Coalition ahoy

News trickling in that the Conservatives have offered the Liberal Democrats a coalition. The Lib Dem parliamentary party and Federal Executives, without whom a coalition cannot be ratified, are currently meeting to consider it.

There’s even talk of an emergency Special Conference this weekend which will mean conference representatives across the country pricking their ears up.

But the rolling news media are considering it a done deal already.

Amongst the headlines are that Nick Clegg will serve as Deputy Prime Minister, Danny Alexander as Secretary of State for Scotland, along with three other Lib Dems in the cabinet and a further 20 in government. Vince Cable will take responsibility for banks and business.

Some of the policy compromises announced include the long heralded Conservative agreement for a referendum on AV, which falls long short of PR, but is welcome change – assuming Liberal Democrats are ultimately successful in persuading the public.

The Conservatives give on inheritance tax and marriage tax breaks as well as changes to capital gains tax to finance the Liberal Democrat proposals of a significant raise in the personal allowance, one of the flagship Lib Dem policies.

But the full detail of the agreement is not yet public and we are none the wiser than the rolling media reporters. How will Lib Dem MPs be expected to vote for a joint policy programme? What will happen to the Lib Dem party policy making system at conference, the last remaining democratic political party? Just what will this mean for Lib Dem local parties? How will we stave off the criticism from voters and what awaits us at the next major round of council elections?

Only time will tell.

And all I can ask for is please resist forming a judgment too quickly. Judge the coalition agreement on the fuller details when they are made available.

And judge the Liberal Democrats on the policy concessions and the tangible outcomes they get out of a spell in government.

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98 Comments

  • Tony Butcher 11th May '10 - 11:59pm

    Compassion Must Be at The Heart of David Camerons New Government: http://wp.me/pRHY4-Z

  • So. At the next election I’ve now got a choice. Tory, Tory, or Progressive. I think I’ll go for Progressive.

  • Afterthought 12th May '10 - 12:06am

    For all the self-styled “progressives” out there, know that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have prevented a Tory Majority: all while being sabotaged by New Labour’s vilest politicians.

    Finally, after 13 years, there are cabinet members in Britain who opposed the Iraq war. Put that in your pipe and smoke it “progressives”.

  • This is potentially brilliant, and I hope members have the intelligence to realise that this is not just the least bad outcome, but the best.

  • Neil – you’re happy with being a minor wing of the Tory Party?

    Fair enough. I, and millions more, did not vote Lib Dem Conservative.

    And we won’t make the same mistake again.

  • George W. Potter 12th May '10 - 12:14am

    I’d have preferred a coalition with Labour but they clearly weren’t even seriously considering it based in what we hear about the negotiations. Well, fine. Let’s work with the tories, mitigate the worst of them, inject some proper progressive policies into government and do our best to reform the political system. It’s far, far better than the tories governing alone; they’d either push through their most right win policies to appease their backbenchers or they’d be defeated in parliament leaving us with another election that we couldn’t possibly afford to fight.

    This coalition is the best deal and I have faith in Clegg and Co to make it work for the country. And this despite me hating Cameron with a passion.

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 12:15am

    Well on the one hand “I’m never voting LibDem again [now you’ve shown a willingness to compromise and negotiate in order to achieve policy ends]” is going to become the new “I’m resigning my subscription”.

    On the other hand some of the details coming out are just weird. Danny for Scottish Sec? There were two people shadowing that office and neither of them are Danny. I understand the desire to have him in the cabinet, but couldn’t he be a minister without portfolio (And then we can have jokes about whether Assistant TO the Deputy Prime Minister is different from Assistant Deputy Prime Minister).

    And this from the BBC:

    “The two sides also agreed a commitment to a replacement for the Trident nuclear missile system but the programme will be scrutinised for value for money.”

    But that’s out policy! Unless they intend to review the replacement outside of the strategic review process entirely, which is just a little weird. Is this how it’s going to work; they won’t be able to give up their campaign spin that “LibDems will scrap trident!”. What’s next? William Hague appears to proclaim ‘we managed to talk the LibDems into accepting Britain should not join the Euro at this time, and if it did not without a referendum.’.

    Strange. Sounds a good deal though so far. Keep fighting for STV people who… might… read this. And try to find a job for the folks running the Rage Against the Machine Group at Cowley Street. Poor little Mevan Babakar’s done a sensational job trying to keep the folks there positive throughout the coalition talks. It doesn’t seem right that Labour keep thrusting the spotlight onto Ellie Gellard and we ignore our own little spontaneous grassroots supporters.

  • Danny Scottish Sec? Going up to Scotland arguing that OUR Tory government is good for them?

    This is hilarious. Someone give the Liberal Democrats one bullet and a good bottle of Scotch, quickly.

  • Andrew Suffield 12th May '10 - 12:22am

    Well on the one hand “I’m never voting LibDem again [now you’ve shown a willingness to compromise and negotiate in order to achieve policy ends]” is going to become the new “I’m resigning my subscription”.

    This comparison had not occurred to me but is absolutely brilliant. They are indeed nerf ragequitters (excluding the ones who are simply trolls).

    What I am annoyed about is the consistently wrong news reports over the past several days. Even the BBC has been doing it. Everybody has been running pure speculation and nonsense and claiming it to be fact. Has anybody seen even one non-politics-specific news source who has been consistently accurate in their reporting over the past week?

  • Bill Kristol-Balls 12th May '10 - 12:24am

    Wow, from a couple of comments on here it seems some people have come into politics to spend their lives in glorious opposition, forever relied upon to be able to say ‘we told you so’ after the event.

    What *ollocks.

    If Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems can get a £700 tax cut for basic rate taxpayers, £2.5 billion extra into poorer kids schooling and make a significant contribution to cleaning up the economy and our politics then they should be thanked and not criticised for joining a coalition with the Tories who lest it be forgotten, won 11 million votes and have more of a mandate and more legitimacy to govern than any other party.

    This is also a test of coalition government. If it can be shown to work with two groups who are clearly not natural allies then the case for PR becomes even stronger in the near future.

  • George W. Potter 12th May '10 - 12:24am

    I swear, if I hear one more person say “I’m never voting Lib Dem again” I’m going to scream.

    I’m a progressive. I believe in our policies. And if the tories are willing to compromise to get some of our policies in place while Labour won’t then it’s a no brainer. And if anyone does want to go to Labour then good riddance. If you’re too blind to see the difference between getting some progressive policies in and none at all then feel free to change to a party that has eroded civil liberties, killed thousands in an illegal war, broken promise after promise and overseen the development of the worst recession in decades.

  • Feeling uneasy about this, but will wait to see the details before making a full judgement.

    Needless to say, however, that this decision seems likely to doom the Lib Dems in my patch of South London to perpetual opposition. I fear our recent dominance of urban localt authorities is about to whither and die.

  • Well done to the LDs. A month ago most of the electorate was fed up, un-engaged and fearfully resigned to getting a Tory government with a large majority.

