What the 2013 local elections mean – for the Lib Dems and the next election (and beyond)

Well, it could have been worse.

The BBC calculates that the Lib Dems have finished these local elections with the loss of a net 124 councillors, slightly better than the projected loss of 130 according to the Rallings and Thrasher model I said the results could best be judged by.

The Tories have done slightly worse (actual loss of 335 councillors compared to a projected loss of 310); while Labour has disappointed its own supprters (an actual gain of 291 councillors compared to the projected gain of 350).

There’s no doubt which party is the biggest winner: Ukip, by an Engish country mile. They have massively out-performed expectations, winning 147 councillors compared to the projected 40. Their vote share, at 23%, is almost spot-on what was predicted by that ComRes poll earlier this week.

The fact that all three parties are tonight licking their wounds makes this year’s Lib Dem losses a little easier to bear. The party has been quick to point out that it’s “strong in our held parliamentary seats”. It’s certainly true that the party’s vote share is higher where we have the benefit of an incumbent MP: we polled 30% compared to the Tories’ 27%, Ukip’s 17% and Labour’s 15%.

However, let’s not kid ourselves too much: that 30% vote share is down by one-third on where the party was four years ago. Overall, at a projected 14%, this is the worst Lib Dem local election vote, down (albeit only a little) on even the last two dire years. It’s some but only scant consolation that this is also the first election when no party at all has polled higher than 30%.

What is clearly the case is that the Lib Dems are being driven further and further back into our areas of core support. We are clinging on, as only cockroaches know how, to our bastions. That’s why today’s local elections on a uniform swing would see the party retain some 50 MPs, according to Rallings and Thrasher’s calculations for Sky News. Even in Bristol, where the Lib Dems had a disappointing day, Stephen Williams would hold on to his seat, for example.

Of course, these are local elections, not national ones. There will be a considerable churn in votes in the next two years. What today’s elections show is that the governing parties are each deeply unpopular; that Labour has failed to convince enough voters it’s a viable alternative; and that Ukip’s hearty brand of bucolic populism has disrupted the established three-way pattern of British politics. I’m actually quite surprised it’s taken this long for an explicitly anti-immigration party to make a breakthrough.

It’s hard to see Ukip winning even one seat parliamentary seat in 2015, however. So what might the long-term significance be of this electoral eruption? Two-fold, I think. First, it makes it much more likely the Tories cannot win the next election (though that doesn’t mean Labour will either). And secondly, it makes it a racing certainty that the next Tory leader, who will probably be elected in 2015 once David Cameron has resigned, will be an enthusiastic member of the Better Off Out group, campaigning for a British exit from the EU. That will put paid to any prospect of a second Lib Dem / Tory coalition. And it makes a future referendum on our EU membership (in itself quite likely) impossible to call.

The next few years are going to be interesting.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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79 Comments

  • It also means that another PR debate might be closer than expected.

    A not implausible vote share at the next GE could be something like:
    LAB 35%
    CON 30%
    LD 15%
    UKIP 15%
    Others 5%

    So, a party gets a huge overall majority with just over a third of the vote.

  • Julian Critchley 3rd May '13 - 7:35pm

    UKIP can be cock-a-hoop about these results, but it’s hard to imagine a set of circumstances which would suit them better :

    a) Elections held in the most right-wing areas of the country, so disproportionately likely to contain concentrations of UKIP supporters
    b) Local elections in which 70% of voters stayed at home, so disproportionate share of the vote to smaller, more motivated groups, like UKIP voters
    c) No substantial media focus on the policies of the party yet because of a lack of elected representatives in this country. That won’t last as the Tories instruct their press attack dogs to go for them, and those 140-odd UKIP councillors will include some absolutely catastrophic individuals to provide juicy quotes.
    d) Mid-term punishment to be dished out to an unpopular government in the depths of the longest depression in 80 years

    Let the fruitcakes enjoy their moment – it won’t get better than this for them.

    More interesting, in my view, is where the missing LibDems have gone. The party has shed half its support since 2010 general election. Some of that support will have included classic protest voters, but research suggests that UKIP may be attracting people from all parties, but they really are overwhelmingly either right-wing Conservatives or the sort of ex-Labour voters who saw the BNP as a reasonable alternativein the past. Not many ex-LibDems voting UKIP. Clearly the LibDems who’ve left haven’t gone to the Tories in protest over the party supporting a Tory Government, and the Tory vote is down anyway. Yet there’s not a whole lot of evidence that they’ve gone to Labour either.

    Where have they all gone ? Are there several million ex-LibDems sitting at home on their hands unwilling to vote for the Orange Book Liberals, but unable to vote for alternatives ?

    I guess I’m one of them. If I’d lived in a shire, who would I have voted for ? Green, probably. But obviously not many of my ex-LD peers out there did. It’s a conundrum. I hope the LibDems can scrape some cash together to do some research into where their voters went and what it would take to get them back. Otherwise, it’s back to the 1970s for the party in terms of share of the vote (and possibly representation).

  • The libdems still hold the moral high ground (with UKIP on the low ground). Liberalism does not seek the populist knee jerk reaction and are tolerant, open minded and non racist , open to people from everywhere to broaden our country’s outlook and culture. Supporting our membership of Europe (the EU) is both good for trade and for working people and their rights. Supporting a green agenda for energy is in the long term benefit to the UK (just like membership of the EU).

    Many of these ideals are rejected or scorned by UKIP as a populist and narrow minded little Englander party which appeals to the baser instincts of people. And even if they claim to be non-racist it has come to light recently that some of their candidates appear (to say the least) a bit dodgy

    In the end it will be the LibDems who benefit when UKIP policies are scrutinized as never before. We need to challenge UKIP on their policies (flat rate tax – benefiting the rich; opposition to wind farms and being global warming deniers; wanting to increase the size of the military when money could be spent to help youth unemployment; etc etc

    People voted for them as a protest (perhaps understandably – perhaps?) – of course they could have voted Green. Now we (in all parties) need to debate with them and challenge their views and so called policies!

  • At present we face two non-government parties with very simple general prescriptions but no real policies: UKIP (blame everything on foreigners) and Labour (spend and borrow lots more money). I seriously hope the voters wake up by 2015 and start reasoning with reality, looking at what the real choices are facing the UK rather than imagining there are simplistic solutions, or both the Lib Dems and the Tories have got major problems.

    If the Sky projections are right, coming out of the next election with 50 MPs (down 7) would be a pretty good result for us. I’m not sure the same can be said for a projected 247 (down 59) for the Conservatives. They must seriously be ruing their campaign against AV today.

  • @Julian

    “I hope the LibDems can scrape some cash together to do some research into where their voters went and what it would take to get them back.”

    We know where they have gone, courtesy of Yougov. According to its latest poll, 40% have gone to Labour, 15% to Don’t Know, 9% to the Tories (!) and 7% to UKIP.

