Opinion: Clegg has not betrayed us!

Many left-leaning liberals in the media are outraged at what they consider to be broken pledges on the part of Nick Clegg.

Johann Hari writes in The Independent, “In just a few days after the election, he cleared a space in his swanky new ministerial offices and staged a bonfire of his principles”.

Aside from the fact this article is laced with hyperbole (look carefully – barely a paragraph without some emotive language!), I can’t help thinking this is exactly not what the country needs.

I don’t mean that in a patriotic sense; I believe this country will operate perfectly well even if we don’t get behind our leaders in support. Thankfully we live in a pluralist state, and it’s not important to me that my fellow citizens are either “for or against” a given government.

No, the reason I am concerned is because we are heading towards one of the most exciting changes in a political system, a genuine maturing of our politics, and one that requires we all start to grasp the concept of what it means to have plurality in government as well as amongst the electorate.

This maturing of our political system is something we Brits have long desired, culminating in our outrage at the expenses scandal – a scandal that would never have grown to such an issue had it not been for the fact that one political party was allowed to govern the country unilaterally for 13 whole years. It is precisely our FPTP (First Past The Post) voting system that polarises the parties in the first place, and splits the electorate in two – a split, incidentally, that has in the last 13 years seen one party as the goodies and one party as the baddies. It’s a well-known and well-studied fact – an obvious and intuitive one – that two-party politics leads to long-term instability (make law, unmake law, make law) rather than a more slower, iterative style of policy-making.

Yet what are we going to do about it? Is our appetite strong enough for a mature politics?

When I read articles like Hari’s in The Independent, it worries me that we are more concerned about our leaders’ characters and personal pledges than we are about what they can do for politics itself.

Clegg, along with other Liberal Democrats, signed a pledge before the election. Before the coalition was formed, and before there was any possibility that he might be in a position to even govern. But this was a pledge of political policy, not of political principle.

And here is the basis of understanding a coalition. One must no longer think about pledges, promises, scandal and success, but instead one has to think of the hypothetical.

The hypothetical asks the question: “where would we be if the Tories had gained power, without the Liberal Democrats to temper them?”

The hypothetical asks the question: “where would we be if Labour were still in power?”

The hypothetical asks the question: “where would we be if the Liberal Democrats had won the majority in the House of Commons?”

When you look honestly at the answers to those questions, it becomes very clear why Clegg has not betrayed us in the slightest.

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148 Comments

  • Is this supposed to be funny?

  • So basically you are saying that the new politics that you envisage is one where we judge our leaders, parties, and policies by comparisons with the ‘other guy’. So as long as you can say, we are not as bad as the others, regardless of how bad that is, or how bad you are, that makes it ok. So new politics is hypothetical politics? I’m pretty sure that is not the new politics that the electorate thought they were voting for.

  • I’m sorry, but these are weasel words – as a Liberal Democrat voter I feel deeply let down and betrayed by Nick Clegg. not just on tuition fees but on many other issues, the latest to receive publicity being animal welfare, wildlife and the environment (see http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/the-great-animal-rights-betrayal-2132827.html ). On many of these issues we are seeing unfettered (‘Nasty Party’) Conservatism, despite the fact that the Conservatives did not win the election. For example, why is Nick Clegg and his fellow Lib Dems in Government not doing more to rein in the likes of the appalling Agriculture Minister Jim Paice?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 15th Nov '10 - 3:13pm

    “And here is the basis of understanding a coalition. One must no longer think about pledges, promises, scandal and success, but instead one has to think of the hypothetical.”

    This _is_ a wind-up, isn’t it?

  • Mike(the Labour one) 15th Nov '10 - 3:17pm

    As for AV- it won’t pass, and it’s the Lib Dems fault that it won’t. You chose to alienate the Labour people on the fence by linking it to the gerrymander, and you chose to set the referendum on a day when the Labour people who would have campaigned for it (like myself) will be busy with other elections.

    Electoral reform is dead because of the choices your party has made- Lib Dems don’t want it to pass they just want to blame Labour when it doesn’t.

  • People will not fall for this rubbish. The LibDems have already lost half their support (some polls put them on 10%). Most of their progressive supporters have fled, many to Labour. And it’s not likely they’ll be returning any time soon. The LibDems will probably now become a rather sad adjunct of the Conservatives. Maybe this is what Nick Clegg wanted all along.

  • It;s articles like these, that give the impression that LDV is now no more than just the LibDem equivalent of Pravda.

  • You misunderstand the point about the tuition fees pledge. It has nothing to do with coalition compromises and which party got how many seats. It was a personal promise by a candidate to their voters. It doesn’t matter which party won or is in coalition with which other party. Our MPs said to their voters “If I win I will do this”. The promise was not conditional on which party won, or if there was a hung parliament or not.

    Those MPs who will vote in favour of increasing fees will betray those voters who believed that promise and all those of us who believed that Lib Dems stood for something better than the sordid, selfish, self-aggrandizing politics of recent years.

    Clegg’s betrayal is that he is going to whip his MPs into breaking a promise, forcing those who stand by their principles of honesty and honour to be “rebels”.

  • @jayu This article was published under the heading of “opinion”, and the LDV is designed to give a voice to members of the party. To me that’s a pretty normal expression of bog-standard free speech, democracy in action etc. I’m not sure I understand your comparison with Pravda…

  • David Allen 15th Nov '10 - 3:39pm

    “This _is_ a wind-up, isn’t it?”

    I suspect it isn’t. It is the honest presentation of the author’s view that what matters about governance is its style, and that the death of two-party politics and the birth of permament coalition government is the prize we are on the brink of achieving. All far more important than things like jobs, access to education, not starving, not wrecking the planet, etcetera.

    Well, it’s not my view!

    And as to electoral reform, the best thing we could do to support reform would be to find an excuse to ditch this referendum asap. Because if we don’t, we shall lose, and we shall probably set back the cause of reform for decades. I can write the winning slogans for the No campaign now:

    “Who do you think should choose our next Prime Minister? The party which wins the election? Or the party which finishes third?”

    “Who do you think should choose our next Government? You the voters – Or Nick Clegg?”

  • @Sunny H

    ‘The Libdems attacked Labour for years for broken pledges and for betraying their values, and now the ‘coalition’ is used as an excuse to do the same.’

    Is that not the point of this article Sunny H? Coalition requires, by definition compromise, on policy (I disagree about values). A majority of over 100 MPs does not, and yet Labour did. If we had a majority, and broke the pledge, I would have quit the party. We do not. And we have beaten the Tories on some issues and not others. This is very different from Labour’s claim of being pragmatic despite the massive majorities.

    Now as it happens, I agree that tuition fees are a breaking of principle rather than policy (see the article Elaine Bagshaw and I wrote a little while ago), but at least make that argument rather than assuming it won.

    And need we remind ourselves of the founder of our modern liberalism, whose work still defines our party:

    ‘Their practical conduct as politicians necessarily partakes of compromise. Their demands and systematic aims must often fall short of their principles. But let them not therefore cut down their principles to the measure of their demands.’ – Mill

    @jayu, I think you are slightly unfair. Hypotheticals do, of course matter in decision making. And they are relevant. But the hypotheticals you use are purely negative, the hypotheticals used in the article are positve: They include a Lib Dem majority, which would [obviously] be a hopeful, positive, fair, progressive, and above all, wholly liberal and wholly democratic place.

  • “One must no longer think about pledges, promises, scandal and success, but instead one has to think of the hypothetical.”

    Beyond parody.

  • Oh, and Mike, the AV thing isn’t linked to the commitment to have equally sized constituencies, so vote it through if you can.

  • @Keith Day. I hear your point about those Liberal Democrat MPs who wish to stand-by their pledges, and how they may be forced into the position of ‘rebel’ however I do not believe this will happen. Liberal Democrats at their core are far better at accepting difference amongst their own than the other two main parties. Furthermore legislatures based on a more proportional representation of the electorate rarely operate official government whips. I don’t know, but I doubt Clegg will be very hard on the MPs in his party who choose a different route to his own.

  • And to clarify even further, I agree that the phrase: “One must no longer think about pledges, promises, scandal and success, but instead one has to think of the hypothetical.” is not a wise one, and I disagree. The pledges matter, the promises do, scandal and success obviously do (though is is nice alliterating rhetoric).

  • If the the lib dems dont get their heads out of the sand you will be wiped out,i was a lib dem voter but the more people come out with rubbish like this the less chance i will ever vote for you again,The more you try to bullshit your way out of the mess you have got into the deeper hole you are diging for your party,Please stop trying to defend the indefensible and work to bring back the party to positions and policies it had before 6th may,its not to late

  • Grammar Police 15th Nov '10 - 3:49pm

    @ Jayu “It;s articles like these, that give the impression that LDV is now no more than just the LibDem equivalent of Pravda.”

    Is it really? I thought it was a place where people could actually say what they thought? It may come as a shock to some of you, but some of us don’t actually feel that Clegg is evil incarnate. I’m not sure you appreciate the irony of your post, if you had your way LDV would be the equivalent of Pravda, just espousing one view (ie yours).

    @ Sunny, et al, I don’t full agree with the author of this post, but imo there is something slightly odd about people who purport to believe in pluralism, but who can’t see that a coalition is going to enact some things counter to the manifestos of each of the parties involved. On tuition fees particularly, the recent Guardian article showed that the Lib Dems planned to vote against increases in the cap, even when negotiating the coalition. However, since then they have decided to swap their opposition for influence on that policy.

    Now, you can argue whether that’s a good idea – would we rather a fully Conservative policy and Lib Dem MPs who abstain or vote against – or do you want to swap some votes in favour for some improvement in the policy? Not a decision I’d like to have to make.

    It’s not betrayal, it’s exercise of judgement – which may yet prove to be bad.