    We may now have a Tory PM and a largely Tory cabinet, but Nick Clegg and his colleagues have managed to tone down considerably the proposed Conservative programme. Before that first TV debate, who would have imagined that they could achieve this? Under the circumstances, I think the ‘progressive majority’ in Britatin should be very relieved at what has come out of this general election

    The LibLab option could never have worked. It would have been too unstable and too reliant on nationalist parties with their own separate agendas, not to mention many hostile Labour MPs. The LDs explored this option nevertheless.

    It’s also the case that 60% of the electorate now have the party they voted for involved in government.

    It seems that Cameron and Clegg are both able to compromise productively to find agreement, which is very encouraging. I also think that they are both completely aware of how badly the country needs stable and competent government to tackle very serious problems, and will do everything they can to make this arrangement work. Good luck to them!

  • “I swear, if I hear one more person say “I’m never voting Lib Dem again” I’m going to scream.”

    You’d better get used to it.

    Because there’s 6 million of us who just voted for Prime Minister Cameron and Chancellor Osborne accidentally.

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 12:30am

    @Andrew – What exactly did you imagine would happen after we got electoral reform? That there would never be coalition governments, that STV would suddenly make everyone a liberal. The whole point of electoral reform is that different people have different political views and you need a system that respect this rather than FPTP which rewards the extremes (who then pander to the middle). If we’re lucking in reforming the system this will be the first of many coalition deals and it looks like a good’un.

    I voted LibDem, I got LibDem; I voted for LibDem manifesto policies and (for the first time in over 50 years, I might add) we will be in a position to deliver them. Given the (disorganised fuckwits in the) Labour party made it a choice between a Tory government or a Lib-Con coalition, I and every other Conservative-hating voter ought to be thanking you that we don’t have to deal with the sheer awfulness of Conservative government in its purest form and seething at the Labour party for choosing perceived party interest over the progressive interests of the country. If this hurts us at the next election it’s a grave injustice, but at least you all did the decent thing.

    Though yeah; a LibDem at the Scotland Office – how did they talk you into it guys? It’s the ‘kick me’ sign.

  • I can’t wait for the next GE.

  • Scott Miller 12th May '10 - 12:34am

    Lib Dems. Go back to your constituencies and prepare to be chased out of town with sticks.

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 12:34am

    @Andrew – I never voted for David Cameron, or George Osborne. I didn’t vote for Gordon Brown either (or Nick Clegg). I voted for Sir Menzies Campbell in the trust he’d do what was in his power to honour the promises in the LibDem manifesto and he hasn’t let me down. If I’d have voted at my non-term time address I’d have Tom Harris as an MP who declared that, being a man whose position relied upon the unfair electoral system we currently have, he’d fight tooth and nail to keep it up to and including sabotaging and coalition deal to bring about a fairer system. And then he and many of his colleagues went on TV and did the same thing.

    As a ‘centre-left’ or ‘progressive’ or liberal Scot I for one am a lot happier with what my MP for North East Fife has done to advance the progressive cause today than what my MP for Glasgow South did.

  • Duncan Crowe – we have First Past the Post at the moment. And now we will have it for ever more. The Tories will stitch up everything, make no mistake.

    This election offered a (risky) once in a generation opportunity, and the leadership bottled it in favour of limos and red boxes.

  • @Andrew

    Which Prime Minister and Chancellor were you hoping to get?

  • We are all Tories now.

    Marvellous. Just, marvellous.

  • George W. Potter 12th May '10 - 12:41am

    @Andrew If we’re stuck with FTPT that sucks. But given that Labour blocked us from getting it via them then what can we do?

  • Arthur Scargill 12th May '10 - 12:47am

    i will never vote liberal again.

    The Condems talk about what the people want but indulge their own ambitions. When Clegg refers to a unique opportunity I immediatley think of a rogue trader selling dodgy double glazing.

    Never again, I am so disappointed

    I want full PR it will never happen now, the tories would rather eat Thatchers rotting corpse.

  • There is no longer a Liberal Democratic party, the party formerly knows as the Liberal Democratic Party has now merged with the Conservative party. Nick Clegg is Conservative Deputy Prime Minister, that should clue you guys in.

  • Andrew Suffield 12th May '10 - 12:49am

    I voted for Sir Menzies Campbell

    That’s a good point. I didn’t vote for Cameron or Clegg. I voted for Chris Huhne. He’s done a pretty decent job of being my MP, and I didn’t want some Tory paper candidate taking it over and proceeding to ignore me in favour of lobbyists. The fuss over the leaders was interesting to watch but was not really a significant factor in my decision. My ballot paper was for my MP.

    There is a lot to be said for taking an idea from the US system, and creating an executive branch of the government that is elected independently from Parliament, by direct polling of the entire population. That would fix the whining about proportional representation leading to weak government and eliminate a lot of the bad effects of constituency grouping.

  • @ Andrew “I, and millions more, did not vote Lib Dem Conservative.”

    Yes you did; you voted for a party who wanted to introduce proportional voting and coalition governments. We now have a coalition government. Perhaps you didn’t quite understand what you were voting for in the first place? A coalition does not mean you will get to form a government with whoever you want, you have to weigh up the choices and form the best and most stable government for the country, and taking in to account… wait for it… other peoples views.. wow that’s almost Democratic and.. well, Liberal. If this means working with people you disagree with, then that is part of it, you do it, you do it without complaining, and you do it responsibly and you do it trying to bring the most important issues with you.

    Lib Dems now have the opportunity to show how well a coalition government can function… even if it is only as successful as a single party government that will be a huge step in the publics perception. Ultimately this will do more good in promoting PR than having the accusation of bailing labour out just to get what they wanted, which is, however untrue, how it would be perceived were a referendum called for PR within the proposed Labour coalition. The larger proportion of the public are not overwhelmingly and actively calling for PR, a lot are indifferent to it, some are opposed, this is not a fight which can be won by forcing something through, especially when there are bigger financial and environmental issues at stake.

    Lib Dems have done more to show that true PR can work by showing that whatever the outcome, parties who are opposed on some fairly major issues can still work together if the public votes that way, and they can do so in the spirit of doing what they individually and collectively believe is best for the country.

    Remember, a few months ago most Lib Dem supporters wouldn’t even be dreaming this much could be achieved. The quick fix of Labours offer for a referendum on PR was seductive, but you can’t let that cloud your judgement now; if it would have produced and unstable government, and put the ability to act seriously at risk, then it has to be discarded, in the interest of the country, and pursuing it at all costs is self motivated and most importantly, ultimately harmful to the way the very system you are proposing is viewed. If people thought that the Lib Dems manipulated the proceedings to get a referendum on PR then it’s credibility would be completely destroyed (both the parties and PR’s).

    And when thinking on the compromises that have been made, remember that Lib Dems still only got 23% of the votes, no matter that this may have been influenced by tactical voting and media scare tactics. It’s the bigger picture that needs to be looked at, the kind of reform we wish to see is not something that can be changed over a year, or two years, it needs to be shown to work, it needs time to be digested and, above all, it needs to be wanted by the public

    To be honest, anyone saying “well I’ll never vote for Lib Dem’s if they are so willing to negotiate their policies just to be a part of forming a government” probably shouldn’t have been voting Lib Dem in the first place… the whole point of PR is that it forces governments to do just that, so that they are more fairly representative of the whole population… I wonder how many people supported PR just because they thought it would give Lib Dems a larger share of parliamentary seats?

