Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Might I remind our Conservative friends that coalitions are built on mutual respect?

As someone who has taken the view that one should await the details of a deal before getting too excited, I have also taken the view that insulting your potential partners or, worse still, attempting to coerce, threaten or blackmail them is probably unwise. Perhaps I'm being naive, but it seems like good politics and basic courtesy.

And before I carry on, I am fully aware that some of my colleagues have become a bit excited. There is no doubt that some Liberal Democrats are just as tribal as their Conservative and Labour opposite numbers. There is one key difference though, in that there is the impression that there is a choice of 'dancing partner' for the Liberal Democrats. It doesn't excuse knee-jerk unpleasantness, but perhaps explains it.

On the other hand, there is emerging an unpleasant sense of bile coming from some of the ultra-loyal Conservatives. They don't like us, and I acknowledge that. However, they might want to consider whether or not such an approach is likely to achieve a greater bond between our two parties. I'm particularly depressed by Iain Dale's response though, especially given his earlier support for some kind of formalised arrangement between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Iain, that kind of comment isn't helpful, especially the Molotov/Ribbentrop quip.

However, I am surprised of the lack of awareness in terms of the external view of our Party, Liberal Democrats strongly support reform to our voting system? We've only rattled on about it for years! So of course there is every likelihood that any deal would require a commitment to voting reform.

And if we are to be a component of a stable administration, it is essential that we bring as much of the Liberal Democrat 'family' with us as possible. We are painfully aware of our history, and of the fact that, after merger in 1988, we lost members to a variety of other parties.

As Archbishop Cranmer has noted, we're also a democratic party. That democracy has its costs, but it is a reflection of our aspirations and of how we think politics should be. Yes, that's a bit 'boy scout', but many Liberal Democrats would prefer a rather gentler, more intellectual, less confrontational style of politics.

So, to any Conservatives out there, just ponder before you reach for the venom. Is your anger really constructive?

1 comment:

JonnyH said...

Mutual respect? How respectful to the tories was NC's covert meeting with GB? If it was seriously meant to wind up the tory delegation - it worked! And really, what kind of advert is this for voting reform? Quite honestly you'd be lucky to get 10% of the electorate voting for PR (or even AV) after this. You guys need to be careful what you wish for. Centre ground to 'the political classes' is way left of centre ground in the general public, and PR will reflect that far more sharply than FPTP - LD's will be fighting it out for 3rd place with the BNP and UKIP!:-) Seriously though, there are some decent LD'ers, but they are in danger of 'overreach'.