  • @Mat Smith

    Yet we very rarely get articles offering the differing opinion. We know those differing opinions are prevalent among LibDem members, surveys tell us this. I feel this is why the comparison to Pravda is valid.

  • @Henry @Peter etc. Of course the pledges, promises, scandal and success matter. (Although thanks for noting the alliteration – glad it wasn’t completely lost on the audience!)

    Brits are obsessed with scandal to the point that they often can’t see past it. (And I do believe this is something pedalled by our media.) Yes, the expenses scandal, for example, was terrible, shocking, and the rest of it. But it was nothing compared to, for example, some of the foreign policy decisions our previous government had made.

    In summary yes the scandals and the broken promises are important – I thought it was terribly obvious I wasn’t stating the converse, actually – but my point is that they matter now far less than the future of our political system itself.

  • @Grammar Police: “It’s not betrayal, it’s exercise of judgement – which may yet prove to be bad.”

    I agree it may yet prove to be bad – I’m just a little more optimistic and dearly hope it won’t!

  • If Nick Clegg (and the leadership) told me that water is wet I’d jump into the sea to check, in terms of trust Nick Clegg is neck and neck with Blair and the Nigerian Prince who wants to send me lots of cash for tax purposes

    Anyone want to take bets on what the next article on LDV will be? my money is on ‘ Opinion:Von Münchhausen really did travel to the Moon’

  • Among the definitions of the word, betrayal, two in particular stand out.

    1. to break (a promise) or be disloyal to (a person’s trust)

    2. to disappoint the expectations of; fail

    I would say Clegg ticks both boxes. Therefore, betrayal seems to be the word most apposite.

  • coldcomfort 15th Nov '10 - 4:08pm

    OK so let’s agree for the sake of argument that all the mud that is being hurled at the Lib Dems in Government is 100% justified. How in the name of whatever you choose to believe in can you possibly believe that the Labour Party is the place to go? Right now Lib Dem supporters may feel they are firmly between a rock and a hard place but the only choice is either to stick with it & hammer our leaders when they get it wrong, or go & join the Greens, or quit any interest in politics altogether. But to support Labour as an option for disaffected LibDems just beggars belief.

  • Emsworthian 15th Nov '10 - 4:18pm

    It’s obviously irrelevant that David Cameron’s current approval rating +8 while Nick’s is -14.
    Now we’re grown-up mature politicians and helping to save the nation we’re not interested in such fripperies.
    And lets’ forget all that pledges stuff-It’s all in the past. If you don’t like join the Greens!

  • The hypothetical asks the question: “where would we be without really silly self deluding articles such as this one?”

    Answer – Reality

  • Wow. Just…wow.

    The amount of self-deception and self-delusion among some LibDems is just absolutely shocking. Your party is now scoring, on a regular basis, as low as 9-10% on voting intention polls. You’ve gone back on your election campaigns of slower cuts, no VAT increase, no more tuition fees, and protecting the poor and vulnerable. And you’d rather have a tiny bit of power than defend your beliefs which enticed people to leave Labour and vote for you.

    The public will never trust you again. Your party and Clegg especially are nothing but a joke to anyone but the most sycophantic and die-hard LD voter. How you can tell us your new positions are “fair” is beyond me. How can you just go along with the Tories making those who did not cause this crisis pay while the bankers are still getting huge bonuses and boardroom pay? Next you’ll be telling us that kicking a disabled person and stealing their wheelchair is “fair” and “progressive”. Your policies now live in a place where I once would have thought to be against everything a Liberal Democrat believed in.

    The writer of this article is delusional. You can continue to commit political suicide if you want, even though most people here are warning you against it. Clegg is fast becoming a tragic shakespearean character and your party’s self-destruction would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that so many lives are going to be ruined by these cuts. Cuts that you told us did not need to be made right away. Cuts that hurt the poorest, disabled and students the hardest. It’s just sick.

    And to think I voted for this sham of a party. Never, ever again.

  • @nige Thanks Nige for the illuminating points you have made thus far! I’d actually be really interested to hear exactly what you thought about the arguments put forward in such a way that might benefit the discussion. Perhaps some kind of detailed analysis? I’d be happy to respond in kind.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 15th Nov '10 - 4:37pm

    “This isn’t a matter of Coalition compromises or the manifesto. As you say, the personal pledges were “not conditional on which party won, or if there was a hung parliament or not”.”

    People seem to forget that the pledge wasn’t a Lib Dem campaign. On the contrary, it was organised by the NUS and supported by candidates from all parties, including 17 Conservatives – several of whom were elected. The full list of what the NUS describes as “signees” is here:
    http://www.nus.org.uk/News/News/1500-candidates-across-97-of-constituencies-sign-pledge-to-oppose-higher-tuition-fees/

    Arguing that it’s OK for politicians to break a written promise that they made in order to get elected isn’t a manifestation of political maturity. Quite the opposite.

  • What utter rubbish.

    The pledge was signed with a realistic best case scenario of a hung parliament. No one expected the party to win outright, this was why it was a personal pledge.

    As for this nonsense about the benefits of plural politics. 60% of the electorate voted for a slower pace of cuts if plurality of process means such flagrant disregard for those who vote for you lets keep FPTP.

  • .
    A manifesto is a pact that a party enters into with the electorate, should it be elected as the government. Vote for us and this is what we’ll try to deliver.

    The signed promise was a pact that individual parliamentary candidates entered into with their constituents. Vote for me and this is how I’ll vote in parliament.

    Nick Clegg signed ‘The Pledge.’

    If he fails to to keep his side of the bargain at the tuition fees vote, he must resign his seat and there should be a by-election. This is a democracy. If citizens cannot use the ballot box,. then disorder follows.

    The same applies to all other pledge signatories

  • I’m always amazed by how loud are the voices of the dejected Labour voters who ‘lent’ their vote to the LDs. Perhaps I may tailor my writing in future to be a little more Labour friendly!

    @Stephen: “And to think I voted for this sham of a party. Never, ever again.”

    Was your LD vote supposed to be ‘tactical’, or were you genuinely sick of the governing Labour party? Next time, to avoid health problems, suggest voting for one’s own party.

  • I’m bored by the entire thing to be honest. People who I previously thought were sane and reasonable seem to be doing anything possible to avoid a serious debate on student finance.

    The truth is the NUS wish to introduce a system that would be even worse for low earners than the proposals they chastise the Lib Dems for supporting. Their “blueprint for student finance” speaks for itself – it would see graduates give up even more income, and it would see low earners having to pay more in total than the level that the tuition fee cap is set at.

    The NUS is creating a hysteria over the issue of student finance. That hysteria is going to do far more to damage the aspirations of working class students than the Coalition’s plans are.

    I should think anybody with an ounce of intelligence (and without a transparent political agenda to grind) would welcome the Browne Review recommendations over the status quo. Graduates on a low-income would be far better off under the proposed system than they currently are.

  • Coldcomfort : “OK so let’s agree for the sake of argument that all the mud that is being hurled at the Lib Dems in Government is 100% justified. How in the name of whatever you choose to believe in can you possibly believe that the Labour Party is the place to go? Right now Lib Dem supporters may feel they are firmly between a rock and a hard place but the only choice is either to stick with it & hammer our leaders when they get it wrong, or go & join the Greens, or quit any interest in politics altogether. But to support Labour as an option for disaffected LibDems just beggars belief.”

    Why? and when/if you explain will you talk about Labour as it is now

  • ‘And to think I voted for this sham of a party. Never, ever again’.

    Never -thats along time… but thank you for your past support.

  • @ Matt Smith
    You asked me for an analysis well fair enough but an analysis of what exactly, the hypothetical? I’m much more comfortable with reality and that reality is that the party which I’ve long supported, my entire adult life in fact is in deep sh!t caused by its own making or rather the leaderships making, it has nothing to do with Labour or with the Tories it’s to do with the electorate and its trust in the party.
    Articles such as this one will do absolutely nothing to address that, if anything it reinforces the opinion that the Lib Dems are nothing more than a bunch of charlatans, and that is something I find extremely maddening.
    However I do apologise if my previous posts seem to lack a certain respect it’s just that I can find little to commend it

  • Mike(the Labour one) 15th Nov '10 - 5:02pm

    @Henry: ‘Oh, and Mike, the AV thing isn’t linked to the commitment to have equally sized constituencies, so vote it through if you can.’

    It is in the Commons. Hence what I said- alienating people who were on the fence, needlessly antagonising Labour for no good reason. And it’s ‘equally sized constituencies’ based on a faulty measurement that will leave the poorest in mammoth constituencies due to chronic unregistration caused in large party by the Tories’ last attempt to game the system- the poll tax.

  • It’s not betrayal – more one wing locking the whole Party into a distinctly right of centre agenda. It is not inconsistent with Clegg’s actual approach before the election.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 15th Nov '10 - 5:02pm

    Athirat

    “I should think anybody with an ounce of intelligence (and without a transparent political agenda to grind) would welcome the Browne Review recommendations over the status quo. Graduates on a low-income would be far better off under the proposed system than they currently are.”

    But of course Browne does two quite different things:
    (1) it alters the thresholds that govern annual repayments, resulting in a scheme that is more progressive for graduates those on low salaries and
    (2) it shifts the source of a large part of university funding from general taxation to graduates, thereby significantly increasing the overall cost to most graduates.

    I imagine a lot more people would support the first of those in isolation, but the second is a question of principle about which even those with an ounce or more of intelligence may hold a variety of views.

    And there is still the problem that Lib Dem MPs (and others) have signed a promise to their electors that obliges them to vote against any increase in fees. You may well find it “boring,” but there it is.

