Politics.co.uk Blog

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Why Harriet Harman pities 'duped' Clegg

Labour's deputy leader was in fine form at a parliamentary press gallery lunch in the Palace of Westminster this afternoon.

Harriet Harman's remarks to assembled journalists began with the air of a party conference speech, as she contrasted the "hopelessness" and "misery" of the Labour party after its 1983 defeat with its current mood. "There's an atmosphere of real determination," she enthused. They probably said the same thing 28 years ago.

The upbeat attitude may have something to do with the looming local elections, when the opposition are expected to capitalise on unpopularity – especially Lib Dem unpopularity – in the coalition. Harman isn't sure what will happen – will the Tories fight the Lib Dems, and will alienated voters look for an alternative, or just stay at home?

Regardless, she's up for the fight. "We've got to field candidates where we haven't done so before," she urged. In the south-west, for example, previously two-thirds of wards did not have Labour candidates on the ballot paper. That could all change.

May 5th, polling day, will also see the referendum take place on electoral reform. This is a big deal for the Lib Dems, but Harman feels Nick Clegg has been "completely duped".

"On the same day that Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates are fighting... it is so difficult to have cross-party campaigning," she explained.

The widespread contempt which left-wingers currently feel for the Lib Dems does not mean Harman would rule out ever working with them again, however. Ever the astute politician, she left the door open for future cooperation with Clegg and co.

"We're Labour. We know what we stand for... there will be occasions when other parties are going to be doing and saying the same thing. When that happens, we're happy to work with them," Harman said.

"What it shouldn't be about is tactical positioning... all that games-playing is not the right way to do politics, it's not what the public want."

No comments:

Post a Comment