Barnsley Central result: Labour win, Lib Dems sixth

Dan Jarvis (Lab) 14,724
Jane Collins (UKIP) 2,953
James Hockney (C) 1,999
Enis Dalton (BNP) 1,463
Tony Devoy (Ind) 1,266
Dominic Carman (LD) 1,012
Kevin Riddiough (Eng Dem) 544
Howling Laud Hope (Loony) 198
Michael Val Davies (Ind) 60

Turnout 36.5%

Party president Tim Farron said: “It was a poor result for us. It was a poor result for the Tories. The coalition parties didn’t do very well here. Surprise, surprise.”

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  • Labour win in Barnsley. What a shocker.

  • The Labour win is not a surprise. UKIP beating the Tories and the Lib Dems losing their deposit, down from second to sixth, is.

    While this might not matter in terms of Westminster seats for the time being, if similar trends occur in council, welsh and scottish elections in May then the Lib Dems will be wiped out at all levels in huge parts of the country. You’ll be left competing with tories for centre right votes and that will be a struggle.

  • @Richard

    Shocker of a comment and you know it or does the democratic voice of Barnsley central count for nothing in your liberal opinion.

    The BNP even gave the libdems are kicking!

  • Poppie's mum 4th Mar '11 - 8:01am

    Lost deposit, the only people who apparently didn’t see it coming were the Lib Dems.

    Hopefully these results will be a foretaste of what’s to come in May, and then maybe the party will have the sense to jettison Clegg & cronies.

  • Lab: 14,724
    Far Right: 4,960
    Con: 1,999
    Ind: 1,266
    Lib Dem: 1,012
    Official Loonies: 198
    Someone from Devon: 60

    I hope you’re proud of yourselves. It really is pathetic to come up with the excuse that it was Barnsley. Yes, Labour were always going to win, but the rise of the extremist parties is the result of the vacuum of integrity in Westminster and the contempt the likes of Clegg have for the electorate.

    On the political spectrum, there are now only right wing parties and Labour. Labour will win across the Country simply by turning up, whilst the nutter parties gain more ground.

  • What colour is a 6th placed Rosette?

  • Wow, that is a rough result by any measure. The outcome was of course never in doubt – hell, Labour have scored much higher percentages in the seat before – but such a slip for the LDs is still a shock, especially if replicated across the Labour heartlands.

    Just like OES though, the result really cannot be extrapolated very far, however much those angry with the LDs might like to crow about it. The result is something to crow about, the LD did do even worse than predicted after all, but the cuts are just hitting and the LDs haven’t had much time to claw back any support yet, assuming they can stage a recovery that is.

    I imagine many commentators wil be unable to prevent themselves indulging in feverish speculation about the end of the party or swift end to the coalition (first site I saw this morning mentioned ‘could bring to the surface the worries that many in the party have about the coalition’), but in truth this wasn’t a surprise and I should think the party were prepared for it; they will have much more substantial negative results come May in all probability, but bailing out now, or just after then, is not going to repair the damage to their previous support base and will just derail the attempt to recover them. The LDs need the economy to pick up next year before they can recover meaningful support I would guess, so for the time being there is no benefit to getting worked up over such losses.

    Such a poor result is still a worry, obviously, but its meaning will inevitably be hyperbolized, and the party will just have to deal with it and accept the short and medium term losses that will come. To a slightly lesser extent they would have lost the support of many in the southern counties had they formed a coalition with Labout after all, so let us try not to get carried away. All parties do it, but it never stops being irritating.

  • Emsworthian 4th Mar '11 - 8:16am

    By any stretch it is a complete disaster right at the start of the local election campaign. I’m fed up with some
    people whose response is so what, we’re in government now so who cares about a few votes. Might the tune change after May?

  • Right-wing parties and Labour? Is this the same Labour of Iraq and PFI fame? If the Greens hadn’t been too disorganised to put someone up here, they would have done pretty well.

  • Keiran the long term concern would be that the Lib Dems are abandoning the non-affluent parts of the country in the way that the Tories have. Only the far right and Labour will compete for votes there and the coalition will be the parties for the relatively well off in the south. Is that what you want the Lib Dems to become?

  • I would be interested in a more sober analysis of what has happened here than a silly rant – I thought Tim Farron had a bit more sense…… let’s face it if the party had put 92 workers into the area they could have taken 11 supporters each to the polling station personally and got the same number of votes. Perhaps they just couldnt find them….workers or supporters.

    Much as I disagree with a lot of Liberal polices at the moment I fear for a lot of Liberal councillors who have done a good job over the years – @g is right – with eight weeks to go it could be too late.

  • I see no Iceberg 4th Mar '11 - 8:30am

    Tim Farron thinks sixth is a poor result.
    I’m afraid Mr Farron is now fully signed up to Clegg’s polyanna brigade if he thinks coming sixth is merely poor.
    I also look forward to this level of complacency when thousands of councillors and what is left of the Lib Dems activist base recieve a glib shrug of the shoulders from the Clegg clique in response to the coming storm that is going to hit them in Mays elections.

    Just to put that result in perspective, this was the votes and share at the election.

    Eric Illsley Labour 17,487 47.3%
    Christopher Wiggin Liberal Democrat 6,394 17.3%
    Piers Tempest Conservative 6,388 17.3%
    Ian Sutton British National Party 3,307 8.9%
    David Silver UK Independence Party 1,727 4.7%
    Donald Wood Independent 732 2.0%

    You will note that the Conservaitve and Liberal Democrat share of the vote was identical.
    When is it finally going to sink in that Cameron is successfully using Clegg and the Lib Dems as a human shield ?

    But remember, nothing needs to change because everything is going to magically get better all by itself.
    The voters are all going to change their minds about Clegg and the Party because…
    ….well, because Nick says it’s all going to be fine and not to worry.

    And who can argue with that strategic genius ?

  • On the political spectrum, there are now only right wing parties and Labour.
    Well, in the sense that the LDs are in Coalition with a centre right party (which does at least have less ‘right’ policies on certain matters eg. ID cards) which is the larger and so a broadly centre right agenda will inevitably result, that is correct. I really do think the extent of that has been exagerrated though; working with the Tories means enacted plenty of their ideas, including ones which are distasteful at times, but that doesn’t make one a Tory anymore than doing the same with Labour would make the LDs the same as Labour (which was of course the major worry of the Tories in the event of a hung parliament)

    There was a YouGov poll I think which showed that since last May the general perception of the LDs has been from tending centre left to pretty much dead centre – the worst of both worlds, because those on the right see them as lefties and those on the left see them as Tories. Not a great position, for all everyone is always fighting over the ‘middle’ ground.

    If you can suggest a way the LDs can convince people they are still centre left (though it has been said the party has been centrist more than anything else anyway) when they are delivering as much of their presumably centre left manifesto as they can (with some rather high profile bits not enacted of course, to devastating effect), I am sure they would choose to follow it. Personally, if the party had entered into a coalition with Labour, which would have included compromising on some very serious matters because they are larger (ID cards again, perhaps?), I very much doubt things would be much more harmonious just because they are both nominally leftish parties. Slightly perhaps, but not friendly.

  • Starting to smell the coffee yet? Left-leaning voters have deserted the Lib Dems in droves .To fall from second place to sixth is an utter disaster in anyone’s book. May is going to be a blood bath for the Lib Dems.

  • ex liberal democrat 4th Mar '11 - 8:35am

    I’ve been following the Green party in Ireland for the past few months, they too came up with the “we’re in government” excuse and when we put our policies forward the people will reward us, they even came up with a plan to act a a bridge between Labour and Fine Gael. Well the electorate did reward them; try finding their elected representatives now. This will happen to the Lib Dems too. Years of hard work will be wasted on an ill judged romance with the Tory party.

  • It would be interesting to know how much genuine enthusiasm there was for Labour in this campaign. Everything except the winning margin points to an “apathy not anger” result, with a low turnout, discredited former MP, result never in doubt, and lots of votes for fringe parties.

  • Poor-to-bad result for all, bar UKIP. And Independent Tony Devoy, who doubled his vote from May.

    Chance to give a government making unpopular decisions a kicking, and voters do it by staying home.

    Labour lost about 3,000 votes from May.
    Tories lost about 4,000. BNP lost 2,000.
    We lost about 5,000.

    Presumably UKIP picked up theirs from disaffected Tories.

    We got a huge kicking. But Lib Dem voters aren’t flocking to Labour, as they hoped. They’re not voting at all.

  • Delighted at the complacency 🙂 That’ll do nicely.

  • @Ian the Lib Dems are a fringe party in Barnsley.

  • At what point will this get through to this Party?

    You’re dead unless you change your leader. he is beyond toxic to all sides of the political spectrum, apart from hardcore Coalition fetishists.

    4% – that’s 4% of the vote.


  • Surprise, surprise from Mr Farron, and Labour win in Barnsley. What a shocker, as the first post…

    Labour win was not the surprise or the shock, Liberal Democrats to finish 6th and Mr Carman lost his deposit, I believe. That is the real surprise and shock, and the speech of Mr Carman shows the arrogance of Liberal Democrats, I think “we can take it” is going to become a nightmare slogan alongside the pledges.

    The Liberal Democrat share of the vote fell from 17.28% to just 4.18%, Liberal Democrats can ignore the result, which from the speech of Mr Carman seems to be exactly what the plan is… poor results in Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Salford as well all indicate more than surprise, surprise, smell the coffee Liberal democrats are in dire trouble, I posted previously that between 4% – 6% is probably the floor or core of Liberal Democrats, I may of been to generous, this is just the fear of things to come when they really bite… who knows?

  • Simon McGrath – A reasonable point. But the problem there is that it is not the anti-coalitionists in the Lib Dems that matter now. The anti-coalitionists in the Conservative Party matter a great deal. If the 1922 committee did not have its polling and its calculators out looking if the Conservatives can cash in a majority, they surely do now. Indeed, there is a suggestion here that the Lib Dems might be weighing the Conservatives down. If wiping the Lib Dems off the map happens in the process, I can’t see that worrying the Conservatives.

    Sure, by-elections are not a great gauge of anything, but even allowing for that a 6th place finish is a problem that goes beyond those who have doubts about this coalition. In the grand picture, this is not a decisive result, but if this is replicated in the locals (an opinion polls of 10% suggest it is not totally beyond the bounds) then I can see the pressure on Cameron to call a snap election starting to build. That’s the problem here.

  • When is it finally going to sink in that Cameron is successfully using Clegg and the Lib Dems as a human shield ?

    But remember, nothing needs to change because everything is going to magically get better all by itself.
    The voters are all going to change their minds about Clegg and the Party because…
    ….well, because Nick says it’s all going to be fine and not to worry.

    And who can argue with that strategic genius ?
    They don’t have any other option! It may not be a comfortable solution, but no other one helps the party or the country (in party hack eyes of all colours the two are the same anyway) at this time.

    A stable government able to form a majority was deemed preferable to a minority tory government, which left coalition with the Tories the only mathematical option and that was always going to lead to a backlash even before the fact of coalition leading to painful compromised was realized. They know damn well they are being used as lightning rods for the less palatable parts of the agenda, but trusting the course set will lead to fruition is the only one that will help. The party is locked into a coalition programme but is still genuinely different, but if they bail out now,that will not lead to a recovery in the polling numbers as they will be seen as a joke, therefore the best chance is to keep pointing out that being in coalition does not mean they are no different to the Tories and that it is better than the alternatives even if bits are painful.

    The party are not hoping things will get better ‘all by itself’. They are taking the only option that may win back support in large numbers, which is to take action they believe (and hope) will fix the country and that people will then say ‘Ok, you did well there, I suppose it was worth compromise X’.

