“By-election was a hard-fought contest” – Clegg

From a party news release:

Commenting on the by-election result in Oldham East and Saddleworth, Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg, said:

This was a very hard-fought contest but we were not able to gain this Labour seat on this occasion. I’d like to pay tribute to our superb candidate, Elwyn Watkins, and his team up in Oldham who have run an exceptional campaign.

I am proud of each and every one of the hundreds of activists and volunteers who have brought the fight to Labour’s front door in a way that will have confounded our critics.

It was always going to be a big ask to take this seat from Labour, given the circumstances. We are undertaking some enormously difficult decisions because Labour left Britain’s economy in a mess and we are now forced to clean up after them.

By 2015, I hope that the people of Oldham and Saddleworth will see, like everyone else in the country, that the difficult choices we made were the right ones and that Britain is in better shape than when we entered Government.

The result of the Oldham East and Saddleworth Parliamentary by-election:

Lab 14,718
LD Elwyn Watkins 11,160
Conservatives 4,481
UKIP 2,029
BNP 1,560
Green 530
Monster Raving Loony 145
English Democrats 144
Bus Pass Elvis 67
Pirate 96

48.06% turnout

Labour HOLD.

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61 Comments

  • The blame for this lies squarely at his door. His approach to coalition, his unrepentant attitude when “no more lies” became “just a few more lies” , but mostly his attempt to spin every dodgy Tory policy as the best option when they should have been seen by the public as the compromise needed from junior coalition partners.

  • Good result in very difficult circumstances. Should give encouragement to everyone defending their seats in May. Get out and campaign from tomorrow and we will maintain our base. Keep working and keep proving them wrong.

  • In May the Tories won’t be rolling over – individual Tory councillors will be fighting for their personal survival and the LibDem’s actual electoral position will be well and truly exposed.

    Still I’m happy that Nick’s happy because as long as he avoids facing reality Labour can only get stronger and keep taking former LibDem votes.

  • ian the libdem vote in % terms held up because many tory voters took a lead from cameron and switched support to elwyn. that isn’t going to happen in may because in many seats tory and libdems are in a straight fight and tories want every vote for themselves,do you not understand that?

  • Not a terrible surprise to find out that the same general number of people that marched out to vote Brown in May voted Milliband in Janurary. I’d place the reason why the Lib Dems didn’t win this at disenchantement, not some Labour strength.

    This seat will definitely be vulnerable in 2015. 😛

  • I am disappointed about how labour reacted to woolas’s bad behaviour. The man who came up with the “make the white vote angry” is still.a labour councillor. Cllr battye was also regularly seen showing the labour candidate around the constituency. The agent who gave such a remarkable and dishonest account of the election in the witness stand has also been welcome.

    I am.sorry that elwyn has lost to a party that thinks racially divisive campaigns and out and out lying are permissible.

  • Andrew Suffield 14th Jan '11 - 7:04am

    ian the libdem vote in % terms held up because many tory voters took a lead from cameron and switched support to elwyn.

    I’m curious how you intend to prove that. The alternative explanation is that there were a lot of people who wanted to vote Lib Dem, felt unable to do so after the “Lib-Lab pact” because they didn’t want Labour, and now feel more comfortable with it.

    This data point is equivocal.

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Jan '11 - 7:13am

    The simple fact of the matter is that even with considerable support from your masters in Government the Lib Dems were defeated in a seat regulars on here were telling us was very winnable.

    There’s huge lessons to be learned from this but it is already evident your self-serving leader will turn a blind eye to them.

  • So, in order to stay second you had to rely on the Tories to vote for you. You do remember that an awful lot of Tories are anti-EU, mainly homophobic, anti-immigrant etc etc i.e. the very opposite to what Lib Dems used to believe. And you still think you don;t have a problem as a party?

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Jan '11 - 7:22am

    @Andrew Suffield

    What Lib-Lab pact?

  • Again questions need to be asked about the leadership’s judgement. Why take the lead in pressing for an early date? In doing that it created the idea an idea of Lib Dems as front runners and now makes defeat more damaging. Can’t help feeling that a lot of activist energy and goodwill has been expended carelessly.

  • Andrew Suffield 14th Jan '11 - 8:04am

    What Lib-Lab pact?

