Posts Tagged ‘David Clark’

Talking to the Liberals and doing murky deals sends a defeatist message for 2015

11/01/2013, 08:35:58 AM

by Pete Bowyer

To the charge of opposing the Liberal Democrat Party, I plead guilty. I am proud to do so. Since being elected in a former Liberal council seat 10 years ago, I have steadfastly stood against the opportunism of a party that says one thing and does the opposite.

But my loyalty to Labour stretches further, much further, back. Thirty years ago, in 1983, I may well have been the only person in the country to have actually joined the party as it launched the longest suicide note in history. It took fourteen more painful years of struggle before we formed a Labour government of which I am immensely proud.

So, despite what David Clark says, nothing, including my intense dislike of the Liberals, should detract us from the urgent need to get rid of this terrible government and to replace it by a progressive Labour one. But as contributors to these pages have noted, much work is still needed before we can be confident of doing so.

Where I, and other activists in the party, diverge from David and his intellectual cabal, is the signal of defeat we will send to the electorate if we hoist up the white flag now and start collaborating with our erstwhile political enemies in getting rid of this murky coalition only to end up compromised by a murky coalition of our own!

Our position, on the other hand, is simple and straightforward. Up and down the country, we must target the most vulnerable seats of whichever political persuasion, as the party rightly indicated only yesterday, to bring us a clear victory at the next election. We should do so openly and plainly without entering into a grubby alliance with a party that I do not believe shares our core, progressive values.

If we are not victorious, so be it.  Let us then examine the arithmetic in the House and plan accordingly. It is difficult to imagine though that the Liberals will be much more than half their present strength, so unlikely to hold us hostage in the event of a minority Labour government.

By going quickly back to the electorate on the question of “who governs?”, we should be able to produce a more decisive outcome, as our predecessors have done before us. And on that basis we can legislate a progressive Labour agenda that both David and I want delivered without needing to compromise with a declining, marginal party.

Pete Bowyer is a councillor in Lambeth

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Getting Labour into government is more important than a tribal urge to kick the Lib Dems

10/01/2013, 07:25:55 PM

by David Clark

I’m pleased that the call I and others made today for Labour and the Liberal Democrats to begin preparing the ground for a possible coalition in the event of another hung parliament has started a debate. That was our aim.

My own priority is to get Labour into government, preferably with a majority. But Pete Bowyer and others seem to attach more importance to kicking the Liberal Democrats out, even if it means a weak minority Labour government unable to pass its own legislation or another election that risked a Tory majority. I can’t pretend to understand that mentality. I can only assume that the people who share it have different reasons for being involved in politics from me; perhaps a deeply felt need for tribal belonging or a zealous attachment to the colour red.

I want Labour to be in a position to put its ideas into practice because I believe they are best for the country. If the most effective route for achieving all or most of what we want is an arrangement with the Liberal Democrats, then so be it. It’s the policies that matter and all this talk about “Lib Dem betrayal” strikes me as trivial by comparison.

Only a fool imagines the next election is “in the bag” for Labour, a view Pete wrongly attributes to the signatories of our statement. I believe that Ed Miliband’s approach gives us the best possible chance, but the prospect of another hung parliament is real. In those circumstances I want a coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats to be a realistic option. The right time to start creating that option is now, not the day after polling day when it will probably already be too late.

David Clark is editor of Shifting Grounds

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We should attack the Lib Dems not cave in to them

10/01/2013, 02:50:00 PM

by Pete Bowyer

With David Clark et al’s letter to the Guardian today, Labour’s defeatist tendency is once again on the march, prematurely calling for a Lib-Lab coalition following the 2015 general election.

After a year in which the Lib Dems fortunes have sunk to an all time low, and Labour has established a clear, if soft, lead in the polls, it is perverse that we should be preparing the ground now for a future coalition with a toxic political party. Just ask the Tories!

Those of us who have long confronted the Lib Dems on the ground in local politics, have become weary of the suggestion that they are a truly progressive force in British politics. Here in Lambeth, their short-lived, single term coalition with the Tories saw council tax rise by almost 40%, social housing conditions deteriorate and severe cuts across the board in local services.

Ironically, many of the signatories to the letters are fully signed up members to “the 2015 Election is already in the bag” brigade, which makes you wonder how confident they are in their own predictions. Those of us who are not quite so complacent, believe it is incumbent on all party members to campaign for a majority Labour government, rather than throwing our opponents a political lifeline.

If, in the event, we fail to achieve one, the parliamentary arithmetic will dictate next steps. The instincts of most Labour party members would be to proceed with a minority government initially, and call an early second election to establish a clear mandate as soon as the opportunity arose, a strategy which David Cameron was extremely foolish not to follow in 2010.

In the meantime, we should continue to attack the Lib Dems, not cave in to them.

Pete Bowyer is a councillor in Lambeth

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The leader we have: inside the leaders’ office

11/06/2010, 02:08:39 PM

“And all the sons I might have had mean nothing, for I have a son.”  So wrote James Baldwin.

And so it is with the leadership.  While Diane and the boys spend the summer in a four month penalty shootout, Harriet has quietly slipped on the captain’s armband.

If the coalition collapses in August – which is very unlikely, but not impossible – it will be Harriet who leads Labour’s reponse. (more…)

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