9 am update: Where are we now?

There  are just two seats with Liberal Democrat interest left to declare and I think we’d be kidding ourselves if we thougth we were going to get anywhere with either of them. Tessa Munt’s Wells and Andrew George’s St Ives look like they will fall to the Tories.

Update: actually 3 – I forgot Berwick. There may be a possibility there, which would be great but I’m not overly hopeful, it has to be said.

So, our parliamentary party is:

Nick Clegg

Tim Farron

Norman Lamb

Greg Mulholland

Tom Brake

John Pugh

Mark Williams

Alistair Carmichael

The psychological effects of the loss of our heartlands will affect us for some time to come.

We will, of ocurse, need to evaaluate what went wrong, how we change and refresh our campaigning style and make ourselves relevant in a very difficult and challenging political environment.

The worst thing that could have happened has happened – a Tory overall majority. People who think the last five years have been a Tory government will soon see what they are like, particularly with their right wing unleashed to cause havoc. There will be a great need for liberalism as they seek to strip our human rights laws back to nothing and isolate us internationally.

A couple of quick thoughts – in Scotland, the SNP got 95% of the seats on half the vote. I’m not sure quite how this makes Scotland’s voice stronger. Unfortunately, though, that’s well off the agenda with a Tory majority.

The party will inevitably go through a process of shock and grieving and we need to remember when we comment that we are all hurting. We need to dust ourselves off and get on with building a recovery. There are just 364 days till the Scottish and Welsh and English local elections in 2016. We need to refresh and rethink the way we campaign.Maybe we need to do more to paint a narrative rather than narrow political point-scoring.

We also need to broaden our appeal. I wondered if the party’s polling was too narrow both in focus and in the individuals it targeted. It may have been sensible to target those people who said that they would be willing to consider voting for us 2 years ago which maybe skewed our messaging.

There is much to chew over in the weeks and months to come, but first there is the need to sleep. We’ll be putting up news and reaction during the day. Nick Clegg is making a statement later this morning and we’ll cover that. Our next piece will be a preview of the ALDE Council in Oslo by Mark Valladares.

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

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  • Matthew Huntbach 8th May '15 - 9:21am

    I told you so.

  • David Blake 8th May '15 - 9:24am

    I thought it was possible that the Tories would get a majority, but I never thought we would lose quite so many seats and by such big margins.

  • So we now have half our seats in the North, good. I have refrained from saying we told you so but we did , did we not. I trust the party listens to us in future. I have alway said I would be ready to apply to actually rejoin once Clegg stands down. I am waiting with baited breath and hope that by the end of the day I can apply to rejoin. Just sad that my little donation to Torbay proved ineffective. It has been a total disaster for the past 3 years. However we have been here before 1955 and 1970 and after a couple of years we moved back. We just have to make sure we do not give the Greens the opportunity to take our place. Looks as if we need extensive changes in management and personnel with no bowing and scraping to alleged heroes of the past.

  • Mike Barnes 8th May '15 - 9:32am

    “We will, of of curse, need to evaluate what went wrong,”

    You don’t, it’s obvious what went wrong to anybody who wants to see it.

    The important question to ask is to the leadership and it’s “what did you think was going to happen yesterday exactly?”

    Somebody needs to ask Nick or Paddy or Danny, what magic was going to occur in May 2015, that would turn 5 years of awful results and awful polling on it’s head? Why did nobody pay attention to the obvious signs of doom in favour of wishful thinking?

    It’s a worse kicking than expected, but a kicking was expected by most people, the writing has been on the wall for a long time.

  • Just noticed no women. This is a problem we must tackle and resolve. We need to move to all women short lists etc.

  • robert eggleston 8th May '15 - 9:33am

    Thanks Matthew because those of us who stuck with it, often through gritted teeth, really need that sort of self-righteous comment right now!

  • Milliband has a bad night and he resigns. Clegg has gone from bad to worse to disaster over the last 5-years and is still around. It’s not difficult to see what went wrong, you didn’t listen to what the voters were telling you at every election since 2010.

  • Samuel Griffiths 8th May '15 - 9:37am

    I think you are correct, Caron. The next 5 years are going to be much worse than the coalition and I believe it was this concern that lost the LibDems so many seats. Its awful that so many good mps have paid the price for the actions of a few, but it cannot be denied people lost faith in the power of LibDems in government. But I have said all this before and now it is time to heal, not critizise. We need to start again with stronger foundations and rebuild. We need a bottom up reconstruction of the party along with fresh faces. Its gonna be a long journey back.

  • Sad day particularly the loss of the rule amazing Vince Cable. But, onwards and upwards, it is about the future and not the past and we will continue to fight. Well done to Tim Farron, an MP all should aspire to be.

  • But I thought this was the best government of your lifetime, Caron? And the good news is, most of the MPs and most of the cabinet that made up that best government are still there! So how bad can it be?

  • Now is not the time for healing. Now is the time for a new leader and some sackings and if you had done that after the euros you wouldn’t be in this mess. You need a clear out then you can start the healing.

  • As a long time Liberal and Lib Dem supporter I don’t think we had a clear message.
    The SNP’s was a voice for Scotland, Ukip was to get out of Europe, the Tories’ became stop the Scots. Labour were just not the Tories. We used to be able to play the “plague on both your houses” card. Now our approach was “we know you didn’t like it, but can we try it again please”.
    I would suggest ‘re-branding (‘Liberal Voice’ might be good) and campaigning for things people care about (not electoral reform).
    It might almost be worth forgetting about parliament while we rebuild as a campaigning organisation.
    The good news is that, as Danny Alexander implied there has never been more need of a liberal voice.

  • Christine Headley 8th May '15 - 9:50am

    There is absolutely no point in all-women shortlists if you can’t deliver the seats. Our only safe seat is the Orkneys and Shetland.

  • Helen Dudden 8th May '15 - 9:54am

    You never listened, I walked away because you never listened. More of the same.

    It never mattered.
    Many years ago, I campaigned with others to get Don Foster elected, the Poll Tax was crippling so many. It has been replaced with the bedroom tax, food banks, a total mess with housing, talk of selling more of social housing.

    I remember the words on the back of my membership card, and all that we believed in. Can you return with those ideals?

  • Christine, there is no alternative, otherwise we will always be seen as a male dominated party.

  • We did to a small but significant extent mitigate the worst of Tory practice by our involvement in the coalition, I think. Labour didn’t want to touch us with a bathrooms after 2010, assuming they would be the beneficiaries in 2015. It didn’t happen. Had the Tories won a small majority in 2010, with us winning @ 45 seats we would have beer well-placed to benefit in 2015, maybe winning 70 seats. Unfortunately, it’s a long way back and I’m far from confident that we will avoidbeing usurped by the Greens.

  • Should be a ‘bargepole’ not bedrooms!

  • David Evans 8th May '15 - 10:00am

    The problem of shutting your eyes to problems for most of the last five years has finally come to pass. After 6 months it was clear we were in trouble with Nick ‘An end to broken promises’ Clegg breaking his pledge on Tuition Fees ; after Gateshead it was obvious Nick’s supporters would do anything to divert members attention and members from taking action with the so-called Shirley Williams motion; then he would sacrifice Liberal Principle and ignore party conference with Secret Courts; and last year he showed he was prepared to sacrifice all but one of our MEPs for a quick debate with Nigel Farage. Councillors were acceptable collateral damage every year.

    Next, I fear we will see people attempting to absolve themselves of responsibility by saying it was all inevitable, a noble sacrifice and how much worse things will be over the next five years. We have to stop this, because if it happens Liberal Democracy will rapidly be consigned to history.