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Lib-Lab+pact

    So, in order to stay second you had to rely on the Tories to vote for you. You do remember that an awful lot of Tories are anti-EU, mainly homophobic, anti-immigrant etc etc i.e. the very opposite to what Lib Dems used to believe.

    As opposed to Labour voters, who are anti-freedom, anti-youth, and still anti-immigrant. Every party relies on being the second preference of a large number of voters who don’t necessarily agree with the beliefs (for those parties which have any) or policies of the party, but who still think they’re the best offer on the table. This is how UK politics works.

  • Every party relies on being the second preference of a large number of voters who don’t necessarily agree with the beliefs (for those parties which have any) or policies of the party, but who still think they’re the best offer on the table. This is how UK politics works.

    True. And Labour surged ahead thanks to these voters despite the best efforts of Cameron to undermine the campaign of his own party in favour of the Lib Dems.

    Whether or not the Tories tacticaly supported the Lib Dems or switched to Labour is unknowable without asking (although to be honest I find it difficult to believe that a Tory voter would switch to Labour after a few months of a Tory government!). But the fact is that whatever the effects of a staggeringly misjudged campaign from Labour last time round was offset by something in the minds of the public that massively increased their vote. That is something Lib Dems should ponder.

  • Arguably the more important by-election yesterday in terms of the direction it points for the party was Camborne North. It seems to be generally accepted that the Tories are making a pigs ear of running Cornwall, but in this Tory seat the voters switched to Labour instead of us giving Labour their first seat on the Cornwall Unitary Authority. Not a good omen.

  • Surely LIbDems have much more in common with Labour than the Tories. Not identical for sure but on paper a far more logical and cohesive potential partnership, along perhaps, with the Greens. Out here in the real world we are seeking a moderate decent progressive government – Lib Dem vs Labour vitriol either way is damaging and not consistent with obvious policy overlaps. Career politicians – please remember this is not a game.

    Reading these posts and other LibDem statements recently, I am convinced that you are not being realistic about the scale of the anger of Lib Dem voters such as myself. An example is the patronising nonsense about presentation of the tuition fees issue…if only we silly people had only understood that nothing is going to be paid up front… listening to my teenagers this assumption that they don’t understand the issue is costing you even more support (they DO understand and it’s the long term debt they don’t want even if they didn’t have to pay a penny up front!).

  • Ed The Snapper 14th Jan '11 - 9:09am

    This vote is a protest against the ConDem coalition’s policy of cuts in public services and the implementation of regressive taxation. I am happy that working-class voters are using their votes to protest about these issues. The result is in accord with the talk I hear in the pubs, clubs and websites; the coalition is unpopular. Listening to Charles Kennedy’s wise words on Question Time it is easy to see how far the LibDem party has degenerated since the time he was leader.

  • Emsworthian 14th Jan '11 - 9:10am

    It’s perfectly obvious that Tory voters picked up the code and ditched their bloke
    for the Lib Dem. I think it’s called tactical voting and it was supposed to keep
    out Labour and didn’t.
    End of……………..

  • As opposed to Labour voters, who are anti-freedom, anti-youth, and still anti-immigrant. Every party relies on being the second preference of a large number of voters who don’t necessarily agree with the beliefs (for those parties which have any) or policies of the party, but who still think they’re the best offer on the table. This is how UK politics works.
    ———
    Well said. This one by election cannot be taken too far, no matter which side is spinning their interpretation of it, but even if the LD did have to rely on left leaning tories, that is not a disaster either; as you point out, there are big differences with the Labour of recent times that would make working with them, in certain areas, as unpalatable as working with the tories is for others. I for one would have had concerns if the LD had entered into a rainbow coalition with a Labour party that did so much to erode civil liberties for example.
    ——-
    But the fact is that whatever the effects of a staggeringly misjudged campaign from Labour last time round was offset by something in the minds of the public that massively increased their vote. That is something Lib Dems should ponder.
    —–
    Cuts are unpleasant. LD have yet to recover lost support after joining the coalition because it is too soon to see if it will work. In any case, most commentators I’ve seen have said the Woolas issue didn’t really play a factor. That said, the LD vote held up – even with Tory sympathy votes, given how low they are predicted to be, 32% even if every Tory in the area voted LD would still not be enough; their own core vote cannot have gone down as much as predicted in that case.