  • Mike(the Labour one) 15th Nov '10 - 5:03pm

    *large part

  • @Matt Smith:

    Again, you just attack those who are upset with your betrayal as Labour people. As if that somehow makes it better. Well, it probably does in your mind.

    Look, who I voted for in the past does not matter. But, yes, I used to vote Labour but *their* betrayal of working-class people like me and Iraq meant that I stopped voting for them. Nick Clegg said all the right things to people like me in the election. He campaigned on several positions which he has now abandoned: slow cuts, no Tory VAT “bombshell”, protecting the disabled, no more student fees, etc. I could go on and on. You did not have to go into coalition with the Tories. You could have done the decent thing and kept your principles and let the Tories muddle through a minority government. But instead you traded your souls for a tiny bit of power. And I am the one who gets derided for expecting the party I voted for to KEEP ITS BLOODY PROMISES.

    This is not about Labour or who I voted for in the past. This is about how I voted in THIS election. I voted Liberal Democrat because their platform was more left of centre than Labour and Nick “no more broken promises” Clegg campaigned on fairness and compassion. He is now doing the opposite. If all you have to defend yourself is “Labour was like x” and “you don’t matter because you used to vote Labour” then you are now as morally bankrupt as New Labour. The only difference is they broke their promises over several years. It took Clegg less than six months. And one would think you’d try to keep all these people who switched from Labour to Liberal, but you seem to not care. Electoral oblivion will follow.

    And this anger, felt by thousands if not millions of people will eventually manifest itself in civil unrest. When a party says “we will do x” and then does the opposite then democracy has failed. All three partys are now beholden to big business and don’t give a shit about the average working man and woman. You no longer stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. You’ve become as callous and opportunistic as all the other parties. Clegg and co. are now habitually ignoring the wishes of most people who voted for them. Why else is the LibDem party scoring so low on opinion polls? When democracy fails, people turn to direct action. The protest last week was only the beginning.

  • Shrill vices from the left …shrill voices from the right.

    As a supporter of the Coalition I knew there would be very difficult choices to make, and I’m sure there will be even tougher times times ahead.If this means a wipe out for us – so be it – doing the right things & making compromises which leave you in bad places happen in Coalitions, espaecially as the smaller partner.

    That said this Government has not got us into an illegal war leading to thousdands of deaths ….. I will take no lessons from those who support those who when in Government did.

  • @AAS

    So I make that 57 LibDem MPs, 90 Labour MPs, and 3 Conservative MPs signed the pledge. Quite a large number, which with the support of others could easily defeat the policy. As long as the LibDems stick to the pledge they made.

  • I have been a Liberal / Liberal Democrat member, activist and voter since I was 18 (1989) and I think that this article is self-deceptive bilge. The Liberal Democrat ministers do appear to have ditched all principle for the sake of their nice big offices.

    I am not unrealistic. I do believe that coaliton politics (whichever other party / parties you work with) can not work without comprimise. But on every single issue Clegg et al have taken a stance that seems antithetical to what we fought for at the GE. And even on the central issue of electoral reform we have signed up to a very silly watering down that many of us think is worse than the current system. It makes me wonder what I have been wasting my life on for the last 20 years.

    There will be a steady erosion of people in the party if things carry on like this, each time we ditch something.

    Mat tried to redefine the terms of debate with his questions. Here is one for him – tell me which major policies have the Tories ditched to compromise with us?

  • Just one further comment. This forum is becoming increasingly tribal. People might like to reflect before ranting. Similarly Labour people might want to ask themselves the point of continually posting on here.

  • “Just one further comment. This forum is becoming increasingly tribal.”

    Yep, I reckon on four tribes to be exact, Tory, Labour, the left of centre LDs and the right of centre LDs, the most argumentative of the four is the Left of centre LDs as they feel most aggrieved (probably)

  • @Greenfield:
    “That said this Government has not got us into an illegal war leading to thousdands of deaths ….. I will take no lessons from those who support those who when in Government did.”

    Iraq was one of the reasons I left Labour for the Lib Dems. I always admired the LibDems’ principles, especially on Iraq. The Lib Dems always seemed to take positions that may not be popular, but are morally right. Which is why all that good will from people like myself is evaporating very, very quickly.

    No, you haven’t started an illegal war. Not yet. But judging from the amount of promises, er “comprimises”, made already, I’m sure if we decide to invade Iran the LibDems will blindly follow the Tories. I bet they’ll also try to explain to us why it’s “progressive” as well, just like cutting half a million jobs in bad economic times is now supposedly “progressive”.

  • Anthony:

    (2) it shifts the source of a large part of university funding from general taxation to graduates, thereby significantly increasing the overall cost to most graduates.

    If this is so controversial then I expect the NUS to abandon its support of a Graduate Tax. The Graduate Tax proposed by the NUS also shifts a larger part of university funding from general taxation to graduates – indeed, it does so to a greater degree than the Browne Review.

  • @Graham D
    @Stephen

    I feel you have both touched on what I consider to be the crux of the argument and I’d like to respond.

    Stephen writes, “You could have done the decent thing and kept your principles and let the Tories muddle through a minority government. But instead you traded your souls for a tiny bit of power.”

    This is why I asked the hypothetical questions. If we the Lib Dems ‘kept to our principles’ then yes we would be the ‘perfect’ party. Perfect, because those pledges would never have been tested in the real world. More to the point, however, this would have exposed an unstable government, and I believe we would most likely be having another general election, and who knows what would follow. I feel you contradict yourself slightly in your last paragraph where you depict the possibility of civil unrest. An stable government is the very thing that would prevent this should it ever get to that stage. Even if a minority government did manage to continue without dissolution, they wouldn’t get anything done. So this is how I see it: it’s not a matter of trading principles for power, but a matter of being pragmatic, for the very reasons of stability that you mentioned.

  • “Similarly Labour people might want to ask themselves the point of continually posting on here.”

    a) “Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone”
    b) Why do you not include other parties in your suggestion? There are at least 2 very tribal Tories that post on here.

  • @Greenfield
    “That said this Government has not got us into an illegal war leading to thousdands of deaths ….. I will take no lessons from those who support those who when in Government did.”

    But this government is likely to cause deaths due to the welfare attacks on the poor, sick and disabled. Is that OK?
    Stop accusing people who disagree of supporting Labour, I never voted for Blair and New Labour ever, i voted Lib Dem as I saw New Labour for what they are. this was confirmed when the first thing they did in power was to attack single mothers as the coalition is set to do now! take responsibility for your own actions for once.

  • Matt Downey 15th Nov '10 - 5:36pm

    I agree entirely. Good post.

  • @Matt Smith:
    “If we the Lib Dems ‘kept to our principles’ then yes we would be the ‘perfect’ party.”

    So tell me, then. What is the point in having principles if you’re just going to drop them at the first whiff of power? Why campaign and vote for a party in the first place if power comes first and principles and promises to the electorate come second? Are you saying it is ok for your party to believe in nothing so long as it has power? This makes no logical sense to me and makes a mockery of democracy.

    “An stable government is the very thing that would prevent this should it ever get to that stage.”

    Um, it has already gotten to that stage. The riots and civil unrest have begun. In addition, there are many groups across the country who are beginning to mobilise against the government. And more anger is being directed at the Lib Dems than the Tories, for the reasons I’ve given above. We know what to expect from the Tories. But we expected different and better from the Lib Dems. We put our hope in YOU and you took it and ran. Soon it will not be just the students marching. It will be the poor, the disabled, the redundant public sector worker and anybody else who is being made to pay for this crisis we did not cause. Last weeks protest was just the beginning. If you are surprised by the anger on here, try living in the real world where working people are reaching boiling point and all it takes is a tiny spark..

  • Nick (not Clegg) 15th Nov '10 - 5:37pm

    So “mature politics” is politics in which pledges made by poiiticians prior to an election should not be taken as any guide to what they will do if, after the election, they find themselves in office.

    A bit like mature fish really: it stinks

    I agree with Graham D. I first joined the Liberal Party when I was 20 (in 1962), so I really resent the implication that anyone who has the temerity to criticise the direction in which the party is curently travelling (if anyone can work out which direction that is, after so many U turns), must be a Labour supporter

  • vince thurnell 15th Nov '10 - 5:39pm

    You’re party are doing exactly what the Labour party did when in government. You’ve stopped listening to your voters and have taken the attitude that the party knows what best for the voters and if you keep telling yourself that, everything will be fine in the end. The reason you won so many Labour voters over to you (me included), was you promised a different kind of politics, one where the voters were listened to and what your politician told you would be the truth.

    In six months , Clegg has wiped that away and far from having a different kind of politics , we now have have a situation where a considerable amount of your voters that voted for you for the first time feel more betrayed than they did by the last government (and thats some achievement). You can keep harping on about the same old stuff about , Labour did this and Labour did that. But these people didnt vote Labour , they voted for you and in return they expected they new type of politics you promised. Instead they see a party that is trying to convince itself what Clegg is doing is right by switching off to the outside world and telling each other everything will be alright in the end.

    I daresay , this post will now result in me being called a labour troll . That assertion will be right after the next election as i certainly will be voting for them but at this moment i’m unfortunatley still a Lib Dem voter.

    You people really need to wake up and see whats going on in the real world, your party is becoming more despised by the day and unless you do something about it other than shutting the door and hoping it all goes away your party will be finished forever and that to me is not good for british politics despite who i vote for at the next election.

  • “But this government is likely to cause deaths due to the welfare attacks on the poor, sick and disabled. Is that OK?”

    Anyone know the figures on ‘winter deaths’ in this country due to fuel poverty, anyone want to compare them to, say Siberia for instance? and does also anyone want to hazard a guess on the likely increase in deaths from the cold in the future in light of the proposed cuts and sanctions in welfare ?

  • Great post, @Anne.