    May will be terrible for the party, but the idea the LDs have not got anything of their own into the coalition, a common enough narrative, needs to be fought continuously when it arrises thereafter(and the idea they are inevitably doomed fought too before it becomes self fulfilling), because if the party becomes fragmented and collapses the agreement, the disastrous poll ratings will never improve, whereas now there is still hope of that (polling numbers have recovered to less-terrible-if-still-poor levels since the nadir in December).

    I promise to stop now, I really do, as I am not even a party member (though I have voted LD every election I’ve been able so far; who’s to say for next time, I haven’t decided) and I recognize I am more disposed to some Tory policies than most actually in the party, but I cannot help but feel that it is not in the interests of the country to see the third party implode as a result of bailing on the coalition, which is what many imply is best when they say, in effect ‘The party have done terribly, the end is nigh, because of being used by the senior partner’. Much work needs to be done for the LDs to demonstrate they are still distinct but simpy being pragmatic and practical, without damaging themselves further with a premature end to the coalition – suggestions to Nick Clegg, because buggered if I can think of ways to do that.

    Man, had to get that off my chest; please don’t hold it against me, I’m actually quite nice most of the time.

  • @Cassie
    Believe that if it helps but I am afraid it is close to tooth fairy territory. Living not that far from Barnsley I can tell you that the Lib Dems no longer exist there in any meaningful way. A chunk of the LD vote vanished the day the Coalition was formed and more has gone since. Regional issues like Sheffield Forgemasters have caused immense damage as has cutting the EMA. If you go door to door in what was once industrial Yorkshire you will struggle to find LD voters nowadays. It is not clear what percentage have gone to Labour. Most I suspect and they vary between Labour returnees and younger disillusioned LD voters. Some are not voting but the party cannot count on more than a handful returning in the near future.

    Many people who post on here simply do not understand how toxic participation in the Coalition is to many voters in areas that suffered under Thatcher. This result may help that understanding.

  • @ Duncan

    All the polls show Labour winning with a big majority, so why would Cameron call an election?

    All in all, very sad but predictable in Barnsley, given the apathy and rage about the state our economy has been left in: completely dependent on public and consumer debt in order to grow, with no effective private sector to speak of in Northern cities. No wonder no-one is voting for us – they can’t imagine an alternative to living off the state in one way or another. The saddest thing is that, to its core voters, Labour is blameless. Even last night I heard Margaret Beckett spinning the usual lie about it being all due to the economic downturn and nothing to do with Labour. It made me so angry I had to switch of the telly.

    It shows we have a huge mountain to climb economically and politically to rescue this country from Labour’s mess and comparatively little time in which to do it.

  • This does not surprise me at all and nothing much can be read into it on such a low turn out except disillusionment

    I supported the coalition and liked the coalition agreement but I am afraid that it’s what wasn’t in it such as The Lansley reforms and giving in to Murdoch that now concerns me. I am also concerned with the Clegg “I didn’t know i was in charge” and the Cable comments when trapped by The Telegraph.

    I have been a party member since 1974 and have seen disasters before but I now have very serious concerns about the future. The only light shining is the robustness with which Chris Huhne is pushing the green agenda

  • R C – You may well be right. My point simply was that is there are people in the Conservative Party who think that it is worth a roll of the dice, this result will enbolden them.

    Don’t forget, the Conservative’s polling has held up OK, they have the money to fight a campaign and policy-wise, Labour don’t seem to have it quite together yet. Whether I like it or not, my instinct is that the Conservatives probably could cash in.

  • Leviticus18_23 4th Mar '11 - 9:12am

    I think we can expect a lower turn out and a blood bath in May.

    The LibDems need to stop using the ‘it’s a coalition’ excuse and bending over backwards to justify every unpalatable Conservative policy.

    It’s not going to turn out alright in the end. Unless you think having some UKIP or BNP MPs is a good thing. It sounds impossible but wait till the cuts start to really bite and the economy nose dives.

  • Depressed Ex 4th Mar '11 - 9:21am

    What’s interesting in a way is that this is so much worse than those opinion poll ratings that the Cleggites have been refusing to believe. The Lib Dem share of the vote has fallen to less than a quarter of what it was last May, and the numerical vote to less than a sixth.

    Surely the more intelligent loyalists must be starting to see how much trouble the party is in?

  • I see no Iceberg 4th Mar '11 - 9:23am

    While you are waiting for “fruition” (whatever that might be) you do realise that in the meantime Cameron and Osborne are ramming through their greatest Thatcherite hits and if they are disasterous as those in the front lines of the public services fear then the fallout will be utterly toxic and will not wash off even with a change of Leader.

    I know perfectly well what Paddy and Clegg are hoping when they say everything will be fine.
    They hope the economy will save them and a good growth figure before the next election is all that is needed to turn everything around.

    To which I ask, even if the economy does pull itself out of the toilet why are the voters going to reward the junior partner and not the Tories for that ? The voter has been pretty clear so far and will be just as clear in May that they don’t want to reward Clegg for anything. The other obvious point is that even if the economy does get better will the damage done in the meantime soon be forgotten ? I doubt it.

    “There is no alternative” was a famous Thatcherite rallying cry so hearing it again from any Lib Dem is grimly ironic. There are always alternatives.
    Clegg could have run and formed the coalition a thousand different ways and his negotiations could have also had a thousand different outcomes for individual policies. The speed and depth of the cuts to the share of the burden taken by taxation has endless permutations.

    I’m not even saying the coalition has to end.
    Some will, since those who think things can’t get any worse still don’t quite get it.
    I’m saying if Clegg keeps himself and the Lib Dems in complete lockstep with Cameron this is the result, and keeping doing it for four more years and expecting a different outcome is madness.

    Mark Pack and others spoke of a distancing between Clegg the Lib Dems and Cameron’s Conservatives.
    Not a separation or breaking of the coalition, a distancing.
    To remind people that the Lib Dems aren’t Tories.
    If ending the coalition is beyond the pale for some and dumping seems Clegg a bit too soon, then that is the only option.

    Lib Dems are going to be fighting Cameron’s Party tooth and nail in weeks so it’s about time Clegg got on board and ended his love in with Cameron. That is the very least those running the Party could do to mitigate the disaster in May and try to start turning things around.

    I don’t even expect that as the complaceny setting in at the top is breathtaking.

  • There was a by-election yesterday?

    I ask this as a councillor signed up to receive party emails and campaigning notices – but can’t recall receiving any. Certainly, compared with similar by-elections in the last parliament – Glenrothes and the two in Glasgow – the normal campaigning clarion calls have been strangely silent. Coupled to the fact that Nick Clegg didn’t visit, is it safe to say that this result was expected and therefore the party – sensibly – didn’t throw vast resource at a lost cause?

    The result is somewhat similar to the Hamilton South by-election in 1999, when we took a kicking after joining Labour in coalition at Holyrood. It’s also a 36.5% turnout, which must be pretty close to a modern record low turnout (certainly in the bottom 10, I’d have thought.)

  • @Dave Page
    I’m expecting us to take a battering at the locals in May, but not on this scale; This by-election result contradicts the overall trend in council by-elections since the General Election, and got a lot less attention than, say, Oldham did

    Maybe so, but it’s not just the locals in May, there are Welsh and Scottish elections, and in the latter, if the polls are correct, you will be fourth, behind the Tories. Less popular than the Tories in Scotland despite once being in government there…

    and then there’s the small matter of AV, which could easily be turned into an anti-Clegg protest vote….

  • @ R C

    “All the polls show Labour winning with a big majority, so why would Cameron call an election?”

    If the Conservatives decide that once all the changes are rushed through and lets be honest they are rushing polices through very quickly, and they are close to the red line in polls, have no doubt they would call a snap election to limit damage done to the party, self preservation of the Party in future GE against 10 – 15 years in the wilderness, and getting rid of a thorn namely Liberal Democrats…
    You don’t think Conservatives would do this, really?

    Think about what the government is doing to the poorest and then ask yourself would they really do that?

    As for the mess left by labour, please… without that mess we would have no banks l left and anarchy on the streets of the UK, bailing out the banks and the economy is why we are in the mess, and no I am not saying labour are blameless it was on their watch, but you have the chance to regulate the banks now, are you doing so?

    and dont call the last deal with the banks, sorting the problem out, it has not.

  • I See No Iceberg – Problem with ‘distance’ though is that some very difficult questions follow. The minute any Lib Dem sets out spend of any sort, the first question is, ‘ do you therefore feel that the deficit is not the crisis that the PM and Chancellor do?’ That would be followed by, ‘do you feel that deficit reduction as set out by the Coalition is faster than is necessary?’ Finally followed by, ‘ Do you agree with Mr Milliband and Mr Balls that a slower pace of deficit reduction is a good idea?’ Having nailed the colours well and truly to the deficit reduction at all costs agenda it is very difficult to see any wider option.

    The Lib Dem Party via the triple lock are the only people in the country to have had a vote on the Coalition Agreement. Distancing themselves from it is a big ask.

  • @RC

    I have LD leaflets I delivered from a handful of years ago when our national policy was to spend more than Labour and we were criticising them for not enough investment in one thing or another. So there is little point in getting into a rage about an elderly Labour politician. Yes, Labour must shoulder the blame. The recession happened on their watch but neither LDs nor Tories were suggesting anything that would have altered the course of events. We can pretend we would have somehow stood against the tide but if we are honest things wouldn’t be much different, maybe a little better, possibly slightly worse.

    You seem to have an odd view of the North. It is not just public sector workers servicing claimants. Whole industries were wiped out thirty years ago. For a while it looked like the apparently flourishing economy would help these areas pick up. Labour only realised the need to do more far too late. The Coalition are making it worse not better.

  • Sam Matthews 4th Mar '11 - 9:40am

    My worry is why was there a judgement not to push for a result that would not embarrass us in the media, which we managed respectfully in OES where our share went up. This is also especially important when you consider we are only 2 months away from local elections.
    It is a textbook error of stratergy, in any other organisation some would be held responsible and leave. I fear that we are not being lead by people in touch with the members but people who are now they are guaranteed salary while we are in Power.

    Also the the executive and other internal committies need to make serious noise which is heard by everyone.

    What has happend after the MP’s ignore the tuition fees motion to abstain, agreed at the special conference at Birmingham?
    We need action by people who treat the MP’s as equals and not some higher power immune from party action.

  • @ Alex KN

    “Labour only realised the need to do more far too late.”

    What did Labour do to build a private sector in Northern cities after this supposed moment of realisation?

    “The recession happened on their watch but neither LDs nor Tories were suggesting anything that would have altered the course of events.”

    Yes, the Lib Dems suggested avoiding letting consumer debt run riot, for which he was arrogantly brushed aside by Gordon Brown:

    In November 2003, Cable asked Gordon Brown, then Chancellor, “Is not the brutal truth that … the growth of the British economy is sustained by consumer spending pinned against record levels of personal debt, which is secured, if at all, against house prices that the Bank of England describes as well above equilibrium level?” Brown replied, “As the Bank of England said yesterday, consumer spending is returning to trend. The Governor said, ‘there is no indication that the scale of debt problems have … risen markedly in the last five years.’ He also said that the fraction of household income used up in debt service is lower than it was then.”

    It seems even being wise BEFORE the event is not enough for some critics of the Lib Dems.

  • Mark, Manchester 4th Mar '11 - 9:47am

    @I See No Iceberg
    “Clegg could have run and formed the coalition a thousand different ways”

    Name ten!

    (Not that I disagree with the sentiment that this is a terrible result for the us…)

  • The electorate aren’t stupid. They saw your volte face on the rate of deficit reduction; on tuition fees; on the NHS, and yesterday, despite Cable’s pathetic “War on Murdoch”, (Cable should resign now, by the way) they saw the Liberal Democrats supporting the latest stage in News Corps takeover of the world. Your shameful support of Hunt’s shabby deal and abuse of democracy is yet another reason why you will go on plumetting at every bye election and council election until we, the people, get the chance at the next general election to throw out you bunch of unmandated, opportunistic, double crossing power grabbers.