    What would it take to get them back? (1) The UK economy suddenly bursting into growth despite massive household debt, a broken banking system (both bequeathed by Labour), high commodity prices and economic collapse in our main export market;
    (2) Someone suddenly discovering a pot of £500bn of gold hidden in the Treasury that Labour forgot to spend (yeah, right) that would mean no cuts had to be made and we could spend lots of public money on “nice stuff”.

  • John Broggio 3rd May '13 - 8:04pm

    @RC – Labour would “spend and borrow lots more money”, eh?

    I do hope that the wonderful coalition parties would never agree to doing the same. Oh, wait – they both have! And that is why UKIP is popular as a protest vote – anyone examining such partisan messages knows that all the big 3 are doing or have promised to do the same.

  • What it means is the 3 established parties are so busy bickering, playing politics they forget to represent their voters . This has allowed a fringe party to get a foothold.
    . I dislike UKIP. They represent a lot of things I disagree with and I believe that there was a grain of truth in what David Cameron said about them not so long ago. However, they stick to their principles, That’s all I want the Lib Dems to do,
    UKIP skewed the vote , but 4Th place is bad whichever away you look at it and there is no sign whatsoever that the coalition is ever going to work for the Party.

  • Christine Headley 3rd May '13 - 9:41pm

    @Caracatus

    Looking at the Eastleigh website, I see that UKIP stood in most/all seats there four years ago, and did comparatively well. There at least it wasn’t entirely a flash in the pan. However, I have no local knowledge and didn’t even go during the by-election, so I can’t offer any sort of analysis. It does help to explain their showing at the by-election too, though.

    Incidentally, thanks to Eastleigh for making it easy to compare the two sets of elections. In other authorities you have to dig in order to make comparisons; however, I don’t remember counties having results on their websites on previous occasions, which is an improvement too.

  • Roger Roberts/Wales 3rd May '13 - 10:20pm

    Delighted to learn of Pendle’s success. Thanks Tony and Clemmie,

  • paul barker 3rd May '13 - 10:31pm

    Im sorry but this is nonsense, there is no evidence to suggest we are being “driven back” anywhere. Our results were pretty much in line with The Rallings & Thrasher projection which had us on much the same level of support as 2011 & 2012. We stepped off a massive kerb when we entered Government but since then weve been on a level road, the losses of councillors are simply the drop in support from late 2010 working its way through the 4 year cycle of Local Elections.
    As for 2015 these Elections tell us what all Locals do, nothing at all. Its not simply that voters vote differently in different elections, even when 2 are held on the same day. The vast majority of voters put General Elections in a class of their own, they treat them far more seriously & are even willing to do real thinking. Yes UKIP will increase their vote, I can imagine them doubling it, from 3% to 6%. Any effect will be hard to see.
    As the General Election approaches we will continue to rise in the polls (our average poll rating has risen already over the last year) & our rivals will look more divided. We have real hopes in 2015 if we can stop talking ourselves down.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd May '13 - 10:31pm

    We are holding our vote where we have a strong local campaign and people are voting for us primarily on what they see locally. Our vote is crashing where our local presence is weaker, and people’s decision whether or not to vote for us is based more on the party’s national image. The conclusion the party ought to draw from this is obvious.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd May '13 - 11:04pm

    UKIP has had the great advantage of the backing of most of the press. Not outright “vote UKIP” backing, but running news and commentary which backs UKIP’s line. Imagine if the amount of space the right-wing press gave to anti-EU hysteria were instead given over to attacks on the UK constitution, on its electoral system, its unelected second chamber,and so on, these things put forward as the source of all these countries problems, as the way an unrepresentative political class keeps its grip on the country. They wouldn’t actually have to say “Vote Liberal Democrat”, but people would get the message.

    When people are unhappy with a Tory government, what is the Tory press to do? In order to distract the people from the failings of the right-wing economic policies pushed on this country since 1979, they have to invent a scapegoat – the European Union does nicely. Then get people to vote for a right-wing anti-EU party – job done, that stops them from going left.

    UKIP backs even more strongly than the Conservatives the sort of extreme free-market economics that has damaged our country – and turned it away from what it used to be, destroyed so much of what was traditionally British. Oh, they claim to want to turn the clock back, but they have no policies to do that, their main policy is the opposite – to push this country ever more into the hands of the global financial elite. That is the main thing they don’t like about the EU, the fact that it is about international co-operation which might stop the big global corporations being able to play one country against another. Do people in this country really feel oppressed by rules to stop companies forcing them to work damagingly long hours? Are people in this country outraged by the EU trying to stop top bankers taking millions of pounds from us in fees and bonuses and the like? No, I don’t think so – but UKIP don’t put it this way when they talk to the people, it’s just vague hand-waving stuff about the EU trying to rule us.

    The political right in this country has a wonderful way of keeping up support – it wins votes from “why oh why aren’t things like they used to be?” voters, yet pushes the very policies that have stopped things from being as they used to be. Selling as a solution to a problem something that causes that problem? What an excellent way to make money or win votes! It’s like selling a deodorant that makes you smell bad. If you can convince people that your deodorant stops them smelling bad, you’re going to do well, aren’t you? They put it on, find they smell, so put more on, and so on …

  • Chris Nelson 3rd May '13 - 11:05pm

    The core message from these elections has been mentioned above – namely that we are generally doing ok at holding back the tide in our “bastions”, by holding on to the vast majority of the council seats we won in 2009 through huge amounts of hard work, shoe leather and good local efforts to fight for good solid local issues.

    This is great as it goes for defending our MPs – and our performances in these areas is really reassuring – but the real worry I and many other have is that outside of our major areas of strength, the Lib Dem vote has fallen very sharply and, in some areas, our vote is being demolished altogether (South Shields is far from an isolated example). This does not bode well for next year’s European elections, which is of course by a PR voting system.

    When we take stock of these elections, we need to make sure that as well as analysing how we have performed in our target areas (obviously very important!) that we also consider how we are doing in the non-target seats – and, in particularly, whether there are lessons to be learnt for our air war or our mechanisms for supporting non-target campaigners.

  • Statto – Labour got a majority in2005 on 36%

  • Hmmn, so a right-wing Thatcherite splinter win 140 out of 2,000 shire council seats. Scared!
    Much more interesting are the Midland and Northern results. I usually look at Warwickshire county – Tories in big trouble, LDs flatlined, UKIP irrelevant, Labour back in heartland areas and making gains, but not sweepingly so, BNP ‘threat’ from 2009 long since a memory.

  • Philip Rolle 4th May '13 - 12:22am

    How about the Lib Dems and Conservatives defending their record in 2015 as a Coalition, not as separate parties?
    Would you not stand more of a chance on a joint “don’t let Labour ruin it” ticket?

