Cambridge Liberal Democrats back Nick Clegg and reject leadership ballot

Cambridge spires - P1030926Cambridge Liberal Democrats have tonight rejected a resolution calling for a leadership  ballot by 45 votes for 32. The Liberal Democrat Constitution makes provision for a leadership contest if 75 local parties vote for one at quorate general meetings.

The Cambridge News has the story:

Cambridge Liberal Democrats have decided to back Nick Clegg’s leadership.

Party members voted against calling for a ballot on the leadership at a special general meeting tonight.

An election could be called if 75 local associations request it, but that now looks unlikely to happen.

The Cambridge meeting was called in the wake of the Liberal Democrats’ disastrous performance in the local and European elections.

The party lost control of Cambridge City Council after 14 years and also lost its MEP in the eastern region, Andrew Duff.

 

Reports vary on the number of SGMs which have been called.  Estimates range from low double figures to mid 30s with other executives still to meet to discuss whether to call a meeting at all.

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130 Comments

  • Joshua Dixon 13th Jun '14 - 10:54pm

    Once again Caron, this was not a vote to back Nick. This was a vote on whether to have a leadership ballot. You can still reject a leadership ballot and not have confidence in Nick as you may feel it is too late or that you’re unaware of a suitable replacement.

  • Shaun Nichols 13th Jun '14 - 11:12pm

    It is proving difficult to remove Nick Clegg but we must keep this leadership issue alive. We must demonstrate that there are many Lib Dems who do not support Clegg and some of the disastrous policies/laws of the Tory-led coalition government.

  • A resounding vote of confidence. Only 42% of the team want to sack the captain. Would Roy Hodgson be happy with that? Should any serious political party be happy with that?

  • What ever way you look at it, 45 out of 77 is a victory. I have my doubts that Nick continuing as Leader is the best option, but 45 out of 77 is a victory for him and those backing him.

  • Pyrrhus won victories like that.

  • The consequences of removing the leader are hard to predict. The consequences of keeping him are virtually certain. Members dither as the clock ticks. In May 2015, it will be too late. There will barely be a party left to lead. Perhaps no party left to lead? How will those who do nothing now feel next May once the dust of the battlefield settles? That anyone who cares about this party should be “pleased” by what happened in Cambridge tonight beggars belief.

  • Who gives a flying shuttleworth about “Pyrrhus” ? 45 out of 77 is a clear victory. I’m not Nick Clegg’s greatest fan, but 45 out of 77 is a clear victory. And well done to Cambridge for arranging the meeting.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 13th Jun '14 - 11:47pm

    @ David Allen,

    I am confident that you would happily accept any vote where a Local Party voted to call for a leadership contest by one vote, so it seems particularly churlish to suggest that a 58-42 victory is pyrrhic. The Constitution doesn’t recognise the concept of a Pyrrhic victory, only a victory, and given the rules of the game, you can’t claim a moral one.

    But if there are still dozens of Local Parties intending to hold EGMs, there is still plenty of time for the argument to be won, either way.

  • Mark Valladares wrote:

    “I am confident that you would happily accept any vote where a Local Party voted to call for a leadership contest by one vote, so it seems particularly churlish to suggest that a 58-42 victory is pyrrhic.”

    On the 20th November 1990, when Michael Heseltine challenged Margaret Thatcher for the Tory leadership, Heseltine won 152 votes and Thatcher 204. That was a clear and decisive victory for Thatcher, was it not?

  • Peter Watson 14th Jun '14 - 12:11am

    @Joshua Dixon “this was not a vote to back Nick. This was a vote on whether to have a leadership ballot.”
    Indeed. This suggests that 45 out of 77 don’t want to replace Clegg now, but this “victory” does not mean there’s a lot of support for the leadership. There has been much debate between those who want to replace Clegg now to salvage something in 2015, and those who want to wait until after the election in order to rebuild from that low-water mark.
    This vote and the recent LDV poll seem pretty consistent and suggest that at least 40% of remaining Lib Dems are in the “Clegg out now” camp, but how much of the other 60% are still Cleggophiles?

  • @ Mark Valladares
    “…it seems particularly churlish to suggest that a 58-42 victory is pyrrhic.”
    It’s late, I know, but the correct result, 45-32, is a little nearer Pyrrhic than the inflated claim of it being “a clear victory” made by Tim Hill.

  • Mark Valladares, I was tempted to describe your post as “mindless abuse”, but I fear that would not do justice to the effort you have put into logical convolution.

    Pyrrhus’s mates didn’t recognise the concept of a Pyrrhic victory, either. They soon found out, though!

  • Thatcher won on the first round in the Tory leadership contest in 1990. I would describe that as a Pyrrhic victory.

  • @Sean Blake — I think that Mark Valladares was using the percentages, 58.44% for Clegg, 41.56% against.

    I don’t think that’s “Pyrrhic” in any sense of the word, but it’s not a “clear victory” even if one says it multiple times. It shows there is a large segment of the Party which is dissatisfied with Clegg’s leadership, and puts him on shaky ground — or would, if there were anybody in the Party bold enough to challenge him.

    If there is not, I suspect it is less due to Clegg’s manifest superiority to all potential challengers, than to his mastery of the levers of power within the Party, and his ability — even in his weakened state — to harness doubt and uncertainty to his advantage.

    But it is also plain that his base is eroding. These numbers make it doubtful that he could survive further setbacks, even foreseen ones like the inevitable loss of MPs in 2015. The only question is, since the future is foreseeable without much effort, why prolong the inevitable? Why not cut the process short, and devote the next year to rebuilding instead of limping along with a divided party and an angry and disaffected membership?

  • Just 77 people voted on the leadership in a city where we have an MP?

  • “Thatcher won on the first round in the Tory leadership contest in 1990. I would describe that as a Pyrrhic victory.”

    Precisely. Thatcher was fatally wounded because 41% of her MPs voted against her, even though she was the incumbent leader.

    For an incumbent leader to lose the confidence of more than 40% of party members is just as damaging. Can things really go on like this?

  • Steve Comer 14th Jun '14 - 1:37am

    Well done Cambridge for organising an SGM so soon after the elections.
    The Voice got it right when it said “Cambridge Liberal Democrats have tonight rejected a resolution calling for a leadership ballot by 45 votes for 32.” It was the Cambridge News that translated that into “Cambridge Liberal Democrats back Nick Clegg and reject leadership ballot.”

    I know many people in the party who are anything but happy with the way things are, but don’t share my view that an early leadership election is necessary, the trouble is the reasons people reject it are very different:
    Some feel that as Nick hasn’t resigned, then forcing the issue will take too long. Others want Clegg to see it through the General Election and to replace him next year. Some are assuming (wrongly) that the only alternative would be Vince Cable as a ‘caretaker leader’ and don’t want that. Others have said that its unfair that MPs from Scotland may at a disadvantage until the referendum date has passed. I’ve also had people say they feel the Leadership would be a poison chalice for anyone who took it on now, and many candidates would want to be sure they were returning as MPs before agreeing to stand. Some have also said that the problem goes beyond Clegg, and that any replacement that follows the same approach would be even worse, and others just feel the time is not right.

