Hung Parliament: what Lib Dem members think will happen… and what you want to happen

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 600 party members responded to this set of questions – thank you – in a supplementary poll run last Thursday and Friday.

(All figures below are compared with the last time we asked this question, a year ago, in September 2013.)

68% of Lib Dem members predict another hung parliament in 2015

What do you believe is the likeliest outcome of the next general election?

    13% (+5%) – A minority Conservative government

    6% (=) – An overall majority for the Conservatives

    6% (+4%) – A Conservative-led coalition with parties other than Labour or the Lib Dems

    6% (-8%) – A Conservative-Lib Dem coalition

    17% (-8%) – A Labour-Lib Dem coalition

    3% (=) – A Labour-led coalition with parties other than the Conservatives or the Lib Dems

    22% (-2%) – A minority Labour government

    12% (+5%) – An overall majority for Labour

    1% (+1%) – A “grand coalition” between Labour and Conservatives

    13% (+2%) – Don’t know

As I’ve done before, I deliberately offered multiple, mirroring choices to capture the full span of opinion on this. Let’s now group the data together to help us understand what it’s saying:

  • More than two-thirds of Lib Dem members — 68% — think a hung parliament is the most likely outcome of the 2015 general election. Just 18% think either Labour (12%) or the Tories (6%) will win outright.
  • There has been a noticeable decline in the numbers of Lib Dem members expecting the party to go into coalition again after May. 23% of Lib Dems expect we will be back in government – down from 39% a year ago. Three-quarters (17%) of this group expect it to be with Labour and just one-quarter (6%) a second coalition with the Tories.
  • A clear majority (56%) think Ed Miliband’s Labour party will be in government, either on their own account or with backing from other parties. Almost a third (31%) expect the Tories to be in government again after 2015.
  • So that’s what our sample of Lib Dem members think will happen. Now let’s find out what we want to happen if there’s another hung parliament…

    By 51% to 18%, Lib Dem members prefer post-2015 alliance with Labour to continuing pact with Tories

    Assuming the Lib Dems do not form a majority/minority government after the next election, which would be your most preferred outcome:

      6% (+3%) – A Labour majority government with the Lib Dems in opposition

      11% (+4%) – A minority Labour government with the Lib Dems in opposition

      18% (+3%) – A Labour-Lib Dem ‘confidence and supply’ agreement (ie, no coalition deal so free to vote on an issue-by-issue basis, but agreeing not to bring down the government or vote against its Budget)

      33% (-6%) – A Labour-Lib Dem coalition (if stable majority will result and programme for government can be agreed)

      14% (-1%) – A second Conservative-Lib Dem coalition (if stable majority will result and programme for government can be agreed)

      4% (-2%) – A Conservative-Lib Dem ‘confidence and supply’ agreement (ie, no coalition deal so free to vote on an issue-by-issue basis, but agreeing not to bring down the government or vote against its Budget)

      4% (+1%) – A minority Conservative government with the Lib Dems in opposition

      4% (+2%) – A Conservative majority with the Lib Dems in opposition

      4% (+1%) – Other

      4% (-1%) – Don’t know

    Again, let’s group some of these individual choices together:

  • Just over half (51%) Lib Dem members want to see some form of arrangement with Labour: either a formal coalition (33%) or a ‘supply and confidence’ arrangement (18%).
  • By comparison, less than 1-in-5 (18%) want to see a continuing arrangement with the Conservatives, either a second coalition (14%) or a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement (4%).
  • In total, therefore, close on 7-in-10 Lib Dem members (69%) want to see the Lib Dems continuing to play an active role in government: 47% within coalition, 22% through a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement. Just 15% of Lib Dem members want to see the party return to opposition in the event of a hung parliament.
  • 5 quick points:

    1) Lib Dems want to be in government: 69% of party members are committed to being in government. However, we don’t know yet (can’t know) if those 7-in-10 members are equally happy for the party to be in coalition irrespective of whether it’s Labour or the Conservatives who are our partners.

    2) Lib Dems prefer Labour as our partners by 3:1: you can interpret this in a couple of different ways (not mutually exclusive). Perhaps Lib Dems are more comfortable with a liberal-left coalition. Or perhaps Lib Dems feel the current coalition with the Conservatives has basically run its course. Or perhaps Lib Dems want to assert our equidistance, showing to the public we’re equally comfortable working with either Tories but also Labour.

    3) Coalition is preferred to confidence and supply by 2:1: in the past, I’ve made no secret that I’m no fan of ‘confidence and supply’, by which the Lib Dems would lend support to either Labour or the Tories on budget and confidence motions but otherwise vote on an issue-by-issue basis. It’s seemed to me a way of getting all the pain of coalition with little of the gain of being in government. However, it may be the case that after May 2015 the Lib Dems and the bigger party (whether Labour or Tories) combined do not have enough MPs for a secure majority. Let’s say we have 30-40 MPs and Labour/Tories has 275: together, that would not be a working majority. In that situation, maybe ‘confidence and supply’ would be more feasible. It may also be a recipe for government paralysis, of course.

    4) This is at least as big an issue for Labour and the Tories as for the Lib Dems: as Mark Pack has pointed out before, there is a big choice journalists need to put to David Cameron and Ed Miliband in the lead-up to the 2015 general election: “do you want minority government or coalition if there is a hung Parliament?”

    5) “More lib Dem MPs means more Lib Dem policies”: we’ve used this mantra for years, but it is never more true than during a hung parliament. It will make a huge difference not only to our party, but also to the next government, if the Lib Dems retain most of our 57 MPs in 2015. If the number falls below 30 then those MPs will still fight the liberal fight: but their position will be significantly weaker when it comes to negotiating – whether we’re in coalition or not.

  • 1,500+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 586 completed the latest survey, which was conducted on 2nd and 3rd October.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    76 Comments

    • stuart moran 6th Oct '14 - 5:33pm

      To be honest this is of very little interest and relevance

      Lib Dem activist think (or hope wishfully) that there will be another Coalition – well knock me down with a feather! I also think Mark Pack’s question is a complete non-starter and his hope that journalists will see it as ‘a big choice’ is a bit of a joke really

      I think the press are going to more likely to press Clegg on who he prefers than badger the others about the hypothetical idea of Coalition. The other two will say that they do not expect the situation to arise as they are going for a majority – Clegg is the only one who wants (or needs) a Coalition. I see there being no way Clegg can avoid this question and we all know what he prefers don’t we? And it isn’t the same as the members – remember this is the guy who seems to think Danny Alexander can mix it with Osborne and Balls when you have Cable warming the bench!