    I don’t see how any self-respecting Liberal can support the way the coalition is now attacking the disabled and jobless as if they were the ones who caused this crisis. They’re an easy target and the government is keen to tar everyone in receipt of some benefit as a pathetic scrounger. I work with disabled and mentally ill people and most of them are terrified of these proposals. ATOS and the DWP are denying benefits to people who can’t even walk for god’s sake! Every day I am starting to see more and more people who cannot fight for themselves having their only means of support taken away from them. I don’t say this lightly when I say there will be people who are disabled who will be denied benefit and may end up taking their own lives. Those who are least able to fend for themselves are being vilified by this government and the LibDems seem to support this. If they don’t support it, they are being pretty damn quiet.

    It makes me sick. Take a look in the mirror, coalition supporters. You’re making the most vulnerable pay for the financial industry’s mess and telling us that it is “progressive”. No, it is not progressive. It is cruel and unfair and Clegg and co. should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 15th Nov '10 - 5:52pm

    “If this is so controversial then I expect the NUS to abandon its support of a Graduate Tax.”

    Obviously you’d have to take that up with the NUS. But you surely realise that many Lib Dems believe funding should come from general taxation.

  • David Allen 15th Nov '10 - 6:00pm

    “A lot of voters were prepared to move away from Labour after 13 yeras in power and many voted Lid Dem in 2005 and 2010. With hindsight I believe that the Lib Dems cynically set out a false prospectus to attract those votes, It increasingly seems to me that Clegg and the Orangebookers never had much intention of implementing the manifesto committments in the first place. However you try to spin it nothing will convince me that Clegg had any other coalition in mind but the Tories, he’s following the Tory agenda to the letter and appears to be loving every minute of it.”

    The thoughts this prompts with me are as follows:

    1. Political success depends on broadening your party’s appeal to attect the maximum number of voters.
    2. One way to do this is to have two faces: the face that represents your old established beliefs and positions, and the face which represents where you’ve now put yourself after you’ve upped sticks and moved across the political stage.
    3. This has been done before – By Tony Blair, who took his votes from Old Labour as well as New Labour.
    4. You’re right, Clegg has learned from the trick and is doing much the same thing.
    5. The difference is that Tony Blair was the more honest. I’ll repeat that, Tony Blair failed to come last in an honesty contest. Blair did overtly overthrow Clause 4 and tell everybody, before he did it, that he was about to tear up old beliefs and principles. Clegg kept his rightward shift pretty quiet until he got the chance to implement it.

  • I find it hugely significant that in the last few days some of the more extreme Cleggmanicas have started to concede that propping up a right-wing Tory government will harm our party’s long-term prospects, but they consider this a price worth paying because they believe that the hollowing out of the public sector and hammering of the poor will ultimately be good for the country. Clearly, some Cleggmaniacs at least are perfectly prepared to sacrifice our party for the “coalition”, and I find their honesty in admitting it admirable.

    What of Clegg? Does Clegg really care about this party, or did he join it and become its leader with the intention of destroying it? Clegg was a Tory when he was a student. His political views then were broadly Thatcherite, as they are today, but he couldn’t stomach the Tory Party’s fetishistic antipathy towards the European Union, so he joined the Liberal Democrats and only a short while later got himself elected to the European Parliament. Unlike most successful Liberal Democrat politicians, Clegg has never had to get his hands dirty. He has never been a councillor, he has never worked a ward, let alone a constituency. The guy has been handed everything on a plate. Why?

    I, and others, warned that making Clegg Leader would be a very dangerous departure. Though seemingly coming from nowhere, Clegg was being hyped by the media as the “obvious” candidate to lead the Liberal Democrats (as Matthew Huntbach puts it). We were told that he was an oustandingly wonderful man, and that if we chose him, he would transform the party’s prospects in weeks rather than months. His right-wing views and lack of experience on the ground were known to many, if not most, party members. But still they were suborned into electing him, if only by 500 votes. Such is the power of the media.

    The party was bounced into the “coalition” at breakneck speed by a catalogue of deceits: that Cameron would call a second general election and win an overall majority; that bond traders would take fright and send the economy into freefall; that Liberal Democrats would have real influence; that we would get some kind of PR. All these are now exposed as empty shams, and the disaster for the party grows starker by the day, but still there are Liberal Democrats who delude themselves into believing that the party should continue to prop up Cameron’s Tory government and that Clegg has not betrayed us.

    I maintain that Clegg was propelled into the leadership by the media in order to realign the right. His long-term objective, I believe, is to merge the Liberal Democrats with the bulk of the Tory party to create an amorphous “super-party” of the centre right; a party that is pro-business and pro-American, but lacks the anti-EU fetishism and social authoritarianism of the Tory right. Such a party, supported by almost all the media outlets, could stay in power for generations, to the unimaginable benefit of the UK mega-rich, and the US military-industrial complex and billionaire families – the people who imposed Blair-Mandelson on the Labour Party and Cameron-Gove on the Tories.

    Are we, as Liberal Democrats, going to sit back and let Clegg do this? Or do we get up off our knees and fight for our party?

  • @mat smith
    “it worries me that we are more concerned about our leaders’ characters and personal pledges than we are about what they can do for politics itself.”

    What can they do for politics other than further alienate an already sceptical public? It seems to me that the main reason that the public feel disassociated from politics is a lack of faith and trust in politicians. I don’t blame the Lib Dems for this; on the contrary Iraq and expenses hammered nails into that coffin but at the same time this was at the root of my 15 years of Lib Dem support. I always believed the party was different. If one makes a claim for restoring faith and a new style of politics but then immediately breaks a personal pledge then surely there should be no surprise when people are disenchanted. Cleggs credibility as the man to deliver new politics is shot. With one breath you say politicians shouldn’t be judged on personal pledges on policy but in the next breath want mature politics based on principle. How is one to judge a politician’s principles other than through their public pronouncements? What is mature about stating a pledge, garnering votes on the back of it and then doing a complete u-turn? Surely this makes a mockery of judging their principles and is bound to make some sceptical. Regardless of if it is in the political arena or not if someone makes me a personal pledge and then overturns it once they had utilised the benefit of my support on the back of the said pledge then I would seriously start to question their principles; or lack there of.

    Is it time to vote BNP? Based on their pledges and public pronouncements they may well be racist, homophobic, illiberal neanderthals but hypothetically they may change their minds on being elected to office and become cuddly proponents of civil liberties ….I’m just not sure what to do now there are just so many hypothetical scenarios to consider.

  • @ Stephen

    You and plenty of other posting here really have swallowed the “blame the Lib Dems for everything” line, haven’t you?

    Most of the policies like asking the disabled to be reassessed to see if they can actually work rather than leaving them on the scrapheap were also those of New Labour. Likewise the idea of asking long term unemployed to undertake short periods of work – that was already happening. If people ARE disabled then they WILL receive benefits

    Unless it has escaped your notice, Britain now spends hundreds of billions of pounds on benefits every year, with elements of the spending, e.g. housing benefit, skyrocketing. Your kneejerk response is that any attempt to limit this massive and rising financial burden is unacceptable.You can’t run an economy by just simply doling out more and more money. We have cut back spending massively in many other areas, yet you are saying that any restriction on benefits whatsoever is wrong.

    What makes me sick is the level of distortion and frankly sheer hysteria being focused on the Lib Dems at the moment, with people throwing a fit because we are telling them that government spending money is limited. Because the nice money fairy can’t wave a wand and make everything OK, you are just throwing a kind of “terrible twos” fit. Yet Labour would be facing EXACTLY the same rage if it were in government at the moment.

  • Dominic Curran 15th Nov '10 - 6:22pm

    @ Stephen

    “I don’t see how any self-respecting Liberal can support the way the coalition is now attacking the disabled and jobless as if they were the ones who caused this crisis. ”

    I’d be very grateful if you could point out to me exactly how the coalition is doing this. I fully expect the tories to do so, as they are, frankly, a bunch of utter *****, but i don’t have the ammunition to attack them with this yet. Please enlighten me.

    thanks!

  • Dominic Curran 15th Nov '10 - 6:27pm

    @ Sesenco
    “I maintain that Clegg was propelled into the leadership by the media in order to realign the right.”

    The paranoia and mild lunacy of this statement made the rest of your otherwise quite readable post disappear down the mental plughole, i’m afraid. I voted for Clegg cos Paddy Ashdown said he was backing him – good enough for me. There was no media conspiracy. Would that the media paid that much attention to party elections!

  • I agree with the sentiment of the article, but I do think signing the pledge was silly. It was probably the easiest thing to do politcally, but it’s damaged us. Although that said, a lot of the grief the Lib Dems is getting is from people who think the Tories are evil and we’re selling ourselves out to prop them up just for a taste of power, and they also think there should be no cuts. Clearly it’s not sensible to allow these types effect our thinking.

    Judging by what I’ve been reading on far left sites like Sunny Hundal’s and others, the far left are advocating violence and property destruction. If they go down this route it could in a perverse way work in our favour as they will become even more marginalised by wider society and so whatever the far left say will not hurt us one iota.

  • vince thurnell 15th Nov '10 - 6:33pm

    RobertC, So now the 13% of the electorate that have left you since the election are just throwing ‘terrible two’s fits’. Keep telling yourself that and you never know once their tantrums have finished they might vote for you again.

    I’ll give you an example of how bad it is for your party, where i live we used to have a leaflet posted through our door from the lib dems every month (i can’t remember what its called) , we havent had one for three months now , when i asked someone at work who i know is in the local lib dem party , i was told its because they can’t get anyone to deliver them. Now thats not voters throwing a tantrum, thats your actual activists calling it a day. Your party has got real problems and the continual harping on about Labour isn’t going to solve those problems.

