Daily Archives: May 11, 2010

10.56pm: On that note, I will leave you to mull those details and close this blog. Thanks for your company. See tomorrow’s FT for full coverage of today’s dramatic events.

10.45pm: Sky have reported the outlines of the government agreement to be published tomorrow. Here are the details:

  • The Lib Dems get their £10,000 income tax threshold, pupil premium and fixed term parliaments. The provisional date for the next election is May 1, 2015. I wonder if we’ll get that far.
  • The Tories get their cap on immigration and welfare reform.
  • The two parties agree on a “great repeal bill” to do promote civil liberties. This will abolish ID cards among other measures – although it should be said Labour had already scotched that plan. It will also extend freedom of information rules, says Sky.
  • The government will replace Trident, but the Lib Dems will continue to look for alternatives.
  • The government won’t join the Euro and there will be a referendum on any new EU treaty.

10.38pm: Nick Clegg will be deputy PM, says Associated Press. They say they have it confirmed by the Tories. Sky reports five cabinet positions for the Lib Dems. I would imagine that would be Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne, David Laws, Vince Cable and one other. Danny Alexander perhaps? Read more

Cameron meets the queen before becoming prime minister

Cameron meets the queen before becoming prime minister

9.01pm: I leave you now with a picture of the moment David Cameron became prime minister (ok, so it was probably just before that moment, but close enough). Thanks for your company and comments.

8.52pm: The Lib Dem negotiators are going to meet the rest of the parliamentary party and federal executive in 40 minutes. Simon Hughes, their energy spokesman, says he thinks there will be cabinet and other ministerial positions for Lib Dems, and that he expects the party to vote for the agreement. He also says there was no movement on various issues, including voting reform, from the Labour team.

8.46pm: Cameron walks very slowly into Number 10 to the applause of staff. He gave a brief speech outside, which was a curious mix up uplifting and downbeat messages. He has given no indication of what his government might look like, but did mention Nick Clegg in his speech, almost referring to him as a co-leader.

8.46pm: Cameron: “This is going to be hard and difficult work.”

8.44pm: Cameron brings up the big society, and says he wants to build a society “where we don’t just ask what am I owed but what I can give”. Fairly obvious reference to JFK there.

8.43pm: Cameron: “Together we can reach better times ahead.” He talks of cleaning up parliament.

8.43pm: He begins by praising Brown for his long record of dedicated public service and says the country is now “more open at home” than 10 years ago. Read more

7.56pm: We’re going to close this post now and open a new one to keep you up to date with all the latest developments. Stick with us.

7.53pm: Our story is now up online: Brown quits as prime minister

7.49pm: Brown arrives at Labour HQ to hugs and handshakes from cabinet members (or should that be former cabinet members?).

7.48pm: Poor old Gordon got caught in the traffic as he left Buckingham Palace. No outriders to clear the roads, as he’s no longer PM.

7.47pm: The queen accepted Brown’s resignation. Just in case you thought we were in for a final twist…

7.44pm: Brown is off to thank Labour activists. The BBC is now also reporting that he will stand down as an MP. It seems he may have not told his local election agent to prepare for a new byelection though (see 6.43pm).

7.42pm: Brown is now leaving the palace. That didn’t take long. Read more

Back when people happily ignored articles about the Lib Dems, I ran a piece on Vince Cable leading preparation work to trigger an “”auction for power” in a hung parliament. The plan was to apply his understanding of game theory and scenario planning to politics.

The piece wasn’t warmly received by Lib Dem HQ, particularly this bit about Cable’s trusty whiteboard: Read more

I wrote this morning that the Labour momentum was against a deal, with figures such as John Reid and David Blunkett saying it would be a mistake.

Paul Waugh is reporting that Andy Burnham has come out in public, saying: Read more

A few signs; not entirely conclusive. One of my allies has spotted Lord Adonis and Lord Mandelson walking across Palace Yard looking, in his phrase, “decidedly gloomy”.

Meanwhile Sir Gus O’Donnell has been seen heading towards the rooms where the talks are taking place. (Although he was around last night so that is not necessarily a decisive clue). Meanwhile a press helicopter looms overhead. Will Brown go to the palace to resign tonight or tomorrow? Read more

An important meeting of Lib Dem MPs last night. Opinion has hardened in a number of areas:

Vince made his first intervention – in favour of the Tories So far Cable has kept his powder dry. He’s a former Labour man. But last night he acknowledged that those arguing for a Tory deal were probably right. (There was a wise crack about feeling he was being “set up” to wield the public spending axe.) As a senior figure representing the old-SDP wing, this is a significant development.

