Coalition

Friends, Lib Dems, countryfolk, lend me your ears. I come to bury the coalition, not to praise it.

But I’m not here to damn it either. I just want to move on.

Same-sex marriage. The Green Investment Bank. The tripling of our renewable energy usage. All Lib Dem policies that we should be fiercely proud of. But, if we’re going to celebrate them, we need to acknowledge that they came at a human cost – and that we voted for that.

As a party, we are too quick to brush off these people who we hurt as collateral. We shrug and say compromises had to be made. But those “compromises” were human beings – some of them within our own party. I have nothing but respect and admiration for their resilience and their faith in our movement. However, their forgiveness does not absolve us.

I don’t think it has to be a mark of shame on us forever. But too many people just don’t trust us to not jump back in bed with the Tories. It’s why our refusal to back Jeremy Corbyn at the General Election, whilst electorally wise and the right thing to do, was met with such anger.

By expending all that energy defending the coalition, voters hear “we think working with the Tories was a good thing”. That puts us a step back when we’re trying to convince people we’re not going to do it again.

Furthermore, we cannot expect the public to move on when we refuse to do so ourselves.

I want to discuss how we handle the legacy of the coalition, not give another leadership stump speech. But the fresh start she offers is one of the reasons why I’m supporting Layla Moran’s campaign.

I have nothing but respect for Ed Davey and the good work he did both in the coalition and out. He is a good man, a joy to work with and if he wins I’ll get behind him. But if we’re going to move on, we just can’t keep putting ministers from the same government up and being surprised when they’re asked the same difficult questions.

We need to accept that we’ve lost the argument. We can’t make the public view the coalition positively.

Look how our support soared when we were defined by an issue that wasn’t the coalition. Look how quickly it dived when the conversation turned back to opposing the Conservatives. People want to vote for us – but not if they think we’ll enable the Tories.

We need to show them that we aren’t the same party that we were in 2015. We need to take steps to rebuild that trust, and not just expect voters to forget about it. To do so would be an insult to their intelligence. We must be better than that.

What I’m saying is that the issue with the coalition isn’t that we don’t get credit for the good things we did. It’s that voters don’t trust us to not make the same mistakes again.

Moving on means we accept that we got it wrong. We can learn from that and make things right. If the best times are ahead of us, not behind – and I believe they are – then it’s time to look to the future, not the past.

* Dan Schmeising is a member of the Young Liberals executive, writing in a personal capacity.

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59 Comments

  • Tony Greaves 3rd Jul '20 - 8:01pm

    I am no fan of the Coalition, and more particularly of the failure of the top Liberal Democrats in the Government to cope with the politics of it. But look at this picture. With one or two exception sit is a far more competent and reliable group of people than the current rag-bag of third team reserves.

  • Michael Bukola 3rd Jul '20 - 8:21pm

    Creating the first peacetime coalition government since the second world war will always be something to be proud of. It was unpopular because of austerity, not because of what did in it.

  • Julian Tisi 3rd Jul '20 - 8:37pm

    You’re pretty much parroting the Labour party’s view of the coalition. Most voters on the other hand have either moved on or are more positive. Plus the experience of the last 5 years of real Tory government is demonstrating the influence we had in coalition. We need to stop apologising and doing our opponents work for them. If we are to go into government again – and hopefully it will be sooner rather than later – it will almost certainly be in coalition. Even if it’s Labour don’t believe for a second it will be easy. We will have to defend our participation in a government that will enact some Lib Dem policies and others we baulk at. Both Tories and Labour will try to claim we’ve had little influence; we will have to try to point at evidence of the opposite. Why? Because once the public see us holding back the worst of those parties they might want us to do it more. This won’t work though if we join in the chorus of condemnation of the one time we’ve been in coalition.

    By the way, you may think from the above that I’m definitely for Ed. Actually I haven’t yet decided, though (and I know this sounds lame) I would be happy with either, but for different reasons.

  • Nonconformistradical 3rd Jul '20 - 11:29pm

    “we just can’t keep putting ministers from the same government up and being surprised when they’re asked the same difficult questions.”

