by Ian Stewart
Thank you Andrew Rawnsley. No, really – this was exactly the right time to bring up the possibility of Nick Clegg clinging to office by whatever means necessary after 2015.
Of course, Andrew was simply doing what he is paid for – writing speculative fiction that tantalises Observer readers every Sunday. After all, with Len Mcluskey giving one of the most important speeches from any trade union leader in ages, it was obviously a slow week in politics. Oh, and Cameron running away (again) on Europe, those nasty cuts to all those skiving strivers in the NHS, the armed forces; the firefighters’ warning of a looming crisis in our emergency services, yes, nothing to worry the world of high politics.
Now predictably the reaction to Rawnsleys’ article on Sunday has fallen into two camps – those who are trenchantly against any co-operation, and those who, for all sorts of reasons, favour some kind of Lib-Lab alliance. I can find no coherent reason to join the latter camp, yet I also reject the former.
The situation as I understand it is this: Ed and Nick are no longer throwing dung at each other. Outside of Westminster, the Lib Dems still covet the ambition to replace Labour as the main contender to the Tories, and, in differing areas, act accordingly. Most true blue Tories still detest the orange bookers, and blame government failure on them, rather than on Osborne’s economic incompetence.
Oh, and the main point – the next general election is in 2015, and as this is not North Korea, we do not yet know the result. This makes all speculation null and void. Certainly, we need to be prepared for the possibility of another hung parliament, and to keep our options open to deny any chance of a Tory majority government if we can.
Yes, that may mean some form of coalition of those willing to halt austerity. That could include Plaid, Greens, and yes, maybe even Liberal Democrats, depending upon who leads them at the time – hell – even the SNP if necessary (although I doubt they would do it).
Labour could even win a majority, after all the polls at this early point suggest an increased vote. So it would be much more sensible to waste but little time on second guessing the future, and spend more time building a party and movement that can effectively oppose this austerity, and win the election in 2015.
Ian Stewart is a Labour party member and blogs at http://clemthegem.wordpress.com/