Cameron offers … er, not very much really

Update: the party’s Federal Executive and Parliamentary Party are both meeting on Saturday to discuss what the party should do next. As I understand it there’s no intention of the party leadership publicly proposing a position until before then.

David Cameron has just made his pitch to the TV cameras outlining the approach he wants to take to forming a government and reasons the Liberal Democrats should have for supporting it.

He outlined several areas of possible policy agreement. Some are ones where the parties clearly already agrees, such as in opposing ID cards. Some are one where although the parties have disagreed greatly on details, there is significant overlap. Most notably, whilst the Liberal Democrat plans to raise the income tax threshold to £10,000 were widely attacked by the Tories, the basic idea of cutting income tax broadly is hardly one the Conservatives would find hard to stomach.

But all of those were statements of what we all already knew from the party manifestos and election campaigns. Faced with an actual hung Parliament, Cameron looked to be offering only one new proposal: a cross-party commission on electoral and political reform.

That of course was Blair’s offer in 1997 which subsequently turned to dust.

With one party having the most seats and the most votes, the need for concessions and agreement is much less than it might be otherwise, but even so is if that’s the one concession on offer so far, the obvious question is: “Is that enough?”.

Share your views in the comments…

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  • It’s not enough to form a partnership. And I wonder if Gordon Brown *is* “tainted” enough to stop Clegg forming a partnership with Labour.

    I think Cameron will pull a fast one.

  • I have voted strategically for Liberal Democrats in a VERY marginal seat with the intention of keeping out the Conservative candidate at ANY cost – believing that Liberal Democrats were left of centre political party and they share many of the ideologies of the left. The Lib Dem candidate won!

    If Clegg now gets into bed with the Conservatives he will not only condemn the Lib Dems to being out in the political cold for the foreseeable future – as they see their opportunity to reform parliament and the voting system and would initiate a PR voting system – BUT will ostracise left thinking voters forever.

    I will never consider voting for the Lib Dems again if a Conservative/Lim Dem pact is the outcome of this election!


  • GrrrGrrrGrrr 7th May '10 - 3:37pm

    Absolutely! My future vote lost too!

  • I would not trust the tories!

  • The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats work together very well in many local areas and I don’t see why this cannot be repeated nationally. If Nick Clegg supports Labour then he is as morally bankrupt as Gordon Brown with his ‘change of mind’ on political reform. Why? Because he would be entering a coalition with the losers in a selfish bid for power. This would tarnish the reputation of the Lib Dems for years to come.
    I say negotiate with the Tories and see how far they will go, David Cameron did say in his speech theirs was a opening position. If there is one result in this election that is definitive it is that the country wants Gordon Brown out of Downing Street and we must respect that.

  • Got to agree with most, here; this is a very rare chance for electoral reform, and some short-term public cynicism about propping up Labour is worth it for the long-term smashing of this electoral system. Keep the Tories in, and they’ll simply bide their time until they can gerrymander boundaries, and hold a snap election when they believe they have the support to get an overall majority. Game over. They have lots of the press and Big Money on their side.

    Clegg, do you want to spend the future with the Lib Dems in obscurity? If not, ally with Labour. It’s the only option I can see, the lesser of the evils.

  • James Bartlett 7th May '10 - 3:41pm

    Grrrr…yet I voted Lib Dem with the hope that they would actually end up forming a coalition with the Conservatives. And I’ve voted Lib Dem in the last 3 general elections. Why not look at this positively? A coalition with the Conservatives would allow the country to function and the Lib Dem element would help temper some of the more unacceptable right-wing policies of the Conservatives and vice-versa. We need what is best for the country, not what is best for the Lib Dem membership.

  • Look how Labour treated us when it thought it didn’t need us to win.

  • If the Lib Dems see sense they will let Cam rule as a minority leader and bide time until the pain of the cuts comes in and Labour are reinvigorated under a new leader. Together Libs and Lab can then vote down a Cameron Queen’s Speech in a year or two and go into an election with a revived Labour party offering strong commitments on electoral reform.

  • And I go back to what I said earlier, this is not about party politics we must be seen to reflect the will of the people so Gordon needs to go.

  • Of course, if you want a Lib Dem party that looks like its open to a nice fat political bribe then back Labour. It would be a huge betrayal of the British people and we would eventually suffer for it.