    Dan – irrespective of who wins this leadership election – it won’t stop some in the Labour party attacking us for participating in the coalition.

    Anyone who stands for the leadership of this party should expect to be asked the same difficult questions – and needs to demonstrate their ability to deal with them effectively.

    And they need to demonstrate their ability to deal with a whole lot more attacks on issues besides the coaltion from opposing politicians and hostile media.

  • Don’t want to do another coalition but want to change the voting system to PR that would result in coalitions?

  • Could someone explain to me how Britain is a better place now than when the coalition ended in 2015?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Jul '20 - 12:04am

    The coalition is only the disaster it is for some because it was then a one off, as far as some think.

    This is skewed. Our party was in government in a very close relationship with the late and excellent Donald dewer and the fine Jim Wallis. It was in the Scottish period of early experience of real devolution. It had such real success it put the SNP back to being a no show party.

    Our party served in Wales also. Years ago the predecessor party engaged in a constructive way in what became known as the Lib Lab pact.

    Tell that as I do, to Labour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    But let’s stop tormenting on the recent years, freeing us!!!!!!!

  • John Marriott 4th Jul '20 - 8:00am

    Most of it has already been said. As someone, who was active in politics back in 2010, which, judging from his photo, I doubt that Mr Schmeising was, I have no regrets that Clegg took up Cameron’s generous offer. As Labour had clearly taken its bat home – a ‘Rainbow’ coalition wasn’t really a runner In any case – and the only other possibility, besides a Tory minority government, was confidence and supply, the chance of getting some Lib Dem policies onto the Statute Book was surely too good to miss. Oh, the certainty and sometimes naivety of youth, Dan. As Lord Greaves said, looking at the set of clowns currently masquerading as government those folks in that 2010 pictures don’t look half that bad!

  • My mother always used to say, “If you pick at it it’ll never heal”..

    Yet another thread explaining how we must move on but mustn’t forget the good things of the coalition; claiming the ‘good’ just draws attention to the ‘bad’ and there was a lot more of that.
    The verdict on 2010-15 is already in and it wasn’t just from the Labour party..The idea that the electorate have ‘moved on’, ‘are more positive’, etc. is just wishful thinking; the polls are at 6% for a reason; the last 3 GE’s of 8, 12 and 11 MPs are for a reason.
    Just say, “We got it wrong, no ifs no buts”, and move on.

    As for Lord Greaves’s, “But look at this picture. With one or two exception sit is a far more competent and reliable group of people than the current rag-bag of third team reserves.”…I have a picture of my great grandson’s 8th birthday party and that remark would probably hold true..

  • Richard Easter 4th Jul '20 - 9:15am

    The legacy of the coalition will be decided by this leadership election one way or another.

    The party will either be a centre right free market party led by Davey – and thus risk losing any chance of left support, or it will be a centre left social liberal party lead by Moran and risk losing floating liberal tories.

    Either way based on previous statements and opinions, Davey will probably throw his lot in with the Tories and Moran with Labour if the mathematics suggest either. It’s now up to the membership to decide which direction they think is best for the party.

  • John Marriott 4th Jul '20 - 9:16am

    @expats
    “We got it wrong”. Yes, with hindsight; but no, ‘we’ didn’t get it wrong; but, as David Raw has written several times, it was probably the lure of the ministerial that did it for some. Well, at least I can go to my grave in the knowledge that the party I supported for over 40 years finally got into government (and then imploded).

    It reminds of the joke about the old Rabbi and the youngCatholic priest, who was just starting out on his career. The conversation turns to the priest’s promotion chances and ends up with: Priest; “Goodness me, do you expect me to end up as the Son of God?” Rabbi; “Well, one of our boys made it!”

  • @ John Marriott Ella says it better than I can.

    ‘Tain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It) – Ella …www.youtube.com › watch
    Video for It ain’t what you do its the way that you do it.▶ 3:03
    ‘Tain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It) – Ella Fitzgerald.

