Leaving the door ajar?
John Rentoul thinks that Labour must leave the door ajar for Nick Clegg and that Labour’s new role in politics is to make itself the most attractive coalition partner for Nick Clegg. He goes into much detail about the divisions within the Liberal Democrat’s between the ‘social’ and ‘economic’ liberals with Clegg, as he rightly says, being formally in the latter camp. Sadly, Rentoul then fails to follow through the logic of his own characterisation. How on earth could Labour make itself the most attractive proposition to Mr Clegg other than by adopting more of his economic liberalism? It is no accident that the leading advocates of leaving the ‘door ajar’ are prominent right-wingers within the Labour Party. Alliance with the Liberal Democrats is the last gasp bid of Blairism to retain power and hegemony over the Labour Party; look no further than the favourable comments on such an alliance by the likes of Lord Mandelson.
Were Rentoul to proceed from logically from this definition of Clegg’s politics he would quickly realise that Clegg is already with his most favoured and more natural Coalition partner in the form of the Conservatives. Furthermore, far from resisting absorption; Clegg seems to be rushing headlong into its embrace. Witness his comments yesterday that ‘coalitions are here to stay’; it is a small step from that position to argue that the Liberal Democrats should permanently attach themselves to the Conservatives. In future you will hear the rueful refrain from the leadership that a ‘Coalition candidate’ would have won there; formal unification of some kind is on the horizon.
Given this, the parties social liberal wing will be presented with a clear choice to allow the absorbtion or join the opposition to this abomination. When this time comes they will not be best served by a Labour Party cosying-up to the Liberal Democrats but better aided by a strong opposing pole of attraction. They are more likely to do the decent thing and break with their Party if Labour is articulating a strong and coherent alternative program to Clegg & Cameron circus and if Labour consistently exposes the treachery of Clegg and the ‘economic liberals’. Lib-Labbery is dead; it is time we slammed the door shut to keep this frankly horrific creation from troubling us any further.