The Fourth Lectern - A 2010 Election TL


This looks like a lively thread, but the POD appears to be close to 2010, whihc means off to Modern/Future it should go...
I think that the meeting was on May 8th and 9th, wasn't it? Even if it did spill over to Monday 10th, Darling could get back pretty swiftly and I've assumed that under these circumstances, Darling would want to be back for the cabal meeting so would hurry back.

The big decision on the bailout was taken on the 9th, but I honestly don't know if the meeting spilled over onto the 10th or not. It probably doesn't matter too much - as you say ways can be found.

Regardless of what hapens next, Darling is a dead Chancellor walking of course - by the end of the week, it'll be either Balls or Osborne in No. 11 I would have thought, almost certainly the former.


Can this be put back in "After 1900"? That's where all the other 2010 election threads are, and none of this takes place in the future, so "Future History" does seem a little off as a location.


11 May 2010
Witney. David Cameron’s constituency home.

He looks remarkably domestic in that apron, thought Liam Fox as he sat at the kitchen table. Cameron was pottering around the stove, before putting down a pot lid, lifting his face and smiling.

“That should be enough for now”, Cameron said with a smile. “Do you need a top up?”

Fox glanced down at his wine glass. “Um, no. I’m fine, thanks”

“Well, I do”, declared Cameron. He poured a glass of wine and sat down across the table from Fox.

“Doubtless you’re wondering why I asked you to pop by”, said Cameron, sipping his drink.

“Well, yes. Not really ‘popping by’, either, considering we were both in London this morning”, replied Fox.

“I like to get away from the London bubble once in a while. Especially right now. You need to break out into the countryside once in a while”, said Cameron.

“Yes, yes, very praiseworthy – but shouldn’t we, or at least, you, be in London right now?”, asked Fox pointedly.

“Why? The cards are in Brown’s hands right now. Let him make a hash of things. Napoleon’s dictum: never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake”, said Cameron.

“How so?”

“He’s alienating the Lib Dems, denying financial reality and blundering forwards into a minority Government where all is going to end in tears. He’s looking at the arithmetic without considering precisely how he’s it’s going to go when he has to rely on getting Charles Clarke, Jeremy Corbyn, Dennis Skinner, Frank Field, John Denham and others all pointed in the same direction at the same time. It’s going to be a car crash.”, Cameron explained. “But that’s not why I’ve asked you round today”

Fox raised an eyebrow enquiringly.

“Put baldly – what are your intentions?”, asked Cameron.

Fox blinked at the directness. “Well – I hadn’t really thought too much about it”, he temporized.

Cameron's expression implied mild disbelief. “Let me tell you mine, then”, he suggested.

Fox shrugged. “Okay, then”.

“I started at the Conservative Research Department when Margaret was still PM”, began Cameron. Fox shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Cameron noticed, and said with a smile, “Oh, don’t worry, Liam, I’m not going through my entire career. Tell me, what did you think of what Margaret did?”

“Well, she pulled the country kicking and screaming out of the depths and set it on its feet again, for a start”, said Fox.

“Indeed – she did many things right. Some things maybe not so well, but do you know what her greatest disappointment was?” asked Cameron.

“What are you talking about?” asked Fox.

“She hoped – or expected – that as the richer echelons became better off, we’d see more philanthropy. More voluntary investment in society. And don’t get me started on the misinterpretation of what she said about society – anyone reading her words in context can see exactly what she meant: society is people – families and neighbours and community groups, not the state”, said Cameron. “Over in the US, it was the done thing – if you were rich – to sponsor something. Fund something to give back to the community. Endow your local University, or sponsor your sports stadium. Contribute to a charity. She believed that the reason we saw less of that over here, and therefore more reliance on the State, was that the richer people, and especially the upper-middle classes, had more taken off of them whilst the State had wormed its way into areas where it really wasn’t essential”

Fox was now paying more interest despite himself. “I think I see where you might be going with this”, he ventured.

Cameron continued. “She was wrong. With the rolling back of the State and the release of the financial pressure on the middle classes, nothing happened. No big philanthropy. No big voluntary investments of time or money. And it was worsened by the centralization – which went directly against what she said she wanted to do”

“How so?” asked Fox.