  • Matthew – Ironically UKIP’s main selling point – anti-immigration – goes against the prevailing right wing orthodoxy of allowing in many migrants who have competed and deeply affected the jobs of the poorest working class people. It’s the parties that allowed few restrictions (often argued by some the left) that have aided free market economics and big business. It’s a fallacy to think millions of people, mainly over the past 10 years, have not driven down wages and conditions, long fought for, in the UK. And it has benefited businesses at the expense of workers. With such a surplus of people willing to work for less then bosses can strain the unskilled with demands of longer hours, working through lunch, working unpaid overtime etc.

    And migrants are willing to work for less and with worse conditions, because saving up the money will still go a very long way back home as it’s is transferred out or saved then taken when returning. It’s easier to put up with long hours and poor living conditions in high cost housing if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – that being returning home with money that goes much far further in Poland, Latvia etc. The UK worker doesn’t have that. They have no end point of escape, just stagnating wages and rising costs of living, affecting them and the prospects of family life.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th May '13 - 1:46am

    Philip Rolle

    How about the Lib Dems and Conservatives defending their record in 2015 as a Coalition, not as separate parties? Would you not stand more of a chance on a joint “don’t let Labour ruin it” ticket?

    I did not join the Liberal Party and then follow it when it merged with the SDP to form the Liberal Democrats to become a supporter of the Conservative Party. If I thought the sort of policies this five-sixths Conservative government was following were the best ones, I would have joined the Conservative Party. In fact I detest the Conservative Party, I believe its policies are wrong and damaging. I felt that in 1978 when I joined the Liberal Party, I feel it now, and I have felt it all points in between.

    Why should it be that simply because the electorate and the electoral system in 2010 returned a Parliament where the only stable government was a Conservative-LibDem coalition I should now be expected at the next general election to campaign on a platform which is five-sixths Conservative? I have not given thousands of pounds of my money and thousands of hours of my time over the years I have been active in the Liberal Party and the Liberal Democrats to promote policies which I have always detested, and which I believe are wrong and damaging for this country.

    I would wish at the next general election for the party of which I have been an active member for 35 years to stand on the policies which attracted me to it and which have kept me in it. I would wish it to make quite clear how very different they are from those of the Conservative Party. I would wish it to be made clear that participation in the coalition was simply a matter of being a democrat and therefore accepting and working within the Parliament the people of this country put in place, which is not the same as that Parliament being the one I wished had been elected in 2010.

    If what you suggest were to take place, I would feel the thousands of hours of my time and thousands of pounds of my money which I have over the years given to the Liberal Democrats had been stolen. I would be VERY angry. It’s not just that I would no longer donate time and money to the party, or that I would no longer vote for it. My anger would be to the point that I would wish to see it damaged, and I would do all I could to cause that to happen. If no-one else would do it, that might include standing as a candidate myself with the platform of stating that I stand for the policies the Liberal Democrats used to stand for, and I would ask anyone who supports those policies and not those of the Conservatives to vote for me rather than to vote for the person who is standing as the official “Liberal Democrat” candidate while promoting policies which are very far from what that party was all about during the 35 years I was a member of it.

  • “UKIP has had the great advantage of the backing of most of the press.”

    Another great advantage for UKIP is how the ‘mainstream’ parties have argued that anyone VOTING for UKIP are obviously racist. They’re not!

  • Is there any logic in voting LibDem in 2015?
    Matthew Huntbach writes :
    “I would wish at the next general election for the party of which I have been an active member for 35 years to stand on the policies which attracted me to it and which have kept me in it.”
    And that is a reasonable stance for a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal Democrat. However in 2010, Clegg handed Matthew’s vote to the Tories,… and it gets worse ! Clegg has made it perfectly clear that he would be willing to get into bed with either Labour or Conservatives in 2015, to form a new coalition government.
    So, if you are a ‘left leaning’ LD, you risk Clegg handing your vote to the Tories (again !!). And if you are a ‘right leaning’ LD, you risk Clegg handing your vote to Labour. The logic then follows that by voting LD in 2015, you are effectively ‘donating’ your vote to Clegg, to do with as he wishes !!
    In short, only diehard LD’s will vote for the LibDems in 2015. For everyone else, it surely makes no logical sense, to vote LD, thereby allowing Clegg to misdirect (your vote !?), into the red or blue camp, on a whim of his choosing.

  • We gained one unitary seat here in Salisbury but the City council was a nightmare. Partly due because nobody wanted to stand.

  • @ Matthew Huntbach

    Very nicely written. But if I can just quote my friends from my snooker club…..

    “The Lib Dems are only interested in the power that being in government brings.”

    “Are they the bugger’s who pass on their speeding points to their wives?”

    and the infamous,

    “Didn’t they say they weren’t going to vote for a tuition fee increase? Bloody liars, the lot of them!”

    And, as I’ve said before, these are builders, lorry drivers, bar staff, engineers, the retired an unemployed!

  • So far, UKIP have had a free ride. Nobody took them seriously, so no effective criticism has been directed at them. But the Lib Dems are now in a corner. Though their vote distribution may retain them seats (paradoxically, by virtue of the very system Liberal Democrats have vowed to change) they could very well emerge in 2015 behind UKIP in total number of votes, if they keep on going as they have done.

    The alternative is to treat UKIP as serious foes and begin an immediate counterattack. The Lib Dems are no longer competing at the top level with Labour and the Tories; they have enough to do trying to maintain their place in the middle. Since UKIP are fundamentally opposed to every liberal principle, the Lib Dems — at least, the party that existed before 2010 — should find it easy to attack UKIP on a principled basis.

    The temptation, of course, will be to do the opposite: to assume that UKIP must be “on to something” and endeavour to make the Lib Dems a weaker, more palatable version of the same. That temptation must be resisted. Indeed, it would seem like an impossibility if we hadn’t seen something of the same in the relations between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.

    Instead, the Liberal Democrats must take on UKIP’s policies point by point and say that they are wrong: wrong on Europe, wrong on immigration, wrong on rights, wrong for Britain; that they are a divisive party of the extreme right who are destructive of British values.

  • Eddie Sammon 4th May '13 - 7:18am

    We need to put out a balanced argument in favour of the EU. I am of the belief that you disarm someone by being fair, rather than participating in a propaganda arms race.

  • David, I absolutely agree with you. What we are doing if we take that option is, in effect, taking on head-on the main tabloids and “mid-range” papers (the Mail and the Express), as I have long advocated. Until we do this in a serious and widespread manner, we are playing dilettante Liberal politics, and we will not achieve anything of the “new politics” of which many in this party have spoken, including the pre- 2010 Nick Clegg, who used the phrase extensively.

    May I also back Matthew’s view that for many, if not most, Lib Dems, the policy of a joint ticket with the Tories for 2015 would be deeply offensive. The leadership has already gone along far too much with the Tory line of “Don’t let Labour ruin it / we are curing the ills of the last Labour Government”. This is propaganda from the Right, and we should be saying the opposite, ie that it has been the freewheeling, free market Thatcherite policies – yes, espoused by Blair and nu Labour, but introduced by the Tories, which have created this mess.