  • Andrew presuambly you voted for Lib Dem policies – many of which you are now getting.

    It is satisfying to think that not only can we believe that we have a great manifesto collecting plaudits from think tanks NGOs and the like as they usually do but now substantial parts will be put into practice.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th May '10 - 12:52am

    “One thing to remember: If the Lib Dems split from the conservatives and form a new coalition with Labour and the minor parties, a new centre-left government can be formed. For a coalition to split is obviously serious, but more than possible if the Lib Dems are convinced that the conservatives have not fulfilled their side of the bargain,”

    I must admit I wondered about that on the basis of the reports which – if I haven’t misunderstood – imply that legislation for fixed-term parliaments will be among the first acts of this coalition government.

    It seems to me that this Parliament has an anti-Conservative majority, and that if the threat of dissolution followed by another election were removed, that majority might come into its own …

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 12:52am

    @Arthur Scargil – The Tories will give us the referendum. It’s up to us to take the case for electoral reform to the country. With AV we stand a good chance of being in another set of coalition talks in the future. With a stronger bargaining position we could force referendum on STV. The case for a switch from AV to PR-STV is much simpler than the switch from FPTP to STV; it’s just a multi-member variant of the same thing. After an election via AV no one could argue “the British population won’t understand the system” or anything of the sort. I’m confident that if we get AV this time we’ve a good chance of getting STV within a decade.

  • Nick Clegg will have to take PMQs as Deputy Conservative Party PM.

    John Redwood: “does my Right Honourable Friend agree…”

    No, this isn’t a bad dream. It’s now.

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 12:54am

    With Ed Laws as Schools Sec we’ll have the first person (in England) taking education seriously for the past 60 years or so. Labour and the Tories have always treated the office as an plaything to hand to various flunkies (Ed Balls) waiting for the ‘top jobs’. I’ve never seen any historical evidence that anyone but a Liberal gives the office the respect it deserves. Well done on fighting for and winning it!

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 12:55am

    With David Laws as Schools Sec we’ll have the first person (in England) taking education seriously for the past 60 years or so. Labour and the Tories have always treated the office as an plaything to hand to various flunkies (Ed Balls) waiting for the ‘top jobs’. I’ve never seen any historical evidence that anyone but a Liberal gives the office the respect it deserves. Well done on fighting for and winning it!

  • Simon – what Liberal Democrat policies am I getting?!

    Electoral reform? Nope.
    Scrapping Trident? Nope.
    More tax on the rich to lower tax on the poor? Nope.
    Closer co-operation with Europe? Nope.
    More relaxed on immigration? Nope.

    This is about red boxes and limos, and the Lib Dems have merged with the Tories tonight, and electoral wipeout beckones.

  • Why does anyone think Conservatives will win a majority next time around?, with the cuts proposed, the economy will be back in recession soon enough, this time Gordon Brown is not there to save the country, the electorate will find the pitfalls of recession hard to stomach, along with the Lib Dem betrayal, I guarantee a Labour revival next election, whenever it may be.

  • Andrew, you make a great deal of sense.

  • @ Simon Dean

    Your an idiot, who clearly doesn’t understand the meaning of coalition government. The Lib Dems only had a 23%, your acting like this gives them some right to dictate the government for the whole country, are you sure you support democracy?

    Nick Clegg made it very clear from the start who should, democratically, have the first right to form a government in this situation.. even if it hadn’t been Conservative, Lib Dems would still only be playing a secondary role in any government… and lucky to have that.

    The other option is to sit back and do nothing, which in my view is frankly unacceptable if you truly believe in what you stand for. The chance to even slightly modify the opponents policies where you disagree should always be taken if you believe they are not right. Who would choose to have no say at all over even a minor say in how policy is made? It’s a ridiculous arguement, unless of course you want to just sit back and block anything, achieving nothing except making all of government look bad in the publics view.

    They are in a much stronger position to influence policy in a direction that is aligned with Lib Dem beliefs and values. Yes they won’t be able to influence everything, yes they will have to give up on some things, but that is part of being democratic. If you called yourself a Lib Dem, don’t be hypocritical by slating the party for actually being democratic.

  • I’m actually finding some of the justifications for the deal even more objectionable than the deal itself, which is quite an achievement.

    So for whom should liberals vote, now that the Lib Dems have given up even pretending to represent them?

  • Alex, Lib Dems 23% of the vote but in government. Are you saying PR doesn’t matter any more now we’re in power.

  • Alex, I won’t bother insulting you, but you should be aware that Labour should have been given the first opportunity to form government, or have Nick Clegg/David Cameron rewritten the rules?

  • Iain M – millions – and I do mean millions – will now go to Labour.

    There is now only one progressive opposition to the ToryLib government.

    It’s so depressing.

  • @Simon Dean

    Labour closed the option of a LibLab deal. After Gordon Brown’s announcement that the two parties would start formal talks a lot of senior Labour MPs were giving interviews saying that they were completely opposed to a coalition with the LibDems.

    There’s no way a ‘rainbow coalition’ would have worked and even if they had managed to cobble it together, it wouldn’t have delivered PR. It probably would have secured a referendum on AV, which is what has been achieved anyway.

  • George W. Potter 12th May '10 - 1:16am

    Andrew, this is not a tory government. it is a COALITION GOVERNMENT. Get it into your head, look it up and understand how it works. It’s compromise, not everyone in the country’s a Lib Dem but by working with the tories we can get the first Liberal policies implemented in over a hundred years. We can temper the tories and and help the national interest to boot.

    Labour betrayed the progressive cause when they blocked a lib-lab coalition. If you want to switch to the traitors then do so. You clearly never grasped the social liberal concept in the first place.

  • Terry Gilbert 12th May '10 - 1:16am

    @Arthur Scargill – Arthur, welcome to LDV. I had no idea you had ever been a Liberal Democrat supporter. You’ve concealed it very well all these years…..

  • I hope I never reach the stage that I am so full of myself that I presume that I speak on the behalf of millions of people I don’t know.

  • Alex, am I wrong in thinking that it is hypocritical to have PR on the front of an election manifesto then throw it away and become part of a government with only 23% of the vote? Should I believe it is then ok to make excuses for doing so, such as it’s for the good of the Nation? Or would you say it’s because we’re all Tories now so it doesn’t matter about PR any more.

  • @ Andrew

    “Electoral reform? Nope. – actually a little bit, if the public is convinced enough, and we don’t know what other government (not electoral) reform policies there are in the pipeline… oh and a significant coalition government… that in itself should not be overlooked as insignificant in terms of reform

    Scrapping Trident? Nope. Fair enough. They always had to give on something… and it wasn’t overly popular with the public

    More tax on the rich to lower tax on the poor? Nope. – actually Yes, the 0% income tax for under £10,000, the dropping of inheritance and marriage tax breaks (which clearly benefit the well off more than the poor, and, for me, the marriage tax benefit was nothing short of immoral as a policy)

    Closer co-operation with Europe? Nope. – From what I’ve heard, potentially a Lib Dem foreign minister… the referendum over new powers to EU is a blow though… I don’t relish the idea of uninformed Europhobic nation spurred on by the local idiot papers getting a say on things which have profound effects far beyond their understanding, (and mine too), especially to our ability to conduct trade.

