A day to be proud of our party

Whatever final deal is negotiated, it won’t contain everything Liberal Democrats will want. It will involve some major compromises – and so it should in a democracy, given that we didn’t win a majority or the most seats.

But from what we’ve seen today and over the weekend, Liberal Democrats should be proud of just how well our negotiating team is working on our behalf.

They have a tough job – the issue that many members hold most dear (electoral reform) is also the one that it is hardest to win concessions on from from the Conservatives and is the one on which Labour has a record of breaking promises. Yet there have been no soft concessions from our side. The hard-ball negotiating line has even forced one of the other party leaders – the current Prime Minister – to announce plans to quit. (Even more remarkably, he also got the party’s name right for once 🙂 )

That’s a major sign that our negotiating team is successfully doing everything it can to get the best possible deal.

It’s not just the negotiating team that gives cause to be proud of the party. So too do our democratic processes: the regular involvement of our MPs, the key role of the Federal Executive, the widespread phone consultation exercise with local party officers and more – including the serious weight given by senior party figures to the results of The Voice’s poll of party members. That consultation and democracy has already drawn some envious glances from those in other parties where the attitudes towards such factors are very different.

What happens next? David Laws’s seven rules for negotiating in balanced Parliaments gives some good clues as to how the process may play out. Key parts of the substance are still far from clear. What is increasingly clear though is that the deal extracted will be the best that could have been.

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78 Comments

  • He who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it:

    “This call for boldness did not carry the day and Labour under Ramsay MacDonald formed a minority government. MacDonald had clear, long-term strategic aims: keep the Liberals out of power and further strengthen Labour relative to the Liberals. Whilst Labour pursued its long term vision of replacing Liberals, Liberal MPs were rather shocked to discover that Labour didn’t cooperate in Parliament and, in the constituencies, was gunning for their votes and seats. This included running candidates in many seats where they would split the anti-Conservative vote and so let the Conservatives gain the seats from Liberals. For Labour, the short-term pain of strengthening the Conservatives was worth it for the long-term gain of making British politics be about two parties, with the Liberals not one of the two.”

  • william maxted 10th May '10 - 6:10pm

    If the Lib Dems combine with Labour, The SNP’s and the Scottish Nationalists, not only will the Scots and Welsh have their own parliaments they will also be running the UK parliament. Where does that leave all the mainly Conservative and right of the party Lib Dem’s,like me, who live in middle and Southern England, subsidising everyone else with no say. Definitely time for an English Assembly or even Scottish Independence. This is absolutely not why I voted Lib Dem

  • It should be pointed out that the talks with the Conservatives have not yet foundered; and it’s quite possible that the possibility of a coalition that leaves the Conservatives in the cold will have a wonderfully concentrating effect upon the deliberations of the Conservative MPs. It is, of course, always possible that the Tories at Westminster will simply throw up their hands and start considering, not what additional sweeteners they can offer, but how to destabilize and undercut a potential ‘rainbow coalition’ — if possible, before it forms.

    The prospects for the Liberal Democrats in a bargain with the various parties and MPs of the left depend on two different pressures. On the one hand, if talks with the Conservatives fall through in a definitive way, then in a sense it weakens Nick Clegg’s hand: it’s either Labour or nothing at that point. On the other hand, the left parties probably share a common interest in avoiding an early election, which — by most accounts — the Conservatives would not mind fighting. Is that enough of an incentive to sink their differences in a true coalition government representing a broad spectrum of parties? I have no idea.

  • Colin Green 10th May '10 - 6:12pm

    Jock,

    Not at all. We are still negotiating with the Conservatives. We may still side with them. We are now also starting formal negotiations with the Labour Party. What part of first are we abandoning by opening a second set of negotiations?

  • Stephen Donnelly 10th May '10 - 6:14pm

    To be successful in any negotiation you need to demonstrate that you have a viable alternative. If the Tories want a deal they have to go the extra step. It looks to me that we are playing the hand that we have been dealt very well. The others parties do not seem so sure footed.

