Would this destroy the Lib Dems forever
Reproduced about is the start of a big article in the latest News Statesman by Sunder Katwala, General Secretary of the Fabian Society, in which he argues for a pre-election LD-LAB pact which would involve Nick Clegg becoming Deputy Prime Minister.
He argues: “..By the time Barack Obama leaves these shores in April, Gordon Brown should invite Nick Clegg to be deputy prime minister with Vince Cable as chancellor. The coalition would govern for a year – announcing the date of the next election, and legislating for fixed-election dates, too. This year it would focus on the response to the recession, while agreeing on core progressive priorities for the next four-year parliament in both party manifestos.
It sounds impossible. After Tony Blair left Paddy Ashdown at the altar a decade ago, what sounds like a return to the Lib-Lab pact of the Seventies will hardly rekindle the romance. But what if Gordon Brown made the Lib Dems an offer they cannot refuse?”
The big mistake that Katwala makes is in his misunderstanding of the Lib Dem voting base. Yes, perhaps a majority of Lib Dem voters next time would prefer a Brown victory to a Cameron one – but not by a very big margin.
Each month the Daily Telegraph YouGov surveys asks: “If you had to choose, which would you prefer to see after the next election, a Conservative government led by David Cameron or a Labour government led by Gordon Brown?” In December the Lib Dem voters split Brown 45% to Cameron 34%. Back in June when things were going even more badly for Labour than they are at the moment the Lib Dem split was Cameron 51% to to Brown 31%.
The December 2008 poll was, of course, taken during Brown Bounce II. My guess is that the latest YouGov poll, due tomorrow or Saturday would see figures closer to the June levels.
I reckon that the Lib Dem parliamentary party would split on similar proportions.
Like many on the left Katwala simply fails to understand what the Lib Dems are about. If this happened, which I don’t think is likely, I, for one, would leave the party that I have been a member of since its foundation and throw everything at campaigning against what I would see as a betrayal. There are others like me.
This surely is a non-starter. It would be electoral suicide for the Lib Dems to do anything that supported the Brown government.