    The result cannot really be extended to fit the national picture, even though Miliband and Clegg in particular would be keen to, albeit with vastly different interpretations (Coalition destroyed! LD not destroyed!), so people should stop trying to I think. It was a good result for Labour, with a reasonable if not stupendous majority, but given all the factors against them it was a decent result for the LD too, whose vote held up and it cannot be proven that those who voted would not remain with them, while Tories can privately reassure themselves that those voters will be back in any Tory-LD fight.

  • Emsworthian 14th Jan '11 - 9:14am

    Agree with Ed The Snapper that Kennedy looked good on QT last night
    and restored a frisson of hope.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 14th Jan '11 - 9:29am

    How is it morally legitimate for the LibDems to rely on the Tories to control the local council in Oldham – given that the Tories lost seats in the May local elections and given the hammering they took last night?? Perhaps some of remember the arguments used for teh choice of coalition partners following the General Election.

  • Depressed Ex Lib Dem 14th Jan '11 - 9:33am

    Probably the worst possible result for the party. As a result of massive Tory tactical voting, the result can be presented as a reasonable one in the circumstances, and people can carry on deluding themselves that everything will come out all right in the end. I wish people would consider what will happen in May, when in most places those nice Tories will be trying to obliterate the Lib Dems rather than prop them up, but I wonder whether the party has lost the instinct for survival.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 14th Jan '11 - 9:35am

    Helen

    The Labour Party doesn’t think that out and out lying is permissible – but perhaps you should address this issue in your own Party.

  • Hove Howard 14th Jan '11 - 9:36am

    @ Andrew Suffield.” As opposed to Labour voters, who are anti-freedom, anti-youth, and still anti-immigrant.”

    What, all of them?

    Even in disappointment, this kind of sweeping statement isn’t defensible, and won’t help your cause. Your cause, which used to be my cause.

  • @ Andrew Suffield.” As opposed to Labour voters, who are anti-freedom, anti-youth, and still anti-immigrant.”

    What, all of them?

    Even in disappointment, this kind of sweeping statement isn’t defensible, and won’t help your cause. Your cause, which used to be my cause
    ———-
    A fair enough point. I for one hope people also remember to be so reasonable when deriding all Tories/LD/UKIP/etc voters with one brush as well. I do think it is fair to say the Labour of recent times (that is, the direction of the party given who the leaders have been) has been anti-freedom, however.

  • Liberal Neil 14th Jan '11 - 10:09am

    None of the parties should be jumping for joy at this result, but neither is it a disater for any of them.

    The most worrying sign for me is that the differential turnout seems to have favoured Labour, suggesting that, for now at least, they are more motivated to turn out. That means that we have to work very hard to get our voters out where we are fighting them this May.

  • It was bad night for Nick Clegg and a bad night for the Coalition. How do we know?

    1) The Lib Dems were reliant on a disastrous Tory vote to maintain their share. Tories voted for them. How do we know?
    2) The Tory vote collapsed based on the back of Cameron all but asking for his supporters to vote Lib Dem. This matters because;
    3) There are next to no other seats with this 3 way marginal competition with Lid Dems second + Tories third. This means that;
    4) In the next by-election, when it’s Tory v Lib Dem – Dave will have no option but to try and win the seat. This could wipe out the Lib Dems in many of their Tory/Lib Dem marginals
    5) Labour have a bigger majority now in OE+S than when they won a landslide in 1997;
    6) Labour increased a majority from 103 to nearer to 4,000.
    7) The Lib Dems should have walked this. After Woolas was rightly deposed, all of their actions suggested they thought it was a seat they could win (the court case, the writ, the level of campaigning, their history of by-election wins). The fact they changed their narrative last night to “it was always a Labour seat” smacks of desperation.

  • @Andrew Suffield
    “Every party relies on being the second preference of a large number of voters who don’t necessarily agree with the beliefs (for those parties which have any) or policies of the party, but who still think they’re the best offer on the table. This is how UK politics works.”