  • Anthony Martin 10th May '10 - 6:19pm

    I’ve monitored and analysed politics and society for the last 30 years. The UK place in the world has become a disgrace and much damage has been done by Labour & Conservatives governing times. The damage both economical & political will take decades to mend and, how we avoid revenge terror attacks by those affected by UK policies I beg to know.
    Although the electorate was unpredictable in their voting intentions, one thing is clear, they wanted to see the end of this reign of terror by Labour. The Election outcome has given this. It’s also given Liberal Democrats and ideal opportunity to shape the future of government & peoples lives. This will not be easy for any coalition etc. given what is to be inherited. But, in all consideration, it’ll be hard to do worse than the last 3 decades.
    Listen to the electorate and not the rich influential dictators that have caused most damage in the last 30 years.

  • If the Lib Dems combine with Labour, The SNP’s and the Scottish Nationalists, not only will the Scots and Welsh have their own parliaments they will also be running the UK parliament. Where does that leave all the mainly Conservative and right of the party Lib Dem’s,like me, who live in middle and Southern England, subsidising everyone else with no say. Definitely time for an English Assembly or even Scottish Independence. This is absolutely not why I voted Lib Dem

    Well, hang on. We have the maths to get this to work without including PC or the SNP. They could perhaps vote stuff down, but I’ve said before and I’ve said again, that would reflect VERY badly on them. We could treat them reasonably, but not give in to unreasonable demands.

  • What it leads to, or would lead to if either of these coalition negotiations were successful, is a government that represents a majority of the British people — something that hasn’t existed since 1945.

  • Paul Griffiths 10th May '10 - 6:24pm

    All I can say is that Nick appears to have bigger cojones than I ever suspected.

  • This is the time we Lib Dems MUST stick together, whatever the outcome of the next few days. Wake up & smell the coffee – if we do get the Holy grail of PR for Westminster we will be having this process every few years. Its time we understand this is the future – or do we want to stay around 20% & 10% of MP’s & shout from the side lines? Come on lets step up to the mark & get stuck in & make this country as Liberal as possible!

  • Robert Eggleston 10th May '10 - 6:31pm

    Is it conceivable that we, the Lib Dems, may have out smarted everyone for once. Set up what looks like a deal with the Tories, convince everyone that the talks are going well (when maybe they are not), hey presto – Gordon goes, we get a progressive alliance PLUS PR? Surely we couldn’t be that Machiavellian?

  • Jock, here’s a relatively simple reply:

    Nick had to talk to the Tories first. He has never been obliged to do a deal with them! It isn’t unprincipled to open talks, without making a commitment to reach a deal…come what may.

    Because we say we want PR (and we haven’t hidden or disguised that fact)…we accept that that makes partnership politics compulsory. BUT our negotiators remain under an obligation – and here’s a principle for you – to battle as hard as they can for the change that those who voted LD want and deserve. That change is contingent on advancing towards our goal of fair votes. And Liberal Democrats really do believe that it is critical to getting a political system that stands any chance of working properly – its a matter of practical politics as well as a matter of principle.

    We had to show that we were capable of discussing the future of our country with the leaders of other political parties. That does not/should not compel us to do a deal with any of them – Conservative or Labour or…. .

    No one should be allowed to lose sight of the fact that our political opponents are supporters of a great electoral fraud…so we need to proceed with great caution whenever they appear reluctant to fix our rotten political system and we have the ability to get them to think seriously about a subject that don’t ordinarily want to talk about.

    UNLESS we can make progress with overturning that fraud, which means that it takes 35,021 vote to elect a Conservative MP 33,338 to elect a Labour MP and MORE THAN 119,000 votes to elect a Liberal Democrat to the HoC we SHOULD NOT do a deal with anyone.

    No one, who has taken part in talks from any other party, should have had any reason to imagine that a ‘deal’ could be agreed, with any prospect of sticking, if it did not have the backing of our party’s parliamentary party and its Federal Executive.

    It remains the case, because the key to talks with other parties – the absolute key to finding agreement – is reform of the electoral system that failing to reach a sensible agreement on how to do this will undermine the prospect for secure and stable agreement with the Liberal Democrats and a secure and stable government involving the Liberal Democrats (for the whole country).

    I’m sure Liberal Democrats understand this and I’m confident that no one can say that the talks that have taken place so far have been anything other than highly principled.