    More relaxed on immigration? Nope.” Don’t actually remember that being a policy… actually I seem to remember the opposite with mention of counting in and out, and border police. The amnesty on illegal immigration is a completely different thing to deal with a current problem we already face (and I still agree with it as a policy), but it realistically had no chance of getting through given how unpopular the media made it. We have lost out on the Cap though, but then Nick Clegg never actually said it was a damaging policy, he just said it was useless as it would have little effect becuase it couldn’t apply to EU countries… so why not give in over it.

    Remember, as a proportion of votes (assuming you are happy using proportion of votes as some indicator of how power should be balanced..?) then I think the Lib Dems have don pretty well when you take in to account the seats they have, giving them power to try and influence future policy. And future policy has the potential to be far more influential over the next 5 years than the few policies we know about from the pre-election manifestoes.

  • Labour are not progressive. Labour are conservatives. What is progressive about ID cards, the vast quango state staffed by Labour hacks, the bureaucratic myth of ‘tax credits’, form filling meaningless targets and indicators, foreign wars and massive tax cuts. No amount of Alistair Campbell spin can disguise the falseness of Labour’s position as thatcherites and dinosaurs. The Liberal Democrats government position is based on progressive policies that will help the average person. If the Conservatives will enable this instead of Labour, then that is a minor detail. The Labour position is based on fakery and presentation. They’re annyoyed because they are the opposite to Conservatives and coalition is confusing their message.

  • John (Labour) 12th May '10 - 1:26am

    Can any Liberal supporter deny that Labour are now in an extremely strong position as the only progressive?

  • George W Potter – I look forward to Deputy Conservative Party Prime Minister Nick Clegg negotiating with the European Conservatives and Reformists.

  • I look forward to Deputy Conservative Party Prime Minister Clegg forming environment policy with his fellow Tories – 50% of whom think that climate change is a myth.

  • Alex, a lot was said over the last few days about supporting Gordon Brown as an unelected Prime Minister, do you agree that, that is a legitimate statement? If so, do you think it is a legitimate statement or that it might be construed as hypocritical for Nick Clegg to be called an unelected Deputy Prime Minister, considering he’s not even a minister in the party he stood for election in.

  • George W. Potter 12th May '10 - 1:34am

    Andrew – I look forwards to the abolishment of ID Cards, tax reform, earning linked pensions, libel reform, proper controls on the DNA database and CCTV, change for the better in the NHS and much more. Yes the tories are nuts about europe but just because we agreed not to go into the euro in this parliament doesn’t mean we’ll back them on everything else.

    This is called compromise. It’s politics at its very best. Get used to it

  • @ Roland

    are you seriously saying PR is more important than education, Europe, Economic equality and every other issue that the government has to rule on? My belief is if you actually believe in looking out for the general publics best interest and having a government which is more balanced than being just a single party government provides, it not only isn’t hypocritical, it would be irresponsible and hypocritical not to. It would be doubly hypocritical not to compromise on reform having already stated that the needs of the nation have to be put first and foremost before specific party interests.

    As for being part of a government with only 23% of the votes.. well unless Labour and Conservatives formed a coalition there is no other way to get a government which is any more representative of as large a percentage of the public as possible… either you have 1) a government which has members representing 70% of the nation and work together, and work to find some kind of compromise solution, or you have 2) a government that is only representative of 47% of the populations backing. If you are guided by your policy of believing in fairer government based on PR then the former option is clearly what you should be doing.

    PR is a key policy for Lib Dems… it may be for the nation as well, but they certainly didn’t vote that way at the polls. But it is more important to recognise the limitations of achieving what you want within a coalition situation, and be guided by the principle of the policy… I hope this will continue to be the way the Lib dem’s view it… it is after all the key to successful compromise.. work out what in principle you are trying to achieve, then negotiate to a position which satisfies that as far as possible.

  • Andrew, you are being very narrow minded.

    Their are many Lib policies going into this slightly odd arangement, lets just say we can make it work? that will increase our share of the vote.

    What is really better to a “progressive party” as you call it, ranting on the sidelines at a Tory makority governement?

    Or to be in power with Lib Ministers overseeing the implementation of lib polices and being a buffer to stop a majority Tory government.

    It is always better to be an actor rathe than a spectator.

    This is a massive opportunity, it has risks, but still try and see the many positive opportunities this holds.

  • Hopeful Cynic 12th May '10 - 1:36am

    Well, the choice facing the Lib Dems wasn’t exactly a nice one. A coalition with the Tories, or Labour. The Tories… well, we’ve said plenty about them. Labour, the party that gave us top-up fees, ID cards, an illegal war, whose fiscal mismanagement made the idea of slashing spending necessary…

    Honestly, I don’t like either of them. But in order to ensure that the country doesn’t go down the pan, it was necessary to look around and see what was there. Labour couldn’t make up the majority in the first place, and was split on a coalition. Some said yes to the SNP, some said no, some didn’t want to do it, others could. It would have been a shambles and as soon as one of the partners in the “rainbow coalition” didn’t like something, they would have blown the whole thing out of the water and we’d be facing an untempered Conservative majority. It would have been all too easy to sit on the benches and rage and threaten, but no – we’ve attempted to use our influence in a constructive way.

    The Tory/Lib Dem government is perhaps not ideal, but then pragmatism is about compromise. If you voted for the Lib Dems around the country, you must be aware that we’ve been in an awful lot of coalitions with Labour, the SNP, and the Tories. Where we’re able to, we’re willing to work with others to achieve our ends. We’re not firebrand idealists, and I like to think that Liberalism is a very pragmatic philosophy, willing to work with others when needed to come up with a favourable outcome in what could be an otherwise bad situation.

    There will be a lot of bluster from Labour, but if we’re in a tribal political situation, we should not forget who caused the mess that now the Lib Dems must play a part in sweeping up. Would we be in this situation without the massive spending required to participate in “police actions” against countries that did not threaten us? Would we be in this situation if Labour hadn’t wasted billions on ID cards and a database state that no-one wanted? The recession would have struck, but every pound wasted could have helped.

    I’m going to need a stiff drink to get over this Tory coalition… but for Labour to suddenly come up all high and mighty after 13 years of making “progressive” noises while doing things like palling around with the most right-wing administration in the United States’ history and being complicit in torture, as well as all of the above, makes it a little easier.

    The Lib Dems are learning that Westminster politics is indeed a dirty business. Sometimes, you have to make deals with people you wouldn’t normally talk to in order to get things done…

  • George W Potter. This is not compromise. This is becoming an insigificant wing of the Tory Party.

    A few red boxes and limos is not compromise. It is a hostile takeover by the Tories.

  • Hopeful Cynic 12th May '10 - 1:42am

    So… are we going to see Labour oppose ID cards, student top-up fees and Trident, to name a few things that were thrown about during the election campaign?

