Saturday, May 29, 2010

+ + + David Laws Resigns + + +

And Guido will be crying into his beer. Lidl own-brand beer at that…

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sly Si and His Left-Wing Cabal

Simon Hughes shouldn’t be underestimated as an operator. He cut his teeth getting rid of more than his fair share of Liberal Democrat leaders, and in cahoots with Vince Cable he is rocking the boat again. Deprived of a Cabinet seat, Sly Si’s near coronation as Deputy LibDem leader is more than a little contrived…

Cable has looked close to tears for the last week and his unexpected resignation as Clegg’s deputy, and now his very public endorsement of Hughes as his replacement, shows just how worried he is about the coalition. This way the beardy-weirdies have a voice.

Perhaps as punishment for refusing to bloody his hands in the Treasury, Cable has been landed with the most cuts to his department. He has had to eat humble pie on television and his reputation as an economic guru is all but shattered. Bound by collective cabinet responsibility he is neutered.

Though Vince may have been exposed as bit of sham and the bookies make him favourite to be the first cabinet minister to resign, don’t think he isn’t going to go down without a fight, and never forget how vicious LibDem infighting can be. So who does he turn to start causing trouble? His old mucker Hughes of course – the whole swap looks like a well executed plan – interestingly his only challenger for the leadership thus far is Tim Farron – who has been a Hughes protege and ally for many years (and was a senior figure in both Simon’s leadership campaigns).

See also Cable’s Positioning

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cable’s Positioning

Vince Cable has been looking like he swallowed a bee ever since Cleggmania took off. His announcement today that he is resigning as deputy leader of the LibDems is transparently a piece of positioning. Cameron manages to combine being party leader with being PM and Clegg somehow copes with being deputy PM and party leader.

Is it therefore really believable that Cable can’t cope with being deputy party leader and a Minister overseeing a contracting department? Isn’t he just distancing himself from the Cleggies?

UPDATE : Cable is the punters favourite to be the first Minister to resign from the cabinet.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lib Dem MPs and Fed Ex to Meet at 19.30

Looks like there is real movement – Gus O’Donnell has joined the Cabinet Office negotiations. A meeting has just been called for the Liberal Democrat MPs and crucially their Federal Executive tonight at 19.30.

It seems that a Tory/Liberal deal is nearly ready to be put to them.

Just nine members of the Federal Executive could cause a real headache. If they, or fifteen MPs, vote against the deal then this has to drag on until the weekend where Clegg would need the support of a simple majority of members at a Special Conference. Very doable but a long delay.

UPDATE : 25 minutes later Sky and the BBC now reporting the meeting. Lib/Lab talks are over. You read it here first.

UPDATE II : Cars are being packed up on Downing Street. Labour are spinning that the negotiations never got off the ground.

UPDATE III : Standard splash that “Brown Quits as Prime Minister!

The Labour Deal is Dying

The fervent  intensity of the negotiations is waning, the LibDems are now merely holding up proceedings. Two clear offers have been made to them and the fact there is still no firm conclusion proves they are stuck in a rut. They need three-quarters of both their parliamentarians and their Federal Executive to give the nod to any deal. Why the delay? Clearly there is a stumbling block toward the approval of the Lib-Con deal, but are there three-quarters in favour of a Labour deal?

A Lib-Lab pact has the backing of old timers like Paddy Ashdown and Vince Cable, who told Nick Robinson today that “he would have stayed in the Labour Party – he once co-wrote a pamphlet with Gordon Brown – if he hadn’t moved to London where the so-called “loony Left” had taken the party over.” However with even prominent Labour MPs speaking out over such a deal, Clegg is in an impossible position. Within his own negotiation team can you really imagine right-winger David Laws being willing to prop up Gordon for another four months or subject the country to yet another un-elected Labour leader? After the vocal outrage for the last three years from the Liberals about unelected leaders and the need for mandates, they would still look ridiculous. But it looks as if the Lib Dems are left with just one option…

The Labour pact is fundamentally weakened, fatally wounded in fact, Mandelson cannot bring the Scottish Labour MPs with him since they refuse to cosy up to the SNP, locked as they are in a bitter war north of the border. 

The Tories now believe Clegg to be in a weaker position than he was 24 hours ago, having flirted with Labour, without being able to consummate a deal….

UPDATE : Latest prices – from bookies shows money shifting back on to a Lib-Con coalition, now quoting a 65% probability versus giving a Lib-Lab coalition a 45% chance.