“More power to the people – but with local services in the hands of local councils, people tend simply to vote according to the electoral cycle. Seriously, Liam, how many people do you think walk into polling booths for local elections and cast their vote for who they think will provide the best services rather than for partisan reasons?”, said Cameron.

“Maybe more than you’d think”, suggested Fox.

“Maybe”, said Cameron. “But if so, why can you bet your house on what the local elections will show year on year? The Party out of power gains, the one in power loses. Even when we were at our greatest depths and Blair was at his zenith, we were suddenly making huge gains in 1998 and 1999, when a couple of years back, we were being destroyed. The only thing that changed was that we were out of power and they were in. Can you really look at the results and say ‘The votes made a considered choice on who in their area is best to provide services and suddenly decided that the Tories now were the best choice for local service provision when a few months ago they were abhorrent?’ Seriously?”

“Fine, but …”, said Fox.

Cameron bulled on. “So whilst Margaret was trying to make changes, she was losing councils and the Left were gaining them. Even the really looney-tunes lefties. So it was either ‘accept the looney leftie councils splurging money on whatever they wanted’, or ‘intervene and protect the ratepayers’. So she centralised, and then came up with the community charge to try to make people more responsive to their councils. Not her best move.”

“Fine, fine. She made mistakes. So?”, asked Fox.

“So – she pulled the British economy out of a death-spin. She tamed the unions. She restored our national pride. But her hopes for society went totally unfulfilled and now she’s remembered for all that, as well as for creating a divided society focussed on the greedy. We’re remembered for that. When what she wanted, and what we want, is to achieve the best for everyone.”, said Cameron.

There was a quiet pause as both men sipped their drinks. Cameron kept his eyes on Fox.

“That’s why I went into Parliament in the first place. Why I ran for Leader when everyone said it was too soon. Why I pushed the Big Society when all the responses have been ‘Hunh?’. Why I’m still pushing it. Why I pushed it throughout this hell of a campaign. And why I’m going to continue. Because I want to see that dream completed. The other half of it in place. A society where people contribute voluntarily rather than throwing their problems at a faceless State. Where the fortunate give back to the society that gave them their chances – out of choice, not compulsion. And why I’m going to stay pushing it until I’m in Downing Street and able to push it with actions rather than words”, Cameron said forcefully.

“Why do you think that you’ll succeed where she failed? If people won’t do it voluntarily, does that mean that you agree that the Labour way of legislating for everything – imposing targets here, pushing the State forwards there – is the way ahead?”, Fox asked.

“Christ, no!”, said Cameron. “We’ll nudge. Make it easier to volunteer, or put things forward. Get the legislation out of the way. And then do whatever nudge tricks we can to make it attractive to contribute. Once the juggernaut is rolling, it’ll take on its own momentum – but we have to get it moving. That’s what she didn’t know”.

Fox remained silent.

“I need you, Liam. On side and helping. I want you to go through the UKIP manifesto and pull out bits that march well with our one from the last campaign. You know as well as I do that this ‘left-right’ thing isn’t a monolithic rule, but a blend of things from everywhere. Find me the libertarian aspects. Find me the ones that appeal to the populace without being reactionary. The commentators all said at first that the only reason Congdon got support was the shock value – but we heard too much about his policies being listened to and getting traction. Find me a half-dozen or so that will ring the bells of right-leaners that didn’t go for us, without scaring off the middle ground of floaters. Help shape our next campaign for me”.

Fox kept quiet and then spoke. “Can we actually win, David? With UKIP in the field – is it going to be too much for anyone? I won’t lie and tell you I haven’t considered a challenge – I do think that if we’d tacked more to the right, we’d have got more from Congdon – but all of the geeks I’ve spoken to tell me that there’s plenty of UKIP votes we’d never have got anyway.” He put down his glass and looked Cameron straight in the eyes.

“Cards on the table – I hadn’t decided anyway. What use is it for me to become the Leader if I end up cursed to Opposition in any case? UKIP voters are going to be hard to pull away now anyway. I think I’d have done a lot better than you, but we’d never have got a majority under me, either. And now, we are where we are. Yes, I want to be Leader – but I’d rather take over when we’re in power and we’ve proved we’re not baby-eating monsters”, said Fox.

