Ed Miliband continues to lack traction with the electorate; Nick Clegg tilts at EU rainbows whilst fully aware that David Cameron, holding the LibDems over a barrel, barely cares; unemployment is approaching 3 million. How much worse can it get? And can anything be done to reverse the situation?
Well yes, this could, and now should, happen: The LibDems should cross the floor in Westminster to join Labour, and the newly enlarged Parliamentary Labour Party could then consider carefully and urgently who should be in what roles in the reality of the new Labour Cabinet. It can be done, with nothing more than the declaration that it has happened; and it needs to be done very, very soon.
Things as they stand are dire and the future looks even worse. Action is required now. Apart from possible personal risks to Miliband and Clegg, what’s to lose?
There has been little point in adding to the wellspring of earnestly considered and deeply negative commentary about the ConDem’s direction of travel over the past few months. The predictions and concerns raised on this blog months ago are becoming real even more rapidly than anticipated, and the truth that the Conservatives are indeed the nasty party is already plain to see.
Leadership by default?
But still we read in today’s Observer (Andrew Rawnsley’s column) that many consider David Cameron remains ascendant as the UK’s political leader, and that whilst the LibDems may be angry, they have nowhere to go because triggering a sudden election would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.
Add to that Catherine Bennett’s view in the same newspaper that Ed Miliband is ‘hapless’ to the extent that he must be replaced – a view not confined only to Bennett – and a sense of despair begins to cloud all else in UK politics.
Where we now have fudge we need, as William Keegan once again demands, updated Keynesianism; where we have political two-faced posing (Mr Clegg) we need definitive response, immediately, to the sheer awfulness of what the Tories are imposing on the weakest and most vulnerable of our fellow citizens.
Sue Marsh suggests in her Diary of a Benefit Scrounger that the LibDems could join Labour in an alliance against the Conservatives without a General Election as follows:
The fixed term Parliament Act, passed on 15th September, 2010 as part of the coalition agreement, changed the way elections can be called… [but one alternative way, not requiring a General Election, is that…] if Clegg, Cable et all jump ship [i.e. carry a Vote of No Confidence], all parties have 14 days to form another government. Effectively, Labour and the Libs with a few “others” can form a government and no election will be called.
As we have previously and consistently argued on this blog however, even a vote of No Confidence is not essential for desperately urgent change in Westminster.
LibDems, defect now
All that is required is that individual LibDem MPs choose to leave their party of origin and join Labour by crossing the floor in the Commons. This is, again as first noted almost a year ago, a win-win, because MPs seeking re-election as LibDems are unlikely to hold their seats at the end of the fixed-term parliament, whilst Labour ones (even if newly Labour, having crossed the floor) may personally stand a better chance of remaining MPs if their action means the Tories lose control.
And once these Commons transitions have been accomplished, without need for recourse at such a fragile point in the economic cycle to the distractions of a General Election, the time will be right for Ed Miliband to take on the mantle of Prime Minister and in due course stand up and fight (or not) to be re-elected Leader of the larger Parliamentary and national Labour Party.
Open door and opportunities
I hesitate to talk about politicians acting selflessly in the wider public interest – this is about power, not feel-good – but sometimes there is really no decent alternative perspective. Miliband needs to make it abundantly clear that LibDem MPs will be welcomed by Labour; and these MPs in turn need to stop the fudge and admit they are the currently prop, not the rudder, of the appalling Tory power machine.
After all that, clarity about Labour’s leadership can be addressed in a refreshed and more vital context. Ed Miliband can in this scenario choose to show he has the strength to make his mark (or not) as Leader and Prime Minister before we reach the due date for the next General Election.