Lord Storey on Nick Clegg: Not popular, nice guy, principled. What do the headlines report? “Toxic”

Lord Storey photo by Keith EdkinsWhen I first heard that Nick Clegg  had been described by former Liverpool City Council leader Mike Storey as “toxic”, I expected to see some sort of angry denunciation. Actually, Mike Storey’s comments were much more considered and balanced. What he said was what every single Liberal Democrat knows, that if you speak to lots of voters, you know that Nick Clegg is not a popular person. He said “some might use the word toxic.” He then went on to add that he found that very difficult because he knows that Nick is passionate, principled and a nice guy. He didn’t call for him to resign or anything like that.

His analysis of our current situation was pretty much spot on. He talked about how the loss of councillors affects our ability to campaign because you then lose the people who deliver leaflets and raise the money to pay for them. This is something that should worry us all. Way back in 2011, looking through the Scottish Parliament results, it wasn’t just the heartbreak of losing so many fantastic MSPs that hit home, it was the fact that we had moved from second to third or fourth in so many places. Losing our councillor base everywhere in Edinburgh except Mike Crockart’s seat is equally troubling. Losing our foothold in so many parts of London, Manchester and Liverpool and many other places is something that as a party we have to tackle. We have the twin dilemma of having to shore up our held seats to win as many of them as possible but needing to rebuild our capacity elsewhere.

Cllr Richard Kemp also appeared on the segment, saying that the party faced a choice. We could lash out and have a go at Nick Clegg, he said, or decide we were going to sharpen up our  campaigning and get back on the streets. That’s exactly what people have been doing all over the country whether they think Nick should go or not. And it’s these conversations that happen now that will contribute most to our results next May. Chris Davies also called for us to change our stance on an in/out referendum.

Sir Menzies Campbell was interviewed live by Andrew Neil. He said that Nick was full of principle and resilience and was the right person to lead the party into the General Election. He rightly pointed out that no party leader in the UK was having an easy time of it at the moment. He said that we would be “rather more assertive” about taking the credit for things like 23 million people having an £800 tax cut with 2.5 million being taken out of tax altogether. That sounded a bit too much like “business as usual” for me. When people tell me that they couldn’t vote for us because of Nick Clegg because he went into coalition with the Tories and broke promises, I ask them if they’d expect a Tory government to be so committed to improving mental health care and giving extra money to disadvantaged kids in school and giving tax cuts to people like us when the Tories had wanted to cut taxes for rich, dead people. Those are the sorts of things that help us back on their radar, and having got them willing to consider us, we need to then show them how we’ve put our values into practice, and how our values match up with theirs. I have spoken to enough voters in enough places to know that this sort of approach actually works.

That Sunday Politics segment was actually a pretty fair analysis of our situation at the moment. Why not watch for yourself, from around 24:55 minutes in, here. That, by the way, is the link to the North West edition. If you go on to around 40 minutes, you will see Vince Cable and Miriam Gonzalez Durantez “speed dating” at an event where school children met local businesses to encourage them to look at careers in science and technology.

Photo of Lord Storey by Keith Edkins

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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83 Comments

  • R: And it’s another 11-1 loss for the Lib Dem team. What do you think is going on, Bob?
    B: Why, it’s clear enough, Rob. The Lib Dems just need to sharpen up their play and get back on the field.
    R: Some would suggest, Bob, that the team coach has to take a share of the blame for this failure.
    B: That’s ridiculous, Rob! Obviously, in a tough situation like this, some people will have a go at the coach, but what we really need is to get back in and give it everything. Let me just take this moment to say how much I admire Coach Nick’s resilience. He’s had some tough games, but he’s still hanging in there, and will be for a long time to come.
    R: Bob, some players have complained that they’re being sent in with inconsistent and ineffective strategy, or no strategy at all; others have said that they’re underfunded and their equipment is defective.
    B: Well, Rob, you may or may not have heard such things, but I can hardly comment on anonymous accusations — except to say that I’m ashamed of our players for trying to blame our staff. It’s no use whinging when you’re not up to snuff on the field.
    R: So, Bob, are you saying these losses are the players’ fault?
    B: No, Rob, I would never say that. I’d just say it’s down to the fact that our players aren’t any good.
    R: Thank you, Bob, for this enlightening discussion.
    B: And thank you, Rob.

  • We are fiddling while Rome burns.

    And by next May it will have burnt to the ground.

  • I’m afraid Mike is still living in a nice world around 2010 when Nick was regarded as a good principled guy who would keep his promises. By 2011, it was clear that wasn’t true, and the people of Liverpool voted Mike Storey out of his Wavertree seat, turning his Lib Dem majority of 1,800 to a Labour majority of 900, a swing of 37% in the ward. I can say this because Lord Storey’s House of Lords profile still includes him being a Liverpool Councillor in his register of interests, which he hasn’t been since 2011. Indeed, I don’t think he has stood again since.

  • Again loyal Lib Dems miss the point. Nick Clegg is politically bankrupt and has been for years. Just like Brown before him it doesn’t matter what arguments are made or what is said, people simply want him to go away and will not vote for those connected with him.

    However, now that those in the pay of the Party have chosen to back him into their communal grave next year we know that nothing will change.

    The split in this Party has now moved beyond ideology. Now it’s simply between those who earn a wage and those who volunteer. Those who are paid have committed themselves to Clegg and some fancy think thank job come May.

    The rest of us who volunteer, or have worked hard for years as town & community or county councilors, know what it’s really like outside of the Bubble. And we are the ones who will loose out in the years ahead.

    Clegg’s actions have undone more than 20 years of hard work, and it is doubtful that there will be as many willing to do that work again.

  • Bill le Breton 23rd Jun '14 - 6:47am

    Mike and Richard are career politicians and their years of service have also seen them turn into professional politicians. They have ambitions still which make their witness unreliable in this area. The power of patronage empowers its subjects.

    Of far greater importance is the witness of Dominic Cummings. People should read his piece Hollow Men. Google Dominic Cummings Blog. We have someone leading our Party who plays fast and lose with l’actualite. The public know this, the civil service know this, our partners know this.

    This darkens all our reputations.

  • I have no idea if any of that stuff on Cummings’ blog is even slightly reliable, but if it is, my God, why would Clegg want to remain in government? Clearly (assuming the stories are true, but maybe even if they’re not) the Tories hold him in utter contempt, the coalition is internally unglued, and he is humiliated at every turn. Why shouldn’t he extract his head from the pillory with as much dignity as he can muster?

  • Shaun Cunningham 23rd Jun '14 - 7:46am

    Must be positive here but it’s very hard when Sir Menzies Campbell is simply another part of the leadership not listening but more than that I take the view Sir Menzies Campbell doesn’t have a clue what the doorstep is saying. And yet on we travel to another calamity in 2015.

    There’s a quote from the article in the Guardian which I find is so relevant:

    “, where we had 60-plus councillors, we’re down to three. It’s not just the councillors you lose, you lose all the political infrastructure. So you lose the deliverers, and the fundraisers and the organisers and the members of course. All that will have to be rebuilt.”
    May I ask who is going to do that, well I tell everyone , us the membership the very same membership who are not being listened to Now.

