Ming Campbell writes about the Gordon Brown offer

Ming Campbell explains what has happened this week:

You may have read in the newspapers about how Gordon Brown spoke to me earlier this week about offering ministerial jobs to Liberal Democrat members of the House of Lords.

I share his high assessment of the abilities of our parliamentarians! But I have rejected his offer, just as I did that from David Cameron, when he asked me in April to consider proposing a joint candidate for London Mayor with the Conservatives.

The Liberal Democrats are a strong, independent party. There is no way that Liberal Democrats can serve in a Labour government – especially this Labour government, which is doing so much that we are fundamentally opposed to: ID cards, mismanagement of the NHS, neglect of the environment, centralisation of power, attacks on civil liberties, nuclear power and Council Tax.

On so many issues, the Conservatives and Labour are now part of a cosy consensus and it is the Liberal Democrats who are providing the real opposition. They agree on the Iraq War. They agree on tax breaks for the rich – something I challenged the Prime Minister about at question time on Wednesday. They agree on keeping council tax, and on keeping student tuition fees. And on the question of whether BAE made secret payments in return for arms contracts and whether the government knew about it, the Conservatives are completely silent because theirs was the government that signed the contract in the first place.

Never has the need for a strong, independent Liberal Democrat opposition in British politics been greater. Of course we will continue to work together openly with people in other parties where we can find common ground. That is how we helped gain, among other things, a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly. But we will do nothing that would fetter our right or ability to fiercely oppose this government in all the areas where we disagree with them.

Over the next few weeks we will be publishing further details of our tax plans, our environmental proposals, and how we will tackle poverty and inequality – all areas Labour have failed on and where the Tories offer no answers. All of these will be debated at our conference in Brighton in September. I hope you will come along. (Our website has full details.) We are also about to launch a major campaign to highlight Labour’s failures on health – we will be circulating information on that in the next few days.

The events of this week show just how important the Liberal Democrats are in British politics.

No doubt the months ahead will see more attempts by Gordon Brown and David Cameron to co-opt us to their causes. Be assured I will continue to resist them.

We will remain a strong, confident and principled voice of opposition – holding this government to account, and setting out the only serious alternative to their failing agenda.

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9 Responses to Ming Campbell writes about the Gordon Brown offer

  1. I had a chuckle over this “Because I need the best people for the jobs!” I would offer Paddy a job too. I think he’d suit the Middle East Envoy post better than Blair. Gordon’s comments are unlikely to endear him to his Labour colleagues but they are all either being polite or keeping quiet in the hope the plum job is coming their way next week. Even John McDonnell praised our fair leadership election in contrast to theirs. The thing I feel sad about having been in the party since about 1976 is we’ve had such great people (Jo Grimmond, John Pardoe, David Penhalgion come to mind) who have not reached their potential and not been able to serve. Its a shame that our electoral system denies us this. Its a pity that it has been treated so cynically by the “feral beasts” at least it gives food for thought. Hopefully we’ll keep working to implement our own policies our own way. Its strange that had things been different Peter Hain might have been on our bench being phoned up!

  2. Beverley Shann says:

    Conference: WLD special conference on coalitions spoken by Cllr B Shann

    We must first look at the bigger picture by considering the United Kingdom as a whole, if we truly wish to secure real and permanent change for Wales.

    Never before have the citizens of the United Kingdom felt so disillusioned with politics. So many aspects of what was considered great about our country, (and has been used as a blue print throughout the word), have been dismantled or undermined by the last two UK governments.

    Big business and the multinational companies are put before the needs of the ordinary people, their communities and environment.

    There is Labour who made all sorts of promises, and people actually voted them in, only to find, they had actually voted in conservatives. Worse the few liberal things they did do, were implemented in such an incoherent way, that we’ve ended up with a virtual police state where many basic personal liberties have been lost. Society has in many cases broken down and the countries resources and therefore sustainability have been squandered or sold off, leaving the country vulnerable in the future.

    Then there’s the New Conservatives, who believe in nothing, they will be anything you wish them to be, just as long as they get in.