    • stuart moran 6th Oct '14 - 6:02pm

      For once I agree with Simon Shaw

      A coalition with labour would be ridiculous seeing what has happened since 2010 and the rhetoric. It would need a complete overhaul of the leadership and I cannot see how it can be done credibly

      Another coalition with the Tories would leave you in the minds of the people as being synonymous with them, reinforcing the image as a British FDP and would probably lead to a complete falling apart of the party. Imagine 10 years in Government with the Tories – will there be anyone of the ‘left’ remaining, especially looking at the what the Tories are planning

      A period in Opposition and actually reflecting on what you stand for may be the best option – again though there will be problems but not s bad as if you were in Coalition

    • Another coalition with the Tories could only possibly marginally less disastrous than a coalition with Labour if and only if the the Tories agreed to scrap plans to hold a referendum on the EU and plans to renounce the European Convention on Human Rights.

      Liberal Democrats should have nothing to do with anything that results in quitting the EU and the ECHR.

      In any case, the way FPTP works, a majority one way or the other is more likely than not. The only issue is that it is not at all evident which of the Tories and Labour are likely to win, hence all the speculation. I think that it would be better if leading Lib Dem politicians played down the prospects of another outcome with no overall control.

    • simple Libs wont get many MP’s so it wont matter

    • paul barker 6th Oct '14 - 6:44pm

      Even if the 2 “Big” Parties hold together (in the Tories case that means if no more than 2 or 3 more MPs defect) the chances of a Majority Government seem to be very small. After Camerons speech its hard to see how he could negotiate anoth Coalition with us & hold his Party together. A “Grand Coalition” with Labour might be more acceptable, no problems with those pesky Human Rights but I cant see Unite accepting it.
      Minority Government looks the most likely result, followed by more splits & defections, some of them to us.

    • John Roffey 6th Oct '14 - 6:59pm

      I am surprised that the likelihood of a Toy/UKIP pact is not recognised as the most likely outcome if Cameron has not established a near certain ‘outright victory’ lead for his party a few months before the election.

      The arrangement would be as Farage has outlined – each party withdraws their candidate in key marginals where they are not in second place. This would ensure the Tories of a healthy majority.

      It is not in UKIP’s interest to see a Labour govern – they want an EU referendum – which will only come about if the Tories are in government.

    • Bill Le Breton 6th Oct '14 - 7:13pm

      Tories ahead with 7 months to go. Expect their tax campaign to go full throttle in November as their near-term campaign kicks in.

      My prediction that 1983 election was the one to watch still viable. It was not just the Falklands that saw Tory revival. Their transformation in the polls began before the invasion let alone the military campaign. ’79 to ’82 was the last time we had a similarly deep recession.

    • Ashcroft poll today has Lib Dems at 7%, yet again, level in fourth place with the Green also on 7%. Probably talk of us being involved in any hung parliament becomes more distant by the day. What about the Greens being involved?

    • John Roffey 6th Oct '14 - 8:12pm

      @ Bill Le Breton

      Whether it is a Tory/UKIP pact or their[heavily funded] near- term campaign that wins the Tories an outright victory, one way or another, the most likely outcome is that they will not need a coalition partner after May.

      Allowing thoughts of a second coalition government to influence the Party in any way diminishes the Party’s capacity in its fight for survival.

      It is said that if you have two objectives – you have no objective – and this is not the time to have unnecessary issues distracting from the key objective of Party survival. The issues of coalition government can be dealt with after the election is over in the unlikely event that this should arise.

    • John Roffey ponders :
      “It is not in UKIP’s interest to see a Labour govern…”
      I’m not so sure that is accurate. Firstly, a Labour win, in 2015, will be the end of Cameron, and a crushed Tory party. This also kills off his vague promise of an EU referendum in 2017, (which no-one trusts anyway). Secondly, a new Tory leader will be :
      (a) more eurosceptic (b) more amenable to working with Farage
      Further,..I do not believe a Labour government will win sufficiently to carry a 5 year term. So the general election after 2015, be it 2020 or sooner, will be fought by a stronger Ukip ‘enhanced’, …..*other* ….pact?
      In short, don’t assume Ukip are worried about *letting in Labour*. [they’re not!] It may be well worth a couple of disastrous Labour years, to motivate an electorate towards Ukip, and a no nonsense EU referendum?
      This is a much longer game than you imagine.

    • Tony Dawson 6th Oct '14 - 8:45pm

      Most voters these days seem to think that parliament should be well-hung: more in a dead pheasant than a Brooks Newmark kind of way. 🙁

    • Matthew Huntbach 6th Oct '14 - 9:39pm

      Every election from October 1974 to 2005 gave a majority to a single party. What do people think has changed to make it so much less likely now? The decline in the LibDem share of the vote seems to me to make it less likely rather than more.

    • Matthew Huntbach 6th Oct '14 - 9:40pm

      Me

      The decline in the LibDem share of the vote seems to me to make it less likely rather than more.

      By “it” here I meant a non-majority Parliament.

    • John Roffey 6th Oct '14 - 10:12pm

      @ John Dunn

      “This is a much longer game than you imagine.”

      You do realize that Boris could be an MP within one month – if Cameron if clearly failing – and Boris would have no problem with a pact with UKIP.

      Unlike Lib/Dem members – the Tories are extremely ruthless. If an opportunity to win an election outright seems to be slipping from their grasp – they are very likely to take decisive action.

      However – whatever the case Matthew Huntbach is spot on when he says that a hung parliament is very unlikely.

      To allow such considerations to distract from the main objective of saving the Party – is extremely unwise.

    • In agreeing with Simon Shaw, I am extremely surprised at the numbers of members in this survey who favour “being in Government” again, my surprise is that people haven’t considered the numbers. It is clear that our numbers at 57 are not enough to seriously influence the character of the Govt. My guesstimate is that we would have to have at least 80, and probably over 100 to do that in a straight 2 party coalition. How on earth do members think we are going to achieve that? Currently estimates range from half a dozen to what appears to be the”official” mid-range estimate of 35. Why would people want that outcome? It will just look, as this coalition has, as if we are selling out any principles we may have for seats around ministerial tables.

    • Little Jackie Paper 7th Oct '14 - 12:09am

      Just as a thought on this. It is not totally fanciful that there will be no two party combination stable enough, and a three-way coalition might happen. Unlikely perhaps – but not totally implausible, especially if nationalists get more seats. Goodness knows how that would work though.

      CON/UKIP/LDP anyone?

      It is all very strange at the moment. I can’t see any challenge to Cameron this side of 2015, but it is very difficult to see how he avoids a challenge in the next Parliament. Ed M hasn’t impressed, but no one else has stepped forward. At the same time, there is a high level of consensus amongst most parties on the main national priority of deficit reduction, yet despite the consensus things feel really fractured.

      All of this said, I’m starting to think that an EU referendum in 2017/18 probably will happen and all political partisan bets are off for that.

      So a weak and unstable government, dominated by an EU referendum trying to sell shares in a loss-making bank. Great.