    The points is ones creates a condition where your not able to function .

    My message to Sir Menzies Campbell and the leadership remove yourselves from the Westminster bubble and accept my invitation to come to Fareham and knock a few doors with me and allow me to demonstrate the points I am making not just on this article but others.

    Guardian article
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jun/22/nick-clegg-toxic-on-doorstep-nice-guy-lord-storey

  • Paul in Wokingham 23rd Jun '14 - 7:50am

    @Mark and @Bill – indeed. It has now reached a point where every declaration of loyalty to Clegg immediately begs the question “why is this person saying this?”.

    Listening to Liberal Democrat politicians and party officers talking about Clegg has become a surreal experience involving elements of cryptic wordplay and doublespeak.

  • Cummings is not a reliable witness. Political reporters know this, and they know he was kicked out of the DfE because his behaviour was so awful. They only report him because they like to cause mischief, and don’t much care for reasoned criticism as it doesn’t make headlines.

    None of this means Nick Clegg or the Coalition are doing a good job though.

  • Bill le Breton 23rd Jun '14 - 8:26am

    The public are much wiser that those who inhabit the Westminster bubble ever given them credit for. They have sussed this man Clegg out. To them he plays fast and loose with L’actualite. He darkens all our reputations. Cummings calls his and Cameron’s approach to politics, uber punditry. The public get this too. Everything is today’s story. It is weather vane politics. It starts with a commitment to allow schools to make profits, or measures to privatised the NHS or make universities self funding, then the public cry out against it and everything is denied and amended, and they think they can yet away with it, but only because they think of the public with contempt. That is why he will continue to damage the reputation of liberalism for two generations.
    There are those enthralled. There are those too frightened. Then there are those of us working for change because we champion freedom from conformity and dependence and exploitation of power that should he the people’s .

  • Charles Rothwell 23rd Jun '14 - 9:26am

    It (Clegg’s departure) is not in my view going to happen before May 2015 for two reasons and they are exactly the same ones which kept Brown in office long after it was totally clear to everyone that he was a total disaster and was leading his party to abject defeat. Firstly, there is no viable alternative who has stated anything indicating any willingness to take over at this stage (such as Cable as a stop-gap until post-May 2015 or, in my view, the man the Party really needs, Tim Farron). Secondly in the same way as Brown was surrounded by people who had invested everything in him in terms of their political careers (E. Milliband, Balls, Cooper etc), there was no-one to tell him bluntly what the objective situation was. Clegg has got two past leaders (Ashdown and Campbell) (plus others like the author of the article) telling him that, like Nixon, he just needs to hunker down, hold on, not be a ‘quitter’ and everything will be fine in the end as the Party will retain sufficient seats (even though, on current figures, it is likely to end up with half the voters of the Kippers) to allow it to hang onto power in another hung Parliament so everything really will be fine once again. My personal hope is that someone, somehow (Cable and Farron together?) can burst through the bubble, lay it on the line that the Party (which, as Disraeli said, is always bigger than any one individual ever is) is very likely facing an existential crisis as May 2015 looms ever closer and that, while it is now too late to go through all the rigmarole of a leadership contest, he needs to announce (as Blair did pre-2005) that, whatever the outcome of May 2015, he will be standing down (“having done more to make the LDs a real party of government than any other leader since Sir Archibald Sinclair…” etc.), ascending to the Lords or Brussels or wherever and allowing a leadership contest to be held immediately afterwards. I very much doubt if such an announcement is going to have a negative impact on LD voting intentions (which, at somewhere between 7 – 10% indicate we are down to ‘rock-solid core support’ in any case) but could actually go some way to persuade some people (e.g. young voters faced with Milliband’s and Reeves’ “we’re as tough as the Tories on 18-25 year old ‘scroungers'” and ones who cannot after all stomach voting Labour) (PFI, Iraq, targets culture etc etc etc) to actually give us a/another go after all and who are never, ever going to opt for “more of the same” of many aspects of the last four years.

  • Kevin White 23rd Jun '14 - 9:50am

    Btw, one of the three seats in Richard Kemp’s Church Ward fell to Labour this year.

  • Helen Tedcastle 23rd Jun '14 - 9:55am

    Bill le Breton

    ” Cummings calls his and Cameron’s approach to politics, uber punditry. The public get this too. Everything is today’s story. It is weather vane politics. It starts with a commitment to allow schools to make profits… then the public cry out against it and everything is denied and amended, and they think they can yet away with it, but only because they think of the public with contempt…”

    If Cummings is to be believed on profit-making schools, then this is toxic for Clegg. The problem is that Cummings is not someone I think can be trusted – he holds most people in complete contempt – except himself and Michael Gove. If Clegg stopped Cummings from introducing ways of assessment of children using evolutionary biology, in order to identify the uber-elite, then Clegg was right to do so.

    However, there is no doubt in my mind that what has gone on at the DfE in the last four years is part of what you describe as “playing fast and loose with the actualite” and what I regard as the systematic undermining of the concept of a broad, liberal and democratically-accountable education. Dark indeed.

  • Bill le B and Paul in W both are spot on.
    Paul says – Listening to Liberal Democrat politicians and party officers talking about Clegg has become a surreal experience involving elements of cryptic wordplay and doublespeak.

    But more importantly Bill makes reference to the revelations by Cummings —
    Of far greater importance is the witness of Dominic Cummings. People should read his piece Hollow Men.
    Here is the link —
    http://dominiccummings.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/a-few-responses-to-comments-misconceptions-etc-about-my-times-interview/?utm_content=bufferd535c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    I agree Cummings is a duff witness. But it is not what he intends to put across which is revealing. It is the background information. Like the movements of a secret service man at the back of a photo-opportunity, it tells you more about what went on than the smiles of the principles in the foreground posing for the camera.

    In particular this bit from Paragraph. 8. —-

    ” No no no! I very much opposed any talk in No10 of profits. Given my views of the competence of Cameron and his team, do you really think I wanted them to try to voucherise the school system and allow profits?!
    No way Jose. I think that if Cameron were to promise that his next government would allow profit-making schools (doubtless as an unthought out move to keep ‘the Right’ happy), it would be a disaster both for the Conservative Party and the idea of for-profit schools. 

    …….Clegg’s advisers, Reeves and Astle, did argue for profits.

    Clegg’s ‘I stopped Gove from doing profits’ speech was pure invention, dreamed up by Reeves in summer 2011, and was even more dishonest than a straight lie given his own and his advisers’ views.]

  • Charles Rothwell 23rd Jun '14 - 10:07am

    Caracatus:
    I agree re the £800.00 tax cut. It cuts no ice with low earners struggling with fuel bills etc, those of working age claiming any form of benefits, people with children etc and needs to be targeted much more. I have no facilities for number crunching but I would imagine that fixed income pensioners (key voting group) could be a such a likely group (once fuel increases etc have been taken into account?) (and while they (still) have their bus passes, TV license fee reductions etc.)? (I also agree that ‘tuition fees were Clegg’s Iraq’ and nothing can change this (as Blair also needs to accept instead of popping up at every opportunity, still desperately (and forlornly) trying to convince people he was right in 2003. “Forget it, Tony. You are never going to manage it. Go and make (yet more) money on the US lecture circuit etc instead.”