    The ordinary person on the street feels un-represented, powerless and cheated. I believe there is a desperate need for a government that;

    . Will stand by its principles (and actually has some principles in the first place)

    . Will address the REAL concerns of the ordinary people

    . Has properly thought out policies

    . Can be trusted, has a vision and believes in that vision

    AND, Can offer a REAL ALTERNATIVE to Labour, Conservatives, and other minority parties.

    Of course we should “ Work together” but that does not mean we should go into coalition with other parties.

    Of course we support Proportional Representation but that does not mean we need to go into coalition either.

    Historically coalitions have undermined Liberal Democrat policies and credibility, This has ensured that we remain a minority party, who cannot be trusted, NOT to go into coalition with whoever. Coalitions undermine the trust of the people we represent, compromise our integrity and ability to offer a real alternative.

    We should not allow other parties to use us to further their own agendas, under the guise of creating a stable government for Wales. We should not be content with short- term gains and short sighted so-called stability. In reality a coalition is unlikely to achieve much in the way of improvement, in peoples lives, in REAL terms.

    The people of Wales (and the UK) deserve a proper long term solution, they need a party “that does what it says it does on the packet”. A party that will stand up for the ordinary person and secure for them long term stability and protection of their communities, cultures and country.
    To achieve this, we the Liberal Democrats need to remove Labour from Central Government at the next General Election.

    The Liberal Democrats ; A Party you can Trust
    The real alternative

    I therefore call upon conference to REJECT any formal coalition deals, and seek to secure REAL long- term change and stability for the people of Wales.

  3. Peter O'Connor says:

    It seemed such a good idea that Paddy should be Northern Ireland Secretary in a period when hostilities are in the past and a careful, gentle and patient approach will be needed to bring about a society where bitter memories are forgiven and over-ridden by a determination for all communities to pull together in the common interest.
    I can see the difficulty of having a Cabinet Minister who wants to cast his vote with another Party on many issues and I suppose this is the bottom line. Oh for an end to confrontational politics. “Our main aim” one hears “is to get a Conservative/Labour/Liberal (alphabetical order) Government elected”. Wrong. Our main aim is to get a government which will be best for the country. Work on.

  4. Mike says:

    Well done, Ming for seeing them off. Don’t sully yourself with Brown or any of the neolabour cynics and nihilists. Not long before Yo Brown fills the shoes of Yo Blair and does the bidding of his Washington mentors. I will bet that Brown already has the envelope from Bush in his pocket, explaining UK foreign policy for the next 5 years.

  5. Alice McKay says:

    I’m delighted Ming says “But we will do nothing that would fetter our right or ability to fiercely oppose this government in all the areas where we disagree with them.”

    That means we could never accept ministerial appointments as junior partners at Westminster, as collective Cabinet responsibility would clearly fetter our rights and abilities to oppose the government.

    I hope this important statement is covered properly in the newspapers.

  6. Ellee says:

    It certainly demonstrates that Lib Dems still have quality members that other parties want to actively engage with.

    I look forward to reading your reports on the environemnt and Labour’s failing health policies.

    I am resarching a PR postgraduate diploma project about MPs blogging and 2-way communications and wondered if you would mind if I sent you a survey on this subject. Your feedback would be most appreciated.

  7. R. Underhill says:

    Please don’t confine Paddy Ashdown to Northern Ireland, have a look at his film on Jerusalam, serious, positive stuff and no jokes about Buddhism.

    The devolved administration in Belfast must be given a chance, trust the people, with prudence.

    A government of national unity has been embedded in the constitution. At some stage further constitutional updating will be needed.

    Should we assume that Tony Blair does not want the job? Would he be bye-passed by Northern Ireland politicians seeking access to Prime Ministersa and Presidents?

  8. Letterman says:

    You really messed this one up Ming it should never have got to this, are you ever going to get your act together?

  9. Nathanael Nerode says:

    It’s a pity that it’s not possible to take a cabinet position with true independence, as the Queen’s advisor, not answering to the Prime Minister.

    Perhaps if Brown made a Constitutional Reform of that sort, it would allow Liberal Democrats to serve in a Labour Cabinet without suffering a conflict of interest. That would be better for everyone all around. It seems unlikely, though, at this point.

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