    What nobody is saying to me is that they are happy with the annual cull of Lib Dem Councillors, and poll ratings at 1969, 1979 & 1989 levels. I also don’t find enthusiasm for supporting the Sun, attacking Oxfam, defending the bedroom tax and promoting so-called Free Schools and Academies!

    We need a change of direction, a return to Liberal Democrat values and policies and less talk about being ‘in the centre’ and a ‘party of Government’ as if these things are aims and not means. Some people think “cling-on Clegg” can lead us in making that change, I see no evidence of that which is why I am backing http://libdemfightback.yolasite.com/ and http://www.libdems4change.org/.

  • edna murphy 14th Jun '14 - 1:41am

    The Cambridge vote was definitely NOT a vote of support for Clegg. It was a debate between people who wanted to get rid of Clegg now and those who thought it was better done next May. The evening was hardly a ringing endorsement of Clegg’s leadership – quite the opposite.

  • Never were so many hairs split on one thread….

  • stephen hesketh 14th Jun '14 - 6:58am

    Was Cambridge the first constituency to hold a leadership ballot?

    Perhaps we might be illuminated as to the results of any others?

    LDV should report all such ballots or none!

  • I think Cambridge understands Nick is not really the issue sadly the party has has in government made choices a lot of the electorate want be thrilled with. The young are not happy (fees) the old not happy with Steve Webb oversimplified statements about single tier pension. The middle aged poor have seen disappointing control of pay increase. These points are not just Nicks responsibility the party at conference all thought these plans would be vote winning.

    Get behind Nick he has in main carried out what you as a party wanted you compliment him for courage with EU debate it back fired,

  • Stephen Hesketh 14th Jun '14 - 7:31am

    I agree with Steve Comer and Edna Murphy.

    Also, the big issues with leaving him in place are that he would have to lead us to a result of epic proportions to survive as leader after the 2015 GE and that everyone, including the media, knows this. Where ever we stand on the ‘now or next May’ debate, he is a short term lame duck leader. We and he are likely to face genuine questions on that issue.

    Secondly, while he remains in office he continues down the UN
    apologetic centre party path and in his actions to predetermine our position regarding post election matters such as the negotiating team and our red-line issues.

    Whatever my personal feelings regarding him being a very decent human being and Liberal Democrat and my natural tendency towards loyalty, I just don’t see it as credible for him to continue as leader of our party.

  • Stephen Hesketh 14th Jun '14 - 7:33am

    … that should be unapologetic …

  • Paul in Wokingham 14th Jun '14 - 7:38am

    It seems to me that this result – 40% want Clegg to go now versus 60% who for a variety of reasons want him to remain in place until the next election, is likely to be repeated at every EGM.

    This is the worst of all worlds both for the party and for Mr. Clegg.

    Some of those people who voted to keep Clegg will have done so because they regard him as the most credible/least bad leader to take the party into the next election. Others will have backed him out of concern about the impact of a messy leadership debate over the summer. And a few will have backed him for reasons of perceived politeness or fair play.

    But all 40% who voted to remove him did so for a single reason – they recognize that under Mr. Clegg’s continued leadership the party is hurtling towards oblivion – a party that has abandoned any illusion of being a national movement, that is sliding towards electoral irrelevance, and that has lost 40 years of momentum achieved through the commitment and hard work of countless activists.

    Anyone who regards these results as a victory for Mr. Clegg is wrong. They are a disaster for Mr. Clegg. But much more seriously, they are a disaster for the Liberal Democrats.

  • Martin Pierce 14th Jun '14 - 7:44am

    Anyone who was at the meeting last night would know that the headline ‘Cambridge Liberal Democrats back Nick Clegg’ would be a travesty of what was said. The debate was very much about whether to hold a leadership election. A number of people who spoke cogently against a leadership election – because it would be messy, would take a long time, not sure who the candidates would be etc etc. – actually kicked off with comments along the lines of ‘we know Nick is dreadful and we know he’s dead in the water’ but that now wouldn’t be the best time. Some actually said (incomprehensibly in my view) that it will be ok to lose next year but then have someone new pick up the pieces. I kept a careful note of how many speakers actually said Nick is a good leader and/or would be the best person to lead us into the next General Election. The answer to that was none. And that includes Julian Huppert.

  • The party appears split..

  • David Evans 14th Jun '14 - 8:12am

    Stephen Hesketh – Ribble Valley have held a vote and voted for a leadership ballot. It’s interesting how that didn’t qualify for a report on the Voice. Would anyone in power on this site like to comment?

  • “Pyrrhic Victory”. I guess in Cambridge they talk about Greek Mythology.

    As someone who went to a state school, I had to resort to Google to make a quick check —

    Pyrrhic victory is named after King Pyrrhus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans.

    Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that –
    “If we are victorious in one more battle like this, we shall be utterly ruined.”

    For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits …..

    Well, I don’t know about the meeting in Cambridge but these last lines certainly seem an accurate description of Clegg’s seven years as leader.
    He has lost the great part of his MEPs, Councillors, particular friends and members and it certainly seems that whilst he clings on there are no others to make recruits.

  • Peter Chegwyn 14th Jun '14 - 8:33am

    Take note of Martin Pierce’s informed comments. Not a single speaker at the Cambridge meeting backed Clegg. Not one. And that includes the local MP.

    Cambridge members may have said it’s the wrong time for a Leadership ballot but that doesn’t mean they back Nick Clegg.

  • Stephen Hesketh 14th Jun '14 - 8:45am

    @Theakes 14th Jun ’14 – 7:59am “The party appears split..”

    Or might that be united … on WHEN rather than if?

  • David Evans 14th Jun '14 - 8:46am

    Theakes – The party is split. It’s Nick (plus his backers) against the rest.

  • Stephen Hesketh 14th Jun '14 - 8:46am

    David Evans 14th Jun ’14 – 8:12am

    Thanks for the info David … Odd that isn’t it!

  • It appears from a tweet by Richard Kemp on Lib Dem tweets that Liverpool’s Lib Dem executive has voted by a clear majority not to hold an EGM on Clegg’s leadership.

  • Stephen Hesketh 14th Jun '14 - 9:00am

    JohnTilley 14th Jun ’14 – 8:24am ““Pyrrhic Victory”. I guess in Cambridge they talk about Greek Mythology.

    As someone who went to a state school, I had to resort to Google to make a quick check”. Thanks for the explanation for those of us who are similarly placed John.

    At least those of us educated in such places, not to mention the school of real life, have learned when the lessons of history are ignored, history is apt to repeat itself.

    Albert Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

  • Tony Dawson 14th Jun '14 - 9:14am

    @Joshua Dixon:

    “You can still reject a leadership ballot and not have confidence in Nick as you may feel it is too late or that you’re unaware of a suitable replacement.”

    It’s really funny (in a non-hilarious way) that it is suddenly ‘too late’ for the Leader to go. Virtually nothing has changed in respect of his performance, his judgement and his image with the public in the past three years. But three years ago, when it was first seriously suggested he had to go (preferably by choosing to ‘walk’), people were told: “give him time, you never know he might just come good.” All that has happened since the infamous AV debacle is that, in the political Somme, another couple of waves of councillors and MEPs have been pushed ‘over the top’ and joined the last lot being machine gunned while strung out over the barbed wire in no man’s land.

