I have been arguing it might be best for Labour and Lin Dems to let the Tories form a minority government in the sure knowledge it will fail, and it’s better that the Tories take the flak for trying to impose cuts and creating social and economic mayhem than Labour and the Lib Dems doing so. But in the light of new evidence I may have to change my mind.
If the Observer is right – and I suspect it is – then it’s very clear that the Nasty party is re-emerging. The Tories were famously described as such by one of their own – Theresa May – in 2002.
Cameron tried to brush over that.
In the process he has made enemies. May enemies. As the Guardian has reported:
David Cameron was facing a growing backlash from his own MPs and party grandees today over the conduct of an election campaign that left him short of an overall majority and trying to make a deal with the Lib Dems.
The Observer can reveal that Lord Ashcroft, who pumped £5m into marginal seats, is furious with the Tory leader for having agreed to take part in television debates that he believes undid much of his work for the party.
To top it all:
Today, one senior frontbencher rounded on the Conservative leader, demanding that he sack key figures involved in the campaign, including the man who ran it, George Osborne, the shadow chancellor. The frontbencher said: "He ran his campaign from the back of his Jaguar with a smug, smarmy little clique – people like Osborne, [Oliver] Letwin and Michael Gove. He should get rid of all of them. The party will settle for nothing less."
This puts things in a very different light. Especially as:
A friend of Ashcroft told the Observer that the peer held Cameron personally responsible for the emergence of Clegg as a genuine rival: "He believes it knocked several points off our poll ratings and that, without it, we would have won."
Now the way is clearer. The Lib Dems have to ally with Labour – as Shirley Williams has now had the courage to say (and few in the Lib Dems can ignore her). If they do there is a real chance of the Tories tearing themselves to bits. They’ll then re-emerge as the Nasty Party they have always been. And as has been proven time and again – that Nasty Party is utterly unelectable – especially when the only leaders in waiting are the once failed William Hague, who no one could take seriously again, and David Davis – ditto. Look at the rest – I bet you don’t even recognise five of them let alone have a hope of naming them. The only two heavy weights are Clarke and Willets – and they’re both hated almost as much as Cameron.
The Tory threat does not exist in that case. And forcing them into opposition will ensure it is completely neutered.
Sure it’s still a gamble – but as a pub of my acquaintance declares in its name “The Case is Altered”.
Now we really do need a progressive coalition – because the Tories might implode for another generation without even getting into office. That’s a chance that has to be grabbed.
I’m in favour of an immediate Lib-Lab coalition after all.
But there are conditions:
1) Brown has to accept a caretaker role
2) Labour has to elect a new leader
3) Clegg will have to be PM as he’s an elected leader
4) The parliament has to have a fixed term – maybe 2 years
5) The economy and electoral reform have to be priorities
An then they go back to seek a new mandate
I have a strong suspicion that will be bought by many in most parties – and even the electorate.