Cameron gave a half-smile. “Thanks for your candour, Liam. I’m not going to promise anything on the succession – that stupidity castrated Blair for so long it wasn’t even funny – but I’m obviously not going to continue forever. Yes, I would like George to have a strong role after me, but above all else: I. Want. To. Push. The. Big. Society. Will you give me a shot to see that?”

Fox barely hesitated. “A shot. Let’s see what happens after one more shot. I won’t promise more than that”

“And I won’t ask you to – because I can‘t promise anything back other than I won’t go on forever.”

“How do you see it working?”, asked Fox.

“We nick the most populist policies and stances from UKIP that fit in with our overall theme. Wrap all up in a libertarian and classic liberal stance – we may need the Lib Dems on board. The Orange Bookers, anyway. We promise a referendum on EU membership. I’ve got Ollie Letwin doing the same with the Lib Dem manifesto – there’s already a hell of a lot of overlap between us anyway.”, said Cameron.

Fox shrugged. “Maybe”

“There is a plus side to this entire debacle with UKIP: they do pull votes from Labour where we can’t go”, said Cameron.

Fox snorted. “The Heineken Party. Refreshes the parts other parties cannot reach. With any luck, we can see the bastards panicking in their safe seats, in the North and in the cities. You have a plan to bring them down, then? Trigger a new election?”

Cameron tilted his head. “Not just yet. Let them run for a while. Even Balls will have to make cuts or declare national bankruptcy within the year. Let them continue paying the price of power for a twelve or eighteen months or so. Then we’ll try to bring them down”
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Gosh. Tories stealing the best parts of the Lib Dem and UKIP manifestos? Is Cameron forming my perfect party? :p

Just a thought. If Cameron proposes an EU Referendum, I wonder if some sort of deal with UKIP is in order? Say, the Tories don't challenge UKIP in their three seats, and UKIP don't put up challengers against Conservatives in Tory seats, or in their 150 most winnable ones? I know that Pearson proposed this deal back in 2009, and I thought at the time Cameron was mad not to take it- he could probably quite easily have won a "Yes" vote on any EU referendum. I wonder if Congden will propose it here?
Ah so a short Labour Minority Government.

Perhaps ironically followed by a popular LibDem-Tory-UKIP Coalition :D.

Though more likely a small Tory Majority Government with some of the Orange Bookers jumping ship?


This guarantees a new election now, doesn't it?

Not for a while - but the chances of the Parliament running to a full term are definitely on the very slim side :)

Gosh. Tories stealing the best parts of the Lib Dem and UKIP manifestos? Is Cameron forming my perfect party? :p

Just a thought. If Cameron proposes an EU Referendum, I wonder if some sort of deal with UKIP is in order? Say, the Tories don't challenge UKIP in their three seats, and UKIP don't put up challengers against Conservatives in Tory seats, or in their 150 most winnable ones? I know that Pearson proposed this deal back in 2009, and I thought at the time Cameron was mad not to take it- he could probably quite easily have won a "Yes" vote on any EU referendum. I wonder if Congden will propose it here?

Cameron will be trying to convince as many people as possible that he's forming their perfect party :) But the main point of his meeting with Fox was to nip any challenge in the bud. He thinks that if he can stop Fox before he gets started, he'll have pretty much secured his position for at least one more shot.

I think a formal deal is off the cards, but an informal one of "we won't put serious effort into some seats if you don't into others" might be floated as the next election draws nearer. But Cameron wants to kill off UKIP - whilst they exist as a serious threat, he's got to cover both flanks. If they vanished, he could tack even more left, as the righties would have nowhere else to go.


I have to say, you seem to be capable of describing Cameron's political drive and vision far better than Cameron himself ever has :p


14th May 2010
10 Downing Street. The Study.

“Gus, I understand that Her Majesty would like to know what’s going to happen, but if I don’t, how can she?” snapped Gordon Brown. He sighed. “Seriously, I’ll let you know as soon as it’s all sorted out – Ed’s just got back from speaking to Huhne, so maybe I’ll have something for you by eight o’clock”

“Very good, Prime Minister”, said O’Donnell urbanely as he left.

Brown rubbed his eyes as he turned to Ed Milliband. “Ed – give me some good news, for God’s sake”

“Well, there’s not much changed. Huhne is willing to offer a one year supply-and-confidence deal, as long as you reopen the Budget and take on board some of Cable’s ideas. He wants you to commit to eradicating the structural deficit within six years …” Milliband trailed off as Brown’s expression turned thunderous.