    • It will be very close. The Tories being ahead now means nothing. You have to go back to back over sixty years for any government to gain votes in power. The stats and the boundaries are simply too big an obstacle for Cameron to overcome, Plus the available evidence is that UKIP may seriously dent the Tory vote.
      Could the Lib Dems seriously consider forming a coalition with Euro Sceptic Tory Government that maybe also had Nigel Farage as deputy leader? My view is that we have to treat the Tories and UKIP as serious threats to stability. Here’s why.
      A tory Government of any kind will hold a referendum on Europe. The threat of this will make the Economy incredibly unstable from the day they take office. Not only that it will reignite the argument for Scottish independence, but this time it will be virtually impossible to argue that the continued union was the best hope for the economic future of Scotland.! Then you have to ask how Europe then begins to see Scotland in relationship to troublesome little England? In short a Tory Victory in 2015 will be an epoch making disaster. We had a lucky escape with the referendum this year, we won’t have one in 2017.

    • Someone should ask Nick if he is amenable to being in a coalition with UKIP. And his answer should be “no.”

      It is one of the most regrettable things about our political climate that I cannot be sure that he — or any politician — could give that as an unhesitating and definitive reply.

    • The Conservatives are not going to do very well in 2015.Who is going to vote for Food Stamps,low or no state pension and to pay for a hospital bed?
      Of the current coalition it will be said
      AND THE TORIES, THEY WERE CADS

    • stuart moran 7th Oct '14 - 6:48am

      jedi

      I agree they are totally amoral :), or a lot of them are!

      I would dispute them being this ruthless election-winning machine though. They haven’t won since 1992*, and even in 2010 their appeal wasn’t wide enough for them to win a majority – even after the Banker’s Recession and they only polled the same as Blair did after Iraq!

      *Outright that is but with the LD helping them they have still managed to wreak havoc…

    • I too agree with Simon Shaw on the need for the party to stay out of coalition. As Simon Shaw says, another coalition would be a disaster for the party. On top of the electing result in May, at would be a double disaster.

      Remembering that this survey only accounts for the views of “Almost 600” party members who happen to be on LDV and have a spare twenty minutes, I do find this bit of interest —
      “By 51% to 18%, Lib Dem members prefer post-2015 alliance with Labour to continuing pact with Tories”

    • Bill Le Breton 7th Oct '14 - 8:35am

      6th October 2014. Remember that date.

      I fear that Simin Shaw and John Tilley will be disappointed in their hopes that the Party will not enter another Coalition in the next Parliament.

      On that day, whilst speaker after speaker was been congratulated whenever they bashed a Tory, the Party’s Spin Doctors were out saying that Coalition 2 with the Conservatives was highly likely. Just go and have a look at Allegra Stratton and Evan Davies’ piece on Newsnight 06/10/14.

      They were detecting a distinct position taking shape. They quoted a conversation with Norman Lamb. They also trotted out a line on Legitimacy or Illegitimacy of any deal with Labour because it was most likely that Labour might have the largest number of seats but fewer votes than the Tories and that we might indeed have more MPs than UKIP but fewer votes.

      Now Simon and John may have concerns based on the longer term impact another period of Coalition would have on the Party, but the short term problem of spinning this line is that most of our MPs and all of them who are likely to survive need tactical votes from Labour supporters and the return of their 2010 voter s who have fled to Labour.

      What the spinners were saying was ‘vote Liberal Democrat and you’ll continue to get Tories in Government’.

    • John Roffey 7th Oct '14 - 9:44am

      Is there any need for a coalition if there is a hung parliament?

      For the sake of transparency and to protect what Party MPs remain after May – is there any reason why Osborne, or whatever minister wants to change the existing arrangements, should not go to the HofC and make the case for the desired changes.

      In this way each MP could decide for themselves whether to support or reject what is proposed – based on their role as representative of their constituents and what is in their best interests.

      This would demonstrate to those who would be asked to support them at the following GE [the voters] how well they were performing this role and avoid them being branded with decisions made in secret by coalition agreement negotiators.

      This might also attract supporters to the Party if voters see that democracy is being exercised transparently – and that their interests are at the centre of debates in Parliament.

    • I agree with Bill

      The impression I have been getting is that another coalition with the Tories is on the cards, when you look past the rhetoric.
      Conservatives saying that they want to freeze all working age benefits for 2 years, The Libdems saying they will cap them at 1% increase.
      Both the Tories and Liberal Democrats stating they will increase the Tax Threshold to £12,500

      I can see a coalition being done where the Tories concede to a 1% rise in benefits in return for Liberal Democrats supporting the Conservatives in/out referendum.
      Nick will then try and claim this as a win for the party that he has protected the poorest in society from a total benefit freeze.

      I can see it happening and then I can see the Liberal Democrats totally fracturing and splitting up in 2016

    • WAKE UP.

      Tory leadership don’t want to win an outright majority, they want another coalition with the LibDems to provide cover for their ultra-right-wing ideology and to complete the mission. You’re being played: the strategy is to agree to scrap plans to hold a referendum on the EU and plans to renounce the European Convention on Human Rights as negotiation give-aways to LibDems and make you accede to anything they like for it.

      As far as Crosby, Osborne and Cameron are concerned, the coalition is the gift that just keeps on giving and a ready-made excuse for whatever they feel like blaming on it.

    • Simon Shaw
      When you say — “So even if the Party’s Spin Doctors were doing what Bill alleges, it ultimately isn’t down to them, is it?”

      You remind me of Waugh’s ‘Scoop’ and the excellent phrase — “Up to a point Lord Copper…”

      If you are not familiar with this see —
      http://www.politicsinvivo.com/2010/11/common-sense-up-to-a-point-lord-copper/

    • Nimble
      “Crosby, Osborne and Cameron”

      Have they done away with Stills and Nash?

    • “The decline in the LibDem share of the vote seems to me to make it less likely rather than more.

      By “it” here I meant a non-majority Parliament.”

      Two points on this.

      1. Because Lib Dems are “cockroaches” (you survive nuclear explosions) and have a lot of MP’s you will still hold a handy (and potentially majority denying) number of MP’s despite a catastrophic collapse in your national vote share.

      2. You aren’t thinking in terms of four party politics. It is the fourth party that makes the lack of a majority so likely, not your vote share decline.

      A question for you (or anyone else):

      If the price of coalition with either Labour or the Tories was the loss of your leader and replacement with someone else, would you decline it and force another election?

    • John Roffey 7th Oct '14 - 10:16am

      @ Jimble

      “WAKE UP.”

      It seems impossible to deny that the same aim was shared by the Lib/Dem leadership when Ryan Coetzee was engaged with this included in his TOR:

      Purpose:
      To develop and lead the delivery of a strategy that will allow the Liberal Democrats to maximise their success in the 2015 General Election and to come out of the election as a party of government for a historic second time.