    I really hope your party takes notice of people like senseco, because if you don’t this country is heading for two party politics and that is no good for anyone.

  • Dominic Curry,

    “I voted for Clegg cos Paddy Ashdown said he was backing him – good enough for me.”

    And you have the effrontery to accuse me of paranoia and mild lunacy?!

    “There was no media conspiracy.”

    In which case why did almost all the big media outlets hype him?

    “Would that the media paid that much attention to party elections!”

    You must walk around blindfolded.

  • David Wright 15th Nov '10 - 6:39pm

    The current plans for tuition fees are far better than those the Tories would have produced by themselves – and I believe better than Labour would have produced had they remained in office.

    But as I’ve said before, the issue here is personal pledges to vote against any increase. I’m still hoping most Lib Dem MPs will keep their word to vote against any increase – as I know some will – and I’ll find it difficult to support in future any who break their word on this. Labour broke their pledge to not introduce top-up fees, but being no worse than Labour is not good enough for Lib Dems.

  • @ Dominic Curran
    @ Stephen
    “I don’t see how any self-respecting Liberal can support the way the coalition is now attacking the disabled and jobless as if they were the ones who caused this crisis. ”

    “I’d be very grateful if you could point out to me exactly how the coalition is doing this. I fully expect the tories to do so, as they are, frankly, a bunch of utter *****, but i don’t have the ammunition to attack them with this yet. Please enlighten me.”

    Are you serious? You do not know what is happening? Read up on it, look at the disabled forums, smell the fear
    I despair.

  • @Robert C
    We don’t spend ‘hundreds of billions’ every year on benefits. Welfare spending as a proportion of GDP was less under Labour than under the last Tory government. You complain about the ‘level of distortion and frankly sheer hysteria”. I suggest part of the reason is people are dismayed that elements of the party have swallowed certain Tory myths hook, line and sinker.

  • People don’t want pragmatism over principles. I can’t see voters flocking to the “I’ll work with whoever” party.

    People expect politicians to have principles and to act by them. That is why we were all so angry and let down over the expenses scandle.

    But this Government seem to be targeting the most needy at times. This will cause damage to the LD’s because the Tories have always done this and it plays well with the bigotted Daily Mail crowd.

    As an example where principles could make a difference, take the changes to the armed forces pensions (I’m an ex Royal Marine so accept I am biased). All parties pledged support for our servicemen and women, all parties make the right noises when dealing with the losses and injuries that they have to deal with. The Lib Dems and the Tories in opposition talked a lot about looking after our servicement and the so called covenant. So why do these changes (linking to CPI rather than RPI) disproportionately hit those most at need ?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11752678

    The only pensions index linked from the outset are those on medical grounds where it is attributable to the service and those for War Widows.

    This is a disgraceful measure taken by the government, Cameron states it’s a tough decision. If he wants to know what tough decisions are try some of the ones taken in Afghanistan every day.

    Try deciding how to tell your children Daddy is not coming home.

    If the Lib Dems want to show they can be principled, fight for those now who have fought for us all. Allow those who have been disabled by their service to this country to have the benefits they were promised (all the paperwork stated RPI), allow widows the benefit they would have got had their husbands / wives survived.

    Principles matter because the people who depend on principled leadership matter.

  • Sesenco – The Daily Mail, Telegraph, Sun all supported Nick Clegg right?

    Andrew R – It was only lower for a couple of years under Labour, and that was at the height of the boom. Obviously it makes sense that during a big massive boom you’re going to be spending less on welfare.

  • @Sam

    “I agree with the sentiment of the article, but I do think signing the pledge was silly. It was probably the easiest thing to do politcally, but it’s damaged us. Although that said, a lot of the grief the Lib Dems is getting is from people who think the Tories are evil and we’re selling ourselves out to prop them up just for a taste of power, and they also think there should be no cuts. Clearly it’s not sensible to allow these types effect our thinking.

    Judging by what I’ve been reading on far left sites like Sunny Hundal’s and others, the far left are advocating violence and property destruction. If they go down this route it could in a perverse way work in our favour as they will become even more marginalised by wider society and so whatever the far left say will not hurt us one iota.”

    You think misrepresenting other people’s views does your argument any favour?

    FIrstly I have seen none of the people here railing agains tthe lib dem leadership arguing that no cuts are necessary. You rather shot your credibility in this debate by starting out with a straw man.

    Secondly, the people accusing the lib dems of betrayal and supporting the protests are not ‘far left’. What the hell is that supposed to mean?

    Is this the same ‘far left’ SUnny Hundal who backed the Conservatives in 2008 and the Liberal Democrats last election?

    I guess it’s suprising to find out that the Liberal Democrat party is a ‘far left’ organisation.

  • Sam,

    Clegg was hyped by everyone going, despite the fact that Chris Huhne had been a working journalist for many years.

    Do you agree with Dominic Curran that the media take no interest in party elections?

    I ask, because I am beginning to wonder if Clegg’s supporters have lost touch with reality.

  • Peter Oborne writing in the Telegraph has pointed out moral bankruptcy of politicians; the failure of some labour members to condemn the lies told by Phil Woolas and the failure of David Cameron to roundly condemn Nadine Dorries for her admitted lies (she calls it fiction) on her blog. What has shocked me is the failure of all the Lib Dem ministers to see that issue of the broken pledge on tuition fees is a moral one not just a matter of expediency to be explained away by the deficit and the realities of coalition politics.

    We all know that manifesto commitments are regularly broken by all parties but this pledge was much more than a manifesto promise but a personal pledge which had no qualifications relating to being in or out of government, or coalitions or sizes of deficits.

    That pledge was trumpeted in University towns with accompanying photos and there was much talk about a new politics of honesty and keeping promises. Students were misled and votes almost certainly gained through the pledge which has subsequently been found to be a lie. This will do lasting damage to Nick Clegg and the party with only those MPs who keep to their pledge maintaining any credibility.

  • @Sam
    No it wasn’t. As a percentage of GDP It was lower every single year under Labour than any single year of the last Tory government, The Tories have only ever really been good at one thing – propaganda.

  • Steve Way,

    “I can’t see voters flocking to the “I’ll work with whoever” party.”

    The party has a very consistent record of ducking the issue of what it will do in the event of a hung Parliament. This should not be surprising, given that anything we say on the matter is guaranteed to offend somebody. Sadly, our lack of clarity on the matter proved to be our downfall come polling-day, because we allowed Cameron and his media backers (sorry, Dominic, the print media do support the Tory Party and do influence voters) were able to convince floating voters that a hung Parliament would lead to unstable government. Clegg’s mantra that he would talk first to the party that got the most votes and most seats was made on the hoof – I cannot recall the party ever having adopted it as its policy – and it didn’t convince, because it was too vague as to the kind of arrangement we would countenance and the compromises we would be willing to make.

  • Dominic Curran 15th Nov '10 - 7:27pm

    @ Anne – “Are you serious? You do not know what is happening? Read up on it, look at the disabled forums.”

    Which ones? can you provide any good links?

  • http://today.yougov.co.uk/commentaries/peter-kellner/two-thirds-lib-dem-voters-desert-party

    At the end of the day, you can believe all you want, personally. The fact of the matter is that the Lib Dems will now do worse in any future election than if they had actually stuck to their own principles.

  • Dominic Curran 15th Nov '10 - 7:39pm

    @ Senesco

    I’ve been a member, candidate and worker for the libdems over many years (18, to be precise). i’ve seen how the media treat us. To suggest that a) the media paid that much attention to the fight between clegg and huhne, and b) that insofar as coverage was given to clegg it was because of a media ‘conspiracy’ and that c) even if there were such a conspiracy by the Times, Mail and Telegraph that it could have affected enough LibDem party voters to plump for Hune over Clegg to win the election (and i’m aware that his majority was barely 500) is so barking mad as to makes you sound quite ridiculous, I’m afraid. The print media certainly support the Tory party, you’re right there, although i’d suggest that their influence on voters is more nuanced than you think. Most newspaper readers’ views are reinforced by the media, not definied by them. In other words, lefties will read the Guardian, Indy and Mirror, and people who are more right wing will tend towards the Mail et al.

    Can you provide any evidence for your assertions?

    I would also ask why backing someone who Paddy also backed was a sign of paranoia or mild luncy, as you suggest. Paddy was a great leader fo the party who led us from nowhere to 60-odd MPs, a 20% share of the vote and a confident, grown-up party compared to the shambles he inherited. he’s also more instinctively centre-left than centre-right. How does that support your wild conspiracy theory?

  • There’s a piece over on PoliticalBetting discussing David Cameron’s “contract” and Nick Clegg’s “pledge.”

    http://www2.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2010/11/14/whys-daves-contract-being-honoured-but-not-nicks-pledge/

  • @Dominc Curran:
    “I’d be very grateful if you could point out to me exactly how the coalition is doing this. I fully expect the tories to do so, as they are, frankly, a bunch of utter *****, but i don’t have the ammunition to attack them with this yet. Please enlighten me.”

    Your stance is truly naive. I work for an art therapy charity working with disabled and mentally ill people. A recent example: a man who is severely disabled and relies on an electric wheelchair to get around recently lost his benefits and is now suffering with only JSA while he waits the 8+ months for his appeal to be heard. He was recently found “fit” for work by ATOS because he is able (and I am not making this up) to push paper around a desk and sit at a computer for 10 minutes straight. Never mind the fact that most days he is in so much pain he can’t even get out of his bed into his wheelchair. He just happened to be having a good day when his appointment with ATOS was scheduled. He has no idea what to do, his disability incurs extra costs as his needs are greater and he is worried sick, which makes his illness worse. On top of all this, he may be losing his care allowance as well as the council makes even more cutbacks. He is scared shitless and is a completely different person than the one he was a few months back. He’s a broken man, emotionally. Another example: a man with schizophernia was also recently found fit for work because, again, some days he is able to cope and other days he is not. He is known to have violent outbursts and has been sectioned several times in the past. But, again, ATOS and the DWP now have a very strict criteria as to who is and isn’t “disabled”. They are using what is known as the “Hawking” test, ie., if someone is more mobile than Professor Hawking they are usually denied benefits. Their tests are one size fits all. They do not take into account the multitude of minutiae of various disabilities. Let me repeat myself: the coalition is going further than Labour ever did to make life hard for those who already have a hard life.