    Or will it join everyone else in say, voting to abolish ID cards when it campaigned for them? I suppose it could, but then that’s effectively conceding there was something fundamentally wrong with the previous administration…

  • George W. Potter 12th May '10 - 1:45am

    andrew do you think i like being in coalition with the tories? I don’t. But Labour betrayed us and now we have to make the best of a bad job. Labour abandoned their principles over ID cards and anti-terrorist laws and to lead us into an illegal war and to bend over backwards for the bankers but they refused to come to an agreement with us.

    Labour has betrayed the progressive cause. Once I might have considered voting Labour in the future. Now I never will. They have made the final betrayal and it is up to us to ensure that the country has a stable, centre-ground government.

  • George W. Potter 12th May '10 - 1:47am

    oh and andrew, perhaps you could rise above blinkered tribalism just long enough to look objectively at this coalition, hmm?

  • Hopeful Cynic – are we going to see the Conservative government oppose top-up fees and Trident? I doubt it.

    What would Cameron’s Deputy Clegg say when challenged by HM Opposition about Trident and top-up fees?

    It’s an unholy mess. Votes flooding to Labour in millions. I fear for the Liberal Democrat future. This was the big one – and the leadership bottled it as soon as a red box was waved in their face.

    I need a drink…

  • Don’t worry George, I have already recruited 10 former Liberal Democratic voters to the only progressive cause (Labour Party).

  • @ Simon Dean

    Your right, I shouldn’t insult people so I apologise. Damn that’s the second time today, I think it’s all getting me a bit worked up.

    However the ‘right’ of the prime minister is only set by precedent not constitution, a precedent in which the residing prime minister had the larger portion of the votes as well I believe so the situation is already different, and if Labour and Gordon Brown disagreed with Nick, they should have said so after he first said that the one with the most votes should have first chance, before the election took place. They didn’t, and neither did Gordon Brown refute it after the election either.

    @ Roland “Alex, a lot was said over the last few days about supporting Gordon Brown as an unelected Prime Minister, do you agree that, that is a legitimate statement?”

    As has been said by someone else on these forums. No-one elects a prime minister, they are empowered by the Queen after being put forward by the parliament. People vote for candidates to parliament, those parliamentarians get to vote on bills that get put to them, and the parliament is the one that decides who is to be prime minister. Also I have stated many times that I don’t believe people should vote for the figurehead, they should vote based on the policies and the party’s principles, unfortunately in this media heavy society personality and image appear to have gained a significance way over their actual importance. For example how many people voted based on how nice or sincere each candidate was, and how many could actually discuss the policies of their own chosen party, let alone those of the ones they were voting against.

    As for Nick Clegg. I’m sure it will be called hypcritical by the press, but I don’t see how it can be, unless you mean that David Cameron is being hypocritical in decrying Gordon Brown as unelected, and then putting Nick Clegg in. Again, possibly he might be accused of it, but again I dont think it washes, the elctorate did give votes to Nick Clegg as a party leader, and as stated above we vote members in to parliament, not PM’s, or any other position in government and It’s no more hypocritical than choosing your cabinet and other positions without the public voting for them… which doesn’t happen because the Parliament is voted in to do this themselves, which is exactly what DC is doing, with the backing of the majority of the parliament members, just as has always happened.

  • Alex, do you think it would be better, or more honest to the electorate, not to have a manifesto? Do you think the manifesto should just say “We’ll sort everything out after the election”? Or do you think the Lib Dems would appear more honest, like the Labour Party, if they didn’t compromise the manifesto they were elected on? Or would you say
    we’re all Tories now so principles don’t matter anyway? Or are we just acting Tories as Jason T said?

  • @ Andrew “It’s an unholy mess. Votes flooding to Labour in millions. I fear for the Liberal Democrat future. This was the big one – and the leadership bottled it as soon as a red box was waved in their face.”

    You say they bottled it, I say that if they had taken the cowards way out and not backed anyone just because they were afraid of what people would say then that would have been the real betrayal of the party. To shun having any say in policy because you are afraid to lose voters? I don’t want a leadership like that thanks, and it certainly goes against the idea of putting the nation before your own parties interest

  • George W. Potter 12th May '10 - 2:02am

    Edmond, when Labour opposes tuition fees, ID cards, the anti-terrorism laws, supports a proper investigation into the iraq war and our complicity in torture, an end to the extradition agreement with the US, an end to the disgraces at Yarl’s Wood and generally goes back to being a progressive party, then I might support them again.

    And since Labour are so progressive, why did they block a progressive coalition? Just answer me that, just answer that one question. WHY.

  • George, from what I’ve heard, the Labour negotiations were a mere bargaining tool for Clegg & Co, seems to have worked.

  • Hopeful Cynic 12th May '10 - 2:06am

    We can answer to the Loyal Opposition that they were the architects of many of the policies that the current government has decided to continue, albeit modified in some cases, and that from the opposition benches it’s very easy to pretend that they have nothing to do with what they object to when it’s them that started the ball rolling.

    Not perfect, but Labour are not innocents in this. Not one bit.

  • George W. Potter 12th May '10 - 2:10am

    edmond, from what I’ve heard we had every possibility of a Lib Lab deal until Labour refused to make any moves towards a half way decent compromise. What does it say when the tories were more willing to compromise than Labour? Just shows your true stripes at the tribalistic, authoritarian, illiberal party that you are.

  • Alex, I really think you’re getting the feel for this Tory thing, calling the new leader DC instead of David Cameron, calling the Labour Party cowards because they wouldn’t ditch their manifesto like Nick Clegg did. It appears to me that
    the Torification of the Lib Dems is now starting to show and all of their blatant BS is already infecting what was once a principled party. As I said earlier, why have a manifesto when you can write a new one after the election.

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 2:18am

    @Andrew – “Simon – what Liberal Democrat policies am I getting?!

    Electoral reform? Nope.
    Scrapping Trident? Nope.
    More tax on the rich to lower tax on the poor? Nope.
    Closer co-operation with Europe? Nope.
    More relaxed on immigration? Nope.

    This is about red boxes and limos, and the Lib Dems have merged with the Tories tonight, and electoral wipeout beckones.”

