A Modest Proposal

What if Gordon Brown were to refuse to talk to the Lib Dems, and then were to meet the new parliament at the head of a minority Labour government, in order to present a Queen’s Speech that was organised around great big chunks of the Lib Dem manifesto — including generous dollops of all four “steps to a fairer Britain”: “fair taxes”, “a fair chance for every child”, “a fair future”, and “a fair deal”, with the last to include PR along the lines of the Single Transferable Vote?

In those circumstances, would the Lib Dems dare to vote him down? And wouldn’t the Tories basically be snookered? And wouldn’t we get pretty much all the benefits of the “progressive alliance” that the Polly Toynbees of the world fantasise about without any of the major difficulties (i.e., having the Lib Dems as part of a coalition)?

It might not be the best way forward for the Labour Party. I can see a strong argument for making sure that the Party ends up in opposition. And obviously just having the Lib Dems vote with the Labour government doesn’t quite solve all the problems of parliamentary arithmetic. But if Brown decided he wanted to stay as Prime Minister, why not do it this way? It’d certainly be fun to watch.

10 thoughts on “A Modest Proposal”

  1. No, bad idea.

    Being the party who pushes through enormous cuts to compensate for a recession voters will blame on Labour already, after being rejected in the popular vote and having very few seats? Not to mention the snub to democratic mandate and the fact Brown is enormously unpopular.

    Labour needs to take the hit now, and let the Tories clean up the mess…making themselves hugely unpopular and unelectable for another generation.

  2. I’m with both of you guys (Paul and Chris) on this I think. It looks to me like there’s no way the Tory-Lib Dem coalition talks can succeed and it would probably be easiest for Brown to wait for those talks to fail, and then step down and allow DaveCam to form a minority govt. Following which, the Tories become one of the most unpopular govts of all time for the 2 years or so they last before being voted down in a No Confidence Motion and obliterated… I love the smell of lost deposits in the morning.

    The other option is an unwieldy “rainbow coalition” of Lab+Lib Dem+SDLP+Alliance+Green+Plaid Cymru (who are guns for hire for the paltry price of £300m) – I’ve lost count of the number of parties already. It could offer a referendum on PR but how stable or workable would it really be? The effective majority would be (by my calculations) 1… so if one maverick Labour MP votes against the PR bill, it’s gone. Is that REALLY gonna work? It sounded great at 8am after 2 hours of sleep but on reflection it’s plain mad. This is a precarious, unstable parliament so Gordon, please give a hospital pass to Dave. You (or more probably your successor) can mop up later after the Tories crash and burn.

  3. Isn’t it much more likely that the Tories will call another election and win a majority because the electorate will think they deserve a chance to put their programme into practice?

    I don’t, on principle, much like all this farting around with deliberately losing and claiming that this will work out right in the end (through some covolutred series of events than in truth can’t really be predicted).

  4. The Lib Dems wouldn’t need to troop through the No lobby to get a Labour Queen’s Speech voted down. They just have to keep out of the Aye lobby: the Tories command a majority of the non-LD MPs. I suspect that they will be persuaded by the Tories to do just that.

  5. Oh, I know, but if they forced a second general election because they abstained on a Queen’s Speech that promised to implement the core of their manifesto, they’d look extremely stupid indeed, and would find it hard to explain to voters why they should vote for them a second time around.

    (I suspect what we will in fact see is the reverse of this: a Tory minority government that gets its Queen’s Speech & budget through on Lib Dem abstentions.)

  6. Tend to agree – Labour in opposition, let Tories / lib dems clear up mess etc. BUT V. IMPT. we MUST piut in our best leader to lead the anti Tory charge i.e. Milliband. Of course we will paint the Lib Dems as Tory sustainers – rightly so – and as the Tories won’t ive them PR anyway as patsies too.

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