Tag Archives: coalition

David Cameron should make Nick Clegg end the Coalition, say Tory MPs

Nick Clegg and David CameronThat is the headline over at Huffington Post, and it certainly makes for fascinating reading. How about this:

Tory MP John Redwood said Cameron should deliberately antagonise his Liberal Democrat partners into leaving, and warned the prime minister that terminating the coalition early may not be ‘”wise” as he had “given his word” and “it’ll not look good if the leader of the main party was to end the coalition”.

“What should happen now is the Conservative majority in the government should start to press very strongly for two or three distinctively conservative policies, and if the Liberals really don’t like it, they could push to leave on the grounds that they wish to impede from the benches of opposition,” he said.

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Opinion: Lib-Lab Pact

infographic2014The Lib Dem campaigning message is encapsulated in Stronger Economy, Fairer Society, with Conservative messaging focusing on ‘the long term plan for economic recovery’, and Labour’s focusing on the decline in living standards of the poor and the squeezed middle.

Nick Clegg’s response that, were Labour in the future to ask Libdems to form a coalition with them the first demand would be ‘Don’t break the bank’,  seeks to emphasise Lib Dem economic competence.

It should come as no surprise then that the voting public should surmise that coalition economic policy is just what we say it is – a joint Conservative and Liberal Democrat long-term plan for economic recovery with “not a cigarette paper between us”

Posted in Op-eds | 50 Comments

Opinion: Lessons from the Netherlands on Lib Dem strategy

Netherlands-4778 - Wooden GrondzeilerA few months after the UK Coalition Government formed in 2010, the Dutch Christian Democrats (CDA) formed a minority government with our sister party, the liberal VVD. To get a majority agreement, the VVD-CDA coalition made a confidence and supply agreement with right-wing Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV), which set out a number of policy concession to Wilders, e.g. on immigration. That was a decision with huge impact: the PVV was about as toxic as it could get for many CDA and VVD supporters. The fall-out …

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Opinion: What does the evidence tell us about our strategy should be?

evidence of organized lightAs a party committed to evidence-based policy, we should be asking what the evidence tells us about the questions of strategy and leadership we now face. The discussion is currently impressionistic and getting fixated on the past. We need instead to stick to the evidence and to what it suggests we should do in the future. There are many examples one could give about the leadership issue, but here is one about strategy.

Nick Clegg has explained the party’s strategy like this: “

We said in 2010 we were going

photo by: jared
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 56 Comments

Opinion: A change of leader will make no difference. A change of heart and pride just might.

RomseyAs a young, recently-selected Lib Dem candidate for next year’s general election and in a winnable marginal seat, I’m rather more interested in what my fellow voters think – over 70,000 of them in my area – than a small number of disaffected Party members looking for a scapegoat after recent election results.

Standing in an area which includes smart middle-class patches as well as tougher urban ones, I’ve spent the past few weeks meeting hundreds of constituents. The words ‘Nick Clegg’ have been mentioned about three times. Nobody I’ve met really seems to mind who the leader is. They DO mind that the Lib Dems are no longer clear enough about what we stand for and that we once appeared human but increasingly sound like political robots.

photo by: HerryLawford
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 36 Comments

Opinion: The messenger or the message?

nick_clegg_vince_cable_budget_2009_bCoalition government is very tough on the junior party.  No surprise there. The prize, in our case, was lots of our favourite policies implemented – something we haven’t achieved for 100 years. The downside is a massive amount of negative media coverage.

Your coalition allies hate you because they see you as imposing policies on them. The opposition see it as an open goal, a chance to squeeze you out of the next election.  It is a two party nut-cracker with the potential to crush us.  The voracious appetite of the press pack has a constant supply of stories.

photo by: Nick-Clegg
Posted in Op-eds | 37 Comments

Now is not the time for a bitter and bloody leadership battle

Nick Clegg addresses Birmingham Liberal Democrats conference. Photo courtesy of the Liberal DemocratsOne of the most interesting (and logistically challenging – though that’s another story) conference fringe events I have had a hand in organising through my involvement with Liberal Reform was a panel of fellow liberals from across Europe talking about their experiences of being members of a coalition.

I wanted to hold such an event to counter the all too prevalent assumption that the problems facing the Liberal Democrats are somehow unique to us. Because they are most certainly not.

Where parties enter …

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Opinion: In coalition, more than ever, our leadership must listen to party members

lib dem conf votingThe Maria Miller furore has recently highlighted how voters between elections are powerless to change their MP, once they’re ‘in’ that’s it – you have to wait another five years to give your judgement on how they’ve performed.