  • I meant bathrooms.

  • Mark Johnson 8th May '15 - 10:02am

    As a former LibDem voter one thing I’ve personally felt over the past 5 yeats is that party members have been incredibly nieve about the consequences of a coalition with the Tories.

    I consider myself a social liberal, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a fairly privileged life but I feel that I have a responsibility to those who haven’t. A considerable number of the party’s former voters will have similar sensibilities. As a party I believe you rather arrogantly abandoned those voters.

    The Tories aren’t called the nasty party for nothing. You’ve now paid the price for embracing some rather nasty policies. The prime example of this is probably the bedroom tax, as horrible a policy as anything the Tories have ever come up with became law thanks to support by the LibDems.

    It’s not like other times in the past when you’ve lost seats. It’ll take a generation for people to forgive and forget.

  • bedrooms would be more apt!

    just add ‘tax’ at the end.

  • The Lib Dems peformed badly for two different reasons.

    The first concerns their role in the big picture. In Scotland, the SNP was always going to sweep to victory. In England, voters were faced with the usual Con/Lab choice.

    The electorate knew what to expect from the Conservatives, but Labour worried them for three reasons. The first is that they were not comfortable with the thought of Miliband as PM. The second was that he was in denial about labour overspending last time and could well do it again. The third concern was that the only way to prevent a Lab/SNP combined force was to give the Conservatives a majority of seats.

    The Lib Dem role in this big picture was irrelevant. The party had no role. Clegg’s main message was that the party was an essential coalition accessory. The voters wanted a clear win for the Conservatives to prevent a Lab/SNP majority.

    The second reason is more complex and should be at the centre of party reform. In spite of the big picture described above, UKIP and the Greens significantly increased their shares of the vote. The Lib Dem share was decimated.

    I have strong views on why this happened but they have always been ignored before when explained on this site.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th May '15 - 10:13am

    robert eggleston

    Thanks Matthew because those of us who stuck with it, often through gritted teeth, really need that sort of self-righteous comment right now!

    I am sorry I was right. I am happy to come back and give my energy to rebuilding the party if this time people will listen to the sort of things I have been saying.

    I took the principled position not to be active at all in this general election campaign because I so disagreed with the way the party was being pushed from the top. I put in huge amounts of my time explaining this, explaining what I thought the party should do instead, but also defending the unpleasant compromises which I agreed had to be made under the situation given to us by the 2010 general election.

    There were many times during this general election campaign that I was so unhappy with what was coming out from the top that I felt I wanted to come out and denounce it, use my position as someone who was previously active in the party and held the position of leader of the council group in a London Borough during the time of its rapid growth there to damage it by telling people “If I had encouraged you to vote Liberal Democrat in the past, now I say, don’t do it”. However, my continued loyalty to the party, not to those at the top, but to former colleagues still actively campaigning in it stopped me from doing so. My silence was the best I could give in terms of public support. Plus I did actually vote Liberal Democrat because there is still no other party I have any interest in supporting.

  • @Jonathan “i’m far from confident that we will avoid being usurped by the Greens.”

    If we move in the direction of becoming a left-leaning protest party it’s almost certain. That space is occupied.

    We need to forge a distinct Liberal identity.

  • I suggest we look at how employment influences peoples views. The Liberal Party was historically the party of the manufacturers and those running small businesses but lost most of the these to the Conservatives in the 1920s. Employment is now divided between the state and NGOS, small businesses, large companies and in particular those related to finance . The largest growth in employment is in small and medium sized businesses which may be found in the countryside, suburbs and cities, includes men and women and people from all ethnicities. Labour is the Party of the state employee and much of the NGO management, the Tories the City and large companies . Many of those in SMEs vote Tory because the Labour Party is utterly disastrous for them. A Liberal Party of pre 1914 which represented small and medium sized businesses and those employed by them would have appeal all over the country and amongst men, women and people from all ethnicities. I would argue that people who work in SME s have a sense of responsibility, individuality , a fortitude , of initiative and drive which gave the World the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions which saved us from the threat of starvation. It was the crafstmen and farmers who gave the World the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions : not government.

    I would argue that a country which is peaceful, has a stable economy and currency; laws which allow freedom, private property and intrusion from government, a lack of corruption, a unified and transparent legal system, competent and accountable government, adequate infrastructure which combined enables the populace to use and benefit from it’s initiative and hard work, will prosper. After all these were the conditions which enabled Britain to produce the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions . A party which says the will of the people is sovereign and is expressed through our national Parliament and the politicians and state employees are the servants of the people, would gain much support .

  • Phil Rimmer 8th May '15 - 10:15am

    Shock Caron? No, anyone still shocked that Clegg, Laws etc. have managed to damage our party so badly needs to take a reality check.

    As for grief, maybe, but I would far rather we expressed that by getting on with the job of repositioning, rebuilding and learning how to campaign effectively again. Oh, and a leadership election.

  • Dan Andrews 8th May '15 - 10:16am

    “need to evaaluate what went wrong”

    Suggest you go back and read the comments that were left on this site at the time the coalition was formed. You’ll discover you had advance notice of what the results would be.

    By all means, keep telling yourself it “was in the national interest” to form a coalition. Problem is – the electorate doesn’t seem to believe you.

    I hope you can turn things round – the idea of UKIP being the third main party is chilling. But first you need to objectively review the events following the previous election.

  • “…So, our parliamentary party is:
    Nick Clegg, Tim Farron, Norman Lamb, Greg Mulholland, Tom Brake, John Pugh, Mark Williams, Alistair Carmichael.
    The psychological effects of theloss of our heeartlands will affect us for some time to come.”

    Let us analyse some of our strengths and weaknesses.

    We have lost our deposit in over 300 seats. In many seats we are in fourth or fifth place, or worse.

    The party has over 100 Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.
    We have an MEP.
    We have around 2,000 councillors (subject to results to be announced today)
    We have a few members of the Scotland Parliament and the Wales Assembly.
    Our membership is around 40,000.

    A weakness is that we have in England returned to a two party state. With a handful of exceptions every MP in England is either Labour or Conservative. Our media presence will disappear rapidly.

    A weakness is that raising funds and enthusiasm for a party of 8 MPs will not be easy.

    A double weakness is that The Greens have greater appeal to the young and idealistic, who used to be natural recruits to the left leaning Liberal Democrats; whilst UKIP has swallowed up the votes of the disenchanted and the dispossessed.

    We used to know how to win at council level and in parliamentary by-elections. Do we still have these skills now? Or have the generations that built up the party before 2005 got too old or died?

    Others will have other comments and ideas. A discussion of the realities of where we are would be useful.

    Swapping accusations and playing the blame-game will not help rebuild the party.

  • Dan, that’s spot on. I know that some people are saying the party has to take its time over how it reacts – if only we had that. As Caron says, there’s only 364 days until the Scottish elections.

    Some comfort for Scotland though – that share of the vote is actually about the same as we got in 2011 and, if it was uniform across both the constituency and list votes (which I know doesn’t really happen) would actually see us go up by two seats.

  • @Charlie that’s an interesting and thought provoking take.

  • A Conservative majority government is the best thing for the party. Please forget about the country for a moment, that has been decided and clearly many many people thought the Conservatives were a better bet than the Liberal democrats. They smashed us. The best scenario for any recovery by ourselves is a Conservative government which will inevitably become unpopular in a couple of year maybe 3. Then we may get lucky by elections, but in the meantime we have to firm up our remaining base with a new leader, new campaign messages, younger generation team leaders and a new image. As they say in football kick the past out. It is important to immediately move on.

  • @TCO – as what?

