Opinion: Why changing leader now  WILL save the party in 2015 and beyond.

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderA debate is still raging in the party 5 weeks after  the disastrous Local, Euro and Newark byelection results which saw the party slump to 6.9% and to 2.6% at Newark. Numerous opinion polls also point to a historic disaster facing the party on May 7th 2015.

In my own local party Wakefield just this week a letter went out to party members to ask the question about Nick Clegg’s continuing leadership. Across the party it is reported that some 30 local parties have tabled votes this summer on Nick Clegg’s continuing leadership. In recent polls almost three quarters of Lib Dem Voters in 2010 describe Nick Clegg as a bad leader and 44% of the Public are calling for his removal as leader.  Vince Cable is cited as the most popular choice of successor.

I campaigned hard in my Wakefield ward to stop UKIP and succeeded in preventing them taking the Crofton, Walton & Ryhill seat –leaving the Labour incumbent with a miniscule 166 vote majority. Despite my best efforts however people told me on the doorstep that they would vote for me, but were reluctant to vote for the party because of Nick Clegg.

So it was with reluctance that a group of party members set up : Libdem Fightback –  to push for:

  1. An immediate Leadership election with Nick Clegg standing down for a more popular leader
  2. A return to the electorally popular Manifesto policies campaigned for in May 2010
  3. Greater Democracy in the party with inclusion of all wings of the party in policy making

We have had members and ex-members from across the country making contact in support of this campaign.

Could ditching Clegg this summer really help the party? Absolutely Yes. It would signal that we have listened to the voters  – a fundamental requirement for a party that calls itself democratic. A new leader – be it Vince Cable, Tim Farron or anyone else known by the public to have agonised with the choices forced on the party by the Conservatives – will allow us to say an authentic sorry and reconnect with our 2010 voters and beyond.

With Clegg in place at the election we can expect a collapse in our 2010 voter base in 18-24 year old and women voters who have suffered greatly as a result of a failure to upheld our 2010 manifesto commitments.  Moreover right now the party is divided over Clegg’s continuing leadership and a divided party always loses, whoever the leader is.

It can work. When  Gordon Brown replaced Tony Blair in 2008 the Labour leader’s personal poll rating went from -27 (Blair) to +16 (Brown). He had a short opportunity to take advantage of a reconnection with voters and he must regret not seeking an autumn election.  When in 2010 Brown went, Ed Milliband saw an improved rating from -24 to +19.

In 1990 when John Major (+15) replaced Margaret Thatcher (-46) he successfully reconnected  with the voters and defeated Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party even with 13 years of Thatcherism  and the poll tax as a legacy.  In our own party, on average each leader change has seen a +13% improvement in negative attitudes about the Party leader which transfers into gain in party polls.  Fear of failure is our greatest enemy, the party can unite and win with a new leader and a reconnection to our 2010 voters.

* Jonathan Pile contested Wakefield (Crofton,Walton & Ryhill) in May 2014, is a signatory to Libdems4change.org and Acting Coordinator of LibdemFightBack.

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365 Comments

  • Andrew Emmerson 24th Jun '14 - 4:16pm

    “The Debate is still raging”

    First line makes the whole article fatally flawed. The debate ended weeks ago. Stop trying to make it happen again.

  • Andrew Emmerson 24th Jun '14 - 4:29pm

    A bit more of a substantial comment, the idea that Vince would be a popular leader somewhat jars with you using the example of Blair / Brown. The sage economic adviser with a high popularity rating, the voice of change, the one that’s always secretly wanted the job…. No way that could go wrong for Vince right?

    You’re right that lots of parties have had movements and votes on Cleggs leadership but the overwhelming majority have felt no need to even have the vote. My local party – no one supported a leadership contest. http://www.markpack.org.uk/50571/how-liberal-democrat-local-parties-have-voted-re-the-partys-leadership/

    Point 1) Well that’s been covered over and over and over and over
    Point 2) We haven’t left those policies, but as a party of coalition supporters, we can’t actually always get 100% of our policies in, but it doesn’t mean we’ve abandoned them
    Point 3) I may be in a minority here, but the party frankly has too much democracy for the most part. All wings are heavily involved in making policy.

    Your point about under 25’s not switching to us, is honestly not true, when under 35’s hear our policies they switch to us in good numbers. Once you get out and tell them, they will come.

    The party is back to being reunited. Please let this issue drop.

  • Charles Rothwell 24th Jun '14 - 4:33pm

    I agree with Andrew. All that can be hoped for is that someone can get inside the bubble around NC and convince him that he should announce that 2015 will be the last GE he will be contesting as LD Leader. There is no-one who has expressed an interest in standing as Leader before then and who knows that, even if they did, their constituency would be 100% safe post-May of next year (no need to repeat Asquith’s role in 1918!)? We are where we are and, like the inhabitants of Florida or wherever facing a typhoon, we have got to keep our nerve and do all we can to prepare for the storm and the reconstruction work to follow (and BOTH of these should be the primary focus points for the Autumn Conference (by which time who knows what on earth may have happened? Scotland, EU, interest rates????)

  • matt (Bristol) 24th Jun '14 - 4:38pm

    Hmm. I’ve said enough about this today – see earlier thread arising from Caron’s post about Mike Storey’s comments on Nick Clegg’s ‘toxicity’.

  • John Roffey 24th Jun '14 - 4:40pm

    @ Andrew Emmerson

    Seems a well thought through and rational argument. How can ‘the debate have ended weeks ago’ when these types of shocking results occur – it take a while to sink in for most members? Apart from that – it takes time for branches to organise a debate and come to a definite conclusion on whether to request a leadership election – the process could take months.

  • Shaun Nichols 24th Jun '14 - 4:44pm

    Unfortunately, Nick Clegg isn’t going to resign. The parliamentary party and leadership have closed ranks, orchestrating a campaign to suppress any dissent from the grassroots.

    I suggest we focus our time and resources on local campaigns while omitting ‘toxic Clegg’ from our messaging. Clegg won’t be leader this time next year folks.

  • Richard Church 24th Jun '14 - 4:51pm

    Talk about flogging a dead horse. Your right about one thing John Roffey, the proccess could take months, at the current rate it might reach a conclusion sometime after the next general election. So far, one month after the Euro elections and only two local parties out of the required 75 have called for a leadership ballot. The horse is dead, it is deceased it is an ex-horse, it has gone to meet its maker. Please leave it in peace.

  • Stephen Howse 24th Jun '14 - 4:53pm

    “1.An immediate Leadership election with Nick Clegg standing down for a more popular leader
    2.A return to the electorally popular Manifesto policies campaigned for in May 2010
    3.Greater Democracy in the party with inclusion of all wings of the party in policy making”

    1) Who?
    2) So popular they lost us seats.
    3) What does this even mean? This smacks to me of “the party’s policies aren’t what I want, so more people like me should get to make policy”.

  • John Trundle 24th Jun '14 - 5:01pm

    If we remove Clegg, there is a very real danger that Farron could lead the party to complete oblivion.
    He may be the housewife’s choice, but he is hated at Westminster.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 5:06pm

    This is getting every painful. 2%. Yet we have members who still support Nick. It is no wonder some members are asking for change.

    Leadership is about taking responsibility. All I ask for is this party to become a winning team again. Is that too much to ask. We members are the ones who will be or are knocking doors. 2% does not give one much confidence and the zap to get up and go.

    Perhaps I will get on with the decorating while the party carries on down the path to the wilderness. UKIP are now the third force in politics, we are firmly 4th. Well Done……Nick.

    http://www1.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2014/06/24/survation-finds-con-to-lab-swing-of-7-3-with-the-lds-dropping-to-just-2-in-four-key-commuter-belt-marginals/

  • @John Trundle – What are you basing that on? Just idol gossip I’m sure… To be honest – I dont care what ‘Westminster’ thinks…Tim would lead and lead us in the right direction.

    I leave you with this You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. – Churchill

    PS – Farron for leader 😉

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 5:11pm

    Couldn’t we restore Charles under an emergency measure, because we are facing an emergency.

  • @Dave Jones

    “I leave you with this You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. – Churchill”

    You could say the same for Nick 🙂

  • Andrew Emmerson 24th Jun '14 - 5:20pm

    @John Roffey

    The debate lasted roughly two weeks. It was put to bed by the lack of parties willing to call for a leadership election and the LDV poll which showed the majority wanted Clegg to stay. Since then there has been plenty more oppurtunities for local parties to arrange SGM’s. They haven’t.

    I’m part of a local party which went through this process, in fact I helped bloody organise the thing. If it was so damn urgent to get rid of Clegg, trust me 75 parties could have done it by now.

  • Stephen Campbell 24th Jun '14 - 5:25pm

    Please, please keep Clegg as your leader. As an ex-Liberal Democrat voter, he’s manna from heaven for all the other parties!

  • Neil jennison 24th Jun '14 - 5:30pm

    It all seems rather an odd debate. Are the Lib Dems not the party that wants coalition government? The one that says parties should co-operate?

    Well you lost the last election and did the decent thing by supporting the largest party. In a democracy, given you came third, you were never going to get most things you wanted.

    Why blame the leader now? Personally I have no time for Clegg whatsoever or his policies, but surely he deserves the credit for doing the decent thing after the election?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Jun '14 - 5:30pm

    I still don’t see how changing the leader is suddenly going to change our fortunes. It’s hardly like the left and right wing media will suddenly let us away with all we’ve done over the past 4 years that they don’t like because they want to kill us off to make the road clear for their old pals.

    And look what happened to John Major. The Tories, almost quarter of a century on, are still suffering the shockwaves of their defenestration of Thatcher. Major’s leadership was plagued by splits and strife and all manner of misery. And as for Miliband, that didn’t work out so well, either. He’s even less popular than Clegg.

    I don’t think that Clegg is in an irredeemable situation. That’s not to say that I think everything in the garden is rosy or that we don’t have a lot to do in order to get the result we need next year. He is, however, associated very personally with many of the most liberal policies we have introduced. Rather than bar charts showing how many jobs we’ve created, he needs to talk about improving the life chances of disadvantaged kids, of working towards decent health care, helping people get on in life by helping them with childcare.

    I also don’t think it’s right to say that 44% of the public want him removed as leader. When Stephen does the surveys, he might headline them x% of Lib Dem members want to serve roast owl to Ed Miliband, or whatever, but he also is very open about where those figures come from and how many people have been asked.

    And amongst the people who are disposed to voting for us, Nick’s ratings are significantly better. Not where we need them to be, yet, but better.

    Much of the criticism he’s getting from our opponents and the media is actually unfair. He may have made some howlers, but he’s also introduced a good deal of the Liberal Democrat policies that we voted or at Conference pre 2010. There is an argument that we should get behind him and actually start defending him. It is possible to get people to consider voting for us again by politely asking them a few questions when they say that they can’t vote for us cos of Clegg or the Coalition and I’d say the most productive and constructive thing we can do over the Summer is to have these conversations.

  • “It is possible to get people to consider voting for us again by politely asking them a few questions when they say that they can’t vote for us cos of Clegg or the Coalition and I’d say the most productive and constructive thing we can do over the Summer is to have these conversations.”

    If there are magic questions that cause people who say they won’t vote Lib Dem to reconsider, then I think now would be a good time to tell people what they are …

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 5:43pm

    Hello Caron

    Would you agree we are now 4th in the political scene?

  • richard rowles 24th Jun '14 - 5:55pm

    Jon may be right, but my gut instinct is that Caron is right the media will still destroy us whomever the leader. I dont have time to write a long post as I’m too busy designing and getting our latest focus out. X

  • Paul in Wokingham 24th Jun '14 - 5:56pm

    @Shaun Cunningham – actually that Survation poll (which has small samples at about 220 per constituency) does not show LD as 4th party. The Lib Dems are behind the Greens in all 4 constituencies. This seems to be the “new normal” in constituencies like those in that poll.

    In fact if you look closely at the data you will see that not a single person in the 220 sample in Crawley declared as a Liberal Democrat.

  • David Allen 24th Jun '14 - 6:04pm

    “Talk about flogging a dead horse. … The horse is dead, it is deceased it is an ex-horse, it has gone to meet its maker. Please leave it in peace.”

    Translation follows:

    “I support Clegg. I am very scared that so many other people don’t. Rather than use rational argument, I think that the best chances of retaining Clegg will be to try. desperately, to make Clegg’s opponents look like a minority. The way to do that is to act as if one could simply laugh the challenge away. So here goes.

    Laugh. Laugh laugh. Laugh laugh laugh laugh. Hysterical laugh. I’m laughing myself silly. So is my mate. Come on guys, let’s all get laughing. Louder please! Why aren’t more people laughing?”

  • @Caron
    It is not all down to the media.

    The adoption of secret courts and the production of a poorly-evidenced report on local government waste were not a result of the media.

    Clegg seems to have no plan to turn things around.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 6:08pm

    Hello Paul

    I was looking at all the latest polling. You are right though, where the party is seen to have little chance we are not 4th but lower. We are facing a critical time, if this party does not change the way back will take a generation.

    It’s a not question if we change, we MUST.

  • Jonathan Pile 24th Jun '14 - 6:46pm

    A good question for those opting for business as usual. It didn’t work in May. The party is divided. What kind of leader is happy to preside over such a mess? – I’ve just been contacted since the article went live by members and ex-members new to libdemfightback who endorse what we’re saying. The public would take interest in a leadership change but not in more Nick Clegg.

  • paul barker 24th Jun '14 - 6:55pm

    “Across The Party some 30 Local Parties have scheduled votes this Summer”. The language here is unclear, does that 30 include the 24 that have already met or is it another 30 ? Can you give us alist of which Local Parties are yet to meet & when. The result so far is 2 Parties out of 24 voting for a Leadership Election now, that suggests to me that the “Clegg-must-go” people have lost the debate.

  • Tony Dawson 24th Jun '14 - 6:56pm

    @Andrew Emmerson :

    ” My local party – no one supported a leadership contest”

    An interesting assertion. How do you know? Have they all been asked? By who? I would wager that a considerable number of Party Members (whatever their view on this matter) in virtually every Local Party would not know what the Party constitution demands to obtain action. Nor would they know (or be permitted to know) the contact details of fellow Local Party members if they wanted to find out if here were people of like minds around. So the constitution really ought to say(I paraphrase): ” a Leadership election can be held when over 75 Local Parties in which 20 or more members who already know each other and who know the Party constitution ask for one.”

  • Tony Dawson 24th Jun '14 - 7:04pm

    @Caron Lindsay

    “I still don’t see how changing the leader is suddenly going to change our fortunes”

    It is ‘necessary but not sufficient” Caron. And the reason is called ‘voters’. Remove the person who they do not trust and who causes them to not trust the Party and you stand a chance of beginning a beginning again. Not a ‘great chance’. Just a chance.

    ‘close association with Liberal Policies’ – even if you believe this – is not a factor which is going to get us many votes. I must remind everyone that the ONLY thing important here from the 2015 General Election point of view is how our new Leader might affect things in about 25 – 35 constituencies where the result is in doubt. There is then a subsequent issue as to whether (s)he will provide an inspiration to growth and re-birth of the Party after the election.

  • Tony Dawson 24th Jun '14 - 7:08pm

    “Stephen Howse:

    ” (2010 policies) So popular they lost us seats.”

    No they didn’t. The policy gained us seats (and increased majorities) all over and nearly gained us more. We lost seats largely due to poor campaigns that no one is allowed to talk about. -(

  • Unless someone can define the 6 most serious challenges facing the UK over the next 10 years and suggest practical cost effective solutions, there is no point in changing Clegg.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 7:20pm

    Hello Paul

    Will you make a promise next May you will not go and hide somewhere but face the music here on this site?

    Are you knocking doors at present?

    The debate Paul will continue until this party faces up to those tough choices. We are no longer the 3rd force in politics but clearly 4th and may even be 5th in many areas of this country. and this finds favour with you. It says a lot about the will to win.

    The leadership belief is they will hold enough seats at the election to form another partnership at the expense of the roots and foundations of this party. I will carry on with my decorating until this party comes to its senses.

  • John Roffey 24th Jun '14 - 7:22pm

    @ Andrew Emmerson

    The point I was making is that if what has happened is the end of the bad news – a demand for a leadership election might not happen, However, what if the Party’s poll ratings continue to to fall – which is quite possible – how low would it have to fall before every member wanted a leadership election?

  • I should very much like to hear Andrew Emmerson, Paul Barker, or any other of Nick Clegg’s supporters give reasons why they think Nick Clegg is the best person to lead the Party other than “he’s leading it now.” If you could vote for any candidate to lead the Party, why would you choose Clegg? What does he bring to the Party in terms of leadership style, negotiating skills, and political intelligence? How will he help the Liberal Democrats reorganise, improve their message, and improve their standing in 2015? What make him the most attractive face that the Lib Dems can put forward to represent them as a party for the coming year?

    I don’t want to hear that we can’t change Clegg because disagreements in the Party are always bad, or because the press will target anybody else just as much as Clegg, or that Clegg is unfairly blamed because the Lib Dem volunteers didn’t work hard enough, or that if he goes he will throw a fit and try to undermine the Party from within or without. I want to know what Clegg has got that makes him a net positive for the Party. I daresay there’s a solid case to me made for that, but i should like to hear it rather than have it assumed that it’s already been made.

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Jun '14 - 7:34pm

    paul barker 24th Jun ’14 – 6:55pm

    Paul, I would have thought you would have at least waited to have something worthwhile to say before entering print again.

    Clegg will not be leader this time next year. The key questions are a) do we, the Liberal Democrats, start to reposition and rebuild this summer or b) next year following NC’s departure or more worrying than either of these – and the reason we, the PARTY loyalists, won’t go away is c) how long might it take for our party to recover from the battering we are CERTAIN to receive with NC leading us in 2015.

    I was going to write that it is staggering that Clegg-loyalists are willing to gamble the future of our party in their support for the present leader – but then maybe not … if Clegg goes, the New Lib Dem project will go with him and the party will inevitably return to its Centre-left roots. The weakness in your rationale is that it is WHEN NC goes and WHEN traditional centre-left Liberal Democracy returns.

  • Jonathan Pile 24th Jun '14 - 7:36pm

    This is a classic example of how parties in government, and this particularly applies to the Lib Dems (and before that the Liberal Party in government) tend to mistake what is good for country (and leadership)and what is good for the party. They are completely different. In hindsight – the worse possible thing to happen to the party was a hung parliament (the one thing we have been working towards and dreaming of for 40+ years). It was never going to possible to do anything but support or enter into coalition in the crisis of 2010. A majority conservative government would have been the best possible thing for the party and the worse possible thing for the country. By entering into coalition, we did the best thing for the country (low interest rates, an earlier return to growth, higher than expected employment etc) but the worse thing for the party. Because of this, the Party leadership should have set out a plan to offset the harm to the party by avoiding policy pitfalls (many timebombs left by Labour – cuts because of the budget deficit, 50% tax, HS2) and the damaging curve balls from the Tories (Tuition Fees, cuts to regional aid, welfare cuts, bedroom tax etc). Unfortunately for the Party, Nick Clegg seems to have embraced all of the above causing a total collapse (75%) in support. The same thing happened in the First World War 1914-1918 to the Liberal Party when it embraced the war without thinking through the electoral consequences of Conscription. History repeats itself.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 7:39pm

    There needs to be a point in time where the party starts the long road of rebuilding. I agree with Reg Yeates we do have a tarnish label which is clear in the polls and speaking to hundreds of residents. I repeat we are no longer the 3 rd force in British Politics but 4th or 5th. In some areas we are behind the Greens for God’s sake.

    It’s going to a hard and long journey in creating trust with the British Electorate again. It will take years.
    So why put off the start of that journey when clearly we need to start on one.

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Jun '14 - 7:41pm

    I agree with Simon Shaw re Vince Cable.
    He would immediately be targeted 1) as the man who, whatever the facts, brought in tuition fees, 2) as the man who significantly underpriced the Royal Mail and 3) with the same disgraceful ageism as was Ming Campbell.

    We need a two-term leader.

    I’d be interested to know your objections to the other option(s) Simon.

  • Stephen Howse 24th Jun '14 - 7:42pm

    “I should very much like to hear Andrew Emmerson, Paul Barker, or any other of Nick Clegg’s supporters give reasons why they think Nick Clegg is the best person to lead the Party other than “he’s leading it now.” ”

    Maybe you should ask members of the 22 (out of 24) local parties that have decided now is not the time for a leadership contest. We can all huff and puff as much as we want when we’re bored at work but ultimately it’s those people who have actually been faced with the chance to call for a leadership election and most of them have decided against.

    Or do we only like democracy in this party when it produces the ‘right’ result?

  • Stephen Howse 24th Jun '14 - 7:45pm

    “We never criticised any policy, which made us look like lapdogs to an Etonian entitled elite.”

    The Tory right rather thinks the opposite – that true blue Toryism has been put on hold because the PM has to deal with a bunch of lily-livered Liberals.

    The truth is probably somewhere in the middle – we’ve had to concede ground in ways we wouldn’t have had to if we had a majority, but that’s the problem with being a small party with bugger all seats.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Jun '14 - 7:45pm

    Caron Lindsay

    He is, however, associated very personally with many of the most liberal policies we have introduced.

    Rubbish, complete and utter rubbish.

    He’s been there while a few fringe liberalish things have been done alongside a horrendously right-wing Tory government. I don’t think there’s anything special he did to get then done that anyone else in that position couldn’t have done. However, the more you and the other Cleggies use those lines, Caron, the more you WRECK our party. Because the more you go on about this supposedly wonderful government and all the liberal things it has done, the more people who hate what it has done and for very good reason turn against us. Sure, I know you did not write “this wonderful government and all the liberal things it has done”, but lines like “all we’ve done over the past 4 years” ARE read s JUST THAT. Why can’t you and the other Cleggies get that point? Why can’t you see that all this way over-optimistic exaggeration of what we have done comes across as us being enthusiastic for horrendous right-wing Tory government?

    The fact is that this strategy of over-exaggeration which has been led by Clegg but supported by people like you, Caron, has completely failed, that is why the lot of you must be cleared out of the top ranks and promotional departments of the party for it to get back on its feet and replaced by new people who aren’t tainted with it.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 7:50pm

    Hello Stephen

    Can I take then you are happy to be a very weak 4th when we were a very strong 3rd political force?

    May I ask how you see the party regaining trust and moving back up the political ladder? Could it be HOPE?

  • Stephen Donnelly 24th Jun '14 - 7:58pm

    No need to read anything after the first post by Andrew Emerson :
    “The Debate is still raging”
    First line makes the whole article fatally flawed. The debate ended weeks ago. Stop trying to make it happen again.

    The world has moved on. Clegg is the leader. Live with it.

  • @Stephen Hesketh

    “He would immediately be targeted”

    I think that any leader is going to be targeted by opponents. A new leader must change direction and have something positive to offer people who might vote Lib Dem.

    I would like to see banking reform, citizenship for Snowden, civil liberties restored like the right to silence, a solution for the Assange situation.

    It is under 12 months until the election and what is on offer? What is Clegg doing to win votes?

  • Stephen Howse 24th Jun '14 - 8:03pm

    “Can I take then you are happy to be a very weak 4th when we were a very strong 3rd political force?”

    We’re a strong 2nd political force in my city.

    If enough people in enough constituencies want a leadership election, then we’ll have one.

    You might find more people rallying to the cause if there were a challenger openly calling for a contest and telling us they’d stand. But there isn’t one.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 8:04pm

    Hello Stephen

    “The world has moved on. Clegg is the leader. Live with it”

    Well you can, but I am certainly not. I not going to work my socks of for a leadership who can only deliver defeat after defeat. We are now a weak 4th in political arena. Sorry I am happy with that and nor should be.

  • Changing the leader now will not help your party. Ironically, this is why you can’t change the leader, until a credible candidate for the leadership raises their head none of the leading MPs will back a change of leader. What are you suggesting they do? Topple the leadership only to find that nobody wants the job?

    When Ming Campbell was the leader the party was at 7% in the polls because he wasn’t good at connecting with the voters – it was like a ship who’s captain was taking it towards the rocks. So there were a few candidates for the new captain – those who thought they could turn the ship around and steer it out of trouble.

    But now that the ship has hit the rocks and is holed below the water line nobody wants to be the captain of that for a year only to be the one at the helm when the ship sinks.

    If you don’t actually understand how bad things are for the party please let me try and explain:

    No matter how you spin it, the public believe the Lib Dems told bare faced lies over student tuition fees. The public will forgive a lot, but they won’t forgive down right lies.

    More over those people they lied to were their voter based, the young, students and their middle class parents. The Lib Dems had the most educated and least tribal voters, these people won’t simply always vote Lib Dem regardless of what their party does to them just because their parents and grand parents did. Now those people believe you lied to them and let them down.

    The Lib Dems have fractured if not down right alienated their based, the public don’t know what they stand for and wouldn’t believe a word they said if they tried to tell them anyway.

    Nobody want to be the leader standing on top of the wreakage in 11 months time. Changing the leader is not some magically cure to make it all better, it’s gone way to far for that, only you don’t seem to know this.

  • David Evans 24th Jun '14 - 8:06pm

    Yes, the shock troops of failure keep trotting out the same tired excuses. Nick has to go and go now.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 8:07pm

    Simon

    What utter rubbish you speak. Really, is no wonder this debate is not dead.
    Some parts of this country we are 5th behind the greens are you in the real world.

  • Stephen Howse 24th Jun '14 - 8:17pm

    “Some parts of this country we are 5th behind the greens are you in the real world.”

    What, because he lives in an area where we’re doing (very) well he doesn’t get to contribute? The point he made – that in most of our held seats we’re still at least in contention – is a valid one.

  • Bill le Breton 24th Jun '14 - 8:18pm

    Simon. my apologies, I had always assumed you thought Vince’s solution was a good one 😉

    It’s the trust issue, Simon, not the Cable solution that is the problem. Just ask a young person and their parents. The latter are furious that Clegg has taught their children that they can’t trust a politician and, so, has activity discouraged their children from being active citizens.

    I have yet to be shown any campaign material from either the Euro or the local elections this year which feateured Clegg. How can we fight a national election campaign next May in which every candidate will be trying to fight a ‘local’ campaign, dreading any Party Political Broadcasts featuring Clegg and doing everything they can to discourage a leader’s visit to their constituency?

    The Parliamentary Party is in shock. Frightened to do of say anything. Hoping to be one of the 12 to 25 MPs who survive. That actually doen’t make them very good judges of what is best either for themselves or for the Party.