    This has been going on under Labour, which was disgusting enough, but has recently got worse since the coalition told the DWP to be even more strict and to save more money. If you do not believe me, have a look at disabled peoples’ forums, talk to people in charities for the sick and disabled. These are people who are too weak to fight back and get lost in the system.

    And your party is letting this happen, you’re supporting IDS’ proposals to get even tougher on the weakest in society. That is why this government makes me feel sick. These are exactly the people we should be protecting, but the exact opposite is happening. The LibDems would normally speak out about this travesty. But there’s been nothing but silence and lies that this is somehow “fair”.

    And nobody seems to care any more. Your party has gone along with the Tories demonising people in society who already have nothing. You are letting this happen. And it makes me disgusted to think I was taken in by Clegg’s false claims of compassion and “fairness”. I am already seeing the affects this policy is having on people. And as the cuts hit, it will only get worse. How long are you going to let this go on?

  • I should probably point out that, contrary to belief in the Op-Eds here, Labour voters aren’t actively railing against the Lib Dems, they’re laughing at them. They’re laughing at how far the party has fallen since getting into bed with the enemy, they’re laughing at how Nick Clegg has finally shown his true blue colours, they’re laughing at how people were duped by this charade. And they’re profiting from this charade by winning back the people who voted Lib Dem in the last election.

    Labour now poll above Conservative in the latest YouGov polls, and it won’t be long before the Lib Dem approval slips back into the single figures again, after last week and the first time a major party has had single figure approvals in YouGov polls since they began.

    Your claim, Mat, that Clegg didn’t betray his voters may or may not be true, but his voters certainly FEEL betrayed by his actions, and in some cases, inactions. I’m still very surprised there wasn’t more of a backlash over the proposed housing benefit changes, but then we can see the Lib Dems for the party they truly are…Lap Dogs.

  • @ Matt Smith
    “Next time, to avoid health problems, suggest voting for one’s own party.”

    I agree with you. Say No to AV, vote for your own party in all elections from now on.

  • @ Matt

    Your defence of the record of the previous Labour government is what is “foul guff”.

    Your posting is riddled with outright lies: We do not have 3 million unemployed, we have 2.45 million and falling.

    We do not have 2.7 million sick and disabled. We have 2.7 million people CLAIMING sickness and disability benefits – a number which has increased drastically over time. In the 1980s there were 700,000 and now there are 2.7 million. Funny that, isn’t it, eh? In some areas, like Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales, claimants are 17% of the population.

    We also have families claiming tens of thousands of pounds to live in large houses in luxurious areas that most working people can’t afford.

    Yet anyone who points things like that out and says the system has to change is labelled as “kicking the sick and the poor”.

    And no Matt, I am not an effing closet Tory. As a gay man I hate the Tories and always have done ever since Section 28 days. An alliance with them is one of the worst things possible, but it is sadly, unfortunately the only thing we could do under the circumstances.

    We have to make the best of a very bad job. In doing so, we have ensured that:
    1) Health and education spending is protected.
    2) An extra £2bn has been added to child tax credits.
    3) A pupil premium will give more money to educate kids from poorer families;
    4) Pensions will increase;
    5) The personal allowance increase will take poorer workers out of tax.

    To start saying that Labour could have been propped up in government with 71% voting to kick them out is just crazy and it is equally mad to ignore the fact that these are significant measures to help the poorest at a time when Labour has left our finances in a shocking state.

  • @ Robert C.
    “You can’t run an economy by just simply doling out more and more money. We have cut back spending massively in many other areas, yet you are saying that any restriction on benefits whatsoever is wrong.”

    Why is it alright for Osborne to cut the banking levy because it would raise more revenue than expected? The bankers caused the mess but he would rather punish the needy than the culprits.

  • vince thurnell 15th Nov '10 - 8:33pm

    Robert C, thats your view, obviously most of the people that voted Lib Dem in the last election don’t see it the same way.

  • @Robert C

    Do you understand WHY the finances were in a “shocking state”? Did you know that until the US banking crisis, and indeed the crisis over here with Northern Rock going down, all of our borrowing and debt was lower than the mandated percentages of GDP set by the Maastricht Treaty? It was only in 2008 did we go above that, and that was because the Labour Government tried to cushion the blow of the recession for us minions. Now all the Conservatives want to do is usher in a new era of swingeing cuts that even the IMF agreed were a but harsh.

  • @Dominic Curran
    Another one for you
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/messageboards/

  • @Dominic Curran
    Read this
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/nov/15/legal-aid-cuts-free-advice

    So Nick Clegg believes in this as well? Note the admission that this will effect the ill and disabled, another proof for you. I think Lib Dems need to look at the effect of all policies and not just concentrate on blind loyalty.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 15th Nov '10 - 9:19pm

    “Health and education spending is protected.”

    Just as a matter of fact, of course education spending as a whole hasn’t been protected. Spending on schools specifically has, but even there spending per pupil will fall in real terms because funding will not keep pace with increasing numbers.

  • Thanks Matt Smith for your cheering post.
    It is good that we are involved in government at last but I for one did not realise how very brutal it would be.
    In the lead we have You Gov whose polling record is so bad, but whose figures from a self-selected pool are jeering material for left and right alike.
    And followed usually by the broadsheet intelligensia, Polly and JAB. Although I did notice that Jackie Ashley and Michael White have actually tempered their tone slightly this week and tried to be a little more constructive.

    Daily Politics today put the boot in by combining a raucous mixture of far right and far left. Kelvin Mackenzie ranting and raving along with the leader of the NUS, who looks likely to put Phil Woolas into the shade when he grows up.
    This could have been very depressing if Don Foster and Tom McNally had not handled it so well………. with calm good manners and friendliness. I must remember to score them both higher in our next MPs survey.
    Elizabeth

  • @ Dominic Curran

    “@ Senesco
    …To suggest that … that insofar as coverage was given to clegg it was because of a media ‘conspiracy’ … is so barking mad as to makes you sound quite ridiculous, I’m afraid.”

    Sesenco is certainly one of those people who tends to like conspiracy theories. Most people dismiss them out of hand. My observation is that it is wrong to be dogmatic, either way round. Many conspiracy theories are fanciful. Others are not. The idea that the Tory Party might have decided to steal an election by forging a letter from our Communist enemies to the British Labour Party was for many years dismissed as crazy nonsense. Now, I understand that evidence has emerged that the “Zinoviev” letter was exactly that – a Tory fabrication conspiracy which successfully won an election against Labour in the 1920s.

    I have no evidence that Clegg beat Huhne because of covert support from media barons. That does not mean it did not happen. Stranger things have happened. I would prefer it if Sesenco could produce more evidence, but if he can’t, I still wouldn’t entirely dismiss the supposition.

    Perhaps more to the point, Clegg fought an overtly mendacious campaign against Huhne. He camouflaged his support for free schools, for NHS privatisation, and “savage cuts”. As he did later at the General Election, Clegg simply posed as Mr Nice Guy, and offered no strong disagreements with decades of Lib Dem centre-left tradition. Despairingly, Huhne accused Clegg of support for the right-wing policy of a voucher system for privatising our schools. Not at all, Clegg replied smoothly, I merely support the pupil premium, nothing else, how dare you make false accusations. Huhne, I believe, knew the truth but could not prove it, because Clegg had carefully covered his tracks. Now we can see the truth.

    Whether or not there was any media conspiracy, Clegg stole the election for the Lib Dem leadership.

  • Dominic Curran,

    “I’ve been a member, candidate and worker for the libdems over many years (18, to be precise)”

    I have been a member since 1982. I have also been an elected councillor and an election organiser and agent.

    ” To suggest that a) the media paid that much attention to the fight between clegg and huhne… is so barking mad as to makes you sound quite ridiculous, I’m afraid.”

    Really? Is that why the BBC held two (or was it three?) debates between the candidates on prime-time TV? Who is barking mad and quite ridiculous, Dominic? Those who notice what goes on around them, or those that don’t?

    “that insofar as coverage was given to clegg it was because of a media ‘conspiracy’”

    Would you be kind enough to point to where I used the word “conspiracy”?

    I guess, in the parallel universe that you evidently occupy, newspaper editors and feature writers never talk to each other. Oh no. Wouldn’t hear of it. That would be barking mad and quite ridiculous.

    “I would also ask why backing someone who Paddy also backed was a sign of paranoia or mild luncy, as you suggest.”

    I didn’t say that. What I did do was point to the irony of your use of those cheap, personal insults when you yourself were willing to vote for a candidate solely on the basis of a recommendation from someone else rather than evaluate the candidates yourself. I expect people who vent their views on LDV to at least be capable of making up their own minds rather than allowing their opinions to be dictated by others.

    “Paddy was a great leader fo the party who led us from nowhere to 60-odd MPs, a 20% share of the vote and a confident, grown-up party compared to the shambles he inherited.”