    The space on the centre right is occupied by the Tories, and the hard right by UKIP. The LDs have tried being a Centre Right party – not really worked out has it?

    And on the left instead of supplanting the past-its-sell-by-date-century-old-class-warfare-zombie that is the Labour, all the LDs have done is give its corpse another 5 years of life before it finally (hopefully) falls apart and we get the decent,modern, functioning Social Democratic party that the LDs should have been.

    I could weep. But that won’t do any good. Time for a cup of tea I think.

  • @John Tilley “A weakness is that we have in England returned to a two party state. With a handful of exceptions every MP in England is either Labour or Conservative.”

    That’s a traditional weakness, and one we’ve traditionally campaigned by positioning ourselves as “only the lib dems can stop labour/tories here”. That strategy was fine whilst we were in perpetual opposition but once we came off the fence we were bound to suffer by it.

    The SNP can face all ways policy wise because the nationalist idea is a stronger unifier.

    We need to identify our unique political stance in a space not currently occupied and campaign on that.

  • David Evans 8th May '15 - 10:28am

    We are in eight places exactly and none are next door to each other. And as is being mentioned already on the BBC Website, a reduction in the Number of MPs to 600 or less may well be on the Conservative agenda. The splitting of wards has long been a local government tactic in an attempt to remove troublesome opponents. We need to be very aware of what might happen next. If we leave it to happen to us as we did with the Nick catastrophe, we may well be wiped out.

  • Simon Horner 8th May '15 - 10:28am

    I’m sorry to contradict you, Theakes, but we have never been here before. It is true that our overall vote share was lower in 1970, 1959, 1955 and 1951 but in all these elections we didn’t fight hundreds of seats. In three elections in the 1950s, the reason we had so few candidates was because local associations could not afford the £150 deposit (£4,500 in today’s money) which was forfeited if you got less than 12.5%. The party almost bankrupted itself in the 1950 election when it lost 319 deposits.
    If the Liberals had put up candidates in all seats during the 1950s, we would certainly have been polling significantly higher than we did yesterday.
    If you look only at general elections where we fielded (more or less) a full slate: October 1974 and all elections since 1983, our vote share was between 16.8% in 1997 and 25.4% in 1983. Yesterday, we got less than half our previous worst. In Scotland, 47 of our 48 non-target candidates lost their deposits and I’ve spotted at least two where the vote share was 0.8% – lower than our previous worst-ever individual result in last year’s Rochester and Strood by-election.
    In terms of seats, things are only very marginally brighter. This is our fifth worst performance since the Liberals were founded in 1877. We won six seats in 1951,1955,1959 and 1970.
    I want the LibDems to bounce back strongly, because I am a liberal and no one else offers anything that approaches liberalism. But it will be a huge task – this is far worse than 1955 or 1970.

  • All these people who wanted us to stay out of coalition, and thereby cause an autumn 2010 election that the Tories would have won with a small majority… well you will now get to see what that government would have looked like. As will the public, who have been saying for 5 years that the coalition was a horrid right-wing government. Now they will learn very painfully, that actually it wasn’t.

  • The Liberals have dealt with this kind of thing before.

    Somebody just needs to shoot a dog, that’s all.

  • @JUF as a Social Democratic party? No thanks, that was tried in the 1980s and we all know where that led. The one unique position we have is liberalism. Our misfortune is that it’s too often partially appropriated by others.

  • Helen Dudden 8th May '15 - 10:35am

    It still becomes the situation that you saw it happening, you closed ranks and were content to become a Party that did not listen. Clegg had power, and was in Government.

    If you do not welcome members, then you never recover.

  • @Simon Horne but in those earlier elections we were not facing left or anti-European competitors and resurgent nationalists elsewhere.

    The political landscape has changed irrevocably and until we recognise that we now face far more diverse political competition we will continue to struggle

  • MBoy – if we had stayed out of coalition, then I’m pretty sure we’d be sitting on considerably more than 8 MPs. And the argument of “country before party” only works if (a) you actually believe that what was done in government was good, and (b) you are prepared to reward the party for it. It’s quite clear – and has been since about October 2010 – that the general public didn’t believe (a), so weren’t going to do (b) – and even where they did agree with things, weren’t prepared to listen for (b).

    I expect that by the end of this parliament, there’ll be a referendum on Europe where a UK-wide majority votes to withdraw but Scotland (and possibly Wales & NI) vote to stay in. That would be the “game changer” Nicola Sturgeon looks for to demand another referendum, which I suspect most would agree with. So I strongly suspect that the Westminster General Election in 2020 will be the first without Scotland as part of it – they’ll be having the first elections to an independent Scottish Parliament at the same time.

  • John Minard 8th May '15 - 10:43am

    Lost at sea, the deep blue sea! A young work colleague ignorantly summed it up when he questioned what was the point of the Lib Dems and that they’d been in government for 5 years and not done anything, and also that the best thing the Torys had done was increase his take-home pay. Although I had severe reservations about going into coalition in what is very much a two party system, I hoped being in government would yield more media attention for our point-of-view, beliefs and policies compared to being in opposition – that was simply not so.

  • John Nicholson 8th May '15 - 10:48am

    Like others posting here, I do not think we need to evaluate what went wrong. The main item of “what went wrong” was the Coalition, plus reneging on our 2010 pledge on tuition fees. Today is the worse day of my political involvement with the Liberal Democrats (which actually goes back to 1974 and the old Liberal Party). We have lost our constituency MP to a Tory neophyte, and the party is down to 1970 levels of representation in Parliament.

    I am not simply wise after the event; after the 2010 General Election, while negotiations were underway for the Coalition, I said that we should be have a confidence and supply arrangement with the Tories, and only for a maximum of 3 years. We could still have got all the concessions we had under the Coalition agreement, probably more; we would not have got the blame for tuition fees; we would still have been seen as an opposition party; the Lib Dem brand would not be toxic; and we would now have many more than 8 MPs. Plus, we could have got out early if the polls had turned against us to the extent they did from 2011 (though, in my opinion, they would not have been nearly so dire, so we would still have hundreds more councillors and several MEPs).

    If we think our electoral disaster stems from inadequacies in our campaigning, or that we need an inquiry into what went wrong, we are deluding ourselves. We should have seen it coming (many of us foot-soldiers did…) but the leadership simply shut their eyes and carried on.

    I will never stop being a liberal, or Liberal Democrat voter, but just at the moment, I feel like weeping. Please don’t make it worse for me by pretending that we don’t know why it happened.

  • Peter Watson 8th May '15 - 10:50am

    @John Minard ” I hoped being in government would yield more media attention for our point-of-view, beliefs and policies compared to being in opposition”
    In many ways it did. But unfortunately senior Lib Dem MPs gave the impression that Lib Dems’ “point-of-view, beliefs and policies” were exactly the same as those of a Tory-dominated coalition.

  • For me the argument that if Liberal Democrats had not gone into coalition with the Tories, we would have had an early 2010 election does not really stand up.

    So what if that did happen?
    Lets say that we ended up with a Tory Majority and they implemented their unhinged right wing agenda. If that would have happened they would have most certainly lost the election today.
    But instead what we had was a coalition government which drifted rightwards and implemented some pretty nasty policies that disproportionately hit the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.
    Now we have a Tory Majority that will escalate further still that rightward trajectory and take a hammer to the state and to the poor and vulnerable.
    It will now take until 2020 for us to get rid of Tories being in government and undoing all the harm that they will inflict.

    And incidentally, I give it 6 months before the Tories Reverse all those Liberal Democrat policies that you did win in coalition. So then you have to ask yourselves was it indeed worth it, if it means a Decade of Tory Rule and a decimated Liberal Democrat party?