  • Bill le Breton 24th Jun '14 - 8:21pm

    To think that at present we are in contention in 55-60 seats is nonsense. Just look at the Ashcroft polling for starters.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 8:23pm

    Stephen

    One needs to look at the bigger picture? So we go into the next election with a goal of hanging on to what we have hoping the electorate will be kind.
    That’s not a political party in good health, it’s a party needing a blood transfusion.

  • Caron Lindsay

    “The Tories, almost quarter of a century on, are still suffering the shockwaves of their defenestration of Thatcher. Major’s leadership was plagued by splits and strife and all manner of misery. And as for Miliband, that didn’t work out so well, either. He’s even less popular than Clegg.”

    1. Like her or hate her Thatcher was a political giant and Clegg isn’t in that league. If the LibDems can get over what they did to Charles Kennedy – the best LibDem/Liberal leader in my life time – they will get over kicking Clegg out.
    2. Miliband may have bad individual poll ratings – although they are better than Cleggs – but the party he’s leading are ahead in the polls. The LibDems have dreadful poll ratings for their leader and party, that’s a big difference.

  • Ian Bailey (Labour) 24th Jun '14 - 8:27pm

    If Clegg was to go (for whatever reason) you would need a leader bot associated with the Tories and championing /voting for Tory policies. If Kennedy is a non starter that only leaves you Farron. Agree that Cable would be savaged by my party and frankly looks too old to be anything other than a night watchman which raides other questions.

    But you have to accept that you – the LibDems – have voted through each and every nasty vindictive illiberal policy the Tories could dream up. Indeed LibDem MPs vote more loyally for thear measures than Tory MPs have done. You know that the “wr restrained the Tories” argument is a non-starter, it’s like telling the still twitching corpse that you saved them from the Tory assassin who wanted to shoot them a 4th time after the 3rd bullet had already finished them off.

    I had previously argued that for the sake of progressive politics he had to go. But don’t worry. You clearly are happy as the establishment party which is why the greens have managed to overtake you.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 8:28pm

    What, because he lives in an area where we’re doing (very) well he doesn’t get to contribute? The point he made – that in most of our held seats we’re still at least in contention – is a valid one.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 8:30pm

    Sorry the above post was unfinished

    What, because he lives in an area where we’re doing (very) well he doesn’t get to contribute? The point he made – that in most of our held seats we’re still at least in contention – is a valid one.

    Nonsense

  • @Bill le Breton

    If there is no change at the top, how many MPs will the Lib Dem retain at the election? Under 30? Over 30?

  • Paul In Wokingham 24th Jun '14 - 8:41pm

    @David – when Ming Campbell was leader (March 2006 to October 2007) the Liberal Democrats were on around 20% in the polls for the entire period. At the time that Ming was removed, the ICM poll for The Guardian had shown the party on 16% – his lowest rating for the entire period.

    Presumably at that time 16% was regarded as sufficient to send in the men in the grey suits, or whatever the Lib Dem equivalent is.

  • @Bill le Breton
    Sorry I see you already said 25 MPs at most will survive.

    “That actually doen’t make them very good judges”

    Perhaps there is a need for a different mechanism for removing the leader which does not rely on the rationality of scared MPs

  • As said above (and that I’ve been saying since late 2010)……. CHARLES KENNEDY back as a caretaker leader a few months out from the GE – Clegg stands down for some personal reason;

    1 – it saves time being distracted by a Leadership contest;
    2 – CK says he intends to stand as Leader again after GE (but then in Summer 15 changes his mind );
    3 – CK – knows the ropes as Leader;
    4 – CK VOTED AGAINST TUTION FEES (please correct me if I’m wrong);
    5 -CK is well know AND STILL WELL LIKED BY THE PUBLIC;
    6 – change of leader should reenergise the party
    7- The LIB DEMS have very little left to lose and everything to gain.

    I rest my case………. unfortunately the good & the great have a death wish for the party……1923/4 style…..

  • Jonathan Pile 24th Jun '14 - 8:53pm

    Anyone read catch 22? – we can’t change the leader so close to an election they say. Then they say we can’t change the leader because the next election is a foregone disaster and that leader will be sacrificed in the maelstrom. What has the party to lose but it’s shame and it’s fear. I accept that stepping up for the plate for 2015 is going to be a tough one (but Major did it) , Cable is the obvious interim leader (he’s done it before and should have stayed in the job), Tim Farron (Longer term) and perhaps now is the time for a female leader to step up and sweep aside all of the crass male politics. Surely one of the MP’s has the courage to challenge Clegg and come to the rescue of the party. Then lets not rule out a respected figure from the past coming back over the hills to save the party.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 8:57pm

    Hello Greenfield

    I agree , CHARLES KENNEDY it is. Motioned seconded

    Let’s us move to a formal vote.

  • CHARLES KENNEDY back as a caretaker leader a few months out from the GE

    Why would Kennedy agree to do that? What’s in it for him?

  • Mark Pack 24th Jun ’14 – 7:31pm
    “Who are the 30 local parties who are meant to have tabled a leadership vote? I’ve tried pretty hard to track them all down, ”

    Mark, you are to be congratulated on the information you have gleaned so far.
    Am I right that you are doing this entirely on your own initiative? Does the party not have someone taking responsibility for this?

    This seems a bit odd. I had assumed that an office holder in the party would be responsible for collating this information.

    Your analysis is interesting but as I read it there have been six meetings in accordance with the constitution with 3 for an election and 3 against. Is that correct?

    There have been twenty something local party executive decisions against letting their membership have a meeting and a vote. Which I would suggest is not quite the same as the constitutional provision for the local membership taking a vote opposing an election.

    If they have not had a chance to express their opinion, discuss at a meeting and then vote, that seems to be a denial of the constitution not an indication of a decision one way. My local party executive took such a decision to prevent a meeting with fewer than a dozen people voting out of a membership of more than 400.

    Just going back to the role of party HQ and office holders. I am aware from a Facebook Forum that party HQ has refused to make available contact details of local parties and in some cases failed to even respond to requests in this matter. Again this seems a bit odd. Surely the role of party HQ in such a matter should be to remain neutral?

    As I read the information on your website what is beyond dispute is that more than thirty local parties have had some sort of discussion. The vast majority of these so far have been small numbers of local executive members rather than special general membership meetings arranged for all the local members?

  • Jonathan Pile 24th Jun '14 - 9:08pm

    @Greenfield @ Shaun Cunningham
    CK back as interim leader for the GE – I’ll vote for that (and so would the voters)
    – see United again – wasn’t that hard was it?

  • “And these places where we are 5th: How many of them are constituencies where we have been in recent contention? What I described as “those places where we are a good 2nd or a 1st”?”

    Well, presumably you mean places where you were a good second or first in 2010. There’s a world of difference between that and still being a good second or first. You have dropped 15 points in the polls!

  • Tim – a real Liberal would say not whats in it for me, but what can I do for the party.

  • A quick observation.
    Some people at the beginning of this thread suggested that this Debate is over.. “The debate ended weeks ago. ” they say. But this seems like wishful thinking by those who want to cling on to the status quo.

    All the evidence in the last week or so from those LDV threads that are specifically on the subject of the future of the leadership is that they attract a lot of input and a variety of different names on both sides of the argument, many of whom comment just once.

    This thread has attracted more than 70 comments since 4pm and on a quick scan through it would appear that Paul Walter has yet to put in his usual six or seven sarcastic contributions. So at the current rate of interest by midnight we should be into three figures. Whichever side of the debate you are on you have to acknowledge that this debate is raging on.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 9:19pm

    Hello Simon

    Look at the last election results. They were a disaster, please don’t say otherwise.
    The picture you paint is a false one , one built on hope. Some parts of this country have become a no go area for this party. It wasn’t like that 4 years ago. Have we now become a party were we shore up what is left and draw up the drawbridge. That’s not a party in good health. We should be on the attack not on the defensive. I fight to win not sit in my bunker waiting for the calamities to stop.

    The problem I have no one is listening to us any more, nationally we are dead. Sorry but it’s true. UKIP are now established as the third force in British politics , we have joined the fringes were the eccentrics live. You can’t be happy with that surely?

  • Simon – true = it s not how many votes you get – its where you get them – thats the craze old first past the post system for you…..God Bless it ……. never thought I’d say that!!

  • @Tim
    “Why would Kennedy agree to do that? What’s in it for him?”

    I think there can be glory for someone who is seen as reviving the fortunes of the party. Plus he could stay on if he were seen as doing a good job. I guess it depends on how he views Clegg being photographed holding The Sun

  • “So, based on the 22 May voting, they have us WINNING 37 constituencies on a uniform swing”

    Just to be clear, when you say “based on the 22 May voting”, you mean you want to assume that the Westminster election will reproduce the voting in the local elections held on that date, and you want to completely ignore the national election held on that date – for the European parliament – in which the Lib Dems came fifth in the popular vote.

    Tell me, if – instead of making that completely arbitrary choice – you had chosen to base your projection on the European election instead, how many seats do you think the Lib Dems would be in contention in on that basis?

  • Andy Williams 24th Jun '14 - 9:24pm

    “A debate is still raging in the party” – Er NO

    It never was raging and it certainly isn’t now. Not one local member has raised this in our constituency and we have about 300 of them.

  • If there was only 1% support for Nick as leader, that group would have me in it. Watching him put up with all the Daily Mail media crap with dignity and humour, inspired me when I was seriously ill, and I decided that if I ever got well again (which took 2 years) , I would join the party. I did, and stood for the LibDems in Sunderland in May. Stop moaning and get on with fighting back!

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 9:29pm

    Hello Andy

    Are they active and knock doors. You may be a little oasis ?

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Jun '14 - 9:31pm

    Meg Crosby 24th Jun ’14 – 9:26pm

    Meg, I am very pleased with your recovery from illness but NC being made a Saint as you appear to have in mind is probably more likely than him being leader in a years time 🙂

  • Andy Williams 24th Jun '14 - 9:35pm

    Shaun

    A number of them are active and do knock on doors. Should I be persuading them to call an EGM instead to debate the party leadership. Especially as we’ve got loads of time left until the general election and are unsure how to fill it.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 9:39pm

    Andy

    Not that line again.

    In fact most of your membership are not active then and have no idea what the doorstep is saying, yes or No

  • Andy Williams 24th Jun '14 - 9:43pm

    Shaun

    We have knoked on thousands of doors this year and delivered close to 300,000 bits of paper so I would say we are fairly active. We also held all 12 seats that we were defending this year and made one gain. This was done by not sitting around debating who should or shouldn’t be leader.

  • Richard Dean 24th Jun '14 - 9:45pm

    The contradictions in this thread seem to give the impression that some LibDems are not very well acquainted with the concept of truth.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Jun '14 - 9:46pm

    For those of you who are talking about the debate raging on LDV, it’s the same people every time….

  • A number of them are active and do knock on doors. Should I be persuading them to call an EGM instead to debate the party leadership.

    Logically, it would depend on the likely consequences of sacrificing an hour or two of potential door-knocking time by those people. The consequences for the number of people willing to knock on doors and for the response they get.

    What you’ve said is no argument at all in itself. You might as well say that someone is busy walking along the road and they mustn’t interrupt that task to catch a bus.

  • Its like Waco Texas with Focus leaflets instead of guns. The Cleggistas are determined to take the party down with them. And its the same Cleggistas every time.

  • “We also held all 12 seats that we were defending this year and made one gain.”

    That narrows it down to three local parties, if I remember correctly.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Jun '14 - 9:51pm

    Caron Lindsay

    I still don’t see how changing the leader is suddenly going to change our fortunes.

    I’m not saying “suddenly”, and I don’t think anyone else is either. It will be a long process, but the longer we delay starting it, the worse it will get.

  • Just supposing there actually is a right wing orange book conspiracy aiming to capture the party as a spearhead for neo-liberal policies (how The Guardian conspiracists would love it). Their best plan would be for Nick Clegg to leave now and encourage a party left winger to stand only to get a hammering in the election, leaving the way open for the much vaunted right wingers to take over!

    But this is comic book fantasy politics. The reality is that the participation in government has to be defended, warts and all. My major gripe concerning tuition fees, is that the leadership who initially agreed to the new system have not defended the system vigorously enough.

    Forget the Orange Book myths, there is a pressing need from the top downwards to articulate core Liberal Democratic principles in the context of what has been done and what should now be done (including those policies that need to be altered or even abandoned) in a future administration.

    Nonetheless whatever the number of MPs that can achieve re-election, we are looking at a sharply reduced electoral support. Under such circumstances, if in the unlikely event that the electoral result yields no overall control any further involvement in anything like another coalition would be unsustainable and likely to further damage the Party.

    The aftermath of any such greatly reduce support would be the moment for Clegg to step down and this would allow the Party a clean rebuild in political and economical circumstances that I believe the previous coalition government will be viewed more favourably.

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 9:57pm

    Andy

    Well done. what part of the country? Did your vote standup? How many members are active?

    I have talked to many in this party and the picture you paint is not one they recognise.

    Here we can get away on local issues in our strong wards but nationally it’s a no go. Nick is an issue and we should debate it. I have knocked on hundreds of doors in the course of the last year and we have a problem. The polls are reinforcing that message so you may say no to a leadership debate but I say yes to one.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Jun '14 - 9:58pm

    Caron Lindsay

    And look what happened to John Major. The Tories, almost quarter of a century on, are still suffering the shockwaves of their defenestration of Thatcher.

    And the country is suffering from the long-term effects of Mrs Thatcher’s policies. She was a disaster as Prime Minister, so many policies which looked good in the short term, but were damaging in the long-term. We OUGHT to be in a position to be saying that now, saying “See, we told you so”, saying that the mess our country is in comes about because Labour carried on with those same policies. But we aren’t, instead we’ve joined in cheering them on, at least Clegg and the Cleggies have.

    The “shockwaves” are because of the support she and her disastrous policies got from the right-wing press and from the international money-men who pay them to put out their propaganda in favour of the super-rich. John Major DID actually rescue the Tory Party and stopped it from going down the far right path it has now gone down again. Just because the mouthpieces of the super-rich don’t like it doesn’t mean we should join in with them and agree with their kine that Thatcher was a good thing who should not have been got rid of.

  • Nonetheless whatever the number of MPs that can achieve re-election, we are looking at a sharply reduced electoral support.

    And how is that any kind of argument for not trying to minimise the losses?

    You seem to be saying “It’s going to be bad anyway, so it won’t make any difference how bad it is”. It makes no sense.

  • Jonathan Pile 24th Jun '14 - 10:03pm

    At our current ratings if we get to 4% or lower then the party is finished in Westminster and there is nothing to rebuild on. The sooner the change is made and the heroic attempt to reconnect and make amends starts. Our party is worth fighting for. If Clegg loved the party he could not bear to see this division or endure the loss of the party’s standing in the country.

  • Ian Bailey (Labour) 24th Jun '14 - 10:04pm

    With respect to the good professors, Rallings and Thrashed said their model – the one being clung to here – didn’t model UKIP. Which makes it as useful as a model not including you.

    UNS is not relevant when all the main parties have no real national coverage with a uniformity of scale. What this means is that you are reliant on accumulation of votes per seat – and the Portillo syndrome shows how a vengeful electorate can say screw the national position we want your head.

    Then we have the Eastleigh syndrome. Where you throw every activist you have into the seat, cling on and then claim that makes you safe. Indeed – providing that in the GE you can ship every activist you have into every seat simultaneously.

    How will you do in the GE? You already know the answer to that…..

  • Shaun Cunningham 24th Jun '14 - 10:07pm

    Simon

    We are on downward spiral, you can paint a picture of all is well if you want but you are in denial.

    We now have the lowest local government representation since 1980.
    We have lost over 1700 local Councillors in the last 4 years.
    We have a single EMP
    If the polls are correct we are not a strong 3rd in the political arena but at best 4th.

    We don’t have a problem.?

  • Stephen Howse 24th Jun '14 - 10:12pm

    “Why would Kennedy agree to do that? What’s in it for him?”

    Indeed. Why would he put himself through it?

    Charlie is a brilliant Liberal and was an inspiring party leader, but he’s not going to replace Nick Clegg. Not a chance.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Jun '14 - 10:16pm

    Martin

    But this is comic book fantasy politics. The reality is that the participation in government has to be defended, warts and all.

    Yes, and I HAVE been defending it since it started. But doing that is made MUCH harder by the way Clegg and Cleggies exaggerate it and give the impression we regard this government as wonderful and liberal, pushing just the sort of policies we like. As I said, Caron Lindsay may not have intended that to be the message she was putting across, but I have learnt that the things she says come across to most of our exe-supporters as just that.

    We need to establish a greater distance between ourselves and this government, and make clear it is NOT our ideal, it is NOT the fulfilment of our dreams, it does NOT mean our party had permanently changed, it is NOT a ‘liberal’ government. It is a right-wing Tory government in which we are unable to do much but tinker at the corners and stop the far right of the Tories at the expense of having to support the more moderate right of the Tories. We have this government NOT because it was our choice, but because of the way people voted in 2010 and the distortions of the electoral system which gave them five times as many MPs as us even though they only got one-and-a-half times as many votes. We need to make CLEAR that if we had more Liberal Democrat MPs there would be a government that would be more Liberal Democrat in policy, and it would be very different from this one because of that. Going on and on about what wonderful things we have achieved in this government, as Caron Lindsay and the other Cleggies want us to do, destroys that message because it makes us look very happy with the marginal influence we have had and suggests we don’t want any more than that.

    So this is the point – it is not just the formation of the coalition that’s the problem, it’s the disastrous way its been played, which makes us look like losers, and gives the impression we are much happier with the right-wing policies of this government than we ought to be. We need a leader who can admit that, say we made a mistake in our presentation, which is NOT the same as saying we should not have gone into the coalition at all, however much Clegg and the Cleggies like to play the game of deliberately confusing the two issues. The new leader, of course, needs to be nice, and say yes we didn’t mean it that way, we were forced by circumstances into the coalition, tried to make the best of it, thought it would look good to be optimistic about it, but now realise that gave the wrong impression. But it needs to be someone who is able to say that, which clearly Clegg and anyone close to him cannot. That includes Tim Farron, who is put forward as the potential “candidate of the left”, but has always to my mind been a Cleggie cheerleader.

  • The predictions are at the next General Election we will get 30 to 40 seats – so we might be essential for any coalition

    Do you really trust Clegg to negotiate a coalition agreement?

    IF we do get 30 or 40 seats surely Clegg will resign.

    Then who will be negotiating the agreement or will Clegg negotiate it and then resign?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Jun '14 - 10:24pm

    . If Clegg loved the party he could not bear to see this division or endure the loss of the party’s standing in the country.

    This reminds me of the “if you loved me you would do exactly as I want” narrative of abusive relationships. To question someone’s love for and commitment to the party because they take a different view from you is out of order.

  • Caron Lindsay 24th Jun ’14 – 9:46pm
    … it’s the same people every time….

    Really? What are the precise numbers then Caron? How many threads in then last four weeks? How many individuals making comments? Have you done an analysis? Or is this just your general “impression”?

    The same people “every” time? Has Andrew Emmerson commented in every thread, every time? Or John Roffey? Or Shaun Nichols?

    John Trundle, Dave Jones, Neil Jennison, richard rowles, Charlie, Reg Yeates, Greenfield, Andy Williams, Meg Crosby, Alistair, and others appear in this thread. But are you really say that they are the same people in every thread commenting all the time?

    I have had a quick look back at some earlier threads and your claim seems to be without foundation in fact.
    Is there a branch of Specsavers anywhere near Chateau Lindsay?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Jun '14 - 10:29pm

    The way Matthew Huntbach is talking, it sounds like he wants some sort of purge. That doesn’t sound particularly pleasant. Or liberal. Clearly I’d be one of the first up against the wall. I just wonder what he would have made of the situation the Liberal Democrats found themselves in in May 2010. Had we sat on our hands and not gone into Government, we’d have been wiped out in the General Election that would have ensued later that year. We had a difficult hand and we haven’t played it brilliantly. But we’ve done some good stuff that we should be very proud of.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Jun '14 - 10:30pm

    Ian Bailey (Labour)

    But you have to accept that you – the LibDems – have voted through each and every nasty vindictive illiberal policy the Tories could dream up.

    Yes, thanks to the electoral system which YOUR PARTY supports, and whose distortion in favour of the Tories many of its leading members enthusiastically crowed about in the 2011 referendum, the ONLY stable government that could have been formed in May 2010 was the current one which has the sort of policies you’d expect from one with five times as many Tory MPs as LibDem MPs. If it wasn’t for the electoral system which YOUR PARTY supports, there would have been just one and a half times as many Tory MPs as LibDems MPs, and a Labour-LibDem coalition would have been viable, which would have given the LibDems much more negotiating power in forming a coalition.

    So what is REALLY propping up the Tories and giving them the power to push through these horrendous policies is the electoral system which YOUR PARTY supports and supports BECAUSE it thinks that distortion is a good , because it WANTS either itself or the Tories to have unlimited power on just 35% of the vote.

    Until you and your party start supporting proportional representation, Ian, you are just a bunch of hypocrites, I have no respect for you whatsoever, you are the long term Tory propper-uppers.

  • Jonathan Pile 24th Jun '14 - 10:33pm

    @ Caron
    The parallel I’m thinking of is the biblical story of the wisdom of Solomon – the one with two mothers . It is very clear from those on our side of the debate who have quiet and loyal for the past 7 years of Clegg’s orange book leadership. That loyalty has been taken for granted and the best interests of the party have been sacrificed for the holy grail of the pursuit of government. We’ve keep quiet for the last 4 years out of love for the party. What love has Clegg shown?
    The case for PR put back a generation. Tolerance misappropriated as a British value and then ignored. The case for Europe endangered by Clegg’s inability to connect and win a debate with Farage.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Jun '14 - 10:38pm

    Caron Lindsay

    I just wonder what he would have made of the situation the Liberal Democrats found themselves in in May 2010. Had we sat on our hands and not gone into Government, we’d have been wiped out in the General Election that would have ensued later that year.

    Well, that just shows how you just aren’t listening. Because I have made quite clear that I am NOT and never had said we should not have gone into coalition. I have said it again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again since May 2010. And I have just said it again in response to Ian Bailey. Despite that, instead of engaging with what I ACTUALLY said, you’ve argued against as if I had said something completely different.

    You, like the other Cleggies are deliberately conflating two entirely separate issues, the formation of the coalition being one, and the way Clegg chose to present it and still does being the other. It is perfectly possible to accept we had no choice but to form the coalition – as I have ALWAYS said since May 2010, and you MUST know that Caron, so why do you write what you wrote above? – but also to say the way that Clegg and the Cleggies presented it as a wonderful achievement rather than a sad but necessary compromise has damaged us.

  • Further to my observation on the number of comments in this thread.

    Well over 100 comments since 4pm.

    Not bad for a debate that we were told from on high was “over weeks ago”.

    Bit disappointing for Paddy though – the review of his book has only garnered 7 comments in 4 days.

    Maybe he should have written about the Liberal Resistance of today instead of the French Resistance of the 1940s.

  • “We have moved downwards since then because a group of people (LibDems4Change) decided to do”

    How did you conclude that?

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Jun '14 - 10:40pm

    Caron Lindsay

    The way Matthew Huntbach is talking, it sounds like he wants some sort of purge. That doesn’t sound particularly pleasant. Or liberal.

    It’s called “democracy” Caron. Same as we have in national government – we vote out the team leading it if we feel it’s doing a bad job.

  • Despite his great talents, if Charles Kennedy is the answer then the question is rather odd. I’ve enjoyed Charles’ recent speeches. But he simply is not up to leading the party. Though he did a very good job when he was leader. I think it would be rather cruel to put him through such an ordeal and I very much doubt he would be daft enough to agree to do it.

  • Jonathan Pile 24th Jun '14 - 10:45pm

    @ Paul Walter
    I think you are being very compassionate to CK but his party needs him and I’m sure that 1 day of CK is worth a month of NC.

  • Caron Lindsay wrote:

    “Had we sat on our hands and not gone into Government, we’d have been wiped out in the General Election that would have ensued later that year.”

    If that were true, why did David Cameron not hold that second general election in which we would be certain to have been wiped out? Why did he offer us “coalition”?

    I can just about wear the argument that a stable government is preferable to a minority government, and that political parties are in the business of being in government rather than sitting on the sidelines. But appeals to speculation about what the Tories would have done to us if we had spurned their offer are basically based on putting the party interest first, and may be seen by the public as somewhat craven. If Mr Clegg and his team had stuck to the Coalition Agreement and nothing but the Coalition Agreement (ie, no NHS reforms, no imperialist wars, etc) I could just about have lived with it. But that isn’t what happened. The Coalition Agreement proved to be worth rather less than the paper it was printed on.

  • Mark Valladares 24th Jun '14 - 10:55pm

    Jonathan,

    I visited your website, in search of enlightenment on the question of who “we” are and am no wiser now. Who, exactly, are “we”? Because, if you are a credible voice of the grassroots, indicating who is with you seems like a good idea, especially given your call for a more democratic party. If it was good enough for LibDems4Change, it should be good enough for you.

    But I also challenge your certainty. If Danny Alexander became leader, would our position improve? Or Vince Cable? Or Ed Davey? I’m of the view that it is as much what the Party has done in government as anything else – Nick is just the lightning rod for the unhappiness of so many people (and I’m not exactly his biggest fan, despite David Allen’s repeated assertions).

    Will we take a thorough kicking in 2015? If the polls are to be believed, and there’s a hell of a lot of actual hard evidence that demonstrates that they are, unless something dramatic happens, we risk doing badly in terms of national share of the vote. That will almost certainly be reflected in terms of seats lost.

    So, I can only assume that you want a change of leader (but only the right one, whatever that is), withdrawal from the Coalition and a change of policy generally. Perhaps you might have said so, rather than focus so narrowly on the leadership issue in your piece.

  • Caron Lindsay said:

    “I still don’t see how changing the leader is suddenly going to change our fortunes. It’s hardly like the left and right wing media will suddenly let us away with all we’ve done over the past 4 years… I don’t think that Clegg is in an irredeemable situation. That’s not to say that I think everything in the garden is rosy..”

    All oh-so-reasonable, rational, and balanced. Caron is always willing to be critical of Clegg, always ending up on Clegg’s side when the chips are down. Now let me tell you all a little story from the distant past.

    Once upon a time, back in 1998, I was one of some fifty or sixty Lib Dems from the East Midlands attending an afternoon Hustings at St Peter’s Rooms in the village of Ruddington, which is what passes for a political epicentre in my constituency of Rushcliffe. We were selecting our six-candidate Party List for the forthcoming East Midlands Euro elections. We had something of an idea that a real political career might beckon for whoever we put first on our list, but for nobody else.