In our ‘always on’ modern culture this is unusual. People can cancel utility contracts or switch broadband suppliers within days if they’re unhappy with the level of service, or give instant feedback online or over the phone which is listened to and actioned.  Shouldn’t we be able to …

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The verdict of Philip Collins, chief speech writer for Tony Blair, on Nick Clegg: “the Deputy Prime Minister should be applauded by all liberal voters”

Nick Clegg Q&A 19Philip Collins uses his column in today’s Times to write something not often written on that paper’s pages (or anywhere else for that matter): praise for the Lib Dems in Coalition. Here’s the paywalled link, and here’s a glimpse behind the paywall of what he has to say:

It is therefore a serious defence of Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats to commend them for things that would have happened had they not been there. It is in the nature of things that have not happened that we

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FT: “For nearly four years, Britain has been served reasonably well by multi-party government”

On Tuesday, it was reported that David Cameron wanted to rule out the possibility of a second Lib-Con coalition in the event of another hung parliament. This tit was matched by an equivalent tat from the left, when Unite leader Len Mclusky urged Labour to do the same.

Today’s Financial Times leader attempts to inject a dose of reality into this anti-coalition arms race:

All this chest-beating has stirred Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem deputy prime minister, whose party can only govern with others, to denounce “tribal voices”. And he is right to do so. This should not

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Cameron to “rule out second Lib-Con coalition” claims Telegraph. It may be a bluff but that doesn’t mean he won’t be forced to do it.

Today’s Telegraph splashes on the claim that David Cameron is preparing to rule out the possibility of a second Coalition with the Lib Dems if the Tories are the largest single party but lack a majority:

The Prime Minister wants to make a commitment in the Conservative Party election manifesto not to sign a second power-sharing deal with a smaller party in the event of a hung parliament next May, it is understood. Instead, a Conservative party that won the most seats but lacked a Commons majority would attempt to rule as a minority government, a course that would almost

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Another Coalition? 1-in-5 of the public likes the idea, but is divided between Lib-Lab and Lib-Con pact

Nick Clegg sparked a flurry of Coalition speculation this week, with his (relatively) warm words towards Labour on a BBC Radio 4 documentary this week. Everyone’s had their say – but what does the public think? YouGov has polled them to ask…

The first question asked which option folk would like to see after the next general election…

yougov coalition feb 2014

So a Labour majority government is the preference of most (31%), narrowly ahead of a Tory majority government (29%). A coalition government involving the Lib Dems would be favoured by …

Posted in Polls | Also tagged | 20 Comments

Coalition with Labour on, if they don’t “break the bank”

Tonight’s radio programme Nick Clegg: The Liberal who came to power has hit the news-stands for this apparent top line demand of any future coalition with Labour:

There is just no doubt in my mind that if there were a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition, we the Liberal Democrats would absolutely insist that government would not break the bank.

More details can be found in the Mirror, Guardian and BBC, and other sources of news are available.

Let’s contrast the following comments by Nick on the Labour Party

I think they’ve changed. I think there’s nothing like the prospect

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Fraser Nelson’s must-read guide to utterly and completely misunderstanding the Lib Dems’ Coalition strategy

Fraser Nelson has written a must-read guide to utterly and completely misunderstanding the Lib Dems’ Coalition strategy today. My guess is he’s reliant on Tory intelligence, which in this case is an oxymoron.

Much of it is the usual half-fair/half-unfair admixture of insults regularly thrown at the Lib Dems by the right-wing media. We are, says Fraser, “a hodge-podge of a party defined by its lack of definition”, “conservative in Somerset and socialist in Solihull” (has he met Lorely Burt?). Unlike the Conservatives, of course, where the small-l-liberal outlook of Ken Clarke and Nick Boles dovetails perfectly with the …

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Telegraph: Clegg and Cameron have to intervene in “daily” Coalition rows

The Telegraph has a story today that is rather perplexingly filed under “news” but seems like a summary of what we knew already.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg spend a “disproportionate” amount of their time attempting to resolve rows in the Home Office and Department for Education, in particular, sources said.

Disagreements have also affected policy-making inside the Department for Energy and Climate Change, while rows between Lib Dem and Tory ministers from different departments are a frequent feature of government life, sources said.

The difference in tone between the two sources quoted is interesting. The Tory source is snarky as anything:

It’s

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Opinion: Going it alone

BRITAIN POLITICS UK ELECTION CAMERON BECOMES PMAs the new year dawns there’s much press speculation about when the Liberal Democrats are going to cut and run from the Coalition and start campaigning for the next election.  At some point, of course, we are going to have to do this but having given an undertaking that we would work with the Tories for five years, that point I think should be quite late. But what we can do now is much more exciting.

