Lord Adonis flys a kite?
Lord Adonis has successfully managed to alienate half the northern hemisphere by editing them out of his high-speed rail proposals. Meanwhile, in The Sunday Times he follows his leader in extending an olive branch to the Liberal Democrats. It should be a matter of distress when a Blairite claims that there is ‘no ideological’ divide between two things; sadly, however, one can imagine Nick Clegg wearing it as a badge of honour;
“Nick Clegg is a very capable leader and ideologically I am on broadly the same page as him, as I believe is Gordon Brown.
I want to see a Labour majority after the election, but I also want to see us working as closely as possible with the Lib Dems on policies we share in common.”
In other words, this is a desperate plea by the right-wing of the Labour Party for Clegg to save it from the total oblivion it would face at the hands of its own membership. However, if such a coalition were to occur I happen to think it would not be on the terms that either Adonis or Clegg would intend; it would give impetus to the left within both parties. Clegg would, I believe be carried there largely against his own will and instincts, probably what would crush skepticism is the realisation that the only chance of achieving any kind of electoral reform would be a deal with Labour.
Necessity in politics is the mother of invention (as it is with alot of things). Besides, Clegg has gutted the Liberal Democrat program of much of its constitutional radicalism so there is likely to be little difference in what the parties promise on that score in the coming election. Meanwhile, Adonis clearly sees the inclusion of the Liberal Democrats as a means to other ends;
The transport secretary said the two parties shared similar views on the reform of the constitution and public services.
Liberal Democrat policy on public services and welfare tend to be a bit of a mixed-bag but on the NHS in particular the favouring of some kind of insurance-based model is close enough to what the Blairites want but it will take Cameron to enact to legitimise Adonis’s point. Given the above I can understand a certain hostility on the part of the Labour-left to see this as potentially a good thing however to reject it outright would be to throw out the baby with the bath water.
It should, like the Liberal Democrat left, extend the hand of friendship and co-operation across the tribal divide and undermine pacts and deals delivered above with a fraternal unity built from below.