  • A new Jenkins Commission is NOT PR. By accepting this offer, the leadership would be betraying a huge number of voters and activists.

  • Totally agree with Grrrr above. We are feeling pretty disgusted.

    We live in Mcr Withington and for the 1st time ever
    this year we actively campaigned to make sure our local MP John Leech retained his seat, despite lots of our friends returning to the Labour fold. As you’ll know John Leech got back in this morning.

    But we’ve just emailed him and all the local LD councillors, to say we’ll never vote LD again if Clegg props up the Tories. We added that we think all of the new support eg from students, from The Guardian will disappear if there’s a Lib Dem/ Tory deal. My partner has been on the phone to the bank to see if his recent cheque to Nick Clegg could be stopped.

    It all feels like a total betrayal to us and we just pray it’s a very brief (ie one-day) clever bluff from Nick Clegg. Cos it’s really trying our patience.

  • David Lawson 7th May '10 - 3:47pm

    Big, open and comprehensive. A few thoughts on the “offer” as asked for –

    1. Committee of enquiry on electoral reform. Deal breaker. Minimum is a referendum. Cameron did say that there could be further negotiations. He must have meant about this. There is also no reason why the Commons and Lords need the same system. A proportional voting system for the Lords would at least make the system more democratic overall and take us one step forwards.

    2. This statement was not written over-night by people who had no sleep. There were too many details and, really, it was quite well written.

    3. Open offer. Surely for two reasons. To put some pressure on Nick Clegg about an offer which is expressed to look reasonable – as Philip Young says above. To avoid accusations about deals behind closed doors.

    4. We want voting reform. That means negotiations like this more often and we have to accept that we are the junior partner. Do we sacrifice our policies on defence and EU to get some protection on social justice? (I know that is too basic to express the mix). Obviously greater detail would need to be agreed so that we knew what the protection on social justice was. Realistically how much more can we demand with 18% of the seats the Tories have (however unfair that is)?

    5. They spoke of a role in delivery. Jobs for Nick and Vince?

    6. The political question – go in and provide the first example in 100 years of what the Lib Dems might deliver with a possible boost in credibility – or stay out and risk looking like a pure protest vote refusing to take any responsibility. Go in and risk being used as political cover for the forthcoming cuts (one of the things Cameron said he would insist on) or stay out and face another election all the sooner.

    7. There is still likely to be another FPTP election. Cameron will pull out of any coalition in 2 years before the Bill for PR, produced after the referendum (if won against press opposition), is finally voted on. While the 10 excellent questions from Stephen Tall are important we may not need to understand what the difficulties were this time to know what to do next time. It is likely that the Labour vote will be higher next time than this.

  • will never vote lib dem again if they get into bed the tories.

  • But you’re missing the point …. . More people do NOT want the Conservatives in Government than do! That’s not democracy!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th May '10 - 3:52pm

    Setting aside all their rhetoric about having “won” the election, in terms of the parliamentary arithmetic, the Tories would actually be in a rather weak position without Lib Dem support. Even if they somehow managed to co-opt the DUP, the SNP and PC, they would still not be up to the 326 mark, and the remaining MPs look like natural allies of Labour and/or the Lib Dems.

    On the other hand a Lab/LD/nationalist combination plus those natural allies would have a majority of 15 or so.

  • JennyForeigner 7th May '10 - 3:54pm

    I am a long term lib dem but more than that, someone who believes in progressive politics. We cannot shore up a Conservative government when this country has shown a clear preference for progressive parties. We will lose all credibility while they stall and waffle, and we will lose the respect in which we are held.

    By all means Nick needs to take his time and appear to listen to Cameron’s offer – but it is not a serious offer, his rhetoric on immigration and the EU showed that his mind is with the right wing of his party rather than genuinely working with us. Let us continue to negotiate, but lets go with labour – let’s get PR – at last! To settle for anything else is to insult the millions of people who cast a Lib Dem vote yesterday. If we work with the Tories, wasting this opportunity for PR, they will not give us another chance.

