First Ministerial wannabe Iain Gray is to target Liberal Democrat voters who have been “betrayed” by the coalition with the Conservatives that former leader Charles Kennedy has revealed he cannot bring himself to support.
Gray is writing to Lib Dem supporters across Scotland (although how he knows who they are is a mystery to me), who supported the party at the General Election, urging them to switch their allegiance in the Scottish Parliament elections next May. Vote Labour keep the Lib Dems out?
The move came on the day Deputy Prime Minister and LibDem leader Nick Clegg addressed a gathering of 2,000 LibDem activists in Birmingham who gave overwhelming backing to the coalition. Activists would though wouldn’t they? What do the actual voters think of the “New Politics”®? Well the Lib Dem/Tory alliance appear to have dented the party’s standing. A ComRes survey said about one-third of voters who backed the LibDems at the election felt Clegg had sold out, while an ICM survey has suggested LibDem support is down three points since the election, at 21% (quoted in the Herald). So there you are, “New Politics”® seems to have gone down like an old fashioned lead balloon with Lib Dem voters and it is them that count more than the nodding dog activists. How has the NP revolution gone down with Tory voters I wonder?
Clegg said after the conference: “The stakes are high – for me personally, as well as the party. I came into politics to change things, and that means taking risks. Real, big change never comes easy. So it would simply be wrong for us to let this chance of real change pass us by – the chance to transform politics, the chance to hardwire fairness into our society, the chance to change Britain for good.” Transform politics by forming a coalition with the most stalwart advocates of the status quo? Hardwire fairness in by ditching policy in favour of rhetoric and allowing the Tories to kick PR into the long grass? AV is not PR as all it means is you have to get 50% of the vote. The safest seats like Tom Harris in Glasgow South would not be affected at all as he got 51% of the vote in the first round. And 49% of votes would still be wasted in every constituency.
The LibDem Scottish Secretary Danny Alexander said of Kennedy’s intervention: “It reflects that of course there are some people who have maybe a few misgivings about the direction in which we’re going.”. I saw him on the TV and had to collect my jaw up off the floor. I never thought that anyone could be worse than Jim Murphy.
Clegg was praised by Prime Minister David Cameron, who yesterday called him “clearly part of the inner core” of the new Government. But in his letter Gray writes: “People feel angry, betrayed and, in some cases, bewildered. As a minister in a previous Scottish Government, I worked with Liberal Democrat coalition colleagues, and found it a rewarding experience. But now they have thrown their lot in with David Cameron.” So no chance of another Labour /Lib Dem coalition under you then Iain? I do hope you enjoy minority government. But that might be good for the SNP in a roundabout way, with Labour in harness in Scotland and the Lib Dems and Tories in England there would only be the SNP left, wouldn’t there?
The SNP countered: “Many LibDems will be looking for another party at next May’s Holyrood elections and they will know that they have much in common with the SNP, such as a genuine commitment to a proportional voting system, believing the people should have a say in referenda and local democracy.” Very true: “New Politics”®, old stitch up!