D’Hondt complain afterwards if you d’Hondt understand it…

Not everyone in the country takes a lot of interest in the intricate details of electoral systems, and that probably includes most politicians including the new Chukkers on the block, and almost all the media.

A lot of people know that you can have “first past the post” (FPTP which in practice usually means the candidate who has got closest to the post when the whistle goes) and “proportional representation” which includes all the other systems ever invented. And that’s about it.

The thing is that the way the votes are counted is one of the two things (together with how people vote) that decides who gets elected. Stalin is supposed to have said that what matters is not how people vote but who counts the votes. In the Euro elections, the counting takes place by a system known as d’Hondt after one Victor of that ilk who is (possibly) one of the most famous Belgians to have lived.

FPTP is designed for a binary choice. It works perfectly when there are only two candidates – or in a for-and-against referendum. In elections when there are lots of parties, all standing for different things, it’s hopeless. On the other hand, d’Hondt is designed for just that – it will allocate seats more or less proportionately between lots of parties standing for different things (though it discriminates against the smallest ones). It is useless at making a binary choice.

Yet it has for a long time been as clear as daylight that if we have EU elections next month they will be proxy for a new referendum on the UK’s EU membership. It would work if there were just two parties standing (though I suppose we would have to let the Labour lot in to provide a third choice for the fence-sitters.) In practice, there are going to be more serious contenders than ever. And there is a huge danger that Farage’s Brexit party will sweep up the Leavers and “top the poll” in both votes and seats, while the People’s Voters and Remainers are split umpteen ways.

Why does this matter? It matters because d’Hondt discriminates against small parties – and unlike the 1-2-3 Single Transferable Vote (the dreadfully “un-British” system they will use in Northern Ireland) votes that are cast for small parties that cannot reach the threshold for electing anyone are not transferred to any other party.

I’ve worked out what could happen, on the basis of some of the latest polls and my own guesswork, in the nine English regions used for European Elections. This assumes an overall breakdown of Conservative 17%, Labour 22%, Brexit 28%, UKIP 4%, three main Remain parties 26% in total, Others 3%. I’ve assumed a split amongst the three Remain parties (Liberal Democrat, Change UK and Greens, in no particular order), of 10-9-7. I have assumed the same breakdown in each of the regions. This will clearly not be the case but my aim is to show the effect of the d’Hondt system on the three Remain parties standing separately. I’ve ignored Scotland where the SNP is likely to win perhaps half the seats, and Wales where Plaid Cymru will be standing.

The outcome is Conservative 11 seats, Labour 14, Brexit 17, Remain Parties five, four and one (10 in total). I have to add that I think this is optimistic in at least two or three regions where I guess Brexit will do better and the Remain parties worse.

It now seems to be too late to do anything much about this dreadful prospect, and I fear the Anti-Brexit parties will spend a lot of time and energy knocking each other about in an attempt to prove each one is the “best chance” in that region. Which will just hand the field to Farage who has already won that battle on the pro-Brexit Right. But at least we should all understand the system and how it works if we are going to get anything at all out of it.

Note: A d’Hondt count adds up the votes for each party. At round 1 the party with the most votes gets a seat and their vote is halved at round 2. The party which now has the largest number gets the second seat and their vote is halved for round 3. This continues until the necessary number of seats are filled.

* Tony Greaves is a backbench Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords.

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  • Martin Land 24th Apr '19 - 9:27am

    The key to our success in the Euros is our success in next week’s locals. In my humble opinion this will bury the TIGgers once and for all. A successful party must have a philosophy, an ideology. Being convinced of you own talents when others are not is neither.

  • Peter Martin 24th Apr '19 - 9:39am

    Whose bright idea was it to accept this system?

    I may be a bit old fashioned but I want to vote for people not for parties. I am a member of a political party but there are people within it who I would find it very difficult to vote for. Even if I do end up voting for them, I do like the possibility, and should I feel so inclined, of being able to write an indignant letter to them saying that I won’t ever vote for them again.

    All I’d get back under this system is a standard letter saying “Thank you but you never voted for me in the first place. You voted for the party”.

    It’s really not good enough. Just another reason for wanting out of the EU!

  • Daniel Walker 24th Apr '19 - 9:48am

    @Peter Martin “It’s really not good enough. Just another reason for wanting out of the EU!”

    The electoral system for EU Parliament elections is not “imposed” by the EU, who only require “broad proportionality”. (Ireland, Northern Ireland and Malta use STV, for instance)

    As you have been informed before..

