Clegg not Cable would make the best coalition partner for Labour

by Dan McCurry

If Labour are to form a coalition government with the Lib Dems following the next election, then I would rather deal with Clegg than Cable.

I think Vince Cable is trouble. I’m not talking about the right sort of trouble, such as a deep sense of conviction for the need of justice. I mean the wrong sort of trouble, such as being unpredictable, or so anti-capitalist as to be both divisive and ineffective.

What we want from the Lib Dems is to agree on what our policies are and then for both parties to stick to the common line. With Nick Clegg it’s easy to imagine this happening, but with Cable I wonder if it would be so easy.

Maybe it’s that Telegraph sting that bothers me. The one where the journalists flirted with Vince and got him to speak about the “nuclear option”. We greatly enjoyed reading that story at the time, but now I can’t help feeling uncomfortable about the sheer arrogance of someone who fantasises about destroying the government.

Or maybe it’s banking that bothers me? The reason the share price of these banks has stayed so low is due to the fiddling-about of government policy. Mostly quite pointless stuff. This “ring fence” between retail and investment banking has little consensus to it. Besides, it was mortgage lending that caused the crisis not casino stock markets.

I once wrote an angry attack on AV on this blog. It wasn’t so much AV I was angry at, it was the idea of giving a gift to the Lib Dems after they had formed a coalition with the Tories. I’m not disputing their right to form a coalition with whoever they want, but I didn’t enjoy the gloating.

Seeing Paddy Ashdown on TV telling us how Nick Clegg met with Gordon Brown and rejected him to his face was enough to prompt the red mist to descend. Probably, Nick Clegg was perfectly polite, but in the telling of Gordon’s humiliation, Ashdown looked like he was having an orgasm. These days I take the view that the Lib Dems have been punished enough.

The reality is that the choice of Lib Dem leader is down to the Lib Dems. If Ed Miliband thinks he had influence over their choice of leader, then maybe he should wield that influence, but I don’t think he does. Nor do I think the Lib Dems want Vince Cable to replace Nick Clegg. I don’t have any inside knowledge, I just think that Nick Clegg is a talented communicator and is trying to do well for his party. I don’t think there’s much more to him than that, but I do think he could run a couple of rings around Vince Cable, especially from a position of incumbency.

So when our party leaders speak about the possibility of entering a coalition and their advisers’ brief warmly about doing business with Vince Cable, I’m sure the other side have thick skins, but let’s not get carried away and believe that it’s up to us who the junior party has as leader. As the old adage says, it might be wise to be careful what you wish for.

Dan McCurry is a Labour activist who blogs here

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22 Responses to “Clegg not Cable would make the best coalition partner for Labour”

  1. paul barker says:

    Have you thought of suggesting this article to Libdem voice as a guest peice ? If out Parties are to have a sensible conversation it would help if each had an idea of what the other was thinking.

  2. aragon says:

    You are wrong on the banks, for a start it was an international problem, no just a UK issue, and getting the banks back into private ownership is not the most important objective.

    A readable description of the crisis:
    All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis
    by McLean and Nocera.

    The current bank policy does not go far enough, full separation is a minimum requirement and derivatives are in the words of Warren Buffet “Weapons of mass financial destruction.”

    Perhaps Vince is just too far to the left for you (Dan) on some issues?

    Do the Libdems currently have an effective veto on some issues ?

  3. Ex-Labour says:

    @ aragon

    There are some great books which deal with various aspects of the financial crisis. The banks are often blamed (the Labour mantra) and of course they are to a large degree. But as the books point out some of the practices, particularly around mortgages and home ownership were driven by political policies and pressures in the US. The eventual outcome of the crisis was of course to expose profligate governments in Europe who were spending more than they could afford.

    As for Cable or Clegg, I can tell you as one who lives close to Cleggs constituency and have friends who do live there, he is by no means assured of getting back in come 2015. It has a large student population who are angry at increased fees and of course he refused Forgemasters a loan to develop their business in Sheffield. The population remember this, so Labour may have no choice but to deal with Cable.

  4. Fred smith says:

    More McCurry Drivel.

  5. McCurry says:

    @ Aragon I wasn’t talking about derivatives.

  6. Renie Anjeh says:

    Vince Cable has centre-left leanings and has a history in the Labour Party as well as connection with a lot of our ideas – especially seeing as he backed Ed Miliband’s 2011 conference speech and has openly opposed his own government’s economic policy only to be slapped down by Nick Clegg. Clegg however is effectively a socially liberal, pro-European One Nation Conservative and some people in his side of the Lib Dems are to the right of Ken Clarke on economic issues for eg. Jeremy Browne. I could not see a Labour-led government with Clegg, Laws, Alexander, Browne etc. In fact we should not go into coalition with the Lib Dems after the next election – full stop.