    • “to come out of the election as a party of government for a historic second time.”

      Everything that is wrong with our polity and democracy in one crisp sentence.

      The aim of political parties should be to seek election to govern, not for its own sake, but for a PURPOSE.

      If you seek to win elections just to make history, you ironically won’t do so even if you win, your contribution will be a footnote. Because you haven’t had a purpose, you won’t achieve anything substantive.

      And that has been the story of the Lib Dem contribution to the 2010 – 2015 administration.

      If I am wrong, what have the Lib Dems achieved in gov’t that is substantive? What will the history books in a hundred years be discussing? Your free meals policy for school kids?

    • Bill Le Breton 7th Oct '14 - 10:48am

      Simon Shaw, of course post 2015 there is process. But we are talking about the effect of such statements on the NOW.

      I,d be interested in your further comment when you have had a chance to watch the piece. It is not the NC interview that I am referring to but the piece between Stratton and Davies immediately afterwards.

      She quoted this as coming from Norman Lamb, so I think you’d agree that was the Leadership line she was reporting and, with the use of the name , she had been told it was ok to reveal her source. That is pretty strong steering. She was not getting it from puppies.

      Stratton and Davies seemed genuinely to be both rather surprised and to have taken it has a very significant development.

      It is the type of ‘course change’ that leaderships like to effect at conference. They have the undivided attention of the media all conveniently to hand and all the conference goers are away from their TVs, half exhausted and half tipsy.

      My great concern is that this all looks clumsy given that Paddy is trying rightly to manage a campaign that attracts lost 2010 LD voters back from Labour, including those tactical voters in Con/LD marginals.

      Surely it is not helpful in Southport, for instance?

      The Ministers, as opposed to the campaigners, are giving the ‘vote Liberal and keep the cons in’ plenty of legs.

      But watch it and tell me if you think it wasn’t significant.

    • Bill Le Breton 7th Oct '14 - 11:07am

      Geoff Crocker. Mine is not an argument against Coalitions. It is about running flat out as an independent party to 10.00pm on election night.

      To maximize negotiating power at that stage one hopes then to have more than one other party to negotiate between. This line being given to the BBC and no doubt others reduces that power.

      It also smacks of a deal having been done , as auctioneers say, ‘prior’.

      if the Leadership want to do that and want to risk the consequences of trying to get any deal through some Special Conference, it is their judgement. And it is equally valid for others to campaign against such dealings both now and after the election.

      I just make the point that my impression is that our leadership think such a deal is on. They should also remember that Paddy thought he had a similar deal with Blair. In 97.

    • Bill Le Bretton.
      Exactly what I thought watching Newsnight.

    • Bill Le Breton 7th Oct ’14 – 11:07am
      You set out the line being given by Clegg and co to the BBC and other media. You conclude that —

      “It also smacks of a deal having been done , as auctioneers say, ‘prior’.
      …. …. our leadership think such a deal is on. They should also remember that Paddy thought he had a similar deal with Blair. In 97.”

      Watching the conference on TV from afar it seems to me that the speeches and contributions in the Conference Hall are as remote from what Clegg and the clique are actually doing as those masked men planting black flags on the hills around Kobani.

      Conference delegates are lulled into a false sense of internal party democracy in the Conference Halls, Fringe Meetings etc whilst those at the top of the Liberal Democrat party carry on with their own project, using the assembled media to pursue their own personal aims which are entirely separate from what is on the conference agenda.

      Lynton Crosby must be delighted. But what is Ryan Coetzee doing for his £100k a year?

    • Bill Le Breton
      I saw the Newsnight piece, and agree with you, it appeared surprising and significant. I must admit, I thought that talk of “Coalition 2.0” had largely disappeared from spin announcements. If I remember correctly, Allegra was not only quoting Norman Lamb, but other unnamed “senior Lib Dems”. So it didn’t feel like” Lamb going out on a limb”, as it were! We were always worried about the effect such talk would have on reconnecting with lost voters from the radical side of the Lib Dems. Those who were listening at all, and who may have been reconsidering a Lib Dem vote, will have another reason to forget it again.

      We are left with the unrealistic Cleggite strategy of attracting “soft Tories” to vote Lib Dem. Such hopes, apart from a vanishingly small number, are pie in the sky, like so much of Clegg’s naive political thinking. Steve Richards in today’s Indy focuses in on some of NC’s misjudgements, in what I thought was a very interesting and perceptive article.

    • John Roffey 7th Oct '14 - 12:35pm

      @ John Tilley

      “Lynton Crosby must be delighted. But what is Ryan Coetzee doing for his £100k a year?”

      Seemingly, using the ‘dark arts’ of his profession to ensure that ‘Clegg and the clique’ are not challenged by Party member’s or MPs in their ambition:

      … to maximise their success in the 2015 General Election and to come out of the election as a party of government for a historic second time.

      Objectively – from the point of view of those who engaged him – he has been astonishingly successful.

    • Bill says “Mine is not an argument against Coalitions. It is about running flat out as an independent party to 10.00pm on election night.” and I agree with him. The problem is that with Nick as leader the public will continue to see us as little Tories, and nothing other than the removal of Nick will change that.

    • David Allen 7th Oct '14 - 3:11pm

      Thanks Bill and Jimble for seeing past the spin to the reality. Cameron sees many advantages in continuing the coalition, for example blaming the Lib Dems when he eventually wants to abandon his unworkable referendum promise. Clegg sees this, and is happy to co-operate, in the interests of staying in government and supporting “liberal” Toryism, as he always has. Hence the determined Cleggite Lib Dem appeal to these largely mythical “soft Tories”, and the equally determined rejection of all things Labour.

      Of course the best way to recover in the polls would be to recapture our principles, elect a leader who could actually convince people we had done so, and take a position of genuine “equidistance” and independence in the election and what follows. People like Vince are acting in such a way. No doubt Clegg and his crew think Vince is providing a useful diversion to distract the voters away from what is really happening. (Of course, ambiguity can sometimes be a vote-winner: but surely not in our case, since it only accentuates the extent to which people distrust us!)

      Clegg has no interest in maximising our vote. He is happier with a small parliamentary rump which he can corral into alliance with the Tories.

      As to coalition prospects, we have to expect a much messier picture than we are used to. We can expect something like (say): Ulster 17, UKIP 25, SNP 20, Lib Dems 20, Plaid 3, Greens 2. So the total non-Labservative could easily be approaching 100 MPs, with the Lib Dems just one of several smallish factions. In that messy situation, the Tories would be well advised from their point of view to maintain an alliance with the Cleggites, whether or not they get a small overall majority.

