Clegg agrees to let more coalition differences show in public

The degree to which ministers should let differences within the coalition shown in public was much debated in the second-half of the year, and I’ve blogged several times about the advantages of doing just that. So the latest news from Nick Clegg on this is very welcome:

The Liberal Democrats plan to air future disagreements with their Conservative partners in public as Nick Clegg attempts to assert a more distinctive identity for his party in a new phase for the coalition…

In a shift of tactics for the coalition, which was launched by the two party leaders in the Downing Street garden last May, the deputy prime minister said: “David Cameron and I are leaders of two separate parties. Both of us are acutely aware of that. We are acutely aware that when we sit down every day dealing with difficult decisions together we start from the starting point that we don’t fully agree.” (The Guardian)

The way the world doesn’t end if you admit circumstances have forced on you some results which you would rather not have was, in a slightly different context, shown by Conservative minister Mark Harper earlier this week. During the House of Commons debate about giving (or rather, restoring) the vote to some prisoners Harper said:

My hon. Friend the Member for Kettering opened the debate in a perfectly helpful way by quoting my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who made it clear that he does not want to make this change. To be frank, it is not something that I want to do, and I believe that many Government Members would rather not do it, but we do not have a choice. We have a legal obligation.

That sort of frankness about his own views does Mark Harper credit, and given that his ministerial role means he works very closely with Nick Clegg, perhaps that approach is rubbing off a little…

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are also keen to express their own differences, as in ConservativeHome’s report on policy making:

It’s clearly important that the [Conservative] Party has its own policy-making programme up and running well before the next election – and that it isn’t merged by stealth with that of the Liberal Democrats. (The Downing Street Policy Unit can make policy only for the Coalition, not the Party.) … Today, there’s encouraging news to report. Oliver Letwin has written a letter to all MPs headed: “Conservative Party policy development”.

The piece goes on to detail the policy-making plans. Where Liberal Democrat policy making is at is something I’ll return to in a future piece.

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  • BBC News running with story that AV Referendum might not take place in May because of delay in legislation passing through Lords.

    Apparently Labour are saying that if the Bill is spilt into AV and all the rest of the Tory electoral manipulation then they will let AV be held as planned with the rest to be dealt with in separate bill.

    Tories are said to have rejected this and I wonder if Clegg was consulted.

    This is a clear area where coalition policy differences not only could be but should be aired in public.

  • Orange Squash 13th Jan '11 - 12:24pm

    “Clegg agrees to let more coalition differences show in public”

    Six months too late to save him. He is doomed.

  • @Joe Otten

    Joe – I’m a LP member and most people here know that. According to BBC – Labour are saying the price for having the AV ref in May is to split the bills and apparently the Tories have rejected this. What I don’t know is whether Clegg has expressed an opinion – I would suspect that he might argue that it’s worth splitting the bills as AV is more important to the LibDems.

    Also the rag-bag of Tory electoral changes designed to hurt Labour appear, on investigation, to actually have a more adverse affect on LibDem MP numbers although that may well have been obvious to Cameron from the start but that’s politics for you even with coalition partners 🙂

    And you’re nearly correct – but the Labour Peers aren’t out to beat the coalition – they are out to beat the Toriy ideology behind the electoral gerrymandering and have probably reckoned that AV will be defeated anyway.

    I am opposed to AV but am not sure whether it will be defeated although any public support by Clegg or LibDems for it will definitely seal its fate given the current electoral climate.

  • @Andrew Tennant

    Andrew you have obviously swallowed the guff fed to Clegg and Alexander about the National Interest without understanding that the Tory concept of National Interest is different from Labour’s and it used to be different from that held by the LibDems but with every passing day it is harder so spot the join.

    Any impartial observer would readily accept that the bundling of the two bills into one was a hurried and cynical move by the coalition and was designed to strengthen the Tory Party in the HoC. But why not ask the Isle of Wight Tory voters about their position on the bill and I think they would be supporting the Labour move.