  • Nonconformistradical 24th Apr '19 - 9:48am

    @Peter Martin
    “Whose bright idea was it to accept this system? ”

    Jack Straw it would seem. Quoting from his Wiki article at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Straw

    “As Home Secretary, Straw was also involved in changing the electoral system for the European Parliament elections from plurality to proportional representation. In doing so, he advocated the use of d’Hondt formula as being the one that produces the most proportional outcomes. The d’Hondt formular, however, is less proportional to the Sainte-Laguë formula which was proposed by the Liberal Democrats. Straw later apologised to the House of Commons for his misleading comments,[26] but the d’Hondt formula stayed in place. “

  • Peter Martin 24th Apr '19 - 10:01am

    @ Daniel Walker,

    I’m happy for you to quote me but I’m not happy for you to misquote. I didn’t actually use the word “impose”. That was your word. So whereas I can put it in quotes you shouldn’t.

    But having said all that this crappy system was “imposed” by someone who obviously supports the EU and is keen to find a voting system which meets their criterion of acceptability. TBH I’m not interested in what they think is acceptable and what isn’t.

  • Daniel Walker 24th Apr '19 - 10:27am

    @Peter Martin “I’m happy for you to quote me but I’m not happy for you to misquote”

    My intention was not to suggest that you had used the word imposed, but to draw attention to the word – granted, not a good use of quotes. I can completely see how it appeared, so I do apologise.

    Having said that, it was imposed by Labour because they don’t like STV (except when they aren’t participants, viz. Northern Ireland)

    My point, which I have made before, is that your objections to the D’Hondt system are fair, and I agree with them, but it is within the unilateral gift of the UK Parliament to remove them, so it is incorrect to blame the EU for them.

  • I thought that Leave voters were supposed to be disunited, voted on everything except membership of the EU and all wanting different things whilst remain voters were all pulling together. It is sort of beginning to look like the opposite might be true

  • John Marriott 24th Apr '19 - 10:38am

    Let’s just assume that there WILL be elections in the U.K. for the European Parliament – still not absolutely certain. It would seem to me that, despite all the Manifesto pledges, they will probably end up as a proxy In/Out Referendum. The difference this time is that the binary choice has morphed into pick and mix.

    As Lord Greaves has said, the d’Hondt system makes life very difficult for people who prefer to live their lives in colour rather than black and white. This especially applies for natural Tory and Labour voters, whose parties are still apparently sitting on the fence regarding Brexit; less so for Lib Dems, Greens and, wash my mouth out, Change UK.

    The obvious ‘winner’ in these circumstances would seem to be Mr Farage’s Party. Lord Greaves predicts Tory and Labour winning 11 and 14 seats respectively, with Brexit on 17. Now we know that those 17 Brexit seats represent Leave; but what about the others? Surely some of those Tory and Labour seats must include remain voters; but what proportion?

    So, if Remain is going to make a decent showing, the answer has got to be, in my humble opinion, for Remain supporters to forsake their traditional party loyalties and vote for one of the overtly Remain parties. But which one? Again, there’s the rub. If ONLY they could have, for this occasion only, agreed a joint list? So, if you want to use this vote as an indication of where public opinion lies, you may be in trouble.

  • Peter Martin 24th Apr '19 - 10:44am

    @ Daniel Walker,

    Ok thanks. And I do take your point that we could have STV if we wanted to. I also understand that you don’t like FPTP and neither do I. I was in favour of the AV but as the majority wanted FPTP then that’s what I accept we have to use.

    But on a wider question. Why do we need a EU Parliament anyway? I’m all for free trade and having harmonious relations with our European neighbours. I’m happy to holiday there and they are more than welcome to visit here. That’s not a problem. But we don’t need all that to sell them Jet engines or Scotch whisky and buy German cars etc from them.

    Having an EU Parliament creates all kinds of problems. A relatively minor one is coming up with the clocks. If we want to move our clocks why shouldn’t we? Yes there are arguments either way. We can have that discussion ourselves. We’ve ended up with less autonomy than an Australian State. For instance, no one in the rest of Australia likes the inconvenience of Adelaide having their clocks a half hour different from Melbourne. Brisbane doesn’t move its clocks at all. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide do have Winter and Summer times. It’s considered a State’s choice.

    So if the EU can interfere in this and and claim a majority decision for it in their Parliament, what else will they be interfering with in future?

  • John Marriot
    I think the problem for the joint list idea is that these are small parties with a need t make some sort of electoral impact to hold on to membership and funding. The advantage the Brexit Party has is that it does not need cooperation and is essentially positioned to disappear if it succeeds. It’s a party neutral way of registering a Leave protest vote to a foot dragging parliament. The other parties have greater ambitions and need to survive beyond the EU elections. If the Lib Dems said they were to stand aside for Change UK, then Change UK would be all over the Telly claiming that they were replacing the Lib Dems as the natural third third force in British politics.

