltaire Sam says:

    Can someone less ignorant than I please explain ‘the markets’

    I’d always thought that government borrowing was from the markets in the form of bonds. But now it seems there might be some mysterious, James Bond style villain who has been lending money to Greece, Spain, Portugal etc.

    Currently the markets accuse countries of borrowing too much, but aren’t they guilty of lending too much? Haven’t they done with countries what they did with sub prime mortgages?.

    Maybe I’m just dim, but the markets always seem to want it both ways.

    1. Kes says:

      The “markets” do not have policies or ideology. They are the mechanism to move value between various owners of money and those who need it to function. They don’t make policy but they certainly respond to it.

      Everyone is a market participant, but governments are the biggest. There are no “villains” lending money to Greece, but rather many institutions who believed they were good for their debts.

      The “markets” can’t accuse anyone. What happened is that countries borrowed consistently more than they earned until doubts emerged as to their ability to repay. In such cases there is what is known as a “flight to quality” and enough investors sell their holdings of, say, Greek debt to see those debt prices fall. Nobody has the confidence to buy it so prices keep falling.

      If a government wants to borrow, it reduces the price until someone perceives it has value. “Markets” don’t lend but countries borrow too much. We have now arrived at a position where too many countries are deep in debt and there is little more available. Don’t blame “markets”, blame governments.

  39. Jan Benfield says:

    I understand the enthusiasm for proportional representation; but given the present paper and stubby pencil based system would we be looking at several days of counting before a verdict. If it is to be computer based, we all know that Government IT projects have a history of inefficiency and cost overrun – so how soon could an efficient PR system be introduced?

    1. CWH says:

      The 2007 Election for the Scottish Parliament, which does have a PR system of voting, used an electronic counting system and it was a complete and utter disaster. Of course Labour were the main organisers of this innovation so no surprise at the fiasco that ensued.

  40. Greg Dance says:

    Let’s not forget Cameron’s incredible failures

    The Tories had a perfect storm blowing them forward, Labour in power, the worst economic recession for 80 years, Ashcroft’s untaxed millions in their bank and Gordon Brown’s unelected leader status … how did they fail?

    I think because they are not believed because they are fronted by slick sharp suited inexperienced image men.
    If Cameron fails to form an effective government he will need to start worrying about his future as leader, Tories don’t live with failure for long.

  41. Kes says:

    The Conservatives don’t have a monopoly of slick image men. Labour are masters of the art.

    I suspect Cameron’s biggest mistake was to go back on the EU referendum pledge. From that moment his support weakened. I still maintain that it would be teh correct democratic decision to have a referendum on political union, which we’ve not had yet.

  42. redgold57 says:

    Gordon Brown did the right thing to get out of all the rubbish we now have to deal with: lib dem and conservative rule. Lets see what develops shall we? should be interesting and painful!
    People complain about the recession and how bad the deficit is, who got us into this recession big time? seems to be loads of high ranking bank managers walking away with huge pay settlements even though they did a bad job. The rest of us lesser mortals would have lost our jobs if we had made a mess of things like that!
    Labour should have seen this coming and been stronger and tackled this situation before the disaster hit us. Because of a very few, very many are now paying the price.

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