The keys to the squat

..and so the General Election campaign descends simply into an argument over who Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democarats would ‘prop up’ in a hung Parliament. If they veer towards Labour: it’s vote Clegg, get Brown. If the Tories make overtures: it’s vote Clegg, get Cameron.

In the middle of this all, the Lib Dems hint that electoral reform should be on some future agenda for them to be wooed effectively. Clegg uses the word ‘hard-wired’ a lot, so maybe he wants to “hard-wire fairness” into the electoral system with a bit of proportional representation. After all, he was emphatic in interviews on Sunday that if Labour take the most seats at next week’s General Election BUT receive the less votes overall, the party should not be able to keep its Prime Minister. ‘Potty and preposterous’ was his choice of words on the Andrew Marr Show. Brown would be ‘squatting’.

But would the Lib Dems (or any other party for that matter) be happy to follow that logic in Camden. In the history of the 2006 local elections the often forgotten fact is that the Labour Party did not come third and actually got more votes than any other party across the borough.

That day when the party in Camden was wiped out, obliterated, humiliated, whatever dramatic word you want to you, more people actually went into the polling station on May 4 2006 and marked their cross next to a Labour candidate.

Yet, by virtue of the electoral system, they ended up with two less seats on the council than the Lib Dems and have spent the last four years in opposition at the Town Hall.

Another day, another system (and probably one advocated by the Lib Dems and one more in line with Clegg’s arithmetic): Labour could have retained power in Camden or at least been the lead partner in a coalition administration.

2 Comments on The keys to the squat

  1. John Bryant // April 26, 2010 at 10:32 am //

    You forget that Labour chose to become the official opposition having lost half of it’s seats – from 36 to 18 – and refused to engage in talks with the other parties shortly after the dust settled. Take a look at the CNJ at the time – you probably wrote the story!

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  2. Theo Blackwell for Gospel oak // April 26, 2010 at 11:51 am //

    John, and for that reason Jo Shaw, stop perpetuating a myth peddled at the time by Keith Moffitt because it just makes the Lib Dems (and yourself) look even more conniving and slippery than usual.

    We did not refuse to engage in talks with the Lib Dems – as you very well know.

    What happened was that Anna Stewart, our then leader, was presented with a fait accoplis press release (already issued) by your leader annoucing an invitation to a general coalition with the Lib Dems and Conservatives.

    As you well know, the Conservatives have a ‘no coalition rule’ with Labour, and Labour would need to gain NEC approval for any deal with the Tories. No individual offer was made to Labour from the Lib Dems – it might have been considered, who knows, but it was never on the table.

    As you also recognise, the coalition with the Conservatives was deeply unpopular with your activists and voters – hence it’s been convenient for your the Lib Dem council leadership to develop a more digestable story for that audience, however false it is.

    In the words of Gordon Brown to Nick Clegg: “Get real”

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