    But that’s the problem – it all depends on the definition of National Interest and you obviously believe that it’s better to have a strong Tory Party carrying out savage ideological attacks on the middles and working classes as well as the poor and vulnerable in our society so that the bankers can stuff their pockets with billions of pounds.

  • I am opposed to AV but am not sure whether it will be defeated although any public support by Clegg or LibDems for it will definitely seal its fate given the current electoral climate.

    I’ve never understoof this reasoning (though I suspect you are correct). If someone believes in AV either as the best system or a good stepping stone, why should LD support make them not support it? AV will not help them if people turn against them, and it is an issue with cross party support (and cross party disagreement). If someone likes the idea of AV but hates Clegg, simply put the LD low on your preference or don’t list them at all. I hope people don’t allow a party political issue to make the decision; if it fails, as it probably will, I would hope it is at least because people are happy with the current system, indifferent about changing it, or think AV is worse.

    The gerrymandering issue is a tricky one, given the demonstrable fact that the current system does grant Labour an advantage in terms of average votes needed to win. Do the proposed changes swing things too far the other way?

  • @Andrew Tennant asks whether it’s time to again raise his question: ‘Who does Labour being ahead in the polls most benefit’ question?’

    Perhaps the important question for LibDems is why are they being wiped out in the polls and what they can do to change it as it appears the public have turned a deaf ear to the plaintive backgrounf bleating that it’s all Labour’s fault. But perhaps I have no right to make such an observation not being a lonely LibDem member.

    However, I’ll give you a tip. Don’t bet on Cameron being Tory Leader at the next GE as I think his party and Osborne will have deposed him long before. So you might wish to factor that into your navel-gazing fascination about what Labour is doing – whatever it is perhaps you should take a leaf out of their book and recognise in Milliband that we have someone who will actually deliver ‘new’ politics while Clegg and Alexander make fools of themselves on the front bench as Cameron does his public schollboy bully routine and when that falls flat resorts to schoolboy humour and then insults.

    What a bunch.

  • At last.

    Do you think it’s got through to Nick Clegg that his insistence that his party “own” the Coalition agenda has spectacularly back-fired on him personally, the party in general and the ability of his MPs or PPC’s to win any by-election?

    I know he claims it was all part of the plan, but he must think we’re daft if he expects anyone to fall for that. Face it Nicky – you’ve made a gigantic error of judgement and you’re paying the price for it.

    The issue I have is that he goes on to say that now the heavy-lifting’s over, he will move to a phase of constant defence of Coalition policy. Or in other words – no change there then? He and his poodle’s performance as their boss’ nodding + braying dogs at PMQ’s yesterday didn’t show any sign of disagreement now, did it?

  • @Kieran

    Kieran I don’t believe the electorate in general actually give a fig about how politicians are elected – it really is something that only excites political anoraks like myself 🙂

    What most voters care about is having a job, keeping a roof over their head, balancing their household budget, educating their kids, having food and warmth, and trying to put a little aside for emergencies or possibly a luxury like a family holiday.

    Yea, it’s hard to understand what has happened over Clegg and the LibDems with the public. I’ve bored people all my life about politics in general but in recent months people who have no interest in politics and never discuss the issue at work or in the pub are almost violent in their reaction towards Clegg and his party.

    It’s visceral and I’m sure will provide brilliant material for thousands of PhD students – they’ll need to hurry though before the Tory Government axe them as well. It certainly is something that will be interesting to look back on to see what lasting resulkt, if any, it has. But I suspect we are no where near the high water mark yet of public anger and I really wonder if Clegg is mentally equipped to take the constant battering.

    Meanwhile the Tories are getting off more lightly. I used to see Clegg as Cameron’s Lightning Conductor but I discarded that notion as conuctors take a dangerous threat and nullify it with little or no damage to the conductor. But damage is being done to the conductor and his party. So know I see Clegg as Cameron’s blotting paper soaking up all the public opprobrium aimed at Cameron. But the blotter is saturated and as Clegg stands in a deepening puddle of public ire the blotter becomes more and more saturated to an extent that the LibDems are becoming a soggier mess by the day in the public eye as far as the polls are concerned.

