Brown’s anti-Tory gang
GORDON Brown’s strategy is now clear. Knowing that he cannot win an outright majority in the House of Commons, he is busily adapting policies which will make Labour the favoured choice of the Liberal Democrats if we have a “balanced” parliament after May 6.
Pretentiously, he says his new “mission” and “offer” to the British people is the creation of a “new politics” after the MPs expenses scandal. To his mind, this means forming a grand “progressive alliance” of Labour and Liberal Democrats to keep the Conservative Party out of power.
I say pretentious because the undeniable fact is that it is three of his MPs who are facing charges of fraud in connection with their election expenses. And many Labour MPs as well as Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are facing a public backlash because of the “fill our boots” greed of the Westminster elite.
In an interview with The Independent newspaper this week, the Prime Minister claimed that his “unique selling point” for the British people to buy was his experience and judgement and ability to learn from past mistakes.
With the opinion polls still showing the Conservative in the lead but short of achieving an overall majority, Brown thinks that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats will dance to Labour’s anti-Tory tune after polling day.
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“The Conservatives offer no change. You would get a change of personnel and a return to the old politics.”
That’s why he has done a volte-face and backs electoral reform, fixed-term parliaments, and a written constitution. It is doubtful if he would have proceeded with these if he had gone to the country in October 2007 and won a comprehensive majority.
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In his interview, he scoffed at the idea that he would accept a Liberal Democrat offer to support a Labour government on the proviso that he stood down as Prime Minister for another candidate.
Until either a formal or informal alliance takes place, it is impossible for the Labour leader to encourage voters in marginal seats to back the Lib Dems to defeat the Tories.
And in any case, such a declaration could very well backfire, with Tories in many parts of the UK – especially Scotland, Wales and the North-East - doing a tit-for-tat tactical switch and voting Lib Dem to defeat Labour. Many northern Labour MPs loathe the Liberal Democrats even more than they do the Conservatives.
“We are going for a majority. I am a fighter,” pledges the Prime Minister. “People have written me off many, many times.”
The Tories’ worst nightmare is a centre-left alliance pushes through policies designed to keep the Conservatives out of power for good. They will look back on what might have been if only the election had been held when they were 20% ahead in the lead.
Ironically, a four-year fixed term parliament would have meant a General Election at the height of Brown’s unpopularity and could have wiped out the Labour Party.
Is there any hope for the Conservatives? Possibly – after the weekend’s fevered love-in with Clegg, it seems the electorate is having a re-think. A ComRes poll for ITV News at Ten on Tuesday put the Conservatives on 35%, Labour on 26% and Liberal Democrats on 26% – Cameron short of a majority by 27 seats. Electoral Calculus’s average of all polls put the Tories 30 seats short.
The question for Clegg would be: “Can I really back a rejected Prime Minister and keep him in office?”
n This article was written before last night’s Leaders’ debate.