  • I very sad day for us and the Country. I think the Conservatives scared many English voters with fear of SNP. I am very worried about further changes to welfare and the economic uncertainty when anti-european Conservatives start to run amok. Vince Cable has been the best Business Secretary in living memory and well respected, but even that could not save him. I was a strong supporter of the Coalition, but think Party needs to avoid formal coalitions in future as we (unfairly) have not got any credit for all the good things.

  • Peter: not convinced that the ‘fear’ of a Lab/SNP coalition or an informal agreement (despite the efforts of the Murdochian-led media) was a huge factor, though it played a part.

    Theakes: from a party point of view, better the small Tory majority had happened in 2010-it may be too late for us now with the Greens as growing rivals, and our taxi load of MPs, compared to the 40-or so MPs we would have won back in 2010 (given a Tory majority then). Winning 57 turned out to be a disaster for our party in the circumstances-though in the short-term to 2015, it was I believe a good thing on balance, because we helped mitigate the worst excesses of today’s Tories via coalition.

    As a lifelong Liberal then LD, I am perhaps grateful that I have lived for the past 20 years in Australia. AV and compulsory voting, together with a fully elected Senate, proves far from perfect, but makes extreme conservatism very difficult to implement for too long.

  • Alex Macfie 8th May '15 - 10:56am

    The Progressive Conservatives bounced back partly through a reverse takeover from another party of the right, the Reform Party.

  • Steve Griffiths 8th May '15 - 11:00am

    I have not commented on LDV for some months; unlike others, I thought it best not to express my regular views during the election period and wait for the electorate to give its (predictable) verdict.

    Even though I let my membership lapse, it gave me no pleasure to watch seats like Yeovil, Cornwall North, Twickenham, Inverness etc. etc. fall from the grip of the party of which I had been an active member for decades, and even helped win in some cases.

    But as others of my views have said on LDV this morning – we told you so!

    You did not listen when we warned of the economic rightward drift of the party. You did not listen when we warned that faffing around in the soggy centre would not bring success, or soft Tory votes. As we have pointed out before on LDV, it was Shirley Williams herself who said of a centre party that it would have “no roots, no principles, no philosophy and no values”. You did not listen when we told you that telling the activists on the left of the party to clear off was not a good idea. You did not listen when we told you that the airy-fairy ‘motherhood-and-apple-pie’ mantra “stronger economy – fairer society” would not resonate with the electorate. You did not listen when we advised that the LD parliamentary advisors should be people with some experience of poor housing and how it is to live on low wages. You did not listen when we warned that a party that was a cross between the German FDR and the old National Liberals would not be successful.

    Well are you listening now? I am poised with my party renewal fee…….

  • Simon Horner: no problem with your assessment, if you noted some of my previous missives I have kept saying this would be worse than 1970 in terms of average votes per seat and so it is. However if there is a fair wind we should just start to claw back some ground locally in 2016 and 2017, this year will be a disaster as well in that area, and if, if, there are the odd by elections in the right places than we can start. yes you are right it could be a long long road, but 1970 is a good example and in 1972 after the Rochdale by elelction the position changed quite dramatically..

  • Had my scenario for 2010 occurred-40 MPs then and a Tory majority-I suspect, Scotland notwithstanding, we now would be celebrating @ 65 MPs in England and Wales and not just 7 +1 in Scotland.

  • Some while before the election I posted that the party was toast in the South West, that Laws would lose. I remember an incredulous response by those on the right, attempts to defeat my arguments by waving £50 note bets in my direction.

    The Lib Dems aren’t naturally one of the ‘selfish’ parties, like UKIP and the Tories – despite what the voices here on the right, the refugees from Liberal Vision and so on, say. The result wasn’t the result of coalition – it was the result of this particular coalition. I would like to think that in the face of this result some kind of common sense would result, an admission that what was recently done was clearly wrong by the results.

    Instead, I think that those on the right will now, more than ever, fight for their control of the party to continue.

    The biggest shock for me has been Paddy’s place in all this. I can think of no one in the South West who had a clearer idea of the notion of a grand coalition of the anti-Tory forces. That’s the history of the party here in the South West. How on earth did he forget?

  • Helen Dudden 8th May '15 - 11:14am

    Yes, those of us who worked to bring freedoms, whatever religion or colour or background. Justice in the EU and better understanding of legal obligations to those who need it.

    I would like to see better housing for those without a home, that is not a home.

    I suggest someone reads the old preamble and thinks, can these standards be employed to make our country fairer. Being in Government should not be the only destination, the journey should be enjoyed, fairly gained and deserved.

  • Mboy, in my opinion the party should not have entered the coalition on the terms that it did, which greatly disadvantaged the liberals. In our system the one last vote you need is worth as much as all the others put together. It would have been better to bring on a new election right then, indeed with the result we have now. At this point in time libs would have benefited from being part of the opposition to a detested government. I do not believe a conservative government over this period would have behaved much differently to how it did, but if it had cut more the results would have been to reinforce liberal popularity now. I agree there is ultimately no point to a party which never exercises any power, but that does not excuse taking power in an agreement fundamentally unacceptable to your voters.

  • Andy Martin 8th May '15 - 11:17am

    Allow me to start with a disclaimer. Frustrated as I’ve been with the Party at times, I never let my membership lapse and in fact was more than willing to be a paper candidate (we lost our deposit) . . . We must of course review our policies and ask some fundamental questions about our political ideology . . . rather than using the political divining rod that took us all sorts of directions in search of votes.

    But before we start with the flagellation, surely we can pause long enough to recognise that we have lost a phalanx of excellent MPs and please tell me that among us commenting on here, we understand that the exhausted bodies of hard working campaigners, drained from leafleting, door knocking, telephoning and everything besides – are (if awake) browsing thought our vitriol and anger.

    Whether on the left or right (or just outside) the Party, we have lost outstanding members like Adrian Sanders, Jenny Willott, Lynne Featherstone and Simon Hughes – with whom many of us could regularly agree almost any day of the week; they have also lost their seats.

    It’s time to dust ourselves off, regroup, unite around our Parliamentary Party (which includes many excellent women in the House of Lords) and prepare to fight the local elections. But surely we must allow ourselves and our battered friends and colleagues the respite of the next twenty four / forty eight hours.

  • Helen Dudden 8th May '15 - 11:20am

    When I met Tim Farron, I felt he was a man of principles, and grounded.

    I think you need to look at the structure of the Party, handling complaints and allowing more input from your members. Not merely a club to join.

  • I am just amazed that I am still reading comments to the effect of “we will need to find out what went wrong” and that people are still discussing the campaigning and whether the strategy was right.

    The reason why the party was so clinically dismembered last night was for one reason only: going into coalition with the Tories in the first place. It didn’t go wrong only for the last few weeks of electioneering – it went wrong the moment Clegg and the Orange Bookers took us into coalition rather than entering into a confidence and supply agreement.

    In the South West the Tories have always been the enemy – in joining with them and effectively enabling many of their policies (however much we tried to disown them) we alienated our own supporters. The failure of the leadership to show even a basic understanding of their own voting base, beggars belief.

  • @Bolano “grand coalition of anti tory forces”

    Different party, same result.

    If we continue to position ourselves as “anti”, when circumstances force us to be “pro” we will suffer. Nobody is going to vote for Labour’s pale imitation.

    We only have a future if we position ourselves as having a unique and we’ll defined liberal programme to offer.