      It may well not be as simple as “coalition” or “confidence and supply”. It could well be something in between, with the Cleggites largely on side with the Tories, and Clegg as a sole Lib Dem survivor in government, but no formal coalition. Cameron and Clegg would be content with that.

      Those of us who are appalled need to decide our positions. I shall stay a member, and fight for change. But I’m not standing or campaigning for the Lib Dems. And I shan’t be voting for the Cleggites either.

    • David Evershed 7th Oct '14 - 3:56pm

      In coalition with Conservatives, the Lib Dems are the ones fighting to keep spending on welfare, health and education.

      In coalition with Labour, Lib Dems would have to be the ones seeking to stop reckless spending by Labour.

      The second is much harder to justify to an electorate who think the government should tax less but spend more.

    • David Evershed
      “In coalition with Labour, Lib Dems would have to be the ones seeking to stop reckless spending by Labour.”

      We could stop reckless spending on Trident, The Royal Family, subsidising nuclear power companies, as a modestb start in such circumstances. All three are areas of “cuts” that many Labour voters and MPs would be only too happy to join with us.

      Cuts to public expenditure do not have to be attacks on the poor as they so often have over the last twenty years.

    • John Roffey 7th Oct '14 - 5:16pm

      @ David Allen

      “Those of us who are appalled need to decide our positions. I shall stay a member, and fight for change. But I’m not standing or campaigning for the Lib Dems. And I shan’t be voting for the Cleggites either.”

      Judging by the comments on this and other articles, there does seem to be a significant number of members who would prefer to see the Party in coalition government – even if none of the Party’s core beliefs are featured in the coalitions policies.

      Given such a wide difference of opinion – it does seem difficult to see how the Party can ever function again as a single party.

    • David Allen 7th Oct '14 - 6:15pm

      John Roffey,

      “Given such a wide difference of opinion – it does seem difficult to see how the Party can ever function again as a single party.”

      It also seemed like that in 1987, yet the David Owen Coup eventually met a sticky end. It’s important to consider why the Clegg Coup, thus far, has been more resilient. I think it’s partly because politics generally has shifted rightward since the 1980s, partly because the decline in activism has handed more power to Westminster politicians, and partly because coalition has done wonders for Cleggism. It enabled a sell-out prospectus to be dangled in front of all those – Cable, Hughes, Huhne, Ashdown for example – who should have stood up for their principles. Instead they took the shilling, and cemented themselves into quiescent loyalism.

      Facing “Libdem Fightback” last summer, loyalism put out a smokescreen barrage to the effect that we should retain Clegg to take the punishment in 2015, and elect an untainted new leader thereafter. It was just a ploy. Clegg will be expected to fight tooth and nail to survive as leader of his rump Lib Dem group after 2015, and if by any chance he decides he has had enough, someone like Alexander will be wheeled out to maintain Orange Book leadership.

      What we will all have to get used to is a Lib Dem group which is Britain’s fifth party, behind UKIP and the SNP, who have far more genuine support. The Cleggites may well see that as an acceptable situation, one in which they should take on a role analogous to the 1930s National Liberals, on a smooth glide path towards effective union with the Conservatives.

      The Greens – unfortunately – seem best placed to move into the resulting vacuum, taking our left-of-centre voters, and pushing the Cleggites into sixth place. I say “unfortunately” because I don’t believe a Green Party is the best thing for green politics. To tackle climate change, we need green thinking to become mainstream. Instead, we have a rather small and self-limiting Green Party with its niche of self-sufficient supporters being nice people on the fringes, and failing to engage more widely.

      Where is the cause, the vision, and the leadership, that will revitalise radical left non-socialist politics? I wish I knew. In living memory there have been CND, civil rights, anti-war protests, anti-apartheid, gay rights, the Occupy campaign on bankers’ misdeeds and youth unemployment, and (arguably) feminism too. So there really isn’t a shortage of issues, many still relevant today. Yet the leaders who have actually emerged – Farage and (arguably) Salmond – have instead taken up false causes, scapegoating the EU or Westminster, and failing to offer a coherent project for change. Do we all think, in the overloaded Information Society, that life is too complicated to leave room for action?

    • Simon Hebditch 7th Oct '14 - 7:41pm

      Evan Davies and Allegra Stratton on Newsnight referred to the illegitimacy of a possible Lab/Lib alliance if Labour had less votes than the Tories and we had less than UKIP. To me, there is also another possible example of illegitimacy. If the Lib Dems actually poll around 7% of the votes and are reduced to between 15 and 20 seats the electorate would have roundly condemned us for our role in the Coalition and, despite being a supporter of electoral reform, I cannot see how we can justify the Lib Dems being government at all!

    • David Allen
      I think that, although the reasons you give(rightward move since 1987 etc) are elements in a mix influencing politics today, the reason for the Clegg coup’s resilience so far is much more simple. It is that Owen had actually rejected the democratic will of the membership of the two parties, and stayed separate. In the current case, where arguably there has been a deep-lying entryism involved, people do not have a single easily identifiable point of loyalty to adhere to – on the one hand is the elected leader and his immediate band of followers in the leadership, on the other, longstanding principles, and disparate groups of politicians supporting them.

    • The legitimacy argument as outlined by Evan Davis is a nonsense. Firstly if they have more seats than the Tories then they are the biggest party and will be asked to form a government. The fact that the Tories have virtually no support in cities, wales or Scotland has never stopped them claiming to be the legitimate party to govern the entire UK. Labour would probably also approach SNP and Greens. Also since UKIP claim to take votes from all three parties then how does this legitimise the Conservatives. Evan Davis like most of the BBC current affairs big wigs is also inclined to the right and skews his views accordingly. The Liberals by the way had no qualms about propping up Conservative governments that had a smaller share of the vote than Labour in the past. FPTP gives the party with the most seats legitimacy. Them’s the rules. The Tories and their supporters are just building in arguments to confuse the issue.

    • “Farage and (arguably) Salmond – have instead taken up false causes, scapegoating the EU or Westminster, and failing to offer a coherent project for change.”

      The Yes Campaign electrified British politics and achieved over 45% of the vote. More, their battle isn’t over, although you probably don’t realise this.

      UKIP won the European Elections and are polling twice the Lib Dem support in polls. We await Clacton on Thursday.

      The fact that you categorise the two most vibrant, vital. energetic forces in British politics as “false causes” says it all about how out of touch you are and how unrepresentative. Past it, Has been.

      British democracy is currently broken sad to say. Your party exemplifies this. You speak for no-one and are about to hold the balance of power.

      Much good will it do you in the long term.