    Last candidate up, at about 4.30pm, was this tall, well-spoken fellow called Nick Clegg, whom nobody knew. “I won’t keep you long” he began “because I know you’ll all want to be away soon”. I admired the nonchalance, while being dimly aware that it probably involved some heroic dissimulation on Clegg’s part, assuming he might perhaps be an ambitious person. I also liked the talk, a simple down-the-line presentation of what the Lib Dems were about, delivered with style and humour. So I completed my ballot, marked the magic 1 against Clegg, and went off in search of a fellow Rushcliffe member I needed to speak to.

    I was buttonholed by a nice young lady, whom I had never seen before, with a Scots accent. She sweetly asked me if she could say something in support of Nick Clegg, who she thought would make an outstanding MEP, if perhaps I could be persuaded to put him first on my ballot. I had to admit that I’d already done that deed. I struggled to find a polite way of asking her the obvious question “why are you doing this?” and got some sort of answer, to the effect that no she wasn’t family or anything, just somebody who thought Clegg was very much worth our support. I never saw her again, and it did slightly puzzle me that anybody not from the East Midlands would feel it important enough to travel to a draughty hall in Ruddington when they didn’t have to. So, somehow the face stuck in my mind. It was Caron Lindsay.

    Sixteen years later, I see that the same dedication is still there. The same style – gentle, rational, the seeming antithesis of anything fanatical – that is also still there.

    Clegg clings to power like a limpet, but he doesn’t do it on his own. We need to find out more about Team Limpet – who they are, what motivates them, who supports them, and above all, what are their future goals. To stick it out until the 2015 election and then gracefully make way for a successor? Don’t make me laugh.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Jun '14 - 11:01pm

    David Allen, just for the record, I lived in Edwinstowe, Notts, from 1989-2000. I held various offices in the East Midlands Region during that time and was Region Team Leader at that point. I didn’t just appear out of nowhere on that day. I’d been around the region for quite a wee while.

  • I’m wondering who wants to be the LibDem leader who led the party to its decimation in 2015.

    I can’t see that any of the suggested candidates would be more inspirational for pro-LibDem floating voters than Nick Clegg.

    Better to wait until after 2015, see who is actually left as an MP and make a decision then. If LibDems are not needed to form a coalition, then that person can start with a clean sheet.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Jun '14 - 11:03pm

    And, David, I have never hidden that I supported Nick in the East Midlands. I have written about it many times both on here and my own blog.

  • Jonathan Pile 24th Jun '14 - 11:09pm

    @ Mark Valladares
    We are united about the 3 points – Clegg to go, a return to the consensus and popular policies of 2010 and more democracy. We are about United behind a new leader who is capable of uniting the party and can command loyalty and win back the respect of our voters.

  • @Simon Shaw

    Surely the drop in support happened during the Euro campaign where Nick completely ripped up our policy of reforming in Europe.

    The drop in support happened before LibDems4change and Oakshott went public

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Jun '14 - 11:12pm

    It did rather have the air of some great revelation, some great expose, didn’t it? But the truth is altogether more ordinary. I have to say that, however much he has annoyed me since, I have no regrets about supporting Nick back then, or about supporting him for leader, or about supporting him now. He is someone who has put his long-held principles into action in government. The stuff he cares about now is the stuff he’s always cared about. He may not be perfect, and the party may well have screwed a few things up along the way, but there is a lot we can be very proud of, too.

  • I doubt that the average voter is aware of LibDems4Change, or that they would be aware of the fact that 75 local parties need to call for a leadership change.

    @Mark
    “Will we take a thorough kicking in 2015?”

    So, the conclusion from that is the Lib Dems do need a change of direction. Yet we have so many like Caron who seem to favour the status quo and do not want to confront the fact that 37 MPs may be the tragic result next year, another giant step backwards

  • Caron,

    I’m sure you did not hide your support for Clegg in the East Midlands. You may note (though I don’t suppose you will) that I didn’t say, or suggest, that you did.

    Clearly you didn’t travel as far to get to Ruddington as I thought you did. Back in 1998 I spent too much time working e.g. as the local party Secretary within Rushcliffe to pay much attention to whatever went on at Regional level (which always gave the appearance of being “not a lot”). However, I still wonder why you did it. Not many local politicians go that far out of their way to support other specific candidates at internal elections.

    As for Simon Shaw’s “Daily Mail” smear, perhaps he would be better employed addressing the real questions. Who are Team Limpet and what are their aims?

  • @Simon Shaw
    Up until the 17th April we were often getting 11% or 12% in the opinion polls after that they became far more rare

    Can I ask you a question Simon – if we get between 30 and 40 seats at the General Election, do you think Nick should resign at that point?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Jun '14 - 11:28pm

    David Allen,

    I think you owe me an apology for this:

    it did slightly puzzle me that anybody not from the East Midlands would feel it important enough to travel to a draughty hall in Ruddington when they didn’t have to.

    It was my local hustings. Yes, I’d decided that I was supporting Clegg. So had plenty other people at that time. I had every right to be doing what I was doing in the region I’d lived in for 9 years.

  • Mark Valladares 24th Jun '14 - 11:32pm

    @ Voter,

    A change of direction? Well, maybe. Unfortunately, given that making cuts is unpopular, and that the government’s borrowing is still north of £100 billion, the general direction of travel, regardless of who is in government, is pretty clear.

    Nobody ever thanks you for balancing the books, especially when doing so involves pain. And there will be more pain, as virtually every concrete Labour proposal spells out – not that there are too many. Could the pain have been redistributed more intelligently? Well, yes, probably, but with the Conservatives involved, it was never going to be. And it wouldn’t have been any better in coalition with Labour either, although the pain might have been postponed a bit through sheer unwillingness to face economic facts on their part.

    And no politician with any desire to be re-elected is going to admit that we are going to have to take some measures that are going to hurt even more if we’re going to close that chasm that is the deficit (forget about reducing the debt), especially if we’re going to ringfence the NHS which, in itself, looks unlikely to save it in its current form in the absence of additional investment.

    So, what is the change in direction that will save us, and is it in the interest of the country, or simply that of the Party?

  • @David Allen

    Let me rush to Caron’s defence (although I do disagree with her analysis about the current situation). I chaired most of the 1998 hustings as the regional chair, and as Caron has already pointed out she was an an active member in the East Midlands and a regional officer. Like me she had no knowledge of or connection to Nick prior to the selection. Like me she was extremely impressed by Nick’s clarity of purpose, ability to motivate and enthuse activists, and understanding of our objectives and strategy.

  • Mark Valladares 24th Jun '14 - 11:36pm

    @ David Allen,

    Not wanting to intrude in your private scrap with Caron, but I recall that, as a European Returning Officer myself in 1997/98, we were asked to arrange a hustings in each county in the Region. And candidates were encouraged to build campaign teams to help them reach members.

    I organised nine in South East – Berkshire had one at each end on the same evening.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Jun '14 - 11:40pm

    Thanks, Arnie. Those were the days, eh?

  • Mark Valladares 24th Jun '14 - 11:41pm

    @ Jonathan,

    Naughty. Who, precisely, are “we”? Or are you wilfully misrepresenting yourself as being the spokesman of a group which comprises of just you?

  • Caron Lindsay said:

    “The way Matthew Huntbach is talking, it sounds like he wants some sort of purge. That doesn’t sound particularly pleasant. Or liberal. Clearly I’d be one of the first up against the wall.”

    I note that Caron does not actually quote anything from Matthew Huntbach’s posting. Instead, she puts into Matthew’s mouth some words which he did not say, and makes remarks which border on the legally questionable. But hey, this site will surely leave them in place.

    If we’re talking about purges, let’s look at this quotation from the Independent, 18th September 2010:

    “(Clegg) said: ‘There were some people, particularly around the height of the Iraq war, who gave up on the Labour Party and turned to the Liberal Democrats as a sort of left-wing conscience of the Labour Party.

    “I totally understand that some of these people are not happy with what the Lib Dems are doing in coalition with the Conservatives. The Lib Dems never were and aren’t a receptacle for left-wing dissatisfaction with the Labour Party. There is no future for that; there never was.’ ”

    That was the real purge. The Nick Clegg Purge.

    It’s pretty rich to accuse the centre-left of wanting to put people up against the wall, when it’s actually the centre-left who have been put up against the wall.

  • Jonathan Pile 24th Jun '14 - 11:43pm

    I am very pleased to see this article has topped the LDV poll for most reads in just a few hours. Clearly the leadership debate is neither over, nor confined to a vocal minority as has been asserted. If only there was a democratic way to settle this? – oh yes a ballot of members or a secret ballot of MPs. I also notice that no one has challenged the historical facts that changes of leader on the past have turned around party fortunes. Yet people seem reluctant to start the process of reconnecting with 2010 Lib Dem voters. Who are the people that Clegg feels that will deliver his 37 MPs. Who are the voters, who will listen?

  • This is based on when the data collection was ended and shows our average figures declining before the election
    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/voting-intention-2

    In any case surely the actual voting on the 22nd May happened before LibDems4change and Oakshott went public – and I think we did worse in the locals on that day?

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Jun '14 - 11:59pm

    Despite what Caron Lindsay said at 10:29pm, since the formation of the coalition I have not just defended its formation, I have defended the mixture of policies that have come out of it. My defence has not been on the grounds that I LIKE all these, they have been on the grounds that I accept they were what was possible given the Parliament that the votes of the people in May 2010 and the electoral system they supported by two-to-one a year later. I’ve used, constantly, just that same argument that she, incredibly, is using against me there, that had we not formed the coalition there would have been a Tory minority government which would have organised things to win a majority in another general election a short time afterwards.

    I believe those who put the argument that since the LibDems “held the balance of power” they could have stopped anything the Tories have done in this government are being completely unrealistic. Firstly it ignores the fact that the LibDems do NOT hold the balance of power because there s no one other party they could vote with and make an alternative majority. Secondly it ignores the fact that policies cannot be considered in isolation, they must be balanced off against each other. The biggest example of this is the tuition fees issue – it is not possible JUST to vote against increase in tuition fees, if you oppose it you must also say what you would do as an alternative to cover the cost of not increasing tuition fees – it must be either raised taxes, or cuts in other things, or just more government borrowing. I don’t agree with government borrowing just to pay for standard items of expenditure, so I would want to be honest and say I’d agree to not increasing tuition fees and also increase taxes to cover that. However, that requires finding a majority of MPs to agree to any particular rise in taxes that would cover it. How is that to be done? When I’ve ask ed that, I’ve had no straight answer from all those who throw abuse at the Liberal Democrats over this issue.

    So the point is that had I and my views been treated better in this party, with some degree of respect, I would be one of its main defenders now. But I am not because of the way Clegg and the Cleggies have undermined the defence I would like to give by using lines which suggest the government we have now is wonderful and doing wonderful liberal things and so making the line “it’s a sad compromise forced on us by the situation” so much harder to get across. Combine with the right-wing fringe, which has a voice so much louder than its real numbers due to the heavy funding it gets from global super-wealth, trying to steal the word “liberal” and getting it to mean “a supporter of cuts in public spending and privatising everything and cuts especially in taxation” – that makes it even harder to use the line “sad but necessary compromise” because that “authentic liberal” thing gets thrown back at it “it’s what you wanted in the first place, you just pretend that it is a compromise”. And then add people like Richard Reeves telling people like me to leave the party and go and join Labour – after I’d spent so much time and effort building up the Liberal Democrats as a serious opposition in a Labour-dominated area.

    Since the coalition was started, I’ve been trying to make constructive criticism of Clegg, yet he and those surrounding him just don’t seem to be listening. I see no attempt at all at a little humility, at a little acceptance that perhaps those working on the ground have a useful input to make, at a change in the way the party is presented due to the misunderstandings that the over-optimistic “Rose Garden” approach has led to. Instead I see this arrogant dismissal of our pleas for a change in emphasis, shown up in particular by this constant throwing at us of the line that we are unrealistic because we are against the coalition and don’t understand why it was a necessity – made even when we have stated explicitly that that was NOT our position. See how Caron has done just the same just now.

    Thats why I think, yes, a purge of that type is necessary. They have made it necessary by the way they have dismissed everyone else, continue to think they and they alone have all the answers, and not listened a bit to anyone else. I continue to get email missives from Clegg and the Cleggies at the top of the party showing no sense that things have gone wrong that perhaps we need a change in direction. If Clegg was a decent man, I think following the election disaster last month he should have offered to step down right away. That would have saved us all of this. Instead he staggers on as a lame duck leader. Sure, it may be unfair, a lot of the criticism of him IS unfair. But he and those surrounding him make it all a lot worse by not listening to those of us whose criticism is constructive and who do understand why it was necessary to go into the coalition – however we feel that looking so pleased with ourselves about it is not the best way to hold or win support.

  • I didn’t choose the basis, either on an arbitrary or non-arbitrary basis, I merely quoted the analysis carried out by Rallings & Thrasher for the Sunday Times of 25 May.
    I assume that they know a lot more about what they are doing than me (or even you).
    You do know who Rallings & Thrasher are, don’t you?

    I think the question is whether you know what their analysis was based on. Perhaps you really don’t, as you’ve referred to it three times above, without anywhere giving a hint that it’s based on the local elections held on 22 May, and not on the European elections.

    I’ll ask again. You were quick to quote a (relatively) favourable analysis based on the local elections. But if people voted as they did in the European elections – in which the Lib Dems came fifth behind UKIP and the Greens – how many Westminster seats do you think the party would be in contention in? And why do you think the local elections should be a better guide than the European elections?

  • Simon Shaw said:

    “@David Allen
    ‘I’m sure you did not hide your support for Clegg in the East Midlands. You may note (though I don’t suppose you will) that I didn’t say, or suggest, that you did.’ Which, of course, is the essence of the classic Daily Mail smear.”

    Well Simon, what Caron had already posted was:
    “And, David, I have never hidden that I supported Nick in the East Midlands. I have written about it many times…”

    Caron’s words can be interpreted in two ways. The direct interpretation, a defence of her own behaviour as being transparent and open, is justifiable. The implicit interpretation, that David Allen must have been accusing Caron of hiding her support for Nick, is not. I don’t question that Caron has openly acted to support Nick for at least sixteen years. I do wonder exactly why.

    Caron repeatedly makes semi-critical remarks, the latest being “He may not be perfect, and the party may well have screwed a few things up along the way, but there is a lot we can be very proud of, too.” Such remarks sit awkwardly alongside Caron’s total, unreserved and long-standing support for Clegg as leader. One might think that a commentator who believes that the current leader is “not perfect” and “screwed a few things up” might also believe that a change of leadership should not be inconceivable. Not so with Caron, it seems. It doesn’t add up.

  • I honestly don’t get it. Clegg has poll ratings lower Nixon at the height of Watergate. Everytime he opens his mouth the vote goes down. Not mentioning him in electoral material actually improves the Lib Dems performance. Honestly, guys, Clegg was not elected leader for life and is so plainly an electoral liability it’s a joke. The only reason this argument is still raging is because Clegg and his loyalists are refusing to see reason. He certainly ain’t there by popular demand. that’s for certain.

  • Mark Huntbach: Thank you for the reply; I understand and share much of your analysis, but with less of the hyperbole. Curiously you might think, I also agree with much of Simon Shaw’s analysis. There needs to be a clear plan for how involvement in a coalition government is presented; you are right to point out dangers of overblowing achievements, but conversely we have to recognise the propensity for the Tories to claim Lib Dem initiatives as their own.

    This is a problematic tight rope. Moreover there are areas of unpopularity such as tuition fees, immigration, asylum seekers and possibly support for the EU where we have to make a vigorous case and where possible make clear the Liberal or democratic argument. In the case of tuition fees but also to the other issues to some extent, the leadership cannot expect workers on the ground to defend our corner if they do not do so themselves. The initial triumphalism at the start did set a tone that has handicapped perception of Lib Dems in government and the ability to present our case.

    I also think that we should not underestimate how much of a set back was the AV referendum. A small shift in the electoral process to a more democratically representative system was supposed to be the centre piece of government achievement. All other constitutional changes were predicated on the referendum’s success, including the highly conservative proposals for Lords reform. In retrospect it may seem obvious that an AV referendum was only ever a runner in coalition with Labour, but I do not recall dissent from today’s dissenters at that time. I have to admit that I too was taken in by the prospect of the possibility of a little start towards change.

    It seems to me that there has been a lack of due scepticism and that lack of scepticism persists from many who proclaim that the solution lies in an immediate leadership revolution. Many who call for this appear to believe that they cannot imagine the situation getting any worse. I can.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 12:16am

    Simon Shaw

    Incorrect. It was simply Nick spelling out the truth

    No, that’s Nick Clegg issuing right-wing propaganda.

    I don’t think politics works on a straight left-right spectrum, but when I hear people constantly saying “All politicians are the same, all they care about is rich people, they don’t care about the likes of us”, it suggests to me there is a gap in politic that needs to be filled, and it’s not a gap on the right. I happened to be visiting my mother at the weekend, and heard this line coming from so many people around where she lives. Which is Burgess Hill in Mid-Sussex. So, there you go, even, perhaps especially, in what is thought of as a pretty Tory part of the country, there’s a unmet demand for a party of the left, and a feeling that Labour is just another party of the rich i.e. a right-wing party.

    The reason I joined the Liberals in the first place was that, yes, I did think that Labour was doing a bad job at presenting the case for the left, and it needed a different sort of party to present it better and so win the support of the many I could see who were yearning for a party which spoke “for the likes of us” but did not see Labour as that party.

    Politics has shifted immensely to the right in this country since I was young, yet the country has become so much more unequal in wealth and opportunities – class division has grown bigger and bigger. To me that makes it clear that we need a big growth in politics on the left, and before Clegg and the Cleggies came along, I thought the Liberals could provide it. What concerns me in particular is the way what would be the constituency of the left has been silenced by pushing this idea that all politics is bad, so people who would be the natural voters of the left don’t vote at all. But we are not just Liberals but “Liberal Democrats”, so we should be putting the case for participative democracy, for, as that old song puts it the power of the ballot “Why should we be beggars with the ballot in our hand?”.

    I reject the idea that there is no room for that, and that instead we should be trying to squeeze ourselves into the economic right alongside the post-Blair Labour Party and the Conservative Party, leaving the disaffected to be conned by UKIP into voting for another party which is underneath just more economic right than the rest.

  • @Mark
    It seems like you are defending the status quo and propping up the party, that is the conservative party.

    Not all economists believe in the priority of deficit reduction.

    @Simon Shaw
    “you must carry a share of the blame for our current difficulties”

    That is not how it works. The right wing apologists do not get to pursue their agenda and then when it results in unpopularity blame the left. It is the leadership that carries the responsibility, not the membership

  • liberal neil 25th Jun '14 - 12:23am

    @DavidAllen – Congradtulations – I’ve read a lot of nonsense in the comments threads on LDV over the years, but your comment about Caron’s campaigning for Nick really takes the biscuit.

    The idea that there is anything questionable about party activists choosing to campaign for someone they think is the best choice in a selection is utterly bizarre. Our party democracy is built on such activity.

    (And, for the record, I have not supported Nick in any internal party election, ever.)

  • Mark Valladares,

    Libdems4change were criticised for writing a long, careful letter, which made some specific remarks which not all Clegg’s critics would necessarily agree with, and for publishing signatures by specific individuals. Now, Libdem Fightback are being criticised for writing a short, careful position statement which avoids unnecessary detail, and for not publishing all the individual statements of support. It’s clearly a question of damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    You asked Jonathan Pile “are you wilfully misrepresenting yourself as being the spokesman of a group which comprises of just you?” You know perfectly well that the answer to your question is no. I and many others support Libdem Fightback. That support is also evident from many postings on this thread. It’s clear who is doing the “wilfully misrepresenting”.

  • “That is not how it works. The right wing apologists do not get to pursue their agenda and then when it results in unpopularity blame the left.”

    Sounds familiar.

    Of course, another variation on the theme is that the Clegg sceptics have been warning about the consequences of his leadership since at least 2010, and after ignoring the warnings for four years the Clegg apologists are now claiming there isn’t time for a change of leadership!

  • Simon Shaw: Although there is little sense for the Liberal Democrats to be a “receptacle for left-wing dissatisfaction with the Labour Party”, surely you would agree that the Party can well be a “receptacle forLiberal dissatisfaction with the Labour Party”.

    More to the point though is that we have to admit that a significant portion of our support has been simply a “receptacle for dissatisfaction”. This has to be acknowledged before we start blaming one side or another. I would like to see the Party post 2015 to have the possibility of being rather more than a “receptacle for dissatisfaction” serving as a useful pressure valve in a discredited electoral system.

  • I’d like to reiterate my question from above, as I think either Caron or Simon or others are well placed to answer it:

    What makes Nick Clegg the *best* leader for the Liberal Democrats right now? What makes him the best possible leader for the 2015 election? What is he doing that will help improve the Lib Dems’ position — which I think no one will say could not be better?

  • Why should the left take any blame? That is the question you do not answer.

    The unpopularity of “right wing” Clegg and the party are his responsibility. For example, it was Clegg and not I, who decided to vote for a rise in tuition fees.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Jun '14 - 12:44am

    I just think the honourable thing to do after a coup has failed is to either fall in line or resign. No one should toe the line all the time, but this is getting ridiculous.

  • Mark Valladares 25th Jun '14 - 12:45am

    @ Voter,

    Defending the status quo? The government is currently spending £100 billion more than it raises in taxation and other charges. It borrows the rest. Suggesting that such a gap is only likely to be closed by means which are going to hurt someone might not be that radical in economic terms, but it seems pretty radical in political ones. And if there are economists out there who think that the gap shouldn’t be closed at some point, at least to the extent that the debt increase is below the level of inflation so that it shrinks in terms of percentage of GDP, I’m not awfully minded to pay a great deal of attention to them. In that sense, I am conservative. Perhaps that’s radical too, given the huge levels of personal debt in our society which still overhang any widespread economic recovery.

    @ David Allen,

    I asked Jonathan a direct question, which he ducked absolutely and completely. He may have plenty of support for all I know. What I do know, however, is that his website has a tab which says ‘About Us’. When you click on it, all it offers is an opportunity to provide your data to him. If you believe in transparency, and are calling for greater democracy, you might set a lead. And whilst it would be churlish to insist on a full list of supporters, naming just one other than Jonathan himself might be a start.

    The Party has not exactly been fortunate in terms of those who have been given credence as representatives of party opinion – Benjamin Ramm and Mark Littlewood are two examples of people who have been given a platform by the media way beyond that which they merit – and I want to be reassured that Jonathan isn’t of that ilk. If you, or he, have a problem with that, then I’m sorry, but think of it as a test of credibility. And, if you have no interest in my support, you’ll carry on protesting about the fact that I have the audacity to ask.

  • Since when has the Liberals been to the left of labour. The Liberals believed in liberty, democracy , the responsibility of the individual, the absence of patronage, the freedom of individual to make their own way in life; the freedom to live one’s life as one wants provided one does not reduce the freedom of others . One of the Levellers requests was that all men should be free to trade the products of their labour without requiring the permission of others. The Labour Party is unable to increase the wealth of the country because it does not understand trade and technology. The Labour Party is about increasing the number of people employed by the state because most are labour supporters. The greatest beneficiaries of the increase in government expenditure since WW2 are the white collar clerical and managerial employees : not the poorest members of society, blue collar workers and those employed in the private sector.

    The greatest fear the Labour Party has that if people became highly skilled and physically fit who were free to trade the fruits of the labour, noone would not vote for them. The Labour Party needs to ensure that millions are dependent upon government expenditure in order that they keep on voting for them- where is this Liberal.

  • @Simon
    let me go back to your original statement.
    “you were one of those who wanted the Lib Dems to be to the left of Labour, then you must carry a share of the blame for our current difficulties.”

    There is nothing wrong with the party being to the left of Labour.
    The criticism of all being “all things to all men” is quite different and it can be addressed by making sure that all candidates are consistent in being left of Labour.

    Leaving that to one side, the party going to the left of Labour in itself has not been a problem. Indeed, the problem seems to be that so many in the party are comfortable with a Thatcherite approach. LFB are quite right to suggest a move back to the 2010 manifesto.

    There is no future for the LibDems as a right wing party. There never was, as the election results are showing to the dismay of Clegg who has miscalculated

  • Bill le Breton 25th Jun '14 - 6:12am

    Simon, sorry to take a while to catch up.

    Actually we did teach Rallings and Thrasher everything they know – specifically David Vasmer taught them everything they know. They used to ring Hebden Bridge every Friday morning to get our local government results and raid our thoughts.

    Like you I don’t think uniform swing thinking which is what happens when academics try to enforce equations onto human activity.

    The coming election will be different from most post war elections and as I have been saying for some time the most relevant election is 1983 (it is relatively easy to remove the Falkland’s noise) because it is the election that followed that last very deep recession. The Party leadership are using 1992 as their model.

    The real point of interest is what happens to the UKIP vote and in many ways in 1983 there was a similar question at this point in the electoral cycle – what would happen to the SDL/Liberal vote which at one point had risen to 50%.
    The question here is what will be in the minds of electors next May? If they are driven by a search for “competent and capable”, “having clear ideas to deal with Britain’s problems” and being “willing to take tough decisions for the long term”, it will see a rise in the Tory vote (from this point). If is is “shares my values”, “on the side of people like me” , “heart in the right place” and “stands for fairness”, it will be Labour that pulls further ahead. I bet on the former when the crunch comes because * it is the economy …* especially after the longest recession in the last 100 years.

    Rallings and Thrasher and Anthony Wells at UK polling have not factored in the UKIP factor. Even without that they are looking at 20+ loses. The best guide we have are the Euro district votes – which all our MPs know for their locality. And the Ashcroft polling of marginals which show a general swing from LD to the Tories of 3.4%. Yet that general swing takes no consideration of the differential repatriation of say 50% of the UKIP May 2014 vote.

    The other important factor is what happens to the 2010 LDs who are presently supporting Labour. Is Clegg a help or a hindrance in rebuilding this tactical vote?

    So, with no change we will struggle to find 4 seats in Scotland. 2 Labour facing seats and 20 from the rest.

  • Bill le Breton 25th Jun '14 - 6:19am

    Mark V – you ask about how the Party and its support level would change under Alexander, Cable or Davey.

    I believe in the end it is the Parliamentary Party that knows who best to ‘save’ our present dire situation and it is more important to have a choice than to try, from outside that group, to see who might be best, but as you have named three (straw???)men, may I suggest that a unifying force and one with huge respect among his colleagues and a wise choice for the next 12 months at the very least would be Alistair Carmichael.