  • Peter Martin 24th Apr '19 - 11:58am

    @ Glenn,

    I thought that Leave voters were supposed to be disunited, voted on everything except membership of the EU and all wanting different things whilst remain voters were all pulling together. It is sort of beginning to look like the opposite might be true

    Liked by Peter Martin! (It would be good if we had a real like button!)

    Mind you I’m not at all happy on Labour’s current approach to the EU question. Even some Leavers are backsliding too much for my liking. I’m OK with the idea of a temporary customs union but there needs to be a formal commitment by the EU that we won’t be trapped indefinitely.

  • Tony Greaves 24th Apr '19 - 12:48pm

    Yes, sorry – I got the calculations wrong! I’ll rework them (and they will be even worse for smaller parties). (Like I said, few people know how the system works!)

  • Tony Greaves 24th Apr '19 - 12:51pm

    But what is interesting here is that no-one is discussion the real issue and instead is arguing about why we have d’Hondt (decision of the British Parliament – we use STV in the Northern Ireland seat) and other side-issues.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Apr '19 - 12:58pm

    Tony “assumed a split amongst the three Remain parties (Liberal Democrat, Change UK and Greens, in no particular order), of 10-9-7.” This is overgenerous.
    We need to go back to why (then MP) Alan Beith asked (the then Home Secretary) for a change in the electoral system proposed for euro-elections in England, Scotland and Wales.
    Tory MPs protested loudly (but why?)
    Jack Straw said he would go away and consult (presumably then PM Tony Blair) but there was no change.
    On the panel of Politics Live on 24/4/2019 there was a left wing journalist who intends to stand for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, causing some surprise.
    Tony Greaves is right to say that most of the media do not understand the D’Hondt system, although the media have a role in explaining it to the voting public. On the doorstep canvassers should be saying that YES, this is proportional representation, but only between political parties. The party list is usually controlled by the party leaders such as Nigel Farage. Until his party announces his regional lists, IN ORDER, a candidate cannot be sure what she (or he) is campaigning for. In the Liberal Democrats we try to overcome this flaw by electing the regional lists by party members, but Alan was right, our natural preference would be to empower the electors in every such election by allowing them to move candidates up or down the list, as happens in some other countries such as Italy.

  • William Hobhouse 24th Apr '19 - 1:16pm

    All voting systems in the UK are proportional, it is only the constituency size that varies. In a constituency of one, the winner becomes the MP, not the candidate that comes second.
    In multi member constituencies, those elected are in proportion to the votes cast.
    In 23 of 28 countries for the EU parliament elections, the constituency is the whole country. In the other 5, including the UK, there are many constituencies. All voting uses D’Hondt.
    In 23 out of 28 EU countries, if a party gets 10% of the vote it gets 10% of the representatives. But not here.

  • Daniel Walker 24th Apr '19 - 1:31pm

    @William Hobhouse “All voting uses D’Hondt.”

    At risk of upsetting Tony—he’s quite right, the immediate problem here is the Remain vote split—D’Hondt is not uniformly used in Eu Parliament elections. Even in the UK, Northern Ireland uses STV. The German-speaking part of Belgium uses FPTP (as it only elects one member)

  • David Allen 24th Apr '19 - 1:42pm

    As Tony Greaves says, we shouldn’t be arguing about whether d’Hondt is a brilliant orr a terrible system. It’s somewhere in between – and what matters is – It what we’ve got!

    Now in local elections, we think it’s vitally important to adapt to the electoral system that we have got. We target, we Focus, we zoom in on issues that affect targeted wards, and we win! So, how are we getting on with the Euros and d’Hondt?

    Disastrously! We have failed to recognise that if the Remain vote is split multiple ways between multiple low-polling parties which all poll in single figures, we shall get almost no Remain MEPs at all, even if Remain gets a large overall vote share. Aargh!

    And even if we didn’t care about the Remain case – We need to recognise that a split of votes between Lib Dems and Change UK willl anyway be disastrous for both. D’Hondt basically sets a threshold vote, varying a little with the number of seats in a region, but of the order of 10-15%. Below that threshold, a party wins nothing.

    If we had the sense to divvy up the regions between the two parties, as the SDP and Liberals did a generation ago, both parties could surmount that threshold. Since we haven’t had the sense – and Change have had even less sense it seems – we will get nowhere. Wonderful!