    Public hatred of Clegg started on an individual level but it has spread to his party and I doubt if it will stop until the party makes its position clear on the real coalition issues adversely affecting the vast bulk of British people and not just the tiny claimed gains in LibDem policy implementation which are on no general interest.

  • Firstly, this is great news. Myself and many others I have read on here have been calling for this since the coalition was formed. Collective responsibility should be limited to voting, and when answering questions regarding a specific policy ON BEHALF of the government. Personal and party opinions should be allowed to be made public. Clegg has seemed obsessed with the single voice approach and this has led to a massive PR problem. If the Ministers who were entrapped by the Torygraph had been allowed to be honest in public the whole reason for the sting would have dissapeared (not that this excused Vince his particular foul up).

    As to the side issue here about the AV vote. Labour should have been put in an awkward place by having a single issue Bill, instead they have been given the opportunity to wriggle. The referendum was in their manifesto and had it stood alone they would have had to whip support (not for a yes vote but for the referendum itself). In fact they could have pushed for their suggestion of a Lords question being included which would have given Clegg top cover for his proposed changes there.

    The problems with this whole process is that when reasonable objections have been raised such as regarding the possible statistical skew due to multiple elections in some areas they have been ignored. A more reasonable, and I believe politically advantageous approach, would have taken Labours ammunition away.

    The other issues would probably have passed anyway in a seperate bill. Remember if the AV bill was first then Tories would have had to back it or lose Lib Dem support for their pet issues. Labour would have been able to oppose the second bill, but pro AV Labour MP’s would not have been forced into the predicament of opposing the Bill then supporting the Yes campaign.

  • @Steve Way

    Agree with a lot of what you have said but I reckon having the two issues in one bill really was a tactical mistake by Clegg. Cameron will probably be happy to let the other place kick the combined bill into the long grass and come back with a single bill for his gerrymandering issues. Must be remembered tha they were originally thought to disadvanatge Labour most but some research points to the LibDems being biggest losers at a GE.

    Either way Cameron wins and it’s a real bonus for him that the AV Bill quietly disappears and as usual it ain’t his fault – it’s Labour’s 🙂 Teflon man walks away again.

  • Depressed Ex Lib Dem 13th Jan '11 - 1:48pm

    Does “liberal democracy” mean Nick Clegg gets to choose who is prime minister?

  • EcoJon.

    Fair-minded Analysis Sir.

    Clegg is Cameron’s biggest asset.

    And I don’t mean that positively!

  • @Andrew Tennsnt
    The rights and wrongs of the other issues included within the bill are not the issue (and I agree with most of your thoughts). The problem is that the party that supopsedly support plural politics has turned an issue that could have had enough support to sail through the parliamentary process and stalled it by including issues they knew the opposition could not support.

    A straightforward bill for the referendum would now already be law (or certainly would be in time for the May date). And if it wasn’t the public would be able to easily see why.

  • @ EcoJon
    ‘Kieran I don’t believe the electorate in general actually give a fig about how politicians are elected – it really is something that only excites political anoraks like myself ‘

    Agreed, unfortunately. I can understand the anger at Clegg and the Lib Dems even if I do not share the wholesale rejection of them, but it is a shame if that shoots down a promising proposal, or means the actual proportion of the public who are in favour of the idea in principle is misrepresented, and so hinders future debate on the subject.

    ‘Steve Way: Collective responsibility should be limited to voting, and when answering questions regarding a specific policy ON BEHALF of the government. Personal and party opinions should be allowed to be made public.’

    I agree, to an extent, but for the first few months at least I could understand it, as any sign of dissent was seen by sections of the press as proof the Coalition would collapse soon, as though if anyone appeared a little unhappy at a compromise, by definition not their preferred solution remember, it was evidence co-operative politics was impossible. Maybe it was the right time to be more comfortable admitting ‘yes, I do not like x much, but it means we get Y; do you think that is a fair trade?’ a few months back, but it certainly is now.