    So, can I return the question … Carmichael?

  • Paul in Wokingham 25th Jun '14 - 7:07am

    @Simon Shaw – the numbers on the ukpolling website show the following aggregated by roughly month/sample size. I deliberately use May 22nd as a breakpoint to clarify before/after the elections:

    Results from Feb 1 to Feb 28: Total Numbers = 33, Mean = 9.45, SD = 1.00
    Results from March 1 to March 31: Total Numbers = 38, Mean = 9.67, SD = 1.07
    Results from April 1 to April 30: Total Numbers = 33, Mean = 9.36, SD = 1.17
    Results from May 1 to May 22: Total Numbers = 33, Mean = 8.97, SD = 1.07
    Results from May 23 to June 19: Total Numbers = 36, Mean = 7.89, SD = 1.09

    So you are absolutely right – there was a sharp drop in the reported support levels in the weeks after the locals/Euros.

    You assert that this was caused by Libdems4change. What is your evidence for that other than approximately synchronicity? Based on the public’s limited interest/awareness of internal party politics, it seems to me that it is far more likely to be due to the wall-to-wall TV and newspaper coverage of the disaster the party experienced in the elections. The “one day wonder” of the Oakeshott polls and the internal party aftermath will have barely registered at all by comparison.

    Bill Le Breton’s point about what happens to UKIP support is critical. Assuming(!) that UKIP support reduces then we know from other polling data that current UKIP supporters are much more inclined to vote Conservative than to vote Lib Dem (and a bear wears a big hat and the pope um..). But there’s a lot of arm-waving in trying to predict what might happen to UKIP support levels in the next 10 months. What has surprised many people (including me) is how “sticky” it seems to be.

  • Ian Bailey (Labour) 25th Jun '14 - 7:50am

    I got moderated away last time I tried a response to Matthew’s suggestion that LibDem MPs voting through illiberal Tory bills was First past the posts fault which is Labour’s fault.

    MPs are whipped. They can either obey the whip or rebel. In the 92-97 government Tory MPs rebelled endlessly, forcing confidence motions and eventually Major resigning the leadership. In successive Labour governments there were massive rebellions. In this governu there have been repeated sizeable rebellions by Tory MPs claiming matters of principle.

    The ONLY example of a governing party voting always loyally with the government are the LibDems, and voting loyally for policies which directly contravene your liberal principles and party policy.

    It’s not just Clegg that’s the issue its what your party is seen to have done, and that is kick the poor and disabled and vulnerable hard repeatedly with your voting. Your MPs have free will. Look what they do with it.

  • Tony Dawson 25th Jun '14 - 8:00am

    @Paul in Wokingham :

    “there was a sharp drop in the reported support levels in the weeks after the locals/Euros.”

    Not really: there was an increase in the drop in Lib Dem support which had commenced in the middle of March.

    I can remember the days when the actual ‘campaign’ period of any May election always gave the Liberals/Lib Dems an increase in vote share across the country. Not so in this ‘campaign’ where the national media was unremittingly awful.

  • Jonathan Pile 25th Jun '14 - 8:03am

    Mark V
    Sorry I run my own business so have to sleep at night , so are catching up on the many comments. LBF was started three weeks ago by a group of LDV contributors and party members fed up with the continuing downwards spiral in the party and determined to trigger change. Sorry to scotch your conspiracy theories and I know you like them, but we’re just ordinary folk – activists, party members, councillors , ex- councillors and ex-members. We talk to other groups in the party working behind the scenes for change and many of us are signatories to libdems4change. For the moment I’m the acting coordinator and contact but our members are secret given the level of hostility and antagonism currently in the party from certain quarters. Many of us have been moderated off LDV in recent weeks to censor the debate, a fact that Caron can confirm though as a concession to free speech this article was accepted by LDV for publication . We started with a dozen members and the group is doubling in size every week, mainly even time comments are made on LDV or Nick Clegg makes another gaffe. So not yet hundreds but bigger than the Gang of Four. The length of the comments thread, the number of likes and reads shows the debate still splits the party and a solution must be found. Of course you could expel us all which no doubt would please some .

  • Tony Dawson 25th Jun '14 - 8:09am

    @Charlie:

    “Since when has the Liberals been to the left of labour”

    It depends entirely what you mean by ”the left’. All this phrase really means (from original definition arising out of the seating plan of the French National Assembly at the time of the revolution) is “wants change on behalf of ordinary people.” The problem is that this has been warped over the years by many to mean ‘collectivism/socialism’ as if that were the only way to achieve such change.

  • Mark Valladares 25th Jun '14 - 8:13am

    @ Bill le Breton,

    But I’m not offering up straw men. Jonathan is claiming that a leadership election WILL save the Party, regardless of who was to win it. I’m pointing out that he is presuming that the ‘right’ candidate will win, whoever that is.

    Although you do offer a very attractive alternative… 🙂

  • @MarkV ironically posts “The Party has not exactly been fortunate in terms of those who have been given credence as representatives of party opinion”. Quite. Specifically LibDemFightback questions whether Nick is the best representative of Party opinion. We can sit back and bemoan our misfortune or we can try to find a better leader.

  • Tony Dawson 25th Jun '14 - 8:28am

    Nick Clegg is quoted as saying:

    “The Lib Dems never were and aren’t a receptacle for left-wing dissatisfaction with the Labour Party. There is no future for that; there never was.’ ”

    This is the essence of Nick Clegg’s lack of political nous. He doesn’t like marmalade so he speaks in opposition to (or slurs) all jams.

    Since when has presenting a progressive ALTERNATIVE to Labour ever had to be ”to the left of Labour’? You could have many endless hours debating whether a critique of an incompetent (and insincere) ‘left wing’ (sic) Party should be assumed as being ‘MORE left wing’ than what you are criticising. So a ‘left wing’ voter (someone who wants change and a protection against the polarisation of power and money towards a rich elite) always has, pre-Clegg been able to consider the Lib Dems (and the Liberals and SDP before them) as a suitable alternate consideration as to where to place their vote. Paddy Ashdown ALWAYS described himself as ‘of the left’. What is more, considering the Lib Dem option has been a sensible consideration for such voters. Only Nick Clegg could traduce that process by using the pejorative term ‘receptacle’ (taken by most commentators to read as in dustbin) to describe ordinary people seeking a better home for their voting support.

    As for ‘No Future’ well Nick Clegg is the expert on this. He has trashed the Lib Dem past and rewritten the Lib Dem present to make them both unrecognisable compared with reality. Nick Clegg personally will always have a myriad of options for his future. With him as ‘Leader’ our Party has no future.

  • “left of Labour”

    But the Lib Dems didn’t position themselves to the left of Labour under Kennedy – Labour moved to the right whilst the Lib Dems remained in the centre (of the political spectrum) making them ‘more’ left-wing than the Labour leadership.

    The fact that Clegg continued to chase the votes of those centre voters with, for example, tuition fee promises whilst having no desire to enact those policies has led to a massive drop in support for your party. Most of your lost voters since 2010 have been core supporters, not the protest voters whose numbers peaked in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion (a post yesterday detailed the decline in the number of Liverpool councillors between 2004 and 2010 as the protest vote dissipated). By 2008/2009 Lib Dem polling had already dropped back down to the pre-protest levels of the early part of 1997-2001 when, obviously, there were no protest votes against Labour. Your polling is now well below the pre-protest period despite the fact that you’ve picked up a few right-leaning voters.

    The idea that Lib Dem polling has dropped since 2010 because of protest voters realising they had voted for a party that didn’t turn out to be ‘left-wing’ has no basis whatsoever in the readily available and overwhelming evidence.

  • John Broggio 25th Jun '14 - 8:47am

    @ Simon Shaw

    “If you are a Lib Dem member, and if you have tried to position our Party to the left of Labour, then you, also, must carry a share of the blame for our current difficulties.”

    I can only assume, as an ex-LD voter of the left, that you are indeed blaming Clegg, for that is precisely how he campaigned in 2010.

  • Tony Dawson 25th Jun '14 - 8:49am

    The YOUGOV poll figures for Feb to June 2014 for the Lib Dems are here:

    http://forum.libdemvoice.org/download/file.php?id=314&t=1

    It is quite clear from this that (within an overall classification of being pretty dire all round) the Lib Dem share had flatlined through the winter, rose a bit in March and then started dropping from the last week of March till the first week of June.

  • Paul in Wokingham 25th Jun '14 - 8:53am

    @Tony Dawson – yes it is clear that the rate of change increased after May 22nd although it would be surprising if the numbers didn’t bounce back a bit over the next few months. As I noted when first presenting this data on the member’s forum, the drop appears to take off at about the time of the second Farage debate. That doesn’t bode well for the GE campaign given the presidential style of the campaigns and the extreme focus on the leaders.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 9:32am

    Simon Shaw

    That’s all well and good, but the problem is that is the Lib Dems are to the left of Labour, or are perceived to be so, then what on earth are we doing in coalition with the Conservatives?

    Sigh …. here we go again, you lot just aren’t listening, are you?

    Here you are posting something that just bolsters the argument that is being used by our opponents by using words which suggest we deliberately formed that coalition out of choice because we felt we liked the Conservatives. You and your type put out those lines, as do Labour when they want to destroy us, so that is what is happening – Labour and the Cleggies are both trying to destroy the Liberal Democrats by both using words which paint the coalition as a deliberate choice of two parties with a similar ideology (“authentic liberalism”?) to work together.

    We are in coalition with the Conservatives because that was the only stable government that could be formed out of the Parliament the people and the electoral system they, Labour and the Conservatives love (though we oppose). It is not because we have any particular ideological closeness to the Conservatives, at least I don’t defend it at all on that basis, it is purely because of recognition that it would be irresponsible to leave Britain without a stable government, and in recognition that as democrats we have to support the government that the people voted for.

  • Paul in Wokingham
    Your comment at 8.53 crystallises what I believe about Clegg’s debating skills. The same effect took place in 2010 when the second TV debate took place, which reduced the Cleggmania induced by the first debate, and actually threatened that the Lib Dem vote would go down below what it had been in the polls before that first debate. In the Party of In first debate, there was no marked upward trend, I think because a lot of Clegg’s argument had been factored in to people’s views. However, the drop seemed to have occurred because of his limited debating style, and his inability to defend liberal positions against tabloid, and populist positions on issues like immigration, the EU, crime and punishment. If you are going to be leader of a Liberal party, that surely should be an essential on your list of skills required. Every Liberal and Lib Dem leader since Jo Grimond, and as I remember them, candidate for leader, apart from Nick Clegg, has been able to have a good stab at that.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 9:35am

    Chris

    Of course, another variation on the theme is that the Clegg sceptics have been warning about the consequences of his leadership since at least 2010,

    I’ve been warning about it ever since Clegg emerged as the candidate pushed so hard by the right-wing and elitist press as “obviously the next Liberal Democrat leader” that others who might have done a better job didn’t even bother trying to compete. I could see right through the man right from the start, look up my postings here from the time of the leadership election to see how accurate I was in my predictions.

  • @ Meg Crosby Well said Meg.
    Nick Clegg has been targeted by political and media vested interests ever since we went into coalition because at that moment we succeeded as a ‘protest party’ in our challenge to the inevitability of a two-party state. Labour and the Conservatives, functioning through their media supporters who have a vested interest in the continued dominance of the two major parties, embarked on a strategy to destroy the Lib Dems. The most effective means of doing this was to target its leader and undermine the capacity of the party to function effectively.

    Mistakes get made in government; mistakes get made by leaders, cabinet ministers, MPs and activists. We are in danger of making the biggest mistake of all: allowing our opponents to plunge us into an internal debate when we should be using every means at our disposal to stand firm on our decision to enter coalition when we put country before party. We need to explain how coalition works and why we have succeeded above expectation in delivering Lib Dem policies that benefit the country long-term eg triple-lock pension reform . We need to make clear which 3 major issues we will go to the country on, issues that will hearts and minds and demonstrate that contrary to current popular opinion the Lib Dems best represent the needs and aspirations of the majority of British people irrespective of the class, ethnicity, religious belief or sexual orientation.

    Finally, unlike in World War I where the generals stayed well behind the front line and sent the troops to their slaughter, we sent our party leader over the top and into the firing line as Deputy Prime Minister during the worst economic crisis since the 1920s/30s. It is time we went over the top in defence of someone who has come under sustained, orchestrated attack for four years because our opponents believe this is the only way they can destroy us as an effective political party. As Meg Crosby said, ‘Get on with it, fight back’

  • Andrew Emmerson(post no1)

    “The debate ended weeks ago. Stop trying to make it happen again.”

    187 posts in well under 24 hours would suggest the debate continues and is unlikely to go away.

  • Jonathan Pile 25th Jun '14 - 9:53am

    On the question of the coalition it has been asserted that Libdemfightback is anti-coalition. We might wish that we never had gone into coalition, (I myself at the time favoured the rainbow coalition idea, but the numbers were too slim and more importantly Labour could wait to run away from office, though clearly Nick Clegg had a stronger affinity with working with Conservative Politicians as has been revealed) The point is the whole of the parliamentary party gave it’s word to stick to the Coalition agreement and unfortunately that is what we must do, however we might want to exit early. Nonetheless a new leader could do practical and symbolic acts to show that it is no longer “business as usual” and to withdraw support to a number of Tory policies slipped under the table. A new leader might choose to take over the DPM job but not sit next to Cameron at PMQ or even act as Leader from the opposition benches. I would personally like a leader to commit the party to abolishing Tuition Fees once and for all as an issue of principle on a red line basis and commit the party to cancelling student debts. Such a move would cost considerable sums which could be funded by cancelling HS2 – BRAINS BEFORE TRAINS – might be the slogan. A new leader would highlight the need to keep interest rate policy as a tool of the wider economy rather than the narrow interests of the City of London or of the overheated London Housing market which always hijacks Economic Policy to the detriment of the rest of the UK.
    The Coalition Agreement has much good in it, but the methods of implementation have been illiberal and bad. (These are just my personal opinions though)

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 9:56am

    Ian Bailey (Labour)

    It’s not just Clegg that’s the issue its what your party is seen to have done, and that is kick the poor and disabled and vulnerable hard repeatedly with your voting. Your MPs have free will. Look what they do with it.

    As I have already explained, this is a compromise. I would much prefer the balance between what the government is spending and what it is raising to be done through higher taxation, in particular on land and wealth. But the Tories aren’t going to agree to that. You say the LibDem MPs should rebel, but the Tory right can just as much rebel.

    Try looking here for a hint at how Tories see the coalition. They don’t see it as LibDems rolling over and giving in to them, they see it as LibDems stopping them from pushing policies way to the right of the horrible ones coming out of this government. That is why I do accept the line that what we are seeing now is about as far as the LibDems with their 50+ MPs can push the Tories with their 300+ MPs. Quite clearly it isn’t what the LibDems would want if they were on their own, and my argument with Caron and the Cleggies is that we should be using language which makes that clear rather than language whose effect is to boost the attacks you and your sort are making against us.

    If Labour have an alternative, then they should propose it. Instead of just attacking “the cuts” they should tell us just how they would pay for not having the cuts, propose that alternative in Parliament and have a vote on it. If there really was an alternative government with different sorts of policies that could have been formed out of the Parliament elected in May 2010, then Labour would be leading it, so to prove it is the case they should be telling us what they were doing if they were leading it. As the party balance of MPs in Parliament has not changed much since May 2010 they should be offering an alternative coalition deal, the one your argument claims is possible, and they should be held just as much to blame for the current situation as the LibDems and the Conservatives for not offering it. But they aren’t offering it because they know it is impossible. They aren’t telling us what they would do as an alternative because they haven’t a clue themselves and know it wouldn’t be that much different, and are planning on getting back to power just by “nah nah nah nah nah, nasty rotten LibDems, jumped into bed with the Tories” pushing the pendulum their way rather than telling the truth about the economic plight this country is in and winning hearts and minds over to a realistic left-wing way of tackling it. That is why I have nothing but contempt for the Labour Party. I will be doing no work for the Liberal Democrats in the next general election, and it breaks my heart that there is no-one I can be happy to support politically, as I’ve always taken the position that as a citizen I have a duty to be active in building democracy by being involved in a viable political party. However, I shall not be supporting Labour in any way whatsoever, they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • David Evans 25th Jun '14 - 9:56am

    @ Caron “He is, however, associated very personally with many of the most liberal policies we have introduced.” If you believe that, I suggest you ask Jo Shaw about Secret Courts where he deliberately went against two votes in conference to help implement the most illiberal thing imaginable for a so-called liberal.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 9:58am

    Me

    I will be doing no work for the Liberal Democrats in the next general election

    Unless they get rid of Clegg, of course. If they do, I’ll go back and work harder for them than I have ever done in the past.

  • matt (Bristol) 25th Jun '14 - 10:06am

    The anger, bitterness and recriminatory tone show here by posters form all perspectives proves that Nick Clegg will not go soon and not go quietly.

    Why? Because to get Nick Clegg to stand down or be forced down, a coalition within the party needs to be made betwen several groups:

    – those who have always opposed Nick Clegg becuase they consider him to alien to past party tradition and positioning.

    – those who feel (maybe in private) that they would rather Nick Clegg was not leading the party but have up to now felt he was doing well enough to not be ejected.

    – those who liked Nick Clegg up to now, but are beginning to feel he has made policy and strategic mistakes and cannot get himself or the party out of the current situation and a change may be needed

    – those who feel Nick Clegg is essentially a decent and honourable man hwose polisices and strategy were essentially right but that his ‘toxicity’ in the coutnry makes it pragmatically expedient for him to step down soon.

    The louder and angrier the first group gets, the more the other groups feel they too will be second against the wall when the revolution comes, the less likely a coalition of these groups becomes as they feel the asault on Clegg is being made as a proxy for a ‘purging’ (to adopt a phrase used above) of elements in the party which the first group objects to.

  • … and of course no doubt there will be others who will not work for the party if, for instance, Tim Farron gets his hands on it. The debate over a potential leadership challenge is now a dead duck kept going by our own self indulgence. As for public recognition I supect the only national Lib Dem politican recognised by the electorate outside of Nick Clegg is Vince Cable. We delude ourselve to believe otherwise.

  • Robert

    There are at least half a dozen LibDem politicians better known than Clegg was when he was elected.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Jun '14 - 10:24am

    David Evans, secret courts was never a liberal policy. I opposed it at the time, I proposed the motion at Scottish Conference against it, I spoke in the Federal Conference debate against it.

    Am I chuffed that those Conference votes were ignored? Of course not. Do the electorate at large care about that issue? Not so much. I think it has turned away some of our core voters, but will not have had much of an impact on the opinion polls generally.

    Secret courts was one of the major mistakes we’ve made in Government. No argument from me on that. That doesn’t change the fact that Nick Clegg has been personally associated with many good, liberal policies such as help with childcare, shared parental leave, giving extra money to disadvantaged kids in school, and giving mental health equal priority in the NHS.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 10:27am

    matt (Bristol)

    The louder and angrier the first group gets, the more the other groups feel they too will be second against the wall when the revolution comes,

    Sorry, what do you mean by that? I’m not proposing that anyone should be shot or expelled from the party or whatever. But I am suggesting that we need a complete change of the people at the top of the party who have been responsible for its image making in recent years. That’s what I meant by the word “purge”.

    I have come to that conclusion because I have seen how they seem to have got into a bunker mentality, even Caron Lindsay who I used to respect up until reading her shrill Cleggisms in this thread, in which they are not listening a bit to anyone else (see quite obviously Caron’s line used against me that assumes I am arguing against the very formation of the coalition at the start when a casual glance at what I am saying shows the complete opposite), and just repeating anodyne ad-man phrases which just aren’t working, which just sound to the electorate like more alien politico-speech.

    To build a new image in time for the next general election I feel we need a completely new team up there at the top, in part because we need people with competence and depth and long-term experience of campaigning for the party on the streets, and in part because I think we need to do something that looks dramatic in order to shake up the electorate and get them to look again at us and dispel the assumptions they have been making as a result of four years of damaging Cleggery coming from the top.

    If I were in charge of running the party, however, I would want to make sure I was hearing from ALL major streams in it, and ALL major streams felt they were being respected and had an input to it relative to their proportion of members. This is NOT how the Clegg leadership has run things – Clegg and the Cleggies have shown an outrageous bias to the economic right, promoting only people of that type, and making sure all the advisers at the top were of that frame of mind, and doing nothing to distance themselves from those like Richard Reeves and Jasper Gerard who claim closeness to the leader and from that position have made absolutely clear their contempt (and by implication, the leader’s) for those on the centre and left of the party and their belief that Clegg has taken it over and changed it to be a party of their sort of politics, with the rest of us advised to leave it and join Labour if we don’t like that.

    I would want to see a leader of the party who sees his or her position as a servant of its members, as someone who sees it as his or her job to act in the way those members ask, not as someone who ignores what the party is saying and sees it as his job to pull it away to his political point of view.

    If I come across as angry it is because I have given my life to this party, and am now seeing all I spent building it up being destroyed by Clegg and the Cleggies. Do I not have a right to get angry about that?

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 10:33am

    Robert

    As for public recognition I suspect the only national Lib Dem politican recognised by the electorate outside of Nick Clegg is Vince Cable.

    Well, why is it like that? Maybe it has something to do with the way that Clegg and the Cleggies have taken it over and ensured that its national promotional material is wall-to-wall Clegg. If no-one else ever gets covered (and forget token tame-lefty but in reality keen Cleggy, Tim Farron), is it surprising that ordinary people can’t name anyone else?

    So here we go – paint the image of the Liberal Democrats as being the Nick Clegg Party, make sure the electorate hear nothing about anyone else in the party except Nick Clegg, and follow that up by claiming that only Nick Clegg can be its leader because no-one else is known about. What a dirty, dirty, and thoroughly illiberal way of running things.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 10:41am

    Simon Shaw

    @Jonathan Pile
    ” I would personally like a leader to commit the party to abolishing Tuition Fees once and for all as an issue of principle on a red line basis and commit the party to cancelling student debts.”

    Are you actually being serious, Jonathan?

    I think we need serious politics.

    So, we need to suggest such things, alongside saying what it would cost and various tax options which would pay it. Then we need to say to the people “OK, what do you want us to do? Do you want these things like subsidised university tuition and a decent NHS and good pensions, and if so are you prepared to pay the taxes necessary for them? If not, be honest and accept you can’t have them. It’s YOUR choice – we’re listening to you, we’ve given you the options, now go ahead and tell us what YOU want us to do”.

    Isn’t that what democracy is about? I’m not suggesting a referendum because I do think it is necessary to sit down and put together a coherent working plan for a whole government, but I am suggesting being utterly realistic about what is possible, following guidance from the people on that, and dispelling this whole ad-man’s approach to politics on which every necessary compromise has to be sold as super-wonderful and the full picture never given,

    I have nothing but contempt for Labour because they aren’t doing this. They’re basking in support coming their way as people get angry about “Tory cuts and LibDems rolling over and supporting them”, but they’re saying NOTHING in terms of realistic budget alternatives.

  • @ Matt (Bristol) You have missed out the biggest group of Lib Dem of all – those who accepted Nick at his word at the start, worked enormously hard to get Lib Dems elected in 2010, accepted (with varying degrees of reluctance) the decision to go into coalition, but since then have become increasingly appalled at how badly (and indeed illiberally) Nick has performed as leader in coalition. Failure to keep a pledge, failure to apologise for breaking it, failure on electoral reform, failure on HoL reform, failure to stop the bedroom tax, supporting secret courts, and so many more things.

    These people have been the silent majority for a long time now: The absolute majority of those who have left since the end of 2010, and a clear majority of those who remain, as is evidenced by the lack of support being reported for Nick, even in those Constituencies who have voted not to call for a leadership election immediately. He is a dead man dragging the party down.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 11:06am

    To me, it is absolutely central to liberal democracy that leaders should be the servants of the people and not vice versa. We should run our party as we would run our country. As leaders should be the servants of the people, so the people should feel free to discuss who they should employ in that role and feel free to replace who it is by someone else if it is felt that someone else would do a better job. This should be regarded as an entirely natural thing to do, not written up in conspiratorial tones, not regarded as so horrendously damaging that it cannot be done. What sort of “liberals” are we when, as so many argue arguing, it is felt impossible to talk about changing the leader? If others think that way, well, let us educate them in liberalism, let us say that it is what we believe in because as liberals we are not leader-oriented, we believe that ultimately power must be with the people. Let our leaders show that by a sense of humility, by an open willingness to listen, by a willingness to stand down and allow a free choice if the people show signs they may want a change.

    To me, this top-down leader orientation, this idea that it is impossible to talk about change of leader, that we must instead just follow what the man at the top tells us to do, is an aspect of those political ideologies to which we are so opposed. We see it taken to its fullness in the 20th century in Italy and Germany, in Russia and China. We are not like that, that sort of thing is not what we are about. We are liberals. We believe in free speech and we believe in democracy. Why are we afraid not just to say that but to act on it?

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 11:12am

    Simon Shaw

    I know I am correct in what I say, but it hardly seems worth the effort of trying to convince you. After all, how would “I and my type” have anything worthwhile to say?

    All I find is you and your type saying the same things over and over again. The fact that you and your type are not listening, not interacting, but just broadcasting is shown by what Caron Lindsay wrote at 10:29pm last night, when she just issued the standard Cleggy line that anyone who utters any criticism of the way Clegg has run the party must just be an unrealistic opponent of the formation of the coalition in the first place when a mere glance at what I have been writing – and have been doing do for four years – makes clear that is NOT my position and never has been.

    If you want to convince me, engage with what I am saying, or at least show some signs you have understood it, not just do what Caron has done and ignore it, attacking me as if I had said something completely different that falls better into the false world constructed in the bunker you and your type reside in.

  • matt (Bristol) 25th Jun '14 - 11:15am

    Matthew, of course you have a right to get angry. Everyone does, and you clearly have legitimate concerns which generally I feel you articulate very well. But if you or I cannot persuade, our anger goes nowhere and achieves nothing, because a party is a collective body in which multiple actors have to be persuaded act in concert to achieve results (which I don’t have to tell you, because you know this); by the way, it was not you I had in mind when writing that phrase and I would rather you did not take it personally; you are not by any means the least rational poster on here, and you do generally respect others’ perspective even where you disagree with them strongly. I hadn’t realised that you were the first user of the word ‘purge’; I believe I picked up on it when someone else used it and understood it to be being used in a personal sense, not a policy sense.