We should declare that at the end of this coalition we shall not be entering into any further coalitions, either with the Tories or with Labour.  And we should do this as soon as possible.   We need to end this single-question politics of which way will the Liberal Democrats jump after the next election.  This would allow us to get on with explaining our policies and winning back our support.

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Can Nick Clegg hold the line on not offering any red lines?

For years Lib Dem leaders have been plagued by the question, ‘Who will you support in the event of a hung parliament?’ In 2010, Nick Clegg straight-batted it pretty effectively, saying the Lib Dems would talk first to the party with the most seats and most votes. In 2015 he’ll stick to that trusty formula, with the added credibility of being able to say it’s exactly what he did last time – the voters remain the king-makers etc.

So unsurprisingly journalists have moved on. Their new favourite question, one we’ll hear more and more the close we get to May 2015, …

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Norman Baker talks about immigration, conspiricies and taking on Teresa May

Norman BakerThe Independent today carries an interview with the new Lib Dem Home Office minister, Norman Baker. You know, that minister of conspiracy theories according to some media wags.

In his interview, Baker comes across as eminently sensible and defiantly Liberal. He is poised to reign in Teresa May’s excesses and tells the newspaper that has been told by Nick Clegg to range across all policy areas to “make sure there is a liberal voice clearly heard in the Home Office.”

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On the Lib Dem conference polling bump (lack thereof) and what it means for the party

The Labour party’s been enjoying a post-conference bump in the polls on the back of Ed Miliband’s bit of unexpected populism of promising a 20-month energy price freeze. At the weekend, Labour opened up an 11-point lead over the Tories, hitting 42%, its highest level since June.

Of course party conferences frequently distort the polls. We’ll see if the Tories also get a boost from their week’s exposure (or whether the row between the Daily Mail and Ed Miliband has overshadowed it). And then we’ll see if any of these spikes have any kind of long-lasting effect, or — as usual …

Posted in News, Op-eds and Polls | Also tagged , , and | 70 Comments

Opinion: Damian McBride and the next coalition

power tripThe effects of Damian McBride’s book on the next election will be negligible. The vast majority of voters simply don’t care.

And to those who do, the vicious way members of the Labour government conducted themselves, and the reckless aggression of their spin doctors and advisers, are hardly news. The general picture was well known before 2010: indeed, Armando Iannucci and Peter Capaldi had been portraying it on screen for five years by then. McBride has added details, but any vote that might have been influenced by it, already has been.

So it won’t change anything on polling day. But what about the day after?

It’s no surprise that pundits like to speculate on the choices the Liberal Democrats would make, in the event that a majority coalition is feasible with either of the larger parties. It may not be the most likely outcome, but it’s the most interesting.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 10 Comments

Telegraph claims Clegg has ruled out a coalition with Labour. I claim the Telegraph is talking nonsense on stilts.

Last week’s serialisation sensation was all about Damien McBride. This week’s is Matthew d’Ancona’s inside scoop on the Coalition, In It Together.

The Telegraph, doubtless keen to get its money’s worth, has hyped-up the revelations, splashing with the headline, ‘Cameron opens talks with Clegg on second Coalition’. Here’s the key passage, which reads unconvincingly to me, as I’ll explain below:

D’Ancona writes: “From time to time, he would raise the question of a second coalition with Clegg. ‘If we did it again,’ he mused to the Deputy Prime Minister, ‘I’d have to seek collective permission.’ ” It is

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Civil liberties and social justice: the stumbling blocks to a future coalition?

One of the themes that a number of journalists decided to pursue during last week’s Lib Dem conference was the possibility of a 2015 election outcome which leaves the door open to an arrangement with either Labour or the Conservatives. The LDV team has taken the bait: Stephen has reminded us of the challenges of forming a coalition with either party in 2015, and Joe has warned of the dangers of an equidistance which seeks simply to slit the difference between Labour and the Conservatives.

But amidst the discussions of the politics and the personalities, the one thing that …

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The Independent View: Endgames – International lessons for the Liberal Democrats in the final phase of coalition

institute for governmentIn Nick Clegg’s party conference speech last week the Deputy Prime Minister made it clear that he wants the Liberal Democrats to remain a ‘party of government’ beyond 2015. This requires the party both to make a success of the next 18 months, and to plan effectively for the period beyond the next election.