    47 MPs and 17% of the vote, actually. You can’t get anything right, can you?

  • LabourLiberal 15th Nov '10 - 11:18pm

    I might be a bit late intrying to post an on-topic comment here, but…:

    I wonder if there’s a little note of fear creeping into the way the Lib Dem head honchos talk about electoral reform? Speaking only from personal experience, my impressions are that support for reform to a “fairer” system, be it STV, PR, AV or whatever, was at an all time high in the election run-up, when Clegg was using the TV debates to make it a hot potato (and it’s probably worth pointing out here how many casual voters were/are under the impression that the LDs support PR, and have never heard of STV). And my impressions now are that, with the advent of a coalition government, those same people who jumped on the reform bandwagon are now terrified by the thought of a system of near-permanent coalition. This is actually fairly predictable; Britain, like the US, is a country which, like it or not, values “tribal” politics, a country where the media and the public have a slightly neurotic fear of any party deviating from set policy, which of course is an essential part of coalition.

    Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of Commons reform, partly because I’m a sucker for tradition, partly because I think the simplest way is usually the best, and partly because I just think the benefits of FTPT are underrated. But I do appreciate the flaws in it, and the flaws in the British system overall; my preference is to keep the Commons as-is, but reform the Lords into a voted house, using one of the other systems (probably pure PR). What I’m wondering is whether they’ll come a time where it might benefit the Lib Dems to take up this idea. If (and it’s a bif if, granted), the AV vote is lost, then Clegg could face a serious struggle to tag along in a coalition for a possible four years, whilst satisfying members whose only sop in the agreement will have come to nothing. It’d be much easier, I suspect, for him to construct a Lords reform idea to keep the dissenters happy, than to try to resuscitate a Commons reform policy that the Tories would see as totally killed off.

    Of course, this might just be me hoping a party will take the exact line on electoral reform that I happen to hold. But it’s an idea, if nothing else…

  • LabourLiberal 15th Nov '10 - 11:20pm

    Er, that should be FPTP, obviously. Oops.

  • Robert C,

    “1) Health and education spending is protected.”

    Er… not altogether. PCTs have been told to sack 40% of their managers by Christmas, the Performance Reward Grant has been snatched away, and the Area Based Grant has been cut by 24% – hitting services to children and yong people particularly hard. And that’s just the soup course.

  • Although that said, a lot of the grief the Lib Dems is getting is from people who think the Tories are evil and we’re selling ourselves out to prop them up just for a taste of power, and they also think there should be no cuts. Clearly it’s not sensible to allow these types effect our thinking.

    What a load of old rubbish, Sam! Many reputable economists would tell you that the effect of the deficit is not to compel us to make cuts, nor certainly to make them so quickly. Others, such as, no doubt yourself, have dismissed the idea of meeting our problems with a much more steeply progressive tax system. Frankly your ideas have nothing to do with “a new politics” and everything to do with maintaining the status quo, ie the post-Thatcher consensus. Many of us Lib Dems supporters have been struggling for this since the early 80s, against the lady herself, Major, Blair, Brown, and now it would appear against Cameron and Clegg. If you came from outer space and looked at the economics of the UK, you would look for the vested interests it is serving, and you would soon find them.

  • “where would we be if the Tories had gained power, without the Liberal Democrats to temper them?”

    The Tories would not have gained power without the Lib Dems. A balanced parliament works perfectly well here in Scotland — the chaos it would cause was just a piece of Murdoch propaganda that you guys bought hook, line and sinker.

  • TheContinentalOp 15th Nov '10 - 11:37pm

    Julie Morgan will undoubtedly love the advice dished out on here to disillusioned former Labour voters. What a terrible own goal.

  • Dominic, Sesenco is substantially right in his discussion points with you, and it would be sensible for you to back down at this point! (Afterall, your hero Paddy, was widely referred to as Paddy Backdown in the 80s – long before the Pantsdown incident!!) Paddy, of course, was hugely helped towards the leadership by big media backing. I have to say, I find it strange that Paddy has backed Nick so much, not that I specially think Paddy is on the left of the party, but he is certainly centrist, whereas Nick is palpably on the right of the party. Neither has he the combativeness of Chris Huhne.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 16th Nov '10 - 12:17am

    Elizabeth

    “In the lead we have You Gov whose polling record is so bad …”

    I can see why it’s convenient for Lib Dem apologists of the Winston Smith variety to claim that YouGov’s record is bad, but as a matter of fact the average ratings of the pre-election YouGov polls in May were almost identical to those from ICM (YouGov got slightly closer to the actual election result):
    http://www.libdemvoice.org/new-statesmans-advice-to-lib-dembaiters-dont-count-those-pesky-lib-dems-out-just-yet-21737.html#comment-148331

  • I honestly don’t think shrill sounding attacks on Labour are going to work much with the public just now.
    By all means hammer them for their hypocrisy and object to articles that seem hopelessly one sided. It’s good practice for next year. However, I worry that this bunker mentality is blinding some to the real and massive problems that are building up.

    If coalition is what you preach then at least be aware of what is in store in the name of coalition or fight to ensure that we don’t end up in a couple of years having to defend another disaster of the scale of tuition fees.

    My example of this is the Health Reforms. If these are shoved through with the dogma in evidence around them then they are going to cause a massive backlash.
    I personally think they could do more lasting damage than almost anything else yet proposed.
    They are getting slowly pushed through almost without being noticed.

    I’m amazed these reforms seem to have been so readily accepted by Nick, because if he thinks some of the headlines just now are bad wait till these Thatcherite NHS market reforms start to take effect.
    How does he fancy fighting an election with Mid-Staffordshire style scandals starting to erupt every other week? If the Liberal Democrats get blamed for presiding over an NHS catastrophe there will be no way back from the public backlash for maybe a decade. Britain still loves it’s NHS even if some of the more rabid Conservatives view it with a similar contempt as the U.S. Tea Party.

    Blair’s market reforms were bad enough but Andrew Lansley has the deeply worrying sound of a man who’s ‘zeal’ for Thatcherite Markets will steamroller all of the mounting concerns and criticism by the British Medical Association, Unison, the Royal College of Nursing and many other patient advocate groups.

    The fact that it’s been ringfenced has lulled far too many into thinking it’s a dead issue for this parliament. Nothing could be further from the truth. I hope the Leadership wake up to this soon as the Liberal Democrats have enough problems without appearing to green light these massive NHS changes without even a cursory glance at what they could mean a year or two down the line.

  • LabourLiberal 16th Nov '10 - 2:27am

    @ Mat Smith

    You’re right, I certainly wouldn’t consider myself right wing, but I guess that reflects the fact that voting reform isn’t really a right/left issue It’s difficult to connect any viewpoint on it with any specific economic or social ideal, unless you simply support whichever voting system will get your chosen ideal into power. And although the parties very often look it at that way, I think the general public think of it very much as a stand-alone issue.

    As I said, I recognise the flaws in the FPTP system, and yours is the main one. I guess I’m flattered by being a voter in a constituency which is notionally “marginal” (in that a 6000 Labour majority became a 6000 Tory majority). If I lived where you do, I probably wouldn’t be quite so supportive of it. But that’s why I like the idea of focussing on reforming the Lords. If you do have the misfortune to own a “wasted vote” in the Commons, you should be able to take some comfort in having a genuine voice in the Lords, in my view.

    Incidentally, I think it’s sometimes the case that the call for “a fairer democracy” becomes too single-issue. I’m all for getting everyone’s voice heard, but that has to mean everyone. Trying to make sure no voter is drowned out by a majority is only one part of that. Sure, for a voter’s voice to be heard, it needs to not be drowned out, but they also need to speak up to begin with – we need to make sure as many people vote as possible. This problem is tackled often by holding local elections (usually low turnouts) on the same day as General Elections (higher turnouts). What worries me about the electoral reform plans is that some of the proposals seem so complicated that they’d be likely to put voters off. At least with FPTP you just say “put X by your favourite”, job done. Try explaining the intricacies of certain STV and AV systems, to your average apathetic voter. And the argument that “it might be complicated to count, but it’s easy to enough to vote, just rank them by preference” doesn’t wash: as the expenses scandal showed, the public actually want to know how their system works. It’s no coincidence that Australia, the most famous STV-user, has a law of compulsory voting – something any liberal should oppose on principles of rights. In short – it’s no use reforming to get the disenfranchised’s voices heard, if you just disenfranchise another group by means of sheer confusion.

  • The argument for AV is actually easy and compelling.
    FPTP is unfair. AV is fairer.
    Show voting percentages then show seats won then show disenfanchised voters all over the country.
    We can’t get bogged down in the intricacies of the counting procedure but the average voter really can rank things in order without having a brain embolism. It’s as easy as 1 2 3 4 etc.

    AV is the only game in town and may be the only chance of changing our broken voting system for a generation or more. Everything must be thrown at it to win and I still think we need the likes of Charles Kennedy or even Paddy to get some of the public back on our side arguing for it and attacking the unfair FPTP.

  • tony davies 16th Nov '10 - 7:29am

    The more I read and assimilate from other sources, the less likely I am to vote Lib Dem again. Just another Tory party.

  • Like a number of others who have posted I am a life long Liberal/Lib Dem. I first canvassed in the Feb 1974 election and have stood for councils numerous times, and was a County Councillor for 4 years. I used to give thousands to my local party, hundreds to Cowley St. No more. My membership is up for renewal in January and I will be paying the minimum that allows me to be a voting member. I have stopped canvassing and delivering. I could not stand on a doorstep and defend what is happening.

    This argument that things could have been worse is quite frankly laughable. One of the reasons I have been a Liberal through thick and thin is that I believed we (almost instinctively) ended up on the right and moral sides of most debates. It seemed to me that from top to bottom we would do the right thing. Unfortunately now I am ashamed and disgusted with the things we are doing in government. The argument that we “didn’t win the election” is a specious one. In any coalition there are red lines and the senior party has to understand that they do not have carte blanche to implement all their policies.