  • If the Scottish Nationalists or Plaid Cymru actually enter the British government, they undercut their entire raison d’être; at best (for them), they become merely regional parties. Their participation would, ipso facto, invalidate the argument that they can only gain their objectives through independence. The most they can push for is additional devolved powers, which was pretty much in the cards anyhow.

  • Andrea Gill 10th May '10 - 6:44pm

    It needs to be made clear by the Liberal Democrat part that talks with the Conservatives have not broken down, in spite of the BBC trying all day to make it look like that….

  • Malcolm Todd 10th May '10 - 6:55pm

    Ah, joy. Several days of listening to anguished screams from Labour-inclined “Lib Dems” convinced that talking to Tories is “selling out”, and swearing never to vote LD again.

    Now to be followed by equal and opposite screams from Torydems.

    This is coalition politics, folks. This is negotiating. If any of you imagines that a good way to negotiate a deal is to say, “Whatever we do, we’re going to either do a deal with you to get half of what we want, or stand back and let you do it on your own, whatever happens we won’t deal with anyone else” … well, I hope I never have to depend on your negotiating skills for anything. And I suggest you don’t go into business, or indeed anything more demanding than a fruit & veg market. Meanwhile, let the grown-ups most of us were trying to get elected last week try to get the best outcome possible from a non-optimal situation. (Yes, there’s a shorter word for that…)

  • Alex Sabine 10th May '10 - 7:04pm

    This is certainly a high-stakes game the party’s negotiating team is playing: entertain offers from Labour in parallel with continuing negotiations with the Conservatives. In other words play hard to get with the aim of extracting a better eventual deal.

    On the one hand it might give us a better bargaining position; on the other, I would think there is a serious risk that it sparks a public backlash and a loss of market confidence. At any rate it means a decision will need to be reached very soon, perhaps by the middle of this week at the latest.

    A key question is how the Tories will respond. Will they feel they have been negotiating in good faith, and the Lib Dems are double dealing; or will they understand that it’s fair enough for the party to consider rival offers and seek as strong a hand as possible?

    Tonight’s developments might make it harder for Cameron to persuade Tory MPs to back him in his current strategy. On the other hand it might lead him to take the plunge and agree to a bolder stance on electoral reform to kill the rival Labour offer before it takes hold.

    Personally I hope for the latter outcome and on that basis a durable Con/Lib Dem agreement, but I can’t say I’m confident of it.

  • I don’t think it’s possible for a form of PR to be voted through even if a deal was done with labour, many lab MPs don’t want it and it would only take a very small rebellion for it to be voted down.

    AV is the best possible outcome here surely?

  • I think we should spare a thought for our MPs who have just been working flat out on an election campaign and are now working ridiculous hours in this climate of uncertainty as they receive barrages of e-mails offering them ‘advice’.

  • @Jock – We haven’t abandoned the principle, the Tories have refused to give way. Nick has a duty to our voters to try to maximise on our manifesto commitments – what we said voting for you would get you. Either because their are inflexible or illiberal the Tories have been unwilling to give enough ground on enough key issues, it is only right and proper that Nick explore the other options.

  • Andrea Gill 10th May '10 - 7:35pm

    Duncan – we just got an offer of a referendum on AV from Hague, WITH their MPs backing. Anything more than that from them OR Labour would not be realistic.

  • The day that the Liberals form an alliance with Labour will be a very sad one for the UK.
    It is shocking to think that the party who received the most votes and gained the most seats will not be in power.
    It makes a mockery of this country. It makes a mockery of Nick Clegg’s reputation. It makes a mockery of the British people’s choice.
    WE MUST NOT LET THIS HAPPEN.

  • I am frankly shocked that you can commend the negotiating tactics which are causing such uncertainty over the governing of our country. Negotiating out of self interest is no way to exercise the trust the voters have placed in the LibDems!

  • Robert Adlam 10th May '10 - 7:41pm

    Time and again, Nick Clegg underlined that fairness lay at the heart of Liberal democrat politics. If he and the negotiating team were unable to secure the prospect of ‘fairness’ with the Conservatives (which would always have been very unlikely) then it is perfectly consistent to seek ‘fairness’ with the Labour party. I most sincerely hope that a coalition – a progressive alliance – will be formed and will seek to achieve greater fairness in the UK. This would include electoral reform.