  • @Julian I don’t agree that there isn’t any crossover between UKIP’s voters and former or potential LibDems (and indeed spoke to such people during Eastleigh). We used to attract lots of support from people who didn’t like the Government but would never vote for the other major party, repelled either by something particular they’d done or stood for, or by lifetime aversion. Today, if you don’t like the Government but won’t vote Labour, of course you vote UKIP. People don’t really worry about what they stand for, as they don’t expect them to be running anything (which has a certain familiarity..). I remember one long conversation I had with a wavering previous Huhne voter, who was toying with UKIP but told me he would never vote Tory as they are nasty and right wing…

    The trouble for us is that “where we work we win” is slowly turning into “where we win we work”…

  • Andy Boddington 4th May '13 - 8:33am

    Rather different from the national trend here in Shropshire.

    The Tories of course led with 42% of the vote – down from 49%.
    Labour and Lib Dems came in at 18% each. Lib Dems are down 3%, Labour up 5.5%.

    UKIP trailed at just 10%. It did not win a single seat.

  • I do very much agree with Peter Tyzack’s final sentence. Negativism get us nowhere. !

  • Peter Watson 4th May '13 - 10:31am

    @peter.tyzack “”we would do far better to stay with the ‘new’ parties than align ourselves with the has-beens”
    I think that horse has already bolted.
    In a political system dominated by two overlapping left-ish and right-ish parties it looks like there is only room for special interest groups – whether that special interest is an issue (environment, europe) or a region (Scotland, Wales). Under the current leadership I am unconvinced that there is a place for the Lib Dems any more other than as a vacuous centrist influence on Labour and Tories, unencumbered by principles or policies which might alienate one or other half of the electorate.

  • I agree with Matthew Huntbach’s analysis in the main. However I think the right wing press is bigging up UKIP to pressurise the Tories into moving further to the right (on EU, immigration & SSM) rather than trying to deflect voters from looking for left of centre alternatives. The outcome of this will have profound implications for the future Tory/Lib Dem relationship. The key issue following the rise of UKIP will be the Tories response to them. Cameron may brazen it out or he may capitulate to save his leadership. It seems fairly clear to me that if and when Cameron goes the Tories will choose a far more socially conservative / anti EU leader. I also accept that UKIP voters are not all racists, homophobic and so on but there is no doubt a large element of their voters that are and I don’t accept the current conventional wisdom that all the main parties now need to listen to these people and take their concerns on board – by all means hear them out but if their views prove to be illiberal and populist then they need to be confronted head-on and defeated not pandered to, much as Labour took the battle to the BNP in Barking and Dagenham and wiped them out.

  • At the moment many people are smarting at the unexpected results, and yes I am as disappointed in ours as anyone else, but I’m not joining in the majority that seem to be running around like headless chickens, making off the head comments. We need to go away, calm down, and review the results and modify our strategy for 2014 & 2015 accordingly. Various political pundits earn their living much like the newspapers, by saying what they think people want to hear, like “it’s a game changer” i.e. well done, you’ve made them listen at last.

    In a nutshell the people seem to have said look, we’re not happy with the way things are, which is why we didn’t give any main party full rein with a majority government in 2010, here’s your second wakeup call, now get out of bed and do something about it. The Tories & Labour are understandably rattled. It is probably fair comment to say that as a new keen, all fired up party, UKIP probably have more active activists than the other parties, even including us. That coupled with an expected 40% average turnout may have partly given them the results they got. Striking while the iron is hot always gets the best results.

    We have a fantastic team of Cabinet and other ministers, doing a damn fine job, it is almost unthinkable that they should not be there after 2015. So let’s all get out there and make sure they will be, it’s right for the country and it’s right for us!
    .

  • Peter Chapman 4th May '13 - 11:51am

    Dont underestimate the power of UKIP to appeal to the disaffected
    The people who have suffered because industry in the Uk has been destroyed and not replaced
    The people who see that their kids will have a tougher future than they did
    The people who cant understand why their children are unemployed
    The people who see Europe as a vast centralist organisation destroying localism
    To these people outside the shrinking area in which our dwindling army is able to campaign UKIP say what they believe…That internationalism has not improved their lives
    To many people I talk to our leadership is seen as middle class, wishy washy, privileged and out of touch
    I predict we will be decimated in next years european elections

  • “We need to put out a balanced argument in favour of the EU.”
    About a zillion threads back I asked someone/anyone?, to please write a clear bullet point list, of the benefits of EU membership, that would fit onto a letter box size leaflet, to go through the doors of the average voting public.
    I’m still waiting.

  • paul barker 4th May '13 - 12:19pm

    If Thursdays results had been repeated in a General Election Milliband would now be PM, with not much more than a quarter of the vote. In a real General Election neither of The “Protest” Parties Labour or UKIP will do anything like so well. Over the next 2 years we should be leading the attack on UKIP values & The Tories if they pander to them but we mustnt forget that 2015 will be about The Economy, an area where neither Labour or UKIP have anything plausible to say. A third of those who “support” Labour now dont trust them on The Economy, that is their weak point.

  • David Evans 4th May '13 - 12:42pm

    It’s always fun reading the self styled optimists of the “old guard” telling us that further losses are just inevitable and that if we all stay positive in 2015 we will be back on the sunny uplands again. However, there is always a difference between the “old guard” and those who know we have to change and it is simply this. The “old guard” are so stuck in their ways that they refuse to look at the facts, even when the public continue to repeat the lesson. So their mantra never changes. They even try to pretend that they are the “new way!”

    However, until they start to judge their favourite objectively and not through rose tinted spectacles, they will continue to be part of the problem and not part of the solution.

  • What George said.

  • JULIAN CRITCHLEY – YOU STILL OWE ME £50 TO A CHARITY OF MY CHOICE – You bet Eastleigh would be lost – now pay up please!!!!

  • “In a real General Election neither of The “Protest” Parties Labour or UKIP will do anything like so well”

    You’re suggesting Labour won’t get anything like as much as 29% in a general election? Interesting.

  • Since everyone is talking about the UKIP factor I’ll way in with my thoghts,
    . In terms of the popular vote UKIP did phenomenally well. But there are some things that need taken into account.
    These were county council election,. A lot of them in regions of the country most impacted by migration. Whether people want admit it or not anti-immigration sentiments resonate strongly amongst the electorate in such areas and in tough economic times that kind of thing becomes more amplified. In lots of ways what happened here is a bit like the rise of the French National Front and similar movements in other European Countries. The British it turns out are not uniquely tolerant. However unlike France, Britain has FPTP electoral system and for all the hoopla UKIP didn’t take a single council and have not one single MP. In FPTP second in the local vote is meaningless, because the system require winners.
    How will this effect the next election, It is very hard to say. It depends on whether UKIP can score outright wins and how loyal its vote will prove to be and whether or not enough voters want UKIP to run the economy. The jury is out on that, but I suspect their vote will collapse except as an alternative the the Conservatives in some seats with low numbers of Tory voters.