    Clegg has always been a Tory and will go soon. In the meantime what can those of us who feel this way do to campaign to change things? There seems to be a sort of fear that we should “not rock the boat” gripping the party.
    Can anybody help me find a pressure group, website or whatever which will help me find and work with like minded people to save our party from extermination?

  • “Can anybody help me find a pressure group, website or whatever which will help me find and work with like minded people to save our party from extermination?”

    Sure, it’s called the Liberal Democrat party – you’re surrounded by like-minded people and you’ll have your chance to ditch this clown.

    The only reason Clegg hasn’t betrayed us is because he was always a tory. He never hid it, just a lot of good folks were taken in by his schtick; but he never seemed like a LD to me. He wants small state, big business and minimal welfare. Now we’ve empowered him to run the country and we don’t like it. This isn’t his mistake – it’s ours.

    A lot of Lib Dems are now very unhappy with Clegg, we just have to stick together and vote when the time comes. We’re only waiting for the last third now, people like this Mat Smith chap, and they’ll come around. Sooner or later we’ll all come to terms with the fact we have to cast him adrift or get wiped out.

    I hear the phrase “wait for spring conference” a lot….who knows, but it’s a matter of time and damage.

  • @Dane Clouston

    You’re right – if anything’s going to reinforce what’s good about Lib Dem’s, it’s the Liberals. We’re coping with some of our long term issues, I see you’re still inventing them.

  • Dominic Curran 16th Nov '10 - 11:35am

    @ Stephen and Anne

    Thanks very much for your replies – illuminating. I don’t visit disabled forums, so it was quite eye-opening to see what’s been going on, even in the last six months. I hope you both comment on Steve Webb’s article (Stephen – i took the liberty of copying your story of the ‘Hawking’ test onto that article’s thread, as i felt a DWP Minister ought to see it – i hope that’s ok). I agree with you, Anne, that we must all look at what the Coalition is doing and not just concentrate on blind loyalty. If you look at my contributions on here I think you’ll find I haven’t been affected by such a condition. I’d be grateful, though, if you weren’t quite so condescending to people who don’t hang out on disabled forum websites but are, at least, willing to learn about things.

    @Senesco
    Where to start? Firstly, thanks for your correction over the number of MPs and share of the vote Paddy delivered – i realised that it was too high just after i posted it – but I think the point about PA’s leadership skills (ie. taking us from where we were in 1989 to where we were in 1999) is made either way.

    You asked where you used the word ‘conspiracy’. Although you didn’t use that word, you used others that left the reader with that firm impression: “I maintain that Clegg was propelled into the leadership by the media in order to realign the right.” Here you allege a joint enterprise with a single aim – a conspiracy, in other words. I strongly doubt that the 40000-odd LD members who voted either read the sort of right wing media that would like to have seen a more right-wing leader like Clegg, or, if they did read it, that it influenced them enough to vote for him. Most LD members i know are too independent-minded for that. Which brings me onto why i voted for him – i thought he was the better candidate just in terms of presentation and communication skills – I couldn’t see enough of a policy difference between Clegg and Huhne to make that the deciding factor. And having the backing of someone i trusted – and who was on the centre-left of the party – counted for a lot. I know that somewhat undermines the ‘independently minded bit’ but, well, what can i say – i trust PA for many specific reasons, not ‘blind loyalty’.
    With regard to media attention to the leadership debate, yes, there was a BBC debate or two (or three), but you were alleging actions by the right-wing media, not the BBC. While of course the right-wing media covered the leadership election, to suggest that they did so sufficiently to swing people to clegg – their allegedly chosen candidate – suggests a level of interest in the LDs that i simply don’t think existed at the time. Remember, one murdoch paper made it an editorial policy not to report anything positive about the party and to totally ignore its conferences!

    I’m afraid that i still think you’re a little too taken by conspiracy theories. Whilst some may have legs, i think that most belong in the ‘cock up’ rather than ‘conspiracy’ bins.

  • @ Dominic Curran
    “if you weren’t quite so condescending to people who don’t hang out on disabled forum websites but are, at least, willing to learn about things”.

    I do not believe I was condescending but just totally shocked that you were unaware of the effects as a Lib Dem activist. You might ask why ‘I hang out on disabled forum websites’ To try and get some support because I am terrified that is why. It makes me wonder how many more are just unaware and that frightens me even more. ‘There are none so blind as those that will not see’. I am glad that you have seen now.

  • Dominic Curran,

    I doubt that someone as careless with facts as you is in much of a position to judge which “conspiracy theories” have substance, and which do not.

    “Whilst some may have legs, i think that most belong in the ‘cock up’ rather than ‘conspiracy’ bins.”

    Witness the sweeping generalisation in all its glory!

    Now back to Clegg. Did you not find it decidedly suspicious that the media were so keen on a leadership candidate (1) who had only just become an MP, (2) about whom little was known, (3) whose CV was embarrassingly thin and (4) who was known to have expressed Thatcherite opinions? I think a lot of fellow members found it decidedly suspicious, too, because Clegg only won by 500 votes, despite the support he had from the Parliamentary Party and the media hype.

    Read what David Allen writes (above). A lot of people on the left of the party supported Clegg. Why? Is it not conceivable that Clegg deceived them as to his real beliefs and real intentions?

    You see, the US military-industrial complex and billionaire families have form here. David Davis was the runaway favourite to succeed Michael Howard. Until, that is, the Republican pollster and psychological manipulator, Frank Luntz, was invited on to “Newsnight” to carry out a bogus focus group in which he steered a bunch of ingenues into rubbishing David Davis and praising the little-known David Cameron, giving Tory members the impression that Cameron, not Davis, could win over the electorate. That is how Cameron became Tory leader and Davis (with his troublesome views on civil liberties) didn’t.

    Wake up, Mr Curran.

  • Dominic Curran 16th Nov '10 - 12:49pm

    @ Senesco

    I was about to engage in debate with your points, but when i saw your statement that Frank Luntz with his newsnight item swung the tory leadership election i stopped bothering.

    I know i shouldn’t encourage you, but out of curiousity, who put Luntz up to it, in your view? (and also out of curiousity, who do you think shot JFK?)

  • Dominic Curran,

    I suggest you take the issue about Luntz up with Nick Cohen of the “Observer”, who was the first to raise it publicly, as far as I know.

    In my opinion, someone who votes for Clegg because he “looks good” and is backed by Paddy Ashdown is unlikely to have anything very useful to say on the matter – though I suppose it is productive and helpful to others that you have admitted to your extreme gullibility.

    Readers will think what they like about Luntz and his intervention in the Tory leadership contest. I doubt if too many of them will be deterred from expressing an opinion out of fear of your disapproval, but I may be wrong!

  • Enough already! This is a hugely irrelevant to the main debate!

    @ ChrisB I hope you are right, but I don’t feel it. I thought there would be much more dissent in Liverpool but there was hardly any. As for only waiting for the last third I think you are massively optimistic.

    I am thinking of organising a few “Manifesto Lib Dem” meetings in our area to try and get together a few like minded people to discuss how our voice can be amplified. Just struggling to work out how to contact them.

  • Anne –
    “but just totally shocked that you were unaware of the effects as a Lib Dem activist. You might ask why ‘I hang out on disabled forum websites’ To try and get some support because I am terrified that is why. It makes me wonder how many more are just unaware and that frightens me even more.”

    You and I seem to be in the same boat, unfortunately the boat is sinking and the Lib Dem band just keeps playing as though it’s blissfully unaware

  • I too noticed the wave of fear and despair on forums populated by those who are at the sharp end of the welfare system as soon as the Thatcherite Welfare Cuts started getting announced. It is not going away. It is growing. It is real, palpable misery and pain and Nick is cheerleading it.

    Anne destroys the insipid spin we keep hearing from the Cleggmaniacs with her illuminating links and posts. I thank her and the others on here like her who have not been cowed into silence.

    Those who ignore the terrible warning signs of what is happening will have to explain themselves soon enough. Standing by, or even worse, justifiying and excusing the suffering of the most vulnerable in society is not a Liberal Democrat value.

  • I don’t feel particularly betrayed at all. I don’t think I would have felt enormously betrayed when Labour introduced dental charges to the NHS either, had I been around. They were constrained by the economic situation and did the sensible thing.

  • People will not fall for this rubbish. The LibDems have already lost half their support (some polls put them on 10%). Most of their progressive supporters have fled, many to Labour. And it’s not likely they’ll be returning any time soon. The LibDems will probably now become a rather sad adjunct of the Conservatives. Maybe this is what Nick Clegg wanted all along.’

    I agree that is precisely why now is the time to form a new Liberal Demoocrat Party of all those who oppose the leadership’s abandoning of Liberalism of which I have supported since a boy back in 1974 . It is vital we have an independent Liberal voice in this country – the only Party that has consistently upheld individual Liberty and freedomat home at abroad whilst also supporting a universal welfare state maintained by a progressive taxation system.

  • By the way is it true that Michael Meadowcroft might be standing as a anti-coalition Liberal Democrat in oldham and Saddleworth?

  • “Clegg, along with other Liberal Democrats, signed a pledge before the election. Before the coalition was formed, and before there was any possibility that he might be in a position to even govern. But this was a pledge of political policy, not of political principle.”

    “Opinion: Clegg has not betrayed us!”

    You cannot have your cake and eat it. Your ridiculous assertion that ” this was a pledge of political policy, not of political principle.” even if it began to make sense is obfuscation on a grand scale. The Party is bleeding and all the front bench circling the wagons defending the indefensible will not change that. In fact it just looks like you are abandoning your principles to give political cover to George Osborne. To paraphrase Sir Humphrey Appleby Greater love hath no man that he give up his party’s future for his one time political enemies. They must be laughing themselves hoarse in Millbank Tower every time they wake up and realise they’re not dreaming.

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