  • Christine Headley 4th Mar '11 - 9:56am

    Why did we select a candidate from London?

    I totally agree with you. I joined the party in 1976. From the beginning I knew the coalition would it would end in tears, but I didn’t expect the lachrymose stage to kick in quite so quickly. I knew we would be shafted by the Tories, but we would have had a worse kicking if we had been seen to have forced a second election immediately after May. Particularly if the pound had dived in the way prophesied by the Cabinet Secretary.

    What does surprise me is the number of people who oppose tuition fees who now so enthusiastically support the party that invented the requirement to repay them (when I was a student, local authorities paid them even if they only paid the minimum grant) and commissioned the Browne report (“ask a silly question”?)

    I’ve been getting some e-mails from Dominic Carman. Not as many as from Old and Sad. Obviously, I don’t know why you haven’t.

  • @ Alex KN

    “Whole industries were wiped out thirty years ago. For a while it looked like the apparently flourishing economy would help these areas pick up.”

    The real economy was not flourishing, only that created by public and private debt. Take that away and most growth during the Labour era was non-existent. Outside London and the South East almost none of the growth in jobs came from the private sector. That is the economy bequeathed by Labour – founded on massive public spending and credit fuelled shopping binges.

    By the way, “THIRTY years ago”?. You are blaming governments of thirty years ago, while somehow apparently the government in power until just nine months ago is only about as much to blame as the parties that were in opposition.

    The situation of the public finances (to quote Labour’s chief secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne: ‘I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left.’) means we can’t spray and pray with public cash like Labour did. Yet as soon as that reality is revealed, people run a mile because they don’t want to believe it. Anything just to live in denial for a little bit longer.

  • Mark, Manchester – The way this coalition was formed was inviting trouble. Although not a panacea, a better way would have been for the Lib Dems to have taken one or two ministries in full. That way the difference is visible. The current model of spreading a relatively disproportionately high number of ministers across all departments is just diluting LD influence. Worse clearly the tories are wheeling out the Lib Dem to break bad news.

    As it stands, the arguments about PR giving third parties a disproportionate influence and being able to swing whichever way the wind blows regardless of what they say to the voters look rather well founded at the moment, but that is another story.

  • I see no Iceberg 4th Mar '11 - 10:04am

    All Parties concede the deficit has to be reduced and before the election as we all know the stance was very different with Clegg and Vince taking the slower cuts option.

    Even if the Lib Dems stick to the Conservative speed of cuts there are still inumerable ways to start untangling from every thing Cameron decrees. And be in no doubt, so far Clegg’s strategy has been to follow Cameron in every thought and deed and the public has noticed.

    The enormous NHS reforms were in nobody’s manifesto so a polite “nothing to do with us” would be a start as with other policies that are purely Cameroonian ideas. Just say this is a coalition and while we do not agree with this policy we are the junior partners and leave it to the Conservatives to implement and take the credit/blame for it. Clegg has already done so with AV so distancing himself and the Lib Dems from those things they do not agree with is long overdue.

    Trident is seen as a done deal by the Conservative backbenches.
    Clegg should be saying no and saying why not as often as he can.

    Those are just two areas, there are many more, but the central point is that Clegg must end his inexplicable unwavering support of everything that passes Cameron’s lips. The idea that the only way to be in a coalition is Clegg’s way is simply not true. It is Nicks personal choice to do it this way.

  • @RC

    I am not a Labour supporter ( although now an ex LD) so I will not answer for them. They saw the RDAs as a big part of the answer and very late in the day with Mandelson tried to make some strategic investments high speed rail, Forgemasters etc.

    Yes, Vince did warn about one aspect of the recession but as can be seen in his near destruction by Andrew Neil he was not the sage we once liked to believe.

    I thought the economic policies we campaigned for at the last election were reasonable. The Coalition should have been a mid point between those and their policies not a more extreme version of theirs. Please do not say the situation was worse because the OBR reports show that it was slightly better.

  • Three ways the Liberal Democrats could avoid total oblivion:

    1) Dump Clegg.
    2) Expel all Orange Bookers (They’ll find a home in the Tory Party)
    3)Appoint Charles Kennedy as Interim Leader. (He’s the only one of you we trust)
    4)Denounce Tory Policies (It is a Tory led coalition)
    5) Cross the floor and become part of the official opposition (Your coalition agreement has been broken so many times it is now meaningless)

    Just to be helpful.

  • Er ….. That should be five ways the liberal democrats could avoid total oblivion!

  • I see no Iceberg 4th Mar '11 - 10:18am

    @Mark, Manchester

    The coalition agreement was not handed down from the heavens like a tablet of stone for Clegg and Cameron to sign. It was a negotiation and you will at least concede that, in a document and agreement that covered so many areas of government policy, the final product was a result of the personalities involved in the negotiation and their own personal preferences.

    This is Clegg’s coaliton deal. He owns it.
    His is the driving force for how the Lib Dem MPs and Ministers deal with it and how the implementation and style of coalition is seen by the public. That it is a deal between two parties does not absolve Nick of responsibility for his end of the deal or for how he runs it. Pretending the coalition document would have been identical, and run identically, no matter who was in charge is spurious nonsense.

  • Probably not indicative in predicting other results apart from when looking at drop in support. Both the Tories and the Lib Dems have dropped here and without the prospect of a tactical victory the drops are probably reflective of what to expect elsewhere. As they both started from such a low point the actual final figures would not be seen as indicative but the drop may be.

    I do think it points to the fact that the Lib Dems will suffer more than the Tories, until the love in approach to the coalition changes I cannot see this trend changing either.

  • @ MacK
    Posted 4th March 2011 at 10:15 am
    Five ways the Liberal Democrats could avoid total oblivion:

    1) Dump Clegg.
    2) Expel all Orange Bookers (They’ll find a home in the Tory Party)
    3)Appoint Charles Kennedy as Interim Leader. (He’s the only one of you we trust)
    4)Denounce Tory Policies (It is a Tory led coalition)
    5) Cross the floor and become part of the official opposition (Your coalition agreement has been broken so many times it is now meaningless)

    Just to be helpful.

    Very funny Mack, you realise it ant gona happen, they are hanging on AV and if that fails then we could see a total collapse and Liberal Democrats disappear, re brand whatever, but if they wait until after May referendum and then act they are finished because it will be seen as putting Liberal Democrats before the country ( this better politics), but I really don’t think Liberal Democrats understand that.

  • @I see no iceberg

    Has nailed it.

    The idea that the only way to be in a coalition is Clegg’s way is simply not true. It is Nicks personal choice to do it this way.

    And it is the reason why 4% may not be the lowest polling result you get before 2015.

  • I am a 2010 Lib Dem voter and sympathiser who still remains astonished at how my vote was used. I am even more astonished by some of the complacent reaction (some illustrated above) to public opposition to the coalition. I will be making sure that I do everything I can to make sure that my opinion is felt by the party at the ballot box in May and beyond – until the party listens again.
    I work in the NHS and we stand on the edge of major service failure due to the chaos being inflicted on a relatively stressed system. Both yourselves and the Tories will lose heavily both in May and at the next General Election if you do not heed the warnings coming from all the medical/nursing royal colleges, the BMA, Kings Fund etc etc.
    In coalition it is surely the role of Lib Dems to halt this destruction before it is too late.

  • And, RC, the reason that people would blame “the Govt of 30 years ago”, is because nuLab in its economic wisdom, in important economic respects, followed the lead of Thatcher. This Coalition Govt shares similar economic approaches. Keep on doing the same things, and you will get the same outcomes… Lib Dems had already cast aside usefully different economic approaches in our 2010 Manifesto, eg local Income Tax. New Politics..? Haha.

  • Sadly in May 2010 the LDs were between a rock and a hard place, I don’t quite know which one we chose. I g uess we were warned that this would be a good election to lose, we lost both ways we lost seats and we were forced to go along with our promise to talk to the largest party. We went to Birmingham believing we could truly influence this Tory Government but despite our boasts and our list of achievements we have failed in the areas that really mattered namely the economy, Universities and the NHS. We have also underestimated the reaction of the media, the rightwing press have lambasted us for holding back the Tory’s right wing agenda and the left wing press for’ ‘dancing with the devil’ Nick has become a hate figure.and has proved incapable of avoiding errors, nodding like a toy dog when listening to Cameron and even. worse Osbourne. We will be punished in May and frankly we deserve it if we are to have any chance at all in 2015 we must hold firm on reforming the Banks, ‘Merlin was a waste of time,and we must put a stop to Tax avoidance, The cuts agenda is too far and too fast, wholly against our believes and principles, fight it now.

  • @Olly

    In Walkden North in Salford the Lib Dem vote dropped from 17.4% to 3.5% and they came 5th.

    In Wigan Central the Lib Dems failed to put up a candidate.

    In Cardiff Riverside the Lib Dems dropped to bottom (5th) with 5.1% – in a city where they are currently the largest party.

    Seems these results back up your thesis.

    The only result where the Lib Dems hit double figures was in March North (Cambridgeshire) which I assume to be fairly affluent , they polled 23.6% but Labour overtook them and they dropped from 2nd to 3rd (Tories won)

    This is actually an issue that should concern all the major parties, it’s not good for democracy if two of the main parties are permanently removed from the electoral landscape in huge parts of the country, effective opposition is needed to prevent too much abuse of power, no matter who is in charge.

    In Scotland Labour at least have the SNP to challenge them should the Lib Dems be obliterated, likewise in Wales, PC. But in England, north of Birmingham, who will the opposition be? The BNP?

  • Lost Lib Dem 4th Mar '11 - 10:47am

    I am afraid this is to be expected. Whilst I am broadly supportive of the coalition, the Lib Dems are paying the penalty for signing those stupid pledges on tuition fees. You simply cannot campaign in this way and break all your promises…. it will come back and haunt you and it has.

    Unfortunately, some Lib Dems have still not learnt this lesson and I see some appalling iterature being circulated ahead of the the May local elections.You are all in danger of being labelled the party of mistrust.and opportunism. I will certainly no longer vote Lib Dem because of this – which is a pity because fundamentally I think theywill make the coaltiion work in the end.

  • Depressed Ex 4th Mar '11 - 10:53am

    But in England, north of Birmingham, who will the opposition be? The BNP?

    Not on last night’s showing. The BNP’s vote dropped – from 8.9% to 6.0% in percentage terms, and from 3307 to 1463 numerically. In fact the BNP were nearly as unpopular as the Lib Dems.

  • “The adage “Where we work, we win” is still true. It’s just easier not to when we’re subject to such vitriol.”

    I’m afraid this nonsense highlights two problems. First, you no longer have the activists in anywhere near the numbers you had. Second, the few activists you have left were only ever any good at slagging off the two main parties, and telling people on their doorsteps whatever they wanted to hear. They can’t do that any more, they’ve got to do REAL politics, which means defending difficult positions and policies. The way Tory and Labour activists have always had to do.

    Yes of course it’s easier not to have to face vitriol, but the moment you got into bed with a main political party, and got anywhere near some real responsibility, you were asking for it. Did you seriously think you could carry on being all things to all voters, left or right, north and south?

    “it’s about time Clegg got on board and ended his love in with Cameron.”

    What does Clegg care? He’s supposed to be the leader, but where is he today? Not a word from him. Why? Because he’s waiting to walk into the first safe Tory seat that becomes available. He’s not going to put any Tory noses out of joint.

    I’m afraid it’s way too late to distance yourself from this coalition. No-one will forget how your MPs and activists were falling over themselves to join with the Tories. “Triple lock”, remember! You can’t wriggle out of it now.

  • You are all in danger of being labelled the party of mistrust.and opportunism.”

    LostLibDem, you put it very neatly. But it’s already happened.

