The blame game

We're almost done with the politics stuff, viewers. Normal WoSblog service will be resumed shortly, but first I thought I might as well share with you an email I received this morning.

Back on Monday, when uncertainty still ruled as to who'd be forming the next government, the website 38 Degrees invited its users to send emergency emails to Labour MPs, urging them not to block any potential "progressive alliance" by vowing to vote against electoral reform, as many threatened to.

I took up the site's call, but sent a rather less restrained mail than their suggested text, because I was so extraordinarily angry with the largely-Scottish Labour MPs whose cowardice and naked self-interest looked like scuppering the most revolutionary step forward in the history of British democracy (and ultimately did). I sent it to as many Labour members as I could click on.

 

"If any of you halfwits – particularly the idiots in Scotland blinded by deranged hatred of the SNP – screw this up and let the Tories in, you will NEVER, EVER be forgiven. Take your fat noses out of the trough and JUST ONCE act in the interests of the people of this country who've been stupid enough to vote for you thinking that you might do something useful in the rare moments between filing expenses claims, like bring about an electoral system in which more than 30% of people's votes count.

The alternative? Let the Tories gerrymander the boundaries so that none of you are ever in power again. If you don't have the courage to act in the interests of the country, at least try to protect your own pathetic, worthless necks by delivering PR that will keep the Tories out forever.

Otherwise, please crawl into a ditch and die."

 

My inbox soon filled with auto-replies, and after events played themselves out over the course of the week I didn't expect anyone to bother answering. So I was surprised to receive this this morning, from the Labour member for Wallasey, Angela Eagle MP. (Who Wikipedia, by way of local colour, tells me is Britain's only openly lesbian MP.)


"I am responding to your email about the result of the General Election, and the possibility of a "progressive alliance".

As a member of the Labour Party's NEC I can assure you that there was almost unanimous support for discussing a "progressive alliance" with the Liberal Democrats in order to prevent a Tory government, when we met on Tuesday.

However, it soon became apparent that the Liberal Democrats had no intention of reaching an agreement with us because of the unrealistic demands they were putting forward. Indeed it is now clear to me that their negotiations with Labour were nothing but a ploy to wring further concessions out of the Tories.

During the election campaign Clegg made clear he would work with the party that had the strongest support, which the polls clearly suggested would be the Tories. Furthermore, once the result of the election was known, Clegg again indicated his preference for an agreement with the Tories. Indeed the article below shows that Clegg wanted to do a deal with the Tories rather than Labour from day one of his leadership.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-513240/Lib-Con-pact-Clegg-offers-prop-Tory-government-Cameron-agrees-power-share-deal.html

I would have preferred any outcome other than letting the Tories back into government. It is clear to me that they are set to use the current economic circumstances as cover to do what they always do, slash services and cut spending. You only have to cast your mind back to Cameron and Osborne's speeches at the last Tory conference to see this, when they demanded an 'age of austerity' and railed against 'big government'.

The Parliamentary arithmetic meant that it was for the Liberal Democrats to determine the shape of the new government and they have sadly chosen to team up with the Tories. I expect you share my disappointment at this turn of events, disappointment that no doubt turns to bitterness for those who actually voted Liberal Democrat in the expectation of progressive politics.

Yours sincerely

Angela Eagle MP
Lab. Wallasey"


The email makes no mention of my frankly rude and aggressive conduct (although it does quote my original message in its entirety), so it seems likely that it's a form reply. But I'm at least impressed that she bothered to compose it and send it to people, including non-constituents like myself. It doesn't actually address the main issue, or set out her position on electoral reform, or explain what the Lib Dems' unreasonable demands were, but it's something.

I've emailed Ms Eagle back to see if I can extract some clarification on some of the things she mentions.  In the meantime, it'll be interesting to see if I hear from anyone else.

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17 Responses to “The blame game”

  1. FWIW, I got the exact same reply, and a similar argument from a couple of other MPs, who claimed the Lib's demands were ludicrous.
    Those that weren't spam/autoresponders (from the 22 responses I got) were:
    Blame the Lib Dems: Alison Seabeck ("if they sign up to the Tories [they] have, in my view, been conned"); Maria Eagle (identical to your reply)
    Taking the middle ground: Peter Soulsby ("I am not aware of any campaign by Labour MPs standing in the way of a coalition government. I can assure you that I am certainly not opposed to such an arrangement nor to electoral reform.")
    Supported the coalition/PR: Joan Ruddock (supported the then-current negotiations); Richard Burden (chairs the all-party group on electoral reform, hoped for a fairer system); Fabian Hamilton (supports AV+, open to progressive aims)

  2. I have had that same reply from Angela, and also a very similar reply from her sister Maria Eagle.

  3. Coo. I wonder how many pairs of siblings we have in Parliament, apart from the Eagles and the Milibands?

  4. Bah, they can blame the lib dems all they like, but there were significant Labour mps coming out and arguing against the coalition- I suspect the same mps who were opposed to electoral reform, and figured handing the tories the poisoned chalice of this economy and recovering in opposition was the best thing for the party. I read rumours that some of the ridiculous demands included things like scrapping id cards, as Labour in its current form apparently hates all civil liberties.