  • So how comfortable are the MPs and Lords with this revelation? Let alone councillors or ordinary party members.

    “…….Clegg’s advisers, Reeves and Astle, did argue for profits.
    Clegg’s ‘I stopped Gove from doing profits’ speech was pure invention, dreamed up by Reeves in summer 2011, and was even more dishonest than a straight lie given his own and his advisers’ views.]. ”

    Some of our parliamentarians are former teachers, people who have given a lifetime to free state education may wonder what on earth Reeves and Astle were playing at.

    We do not have to believe just Cummings alone on this point.
    As Bill le Breton points out the wrangling in the DfE and also in Cabinet Office and elsewhere has other witnesses. Civil Servants, other SpAds, media types, speech writers etc.
    There is a problem for Clegg in maintaining secrecy on this and on other matters. He has had so many SpAds over the last four years, many of whom have now moved on. He no longer necessarily has any influence over what they reveal about what actually went on.

    It is not his enemies like Cummings that will point to the evidence. It is those people that he thought were his friends — but whose friendship was only as reliable as the salary at the time or the prospect of promotion that was never realised.

    Would anyone care to explain this —-

    “…….Clegg’s advisers, Reeves and Astle, did argue for profits.

    Clegg’s ‘I stopped Gove from doing profits’ speech was pure invention, dreamed up by Reeves in summer 2011, and was even more dishonest than a straight lie given his own and his advisers’ views.]. “

  • “We could lash out and have a go at Nick Clegg, he said, or decide we were going to sharpen up our campaigning ”

    Again some people think it’s the campagning and not getting the message across that’s the problem, when it’s the LibDem record in government and lack of trust that’s turning voters away. Perhaps if the LibDem campaigners worked as hard and sharp as their leaders did at Newark all will soon be well!

  • We have too many MPs not standing next time, including Ming. Having been made redundant myself you do come to accept what is happening and in the end quite enjoy the experience and move onto other fields. Somehow they have to be shaken into a reality for what it means for those who are left. At the moment that means virtually nothing, Many of these will inevitably be forced to move onto other fields.
    Nearly everyone accepts that Clegg will go after the elction results are in, there is no further coalition with 9 – 10 – 15 MPS, so it makes practical, reasonable and common sense for him to go now.
    We have a visitor at the moment, she knows I am writing this. She voted Lib Dem last two general elections, says she wants to again but not with the leader. I just people in the Wesminster bubble would listen to these folk and in doing so help the rest of us.

  • A number of general observations.
    We see the same names again & again from the Anti-Clegg faction: Theakes, Bill Le Breton, John Tilley etc. Their numbers are small but they can shout.
    Those who want Clegg to go are willing to use any “evidence” against him even if it comes from open enemies of our Party.
    Theres a strangely parallel debate in Labour & critics of Milliband are making the same mistake. When voters say Milliband they mean Labour & when they say Clegg they mean Liberal Democrat. Attacking the leaders is a way of saying things about their Parties.

  • Shaun Cunningham 23rd Jun '14 - 12:44pm

    Good afternoon Paul baker

    May I throw it back at you, we see the same names again and again supporting Nick Clegg. Expressing their individual thoughts which has no relationship to the problem the part faces in the ground. Do you knock doors?

    We who criticise Nick and asking him to put the party first are not enemies of the party which is clearly your observation but we genuinely wish to see this party move into a winning mode.

    It’s not just the councillors you lose when the party is in decline, you lose all the political infrastructure. So you lose the deliverers, and the fundraisers and the organisers and the members of course. All that will have to be rebuilt.”
    May I ask who is going to do that,, are you going to? How are we going to run a effective election machine next May, perhaps one built on hope and pray.

    When you say attacking their parties, when one can’t challenge the party direction without being labelled troublesome I believe it shows how uncomfortable the other side are. The polls are saying clearly now we are on the fringes of the political debate, shouldn’t a leader take some responsibility for that, so again throwing it back at you, tell me why Nick Clegg shouldn’t do the right thing and move over.

  • Helen Tedcastle 23rd Jun '14 - 12:49pm

    @ paul barker

    Aren’t you one of a small number of serial defenders of the leadership on here? Uncritical adulation of leaders is not something Liberal Democrats do, as we’re thinking people on the whole.

  • paul barker suggests that criticism of the leadership is confined to one or two insignificant people.

    Has he forgotten ?  —

    Stephen Tall – editor of LDV –
    http://stephentall.org/2014/05/28/why-i-am-one-of-the-39-of-lib-dem-members-who-thinks-nick-clegg-should-stand-down-as-leader/

    Liberal Democrat peer – Lord Smith of Clifton
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nick-clegg-is-dead-in-the-water-and-should-be-sacked-says-senior-lib-dem-peer-lord-smith-9509789.html

    Mark Valladeres – all round good bloke –
    http://liberalbureaucracy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/dear-nick-would-you-mind-awfully.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/VrQv+(Liberal+Bureaucracy)

    Not to mention over 400 Liberal Democrat members who within a week of the local election results disaster had signed an open letter calling for a fresh leadership contest before the 2015 General Election, including: —

    53 Councillors, including 3 Group Leaders
    47 former Councillors
    71 former Council Candidates
    10 Local Party Chairs
    3 Prospective Parliamentary Candidates and 28 former Parliamentary Candidates
    2 former Welsh Assembly candidates, a former Scottish Parliament candidate, a former Member of the Scottish Parliament and a former Member of Parliament

  • Stephen Hesketh 23rd Jun '14 - 1:22pm

    paul barker23rd Jun ’14 – 12:07pm “A number of general observations. We see the same names again & again from the Anti-Clegg faction”

    Somewhat rich comment Paul, even for you. You are to be congratulated on your selective use of facts and use of statistics. I know you have a full time task, not to mention up hill struggle in constantly defending NC so suppose your moaning tactic is to have us silenced on this thread and other threads also.

    How about some ‘pairing’? I won’t post on Clegg if you don’t?

    Maybe we could keep going with the pairing idea and see which side was left posting at the end of the process?

  • paula keaveney 23rd Jun '14 - 1:44pm

    Several points about the actual content of the post (!). It is certainly true that in Liverpool, as in some other places, we can do with freshening up some of our campaign techniques. We did get too reliant on leaflets (for example) for a while. Richard K is right to be keen to make sure we look at whether we are doing the right things in the right ways. But you also have to be able to say the right things. Locally in Liverpool, as in many other places, we have a lot of right things to say. However anyone who has observed even one local election will know that people vote on a mix of things and that mix includes usually a heavy dose of “how they feel about the party generally or nationally”. It doesn’t matter how sharp you are locally if people’s first reaction is that you are an evil Lib Dem because of doing a deal with the Tories. Now we were always going to suffer more than most from that in Liverpool, but I don’t think anything prepared us for the series of own goals our national party has made. And the leader (as in the national leader) must take responsibility for that. I often feel that many of our MPs say things and take actions as if there are no consequences for anyone else. As it happens Lord Storey did not say that Nick Clegg was toxic. He said that some may say he is toxic (something he would remember hearing at our Liverpool exec meeting only the week before)

  • If the Nick Clegg critics can’t come up with a viable alternative as a leader or reasons as to why they would do any better, I don’t see why they continue to bother posting.