  • Martin Land 14th Jun '14 - 9:23am

    When considering the results of such ballots we should also reflect on the 30,000 former members who haven’t stayed around for these SGM’s but have already voted with their feet.

  • Peter Chegwyn 14th Jun '14 - 9:41am

    @ Helen Tedcastle: ‘Why is Danny going to front our Economics brief in the GE, rather than Vince for example?’

    Probably through the same logic that saw Nick Clegg praise The Sun while attacking Oxfam yesterday.

    If he’s going to lead our party to electoral disaster he might as well use all means of achieving that result!

  • A vote for common sense regardless of what one feels about Nick Clegg. Dumping the leader and collective amnesia regarding our term in government will not fool the electorate for one minute. What we have now been confronted with as a party is the true level of support from those who regard themselves as ‘liberal’ or ‘liberal democrat’. All activists know, or should know, that once you strip away tactical voters, anti whoever is in goverment votes, people who would never vote Lib Dem if they really knew what our raison d’etre was and voters who have no business voting Lib Dem anyway there ain’t a lot left. The question is not how do we best shuffle things around to further pull the wool over the eyes of voters but what are we going to do about the core issue that has inevitably been exposed.

  • William Barter 14th Jun '14 - 10:02am

    Like Sarah, I was also one of the 32.

    Others have written at length about why Nick should go, so I shall not repeat their comments. And whilst I respect the secret ballot, and will keep the confidence of what was said in the room, I want to put it on record that I voted in favour of a leadership ballot.

    That said, I agree that the vote should not be mistaken as a vote of confidence in Nick. Judging from the majority of the speakers’ comments, it was simply a vote over when, not if.

  • Radical Liberal 14th Jun '14 - 10:28am

    Why no report on Ribble Valley? Speaks volumes.

  • “The editorial decision to headline this piece “Cambridge Backs Clegg” which is clearly something of an oversimplification, along with the editorial decision not to publish a piece about the Ribble Valley vote, or mention it at all, will only give ammunition to those who say that LDV has become “our place to be talked at” rather than “our place to talk” and that makes me incredibly sad.”

    Certainly a significant proportion of my comments here are being deleted, for no reason I can discern, other than that they are critical of Nick Clegg.

    Regarding misleading headlines, wouldn’t it be preferable in the interests of openness if the authors of these articles put their name to them? The majority seem to be anonymously posted under various pseudonyms these days.

  • Helen Tedcastle
    I think Peter Chegwyn’s answer sums up the disaster.
    But I think there may be an additional reason for The Independent report.
    Next to Danny Alexander even Clegg might sound as though he knows a bit about economics.
    Next to Vince Cable it is all too clear that Clegg sounds like someone who knows a lot about being a ski instructor.

  • Thanks for the local insight – much appreciated. Has anyone managed to develop any credible Plan B at all? What does the new leader do? Do they quit the coalition? What happens to Nick? Why do we have confidence the electorate would listen and turn to us under this new leader? For all the unrest, I’m not surprised the vote went the way it did with so few answers to these questions.

  • Nigel Cheeseman 14th Jun '14 - 11:11am

    The pyrrhic victory occurred when Liberal Democrats secured a place in the government for the first time. It was a gamble which hitherto has not paid off and was thoroughly predictable for many reasons that were clear at the time, never mind with hindsight.
    Have we a future, with or without Clegg? Clearly we are the least fashionable party at the moment, but other parties have lost vast swathes of their support and recovered. (Albeit not from such a bad position) Much of Nick Clegg’s analysis is right. We have lost the votes of those who are simply anti the two large parties. We know that we were a repository for protest votes, something that we used to our advantage in many situations, including parliamentary by elections which provided the platform for building a support which enabled us to hold seats. If there is any consensus in the party, it is that the split the difference position could not continue. Our gradual progress numerically, in gaining and holding seats had stopped. Would it have been better to sit on our hands and allow a minority government to go into power? Maybe it would have been. We’ll never know. We certainly won’t be the party that benefits from the turn around in the economy. The Conservatives will get credit for that, despite the efforts to hamper them by the Liberal Democrat albatross. (just trying to see it from the Tory perspective).
    Is all of that relevant to whether the leader should be defenestrated? In as much as it will make no difference to our electoral fortunes who leads the party into the next election, yes it is. Because we need to understand the reality of the situation. A landslide for either Labour or Conservative seems most unlikely. A working majority for either party would place us out there as an irrelevant small party, but not back where we were before coalition, because this time it would be without the hope that, one day, we will replace one of the other parties. So, whether we are a player or not after the election does not depend on who our leader is, or how hard we work, or what our policies are. It all depends on the relative position of the big two (as long as we hold the balance, of course).
    Potential local councillors should be crossing their fingers for a Labour or Conservative victory, depending on who the local opposition is. For some years now, the best indicator of popularity in local government has been not being of the governing party.

  • I don’t think it’s an unreasonable headline. Read as a full sentence, Clegg has refused a leadership ballot at this time and the Cambridge EGM has backed him on that issue.

    The non-reporting of the Ribble Valley result is concerning when compared to this though: it’s an extremely transparent propaganda approach which will reduce the confidence of readers in this site.

  • Philip: indeed.

  • Thank you Martin Pierce. I think your post says all we need to know on this issue. On that basis, the article title would more accurately have said : ‘ No-one in Cambridge backs Clegg. ‘

  • To faker “Thanks for the local insight – much appreciated. Has anyone managed to develop any credible Plan B at all? What does the new leader do? Do they quit the coalition? What happens to Nick? Why do we have confidence the electorate would listen and turn to us under this new leader? For all the unrest, I’m not surprised the vote went the way it did with so few answers to these questions.”

    As a democratic party, it is not up to ‘anyone’ to ‘come up with’ what happens next. I expect that the candidates would set out their case in the leadership elections and Party members would vote for who they think is the best. What happens about the Coalition should be out to a vote at a Special Conference, just as the initial decision to enter Coalition was.

  • The Cambridge vote was a vote for common sense regardless of what one thinks of Nick Clegg. Dumping the leader and adopting collective amnesia concerning our role in government will not fool the electorate for one minute. What has been exposed in recent times is the true extent of our support from those who would see themselves as ‘liberal’ or ‘lib dem’.

    Activists have know, or should have know, that if one strips away tactical voters, those who would run a mile if they understood the party’s raison d’être, the anyone but the governing party vote and those who have no business voting Lib Dem in the first place there ain’t a lot left. What we should be doing is not trying think of wheezes to pull the wool over the eyes of voters but seeking to address the fundamental issue that has been revealed and we all knew was there.

  • I presume LDV didnt report Ribble Valley because they didnt know about it. Paranoid conspiracy theories are not helpful. As I understand it the total result so far is
    1 EGM not called
    2 EGMs vote against Leadership challenge
    1 EGM votes for Leadership challenge
    Obviously we need more results to come to any conclusion, can I appeal to everyone to try & find out whats going on & then tell the LDV Team.