  • Graham Goldsmid 8th May '15 - 11:27am

    Welcome to the real world Nick away from the London HQ / Parliament bubble
    As a party when will we learn that the Conservative party will do anything to keep power
    they flattered us into joining a Coalition which in the end only had one winner with the electorate
    We in the meantime became a joke on the doorstep with a toxic leader who churned out the same speech about saving the country..blah blah blah and turned the party into a rump which had lost direction and seem to spend its time pontificating about possible deals with other parties.
    Well the British people have given us their reaction to all this and it is time for a change good bye Nick
    This is the chance for a new start for the Liberal Democrats our year zero time to rebuild as a radical political force in the country hopefully under the leadership of Tim Farron.
    And please no more talk about any future coalitions with the Conservatives ever!!!!!

  • I have also said previously the Orange Bookers led by Clegg were destroying the party and they have finally finished off the job. I left the party in disgust just a few weeks ago as like so many others I never wanted to belong to a centre right libertarian party which has campaigned negatively over the last 5 weeks or in a vacuous way the not left not right but centre slogan, It used to be a party of principles but has lost its way under Clegg who should now resign and let someone else take the party back to the progressive, radical one it used to be. A progressive party which believed in fairness, a mixed economy with successful and well funded public services and away from the austerity years. It has not benefitted one iota by being in coalition with the tories and even the lowering of the tax threshold has been credited to the tories in the minds of the electorate.

  • Gwyn Griffiths 8th May '15 - 11:36am

    Watching Nick live now. He has done us great service, but I’m glad he’s going and feel he should have gone sooner.



    If he also resigns his seat – to go off to Brussels or otherwise – and forces an unnecessary byelection he will be doing us an immense disservice.

  • matt (Bristol) 8th May '15 - 11:37am

    What Andy Martin said.

  • @TCO – “Nobody is going to vote for Labour’s pale imitation” – well probably not, but the SNP have shown that you *can* campaign very effectively with an “anti tory” message without people regarding you as a “pale imitation” of Labour (in fact I think the SNP are rather more progressive than Labour).

  • @TCO 8th May ’15 – 11:25am

    I don’t have an argument to convince someone with your libertarian views; I’m not going to argue against the Liberal Vision position. Either the party will reject your opinions, or not. If it doesn’t, it’s over.

  • @Bolano +1

  • Whilst the extent is a shock, this was all so very predictable and also so very avoidable.

    “No more broken promises” only lasted until the start of the coalition negotiations alienating those who wanted to be able to trust their politicians for a change.

    The different kind of politics more often then not seemed to be the same male (ish), posh (ish) ya boo rubbish the other parties offered.

    Alarm clock Britain played to the right of society and forgot those who were incapable of working through health or unable to obtain a job.

    Policies such as the NHS changes, the bedroom tax et al were roundly supported (at first).

    Clegg and co sat on the green front bench and cheered or waived order papers whilst Cameron acted like a public school bully or Osbourne lurched ever rightwards. Secret Courts defended on this site by elected members of a supposedly Liberal party…

    After everything that happened to destroy trust in the previous Parliament Laws lied on his expenses and yet found himself back at the top table.

    And all to appeal to soft Tories the mythical right of centre whilst accusing people like me of being a Labour Troll.

    To my mind the answer is a return to social justice and civil liberties being at the forefront of both policy and message. This look left, look right stuff defines the Lib Dems by others. We should be asking people to look in the mirror.

    Can you look in the mirror and support the bedroom tax as it is currently operates?
    Can you look in the mirror and deny someone the chance to effectively challenge the Government in a Court of Law? Can you look in the Mirror if you make an individual promise to a group of voters and agree to break it within days?
    Can you look in the mirror and force that asylum seeker on a plane to a country where their sexuality will mean a life of pain and misery?

    There are lots of people in this country who would look into that mirror and feel no shame, but there remains a huge number of liberal minded people in this country who want a fair and free society. The Lib Dems need to give them an option, not soft Tories or Blairite pseudo socialists voting because of a middle of the road economic policy.

    Clegg should have gone after the trend of Council losses became undeniable or after the Euro election losses. In my opinion this morning is not because of the coalition, it’s because of how he managed it.

  • James keith 8th May '15 - 11:56am

    Bolano, JUF, does this mean that as a party you are now lurching off to the left? Thought that that was a big no no?

  • matt (Bristol) 8th May '15 - 11:56am

    Aaarrrggghhhhhhhrrrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn swear swear swear swear swear swear swear swear swear swear swear swear swear swear swear swear I feel so bl**dy impotent.

  • @Bolano

    1) I’m not a libertarian
    2) I’m not a member of Liberal Vision
    3) I’ll define my own positions thank you
    4) I believe in the preamble
    5) the preamble is sufficiently loosely worded to offer plenty of scope for different approaches to the same problem
    6) if you turn the party into an echo chamber for a narrow set if views (as it would seem some want, sadly) then you will diminish it

  • nothing more than what was predicted in 2010, many of us were hounded off this forum or moderated off the forum by the loyal herd, I predicted a black cab would be sufficient for the lib dems come 2015 and I was hounded off and laughed at…

    I am not happy that it has come to pass, but what more did the party expect, the leaders and old boys put their heads in the sand and ignored those that voted for the party…

    sadly you lost me and mine, my family is now looking at the best place to live because it is increasingly evident our UK home is broken and will break even more when the scots pull out.

    all started in 2010… thank you…


  • Nick Clegg, at long last, has quit the leadership. This is welcome news, though it happens more than a year too late.

    I want to say that I bear Nick Clegg no personal animus. I think he is a nice person and (at bottom) a good person. He is the kind of man I’d be happy to have as my neighbour. He is clearly very intelligent and personable and a good talker.

    But these were not and are not the primary qualities the Liberal Democrats needed in a leader. We needed somebody with keen political judgment, strategic thinking, and a commitment to liberal ideals even if it meant offending others. We needed someone who had a political guiding star other than trying to be liked. We needed someone who was stubborn on principle and flexible as to approach. Instead we got someone who was flexible on principle and who stubbornly stuck to the same political path, year after year, even when it was clear it was going in the wrong direction.

    Clegg cannot bear the blame for the catastrophe alone. He had many, and I guess still has a few, enablers in and out of the Parliamentary Party who simply could not bring themselves to tell him that he had failed and was doing the Party a disservice by staying. The Party elders who should have stood up and said “enough! You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately. Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” simply made excuses and let things slide. They have now lost their own seats and will have ample time for regrets. So will the people of the United Kingdom.

  • TCO: You have no valuable political advice to offer. You are not doing any good here. And if you’re not a libertarian, you should probably resign that job at the “libertarian think tank” you were boasting about a few days ago.

  • @JUF the SNP are very good at the old lib dem game of allowing people to project their own desires and grievances onto them in contradictory ways. This doesn’t matter until independence because they have strong nationalist glue. Post independence they will fall apart as most “liberation” movements do.

    Furthermore they may talk “progressive” but have strong authoritarian tendencies

  • @David-1 what a liberal position to take! “We don’t want your sort here”. Dammed by your own words.

    I don’t work for a libertarian think tank. I’m an ordinary party member, but you can’t accept that people in the party can deviate from your narrow self defined viewpoint and when they do you want to expel them. There’s only one word for that which I’m not going to use.

    Thank you my friend – you’ve re-energised my desire to stay and fight.