    They don’t have any positive, concrete proposals to make so my only conclusion is that they don’t have our party’s interests at heart.

    Put simply: what on earth do you think you are up to?

  • And before anyone says it, yes, elsewhere I have suggested Charles Kennedy should come back, but so far I don’t think he’s taken the bait, nor is he likely to given the current silence on the matter.

    Charlie, are you out there? If you are, drop us a line.

  • matt (Bristol) 23rd Jun '14 - 1:56pm

    Look, for what it’s worth I think there are a competing set of principles here, which add up to one mighty political mess for the party:
    – Nick Clegg has taken the party into government and got (some of) the Liberal Democrat agenda into law for the first time as a (semi-) active governing agent at national level. This is an achievement; he was not obviously the only player in this and not all the credit is his, but he shares in it.
    – Nick Clegg has been seen by many in the party before and after the 2010 election as force for a more ‘right wing’ agenda in the country and the party and the fact of coalition with the Conservatives has not done anything to dissaude them of this (reasonably so)
    – Whilst many in the paryt would prefer coalition with labour or no coalition at all, we are where we are; I don’t thinkk that there are many people seriously proposing that deals with Brown before or after the 2010 election would have been very likely or workable.
    – Nick Clegg was up until recently generally a reasonable advocate of many of the party’s agendas and priorities and got a fair hearing for the party in many circles after a period in which it had too many changes of leader and was being portrayed as full of infighting and distrust.
    – Nick Clegg (as Mike Storey points out) has lost this trust and the ability to shape his own narrative; the unspoken pact with the electorate and the media and (to an extent) with his own party that might make him able to be effective leader is either squeezed (if you take a positive view) or gone ( and is never to return, if you take a negative view of the situation).
    – Nick Clegg, as a serving MP and the serving DPM, with many who still respect and trust him in the party, even if they were proven to be a minority, has the opportunity to make life very difficult for the party as an unwilling ejectee; (look up your history – I’m thinking Roseberry, Asquith, Lloyd George, Roy Jenkins, Churchill and Ted Heath levels of ‘ongoing sulk and intriguing’ here.)
    – David Cameron, as a serving PM, who did a deal with Nick Clegg and apparently still feels he can work with him, has the power to make the party’s life equally difficult if his DPM and co-coalitionist is dragged out form under him or undermined by the party’s resentment of Clegg’s lack of power to shape the agenda, or even by Clegg’s own honourabel resignation (which no-one seems to feel is coming).
    – Nick Clegg as a coalition broker in 2015 (if that option remains to us, which we cannot predict) does not inspire many in the party and may not persuade many people either in the country or in parliament; but we have no evidence that anyone else would, if the party is split because Nick Clegg was defenestrated.

    …er, that’s it, that’s the problem. I don’t know what the answer is but it isn’t going to be simple, and the angrier you all get, it isn’t going to solve it until you split the party which would be a disaster.

  • Matt (Bristol). — “……er, that’s it, that’s the problem. I don’t know what the answer is but it isn’t going to be simple, and the angrier you all get, it isn’t going to solve it until you split the party which would be a disaster.”

    Matt would you acknowledge that in reality the party was split (almost exactly 50–50) when Clegg was elected leader?

    Even if you turn a bind eye to all his other failures, he has clearly failed to unite the party in seven years as leader.

    Tens of thousands of members have left the party. Millions of voters have stopped voting for the party.

    It is the voters that are angry. It is the voters that are angry with Clegg.

    The polls tell us that and more importantly the election results tell us that.

    It matters not one jot if “a few insignificant people” in this thread are angry.
    It matters what the voters think, say and do.
    Given the opportunity to vote for the party of Nick Clegg most people last month chose to vote Labour, Conservative, UKIP, SNP, PC and Green.
    That is why those parties have lots of MEPs and the Nick Clegg dominated campaign produced just one MEP.

  • Jonathan Pile 23rd Jun '14 - 2:38pm

    Labour is having the same debate at the moment about the unpopularity of their leader Ed Miliband. The difference is while the public are lukewarm about Miliband, they are boiling with anger and contempt with Nick and this is preventing them from voting Lib Dem – hence “Toxic” – The Conservatives suffered from the same toxic syndrome from 1997-2010.
    When Major replaced Thatcher he went on to win a surprise election, by reconnecting with the voters. But it took a change of leader.

  • RC, there are very viable alternatives, but it up to the Parliamentary Party not us, the leader has to come from there. If you recall Lib Dem Voice did conduct a survey of preferred candidates a few weeks ago.
    There is always an alternative, nobody is irreplaceable. We have to think of the party over the next few weeks and months and by sticking with what we have we achieve absolutely nothing, just more appalling election results, constituency parties crumbling or in bits, whilst the Undertaker continues to take us all with him into the abyss..

  • matt (Bristol) 23rd Jun '14 - 3:40pm

    John, the phrase ‘insignificant people’ is not mine; I don’t think you intended to attribute it to me, but your phrasing might suggest to some that you meant to.
    I acknowledge Clegg has failed to unite the party, but we also need to recognise that Chris Huhne, the only other candidate at the time of the last election (when I was not a member) is not in politics and has since spent time in jail. He doesn’t in retrospect seem like he would have been a great alternative.
    I’m just arguing for a pragmatic, rueful, collective recognition that there are no perfect choices and no silver bullet here.
    Nick Clegg is not a genius we should defend at all costs; ousting Clegg is not a magic solution we should seek at all costs.
    Give me a vote and I would vote against Nick Clegg, in, I’m guessing, most circumstances I can envisage (unless you’re putting up Jeremy Browne as the only alternative).
    I recognise that people are both angry and passionate, but the party divides ever further the worse the name-calling from all sides continues and I don’t care or know who started it or wish to start trying to work it out.
    As someone else has pointed out, the parallels with Gordon Brown’s leadership of Labour are inescapable, but I can see exactly why and how that played out the way it did. I don’t know how this is going to play out for us, but I think the playing of it is going to be long and hard.

  • Jonathan Pile 23rd Jun '14 - 4:09pm

    No one is denying that Nick Clegg is a nice guy, but he is toxic to the voters and to change leader now is “not walking away” from the coalition, or the hard choices we made. However there was nothing in the coalition agreement which locked us into keeping Nick Clegg, and nothing which meant we couldn’t set out a non-Tory agenda for 2015-2020. Clearly if there is another hung parliament, (and I suspect this will not be the objective of the voters in 2015 compared to 2010) it will be the result of any side being able to command the voters support in sufficent numbers to claim any mandate. The ONE thing which will save the party in 2015, is a united party unifying behind an authentic leader advocating true policies and a truthful narrative about the victories and defeats of the last 5 years. Alternative leaders are standing loyal to Clegg but if he stood down, the party could quickly find better leaders to take us forward

  • Steve Griffiths 23rd Jun '14 - 5:13pm

    @matt

    “I acknowledge Clegg has failed to unite the party, but we also need to recognise that Chris Huhne, the only other candidate at the time of the last election (when I was not a member)”.