    Okay. Putting our ‘sane people are those who compromise’
    More relaxed on immigration? – That wasn’t in our manifesto. Our manifesto had a pledge to move from the current 14 year amnesty to a 10 year amnesty (wow) and to introduce a points based system to /limit/ immigration. That’s not exactly ‘relaxed’. That’s just ‘not stupid’. The Tory proposal is stupid, but will be seen to be so in time.
    Closer co-operation with Europe – No. But we’ve settled on a ‘no closer, no further back’ modus vivendi apparently along with the Tory proposal to have a referendum on every single treaty (again stupid but not impossibly so) (THIS IS CLOSER TO OUR POLICY THAN IF WE HADN’T GONE INTO COALITION)
    More tax on the rich to lower tax on the poor? – You’re getting the second part. If the government can make the books balance without the first part… do you really need it? We’re going to have education spending targetting the poorest areas and we’ve made the Tories scrap their inheritance tax plan – I’d say we struck a blow for social mobility. And by moving the bottom rate of tax we make a lot of people better off, stimulate the economy and incentivize people off unemployment benefits by making it worthwhile. (THIS IS CLOSER TO OUR POLICY THAN IF WE HADN’T GONE INTO COALITION)
    Scrapping Trident? – Our policy wasn’t to scrap trident it was to subject it to the defense review with one of the possible outcomes (which some of our MPs oppose) being scrapping it outright. Instead the renewal deal is going to be scrutinized to see if a more cost-effective means could be used (presumably outfitting the Stuart submarines or something?) (THIS IS CLOSER TO OUR POLICY THAN IF WE HADN’T GONE INTO COALITION)
    Electoral reform? – We’re going to get a referendum on AV which presumably will pass unless the Tories and Labour both go mental. Easy sell, slight improvement on the present system with room for further improvement later. (THIS IS CLOSER TO OUR POLICY THAN IF WE HADN’T GONE INTO COALITION)

    We’re also getting our reforms to the banking and financial system with Vince in charge of them, we’re getting our improvements to the education budget with David Laws in charge of them, we’re going to have a Scotland secretary who actually cares that Scotland exists – this is a pretty good deal when you consider the alternative was a Tory government.

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 2:21am

    @Edmond – “George, from what I’ve heard, the Labour negotiations were a mere bargaining tool for Clegg & Co, seems to have worked.” – What absolute twaddle. This contradicts what we heard today from LibDem /and/ Labour sources who said the negotiations themselves were sabotaged by “certain cabinet ministers” (Ed Balls being one) and then Labour lost control of its backbenchers (who it had kept in the dark about the whole thing) leading to Tom Harris, Diane Abbot, David Blunkett and select others appearing on any media which would have them saying that a deal wasn’t workable, that electoral reform was bad and that Labour should go back to the opposition benches. Have you been operating in a media blackout all day or something?

  • George W. Potter 12th May '10 - 2:23am

    Duncan, brilliantly said.

  • AV won’t ‘sell’, Conservatives have already stated they will campaign against it, and don’t expect any favours from Labour.

  • Duncan are you saying that the Conservatives are better Lib Dems than the Lib Dems?

  • Or do you think the Lib Dems would appear more honest, like the Labour Party, if they didn’t compromise the manifesto they were elected on?

    So how do you presume the country is governed then? If Labour shouldn’t compromise on their manifesto, the Lib Dems shouldn’t compromise on their manifesto, and the Conservatives shouldn’t compromise on their manifesto, how would a government be formed, when no party has a majority in the House of Commons?

    The only solution I see, is that you, roland, are planning on staging a one-man coup.

  • Above Alex, btw, is a different Alex to previous ones.

  • @ Roland

    I don’t think I really understand what your saying, it’s certainly seems written like one of those weighted poll type questions 😉

    The manifesto as it stands is always a misleading document in any election, it sets out the principles of the parties, but where it provides policy it can never guarantee it, and it certainly can’t cover everything that they will do. The large majority of policy is put forward in the years after the election and isn’t included in the manifesto. Anyone who has been through any election knows that the manifesto isn’t a binding and final document stating what the party will do, and that policy is often postponed, put off, altered or abandoned as the party takes power, sometimes for very practical reasons, sometimes because there is genuine outcry over it, and sometimes because the party never meant to implement it at all.

    So yes I think there are better ways of conveying to the general public what your party stands for and hat they want to achieve… starting by having more direct communication. But I also feel the manifesto has a place in setting out the broad policy and principles of the party for people, so the yat least know what the party will stand for if they vote for them.

    Also the problem of a manifesto is that it, in putting down specific policies, it makes no allowance for the position we are in now, i.e. negotiating a coalition, where the principle of the party is more important than the actual policies… you can’t negotiate and form coalitions if you refuse to budge on your policy.. and negotiated coalitions were a key point of the Lib dem manifesto.. they can’t very well turn around and refuse to negotiate now, it makes a mockery of their own principles.

    You cannot say “we want PR and coalition governments” and also say “we will not compromise on our manifesto” The two are contradictory.

    If we get AV, and if we start to see more Coalition governments, then I expect we will see a change in the way manifesto’s are written and presented, because at the moment, they just aren’t designed for this purpose. I think the Lib Dems are probably the most at fault in not trying to address this, because they were proposing coalitions, yet didn’t make much allowance for negotiating one in their manifesto.. they probably didn’t expect to be in this position 🙂

    However you seem to be suggesting that the Lib Dems either refuse a coalition or drop their policies altogether. This isn’t how forming a coalition works, you have to negotiate on as much as necessery. Some they have had to drop, others they have managed to carry through, just as the Conservatives have also done. Also some policies have to be revised by both sides to get a compromise and where compromises have been made they have been approached ‘in the spirit’ of the manifesto policies, and the Lib Dems having achieved places in the government are now in a position to ensure that their principles have a chance of influencing and shaping future policies too which will be put to the parliament to vote on, which I see as more important than the initial negotiation.

    The biggest negotiation is on PR. Well firstly, the Lib Dems have got the Conservatives forming a very real Coalition, not just a token gesture one, but one with significant Lib Dem representation, this in itself is a big win in terms of presenting PR to the public. Secondly the Tories have agreed to a referendum on AV… ok AV is not great compared to PR, but it represents a major concession from the Conservatives, and does show that a compromise was met. This is one of those areas where it was a major Lib dem policy… like.. major. BUT compared to the benefit it has for the general public, the likelihood of being able to advance PR by other means (such as making the coalition work, getting public groups to push for it), and the general apathy it appears to have been met with by the majority of voters, it is one that they should for the sake of actually forming a stable government, compromise on.

  • I’m a little confused to why Nick Clegg believes he has the right to govern, he has previously dismissed Gordon Brown has being rejected by the electorate, and to go, yet he has become DPM with far less votes and seats than Gordon. Odd.

  • This coalition politics in Britain. This is what PR is all about. This is great for the LibDems!

    In an ideal world the LibDems would have won 100 seats and would be in a strong, stable coalition with Labour… But this was not possible. Maybe next time.

    Or maybe the British electorate is too attached, in custom and mentality, to the first past the post system. We’ll just have to see…

  • @ Smith

    When was the last time you voted seperately for the DPM, or any other cabinet post? In fact you don’t even vote for the Prime minister… the Parliament backs a candidate who the Queen endorses and makes Prime minister, you only ever get to vote for the members of parliament. This is why DC was trying to get a majority in parliament, so that they would back him in his approach to the Queen. Conceivably any other MP could have done so if he negotiated and got a majority backing him, of course parties would only ever put their figureheads forward to do this, but it is possible.

    NC has just as much right to be part of a government asn any other MP, and DC has perfect right to select anyone to gain a majority support.

  • I’m sorry new Alex I understand your comment about the one man coup as much as you can understand the need for honesty to the electorate. I do not see this as open and honest government, I see this as the same old rubbish of the last forty years however you like to dress it up. There is no principle to justify the leader of the LDP ignoring the manifesto he was elected by and becoming Deputy Prime Minister in a Conservative Government. You cannot justify it by claiming it is for the good of the nation or that it gets some or a part of the manifesto into legislation when you don’t know if it will. You can’t justify it by saying it was the only choice the LDP had. The LDP could have let the Conservatives govern in a minority and still control voting in the house. The LDP would have at least had an identity, sadly I believe that will now not be the case. Excuses for becoming part of the Conservative Government is to me the sort of BS that is not progressive it is the politics of the past.