  • Depressed Ex 4th Mar '11 - 11:15am

    I do think it’s very naive to suggest that if the party does A, B, and C then everything will miraculously be all right again. You may indeed need to do A, B and C, but even if that happens it’s going to be a very long time before this unpopularity is reversed.

    After all, their failure to win a majority last year showed that the Tories still haven’t recovered from their unpopularity in the 1990s. I see no reason to think that the Lib Dems’ recovery will be more rapid, and I’m starting to think that the party lacks the will to save itself anyway. It seems more like a rabbit caught in the headlights, feebly bleating that it’s all Labour’s fault.

  • I think it’s hard to read too much into polls and results just yet as there just isn’t enough data around. A low turnout doesn’t give enough quantifiable metrics.

    It will be interesting to see where the Lib-Dem vote has disintegrated. Did people switch sides, stay at home because labour would win, couldn’t bring themselves to vote lib-dem etc.

    If you read Ashcrofts analysis after the Oldham East by-election where he re-polled the electorate it becomes clear that Tory voters indulged in tactical voting for the Lib-Dem candidate en masse.

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out in the wider scheme of things in May.

    Will the tories vote for the lib-dems in wards where they think they can oust labour? How will this affect the left wing supporters that previously used to vote lib-dem to block the tories? WIll they be squeezed out by the Tories?

    Myself I think the core lib-dem vote has been demolished, and they are now targetting the centre right. Come may I think they will bear the brunt with Labour, Green and UKIP gains nationally.

    I myself have always voted lib-dem but won’t be anymore. The party is already whispering in the wind and the storm of discontent they are signed up for whole-heartedly will leave them as a byeline in uk political history.

  • @Dave Page

    g, I’m expecting us to take a battering at the locals in May, but not on this scale; This by-election result contradicts the overall trend in council by-elections since the General Election, and got a lot less attention than, say, Oldham did.

    I suggest you read

    Lord Ashcroft Post by Election Analysis

    To summarise the detailed analysis there. The lib-dem vote had collapsed in OE and was propped up by the Tories.

    In Barnsley there were not enough Tories to skew the figures, hence the deeper dis-integration of the core lib-dem vote.

    You can argue the poor turn out, but not matter how it’s dressed it still shows as an utter disaster

  • I joined the party at the last election. I believed the pledges. I believed that the Guardian’s endorsement meant that this was a party for people with views like mine.

    Today, when I heard the news headlines I was delighted. DELIGHTED!!! (I’m shouting because you’re not listening).

    The party holds the balance of power. That’s what I voted for. They should be using their power. I don’t want the universities ruined. I don’t want the NHS privatised. I don’t want Murdoch’s power increased yet more.

    I’ll be voting Labour in May and that’s a pledge.

  • @solip1

    I’ll be voting Labour in May and that’s a pledge.<

    So that’ll be Tory then 😉

  • LabourLiberal 4th Mar '11 - 12:01pm

    Some realism is needed here.

    Remember this was a by-election, and by-elections have their own trends and unofficial rules, which can account for some things. There was a very low turnout here – that’s to be expected, it’s the norm in by election. Likewise the good performances of fringe parties like UKIP and independents, that’s also standard fare. But don’t let this obscure the fact that this is a spectacularly bad result for the Lib Dems. We know there are some extenuating circumstances, but even so, for a party which (just) finished 2nd at a GE to drop to 6th and a lost deposit in a by-election just ten months later, is incredible, and much worse than I’d expected. Someone upthread tried to play down the damage by comparing this result to the Hamilton South by-election in 1999, where the LDs were punished for the Lib-Lab pact at Holyrood. But it’s not really the same. In Hamilton South the LDs weren’t a force to begin with – even in the ’97 GE, they’d come 4th with only 5%. Though they dropped to 6th, their share of the vote didn’t collapse completely, and the two candidates who passed them (SSP and Independent) had both been absent from the ’97 election. But most significantly, in that by-election it wasn’t the LD vote that collapsed but the Labour one, falling from 60% to 34% – that is, the senior party in the coalition were punished, not the junior one. It adds weight to the argument that our current coalition is being used by the Tories to make scapegoats of the LDs.

    Also – some are trying to defend the LDs’ performance yesterday by arguing that they had no choice but to go into coalition, and that of course there’ll have to be compromise between the two coalition members. That’s true enough, but what is really angering people is that they expected the resultant coalition to be centre-right, a Government moderated of its wilder Tory instincts by the LD presence. Instead, the LDs are propping up a Government which is the most radically right-wing neoconservative that this country has seen in living memory, and is introducing reformist policies that weren’t mentioned in either party’s manifesto or the coalition agreement. To play the “necessity and compromise” card, you need a Government which is playing it safe and not doing anything too unexpected, rather than the one we’ve got.

  • My feeling is that some people, myself included, voted Lib Dem at the 2010 election as a way of saying “a plague on both your houses” to the two main parties. The Lib Dems have now so closely aligned themselves with the Tories (I would rather bite my right arm off than vote Tory), that a lot of people feel completely disenfranchised. This could be one of the reasons for such a low turn out in Barnsley.

    Unless the Lib Dems start to distance themselves from rabid Tory ideology I sadly feel that they will completely disappear as an alternative party.

  • Alisdair McGregor 4th Mar '11 - 12:13pm

    Not much of a surprise, really.

    LibDem result in may 2010 was a historic high in a labour dominated seat fueled largely by “get rid of Gordon” sentiment in a seat with a LOT of anti-tory sentiment.

    This time around Gordon Brown is gone, and we’re in coalition with the Tories. No surprise then that our vote share tanked sharply here – we’re no longer the party of the left protest vote.

    Add to that the much lower turnout, with the result a foregone conclusion and the vote share not of national interest, and it’s easy to see why we ended up where we are.

    The BNP result is shocking and the UKIP one no less so, although for different reason

  • toryboysnevergrowup 4th Mar '11 - 12:26pm

    When LibDems cannot even meet my very low electoral expectations perhaps the real Liberals in the party need to realise that they need to do something about the usurpers in their midst. If you look at the polls they have increasingly been pointing to the effective disappearance of the LibDems in the North of England for a while, and the byelection result just confims this – you may of course wish to wait for the local elections to receive further confirmation.

    In the meantime could someone please tell me when that “man of principle” Vince Cable is going to resign as a result of losing the “war” with Murdoch, largely as a result of his own incompetence?

  • toryboysnevergrowup 4th Mar '11 - 12:29pm

    I suppose one consolation is that we can expect a revival of that favourite old Liberal song “Losing deposits”

  • Depressed Ex 4th Mar '11 - 12:41pm

    Just a thought.

    If the Greens had stood, would the Lib Dems have finished seventh?

  • This response tells you all you need to know about why the Party is so lost.

    You can always rely on Danny to toe the Tory/Clegg line.

    My favourite bit is this:
    “People in Scotland will see the Liberal Democrats stepping up to the plate and offering solutions to these problems,” he said.

    You’re right Danny. Which is why soon, you’ll be no more than a footnote to Scottish politics.

  • Lost Lib Dem 4th Mar '11 - 1:17pm

    “Depressed Ex” – I think quite probably the Lib Dems would indeed have been defeated by the Greens had they stood.

    It needs to be emphasised that what the electorate do not like is any sign of a lack of integrity in politicians (of any party). They may not agree with policies, but they will respect a politican for arguing and maintaining a point of view. Unfortunately, many Lib Dems made their bed in the 2010 GE campaign by signing up to policies and pledges that they have now discarded. Top of the list is tuition fees, but this is now joined by NHS reforms, post office privatisation, BSkyB (made worse by Vince), etc. You simply cannot treat voters – and even worse, grass roots supporters – in this way. I see no reason why, even in coalition, the Lib Dem MPs could not vote according to their conscience or even what they committed to in their Focus leaflets last year. To me, it is a simple matter of honesty. I worry greatly that there are those in the party that think they can just carry on as before – opposing the other parties using different issues in different parts of the country. Thay may have worked at one time, but you will simply NOT be believed any more. Once you lose credibility on this scale, it is extremely difficult to win it back.

    As I said before, I broadly support the idea of coalition, but the Lib Dems are in great danger of being associated with negativity in the public’s eyes (in the same ways the Tories became branded “the nasty party”). I dont think this matters so much with the Westminster politicians since they clearly get something out of the arrangement and will have tasted power. Who knows how many of them will even want to stand again (for the Lib dems) in 4 years time? However, where does this leave local politicians, activists and campaigners? They will gradually dwindle and the previous strength of the Lib Dem campaigning machine will be lost forever and the grass roots destroyed. You cannot treat your members like this and escape unscathed.

  • @Cuse

    Ha ha re – the Guardian link….. only a fool or a politician would come up with such rubbish.

    Hmmmmmm, I’m not sure which category Pollyanna Alexander falls into!

  • Emsworthian 4th Mar '11 - 2:04pm

    I”ve just seen Simon Hughes on TV that makes Jim Callaghan’s infamous ‘ crisis what crises’ retort sound like a passionate defence. You see it doesn’t matter what is happening out here. We’ve got a four year licence to do what we like-it’s all in the coalition agreement you know- and the voters can get stuffed. Oh yes and keep mentioning the £120 million a day we have to pay in interest charges.
    Most of us have stood in unwinnable seats and try to maintain some dignity about it but the response from the top table so far has been utterly pathetic.

  • Lost Lib Dem 4th Mar '11 - 2:17pm

    “@Cuse” – Pollyanna, I like it.

    However, to be fair to Danny Alexander he at least seems to be getting on with his job. It is Nick Clegg who worries me more as he seems to be increasingly out of his depth and is becoming a PR disaster in his own right. We had the “what, am I in charge?” ski holiday. Contrast this with Prescott, who made full use of the fact that he was in charge when the PM was out of the country – what sort of message does Nick think he is giving? We also have the various inconsistent Clegg/Cameron utterings on immigration when it is probably best to keep quiet instead of trying to spin the headmaster’s message. Its a shame, he was such a confident performer, but you now really get the feeling that he is the *very* junior partner in the coalition. He needs one hell of a performance at the Sheffield conference – but I fear this could be another big embarrassment.

  • Whilst Clegg, Farron et al and dismiss this election outcome by stating Labour were always going to win, this result is still significant for it shows what polls are telling us about Lib Dem support in inner city Labour strongholds – it’s plummetting. Some polls show Lib Dem support plummeting to as low as 4% in the North of England. This illustrates that many voters don’t see the Lib Dems as a centre-left party. If this keeps up as well, UKIP could really get some momentum and harnass the protest vote that the Lib Dems manage to get. I fear for the Lib Dems in the May local elecitons and Welsh/Scottish Assembly elections – they look set to get a real pounding particularly in traditional Labour areas.

    Moreover, it is becoming more and more clearer that the Lib Dems can not go into the next election with Clegg as its leader. Clegg is one of the most hated politicians and will certainly hold the Lib Dems back – I can already see the media constantly questioning Clegg on “Who would you support if there is a hung Parliament” “What policies would you be prepared to jetisson if there was a hung Parliament” “Why should we believe you when you say x, y z because last time you said a,b,c you ended up implementing d,e,f” These sorts of questions and bashing will be really demoralising and by that time messages like “illegal war in Iraq, Labour left us with this massive deficit, Labour took away our civil liberties” will not really have much traction.

  • David Lawson 4th Mar '11 - 3:22pm

    The BBC website says that it is tuition fees. Self evident.

    There is something on this website about capitalisation. Haven’t read it. Won’t bother. I presume that it tells me that some rule neither I nor the author previously knew about has changed and that the change (which they have picked up from a press release and do not understand) is progressive and would not have happened unless the Lib Dems were in power.

    Someone in this comment thread asks if I would prefer not to have cabinet ministers. I do not “have” cabinet ministers and Lib Dems are just not that partisan. But to answer the question I do not care who causes harm and have no pleasure in it being Lib Dems.