    Well I was a member then and I didn’t vote for either of them; they just seemed so similar in economic outlook. Oh sure Huhne tried to add a bit of ‘green gloss’ because he thought it would go down well with the then rank and file Lib Dem members, but I wasn’t fooled.

    “I recognise that people are both angry and passionate, but the party divides ever further the worse the name-calling from all sides continues and I don’t care or know who started it or wish to start trying to work it out.”

    The Liberal Movement is already badly divided, I’m sad to say. There are many of out here that have left and/or ‘down-tooled’ and just waiting for change. We have not joined any other party because WE of the libertarian left have no natural home currently, where once we were mainstream. I will not come back until NC has gone. My local constituency is pretty moribund and the membership seems (with a few exceptions) to have forgotten how to campaign. My own ward used to have Lib Dem district councillors with majorities in three figures. When I left I wrote to them to say they could have all the canvassing records I possessed in the ward, going back years (with all the stationery etc.), no one came to pick it up – I still have it all. I am prepared re-join and to once more to tramp the streets, run the ward, and ‘shock’ the constituency into life if necessary, but as I say I will NOT do so until he has departed.

  • matt(Bristol)
    You are right that some of us are passionate about the future of the party.
    The party leader should recognise that the party is what matters and not his personal chance to cling on to the trappings of power.
    The trappings of power is all it could be if Clegg manages to cling on.
    Nobody suggests that there will be more than 45 Liberal Democrat MPs. More than 30 MPs seems unlikely.
    Clegg himself will be even more of a lame duck after an election than he is now.

    You said — ” Give me a vote and I would vote against Nick Clegg,, …..(unless you’re putting up Jeremy Browne as the only alternative). ”

    The evidence of the Cummings revelations (earlier in this thread) shows that Clegg Thatcherite beliefs are very much in line with Browne.
    The only difference is that Browne has now come clean about his Thatcherite beliefs whereas Reeves wrote speeches for Clegg to pretend the opposite.

    It is not just that Clegg is not a very good leader, or that he is toxic with the voters. it is not even the fact that he lied, it is the fact that he is in the wrong party.

    His belief (now revealed for all to see) that state schools should be sold off (initially by stealth) is a Conservative Party approach that has no place in a Liberal or Liberal Democrat philosophy.
    No Liberal leader since Gladstone’s education act in 1870 has believed that education is something that should be bought and sold in the market place like some cheap commodity

    Clegg’s pretence that he is against this sell off is now shown to be a cynical ploy.
    We are told that —
    ” Clegg’s ‘I stopped Gove from doing profits’ speech was pure invention, dreamed up by Reeves in summer 2011 …. “

    You will note that nobody from Clegg’s diminishing number of apologists has sought to defend this nor even explain this.
    Perhaps even they are dismayed.

  • John Tilley – “His belief (now revealed for all to see) that state schools should be sold off (initially by stealth) is a Conservative Party approach that has no place in a Liberal or Liberal Democrat philosophy.

    Agreed. And although Cummings wrote only about education we see the same pattern in the NHS, secret (yes, really) “free trade” talks which are anything but, in civil liberties and so on.

    For me one of the many conclusions that flow from this has to be that the Lib Dem constitution is a total fail and needs a comprehensive make-over assuming that there is any party left after next May. The psychology that drives some to seek out leadership positions also makes them absolutely the last to understand when they have passed their sell-by date so there has to be a mechanism for showing them the door, politely and with as little blood as possible, but firmly. The alternative is to accept the Party is no more than a vehicle to deliver sundry individuals’ personal carer ambitions.

  • Caron. I would like to ask what the plan is to rebuild the party. I am not seeing one from Clegg.

  • @Paul Walter
    “Probably because they lost the will to live and decided that it is more fun to stick red hot pins in their eyes than read people droning on about Clegg.”

    Resorting to personal insults suggests that you’ve lost the argument.

    There seems to be a paucity of constructive defenders of Clegg.

  • LDV Comments Policy —
    ” We welcome comments from all our readers, whether you are a Lib Dem, a supporter of another party, or of none at all. We want to foster a good quality of discussion and debate … ….”

    Paul Walter —
    “….. it is more fun to stick red hot pins in .. eyes than read people droning on about Clegg.”
    Paul Walter must have a very peculiar concept of what qualifies as a good quality of discussion and debate.

    The Inconvenient facts about the state of he party —

    In Manchester and most of London and Liverpool we have been wiped out completely.
    We lost 42% of all the seats we were defending across the country
    In the West Midlands Region we were not able to put up any Liberal Democrat candidate in 50% of the seats
    We lost eleven out of twelve MEPs across the UK
    We are at rock bottom in opinion polls just 300 days away from the general election

    But please don’t say anything about this or  Clegg because Paul Walter say you are “droning on”.

  • Stephen Hesketh 23rd Jun '14 - 9:28pm

    Paul Walter 23rd Jun ’14 – 9:09pm

    I note that Paul Barker hasn’t posted on this thread since my offer of a ‘pairing’ silence with him. I will maintain my LDV silence re NC until Paul reposts on this topic.

    Would a similar arrangement be of interest to you also?

  • I’m having fun imagining Paul Walter’s canvassing style.

    PW: “Good evening, Mr Spiggott. I’m calling on behalf of the Liberal Democrats. Can we count on your support on Thursday?”
    Voter: “I used to vote Lib Dem but I’m really not keen on your leader.”
    PW: “Oh God, I’m losing the will to live here. I think it would be more fun to stick red hot pins in my eyes than listen to people droning on about Clegg.”
    Voter: “Oh. Can I just take a leaflet, then?”

  • There are plenty of other threads if people do not want to contribute to this one. A good quality of discussion should be the aim here.

    There is no need to denigrate those who want to discuss improvements to the party so that people can vote Lib Dem in the future.

    For those that do enjoy discussing the leadership, I would ask them if they see any kind of plan to rebuild the party from Clegg.

  • Jonathan Pile 23rd Jun '14 - 10:44pm

    @voter
    The first steps in a post-Clegg rebuild would be to get back the 500 candidates who dropped out in 2014. We need to reconnect with the 18-24 and 25-34 groups made so angry by tuition fees. First an admission that saddling a generation with a lifetime of debt was morally wrong even given the necessities of coalition. Secondly a recognition that parliamentary democracy as we have experienced it doesn’t work and that all parties need to reconnect. The public routinely engages in democratic voting for reality TV and talent shows and demands the same amount of democratic control through referenda. We need to use technology to find a way for people to make democratic choices as well as a selecting their wish lists. We need to return to the party of Charles Kennedy which set out simple broad narratives and simple popular centre left themes

  • Well actually I was asking if Clegg had put forward a plan. I am not aware of one.