    • David Allen wrote:

      “It also seemed like that in 1987, yet the David Owen Coup eventually met a sticky end. It’s important to consider why the Clegg Coup, thus far, has been more resilient. I think it’s partly because politics generally has shifted rightward since the 1980s,”

      I believe that Owenism and Cleggism are very different beasts. Owenism had its origins in the authoritarian right of the Labour Party. It was a mixture of centrist economics, social authoritarianism and militarism that was meant to appeal to the upper-working-class, but didn’t. Cleggism, by contrast, is a sort of mushy soft Conservatism, a combination of free market economics and social liberalism, that is meant to appeal to young urban professionals, but doesn’t. Owenism is much more repugnant to liberals than Cleggism. Owen wanted to force people to join the Army. Clegg doesn’t. Owen spoke about weapons systems the way other men talk about good wine (according to Roy Jenkins). Clegg doesn’t. Owen was abrasive towards his subordinates. Clegg isn’t. Clegg apologists can point to the “coalition” as a reason why the Cleggites have moved the party to the right, and they can point to the civil libertarianism of Cleggism to assure us that the party, and its leadership, are still authentically liberal. There was no reason whatsoever for liberals to tolerate Owenism.

      “Cable, Hughes, Huhne, Ashdown for example – who should have stood up for their principles”

      They certainly should have done. Which is why we need to look to the emerging generation for the future leadership of our party.

      “and if by any chance he decides he has had enough, someone like Alexander will be wheeled out to maintain Orange Book leadership.”

      With the caveat that Mr Alexander has to hold his seat to claim his place on the wheels. Danny should be very, very worried indeed by the strength of the “YES” vote in his constituency.

      “What we will all have to get used to is a Lib Dem group which is Britain’s fifth party, behind UKIP and the SNP, who have far more genuine support.”

      I disagree. The Lib Dems cannot poll fewer votes than the SNP, because the latter only fields candidates in Scotland. I also don’t think that the SNP will gain many seats in Scotland, since much of the “YES” vote will go back to Labour. Indeed, they might lose seats to the Tories through people refusing to vote for them tactically. UKIP, even if they poll more votes than the Lib Dems (which I doubt very much) will win a handful of seats, if any at all. The Greens will be lucky to hold on to their only seat. So I think losing our status as the third party is unlikely, certainly in terms of seat numbers. That is pointed to even by the current Ashcroft polling.

      “So there really isn’t a shortage of issues, many still relevant today. Yet the leaders who have actually emerged – Farage and (arguably) Salmond – have instead taken up false causes, scapegoating the EU or Westminster, and failing to offer a coherent project for change.”

      I think your analysis here is absolutely right. UKIP is likely to fracture, as it has done before. The personalities are simply too volatile to be contained in a single party. Farage may find himself dumped in much the same way as Robert Kilroy-Silk was dumped. The SNP has also fractured over the years, around the twin axises of left/right and “separation or nothing”/”something short of separation”. While Nicola Sturgeon is clearly as socialist as Salmond, she does appear to me to be more willing to compromise on the constitutional issue. Many separatists will be deeply uncomfortable with that. And how long before the SNP’s traditionalists start blaming Salmond and Sturgeon for losing the Referendum by trying to sell to the Scottish people what they used to call “Bulgarian socialism”?

      In short, the Liberal Democrats are capable of real recovery over the next six months. The one formidable obstacle blocking our path is the extreme unpopularity of our leader. And what do we do about that?

    • Matthew Huntbach 7th Oct '14 - 10:03pm

      simon

      The fact that you categorise the two most vibrant, vital. energetic forces in British politics as “false causes” says it all about how out of touch you are and how unrepresentative.

      UKIP and the SNP are much the same in many ways – they have a hand-waving solution to all the problems people face that actually does nothing to solve them.

      As the SNP discovered, what are they getting “independence” from when power has moved from the nation state to big business? The threats made by big business to pull out of Scotland if it voted “yes” were the factor that stopped it.

      The EU is not the cause of England’s woes. If it was what UKIP claim it to be, how come the Scots don’t see it that way?Answer because they have the SNP’s magic hand-waving solve-all-problems option to go for instead.

      People think UKIP will somehow bring them back to a mythical golden age. It is funded by big business to push extreme free market economics even further than the Tories have pushed it, and it is extreme free market economics that has destroyed much of British traditional values and culture.

      UKIP gets the votes of people who say “We won’t vote Liberal Democrat as the LibDems have rolled over and given in to the Tories”. But the MPs joining it are right-wingers who say “We’re leaving the Tories because they have rolled over and given in to the LibDems”.

      I have made these points to you, simon, several times before. You have made no reply to them. Just more of your silly crowing which you repeat again here.

    • Simon Shaw’
      I respectively disagree. The impression I sometimes get is that some people only really want a revival in the lib dem fortunes if it stick to the political path taken under Niick Cleggs leadership.

      Mathew .
      There is no comparison between UKIP and the SNP. The SNP simply want independence from Britain . In lots of ways they have more income with Nordic views on governance and with a low density population in a country almost the same size as England I suspect they may have a point. It’s like claiming the people who gained independence for Ireland or the Baltic states are like UKIP. The SNP are also the governing parry of Scotland and pro Europe. They are not just a big minority party and are also on the progressive end of politics. They are in every conceivable way the opposite of UKIP, an English phenomena that claims to speak for Britain.. a peoples party that doesn’t believe in rights and has reactionary ideas about most forms of social progress. As I’ve said before think the LIb Dems are too ready to bash fellow travellers at the moment because people imagine they will gain votes by attacking the competition for those votes. In fact all that happens is that people switch off and think, damn it I’ll vote green or SnP or Labour. I vote Lib Dem, but every time I hear Lib Dem or Labour Bods launch attacks on each other or on parties like the SNP my heart sinks. This is why clever tories never attack UKIP.

    • David Allen 8th Oct '14 - 12:01am

      Simon,

      Well first of all – If you think I speak in favour of what the Lib Dems have done since Clegg took over, then you clearly haven’t read my posts at all! I was proud to support past leaders who stood up for liberal principles with a social conscience – Jenkins, Ashdown, Kennedy, Campbell. Not the right-wing careerists who are currently in charge.

      As to your claim that SNP and UKIP must be right because they are popular – I agree with what Matthew says. It’s all too easy to find something to blame for all our ills, and then kid yourself that if you got rid of that something, then all the problems would be magically solved.

      But answer me this. UKIP say that Europe is the problem, and that the answer must be to bring all power back to Westminster. But SNP say that Westminster is the problem, and that the answer must be to take all power (in Scotland) away from Westminster. Which of these two parties do you think is right? They can’t both be right. And if you admit that at least one of them must be wrong, then why is that party popular?

      Clue – They can’t both be right, but they can both be wrong. Second clue – like many demagogues down the ages, they could be both enormously popular, and appallingly wrong.