  • TCO.
    The games up. We listened to “the pale of Labour stuff” imitation stuff and the result is 8 seats. It never was about being more centrist or closer to Labour or The Conservatives. It was about being liberal and representing and fighting for the people who voted Lib Dem. I say it again, this compliance with orthodoxies has always been the mistake of the bigger progressive parties. Labour did the same thing in Scotland and where eventually wiped out because of it. The Conservative understand this so they rarely clobber their own core vote in power and when they do such as poll tax the knives are out. I hear a lot about being brave, but is it really brave to make the poor poorer or people with disabilities jump through hoops for benefits. Labour did this, but it’s was just power for powers sake. To me we’re sort of back to a pre-universal suffrage era where politicians said what they had planned for the population and hoped they could block the opposition enough to get the gig. Again Labours problem wasn.t that they went to the Left it was that they broke promises, tried to compete with the Conservatives about how “realistic and tough” their economic model will seem on Newsnight and took their voters for granted. I think the Lib Dems can and should be better than this.

  • I don’t think we need a lengthy debate about the reasons for our defeat: as many above have said, these are mostly obvious and well known. David Steel spelled it out quite clearly on the BBC just now. There is nothing to be gained from “might have been” debate about how things might have turned out had we made different choices. And we certainly don’t need to get dragged into internal wrangles over candidate selection rules or other constitutional issues, which played no part in last night’s disaster.

    The one piece of good news is that, assuming he is willing to stand, the leadership issue ought to be quite obvious. We need a leader with the character and resilience to motivate what remains of the party, who is individual enough to attract at least some attention given we have a tiny group of MPs and the media won’t feel the need to pay us any attention at all. And someone who distanced himself as well as he could from the big mistake made early in the coalition. There are other potential candidates whose ability I admire, but only one I can see that meets these criteria.

  • “TCO 29th Apr ’15 – 9:22pm
    I work for a libertarian think tank if you must know”

    “TCO 8th May ’15 – 12:10pm
    I don’t work for a libertarian think tank.”

    Says it all, really.

  • Income is largely proportional to education, technical skills and demand from employers . Britain has failed to develop the education and skills of many of those on average and below average incomes which would would enable them to enter high value advanced manufacturing and service employment, ever since the 1870s. Advances in technology and trade wait for no-one . What someone thinks or fells is irrelevant : what matters is their technical education , skills, initiative and sense of responsibility compared to the best in the global economy. Many progressive people say they are international in outlook but appear incapable of realising that many in Britain are lagging behind other peoples in the race to obtain advanced education and technical skills.

    Scotland may have have had some of the best shipbuilding expertise but in the 1960s. However , Labour and unions failed to visit Japan , learn the language and appreciate the massive advances in this countries capabilities in ship building. This was particularly important when the size of oil and bulk tankers greatly increased in size after the closure of the Suez Canal for 8 years after the 6 Days war and the price increase in oil after 1973.

    Labour and the unions failed to understand any of the advances in electronics, computers, computer controlled design and manufacture, the opening of large open cast mines through out the World,, containerisation and JIT manufacture which reduced unskilled and semiskilled employment and incomes.

    There is a future for the LDs and it is supporting those with the education, technical skills, initiative and fortitude and those who want to obtain them , who work in SMEs who compete in the Global Trade Race . These people are are of the same breed as the farmers and craftsmen who gave the World the Agricultural and Revolutions which saved people from the continuous threat of starvation and exhausting agricultural labour. If people say The Industrial Revolution was not worth it, I suggests they undertake hard manual labour out of doors in winter without modern day water proofs- even the toughest feel the cold after 50 years of age!

    What we need to do is ensure people have access to the technical education and technical skills in order that they might navigate their own way through life and not be supplicants beholden to the welfare system. I would suggest that true inequality is between those who have a spirit of adventure , a vitality of body , mind and spirit , undaunted , with the education and technical skills, confidence ,initiative and cheerfulness to overcome challenges and those who lack these qualities
    and turn molehills into mountains. Some with these qualities may flee from a country with nothing more than the clothes on their back and create a good life in another country . Someone without these qualities lives as supplicant on a country’s welfare state and never has the joy of becoming master of their destiny. As technology evolves , the need to be physically fit with good vision and hearing in order to earn money declines.

    I am always amazed at the cheerfulness of those injured Armed Forces Personnel, who once very fit are sometimes have to drastically change their lives and I would suggest that this spirit is one the most important qualities anyone can possess : not money.

  • TCO – why don’t you go ahead with the Orange Bookers and set up a libertarian liberal party similar to UKIP but more to the centre right. Let someone like Tim Farron take the party back to its natural radical centre left roots, you know the party which once campaigned to add a penny to income tax for the NHS, where it won seats rather than lost them.

  • Conor McGovern 8th May '15 - 12:32pm

    We’ve had the leadership act like nice Tories, it failed. The answer though is not to regress and become a protest party or Labour’s little cousin but reform ourselves from the grassroots up as a radical as well as realistic, bold liberal party.

  • Conor McGovern 8th May '15 - 12:35pm

    Would also make the point that because at a leading level we’re too white, middle-class and male, we need to start appealing to working-class people with clear, bold, popular policies rooted in liberal values.

  • David Evans 8th May '15 - 12:36pm

    TCO “We don’t want your sort here.” The only problem is, I haven’t seen this quote form David-1 anywhere on this site, and certainly not in this thread. Can you point out where it is, or I would suggest you withdraw it, as it could be libellous.

  • @David Evans his exact words were “You have no valuable political advice to offer. You are not doing any good here.”

    In other words, “push off”.

  • ROB SHEFFIELD 8th May '15 - 12:46pm

    ‘UK will now see what a real Tory government is like’.

    To put it simply: hogwash.

    Cameron is well aware of the need to protect the ‘Tory brand’ whether is be on excessive unfairness or as unthinkingly anti European. So he will tread far more carefully with a tiny majority (of a size that could well not last a 5 year term) than he did when he had a bunch of naive novices acting as human shields. The Tories went much farther this last 5 years with the cover that you all- to a person- gave them night after night. You ended up being the poster kids for Austerity not the ‘champions of liberalism’ acting as a conscience and a restraint. How you ever allowed yourselves into a formal coalition is a question which will puzzle and enthrall political analysts and historians for years to come. For your party to recover you first need- all of you, from top to bottom- to accept that the coalition was a terrible mistake: both tactically and strategically.

    The last time I was here was May 2010. We all warned you then. But you were all intoxicated.

    You reap what you sow. No pleasure in pointing that out. But it needs to be.

  • George Flaxman 8th May '15 - 12:56pm

    As the tv media coverage for the next 5 years will be based on our tally last night, I doubt that we’ll get more than the occasional 30 second voice on Daily Politics / Sunday Politics. When we won 6 sets in 1970, we could at least look forward to a chain by-election gains. Those golden days are well and truly gone forever. I became a Liberal in the lead-up to the Feb 1974 election in an era of optimism for us. What a wasted life.

  • So no female MP representation for the Lib Dems in the Commons, if that isn’t even the worst possible backward step, what is. Women’s issues will take a step backwards without Jo Swinson and Lynne Featherstone

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th May '15 - 1:04pm


    Nick Clegg, at long last, has quit the leadership. This is welcome news, though it happens more than a year too late.

    I want to say that I bear Nick Clegg no personal animus. I think he is a nice person …

    I agree with that and everything else you wrote in that comment.

    Nick Clegg did what the right-wing press and the Westminster bubble said a Liberal Democrat leader should do. I am sure he thought it was the right thing to do. He just didn’t have the background and experience to realise that what the right-wing press and Westminster Bubble say a Liberal (Democrat) leader should do is usually the exact opposite of what is needed to gain the party support.