  • Tony Greaves 24th Apr '19 - 1:46pm

    REWORKED NUMBERS. Using the correct method of counting under d’Hondt (thanks, David John Brenton) on the same proportions of the vote applied equally in each region.

    CON 10
    LAB 18
    BREX 22
    UKIP 0
    Remain Party A 6
    Remain Party B 3
    Remain Party C 0
    Others 0

    As I thought, even worse.

  • Layla Moran on Politics Live earlier seemed to be saying all was not lost in terms of some kind of co-operation with the TIGs in the Euro elections.

  • Tony Greaves 24th Apr '19 - 2:01pm

    Ireland (the Irish Republic) elects its MEPs in three constituencies using STV.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Apr '19 - 2:03pm

    If a journalist, or an MP, has been trained as a barrister s/he might say that it would be stupid and/or risky to ask a question to which the questioner does not know the answer
    (although the original purpose of questions to Ministers is negated).
    Does the journalist in the chair of Politics Live not understand what Chuka Umunna told her yesterday? The Independent Group (TIG) were not in a position to negotiate before they were registered as a political party (Nigel Farage’s Brexit party had been in the same position).
    Layla Moran was asked today about Lib Dem negotiations with Change UK.
    She mentioned the Greens not standing in Oxford West and Abingdon (in the 1917 general election, (presumably because they were less likely to win and preferred a Lib Dem, or this Lib Dem, to a Tory, in a first past the post election in one seat out of about 650).
    Chuka Umunna had said that Change UK could not have a deal with nationalist parties such as the SNP and Plaid Cymru. (They want a different kind of change).
    If a deal with other pro-Remain parties involves candidate selection it would be necessary for one party to not offer candidates in an entire region (and perhaps another party to not offer candidates in another region).
    Liberal Democrats have already elected candidates.
    Would the Greens stand down across the board when climate change is such a prominent issue?
    Is it correct that the Electoral Commission would require the parties involved to merge? (This was not the case when the former Liberal Party and the former SDP made arrangements in the Alliance).
    I recall going to a hustings and asking all the candidates “If your leader was run over by a bus, who would you want instead?” which Dr. Owen’s candidate found difficult to answer. There was overlap in Greenwich and Woolwich. The Greens were then leaderless, on principle, but did well.

  • Laurence Cox 24th Apr '19 - 3:32pm

    @Richard Underhill

    In seeking to understand why ChangeUK have behaved as they did, we need to look at the current situation from the TIGgers point of view. First, their decision to form a political party as opposed to remaining a group of MPs was made too late for them to fight the local elections. Secondly, lacking any activist base they would quite likely lose all their seats in a snap GE, explaining why they would not vote against the Government in a VoNC. Unlike both the LibDems and Greens, who have the opportunity to raise their profile in the local elections and gain momentum going into the Euro-elections, for ChangeUK the Euro-elections are their one shot at getting a profile (and EU funding), just as they were for UKIP before 2014. Until there has been another GE they are not eligible for Short money.

    Like us they recognise the disadvantages of D’Hondt for smaller parties and the importance of being the largest of them. As Tony has shown, even being only 1% ahead of the next largest Remain party doubles the number of seats you win because the Remain parties will win no more than one seat each in the largest EU constituencies, and will often be competing for a single seat. Unfortunately, that looks bad for the Greens who have been consistently lower than us and ChangeUK in the opinion polls.

    So, we have to do something to ensure that we are the largest small party in these elections. In my opinion, we have to take on Farage head-on; I know that Clegg made a mess of it when he tried, but that is no excuse for not trying again. Alistair Meeks on Political Betting yesterday indicated where Farage’s weaknesses lie:


    and Mike Smithson has advocated making the election about Farage’s views on the NHS:


    By painting Farage as the man who wants to destroy the NHS, we could peel off his support, some of which would come to us if we were seen to be leading the opposition to him.

  • Laurence Cox 24th Apr '19 - 3:32pm

    @Tony Greaves
    Incidentally, the D’Hondt method should really be called the Jefferson method as it was originally proposed by Thomas Jefferson for Congess in 1792 and was used until 1842 for the House of Representatives allocation (his mathematics are slightly different but produce the same results). The other popular option is the Webster/Sainte-Laguë method which reduces the reward for larger parties but is capable of producing a result in a multi-member constituency where a party winning a majority of the votes does not win a majority of the seats (these odd cases always attract election buffs, with their ideas for modifications to existing systems).

