Coffee House

Ed Balls proposes coalition with Vince Cable

9 September 2012

Ed Balls has today made his very own full, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats – or, rather, to Vince Cable. The shadow chancellor said he could work very well with Vince (but, pointedly, not Nick Clegg).

‘I wish George Osborne would see Vince Cable as a man to do business with and listen to, rather than telling the newspapers he is putting his allies in [to the Business department] to try and surround him and hold him back. Vince should be listened to on banking reform and on the economy. I could work with Vince. I would like the Liberal Democrats to say right now that this coalition has failed and we’re going to change course.’

Balls can’t really work with anyone (just ask Ed Miliband); and nor is he likely to have to. The Westminster political system seldom gives us coalitions because victories tend to be decisive. If today’s polls were tomorrow’s election results, Labour would have a Blair-scale majority of 92 and there would be too few Lib Dems for it to be worth forming a coalition. On current boundaries, which now look set to stay for the next election, they’ll lose two-thirds of their MPs. There would be just 18 of them – so if Labour needed a top-up it could do a deal with the nationalists, as in the 1970s, or with the minority parties, which are doing fairly well right now. Balls will know this very well.

So why is he being so generous to the LibDems? I suspect that he has another agenda. Balls knows that the Lib Dem membership is appalled by the party having lost half of its support, with no sign of recovery. He’ll also know that they think the Tory embrace has become toxic. LibDem activists will be pushing to break up the coalition, entertaining their own fantasy of survival in a Lib-Lab coalition. Vince Cable will encourage this because it will advance his own chances of supplanting Clegg. And Balls will encourage such reveries, because they can only serve to destabilise the coalition. Ah the games, the games.

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  • dalai guevara

    Meanwhile, nothing of significance wil come out of the business department, just H&S hot air and the like…

  • kyalami

    An endorsement from Ed Balls? The kiss of death.

  • rubyduck

    “too few Lib Dems for it to be worth forming a coalition”

    So one good thing will come out of the coalition.

  • Gerry Dorrian

    Also, in the next election, expect small parties who’ve never been in Westminster before to make a showing as people decide that, however you cut it, the pigs and the farmers are indistinguishable.

  • terry

    The moron voters of this country got the totally crap government they deserved. They voted for a coalition, and they got it.

  • paul

    The Government must be collasped, it is a matter of urgency now. The conservative party will be taken into a cul de sac, they are at the moment sowing the seeds.

    We must collapse the government!!!

  • Fergus Pickering

    Hardly worth saying that none of this is of any importance. Labour will not be at 43% in 2015 and nobody thinks they will. If the economy improves, and it will, the Tories will have a fighting chance of being the biggest party. It is amazing that a party like that (praise the rich for they are worthy!) should be in such a position, but that is down to the utter futility of the post-Blair Labour party. The best they can do is Ed and Ed. My Lord!.

    • james102

      “If” the economy improves? Very unlikely, we would need
      policies that are anathema to the LibDems such as reducing the size of the
      state sector to 2003 levels and tax cuts.

      Like the rest of Europe we are in for a long period of
      decline. The continental Europeans have the added problem of rapidly declining
      and ageing populations combined with unprecedented welfare entitlements.

    • james102

      “If” the economy improves? Very unlikely, we would need
      policies that are anathema to the LibDems such as reducing the size of the
      state sector to 2003 levels and tax cuts.

      Like the rest of Europe we are in for a long period of
      decline. The continental Europeans have the added problem of rapidly declining
      and ageing populations combined with unprecedented welfare entitlements.

    • Fraser Nelson

      Fergus, the Treasury compiles five-year forecasts. Have a look, the link is below. If they’re right, this will be the worst recovery in recorded British history. If this were to pass, there would be an electoral penalty to pay.

      • Archimedes

        In GDP terms it’s already the worst. Chris Giles wrote an interesting piece about this, though:

        If we hit the consensus forecasts in that Treasury document, then we’d be doing pretty well.

      • Daniel Maris

        Once again, neither you nor the Treasury are looking at PER CAPITA GDP, which is peforming far worse than total GDP because of the huge growth in the population. But per capita matters much more to most…and even beyond per capita, what really matters is disposable income, after the basics have been dealt with (tax, housing, heating, essential transport, water and light). Population growth/mass immigration are adding to housing costs and taxation as well.

