Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ming Campbell in a hung parliament

There is an interesting aside in an article on the Scottish elections in this morning's Guardian:
Some observers believe Sir Menzies has privately agreed with Labour ministers, particularly Gordon Brown, whose constituency in Fife borders his own, to maintain a centre-left coalition between the two parties in the Scottish parliament.
No doubt the Scottish Lib Dems can look after themselves, but it is interesting to speculate what might happen in the event of a hung parliament at Westminster after the next election.

Despite his patrician mien - and despite Lady Elspeth - most of Ming's close political friendships are with members of the Scottish Labour establishment. It is likely that his first instinct will be too form a Lib-Lab coalition at Westminster too.

Whether the Bright Young Things who supported Ming during the leadership election will see things the same way is an interesting question.


Anonymous said...

It would certainly be foolish for Ming to align the party with the doomed New Labour project, and we have to face up to the fact that the Party has far more in common, ideologically, with Cameron's liberal conservatism.

That said, the only issue the Lib Dems should be prepared to co-operate on is electoral reform. A hung parliament is arguably the only scenario in which either labour or the tories would even contemplate reforming the electoral system. As it stands, i think Cameron might be prepared to look at AV+. Certainly moreso than Brown.

Linda Jack said...

Er.....Leo, really??! I certainly would not agree with your analysis, as Ming himself said "Dave, you're no liberal!" I do agree though that it would be dangerous to align ourselves with New Labour.

Jonny Wright said...

Leo, I can sort of see where you're coming from, and Linda, I can definitely see why you're disagreeing with Leo!

I think there's an overlap between us and both of the other parties, in the sense that there are people of a genuinely liberal persuasion within both Labour and the Tories - and from time to time, both of them have come up with liberal policies that we could happily go along with. But don't let that fool you into thinking that either of them is a fundamentally liberal party.

I think Ming is absolutely right not to talk about a hung parliament, and to try and work for "maximum votes and maximum seats" - because if we ally ourselves to one of the other parties before the election, we'll lose the ability to be independent in putting forward new ideas.

But if we did, Leo, it would be wrong to refuse to talk about anything bar electoral reform. Electoral reform is important, and could be a key element in a coalition agreement, but if we are in a hung parliament situation, it means we haven't won a majority of seats, and therefore don't have a mandate to introduce our policies in full. It puts the responsibility on us to compromise as best as we can with the other parties, on an issue-by-issue basis, and I think that would be by far the best approach.