  • I’m pretty appalled to see Nick Clegg go from making a stand on principal and putting the “national interest” first… to seeing him and his team engage in smoky-room horse-trading, looking for the deal that is best for him, and for the interests of the LibDems, who like-it-or-not the country rejected at the polls. Is this the democracy any of us really believe in or want??

    It has been said above that a Lib/Lab coalition with a shaky majority, in a hopelessly weak position, with an unelected leader, pursuing policies that the electorate have rejected, will be great news for the Conservatives. Too right it will. I suspect that if the horse-trading continues any longer, most ordinary people will cocnclude that Nick Clegg is a man they cannot and will not trust ever again.

  • CompactDstrxion 10th May '10 - 7:47pm

    A day to be proud of? I don’t think so, sounds like the Tories just suckered those on high into accepting a referendum on our current broken voting system with a bell/whistle tacked on.

    Until today I thought the Lib Dems really did offer fairness.

  • I thougth Nick Clegg was intent on doing the best for the country, sounds to me that as usual interested in thier own ends. Here we are seeing exactly the worst of PR England has a massive Tory majority , bring on Devolution for England

  • Deborah Crook 10th May '10 - 7:51pm

    I hope that the discussions with the Labour Party tonight are courtesy and not real attempts to join up with a failed party. As a forty year old from a working class family, I have lived through The Conservatives destroying what I had – grants and free meals so I could continue my education into 6th form and a full grant to go to University (and yes I was there at the Grants not loans protests). As a Director of a small business I then saw Labour take away everything we worked so hard to start – tax breaks on low profits, hours of free business advice and training and a sense that entrepreneurship is worthwhile. In teaching I found that the education system is severely contributing to the crisis in the well-being and lack of aspiration of young people and am disappointed by all parties lack of concern at this and the discrimination society now has against young people – the very people we will depend on for a future stable society. This is why now at 40 I will complete a Phd and make a difference in this area! I have always supported the Liberal Democrats for not only their concern with society but also their realistic interpretation of the global economy. Please, please Nick Clegg do not fall into the trap of supporting a failed labour government that has brought so much misery, hopelessness and lack of aspiration to our families and young people. I had nothing as a child but I knew that if I worked hard I would get somewhere – that is not an option open to children in similar situations now.The Conservatives will never gain my vote but to work with them now to do what matters – get tough on the economy and make taxation fair – will show real character from the Lib Dem party. A coalition with Labour will be the opposite – a real compromise and I fear the end of any real change.

  • It seems the longer these negotiations go on, the more damaging they are becoming for the Lib Dems. The national interest as Clegg keeps harping on about, is not best served by his political games with the Tories and Labour.

  • michael robinson 10th May '10 - 7:52pm

    I dont think it about hard ball negogiating whats so ever its about going in secret talks with the Labour camp behind people backs and then playing one party against the other. Liberals will never ever get my vote, they brought in the most satanic piece of legistation ever years ago by introuducing the Abortion Act on to the statue book and believing in a EU which has the most Godless constitution ever written, we lack a Winston Churchill how we need a man of that stature right now.

  • Jamie Brown 10th May '10 - 7:52pm

    As someone profoundly interested in democracy, I take no delight in the fact that Clegg forced Brown to resign, when Brown had received a significantly higher percentage of the vote. And it surprises, and disappoints me, that you do.

  • Colin Green 10th May '10 - 7:56pm

    I’ve just seen William Hague say that the Liberal Democrats would only enter a coalition with a party offering a referendum on AV. A slip on his part surely? Our preferred method of PR is STV, we may settle for AV if they will go no further. The BBC say it is the Conservatives’ final offer. Unless Labour can go one better, it looks like we have a referendum on AV WITH the backing of the Conservative Party, and one would assume from their manifesto, the Labour Party too.

  • Well this is fun isn’t it.
    If we took as a sample everybody who came on here and claimed that “I voted Lib dem at the last election and will never vote for them again” and then extrapolated it up, the LD’s would have all 645 seats!

  • @ michael robinson.

