LETTER:Lib Dems wait for Labour

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The Independent Online
From The Earl Russell

Sir: John Major ("Major seeks to win over anti-Ashdown 'Liberals' ", 10 June) has contrived, with his usual monotony, to get the wrong end of every stick in sight. Liberal Democrats have decided that this Tory government (not all Tory governments) cannot be propped up any longer: it has simply lost the capacity to govern. I have not found any party member who disagrees with this decision: if Mr Major can find one, he is welcome to him.

We have not moved any closer to Labour. The disappearance of the Tories as a counterbalancing option leaves us alone in a desert island with Labour. That does not mean we will end up in bed with them: a bitter territorial battle, or even chastity, remain options. Which of these options we end up with is not for us to choose. The choice will depend, first, on the electorate and, second, on how far Labour will move towards our policies. We will watch with particular care to see whether it is prepared to reduce the power of the executive, and to spend public money to improve education and other public services.

Looking at the opinion polls, I am reminded of Francis Pym's rule that it is not good for a government to have too big a majority. John Major can no longer protect Tony Blair from this danger. Perhaps Paddy Ashdown can.

Yours sincerely,


House of Lords

London, SW1

10 June

The writer is Liberal Democrat spokesman on Social Security in the House of Lords.