  • I read or heard that our councillor tally on Liverpool City Council has fallen from 60 to 3 and it was implied this was because of being in coalition with the Conservatives.

    This is not the complete story.
    Liverpool elects by thirds. I think these are the figures but wikepedia gives different figures depending on where you look.
    After the 2003 election we had 63 councillors but that year we had net losses of 2
    2004 – 60 net losses 3 whole council up for election following a boundary review
    2006 – 56 net losses 3
    2007 – 53 net losses 4
    2008 – 46 maybe net losses of 5 wikepedia doesn’t say
    2010 – 33 net losses 8 (Labour gained 8 taking them to 47 and overall control)
    2011 – 22 Net losses 9
    By 2012 there were only 9 left having lost 13 without it being a normal election year!
    2014 – 3 net losses 6.
    Therefore in the annual elections 2011-14 we lost 15 councillors and 2006-10 we lost 20.
    This can’t be explained by us being in a national coalition government with the Conservatives, something more must have been going on. Perhaps someone from Liverpool would like to explain?

  • Michael BG – I am not from Liverpool, and there are several potential part explanations for this. It should be noted that this is not the only nadir in the long history of Libs and Lib Dems in Liverpool since the days of Sir Trevor Jones (Jones the Vote). However, in the figures you provide, it is noteworthy that the main losses have been since 2007. This is the claim, I think, that the slide was noticeable from that year, when Clegg became leader. It may also have a bearing, on activist feeling that there had been a local postal strike in the city at the time of the leadership election. It has been widely reported that the party disqualified quite a few postal votes, many of which were delayed by that strike, and that it is likely that a majority were for Huhne. I remember a fair level of complaint about the decision at the time.

  • Paula Keaveney 24th Jun '14 - 8:17am

    The figures for Liverpool are slightly incorrect as they do not take into account a few defections (out). In the 2012 elections for example we went from 20 to 10. One of our councillors died around that time which led to a by election which we lost putting us on nine. One of the defections prior to 2012 included an individual defecting on stage at Labour party conference. The other was someone who chose to become an independent. The figures also don’t acknowledge the change in total number of seats on the Council in 2004. However, nitpicking aside, we acknowledge that we were taking some losses prior to the Coalition. This is partly because Labour got better organised and we were in some cases defending seats we had even surprised ourselves by winning. Having said that, post coalition we began to lose seats that would normally be easily holdable. There was no lack in councillor work, or in most cases in campaigning. And the electorate hadn’t all moved house. The common factor is dislike of the coalition in Liverpool coupled with poor performance by our national leaders. Have you ever had someone spit at you when you were delivering an Xmas card? Some of my colleagues have. Now I don’t believe the party should run things through the prism of Liverpool or any other place with very particular circumstances. But I do believe that unless we wise up as a party and deal with this issue many or our urban areas will not see Lib Dem representation again for a very long time. And you know who loses out by that.. not Nick Clegg, or me.. it’s the residents who get the crappy “take what you get”service from Labour.

  • Paula Keaveney 24th Jun '14 - 8:23am

    Also I am not sure what the comment about 2012 not being a normal election year means! It certainly was. I lost my seat then.

  • matt (Bristol) 24th Jun '14 - 9:53am

    John TIlley:
    “You are right that some of us are passionate about the future of the party.
    The party leader should recognise that the party is what matters and not his personal chance to cling on to the trappings of power.”
    I think what worries me somewhat about some of your arguments is that you do not always seem to actively recognise that things will be difficult for the party in any case after Nick Clegg, whenever and however he goes, and it will be particularly difficult if he is forced out. This is not an argument to say he should not therefore leave, but we need all members (as well as the leadership) to be practical and pragmatic about the costs and gains of any action, and not allow entrenched passion to make all options equally impossible so that the party collapses in an impasse.

    Saying Nick Clegg should not ideologically belong in the party in the first place does not answer this point. Once you attack someone’s legitimacy to participate in the debate, you undermine the legitimacy of the debate itself.
    In this regard, the Oakeshott poll incident was a disaster for those who wished to see Nick Clegg leave smoothly with a degree of honour, as it surely enhanced his desire not to be forced out.

    Equally, those who are sick of hearing about Clegg, clegg, clegg, do need to recognise that this is the story and it is not going away, whether he stays or goes.

  • Those Liverpool figures show a loss of 10 councillors in the 3 years before Clegg became leader, and a loss of 50 councillors in the 6 years after he became leader!

  • matt (Bristol
    Your observation is correct —
    ” ….those who are sick of hearing about Clegg, clegg, clegg, do need to recognise that this is the story and it is not going away, whether he stays or goes.”

    Even before the May election resuts were out there was a media line being reported from the top of the party that they had “CIRCLED THE WAGONS” to defend Clegg.

    On the weekend of the election results Paddy and others who have the power to go onto the media and speak direct to members tried to trivialise opposition to Clegg. All that talk about cake etc from Paddy which just resulted in Paddy’s own reputation being diminished.

    Then we had the line that the distress from local councillors losing their seats was understandable but they should not turn their personal inadequacies into scapegoating Clegg. This missed the cardinal point that much of the criticism of Clegg was coming from places where we actually were still managing to win — Southport, Winchester, Gosport etc.

    Then we had the “Oh the criticism of Clegg is all whipped up by Oakshott and he is funding people to say nasty things because he is In league with Vince Cable.”.
    BTW — if you are reading this Lord Oakshott my cheque must have got lost in the post. Possibly it went the way of all that Moscow Gold that those of us who supported CND were supposed to be receiving.

    The most consistent line from those clinging on to Clegg is that nobody has ascended from heaven in a chariot of fire to be his obvious successor. This is perhaps the silliest argue,ent ofthe lot. During the last nine months this spurious question (usually from RC or paul barker) has been answered many times by many people but amnesia seems to set in amongst people who don’t put forward rational arguments or enter into genuine discussion.

    On another line you comment perfectly fairly that —
    “Saying Nick Clegg should not ideologically belong in the party in the first place does not answer this point”

    But recognising that point, helps to explain why he and those closest to him just don’t get it.
    They do not understand that they are going in the wrong direction because their’s is a different direction.
    If you believe that selling off schools and the NHS is a good idea, Clegg’s actions in pushing Gove amd Lansley to go further is logical.
    It only seems like venal betrayal or complete lunacy if you are a genuine Liberal Democrat.

  • ” ….those who are sick of hearing about Clegg, clegg, clegg, do need to recognise that this is the story and it is not going away, whether he stays or goes.”

    Indeed. This is the situation we’re getting into:

    There’s egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and Clegg; egg bacon and Clegg; egg bacon sausage and Clegg; Clegg bacon sausage and Clegg; Clegg egg Clegg Clegg bacon and Clegg; Clegg sausage Clegg Clegg bacon Clegg tomato and Clegg ….

  • matt (Bristol) 24th Jun '14 - 11:44am

    …or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and Clegg.