Labour need to make a much better offer There was some surprise at both the tenor and the substance of the negotiations with Labour. While Mandelson and Adonis seemed mustard keen on a deal, the others, particularly Balls and Miliband, showed much less enthusiasm. Whether on electoral reform or policy, the first formal meeting suggested they were well short of the Lib Dem policy shopping list. Danny Alexander and David Laws both conveyed this message to the meeting. The MPs demanded to hear if the other two negotiators agreed — and they did. Today’s Labour meeting will be crucial but there is a mountain to climb.

Opinion hardened towards backing a Tory deal There are powerful and senior figures in the party singing the praises of a Lib-Lab deal. It is a faction — including all the former leaders — that can’t quite resist the opportunity to realise Jo Grimond’s dream of a uniting Britain’s progressive forces. But the younger generation are less convinced. All of them would be more comfortable with a Labour deal. But there are worries about legitimacy, about Labour’s ability to deliver, about the good faith of Labour’s Medusa-like leadership. The middle ground is to explore all avenues with Labour. But the mood is with a Tory deal. Read more

In the days immediately after the election the political class was treated to the sight of Sir John Major popping up to argue the case for a Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition.

It reminded me of the cinema advertisements at the time The Sting was first released as a movie. The film marked the reunion of Robert Redford and Paul Newman in their first collaboration since the hit Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That first movie concluded with the two stars’ demise and the trailer for the Sting ended with the words: “Maybe this time they’ll get away with it.”

For a Con-Lib alliance would, to all extent and purposes, be a re-run of the doomed 1992-97 Major government. As is often noted all political parties are coalitions anyway. John Major’s turned out to be the loosest kind. Read more

Today’s meeting of Labour’s NEC (national executive committee) should set some kind of timeframe for the leadership contest. Some MPs have been claiming that the whole thing could be wrapped up within five weeks of today. “Short and sharp,” says one. But I’m told that it’s more likely to run through until August with the result announced at autumn conference. This would give the party time to regroup and give potential leaders full consideration. (They each need a list of 29 MP supporters to stand). This all still needs to be thrashed out, however. Read more

Strange as it seems, one of the easiest concessions the Lib Dems won from the Tories was a guarantee on the length of a parliament.  The reason is that David Cameron is as worried about a snap election as Nick Clegg.

This is a prize the Lib Dems have sought for decades. It puts hung parliaments on a more stable footing by taking away the right of a prime minister to suddenly call an election, just when his junior partner is crashing in the polls. Read more

Stalemate looms in game of political chess – Philip Stephens in The FT
Downing St doubts trouble London shares – The FT
The life and times of Gordon Brown - The FT
Head v hearts – Nick Robinson’s newslog
Lib Dems face an historic choice – The Times
Brown’s tragedy was overreaching himself - The Times
Is Labour serious about a progressive alliance? – Polly Toynbee
A Lib Dem pact risks Labour’s survival – David Blunkett
A Labour-Lib Dem coalition is not what we voted for – Benedict Brogan
MPs in danger of confirming the electorate’s worst suspicions – The Telegraph

There has been some newspaper speculation that Ed Balls may not consider himself strong enough to stand for the leadership given his weakened majority in Morley & Outwood constituency and given the growing bandwagon for David Miliband.

But Balls’ allies have already gathered (last night I believe) and are certain that the education secretary should and will run for the leadership. I’ve said before that the bookies’ odds (still about 12 or 14 to 1) are far too long given his determination to succeed his mentor Gordon Brown. Read more

I woke up to the dulcet tones of David Blunkett warning that a Lib-Lab coalition may not be quite the panacea that Lord Mandelson and others seem to think. “I believe it will lead to a lack of legitimacy. The British people will feel we have not head what they said to us,” the former home secretary warned.

“What would I have felt if Jeremy Thorpe had cobbled together a coalition with Ted Heath,” he said on the Today programme. “What would people have said?” (He also said the Lib Dems were “behaving like every harlot in history.”)

Tom Harris, Labour’s best (and arguably only readable) MP blogger, wrote this morning that the idea of a progressive coalition was looking somewhat desperate:

The word “progressive” has now been redefined as “willing to barter away everything you campaigned for in return for the chance to be in government, albeit at the beck and call of a party that has spent its entire existence trying to wipe you off the political map”. Who knew?

I’m equally incredulous about the attempts to cobble together up to seven parties (including the Greens’ single MP) to hold off the Tories at any cost. Not least because one pro-coalition cabinet minister told me at 5am on Friday that the game was up: “The arithmetic just isn’t going to work,” that person told me in the sleep-deprived early hours. Read more