    You do realise that Winstobn Churchill saw a United Europe as a bulwark against tyranny and fascism and therefore supported it.

    And you don’t happen to live in the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency do you?

  • Andrea Gill 10th May '10 - 8:06pm

    Colin – Don’t you think that maybe the Lib Dem negotiation team had to make realistic demands first, e.g. AV as a minimum, alongside tax, education and deficit reduction strategies, rather than petulantly insisting on full PR?

  • To the Lib Dem negotiating team I say WELL BLOODY DONE. They have extracted a commitment for a referendum (Ok I know it’s only AV) from the Tories – implacable enemies of change and immediate legislation on AV from Lab with a follow up referendum for (presumably STV). Who’d have thought it and how despereate the two big beasts are to get their hands on the doorknob of No 10. Clegg for PM I say – you’ll probably get it from Labour

  • I think the Lib Dems may have to do a deal with the Tories simply because of the arithmetic and because of the problems in the Labour party. I’m also not convinced that Labour could get the AV bill through parliament and I think a referendum on PR would be a non starter in reality.

    At the end of the day, I’ll back Nick on whatever he decides but for me the Tory offer, whilst not as attractive on paper, is the most realistic.

  • @ Alec.

    No. But feel free to do the same in return if it makes your day.

  • Alex Sabine 10th May '10 - 9:51pm

    The Tories have now all but matched Labour’s offer, and I don’t think Labour can guarantee the passage of a bill introducing AV through Parliament – nor do I think voting reform should happen without a referendum.

    Ideally, I would have liked Cameron – having taken the big psychological step of agreeing to a referendum on voting reform – to have gone the whole hog and agreed to STV raher than just AV being put to the people. That would have outflanked Brown and given us a deal that hopefully even those most sceptical of the Tories could have united behind.

    However, this is a significant concession and I think the Lib Dems have to consider it very seriously.

    I also think the pressing national interest in constructing a stable government and addressing the fiscal crisis needs to weigh very heavily in any decisions over who to support – and both the parliamentary arithmetic and policy considerations on these central issues point to a Tory/Lib Dem alliance being the most credible solution.

  • Graham Lippiatt 10th May '10 - 10:03pm

    Gordon Brown has said he’ll go but we can’t wait until September for a new Labour leader. If there is to be a Lib-Lab coalition there’s no way Brown can lead it as prime minister. He has been decisively rejected by the electorate. The only option would be for Nick Clegg to lead the govt. When Lloyd George and, later, Ramsay MacDonald were PM, they led the smaller party in the coalition. Labour would have to swallow hard but the prize is staying in govt and the next election under PR to maintain the progressive majority.

  • The Labour rainbow proposal has clear emotional attractions but it’s flawed in practice – it would only take a tiny handful of Labour backbenchers (and there are a lot opposed to ANY form of electoral modernisation) to sink the whole deal, in the face of certain Tory opposition, and by that time Clegg would have burned his bridges by signing up to the project. At least a deal with the Tories offers the prospect of actually delivering what has been agreed – and will put Labour’s deathbed conversion to reform to the test, since if they fail to back the AV referendum and then AV in the actual vote, the naked opportunism of their current position will be exposed for all to see.

  • So where do the Lib Dems stand in terms of Labour’s proposed Tax on Jobs?
    And how keen are we on the idea of the English accepting all of the cuts, while the Scots and Welsh nationalists force the lib/lab government to pay them billions extra?
    Suppose the Labour party elect a new leader who is not strongly in favour of honouring the Lib/Lab pact…?
    This is all a nonsense – and a betrayal of the british people. Democracy – if not actually dead – is surely in hibernation today. If this is the “new politics” please can we have the old sort back, where we have a government that has enough democratic mandate to enact policies we actually voted for, lead by a leader we elected??

  • Rome burns whilst Nick fiddles.

  • Simple hiding to nothing really. If LD side with Labour now then no amount of ‘reasonable explanations’ and ‘we had to do the best for the party’ will ever see anyone believe Nick Clegg or LD again. The constant haggling is also putting on the best ad campaign in the world to the general public as to why to avoid PR like the plague – No matter what the reality. You know and I know that the Tory media will slaughter this carry-on in any kind of referendum.

