By Paul Goodman
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Andrew Rawnsley's column today rolls together a report and an argument.
The report is that Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg are getting on much better together:
- The two men met at the Royal Wedding, and got along well. Miliband apparently found Clegg to be "a pretty decent human being".
- Clegg admires Miliband's refusal to concede an EU referendum.
- Miliband likes the way in which Clegg diverged from David Cameron over Leveson.
- The Libdems now believe they may have been too hard on Labour over AV, Lords Reform and its record in government.
- Labour now thinks that it was too easily diverted earlier in the Parliament into attacking Clegg's party rather than the Conservatives.
- The two leaders' offices "have been closely co-ordinating, effectively working as a combined opposition", to block the boundary review.
The argument is that two parties' policy approaches converge over:
- A Mansion Tax, and property taxes more broadly.
- Climate Change.
- Industrial policy.
Rawnsley could also have mentioned:
- The ECHR.
- The constitution – since both parties favour an elected Lords, and both oppose "English votes for English laws.
Finally, he makes the point that:
Even on deficit reduction, senior Lib Dems contend that they and Labour
are not as far apart as it sometimes suits both sides to pretend. When
the government publishes its number for planned total spending into the
next parliament, Labour will be confronted with a major decision. If it
rejects the government total, that would put the Tories and the Lib Dems
on one side of a very fundamental divide and Labour on the other. But
if Labour accepts, things would be very different.
I made a tangential point in a different way last year:
A deal [between Labour and the Libea Democrats after the 2010 election] would have suited both Ed Balls and Mr
Clegg. It would have delivered Mr Clegg the keys to the Deputy
Premiership. (He really had his options covered, did the Liberal
Democrat leader.) And it would have delivered Mr Balls the Treasury,
which he has always coveted, plus a nice line for Labour backbenchers:
"Sorry I can't do everything that you want – because Nick Clegg just
won't have it." Heard that one anywhere else recently?
The view I was putting was basically the same as Rawnsley's: the most natural coalition in British politics is between the Liberal Democrats and Labour.
There will be much, much more of this as the next election approaches.