    • A second coalition with the Tories would be a disaster. Confidence and supply would be similarly bad without most of the perks. If the Tories come out with the largest sub-majority, I think we would be better off standing aside for a minority government. It wouldn’t last long and would be weak, but the world financial system isn’t nearly as fragile as it was in 2010 and the case for providing strong government at all costs simply isn’t there now. And all this human rights and Europe talk will have us starting the negotiations so far to the right that our moderating influence is wasted simply on clearing out the crazy, leaving us propping up a classic Tory government. Not a winnable situation, so we’re better off not playing along.

      I’m also going to confess to some sympathy with the idea that a party losing half its voters might want to spend a while in opposition to think things over and regroup.

      Coalition with Labour would be no better, they’re just as ruthless as the Tories when it comes to running a government. Unless we get something pretty big, like STV and greater powers for local government in England alongside the delivery of our plans regarding Scottish devolution, we would be better off keeping things to confidence and supply or again, entering opposition against a short minority government.

      The best outcome for us is probably a Labour government with a wafer thin majority. That would almost certainly present opportunities to point out the differences between what they said against us and what they’d be doing in government then. And there would no doubt be opportunities to work with that government or indeed present it with challenges that allow us to press our ideas on. If nothing else it would probably need rescuing from revolt once or twice.

      The wildcards are the SNP. If they can make inroads into Scottish Labour seats, they might be needed by Labour to prop up their government in Westminster. And if they exceed expectations and manage to win in half or more of the Scottish seats, they’ll have resurrected the independence thing, especially if they aren’t in government.

      UKIP on the other hand might return five seats and cause panic, but their primary goal depends on there being a Tory majority, and their other major issues are dominated by very generational stuff that I just don’t see still being big in ten years time. UKIP as we know it is a short term thing which will either evolve into something less reprehensible or drop off the reactionary fringe in time.

    • Bill Le Breton 8th Oct '14 - 7:18am

      Iain Martin in the Telegraph under the banner ‘What the Liberal Democrats are doing Makes No Sense’, wrote:

      “The idea seems to be that attacking their colleagues will suggest to voters that the nice, centrist Lib Dems hold back the beastly Tories. Simultaneously, the Lib Dems are rushing leftwards, demanding higher taxes, all the while briefing, so it is reported, that a deal with Labour is very unlikely because, well, they’re no good either. And with a final flourish it is whispered that the Lib Dems will probably prop up the Tories again after all if it comes to it, the startling presumption being that the Tories will want another partnership with people who brand them liars and loons.

      “For the Lib Dems, a party with a major trust problem after the tuition fees imbroglio, this is not a good approach. Anyone paying attention – and that is not many people – will pick up only a confused jumble of shouting about the government by people who are actually in government.”

      I think Mark Pack on his Blogg made a similar point about this strategy.

    • @Simon Shaw – Surely the biggest way to regain the respect of the electorate would be to say that we recognise the reason why we are going to lose the election and deal with it by sacking Nick Clegg.

    • John Roffey 8th Oct '14 - 8:29am

      @ David Allen

      ‘I think it’s partly because politics generally has shifted rightward since the 1980s, partly because the decline in activism has handed more power to Westminster politicians, and partly because coalition has done wonders for Cleggism.”

      It seems that it is the rise in the power of the multinationals [transferred by Blair, Brown and particularly by Cameron/Osborne] that is at the root of these issues – a rise that is, or already has, replaced political parties with the largest of these corporations once TTIP is agreed by the EU parliament during the lifetime of our next parliament. Here is the EU’s upbeat message for the agreement:

      http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/questions-and-answers/

      Here is the actuality – which seems to be supported by many sources:

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/07/bullying-corporations-enemy-within-business-politicians

      Perhaps – since the Party has no major policy for activists to rally around – it should join the Greens and Plaid Cymru to oppose TTIP which, if not the end of democracy in the UK, is certainly a near fatal wound.

    • David Allen writes (7th Oct -6.15pm) in a moment of sheer clarity :
      “and if by any chance he [Clegg] decides he has had enough, someone like Alexander will be wheeled out to maintain Orange Book leadership.”
      That is the most accurate and revelatory statement I have seen on these threads for some considerable time. That (parasitic) process started when Blair (the first in the Rise of Political Machines), took over Labour and rebranded it New Labour. Tories quickly grasped the new phenomenon, and it was only half joking that Cameron was branded ‘Heir to Blair’. And quietly in the wings, the rise of the Orange Bookers were forming to do the very same ‘Machine’ takeover of an unsuspecting Liberal Democrat Party.
      But don’t feel too bad about it, because all three parties fell for it [i.e. becoming Host to a parasite! ]. Instead, forgive yourself, but ask yourself what you are going to do to rid Westminster of these ‘Professional Elite Machines’, that surround themselves with a praetorian guard of SpAds, which in turn is doubly protected by the layer of the Clerisy Class?
      Ukip is a valid response (perhaps somewhat imperfect?), to a this necessary battle. And disparage Ukip if it makes you feel better,…..But…. what is your alternative strategy, to rid us of these *self serving parasitic Machines*, that have robbed the ‘left behind’ over two decades?

    • Gareth Hartwell 8th Oct '14 - 4:45pm

      I think the reality is that both UKIP and the SNP could have a big stake in a hung parliament as they might have almost as many MPs as us. Even if they don’t have quite as many, it’s quite likely that a coalition couldn’t be formed between the largest party and 20 Lib Dem MPs without a 3rd partner.

    • Matthew Huntbach 9th Oct '14 - 2:36pm

      Glenn

      There is no comparison between UKIP and the SNP. The SNP simply want independence from Britain . In lots of ways they have more income with Nordic views on governance and with a low density population in a country almost the same size as England

      You have missed my point. In both cases the parties in question are using “independence from the union” as a sort of solve-all solution to everything, sold to the masses with a greta deal of sentimental hand-waving, and banking on the “anti-politics” mentality that has actually been built up by the political right. I accept that UKIP is more obviously and knowingly a tool of the political right. However, I think the SNP is avoiding some of the big political questions that a serious “progressive” politics needs to be asking, and indeed distracting the people where it works from the need to ask those questions.

    • Matthew Huntbach 9th Oct '14 - 2:39pm

      John Dunn

      Ukip is a valid response (perhaps somewhat imperfect?), to a this necessary battle.

      No it isn’t. It is funded by big business fat cats, and wants the same sort of right-wing economic policies that David Allen is denouncing as “Orange Book”, only in a more extreme form. That is, it is just like the others, but worse.

    • John Roffey [7th Oct ’14 – 9:44am] – “Is there any need for a coalition if there is a hung parliament?”

      An interesting question. What many are forgetting in their “and how was it for you” naval gazing relationship counselling analysis, is that the 2010 coalition was a big step into the unknown for the majority in the UK and its political establishment. So it would seem wise to approach your question from the viewpoint of the electorate, rather than the individual political parties, as the story that the parties use to explain the journey I suggest will have an big impact on the receptiveness of the electorate to another coalition or minority government.