  • I imagine the idea of Vince Cable as chancellor rather than George Osborne would be rather appealing to a lot of people…

  • I cannot believe that Clegg will take this Tory offer at face value. On electoral reform there’s absolutely no way Cameron will concede even the possibility of PR, or will be allowed to by his party. He’ll set up a talking shop which will keep the idea on the back burner for as long as it takes him to get to another election which he’ll hope to win outright, the LibDems having been shafted in the eyes of a lot of their natural supporters by the compromises they’ve made. And on the economy: how on earth could the LibDem’s position coincide with the slash and burn policy of the Tories? It just wouldn’t work.

    Cameron thinks that by hurrying everyone along and forcing a decision in his favour, just as Bush did after the hanging chads fiasco, he can bully his way into No 10 as the supposed ‘victor’. The truth is there is a left-of-centre majority in this country and has been for several years. Right of centre parties, led by the Tories, do NOT have the mandate to take over. Clegg should go back to Labour and insist that, in return for his support, Brown agrees to stay on only for as long as it takes to weather the immediate financial crisis and hold a referendum on the voting system, with an election following in not more than a year under a new Labour leader. That way, we avoid a Tory disaster, Brown can leave with dignity after putting things on the right track, Clegg emerges with greater autjority and we’ve got the chance of electing a new government that represents the country properly.

  • I voted LibDem in Ealing Central and Acton on the basis I was told by the candidate’s team they best chance of beating the Tories – they ended up coming third. I have historically voted Labour but share a lot of LibDem values – fair taxes, an interest in the environment, sensible policy on Europe and immigration, not to mention Trident.

    If Nick Clegg jumps into bed with Cameron this would be the biggest wasted opportunity in LibDem history to turn 20%+ of the votes into some meaningful representation in Parliament. It would also betray all those “progressive” voters who voted LibDem in the expectation that this might lead to a Lab/LibDem coalition. Over 50% of the electorate expected and voted for that outcome. The fact 36% voted Tory does not give them a mandate, and Clegg should not compromise for fear of being seen to support a discredicted Labour party.

  • David Lawson 7th May '10 - 4:00pm

    Matt – The country has not hugely rejected Labour. It looked likely to happen but it did not. Labour are 7% behind the Tories. For sure the Tories did better and have the right to first go as Clegg says. But the Tories did not win a majority. Labour did not collapse. The problem with Lab-Lib is largely practical – there would be no majority. A Lib-Lab coalition would represent over half of the voters but have under half of the seats. Massively so in England, the main area in which its social policies apply. This is not a good start. It is surely these problems and not some “wrongness” about a deal with Labour which make it so difficult if not impossible.

  • I’ve been a long term LD supporter as I believe them to be a centre left party.

    If the lib dems get into bed with the conservative (and i speak for my peers) never ever support them in the future.

    If the Lib Dems support Cameron it will be the death of the part for the foreseeable future.

  • @ Philip
    John Major is not in a position to offer anything – and I don’t think he has any power or influence over the current situation.

  • I think some are ignoring the fact the numbers mean we simply cannot do a deal with Labour and have a stable government – whatever we think about the electoral system the Tories do have most seats and most votes so we should negotiate seriously. Our key aim must be implementing as much of our manifesto as possible – is that best achieved through forming a deal on individual legislative votes or through actually being in charge of departments and having a more structured? I don’t have the answers but it will be an interesting weekend and I think we should keep an open mind.

  • Only read David Lawson after my post – absolutely agree with your second post. We set out our 4 key priorities, and I think the rest (Trident/Immigration/Europe) has to go on back burner.

  • Andrew Suffield 7th May '10 - 4:12pm

    I don’t see why a coalition for a Labour government is even necessary. Labour has two options right now:

    1. Another election much like this one, sometime next year, when their cash reserves are gone (but Ashcroft’s millions are still here), leading to a Tory government for a decade or more.

    2. Ignoring the whole “government” issue, put a bill before parliament for STV and back it hard. Obviously the Lib Dems would be in favour of it, and the regional parties would almost certainly come in too – because PR would be great for them. With only the Tories opposing it, the bill would pass. There would be no Tory majority in the forseeable future, and Labour would remain a player in the UK government.

    Right now, Labour would have to be pretty crazy not to go for this. It wouldn’t even matter who gets to be PM this time around.

  • Richard…..that’s one point of view from the party….the SDP wing of the party….many, many members are more centre right as are many of current/new MPs…the “Orange” bookers from what I can see have held their seats better than the older more left wing MPs….not across the board but in general.