  • Tony Greaves 24th Apr '19 - 4:13pm

    So can we get back to discussing how to overcome the acute problem we have of the anti-Brexit vote three ways and hardly any candidates getting elected?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 24th Apr '19 - 5:17pm

    Yes Lord Greaves, if mps like some in TIG and peers like some in this party, had been able to avoid such jibes and insults about each other , we might be enjoying the rebirth of mainstream politics, instead we have twp parties in competition, why don’t you read your comments about TIG the weeks they emerged and then those of some of their anonymous briefers, then understand why those of us who are in the main centre ground who yearn for both radical and moderate politics, are in despair at this new competitive non tribal tribalism

  • Laurence Cox 24th Apr '19 - 5:21pm

    @Tony Greaves

    As I said above in reply to Richard Underhill, we have to place ourself in opposition to Farage and paint him as the would-be destroyer of the NHS. Stop thinking in terms of positive things to say about the EU; no-one will listen to us. Negative campaigning works and it is essential that we use it against the Brexit party. Even if we only get 6 seats, if we can at the same time reduce the Brexit party’s vote to below Labour and the Tories that will change the political weather. The biggest danger is the Brexit Party getting the highest vote share as in 2014.

  • Richard O'Neill 24th Apr '19 - 6:23pm

    If this is a trial run for a second referendum as is often suggested (although those being elected to the Euro Parliament would have absolutely no power to bring one about) then surely the vote share would be more important than the number of MEPs elected.

  • Bill le Breton 24th Apr '19 - 7:29pm

    Am I wrong?

    The only way round this is to have a Remain List.

    In each of the regions the list must be headed by a different party representative.

    ie: Region one candidate 1 Party A, candidate 2 Party B, candidate 3 Party C, candidate 4 back to Party A

    Region two candidate 1 Party B, candidate two Party C candidate 3 Party A candidate 4 Party B

    Region three candidate 1 Party C …………………..

    We called it ‘zipping’ in the first set of Euros by this electoral system in order to ensure fair representation of women and men in our successful candidates.

    When is the deadline for lists ? That is the key end date for negotiations.

    It doesn’t matter if Parties have ‘launched’ their lists. They would have to be abandoned in favour of ‘zipped’ three party lists.

    Surely there is no other way … or we end up with the degree of results Tony suggests.

  • Morgan-Ross Inwood 24th Apr '19 - 7:36pm

    An earlier comment mentioned Sainte-Lague which is currently used in Germany for Bundestag Elections and in New Zealand for Parliamentary Elections. Germany prior to adopting Sainte-Lague used another formula called Hare-Neimeyer which I want to mention and raise.

  • Bill le Breton 24th Apr '19 - 7:39pm

    There is an argument for doing a deal of this sort with just ourselves and the Greens; ensuring that CUK got next to zero.

    Perhaps Tony could rework the figures if he used Remain A+B (us and the Gns) and Remain CUK. I take it our combined weight would get more than 6 + 3

  • Peter Watson 24th Apr '19 - 7:56pm

    @Tony Greaves “So can we get back to discussing how to overcome the acute problem we have of the anti-Brexit vote three ways and hardly any candidates getting elected?”
    The elephant in the room is the option of dropping out of the European elections and actively supporting ChUK in England, PC in Wales, and SNP in Scotland.

  • @Tony Greaves 24th Apr ’19 – 4:13pm

    “So can we get back to discussing how to overcome the acute problem we have of the anti-Brexit vote three ways and hardly any candidates getting elected?”

    1. Work hard for the locals between now and May 2nd.

    2. Lib Dems do well in the locals.

    3. Increase our current lead of the pack of Remain parties currently Lib Dem – 9%, Green – 7%, CHUK – 6% on the average of polls conducted in the past three weeks. That’s 50% more people voting for us than CHUK. Also in a yougov poll, if Labour don’t commit to a People’s Vote we go up to 15%, Greens and CHUK stay the same. We got 11 MEPs (one in virtually every region) on 14% of the vote in 2009.

    4. Get more votes from CHUK and the Greens as a result.

    5. Work hard on the ground for the Euros – where one extra vote in every ward across a region could mean an extra MEP elected. Frankly the Greens and CHUK don’t have our ground army.

    6. Our parliamentarians (especially in the Lords who owe a decent “wage” to the party) but MPs also don’t waste their time faffing around in Parliament eating subsidised food or whatever they do but fan out across the country to encourage the ground army.