  • matt (Bristol) 24th Jun '14 - 11:51am

    John, we know that you wish Nick Clegg to leave the leadership or even the party and to go soon and you do not mind him not going quietly, and you feel this will benefit the party in the long term; do you at least acknowledge that Nick Clegg leaving the leadership, if it happens in a protracted and contentious fashion, may also damage the party, potentially fatally, and this may be why some of those who do not like him terribly much do not wish him to go just yet?

  • Jonathan Pile 24th Jun '14 - 12:02pm

    @Matt (Bristol)
    Let’s talk about your fears – is there any evidence that when a party at its lowest in the polls dumped the unpopular leader responsible for that poll rating – the party suffered for it with the voters? I”ll cite 2 examples of when a party dramatically recovered – when thatcher went in 1990 and when Gordon Brown took over from tony Blair. Major went onto win by being brave and reconnecting with the voters,brown went onto lose by being timid and insulting the voters.

  • Stephen Campbell 24th Jun '14 - 12:07pm

    matt (Britsol):

    The problem is that, with Clegg as leader, the electorate is not listening to him (and many Liberal Democrats are not listening to him, either). Nobody outside of the rump of this party cares one jot what you have to say. Not only that, Clegg is seen as an actual joke by most of the electorate. He is as tainted and a busted flush in the eyes of the voter as Gordon Brown was, if not more so. I read the comments on an article from the Huffington Post today about Clegg and I could not find one, not one positive comment about him or your party and these were from people right across the political spectrum. Rightly or wrongly, he is seen as a man who has not been truthful with the electorate; a man who promised “no more broken promises” and then broke a promise as his first act in government. He is a man who failed to fight his corner with the Tories, who ignored democratic votes at LD conference and gave the impression for years that the Coalition was a meeting of minds rather than a business-like deal. You can’t simply hope to go anywhere in politics with a man who is seen to be less trustworthy than a used car salesman.

    In 2015, the electorate will be asking “why should we trust you” and your party simply has no answers to that question while Clegg is leader. What would you say to someone on the doorstep who asked that question? Would you even have an answer to it? In the debates, all one of the other leaders will have to say is “tuition fees” and Clegg will have automatically lost. Like millions of other former Liberal Democrat voters, I will be voting for another party until the Liberal Democrats drop Clegg and return to the centre-left party you used to be. But seeing as how this party looks as if it’s been taken over by economic right-wingers who are ever so slightly nicer than the Tories, I don’t see that happening. I’m happy in my new home with the Greens.

  • matt (Bristol) 24th Jun '14 - 12:22pm

    Jonathon, I’m not talking about the polls. I’m talking about an overt or semi-overt split with an aggrieved and wounded Nick Clegg supported by Danny Alexander and David Laws voting against the new leader in the HoC, popping up all over telly to tell the pundits what we should have done and why we should respect his legacy, being courted by misheif -making Tories, and generally getting in the way. Think Ted Heath, think David Owen.

    This is, of course, a surmountable difficulty; but it is only overcomeable if the debate about Nick Clegg’s leadership is conducted with good grace. Returning to the original post (what?) this is where I agree with Caron – Mike Story makes a reasonable and measured point – the narrative of Clegg’s leadership is a difficulty for the party but he has good points; the word ‘toxic’ is everywhere, everybody gets the hump and the chances of resolution and a graceful departure recede even further into the distance.

  • I hope Clegg survives until the election because he IS toxic and I think he will limp on till then. But unfortunately for you the problem goes deeper and will outlast a leadership change. You support, seemingly uncritically the EU and de facto unlimited immigration through the free movement of labour. That is what is really toxic. Or did you not notice on the doorsteps in the Euro Elections?

  • matt (Bristol) 24th Jun ’14 – 11:51am
    “John, ……….do you at least acknowledge that Nick Clegg leaving the leadership, if it happens in a protracted and contentious fashion, may also damage the party, potentially fatally, and this may be why some of those who do not like him terribly much do not wish him to go just yet?”

    It is not in my power to prevent Clegg’s departure being protracted and contentious.
    It is in Clegg’s power but he prefers to watch the party sink.
    The damage has been done, is being done and the damage will continue to get worse whilst the rump clings on to Clegg.
    Which is why, in acknowledging the point you make, I think that you and others are completely wrong to imagine for a moment that damage to the party could be any worse.
    Clegg is the concrete boots on body of the party which has been thrown into the ocean. Waiting until we hit the bottom of the ocean before we remove the concrete boots and in the meantime saying swim harder and pretend you are not drowning is not going to work.
    This point was made by Andrew Neil in the interview with Ming Campbell. Andrew Neil not unreasonably pointed out to Ming that his replies were exactly the same as people like him have been making for 18 months or more and the voters are just not listening. Ming’s “well we will have to try to make them listen” answer was as convincing as Danny Alexander telling the BBC results programme on 22nd May that “Nick is a fantastic leader and has had a wonderful campaign in this election”. Both of them displayed the ‘rabbit in the headlights’ expression of a politician on auto-pilot when an interviewer mentions a few inconvenient facts.

    Recognising the mess, removing the main cause of the mess, is a first step to survival of the party. Getting rid of Clegg is not a magic solution, there is no magic solution. Pretending that procrastination is really pragmatism, or waiting for the right moment, is self delusion. We have to take the first step. Delaying that first step will not make it easier.

  • matt (Bristol) 24th Jun '14 - 12:51pm

    Simon, UKIP will have all this to come in future, no doubt; Farage is not a bullet-proof genius who can find endlessly popular policy gimmicks for ever and your party has all the potential in place to go down this road too should events create the opportunity. The LibDems and their predecessor parties have recovered from crises of leadership and direction before.

  • matt (Bristol) 24th Jun '14 - 1:26pm

    John Tilley:
    ‘in the meantime saying swim harder and pretend you are not drowning is not going to work.’
    That is not what I am saying. If Nick Clegg can go now smoothly, it may possibly be to the benefit of the party (although Oakshott probably killed that option after the council elections, at least until after the GE). BUt what I am saying is that overheating your rhetoric in arguing for Nick Clegg to go, will not produce the outcome you seek.

  • But, Matt, it’s all very well saying this if Nick were going to “take the hint” and go. But all the signs since the Euro election are that he will not go. Sometimes, as the Tory party in the days of yore, someone in power has to be told to go. I know, from conversations I have had with people in the know over the last 2 – 3 years, how resistant many in Westminster are. They need to remember their support base is out in the country, and that it is disappearing, with or without the huge row you fear. There is an advantage to a huge row, of course, and that is that electors may well be more persuaded that there has been a fundamental change than if it is all nicey-nicey.

  • @simon

    What Matt said, plus the voters we lost from 2010 aren’t the same ones you’ve gained in 2014, really. Our voters generally see, or saw, the EU as being important in preventing the rest of our economy being outsourced to China or wherever ( leaving the EU replaces the challenge of mobile labour with the twin curse of mobile jobs and the return of the brain drain). They see the single market as being hugely important in maintaining access for our goods and services to customers who actually want to buy them and can afford to do so. And they generally see the EU as being the best way to end the race to the bottom on issues like the environment or corporate taxation.