    The best argument against AV I’ve heard. It is this type of attitude that AV will encourage rather than the ability to have their real preference represented. When supporters state that candidates will need the support of at least 50% of the voters they actually mean they will have the votes of their supporters and a number who see them as the least worst option.

  • @Andrew Suffield
    “As opposed to Labour voters, who are anti-freedom, anti-youth, and still anti-immigrant. ”

    I know you were responding to a ridiculous generalisation but you have done so with another. I would begg to offer the opinion that just as most people in this country do not fit into those categories nor do most voters of any of the main parties…

  • The Lib Dems may have increased their share of the vote, ever so marginally, but I would have to say this by-election illustrates the problems for the Lib Dems. The swing from Lib Dem to Labour was about 5%, despite a large tactial vote by Conservatives. Without such tactical voting, who knows how large the swing would be. On this swing against Labour, MPs like Jo Swinson, Sarah Teather and Gordon Burtwistle will all lose their seats. Moreover, there was a large Conservative vote to squeeze – about 26% Other Lab-Lib Dem marginals do not allow for such a sqeeze. Take Brent Central – only 11% Tory vote, or Dunbartonshire East (15% Tory vote). Even in, say, Rochdale there’s only a 18% Tory vote to squeeze. The point is, the Lib Dem share held up because of the Tory tactial vote, and there is not as great an opportunity in other Lab-Lib marginals.

    It’s even worse in Con-Lib marginals. Tories will not lend you their vote here, and you already have such large Lab tactical voters who are likely to rewind, even if their vote is wasted. I look forward to the first Tory-Lib marginal by-election for it is in this sort of constituency that the decline of the Lib support will truly be illustrated.

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Jan '11 - 11:23am

    @Andrew Suffield

    Oh that Lib-Lab pact. So what you’re saying is that fears about this pact from over 30 years – between one party which has changed dramatically and another which no longer exists – was the reason many Tory voters in O&[email protected] the 2010 didn’t vote Lib Dem.

    But hey presto after months of the Coalition thousands of them now realise that the Lib Dems is their home.

    Yes that makes perfect sense.

  • I think Mr Cameron did his best not to contest the seat, in the hope Liberal Democrats could contest the seat… strange, but it could have been a test to see if an election pact would work.
    The Liberal Democrats May spin this as they will, the electorate are not stupid, the media has been saying the Conservatives did not contest the seat very well, and the result supports that.

    That in its self should not bother anyone other than Liberal Democrats, if they want to sincerely believe their vote held up then…cool

    Right up to the point that Mr Cameron decides to feed the lap dogs to the wolves.

    If Mr Cameron decides to call an election, would Liberal Democrats vote hold up or would the squeeze be too much, Liberal Democrats should be worried and if they are not, not my problem…

    Chin up and all that

    good luck in May

  • That in its self should not bother anyone other than Liberal Democrats, if they want to sincerely believe their vote held up then…cool
    ———
    Given the numbers by which the Tory vote declined (and assuming for the moment all of those voted LD and will switch back at once) and the amount by which the polls say the LD vote has declined, the LD vote must have held up far better than expected as otherwise the numbers do not work.
    ——-
    good luck in May
    ——-
    They will need it; too early for any benefits to have come out of the coalition economy wise with which to argue in their favour.

  • Two points strike me about OES, firstly we held around 55% of our vote ( according to PB ) with another 11% staying at home. That suggests we should be getting between 13 & 16% in the polls not the 9% that YouGov give us. The main Polling groups have slipped back into their old habits of overestimating Labour & underestimating us.
    Secondly, we are in this for the long haul. A Party that suffered such a defeat as Labour did should be going through a period of soul-searching. Read the Labour Blogs & what you see is an overwhelming mood of smug complacency which the OES result will only strengthen.

  • @Kieran, it’s not just us that believe our vote held up: from LabourList “One by-election swallow won’t make for a political summer though, and there’s a challenge hidden in last night’s results. One that Labour needs to focus on. The Lib Dem vote held up.”

    Labour did very well, but the predictions of our humiliation and massacre have come to nought. We got the same share of the vote as Woolas did to win it. We even improved on our GE share. Commentators were arguing if we’d come third or fourth, there were predictions one the minor parties might beat us.

    So now we are told it’s the locals where we will be massacred; so come on people how many councillors will we loose?

