Shooting the messenger

I like Mark Littlewood. I first got to know him when he was setting up NO2ID. Think he’s done a good job in the Lib Dems, and he is a good dining companion.

So, while I think his departure now may be politically expedient, I don’t delight in it. The person most responsible for last Sunday’s debacle was the one who came up with the ‘5 tests’ wheeze and in particular, these lines:

And if he meets these five tests he will have changed direction.

Coalition overtures with Labour

He will have changed direction, and embraced liberal democracy.

Coalition overtures with Labour

Are the Conservatives up to this same challenge?

Coalition overtures with Labour

Of course not.

If, reading between the lines, you can’t see coalition overtures with Labour, you must be blind, or stupid, or both.

I’m also very aware that the knives have been out for Littlewood ever since the Mark Oaten’s leadership candidacy went belly up. Littlewood was widely blamed for Ming’s disastrous ‘head teacher’ intervention at PMQs, widely believed to have been spun by the Oaten camp. In turn, Littlewood was accused of actively undermining Oaten’s campaign, something which was hotly denied at the time and, as we saw quite quickly afterwards, entirely unnecessary due to Oaten’s own limitless capacity for self destruction. There has been a quietly simmering feud going on for the past 12 months between Oatenistas and supporters of Littlewood, which seems to have now ended in a score draw (with the party stuck in the middle like some kind of bird of liberty-shaped pinata).

So, good luck Mark. And Ming: get your act together.


  1. I must say I’m confused by all this. The lines that James has quoted here do look quite loose when taken out of context. But lets look at those (now infamous) tests. Cut through the rhetoric and look at what Ming asked GB to do

    1. Scrap ID cards
    2. Make the Green Tax Switch
    3. Scrap means testing
    4. Scrap Council TAx
    5. Rule out attacking Iran and son of star wars

    What this actually looks like to me is not an ovature to form a coalition with LAbour, but rather setting the bar so high it can be ruled out.

    Call me stupid if you wish but I see it as an oppositional strategy against Brown, not the reverse.

    With regard to the Tories – why did Ming rule them out meeting these tests – simple – they have no policies.


  2. I covered this earlier in the week. In brief, you may be right that he was being ‘clever’ but ‘clever’ rarely works in political dialogue. Just look at the confusion over the Lords vote.

    In such circumstances, it is better to take things at face value. If this test fails, then it probably shouldn’t have been said/done in the first place.

  3. The visceral reaction on some Tory blogs was quite interesting.

    It sends a message that if they do want to work with use they would have to go at lot further to prove that change is more than skin deep, and that may be impossible for them to do.

    I wonder if it will also stimulate some debate in the Labour Party about their future direction. Most Labour activists I know would agree with 1-5, except scrapping means testing.

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