3 to see: Lib Dem #GE2010 campaign coverage (26/4/10)

Want to keep up with what’s happening in the media but too busy campaigning? Here’s a handy guide to a trio of today’s most essential stories …

The media obsesses about hung parliament possibilities …

Nick Clegg used his appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show to make the obvious point that the Lib Dems would not prop up a Labour government if it finished third in the popular vote but ahead in terms of number of MPs:

This triggered some obsessive press speculation. The reason for Nick making the point as strongly as he did is clearly spelled out by this rare sighting: a headline in the Daily Mail that avoids using the words Clegg and Nazi in the same sentence:

Clegg demands the keys to No 10: Brown ‘can’t stay’ if he’s third in the popular vote.

The Liberal Democrat leader said it would be ‘preposterous’ for Gordon Brown – or any other Labour leader – to remain in No 10 if his party finished third in the popular vote, as polls predict. But he offered Labour a lifeline, saying he would serve with the party if ministers backed his plans to bring in proportional representation – comments seen in Westminster as a pitch for the top job himself.

The Guardian (of course) takes this as a signal that the Lib Dems must be looking to prop up the Tories:

Nick Clegg goes public on coalition – and looks to the Conservatives

Nick Clegg today signalled that he would speak to the Conservatives first about the formation of a minority government if Labour came third by share of the vote on 6 May, rejecting the constitutional convention that the prime minister should be allowed to try to form a government first. The Liberal Democrat leader also made it explicit for the first time that electoral reform would be an unavoidable precondition of any coalition government as he insisted that Labour will have forfeited the right to govern if it comes third.

Amidst all the newspaper chatter it’s worth reminding ourselves what it was that Nick Clegg actually said:

It seems to me that it’s just preposterous, the idea that if a party comes third in terms of the number of votes, it still has somehow the right to carry on squatting in No 10 and continue to lay claim to having the prime minister of the country.

“What I’m saying here is pointing at a very, very irrational possible outcome of our potty electoral system, which is that a party that has spectacularly lost the election because fewer people are voting for it than any other party, could nonetheless according to constitutional tradition and convention still lay claim to providing the prime minister of the country.”

Anyone spot anything not blindingly obvious in what Nick said. Thought not. As you were.

Polling analysis

John Curtice in The Independent looks at the weekend polling data and posts an advisory warning to the party about its current vote share:

Influence of Lib Dems in hung parliament depends on staying ahead of Labour

the Lib Dems are still ahead of Labour, whose average rating has held steady on 27 per cent. So the Lib Dems still have a good chance of coming second in the popular vote, cracking open the mould of the post-war, two-party system. But that two point gap can hardly be described as comfortable.

Considerable evidence points to the Lib Dem vote being relatively soft. Most polls find that its current supporters are far more likely than their Tory and Labour counterparts to say they might change their minds. The party is also doing relatively well among those who did not vote last time – and they may well need a disproportionate amount of cajoling to make it to the polls this time too. …

… if Lib Dem support were to slip behind Labour, the party’s moral authority and political clout would be much weaker. On its own, such a development would not be enough to give Mr Cameron a majority – his current seven point lead over Labour is insufficient for that. But he would claim to be the moral victor – from whom a diminished Mr Clegg might only be able to secure relatively few crumbs.

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This entry was posted in General Election.


  • Anthony Aloysius St 26th Apr '10 - 11:58am

    Actually, Nick Clegg did make a couple of clear statements which weren’t blindingly obvious.

    First, he did say clearly that if Labour came third in terms of votes then he would not enter into any arrangement that would allow Gordon Brown to remain prime minister.

    The other new thing is that in response to Andrew Marr’s observation that “in the past you haven’t said whether the number of votes or the number of seats was most important to you” he said “What I’ve said in the past which is that I think a party which has got the most votes _and_ seats, which in other words has got the strongest mandate but without an absolute majority has got the right to seek to form the government”.

    I assume that’s new to you too, because only a couple of weeks ago you wrote an article entitled:
    “Votes or seats? Why Nick Clegg won’t, can’t and shouldn’t answer that hung Parliament question”

  • I think it is worth taking the Liberal message as a whole and for once acknowledge that just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean that they’re out to make you irrelevant. In this instance the Mail seems to have stumbled on a nugget of truth, especially when taking Mr.Clegg’s comments in conjunction with Lord Ashdown’s categorical statement that Liberals CANNOT work with Tories.


    As far as a Liberal dominated coalition is concerned, it may be worth acknowledging the precarious position that both Gordon Brown and David Cameron find themselves in if they lose. If either fail to gain a workable majority, for Mr.Brown this will almost certainly mean a leadership challenge, but in the case of Mr.Cameron if would certainly put him in an awkward position because of the interests vested in his Party. As such, in the face of a hung parliament, the Liberal Democrats could end up as the only Party with a Leader to form a government around.

  • Sun’s political editor says “It is my job to see that Cameron fucking well gets into Downing Street” http://bit.ly/9Wtoq2 RT @chickyog

  • David Cameron said today the power sharing in which PR was a condition is out of the question. No way at all was his words. I feel that may come back to haunt him. People want PR because they see at last us moving away from the old two party system. Cameron wants complete power and yet he tells us it’s the people’s government. He can’t have it both ways. He wants to dictate what he wants to give us. Mrs Thatcher promised us that and look what happened.
    Please examine his education policy. It will lead to a two tier system. Tory people running schools on state aid and the state schools with reduced funding and lower standards. There is a hidden cost to most of the families in this. Like the post Office under Maggie,privatization through the back door. All those middle England tories who pay for private education will move back into the state sector. Pupils will be hand picked and to make sure the lower pay does not get a look in charges will be made to boost the funding. Those paying school fees now will get the same education for their children at a fraction of the cost and we will be paying for it. It will mean that schools will be put out to tender and the inners cities and deprived areas will be ignored. Teacher morale will drop and standards will fall. All the good teachers will be lured away from state schools and our education system will be in melt down. As with nearly all of the tory policy it will only help the wealthy few and the rest can suffer.

  • Andrew Suffield 26th Apr '10 - 1:59pm

    Cameron wants complete power and yet he tells us it’s the people’s government.

    You know, it occurs to me that “the people’s government” has been a popular phrase with many tyrants.

  • Steve Comer 26th Apr '10 - 5:23pm

    Whilst it was probably right (and possibly unavoidable) that Nick said what he said about Brown yesterday, what we are seeing is even more fevered speculation about post-election arithmetic and hung parliaments. If it continues we have to hope people just get bored by it, John Major was able to stir up fear of constitutional change in 1992 to get a late swing to his party, and I’d hat to see history repeat itself..
    We must try to get the agenda to move back onto our four key policies, Nick did mention them several times with Andrew Marr, but it seems the election is turning into a polio-free zone again.

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