  • neil sandison 4th Jul '20 - 10:31am

    Interesting to note many of those around that cabinet table are no longer active in current politics .They have moved on so should we . There are fresh challenges and we cannot afford to rest on our laurels or blame the coalition for deep seated structural problems that have dogged most of our governments for the last twenty years .
    Liberal Democrats need the dynamic renewal ,fresh economic thinking and social engagement Layla Moran may well bring.

  • @ Neil Sandison “Interesting to note many of those around that cabinet table are no longer active in current politics .They have moved on so should we”.

    By leaving politics with a knighthood for richer pastures ?

  • keith orrell 4th Jul '20 - 11:14am

    It’s a different Tory party now than it was in 2010. Almost totally anti EU and with a PM who is an international embarrassment – he’s very lucky that there is Trump to be compared to. The current Government reminds of the sleazy Tory 1990s. We should be looking at how we campaigned then which was a prelude to our most successful period.

    The thing that has frustrated me continually since 2015 and at the GE is our acceptance that austerity started in 2010. I was on our Police Authority from 2007 to its demise and instructions from Westminster made us look at future savings from around 2008. At the 2010 GE the competition between the parties was how much austerity each party could promise rather than how much should be spent.

  • neil sandison 4th Jul '20 - 11:33am

    David Raw a review of patronage and knighthoods by prime ministers and political parties would be worthwhile too many Sirs and Dames handed out in what is supposed to be a meritocracy .

  • Really don’t understand all the apologizing & distancing from the coalition specifically aimed at Labour voters, many ‘soft’ Tory voters thought the coalition worked well in very difficult circumstances.

    It’s soft / floating voters in Tory marginals the party should be focusing on where there are reasonable chances to win seats,whereas realistically there are zero Labour marginals.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Jul '20 - 3:10pm

    Don’t “apologize”, just move on, i.e. let it wither on the vine. Easiest done with a leader unconnected with the Coalition. Frankly any discussion of the Coalition is an unwelcome distraction from campaigning on our current policy platform. So we should just not give media or our opponents reason to talk about it.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Jul '20 - 3:15pm

    “many ‘soft’ Tory voters thought the coalition worked well in very difficult circumstances” — yes, and voted Tory in 2015 because they thought that was the best way of continuing the Coalition, while also keeping out the imaginary bogies of Miliband and the SNP.
    We failed to differentiate ourselves enough from the Tories when in Coalition, and as a result those soft Tory voters didn’t see any reason to vote for us instead of the Tories.
    The big mistake on our side was conducting the Coalition as a love-in, when it should have been done as a pure business arrangement. It would be awkward for another former Coalition minister to say this, when he was (presumably) going along with the Clegg & co approach, whereas a post-Coalition leader can honestly say she wasn’t involved, and insist on moving the discussion onto the party’s current plans, while also saying there will be no more love-ins under her watch.

  • John Marriott 4th Jul '20 - 3:18pm

    @David Raw
    Point taken and don’t forget the last line of the song; “That’s what gets results”.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Jul '20 - 4:31pm

    @Martin: “If questions arise about the Coalition,” then engaging in such questions, whatever the answer given, will just result in more questions about it.
    Saying we should “move on” from the Coalition by electing a post-Coalition is not about “admitting we were rubbish”, it’s about putting the whole matter firmly behind us and saying that what matters is what we do in the future. Questions about the Coalition when the leader wasn’t involved in it would be flogging a dead horse.

    I’m not interested in having a former Coalition minister as leader just so that we can prove a point about the Coalition.

  • Peter Martin 4th Jul '20 - 4:44pm

    @ Alex McFie,

    ” yes, and voted Tory in 2015 because they thought that was the best way of continuing the Coalition”

    Well, possibly, but do you have any evidence?

    The voting share was:

    2010: Tory – 36%, Labour 29%, Lib Dem 23%
    2015: Tory – 37%, Labour 30%, UKIP, 12.6%, Lib Dem 7.9%,

    So where did your vote go in 2015? It’s possible that it actually split fairly evenly with Tory, Lab and UKIP. The latter would seem unlikely to anyone who hasn’t actually discussed politics with voters on the doorstep. But a comment from any potential voter that they didn’t like either the Tories or Labour and were going to vote for someone else wouldn’t be unusual.