  7. McCurry says:

    @Paul Barker

    I followed your advice and sent it into Lib Dem Voice. Someone called Caron Lindsay rejected it with the words, “How dare you darken our door with this filth?”

  8. Fred smith says:


    Obviously isn’t as stupid. Perhaps the stupid thing was to send it to her in the first place.

  9. McCurry says:


    I was joking. Get a sense of humour before you go trolling.

  10. aragon says:

    Dan McMurry

    What do you think casino banks ‘gamble’ with, it is not tiddly winks, but derivatives like mortgage backed securities and securitisation.

    The casino banks couldn’t get enough loans to create CDO’s and CDO^2 (squared) and actively promoted sub-prime loans to which they could apply their Gaussian copula. Not to mention SIV’s Structured Investment Vehicles etc.

    All the devils are here is just a comprehensive description of events.
    ‘Fanny Mac’ and ‘Freddy May’ predate the crisis and the Gaussian copula.

  11. swatantra says:

    I am fast forming the impression that Cable is nothing more than ‘an old fart’.
    So Clegg would be the better bet, at leas he has a more interesting outlook on realty.

  12. McCurry says:

    @Aragon, I was thinking of derivatives as hedges, bets against currency or oil price going in the wrong direction to your interests.

  13. Fred smith says:


    It is terrifying that somebody as bonkers as you feels that you have the intellect to comment as authoritatively on banking as you do. Its almost as bad as Ed Balls and Miliband feeling that they have the skills to run GB PLC.

    Politics is broken.

    Fred, not a tory troll and NOT as stupid as McCurry.

  14. Danny says:

    Yeah, Balls and Milliband feeling they can run GB Plc. Laughable.

    It’s not as if the former acquired a better First in the same Oxford degree as Cameron and would have acquired far more economic “skills” during his Kennedy Scholarship in Economics at arguably the greatest education institution on the planet.

    No, if he wants to get the skills to run the economy, he should of course have graduated in Modern History, because that is providing an enormous assistance to George Osborne as he does such a wonderful job running GB Plc.

    Ed Balls has his detractors, but the main thrust for the opinion is either “he worked with Gordon Brown” or “he doesn’t talk as though he has plums in his mouth”.

    The fact of the matter is he has probably the most impressive academic record in Economics in the House of Commons and has been the loudest detractor of the pain-causing and self-defeating austerity measures for the longest time.

    Anyway, to get back on track, a coalition with Clegg would be disgraceful. The only positive I can think of for this course of events would be that it would save me my Labour party membership fees.

  15. Henrik says:

    @Danny: Ed Balls may well have the most academic chops of any politician, don’t know, don’t really care – I do know, however, that he was intimately associated with the giant mess Labour made of the public finances during their last tour at the helm and that, right there, to my mind disqualifies him from any sort of responsible office. It’s interesting that there is still a faction within the Party which sees Balls as some sort of electoral strength.

  16. Danny says:

    I don’t see him as some sort of electoral strength. The right-wing printed press still have too much sway over vast swathes of the electorate and they have decided he is a buffoon, when the reality is quite the opposite.

    I actually think his association to the Blair and Brown led economic mess will help him. He’s not about to go and make the same mistake twice. He’s not George Osborne.

    I suppose it depends on what you want in a Chancellor. Someone who will do a good job with the economy or someone who will win you votes at an election. If we can win a majority in spite of the public perception of Ed Balls, we will be far healthier than if we won a general election with a different Shadow Chancellor. I think Ed knows that and has decided it is worth the risk. It’s just a shame that even some people within the party cannot see past the opinions of the red tops.

  17. Henrik says:

    You can’t keep on blaming the Press for all your troubles. Unlike Labour, I have a great deal of faith in the judgement of the voter and I’d be amazed if he or she were swayed very much by the tabloid press.

    I honestly think the Party should zip its man suit up all the way to the neck and have a good long look at what it wants. If Labour wants to form a government, it needs to produce some policies and ideas which will convince the electorate to trust it with the reins again. The electorate is not naturally left-wing and, as the state sector shrinks, will become even less so – and if Labour prefers to wander around the wilderness kicking rocks and muttering that it’s not fair and the electorate are a gang if imbeciles, it should continue on its current course.