  • @Andrew Tennant

    I possibly would have supported AV but I was wavering and then when I saw ‘liberal democracy’ in action I joined the NO camp as I have no wish to help the LibDem Party to be be in a position to form another Tory coalition at the expense of the middle and working classes, the poor, the disabled and the vulnerable in Britain.

    Last time I looked the electoral system used in this country was decided by Parliament and I feel you doth protest overmuch – what we are seeing here is the unravelling of a politically cynical bill – I see you remain silent on the electoral manipulation of the new proposals to benefit Scottish LibDem MPs – you know what they say about people who live in glass houses.

    As for National Interest – you don’t have a scooby about my definition and in any case it isn’t completed because one thing about having an open mind is that you constantly refine and try to better things as circumstances and society changes.

    The Tories are the dinosaurs in this game and you are hunting with them but always remember that Camerasaurus is a flesh-eater as your party will fully come to understand before too long.

    But please calm down Andrew and don’t get yourself too upset – it doesn’t matter what you and I think – the only thing that is important is what the public think and how they vote at a GE. Certainly if I was a LibDem I might be getting a tad anxious at the current opinion polls but maybe they won’t go into negative figures for you so there’s always some hope out there.

  • Many months ago I posted a reply on this forum, pointing out the disaster it would be for Liberal Democrats, when at PM question times the public would see Liberal Democrats alongside Conservatives on the front bench and how the public would view this, yesterday at PM question time I actually realised I was wrong, very wrong.

    What I actually witnessed was a Conservative government vs Labour opposition, but I suspect the lesson will not be learned.

    If Liberal Democrats really want coalition differences shown in public, start with PM questions, form a block of yellow at one side of the government benches, because the public perception is Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are one, and when Mr Clegg is viewed booing and baying alongside Mr Cameron, the public will understand one thing; there sits the enemy.

    The perception is reality as far as the public are concerned, Liberal Democrats will not recover from the last 8 months for tens of years, but Liberal Democrats have not hit rock bottom yet, and unless there is separation, in views and visibility then beware the bottom.

    I think more betrayal is coming, in the form of a split, if that does happen… well, enough said.

    As to the AV bill, what did Liberal Democrats expect; will there be two questions in AV referendum then?
    Asking if we want boundary changes, or was this just being pushed through and hoping no one would notice, deceitful behaviour if it is.

    Don’t blame Labour they are not the ones trying force other issues through alongside AV.

    If Liberal Democrats did sign up to that… then shame on them.
    If they did not, then demand the AV referendum or leave government… although doing that may cause the split… damned if you do damned if you don’t.

  • @ EcoJon
    ‘I possibly would have supported AV but I was wavering and then when I saw ‘liberal democracy’ in action I joined the NO camp as I have no wish to help the LibDem Party to be be in a position to form another Tory coalition at the expense of the middle and working classes, the poor, the disabled and the vulnerable in Britain.’

    But it wouldn’t automatically help them at all. If enough LD supporters find themselves so opposed to the idea of supporting a party that, against the preferred instincts of a significant proportion of said party who would have liked a chance to work with Labour, has worked with the Tories, then they can simply vote Labour or someone else under an AV system, and if they can still bring themselves to vote LD they can just make sure if they do come bottom that their second preference is to Labour or whoever so the Tories do not benefit. I very much doubt Tory voters would ever turn en masse to the LD, enough to swing a result anyway either.

    Unless the LD recover from losing Labour sympathetic voters by attracting left leaning Tories, in large numbers, a switch to AV might not aid them. It wouldn’t make a difference in my constituency anyway, deep in Tory territory.

