Telling the LibDems to strike a pact with Labour may, as John Harris suggests, produce a marginally closer intersection of key policy positions. Both are centre-left, broadly speaking (and we speaking very broadly). Vince has been consistently to the Left of Darling throughout this financial crisis, for example.
But Harris knows why this is a very bad idea:
On the Lib Dem side, there’s an even more tortured silence – heightened by Clegg’s apparent openness to a Cameron ascendancy – and a very big fear: that to hint at both propping up Gordon Brown and toppling off the ideological high wire would lose them precious support in Tory-Lib Dem marginals.
As Danny Finkelstein observed in a blog I’ve just wasted 10 minutes looking for, voters tend to be spectacularly ignorant about the finer points of parties’ manifestos or their key positions. In my view, all that focus-group sharpening of policy positions is overwhelmed – particularly at a time like this – by one binary choice: are you for or against the government? And when most government ministers are unrecognisable, this boils down further: are you for or against Gordon Brown?
The next election is an epochal shall-we-throw-out-Brown election. John Harris seems to have decided that tying the Liberal Democrats to his ankles as he’s chucked out of the balloon is wise policy.
Dave Osler seems to be ready to stoop to make this great sacrifice of his unimpeachable left wing credentials. A timely reminder of the huge differences in the party’s DNA, when such selfimportant sentences as these spill out:
The historic significance of Labourism rests in its partial expression of a clear desire for an independent working class voice in electoral politics in the opening decades of the twentieth century
The decades they are still stuck in to a great degree.