  • Thus, Nick Clegg was wrong for stating Gordon Brown has been rejected by the electorate.

  • To all here who are trying unconvincingly to justify Nick Clegg etc joining the Conservative Party (please don’t deny that this is not true) can you honestly believe this is why honest Lib Dems, even you, voted in the election. I believe in all honesty that the party’s credibility, which was very high will soon be non existent, with the electorate. A lot of the electorate do not understand the intricacies and deviousness of politics.I believe also that a re-vamped untainted Labour party will have an easy time pulling to pieces the principles of both Conservative and Lib Dem parties as soon as this coalition falls apart. Let’s face it, if history repeats itself, the coalition will probably do the Labour party’s job for them. The only sad thing is the Tory party is probably big enough to survive.

  • Goodnight everybody. LDP RIP

  • Betrayed Liberal 12th May '10 - 4:26am

    I am a voter in my 20s who has voted for the Lib Dems at three general elections for the reason that I believed they were the most progressive, forward-thinking reforming party in the country. Central to the Lib Dem campaign and appeal over my lifetime has been the promise to reform our antediluvian voting system to a fairer, proportional system.
    PR is not just another policy that can be horse traded with other minor policy concessions. PR is right of the core of the Lib Dem appeal, image and is the most progressive, transformative, reformative policy from any of the parties that has the potential to change the shape and nature of politics for the better forever in the UK. It is the biggest, boldest, bravest political idea on the table which goes beyond party politics, spin and horse-trading. The implementation of PR would enable fair, representative, proportionate, truly democratic government in the UK and is on the similar level of grandness as giving women the right to vote in the suffragette movement.
    In my mind, and many other people of my generation, the Lib Dems were the only party of the future with genuine plans for reform.
    The events of the past few days I believe have set the Lib Dem appeal and cause back irrevocably. I do not view Nick Clegg’s decision to form a coalition with the Tories as shrewd political manoeuvring to facilitate the implementation of a Lib Dem programme of reform. I view his decision, and that of the party as short-sighted grasping for power at the first opportunity. They have eagerly sacrificed their central policy of proportional representation, the biggest political idea and ideal of all the main parties, in or the expediency of power. It is cynical betrayal pure and simple.
    There will be a backlash to this treachery by the Lib Dems and more people will feel dismayed, disillusioned and disenfranchised in a broken political system that seems set to perpetuate itself as there are not enough bold, visionary and courageous people that are willing to fight for a better future based on the highest of ideals.
    I am so utterly dismayed that the UK political system has now proven to offer no choice, no diversity and no genuine representation for both myself and countless other, disenfranchised people.

  • I’m still laughing at Andrew’s description of the Labour Party as ‘progressive’–that’s hilarious! Hahaha. That’s the best joke I’ve read this year. At least you made me laugh!

  • vince thurnell 12th May '10 - 12:09pm

    There was no need to create a coalition government to get concessions from the Tories. All that needed to happen was to let the Tories run a minority government and make them give concessions each time they wanted something to go through the house. That way the independence of the party would be intact, we could of still had some of our policies passed through the house and we could of still worked with the other parties and the public would of not felt betrayed. Thats progressive politics not the sell out we are now enduring. This is not progressive politics , it is another display of politicians putting their own interests ie power in front of whats best for the country.

  • South London Liberal 12th May '10 - 12:18pm

    Yeah similarly I must have missed the bit where Labour were a ‘progressive’ party? Unless you count wholesale violation of terror legislation to set this country on the road to becoming a police state with CCTV on every corner and an I.D card in your back pocket ‘progressive’? In so many areas you can hardly get a fag paper between Labour and the Conservatives on policies.

    What the Hell did you want us to do anyway? Form a cobbled together coalition with a party that polled only marginally better than Michael Foot who made it perfectly clear they wanted nothing to do with us? Even if we had formed the myth of a ‘progressive’ coalition it would probably have required Scots/Welsh nationalist support that would have seen us spend more on Scotland and Wales whilst raising taxes in England. You can argue all you like about whether you did/did not ‘Vote Clegg to get Cameron’ but no one voted Clegg to get Alex Salmond and Ieuan Wyn Jones.

    Another thing to consider is that the Lib-Dems are not the wholly ‘loony left’ political institution we’re portrayed to be by some. Probably more than any other party we’re a mix of left and right. There would have been just as many Lib Dem voters who would have never touched us again with a barge pole if we’d propped up a wobbly Labour led coalition that would have harmed the national interest as ones who are suddenly getting misty eyed about a missed opportunity with ‘progressive Labour’ who bombed seven shades out of Iraq and have unelected quangos like Campbell, Mandy and Adonis running around like a bloody axis of evil behind the scenes. I find it laughable that the ‘progressive majority’ can remember what Thatcher did but suffer collective Alzheimer’s when it comes to a million + dead Iraqi’s, dodgy dossiers, and a situation where the only people who’ve lost their jobs over an illegal war are the heads of the BBC!

    No matter what we would have done we’d have been crucified. I’m proud to be part of a party that made such a tough decision in the national interest. There’s plenty of party members where I am who recognise that too.

  • Betrayed Liberal 12th May '10 - 2:45pm

    @ South London Liberal

    Yes quite probably the liberal democrats would have been criticised for any decision they made in the position they faced.

    However I disagree that the current option is the ‘least worst’ from a liberal democrat point of view. As it stands you have clear sold out any pretence of principles, ideals or values by not even extracting the slightest concession for a proportional system from the conservative party.

    As such you have betrayed your core and many that voted for you. You are now seen as the Tory-Lite party which, just like all other parties, will say anything to the electorate to just desperately grasp the reins of power at the 1st opportunity.

    If the lib dems had just let the Tories form their own minority government, yes they would have been pilloried by the right-wing press and electorate. However, the people criticising the Lib Dems are the ones who never voted for you and would probably never vote for you anyway. At least you could maintain a shred of integrity to your core support, you manifesto and your supposed reforming, ‘progressive’ liberal values.

    You are morally bereft, politically incompetent and are an integral part of the problem with politics in the UK . Namely that of politicians and the media cynically manipulating, spinning and lieing to the electorate for your own expedient ends

    You are not a progressive party, not a reforming party and are just a different shade of blue from the Conservative and Labour Parties.

    Its a damning endictment of this country where the whole political spectrum is so narrow that it is down to 3 parties to squabble over who is more centre-right and conservative than the other 2.

    I just hope that many former lib dem supporters also see the party for what it is and enough liberal thinkers form and coalesce around a new party with sound principles with the highest standards of honesty and integrity at its core.

  • vince thurnell 12th May '10 - 2:57pm

    South London Liberal, whilst you’re right , on many issues there is just a fag papers difference between the Tories and Labours policies. The harsh reality is , now there isnt even a fag papers difference between the Lib Dems and the Tories policies as they are exactly the same.