    ‘Certainly if I was a LibDem I might be getting a tad anxious at the current opinion polls but maybe they won’t go into negative figures for you so there’s always some hope out there’

    Well, I saw one where they were back up to 13; not great, but at this point I imagine they will take what they can get. I voted LD, but am not a party member, and I disagreed with plenty of their policies before the election too, and I am worried at the idea that only two parties will ever have significant numbers in the commons as a result, which is the hope of many on the left and the right. Working in a coalition doesn’t mean the junior party is indistinguishable from the senior, and if there is no major third party as a credible option I do not think that bodes well. But, hey, if that is what people want, that is what we shall get.

    I find it most hilarious because Labour tactics now are the same as the Tories would have used if a Lib-Lab pact had been created – can’t tell the difference between them, the junior party is giving away so much for a sniff of power, backed down on tuition fees/civil liberties/take your pick -. I’m not sold on which way I will vote next time – it depends how things pan out – but I try to keep in mind that there would have been embarrasing and painful U-turns no matter the composition.

  • @Andrew Tennant
    “Your argument appears to be that you think Labour’s arguments have no merit but that we should pander to them?”

    No, my argument is that where cross party copnsensus exists use it. Clegg has simply made securing the referendum harder and given excuse to Labour to hold it up. Governments have always kept issues that are disagreed upon out of Bills where consensus can be met. The other issues can then be properly argued, none are as urgent as the referendum, without slowing flagship issue.

    Just because you, or I, or any number of MP’s believe that Labour do not have valid points on this issue does not remove their right to argue them fully in house debates and committee.

    Clegg has gone too macho on this and may lose achieving his goal because of it. The only things that would have needed anything other than the most cursory of debate if this was a single issue bill would have date and question.

  • @ Steve Way ‘Clegg has gone too macho on this and may lose achieving his goal because of it’
    Maybe. How long would it be delayed if the bill is not passed in time for the proposed date? If it is not long then given the furore over the date it would still be only a minor issue.

    @ JIm ‘If Liberal Democrats really want coalition differences shown in public, start with PM questions, form a block of yellow at one side of the government benches, because the public perception is Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are one, and when Mr Clegg is viewed booing and baying alongside Mr Cameron, the public will understand one thing; there sits the enemy’
    The public should and I hope do know better; they aren’t stupid. All people need to get over the idea that one party, be it Labour or the Tories, will always and intractably be their enemy – the parties switch positions and jump around the political spectrum so much in this day and age, so that on some issues Labour are more right wing than the Tories for instance – and that any cooperation with one of those groups means someone is now an enemy too. Hopefully those who are turning from LD are doing so because the gains of coalition are not outweighing the losses rather than a kneejerk reaction to working with the Tories.

    LD and Tories, LD and Labour -hell, probably even Tory-Labour for all I know – work together at a local level, because sometimes it is the better option. Is this national coalition the best option? A matter of opinion, many would say not, but it doesn’t mean either side has, in working with another, irrevocably become the enemy, even if they join in the silly mockery going in at PMQs.

    And where else should the Deputy PM sit but the government front bench, right in the main shot anyway? The Tories may be the dominant partner in the coalition as is only right given their numbers (though try telling the Telegraph comment section the Tories are getting it all their own way), and Labour may be keen to stress it is a ‘Tory-led’ government, which is true, but the fact is it is a coalition of two parties, and as such it would not be proper to suggest in images the government front bench is full of only Tories.

  • @Kieran

    I think a major underlying problem with the Coalition lies with Cameron and Clegg and not just the policies.

    I always tended to be fairly neutral towards Clegg and agreed with some LibDem proposals and disagreed with others – not necessarily on merit but often in terms of viability in government. I had no real political beef with Clegg and thought him basically a decent human being.

    Then I think the prospect of power changed him – I think it started in the unofficial coalition talks which started before the GE and I accept the exchanges probably didn’t directly affect him. But we will have to wait for the memoirs and diaries of faded Tory and LibDem politicians to get the details.

    I am not surprised that Clegg fell into the power trap or trip – it’s a heady elixir and over the decades I have watched similar ‘conversions’ in Labour politicians that I have more than a passing acquaintance with.

