Elements of the Labour Party clearly have a soft spot for Paddy Ashdown, and he has shown leadership capability in Bosnia. The usual leaking took place about junior roles for some Liberal Democract peers (with what political futures, what potential promotions?) and then we had Gordon Brown's travel partner Menzies Campbell in for a chat about these positions, and probably about Paddy Ashdown for the less important (now they run the place themselves) Northern Ireland Secretary. So Gordon Brown favours the big tent that he, apparently, resisted when Tony Blair thought about it back in 1997.
As Michael Portillo said on the BBC, all political parties have been disturbed by this move by Gordon Brown. Brown is looking to the political future. He must be aware that this new Prime Minister led Labour Party is the same Labour Party, and rather like a clone being born old (if clones are born old) he must see a diminishing vote for Labour as its heartland continues to evacuate support for it and the middle class runs away. So he wanted to compromise the Liberal Democrats.
They are right to keep out. I want to support a party that does believe in redistribution, that does support individuality as well as the collective, that is concerned for liberty when so much that we assume about liberty is being lost. I voted Conservative in 1979 as an economic liberal, and voted the equivalent of Liberal Democrat at ever election since except 1997 when, in this constituency, we just had to remove the Labour candidate with the one most likely to win. This is because I am a social liberal, and one who has become more radical as the government has become more right wing. I am not a member of a political party.
I also think that Gordon brown has been a "boom and bust" Chancellor. He has been so in public services. Much of the expansion in jobs came in the public sector. I am sure they add value (where we add value is a difficult puzzle when manufacturing is ever smaller and when buying things sends money-flows far from the people on these islands or indeed in Western Europe - we can forget about old Balance of Payments calculations). Now the jobs are disappearing as cuts are made whilst the spin goes on about well financed public services.
I think we should wait and see about Gordon Brown. He is going to be a Prime Minister who knows every nook and cranny of government, having been a Chancellor running virtually every domestic department via the purse and via detail. The Chancellor under him will be a minor figure for quite some time. If Gordon Brown continues this almost Singapore like social control - a sort of must do this, must do that, surveillance based capitalist society (watch out for the Protestant work ethic) - then it will be very important to vote him out, even if it risks an insubstantial David Cameron becoming Prime Minister.
I think the curve of the life cycle of this government peaked a while back, but it may have far to go, and I'm hoping that it will be David Cameron who looks something that is past its sell by date, the flash and lacking, and it just might be - might be - that Menzies Campbell can appeal to voters as capable and able. He, like Brown, must promote a team.
Perhaps if there was a proprotional voting system, and Westminster was more like Scotland, Menzies Campbell might be inviting some Labour experience into his cabinet!
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