  • @Robert

    ” Dumping the leader and adopting collective amnesia concerning our role in government will not fool the electorate for one minute.”

    What have these two issues to do with each other, pray?

    You might have noticed, Robert, that those presently leading our Party do not exactly have the best idea of what will impress the electorate (some of whom do, indeed, feel they were ‘fooled’ by the Lib Dems in 2010). Unless, of course, having the lowest ratings ever for the past three years and all-but destrotying the party’s local government and activist base in huge swathes of the country is all part of some Baldrick-like ‘cunning plan’ which has clearly not been shared with anyone.

  • While Dave is almost certainly correct that nobody told LDV about it, I am informed that Cambridge were told AT THEIR MEETING, so the result was available prior to this article going up. Add to that that several hours have passed and several articles have been posted since we know for a fact that LDV were notified by the comment in this very thread, and a pattern does start to emerge.

    Still, given that I am clearly just paranoid and delusional, I shall go and knit myself a tinfoil hat.

  • “I don’t think it’s an unreasonable headline. Read as a full sentence, Clegg has refused a leadership ballot at this time and the Cambridge EGM has backed him on that issue.”

    Then a reasonable headline would be “Cambridge LDs back Nick Clegg on the issue of a leadership ballot at this time“.

  • @Allan :

    “These points are not just Nicks responsibility the party at conference all thought these plans would be vote winning.”

    Intriguing, who says that the Party thought these policies would be ‘vote-winning’? To be vote-winning, they would have to be presented well, consistently and in a clear manner which differentiated them from the policies of the people we are largely trying to beat who make up 5/6ths of the government. Has any of that happened?

  • David Wright 14th Jun ’14 – 12:20pm
    Whose job is it to report the Ribble Valley result? Clearly LDV can’t report something it doesn’t know about.

    I suspect, sadly that most people running local parties have never heard of LDV still less get their act together to send in an EGM report. I supect we will never know how many parties had EGM’s or which way they went. The LDV team are doing a good job on probably something less than shoe string so please cut them some slack.

  • @Robert:

    ” What we should be doing is not trying think of wheezes to pull the wool over the eyes of voters but seeking to address the fundamental issue that has been revealed and we all knew was there.”

    Robert, your disdain for the electorate is clearly evident in your posting. Your idea that the Lib Dems win elections by ‘deceptive wheezes’ rather disturbing but moderated by the likelihood that you have never been associated in any causal role within winning Lib Dem campaigns. Presumably, you think that those local parties who are achieving record results while the national party is down in the dumps are some evil snake-oil salespersons rather than people who go out there and campaign with their communities on things which matter to them? There are still some people in this Party who do not wish to join you in some purist Lib Dem corner of a desert under FPTP where we have zero seats.

  • @Tim Hill:

    “What ever way you look at it, 45 out of 77 is a victory.”

    Tin, you are clearly not a politician. 45 out of 77 is a winning election result. In terms of confidence in a leader, anything less than about 3 to 1 for anything more than a few months is pretty disastrous and not a ‘victory’. You need far more than a plurality of confidence to lead a political movement – as Margaret Thatcher belatedly realised.

  • Sadly Robert, you are mistaken. It has been discussed on the members only site for several days now, and most of the key figures from LDV post central on there.

    They knew. Don’t you believe otherwise.

  • I was one of the 32.

    I doubt the vote will settle the matter, not because people are undemocratic, but because many of those speaking and voting to have a leadership election clearly find it unbearable to have illiberal things being done in their name. Things have to change – just not sure what this change will be.

  • Bias is usually unconscious and seldom involves a conspiracy. A lack of of conspiracy, therefore, does not imply a lack of bias.

  • Liberal Neil 14th Jun '14 - 1:08pm

    Caratacus – there will be a record number of former Lib Dem MPs next May even if we hold all our seats.

  • paul barker 14th Jun '14 - 1:21pm

    @Dave Page
    Can I ask you to change your mind on that. I was rather hoping that after the first 10 or 15 EGMs it would become obvious which way things were going & the whole process could then be either stopped in its tracks or expedited. We dont want this to drag on all Summer; one way or the other lets get it over with.

  • Rachel Coleman 14th Jun '14 - 1:24pm

    I attended last night’s meting in Cambridge. At least one person said during the meeting that just by having the meeting, it would allow the media to spin us as “backing” Clegg or “sacking” him, and any nuance in the local party calling for an election, or not, would be lost.

    We had a really thorough, open, honest, nuanced, thoughtful, respectful debate yesterday. Reducing that to a headline saying Cambridge LibDems back Nick Clegg … well, I expected that from the Cambridge Evening News, but not from LibDemVoice. Come on editorial team, I love and respect you all, but you know better. Do better.

  • David Evans 14th Jun ’14 – 12:47pm

    Sadly Robert, you are mistaken. It has been discussed on the members only site for several days now, and most of the key figures from LDV post central on there.

    They knew. Don’t you believe otherwise.

    Alright but your experience of local parties’ adminisration is different to mine then.

  • Bill Le Breton 14th Jun '14 - 2:02pm

    Yet again we see that the general will of the membership is for a change of leader but against a messy and lengthy leadership election.

    Not long ago the Parliamentary party chose for themselves a new deputy leader to replace Simon Hughes when he became a Government Minister.

    The process was speedy and within their conclave it was open and democratic. interestingly they rejected the Leader’s favoured candidate and chose someone to represent them who they had confidence in for this special job. Sadly I don’t think the voting figures were published but it is more than likely that the winner, in a secret ballot where the leader’s patronage could not interfere, gained a sizeable majority and enjoyed considerable confidence among his close colleagues.

    The party’s need for both a new leader and a short and family-centred selection process could be satisfied if we allowed the Parliamentary party in the commons to select a new leader for us using the same system., with the condition that should we not be part of a coalition after the 2015 election, whoever is chosen submits themselves to a proper leadership selection process in the summer of 2015.

    I for one believe that this group of people would make a wise choice. They know the individuals better than anyone. They have skin in the game in a way different to ourselves. They are the people who ultimately have effectively a veto on nominations and so could deliver for the rest of us, the solution that would be best for the Party.

    How it would work in practice would be that the Parliamentary Party would unanimously nominate a single candidate for Leader, which the due process would confirm as our new leader. Two weeks maximum. Unanimity. Business as usual. Good for the country. What is not to like?

  • David Evans 14th Jun '14 - 2:20pm

    Robert, you have completely misunderstood, what I said. I said nothing about Local Parties’ administration.

    What I said was that The Ribble Valley result has been on the members only Lib Dem Voice website for nearly a week. The people in LDV Central like Caron and Mark Valladares post there. So when you said “I suspect, sadly that most people running local parties have never heard of LDV still less get their act together to send in an EGM report,” you were mistaken. It was reported in the Members only area, under the title “Emergency Special General Meeting in Ribble Valley”, but people in LDV Central didn’t choose to get “The Voice” to write about it on the Public site.

