Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Clegg's Brown Aversion

I wonder if this morning's Telegraph interview with Nick Clegg will change the dynamics of tomorrow evening's debate?

Labour have spent much time since last Thursday trying to explain how little distance there is between them and the Liberal Democrats, in the hope of squeezing out the Conservatives. There was nothing more embarrassing from last week's debate than Gordon Brown's own, regular, plaintive cries of "I agree with Nick" (a slogan that has been quickly printed on stickers and T-shirts by the Lib Dem high command). But, of course, the more Gordon Brown 'agrees' with Nick, the less chance there is of Mr. Clegg looking like a genuine change candidate. If the effect of voting for him is simply going to give Mr. Brown another five years in power, well then even the British electorate might start to ask whether that would be such a great reward for putting a tick next to Mr. Clegg's candidates on May 6th.

The Telegraph interview suggests that Clegg is very aware of this danger. He is surprisingly stark in his hostility towards Gordon Brown, who he describes as a 'desperate politician', and one that he simply 'doesn't believe'. Indeed, his frustration with Brown was apparent even in that infamous debate.

As the Lib Dem surge continues, the political debate continues to run along the lines of who will do deals with whom come May 7th. (policy seems to have been squeezed out). This is starting to cause ructions in the Lib Dem camp, where it is believed that Vince Cable, himself an ex-Labourite, would prefer to deal with the Labour Party, while Clegg and the reformist 'Orange Bookers' amongst the Lib Dems are more inclined - though marginally - to try and find a modus operandi with the Conservatives. It may not be much to the Liberals' advantage to have this horse-trading paraded in public, even as they soar to top spots in an increasing number of polls. Labour, meanwhile, although enjoying the discomfiture being experienced by the once leading Tories, must be concerned that even in an electoral system which is significantly weighted in their favour, they may get to a point in the polls low enough to reduce even their formidable block of potential seats. This remains one of the most febrile elections of modern times.

3 comments:

Ben Ross said...

I've always felt that it is quite obvious what the Lib Dems will do and that is simply to demand their 4 points (in at least some form) under a new PM. Johnson being the likely candidate.

I cannot believe for a second that the Lib Dems can survive as a relevant party if they do a deal with Cameron or Brown and make them PM. Instead, Johnson will be our next PM, we will have a host of referendums in October, followed by another election in a years time.

Hypothetical politics is my favourite.

Ben Ross said...

Also...isnt it true that turnout is lower in Labour safe-seats than in Tory safe-seats. Therefore its a bit of a myth that Labour benefit (ahead of the tories) from this electoral system, merely that many of their supporters dont vote and therefore dont get included in the polls.

GM said...

The Labour seats tend to be smaller and more homogenous in terms of population, and of course in national elections they benefit from over-representation in both Scotland and Wales.

I think the Liberals are divided about who they want to do deals with - Clegg's chief of staff, Danny Alexander, for instance, has good relations with the moderate Tories. Cable is ex-labour.