    It’s been like this all my adult life, ever since I joined the Liberal Party in the 1970s. The right-wing press and Westminster Bubble has constantly pushed the line that the Liberals need to become “proper politicians” (i.e. Westminster Bubble types), and that they need to move to the economic right, and there’s millions of latent supporters out here just waiting for us to do that. The right-wing press and Westminster Bubble has constantly ignored the very existence of any other sort of Liberal apart from a handful they know of from within the Bubble, or patronised and written us all off as “beards and sandals” type who need to be got rid of for the party to progress. The right-wing press and Westminster Bubble have absolutely no knowledge of what motivates most of us Liberals and what we do to win and how we have done it successfully to progress as we did up to 2010.

    Last time we did just what the right-wing press and Westminster Bubble urged us to do was when we merged with the SDP and pretended we were an entirely new top-down party called “The Democrats” and that nearly wiped us out – down to 3% in the polls at one stage.

    I quite agree with you, David-1, that there was a cowardice which meant people who could see what was happening and knew where it was leading to and had the power to get Clegg to quit were too scared to act and get it done when it needed to be done. If I have come across in the last 6 years as someone motivated by a fanatical personal dislike of Clegg, in part it’s because I was always hoping I, with no power or influence at all in the party, was able to say things that other felt they could not say, and in that way at least get some thought going. Plus, well, it’s another one of those reasons why I’m a Liberal in the first place, isn’t it? So that I can say “I told you so”.

  • Shirley Campbell 8th May '15 - 1:10pm

    Oh, no, Julian Huppert, a true LIBERAL, has seemingly lost his seat. It is a sad day for LIBERALISM. I am a traitor who joined the GREEN PARTY because it appeared to offer a radical alternative to the status quo.

    However, may the doctrines of Thomas Paine (1737-1809) find voice in our successors.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th May '15 - 1:13pm

    George Flaxman

    When we won 6 sets in 1970, we could at least look forward to a chain by-election gains. Those golden days are well and truly gone forever. I became a Liberal in the lead-up to the Feb 1974 election in an era of optimism for us. What a wasted life.

    Well, ok, so look where we were in 1970, and where we got to in 1974.

    Being pushed out of the Westminster Bubble and being able to go back to a party based mainly on local campaigning may be just what we need to revive. There will be real anger over the government we have now with its 35% or so voters support, and we can go out and say “We told you so: we are the people who stand for constitutional change so that cannot happen”.

    The next big challenge will be the EU referendum, and let’s take the lead in this. Let’s show up the anti-EU crowd for who they really are – funded by the global super-rich, the hedge funders who are not “wealth creators”, they are wealth absorbers who take from the hard work of others by unproductive fiddling. They want us out of the EU so we can be turned into some sort of aristocratic-ruled country, with them as the rulers, and the rest of us as a servant class, easily replaced by coolie Labour if we get uppity. They don’t like the EU because they don’t like the way international co-operation is the thing that is needed to stop them and the way they are making this country an ever more unequal and nasty society.

    Let’s show to the people how they have been utterly conned by the right-wing press, and let’s build on the misery we will see when people find out what a real unconstrained Conservative Party government is like.

  • I have seen 40 years of work go down the drain in the 12 months after the Tuition Fees debacle. Even worse because the SNP have 3rd place they will presumably get that voice each week in PMQ’s, I guess our 8 will be sat at the back in a corner somewhere.

  • Tories and UKIP combined 49.5% (55% in Eng). Labour/SNP/LD/Greens/PC combined 47.5% (44% in Eng). Perhaps it’s time to finally consider a merger of left-leaning parties?

  • @TCO – I just had a look at the “Liberal Vision” website. They can’t spell you know – it should read “Tory Vision”

  • Reading Caron’s appraisal gives me little hope for the future. This has happened because you bought into a false narrative, the answer is not more narrative. I’d suggest many people have done enough now and should stop.

  • Matthew, you have a point. Labour will be desperate to land a huge blow on the Tories, but they will want to run their own campaign.

  • @Adamsim – I think we need a new left wing party for the UK.

  • Matthew Huntbach
    Many large companies support the EU because the extensive regulations and lobbying put them at the advantage over small companies. I cannot see how EU fishing policy supports small trawlers in the UK. Those companies who trade with people from outside of the EU do not benefit from it. The EU benefits large companies which trade across the EU , have slower moving technologies and do not trade out side the EU. The EU and the Euro benefits high value German exporters as it decreases their costs and stops Italian car manufacturers from reducing costs by devaluing the Lira. Dyson has pointed out that EU regulations disadvantages his company which develops new technology.

    As the World’s trade outside of the EU increases, it’s importance will decrease and this will vary for each country , technology and company within it.

  • @Adamsim
    “Perhaps it’s time to finally consider a merger of left-leaning parties?”

    Nooooooo. It is time to accept that there are areas of shared vision and goals and even sometimes shared policy. But the vast difference between a centre left voter with strong Liberal principles and one with the Greens, the SNP or Labour’s authoritarian approach will never lend itself to a merger..

  • David Evans 8th May '15 - 1:49pm

    TCO – Although I am no legal expert, I think your correction should suffice. I would advise though that if you put something in inverted commas, you use it only when it is an exact quote. Otherwise many people will think you are trying to deceive them.

  • Mathew I agree with most of what you are saying and certainly I think the EU referendum poses a threat to the economy. but are the anti EU lobby really supported by the global super rich? The banks don’t seem that keen on an exit, America is warning against it, a lot of the architects and supporters of the EU are pretty darn rich, I don’t think the super rich are as much of a threat as the more local rich, those who think we will able to break into the emerging markets despite dismal productivity levels and people who think leaving will be the same as never having joined. My instinct is that it will be fought as a sort anti migrant parody of the Battle of Britain, with lots bunting and tales of plucky shopkeepers refusing to sell straight bananas, whilst the global super rich start funnelling the money into more stable economies.

  • How did Joe Otten get on in Sheffield Central was it 5TH OR 6TH?

  • In case anyone’s confused about what happens next :
    Stephen Tall @stephentall “There is no doubt, by the way, that Tim Farron must be next Lib Dem leader.”

    This is the guy that pledged to run naked down Whitehall, trying to tell you what must happen next. His words are meaningless – stop talking, start running! It’s the only dignity possible to reclaim now and a chance to show that a Lib Dem can keep a pledge, challenging the consensus view that Lib Dems are simply full of it and will say anything to get into power…or on TV, in the papers, etc.

    A perfect illustration of everything that’s gone wrong.

  • Sorry but can anyone tell me how Joe Otten got on in Sheffield Central was it 5th 0r 6th?

  • Joe Otten came in fourth place in Sheffield Central with 4278 votes, a share of 9.7 percent and a drop of 31.2 percent from 2010. He came behind Paul Blomfield (LAB) with 24308, Jillian Creasy (GRN) 6999, and Stephanie Roe (CON) 4917. He came ahead of Dominic Cook (UKIP) on 3296.

  • Thank you David. I suppose Mr Otten will treat this awful some might say humiliating hometown defeat with his usual humble non sneering manner. Bless.

  • Nobody really wants to see Stephen Tall streak. On the other hand, a promise is a promise.

  • @ David-1. That’s one promise I think a Lib Dem can break with full public and party approval ;}

  • David Evans 8th May '15 - 2:59pm

    Was it a promise or a pledge?

  • Actually David-1, I do. Firstly, because he made a public meta-pledge, which echo’ed the famed manifesto pledge on tuition fees. This whole thing is about having the courage of your convictions, if he reneges it’s simply another Lib Dem that said one thing before an election, did something different afterwards. Stephens liberalism hinges on the streak because he made it that way. It’s important to me that Lib Dems stop saying silly things they can’t live up to, and this is one of those things..

    Also, I like naked people. 🙂

  • Was Sheffield Central a Lib Dem target seat and why the terrible collapse in vote, has Mr Otten made any comment on LDV about this?

