John Kampfner, a distinguished war reporter, ex-editor of the New Statesman and commentator with impeccable centre-Left credentials, has written an important and provocative piece for the Guardian today:

Why I’m backing the Lib Dems

This coincides with the launch (through CentreForum) of his pamphlet: ‘Lost Labours: where now for the liberal Left?” (pdf).  The webpage explaining what it is about is here.

John is launching the paper today,  in an event starring him and Nick Clegg.

It is at 11:30 today,  in the Council Room, 1 Birdcage Walk.   There are still some places available, and it is bound to be extremely newsworthy.

Selected excerpts from the publication:

After 13 years in power, the Labour government is stuttering  towards electoral defeat. The causes of its malaise are various: a cyclical shift that inevitably follows all periods of political dominance; the exhaustion of the main players; a continued fury with Tony Blair over Iraq, and despair at Gordon Brown’s strange mix of brutishness and weakness.

I can see no short or medium term future for a Labour party devoid of purpose beyond a ferocious determination to sustain itself in office. Once in opposition, whoever is the leader, if Labour fails to understand the fundamental hole at its heart, then it is potentially ruined as a viable political force.

The impending arrival of David Cameron in Downing Street is, for anyone on the centre-left, an unhappy moment. Yet it is unlikely to herald a new, long term Conservative hegemony. The Tories seem racked with indecision, unclear of their message to the electorate or their purpose for office, aside from cutting the deficit, and even here they have become confused. Even if they win the general election, as seems probable, they are unlikely to put down deep roots.

That last paragraph is tantalising.  But I wonder how many left wing thinkers might have felt the same over most of 1979-81?

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