    7. Our parliamentarians and spokespeople make these points in the media – especially 4

    8. Lib Dems win the European elections – narrowly ahead of the Brexit party.

    9. Lib Dems win the subsequent general election as the Tories and Labour melt down!

    10. We call a People’s Vote. People vote 60% to remain, 40% to leave. (Currently 58%, 42%).

    11. The economy is revitalised and storms ahead as a result

    12. Lib Dems win the 2024 election despite having introduced PR!

    13. We all live happily every after in a tolerant, green, well-educated, prosperous country.


    OK I appreciate that 8 – 12 is a tad optimistic. But I would suggest that 11 Lib Dems one in almost every region which we got in 2009 on 14% of the vote is realistic. But I would suggest that 13 isn’t if achieve that and the next few weeks could be the start of it if we do well. What do we have to loose except a little shoe leather. Let’s go for it folks!

  • Remember Glen the leader of your party stated

    Nigel Farage has suggested that the NHS might have to be replaced by a system of private health insurance within 10 years.

    I do hope you and Peter can afford private health care. The only thing that keeps the Brexiteers together is a desire for Brexit. The fact none of you can agree what Brexit is or should he is irrelevant, it is the only thing left for you to succeed in and justify your life. Of cause when it happens it will be a disaster but it will of cause be someone elses fault. So toddle off, join your fellows in the Brexit party and give the rest of us peace, there only so much stupidity any of us can stand.

  • @Bill le Breton

    “When is the deadline for lists ? That is the key end date for negotiations.”

    Sorry Bill you have to knock up a Tardis for the SW Region (Gibraltar has an extra bank holiday) – nominations for which closed today at 4pm. (If you do manage to construct a Tardis do come back and let us know the result of the Euros!)

    The good news is that for the other regions we have until 4pm tomorrow to conduct these difficult negotiations where we haven’t a clue how CHUK will do in different regions and which CHUK and the Greens have rebuffed anyway!


    As has been said on LDV (I think I first heard Peter Chegwyn say it) in an election you have your opposition (Tories, Labour, Brexit, UKIP) and your competition (Greens and CHUK).

    Much though I have quite a soft spot for them the only option now is to follow the steps I outline and crush CHUK and the Greens (sorry – but they were the ones who were lukewarm towards a pact).

    CHUK are an absolute shower.

    Terrible branding (Change UK – the Independent Group – um… let me try and work that one out as ordinary punter).

    Terrible logo – really 4 lines – what does that signify?

    Terrible planning – I was able to predict the Euros would happen some weeks ago on LDV, they should have got their act together at least as regards contingency planning.

    Terrible launch – Heidi Allen was apologising that the logo on their placards were different colours – I thought that might have been by design. Little coverage – the Brexit party launch led the BBC News – CHUK’s was a third of a package devoted to other things well down the running order. Two candidates have resigned already for historical racist comments on social media which is what come up today if you do google search.

    Terrible website – some nice motherhood and apple pie but little to get excited by. You can’t join the party – just donate to a company supporting it.

    No ground army (the Brexit party in contrast is likely to have pretty much ready assembled one in former UKIP and Tory party activists). They want allegedly to “Change the UK” but wouldn’t back a vote of no confidence in May which is something of a pre-requisite.

    OK not everything has gone wrong but they are not exactly doing very well are they are?

  • Innocent Bystander 24th Apr '19 - 9:19pm

    “NHS might have to be replaced by a system of private health insurance within 10 years.”

    Pretty much inevitable, inside or outside the EU. You don’t seriously think this fools paradise can last forever, do you?
    The British represent 1% of the earth’s population who think they are entitled to unlimited free health care. The other 99% know it’s unaffordable. I expect I will get “we are the sixth richest country in the world” reply which is a ludicrous myth to which many desperately cling when by any calculation this nation is bankrupt.
    The collapse of the NHS will be one of the least of the many hard realities this country will be forced to confront.

  • Innocent Bystander 24th Apr ’19 – 9:19pm……….The British represent 1% of the earth’s populat who think they are entitled to unlimited free health care……..

    Free health care?
    Do you mean to say that my National Insurance contributions and a chunk of my tax hasn’t gone towards paying for healthcare?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 24th Apr '19 - 11:19pm

    David Raw

    My comments were not a lack of respect , and do not deserve your added swipe, about experience or success, if you judge by those, you would not listen to a word from Greta Thunberg on experience , nor most defeated candidates on success.

    You repeat what I read , and that awful approach from the new party in my view could and would have not been so, if from the beginning people on both sides had been keen to engage , our mps were, not many TIG ones though and the words of Lrd Greaves on here, which might have been true or may be now, were not helpful, and therefore we are seeing an appallingly divided centre ground.

  • David Evershed 25th Apr '19 - 12:47am

    Expats is right.

    Healthcare is only free at the point of delivery. You pay for it at other times in other ways.

    Similarly school education is not free.

    Voters notice these things when they come to vote because they pay taxes.