    So for everyone like you who would never vote for the party if they went in with the Tories their are many(myself included) who may think the same if they tie themselves with a disgraceful, old, tired, un-democratic and washed up Labour party….should be interesting.

  • JennyForeigner 7th May '10 - 4:14pm

    Agree completely with Rob.

    Any cabinet post except Chancellor is simply a waste of time – the holder would be so obviously compromised and have to toe cabinet line. PR is the important thing, the only thing.

    Cameron has a titanic sense of entitlement. I pray Nick is strong enough to stand up to him.

  • Stand back from it – block em in a loose centre left entente cordiale as we need to, but they will screw us on electoral reform and even if we do get a couple of cabinet posts, they’ll just blame us for anything that goes wrong.

  • nick clegg will be told over the weekend that his parliamentary colleagues are, generally speaking, not that comfortable supporting the tories. if this route is to be pursued then Clegg will need to play hardball in negotiations. this is a historic opportunity for the lib dems to make themselves relevant — i doubt it comes round again; they need cast-iron guarantee of PR; and specifically a referendum on AV at a minimum within the next 6 months. If this isn’t conceded; it’s off to labour, as in terms of the party’s future electoral reform trumps everything else as this election’s all too familiar squeeze has further confirmed. Any loss in public support in terms of supporting labour is as nothing compared with the win in MP numbers under a PR election. It’s likely that LibDems could extract the removal of Brown as part of this negotiation. Nick Clegg must not blow this chance, and for the sake of his party needs to be very hard-headed and drive through the optimal solution for the Lib Dems.

  • rantersparadise, I agree been an issue since the party came in to being.

    In all honesty it may well be that the left wing so to speak split and go “back home” to Labour or re-form at type of SDP while the centre & centre right stay on as the reformed Liberal party….I for one would be fine with that, and in time and maybe sooner rather than later it will happen.

    However I do not agree that only the centre left can be or should be seen as “progressive” I think to want to own that label from the left is rather old thinking….please tell me how 2 illegal wars, tuition fees, ID cards, 40 day detention, more CCTV….from labour is in any way progressive…..its socialist pure and simple, keeping an eye on everyone & wanting to know everyone business for no good reason.

    I don’t prescribe to Mark Littlewoods Liberal Vision, I have met Mark, agree with a few things but not the majority, I am a Liberal -Conservative….he seem to be a Conservative-Liberal.

    I do agree that the Guardian, Compass and others would probably jump ship if we did any deal with the Tories but The Times, Independent, FT and maybe even Mail would jump on board. Its very much swings and roundabouts….it would be said if it lead to a split in the party but maybe its time?

  • Jeremy Hargreaves 7th May '10 - 4:31pm

    There is no question of Cameron being able to offer any deal on PR that we would find acceptable (for example he wouldn’t be allowed by his party to go as far as a referendum on AV or AV plus, and even that would not be good enough for us).

    So the question is whether PR is a dealbreaking issue for the LDs and I think it’s pretty clear it is.

    The end outcome will be a minority Con govt, and the issue of the next few months will be how long it lasts, what issue it eventually collapses over, and who is seen as responsible for that in the consequent GE.

  • ….That was supposed to be the other way around I am a conservative-Liberal….Mark more a Liberal-conservative…!

  • Deal Breakers:

    1. PR this is why I voted, it is Central and key, and even the conservatives would benefit; as they would’ve gotten more seats under this system.

    2. recall of elected officials. Again, I seem to remember David Cameron agreeing with this in principle on this at the televised debates.

    3. Liberal Democrat economic policy, with obvious room for manoeuvre. that said, public-sector cuts it’s a tough one.

    area where we can concede — immigration, Trident missiles, and Europe.

    For those of you who say they would not support the Liberal Democrats again, I feel that it is quite shortsighted as we have to accept we didn’t get the hundred plus seats we were hoping for. Acceptable compromise seems to be the name of the game in the best interest of the nation.

    We have to remember also, that there is not a single conservative party, but various fractions that Cameron has to deal with. if we can get a clear commitment to a referendum on proportional representation, then I think Nick Clegg to go for it.

    Interesting times!!