  • @ Kev, Oh I know the vote held up in OES, I’m just a little more pessimistic it will to the same degree in the local elections; I hope I am wrong and the losses, if there are any, are not too severe.

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Jan '11 - 12:00pm

    @Paul barker

    It’s rather ironic that you’re on here talking about Labour blogs being complacent and smug.

    Both Yvette Cooper and Ed Milliband have been out this morning and their feet were very firmly on the ground. In contrast Lib Dems are running around telling everyone what a fantastic result it has been. Yet only a few weeks ago the party were saying they would win.

    But then again saying something before an election and then saying the complete opposite afterwards is about the only thing you can trust a Lib Dem to do these days.

  • smiles…

    The only way Conservatives could actually do more for their partners, is not to field candidates at all in Lab-Lib marginal’s, you never know… although I suspect the party would rebel against Mr Cameron just for suggesting it… but you never know

    I am sure there would have to be some Quid pro quo, which might not be palatable to core voters of either party…

  • @paul barker

    I think you are mistaking the often knee-jerk reactions found in all political discussion sites for the fact that the LP at a lot of levels right up to Milliband are doing the soul-searching and particularly ‘the listening’ necessary to understand and reverse the roots of and routes to the 2010 GE disaster.

    Milliband is not being rushed into anything and he has a lot of time on his side – I believe his underpromise/overperform mantra will come to be seen as the real ‘new politics’ by the public.

    In any case the LibDems have plenty of problems of their own which they should be concentrating on rather than trying to artificially divert the attention and angst of their party faithful. If the LibDems don’t sort themselves out then they will continue to be punished by the electorate and eventually face the ignoble end of being reversed into the Tories which woukd be a loss in wider democratic terms.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 14th Jan '11 - 1:02pm

    Gus O’Donnell’s Email To John Trickett

    January 12, 19.34

    From: Gus O’Donnell
    To: Jon Trickett MP

    Mr Trickett

    Thank you for your email sent on Monday evening about an announcement during a by-election campaign on new Government incentives to bring empty homes back into use.

    I have looked urgently into the issues you raise.

    The sequence of events as I have been able to establish is as follows:

    Communities and Local Government (CLG) issued a press release on Friday 7 January announcing additional Government funding to bring empty homes back into use. The press release was embargoed until Monday 10 January. This was a national announcement which made no reference to Oldham and therefore would not be in breach of by-election restrictions.

    Andrew Stunell visited Oldham on Saturday 8 January. As part of this he visited an empty property in Oldham that had been brought back into use by the Council. I understand that he did not refer to the planned funding announcement during his visit.

    The Liberal Democrat Party issued a press release on Sunday 9 January, embargoed until Monday 10 January, referring to the Minister’s visit and highlighting new government incentives to bring empty homes back into use. This was timed to coincide with the issue of the Government’s press release.

    Taking these events together, the Minister recognises with hindsight that his visit could have been associated in the minds of the public with a government announcement of additional funding, and has apologised for this.

    Gus O’Donnell

    Cabinet Secretary

    And how should the LibDems be punished for this breach of the rules???

  • Clegg could just possibly have started his rehab with the British public today and as usual fluffed it.

    All he needed to say was: ‘This is a terrible loss for us and we should have won the seat. We will now reflect on the reasons behind our failure and from today we will guarantee that we no longer give support to Tory policies which are contrary to long held Liberal principles and policies’.

    Simple – but he didn’t and yet again the voters are laughing at him and will continue to attack because they smell the blood in the water. An attack on Clegg is an attack on the Coalition – it might be simplistic but it’s very effective and most of all it gives those who are being ground-down by Tory cuts the chance to fight-back.

  • @toryboysnevergrowup who asked: ‘And how should the LibDems be punished for this breach of the rules???’

    Well obviously not by going to the electoral court and forcing a by-election 🙂

  • All he needed to say was: ‘This is a terrible loss for us and we should have won the seat. We will now reflect on the reasons behind our failure and from today we will guarantee that we no longer give support to Tory policies which are contrary to long held Liberal principles and policies’
    ————
    In all fairness, EcoJon, that response was not possible, as it is a Coalition. It can be argued the LD, even as junior partners, have given away too much, but the very existence of a coalition, with anybody, is that you will have to give support to some of the other’s policies that you disagree with. In this case, one can say they have compromised on matters they should not have, but it would be unfair to say the LD should categorically state they will not give any support to Tory policies which are contrary to Liberal principles; the very fact they are different parties means that will be most things proposed!