“Cutting! Cutting, cutting, cutting! That’s all the bloody Liberals keep talking about today! What have they got? An upjumped former economist from Shell who thinks he knows how to run an economy, plus some reheated Tory dogshit dressed up in an orange cover!”, he snarled.

“Be fair, Gordon, the Greece situation has spooked the entire world money markets. Now that Standard & Poor have downgraded us, that’s all three of them. Maybe they’ll grade us back up if we …” Milliband was interrupted again.

“How old are you Ed?”, demanded Brown.

Milliband blinked. “Forty, Gordon. Why?”

“You’re too young to remember much about the Thatcher years, aren’t you. You must have been a teenager when she finally went.” said Brown.

“Well, I was twenty”

“Close enough. She ripped the heart out of this country, Ed. You never saw the poverty and despair from communities pulled apart by her economic policies. I will burn in hell before I let the Tories do it again.

I set up the tax credits system to let people climb out of that Tory hole. And they did. I’m not cutting that – ever! They say I sprayed public money around – but what the hell else do you do when public services are parched and withering? You spray them, that’s what! They want us to turn off the taps and wither them again – just when they’re most needed! Just when we’re keeping people in work in the public sector because the private sector is staggering.”

“Our spending is all that’s keeping people above water. Do you really think it’s a good idea to cut lifebelts and life rafts when people are drowning? Do you?” demanded Brown.

Milliband felt slightly flat-footed by the sudden shift in metaphors, but manfully ploughed on. “Of course not, Gordon, but …”

“Of course not, Gordon”, mimicked Brown. “So don’t come to me and ask me to cut spending and pull away these poor bastards’ supports just as they’re trying to get back on their feet. Turn the economy back down just as it’s going the right way at last? Sod that! We can afford it. I don’t care what those ignorant rating agencies spout. I don’t care what those Orange Tories try to sell us. We’re going to keep spending enough to keep the economy coming up. We’re going to keep the tax credits, the benefits, the services – what the hell could I cut?” Brown breathed hard, and swallowed.

“Okay”, he continued in a more normal tone. “What are our other options? What will Huhne give us if we don’t jump to his economic whistle? Do you have to go back and ask again?”

Milliband shook his head. “No, I rather thought I might need to find out the contingency options”, he said with a half-smile.

Brown barked out a laugh. “That bloody predictable, am I?”

Milliband grinned. “Well – I’ve got to know you a bit. Anyway – if we reopen an Emergency Budget to cope with the changing European scenario … let me finish …”, he said urgently as Brown’s face darkened again.

“… but we control everything that goes into it and only make any cuts that we see as necessary and possible, but we show that we’re taking it all very seriously …”, he continued, as Brown sat back again, “… kick the ID cards into the long grass and follow up on our manifesto commitment for an AV referendum, they’ll give us a six month abstension deal on supply and confidence”

There was a long silence. Finally Brown spoke. “That’s all?” he asked in a mild tone.

“Um, yes”, said Milliband hesitantly. He was finding it impossible to tell Brown’s mood.

“Actually, that’s not a bad deal, really”, mused Brown. “I was thinking of reopening the Budget after the reshuffle anyway. The ID cards – okay, we can put those on hold. And I suppose we had the AV referendum in the manifesto anyway – and we don’t have to have it immediately. Say have it in just over a year – that’ll give them incentive to sign up to a longer deal after this one expires”

Milliband breathed out. He hadn’t realised until then that he’d been holding his breath.

“And best of all”, continued Brown, “it keeps that fucking Tory out of this building for a bit longer. Who knows – if there’s a leadership challenge to him, they could be in serious disarray by October. An uptick in the economy, UKIP staying strong, a Tory leadership challenge – a snap election could give us back that majority”

Brown nodded to himself. “Yes – head back to Huhne and tell him that we accept the shorter deal. Send O’Donnell back in – I should be able to give him something to pass on to the Palace now”
Bravo, I love this string of narrative updates. Lots of powerful figures stripped bare and (as far as we can tell) pretty accurately too, IMO. What next, I wonder? Will the Brown/Huhne deal go off without a hitch?
I'm impressed with Andy's grasp of the personalities in question, though admittedly I know no more than most about these figures in British politics.