  • a minority tory govt still needs lib dem acquiesence to survive the queen’s speech. again if the lib dems don’t get the right answer on PR from the tories, why prop up a minority tory govt? once again i would say that this is a defining moment and concessions re PR that the LibDems could extract from Labour right now are far higher than they will be a 1-2 yr’s time. A Tory minority govt does nothing for the Lib Dems so why moulder away in obscurity when the opportunity is there to get a referendum with Labour, and the chance to fiht the next election under PR.

  • Rosemary Bowyer 7th May '10 - 4:39pm

    Let us not forget how the David Owen/David Steel puppets once screwed the party . It is very easy for the media to turn any alliance, “compact”, or even cooperation into a caricature, to the LibDem’s disadvantage. OK the LibDems did eventually blend and emerged stronger, but for years a dual party arrangement was a much-ridiculed disaster. It even happened to Blair with Bush as the puppetmaster. Cameron has a bullying style and I can’t see any other outcome than “Master and Puppet” mockery if Nick takes the Cameron bait.
    Consider too the North ~ both Northern England and Scotland, where there is widespread and strong aversion and even hostility to the Tories. Is there not a risk of Liberal Democrat support in those areas falling drastically if the party works with the Tories?

  • Can’t see the point going into coalition with the Tories they will just call an election, with us struggling on again with no money left in the pot.

  • Sad to see people on here repeating Tory spin about ‘propping up Labour’, ‘helping Gordon Brown cling to power’, ‘a coalition of losers’ etc. To anyone who believes in PR, isn’t it obvious that two parties that between them have more than 50% of the popular vote have a perfectly good mandate to govern as a coalition?

    (It would have to be a true coalition of course, not just a deal that let Labour function as a minority government. And realistically I think Brown would have to go in order to mark this out as a genuinely new government. But I don’t understand Clegg’s first-past-the-post style thinking that the largest party somehow deserves to govern even if it doesn’t represent anything like a majority of the electorate.)

  • A Lib-Dem/Lab arrangement is not sustainable with this Parliament’s arithmetic and would be widely seen as a coalition of losers.

    The only choices that are available are either a government based on the tories or another general election.

    I suspect we would be punished for provoking another general election.

    So “I agree with Nick” that we have to give the tories a chance to govern. However a partnership arrangement with them is likely to lead to us being closely associated with the cuts in public expenditure that the tories will have to implement. Without the simultaneous implementation of PR this would be suicide and the tories will not legislate for PR.

    Therefore I believe the only viable option is to agree that for a limited period [eg two years] we will not vote against the tories on a motion of no confidence but not be more closely associated with them than that.

    Not a desirable position to be in but I can’t think of a better option.

  • rinky stingpiece 7th May '10 - 8:34pm

    I’m not a Lib/Lab/Con supporter… I’m one of the winning abstention party, who polled a triumphant 35% way more than even the Tories.

    So I’m going to be brutal, as I have no axe to grind any of ’em.

    Seems to me that the LibDems have lost, just as much as Labour.

    I also think you are a complete Belgium of a party… being forced to choose whether to be annexed by France or Holland; whichever way you go, the other half won’t be able to cope with it.

    Seems to me you’ve got two main strategies…
    1. You sacrifice your party to Satan (i.e. Labour) in order to get PR, and be dragged down with Labour once the so-called “progressive alliance” of losers progressively inflicts hellish tax rises and necessary cuts on a public that already substantially hates Brown and his version of Labour; and isn’t especially impressed with Libidinous Demagoguery judging by the numbers you lot pulled; or

    2. You hitch a ride with the Yuppie, and purge the LibDems of it’s Dems, and become a new sort of Liberal party in the true sense of the word… small state, laissez-faire, individual responsibility and all that unfashionable stuff that makes people achieve something with their lives, and maybe get some momentum and big-business backing as the nation gets used to a smaller state and more entrepreneurship.

    Either way, I think the LibDems are more damaged by the “surge” and the accompanying hubris that went with it than they realise. I think it just, considering the way you let Campbell backstab your best leader, Kennedy.