    What you are advocating, in effect, is an immediate end to the coalition. Many would welcome that, but so long as they are in a coalition, the LD do have to support at least some Tory proposals in order to get some things they want in return. Given the Tories are the senior party, they will get more things they like out of it, it is unavoidable. It would have been the same with an agreement with Labour, including vicious cuts to things people would rather keep (perhaps in some different areas, perhaps a little slower, but still there and coming) let us keep that in mind.

    The issue is not that the LD should stop allowing all Tory policies at odds with their own sensibilities through, but whether the benefits from the concessions to the LD outweigh the negatives of permitting those unscathed Tory policies through. Again, plenty would say that they do not, and they should punish the LD at the next election for that, but if we want a stable government with a healthy majority in these difficult times, we cannot demand that the junior party in a coalition refuses to let through many of the policies of the largest party in the country unless we would prefer, as some would, a weak minority government or another general election.

    On recent polls Ed M might like the idead of that, but as he has yet to formulate the policies for the new look Labour, I think he would agree it would not be best just now. I am finding it hard to consider whether it would be best to vote Labour until they finish their policy review. They may not have to come up with the same level of detailed policy in opposition, but they do have to have an agreed position, which is no doubt why he is calling this a step rather than a killign blow to the end of coaltiion.

  • @toryboysnevergrowup – of course, Labour ministers & advisers would never attempt to manipulate the news for their own ends, unlike their colleagues on Manchester City Council, for instance (don’t try to tell me that the story on jobs was just a massive coincidence.)

    Someone once said that the best person to lead the Liberal Democrats would be a sober Charles Kennedy. I’m beginning to wonder if even a drunk one would do a better job just now…

  • @Kieran

    Sorry Kieran but you are confusing me – I thought that what I said Clegg should have said was what he said he was going to do anyway in the new ‘phase’. But I was also talking about timing and his rehab although I think that is probably impossible no matter what happens to the economy.

    However, the LibDems have got to make their mind up where their longer term future as a party lies – they can keep whinging on about being tied to Coalition policies that means they have got to adopt and pursue Tory ideologies if they wish – but if you fly with the craws you get shot with them. But if they want to be centre-right that’s their choice.

    If they wish to remain centre/centre-left then they cannot carry on as they are because the party will either implode or explode before the next GE. Again the future state of the economy might not be the determining factor in this process.

    I accept under Labour there would have been difficult cuts but they would have been less and spread over a longer period. Different areas would have been tagetted and the emphasis would have been on increasing growth as the least painful way of pulling away from our deep economic problems and also most efficient. There have to be cuts but choices remain.

    You are making the huge error of focussing on a very limited timescale in historical terms and it will be interesting to look back and see what senior LibDem people say when they reflect whether the destruction of the party was worth what may well prove to be an ephemeral improvement in the economy.

    On the position of Labour Party policy – that is not the sole reserve of Ed Milliband although he has a very important role as party leader. Just like the LibDems we have various forums and structures where policy is formed and costed before becoming a Manifesto Commitment. As with the LibDems this is an ongoing process and it will be interesting to see how the experience of coalition and government affects the next LibDem Manifesto.

    I know this is Politics 101 but it is not the job of Her Majesty’s Opposition to form detailed alternative policies for the running of the country – their duty is to test the Government plans and to hold them accountable. So don’t listen to the Tory nonsense – they didn’t provide detailed plans when they were in opposition either – no party can with tje required accuracy because detailed costing is very difficult to achieve without Civil Service input – actually that’s a major part of the reason for a Civil Service.

    Labour policies still exist and have been adopted by the Coalition and still are when they have been ones with staged future implementation dates. The Labour Manifesto is still there.

    But what Milliband is looking at is how the voters perceived our policies and where they thought we had got it wrong either because the policy was wrong or our implementation was faulty. As part of that, widespread discussions are taking place at lots of levels in lots of different forums to find the best way to represent the quite wide groupings who see Labour as their ‘beacon’.