    But, look, I have to say I don’t actually know what the movement was, but it’s clearly not as simple as Lib Dems switching to the Tories.

  • @ Martin, and Alex Macfie So everything was OK between 2010-15 ? Or is it a case of ‘Shush, not in front of the children, dear, and don’t frighten the horses” ?

    The bottom line ? …. the electorate aren’t daft, they know when people dissimulate. The party is where it is because of what it did and deserves to be where it is. Anything else is self deception. As Charlie K. used to say, get used to it……

    Get real and stop kidding yourselves. Get on the long march to redemption by local activism, building a good local reputation (like Westmorland and S. Lakeland Council), and building an organisation.

    No quick fix, no short cuts….. If you can’t do this…. get an allotment…. and whatever else you do, don’t fly a Paul Barker flag.

  • ‘ whereas a post-Coalition leader can honestly say she wasn’t involved, and insist on moving the discussion onto the party’s current plans, while also saying there will be no more love-ins under her watch.’

    A combination of student politics & personal baggage is not going to work either.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Jul '20 - 6:58pm

    John O: What student politics?

  • “What student politics ?”

    The ‘defunding’ the police, cutting the price of sugar and alcohol type of student politics ……….. leading to a better world for obese diabetic drunks with anarchistic libertarian anything goes type of tendencies. In short, a life of bliss….. but. hey, so what if it puts more work in the way of the defunded police.

    Shame they forgot about poverty, food banks and inequality.

  • ‘John O: What student politics?’

    ‘Commandeering the UK private health sector’

    That’s apart from all the baggage

  • Sharp observers here have picked up on the power of patronage as a device to control dissent when things were going wrong. I used to jest that the PLP was going to end up with more Knights than Camelot. Privy Counsellors multiplied too as Hon Members became Right Hon Members. It happens in all parties.

    What really galls though is the political naivete shown. Where do you begin? Certainly going along with the Lansley Health and Social Care act and the Gove Academies Act was unnecessary and nothing to do with deficit reduction and the stabilisation of public finances which was after all the avowed intention of the Coalition. The importing of a crude market model into the delivery of public services even if it had been pioneered by Blair has little in its favour albeit an influential minority of my former colleagues could see little wrong with it.

  • Peter Watson 5th Jul '20 - 10:39am

    @David Raw “Get on the long march to redemption by local activism, building a good local reputation … No quick fix, no short cuts”

    I think you’re absolutely correct.

    The way that Coalition Government was handled and presented by the Lib Dems destroyed trust in the party to the extent that it became a running joke in countless panel shows (being ignored is possibly an improvement on that!). There is a vicious circle: in order to recover public support, the party needs to demonstrate that it can be trusted, but the only way to do that is by getting enough public support to put Lib Dems in a position to deliver on their promises.

    As you suggest, “building a good local reputation” and publicising local successes is probably the highest priority in what will inevitably be a slow process.

    P.S. “dissimulate”: I’ve learnt a new word, thanks. 🙂

  • Alex Macfie 5th Jul '20 - 11:30am

    @David Raw: Where have I said “everything was OK between 2010-15”? If you read my comments properly, you will know that I am very critical of how the Lib Dem leadership handled the Coalition. I supported the Coalition to the extent that I would support any government that was 1/6 Lib Dem and 5/6 Tory. I don’t agree with the idea that we should “own the Coalition” as if it was what we wanted to happen in government. We need to own the bits that were Lib Dem policy, and not the rest.

    Nor do I imagine there is any “quick fix”. AFAIC moving on from the Coalition, by having a post-Coalition leader who can look at it from a detached, critical perspective and put the matter to bed is just the start.

    And whether the party “deserves to be where it is” is irrelevant, politics doesn’t work like that. I’m interested in moving on and discussing the future, not arguing the t*ss about the past.