    Cameron doesn’t have to do anything… just wait for Clegg to choose his manner of suicide… strapped to masts of Labour’s shipwreck to go down with it; or suffocated inside a Tory cabinet with no real power, yet all the blue hate rubbing off on him just like on the new LibDem blue logo… what’s he going to do when compromised by Cameron? Pull out and trigger an election? I can’t wait to see the first by-election come up – joint Lib-Con candidates? I suspect not…

  • This is such a sad result. Lib Dems have actually done well to retain their vote since historically Libs do badly when Labour governments are voted out; but the misplaced euphoria of the past few weeks has disguised that fact. And now, although the party appears to have leverage, in reality there is little room for a deal. Not enough in common with the Tories for a pact. Neither Tories nor Lib Dems want this, and Cameron is being careful to offer just enough to risk splitting the party and to allow him to claim that they have resisted his reasonable offers.

    Meanwhile a Lib-Lab deal looks politically and arithmetically impossible. If the Lib Dems had won seats so they could claim a bit of momentum then there might have been scope for some sort of a time-limited joint “government of national reform”. But the numbers don’t stack up. Even if the leaders somehow agreed it, I doubt that a motion for a PR referendum would get enough Labour votes to get through the Commons. Bear in mind PR would mean c.100 fewer Labour seats. And even if we had a referendum, it would be a hard sell on the back of a controversial “losers’ coalition”, with most of the press and many MPs against.

    So it’s a Tory minority government. Since no one else can afford another election campaign and the momentum would be with Cameron to win the next one, I guess it’s a question of looking for pretexts not to actually bring that government down immediately while somehow maintaining a clear distance from it. Really a terrible position.

  • OK – it looks as if a Libdem-Lab deal will probably not work. In that case the only option is to keep a respectable distance from Cameron and let him govern as a minority. Brown will resign as party leader after he leaves No 10, and (with a lot of luck) Labour might then elect the sort of leader Clegg could work with in a loose alliance of constructive opposition. Then (as long as there isn’t internecine strife in Labour – a big if) there’s a chance that the combined opposition will be in good enough shape to force a PR referendum through. Then there’s a chance of reversing this result, given that by then Cameron is likely to be the most hated man in the land. Hell, he’ll be that within a couple of months anyway.

  • Choose one of the following:
    1. Go with Cameron, become the Con Dems who persuaded millions of left of centre voters you were the radical choice, but only on condition you support Osbourne’s budget and Cameron’s political strategy and give up on electoral reform for ever.
    2. Go with Labour, form a centre left majority government, get Lib Dem election policy implemented, secur eelectoral reform including proportional representation, fill senior cabinet posts and change British politics for ever.
    Hard choice eh? I feel for you.

  • JAMES MENZIES 7th May '10 - 10:10pm


    Don’t Become the LibDem’s Ramsay McDonald. Stay away from Cameron. It runs against everything your party stands for.

  • 2. Go with Labour, form a centre left majority government, get Lib Dem election policy implemented, secur eelectoral reform including proportional representation, fill senior cabinet posts and change British politics for ever.
    Hard choice eh? I feel for you.

    No guarantee as half the plp oppose pr, and the plp’s version (AV) is totally different from what we would like, plus the sudden damascene conversion when seeing defeat in the dog days makes me somewhat cynical….

  • Cogload ‘No guarantee as half the plp oppose pr, and the plp’s version (AV) is totally different from what we would like, plus the sudden damascene conversion when seeing defeat in the dog days makes me somewhat cynical….’
    But Brown is promising a referendum which means it won’t be up to the PLP and the referendum can include/be on full PR. Right now Clegg can demand it. And now is not the time for cynicism it’s time to seize the day. it won’t come again that’s certain. The alternative is bleak for Lib Dem. For Labour the alternative is powerful principled opposition and an inevitable return to power.

  • Cogload – be cynical all you like. As a Labour supporter, I am cynical of the Lib Dems too as it always seems that your self interest in terms of changing the voting system seems eternally more important to your party than any other policy position! But that cynicism doesn’t mean you should not grab a once-in-90-years chance to get maximum long term advantage for your party, anymore than those of us that crave a more progressive Labour Party should not let our cynicism stop us from grabbing the chance to change the system to keep the Tories out and hopefully see some fettering of the less progressive tendancies of my own chosen party in the future. And I say that as an ex Labour activist who allowed his membership to lapse in protest at the ID database…

  • Cameron has made an offer that will destroy us as a party. All he needs is for us to prop him up for a year, then he will call another election and put the blame on us for all the problems caused by this unnatural coalition. He will use his media to do this. Then all he has to do is out spend the rest of the parties in the election he will dominate via cash and media.