  • Philip Rolle 4th Mar '11 - 3:28pm

    This may seem an odd thing to say in view of last night’s result, but I think Dominic Carman is a strong candidate and may well become an MP when the wind changes. But that may be some time!

  • Ah – good to see the “I voted Lib Dem last time but never again” crew are back out in force. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if everyone who says this had actually voted Lib Dem last May, we wouldn’t be in this position because we’d have had a Lib Dem government!

    Look – Barnsley was a pish result, there’s no hiding it. But it really is no worse than by-elections like Hamilton South where we’ve been pulverised before. The main difference is we’re in government this time and can’t rely on another by-election to spring back again.

    Fiona (Millar, perhaps?) – Firstly, you don’t know how many activists the Lib Dems have got. Membership numbers are overall up since the General Election – and that includes people resigning. Secondly, get out of your head this myth that we’ve never had to defend “government” policies. We’ve done it in Scotland at two successive elections as part of a coalition, we’ve done it countless times at local government level (councils do make difficlt decisions too, you know) and will continue to do it again come May,

    You’re right, it’s easier to avoid the vitriol. But the vitriol on the doorstep is usually based on an individuals personal situation. Attack the coalition’s decisions – fine. But do it at least from a position of policy strength, and not misinformed “facts.”

  • Paul Kennedy 4th Mar '11 - 3:32pm

    What I don’t understand is why the campaigns department didn’t we run a proper national by-election campaign.

    So many people came to Oldham that we were up against the law of diminishing returns. But when I went to an action day in Barnsley 3 weeks ago there were only a handful of people. If just a few hundred of the people who went to Oldham had gone to Barnsley we could easily have made up the 2,000 votes needed to come second.

    We are a campaigning party or we are not a party at all.

  • Depressed Ex 4th Mar '11 - 3:54pm

    But it really is no worse than by-elections like Hamilton South where we’ve been pulverised before.

    Of course, the beauty of the Internet is that you can nail lies like this with just a couple of clicks of the mouse.

    Barnsley Central, 2011:
    2nd place to 6th place
    17.3% to 4.2%
    6,394 votes to 1,012 votes

    Hamilton South, 1999:
    4th place to 6th place
    5.1% to 3.3%
    1,693 votes to 634 votes

    No worse than that? Don’t make me laugh!

  • KL

    What a crap comment you keep making: ‘if everyone who says this had actually voted Lib Dem last May, we wouldn’t be in this position because we’d have had a Lib Dem government!’

    There are probably a dozen or so ex-LD who post on this site and a few tens of others on other sites. There are millions who voted last time and if the polls are to be believed there are at least half of those who are in the ex-Lib Dem category.

    I am still bloody furious with the party as it has taken away an option to vote for them – don’t give me this rubbish about ‘being in Coalition’ – that choice was made and you have to live with it.

    The reality from recent council election and the two by-elections so far (coupled with the opinion polls) is that you risk being obliterated in the urban north and Scotland/Wales. We will have more of an answer in May.

    If the predictions are right what will you do? There is a risk you will become a party of the rural areas and the south – in fact an imitation of the Tories. What policies are you going to then put up to attract voters in those areas as a wipeout in the North in May will be indicative that there will be very few gains there in 4 years time.

    My view is that if it is as bad in May as the indication suggest it will be, especially AV is lost then the only option is to jettison Clegg and try someone else who will face up to Cameron – Huhne would spring to mind. Politically there is not much between them but I think he is a wiser bird. Trouble is his seat is vulnerable to the Tories.

  • Liberal Neil 4th Mar '11 - 4:07pm

    This result is clearly the end of the line for the Lib Dems, just as the Glasgow North East by-election result was back in November 2009:

    Labour – 12,231 votes (59.39%)
    SNP – 4,120 votes (20%)
    Tory – 1,075 votes (5.22%)
    BNP – 1,013 votes (4.92%)
    Solidarity – 794 votes (3.86%)
    Lib Dems – 474 votes (2.30%)
    Total votes cast – 20,595
    Voter turnout – 32.97%

  • @KL

    Ah – good to see the “I voted Lib Dem last time but never again” crew are back out in force. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if everyone who says this had actually voted Lib Dem last May, we wouldn’t be in this position because we’d have had a Lib Dem government!

    Some of us disenfranchised ex Lib-Dem voters have to vent our anger somewhere 🙂

  • Depressed Ex 4th Mar '11 - 4:16pm

    Well of course, in Glasgow North East, the Lib Dems hadn’t even stood at the previous election. But if you want to make a comparison with the previous time they had stood, which was in the predecessor seat, Glasgow Springburn, in 1997, here it is.

    Barnsley Central, 2011:
    2nd place to 6th place
    17.3% to 4.2%
    6,394 votes to 1,012 votes

    Glasgow North East 2009/Springburn 1997:
    4th place to 6th place
    4.3% to 2.3%
    1,349 votes to 474 votes

    It doesn’t really compare, does it?

  • Depressed Ex 4th Mar '11 - 4:29pm

    The other thing that’s quite funny is that LDV still can’t kick the habit of slicing off the most unfavourable bits before quoting people. Tim Farron concluded his “Surprise, surprise” remark with this:
    “At this time of the evening, there’s nothing more laughable than a politician who’s got a kicking pretending it’s all right.”

  • @KL

    How do we know that you voted LibDem last election?

    The LibDems have been a magnet for Mont Pelerinists since forming the coalition – perhaps you’re just another one of them.

  • The alarming thing for me as an observer is how little the senior Lib Dems seem to do about the plight they are in. These are the areas where the Liberal Democrats made massive strides last year, but undermine their good work when they do something which is truly unforgiveable. I mean, being unable to deliver on something is one thing, but to deliberately campaign on a promise that had been agreed not to deliver. – Anywonder why there is such little trust – you sent the country back into recession, cancelled a loan which would have made £1bn profit for this country and then ask us to support a referendum to get perpetual Liberal government – I mean not wanting to sound cynical – but government MPs will end up with immunity from recall next

  • Depressed Ex 4th Mar '11 - 4:40pm

    Indeed so I can find out that in 1999 we got 11.9% in the Euro elections so that the comparison with Hamilton South is realy quite a good one

    I posted the figures for the two by-elections above. You can see that the two results AREN’T remotely comparable – the Barnsley Central result represents a much bigger decline in every sense.

    Why and how do you think the Euro-percentage is relevant?

  • Lost Lib Dem 4th Mar '11 - 4:50pm

    KL, you may be right that membership numbers are overall up since the General Election, but you are ignoring the latency in membership renewals. Surely, it will take about a year (i.e. after May 2011) before any sense can be made of such numbers?

    In any case, membership and active support are two different things. What you are in grave danger of losing are the people who make a lot of sacrifices to support their local branches – delivering leaflets, canvassing, fundraising, etc. This has been one of the strengths of the Lib Dems and once *they* become disilliusioned you are in big trouble. Maybe there are still plenty of such people around, but I don’t think so, and I think a number now wonder “why bother?”. The reason for this is because they feel let down by a party, which promised many things before the GE and has since reneged on a number of them. To make matters worse, there has been little from Westminster to justify the new directions other than “we are now in coalition”. This hardly inspires confidence.

    You cannot simply keep taking people for fools by saying one thing and doing another…. without some comeback. The electorate has shown this in Barnsley and there will be another litmus test in May and the signs are not good. The Lib Dems need to re-connect with their grass roots supporters (and value them) as quickly as possible. Simply trying to justify the Barnsley result with other historical by elections is grasping at straws and fools nobody. The party needs to start “getting it” and not looking for excuses. Define your principles and policies and stick to them.

  • • jedibeeftrix

    “Not a chance MacK, the bed has been made, and a far more sensible choice it is too for the long term future of the party.”

    Don’t be so easily reconciled to losing all your deposits. Beds can be changed you know. The lib Dems got rid of Ming Campbell and he wasn’t anywhere near as unpopular as Clegg.

    One or two further thoughts: I keep hearing Lib Dem M.P.s stressing that Barnsley, being a safe Labour seat, was a foregone conclusion and they were bound to do badly. As a Labour Party member I can tell you that my understanding is that our candidate and his team took nothing for granted and campaigned hard for every vote. They had to do so because of the deleterious circumstances in which the bye-election was called. Furthermore, UKIP presumably knew that Barnsley was a safe Labour seat: it didn’t stop them campaigning hard and their reward was to come second. I listened to Carman, the Lib Dem candidate on the radio today. He seemed an honest and brave man and indicated that he’d been getting a lot of stick on the doorstep. He should have been given more support from your leaders. You can always tell that an army is in disarray when the officers desert the field.

  • Jim Callaghan never actually said “crisis, what crisis?”, that was a headline in ‘The Sun’:-
    “I promise you that if you look at it from outside, and perhaps you’re taking rather a parochial view at the moment, I don’t think that other people in the world would share the view that there is mounting chaos.”

  • David Allen 4th Mar '11 - 5:12pm

    The Pollyanna brigade has mostly been mercifully silent today, for once. If it’s any comfort to them, I would suggest that just as OES gave us too much hope, the Barnsley result gives us too little. The opinion polls, which suggest that we have lost about half our voters, probably have it about right.

    There has been abundant discussion of coaltion policy on this site. There has been a lot less analysis of Clegg’s capabilities – and motivation – as a strategist. Now that we can see that Clegg’s strategy is not working, we ought to ask why on earth he chose to play the game the way he did.

    Clegg has actively told leftish voters to go away and stop being “refugees from the Labour party”. (No doubt this tactic is one of the few that has worked!) Clegg has resolutely avoided almost all opportunities to present the Lib Dems as distinctive from the Tories, or as a moderating influence. To come out in support of the save-our-forests campaign, or to claim that some of the changes which make the tuition fees settlement somewhat less onerous than the Browne recommendations were due to Lib Dem pressure, should have been a no-brainer. Only on civil liberties has Clegg sought to show independence from the Tory line. All of these strategies seem best designed to attract just a small niche vote, from that segment of the middle class which is socially liberal but economically conservative, and which would never support Labour or any other form of centre-left government.

    This strategy has delivered a highly predictable outcome. It has halved our support and lost us our centre-left voters. It has left people with very little reason to vote Lib Dem.

    Is Clegg so incompetent that he could not predict this? Or, does he know perfectly well what he wants, which is a junior role in a permanent right-wing alliance?

    What is the point of becoming a small satellite party which is effectively captive to the Tories? It is to swing the overall result. To eliminate a truly independent third force with 20-25% support and an aspiration for realignment of the centre-left, and to replace it with a Tory stooge party with 10% support, is to give the Tories a massive head start in the 2015 elections.

    Oh, by the way, let’s just make sure we retain an appointed element in the House of Lords. We shall need a mechanism to reward the Tories’ most important long term mole, shan’t we?

  • The Barnsley result was a disaster and there’s no use pretending otherwise. You don’t even have the excuse that your vote was “squeezed” because another party was the main challenger to Labour.

    The real disaster, of course, was joning the Tories in a coalition and being swamped by them. Clegg should have listened to Shirley Williams, who advocated “confidence and supply” support for a minority Tory government. That would have satisfied those right-leaning Lib Dems and could have been portrayed as the party “acting in the national interest”. At the same time, the party could have supported Labour in preventing the rabid right neo-cons in the Tory Party from implementing their crackpot agenda for the NHS, the Welfare State, and education, which would have satisfied the social democratic wing of your party.

    The only way for the Lib Dems to salvage any long-term credibility is to leave this awful government and save the people of this country from the destruction by Tory dogma of things they hold dear, such as the NHS.

  • Tony Dawson 4th Mar '11 - 6:08pm

    “I’d like to be a fly on the wall when the first LibDem MP (or Labour, it has to be said) speaks of illegal and immoral wars in his earshot.”