  • Paul in twickenham 4th May '13 - 5:24pm

    @jedibeeftrix – I agree that UKIP will probably top the poll in the Euros but don’t think that this will be a surprise to many people. I also repeat a bold assertion that I made a year ago. I reckon that the Lib Dems will get three MEPs. I will donate £20 to charity for every MEP greater than this. I don’t anticipate being out of pocket.

  • What does this mean, for the next election, and beyond ?
    People here on LDV threads may dislike it, but UKIP, (even with its many flaws), is unquestionably the rising star, and for good or ill, for ignored voters, they are this countries only real hope of change. Disaffected voters, abused, lied to, ignored and generally looked down upon, by the three ‘posh boy parties’, for once sense power, and a real, tangible ability, to throw a ‘political grenade’ into the ‘lockdown politics’ of the sycophantic, Westminster crew.
    Lets recap a little. They [ UKIP ], got 25% of the vote, (in Council elections !!?). That was not a protest, that was a tectonic shift. We have seen nothing. The best is yet to come.

  • Julian Critchley 4th May '13 - 7:39pm

    @david

    Actually David, I don’t. Go revisit the threads. You didn’t take the bet. Relevant posts here :

    “david6th Feb ’13 – 7:10pm

    I will take that bet – but only if you are prepared to take the bet off everybody on this who wants it? You obviously seem very confident – but who do u think will beat them? Lab or UKIP?”

    “Julian Critchley7th Feb ’13 – 6:55pm

    @david

    I’m willing to risk £50 for charity on a shock result. That’s my limit, though, so only one bet from me. However, if others want to back their colours with their cash, then I’m sure my nominated charity wouldn’t object to receiving multiple £50s. Still want the bet ?

    For the record, the charity which will benefit from a LibDem defeat at Eastleigh would be ActionAid http://www.actionaid.org.uk/

    Name yours and we have a bet. But I’m only paying out once, no matter how many optimistic buggers might offer to take my cash.”

    Sadly, you didn’t reply. A missed opportunity, for sure :)

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th May '13 - 8:56pm

    John Dunn

    And that is a reasonable stance for a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal Democrat. However in 2010, Clegg handed Matthew’s vote to the Tories,… and it gets worse !

    Er, no. My vote contributed nothing at all because it was not in a constituency which elected a Liberal Democrat MP.

    The people of Britain chose to elect a Parliament with 306 Conservative MPs, 258 Labour MPs, 57 Liberal Democrat MPs and the remaining 29 scattered amongst various small parties. From this it can be seen if you add the number of Labour MPs and the number of Liberal Democrat MPs together, you do not get the 326 needed for a majority. The only stable government that was possible was a Conservative-LibDem coalition. It was NOT the Liberal Democrats that caused this to happen, it was the people of the United Kingdom who voted that way. Now, it could be argued that actually more than half the people of the country voted either Labour or Liberal Democrat, and therefore a coalition of those two parties ought to have been possible, But the people of the United Kingdom smashed and destroyed this argument in 2011 when by two-to-one they voted against even the minimalist reform of the Alternative Vote, after a campaign where opponents made their main point that the distortion of the current system over-representing the biggest party and under-representing third parties was its best thing. By two-to-one, with the endorsement of many prominent Labour politicians, and the open opposition of NO Labour politician, the people of this country voted for THIS government. This is the most democratic government this country has ever had, because unlike any other government, not only does it arise from the MPs the people elected, the people then endorsed it by endorsing the distortion that gave it to us.

    So, don’t blame the Liberal Democrats. Blame all those people who voted Tory in 2011 and even more all those people who by voting “No” in 2011 voted to support the distortion which gives the Tories so much power in this rotten government. I hate this government, but I am a democrat, I have to accept it because it is what the people voted for.

    Clegg has made it perfectly clear that he would be willing to get into bed with either Labour or Conservatives in 2015, to form a new coalition government.

    Yes, and so? THAT is what democracy is about. The representatives of the people come together to find a compromise that a majority can agree to. The nature of the compromise will depend on the number of representatives of the different opinions. In 2010 the people of this country decided to elect a Parliament with five times as many Conservatives than Liberal Democrats, and not enough Labour MPs for Labour and the Liberal Democrats to form a majority. In 2011 they voted to support the distortion of representation that led to this. Obviously, a party with just a small number of MPs must work within this framework and so has only a small amount of influence. Why use those ridiculous words “jump into bed” for what is the HEART of democracy – that people who disagree don’t fight and cause mayhem over it, they come together and try and work out a compromise?

    What you seem to be saying is that a party with less than 10% of the MPs should make the country ungovernable by refusing to accept anything except a government which enacts only the policies of that party, voting down any proposals from the bigger parties. How could that be denocratic?

    So, if you are a ‘left leaning’ LD, you risk Clegg handing your vote to the Tories (again !!). And if you are a ‘right leaning’ LD, you risk Clegg handing your vote to Labour. The logic then follows that by voting LD in 2015, you are effectively ‘donating’ your vote to Clegg, to do with as he wishes !!

    As I said, THAT is what democracy is about – jaw, jaw, not war, war. The more Liberal Democrat MPs we have, the more they can move any compromise that arises to their point of view – exactly the same as for any other party. Sheesh, how many times do I have to explain that? Isn’t it obvious> Why do you find it so hard to understand that concept?

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th May '13 - 8:59pm

    Peter Chapman

    Dont underestimate the power of UKIP to appeal to the disaffected
    The people who have suffered because industry in the Uk has been destroyed and not replaced
    The people who see that their kids will have a tougher future than they did
    The people who cant understand why their children are unemployed

    Yes, and UKIP support even more extreme right-wing economics than the Conservative Party, that is they support and want more of the sort of policies that caused all this.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th May '13 - 9:14pm

    Peter Chapman

    The people who see Europe as a vast centralist organisation destroying localism

    The people who have been led by the right-wing press to believe this, because the right-wing press want to turn them away from understanding what has REALLY brought this country to the mess it is in – the policies of that anti-British, anti-family, anti-work woman they praised so much just a few weeks ago after her death, and those who came after her who carried on with them.

    Anti-British – YES, it was her support of privatisation and global big business which led to so much that is vital to our country, our energy supply, our transport, our weather etc being sold off and now in the hands of foreign ownership.

    Anti-family – YES, it was her who by pumping up the house price boom and selling off council housing made a family house impossible to attain for so many people, led to so many families breaking up because of the pressure of hig house prices.

    Anti-work – YES, because the MAIN thing she was about, with her trying to get people to think of houses as money-making machines, and “Tell Sid” privatisations was the idea that money is made by owning things not working. By letting industry crumble she destroyed the work ethic in so many communities. By encouraging an ethic of dog-eat-dog self-oriented greed, she destroyed the co-operative pride in service attitude that is REALLY needed for successful business.

