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Monday, June 18, 2007

Chalk and Cheese

For those who might be puzzled at the reluctance of some Welsh Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru members to get into the coalition bed with Cameron's new cuddly Conservative Party, todays Times newspaper may provide some clues.

They tell us that a new survey by Populus about the attitudes of MPs reveals not only deep underlying disagreements between Labour and Conservative MPs on key social values, but also big divisions within the Tory party. David Cameron has failed to persuade a large number of his own backbenchers to accept his liberal views on morality and race:

On several key questions Tory MPs are deeply divided. For instance, against the view of Mr Cameron, just 46 per cent of Tory MPs agree that gay couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples, with 54 per cent disagreeing. For comparison, 83 per cent of Labour MPs and 92 per cent of Lib Dems agree.

Similarly, there is a 52 to 48 per cent split among Tories on whether “the diverse mix of races, cultures and religions now found in our society has improved Britain”. By contrast, 92 per cent of Labour MPs agree, as do all Lib Dems surveyed. And while Labour MPs are virtually unanimous (94 per cent) in agreeing that “one of the things that would most improve life in Britain today is people being more tolerant of different ethnic groups and cultures”, that is the view of only 67 per cent of Tory MPs.

The survey also shows that if you scratch beneath the surface, MPs from the two main parties have very different views on public services. Roughly nine out of ten Labour and Lib Dem MPs agree that “if we were starting with a blank piece of paper and designing a health system for scratch, we would still create something very much like the NHS”, but only two fifths of Conservative members agree.

Private schools appear as a sharp dividing line. More than four fifths of Labour MPs (85 per cent) believe “it would be better for the country if everyone who sends their children to private schools chose to send them to state schools instead”, a view backed by only 7 per cent of Tory MPs.

I have yet to be convinced that the Conservative Assembly Group is much different than their Parliamentary counterparts on such matters.

Hat Tip: Tom Watson
So again we see someone putting the Libdems close to Labour politically. Don't you think that if they formed a government with Labour in Wales the party would be lost to the electorate - for good?
No. It didnt happen in 2003 nor would it happen now. And that goes for the rainbow too. What is needed though is for the party to reform itself at the same time.
I thought that you said you wanted a period of opposition in order to reform. Now, you appear to be saying that you can do this while in a coalition.

To clear this up, can you state whether you are for/against: -

Rainbow coalition?
red/green coalition?
Labour minority govt?

I am sorry to put you on the spot, but at least you are prepared to convserse.
How many times can the party reform itself?
Does it really have the united base to survive another reforming?
I am genuinely baffled that it has taken a formal piece of research to convince you that the Tories remain a party that have little if anything in common with parties of the left. That's fundamentally what we are struggling with here in Wales. How can your party or some elements of Plaid Cymru possibly contemplate putting people with these attitudes back into government of Wales? Did the Lib dems seriously think that a few months of Cameron's spin and glitz fundamentally changed the party members or the sorts of people they select for office?

The Lib dems,particulary after German's incredible behaviour today, are looking to be a bunch of principle free, values free, incompetent opportunists. You and Kirsty are known to be exceptions to this. For heavens sake get a grip.
Activist, I do not need a piece of research to convince me that the Tories have not changed. I have been saying as much on this blog for over a year. The research was just another piece of evidence to add to the overall picture.

Anon 5.17pm: The Tory Party has not reformed itself. Its changes are skin deep, that is the point.

Anon 5.11pm: I still believe that the Welsh Liberal Democrats need space to reform, however the party has voted to go into a coalition and so we have to work with that. My view is that there is wide acceptance within the Welsh Liberal Democrats of the need to change so much so that we can most probably effect most of that whilst in government if, indeed that is where we end up. I can work with all three of the scenarios you paint.

The party voted for only one of those scenarios. We know what the vote was and it gave no mandate for a Labour Coalition or opposition. The question is which option, given your values and principles, would you now prefer to see?
What I want is immaterial. A democratic vote has been taken and I will abide by it. My preference is not to be in government with the Tories but if that is how it is to be then I will work to make the best of it whilst maintaining my integrity.

There is a route of course by which Mike German can reopen talks with Labour and that is to seek permission to do so from the group and the NEC. I have already explained that process on this blog. I have also explained that if the Rainbow Coalition is denied us then we should do that.
Of course the Tories havn't changed - you only have to see the comments Mark Isherwood has been making recently about his opposition to teenagers being given free condoms - http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/health/tm_method=full%26objectid=19312055%26siteid=50082-name_page.html

Nobody in Plaid is planning to put the Tories back in government. The Tories are prepared to support a Plaid led government in conjunction with the Lib dems. As a coalition none of the policies that you find offensive would be put into practice.

Your post is typical of labour people who are terrified of an alternative government taking shape. Clearly you are afraid that the programme agreed would be popular as, like all labour commentators on internet sites and in the press, you do not attack what this government proposes to do but the supposed views of a minority of its members.
Peter said:
"Anon 5.17pm: The Tory Party has not reformed itself. Its changes are skin deep, that is the point."

I meant the Liberal Democrats reforming! Again!
The Liberal Democrats are constantly evolving :-)

If the Tories are to have no impact on policy, why are they bothering to join the coalition? You need to better understand the process of government under the new Act. Once they are ministers they will have huge scope to deliver on the Tory agenda. The more thoughtful members of Plaid have figured this out and hence the growing resistance. If you want Tories running large parts of Welsh government again then I think you need to leave Plaid and join them. They are a right wing unionist party. What on earth do u think they have in common with the socialist party, Plaid claims to be?
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