  • Richard Easter 5th Jul '20 - 11:55am

    Learning the lesson of Corbyn might be worth noting. Ed Davey is not a popular leader…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership_approval_opinion_polling_for_the_next_United_Kingdom_general_election#Ed_Davey

  • Paul Barker 5th Jul '20 - 11:58am

    Most of us are, as usual, vastly overestimating the typical Voters interest in or knowledge of Politics. The vast majority of those who may Vote for us in 2024 will barely remember The Coalition. Actually, I barely remember The Coalition & what I mostly remember is how it damaged Us.

    The lesson for 2024 is that if we do join a Coalition with Labour then we have to get Electoral Reform as the Price, not a process or discussion or another Referendum but Reform up front & unambiguous.
    There is No prospect of a Coalition with the Tories in the next 20 Years because they have moved so far to the Nationalist Right, so no point thinking about that.

  • Peter Martin 5th Jul '20 - 12:09pm

    @ Paul Barker,

    ” we have to get Electoral Reform as the Price, not…..another Referendum”

    If there’s going to be electoral reform it has to be approved by the people via a referendum. It’s a constitutional issue. Neither of the two main parties would agree to anything else.

    I’m not sure what you can offer the Labour Party to be able to form a Coalition before the election which will avoid splitting the anti-Tory vote. Theoretically that will offer the best chance of success. In practice, it will mean convincing the Labour Party that your supporters are genuinely anti-Tory and won’t simply go off and vote for them if there is no Lib Dem standing.

  • Alex Macfie 5th Jul '20 - 12:39pm

    @Peter Martin: Once again, we are not the Brexit Party, thus we cannot instruct our voters about whom to vote for in the absence of a Lib Dem candidate. For this reason, a formal pact is a non-starter, which would be likely to hand the next election to the Tories. What would work (and what is likely to happen) is an informal agreement between Lib Dems and Labour to keep out of each other’s Tory-facing battlegrounds. It worked in 1997.

    On your earlier comment (4th Jul ’20 – 4:44pm) I was referring specifically to soft Tories who had previously voted for us. I know perfectly well there were also movements elsewhere (tactical votes unwinding, switching to UKIP).

  • Paul Barker 5th Jul ’20 – 11:58am…………..Most of us are, as usual, vastly overestimating the typical Voters interest in or knowledge of Politics. The vast majority of those who may Vote for us in 2024 will barely remember The Coalition. Actually, I barely remember The Coalition & what I mostly remember is how it damaged Us………….

    More wishful thinking…There is a generation of educated, liberal minded ex students who will never vote LibDem..If you believe that everyone has as short a memory as you perhaps, like them, you might google 2010-15 to realise the main reason that we have only 11 MPs and stand at 6% in the polls..

    Correct me if I’m wrong Paul, but haven’t your past predictions for LibDem ‘revivals’ been rather optimistic?

  • Alex Macfie 5th Jul '20 - 12:59pm

    Martin: I do not suggest making the Lib Dem role in the Coalition “persona non-grata”, not least because Lib Dems constituted only 1/6 of its MPs. I do suggest that there is no point in arguing the t*ss about it as if it were exactly what a Lib Dem government is supposed to be like, and that the best way to move on and let it die as an issue is have a leader unconnected with that era.

  • Peter Martin 5th Jul '20 - 1:05pm

    @ Alex Macfie,

    “….an informal agreement between Lib Dems and Labour to keep out of each other’s Tory-facing battlegrounds”

    I can see how it would help the Lib Dems if Labour chose not to stand in Lib Dem/Tory marginals. But Lib Dems in most Labour/Tory marginals are likely to split, as a second choice, around third abstain, a third Tory and a third Labour. So it wouldn’t be any help to Labour if the Lib Dems didn’t stand. If they were more likely to vote Tory then it would actually help the Labour Party if the Lib Dems did stand.

    So, yes, I agree that you can’t instruct your voters. It’s for this very reason that I can’t see that Lib Dems have anything to offer the Labour Party in advance of an election.

