Clegg: Tribal voices should not deprive the UK of stable government

Today’s Guardian reports Nick Clegg’s comments at his monthly press conference on reported moves in both Conservative and Labour parties to rule out a second coalition after 2015.

He said:

Clearly, there is a sort of McCluskey tendency in both the Labour and Conservative parties.

I think what you are seeing, in a sense, is the last gasp of the assumption from the two bigger parties that somehow they have got a right to run things.

We should let the British people have their say rather than people constantly assuming that they can decide, rather than the British people, about how this country is governed.

I think what you are seeing is some very tribal voices who are so tribal that they want to even go so far as deprive the British people of stable government.

Because minority government is deeply unstable, because you are basically governing without the authority to do so …

I think a Labour-only government would jeopardise the economic recovery, and a Conservative government certainly would not govern with the emphasis on fairness that has been the hallmark of much of what the Lib Dems have brought in the coalition.

He also said that he wouldn’t want to be part of a confidence and supply type arrangement either.

In practice, minority governments exist and survive at local level. There was also one in Scotland between 2007-11. Although it survived, in 2009 its budget was initially rejected. Is the political culture at Westminster mature enough to cope with minority government? It requires a huge amount of cross-party working and co-operation. Even if that were possible, the result would inevitably not be good for civil liberties. Labour and the Conservatives could find a great deal of common ground on, say, web-snooping.

Of course, the options available will only become clear when we know the precise result of the election in 2015. We could end up in a situation where no combination of two parties ends up with an overall majority, just like Scotland in 2007.

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12 Comments

  • When Clegg says “Tribal voices should not deprive the UK of stable government” he must be talking about those Lib Dems like Cable and Farron who are vocally perusing a differentiation strategy based on division, causeing public spats and throwing mud at the other guy.

    No one wants to work with people who aren’t going to be team players.

  • Yeah, as if the Tories and Labour are “team players”. Right…

  • “We should let the British people have their say rather than people constantly assuming that they can decide, rather than the British people, about how this country is governed.”
    Errr,… Sorry?, ….run that past me again.
    We should let the British people have their say,….. Where did I hear that before? Oh yes 2008, printed on a pamphlet headed REAL Referendum on Europe.

  • Is it not good to give the electorate the choice?

    Just like the Lib Dems are the party of ‘In’, they can also be the party of ‘Coalition’, so it’s clear and voters know: if you want a coalition vote Lib Dem; if you want single-party government, vote Conservative or Labour.

    That way the electorate can make known at the ballot box whether they prefer coalition or single-party government.

    And isn’t that the point of democracy?

  • londonliberal 27th Feb '14 - 5:02pm

    offering to be a permanent coalition partner would just confirm the party’s position in most people’s eyes as unprincipled opportunists who would do and say anything to stay in power.

  • Clegg obviously never reads Lib Dem Voice.
    Many of the party members who post on here are as tribal as some Tory or Labour voters.

  • Tim asks :
    “Is it not good to give the electorate the choice?
    Just like the Lib Dems are the party of ‘In’, they can also be the party of ‘Coalition’”
    And therein lies the difference, and why the party of ‘In’ is utterly meaningless, if a voter choice is not even there, (blocked by Lib Dems!), to give the electorate a choice. ?

  • Nick Clegg says —
    “Clearly, there is a sort of McCluskey tendency in both the Labour and Conservative parties.”

    And then accuses others of being “tribal” !

    I have no particular brief for Mr McCluskey, I have never met him, I was never a member of his union. Indeed I have not been a beer of any union since 1981. But I cannot see why for the second time in a few days he is demonised in LDV.

    In recent years I have not noticed Nick Clegg complaining about a Lord Ashcroft tendency in the Tory Party. And Clegg would I assume be outraged if anyone were to suggest that there is a Dominos Pizza tendency in the Liberal Democrats.

    So does the ” new politics” of the 2010 leader of the Liberal Democrats now just boil down to name calling of trade union leaders? Or is it the prejudice of a privileged Westminster schoolboy background coming out?

    Is it that Clegg does not understand Trade Unions or why their members join and support their leaders? Does Clegg not realise that every cheap shot attack on a trade union leader risks alienating members of that union and indeed any union?

  • If stopping the LabCon tribal right to rule is important the LDs will have to say that in constituencies where they aren’t in with a chance their supporters should, temporarily lend their vote to another party that supports the proportional electoral system and has a chance.

    That means UKIP.

    One of these not just talk the talk but walk the walk moments.

  • Stuart Mitchell 27th Feb '14 - 11:03pm

    “Clearly, there is a sort of McCluskey tendency in both the Labour and Conservative parties.”

    That’s an interesting way for Clegg to sidestep the fact that the leader of the “McCluskey tendency” within the Tories is his old rose garden chum, David Cameron.

    “I think what you are seeing, in a sense, is the last gasp of the assumption from the two bigger parties that somehow they have got a right to run things.”

    I’d certainly like to see the last gasp of the assumption from the third (or is it fourth?) party that it ought to hold a permanent grip on the balance of power.

  • The important point is that a post election multi party coalition in government is better for the nation. One point is that one party rarely has the support of more than 50% of the electorate, and then single party governments tend to rule tribal as the Tories did in the 1980s.
    This is not a point of ensuring the Libdems has a permanent place in cabinet but to have a wider range of input into power; I would rather see a Lab-Green coalition in power after the 2015 election than a single Lab or Cons party in government.
    Anyway, most large parties here are made up of coalitions – these are pre-election coalitions: The Labour party has free-marketeers, liberals, social democrates, socialists, possibly communist minded people. The Conservatives have many free marketeers, liberals, nationalist,and possibly extreme nationalists, but they all ride on the red or blue label. It is only a chance of the constituency where you live whether you will have a choice of candidate in those Lab-Con parties with the particular view you wish to vote for under the current electorial system.

  • The important point is that a post election multi party coalition in government is better for the nation. One point is that one party rarely has the support of more than 50% of the electorate, and then single party governments tend to rule tribal as the Tories did in the 1980s.
    This is not a point of ensuring the Libdems has a permanent place in cabinet but to have a wider range of input into power; I would rather see a Lab-Green coalition in power after the 2015 election than a single Lab or Cons party in government.
    Anyway, most large parties here are made up of coalitions – these are pre-election coalitions: The Labour party has free-marketeers, liberals, social democrates, socialists, possibly communist minded people. The Conservatives have many free marketeers, liberals, nationalist,and possibly extreme nationalists, but they all ride on the red or blue label. It is only a chance of the constituency where you live whether you will have a choice of candidate in those Lab-Con parties with the particular view you wish to vote for under the current electorial system.

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