  • paul barker 14th Jun '14 - 2:34pm

    Please lets all calm down here. Its clear that a lot of damage has been done by all sides, intentionally or not, if one has nothing radically new or positive to say, better to say nothing. Theres quite enough paranoia, suspicion & bitterness in the mix already.
    Assuming that news of the Ribble Valley decision has been up on the members forum (I dont use it myself) perhaps The LDV Team of unpaid volonteers dont actually read everything that goes up ? Could we all please give each other the benefit of the doubt ?
    There is no quick & easy way out, whatever happens there will be a residue of suspicion & bitterness left behind, lets not try to add to it.

  • Jonathan Pile 14th Jun '14 - 2:48pm

    So that’s 1-1 so far – Ribble Valley voted 57% to 43% in favour of a leadership election ( not reported by LDV!) and Cambridge voted 58% to 42% not to have a leadership election but i bet most were anti-Clegg . Let’s have fair reporting please. this is inline with the Ldv’s own polling. ditch Clegg now so the party can win back our lost voters.
    http://www.libdemfightback.yolasite.com

  • “It was reported in the Members only area, under the title “Emergency Special General Meeting in Ribble Valley”, but people in LDV Central didn’t choose to get “The Voice” to write about it on the Public site.”

    Presumably ‘the Voice’ at least looks at the titles of threads in the members’ forum, because he/she has just this afternoon posted a list of “some of the most active discussions this past 7 days” (not including the one about the Ribble Valley EGM):
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/whats-being-debated-in-our-members-forum-this-week-28-40896.html

  • Anyone who was at the meeting last night would know that the headline ‘Cambridge Liberal Democrats back Nick Clegg’ would be a travesty of what was said.

    I hope future participants in special/extraordinary general meetings will understand that a vote against a leadership contest, regardless of its intent, will inevitably be spun as “a resounding 58% of Liberal Democrats voice strong support for Nick Clegg’s record in leadership!” That just seems to be the way things are done now.

  • Stephen Hesketh 14th Jun '14 - 4:10pm

    paul barker 14th Jun ’14 – 2:34pm “Could we all please give each other the benefit of the doubt ?”

    Even though you are obviously a pro-Clegg lacky 🙂 I agree with this sentiment 🙂

    Apologies to Stephen Tall [14th Jun ’14 – 12:16pm ] for the tone of mine of 6:58 this morning.

  • Still nobody has explained why changing the leader in the run up to an election is going to make the slightest difference to our electoral prospects. We have lost a considerable proportion of our voters, many of them not supporters of our policies or priciples and we would have done that regardless of who the leader was. Still, entering the coalition was the right thing to do at the time for both the country and us as a party.

  • Firm Liberal 14th Jun '14 - 4:21pm

    John Major when his leadership was threatened decided himself to put the issue to the vote. He stayed as PM but stood down as Conservative leader. In the ballot that followed he won easily securing the backing of 218 M.P.s toJohn Redwood’s 89 with 12 spoilt votes.
    Would Nick’s and our uncertainty not come to an end if he stood down as leader,allowing a challenger to emerge and the party membership to vote. I would not be at all surprised if Nick won !

  • Because many voters who might have considered voting Lib Dem will refuse to do so as long as Nick Clegg is the face of the Party.
    Because the Party needs drastic overhauls to its structure to make it more democratic, more accountable, and more attuned to the needs of its members.
    Because the Party’s members need a boost in morale, a sense that they are going out and working for achievable victories, and that they are standing for something they can believe in.
    Because Nick Clegg has not shown any initiative in wanting to take the Party in the direction it needs to go to recover votes.
    Because Nick Clegg is, on the contrary, an active impediment to needed change in the Party.

  • Jonathan Pile 14th Jun '14 - 4:29pm

    @ Robert
    You have the nub of the matter. did the 20% of the voters who voted lib dem in 2010, 2005, 2001 etc return to the party if an unpopular leader was removed. all the historic evidence – thatcher/major , brown/miliband demonstrate this. 74% of 2010 lib dem 2010 voters are opposed to Clegg . We are at 6% in the polls – who is Clegg targeting for extra support – ukip voters? – the fightback for 2010 is the only strategy for success and survival. Those of us who talk on the doorsteps know that people feel betrayed which shows that they still care and can be won back if we make an authentic claim for support. it worked for major in 1990-1992.
    http://www.libdemfightback.yolasite.com

  • Paul in Wokingham 14th Jun '14 - 4:38pm

    @David-1 has already responded to Robert’s important question “why would changing leader help the party?” but let me add an example. In the second Farage debate I thought that (with the exception of his answer to the “10 years from now” question) that Clegg pretty much won. Andrew Sparrow who was live blogging for The Guardian thought the same. But the public decided that Clegg lost badly to Farage. There’s the rub. No one is prepared to listen to him. Nobody trusts him. That’s why we are at 7% in the polls and why he is the most unpopular leader in polling history.

    Will changing the leader help us turn around our fortunes? I don’t know. I would not wish to extrapolate from the Canadian example in LDV yesterday. But the evidence is clear that we are in serious trouble if he stays. In any risk/benefit analysis it is clear that the best strategy is a new leader.

    I am not “anti-Clegg”. On the contrary I have met him socially a few times and have found him very likeable. But I am a realist. I am not anti-Clegg. I am pro -Lib Dem.

  • Stephen Hesketh 14th Jun '14 - 4:48pm

    Stephen Tall 14th Jun ’14 – 12:16pm

    Stephen, I don’t know who “The Voice” is but think that if we wish to avoid future misunderstandings and suspicion, titles and spin such as headed this post should be avoided. I don’t think it unreasonable for readers to feel the title is not a fair representation of the actual facts. BR, Stephen.

  • Shaun Cunningham 14th Jun '14 - 4:54pm

    What is clear about this process, Nick Clegg will be leading a divided party and a divided party will go nowhere .
    What will it take for Nick to understand a leader who does not have the confidence of the overwhelming majority is simply at best a dead leader and at worst a leader who is and will be ineffective. The public have made their minds up and we as a party need to be bold and resolute not only to see change come about but facilitate that change. It’s no good sitting back and use the excuse there’s no one else or time is to short. This party needs to look at itself and look at public opinion. The message being conveyed is crystal clear, Nick in the eyes of the electorate is dead. This party is short changing itself because come May of next year disaster beckons. The electorate is unforgiving. A leader of stature knows when his or her time us up, do we really have to wait for another calamity at the ballot box to understand the scale of the problem this party now faces.

    We have become a party on the defensive, shoring up what is left in the hope that the tide of public opinion will be kind. In fact it will be anything other.

  • Stephen Hesketh 14th Jun '14 - 4:59pm

    David-1 14th Jun ’14 – 4:23pm
    Jonathan Pile 14th Jun ’14 – 4:29pm
    Paul in Wokingham 14th Jun ’14 – 4:38pm

    Excellent posts in reply to Robert’s question and the incorrect assumptions behind it.

  • Stephen Hesketh 14th Jun ’14 – 4:48pm
    Stephen Tall 14th Jun ’14 – 12:16pm

    “Stephen, I don’t know who “The Voice” is but think that if we wish to avoid future misunderstandings and suspicion, titles and spin such as headed this post should be avoided. I don’t think it unreasonable for readers to feel the title is not a fair representation of the actual facts. BR, Stephen.”