    They’ve gone over to other parties because of a lot of mistakes that this one has made in coalition, but the great majority of them have gone to Labour or the Greens, not UKIP.

  • “This may sound fascetious, but it follows from what you have written. Is it impossible to be a genuine Liberal Democrat if we don’t agree with you, John?”

    No – it follows from what he wrote only that people who believe in selling off schools and the NHS aren’t genuine Liberal Democrats.

    It’s not that unreasonable for a political party to have some clear core values. If people can believe absolutely anything and still be Liberal Democrats, then Liberal Democracy becomes absolutely meaningless. If the public is saying “What do the Liberal Democrats stand for?”, then “Absolutely anything” is not going to be a very effective answer. (Though it’s marginally better than “Absolutely anything and Nick Clegg”)

  • matt (Bristol) 24th Jun '14 - 2:22pm

    And the disadvantage to the huge row is that Nick Clegg seems to take perverse pleasure in them and may well stay as long as he can just to prove that he hasn’t been forced out. That would be foolish, of course, and maybe he won’t do that.

    I just think that the tone in which a party conducts even its most awful, divisive and identity-defining debates gives the electorate a glimpse innto the kind of politics it wants to create in government. If we conduct our own debates badly and ill-temperedly, how can we deliver the new politics we say we want?

    Clegg is toxic to too many for this issue not to be addressed and debated. Divisive and acrimonious debate is toxic, too.

    Among those who have called for Clegg to go, there are those who recognise this. They are more likely to win the argument and convince the man they need to convince, than those who pllay into the potential for him to build a false belief that he is nobly and in good faith manning the ramparts against incoherent frothing loons who would skin him alive and destroy everything he has fought for if he lets them into the citadel. (Not that we have any frothing loons in this party of course).

  • Paul

    You’re muddling together two different questions:
    (1) Whether Clegg’s actions amounted to support for selling schools and the NHS
    (2) Whether saying true Liberal Democrats couldn’t support those particular policies is equivalent to saying “It is impossible to be a genuine Liberal Democrat if you don’t agree with me”.

    Regardless of the answer to question (1), the answer to question (2) is that the statements obviously aren’t equivalent. It’s just a silly straw-man argument. That’s what I pointed out.

    Neither you in your original comment nor I in my response expressed an opinion about question (1). If you want to discuss it now, go ahead, but as someone who is so sick of people “droning on” about Clegg, perhaps you should think twice before adding to the noise level.

  • Paul Walter

    Noone in the Liberal Democrats, including Nick clegg and his entire coterie want to sell off the NHS and schools.

    Not true.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/election/article-1269045/General-Election-2010-Nick-Cleggs-demand-NHS-broken-up.html

    Before he was leader, Nick Clegg explicitly said he wanted the NHS broken up and an insurance based system put in place.

  • Paul

    Well, if you thought that John was wrong in suggesting Clegg’s actions amounted to support for selling schools and the NHS, I wish you had said so in the first place, instead of producing the straw man.

    We may not agree that all discussions about Clegg are tedious, but I’m sure we can agree that the pointless and unnecessary ones are.

  • Is it possible to drone with one’s own petard?

    I am familiar with the phrase to be “hoist” with (or by) one’s own petard
    Have one’s plans to cause trouble for others backfire on one.
    [from Shakespeare’s Hamlet ( iii. iv. 207); 

    Paul Walter 23rd Jun ’14 – 6:38pm
    … is more fun to stick red hot pins in their eyes than read people droning on about Clegg.

    Paul Walter 23rd Jun ’14 – 9:09pm
    Paul Walter 23rd Jun ’14 – 9:40pm
    Paul Walter 24th Jun ’14 – 12:26pm
    Paul Walter 24th Jun ’14 – 12:26pm
    Paul Walter 24th Jun ’14 – 2:50pm
    Paul Walter 24th Jun ’14 – 3:54pm

  • Stephen Campbell 24th Jun '14 - 5:33pm

    @Paul Walter: “You and John Tilley appear to be hastily rewriting the Preamble to the Constitution of the party on the hoof.”

    At least they seem to believe in the preamble to your constitution. Clegg and your Parliamentary Party have completely ignored it for the past 4 years. You’ve definitely managed to enslave more people in poverty. I also find it funny how people such as you want total loyalty to Clegg when your own constitution proclaims that this party is against conformity. And when your voters expressed upset about this, we were branded “Labour Trolls” and told, in not so many words, that we should go elsewhere. Well, most of us have and that’s one reason why Liberal Democrats are often polling worse than the Greens!

  • paul barker 24th Jun '14 - 5:56pm

    Whoa ! Hang on chaps (it is overwhelmingly blokes); didnt those who want Clegg to go start a campaign aimed at Local Parties ? Didnt 24 Local meetings happen of which 2 voted for a Leadership challenge. Am I behind the times, have more Parties met since & voted to sack Clegg?
    It looks to me like the Party has spoken in which case this whole thread is pointless.

  • Tony Dawson 24th Jun '14 - 7:16pm

    @JohnTilley

    ” Both of them displayed the ‘rabbit in the headlights’ expression of a politician on auto-pilot when an interviewer mentions a few inconvenient facts.”

    Bearing in mind that there is a court case current in the US trying to establish that an animal is a legal ‘person’, I can see the rabbits suing if you persist in comparing them with certain politicians.

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Jun '14 - 9:10pm

    Paul Walter 24th Jun ’14 – 3:54pm

    “You and John Tilley appear to be hastily rewriting the Preamble to the Constitution of the party on the hoof.”

    Paul, setting aside what we can and can not achieve in coalition, if I felt for one minute that NC and his centre-right backers hadn’t totally abandoned the essentials of the preamble, I for one would not be calling for him to go.

    I was very struck by the preamble-inspired “Fairer Economy, Stronger Society” alternative to Clegg’s non-preamble Stronger Economy, Fairer Society rubbish that even UKIP could agree with as a sentiment.

    NC has lost the plot regarding a preamble-based Liberal Democratic future for our people

  • Tony Dawson
    If it comes to court I may be able to have some badgers as character witnesses.
    Assuming the next cull is as ineffective as the last one.

  • paul barker 24th Jun ’14 – 5:56pm

    Your ability to re-interpret or apply a gloss on statistics and your inventiveness in imagining what you would like to be the facts knows no bounds, does it?

    Can I suggest you look at Mark Pack’s blog which has something nearer an analysis of what has happened.

    Mark puts a different spin on it from the one that I might chose but he does at least present some facts. Whereas you seem to pick your desired result and work backwards or invent some numbers to justify the answer you first thought of. I can only assume that this does nothing for people who disagree with you , whilst irritating or disheartening people on your side of the discussion.

  • @ Tim & Paula Keaveney
    Thank you for the background.

    “Also I am not sure what the comment about 2012 not being a normal election year means! It certainly was. I lost my seat then.”
    It is my understanding that Liverpool elect “by thirds” therefore one year in four there are no elections and I assumed it was 2012. However looking at the figures again I see the years were 2005, 2009, 2013. Sorry for my mistake.

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