  • Frankie
    I’m a Lib Dem voter, one of the 30% not sold on the EU. Nigel Farage is not the leader of my party. I will not be voting in the EU elections. This is because to me it’s like voting to select a zoo keeper for the dodo enclosure.

  • Plus
    There is a clue in NHS. It is a NATIONAL health service not a European health service. It came into being on July 5th 1948 not November 1st 1993. It has precisely nothing to do with the EU. The idea that the EU protects anything except the EU is wishful thinking.
    What actually protects the NHS is the national electorate, not the former Coal and Steel Community.. If the British electorate voted to privatise the NHS the EU would and could do nothing except insist that private health coverage was the same for citizens of the EU living in Britain..

  • Nonconformistradical 25th Apr '19 - 6:19am

    @Lorenzo Cherin
    “You repeat what I read , and that awful approach from the new party in my view could and would have not been so, if from the beginning people on both sides had been keen to engage , our mps were, not many TIG ones though and the words of Lrd Greaves on here, which might have been true or may be now, were not helpful, and therefore we are seeing an appallingly divided centre ground.”

    Personally I see no interest whatsoever from TIG in the values of liberalism and no reason whatsoever why Lord Greaves and others should not speak their minds here and elsewhere.

    As far as I can see TIG’s only interest in co-operation with others has been of the “we’ll co-operate if you stand aside” variety.

    This is a very different scenario from the Gang of Four and the formation of the SDP/Liberal Alliance. In that case the main defectors from Labour were people of public significance – including perhaps the best home secretary in Roy Jenkins that the country has ever had. Now we are being expected to stand aside for a disparate bunch of nonentities who won’t even say what they stand for.

  • Innocent Bystander 25th Apr '19 - 7:36am

    David Raw,
    You misunderstand. I was not calling for you to voluntarily give up the NHS.
    I was simply predicting that the day is fast approaching when that, and much else you hold dear, will be brutally taken from you. I smile at the naivety of those who tell me that the NHS is guaranteed by the British electorate. The British electorate is fast running out of money, has already lost most of its ability to earn more and has no plausible plans to stop its inevitable decline into poverty.
    Even more naive is the notion that the super rich will have to pay their “fair share of tax”. Their money is well out of reach. Or that international agreements will close offshore tax havens. Our sun will die in 5 billion years so sadly there isn’t enough time left to get such agreements.
    It’s not jaundice, David, it’s just a prediction.

  • Andrew McCaig 25th Apr '19 - 7:40am

    I am afraid it is not a coincidence that when forced to adopt a more proportional system for the EU parliament, Blair and Straw went for the system (Party List) which gave them maximum control over who was elected, and a voting method (dHondt in small constituencies) that gave them and the Tories the biggest advantage over smaller parties.

    The Tiggers are the inheritors of this attitude of entitlement, but may chsnge their tune towards us when harsh reality bites.

  • Innocent Bystander 25th Apr '19 - 7:50am

    BTW expats,
    “Do you mean to say that my National Insurance contributions and a chunk of my tax hasn’t gone towards paying for healthcare?

    But it’s not enough. We all need to pay more, much more and an ever increasing amount of more as medical procedures become ever more expensive and ever more old people need 24/7 care.
    The trouble is that the wealth creating enterprises that employ people who can pay these taxes are disappearing like sand in an hour glass. Brexit is making a bad situation even worse and pretty soon this creaking dam of credit will crack and burst.
    That is all I offer.

  • Bill le Breton 25th Apr '19 - 8:04am

    Michael 1 – thanks for that info. I knew it was risky jumping into a subject that I hadn’t paid much attention to.

    As it happens I do have access to a time machine. It’s a Mark III actually. It doesn’t get much use these days – and was only ever used to explore the ancient history of cricket : https://downatthirdman.wordpress.com/

    Peter was quoting someone else, but I’d need that the Mark Three to track the down the original source.

    The Greens must be hoping that, if these elections go ahead, the present atmosphere is similar to that of 1989. They might be right.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Apr '19 - 8:18am

    The EU elections may be viewed as a proxy for an EU referendum by the commentariat and political activists but I am unsure that it will be a proxy for anything.

    Whether any Labour or Conservative prospective MPs are anti Brexit or in favour of remaining of leaving the EU without a referendum is unknown and given the apathy that usually surrounds the EU elections, is likely to remain so. In 2013 a Yougov poll found that 95% of those polled could not name their MEP.

    Professor John Curtice has pointed out that the increased numbers of those who would now vote remain are made up of people who did not vote in the last referendum. I question how many of those who did not turn out for such a momentous vote, would turn out for another referendum on the same question, let alone an EU election.