    Nick Clegg was able in the past to persuade others not exactly of his perspective that he could represent them, too. People like oldliberal, who posted above. If Nick Clegg has moved away from that or not done that effectively in response to subsequent events – which many clearly feel (and I have sympathy with) – anyone who wishes to remove him for whatever reasons needs to persuade those who have different feelings about Clegg that they will be represented and understood if they come together in a collective action to remove him and that the various petitions and projects to remove him are not narrowly from one sector of the party. Otherwise it won’t work and the whole thing will be self-defeating.

  • @SImon Shaw
    “But he DID apologise”

    Did he? When?

    We’ve all heard Clegg apologise for making the pledge, but I’m sure you can appreciate that’s very different from apologising for breaking the pledge, which is the apology most people wanted to hear.

  • Jonathan Pile 25th Jun '14 - 11:23am

    The point about Nick Clegg’s so called and much parodied apology was he was not sorry for deceiving the students and not sorry for breaking the pledge just sorry that the pledge was made. A non apology apology which has won back no support and shows both his contempt for the party and massive lack of judgement. He is also not sorry about the sun incident which has negated all the principled opposition of our party over many years to murdochery , phone hacking etc.

  • @Simon Shaw
    I just had a quick look at Clegg’s ‘apology’ just to remind myself why the population of the UK found it a joke:

    1. He didn’t apologise for breaking the pledge – he apologised for making the pledge. No voter in the land is taken in by that kind of sophistry.
    2. He claimed that the party shouldn’t have made the promise to abolish fees when there is so little money around, yet during the election he campaigned on a ‘fully-funded’ manifesto.

  • Well – with over 200 comments – one thing is for certain:

    “The Debate is still raging”

  • Stuart

    “We’ve all heard Clegg apologise for making the pledge, but I’m sure you can appreciate that’s very different from apologising for breaking the pledge, which is the apology most people wanted to hear.”

    Absolutely spot on. It would have been better not to have any apology than what he said. At the risk of upsetting some people there really does need to be a “purge” among Cleggs advisors.

  • matt (Bristol) 25th Jun '14 - 11:48am

    @Simon Shaw: “What I said was that Lib Dems who have tried to position our Party to the left of Labour must carry a share of the blame for our current difficulties. Those who did that aren’t necessarily of the left – they just wanted to chase easy votes. It’s why we were accused of being “all things to all men” – which I didn’t use to understand, but now I rather do.”

    Hmm, that is one of the most interesting things I have seen you say, Simon. As someone who would like the party to draw more on the ‘leftwing’ tradition within it (not always the most helpful phrase) and would not want the party to move much more ‘right’, I can agree that people who tried to sell the party as a ‘leftwing’ an alternative to Labour for eg on taxation policy during the Blair years could share some blame for our current difficulties … IF we agree that they did not envisage the party filling that role for the longer-term, and that the same people were simultaneously trying to tell other voters that we were a nicer alternative to the Tories.

    However, would you agree that Nick Clegg may still be one of these people (or at least in agreement with this) and that other people implicated in this approach if it is asyou say might include Lord Rennard, Paddy Ashdown, and any number of the party stategists whose work laid the platform for the current leadership’s approach over about 20 years?

    This seems to make the ‘mess’ even bigger and no-one gets away clean. What then?

  • @ Ian Jones – “We sent our party leader over the top and into the firing line as Deputy Prime Minister during the worst economic crisis since the 1920s/30s.” Don’t make me laugh.
    As DPM he has failed to take any of his meaningful targets – On Electoral Reform he lost the AV Referendum hopelessly, and put it back for at least a generation. On HoL reform, failed to get the conservatives to honour their agreement. On MP Recall, proposals worse than useless. On Five Year Parliaments, enacted but already both Labour and Conservatives are talking of abolishing it, because it only applied to tying the Lib Dems into the coalition.”

    Over the top implies a risk of death, somehow he seems to be unscathed, but others who have achieved much more, like our MEPs and their hard working staff, have lost it all.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 12:23pm

    matt (Bristol)

    Nick Clegg was able in the past to persuade others not exactly of his perspective that he could represent them, too.

    He never persuaded me. From the very start when he was being pushed forward as “obviously the next leader” I just could not see what people saw in him. I still can’t.

  • Jonathan Pile 24th Jun ’14 – 11:43pm | Edit

    “I am very pleased to see this article has topped the LDV poll for most reads in just a few hours. Clearly the leadership debate is neither over, nor confined to a vocal minority as has been asserted. If only there was a democratic way to settle this? – oh yes a ballot of members or a secret ballot of MPs”..

    Jonathan

    It’s not difficult to top the LDV list in a slow week such as this. Note that a debate on ldv is not the same as in the real world. And I think you’ll find several democratic ways of changing leader in the constitution.

  • matt (Bristol) 25th Jun '14 - 12:30pm

    Matthew Huntbach:
    “He never persuaded me.’
    I know. You’re clear on that. But you need to accept that he persuaded others, to be able to persuade them to another way of looking at the situation if you want to change something now. You do not generally do this, but there are people who post on here who behave as if those who voted for Nick Clegg or who accept or are resigned to Nick Clegg continuing in leadership are either evil, possessed or under some sort of hypnotic spell and posting angry denunciations will either exorcise them or snap them out of it. It won’t, because human beings do not like to be denounced.

  • matt (Bristol) 25th Jun '14 - 12:32pm

    SImon Shaw – OK, who are the people who in your opionion tried to position the party to the left of labour for insincere reasons?

  • Paul – “A slow week such as this” I presume as a moderator you had evidence to support this statement before you posted. Can you provide it? Thanks.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 12:33pm

    matt (Bristol)

    Matthew, of course you have a right to get angry. Everyone does, and you clearly have legitimate concerns which generally I feel you articulate very well. But if you or I cannot persuade, our anger goes nowhere and achieves nothing,

    Sure, but unlike many others I’m not just going to go silently. I feel I have a duty to explain why I’m dropping out of activity in the party. I feel I have a duty to put forward alternative ways it could have gone that I feel would have persuaded me to stay and to stay giving donations of time and money to it. I have not left the party yet, there is nowhere else I want to go to, yet I feel it is a waste of time putting any effort into it while it is led by who it is led by, and I mean not just the person at the top but all those I have categorised here as “you and your type”, I mean people who seem incapable of anything but spewing out the ad-man generated phrases that to me quite obviously are not working.

    The reports in the elections last month are that the places where we hung on are those that did the most to distance themselves from everything coming out from the national leadership of the party and all its spads and ad-men and apologists. Well, if after that there is still this complete denial at the top that things are going wrong and that changes are needed, I don’t know what else to do. All I can say is how I would run things very differently, not just attacks on the current leader. If people don’t like my different ideas and aren’t even capable of thinking them through with me, fine. It looks like you who want no change at the top have won. Let’s see how it is in May 2015, I’ll be an observer and seeing if what I predict – disaster for our party – comes about.

  • Jonathan Pile 25th Jun '14 - 12:35pm

    Just saw Charles Kennedy on the Daily Politics. He’ s a class act and he looked relaxed and spoke well and answered the questions . The party line was contradictory however and simplicity is what we need. He could do the job.

  • @Bill le Breton “To think that at present we are in contention in 55-60 seats is nonsense. Just look at the Ashcroft polling for starters.” We have choice, it is being in contention in about 20 seats with Nick as leader, oe being in contention in 35-40 with someone else leading.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 12:44pm

    matt (Bristol)

    You do not generally do this, but there are people who post on here who behave as if those who voted for Nick Clegg or who accept or are resigned to Nick Clegg continuing in leadership are either evil, possessed or under some sort of hypnotic spell

    Since I can see nothing good about him, and never did, and could not understand why anyone thought he could make a good leader, yes, to be honest that is my position. At least I can say I said it at the start, and I’ve been proved correct so far – the man has failed in all the ways I said he would fail.

    Now, here is my honest views on how he came to be where he is. He was pushed forward as the candidate of the economic right, enthusiastically promoted by the right-wing press who wanted him to do what Blair did to the Labour Party i.e. destroy it and make it yet another Tory-lite party. He was also put forward as someone supposedly very skilled and able and a good communicator through blatant class prejudice – that is, journalists and political commentators who come from the same sort of background as he comes from confuse cleverness with being like them in looks and speech and the like.

    Sorry if I don’t convince the Cleggies on that, but so far, as I say, it’s all gone wrong just as I predicted in the way I predicted. But anyway, since I come from a working class background and have all the appearance and mannerisms and way of speaking that implies, I’m a nobody and can’t be very clever, not like that wonderful and misunderstood Mr Clegg. When I open my mouth and speak, I’m written off as a bit thick. With Clegg, it’s the other way round. That’s Britain for you.

  • Guy’s look at the polls. Nick Clegg is dead meat, The purge stuff and angst is simply distracting everyone from the obvious, Any temporary leader would fair better. He really should be encouraged to spend more time with his family or write his memoirs or something, coz to be blunt his continued leadership is taking the Lib Dems into a death spiral which is what this tiresome debate is a symptom of.

  • No, Simon. Clegg apologised for making the promise. He was kicking party colleagues in the teeth with this – who believed passionately that tuition fees should not be there.

  • paul barker 25th Jun '14 - 1:47pm

    Can I apologise in advance for adding another comment ? Also for not reading most of the previous 230+, its too hot & Ive got a virus for which I blame the “Clegg-must-go” brigade. Your relentless negativity has worn down my immune system.
    Hundreds of comments are no proof of “raging debate” as a look at the Telegraph will show. The only debate that matters is the one in Local Party meetings which so far have come down ten to one against a Leadership Election now. As far as I can tell that boat has sailed & this thread is a waste of cyberspace.

  • Helen Tedcastle 25th Jun '14 - 1:54pm

    @ paul barker

    “… this thread is a waste of cyberspace.” If so, why do you post in it? It seems to me to be a very important debate in light of recent a election catastrophe and the fact that some in the party are in complete denial of reality…

  • @paul barker
    Can I apologise in advance for adding another comment ?
    No, you can’t; but you can certainly apologise after the fact.

  • @Simon Shaw

    People are angry that he broke his promise, not that he made it. Until he has apologised for breaking his promise, he hasn’t apologised. To me, his ‘apology’ came across as an attempt to blame those on the ‘left’ of the party for making tuition fee abolition that he didn’t agree with a party policy. He was quite happy to take the votes from those same people to become leader of the Lib Dems and he was happy to take votes from voters who agreed with the policy in 2010, so what does that make Clegg? – a politician that is happy to say anything to gain votes even if he doesn’t believe in what he is saying himself and even if he has no intention of trying to carry out the promises he makes? I doubt my comment will get past the LDV towers cutting room, but that is how a vast swathe of the electorate see Nick Clegg, and it not unreasonable for them to see him that way.

    Anyway, the real question is how will a new leader, either this side of 2015 or not, go about explaining the Lib Dem record in coalition (and explain the tuition fee u-turn)? The most pragmatic solution in terms of keeping your party together might be to adopt the Huntbachian defence of citing limited influence, but I’m not sure that’s going to persuade most of your departed voters to return.

  • Simon, I would be kicking you in the teeth if you had been representing previously held Lib Dem majority opinion / and / or a longstanding policy, which is what Nick Clegg was doing when he voted to support Tuition Fees. He also defied the Birmingham Special Conference vote, which among several amendments, passed 3, I think, trying to ensure that the Party did not break its pledge on Fees. This could possibly have been because Nick was not trusted with keeping it, owing to previous unsupportive remarks.

  • Simon Shaw

    “Isn’t the more honest thing for you to admit that you just don’t like Nick?”

    I wasted my vote at the last GE by voting for someone who made a pledge on tuition fees and said there would be no more broken promises. When in government one of the first things he does is vote for a massive increase in tuition fees. So it is fair to say I’m not very keen on the guy that’s for sure.

  • Jonathan Pile 25th Jun '14 - 2:59pm

    On the subject of Nick Clegg – on today’s PMQ’s with David Cameron admitting he ignored 2010 Clegg’s objection to hiring a Criminal (AKA Andy Coulson) at No.10 – pry why did NIck sit in silence on this important issue? When the party needs him to talk about crucial matters he is silent and why we need him to shut up he speaks? Time for Nick to jet off on Holiday to Spain and stay there. Malcolm Bruce can stand in while we sort it out together.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 3:07pm

    Simon Shaw

    Isn’t the more honest thing for you to admit that you just don’t like Nick?

    then

    Signing up to a “pledge” produced by a third party (in this case the NUS) is always a silly thing to do in politics.

    You are contradicting yourself. First you say that anyone who disagrees with Clegg can’t possibly have a real reason for doing so, it must be just some irrational dislike. Then you say he did a “silly thing”. It was not just “silly”, it was catastrophic. As we have seen here, we still kept getting hit by it.

    Now, the Cleggies will point out that Clegg didn’t really want this thing in the manifesto, it was forced on him by party democracy. But party democracy did not ask him to single it out and make it a “pledge” in a way that could only be interpreted as setting it up as a “red line” in coalition negotiations. Those of us in the party pushing for it knew perfectly well that in the event of a coalition things have to be up for negotiation, and inevitably what goes through must be what the other side are prepared to compromise on. So if this thing just would never be accepted by a potential coalition partner because the balancing costs are too high, then putting it in the manifesto as something to be done if we achieve a majority is fine, but caution should have been used in the election campaign, bearing in mind the strong likelihood of a coalition. That’s just sensible advanced planning. It’s something a competent leader should have been doing.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 3:08pm

    paul barker

    The only debate that matters is the one in Local Party meetings which so far have come down ten to one against a Leadership Election now.

    Fine. The remaining party members may have been convinced. What about all our ex-voters? Have you managed to convince them?

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '14 - 3:20pm

    Simon Shaw

    I happen to passionately believe that the present system is fairer and better than the one it replaced. Does that mean that you are “kicking me in the teeth” in saying what you do?

    Yes, but the people who used to vote for us just aren’t listening. You make it worse by putting it that way. Instead of playing the “it’s wonderful” line, I think it would be better to say it was a sad compromise necessary because the Tories just would not budge on the tax rises that would have to be put in place if we were to keep that pledge and do so without mass university closures.

    I myself think the protests about it are overdone, because the net effect underneath isn’t much different from the sort of graduate tax that was the alternative. I’ve tried to put the line that if the LibDems just voted it down, it would be paid for from government borrowing anyway, and that would place just the same sort of burden on the next generation as is being placed anyway by the tuition fee system. But I find when I start that I’m just not being listened to, suddenly I get written off as just another Cleggie who’s only saying it out of blind loyalty to The Leader.

    So there’s my point from the start – the exaggerated claims about what we have achieved in the coalition are damaging us because they are contradictory to the more realistic argument about necessary sad compromises due to the people having elected a Parliament which put the Tories in the lead position and gave us only a small influence. The distortion which put it that way is what Labour and Conservative politicians campaigning for “No” in the 2011 referendum said was so wonderful about the current electoral system. That is why we have what the people voted for – by two-to-one they voted for it in 2011, by voting “No” they voted “Yes” to Tory dominance.

    So why can’t we say that? Because instead the Cleggies want to look big by exaggerating our influence, and carry on with this “Rose Garden” strategy despite its very evident disastrous effects on our support.

  • Jonathan Pile 25th Jun '14 - 3:55pm

    @ Paul Barker
    “The only debate that matters is the one in Local Party meetings which so far have come down ten to one against a Leadership Election now.”
    As one who has direct experience of how this has worked, firstly I question the ten to one figure as so far I am aware current score is two in favour and three against with many others blocked due to unofficial lobbying from the national leadership and individual members being cowed into silence. To suggest that the party is happy with the Clegg leadership is as preposterous as Andrew Emmerson’s first comment that the debate is over. I believe that this issue will continue until and during Conference in October and if not resolved with inevitably feature in Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam Campaign in May 2015. If Nick Clegg is not elected in the General Election then it will be the voters who will have decided the issue, my only hope is that none of the other 61 MPs suffer a similar fate, if the party ducks things now.

  • Jonathan Pile 25th Jun '14 - 4:23pm

    The Coalition was sold to us as an act of national salvation but in fact Richard Grayson nailed it in July 2010 as a logical progression of Orange Bookism – which Stephen Tall celebrates today.
    http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2010/07/liberal-democrats-social-party

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Jun '14 - 4:54pm

    “Many others blocked due to unofficial lobbying from the national leadership and individual members cowed into silence.”

    You’ll need to give me some evidence before I take a claim like that seriously, Jonathan. I have probably had as much abuse as anyone over all of this and I haven’t been “cowed into silence” so forgive my scepticism. And why would a local party bow to such pressure. After all, if 20 members demanded an SGM, it would have to be held regardless of what anyone else thought.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Jun '14 - 5:09pm

    @Jonathan: Ed Miliband made the point that Nick had warned Cameron over Coulson. Why should Nick say anything else. His Sun photo the other week may have been daft, but ultimately, our Nick is the only one of the three who has a completely clean sheet when it comes to sucking up to the press, Murdoch or the Daily Mail.

    He’s also been vocal on the need to publish Hillsborough stuff.

  • Jonathan Pile 25th Jun '14 - 5:09pm

    @Caron
    “You’ll need to give me some evidence before I take a claim like that seriously, Jonathan. I have probably had as much abuse as anyone over all of this and I haven’t been “cowed into silence” so forgive my scepticism”
    The truth is Caron that many members are not so brave as your good self to put their heads above the parapets and people naturally are reluctant to incur the wrath of their local party especially in the aftermath of an election defeat. So much easier to hope for the best while quietly resenting the state of the party – aka the silent majority. For evidence just look at the statement about intimidation from Libdems4change. “We regret that some signatories have reported being intimidated and bullied by those who oppose the letter. This is unacceptable and is at odds with the robust line against harassment which Nick has personally and publicly taken.” http://www.libdems4change.org
    For my own part I note that you haven’t responded to my comments about LDV moderations against anti-cleggites such as myself qv “For the moment I’m the acting coordinator and contact but our members are secret given the level of hostility and antagonism currently in the party from certain quarters. Many of us have been moderated off LDV in recent weeks to censor the debate, a fact that Caron can confirm though as a concession to free speech this article was accepted by LDV for publication “. Which has helped to delay and slow the momentum of the debate. I think the number of reads,likes,comments and tweets of this article has surprised LDV considerably, “even if it was a slow week”

  • I chaired an Executive meeting (as Vice Chair) of our local party last night, and raised the issue. The Exec did not think it was the time to go for leadership change at present, despite the fact that several are dissatisfied with the current situation. So our constituency will not be added to the small number going for Special General Meetings. Wider consultation hasn’t brought forth a demand either. This seems to mirror a pattern emerging across the party.

    On a separate issue – Caron you mention taking abuse on this issue – do you mean from party insiders? But you haven’t said anything on here which could have got you abuse from that quarter. You have undoubtedly stirred up anti – Clegg sentiment here, leading to strong words, but that’s a different matter! Perhaps your views expressed privately have been very different from this public forum?

  • Tony Dawson 25th Jun '14 - 5:33pm

    @Simon Shaw:

    “So he did apologise, but”

    No he did not. Actually, by attempting to substitute a crude apology for something different but related which people were NOT criticising him for, for the apology which was wanted – which was for the thing people WERE criticising him for – this was substantially worse.

    People do not like ‘cleverness’ which suggests that the perpetrator thinks he can get away with a trick to avoid what is really wanted. It smacks of “he think’s we’re stupid”.

    Nick Clegg would have done a lot better if he had said nothing at all rather than this faux contrived ‘apology’. He was also VERY very lucky that he did not get hauled over the coals to a much high degree than he did on the issue of his video , the content of which is “Unlike all the others, you can trust Lib Dems to keep their promises.” What it should have said, of course, is “Unlike the others, you can trust 99 per cent of Lib Dems to keep their promises. Just not me.” 🙁

    “Isn’t the more honest thing for you to admit that you just don’t like Nick?”

    This is a strange deflection. Why shouldn’t people still like Nick, just because thy think he is useless at one thing? He is an excellent skier, father, presenter and a very nice man. None of that makes him any good as a Leader.

  • David Evans 25th Jun '14 - 5:45pm

    @ Caron, I note and accept your comment “David Evans, secret courts was never a liberal policy. ” So how in heaven’s name did such a totally illiberal policy become a three line whip issue in the Commons and the Lords? Nick Clegg. Surely the most illiberal thing done by liberal leader ever! Why did he trample over party democracy? Because he didn’t care about democracy, just being in control. So many good liberals left in dismay after that. But you still support him totally. I really cannot understand why.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Jun '14 - 5:59pm

    Actually, David, more people left the party over equal marriage than secret courts. I have not a single good word to say about what Nick and the MPs did over secret courts – but I do know that Nick didn’t do it on his own. The MPs just accepted it too, much to my annoyance.

    That was a mistake, but that doesn’t mean to say that I think it’s an offence that should cost him the leadership.

  • Stephen Howse 25th Jun '14 - 6:04pm

    “there are people who post on here who behave as if those who voted for Nick Clegg or who accept or are resigned to Nick Clegg continuing in leadership are either evil, possessed or under some sort of hypnotic spell and posting angry denunciations will either exorcise them or snap them out of it. It won’t, because human beings do not like to be denounced.”

    The most sensible thing anyone in here has posted.

    All that is happening, and has been happening for weeks, is that the two minorities of people who have very strong feelings on this – the Anyone-But-Clegg lot and the Clegg luvvies – are becoming more and more knee-jerk reactionary and, let’s be honest, even more boring, while those in the middle just sit and stare upwards at the clods of muck being flung above their heads from both sides.

    If Clegg was going to step down of his own accord he would have done already. He has already confirmed he will not be and intends to lead the party into the 2015 general election.

    If you love Nick, rejoice; if you don’t love Nick, get your local party exec to call a special meeting and ask for a contest; if you’re in neither camp, get your head down and get saving up for a bulk purchase of new shoes, because you’ll be needing them next year to campaign for your local Lib Dem candidates.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Jun '14 - 6:08pm

    Ah, pressed send too soon. When you take everything that Nick has done into consideration, looking at the circumstances he faced, I think he’s done a reasonable job. And when I see him criticised as unfairly as he has been, it makes me want to stand up for him more, as I would for anybody. Try putting yourselves in his shoes, dealing with what he has had to deal with, spending a lot of his time trying to stop Tory ministers doing awful things and succeeding much of the time. I’m sure you could all have done better. We all think that we wouldn’t have done this, that or this next thing. But would we really if we were in that situation?

    I don’t expect my leaders to be perfect. They never can be. Nick’s done ok given the tough hand he was dealt and I don’t want to see him edged out when he has implemented some very good liberal policies.

    I don’t think the situation is irredeemable. I think we can get a reasonable result next May and from there we can build a proper nationwide recovery.

  • Caron, he may or may not have done a reasonable job, but that is not the problem. At the risk of going on and on with the same theme it is the future of the party, both immediate and long distant that is the actual issue. Nobody can ignore the terrible state the party is in, and nobody really believes that is going to improve at all, whilst the public have the present scenario in front of them. Indeed the real evidence suggest that it has now gone from very bad to almost beyond the grave. Nick Clegg will go down in history as the man who broke a major boundary in British politics, a 5 year coalition, whilst at the same time ensuring the destruction of what was a pretty powerful political force, the Liberal Democrats.
    We may just have a chance with a new face, a new image and a different focus. We very badly need that chance, this summer. It cannot be delayed out of whatever misguided sense those in Westminster are operating from.
    The sooner everyone can accept this reality the better.

    eff

  • Please ignore the eff at the end do not know how I did that.

  • Caron, with all due respect — and I think you’re owed a great deal — you’re arguing a case for why Nick Clegg is a decent chap, not for why he’s best suited to lead the Liberal Democrats at this particular point in time. Do you agree with Simon Shaw that Clegg may be bad, but every other Lib Dem MP would be worse?

    And when you say that “the situation is [not] irredeemable” — and I think that’s the key point — how do you see it being “redeemed”? What kind of reform is going on that can change the results of the last several elections, and who’s leading the way in making the reform? Is Nick Clegg putting all his energy into changing the public perception of the Liberal Democrats, and the ground on which that perception is based? Or are reforms going on without, or in spite of Nick Clegg? Or are there no reforms, and we’re just sitting around like Mr Micawber, waiting for something to turn up?

    If you would care to write an LDV article on why you think the situation is redeemable, and how you see the “redemption” progressing from now until the 2015 elections — with or without the current leadership — I’d be very keen on reading it.

  • @Caron
    What is a reasonable result? Down to 30 MPs?

    Surely, now is the time to start aiming higher

  • David Evans 25th Jun '14 - 7:05pm

    Caron, Three line whips come from the leadership down, not the MPs up. I’m sorry, but to me your blaming MPs is just an intellectualisation of an excuse not a reason. MPs showed a misguided loyalty to the leader of their Party. Nick showed a total disregard for Lib Dem principles and a total loyalty to his coalition partners.

    Also Conference reminded Nick twice of just how illiberal it was. Nick didn’t make a mistake as you indicate. He ignored them all deliberately. That is a fundamental abrogation of two Lib Dem principles in one deliberate, premeditated action, and to me isn’t something that can be forgiven. We need a Lib Dem leader who is a Lib Dem to the Bottom of his/her boots. Not a leader who will use party mechanisms to impose power.

    Lib Dems have to act like liberals. It is clear Nick deliberately didn’t. As I said before, Why did he trample over party democracy? Because he didn’t care about democracy, just being in control. So many good liberals left in dismay after that. But you still support him totally. I still cannot understand why.

  • As John Tilley has pointed out above, this thread has elicited contributions from a wider range of individuals than has recently been customary, and the result has been that there has been a fairer balance of opinion on it between pro-Clegg and anti-Clegg posters than on recent similar threads. This can only be a good development, and whatever our attitude is to the issues concerned, all of us ought to acknowledge that it is possible both to be a perfectly good Liberal Democrat and to hold diametrically opposite views on the party’s current leadership.

  • @David Evans
    “As I said before, Why did he trample over party democracy? ”

    It is hard for the party to create clear yellow water when Clegg is not sold on the idea.

    I would like to see action on restoring the right to silence, pressure on Egypt to release the journalists, GCHQ reform and a resolution for the Assange situation.

    Why should I have any confidence in Clegg on these items?

  • Leekliberal 25th Jun '14 - 7:44pm

    Now that the minority who want Nick to go as leader have had a good whinge amongst themselves, can these sessions be limited to perhaps once a week or even held on the members only part of Lib Dem Voice?