Based on research into coalitions in other countries – and the specific question of how smaller parties have fared – the Institute for Government recently published a paper setting out five lessons for the Liberal …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Flow-chart: The 5 questions that will decide if there’s another coalition in 2015

‘What are your thoughts on coalitions? Should the Lib Dems go with Labour or Conservatives – if they are in a position to choose?’ That was the question I was asked by the BBC’s Daily Politics in advance of appearing on Thursday to talk about any future coalition (you can catch my discussion with historian Lord (Peter) Hennessey here for the next few days).

Here’s the answer I gave, one I didn’t actually have chance to discuss during the programme… First, as a flow-chart and then my original email reply:

Coalition flow-chart - Sept 2013

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Good on Damian McBride – making the case for coalition government

damian+mcbrideI’ve met Damian McBride only once, in February this year. Two things struck me.

First, how much healthier (and happier) he looked than he did in 2008 when his role in a dirty tricks campaign against the Tories was exposed. He was only 34 when that furore flared, yet in pictures from the time he looked at least a decade older.

Secondly, he is seriously smart. A career civil servant promoted to Head of Communications at the Treasury he retains a deeply impressive knowledge of the knottiest tax policies. It makes …

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

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 700 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

76% of Lib Dem members predict another hung parliament in 2015

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

    8% – A Conservative minority government

    6% – An overall majority for the Conservatives

    2% – A Conservative-led coalition with parties other than Labour or the Lib Dems

    14%

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , and | 77 Comments

Opinion: It’s time to restate who we are and what we stand for

For those of you fortunate enough to be at the special conference in May 2010, you may remember my visual aid. For those fortunate enough to miss it – my point was that we had had a choice between one clapped out old guy who would never deliver and a bright young thing who was whispering sweet nothings in our ear but before we knew it would have us locked into all sorts of things that would turn our stomachs.  My visual aid?  A pair of pink fluffy handcuffs.

Unsurprisingly my view hasn’t changed, yes Stephen, the bed of roses …

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Opinion: Voters don’t understand coalition government

Reading the flood of negative comments which greet any mention of the Lib Dems in social media or the press, a small number of themes occur over and over again. The “broken promise on tuition fees” is always well represented, and I hope that we have learned the necessary lessons from that one.

Other common complaints, point to a fundamental lack of understanding of what coalition government involves and how it functions. If we don’t confront this directly and forcefully between now and May 2015, we are simply storing up trouble for ourselves in the event of another hung parliament.

The recurring …

Posted in News | 34 Comments

Opinion: Three blind men and the UK economy

In Indian folklore there’s a tale that goes a little something as follows:

Three blind men are confronted with an obstacle in their path. Stretching out a hand, each grabs a part and describes what’s in front of them. “My word,” says the first man, “we’re faced with some trees – so strong and thick.” Quoth the second man, “You are mistaken, for we face a snake – thin and wriggly.” Disagreeing with them both, the third man says, “You fools! It’s a wall we must scale – the size of a house.” Passing by, a sighted man takes

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The dance of coalition

Nick Clegg and David CameronSteve Richards, writing in the Independent, has a thoughtful analysis of the three main parties and their level of unity. He claims that the Liberal Democrats display “the greatest sense of unity and discipline” and yet they have the greatest level of internal differences. I like to think that is because we are a broad church that tolerates and even celebrates differences, because we do unite around the fundamental principles of fairness, liberty and equality.

But, according to Richards, those differences make it unlikely that the party will agree to another coalition with the Conservatives, hence his headline: “There will be no Con/Lib coalition after the next election”.

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarpeter tyzack 1st Sep - 12:05pm
    going back to 'the Sunday Papers', did anyone see an article about Clegg and Davey on a Trade Delegation to India..? I thought not, it...
  • User Avatarnvelope2003 1st Sep - 11:57am
    Yes the sensible thing for the Conservatives, in view of their poor showing in the Daily Mail opinion poll for Clacton, would be to refrain...
  • User AvatarBill le Breton 1st Sep - 11:54am
    Great Liberal - best of comrades.
  • User AvatarNigel Cheeseman 1st Sep - 11:44am
    I often wonder why the greens have under- delivered electorally. It is undoubtedly the case that they will suffer the same sort of antipathy as...
  • User AvatarPeter Chegwyn 1st Sep - 11:39am
    Very sad news. A friend and colleague to many of us over many years, Simon's wit and wisdom really will be missed.
  • User AvatarIan Eiloart 1st Sep - 11:22am
    The threshold for NI is not an annual threshold. It's calculated weekly, which results in unfairness for people who don't earn all year round: they...