Friday, June 29, 2007

"Just sign here, Quentin"

Today's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News. I was afraid that by the time it appeared someone would have broken ranks and accepted a ministerial post under Brown.

Fortunately for me and for the party, it did not happen. But I share Norfolk Blogger's doubts about even those advisory posts.

Age matters

I chose quite a week to go on holiday. Reading the papers, I half expected to find a telephone message from Gordon Brown waiting for me at home. Would I like a peerage and did I fancy taking over from Ben Bradshaw as Minister for Fish?

The way our parliamentarians resisted Brown's overtures speaks volumes for the Liberal Democrats' discipline and common purpose. It is the Conservatives who have proved flaky at the edges with the defection of Quentin Davies.

Like most defections, it will be a nine days' wonder. But Davies's resignation letter is important because it was almost certainly written by Brown's spin doctors. ("Just sign here, Quentin") and shows how Labour will attack now David Cameron:

Under your leadership the Conservative Party appears to me to have ceased collectively to believe in anything, or to stand for anything.

It has no bedrock. It exists on shifting sands. A sense of mission has been replaced by a PR agenda.Although you have many positive qualities you have three, superficiality, unreliability and an apparent lack of any clear convictions, which in my view ought to exclude you from the position of national leadership to which you aspire.

This line of attack has one clear merit: the claims it makes are patently true."Superficiality, unreliability and an apparent lack of any clear convictions" brings us naturally to Harriet Harman. Her tactic of winning John Cruddas's second preferences by implying she shared his views on Iraq, then disowning them the day she was elected, shocks even in this cynical age.

But she does have previous: the champion of women's rights who cut benefits for single mothers; the former star of the National Council for Civil Liberties who now backs identity cards.

In this naughty world Menzies Campbell's integrity shines like a good deed. I was pleased he tackled the issue of his age: "Politics would benefit from more people with experience. If more experienced politicians had taken the decisions, we might not be mired in the conflict that we see in Iraq today."

I never trusted the idea of "putting the zing into Ming": better to let him be what he is. Which would not be a bad idea for Harriet Harman or Quentin Davies either.


Nich Starling said...

I'm pleased you agree with ne.

We are becoming bolt ons to Gordon brown's government, but as bolt ons we recive no benefit, gain no recognition and have no influence. All we do is make Brown look like a true gent and allow the Tories to attack us.

Edis said...

The 'advisory posts' are unknowns in this evolving Presidential system. Do they inmply collective responsibiity? Confidentiality and a bar on public comment on relevant issues? I think as a party we should ask some hard questions on these posts regardless of the provenance of any individuals.

Anonymous said...

come on now Liberals - if you are serious about ever having your hands on government you will have to accept jobs from Labour or the Tories - there is NO chance that you will win a general election - so why not just grow up and accept the offer of working in Government. Julia Neuberger would have made a first rate health minister but for silly partisan reasons your leader told her to turn it down - its not only your loss - but a loss to the country.. but to be honest it just makes you lot look like a group of oppositionalists - when given the opportunity to join the Government you turn it down, and Gordon clearly wanted to extend his government to include none labour people - digby jones etc - you could have been part of that - instead you are seen in the eyes of the public as lacking any seiousness.