    I have spoken about this on here before so won’t belabour the point – but the self-rationalisation and delusion that takes place is an awesome thing to observe close-up. Of course, perhaps it’s impossible to have a political elite that doesn’t go through the process.

    Where Clegg failed IMHO was in crossing the political line which should have separated him ideologically from the Tories. I now wonder whether he is more a Tory than a LibDem, or was it just the power lust, or was he mesmerised by Cameron, or was he totally out-of-touch with his Parliamnetary colleagues other than Alexander, Laws and a few others. He appeared to be wed to his coalition policy group who decided pre-GE what LibDem policies needed to be jettisoned – who exactly were they and was their work generally known about?

    I don’t suppose it really matters now – but the result was he ended up in a sweetie-shop where Cameron had stocked the shelves and controlled the cash register. A wide-eyed politically naieve Clegg filled his pockets with LibDem policy sweeties from the bright yellow jars and actually got a small selection box of ministerial treats and, even better, he was waltzed past the till by Cameron and short-money was no problem.

    But he had never been in the back shop and seen the dark blue jars where all the executive instruments of torture were stored for the use of Tory hard-line ideologists. Oh there is a price to be paid for those but by the public not Cameron’s ultra-rich Tory chums.

    I think Clegg made the basic mistake of believing he could trust Cameron and once he started down that road he was doomed. He never ever realised just how dirty and murky Westminbster politics really are – because they are about ultimate power and the LibDems have seldom counted.

    Clegg is the rabbit caught in Cameron’s spotlight and, I suspect, that he’s virtually paralysed into inaction because events are beyond his control and no matter what way he turns he could end up in more danger. All his senses are telling him to do something but others, out to preserve themselves and possibly take his job, will be urging that he does nothing and eventually things will get better.

    They need the time to build their leadership bid support base and are taking a big gamble with the future of the LibDem Party. Eventually Clegg will be quietly advised to go for the good of the party as a whole and he will go to spend more time with his family.

    Cameron has had his plan from the start – no I don’t know it but I recognise Cameron for what he is. At some stage he will demand his pound of flesh for the long gone sugary sweets and the LibDems will be jetisoned although he will keep a couple of the hard centre bitter orange chocs from the selection box. Oh it will be well-engineered and it will be the fault of the LibDems and when LibDem MPs sit braying at Labour’s front bench it might benefit them to think ahead to what is coming.

  • @EcoJon ‘Clegg is the rabbit caught in Cameron’s spotlight ‘
    Hah, good one. Still, given the Deputy PM’s current image problems, that might be a better one for him to have attached to him. Just.

  • EcoJon – methinks you’ve been on the wine gums.

    C0ck up over conspiracy, every time.

  • Going back to the topic, does anyone think 4 months of a more robust approach will be enough to make much of a difference in the elections in May (rather than the referendum) ?

  • @Andrew Tennant

    Well Andrew, we have different viewpoints and you obviously prefer well-crafted metaphors to actually trying to address yourself to the views and comments made, unlike other people here who try to debate and understand each other’s position without personal rancour.

    It’s quite sad that you see me as a LibDem enemy – when nothing could be further from the truth – but you view the Tories as your friends. As I say, you will come to understand their true nature in time.

    As to my position, I totally support the need for a centre, centre-left LibDem Party to provide a balance in UK politics and would be happy in that case to support actual PR voting.

    What I am unwilling to do is support a Centre-right LibDem Party which is in danger of becoming a Tory party in eveything but name. You may not like my position but I am entitled to it just as you are entitled to your’s with or without the use of well-crafted metaphors.

  • @Steve Way

    Obviously local elections can be unreliable indicators of future GE voting patterns because of the local/national dichotomy and the time delay factor and as we all know – a week’s a long time in politics or should that now be changed to a day?

    It’s a bit early to say but I have the feelings that the local government cuts will see an osmosis going on between national and local issues which could see national issues being a major determinant in the May elections. I suppose the timing of cuts and when they actually bite will be a major determinant in this.