    A lot of the people who fight in stupid wars think they are illegal or immoral. It’s just that being servicemen (unless conscripted) they have signed up to fight in whatever illegal or immoral enterprise upon which their government (or President Bliar) decide to embark in the Queen’s name.

  • James Sampson 4th Mar '11 - 6:57pm

    “Don’t Panic……….indeed”

    This result taken together with the analysis of OES are worrying for the party, what is more worrying for me is the extreme complacency from those at the top of the party who appear totally out of touch with what is going on. The party, in 10 short months, has lost it’s image as a progressive party that fights injustice and is now seen as a satellite of the tory party and as a party that has sacrificed virtually everything they claimed to stand for pre May 2010 for a place in government. George Osborne, if he is anything, is a supreme political tactician and he has masterminded this whole arrangement quite brilliantly from the Tory point of view. This government is implementing such radical policies, at such breakneck speed, that even Thatcher dared not do, and we are taking the electoral drubbing for them. If any good at all comes from the government’s plans then the Tories will take full credit, it is laughable that the LD’s will reap a political reward. Our voters did not vote for the destruction of the NHS, privatisation of everything that moves and the savage, ideological cuts that will, whatever happens with the economy, forever change our country. Libraries, leisure centres, youth centres etc will not all re-open once the deficit has gone, they are gone for good, the tories couldn’t care less about local services such as these as there core supporters don’t use them, but we should be fighting these proposals in the streets, not signing up to them.

    When I hear statements like Cameron’s recent pledge to allow all public services, education, health, social care etc to open up to private providers or Michael Fallon’s recent speech about how this govt is being far more radical with reforms than Thatcher’s, I just wonder how true Lib Dems feel. This is so far at variance from everything I believe in, and the people at the top of our party stay silent. Nothing from Simon Hughes, Tim Farron or any senior member. The idea that to be in coalition means you have to disagree in private but present a united front in public is a total nonsense and is, I believe, THE fatal error that is being made. If we are seen as in agreement with everything then there is no reason for anyone to vote Lib Dem, if they like the policies regarding schools, hospitals, the welfare state etc then they will vote tory, simple as that. If however, they are on the opposite side of the argument then how in good faith can they vote Lib Dem??

    Nick Clegg’s handling of this whole arrangement has been nothing short of disastrous for the long term future of our party, he will no doubt be sitting as a European Commissioner in a few years time, fulfilling his dream, while the rest of us will be left picking up the pieces. I am staggered at the complacency there is at all levels of the party, something must change and quickly!

  • Steve Radford Cllr 4th Mar '11 - 6:58pm

    The Barnsley result sould not be ignored. How can any party present itself as left of centre and then on all the key economic issues follow a right wing tory agenda

    The Tories do not feel the need to cut public spending as short term but a long term social engineering backwards

    With a by election witha lby-election caused by a abour MP done for fiddling expenses in any other time would have been ripre pickings

    The longer the coalition lasts the lib dem will end up emasculated like the Nationa Liberals

  • >AlexKN
    Believe that if it helps

    Sorry? Believe what????
    I said we lost 5,000 votes. They didn’t go to anyone else.
    How is that ‘tooth fairy land’?

    >It is not clear what percentage have gone to Labour. Most I suspect

    Not much of a morale boost to Labour if ‘going to them’ doesn’t include actually voting for them.
    (Or did 5,000 May Lib Dem voters switch to Labour and 8,000 May Labour voters stay in bed?)

    >Some are not voting but the party cannot count on more than a handful returning in the near future.

    Never said they could. We were well and truly stuffed in this one.
    Just that in a Labour heartland, where people might’ve been expected to jump at the chance to punish the coalition for deeply unpopular policies, they did so by staying at home, rather than by switching their vote to Labour.

    Tories lost 4,000 votes and UKIP only gained 1,000 (was it?). Where do you reckon the Tory votes went?

    Overall suggests: “Yes, we hate cuts. But we don’t trust Labour to do any better, so we won’t vote for anyone.”
    That or massive apathy.

  • Depressed Ex 4th Mar '11 - 7:44pm

    I said we lost 5,000 votes. They didn’t go to anyone else.
    How is that ‘tooth fairy land’?

    Because you just made it up, obviously.

  • @Tony Dawson
    “It’s just that being servicemen (unless conscripted) they have signed up to fight in whatever illegal or immoral enterprise upon which their government (or President Bliar) decide to embark in the Queen’s name.”

    Absolute rubbish. When a serviceman I was fully entitled to disobey any order that I could reasonably have suspected to be illegal. Believe it or not all the service personnel I know (which would be most of my circle of close friends) did not believe the Iraq War or Afghanistan to be either illegal or immoral.

    Many felt let down by the lack of post war planning in Iraq but they see this as aseperate issue….

  • Ruth Bright 4th Mar '11 - 9:28pm

    It is interesting that no-one has attached any blame to our candidate. He showed enormous courage and dignity when he made his concession speech. However, it surely displayed woeful judgement for him to put on youtube a very personal interview he had previously conducted with Nick Griffin’s wife.

  • @Ruth
    I agree, Fielding a posh bloke from London was a big mistake. Did this piss off the locals / activists and result in no effective campaign?
    Any yorkshire libdem councillor could have done better.

  • Ed The Snapper 5th Mar '11 - 12:22am

    Unbelievable head-burying by the LDs. Paddy Ashdown was on the radio this AM talking comparing this result to the Battle Of Waterloo. It is always a bad sign when politicians use military metaphors. The LD party just does not seem to have realised where it’s votes have been coming from all these years. There are few voters who are committed “liberals”. Instead, the LD vote has been based on protest votes. Those protest voters see little point in voting for a party that is so closely entwined with a governing Conservative Party. Now the protest voters have gone elsewhere or given up. The only people left to vote LD are a dwindling band of committed “liberals”. Listen to Nick Clegg’s appalling appearance on Desert Island Discs to find out why the LD party has completely lost it’s direction, purpose and voters.

  • This result must surely be the wake up call for Clegg and Co.

    I have voted LD all my life (22 yrs of voting), in May 2010 what I didn’t vote for was the increase in tution fees (after all the pledges etc – disgraceful) and a slashing of funding to higher education, no pupil premiuim (spin it anyway you want but its just a movement of funds from one area to another from a reduced – in real terms – education budget), a massive, highly risky, ideological (Tory) reorganisation of the health service, unfair and regressive tax and benefit changes, cuts to the EMA, no action on bankers bonuses and their risky actions, an ill conceived and divisive Free Schools policy….I could go on.

    I can see one major LD policy that has been enacted – the increase in the tax free allowance. However, if this coalition lasts 5 years how much do you want to bet that we will have reached £10K tax free?

    The LD have got a vote on AV. The weakest form of PR (in fact not actually PR at all – but never mind), don’t think the electorate cannot see that AV is a terrible compromise and may just vote to keep the status quo.

    As others have said Cameron is using the LD as a human shield. Look at Saturdays papers – one story has Clegg and LD in election meltdown, whilst at same time Cameron and family celebrate new babys christening.

    Wake up!!!

    I support coalition govts, a proper coalition govt. irons out the excesses of all parties. The problem here is we don’t have a coalition govt. We have a Tory party with some LD hangers on. The LD’s are in government but not in power. Clegg needs to stop patronising the LD faithful and the electorate in general with this nonsense about ‘we didn’t win the election outright therefore we have to do this or that…’. The Tories didn’t win the electorate outright either yet the LD seem to roll over in the face of every Tory policy. Clegg was the Kingmaker, he had a strong position and other than a govt. car I fail to see what he has achieved.

    My greatest concern is that this is turning out to be a very very bad advertisement for coalition govt. and the golden opportunity Clegg had to demonstrate how a coalition would/could work for the good of all sides has been squandered. I fear the AV vote is lost. Clegg has lost all credibility, if he stands up and says vote for AV because i say this or that – well, it will be counterproductive at best.

    Clegg and Cable et al like patronising us with comments like ‘this is a grown up govt. blah blah’. If this was a grown up coalition then we wouldn’t have had half the selfish and regressive Tory policies being implemented. Clegg needs to get some backbone when it comes to dealing with Cameron.

    One last worry. The LD are propping up Cameron and Osbourne. Whilst Cameron might be a good politician, I think he is turning out to be a poor PM. Frankly, 10 mths into office he looks out of his depth.

  • Old Codger Chris 5th Mar '11 - 1:54am

    Just 2 observations.
    Firstly, as a few posts have pointed out but others seem to have missed, the BNP’s vote share in the Oldham byelection was smaller than at the General Election.

    Secondly, although the Lib Dem vote will surely recover to some extent in time for the next General Election (this was a byelection after all) AV won’t save the party. Labour supporters who have voted Lib Dem tactically in the past are now unlikely to cast a second preference for the Lib Dems (so that will help the Tories). Some Tory voters will give their second preference to the Lib Dems (others will favour UKIP) which may hurt Labour in certain seats, but if the Party can no longer take votes from Labour it will cease to be viable. Since the flawed logic of AV only counts the second preferences of those voting for the least succesful parties, the chief importance of the Lib Dems in AV elections will be the second preferences cast by their dwindling band of supporters.

  • OK…a bit late joining this topic but i thought someone may value my opinion.

    I live in the Barnsley central and have done all my life. I voted Libdem at the last election bacuse I saw them as the only fair party left. I did NOT vote in this one because I had no-one to vote for.

    Let me try to explain what happened here….

    UKIP ran a very effective campain, many posters around town and many supporters on the streets explaining their position lead to a great result for them, it is no surprise to me that they finished second.

    Barnsley people feel there has been an influx of ‘foreigners’, something that they have not seen before on this scale, and a flat refusal by all the main parties to talk about this, has left some people in Barnsley feeling bitter towards them hance the BNP vote. Barnsley people are genuinely concerned by this, threatened even, this is down to a basic lack of knowledge. Barnsley folk are not rascist by nature but some feel the BNP are the only ones they can turn to. Every day I come accross the same biggited views, but a 5 minute conversation can easily alter their perception, why is no party bothering to do this.
    However, these are NOT votes that would have gone to anyone else, these are Labour voters turning to radical parties like BNP and UKIP.

    Those like me, that have voted libdem for a few years, have been badly let down by the party. A coalition with the devil was bad enough, but there are things in Barnsley that the party has done that hurts far worse.

    Scrapping EMA was a big mistake, kids in Barnsley dont have rich parents, high asperations and severly lack ambition. The education system has let them down consistently for decades, the EMA was getting these kids into college, on apprentiships and, much more importantly, into training They woul not have looked at without the payment of EMA. All the natinal talk about tuition fees meant nothing to Barnsley, the majority of our kids have no interest in univeristy, in fact, if the govt had decided to allow upto £100,000 in fees and kept the EMA I guess there wouldnt have been much of an uproar here.

    Cuts to coucil spendng, throwing the vunerable away to be cared for by hard up families and a seemingly complete lack of fight from the libdems has left a bitter taste in the mouth, blaming the old government is getting very old and frankly we are sick of hearing it.

    Changes to the benfit system is the final nail in the coffin…i expect this post to be cencored as the others have for even bringing this up….but here goes…..the majority of IB, ESA and DLA claiments ARE genuine, but the propsed changes to these benefits will leave more around 80% of claiments thrown off benefits and looking for work, that they are not fit enough to do and isnt there anyway….we know Labour has long since turned its back on these people. prefering to call them workshy or scroungers, but where is the traditional voice of the liberal democrats that used to stand up for the rights of the vunerable, its gone.! Worse, its cencored heavily on this forum in particular.

    Cuts to all services; benefits, police, council and NHS all given the green light by the libdems.

    Libdem voters in Barnsley felt that a voice in government may hold back the tory butchers, this hasnt happened, add to this the consistently broken promises by Nick Clegg, and you begin to feel that the libdmes dont have a party any more, they are just tory whipping boys, put in the firing line by a very clever Cameron.

