Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Would Robin Cook have switched to the Lib Dems?

The former editor of The New Statesman, John Kampfner has an article in the Guardian today where he explains why he is backing the Lib Dems in the coming general election. He suggests that the party is now "a natural home for left-liberal Cookites" like him.

He goes on to say:

I have long described myself as of the centre-left, a left-liberal whose reference point was the politics of the late Robin Cook. His ideological bearings were sensible redistribution, an ethical foreign policy, constitutional change, investment in public services, and environmental protection. Some of his hopes have been fulfilled. Most of them have not.

I think it is hard to judge whether Robin Cook would have decided to join the Lib Dems. There had been a rapprochement between him and Gordon Brown in his final couple of years and there was the expectation that he would have been given a senior post in Brown's eventual cabinet. Indeed it is arguable that with another political big beast such as Cook alongside him who was also evidently very principled, Brown's government would have been better than it has turned out to be. However if he had not been able to make much of a difference and things had panned out roughly as they have done then I would suggest all bets are off.

If people such as Kampfner who are self described Cookites are backing the Lib Dems then it is not hard to imagine that Cook himself would have been tempted.

Sadly we will never know if it would have been more than just temptation for one of the best Labour parliamentarians of his generation.


Hugh said...

Good news if Kampfner votes in a seat where the Lib Dems are first, second or a close third, or which Labour need to hold to cling on to their Commons majority.  If he votes in a Lab-Con marginal with a majority of more than 10% he is inviting and Tory Commons majority and is better off voting Labour. 

Left Lib said...

I think the short answer to this question is no.
Robin Cook joined the Labour party at 16 and I cannot imagine him in any other party, more for emotional rather than rational reasons.
Perhaps if we were entirely rational we would jump parties more often, but once you make friends and bond with people it is hard to be rational.
That said, Robin Cook was the best hope for a radical left liberal government. Today his philosophical successor would appear to be John Cruddus. That said, John Cruddus has not come out and supported STV or PR.
Within the Liberal Democrats we should be looking at Evan Harris, Steve Webb, Paul Holmes and maybe Tim Farron.
It is good to see Kampfner support us, I enjoy reading his articles.

Anonymous said...

LL: Jon Cruddas has come out for PR - in this - guardian article from March last year.