    Time to get the best deal you can, man-up and think of the economy NOT what voting system we’re going to use at the next election. If the LD’s want ANY to harbour any thoughts of the country thinking kindly of them into the next election when there might be a real hope of reform, then they have to get on with it. Now. Not Wednesday, not Thursday. NOW.

    Time to act like the leader of the country Nick, not just the leader of a party who think it’s all over if they don’t get what they want this time.

  • I accept the Libdem leadership was right to put pressure on the Tories to get the best possibe deal. But to negotiate with a single party in good faith without first telling them they were negotiating with another party is very bad form.

    I am disgusted by the Lib Dem leadership’s stance. They have done a lot of harm to the party’s image and if they do a deal with Labour to avoid having a referendum on election reform would be very undemocratic. They will be seen to put the Party above the National Interest. I would then never vote for them again..

  • Must admit the thought had crossed my mind. If we as public & party reject the Tories then Nick Clegg is the only party leader people were able to “judge” and then vote for…

  • “I accept the Libdem leadership was right to put pressure on the Tories to get the best possibe deal. But to negotiate with a single party in good faith without first telling them they were negotiating with another party is very bad form.”

    I do agree, however Hague did not give the impression of being taken by surprise. In fact I would not be too surprised if this wasn’t previously agreed as maybe a move to get the MPs etc of both parties onboard?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 11th May '10 - 12:57am

    “While you say not a substational number of Lib Dems did not see electoral reform as one of the key issues it is at the heart of what the party stands for”

    Very well put.

    But on a more fundamental level, the contrast between Hague smiling this morning like the cat that had had the cream, and Hague forcing out an offer of a referendum on electoral reform this evening through gritted teeth, suggests we may be moving in the right direction!

  • Andrea Gill 11th May '10 - 5:48am

    One way or another, today is indeed crunch time. We can’t be seen as going behind the Conservatives’ backs or holding the country to ransom over our own party’s interests any longer.

    It really doesn’t matter whether or not there is any truth to that perception, but if we do not act decisively to form a stable coalition, and instead stall progress, destabilise the country and possibly force another election soon, no form of electoral reform will stop us from being utterly annihilated at the next elections.

    You can’t please everyone but if we turn out not to be capable of working with the political mix this election has thrown up – and that does mean working with the Tories – then we’ve lost our own argument for PR before a referendum has even been drawn up.

    We have a once in a generation chance to become an active part in government again, to make a real difference for the people of this country and to prove ourselves to be a real and desirable alternative to the other parties.

    But with yesterday’s events and the mis-representation thereof in the media – chiefly the BBC who seem keen to throw a spanner in any Lib/Con coalition – we are dangerously close to not only losing that chance but to becoming more hated/feared/loathed than the two other main parties, for holding the country to ransom over seemingly petty party interests and forcing another election – in which we would get well and truly annihilated.

  • Andrea Gill 11th May '10 - 7:13am

    It is now clear that a referendum on AV is what we’d get from either party. There already is a set of other concessions with the Tories worked out, do we really need to lose the last of our credibility by starting drawn out “negotiations” with Labour when that party has voiced clearly that THEY can’t see this working? Never mind the fact that the numbers just do not add up!

  • All the electoral reform discussion seems to be about Westminster, whereas local government and the HoL are important too. If we can get AV for Westminster with STV for local government and the Lords, surely that’s a deal worth having? And since there isn’t any prospect of the rainbow option delivering (even if a referendum bill passes the Commons, which is unlikely given how few Labour rebels it would need to sink it), most referenda become votes on the popularity of the sponsoring government, and I don’t see a Lib-Lab government being particularly popular right now? Whereas an AV referendum under the Tories stands a much better chance of passing the Commons (since if it’s part of the deal the Tories are honour-bound to support it, unless their plan is to scupper the deal at this point and go back for a majority – hence some sort of fixed term change voted through first is essential) and a much better chance of passing in the country, particularly if the larger part of the new government is campaigning against, since a) they’ll look stupid doing so and b) the popularity of the government won’t be such an issue

  • If there is a referendum proposed by a Tory led administration on AV and that bill goes before parliament and an amendment is tabled to add an option for PR would there be a commons majority for it? Would it get through the HoL? I suspect not. I think the AV may be the best we would get in this parliament….