    This is the reason they lost their deposit…”but its only Barnsley, they are Labour anyway.” I hear you say, thats why the party decided not to bother turning up for this one, its a foregone conclusion. Yes it is only Barnsley, it is a Labour stronghold, but this is just one of many towns, particualarly in the north, that has completely turned its back on LD and it wont “just be Barnsley”.

    The economy wont pick up while the Tories are in charge, they dont care, and this will have a severe impact on the LD’s.
    We all know what the party leaders are pinning thier hopes on…AV…well I have news for you fellas, with Tory voters strongly apposed and Labour voters against anything that this government proposes, you can expect a massive defeat in that one too. There will be no change to the voting system and where will this leave the LD’s.
    I think we all know.

    So, as has been said to me a few times on this forum….I wont let the door hit me on the arse on the way out.

  • This is what happens when a Party’s leadership pursues the Vanities of Power and sells out its grassroots. Nemesis follows Hubris and Nick Clegg possesses the latter in Spades

  • Depressed Ex 5th Mar '11 - 9:38am

    Secondly, although the Lib Dem vote will surely recover to some extent in time for the next General Election …

    I really don’t think that’s a safe assumption. I see people saying the party is unpopular just now because “the cuts are really starting to bite.” Wrong. The cuts are really STARTING TO BE DISCUSSED. To take a small but visible example, people are discussing which libraries to close. Don’t you think it will be worse when those libraries actually close? Councils are issuing warning notices. But the vast bulk of the redundancies are still to come. This year’s free-for-all in university admissions is going to be assessed, to see just how wrong the government’s foolhardy assumptions about average fees will turn out to be, and THEN the further cuts to funding (or student numbers) will come. As for the NHS reorganisation, that is potentially the most dangerous piece of recklessness of all, and I think public awareness of that is still pretty low.

    People are, I think, taking heart from the fact that the party has picked up a point or two in the opinion polls, ending the relentless decline that brought a new low every month or two. But I think that’s only the natural consequence of the fact that the tuition fees debacle is no longer getting daily news coverage.

    Before the next election, Lib Dem popularity may indeed recover somewhat from its low. But I don’t think we’ve seen its low yet, by any means.

  • I think I’m going to discount any of the above messages that have phrases like ‘bloodbath in May’ in them, since hopefully no blood will be shed anywhere then and the use of it suggests more about the state of mind of the writer than anything else. Personally, I predict that May will be disappointing, particularly in the welsh and scottish devolved adminisitrations’ elections. In Wales because little has been done to counter the ‘con dems; line trotted out by Labour and now parroted )as usual) by Plaid and in Scotland because of our ludicrous position of not forming a coalition with the SNP after last time because – horror! – they wanted to hold a referendum on independence. A major low spot for me, worse than the current hoo-ha over barnsley, was hearing LD representatives defending not consulting the people on extending the right to self-govt to a small nation, scotland, because it would cost too much to hold the vote. Below pitiful. That was the first time that elected LDs resiled from the preamble to the party constitution, and they did so pointlessly, since even if the LDs are now firmly a unionist party, they also knew that the referendum would likely be lost.

  • Old Codger Chris 5th Mar '11 - 10:19am

    Depressed Ex – I would expect the Lib Dem vote to be a bit less of a disaster come 2015 – but we’re in uncharted territory so I could be wrong. I obviously meant to say that the BNP vote in BARNSLEY was down, not Oldham, some of us southerners get confused when we venture north of Brum.

  • Depressed Ex 5th Mar '11 - 1:46pm

    I spent a lot of time talking to the voters of Barnsley. No one mentioned that youtube interview, lots of people said how impressed they were with him.
    Dominic was a magnificent candidate: good with the press, personable, incredibly hard-working. He was the only candidate who tapped into the key local issue of Labour’s plans for the market.

    Isn’t it a lot worse getting such a terrible result with a “magnificent candidate,” that many people were impressed with, than with a mediocre, unimpressive one?

    And WHY didn’t the party have enough activists to counter the message? Lack of campaigners at by-elections has never been a problem for the Lib Dems in the past. Was it organisational incompetence, or is this a measure of how disillusioned the activists are with the leadership at the moment?

  • @ Jedibeeftrix
    “As to its morality, I can only speak from personal experience of growing up in a ‘benign’ dictatorship when I say that the draw towards representative and accountable government is very powerful, how much more so in iraq is not hard to imagine.”

    Then you will agree with me that it was right for Blair and Bush to topple the dictator Hussein and bring democracy to Iraq. In my view, that example inspired and encouraged all those masses throughout the Middle East who are presently attempting to remove their dictators and join the twenty first century. Well done Tony Blair and George Bush!

  • @sam

    Thanks for the insight Sam. Maybe instead of blithely presuming that the party vote will inevitably recover, dismissing such results as ‘labour win in labour area shocker’ or offering platitudes of the ‘public don’t understand the policies and difficult decisions we face’ variety perhaps the people of this party should actually pay heed and listen to what those who once supported them actually feel and think.

    well done Sam and stop putting your hand in the sand Lib Dems.

  • There are a lot of contributions here, which say what is happening really well and I am heartened by the Liberal Democrats who acknowledge that what is happening with the break up and privatisation of the NHS and privatisation of everything is not when people voting for the Liberal Democrats signed up for.

    It is clear that if the Liberal Democrats continue on this path, the LD’s will be obliterated as a force. But that is not the main issue. It is the breaking of this country by the Conservatives. My wife is a nurse. She has worked for both the private and public sector. Understand this, the private providers are mainly interested in increasing share holder value. Charging people as much as they can for the minimum service they can get away.
    The NHS, has some faults, but it is cherished by the people of this country. Any change needs to be carefully considered, consulted and piloted. If the LD’s allow for the break up and catastrophic handing over of the service to the private sector, with little controls, then that is something everyone in the country will pay for a long time.

    It is surely this is what matters. I am hoping that Liberal Democrats can help stop this terrible Tory break up of our public services. In doing so, the Liberal Democrats can fulfil the mandate that the country gave them as a moderating force on the wild free market schemes of the Tories. In doing the right thing, it is the only way that the Liberal Democrats will save itself as a party.

    Save the NHS. I implore you to act with some conscience and values.

  • Depressed Ex 5th Mar '11 - 9:22pm

    “You make that sound as meeting the EU average is a desirable thing in its own right, i.e. it is virtuous to spend more because the EU spends more.
    I reject that argument, as i demand that Britain strives to maintain its advantage as a low-tax/low-regulation economy, as rather than accepting your excuse for the deficit i expect public spending to fall in line with taxation.”

    Do you “demand” that, indeed?

    That’s all very well, but the snag is that the platform on which the Lib Dems encouraged people to vote for them last year bore no resemblance to what you’re advocating.

    People can argue for anything on earth they like, but they should have the decency to be honest about their beliefs when they are standing for election. And if Liberal Democrats have been elected on the basis of public services that are properly funded through taxation, which was their claim last year, people like you should not be urging them to abandon that policy in favour of some loony-libertarian, small-state nightmare.

    Surely Barnsley Central has shown you what the people think of that – when they have a chance to express an opinion?

  • Cllr Nick Cotter 5th Mar '11 - 10:50pm


    Thanks for your contribution to this debate as a Central Barnsley Resident – I read your comments with great interest and hope that some of the “great and good” in our party will do so too ?!

    Please can I suggest that you send a copy of your contribution to our Parliamentary Leadership ??

    Kind Regards,

    Nick Cotter.

  • Depressed Ex 6th Mar '11 - 9:06am

    No – obviously you’re advocating a radically different ideology from the one the Lib Dems stood for at the last election.

    Either go through the party’s democratic channels to try to change its policies, or join a different party. But nothing gives you the right to “demand” that it betray the principles it was elected on and adopt yours instead.

  • Depressed Ex 6th Mar '11 - 10:01am

    Anyhow, on to Leicester South, where the Lib Dems polled more than a quarter of the vote last year, having actually held the seat between 2004 and 2005 following a previous by-election.

    Would any of the loyalists like to set a benchmark for the party’s performance there? Both the BNP and UKIP were weaker there last year than in Barnsley Central.

    I’d suggest that if the Lib Dems fail to make the top three in Leicester South, even the most dedicated of Clegg’s apologists will be hard pressed to find excuses.

  • How much more can be said about this crushing defeat?The simple fact is the Liberal Democrats message was rejected. Yes you can argue that you were disadvantaged by fighting the cause in a safer than safe Labour seat, but if your message had any relevance you would have gathered more than 4% of the vote. The electorate are rejecting you,not just in Barnsley, in Salford last week in a local authority byelection you managed 3% of the poll.You are now on course to see the last major shred of Lib Dem policy swept away with the crushing rejection of AV.This lack lustre poorest of poor alternatives to what you really want will be blown away a week before polling when the tory press turn their big guns on to blowing away the whole idea of AV, thus making sure any discussion on any other alternative to fptp will be junked for a generation. The other disaster is you cannot use Mr Clegg, as he is so toxic now each time he appeares you lose votes. The winners in all this ? Oh by a country mile the Conservatives, which will of course suit the right leaning leadership of the Lib Dem Party.The minority of you who hold our progressive ideas have just one alternative…..Join the Labour Party

  • Never mind we only have 8 more weeks, before the LE and referendum, then once we know the results we can gauge how bad it really is. There will be those who will still quibble that the results are not as bad as it looks, but still we will know the truth.

  • The danger for the Party is that thinking the Liberal Democrats will be saved by the AV vote even if it wins. A sizable portion of those who voted for the Liberal Democrats will never vote for the Liberal Democrats ever again in any form for a generation. The only people who may put up the second preference vote is the Conservative party.

    The Conservatives are pushing ahead with policies that if presented at an election would not have seem them as the biggest party. The rushed and ill thought out break up and effective privatisation of the NHS must be stopped. It can be stopped by prinicipled Liberal Democrats.

    I don’t understand why it is necessary for the Liberal Democrats to allow every ill thought out and terrible Conservative Policy, particularly if it was not the manifesto; and opposite to what voters perceived to be what they were voting for. It must be still be possible to part of government and disagree. Isn’t this what democracy is about. If the Conservatives want to push ahead with a really ill thought out policy then surely it is them, putting the government at risk ?

    The Liberal Democrats should stop selling themselves so cheaply.

    In Fighting the privatisation of the NHS, the Liberal Democrats also indicate that they are a distinctive party. Maintaining a strong third party is important for democracy in this country. The counterbalance can still work.

    If the Conservative policies go through, the country will suffer very serious damage, that may take many years or may not recover from. The Liberal Democrats can still avoid obliteration in helping to stop some of these wild unmandated Conservatives policies.

    Please don’t sleep walk over a cliff. Please listen to what the polls and voters are telling you.

  • I have said several times that Liberal Democrats are hanging on the AV vote and hoping the polls are wrong, If AV and LE in May goes badly there will be nothing left at the table not even crumbs, only then will the realisation of what the cost has been to the country, for a piddling little compromise.

  • I have just read Dominic Carman’s rant at the people of Barnsley in the Mail on Sunday. His pejorative generalisations are a slur on the people of Barnsley. Politicians who are bad losers and who turn on the electorate when they lose only alienate the public even further. Dominic Carman and the Lib Dems lost in Barnsley because the Tory and Lib Dem policies are making the lives of the people of Barnsley and many other parts of the United Kingdom a misery. The people of Barnsley have sent you a message. Don’t shoot the messenger: change your policies and change your leader.

  • Old Codger Chris 6th Mar '11 - 4:19pm

    What difference would AV make to the Lib Dems at the next General Election? We won’t get many second preferences from Labour voters. Should get some from Conservatives – but the Lib Dems would need to get a respectable number of first preference votes for these second preferences to win them a seat.