  • Jonathan Pile 25th Jun '14 - 8:27pm

    @ leak liberal
    Sorry to be picky but we are not the minority – we represent a majority of lib dem members and almost 80% of lib dem 2010 voters . This is why the leadership fears a full secret ballot of the members.

  • Oldliberal 25th Jun ’14 – 12:32pm
    “Paul – “A slow week such as this” I presume as a moderator you had evidence to support this statement before you posted. Can you provide it? Thanks.”

    No I didn’t look at any evidence to base that on. Other than the clear link between high traffic and big events such as leaders resigning or elections inducing crises etc.

  • Jonathan Pile 25th Jun ’14 – 12:35pm
    “Just saw Charles Kennedy on the Daily Politics. He’ s a class act and he looked relaxed and spoke well and answered the questions . The party line was contradictory however and simplicity is what we need. He could do the job.”

    No he couldn’t Jonathan. You’re living in cloud cuckoo land. He’d hardly get a single MP to support him. But as I said before I very much doubt he is stupid enough to want to do the job. In fact I am certain he isn’t stupid enough to want to do it.

  • Jonathan:

    ” I think the number of reads,likes,comments and tweets of this article has surprised LDV considerably, “even if it was a slow week””

    It was linked by Guido. That’s why it’s had particularly high traffic and comments, especially not from the usual people. That is not surprising. Guido must surely have been trying to help us as a party by linking to it…

  • @ Leekliberal

    How do you know that it is a minority who want NC go? If there was any confidence this was the case NC would call a leadership election, and stand, to provide a vote of confidence in his leadership.

    Apart from proving [or disproving] your belief that it is only a minority who wants him to go – a leadership contest would ‘lance the boil’ – and there would be no more of these debates either here or in the member’s section!

  • Paul Walter(ref Charles Kennedy)

    “He’d hardly get a single MP to support him”

    He’s loved by the voters and respected in the party – maybe not among those MP’s who stabbed him in the back, but after May 15 most of them will no longer be a problem. It would be such a refreshing change for libdem workers to have a leader who was widely respected and not a handicap.

  • There is a lot more traffic on this thread than the upmteen “Orange Book best thing since sliced bread” threads. Clearly because of Guido and nothing to do with a significant number of grasssroots folk wanting Clegg to step down before the party is irretrievably damaged.

  • Malc
    “It would be such a refreshing change for libdem workers to have a leader who was widely respected and not a handicap.”

    You can’t rewrite history. Yes, Charles is extremely respected as a backbencher and for his excellent work as leader. But saying he was stabbed in the back by his MPs really is a rewrite of history. Do I really have to spell it out? I respect Charles too much to disinter ancient history. Besides, if you want someone even more enthusiastically pro-Europe (which seemed to set off all this hoo-haa in the first place) than Nick Clegg, it is most certainly Charles!

  • Alistair

    “There is a lot more traffic on this thread than the upmteen “Orange Book best thing since sliced bread” threads. ”

    You appear to be confusing the number of views with the number of comments posted.

  • No traffic is a clear term easily counted. Views are a bit more difficult to measure, unless one is just wanting to say someting for effect.

  • @Jonathan Any chance you could throw light on who those 30 local parties are that I asked about higher up the thread? I really struggle to see any evidence for anything like that number; what’s your basis for using it?

  • Mark Pack 25th Jun ’14 – 11:15pm
    @Jonathan Any chance you could throw light on who those 30 local parties are that I asked about higher up the thread? I really struggle to see any evidence for anything like that number; what’s your basis for using it?

    Mark, Did you see my earlier questions to you on this? If you have answered, I have missed your answer and would appreciate it if you can point me to it.

  • Mark Pack — Thiswas my comment with questions —

    JohnTilley 24th Jun ’14 – 9:05pm
    Mark Pack 24th Jun ’14 – 7:31pm
    “Who are the 30 local parties who are meant to have tabled a leadership vote? I’ve tried pretty hard to track them all down, ”

    Mark, you are to be congratulated on the information you have gleaned so far.
    Am I right that you are doing this entirely on your own initiative? Does the party not have someone taking responsibility for this?

    This seems a bit odd. I had assumed that an office holder in the party would be responsible for collating this information.

    Your analysis is interesting but as I read it there have been six meetings in accordance with the constitution with 3 for an election and 3 against. Is that correct?

    There have been twenty something local party executive decisions against letting their membership have a meeting and a vote. Which I would suggest is not quite the same as the constitutional provision for the local membership taking a vote opposing an election.

    If they have not had a chance to express their opinion, discuss at a meeting and then vote, that seems to be a denial of the constitution not an indication of a decision one way. My local party executive took such a decision to prevent a meeting with fewer than a dozen people voting out of a membership of more than 400.

    Just going back to the role of party HQ and office holders. I am aware from a Facebook Forum that party HQ has refused to make available contact details of local parties and in some cases failed to even respond to requests in this matter. Again this seems a bit odd. Surely the role of party HQ in such a matter should be to remain neutral?

    As I read the information on your website what is beyond dispute is that more than thirty local parties have had some sort of discussion. The vast majority of these so far have been small numbers of local executive members rather than special general membership meetings arranged for all the local members?

  • daft ha'p'orth 25th Jun '14 - 11:31pm

    @Alistair
    Yeah… I’m only reading this thread because of Guido, obviously. Basically, I only do anything because of Guido, the little voice in my head that tells me what I think and where to post it.

    I find it hard to understand why Clegg wants to hang around past what would appear to be the leadership’s sell-by date. I also find it hard to understand why anybody else wants that. I reckon that the EU elections illustrated publicly that LD may not be a thing in many places any more. I am impressed by Jonathan Pile’s tenacity, even though I’m not sure why he bothers: myself, I’m rapidly losing interest. I only wrote this paragraph because Guido implanted electrodes into my brain, though, so YMMV.

    @Paul Walter
    ““There is a lot more traffic on this thread than the upmteen “Orange Book best thing since sliced bread” threads. ”
    You appear to be confusing the number of views with the number of comments posted.”
    Right there at the top of my screen it says ‘Most Read’ with this post in #1. I admit that I cannot see the number of views anywhere on the site, however. Feel free to enlighten us. Perhaps explain what the code that populates that ‘most read’ box actually does if it doesn’t count ‘read’ views?

    Anyway, time to go. Guido is calling. Apparently Ed Miliband sneezed into his sleeve, or something, so we all have to mock him with gifs we drew on in MS Paint. Lolz.

  • In2003, the Conservative Party came to a view that their leader, Iain Duncan-Smith, was a disaster. So they sacked him.

    In 2005, after an election they had lost more narrowly than first predicted, the Conservative Party came to a view that their leader, Michael Howard, had fought a moderately competent campaign, but had not found a winning formula. So they sacked him.

    In 2014, Clegg Team Limpet has taken the view that whilst our leader, Nick Clegg, has been “not perfect” and has manifestly failed to find a winning formula, he must at all costs not be sacked.

    We’re a bit different from the Tories, aren’t we? A bit more incapable of making a sensible decision, whether based on principle, or political calculation, or anything else!

    Why are the Cleggies so devoted to their leader, a bit like cultists? Why don’t we hear anyone on the right of our party debating an alternative? Why don’t we see headline arguments such as “Alexander, not Browne, is the best person to stop Farron tilting our Party back to the centre-left”? Can Orange Bookers not conceive of any future without Clegg leading?

    A pragmatic party, as the Tories are, would long ago have sought their next leader. They would be very open to acceptance that such a leader might be from anywhere in the party opinion spectrum, asking only that the next leader must make the case to lead. Cameron in 2005, with his unscripted speech and his effective if semi-duplicitous social-liberal stance, did that. It did work for the Tories, at any rate a lot better than hanging on to Howard would have done. Why do we not adopt a similar approach?

    Its supporters called it the “Clegg Coup”. So, let’s forget all that emotional nonsense about our being a big happy family. We are a political organisation. We have been captured by entryist invaders whose aim has been to enslave us to goals which are not our own.

    These invaders do not accept, as Michael Howard’s supporters accepted, that their Party is bigger than one individual, bigger than one section of internal opinion, and that change may be needed for the sake of the Party as a whole. The Clegg Coup invaders will fight to keep Clegg and the Clegg Team at the helm, irrespective of the fact that the Party will suffer. For the Clegg Team, a minor unsuccessful Lib Dem party “safely” aligned with the Tories is infinitely better than a large and capable Lib Dem party with the freedom to choose any alliance or none.

    Team Limpet are alien to the Liberal Democrat tradition. Team Limpet have trashed our party. Team Limpet must go.

  • In2003, the Conservative Party came to a view that their leader, Iain Duncan-Smith, was a disaster. So they sacked him.

    In 2005, after an election they had lost more narrowly than first predicted, the Conservative Party came to a view that their leader, Michael Howard, had fought a moderately competent campaign, but had not found a winning formula. So they sacked him.

    In 2014, Clegg Team Limpet has taken the view that whilst our leader, Nick Clegg, has been “not perfect” and has manifestly failed to find a winning formula, he must at all costs not be sacked.

    We’re a bit different from the Tories, aren’t we? A bit more incapable of making a sensible decision, whether based on principle, or political calculation, or anything else!

    Why are the Clegg Team Limpet so devoted to their leader? Why don’t we hear anyone on the right of our party debating an alternative? Why don’t we see headline arguments such as “Alexander, not Browne, is the best person to stop Farron tilting our Party back to the centre-left”? Can Orange Bookers not conceive of any future without Clegg leading?

    A pragmatic party, as the Tories are, would long ago have sought their next leader. They would be very open to acceptance that such a leader might be from anywhere in the party opinion spectrum, asking only that the next leader must make the case to lead. Cameron in 2005, with his unscripted speech and his effective if dubious social-liberal stance, did that. It did work for the Tories, at any rate a lot better than keeping Howard would have done. Why do we not adopt a similar approach?

    Its supporters called it the “Clegg Coup”. So, let’s forget all that emotional nonsense about our being a big happy family. We are a political organisation. We have been captured by entryist invaders whose aim has been to enslave us to goals which are not our own.

    These invaders do not accept, as Michael Howard’s supporters accepted, that their Party is bigger than one individual, bigger than one section of internal opinion, and that change may be needed for the sake of the Party as a whole. The Clegg Coup invaders will fight to keep Clegg and the Clegg Team at the helm, irrespective of the fact that the Party will suffer. For the Clegg Team, a minor unsuccessful Lib Dem party “safely” aligned with the Tories is infinitely better than a large and capable Lib Dem party with the freedom to choose any alliance or none.

    Team Limpet are alien to the Liberal Democrat tradition. Team Limpet have trashed our party. Team Limpet must go.

  • “That was a mistake, but that doesn’t mean to say that I think it’s an offence that should cost him the leadership.”

    Well, that’s a truism, in that not all mistakes – or, to use a less loaded term, not all wrong actions – are inexcusable. But, equally, not all wrong actions are excusable. So your comment is quite meaningless, unless you explain why you think this wrong action on the part of Nick Clegg was excusable.

    So why do you think it was excusable for Nick Clegg – as the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and as someone who had made much of his willingness to go to prison in support of civil liberties – to support a measure like secret courts, which made such an obvious mockery of the concept of justice?

  • “But saying he was stabbed in the back by his MPs really is a rewrite of history. Do I really have to spell it out?”

    So the backstabbers could produce an excuse for stabbing him in the back. Does it not occur to you that backstabbers can always produce an excuse for stabbing people in the back? Or do you think that when you confront a backstabber the response is going to be “It’s a fair cop, guv”?

  • Conspiracy theory has had a bad press. Undoubtedly, there are many rather unbalanced people around, who see reds under every bed. However, an uncomfortable truth must also be faced. Sometimes, conspiracy theorists get it right. For decades, the idea that Conservative sympathisers in the 1920s might have stolen a General Election, by forging a letter to the Labour Party which falsely purported to be from the Russian Communist Zinoviev, was generally assumed to be a crazy leftist speculation. It is now commonly agreed that it was the simple truth. The Conservatives, or their sympathisers, really did it. It worked. They won. The lessons for the present day do not need spelling out.

    So, let us look at the following, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Clegg :

    “It has been alleged that Clegg joined the Cambridge University Conservative Association between 1986 and 1987. Clegg has maintained he has “no recollection of that whatsoever”. However, Conservative MP Greg Hands has a record of CUCA members for 1986–1987, and Clegg’s name appears on the list. Hands noted that “for the avoidance of any doubt, there was only one ‘N Clegg’ at Robinson College … [he] is listed in the ‘Robinson College Record’, under ‘Freshmen 1986’.[32][33][34][35] He graduated with an upper second class honours (2:1) degree in social anthropology.[36]”

    Let’s compare and contrast the behaviour of one T Blair, who at a similar age was briefly a member of CND. Blair, while ashamed of that record, has admitted its truth, and simply made assertions to the effect that he has entirely renounced the views of his immature adolescence. Clearly Blair has found it advantageous, in this case, to be wholly truthful. That he no longer sympathises with CND is, after all, entirely evident from everything he nowadays says and does.

    Clegg might, perhaps, have taken the same line, admitting to CUCA membership, and then arguing that his youthful views had changed. Why didn’t he? Perhaps because, unlike Blair, he would have found it hard to convince anyone that his views had really completely changed?

    Clegg might instead have said “I never joined CUCA,” But he didn’t say that. Why didn’t he make an unequivocal denial? Because he was scared that there would be a comeback, an accusation of terminological inexactitude?

    Alternatively, Clegg might (like Blair) have said something like “Yes, I did join CUCA, it was a silly mistake, I only did it because I was chasing a girl, I soon resigned, I am not now a Tory, if I ever was”. But he didn’t say that. Why didn’t he? Because he was scare d that there would be a comeback, a pointer to his subsequent work with Leon Brittan, an accusation that Clegg had become a Tory activist working outside the Tory party?

    Clegg chose none of the options described above. Instead, a man whose entire life has been dominated by politics declared that he simply cannot remember whether or not the first political party he ever joined might or might not have been the Cambridge University Conservative Association.

    I don’t believe that Nick Clegg is currently suffering from advanced amnesia.

    This is the man who has led us into the most radical right-wing reforming government since the last war, Thatcher not excepted. This is the man who has led us to 6% in the polls and falling. This is the man who will eclipse Thorpe when future generations come to write the “black museum” section of our Liberal Democrat history.

    Dumping Clegg will not mean an automatic reversion to our traditional centre-left stance. We will choose our next leader by open, honest competition. One leading competitor will no doubt be Jeremy Browne, who has clearly articulated a coherent political position to the Right of Cameron and Osborne, He has done that openly and honestly. If Browne wins, I will leave the Party, but I would not deny his right to lead if he were to win an internal election. Browne has been open and straightforward in pursuing his political ambitions. Clegg has not.

  • A Social Liberal 26th Jun '14 - 1:01am

    I would take Davids comment of 23:49 one step further.

    In 2006, despite being popular with the membership and amongst voters in general, Charles Kennedy was deposed as leader. In similar fashion his successor was forced out of office.

    Nick Cleggs rating is nowhere near those that the above leaders enjoyed and yet they suffered a fate NIck Clegg deserves far more.

  • The “conspiracy” in “conspiracy theory” does not refer to a theory that there exists, or has existed, a conspiracy to carry out some particular act or achieve some political end. Such conspiracies *can* be the premise of conspiracy theories, but they don’t have to be; the premise of the theory may be something which doesn’t involve people at all, e.g., the premise could be about UFOs or the idea that the Earth is hollow.
    Rather, conspiracy theories project a very particular type of conspiracy: a conspiracy to conceal the truth of the premise, which therefore explains the inability of the theorist to provide airtight evidence of his case. In by far the greatest number of cases, this is simply a way of dismissing challenges to the premise or to decline having to present facts; in many cases, the lack of facts is taken as proof of the conspiracy.
    Ultimately, the premise itself is irrelevant, since what is valued by the theorist is, first, his sense of superiority at knowing something of which the sheep-like people are ignorant, and second, his sense of an overarching, rational structure to his world — even if that structure is created by forces he characterises as malevolent.

  • For those of us who want the coalition to have a large measure of success (all LDV polls of party membership indicate this is a clear majority view) some of whom have criticisms to make of Nick Clegg, the time to seek a fresh leader is certainly not now. The period of coalition with the Conservatives with all its good and bad points ( I for one consider the good as outweighing the bad) belongs to and will always be associated with Nick Clegg’s leadership. He must and we must see this through and then consider the situation after the next election in all its facets. Anyone who thinks we can sack the Deputy Prime Minister and carry on with the coalition as if nothing had happened is in cloud cuckoo land and to me it is now absolutely essential that for the first time in recorded British history a peacetime coalition is proved to be a viable way of governing this country for a full term. During the next year, even if the coalition survives, there is no way any new Lib Dem leader could achieve meaningful change in government policy in a Lib Dem direction. The electorate would regard our attempting to curry favour by chucking Clegg overboard very negatively and would not reward us at the ballot box in any way. We would simply have destroyed a new leader as well as the current one.

  • Paul – no I dont have traffic figures. I can see this page is ranked #1 for views and it has far more comments. Another leadership related page is in the top 5. The highest Orange book thread is #4. I’m very sorry if you have some specialist definition of traffic, but my day job is eCommerce and I’d expect a loose correlation between #views and #comments anyway on a site like this where registration for making comments is not required.
    Im happy that Clegg has diehard supporters, its just telling and disturbing in equal measure that their strongest argument is that now is the wrong time. Clegg apparently has to be given more time to make our situation even worse. Why? Barely any of his supporters make the claim he is the best man for the job or praise his achievements.

  • Tony Dawson 26th Jun '14 - 6:48am

    @Denis:

    ” the time to seek a fresh leader is certainly not now. “

    Denis, you are totally confusing the Leadership issue with the Coalition. You also appear to be looking for a ‘good time’ to make a fresh Leadership choice. But time does not belong to anyone. There will never be a ‘right time’. Only a ‘slightly worse than disastrous time’. The Party has to ‘bite the bullet’, though it would be a lot handier if the inhabitants of the ‘bunker’ did the ‘decent thing’.

    Caron, above, says that there are people in this Party who think that Nick Clegg’s Leadership has been ‘better’ or ‘worse’. I find it difficult for anyone to maintain that Nick Clegg, whatever he has been doing as Deputy Prime Minister, has been providing ANY ‘leadership’ for the Party at all. There has been no strategy, no communication, no attempt to develop a shared vision for the future. Just to remind you, virtually every promise Nick has made to his Party members, just like his’pledge’ to the electorate, has gone spectacularly backwards.

    “The period of coalition with the Conservatives with all its good and bad points. . . belongs to and will always be associated with Nick Clegg’s leadership. He must and we must see this through”

    Denis, this really is an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ courtier’s vision. It sounds as though you are contemplating a potential ‘slight chance of doing a little better or worse than we might normally do’ which could be advantageously offset by some ‘purist’ line about what ‘history expects’. Britain has had a Coalition Government which has ‘worked’. Full Stop. And so? Any successes and failures which it has had are widely-perceived as little, if anything, to do with it being a coalition and the electorate as a whole (especially those in the 50 Lib Dem target seats where it matters) are not going to be entertained about any thoughts of Coalition when they vote next May. They are going to think of policy – especially policy hitting the pocket book or the social fabric of the nation.

    ” Anyone who thinks we can sack the Deputy Prime Minister and carry on with the coalition as if nothing had happened is in cloud cuckoo land”

    But Denis, nobody who wants a Leadership election wants to, as you put it, “Carry on the Coalition as if nothing has happened.” They want to carry on the Coalition as though something important and different HAS happened, and to make sure that it DOES happen.

    The issue is not whether the membership think that the Leader is ‘good’ or ‘bad’; ‘better or worse’; it is that a significant chunk of the membership have joined a significant chunk of the electorate in believing that whether we consider political judgement or political promises he cannot be trusted. Trust in politics is a concept so massively more important than any policy position or subjective assessment of quality. Lack of trust going outside very small boundary levels is totally toxic to any organisation, especially a political organisation largely built on the backs of magnificent self-exploitation by a core of key volunteers.

    You, like I, have no clue at all as to what the next General Election will throw up in terms of Party numbers – or the different options that will present. You do not know who, in 2016 will be ‘leading’ the Conservative or Labour Parties, let alone the Lib Dems. So you also have no clue, nor does anyone, as to how, why or whether

    “any new Lib Dem leader could achieve meaningful change in government policy in a Lib Dem direction.”

    As for your assertion that:

    ” The electorate would regard our attempting to curry favour by chucking Clegg overboard very negatively and would not reward us at the ballot box in any way.”

    this would appear to be an attempt to transmit your own wishful thinking onto the voters. A week never goes by without a previous Lib Dem voter telling me “if only you got rid of that Nick Clegg. . . .”

    We cannot remove the scars of that toxicity – we could, however, immunise ourselves against it pervading our political body to the extent that the head and legs, as well as the fingers fall off.

  • Denis
    So what should, according to you, be the logic of my position? I believe that joint administrations, or coalitions, should be something that are possible. I accept that negotiating with the Conservatives post-May 2010 was the right course. I voted at Birmingham believing (wrongly) that a number of safeguards against Tory excesses had been built in to the agreement. I feel especially bitter about the approach taken jointly by the coalition parties about the state of the economy – “second Greece”, about the level of blame to be attached to Labour, and about the overriding importance of deficit reduction. I feel that had a different wing of the Lib Dems negotiated this, we would have found those negotiations broke down because we could not adequately describe what we were doing as much related to the Lib Dem programme for the election.

    I now feel we should be telling NC that we cannot carry on in this way. That will mean coming out of coalition asap. It seems to me that your thinking will lead to a permanent change of Lib Dem philosophy. Many of us in the party will not accept that. You may say that is unrealistic. You do not spend time fighting for a set of principles and then allow a clique to come in and overthrow them.

  • Alistair
    It was your statement about the traffic for various Orange book posts being exceeded by traffic for this one. You can’t actually tell that from the Most Read list.
    best wishes
    Paul

  • @John Tilley 11:24pm

    John

    That’s a fascinating one. Were you aware that Dr Pack is one of the leading internet experts in the country? He even lectures on the subject. So, I suspect he was capable of seeing your original comment or finding it if he missed it.

    Perish the thought: Perhaps he read it and decided not to reply to it.

    But it is certainly the first time I have seen a LDV commenter reposting an entire long comment on the same post as it originally appeared. Each day brings new experiences.

  • Jonathan Pile 26th Jun '14 - 8:14am

    What should party management glean from this debate?
    Firstly there is real and mounting anger among activists in the country about the quality of Clegg’s leadership and his continuing direction of travel. That the party is divided and that a major defeat in 2015 will trigger massive infighting if what has been wittily dubbed “team limpet” continues to cling on to the leadership and governance of the party. Those with a centre left perspective who represent the majority of supporters and voters demand better.

  • David Evans 26th Jun '14 - 8:20am

    @Paul Walter “I see David. So Alistair has seen the “traffic” figures has he?” – Of course he has. He can count posts on threads just as accurately as you or I. Or do you wish to imply otherwise?

  • “Were you aware that Dr Pack is one of the leading internet experts in the country? ”

    According to his website his history PhD looked at 19th century elections. I’m sure he is a man of many talents but I don’t see how his enthusiasm for using youtube, facebook and twitter for political campaigning differentiates him, in respect of being an internet expert, from millions of other internet users.

  • I assume Paul Walter is the editor of the day at LDV because my polite response to his ungracious comment
    Paul Walter 26th Jun ’14 – 7:19am
    has disappeared without a trace, without even the usual little box telling me so.

    He really is a little ray of sunshine. Today he probably has his hat on and we can all look forward to him coming out to play. Perhaps he will tell us more fascinating things about Mark Pack, whom he instructs us is a leading expert.

    Perhaps the little ray of sunshine or the leading expert might like to answer my polite questions ???

  • David – Sorry I had never heard traffic referred to meaning comments. I don’t think that is common or accurate.
    And I fear I have mixed up Alistair with Malc. Apologies to both.

  • Good morning John!
    I am not the editor of today or any day. And I have not seen the comment you refer to. I now have to shine my little ray of sunshine on my work. Apologies.
    love and kisses
    Paul

  • David Evans 26th Jun '14 - 9:09am

    Paul, Having worked for nearly 20 years as a technical computer auditor in Financial Services, I rapidly became aware that some people use technobabble and unclear ill-defined terms to hide an unwillingness to accept a few simple facts. I fear you are entering into that area.

  • @Jonathon Pile – “Sorry to be picky but we are not the minority – we represent a majority of lib dem members”
    I thought I’d followed this debate pretty closely but I’ve only seen one poll of LD members which was conducted on this Site at the height of the LD4C campaign. Correct me if I’m wrong but weren’t you in the minority on that occasion 54% to 39%, Have there been any others?
    Other than that the only other attempt to measure support that I’ve seen ,was an online open letter (petition), launched by LD4C and carefully timed to garner maximum support and publicity. You called for anyone in the Party who thought Nick should step down immeadiately to add their names.Despite terrible election results and wall to wall publicity for said letter, a month later less than 1% of Party members had done so ( Which may go a long way to explaining why it appears so few local execs,including mine , are reporting any grass roots support for your proposal.)
    Like I say I could have missed a Poll but if not the above results would indicate you’ve little support from any section of the Party.

  • @Tony Dawson

    I thought I had made it clear that my assertion “there is no way any new Lib Dem leader could achieve meaningful change in government policy in a Lib Dem direction.” refers to the period before the 2015 election and assumes that we are going to see this coalition through. I agree that none of us can predict what the set – up for all parties will be after that election. Like Tim 13 I was at Birmingham and I was conscious of the enormity of the decision we were taking. I reckon that no more than 20 or so hands were raised “against” in a gathering of about 2000 after a full and uninhibited debate. I thought to myself “This could make or break our party” but I did not think “If the going gets rough we can always welsh on the deal.”

    It has to be recognised that what has happened has happened. We have experienced the trauma and tough reality of being in government – a lot different from the comfort of opposition. I think we have a lot to be proud of and have learned much but must accept the downside, which means facing a major rebuilding exercise – as Paddy Ashdown would say – “again!”.

    There is no “get out of jail free card” called “Get rid of our leader and it will be all right again.” Also the idea (Tim13) that we can “come out of the coalition asap” without destroying our prospects as a credible coalition partner of the future is hardly a constructive suggestion for a party whose only prospect of any power in the land for the foreseeable future is by way of coalition.

  • Tony Dawson
    “……………. I find it difficult for anyone to maintain that Nick Clegg, whatever he has been doing as Deputy Prime Minister, has been providing ANY ‘leadership’ for the Party at all.
    There has been no strategy, no communication, no attempt to develop a shared vision for the future. ”

    Would those who want to cling on to Clegg like to answer this point?