    Yes I agree. I do think there is a very clear ‘pro-Clegg’ bias from the LDV team in general.

  • David Allen 14th Jun '14 - 7:51pm

    “Firm Liberal” makes a good point in referring to the “back me or sack me” challenge which John Major issued to his MPs. By taking a bold lead, and himself calling for a leadership election, Major secured a victory. It didn’t restore his fortunes with the wider public, but it did ensure that he stayed in place to lead the Conservatives into the next election.

    Is Clegg a less colourful figure than John Major? Can Clegg not match Major for boldness and political appeal?

  • John Major was a man of integrity, sadly wasted on the Tories.

  • In Cleggs case it wouldn’t be “back me or me or sack me”, rather “sack me now or sack me after the general election”. If my local party holds a vote I’ll be voting for a leadership election. #refusenick

  • Stephen Hesketh 14th Jun ’14 – 4:59pm
    David-1 14th Jun ’14 – 4:23pm
    Jonathan Pile 14th Jun ’14 – 4:29pm
    Paul in Wokingham 14th Jun ’14 – 4:38pm

    Four good conributions to the debate.

    It occurred to me, as someone who has been involved in a number of threads in this ongoing debate in LDV, that there is a quite small number of enthusiasts for Clegg remaining as leader.

    One of them is paul barker another is Paul Walter. Unlike those who would like Clegg to stand down, they seldom give much in the way of reasoned argument. For example —
    Paul Walter 14th Jun ’14 – 3:57am
    Never were so many hairs split on one thread….

    Both have attempted on occasion to personalise the debate suggesting that it is just small vocal minority who want Clegg to go. I have just skimmed through a number of these threads. It would appear that the opposite is true.

    Many of the critics of Clegg post just one comment, give their reasons why they think Clegg has failed or is toxic with the voters and don’t post again. Examples in this thread are from people who actually attended the Cambridge meeting yesterday. I guess that for some of them this is their first ever comment in LDV. I wonder how they react to Paul Walter’s suggestion that they are “splitting hairs” when what they seem to be trying to do is set the record straight.

    Paul Walter is of course one of the LDV volunteers. I seem to remember him recently explaining how he is involved in picking the pictures that accompany headlines. Maybe he picks the headlines as well …..??
    I am sure he will tell us if the universally acknowledged misleading headline for his thread is one of his.

  • I have now heard that the score is 2-2., with Liverpool putting Nick one up, but then Nottingham equalising for the party.

    Can anyone confirm this?

  • Instead of wasting time complaining about Nick Clegg and having votes about the leadership, get out and knock on doors for goodness sake. If you want to help this party, that’s the only way. Get out an campaign and pack in this leadership nonsense. The public hate political parties bickering. We should be united, not tearing each other apart. Get on with the job, there’s not much time left!

  • Tracy wrote:

    “Instead of wasting time complaining about Nick Clegg and having votes about the leadership, get out and knock on doors for goodness sake. ”

    Knock on doors and say exactly what? Propping up a Tory government is the right thing to do? That which a week ago was irrational is now the only possible option? Labour is to blame for the economic crisis? The Leader was right to endorse Lansley’s health “reforms”, even though he hadn’t read them? We’ve implemented 75% of our manifesto?

    Sorry, I didn’t get involved in politics to promote such nonsense.

  • Needless to say, I regard this as a classic distraction technique, taking people away from decisive action and into easy substitutes. There is less than 11 months left to save the party from Nick and the oblivion he is taking us to.

  • Andrew Turvey 14th Jun '14 - 11:43pm

    David Evans 14th Jun ’14 – 10:34pm: “I have now heard that the score is 2-2., with Liverpool putting Nick one up, but then Nottingham equalising for the party. Can anyone confirm this?”

    Nottingham Post have covered the latter:

    http://www.nottinghampost.com/Nottingham-Liberal-Democrats-refuse-Nick-Clegg/story-21237067-detail/story.html

  • Andrew Turvey 14th Jun '14 - 11:45pm

    Incidentally, the Nottingham Post article also mentions that Southwark has also voted against a leadership election.

  • Andrew Turvey 14th Jun '14 - 11:54pm

    “Ribble Valley vote … It’s not like they’ve been shouting it from the rooftops and AFAIK it hasn’t been reported in the local press.”

    It was reported in the national press 11 days ago:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nick-clegg-at-pains-to-prove-lib-dems-learned-lessons-from-disastrous-local-and-european-elections-9481484.html

  • “Instead of wasting time complaining about Nick Clegg and having votes about the leadership, get out and knock on doors for goodness sake.”

    I can’t think of anything less likely to motivate people to knock on doors than the party deferring what is now clearly inevitable, and pointlessly soldiering on under the leadership of a man who is pure electoral poison.

  • @John Tilley
    I am the photo editor. Or “photo fairy” as I have named myself informally. See list here:
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/the-liberal-democrat-voice-team
    So, yes, if a member of the team has not had time to add a photo, I shove one in. It’s mainly done via a marvellous tool called “Photodropper”.
    I also do a little bit of tidying up of the text shown on the home page, so that it doesn’t go under the photos or look untidy.
    Apart from one post, I haven’t written an LDV headline since 2013, when I was a day editor. I certainly did not write the headline for the Cambridge post. I did choose the photo of the Cambridge spires to illustrate it.
    I stand by my comment about splitting hairs. I totally accept the sincerity of the views expressed against Nick (and by the way I have posted about this here and elsewhere, John). And I welcome the fact that there has been input from those at the meeting. I am rather tired of comments debates, however, because people write things here which they wouldn’t say to others faces. I also think we are in grave danger of over-obsessing on this matter.

  • @John Tilley

    Further point. I have actually commented quite liberally on posts here recently, including a few long comments. Indeed, I seem to have spent a lot of time replying to you, to the extent that I would love to share a pint or any other beverage with you and discuss this properly.
    The reason I made the splitting hairs comment and then didn’t comment further was a simple practical one. I have spent the last 36 hours driving up and down the south of England/visiting a University campus with my family and have not had sufficient time or network coverage to comment here.

  • A Social Liberal 15th Jun '14 - 1:07am

    Robert asked why change the leader when it wouldn’t make any difference to our dire electoral prospects. He is quite right, Cleggs going would not change the fact that next May will see an unmitigating disaster. Unmitigating – that is, no extenuating circumstances.

    So why get rid of the man eleven months before the election if it will not make any difference. For me it is quite simple. It gives us many more months of planning for the inevitable disaster, many more months of planning a strategy for the years ahead. Being proactive and not reactive.

    There is a saying in the armed forces, it’s called the Six Ps – Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance, if we start planning for the future early we will reach our goals earlier.

  • Jonathan Pile 15th Jun '14 - 7:26am

    Ditching Clegg now would allow us to reconnect with our 2010 voters. No one is saying the party should break its word and leave the coalition but we can have a new leader who can defend the good things we have done while putting right the mistakes . Labour went through this with Blair and Brown, the Tories with Thatcher and Major. It worked for Major who connected with the voters even as Kinnock was celebrating his victory. it would have worked for brown but he bottled his autumn election.