    Europe as a vast centralist organisation, hah – just ASK those people what EXACTLY is it that “Europe” is doing that is suppressing them, stopping them doing what they want. Ask them to quote some specific examples, not vague waffle taken from the right-wing press. They can’t because it is all nonsense. If “Europe” was really the oppressor UKIP and the like claim, wouldn’t people be able to say just how? Mostly the right-wing press get worked up about the EU stopping people being forced to work massively long hours. Funny sort of oppression this. How many people do YOU meet, Peter, who moan “That rotten EU means I can’t be forced to work 50 hours a week, how cruel of them”?

  • Matthew : your convoluted response makes no sense. The point to be gleaned from the Clegg Coalition debacle, is that there is no point giving my vote to LD, because they will never form a government on their own. To have power, Clegg must marry up to either Labour or the Conservatives.
    So, (depending on my inclination), my vote might as well go directly left or directly right, and cut out the Clegg, middle man.

  • Yellow Bill 4th May '13 - 9:55pm

    Mathew Huntbach

    NO – that is not what democracy is about. democracy is about standing on your principles and not accepting that which is unacceptable – which means, in the case of liberals, anything which is unliberal.

    We found many of the Conservatives policies unacceptable before the election, why should we suddenly find them acceptable when offered the chance of sharing in government. This is rank opportunitism and unprincipled. The proper thing to do was to let the Tories form a minority government whereby we could oppose AND STOP those unacceptable policies going through.

  • A Social Liberal 5th May '13 - 3:29am

    To use Thursdays poll as a basis for projected results of a general election is very, very niaive. Cast your mind back 24 hours to the ‘before’ map Jeremy Vine stood upon. It was a sea of blue. That is why the projection is unrepresentative, Labour voters are not on the whole represented. Do you honestly think that the people of Sheffield are 29% Labour voters? The people of Manchester and Middlesboro, Nottingham and Newport? The vast majority of Labour voters did not have a vote on Thursday, many of those who did chose not to vote becausethey thought their vote counted for nothing. These non voters will be heartened by the results and, I believe, will flood to the polling stations. They and their compatriots have been given succor by these results and this will translate to more like the 39-42% YouGov has consistantly recorded.

    Whether or not this translates to elected MPs, whilst I can imagine that it can I can see the arguements against this happening. What I do think will happen is that the Lib Dems will be forced back into their heartlands of the South West and Scotland. I am not sure about the London Lib Dems (apart from Sarah Teather) but given the haemorrhaging of support I can see their seats returning to the Tories.

    Now to the UKIP ‘phenomenon’. Yes, they did well – but there are major caveats to their success. For instance, all their successes came in conservative councils or where the Tories were the largest party. In the north and the midlands (discounting Lincolnshire) UKIP took just 11 seats, in East Anglia and Lincolnshire – 49. In the south east UKIP took 37 whilst in the south west they took 14. In Wiltshire and Hampshire UKIP took 11 seats. In summary :-

    North and mids 11
    Lincs and EAng 49
    South 82 (this is including and below a line of Glouc/Oxs/Bucks/Essex)

    There is an anomoly – The BBC reports that UKIP gained 139 seats but the figures above say a total of 142 – this is because UKIP lost its only councillor in Nottinghamshire and two of its four councillors in Staffordshire.

    Jeremy Vine was rather naughty in his reporting when he claimed that UKIPs share of the vote would be 26%. In his early reports on the rolling news he was honest in saying that this was extrapolated from only those wards where UKIP stood, but by the 6 o clock news his reports omitted this. This means that the votes where UKIP did not stand were discounted whereas councils where the Tories, Labour. Lib Dems etc, did not place a candidate were not. If all votes were taken into account this would be wildly different – especially since there were many. many votes for independents that were not taken into consideration.

    Lib Dems should not take much heart from this though – I can see no evidence of you holding out in your heartlands.

    In the south west you lost eleven seats – in two of the four councils you lost more than the conservatives and only in Somerset did you manage not to lose any seats – whilst you did not gain any seats in any council. In Bristol where you were the largest group you were the only party to lose seats, In Hampshire you also lost more than the Tories. Throughout the country there were only 5 councils where you made net gains.

    In closing, there is always the chance that I am wrong as it is presently 03:30ish and I am several beers the worse. I am sure you will let me know if I have slipped up.

  • A Social Liberal 5th May '13 - 3:31am

    When I say gains or ‘win seats’ I do of course mean net gains

  • Eddie Sammon 5th May '13 - 6:19am

    Matthew, people do not get all of their views in life from the right wing press. Yes they influence people but the public are not blank slate robots ready to be programmed to whatever the Sun says. Most people get their news from the BBC, apparently.

  • There is a simple lesson from this election for LibDems.

    Where local parties work, we win. Where apathy and antipathy rule, we lose.

  • Ok Julian – technically you are correct – I missed that post – sorry. However….. you did offer the bet – I replied and took you up on it – The Lib Dems won Eastleigh and so……. well I shall leave it up to you – but I think we both know the principle of this – even perhaps the morality of it all.
    So My chosen charity is a fantastic childrens’ hospice in Manchester – I am sure they would appreciate your £50!!!
    http://www.francishouse.org.uk/

  • “I replied and took you up on it”

    You said you would take him up on it, but “only if you are prepared to take the bet off everybody on this who wants it” – a pretty unreasonable condition which, unsurprisingly enough, he wasn’t willing to accept. And as he wasn’t, the implication of what you’d said was that you weren’t willing to take him up on it.

  • I can only say that Gloucestershire was one of our better results but did vary from constituency to constiuency. We are dwon 10 seats on boundary reviews so results a bit subjective

    Forst of Dean still zero and UKIP gained 3
    Stroud – now zero so down 1
    Tewkesbury – 1 down from 3
    Gloucester – still 2
    Cheltenham – now 7 up from 4 (excluding one ex Tory who saw the light and changed to us)
    Cotswold – 4 up from 1

    Effectively pro rata up 4 seats

    So a mixed bag achieved by ruthless targetting and hard work. The old saying where you work you win is never more true. Cheltenham Constituency would be even safer than 2010 based on these results. This must be about our best county result in the country

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th May '13 - 10:22pm

    Eddie Sammon

    Matthew, people do not get all of their views in life from the right wing press. Yes they influence people but the public are not blank slate robots ready to be programmed to whatever the Sun says.

    I am not saying they are, if they were UKIP would be on about 75% of the vote. I am suggesting that when the majority of newspapers sold push the UKIP viewpoint i.e. that the EU is a bad thing, and that all politicians are bad things, but especially liberals and lefties, that cannot help but have an effect.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th May '13 - 10:30pm

    John Dunn

    The point to be gleaned from the Clegg Coalition debacle, is that there is no point giving my vote to LD, because they will never form a government on their own. To have power, Clegg must marry up to either Labour or the Conservatives.
    So, (depending on my inclination), my vote might as well go directly left or directly right, and cut out the Clegg, middle man.

