Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The coalition is the best result for Labour

I've been too busy to post since the events of last week - catching up on gardening after my vegetable patch was sorely neglected during my election campaign. I've been beaten to it by other commentators who have reached the same conclusion as me - opposition is the best result for Labour. The reasons are straightforward. As Mervyn King said before the election this government is likely to be out of power for a generation due to the unpopularity of the cuts it will have to make. There is also the possibility that the Liberal Democrats will be swallowed up at the next election.

Joining with the Tories is a high risk strategy for Clegg and co. but one which I believe they had to take. If they hadn't they would have been accused of shying away from power and being more comfortable in opposition. Now they can claim that they have experience of government for the first time in 70 years. So how long will the coalition last? Some think it will fall apart after about a year when the cuts are biting and the differences between the Tories and LDs cannot be contained. I'm not so sure. I think Cameron is determined to go the full term and so is Clegg. The question is - can they take their parties with them?

Some would have liked the rainbow coalition - which was scuppered by political dinosaurs like Blunkett, Reid and Abbott. I supported the idea - but only if the LDs could squeeze a referendum on PR out of Labour. In the end the maths didn't quite stack up.

Just one more comment on Labour. They claim to have recruited 13,000 new members since the election result. Good for them. But they are also supposed to be spending time debating all the issues and renewing themselves. The problem is it already looks like all the old bad New Labour habits are coming to the fore. It should be an open contest representing all wings of the party but John McDonnell - easily the best candidate - will be shut out by the absurd nomination rules and the tight timetable. This is a mistake - similar to the one made when Gordon Brown was crowned leader without an election. Will things ever change?

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