Vince hits out at Gordon’s ‘Big Tentism’

by Stephen Tall on September 25, 2007

Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable has delivered a typically withering-yet-courteous assessment of Gordon Brown’s determination to assemble a ‘government of all the talents’.

Speaking at a Fabian Society fringe meeting at the Labour party conference in Bournemouth, he’s quoted by the BBC saying:

“I am concerned about what I would regard as big tentism – this attempt to get everybody into the same fold. I think it is an attempt to create – in the nicest possible way – a one-party state.”

He likened Mr Brown to Jomo Kenyatta, former president of Kenya, for whom he once worked and who engaged in big tent politics.

“It was about sucking out of opposition parties any potential source of dissent – giving them a role; giving them a state regardless of colour or tribe or ideology,” he said.

“It was superficially very attractive but ultimately it is dangerous because it destroys constructive opposition and we are very concerned about it for that reason.”

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It seems to me that this rhetoric should be directed to the many senior liberal democrats who accepted positions in Gordon Brown’s ‘big tent’.

by Yasmin Zalzala on September 25, 2007 at 8:53 pm. Reply #

Yup, Vince puts his finger on it well.

by Sid on September 25, 2007 at 9:04 pm. Reply #

Interesting to see the BBC report Angela Eagle saying Labour have to learn from us on tax. Are we winning the argument here?

by Tim Leunig on September 25, 2007 at 10:51 pm. Reply #

I hardly think Gordon Brown’s actually created a big tent, it seems more like spin to win over tories than anything substantial. In response to the first comment one or two liberal Peers doing work in minor government departments is hardly the forming of a big tent.

by John Dixon on September 26, 2007 at 9:03 am. Reply #

The test for Gordan’s tent, or anyone else’s, is whether they can agree with the policies that Labour are putting into effect. I wonder if Labour can deliver on reducing carbon emmissions with Digby Jones keen to persue the business interest agenda?
I do not object to Lib Dems getting involved with the Labour government assuming that they are pushing our agenda. If Brown decides to cross swords with them, they could resign and make him look very silly, so I think that Shirley Williams in particular will have some clout.

by Geoffrey Payne on September 26, 2007 at 1:18 pm. Reply #

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