UPDATE II : Clegg met Cameron this morning and Tory negotiations are restarting at 2 p.m. according to a tweet from Hague. Looks like some punters were in the know…

Monday, May 10, 2010

Deal Making and Deal Breakers

Sources say the negotiating teams have a deal to sell their respective parties.  We’ll know what shape that deal takes shortly…

LibDemVoice has just released a poll of LibDem members – 80% say that without significant progress on electoral reform the deal is off.  So that is one part of the triple-lock that the key may not be in in.  The Federal Executive is the other part of the lock – some 35 strong, which means that if 9 liberal-lefties or PR purists say nay, it will have less than 75% support and the deal is off.

It ain’t going to be easy for Clegg to get 75% support from his MPs and the Fed Exec for a full blown coalition with the Tories unless there’s a solid deal on PR, which it doesn’t seem there is (at least in the eyes of LibDem activists – some of whom think securing anything less than immediate legislation for STV would be a sell out).  So, say the LibDem triple lock stays locked, what next?

It may be that in that situation some of the more right-wing LibDem MPs are willing to propel Cameron into Downing Street anyway. Cameron may also be willing to offer ministerial positions to any LibDems who do go for UDI if the weirdie-beardie party machinery hampers a deal…

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Clegg : We’ll Build New Economy from the Rubble of the Old



Bye, bye Gordon…

Let Sunlight into the Backrooms

The LibDems are haggling in a backroom in Smith Square because they can’t fit inside their HQ in Cowley Street.

When Clegg comes out of the negotiating room he should explain clearly what his party’s position is going to be during intra-party negotiations to the media and thus to the voters. Otherwise it will be a bad foretaste of what would happen under proportional representation. A system where deals are stitched up in backrooms by politicians without reference to voters is not much of a democracy.

When Will Gordon Go?

As was widely predicted before the election, Gordon is still squatting in Downing Street. He doesn’t seem able to accept that he personally has been comprehensively rejected.

There is of course the possibility that the LibDems could prop up a Labour regime, but that at the moment is a theoretical possibility. The LibDems have made it pretty clear that the message is “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, in any event it wouldn’t be Gordon they would be calling. 

His demise is the first pre-condition of any possible deal…

UPDATE : Punters currently think that Brown has a 28% chance of still being Labour leader at the next PMQs – from either the opposition or government benches.  Meanwhile the next Labour leader betting is pretty busy, Miliband is runaway favourite for some reason, Darling is also well backed as a caretaker safe pair of hands.  Guido has a few quid on Hattie Harman…

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Clegg and the Weirdie Beardies

Guido likes Clegg, his anti-statist liberalism is a welcome change from the more-of-the-same social democrats who have dominated the LibDems since the merger.  Clegg and some of his leadership team, like David Laws and Ed Davey, are in policy terms really on the centre-right even if they prefer to describe themselves as centre-left.

That said Clegg is hampered by the democratic structure of his party, the manifesto is written partly by the activist membership, many of whom are radical left-wingers – the infamous weirdie beardies.  Clegg emphasises all the vote winning right-of-centre policies on television; cutting personal taxes, putting more police on the streets, cutting back the health and educational bureaucracies.  His party has also saddled him with a manifesto that is soft on sentencing criminals, backs banning-the-bomb and joining the euro policies.

LibDem MPs and voters are to the right of the weirdie beardie activist party members.  YouGov polling shows that Clegg is the most popular party leader with a 79% approval weighting.  The same polling shows those voters over-whelmingly dislike LibDem policies on immigration and joining the euro. In the event of a hung parliament Clegg should use his enhanced authority to block a Lib-Lab pact however much his activists want it.  Clegg won’t replace Labour as the second party by embracing them and his popularity will dive forever if he does a deal with Labour, taking his party down with it…

Graphic credit : Policy Diffusion


Seen Elsewhere

Times and Telegraph 150 Years Behind | LibDem Voice
Piers Morgan Offered Job as Trainee Reporter | Grimsby Telegraph
Does Boris Belong in Zombie Parliament? | Rafael Behr
What’s Wrong With Political Journalism | ConHome
Labour’s Co-Op Spin | Indy
Inside an Islamist Takeover Plot School | Newsnight
Ed Heads to Scotland | Sun
Assad’s New Chemical Weapon Attacks | National Review
Jason Groves New Mail Deputy Pol Ed | MediaGuido
Cocaine Conservatives | Standard
Jezza Browne Responds to LibDem Haters | LibDem Voice


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Via @courtnewsuk, asked in court about Rebekah Brooks’ letter referring to waiting for 6 years, Andy Coulson says he had a “different interpretation” of their relationship.



Nick Clegg says:

Do you want lies with that?


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