    On Balls, the available evidence all suggests that he’s an incompetent, doctrinaire buffoon, who may have a fine degree but has no idea how to run an economy. Asserting that, having already made a huge Horlicks of it once, albeit with the active connivance of one of the worst Chancellors and then Prime Minister we’ve ever had, he’ll be better next time, smacks of either desperation or fantasy.

  18. Danny says:

    “Unlike Labour, I have a great deal of faith in the judgement of the voter and I’d be amazed if he or she were swayed very much by the tabloid press.”

    If only Tony Blair and David Cameron thought the same way you did. In fact, they disagree with you to such an extent that they spent great portions of their time firmly rooted up the rear-ends of Rupert Murdoch and his cronies.

    What available evidence are you referring to exactly, avoiding any references from the Sun and opinions of Conservative frontbenchers? Because from what I have available to me, you don’t get a fine economics-based degree by being incompetent. And I’m pretty sure Harvard don’t look for doctrinaire buffoon’s when they are selecting people for their Kennedy scholarships.

    It’s convenient for the Tories, who clearly can’t stand him, to use his closeness to Brown to dismiss his abilities, but again, what exactly should he have done as Secretary of state for Schools to help prevent the economic crisis? I’m always keen to criticise Michael Gove, does that mean I can blame him for the shockingly poor performance of the current economy?

    Based on his performance as Shadow Chancellor, as I previously stated, he has been the longest and loudest of critics of austerity and its consequences and has been proven absolutely spot on. You need to only compare our recovery to other members of the developed world to see what a sham Osborne and Cameron are making of the economy.

    So, Henrik, what “available evidence” have I missed?

  19. john reid says:

    Henrik last comment well said,

    I note Compass ,roger liddle, and neal leawson ,have all shown interest, but how many libdemn voters would want it

  20. Eddie Sammon says:

    I echo Paul Barker. In fact I would go one further and say Labour Party members with pro capitalism views should join the Liberal Democrats.

    The statists have taken over Labour, come join us.

  21. Henrik says:

    I’m sure our Ed has a fine brain for getting good economics degrees and obtaining scholarships at outstanding universities. I don’t recall suggesting otherwise.

    It’s a touch disingenous referring to Balls in his last official incarnation as SoS Education when his entire political career to that point was spent in close harness with the Rt Hon Gordon Brown PC MP. My issue is that Balls’ record in advising the then Chancellor – and the performance of same (you must recall how the evil American bankers made the government spend all the money and borrow, borrow, borrow, in order to pour money into underperforming public sector money pits with no particular result) very strongly suggests that, whatever his undoubted strengths in academia (which is not, frankly, that relevant to real life, any more than being a politician is), he’s not the man you’d want looking after your wallet for you. Being a loud critic doesn’t make him right, it makes him loud.

    On the wider issue of the other develped economies, I’m not here to defend the Coalition, any more than I am to knock Labour. Odd as it may seem, I am that rare individual, a truly floating voter, who can be relied upon to vote for the party whose manifesto and policies I find compelling, attractive and credible. The fact is that as I age and society changes around me, I find aspects of all parties’ approaches attractive, but no single party represents me or my views more than partially.

    If the collective wisom of the political classes is that they have to kiss Rupert Murdoch’s arse, or kow-tow to the Guardian, or act as lickspittles to the vile Daily Mail, that’s up to them – and indicates a profound lack of respect on all sides for the voter and an inability to engage in a conversation with the electorate on grown-up terms. This is a long-standing phenomenon, of course, but New Labour must take its share of the blame for allowing the Fourth Estate to acquire this mainly illusory influence.

  22. uglyfatbloke says:

    What makes anyone think that in the event of a hung parliament (do I hear a call for a hanged parliament?) there would be enough Lib-dems to make a difference to either Ed or Cameron. If the Libs hang on to 20 seats in England and Wales they will have had a good result. if they hang on to more than one in Scotland they will have had a very good result. It’s not just the Scottish Glib-Dumbs….labour stands to lose seats to the gnats as well. If it looks like Cameron is going to win, Labour will lose loads of Scottish seats – maybe not enough to make a real difference to who wins or loses the election overall, but probably enough to put the Glibs into 4th place at Westminster. It may be Salmond (or strictly speaking Robertson) who gets courted for coalition-making. What would Cameron offer? FFA in exchange for confidence and supply and a further reduction in Scottish MPs? he knows he can’t get a full coalition with the gnats unless they change their party constitution. What would Ed offer? FFA without a reduction in Scottish MPs?

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