    In his seven years as leader of our party, what are their top seven examples of inspirational leadership from Clegg ?

    And what do they anticipate coming from Clegg in the next 250 days that will turn round the opinion poll evidence, the local and EP election results evidence, and the lost deposits evidence to bring about a General Election victory?

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Jun '14 - 10:11am

    Chris

    So the backstabbers could produce an excuse for stabbing him in the back. Does it not occur to you that backstabbers can always produce an excuse for stabbing people in the back?

    The use of this sort of language when discussing change of leadership is thoroughly illiberal. The fact that the media immediately start using such language in any discussion of leadership change, and they get echoed by most other people is ENORMOUSLY damaging to the case for liberal democratic politics.

    So let me say it again. In true liberal democratic politics, leaders are the servants of those they lead. Those they lead have a right to replace them if they think someone else would do a better job of it, that should be regarded as a normal and unremarkable thing, not something to be written up with dramatic words like “backstabbing”.

    We can see in this thread just how damaging is this illiberal approach to politics where it is assumed that politics is all about leaders and it is a shocking and horrible and damaging thing to go against one’s leader. We can see it is preventing a useful and constructive discussion on who would be best to lead our party in the next general election. Those (at least some of them) defending Clegg are using the practical argument that the electorate, having been thoroughly indoctrinated into this Leninist view of politics (they are not putting it this way, but it underlies their thinking), would regard an outbreak of liberal democracy in the Liberal Democrats as a bad thing and it would damage the party even further, so it must be stamped out in order to carry on with the “We’re all behind our Dear Leader who can do no wrong” image that the electorate find so comfortable. It is a practical argument, even if not so bluntly put: I can very well accept that however much I may think a new leader would help us in the long-term, in the short-term having a contest with all that involves, and the usual press commentary on “backstabbing” etc, could reduce our poll share still more. Those calling for the replacement of Clegg are trying to initiate a constructive discussion on how to take the party forward, but are constantly being hit by the Leninist mentality, so all their efforts get dismissed and instead they are portrayed as this sort of nasty “backstabbing” type who are only saying what they say out of some sort of personal grudge.

    It would be so much better if we could have a free and open discussion about the direction our party is going, which would of necessity include discussion on whether others would do a better job as leader, without that being considered as a terrible and damaging thing to do. It would even enable us to put forward potential names and discuss them rationally, in the way RC keeps urging us to do, without that fear that putting forward a name (especially someone not normally put forward by the right-wing and elitist press as a potential leader – and I think the next leader needs to be someone who isn’t one of the frequently named options) would immediately scupper that person’s chances as henceforth anything he or she said or did would be written up in conspiratorial tones and twisted to find a way in which it could be interpreted as “backstabbing”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Jun '14 - 10:26am

    Paul Walter

    You can’t rewrite history. Yes, Charles is extremely respected as a backbencher and for his excellent work as leader. But saying he was stabbed in the back by his MPs really is a rewrite of history.

    So, yes, I agree very much with Paul here. We are talking about Charles Kennedy, and we know now he had a serious personal problem, and someone with that sort of problem ought not to be in the position of being party leader. In fact again we see how politics is damaged by this Leninist belief that leaders are untouchable, and replacing them is some sacrilegious “backstabbing”, because it meant that Kennedy stayed on as leader for a long time after he ought to have been replaced because there wasn’t an easy way to arrange a replacement.

    Funnily enough, as I’ve said many times before, Kennedy’s personal problem leading to relative incapacity actually worked well, because it came across to the public as just “laid back” and meant that he didn’t dominate the party’s image, because it meant of necessity others had to come forward and we had a party with a far more collective image than we have had before or since. That did us well. It meant we were seen as Liberal Democrats, with a pool of talent working for us, and not as the Charles Kennedy Party, so dominated by its leader than people supposed there was no-one else in the party who could even do anything useful.

    So what we badly need is someone who is like Charles Kennedy in allowing a more collective style of leadership, but unlike him has the energy underneath to push things forward, doing so, of course, under the guidance of the membership and with due regard to all major streams of opinion in the party. Which is the opposite of Clegg.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Jun '14 - 10:36am

    Paul Walters

    It was linked by Guido. That’s why it’s had particularly high traffic and comments, especially not from the usual people. That is not surprising. Guido must surely have been trying to help us as a party by linking to it…

    But this is nonsense. Mostly I see comment here coming from the usual crowd. Perhaps that link you mentioned is attracting people to look at it from outside, but I don’t see much in the way of comment from people who don’t already say similar things in similar discussion elsewhere in this forum.

    I’m driven to keep commenting because of the attacks that are being made on those of us trying to initiate a rational discussion on the future of the party. If, as has happened here, I make a comment, and someone replies in a way that doesn’t follow from what I actually wrote but instead makes accusations about my way of thinking that are completely untrue, of course I am going to be drawn back to defend myself and to try and explain further.

    Now, that KEEPS happening. In fact it seems to be MOST of what the pro-Clegg side are doing. To be honest, I am quite appalled by them, the way their argument is dominated by personal attacks and the way they are just refusing to engage in discussing the actual points which those who would like to see Clegg replace are making. I can actually see the argument in practical terms on their side, but the way they are putting that argument is so repulsive that it just firms me up even more to say we must urgently get rid of them and their type from the top of the party.

  • “The use of this sort of language when discussing change of leadership is thoroughly illiberal.”

    Sorry, but telling me I can’t use certain words to describe certain events because it’s ideologically unacceptable doesn’t itself strike me as the most liberal attitude in the world!

  • I don’t like to repeat a comment- but doesn’t this go to the heart of the matter?

    @ Leekliberal

    How do you know that it is a minority who want NC go? If there was any confidence this was the case NC would call a leadership election, and stand, to provide a vote of confidence in his leadership.

    Apart from proving [or disproving] your belief that it is only a minority who wants him to go – a leadership contest would ‘lance the boil’ – and there would be no more of these debates either here or in the member’s section!

  • Jonathan Pile 26th Jun '14 - 11:19am

    @ Dean W.
    “I thought I’d followed this debate pretty closely but I’ve only seen one poll of LD members which was conducted on this Site at the height of the LD4C campaign. Correct me if I’m wrong but weren’t you in the minority on that occasion 54% to 39%, Have there been any others?”
    Dean good question this gets to heart of it. I claim as do many others here that Clegg’s Supporters (Aka Team Limpet) are the minority now, that those calling for him to resign are the majority of the party and he resists all talk of leadership change of out of fear for his position. John Major when faced with ” his b**tards” had the courage to call and win a leadership vote, not so frit Mr Clegg. We represent the 76% of 2010 Lib Dem voters who have stopped supporting the party since 2010, and the 45% of 2010 Lib Dem voters who rate Clegg as a bad leader. The Cleggites might command a majority of LDV activists but LDV does not accurately mirror members or voters.
    http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/SM_IoS_Political_Poll_15June_2014.pdf (pages 10 &54)
    Why should Labour, the Greens & UKIP get our 2010 supporters?

  • matt (Bristol) 26th Jun '14 - 11:19am

    @John Roffey.

    A leadership context won by force (if it were even possible) by a section of the membership (however large) who have talked themselves up to such a pitch of rhetorical vehemence that the other diparate parts of the party coalesce against them in resentment will not lance any boil at all. It will only inflict another open wound.

    The only way to have a leadership context that is ‘clean’ is if the previous leader steps down without desire to fight on or redress grievances. The ‘libdem fightback’ campaign, however well intentioned, is not going to achuieve that as it is essentially an ad hominen attack on Nick Clegg and very capable of being read as an assault on pretty much the entire direction of LibDem policy since he was appointed. That just won’t win over those who, despite being ‘Clegg-sceptics’, argued for and participated in apecsts of the policy and presentation of the party duringthat period.

    I would like Nick Clegg to go; I would rather he went realtively honourably, and not for his own sake. I do not now see an opportunity for this before the next election. I regret this, and I think the next year will be hard for the party, but an open, angry, grievance-settling insurgency against Nick Clegg will not win positive results, and it will create a party which is (further) incapable of organising and winning and (further) unable to talk intelligbly and make collective agreement on policy for years to come.

  • @ Matt [Bristol]

    I do agree that NC should stand down and not re-enter a contest for a new leader. However, it is clear that he has no honour and therefore deserves an ignominious departure [as a warning to future leaders].

    What I suggest is not ideal, but given the situation that NC has created, what I suggested is the best alternative. At least that process would provide a new leader who would be able to begin to unite the Party – not drive it further apart as will be the case if NC remains in place.

  • Jonathan Pile 26th Jun '14 - 12:01pm

    @ Matt
    “I would like Nick Clegg to go; I would rather he went realtively honourably, and not for his own sake. I do not now see an opportunity for this before the next election. I regret this, and I think the next year will be hard for the party, but an open, angry, grievance-settling insurgency against Nick Clegg will not win positive results, and it will create a party which is (further) incapable of organising and winning and (further) unable to talk intelligbly and make collective agreement on policy for years to come.”
    I think you make a fair point Matt, this debate is last thing that many of us want to be engaged in,however it is a battle of Nick Clegg’s creation, in the changes he has imposed on the party, the decisions made and ducked and the failure to go with dignity when the game was up. One of the failings of the 1920’s was that the party lacked sufficient grandees to bang Asquith and Lloyd George’s heads together and unite the party (apart from a brief and successful respite in 1923) and what are grandees like Paddy Ashdown doing to unite the party today except cling to Clegg’s failed leadership. Time for women in grey suits to end this for the sake of the party. How will we reach out to 23% of Lib Dem’s who have been stolen by Labour, the 13% seduced by UKIP , the 6% gone Green, the massive 23% who don’t know what to do in 2015? Has Nick Clegg an answer to this question – my suggestion – ditch HS2, ditch tuition fees and ditch Clegg. Job Done.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Jun '14 - 12:24pm

    John Roffey

    I do agree that NC should stand down and not re-enter a contest for a new leader. However, it is clear that he has no honour and therefore deserves an ignominious departure [as a warning to future leaders].

    I would like to see him go honourably. This is the same as one would do with anyone who is being dismissed from their post for poor performance, you have to show some human decency about it.

    Also, although I do very much want to see him go, I don’t want to do it with a triumphalist tone, and I think it would be necessary to be reconciliatory to the many supporters he clearly still has in the party. It has to be done in a way that maintains the integrity of the party and resists as far as possible the way it would get written up as some sort of violent lurch or angry split. Now, the problem is the longer Clegg and the Cleggies hold on, and the more they act in a dismissive and unlistening way to their critics, the harder it will be to do this.

    I’m happy to accept that Clegg was an honourable person who did what he thought was best, but got it wrong, and now accepts that the party needs new leadership in order to establish a clear independent position in advance of the next general election. The line that he had to appear an uncritical supporter of the government while working underneath against the worst of the Conservatives, this being the practical way to achieve things and also necessary in order for the government to have the worldwide and business confidence that a government needs is a reasonable one. If Clegg resigned and used this line, I’d be grateful and would stop attacking him. Also the line that he felt in 2010 that it would help our party and gain votes if it were to come across as “more professional” by looking more like “proper politicians” is a reasonable one – but as he resigns he needs to say “Now I realise I was wrong in that, I meant well by it, but it was the wrong way to take our party, now I can see that politics needs a radical change of image, and that means we must come across as something that looks and acts very different from the conventional Conservative and Labour politician in Westminster, not something that tries to be as much like them as it can be”.

    We need a reconciliatory way to end Clegg’s leadership in order to make sure that if we are in the same position again, the person at the top who we would very much like to replace feels he or she can step down and remain treated with respect. If that is not done, if the person is afraid to step down because of how he or she feels he or she would be treated afterwards, then that leads to all the problems (which we are seeing right now) of a poor leader staying on and making things worse because no-one knows quite how to get rid of him or her.

  • Peter Watson 26th Jun '14 - 12:30pm

    @John Roffey “I do agree that NC should stand down and not re-enter a contest for a new leader.”
    I do wonder if it would be good for him to stand in such a leadership contest. It would allow him to make a case for continuing to lead the party. If successful then members could rally around him, otherwise they could unite around his successor who would have had the opportunity to set out an alternative path. Whatever the outcome in 2015, it would then be the party as a whole that shares the blame or the credit.
    I suspect though, that the party will carry on to the general election as it is now. The performance in 2015 will be dire but better than current polling and elections because of returning tactical voters. Clegg will then go, everybody who is currently quiet or supporting him will tell us that they never really liked him but the time wasn’t right in 2014, and the surviving Lib Dem MPs may or may not be able to rebuild a successful parliamentary party for 2020.

  • @ Matthew Huntbach

    ‘I would like to see him go honourably. This is the same as one would do with anyone who is being dismissed from their post for poor performance, you have to show some human decency about it.’

    NC is a grown up who must know what is the right thing to do – he deserves no compassion if he refuses to leave of his own accord..

    This is not triumphalism – kicking him out, by what ever method, is necessary so that the Party can move on. If these namby pamby sentiments continue – he will still be leader in ten years time when the Party has disappeared with little or no trace!

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Jun '14 - 12:40pm

    Denis

    Also the idea (Tim13) that we can “come out of the coalition asap” without destroying our prospects as a credible coalition partner of the future is hardly a constructive suggestion for a party whose only prospect of any power in the land for the foreseeable future is by way of coalition.

    This is nonsense. We are coming up to the point where there will be another general election soon anyway. The government has largely completed what it can do in its term. The argument that there must be a continuation of the discipline of collective agreement to the coalition in order to maintain national stability is ended by the fact that we have the instability of possibly a new government coming in anyway in less than a year.

    Right now IS the time to say there will be no new government initiatives. It IS the time to say we’ll accept that as the Conservatives are the largest party they have the right to lead the government, holding the ministerial positions, and we’ll back them in that on the “supply and confidence” line, so long as the supply and confidence is just for the routine administration that the government must still perform as it comes up to the next general election.

    We have indeed done the very honourable thing of letting this government take its course for almost its full term, despite us being the party that has taken all the big hits for it. To be honest, I think we should have pulled out much sooner – as soon as the Tories broke the coalition agreement by insisting on a major restructuring of the NHS in direct contradiction to what was written in that agreement. Credibility as coalition partners must go both ways – have the Tories acted as a credible coalition partner towards us?

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Jun '14 - 12:44pm

    John Roffey

    This is not triumphalism – kicking him out, by what ever method, is necessary so that the Party can move on. If these namby pamby sentiments continue – he will still be leader in ten years time when the Party has disappeared with little or no trace!

    No, it’s not “namby pamby sentiments”, it’s easing the path for him to step down. I want to act with human decency throughout, but also I’m seeing this as a practical path to recovery. Of course, it’s up to Clegg and the Cleggies if they will agree. We who are against them must be seen to be the more decent side, offering the olive branch. If Clegg insists on hanging on, we have an election disaster, and then he STILL won’t go, then we must do it as you suggest. I’m certainly not suggesting we let it go like this for ten years.

  • @ ATF “I leave you with this You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. – Churchill”

    You could say the same for Nick 🙂

    Yes he has clearly stood up for David Cameron on so many things – when DC enters t room; when DC leaves the room; when DC says stand; when DC says support the coalition.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Jun '14 - 12:53pm

    Peter Watson

    The performance in 2015 will be dire but better than current polling and elections because of returning tactical voters.

    I would hope more because of voters who can see they have a decent hard-working MP and do not want to get rid of him or her, never mind the party’s dire national image. What we are hearing about the local elections last month suggests that’s the way to retain votes – go on the local image, do as much as possible to distance the party locally from the party nationally.

    Still, the loss of “tactical voters” to Labour in previous Conservative-LibDem marginal areas is a factor. Across a lot of southern England it’s brought the Tories back in control of councils that once were LibDem. So, OK, it can be used, but if we make it the main reason for voting for us, I think most will find it off-putting, it’ll put across just that image of us being a makeweight party with no real policies or principles.

    Clegg will then go,

    Well, I hope so, but I fear we will keep hearing that same old line that “Now is not the right time”, “it will look very damaging as the party is torn to pieces in a leadership contest”etc. I really do fear that if Clegg doesn’t go now, he never will go, he’ll stay as captain while the ship sinks.

  • John Roffey 26th Jun '14 - 1:02pm

    @ Matthew Huntbach

    ‘No, it’s not “namby pamby sentiments”, it’s easing the path for him to step down. I want to act with human decency throughout, but also I’m seeing this as a practical path to recovery.’

    Well – that’s ok if you are prepared to see the Party disappear with little or no trace after the next GE. Seems a huge cost just to protect a grown man from dealing with reality.

  • John Roffey 26th Jun '14 - 1:06pm

    @ David Evans

    ‘Yes he has clearly stood up for David Cameron on so many things – when DC enters t room; when DC leaves the room; when DC says stand; when DC says support the coalition.’

    Any idea why NC had to sit on the front bench while Cameron was defending himself against justified criticism about his employing Coulson? Was it L/D policy to employ him?

  • paul barker 26th Jun '14 - 1:10pm

    Blah, blah, blah………

  • John Roffey 26th Jun '14 - 1:22pm

    @ Peter Watson

    ‘The performance in 2015 will be dire but better than current polling and elections because of returning tactical voters.’

    The polls that correctly predicted a huge vote for UKIP last May are not predicting many returning to the Party – what has the Party got to offer them that they actually want?

  • matt (Bristol) 26th Jun '14 - 1:35pm

    Oh, Paul Barker, nooooo!
    Thedebate was fizzling out and beginning to adopt a more reasonable tone, when up you pop with a snide and sneering comment to inflame others into posting things you can object to some more.
    Read Stephen Howse above, again, whilst I exit in despair and post here no more.

  • Jonathan Pile 26th Jun '14 - 2:18pm

    A Plan for the Next Leader to regain the 76% of 2010 Lib Dem voters who have voted with their feet.

    The 23% who are Don’t Knows and are unimpressed/unenthused by the current leadership. – Nick Clegg resigns & replaced by a leader who has a track record in keeping their promises
    The 23% who switched to Labour because we’re too right wing and were too enthusastic for Tory austerity, cuts and nastiness. – Nick Clegg resigns – replaced by a Social Liberal Leader.
    The 13% who were seduced by the protest politics of UKIP – a more genuine leader and a pledge for European reform, decentralisation, raising the minimum wage and enforcing it, enforcing Health & safety & working time laws,stopping Euro Gangmasters, enforcing discrimination laws
    The 6% who switched to the Greens – drop HS2, oppose Nuclear power
    The 9% who switched to the Tories – Nick Clegg joins the Conservative Party and takes them with him.
    Result – our poll vote at 21% in the polls instead of 6%

  • David Evans 26th Jun '14 - 3:14pm

    Isn’t it disappointing how Clegg supporters keep going until you get to the bottom of their support for him and they realise that they simply don’t have an answer. Whether it is Tuition Fees – Why didn’t Nick tell us he disagreed with them before going into coalition; Secret Courts – How could a liberal ever do such a thing; Double our number of MPs in two parliaments – oh no that one hasn’t been mentioned yet.

    What a sad situation for good Lib Dems to put themselves in. 🙁

  • Jonathan Pile 26th Jun '14 - 4:30pm

    I was joking about Nick Clegg joining the Tories LOL but was he once a young student conservative as someone has suggested? – it’s all very remissant of “Ghost” – I always thought of Pierce Brosnan as Tony Blair… LOL
    One further question for the Liberal Democrats if The party ducks a leadership election how to unite and inspire activists and win back voters with an orange book manifesto? It can’t be done. I work in Sheffield and I know that Lord Oakeshott was on the money with Nick Clegg’s chances in 2015.

  • David Allen 26th Jun '14 - 4:45pm

    Stephen Howse said:

    “There are people who post on here who behave as if those who voted for Nick Clegg or who accept or are resigned to Nick Clegg continuing in leadership are either evil, possessed or under some sort of hypnotic spell and posting angry denunciations will either exorcise them or snap them out of it. It won’t, because human beings do not like to be denounced.”

    Nicely phrased – though an entirely unbiased observer would surely note that there are also people who post on here who behave as if those who oppose Nick Clegg continuing in leadership are either evil, possessed or under some sort of hypnotic spell, etcetera etcetera….

    Well, I think that different people support Clegg for some very different reasons. An awful lot of people just don’t much like the idea of rocking the boat, even though it is holed below the waterline! Most of these people have tended to go rather quiet and thoughtful, these days. Then there are a few people – Denis at 2.19 a.m. is an example – who argue rationally and come across as genuinely independent thinkers who have found their own reasons for offering support – in Denis’s case, as a form of commitment to the concept of stable coalition government. Then finally, there is Team Limpet. These are the people whose postings are mostly ad-hominem rants, with “polite” euphemisms standing in for cuss-words, often blended with bombastic ridicule and the occasional veiled threat.

    Team Limpet are the diehard Cleggites whose personal loyalty to the team is clearly unquestioned. So in answer to Stephen Howse, no, I don’t believe I can exorcise them or snap them out of it. I just think I and others can refute what they say, show them up as an increasingly embittered minority, and gradually win around the wavering majority. If we get too impatient at times – it is because we don’t have much time. The election that can kill us is less than a year away!

  • David Evans – Can’t remember whether doubling the MPs in two elections has been mentioned on this particular thread, but we’ve certainly hashed it over on other threads!

  • John Roffey – Hear hear wrt Clegg sitting next to Cameron when Cameron was addressing the issue of Coulson. Why? What was the logic?

  • matt (Bristol) 26th Jun '14 - 5:25pm

    David Allen, Stephen was quoting me.
    I shall go back to not being here.

  • Jonathan Pile 26th Jun '14 - 6:49pm

    Mark
    Perhaps you will know this or someone who’s been around the block – is there a precedent for SGMs being called for and what was the previous large fall in popularity of a LD leader and party support in the polls to compare with NC’s minus 46% and the 75% fall from 23% at 2010 GE to just 6% now?

  • David Evans and Alistair

    I have set out the various comments on this sub-strand below.

    I will resist the temptation to join you both in telling you what I do as a day job.

    “Web traffic” is defined here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_traffic

    It says:

    “The following types of information are often collated when monitoring web traffic:

    The number of visitors.
    The average number of page views per visitor – a high number would indicate that the average visitors go deep inside the site, possibly because they like it or find it useful.
    Average visit duration – the total length of a user’s visit. As a rule the more time they spend the more they’re interested in your company and are more prone to contact.
    Average page duration – how long a page is viewed for. The more pages viewed, the better it is for your company.
    Domain classes – all levels of the IP Addressing information required to deliver Webpages and content.
    Busy times – the most popular viewing time of the site would show when would be the best time to do promotional campaigns and when would be the most ideal to perform maintenance
    Most requested pages – the most popular pages
    Most requested entry pages – the entry page is the first page viewed by a visitor and shows which are the pages most attracting visitors
    Most requested exit pages – the most requested exit pages could help find bad pages, broken links or the exit pages may have a popular external link
    Top paths – a path is the sequence of pages viewed by visitors from entry to exit, with the top paths identifying the way most customers go through the site
    Referrers; The host can track the (apparent) source of the links and determine which sites are generating the most traffic for a particular page.”

    I simply don’t know how anybody can say that there is “more traffic on this thread than the upmteen “Orange book best thing since sliced bread” threads” without having access to the site administrator statistics for this site.

    That is all I am saying and all I have been saying. I am not saying what Alistair said is not necessarily true. I am just baffled as to how that can be discerned without access to the site administrator statistics.

    The other point I would make is that I always thought, and the Wikipedia definition confirms this, that “web traffic” usually refers to activity on an entire website, rather than on individual pages within a site.

    Here is the sub-thread:

    Alistair 25th Jun ’14 – 10:49pm | Edit
    There is a lot more traffic on this thread than the upmteen (sic) “Orange Book best thing since sliced bread” threads. Clearly because of Guido and nothing to do with a significant number of grasssroots folk wanting Clegg to step down before the party is irretrievably damaged.

    Paul Walter 25th Jun ’14 – 11:02pm | Edit
    Alistair

    “There is a lot more traffic on this thread than the upmteen “Orange Book best thing since sliced bread” threads. ”

    You appear to be confusing the number of views with the number of comments posted.

    David Evans 25th Jun ’14 – 11:14pm | Edit
    No traffic is a clear term easily counted. Views are a bit more difficult to measure, unless one is just wanting to say someting for effect.

    Paul Walter 25th Jun ’14 – 11:17pm | Edit
    I see David. So Alistair has seen the “traffic” figures has he?

    Alistair 26th Jun ’14 – 5:56am | Edit
    Paul – no I dont have traffic figures. I can see this page is ranked #1 for views and it has far more comments. Another leadership related page is in the top 5. The highest Orange book thread is #4. I’m very sorry if you have some specialist definition of traffic, but my day job is eCommerce and I’d expect a loose correlation between #views and #comments anyway on a site like this where registration for making comments is not required.

    Paul Walter 26th Jun ’14 – 7:07am | Edit
    Alistair
    It was your statement about the traffic for various Orange book posts being exceeded by traffic for this one. You can’t actually tell that from the Most Read list.
    best wishes
    Paul

    David Evans 26th Jun ’14 – 8:20am | Edit
    @Paul Walter “I see David. So Alistair has seen the “traffic” figures has he?” – Of course he has. He can count posts on threads just as accurately as you or I. Or do you wish to imply otherwise?

    Paul Walter 26th Jun ’14 – 8:45am | Edit
    David – Sorry I had never heard traffic referred to meaning comments. I don’t think that is common or accurate.
    And I fear I have mixed up Alistair with Malc. Apologies to both.

    David Evans 26th Jun ’14 – 9:09am | Edit
    Paul, Having worked for nearly 20 years as a technical computer auditor in Financial Services, I rapidly became aware that some people use technobabble and unclear ill-defined terms to hide an unwillingness to accept a few simple facts. I fear you are entering into that area.

  • David Allen 26th Jun '14 - 7:57pm

    Right – so there’s clearly a hell of a lot of traffic on this thread, but precise quantification is not readily available.

    End of geekish diversion, return to political debate?