  • David Evans 15th Jun '14 - 7:52am

    @ Dave Page – I’m glad to hear that you consider the campaign to change our leader the easy option. Perhaps if you had decided to join with us and give us the help of your expertise it would have been done much quicker!

  • I’m yet to have anyone persuade me that, with less than a year to go before the general election, we can dump a leader, vote in a new one, keep and then unwind the Coalition with a vacancy at the top and then a new leader, organise a final Autumn Statement and Budget and then carry out some sort of election miracle wherein we’re magically protected from the last 4 years by the virtue of what we did over 10 months.

    Probably no one has persuaded you of that because no one has argued that. Of course you’re not going to be protected from what the party has done over the last four years. The electorate isn’t stupid. But if the party at least gives a sign it’s going to change, some people may give it a second chance. If the party carries on regardless of what the electorate thinks, how it is going to regain any support?

    Your argument almost seems to be that unless changing the leader guarantees 100% success, you may as well just carry on with Clegg and suffer 100% disaster.

  • Stephen Hesketh 15th Jun '14 - 9:17am

    I fully agree with John Tilley’s post of 14th Jun ’14 – 9:26pm regarding the relative sizes of the vocal elements on each side of the leadership debate:
    “It occurred to me, as someone who has been involved in a number of threads in this ongoing debate in LDV, that there is a quite small number of enthusiasts for Clegg remaining as leader.” Indeed.

    I had hoped we might have had another members-only survey following the Bloomberg speech and our ongoing discussions here and with colleagues. It is not too late!

    Several sensible options testing the spectrum of beliefs from go immediately through to go when he choses to resign himself.

    Misleading headlines aside, I do not personally believe there to be a bias on the part of the LDV team generally rather that they are being extremely cautious in the line they take. I perceive this to be because the additive ‘Go Now/Go immediately after the next GE’ vote would be very telling. As a result they are allowing the official constitutional process to take its course. The result may or may not be the best outcome for the party. Only history will determine that.

  • Tracy 14th Jun ’14 – 10:45pm……Instead of wasting time complaining about Nick Clegg and having votes about the leadership, get out and knock on doors for goodness sake. If you want to help this party, that’s the only way. Get out an campaign and pack in this leadership nonsense. The public hate political parties bickering. We should be united, not tearing each other apart. Get on with the job, there’s not much time left!…..

    Sadly, as the recent local/EU elections have demonstrated ‘getting out and knocking on doors’ doesn’t do much good….
    The message has been, “Sorry,not today, thank you!”…..If what you are selling today is unpalatable then why keep trying to sell the same thing tomorrow?
    The message that came back from areas in which LibDems did well was, “We had a ‘Nick Clegg free’ campaign”….

    They are the facts! Pretending otherwise is fooling no-one; least of all the electorate!…

  • Peter Chegwyn 15th Jun '14 - 10:58am

    Indeed Joe! In my area we never mentioned Clegg, the coalition or the national party once. We campaigned solely on local issues and our record of all-year-round service & action using good old-fashioned ‘community politics’ techniques. We held every seat we were defending, gained another from the Tories and came within just 16 & 79 votes of gaining two more. We did it despite Clegg not because of him.

    I’m still trying to find a single local campaigner anywhere in the country who mentioned Nick Clegg in their literature or used the ballot paper description ‘Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats’. Despite numerous requests I’ve yet to find a single one.

    If our own councillors, candidates, campaigners and activists aren’t willing to mention their own Leader in their own literature because they don’t see him as an electoral asset, that says it all really.

  • Paul,Walter
    Thank you. Two very reasonable and polite responses.
    Always happy to tell you face to face why you are wrong over a mug of tea ( I subscribe to the David Penhaligon view of drink and politics). 🙂

  • There are some comments which catch the mood so well Inwouldmlikemtomsee them on giant plaster sites throughout the country.
    One such is this from –
    Sarah Brown 15th Jun ’14 – 8:06am

    ….,,,,,,, if not now, when. If we end up in another hung parliament, do we really want this man negotiating a new coalition, in the image of the old one?

    There is never a good time to do this, but deciding a kicking is inevitable, so we might as well wallow in it for a bit, then get rid of Clegg, just seems like self indulgent masochism to me.

    If not now, when?

  • When I typed it that last comment it said —
    There are some comments which catch the mood so well I would like to see them on giant poster sites throughout the country.
    One such is this from –
    Sarah Brown 15th Jun ’14 – 8:06am

    ….,,,,,,, if not now, when. If we end up in another hung parliament, do we really want this man negotiating a new coalition, in the image of the old one?

    There is never a good time to do this, but deciding a kicking is inevitable, so we might as well wallow in it for a bit, then get rid of Clegg, just seems like self indulgent masochism to me.

    If not now, when?

  • David Allen 15th Jun '14 - 1:04pm

    If not now, when?

    Well, good times to have done it would have been in response to the tuition fees disaster, in response to the NHS disaster, or in response to the bedroom tax disaster. On all those occasions, the Clegg loyalists said it was too early to think about changing the leadership.

    Now they have seamlessly segued into saying that it is too late to change before the election, but a change could be made after the election.

    When the election has been fought and lost, and when (if) Clegg returns at the head of a rump of Lib Dem MPs, the Clegg loyalists will say it is not the right time for a change. Oh no, that should have been done in June 2014! Now that we have this critical situation in Parliament, with a shaky Labour – SNP – DUP coalition running the country, we need to hold our nerve, avoid distraction, let Nick sort out where we go next, let Nick take the rap for things for a bit, and choose a new leader in (say) 2017 after Cameron’s referendum has been got out of the way… We promise you, Clegg will almost definitely step down in 2017, almost!

    Limpets are good at what they’re good at, but when you know it’s a limpet you are dealing with, you can shift it.

  • Peter Andrews 15th Jun '14 - 1:24pm

    I suggest someone writes a piece about the results of the Ribble Valley and Nottingham SGM votes and submits it to LDV.