  • Alex Macfie 5th Jul '20 - 1:55pm

    Peter Martin: I’m not talking about any sort of pact, much less unilateral ones. In any case, I understand that the Labour party constitution doesn’t allow such pacts. By “informal agreement” I mean both parties stand candidates but they don’t campaign seriously where the other is best placed to defeat the Tories. So Labour wouldn’t campaign seriously in Kingston & Surbiton, while Lib Dems would have only a paper candidate in Canterbury.
    And actually, I don’t think Labour standing aside in Lib Dem/Tory marginals would help the Lib Dems. There’s the danger that it would drive potential Lib Dem voters in those seats to the Tories, as they would see no difference between us and Labour.

  • Peter Martin 5th Jul '20 - 3:02pm

    @ Alex,

    I don’t know what majority Lib Dem thinking is, but most Labour party members would say we either stand and try to do our best or we shouldn’t stand at all. Of course, in practice, if there is a winnable seat next to a hopeless one we’d direct our available resources accordingly but we don’t like the idea of paper candidates.

    If you also don’t think the idea of Labour candidates standing aside would help then that’s another reason for no agreements. Informal or otherwise.

  • Paul Barker 5th Jul '20 - 3:16pm

    The “Agreement” between Us & Labour in 1997 was entirely done on the basis of nods & winks & was simply about not targetting each others top Target Seats. It worked very well in reducing the number of Tory Seats & a similar arrangement could work again in 2024.

    I think the most likely result of the next Election is a solid Labour majority so they wouldnt need Us but we should still plan for the possibility of Coalition, best to be prepared.

    No, changing the Voting system is not a Constitutional change & doesnt need a Referendum.

  • Peter Martin 5th Jul '20 - 4:06pm

    @ Paul Barker,

    In principle nothing needs a referendum. Not even a constitutional matter.

    But if you think you see Tory and Labour MPs voting for anything like the PR system you’d want, without one, then you’re dreaming! Even with one, many would use the same arguments you used for rejecting the Brexit vote to reject that vote too.

  • John Marriott 5th Jul '20 - 10:26pm

    Can Labour win an absolute Commons majority under FPTP? If not, then some kind of deal could be on the cards. It’s interesting that, just before the Labour Government threw in the towel in 1931, a National was formed and a GE was called, a Bill to introduce the Alternative Vote had just got through the Commons and was on its way to the Lords. I guess that’s been the closest we have come so far to getting change.

  • John Marriott 6th Jul '20 - 9:56am

    I’ve had a chance to sleep on my last comment. What are the chances of the Tories ever agreeing to change the voting system? Zero! What about Labour? About the same if Labour thinks it can ‘win’ under FPTP, as I said before and, judging by the party’s unofficial spokesperson on LDV, Mr P Martin, I may be right.

    My reference to Labour in 1931 makes me assess the reasoning behind the decision to back AV. Given the fact Labour was struggling in a Hung Parliament, I suppose that those around MacDonald, who clearly had no time for the Liberals, as he had shown throughout the 1920s, thought that changing the voting system, however, slightly, might have improved their chances of staying in power. It certainly wasn’t a magnanimous gesture to give the Liberals a leg up. Well, as we know, the National Government intervened as the world entered recession.

    While the only parties set to benefit in terms of seats are perceived by most people to be the Greens and the Lib Dems – and why not? – then it’s pretty obvious that neither of the ‘old’ parties is likely to budge. “But what about the voters?” you may ask. “FPTP is easier to understand.” Well, in the immortal words of John Cleese in that 1980s SDP Election broadcast, “If any of you can’t count up to five you will find (PR) pretty bewildering”.

  • @ John Marriott It goes further back than 1931, John. Lloyd George (an overconfident slippery cove of a PM who would sell his own mother a peerage) could have had PR in the 1918 Representation of the People Act if it had suited his purposes as Coalition PM. For reasons unfathomable – unless to wield the Coupon weapon – he didn’t press it.

    Full time Score 14 December, 1918 Tory United 1 (L.G. o.g.) v Liberals Disunited 0.
    (relegated, captain Asquith H, sent off)

    Promoted from Second Division, Labour City).

    Might be worth looking at the 1917/18 debates and Divisions list in Hansard, or maybe, Professor Denis Mollison who knows about these things could tell us why.

    ARE YOU THERE , DENIS ?