  • South London Liberal 12th May '10 - 4:19pm

    Gents,
    First of all @ Betrayed Liberal (and there was me thinking you were all in favour of this mate! Damn my lack of perception!) On the issue of getting a concession from the Conservative Party to adopt PR. That was NEVER going to happen sure. However it was NEVER going to happen in a deal with Labour either, infact in some regards there’s less of a will for electoral reform in Labour ranks than there is in the Conservatives. Labours attitude, in particular after 97′, told me all I needed to know about their attitude for electoral reform. No chance of that if they can secure a massive majority to pulverise policy through the House with sheer weight of votes, debate be damned. Besides the issue of full PR needs to be decided in a referendum by the British people rather than by a cosy behind the scenes deal to enter government.

    I also don’t think the argument about allowing the Conservatives to form a minority government holds water in the long run either. Yeah I don’t particularly like the idea of seeing my party associated with the Conservatives either. Yes I think it will damage us. However if we’d told them to jog on and form a minority government we wouldn’t have got anything on electoral reform or indeed Lib-Dem policies into government, it would have just left us in the middle of no where as per usual, five seats down. I didn’t vote Lib-Dem to get the Conservatives or Labour into office. I voted Liberal-Democrats to get the Liberal-Democrats into office, with Liberal policies on the table. We did… infact truth be told much more than I expected we would.

    Vince, I want to say you’re right and I fully understand that view, but at the same time isn’t that the nature of forming a working coalition? Compromise?

    I’ll add one last thing before I bore you all to bloody death. 🙂 I am a Liberal-Democrat but my first allegiance is to the people of this country. I joined the party because it’s the closest to representing my views. But if we get clobbered at the next election because we made an effort to form a government with the Conservatives because we saw it as the best chance of benefiting this country then so be it. Oh one other thing; a friend of mine also a party member said to me yesterday “I can’t believe we’re going to let the posh filth in, load of ****ing toffs”. If that’s a view of an element within the party who oppose this deal then am I the only one who finds that slightly sad, and dare I say it, bigoted?

    Cheers

  • Betrayed Liberal 12th May '10 - 4:48pm

    @ South London Liberal

    I agree that enunciating tribalist policies such as stereotyping all conservatives as a load of ****ing toffs is wrong. I try to base my decisions, arguments and opinions on my own experience, reason and humanity as far as possible.

    On paper I should be conservative. I went to a private school, grew up in a middle class family, went to a Russell Group university and subsequently pursuing one of the established professions.

    In short i have learnt that politics, like people, ultimately falls down to how much compassion and empathy you feel. In politics, crudely put, it is a question of if you focus on the differences between people (not inherently wrong) – between men/women, black/white, straight/gay or focussing on the similarities between us all. The trouble I have found by focussing on the differences is that it often creates mental distance in people’s minds. I.e. It makes empathy difficult and often makes them obdurate, intrasigent and at the most extreme prejudicial and discrimnatory.

    In terms of people, it is a question of how selfish your want to be in life. How much you put the furthuring our extraordinarily luxurious lifestyle (in the western world) over the suffering of others (both within this country but especially evident in the the 3rd world).

    The only thing that separates selfish people/politics against compassionate people pursuing reformative, liberal politics is their core ideals and values. Any arguments made on the basis of ‘it will never happen’ are not focussing on the point I am trying to make. I am not arguing on the basis of how likely PR was or wasn’t going to happen in this parliament or with the state of politics in the UK.

    Politics should be about values, ideals and integrity. There is a dearth of this with the unrepresentative, disproportionate politicians produced every 5 years in our electoral system. Politics in the UK is simply about spinning, lieing and manipulating the electorate into passing the baton of power between a narrow political elite. Once you focus on attaining, maintaining power above the ideals you strive for, you wind up in a dark place.

    What I am saying is that I don’t care if i support a party that never gets elected. I do not care if no-one agrees with me. I will maintain my values and ideals until the day I die. Politicians and governments come and go. It is only yourself that you have to live with for the rest of your life.

  • vince thurnell 12th May '10 - 6:08pm

    Betrayed Liberal, that is the best thing i have seen written on here. It would appear though most don’t agree with you and are happy to turn their back on their principles for their 5 years of fame.

  • Betrayed Liberal 12th May '10 - 6:27pm

    @ Vince

    Thanks for the support but in my opinion it is clear that one of the 3 following will happen. in the short to medium term in this country (in descending order of likelihood)

    1) The coalition will fall apart within the next 18months as the inreconcilaible differences between the various parties grassroots support and activists tear the coalition apart

    2) The coalition limps weekly on for 5 years, unable to pass any policy of substance as the conservative and liberal wings of the coalition fight

    3) The Liberal Democrats are routed at the next election, cease to be a mainstream force in the country with several defections to the conservative party and the emergence of a true, ‘real’ liberal democrats espousing the views the party was founded on

    Whatever happens though, it is clear that the current political elite are incapable of looking beyond their own immediate self interest to deal with the perilous real world problems that are being unresolved – namely that of a disillusioned, disenfranchised public that identify less and less with current political system and its portrayal in the media.

    Whether or not we roll back the last 100 years of social progress to the point where the starving proletariat march upon the mansions in the shires demaning greater equality all rests on how many principled, brabe and enlightened people there are left fighting in the political system. At the moment it really does not augur well.

  • @ Betrayed Liberal

    I don’t really understand why you feel betrayed. From all you are saying you truly believe peopel should have empathy and try to work together, and you believe in a democratic politics. I wholeheartedly agree… yet

    we have a government composed of two parties, who between them garnered 70% of the populations votes, who are working together, despite major differences, to try and find a compromise on their own parties idealisms to try and find a common aims which they can work together at achieving for the good of the people they are trying to govern. It sounds exactly what you expect from politics, and yet you are unhappy with it? and, after all this time of wanting a government which represents a higher proportion of the voting public, and who is in all likelihood a coalition, now we have it, you seem to be convinced it will fail. If you think a coalition government has no chance, and shouldn’t form because they have different ideals and shouldn’t compromise those, why support proportional representation, which pretty much requires this to happen to have any chance of creating a workable government?

  • Nick Cleg came into politics five years ago. Lib Dems lost seats in this election, came third in an election in which no one won and now he is Deputy Prime Minister. That may please most leaving comments but selling out to get a top job and a company car is called a Tory. One should never sell out their principles especially if it stops people from differientiating now and forever more Lib Dems from Conservatism. I wanted a hung parliament. I wanted a Lib labour coalition that wasn’t to be. A watered down Conservative government is better than one with a majority but wouldn’t it have been better if Clegg had walked away from the deal, left Cameron to try and push his worse policies with a minority government which wouldn’t have got passed. I say yes. Cameron says politics has changed. Is that why a tory in England governs Scotland where they have no seats. A Tory like a leopard doesn’t change it’s spots, and now I fear a Liberal has become a leopard. Unless this works Cleg has created a return to 2party politics. I for one won’t be voting for Blue or Yellow because i no longer can tell the difference but I’m willing to be proved wrong.

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