  • Jonathan Pile 26th Jun '14 - 8:00pm

    @ Mark Pack
    re: SGM figures – I received an email today on SGMs – if we take your figures for a moment and analyse the numbers – it shows that the FPTP un secret ballots are giving 38-40% in favour of a leadership election to replace Clegg and 60-62% against. (105 Votes against 208 Votes – the figures above are adjusted for averages where party members are not known)
    Given this is a public meeting open ballot , then a secret ballot poll would be in line with the LDV poll showing 39% versus 54%. http://www.libdemvoice.org/exclusive-poll-54-of-lib-dem-members-want-nick-clegg-to-stay-as-leader-40408.html
    Clearly we are a substantial minority within the party active membership, and we would content that in the wider membership, current voters and past voters our view is in the majority.
    For me the parallel is the Norway Debate of May 1940 which saw failed Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Neville Chamberlain win a vote of confidence with 73% of his party voting for him (281 votes) but 39 against (10% ) and 65 abstaining (17%). Although he had a majority in his party at a time of war his leadership failed because he could not command the whole of his party. For us Liberal Democrats, we are having our own Norway Debate, and are facing bitter danger and defeat.
    What Leo Amery said of Chamberlain in 1940 could equally count for Nick Clegg in 2014,
    “Somehow or other we must get into the Government men who can match our enemies in fighting spirit, in daring, in resolution and in thirst for victory. Some 300 years ago, when this House found that its troops were being beaten again and again by the dash and daring of the Cavaliers, by Prince Rupert’s Cavalry, Oliver Cromwell spoke to John Hampden. In one of his speeches he recounted what he said. It was this: I said to him, “Your troops are most of them old, decayed serving men and tapsters and such kind of fellows. … You must get men of a spirit that are likely to go as far as they[e] will go, or you will be beaten still.” It may not be easy to find these men. They can be found only by trial and by ruthlessly discarding all who fail and have their failings discovered. We are fighting to-day for our life, for our liberty, for our all; we cannot go on being led as we are. I have quoted certain words of Oliver Cromwell. I will quote certain other words. I do it with great reluctance, because I am speaking of those who are old friends and associates of mine, but they are words which, I think, are applicable to the present situation. This is what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation:

    “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway_Debate

    The party needs it’s Winston Churchill – a Charlie Kennedy, Vince Cable to step up and take united and forward into battle and Victory, but that first requires a change of leader.

  • Jonathan Pile 26th Jun '14 - 8:07pm

    @ Paul Walter
    re: traffic
    This is easy to see – 1) This article continues to be most read 2) It has the most comments 3) It has more likes than the majority of articles 4) it has above average tweets ergo – it has commanded popular interest and debate. Just a shame LDV didn’t feel it justified posting on the Google News Feed sites. Motive?

  • Peter Watson 26th Jun '14 - 8:10pm

    @Paul Walter “But it is certainly the first time I have seen a LDV commenter reposting an entire long comment on the same post as it originally appeared. Each day brings new experiences.”
    Just above is certainly the first time I’ve seen a LDV commenter repost a long collection of comments on the same post as they originally appeared. Another new experience. 😉

  • Yes indeed Peter. If you can’t beat them join them.

  • paul barker 26th Jun '14 - 8:33pm

    I cant speak for other “Clegg Loyalists” but my position was & still is that if a majority of Local Party Meetings had come out for a Leadership vote I would have accepted that as the “Will” of The Party & changed my position accordingly.
    Now that 22 out of 24 Meetings have decided against a Leadership vote The “Anti-Clegg Diehards should call off their campaign. They cant “Win”, all theycan do is damage The Party.

  • Perhaps we can all agree that according to LDV this is the “most read” thread at present, and spare ourselves further semantic discussion about whether or not that’s equivalent to its having “most traffic”.

  • Jonathan Pile 26th Jun '14 - 8:55pm

    Stop Press News in – according to Mark Pack’s published data – North East Cambridgeshire also voted unanimously to call for a leadership election, The Tally of votes cast so far is 105 members for and 208 members against – which shows a sizeable 40% percentage of members willing to stand up in public and denounce Clegg – hardly a ringing endorsement and if you see my earlier post (delayed for moderation since I still on the LDV naughty step courtesy of Caron) -reminssant of Neville Chamberlain at the time of the Norway Debate in May 1940. Pack’s tally is 3/10 (Ribble Valley, NE Cambs ,Nottingham) with many more to come in. Libdemfightback members have requested further SGMs in addition to the one’s called by Libdems4change. The rebellion rumbles on. Expect further announcements shortly.

  • I suggest paul barker looks at Mark Pack’s blog for information about what has actually happened rather than inventing his own numbers.
    The version of events as described by paul barker is to say the least misleading.

    The fact is that the constitution of the Liberal Democrats requires 75 local parties to follow a procedure . If they follow that procedure correctly and call for a leadership election, there must be a leadership election.
    It does not require a “majority” of local parties.

    The lack of a leadership election simply means that this discussion will continue because many of those who want a change of leader have already decided that change is their priority to save the party from yet further electoral decline.

    Nick Clegg could do something about this tomorrow but it would appear that he does not care about electoral decline.

  • David Evans 26th Jun '14 - 9:37pm

    @ Paul Walter – Thanks for confirming my point Paul. I will sum my point up as follows Technobabble – some people just love it, usually to justify their position or deny the validity of others’views; others look at simple facts.

  • So David, you agree that “traffic” pertains to the activity on an entire website, not a page, so the whole discussion has been a bit pointless, yes? After all, you were one who said we had to be precise about terminology….

  • Mark Pack, thank you for this which does, I think, inform the discussion.

    “Mark Pack 26th Jun ’14 – 6:33pm
    John: Yes, my collation of local party discussions about the leadershiop is purely my own initiative. I’m grateful to everyone who has provided information for it but it’s done off my own bat.”

    All credit to you Mark for taking his initiative.
    Whilst you and I are on opposite sides of the debate it is helpful to be able to agree on basic facts.
    Inventing or manipulating the reports of what has happened does not help anyone.
    The recent thread which contained a lot of comments from people who attended the Cambridge meeting showed that the LDV headline was seriously at fault.

    A key piece of info in your comment is —
    “Remember that local party members can call an SGM themselves”

    Your subsequent spin is a bit naughty — “… so where an exec has discussed the issue, decided not to call an SGM and an SGM has indeeed not happened, that also tell us something about the wider membership too.”.
    In reality it may tell us any one of a number of things.
    It may tell us that ordinary members do not have a clue about the details of the party constitution and assume that their local executive has already decided and they are now powerless.
    It may tell us that they are simply moving slowly rather than quickly.
    It may tell us that a local party executive has taken a decision against a special meeting because their MP wants to stand for the leadership but thinks it might harm his chances if his local party is seen to be wielding the knife; (this latter describes exactly the situation in one London party).

    As for local party contact details, you say party HQ didn’t previously make them all available to any local party member who asked . Well at one time in many regions they used to do exactly that, they used to print and sell booklets containing precisely that information.
    Perhaps it was computerisation that resulted in a new level of internal secrecy, or lackf transparency within the party. A retrograde step.

  • daft ha'p'orth 26th Jun '14 - 10:18pm

    @Paul Walter
    Thanks for the PhD chapter on web traffic. I am duty-bound to note that many academics would disapprove of leaning so heavily on Wikipedia. Also, of the woolliness. Pick a definition and stick with it. Or pick two and stick with both, but currently your argument is summarised as ‘I don’t know, and therefore neither do you’. Preferably, choose a definition of relevance to the task (comparing traffic on one page to traffic on another): few of the examples you give are relevant to this task anyway. Those are:

    The number of visitors <- number of hits
    Average page duration <- how long people stay on the page
    Most requested entry pages <- if your Guido interpretation is accurate then that is easily proven via HTTP_REFERER, as of course you know

  • I think I’ll just stick with what I have said, daft ha’p’orth, thanks very much. I think it is clear.

  • daft ha'p'orth 26th Jun '14 - 10:28pm

    @Paul Walter
    You’d fail my class, but if it works for you, then good on you.

  • Jonathan:

    “Stop Press News in – according to Mark Pack’s published data – North East Cambridgeshire also voted unanimously to call for a leadership election, The Tally of votes cast so far is 105 members for and 208 members against – which shows a sizeable 40% percentage of members willing to stand up in public and denounce Clegg –”

    Mark’s blog post says “North East Cambridgeshire – in favour” and has done for several days. So hardly “Stop Press News in” and Mark doesn’t give any numbers or say that they “voted unanimously”.

    And the 40% is derived from what number over what other number please? Because I make 105/313 = 33%, not “40%”.

  • Jonathan Pile:

    “For me the parallel is the Norway Debate of May 1940 which saw failed Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Neville Chamberlain win a vote of confidence with 73% of his party voting for him (281 votes) but 39 against (10% ) and 65 abstaining (17%). Although he had a majority in his party at a time of war his leadership failed because he could not command the whole of his party. For us Liberal Democrats, we are having our own Norway Debate, and are facing bitter danger and defeat.
    What Leo Amery said of Chamberlain in 1940 could equally count for Nick Clegg in 2014,
    “Somehow or other we must get into the Government men who can match our enemies in fighting spirit, in daring, in resolution and in thirst for victory. Some 300 years ago, when this House found that its troops were being beaten again and again by the dash and daring of the Cavaliers, by Prince Rupert’s Cavalry, Oliver Cromwell spoke to John Hampden. In one of his speeches he recounted what he said. It was this: I said to him, “Your troops are most of them old, decayed serving men and tapsters and such kind of fellows. … You must get men of a spirit that are likely to go as far as they[e] will go, or you will be beaten still.” It may not be easy to find these men. They can be found only by trial and by ruthlessly discarding all who fail and have their failings discovered. We are fighting to-day for our life, for our liberty, for our all; we cannot go on being led as we are. I have quoted certain words of Oliver Cromwell. I will quote certain other words. I do it with great reluctance, because I am speaking of those who are old friends and associates of mine, but they are words which, I think, are applicable to the present situation. This is what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation:

    “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway_Debate

    The party needs it’s Winston Churchill – a Charlie Kennedy, Vince Cable to step up and take united and forward into battle and Victory, but that first requires a change of leader.”

    Stirring stuff Jonathan. So this debate about the leadership is like the beginning of the Second World War? And like the English Civil War and its aftermath?

    ………..right………..

  • I think Jonathan Pile is saying that this one leadership problem is similar to another leadership problem.

  • I often come into these discussions late. I think I have spent hours and hours reading the comments here.

    @ Simon Shaw and Paul in Wokingham

    We could look at figures differently:

    21st April – 5th May 9.4%
    6-20th May 8.9%
    21st May – 4th June 8.1%
    5-19th June 7.67%
    At least I am comparing periods of the same size. This shows our vote falling by 0.5% between the first period and nearly the end of the campaign, a fall of 0.8 at the end of the campaign and when our bad results were being discussed in the press and only 0.43% since. Our decline in support has declined since the end of analysis of the elections.

    @ Matthew Huntbach 25 June 11.06 am

    I haven’t looked at Mark Packs page recently to see how many Liberal Democrat, yes Liberal Democrat executives have decided that they know best and the membership of their Local Party shouldn’t be given even the opportunity to discuss if they think a leadership election would be a good thing or not.

    I consider this illiberal and links into what Matthew said in the post I referred to above.

    @ Mark Pack – “Remember that local party members can call an SGM themselves so where an exec has discussed the issue, decided not to call an SGM and an SGM has indeeed not happened, that also tell us something about the wider membership too.”

    What it might tell us is either those who want an SGM don’t have enough contact details to gather the needed support, or feel that they don’t have the time or enthusiasm to do the work needed once the Executive decided it was best not to ask the members. What would have been interesting is if following the Executive decision all members were informed and given a name of who to contact to gather the necessary signatures (maybe the Local Party Secretary could be that person).

    @ Caron Lindsay – “I don’t think the situation is irredeemable. I think we can get a reasonable result next May and from there we can build a proper nationwide recovery.”

    When you asked for comments to take to Federal Executive I asked you to ask for some research into how Nick Clegg is seen by voters to discover if it is true that most voters no longer listen to him when he appears. I don’t believe this was taken on board. Some people have suggested that if only Nick Clegg stood back a bit and let others appear on TV we would get our message over, but this doesn’t address the issue of the leaders’ debate. If Nick is our leader and the majority of voters no longer listen to him then the leader debates will be a drag on the party’s vote. It seems strange to keep a leader who could be a drag on our support. It would be much better to discover if he is a drag and if he is then replace him with someone the voters will listen to. I don’t understand why those supporting Nick Clegg are not pushing to discover if the voters will listen to him or not.

    I also think it is important for Nick Clegg to go for other reasons. 40% of the party seem to want him to go now and more think it would be better if he went after the general election. Thousands of members have left the party since the general election. Nick Clegg cannot appeal to those ex-members and he can’t appeal to many of the 40% either. The party is split and Nick can’t unite it. A new leader might be able to unite it and might be able to get some ex-members to re-join and be active again. A new leader is more likely to be listen to by the voters and will have a better chance of getting our message over to the public. It therefore seem to me that we would be a stronger party with a new leader and these two things together would increase our public support.

  • @Michael BG:. “40% of the party seem to want him to go now…”

    No. If you are going from Mark Pack’s website the situation is this: 33% of those parties who have voted and whose votes are recorded on Mark Pack’s website say he should go. But this number is very misleading because it does not take into account those parties where the vote was not recorded on Mark Pack’s website and where it was not thought necessary to take a vote.

  • Bill le Breton 27th Jun '14 - 7:47am

    Paul, I am afraid I don’t know where your local Party is, but did it just invite its entire membership to come in and talk about the situation?

    I was struck by what Alex Carlile told WATO on the Monday of the Euro results. He said, “I’m an old fashioned Liberal. I am going to go back to Monmouthshire and see what the membership are saying.” He did not mean by that necessarily having a formal meeting, but just ‘sounding out the membership’.

    Now the officers in my local party did call a formal meeting with a formal motion as laid down by the constitution. The voting eventually came down in the region of 40:60 in favour of asking the President for an election. In Campbridge they too had a similar formal meeting and perhaps also reached a 40:60 split the other way. Good for both local Parties.

    I find it extraordinary when Executives take decisions to exclude the membership, and it is a weak argument to say that in such a case the grassroots have it in their power to call their own special meeting – that really isn’t helping people take and use power.

    At the base of all this is considerable fear. You may say I am biased but I haven’t found many people who would not welcome it if the Leader stepped down voluntarily, but they fear what might happen if it were done ‘consitutionally’.

    Nor are MPs (and perhaps Peers) immune from this fear – the fear of making things worse. Yet few if any of them seem to be willing to feature the Leader in their own campaigns. What a state to be in!

    And what do those urging the Leader to stay fear? I think they do fear that the shift in the expression of a certain type of Liberalism will be lost if the ‘wrong’ leader were chosen. As ever, politics is about territory, and in this case the defence of territory gained.

    When those kinds of considerations come into effect it becomes more important to keep ‘control of’ or a group or a party than to keep up its strenth of numbers.

    There is an expression of old; trust comes on foot, but leaves on horseback. It may not be fair, but that is what has happened to this leader and by association to our Party. Trust won’t begin its return journey (on foot, unshod, warily and very very slowly) until the person who spooked it is our spokesperson no more.

  • Michael BG Having just gone through local Executive discussions, I think you are being very unfair in your comments. I obviously can’t speak for all Execs, some of whom may, for all I know, take the “we know best” approach. We certainly did not – we had already taken soundings among some members, and we certainly have heard no demand for such a Special General Meeting. We all agreed to keep our fingers on the local pulse. But on the basis of our discussion, we were not going to call a special meeting. I put the case for a leadership election soon, and only had minority support for that position within the Exec itself (it was not as high as 40%). I think the party is being timid, but I think that is the majority position around. I had an opportunity to meet people from across our region a few days ago, and most of them were not in favour either.

    You may know from my writings that I am very pessimistic about next year – but you can drag a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink….

  • Jonathan Pile 27th Jun '14 - 8:08am

    Mockery is your strongest suit Paul LOL. But many if us Diehards feel passionately that Liberalism is at it’s time of greatest peril thanks to the poor judgement and recklessness of Mr Clegg and allies. In any other party at any time in our history Clegg’s record of Calamity would have finished his leadership 5 weeks ago. What would it take for you to finally abandon him ? If he advocated an electoral pact with the Conservatives?

  • Tony Dawson 27th Jun '14 - 8:26am

    @Bill le Breton:

    ” few if any of them seem to be willing to feature the Leader in their own campaigns. What a state to be in!”

    Would any Lib Dem, or body of Lib Dems, SERIOUSLY sit down and say:

    “Let us go into the next General Election with a Leader whose photo or quotes not one of us will put on our literature”?

    Yet that is what some seem to be saying.

    I can’t think that it’s just because they want the extra space on their leaflets for their own words. 🙁

    Isn’t it an absolute ‘given’ that a ‘Leader’ who a vast majority of candidates and agents do not want to associate themselves with is no leader at all: someone who is not only failing to add to the campaign but is actually subtracting from it?

  • Peter Watson 27th Jun '14 - 8:27am

    @Paul Walter “@Michael BG:. “40% of the party seem to want him to go now…” No.”
    I know that 40% was also mentioned above in the context of SGMs, but the 40% figure comes from LDV’s members’ survey:

    54% want Nick Clegg to stay as leader; 39% want him to stand down

    http://www.libdemvoice.org/exclusive-poll-54-of-lib-dem-members-want-nick-clegg-to-stay-as-leader-40408.html
    The local parties seem to be quite consistent with this. 30-40% of the party seem to want Clegg to go now and a large part of the other 60-70% seem to think sticking with him for the time being is the lesser of two evils. Actual support of Clegg for Clegg’s sake is depressingly low as the party approaches the 2015 general election.

  • Tony Dawson 27th Jun '14 - 8:34am

    @paul barker:

    “They cant “Win”, all theycan do is damage The Party.”

    The precise view which so many in this Party have of ‘the Clegg bunker’. A view born from years and years of sad sad evidence They cannot and do not win anything. Even the ‘ear’ of most voters, let alone their support. There are others who can.

  • Jonathan Pile 27th Jun '14 - 9:16am

    @ Paul barker
    They can’t win all they can do is damage the party. A telling phrase which shows that the Clegg faction are not governing the party as a whole but look at this a them and us . This is a war that we all lose unless it is resolved politically and amicably . Can’t see the Clegg faction trying to unite the party which is after all the first prerequisite if leadership. If we go into the general election with half of the candidates pretending nick Clegg doesn’t exist ? Is somebody going to programme the sat nav on his battle bus – I’d volunteer for that important task.

  • John Roffey 27th Jun '14 - 9:54am

    @ Bill le Breton

    ‘At the base of all this is considerable fear. You may say I am biased but I haven’t found many people who would not welcome it if the Leader stepped down voluntarily, but they fear what might happen if it were done ‘consitutionally’.’

    ‘There is nothing to fear but fear itself’! Organizations, like political parties, are either growing or dying. While NC remains leader – the Party is and will be dying. This is a perilous course now that UKIP and the Greens have become such potent rivals for the position of ‘third party’ – the party challenging to replace one of the leading two.

    I would suggest that the ‘dying’ mode is a suicidal state for the Party to be in until at least May next year.

  • Mark Valladares 27th Jun '14 - 10:56am

    @ Jonathan,

    Liberalism in its time of greatest peril? A bit of an exaggeration, might I suggest, and one that would be mocked by some of our more elderly members who will remember the 1950’s.

    But, regardless of that, the problem that those seeking Clegg’s removal is this. There are two constitutional means of removing a leader;

    1. The Parliamentary Party in the Commons can seek a vote of no confidence – no sign of that happening… yet.
    2. The ’75 Local Parties’ route – which doesn’t seem to be progressing well enough to resemble a threat. It’s now five weeks since the disaster that was 22 May, and if Local Parties haven’t called one by now, as tempers cool, it becomes more unlikely that they will unless something happens to change that.

    You could, I guess, try a less direct route, i.e. a Special Conference passing a motion of no confidence in the Leader – although that would require not only two hundred delegates to call it but sufficient organisation to get enough delegates there to win such a vote – quite difficult to achieve as the Leader’s Office have more scope to organise than opponents do.

    If my own Local Party Executive in Mid Suffolk is anything to go by, success in your quest is unlikely – my colleagues, who consist of most of our councillors and activists, didn’t even discuss the issue of a possible leadership contest at their meeting three weeks ago. And I suspect that there are quite a few Local Parties who are almost entirely unaware that the battle still rages here on Liberal Democrat Voice and have assumed that, even were they to be unhappy, any real campaign to remove Clegg is over.

    That’s not to say that you should give up and/or go away, but I would suggest that you need to be a bit smarter in your approach, and a bit less combative towards those who might be minded to support you if they concluded that the circumstances merited it.

  • Jonathan Pile 27th Jun '14 - 11:18am

    @ Mark Valladares

    “You could, I guess, try a less direct route, i.e. a Special Conference passing a motion of no confidence in the Leader – although that would require not only two hundred delegates to call it but sufficient organisation to get enough delegates there to win such a vote – quite difficult to achieve as the Leader’s Office have more scope to organise than opponents do.”

    Thanks for the helpful suggestion Mark and wise words about combative remarks. My point about the danger that the party is in -is this, that the Party faced extinction in the 1950’s and famously turned down the offer in 1951 from Churchill to be absorbed by the Tories. Whilst right now in parliament and government we are riding high and seem to be on the crest of a wave, yet in the country we are 6-8% in the polls and at 4% we could for the first time see NO Lib Dem MPs in parliament after 2015. This is a real possibility if the Public decides to punish the party for it’s sins and blame for the wrongs of the world. If we reached this state following 2 days of the Clegg-Farage debate debacle what would 3 weeks of Clegg Prime Time Election coverage do to the party if they felt similarly in 2015?
    How could the party come back with 1 or 0 MPs in parliament, thats what we face in Brussels today, and it could happen next year if Clegg stays and drags down the party.
    Libdemfightback are playing a small but crucial role in this debate, but the party has to decide itself how it can unite and reach out to win even the modest 36 seat strategy. Clegg cant win in his bunker and he cant win in the country so he needs to step aside. It might take months for his damaged leadership to end, but he is mortally wounded politically, of that there can be no doubt.

  • Tony Dawson 27th Jun '14 - 1:21pm

    @Mark Valladares:

    “I suspect that there are quite a few Local Parties who are almost entirely unaware that the battle still rages here on Liberal Democrat Voice and have assumed that, even were they to be unhappy, any real campaign to remove Clegg is over.”

    I suspect you are right Mark, particularly in places such as yours where they local Lib Dems are neither in present the prospect of being totally wiped out (as in major conurbations) nor in the prospect of making any difference to the Lib Dem MP total in the next General Election (one way or another). So the matter is of fairly academic interest to them, perhaps. A bit like my uncle who spent the entirety of WW2 as an airman stationed in Nigeria.

  • @Jonathan Pile
    I have not seen you on the BBC news channel. Have you indicated to them that you are available for appearances about LFB?

  • @ Paul Walter
    The 40% is reference to the LDV poll. However I hope you are not saying that it is OK if the 40% is really 33%. Even if the figure is 33%, then this is a large minority of the party that Nick Clegg can’t appeal to and motivate. Then there are the more than 20,000 people who were members in 2010 but are not members now, which is again about 40% that Nick Clegg has no chance of bring back into the party.

    @ Tim13
    I find your post confusing. You state soundings were taken, but there was a minority within the Exec for a leadership election, but still the majority decided not to discover if this substantial minority reflects the whole local party membership or not. How is this not the majority on your exec taking the decision on behalf of the membership rather than letting them decide for themselves?

    @Mark Valladares:
    “I suspect that there are quite a few Local Parties who are almost entirely unaware that the battle still rages here on Liberal Democrat Voice and have assumed that, even were they to be unhappy, any real campaign to remove Clegg is over.”

    I suspect you are right Mark. The difficulty is in reaching out to members in every local party who feel that Nick Clegg should be replaced. This is an added difficulty to the one of obtaining the names of people in a local party to call an SGM.

    The getting together 200 conference representatives might be the easier task, but would a vote of no confidence in Nick Clegg be allowable under the standing orders? If the standing orders do allow it, you are correct Nick Clegg would use the pay roll vote to try to defeat it. Also even if it was passed Nick Clegg could just ignore it as he has ignored conference votes in the past.

  • Jonathan Pile 27th Jun '14 - 11:16pm

    @ Voter
    At this moment we have been trying to keep the debate within the Party and party channels as we don’t want to adversely affect the party in the polls. As we have encountered a large amount of censorship within party media like LDV (the article of June 24 being the exception) it may not be possible to continue with this moving forward. We are currently contacting our members for media spokespersons.

    @ Michael BG
    My own local party at first refused a SGM, then said if 9 members requested one they would rethink. When I pointed out the catch 22 of contacting other members they eventually sent out an email and letter.

  • I do not know why the parliamentary party is sitting on its ….
    Results in Thursdays local council by elections have reached the pits:

    Labour 2488
    Con 975
    UKIP 592
    Lib Dem 165

    If somebody says once more that changing the leader will change nothing these result surely must convince even the most loyal Clegg loyalist that he has to go to give us any chance of picking up something from the grave he, the Undertaker, has put us in.

  • Jonathan Pile 29th Jun '14 - 11:34am

    In the coming stories over the summer Nick Clegg will look and sound irrelevant to the debate .
    Firstly rising interests fueled by a London house boom will choke off recovery and push many mortgage holders over the edge. (Will Clegg advocate an end to help to let on London and a regional stamp duty to prevent this?)
    Second – Cameron’s war of words with Europe – ( will Clegg clutch at straws and flip flop on the referendum policy?) or will he accuse Cameron of breaching article 13 of the coalition agreement?
    Thirdly will a yes vote in Scotland push voters to support UKIP and make the Lib Dems look irrelevant.
    We should have dumped him last year when we were at 12% and could have saved many MEPs and councillors

  • David Allen 2nd Jul '14 - 2:36pm

    One topic not well covered within the above thread has been the vexed question of how this party can sensibly plan to fight the next election, either with Clegg still in place, or with a new leader. In particular, many of the above commentators seem to be saying that we ought to offer the voters something temporary. For some, that would mean offering a Clegg leadership, with the expectation that after the poll, the Lib Dems would then replace Clegg and decide on whatever new direction the party wanted to choose. For others, it would mean choosing a new stopgap leader, again with the intention of surviving the election, telling the voters some sort of story, and then deciding afterwards what it was that our voters had voted for us to do.

    I think both these approaches treat the voter with contempt, which will be reciprocated.

    So I wrote a new article for LDV on these lines. They rejected it on the claim that they “weren’t sure that this adds anything new”.

    Well, thanks to Jonathan Pile for publishing it on Libdem Fightback:

    http://libdemfightback.yolasite.com/liberal-free-voice.php

    despite its even-handed approach and its content which challenges some of the views expressed by both the pro-Clegg and the anti-Clegg camps. If you want an unbiased view, read http://libdemfightback.yolasite.com , not http://www.libdemvoice.org !

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