    Fine, so you’d rather have a straight Tory government right now. I hope you are wearing your “I love Maggie” badge.

  • ‘The point to be gleaned from the Clegg Coalition debacle, is that there is no point giving my vote to LD, because they will never form a government on their own. To have power, Clegg must marry up to either Labour or the Conservatives.
    So, (depending on my inclination), my vote might as well go directly left or directly right, and cut out the Clegg, middle man.’

    ‘Fine, so you’d rather have a straight Tory government right now. I hope you are wearing your “I love Maggie” badge.’

    I was not in favour (and still not) of this coalition but in fact the LDs are limiting the excesses of the Tories. That is why the Right wing backbenches (and Norman Tebbit) lol are screaming and shouting in frustration; for actually they know they cannot introduce their more right wing policies whilst the LDs are in govt. Imagine a Tory majority government or worse a UKIP/Tory govt. (God forbid).

    It is vital for the LDs to continue to differentiate themselves though from the Tories and to keep ensuring implementation of more progressive policies while reject reactionary ones beloved by the Tory Right.

    Listen to them now they want a referendum and are demanding one – but they know with the LDs in coalition they won’t get it however much they shout at the wind haha!

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th May '13 - 11:04pm

    Yellow Bill

    NO – that is not what democracy is about. democracy is about standing on your principles and not accepting that which is unacceptable – which means, in the case of liberals, anything which is unliberal.

    In that case, you are saying I should if I could mount a military coup against any government which was personally unacceptable to me. Sorry, I disagree. To me democracy means accepting that if your views are not majority views, you have to accommodate to the views of others, even if you disagree with them. The people of this country chose to elect on 57 Liberal Democrat MPs compared to 306 Conservative MPs, and then confirmed a year later that they agreed with the electoral distortion that led to that result. Who am I to tell the people they are wrong and to block what they said they wanted by the way they cast their votes?

    We found many of the Conservatives policies unacceptable before the election, why should we suddenly find them acceptable when offered the chance of sharing in government.

    I don’t find them acceptable, unfortunately others do, many more than find my views acceptable according to how the people of this country decided to vote. Agreeing to accept the government the people of this country decided to elect is not the same as agreeing that government is the ideal government.

    This is rank opportunitism and unprincipled.

    Sorry, why do you think it is opportunism and unprincipled to accept the will of the people?

    Look, I’m not happy with this government, and I’m not happy with the way the leadership of my party has portrayed being in the coalition as the fulfillment of the party’s dreams. I’ve said so, again and again since the last election. Clegg is playing it all wrong, and I disagree with him so much that I have stopped working for the party and reduced my membership payment to the minimum.

    I think the leader should have made it clear when going into the coalition that this was VERY far from our ideal, and that accepting the coalition as ONLY because it was the only stable government that could be formed, and as democrats we have to accept the will of the people – which was to elect five times as many Conservatives as Liberal Democrats. Actually, that last point could only be made after the 2011 referendum – before that referendum Clegg should have made quite clear that the weakness of the Liberal Democrats compared to the Conservatives in the coalition was down to our distortional representation system, and if people didn’t like the result, they shoul sow their backing for electoral reform.

    The proper thing to do was to let the Tories form a minority government whereby we could oppose AND STOP those unacceptable policies going through.

    Yes, and then what? We propose what we want and the Tories vote down that? Labour propose what Labour wants and the Tories vote down that?

    Look, is there any great evidence of public desire for Liberal Democrat policies? Sadly, no. In the local elections we are discussing here, the people have turned away from us and voted for a party which is like the Conservatives but more extreme and illiberal in every way possible. So I think if we were to sit there making government impossible by blocking what the majority party proposed, it would not make us popular. People would be saying “What the **** are these people, just 57 MPs out of 650 doing, thinking they have the right to dictate to this country what policies it should have?”.

    If the majority of the country agree with us about what is unacceptable, then they have to VOTE for us. That is REALLY my message. We have the government we have because that’s what people voted for. Throwing the blame on the Liberal Democrats, as if somehow the Liberal Democrats with just 57 MPs could have conjured up an entirely Liberal Democrat government but just chose not to, turns people’s attention away from that central reality. Don’t blame the Liberal Democrats for the fact we have a Tory-dominated governemnt, blame those who voted Tory, and those who supported the distortional representation system which meant one and half times more Tory votes than LibDem votes led to five times more Tory seats than LibDem seats. THIS is what our leader should be saying, instead of going on about how wonderful the coalition is.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th May '13 - 11:08pm

    jedibeeftrix

    This could include single-target capital requirements, rules on leverage or bonuses – and could even spill over to market access issues.

    Well, this is the only actual POLICY is found in the whole of your last message. So, is this the oppression which caused so many people to vote UKIP recently? All those UKIP voters feel so oppressed by the EU stopping our wonderful cuddly banker whom they all love so much taking millions of pounds in bonuses?

  • Eddie Sammon 5th May '13 - 11:22pm

    I know Matthew, I just like to play reduction to absurdity to make a point.

  • tony dawson 6th May '13 - 9:45am

    John Dunn:

    ” The point to be gleaned from the Clegg Coalition debacle, is that there is no point giving my vote to LD, because they will never form a government on their own.”

    You appear to be functioning under a great delusion, John. No one in the UK has ever been given a vote in a choice of government. In Northern Ireland, there are not even candidates of potential government-forming Parties. But in half the remaining constituencies nobody seriously believes their vote will have any effect whatsoever over the outcome of the government formation. For a very good reason: it NEVER EVER does so.

    The feudal monarchs, many centuries ago, granted a group of subjects in each area a vote in electing a single Member of Parliament in a constituency. And that vote, that collective choice, is all that we have.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th May '13 - 10:17pm

    david orr

    I was not in favour (and still not) of this coalition but in fact the LDs are limiting the excesses of the Tories. That is why the Right wing backbenches (and Norman Tebbit) lol are screaming and shouting in frustration; for actually they know they cannot introduce their more right wing policies whilst the LDs are in govt.

    Indeed. They may not be doing enough under the current leader, who is far too much on the right-wing of the Liberal Democrats, and I was saying that BEFORE the 2010 election and warning as much as I could for the members not to follow the right-wing press’s urging of us to vote him as our leader, but to suggest that the Liberal Democrats are doing absolutely nothing, that they have just “handed your vote to the Tories”, as John Dunn puts it, really doesn’t fit in with the screaming and howling about this government coming from the Tory right-wing – who appear to believe and actually say, that David Cameron has just handed Tory votes to the LibDems.