      So given the LibDem’s are through STV et al., effectively committed to representative and minority governments, I suggest the LibDem’s have to communicate two messages: the first being about the coalition – did it deliver good government and should the UK do it again, and the second being about the role it played in the coalition to show that the LibDems have some ideas of their own to contribute.

      My direct response to your question is that I think there is a need for coalition to establish a majority government; particularly as the next administration will have many difficult decisions to make, but beyond that there are many things that favour a minority government but only if the politicians can be mature, unfortunately as we saw in 2010, New Labour were not really prepared to work in unity government that was trying to assert the national interest above the interests of individual parties; I suspect that this reticence may have been a factor in the unravelling of the coalition as old habits die hard, particularly if you perceive yourself to be the senior partner..

      My response to the question I posed is that we do need to sell coalition government as a success, albeit we have only made some preliminary steps in changing the political establishment. So that come May 2015 the reaction to the idea (or reality) of a minority government isn’t an instant rejection.

    • matt (Bristol) 9th Oct '14 - 4:24pm

      Another question we might pose is, given the fixed term parliament act, is there any need for a coalition or a confidence and supply arrangement to be agreed for the full 5 years…

    • Peter Chegwyn 10th Oct '14 - 12:54am

      Colin makes a reasonable argument.

      It may well be the case that we are entering an era of five, six or even seven party politics where both the SNP & UKIP could get almost as many seats as the Lib. Dems. next May.

      Then there’s the Northern Ireland MPs to consider and, while the Greens are unlikely to win more than one or two seats, they could poll almost as many votes as the Lib. Dems.

      Add in the ‘anti-politics’ or ‘anti-Westminster’ sentiment that has benefitted both UKIP and the Greens at Euro elections and the ‘Yes’ campaign in the Scottish referendum, and may have a significant effect on voting intentions in a General Election for the first time next May, and you have a ‘perfect storm’ which makes the next election both fascinating and almost impossible to predict.

      The outcome though could well be that any coalition may have to involve more than two parties to command a majority in the Commons. A greatly weakened Lib. Dem party with, perhaps, only 20-24 seats may not have enough seats or bargaining power for Nick Clegg to be the first port of call for either Cameron or Miliband.

      Any combination of parties in power is possible. Portsmouth is currently run by a Conservative / UKIP / Labour coalition who only have one thing in common, their hatred of the Lib. Dems. Who is to say we won’t also see some truly unholy alliance of parties working together in Westminster after the next election? The prospect of power concentrates the mind so don’t rule out Cameron doing a deal with UKIP or Northern Ireland Unionists, or Miliband doing a deal with the Scot. Nats. and Plaid Cymru, if that’s what they have to do to become PM.

      We are potentially entering a whole new era in which many of the conventional political wisdoms no longer apply.

      Anyway.

      What really concerns me is that all the debate is about how many parliamentary seats we may hold, whether we will continue in government and, if so, with whom?

      Surely the real debate should be about how we re-build our own party after the next election?

      It will need to be from the bottom up rather than the top down yet we hear almost nothing about the need to re-build our own grass-roots organisation and local government base which has been decimated in large swathes of the country over the past five years.

      That is what should really concern us. If we are to effectively re-build our radical, campaigning, grass-roots base and start attracting new members and activists to help us start winning more local council seats again we should start considering now how it can be done NOW, rather than wait until after the party has blindly followed its leader over an electoral cliff next May.

      Rant over. I’m off to watch the Clacton & Heywood results… and remember that in parliaments past we would have been the main challengers in both seats whereas now the only question for Lib. Dems. is by how many votes we have lost our deposits.

    • Peter Chegwyn 10th Oct '14 - 3:43am

      Lib. Dems. saved deposit in Heywood by 30 votes. A pleasant surprise! But 1% in Clacton is worst Liberal / SDP / Liberal Democrat by-election performance since the war. Saved deposit in Heywood probably in large part due to popular Lib Dem Cllr Peter Rush in one ward.

    • John Roffey 10th Oct '14 - 5:47am

      In an interview with the magazine Newsweek Europe, to be published today, Mr Farage makes the audacious suggestion that he is aiming for a ministerial job if UKIP wins a number of MPs in next year’s election and is invited to join a coalition.
      ‘What I will say is this: if things go well next spring, I would like to be minister for Europe,’ he said. ‘I mean that quite seriously.’
      ‘I would like to be the person who goes to Brussels and says, ‘We want to trade with you. We want reciprocal relationships. But this European Treaty doesn’t work for us, and so we are breaking it’.’

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2786919/Douglas-Carswell-set-make-history-UKIP-s-elected-MP-votes-counted-Clacton-election.html

    • Peter Chegwyn rightly says –“..Surely the real debate should be about how we re-build our own party after the next election?
      It will need to be from the bottom up rather than the top down ……
      ……..we should start considering now how it can be done NOW, rather than wait until after the party has blindly followed its leader over an electoral cliff next May.

      LDV could contribute to this rebuilding by running at least weekly discussions on rebuilding, perhaps replacing things like – Would we still have gone into Coalition if we knew then what we know now?
      There is too much looking over the shoulder at 2010 and the wasted Clegg years. We need to look forward. To do otherwise means a lot more Clactons and then extinction

    • John Roffey 10th Oct '14 - 7:21am

      @ John Tilley

      “There is too much looking over the shoulder at 2010 and the wasted Clegg years. We need to look forward. To do otherwise means a lot more Clactons and then extinction”

      Yes – the Party is in an ‘adapt or die’ phase – if members want to be engaged in meaningful politics in the years ahead they have to come to terms with the fact that UKIP’s success is primarily a blow against the Westminster bubble where successive governments since Blair have governed for the benefit of the multinationals – not for the benefit of the people.

      There are opportunities where the Party could succeed, but these will be seized by another Party if action is delayed too long.

    • Ray Cobbett 10th Oct '14 - 5:49pm

      If Farage maintains the momentum through to polling day and collects say 20 seats and the numbers work out for Dave he will bury the hatchet with UKIP and watch the Lib Dems languish on the benches opposite for five lonely years

    • Ray Cobbett
      UKIP and the Tories will re-unite just as soon as the men who sign the cheques tell them to.
      Both parties are representatives of large corporate interests and oligarchs. If those rich men decide it is in their interests for the two parties to become one — it will happen almost instantly.

    • Neil Sandison 11th Oct '14 - 10:28am

      A coalition of the right is a more likely outcome ie ToryUKIP DUP. A coalition of the centre and centre left is unlikely unless an greement on the criteria for economic migration can be reached i e proof of 12 month contract of employment and a 12 month housing tenure for both EU and commonwealth citizens looking to settle in Britain and negotiated with the EU as part of the single market conditions. A referendum that reflects those treaty changes would then have some credabilty with the general public.

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