    By the next GE, Labour aims to be realigned with voters and offer them a Manifesto that the British people will support. A Manifesto in plain English and free of weasel words – as Milliband says the key is under-promising and over-performing. If a pledge is made then it must be kept – it’s that simple and the voters deserve no less.

    Any politician who considers walking-away from a future pledge only needs to look at the mortally damaged Clegg to realise the price that the public can extract.

    And returning to Politics 101 – no opposition political party provides the detailed policy you refer to because quite simply if there are good bits then the Government ‘steals’ the idea or if there are ideological issues it can institute blocking legislation or policies of its own to nullify the opposition policies – hey but that’s politics.

    However, Kieran I hardly see you as a LP voter and in fact felt from things you have said that you are more likely to fit with the Tories than even the LibDem right-wing. That is not meant as an insult but is merely observation.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 14th Jan '11 - 5:28pm

    @eco john ‘And how should the LibDems be punished for this breach of the rules???’

    Mr Stunnell’s resignation as a minister would be a good starting point.

  • @EcoJon
    Are we to assume you speak officially for the Labour Party?

    What is your position/job title?

  • Patrick Smith 14th Jan '11 - 5:54pm

    I remain an unrepentant Nick Clegg and `Coalitionist `New Polics’ L/D supporter.

    I fully believe that in the wake of the excellent performance of Elwyn Watkin`s By Election campaign team result in Oldham East and Saddleworth our Leader`s star will now rise again into the ascendant.

    However,nothing really has changed for care-worn Labour having recorded on May 6th 2010, their lowest ever popular vote in any General Election, since 1918 with 29.1%.

    With years of remodelling in sight asking the same question are we are safe with the Economy again ? Or do we still have a toxic public image ? It would have made more sense to have elected a Leader with a bit more gravitas and electability in the longer term?

    Not to mention the need to write out some new relevant to Britain policies to serve them over 5-10 years.

    Someone like D Milliband or Andy Burnham who both wanted to do the job surely would either have put more of an electric surge into the Labour meter?

    Never in a hundred reincarnations would I ever consider voting Labour lite Leader in charge, but if I had to proffer them advice in advance of the next General Election in 2015, they ought to have picked Burnham.

  • Kieron

    Your point about coalitions is correct which is why they are an intrinsically bad thing. They inevitably lead to dishonesty, duplicity and obfuscation, no-one really says what they think, no one votes for who they support, no-one takes the real blame for their failings. Coalitions are a recipe for perpetual fudge, but much worse for double speak, having to read between the lines and try and fathom the truth from nuance and rumour. I believe the country is already tired of this game of trying to decipher who really means what, where minsters say one thing, propose another, defend a third and then secretly criticise it all. The old politics looks downright honest by comparison.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 14th Jan '11 - 11:00pm

    “What I will say in respect of the Old and Sad bye-election is that it is now clear that if you lie to get into Parliament, you won’t stay there very long.”

    So Clegg gave an honest account of how his views about deficit reduction changed during the election campaign did he?

  • toryboysnevergrowup 14th Jan '11 - 11:08pm

    “I’ve just read some pretty wild and whacky comments about coalitions, people saying that they’re intrinsically dishonest and all sorts”

    But they are dishonest and fundamentally undemocratic if the electorate aren’t told beforehand by parties how they are likely to react to different permutations and the type of compromises they are prepared to accept. In most countries where coalitions are common this is a fairly standard view – and any party which acts as though it has a blank cheque with regard to its behaviour in a coalition would quite rightly suffer the consequences in due course.

  • And this, I was reliably informed was a banker for the Liberal Democrats?

    Woolas was rightly removed – but what about the breaking of Election law that the LDs allegedly have done this week – if proven shouldnt Watkins face the same penalty?

  • dave thawley 18th Jan '11 - 12:00am

    @Andrew Suffield how to prove that we lost 50% (my answer similar to the one you spotted) Who cares about proving it now, just watch what happens in May. I hope non of my friends are out of a job because they are all hard working decent caring people but if we look at the available information rationally rather than wishfully we are going to get absolutely slaughtered. No point in really discussing it, it will happen and then you can either agree with me or carry on with your wishful thinking.

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