    I’m also not really sure what is meant by a more robust approach in reality.

    @Tabman – I only bite the heads off the yellow and blue winegums and gently lick the red ones 🙂 On Clegg – I’ll allow cock-up but on Cameron it’s conspiracy all the way – he was born to rule and that is why he gets so rattled when contradicted – I actually get a laugh when that happens because he goes all hurt but can’t think on his feet – so he trots-out a stored responses which often don’t quite fit.


    OK – glove puppet instead of rabbit

  • Reading the comment on this page – what’s happened?

    Did this site just become “Labour List” or something?

  • @Matt

    I think the real tragedy of Clegg is that so many people voted for him in an ‘Obama’ moment – they really believed he was going to make things different and that had the benefit of opening a window of possibility for PR.

    What has turned me off is that I don’t actually like AV anyway and the more I think about it and listen to the arguments the more I reckon it would delay actual PR rather than speed it up. And, most importantly, there is my determination not to reward the LibDems for supporting the Tories in their ideological cuts and attacks.

    If the LibDems implode as a party then who knows – the Greens might pick up a slice of the vote and there might be a centre left LibDem or Liberal Rump which can atrract back support – and I think Labour can makes deals with these people.

    But the LP cannot deal with Clegg, Alexander, Laws and others who are turning out to be Tory not just in outlook but also deed.

    I believe the split will happen before the next GE as the LibDem wings are going to continue to inevitably separate after a lot of grinding between the opposing factions almost like tectonic plates and I really can’t see how it can be stopped. You’ll see I’m still working on my metaphors – wonder if I’ll get the well-crafted award?

  • @KL

    I think al the LibDem posters are in Old & Sad – but chip in and tell us what you think of the topic.

  • @Olly
    I voted Lib Dem for a number of reasons, one of which was the fact that the party is not defined purely by it’s leader. I liked the way the policy mix was decided upon etc. Whilst I have little time for Clegg after his actions since May I am hopeful that once some of the other cabinet members can show their true feelings the part, rather than the leader, can show it has not lost it’s way….

  • David Allen 13th Jan '11 - 7:02pm

    “Clegg agrees to let more coalition differences show in public”

    Far too little, far too late. He’s only hoping to sway a few votes temporarily in Old and Sad. Then he’ll revert back to normal. The truth is that with the possible exception of civil liberties issues such as control orders, he has no serious differences with Cameron. If we want to show some real differences we’ll need to change our leader.

  • @Andrew Tennant who said: ‘You might enjoy the members forum, linked at the top; people actually make constructive comments in there’.

    I just wondered Andrew whether you are welcome in the member’s forum as I can’t say I remember any constructive comments that you’ve made here.

    Indeed, I don’t even remember you constructing a decent metaphor 🙂

  • @Steve Way and David Allen

    I obviously wouldn’t expect any leadership moves before May and the referendum and elections but what sort of action could the party take to change leader or to call them to account and would they actually do this do you think.

    I suppose the decision will also depend on what happens in the elections and the referendum.

  • I think it’s important to see what action follows the promise. I also think it unlikely that every difference will be publicised which means that there will always be potential for disagreement as to what is picked for the spotlight and the reason/s it is picked vis-a-vis others that are buried.

    I’m not talking about sweeping things under the carpet I’m just heading up the logistical problems but there is then the conspiracy theory syndrome which is bound to come into play from some as to what is picked and what is ignored.

  • @EcoJon
    “it’s hard to understand what has happened over Clegg and the LibDems with the public.”
    I am one of the public you mention and it is not hard to understand at all. Clegg promised us a more honest and transparent politics and all he has done since he has come to power is go back on everything he and his party promised to do. I don’t buy the excuse that they are the junior party so they had to renege on all their policies. If they were promising honest politics, and found that joining the government meant they would not be able to deliver on their policies, then they should have stayed honest and not joined the government. That is what the public are annoyed about. That Clegg changed his mind on policies before the election and did not tell the voters is simply dishonest.