        • James102

          Yes this is a much better performance indicator but our population figures are unreliable.
          These comparative stats are used more for marketing than supplying information.
          Take third level education comparisons between the proportion of graduates in Britain, Luxemburg and Switzerland , they throw up some interesting figures.
          Total GDP is rather meaningless if we consider quality of life. India and China’s GDP is very high and Brazil’s growing but would we want to have the average standard of living of these countries?

      • Dimoto

        Those “forecasts” are actually projections for budgetting. It is prudent to assume fairly low-ball outcomes (that is why the OBR produces those odd fan diagrams).
        If the Treasury forecast is “right”, that will be a first.
        Still, makes easy journo copy.

      • McRobbie

        Yup.. thats the labour plan – f*** the economy pass it on to the tories to get the blame for the hard decisions needed to start a recovery and fool the electorate into thinking labour could do better.. and so the cycle continues… until the public realise labour f*** up our money…. always.

  • anyfool

    It matters not how many seats the Lib Dems retain at the next election they would not be trusted by either party, Balls problem is that if the economy is on the mend the Tories will remain the biggest party, if the economy crashes Balls will not be able to promise his clients anything, so because of the type of people they are they will not turn out leaving another political stalemate, if Cameron is removed before the election that will not help him, if things do not go as he plans expect more hysterical outbursts from Balls and his groupies.

  • Quinn.

    Vince Cable crossing the floor would cause the start of the coalition break-up, Balls wants power asap so the strategy seems reasonable. As for Vince he will know that “call me Dave” will give him anything to stop that. Interesting times for Labour & left of centre LibDems. Probably the start of 2 years of the living dead for the Conservatives.

    • rubyduck

      I don’t think Dave will “give him anyting to stop that”

  • alexsandr

    tara vince. off you toddle and join your old party.

    • John gGest

      There are some of us who rather wonder wether he ever really left it!

  • James102

    YouGov for the Sunday Times shows: CON 33%, LAB 43%, LDEM
    10%, UKIP 6%,It also showed: “…Liberal Democrat voters a large majority (71%)
    preferred the Liberal Democrats to remain within the coalition. Amongst
    Conservative party voters 58% said they would prefer a minority Conservative
    government to the coalition.”

    • anyfool

      You Gov is a biased poll, but if true probably reflects the stupidity of the country.

      • James102

        Possibly but I think it also reveals the problems a
        political class, that share common political views, have in our party system:
        particularly the Conservatives.

        Pro-EU, pro-open borders, anti-national identity, believers
        in the fallacy of proportionate outcomes, pro-rehabilitation of criminal against
        punishment and deterrence.

        The problem for the Conservative leadership is the party
        membership does not believe in any of this and neither does their electorate.

        Labour has a problem with its electorate rather than its
        membership but as long as massive propaganda is used against national socialists’
        parties such as the BNP they will just abstain.

    • Fraser Nelson

      I suspect the sample size of LibDems will be too small to draw any meaningful conclusions

      • telemachus

        But the figures on Cameron were not
        These said 67% thought him out of touch
        I guess such figures will magnify any coalition busting rumours

    • martinvickers

      Of course the majority of Lib Dem voters want to remain in the coalition – those who didn’t have already long since left, hence the swell in labour’s vote – Clegg got what he wanted, a neo-Liberal centre right party – and 10% is all that party is likely to get.

  • itdoesntaddup

    Balls knows that unless he can upset the coalition he will have to wait until 2015 for a chance of power. By the, everything will look rather different.

    • telemachus

      Very different.
      The economy will be so bad that even my dog would give a better fist of the economy
      As for Cable he is so compromised by association with Osbourne that the Labour Party would not wash him
      Balls is a cunning and clever politician who understands that and as Fraser implies is playing games as we see at PMQs every week
      We are all grateful for the ongoing publicity of this charismatic superstar by Fraser and others

      • Mike Brighton

        So what’s your electoral offer to the nation? “OK, in office Labour royally f**ked up the economy and we are really sorry guys, but this lot haven’t fixed it it’s still f**ked so it’s time for a change and so give Labour another chance”

        However you dress it up this is essentially the basis of your electoral offer in 2015.

        I may not be a political expert but I think your electoral offer is somewhat less than compelling. No matter how good your spin and PR is in the election and how you dress up this offer the essential truth is that you can’t polish a turd. Good luck with that….

        • Curnonsky

          “Labour: We’ll Finish It Off”

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