  • Don’t know how accurate it was but a study by the Electoral Calculus website suggested that the 15% of the vote the Lib Dem’s lost between 2010-2015 was distributed as follows:

    7% to Lab 3% to Con 1% to SNP 2% to Grn 2% to UKIP

    https://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/Analysis_votermigration.html

    This would suggest that seats were lost to the Tories because of the collapse of tactical voting and losing votes to Labour which was partly offset by Con – UKIP switchers. The Tories won seats from us on a similar or lower vote share.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jul '20 - 12:25pm

    @Peter Martin:

    “many would use the same arguments you used for rejecting the Brexit vote to reject that vote too”

    Then make it binding, by stating in the relevant legislation that a Yes vote would need to the automatic invocation of a Statutory Instrument to implement the required change. This is how the AV referendum legislation was framed.

  • Peter Martin 6th Jul '20 - 1:05pm

    @ Marco,

    Thanks for that analysis. It makes sense to me. The Lib Dems lost seats to the Tories more because they lost 12 percentage points to other parties than the 3 percentage points directly to the Tories.

    Lib Dems should understand better than most how the FPTP system allows this to happen.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jul '20 - 2:37pm

    @Peter Martin: Of course we understand it. But the fact remains we lost 3 net percentiles of support to the Tories in 2015, and the likely reason for that was they liked the Coalition and thought that by voting Tory it would continue. In other words, they didn’t see any reason to vote Lib Dem instead, and this is because we didn’t differentiate enough at the time, so the voters couldn’t see what were Lib Dem achievements and what were Tory ones.

  • @Julian Tisi
    “Why? Because once the public see us holding back the worst of those parties they might want us to do it more. ”

    This was basically the Lib Dem 2015 election campaign. The problem with it was and is, certainly a Labour voter would want a Conservative government, if there has to be one, to be less Conservative … and a Conservative voter would want a Labour government, if there has to be one, to be less Labour. But equally the Labour voter would want a Labour government *not* to be held back by the Lib Dems, and the Conservative voter likewise.

    That leaves you with the voters who dislike both Labour and Conservatives *and also* think that the way they need to compromise is towards the Lib Dems (as opposed to towards UKIP). Also known as “the people who were going to vote Lib Dem anyway”, which is not a group you need to campaign much to, and which is nowhere near big enough.

  • I spent yesterday afternoon at a barbecue. What became clear about the 2019 election was that a good number who were unimpressed with the prospect of either Johnson or Corbyn running the country didn’t vote at all. Libdem seats have the highest average turnout of any party https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/insights/general-election-2019-turnout/. High turnouts seem to be a precondition for 1st or 2nd places for Libdems. A below-average turnout sees us squeezed out or just not on the radar.

  • “It was unpopular because of austerity, not because of what did in it.”
    Yes indeed. There was no way of borrowing this country out of austerity following the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis. Look at Argentina and Lebanon today. Whoever was in power after 2010 would have had to make cuts in public spending.
    Of course we are in the middle of another crisis but that is the result of a different situation.

  • John O, if the GE had been held under a proportional system, the result would have been a lot more even, with the LIbDems taking 20 odd percent of MP’s and the Tories 30 odd percent. As it was the LibDEms did not have enough MP’s or ministers to get noticed in the media and a fair crack of the whip in spending ministries.

    Of course Tory views are so skewed that they thought it unreasonable that the LibDems got any influence at all.

    The public tended to believe that any moderate or progressive elements were baked into the Tory majority anyway. How short their memory was and wrong they were

  • Manfarang 9th Jul ’20 – 8:31am……………………Yes indeed. There was no way of borrowing this country out of austerity following the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis. Look at Argentina and Lebanon today. Whoever was in power after 2010 would have had to make cuts in public spending………….Of course we are in the middle of another crisis but that is the result of a different situation………………………….

    Why could we not have ‘borrowed’ our way out.? This ‘another crisis’ is far, far worse and yet borrowing for infrastructure spend is the ‘new deal’..As for ‘Argentina and Lebanon’ this country was no more in danger of experiencing their problems than those of the Weimar Republic..

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