  • Peter Chivall 15th Jun '14 - 1:43pm

    Having limited time to read the whole thread, I move on from the specific Cambridge result to the wider issue of whether there is a ‘core vote’ any more. The Euro results could be excused by a campaigning blunder – albeit one at national level that goes back beyond ‘the Party on IN’ fiasco. The blunder was to place the Party, as stated above, as ‘Labservative Lite’ and to totally ignore the reality of whose votes we are really competing and the positive record of our MEPS over the past 15 or more years on the real issues. we cannot outcompete tories and Labour on selfishness and stupidity. We could have competed for the vote of younger and more principled older voters on ‘what sort of future do we want?’
    The key to this would have green the Green vote and our Euro MPs’ excellent record on green issues in the EU Parliament over the years. If we had started working on the poor record of Green MEPs and promoting our own MEPs’ record of action in our national publicyt – not just this spring, but over the last 4 years, we might have got enough otherwise Green Party supporters to vote for us to save many of our seats in Brussels.
    Instead, we could only offer them ‘Labservative Lite’. we should have drawn the lesson from the eclipse of the Orange-book like FDP in the German Federal Elections, but those in the Westminster bubble don’t even believe the reality of their ‘Party of IN’ propaganda – that the German electorate are not so different than the British. They just make their choices under a different system, that is all.
    Finally, in Newark, to only receive 2.6% in a byelection in a Tory-facing seat where the neighbouring Gainsborough seat had a LibDem majority council within the last 10 years shows either a) voters with LibDem beliefs do not identify with our Party any more, or ) there’s nobody left active in the Party to run a proper campaign (and the adolescents on ‘work experience’ in Clegg’s office wouldn’t know what a doorstep looks like), or both.
    It may be too late now to change the disasterous results of next May. We may have a totally lame duck of a Leader in the DPM’s office pretending he has enough support to carry on. But at least even a caretaker Leader would allow the Party to articulate it’s progressive radical liberalism in an honest and properly thought out manifesto for the future in 2015. On present course, with David Laws chairing the Manifesto Committee and Danny Alexander supposedly leading on ‘I agree with Osborne’s policies’, I can see the ultimate disaster of many of our MPs and candidates having to publicly disassociate themselves from the national campaign and running as Independent Liberal Democrats next year.

  • Stephen Hesketh 15th Jun '14 - 1:45pm

    JohnTilley 15th Jun ’14 – 11:46am If not now, when?

    Now – but I’d settle for anytime this summer. Under no (conceivable) circumstances, a moment beyond the weekend following 7 May 2015!

    David Allen 15th Jun ’14 – 1:04pm.

    As we are presently arguing over ‘now or post-GE’, two years notice is excessive in the extreme! I was happy with your post until I got to 2017. Extending your theme, 2017 would be too close to the 2020 GE!!!

  • David Evans 15th Jun '14 - 2:04pm

    @ Peter Andrews – I suggest the Voice could do a good job! Just as he/she did for the Cambridge Vote.

  • Stephen Hesketh 15th Jun '14 - 8:35pm

    JohnTilley 15th Jun ’14 – 11:46am If not now, when?

    and my own of 1:45pm: “Now – but I’d settle for anytime this summer. Under no (conceivable) circumstances, a moment beyond the weekend following 7 May 2015!”

    Apologies – this post was truncated due to Father’s Day visits!

    I realised my post sounded like a rolling compromise – it is absolutely not!

    Should NC manage to cling on and fight the next GE as a lame duck leader, my point is that the strategically nuanced ‘Now’ and ‘Post-GE’ positions and supporters would then be as one and that consequently the clamour for change next May will be deafening.

    The great shame for the party would be yet another year of haemorrhaged votes, supporters, councillors and, by then, MPs as well – not to mention another wasted year of centrist liberal democracy hindering the rebuilding of the Liberal Democrats.

    I was about to suggest that perhaps the Parliamentary party had insights well beyond mine … then I read
    Caracatus’ of 8:13pm. Although there are some notable exceptions, the latter analysis may explain the apparent inactivity amongst MPs – You would have thought that an interest in simply saving their own jobs might have awakened some.

  • Matthew Huntbach 16th Jun '14 - 4:23pm

    As ever, many people are writing here as if support/opposition to Clegg remaining as leader is the same thing as support/opposition to the whole idea of joining the coalition. They are not, they are two different things.

    Joining the coalition was always going to be difficult for us, yes. It’s not the coalition I guess most of our voters would have wanted, and the argument that we had no alternative because it was the only possible stable government, and that not joining it and so getting a minority Tory government (which would engineer a fresh election to slaughter us a few months later), is rather subtle and seems to be difficult to get across to most people who are not heavily involved or interested in politics.

    But Clegg has just made things worse in so many ways. The main one is the way he has painted a rather sorry compromise which must inevitably be far more to the Tory way of thinking than ours as some sort of triumph and permanent change in the party. This puts us in the position of seeming far more happy with policies which are basically Tory policies, not LibDem ones, than we ought to be, and of stating that this is how it is now, and we will never go back to being the party that our voters voted for. There are many other examples of poorly handling things apart from this. I have been pointing them out here over the past four years.

    It is simply NOT the case, as his defenders have suggested, that any other leader would have done the same thing. There are plenty of differences in presentation and organisation that a more competent leader, one more willing to listen to party members and maintain our long-standing local strength, would have gone for over how Clegg chose to play the situation. The issue here is NOT about forgetting what we have done in the coalition over the past four years, as many have suggested. It’s about making it more clear that this was done as a necessary compromise, it was mainly influence we could have on the fringe, we were not in the position to have a big influence on the main thrust of the government’s direction which had inevitably to be that of the Conservative Party, and that we have a thoroughly different outlook which we would be able to put in place if we were the lead party in government – and that the formation of the coalition was a necessary acceptance of what the electorate and the distortions of the voting system gave us, and NOT a mark of any sort of permanent change in what our party is about.

  • I think Cambridge City voted against the coalition? However, Most of the party voted in favour. We didn’t do so because we thought it would be popular, though we probably didn’t realise how unpopular it would be. But we agreed with Nick that it was the right thing to do. Compromises on policy were inevitable, we couldn’t expect to get everything we stood for, or even very much of it when we make up only 6% of the coalition, but we have secured some worthwhile gains we could never have achieved in opposition; nor could we expect to prevent the Tories from getting most of what they stood for, and though we may have prevented the worst excesses, we can’t expect to get credit for that. But those of us who signed up to the strategy of working with another party can’t blame Nick or the other MPs for the electoral consequences.
    Similarly, those of us who believe in the EU project can’t blame the leader or the MEPs for making that case, however unpopular it turned out to be with the electorate. We might have wanted more to be made of our record as EU reformers, but there’s little reason to think that would have improved the electoral outcome. So we share responsibility for the position which has made us so unpopular with the electorate, and as Tim Farron said, we shouldn’t regret that. Do we want to be a weathervane party, which changes position with the electoral winds, or a party which stands up for what we believe to be right, and accepts the consequences? We would never persuade electors to support our long- held positions if we changed them every time we lost votes. If we think Nick and the parliamentary party are right to hold to these principles, then we have to take our share of responsibility for the electoral consequences.

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Jun '14 - 10:11am

    Peter Fane

    Similarly, those of us who believe in the EU project can’t blame the leader or the MEPs for making that case, however unpopular it turned out to be with the electorate.

    No, but we can blame him for doing it in an incompetent manner which failed to engage with why many are concerned about the EU and failed to tackle the misleading way in which the EU is presented by its opponents.

    Do we want to be a weathervane party, which changes position with the electoral winds, or a party which stands up for what we believe to be right, and accepts the consequences?

    You are illustrating SO WELL the point I made in my previous message just above yours.

    By suggesting that anyone who is critical of Clegg is asking for changes of position which shift with the electoral winds you are making out that Clegg is beyond criticism and so therefore that the critics are asking for a change of position. No, it is not a change of position that is needed, it is a change of LEADER to someone who can do a more competent job than Clegg of defending our position.

  • From one state school -educated person to another, Pyrrhus was not a mythical figure but a historical one.

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