    I am also shocked that so many strong remainers are intending not to vote in the election arguing that it as a waste of time and money. I therefore leave it to others to draw some sort of conclusion as to what any vote will really mean rather than be interpreted as what they want it to mean.

    It would of course be better if all remainer parties put their differences to one side and attempted to demonstrate a show of strength of feeling for remaining in the EU, but we now know our politicians are more interested in party survival than country.

    First Tim Farron and then Vince Cable have been talking to what we were led to believe where disgruntled MPs from other parties for a long time, are these one and the same MPs who are now reviled because they have formed an independent party rather than join the Liberal Democrats? Would those on here have welcomed them into the party as a propaganda coup?

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Apr ’19 – 8:18am………. In 2013 a Yougov poll found that 95% of those polled could not name their MEP……………

    This is where Farage and the TIGs have outthought the other parties. They have put up ‘names’ to stand (a Rees-Mogg and an ex Come Dancing darling for Farage and a ‘Johnson’ for the TIGs)..

    Regarding your……….., “First Tim Farron and then Vince Cable have been talking to what we were led to believe where disgruntled MPs from other parties for a long time, are these one and the same MPs who are now reviled because they have formed an independent party rather than join the Liberal Democrats? Would those on here have welcomed them into the party as a propaganda coup?”………….

    Welcomed?? They would have been given the red carpet treatment, as was Rachel Johnson. Rules for admission and MP opportunities were to be waived to get the Johnson name on a LibDem ticket.

  • Katharine Pindar 25th Apr '19 - 9:41am

    TIG/Change UK have not been reviled and should not be now because of one absurd memo. Remember Anna Soubry came to a Fringe meeting at our Spring conference to speak with our deputy leader. There have also been meetings and consultation at Parliamentary level. Divisions appearing now because of the probability of the Euro elections should not be allowed to obscure the views we have in common (insofar as those prevail in the new party) and the possibility of future co-operation. We will surely also have talks with the moderates and centrists in the Tories and Labour during the course of this year which could yield new possibilities of progress.

    For the moment, Bill le Breton’s suggestion at 7.29 pm sounded like a great idea which has apparently been tried before. Is there time for it to be discussed nationally?

  • Katharine Pindar 25th Apr '19 - 9:49am

    PS. But we are not for sale, expats. The welcome given to Rachel Johnson was fine, the idea that she should be fast-forwarded was IMO totally wrong and should not have been suggested by any party figure, but organisational rules and good sense prevailed.

  • David Garlick 25th Apr '19 - 10:35am

    Remain Party 1, 2 and 3 (or more ) must work together and decide which of them is to stand as the lone remain party if each region.
    Do it or face the reality as illustrated.

  • Katharine Pindar 25th Apr ’19 – 9:49am………..PS. But we are not for sale, expats. The welcome given to Rachel Johnson was fine, the idea that she should be fast-forwarded was IMO totally wrong and should not have been suggested by any party figure, but organisational rules and good sense prevailed…………………..

    Katharine, this party was ”bought and sold’ in 2010 and those who were responsible have moved onto lucrative positions in the private sector; a sector where they showed themselves most at home.
    As for Rachel Johnson, I’m not sure what prevailed but the fact that such ‘fast tracking’ merited support on here was an indication that this party is not above such antics .

    Regarding your “TIG/Change UK have not been reviled and should not be now because of one absurd memo.”….It wasn’t just one memo; there have been quite a few anti-LibDem comments from those TIG MPs.

    BTW, I asked about what senior member of this party was authorised to ‘approach’ the TIGs. I’m still waiting; or is that a secret?

  • Peter Watson 25th Apr '19 - 11:17am

    @Jayne Mansfield “I am also shocked that so many strong remainers are intending not to vote in the election arguing that it as a waste of time and money.”
    This raises an important problem for the unambiguously Remain parties (in England, anyway).

    The European elections are likely to be presented/interpreted/reported as a proxy for a second referendum. It looks like the Brexit-supporting parties will do well. Even if they do not they can still depict a low turnout as evidence that the country is not interested in being part of the EU political project.

    Remainers probably need a “win” with a high turnout, neither of which look likely (and are not helped by the timing for mobilising students). Perhaps an all-out positive and energetic campaign that includes standing aside for and supporting another Remain party could change that, but otherwise maybe the best strategy now is a low-key approach, preparing excuses and explanations for why the outcome should not be interpreted as an argument for Brexit, and instead focus on the local elections.

    Unfortunately I can’t see a realistic alternative to that counsel of despair! 🙁

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Apr '19 - 5:15pm

    @ Peter Watson,
    Me neither.

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