    I used to vote for LibDems though not a party member . I feel totally betrayed by the LibDems and when Clegg said he did not want us lefties, I joined the Labour Party. I for one will definitely vote No to AV to spite Nick Clegg and the LibDems. AV is no better than tactical voting and after seeing this Coalition in action I would much prefer FPTP. I think there should be a third party and I am hoping that the Greens will take this place.

  • @Ecojon
    I’m not anticipating a leadership move, nor was I advocating one (although my views on Clegg are clear). I just want to see some of the real opinions of the Ministers representing the party I voted for. I think it may become apparent that they are still in step with my views whatever their leader may feel.

    For the first time in months I feel there may be something positive to look forward to from ministers. I would like to start by seeing what they feel about the much mooted “compromise” on control orders. I’d also be suprised, taking into account the mood music before the election if many were not opposed to the VAT increase and some of the other measures recently introduced. I don’t even mind where they vote on most issues, stating it is a compromise neccesary for the coalition and not trying to pass it off as the best possible policy will go a long way to keeping my vote.

  • @BB

    I think you may have taken the phrase I used a bit out of context and I see little actual difference between our posirions and if you read my other posts I’m sure you’ll agree,

    Btw I left the LP over Blair – before Iraq and nothing to do with Iraq – but I have rejoined under Milliband as I think he really is something special and the LibDems have shown that not only are they not an alternative for me but quite a wide spectrum of their supporters are actively opposed to someone with left of centre views.

  • Oranjepan
    Posted 14th January 2011 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    “turning their backs and walking away from those who voted for them, the sick and disabled and the poor”

    Oranjepan, have you seen the the ‘new’ WCA tests that is to be implemented in April? there has been complaints that the test introduced by Labour was too stringent but this ‘new reform’ is designed for one thing only and that is to get as many disabled people off disability benefits as possible, I’ve heard it called the ‘Hawkins test’ as you’ll only receive it your more disable than he is.
    It will leave many many disabled people caught in the trap of punishment cuts and poverty as they will simply be un-employable, so yes, the party have turned their backs on the Disabled and the vulnerable.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Jan '11 - 11:18am

    I don’t see any case for voting Labour now. I don’t see any sort of toughness coming from Labour which is a real workable challenge to what the Tories are doing. Labour just seems to have a kneejerk “the cuts are bad, stop them” line. Well, yes, if we don’t cut, then what? The cuts are nasty and hurting people, yes. What is bad about them is they are hurting the people at the bottom most. But a realistic alternative has to be that times are tough, people have to be hurt to get this country back in shape – and then to be honest about where the hurt is going to happen and to make sure it;s on those who can most bear it. I don’t see any sort of realistic honesty like that coming from Labour, which is why I dismiss Labour and its apologists now as a “waste of space”.

    The difficulty for Labour is that a realistic challenge from the left HAS to admit that much of what they did during the Blair years was wrong, too much skewed to the Tory view of the world, and the country is in a mess because of that. We have learnt the hard way that our country cannot get by through people selling their houses to each other and all the bureaucracy that involves dressed up as a substantial part of “the finance industry”. House price rises do not generate real wealth, but they do a good job at hiding decline in real wealth. The borrowed money that enabled them means strings are held somewhere, and we have handed over those strings for us to be pulled tighter and tighter by them.

    If Labour doesn’t offer a realistic alternative, there is no alternative to carrying on with the current coalition. The current coalition will become a lot more shaky if Labour can offer something worth coalescing with and looks like it might attract LibDems to coalesce with it. If Labour could do that, I think a rebellion amongst the LibDems would happen. But Labour aren’t doing that – they’re sitting tight hoping in 2015 the Tories will lose and the LibDems will be wiped out. Well, okay, but what that really means is that they’re putting power before vision. They want to win on the back of the tired old pendulum swing rather than offering something really workable that will transform this country.

    That’s why, despite my deep unhappiness with the leadership, I’m sticking to the LibDems.

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