    So it depends on whose perspective you look at it from. Personally I feel the Liberal Democrats are exerting an influence about proportional to their share of seats in the coalition, which is about one-sixth. If the representation of the two parties were in proportion to the votes cast for them in the general election, it would be two-fifths rather than one-sixth, and the LibDems would have the additional bargaining card of a Labour-LibDem coalition being viable they could play to get their way. So, Labour-supporting people moan about the Liberal Democrats “propping up” or “jumping into bed with” the Tories, but who is it that supports the distortional representation system that so weakens the Liberal Democrats and strengthens the Conservatives in this government? Labour. That is why it is Labour who is really propping up the Tories.

    That is why I say John Dunn might as well wear an “I love Maggie” badge. If people like him had their way, and there was no significant third party, it would be either Labour or Tory. And since people were fed up with Labour in 2010, it would be Tory right now, a 100% Tory government. THAT is what John Dunn is arguing for, he is arguing the case for having a pure Conservative Party government right now, he is saying that is what this country should have in place at this moment. And all that screaming and howling on the right-wing of the Conservatives would be far less, because there would be no Liberal Democrats to balance it – for every LibDem minister you see now, weak an ineffective though you may say there are, there would instead be one of the Tory’s far right.

  • Yellow Bill 7th May '13 - 4:57pm

    Mathew Huntbach said

    “In that case, you are saying I should if I could mount a military coup against any government which was personally unacceptable to me”. I’m suggesting nothing of the sort. Since when has a coup been about the will of the people? A coup is all about force and nothing about democracy.

    “Agreeing to accept the government the people of this country decided to elect is not the same as agreeing that government is the ideal government.” Lib Dems did not just accept the will of the people, they went against their principles and got into bed with that government – they did not need to do so to accept the will of the people, they could have simply stood to one side and let the Tories get on with it. To their shame they did not do so. Worse, they accepted and colluded with the enactment of policies that were deemed illiberal (and therefore unacceptable) before the election and broke their promise – not a manifesto commitment, but a promise. All for the chance of a crumb of power. This is the rank opportunism I speak of, not the acceptance of the peoples will but selling out.

    “Yes, and then what? We propose what we want and the Tories vote down that? Labour propose what Labour wants and the Tories vote down that?” What is wrong with that. The Tories would soon have got fed up with going nowhere and would have called another general election. I do not accept Lib Dem assertions that they would have won that one but for the moment, let’s go along with it. Yes, they would have got more draconian bills through; no, the Lib Dems would not have got any policies into law, but the Tories would have been so unpopular by the end of that term of office that they would not have got into power for a generation. As it is, you aid and abet near draconian legislation for a crumb of liberal intervention and as a result liberal presence in parliament will be back to a taxi full and not the coach loads you could have had. As for “. People would be saying “What the **** are these people, just 57 MPs out of 650 doing, thinking they have the right to dictate to this country what policies it should have?” “, if it were 57 MPs stopping the draconian legislation being put through then perhaps the people would complain, but it wouldn’t be, would it. It would have been Lib Dem and Labour MPs plus any others who disagreed with the legislation.

    As it is, you have Lib Dems playing the patsy for a Tory government and getting a massive kicking in the polls for doing so.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th May '13 - 11:19pm

    Yellow Bill

    “Agreeing to accept the government the people of this country decided to elect is not the same as agreeing that government is the ideal government.” Lib Dems did not just accept the will of the people, they went against their principles and got into bed with that government.

    My principles are that I am a democrat, meaning I accept the voice of the people, even if I disagree with it. In May 2010 the people of this country elected five times as many Tory MPs as Liberal Democrat MPs. OK, that was as much to do with the distortions of the electoral system as to do with the actual votes case, but then in May 2011 the people of this country voted, by two to one, in favour of the electoral system, after a campaign in which its supporters made that distortion the centre point of their case. That is, like it or not (I don’t), we have a Tory-dominated government because that’s what the people have voted to say they want. In the May 2011 referendum, many leading Labour politicians went out and out the case for us having a Tory-dominated government right now, and many Labour voters went out and voted “No” in the referendum, and so in effect voted Tory. Blame THEM, Yellow Bill.

    As for me, sorry, but I remain of the belief that coming to a compromise is what democracy is about. I just wish fewer people had voted Tory and we didn’t have such a distortional voting system, then the compromise would have been much more on the Liberal Democrat side.

    “Yes, and then what? We propose what we want and the Tories vote down that? Labour propose what Labour wants and the Tories vote down that?” What is wrong with that.

    Well, it’s easier to get a majority against something than a majority in favour. Sorry, but what you are suggesting is that no party should ever agree to any sort of compromise, and therefore the country will become ungovernable, because it will be impossible to decide anything.

    The Tories would soon have got fed up with going nowhere and would have called another general election. I do not accept Lib Dem assertions that they would have won that one but for the moment, let’s go along with it.

    What convinced me reluctantly to accept the coalition, as I too had previously thought letting the Tories have a minority government would be better, is the realisation that of course they would run a government which made no big spending cuts but which made tax cuts, and did nothing unpopular. Any wobbles in the economy could be out down to “blame the LibDems for making it impossible for us to govern”. That is how they would win the next election called at the very most a year later,and THEN you would see the right-wing stuff come out. Sorry, but this was so obviously a win-win situation for the Tories, Also, sorry, but I know enough about the financial resources of the Liberal Democrats, having sat on enough executive committees, to know for absolute certainty that the party had exhausted its finances in the 2010 general election and just could not pay to fight a serious campaign in another one a year or less later – see 1951 for a similar situation.

    As it is, you aid and abet near draconian legislation for a crumb of liberal intervention and as a result liberal presence in parliament will be back to a taxi full and not the coach loads you could have had.

    Me? I don’t personally. However, arguing the case for the formation of the coalition in 2010 does not necessarily mean I believe the party leadership has done a good job in fighting its corner since then. Why are you attacking me as if I were a gung-ho Cleggie loyalist? Haven’t I written enough elsewhere to suggest my personal position is some what distant from that?

  • Julian Critchley 9th May '13 - 8:42pm

    Chris – thanks for defending my honour. David – in the interests of the spirit, if not the letter, of the law, a cheque for £50 is now winging its way to what looks like an excellent cause.

    I think maybe I’ll be less hasty with the pessimist bets in future !

    JC

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  • User AvatarSIMON BANKS 26th Nov - 2:24pm
    Roland: Since this country grew rich on the proceeds of the slave trade (admittedly the slaves weren't immigrants, unless you count them as immigrants to...
  • User AvatarPaul In Wokingham 26th Nov - 1:56pm
    The latest Ashcroft poll reports Lib Dem support in England at 6%, compared with 24% at the 2010 GE. Now it is undoubtedly the case...
  • User AvatarGraham Martin-Royle 26th Nov - 1:56pm
    Way back in the 1970's my brother decided to use the free movement principles to try his luck working in Germany. He had no job...
  • User AvatarPeter Hayes 26th Nov - 1:52pm
    If they do monitor I hope they are better at it than Google. My other half is interested in the history of art. Google keeps...