    Just by doing this deal you will of lost voters like me forever and returned us to the two party system.

  • Interesting how everyone can read the future with confidence !

    Actually, we don’t know if Cameron will be unpopular in Government (despite the cuts) or seen as a saviour.
    We don’t know if going for broke on a referendum on PR will be seen as entirely self-interested or as a sensible thing to do given the chaos of first past the post.

    We don’t know if coming so close to winning, the Conservative will stay united or fracture under the strain of failure.

    We can guess that Labour will not be able to go back on supporting some form of voting reform, so a change is going to come.

    The one thing I think the party needs to do is get back into Government, and that mean coalition LIb Dem Cabinet Ministers (the first since 1945) is a story the media understand. It sends a perception to the voters that a Lib Dem vote is not a wasted vote.

    If Labour are serious about supporting electoral refrom, then the Tories wn’t be rushing to force another election where tactical voting in favour of PR should be enough to see a Lib/Lab win.

  • As a long standing Lib Dem I fully understand the anguish many see in ‘working with the enemy’, I was appalled by the idea I might wake up to a Tory Government last Friday morning. BUT…. I also believe in moving forward we have to be both realistic and true to our higher principles. For me that means constructive joint working.

    Over and above anything else we are a Party that advocates and passionately believes in democracy and the rights of the WHOLE electorate to express their views and have those views honoured by politicians. We’ve criticised Labour and the Tories for years for upholding an electoral system that delivered the results they wanted instead of accurately reflecting the beliefs and wishes of the electorate. We’ve argued that FPTP elects a dictatorship which is at liberty to ignore any section of society that doesn’t vote for them, favouring their ‘heartlands’ at everyone else’s expense. We desperately want to see that system reformed, but we also need to be realistic and think about what that would really mean…..

    It would mean politicians and political parties working together, it would mean learning to compromise, it would mean accepting that no one party can always have all of what it want. It also means accepting that this probably right as well….. Unless a Party can command a majority of the vote they can’t argue they can or should be above making those compromises; that their policy is universally agreed upon. PR means fighting tooth and nail to persuade the country that we have the right policies and the right principles, but having made our case as strongly as possibly we accept the result and work with the balance people actually vote for.

    In my view this leaves us now accepting the reality of working with the other parties, and rightly making the best in the first instance of working with the Party with the largest vote share. Walking away or failing to make our best effort to find common ground and make it work undermines our very argument. Don’t get me wrong this doesn’t mean letting Tories (or Labour for that matter) walk all over us, compromise means compromise on all sides, but we need to demonstrate to the British electorate that PR can and does work. Show that asking politicians to work constructively and compromise does not end in disaster and may ultimately result in a better balance of everyone (by which I mean actual voters) getting some of what they want.

    I don’t know about other Lib Dems but I’d rather see some of our policies in action, some of the issues people voted for us on resolved in a coalition government.

  • Cometh the hour, Cometh the Statesman. Nick Clegg has no choice and nothing to think about. He needs to take four seats in Cameron’s cross-party Cabinet, go for a Royal Commission on the Electoral System and get stuck into the business of running our country. Leave your constituencies and enter government ! Tribal politics, at least outside Labour, are dead. Now is the time to ‘Get Real’ !

  • I am a liberal; I voted conservative; the most important thing for the country was not only to get Brown out but Labour out.

    The country doesn’t understand the threats of the deficit.
    Also, the deficit has not only arisen from the financial crisis but from massive overspending (i.e. what we could afford) prior to this, so its now a structural deficit.

    If the Liberal Democrats don’t take this seriously by going into formal coalition they will never be taken seriously again. A new election would then give 40% + votes for the Tories in a years time.

    People have moved to the Tories for economic reasons – they also reject the top down statist approach to society of Labour.

    The conservative manifesto was essentially a liberal manifesto. Cameron is essentially a liberal.

    No right wing policies are going to be put through – because non are called for!
    What is needed are any policies that help private business get people back to work.
    This has been a recession of the private sector.
    We need to find private sector jobs for those who are unemployed, for those about to be made unemployed from the public sector and for those to be forced off welfare.
    We better get moving!

    The overgrown state is as much the enemy as right wing Tories.

    Do not accept any infantile nonsense about the Tories being some sort of ogre or enemy.

    There is a chance of a liberal government!

    Why are you in politics?

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