  5. Peter St. John Says:

    To be fair, Lord Adonis says the Labour team offered up cancelling ID Cards and the third runway to the Lib Dems – neither side is all that trustworthy in this affair, though!

  6. CdrJameson Says:

    I think this form reply rather confirms that you've been ignored, not listened to.

    And possibly added to a Labour party spam list too, you lucky devil.

  7. Anonymous X Says:

    I strongly suspect the Labour MPs who replied to Craig in favour of electoral reform are from the centre of the party. The left, and hard left, in particular are the most rigid supporters of keeping the rotten FPTP system, and without exaggeration see the LibDems as a Tory front organisation!

  8. The spin machine has gone into overdrive to rewrite history. Especially with the Scottish Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrats. The usual "Blame the SNP" tactic comes to the fore while the many Labour objectors are forgotten about and swept under the rug.

  9. Angela Eagle says: As a member of the Labour Party's NEC I can assure you that there was almost unanimous support for discussing a "progressive alliance" with the Liberal Democrats in order to prevent a Tory government, when we met on Tuesday.
    However, it soon became apparent that the Liberal Democrats had no intention of reaching an agreement with us because of the unrealistic demands they were putting forward. Indeed it is now clear to me that their negotiations with Labour were nothing but a ploy to wring further concessions out of the Tories.
    During the election campaign Clegg made clear he would work with the party that had the strongest support, which the polls clearly suggested would be the Tories. Furthermore, once the result of the election was known, Clegg again indicated his preference for an agreement with the Tories. Indeed the article below shows that Clegg wanted to do a deal with the Tories rather than Labour from day one of his leadership.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-513240/Lib-Con-pact-Clegg-offers-prop-Tory-government-Cameron-agrees-power-share-deal.html
    I would have preferred any outcome other than letting the Tories back into government. It is clear to me that they are set to use the current economic circumstances as cover to do what they always do, slash services and cut spending. You only have to cast your mind back to Cameron and Osborne's speeches at the last Tory conference to see this, when they demanded an 'age of austerity' and railed against 'big government'.
    The Parliamentary arithmetic meant that it was for the Liberal Democrats to determine the shape of the new government and they have sadly chosen to team up with the Tories. I expect you share my disappointment at this turn of events, disappointment that no doubt turns to bitterness for those who actually voted Liberal Democrat in the expectation of progressive politics.

  10. Truly the Labour party, and in particular the Scottish Labour party, have no shame or sense of responsibility at all.

  11. Tom Camfield Says:

    The alternative interpretation (from The Telegraph):
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/labour/7713259/Labour-Liberal-Democrat-deal-talks-were-doomed-by-Cabinet-split.html
    Or, how about a blow by blow account, including what Labour were prepared to give and where it all went wrong:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/11/labour-liberal-democrats-coalition-recriminations
    It seems likely that the Lib Dems were at fault, but in many ways Labour would be unlikely bedfellows, any rainbow coalition would have, maximum, a five seat majority, and it's not as if the Labour party have listened to their leader since Blair's first term. The whole thing would have been a poor gamble.
    Oddly enough, if implemented (big if) the Lib-Con plans do paint a reasonably Lib Dem picture, with civil liberties returned, reform of both Houses, poorer workers getting less tax while rich shareholders feel the sting… there's even talk of further devolution, pension increases and continued spending on the NHS. I mean, in 50 days we'll probably all be watching welfare applicants being flogged on the streets as part of the emergency budget, but if we're not, these policies aren't exactly terrible, are they?

  12. "JUST ONCE act in the interests of the people of this country"

    Well – that would be nice.  However, this is the sort of thing Labour voters were really getting:
     
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article7127819.ece
    And that is precisely why the most important thing of all, was getting these corrupt bastards out.

  13. Well, if it's in the Times, it must be a completely balanced and unbiased summary of the situation, and not, for instance, whatever press release from Conservative Central Office that Rupert Murdoch's told them to print in order to deflect blame for any unpopular economic policies and underwhelming future performance from the incoming government.  For instance.
    There's not much joy to be had in getting rid of one set of corrupt bastards and replacing them with an almost-identical set of corrupt bastards.

  14. FWIW, I got the exact same reply, and a similar argument from a couple of other MPs, who claimed the Lib's demands were ludicrous.Those that weren't spam/autoresponders (from the 22 responses I got) were:Blame the Lib Dems: Alison Seabeck ("if they sign up to the Tories [they] have, in my view, been conned"); Maria Eagle (identical to your reply)Taking the middle ground: Peter Soulsby ("I am not aware of any campaign by Labour MPs standing in the way of a coalition government. I can assure you that I am certainly not opposed to such an arrangement nor to electoral reform.")Supported the coalition/PR: Joan Ruddock (supported the then-current negotiations); Richard Burden (chairs the all-party group on electoral reform, hoped for a fairer system); Fabian Hamilton (supports AV+, open to progressive aims)
    +1

  15. "There's not much joy to be had in getting rid of one set of corrupt bastards and replacing them with an almost-identical set of corrupt bastards."
     
    Sums it up well, sadly.

  16. Brilliant reporting..

  17. I'm a Scottish news nerd

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