Friday, June 22, 2007

Brown's Dirty Tricks

Brown has said that he wants to form a government of 'all the talents'. This is a lie, and it is the sort of lie that gives politics a bad name because everyone knows that it is a lie, but everyone, commentators, politicos, journalists has to act as if it isn't. It really is not the case that Brown cannot fill up his ministerial ranks with those available on the Labour benches. It is certainly not the case that the Liberal Democrats have people of such 'talent' that they would be a unique asset to any government. What the Liberal Democrats would bring to the government would be votes for the Labour party at an election. The problem from the Liberal Democrat perspective is that they would mainly be switchers from the Liberal Democrats to Labour, something that worries Brown not one jot. From his perspective a few Liberal Democrats in his coalition plants him firmly in the crowded centre ground, while the LibDems take all of the electoral risk. There are relatively few people who wouldn't vote Labour if they associated with the Liberal Democrats, but there are plenty of people who would be turned off a Liberal Democrat party in bed with Labour instead of in opposition to them. And if it all goes pear-shaped, which of course it has, who gets hurt? Not Brown, but Ming Campbell, who now looks weaker than ever.

So, tonight Brown and company are probably pleased with their scheming, but they really shouldn't be. In politics it is possible to be too clever; integrity matters and if people don't trust you then they tend not to believe you, at which point it doesn't matter what you are saying or what message you are trying to deliver. After this, quite a lot of people won't trust Brown. Some of the them will be Liberal Democrat politicians, which doesn't matter unless there is a hung parliament. Some of them will be his own back bench MPs, which doesn't matter, unless there is a close vote in the Commons. Some of them will be ordinary members of the public, which doesn't matter, unless, of course, there is an election some day.

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