    Nick is right to have started the discussions with Labour now as time is precious – this may actually hasten the signing of a deal with Cameron as it will be come clear that Labour can’t actually deliver sound and stable government.

    I think we should all be patient (inc the Tories and Labour supporters who have magically found this site!!) – politics is the art of the possible and a week is a long time in politics…

  • Paul Sturrock 11th May '10 - 7:55am

    We are not ‘ Labour Lite’, the national and party Interest is to form a coalition with the Tories.
    As a long time Liberal Dem voter and member, I’d like to succintly argue that we try and do a deal with the Conservatives as long as we have a guarantee on their voting reform referendum.
    Why:
    – We do need a strong and stable government which can make difficult decisions–a lib-con coalition would have a larger and more stable number of votes in parliament
    – A strong government will need popular support.: 58% of the electorate voted liberal or Conservative, more than voted for the “Traffic Light” parties
    – We need to show the electorate that the party is able to make mature decisions in the national interest. Going with Labour would confirm the suspicions that the Liberal Democrats are just ‘Labour Lite’
    – To secure electoral reform, we need to demonstrate that the coalition forming process is responsible–not tribal.
    – Finally, the Labour offer of AV without a referendum is poisoned chalice. I support AV as progress, but there is a principle that significant constitutional changes should not be imposed without giving voters a chance to approve them.

  • Andrea Gill 11th May '10 - 8:17am

    Listening to George Osborne on Radio 4 – there is hope?

  • Betrayed Liberal 12th May '10 - 4:41am

    I am a voter in my 20s who has voted for the Lib Dems at three general elections for the reason that I believed they were the most progressive, forward-thinking reforming party in the country. Central to the Lib Dem campaign and appeal over my lifetime has been the promise to reform our antediluvian voting system to a fairer, proportional system.

    PR is not just another policy that can be horse traded with other minor policy concessions. PR is right of the core of the Lib Dem appeal, image and is the most progressive, transformative, reformative policy from any of the parties that has the potential to change the shape and nature of politics for the better forever in the UK. It is the biggest, boldest, bravest political idea on the table which goes beyond party politics, spin and horse-trading. The implementation of PR would enable fair, representative, proportionate, truly democratic government in the UK and is on the similar level of grandness as giving women the right to vote in the suffragette movement.

    In my mind, and many other people of my generation, the Lib Dems were the only party of the future with genuine plans for reform.

    The events of the past few days I believe have set the Lib Dem appeal and cause back irrevocably. I do not view Nick Clegg’s decision to form a coalition with the Tories as shrewd political manoeuvring to facilitate the implementation of a Lib Dem programme of reform. I view his decision, and that of the party as short-sighted grasping for power at the first opportunity. They have eagerly sacrificed their central policy of proportional representation, the biggest political idea and ideal of all the main parties, in or the expediency of power. It is cynical betrayal pure and simple.

    There will be a backlash to this treachery by the Lib Dems and more people will feel dismayed, disillusioned and disenfranchised in a broken political system that seems set to perpetuate itself as there are not enough bold, visionary and courageous people that are willing to fight for a better future based on the highest of ideals.

    I am so utterly dismayed that the UK political system has now proven to offer no choice, no diversity and no genuine representation for both myself and countless other, disenfranchised people.

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  • Andrew Toye
    I hope everyone who participated got something positive from the event, but I prefer the real experience to the digital alternative. Yes, the technology out t...
  • Katharine Pindar
    Thanks, Suzanne, for raising this. As the mover of the amendment on revising the Equality part and bringing in the Human Rights new section of the motion, I am...
  • Denis Mollison
    If we want the debate to be less toxic - as Christine rightly said - we shouldn't be banning members for 10 years for wearing a t-shirt with a slogan...
  • Matt W
    Should have said - this is England. Scotland is iirc more generous wrt electric charger grants. @siv If you are a t in England you have a legal right t...
  • Siv White
    @Jenny Barnes. The EU provided electricity to us at 4.5p per kilowatt. The rest was put on by UK. We are now out of the EU single energy market. We will be flee...