    It’s likely that 2015 will see a reversion to two-party politics in England, or two plus a couple of minnows, the Lib Dems and UKIP – and I wouldn’t bet on the Lib Dems retaining third place. Wales and Scotland will be two-party – Labour and Nationalist. AV (which is a rotten system anyway) will make naff all difference.

  • Depressed Ex 6th Mar '11 - 5:29pm

    For now, it’s a choice between an awful system, first past the post, and a somewhat more democratic system, AV.

    That’s a matter of opinion. Where FPTP elects the most popular candidate, AV substitutes a kind of mixture of most popular and least unpopular. It’s obvious why the Lib Dems would support that, but it’s very questionable whether it’s “more democratic.” Certainly it’s not intrinsically any more proportional, which has been the criterion that the party has always emphasised in the past.

  • So then, any comments at all about Carmans tirade against Barnsley? But then, why am I surprised, my local Lib Dem councillor wont speak to me because I go to University

  • Depressed Ex 6th Mar '11 - 6:28pm

    To be honest, it seemed to me that it was much more about Barnsley’s tirade against Carman. No wonder the party didn’t want to encourage activists to go there! I think it should be required reading for the happy-clappy Cleggies who think it will all be forgiven and forgotten by the next general election.

  • I see no Iceberg 6th Mar '11 - 6:45pm

    It’s a shame Clegg has totally undercut his argument for AV, that it helps get rid of safe seats, by now saying the safe seat of Barnsley wasn’t even worth fighting for which is why Clegg doesn’t care that the Lib Dem was sixth.

    As for Carman himself, he has shown himself to be totally unsuitable for office with his pathetic blaming of the voters. No wonder he was given the poison chalice of a suicide mission in Barnsley with that kind of barely concealed contempt for the public. I trust no-one will be foolish enought choose him as a candidate again. Though his attack on Clegg for being a no-show in Barnsley has probably ensured that rather than his tirade against a public which rejects him.
    We know which is considered the greater crime under the Clegg regime and why. 😉

  • So, youre saying that had they elected him, then all of his opinions about Barnsley would not have come out? God it’s like after 10 months, “Why are they so mad at us?” what you dont do is insult, and misled the country about how rubbish the place is, when you lose an election, he kept ito respond to democracy so quiet when he was running and wanting votes – disgraceful way to respond to democracy in action

  • Depressed Ex 6th Mar '11 - 7:09pm

    Mind you, Carman is the model of a modern LIberal Democrat in one respect – what he says after the polls have closed bears no resemblance at all to what he said during the campaign.

    “What has pleasantly surprised me in Barnsley is the number of voters who are genuinely open-minded about who they will support.”
    D. Carman, 28 Feb 2011

    “‘Liberal Democrat? I wouldn’t spit on you if you were on fire,’ says the middle-aged man to whom I offer my hand, his eyes menacingly warning me to keep my distance.
    Three hours later, another man catches sight of my yellow rosette and spits in my direction, narrowly missing my left shoulder. Welcome to Barnsley Central.”
    D. Carman, 6 Mar 2011

  • Old Codger Chris 6th Mar '11 - 10:45pm

    Are we quite sure that Carman’s piece wasn’t “edited” by the newspaper? It was the Mail on Sunday after all!

    If the rag did faithfully reproduce Carman’s words the piece doesn’t reflect much credit on him, but the true significance is the amount of hostility he faced because of his yellow rosette. Hated by the locals, ignored by the Party hierachy, he must feel a bit shell-shocked.

  • Depressed Ex 7th Mar '11 - 9:14am

    Careful, George.

    You’re starting to sound like an Iraqi Information Minister …

  • But Dane, the issues I have with LD support to AV are

    1. It is a system you have never endorsed before, – that gives the view that it is just a mechanism for you to get a system you want put in. Honestly will you stop at AV?

    2. The comments made to me by the Lib Dems canvassing for it in our area, saying about ‘perpetual Liberal government’ – I dont want a system that means oen party is a shoe in – why should I vote for it, when all the messages I get is how its only being introduced out of your own self interest

  • Go have a read about AV and how good it is not

  • AV is useless to me as I live in a safe tory seat ( Mid-Sussex – Over 50% of the vote in 2010 )

    I though Serena would stand a good chance that time, but with the benefit of hindsight and how it’s worked out in coalition I’m glad she didn’t. I really feel like I wasted my vote and it still angers me now …..

    So it will be a no from me in May to AV, and also no to Heather Ross – No more votes from me in the locals.

  • @Dane

    The point I made above illustrates why AV is only partially good.

    In my case, any vote I make is a wasted vote for all intents and purposes, as the present incumbent has over 50% of the vote.

  • Lost Lib Dem 7th Mar '11 - 4:26pm

    How can Dane Clouston claim to know that she would have been the Liberal MP for Newbury in 1974 under AV?

    That makes the big assumption that people voting under the FPTP system would have not voted differently under AV. If the voting choices were different, so might the result.

  • I see no Iceberg 7th Mar '11 - 4:30pm

    “Frankly, I was surprised there wasn’t more hostility to my Lib Dem rosette.”

    So you expected to do far worse than merely sixth ?
    Did you expect the Monster Raving Loony Party Candidate to beat you ?

    Frankly, I’m not surprised at the levels of complacency and spin anymore, nor what the fallout after May will mean for those who are already trying to write off and spin May’s result as ‘perfectly normal for a Party in Government and nothing whatsoever to be concerned about.’

    Those Lib Dem councillors and activists on the ground are going to have zero tolerance for that kind of complacency and the repercussions will be huge.

  • Dane Clouston
    “The result in Newbury in 1974 was Con 24,000, Lib (me) 23,000, Lab 10,000. With AV I would have been the Liberal MP.”

    The example you have given, is exactly why I do not want AV, there are too many close seats that could be picked off by Liberal Democrats for the same reasoning, which in turn makes coalition governments more likely.

    Then if you take that the sitting coalition can then “agree” to lock out under AV, where is the democracy in that, coalition governments are also bad for democracy as this coalition is showing, no mention in the election of the polices now being forced through by the government and each partner uses the same excuse… we cannot form a single party government to follow our own policy, although it seems as though most Conservative policies are being forced through. No one voted for the government to do what they are doing other than Conservatives it is standard policy for them.

    The sad thing is Liberal Democrats are being held responsible, eventually the Conservatives will take some of that responsibility (NHS), but only when it is obvious there is no longer any Liberal Democrats left to blame

  • @ Dane Clouston
    “Posted 7th March 2011 at 6:42 pm
    It is ridiculous to say that AV will not make safe seats less safe.” go have a read…
    “Nearly one third of MPs in the 2010 general election were returned with over 50% of the vote without so much as anyone whispering “what’s your second fancy?”… The fact remains that a significant proportion of safe seats would remain totally unaffected by AV.”

    “Entrenched patterns of preference transfers and “plumping” will simply create new safe seats throughout the UK. And a significant number of seats would be won without a single transfer being made.
    AV may make some marginal seats much safer, especially if an electoral coalition was formed by the LibDems and one of the two main parties, “locking out” the other main party from many seats. ”

    Of course that we can believe Mr Clegg and the Liberal Democrats when they say “we will not make any election pacts”, like we believed the pledges, only good for the time it takes to say…

    It is ridiculous to say AV will make any safe seat less safe under AV than it currently is under FPTP, tactical voting will still take place you cannot stop it… it will be follow the party lead instead of individually done. Expect to see voting cards issued by media or party, vote this way, in Australia 40% of voters follow the voting card, so actually better tactical voting. go have a read
    “With AV the old game of tactical voting is not put away, it just has new rules. It allows the supporters of 1st parties to vote tactically when 2nd and 3rd parties are close.”

    I won’t go into the expenses scandal, paying the money back made it all ok. (sarcasm)

  • Old Codger Chris 8th Mar '11 - 10:31am

    The nonsense of AV is that it begins by counting the second preferences of electors who favoured the candidate at the bottom of the poll, and works its way upwards stopping when a candidate is deemed to have 50% plus one (including second and even third etc preferences). It’s possible for the second preferences of electors who favoured the third-placed candidate to be ignored – although these electors obviously outnumber those “below” them.

    Much better to go for the Supplementary Vote used for directly electing mayors in London and elsewhere. All candidates below the top two are immediately eliminated, which places more importance on first preferences, and the second preferences of all other electors are distributed where applicable.

    Of course, all non PR systems are more or less rubbish for electing a parliament. Dane – I understand why you dislike the idea of all MPs representing multi-member constituencies but what’s so terrible about a top-up list system, especially if it’s an open list? I’d prefer FPTP plus top-up to AV Plus however.

  • Oh dear…
    If only we lived in a perfect world… but we do not
    As for Unrealistic and hypothetical, sorry to say these things that I pointed out actually happen already in some of those countries that use AV.

    Now let me be honest I was not pleading, CBA to do that, but several people on LDV have moaned about the NO voters not putting their case, now you see why, just as I will no longer bother. So I will just go back to doing the same, and just say…

    It is ridiculous to say AV is better than FPTP.

  • Old Codger Chris 8th Mar '11 - 5:42pm

    How is it “unrealistic” to argue that no MP should be elected thanks to third preferences – let alone fourth preferences?

  • This thread is about finishing 6th and some possible reasons.

    Many on it have excellent and eloquent reasoned responses as to why.

    For me it is not representing the views that people voted for in the election.

    I am really concerned about what is happening to the NHS. Good policy or change to such an important institution needs to be consulted, piloted and considered very carefully. I made a heart felt plea to Liberal Democrats to save the NHS, regain some credability and in doing so, save the the LIberal Democrat party.

    What do I see after ? A deflection into an utterly and selfish discussion onto AV. This does not help the country or the destruction being wrought on the country by the Conservatives with Liberal Democrat support. There seems to be no acknowledgement of what the Liberal Democrats are doing as a party and the effect it is having.

    It must be understood that AV is a side show in this instance, a very large amount of voters will not vote for the LIberal Democrats for a generation in any form due to the current actions it is taken. If people want Conservative policies they will vote for the Conservatives. What is the point of voting LIberal Democrats ?

    Dane Clouston, you are very guilty of ignoring what is going on and deflecting this thread. If you want a thread on AV then create one for that. BTW, if you’re party in the 70’s had been doing what they have been doing, you would not get the second preference votes.

    Please take your head out of the sand.

  • Dane Clouston
    Posted 7th March 2011 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    “Lost LIb Dem”

    I (him rather than her, thanks!) know that I would have been LIberal MP for Newbury in 1974 because so many Labour voters said after the close results that they wished they had voted Liberal to get the Tory out.

    I was standing on a platform of greater equality of opportunity in education, health and the inheritance ot wealth – against the Tories who had held the seat for many years.


    In my comments about the 70’s. I was referring to the above. If the same situation was repeated today, the Liberal Democrats would not get 1st or 2nd preference anti Conservative votes.

    I was not aware of making any irrelevant insults. Apologies if you have taken it that way. It was not intentional. I am just passionate about saving the NHS.

    Some questions for you. Do you understand how many voters feel who have voted Liberal Democrats and are now facing a very big, hurried and unpiloted change to the NHS ? Do you understand how that may make people feel very unhappy ? Do you connect that to the 6th position at all ? Final question. Do you support what is happening to the NHS, with the speed of and the change itself ?

  • Old Codger Chris 10th Mar '11 - 1:59am

    Jack Timms is right. And it isn’t only the NHS. It’s Education, the future of our young people (who are the future, obviously) and increased homelessness. A return to the divided society which nobody who voted Lib Dem last May envisiged.

    For years the Lib Dems in my area tried to oust the sitting Tory – now a minister with responsibilty for some of the most contentious policies. We might as well have voted to increase his majority.

    No voting system will save the party now it’s been hijacked.

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