  • @David Evans can you libel someone who’s not identifiable?

  • nvelope2003 8th May '15 - 4:02pm

    Why does anyone think the Liberal Democrats will bounce back again ? We did not have the Greens and UKIP in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s for the protest vote which kept the Liberal Party alive during that time. There were regular by election gains during most of that time and gains in local Government but that had already ended before the 2010 election. The result of the 2015 election is the completion of what would have happened in 2010 without the boost given by the Clegg mania bubble.
    Many of those who post on this site claim that a more radical or left agenda would have improved our chances but it does not seem to have done the Labour Party much good. We need a complete rethink of our aims and policies with nothing ruled out or ruled in. No sacred cows. It will be a relief if we do not have to hear any more from those who seemed to rejoice in the party’s difficulties – they can now exercise their “talents” on the Conservative Government and the Labour opposition but I doubt if they will, somehow.

    I always expected the Conservatives to win outright despite the opinion polls and the views of the pundits who just listen to each other and not to ordinary people. I did not have much faith in the effect of the incumbency factor and went to bed at 11 pm after hearing the exit poll just as I said I would in an earlier post. The results were about what I feared – the only comforting thing is that we did not lose all or seats and with 8 MPs there is the hope of some future increase.

  • “it does not seem to have done the Labour Party much good” — Perhaps because Labour are only 5 years out from what is seen as a failed experiment in government by Labour from the right? The SNP critique of Labour was certainly not that they were too far left.

  • Stephen Campbell 8th May '15 - 4:32pm

    The first thing this party needs to do is offer serious apologies to its former voters.

    Apologise to all those hit by the Bedroom Tax who had nowhere else to go.
    Apologise for the NHS reforms which the public were strongly against and which are now having horrible consequences.
    Apologise to everyone forced to rely on food banks due to sanctions.
    Apologise to the disabled and mentally ill for what the DWP has done to them.
    Apologise to students not for making the pledge in the first place, but for breaking your promise.
    Apologise to everyone who truly believed in Clegg’s promised “New Politics” and an “end to broken promises”.

    Only then will you even begin to think of recovery.

  • Stephen Campbell 8th May '15 - 4:35pm

    You lost your MPs because, quite simply, you turned on your own voters and enacted policies that were not only beyond the pale to most of us, but actually enacted policies that hurt us.

    You decided it was more important to keep the Tories happy than your own voters.

  • Phil Beesley 8th May '15 - 4:45pm

    @nvelope2003: “Why does anyone think the Liberal Democrats will bounce back again ? We did not have the Greens and UKIP in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s…”

    Liberalism is a philosophy. The other two aren’t.

  • @Phil Beesley 8th May ’15 – 4:45pm

    “Liberalism is a philosophy. The other two aren’t.”

    So is Neopythagoreanism. I’m still waiting for the revival.

  • @James keith 8th May ’15 – 11:56am

    “Bolano, JUF, does this mean that as a party you are now lurching off to the left?”

    Well, I’m not a member. My understanding of the left of the party though would be characterised by, say, a concern for the health of an individual as a priority rather than the method of healing (ie both NHS and private healthcare have a place) whereas the right of the party would be characterised by the method of healing being prioritised (ie we shouldn’t be taxing individuals so no money for the NHS in the first place). I don’t think the result of the election per se is going to do anything to diminish the influence of the latter on the party, so no – no lurch to the “left” I think.

  • @ Mark Johnson. Not so sure it will take a generation to forgive and forget. With a new leader, hopefully Tim Farron, we can regroup. I think the public will miss us now our numbers are so reduced and will want Lib Dem MPs back at bi-elections etc But we do need a coherent set of policies that ‘hang together’ and make sense to people. Just some thoughts:

    A coherent and ethical foreign policy.
    A much fairer tax system with wealthier people contributing more.
    Greater emphasis on a manufacturing-led recovery and apprenticeships tied to proper vocational qualifications. Much greater parity of recognition between academic and vocational qualifications as in the rest of northern Europe. A real focus on all children achieving a basic level of skills .
    Decentralisation of power and wealth generation from London ie a proper regional economic plan.
    The reintroduction of stronger employment rights to protect working people which the unions are failing to do. There needs to be more respect for the contribution of working people,
    To reduce our obsessive target culture in schools and the NHS and to encourage improved middle management of our public services which should avoid the need for all this target-setting, plus cutting ridiculously overpaid senior management jobs in NHS.
    A policy for the more efficient management of the NHS as a whole and not just mental health services (good though that is of course).
    Strong environmental policies – which w e already have.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th May '15 - 5:31pm


    but are the anti EU lobby really supported by the global super rich?

    Look at who actually funds and runs UKIP from the top. Consider why UKIP never says anything about the way UK independence and UK traditional ways of life have been destroyed far more by globalisation than by the EU. Look at the anti-EU stuff in places like the Spectator. There you will indeed find that what really motivates those with the money and influence pushing the anti-EU line is things like the controls it threatens over the super-rich and their domination.

    My instinct is that it will be fought as a sort anti migrant parody of the Battle of Britain, with lots bunting and tales of plucky shopkeepers refusing to sell straight bananas,

    Oh sure, of course it will. That’s how they con the plebs, by making out that’s what it’s all about. That’s why we need to stop them doing it. Of course Clegg in his debate with Farage actually promoted them by accepting that they were about this fake pleb-catching line. Another example of his incompetence accompanied by his attachment to the super-rich and their ideology and dubious propositions.

  • nvelope2003 9th May '15 - 12:24pm

    The SNP get their votes from those who want something different and are bored with the Labour Party – I doubt if it is much to do with Labour not being left wing enough. What evidence is there that former Liberal Democrat voters switched to Labour or the Greens in any significant numbers ? The results from many of the rural areas seem to show that the majority went to UKIP and to a lesser extent the Conservatives, a few went to the Greens who did well because they had many more candidates but still got less than 4% of the votes and a small number switched to Labour although this does vary across the country. It was the coalition with the Conservatives that ruined the party’s chances and I cannot see any party ever doing this again after what has happened, no matter what the circumstances. The collapse of Labour in Scotland had a lot to do with the fact that they were allied to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in opposing independence !

  • “What evidence is there that former Liberal Democrat voters switched to Labour or the Greens in any significant numbers ? ”

    The fact that Clegg gave something completely different to that which was offered and the annihilation of your party that resulted from it.

  • I’m incredulous at the denial. What’s it going to take? Your party being reduced to one seat at the next election?

    The Lib Dems dropped to ~10% in the polls by the end of 2010 as a result of the immediate change in policy regarding the speed of deficit reduction post-election, with the attendant cheering on of cuts during the budget, and then the tuition fees debacle. Nothing shifted your position in the polls after that for four years – the NHS and welfare reforms just cemented the opinions of those that had already deserted you. Then in 2014 Clegg annoyed some of the soft-tories with Europe and you dropped to 8%. That’s it. That’s where you ended. The majority of the drop in your support came from long-time Lib Dem supporters who felt betrayed by Clegg’s actions in government.

    I can’t imagine that many Lib Dems went to UKIP. What probably happened is that many went to Labour and a section of Labour voters went to UKIP, which gives a false impression of a swing from Lib Dem to UKIP

  • Steve: most of us are not in denial. We know what the party did wrong, what the leadership did wrong and the price that has had to be paid. Navel gazing is great but now we have to move on. What is done is done, however well or badly it was done. The numbers returning to the party over the past 24 hours suggests that given 2 -3 years and the natural swing of the pendulum things may well then look slightly better.

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