Sunny Hundal has a ridiculous piece up on Liberal Conspiracy about Vince Cable’s refusal to play Labour’s game on the Mansion Tax policy idea that they’ve stolen from the Lib Dems and reduced to a political gambit. That’s a great shame – to the Lib Dems, it’s a way to promote a fairer tax system, not a PR exercise.
His claims that you can tell Vince is being dishonest about not responding to cynical party games because he didn’t respond to Labour’s move last week, and because he’s really only responding to pressure from Downing Street.
The obvious problems with these reasons are:
1. The timing was part of Labour’s “cynical party political games”. It therefore makes perfect sense that Cable would wait until after the Lib Dem Spring Conference to respond. Unless Sunny is suggesting that Labour doesn’t ever play political games (and he’s never struck me as being stupid), it makes no sense to suggest that someone wary of a political trap should blindly follow the timing of the party setting that trap.
2. The trap being set was that Cable should either challenge his coalition partner on something that wouldn’t make it through Parliament at this time and therefore fail, or go back on his own policy and therefore fail. The only way to win that game is not to play. The fact that the Tories said exactly what we would expect is pretty much irrelevant, except to the extent that it highlight the reality of coalition politics: the coalition partners know that they need to pick their battles for what to push for.
Unless he honestly think that the targets of deeply cynical gambits must operate to the timetable of the party setting the trap (bet he wouldn’t if it were a Tory trap…), then he’s really made no case at all that Cable is being dishonest.
Oh, and the press release from Labour could have been written at the same time as the motion: “Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are letting down those they told they wanted a fairer tax system”. Utterly predictable.
Labour currently have no policies. That they have happened to suddenly find one, which just so happens to be a Lib Dem policy, is not honest or sincere politics. There’s absolutely no evidence they made any attempt to work with the Lib Dems to get their first policy idea in a long time through the system.
I honestly don’t mind a bit of political posturing and manoeuvres. But having had a blank sheet of paper for several years now, as a centre-left voter I really was hoping Labour would come out of the gates with something worthy of a party that aspires to lead again.