Grayling: I’d rather face 56 SNP MPs than 57 Liberal Democrats

Yes, you read right. Chris Grayling did say that, not on lobby terms to a journalist but in front of the entire world in the Commons this afternoon.

His comments came during the debate on the Government’s plans to railroad through English Votes for English Laws secured by our Alistair Carmichael. He used an obscure Commons device to discuss the process rather than EVEL itself.

The Government basically chickened out of the vote today. They were heavily defeated by 291 to just 2. The vote isn’t binding but the Government’s plans sounded more ill-considered and incoherent as the debate wore on.

A vote is scheduled to take place on amendments to Commons standing orders which would prevent MPs from outside England voting  on matters deemed by the Speaker to be English only. This, Carmichael and many other speakers argued, was tantamount to foisting a massive Constitutional reform on the UK without proper scrutiny.

The Government is doing it this way because it knows that its plans would come unstuck in the Lords if it tried to do it by primary legislation.

But back to Grayling’s comments about preferring the SNP to the Liberal Democrats. It’s hardly a surprise. If the Lib Dems had 57 MPs, the Tories wouldn’t have a majority and would not be able to inflict this and many other types of prejudice-stirring measures on us.

This is what he said to the SNP’s Pete Wishart:

Let me also say to him and his colleagues that I regard their presence in the House as a great asset. I would much rather have them than 57 Liberal Democrats.

Journalists are finally working this out. In today’s Scotsman, David Maddox wrote:

Those who cursed Danny Alexander and his colleagues before the election may wish to pause to think – maybe they were right, and they really did hold back the Tories.

A bit late, but a welcome recognition that we did some good.

Alistair’s success this afternoon shows that, as at Holyrood, Lib Dems can still make an impact even with massively depleted numbers.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • David Pollard 7th Jul '15 - 7:14pm

    Well done Alistair to win with such a huge majority. However what the debate showed is how a Government with a majority can fiddle parliament almost at will.
    Also, its good that the press is beginning to get the point about the coalition. Thousands of people already have – and joined the LibDems as a result.

  • Craig Morrison 7th Jul '15 - 8:06pm

    Seems to me that Lib Dems are now getting the credit for what they did in government, sadly people didn’t see this before the election and I fear that the poorest in our society will pay a harder price tomorrow than the Libs Dems did at the election.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Jul '15 - 8:23pm

    Danny Alexander was on the BBV TV Daily Politics today, 7/7/2015.

    He was open to ideas about MPs job sharing.

    A Green had wanted to stand on this basis for the Commons in Basingstoke, but had been rejected by the Electoral Commission.. She said they had taken legal advice and suggested half a vote each. Her second preference was vote together if you agree and abstain if you disagree, but “a lot of votes are whipped ” (in the Green Party?).

    There was no mention of a consultation on this by a south-east Liberal Democrat euro-candidate, number 3 on the list.

    Danny Alexander does not want to go the Lords, but has made no other decisions.

    There was a clip of Harriet Harman calling him “a ginger rodent”.

  • Philip Vial 7th Jul '15 - 10:42pm

    The problem was never that the Lib Dems didn’t do anything good in the last Government. The problem was that they rolled over on tuition fees, made themselves seem untrustworthy, then cuddled up to Cameron in the first two years. By the time they’d changed the strategy it was too late.

  • I hope this goes in thousands of leaflets north of the border.

  • When are we going to stop talking about the past and start talking about the future?

  • Richard Underhill 8th Jul '15 - 10:46am

    Today is Budget Day. Let us see whether the Chancellor and First Minister increases tuirion fees, as rumoured.

  • Kevin McNamara 8th Jul '15 - 11:19am

    @Philip Vial

    Same-sex marriage, pupil premium, green investment bank, £10k tax threshold, mental health waiting time… not positive?,

  • Five years of enabling Tory government, Tory economics and Tory policies and the you want credit for not letting a little bit more Tory through? No-one is going to credit the Lib Dem’s with “holding the Tories back” because there was no option for a Tory government in 2010; the Lib Dems didn’t “hold them back” they let the Tories enact vastly more of their legislation than they would have done without Lib Dem assistance.

    Until the Lib Dems recognise simple truths like these about their time in government then it will never win back those supporters it lost in May.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Jul '15 - 12:58pm


    Five years of enabling Tory government, Tory economics and Tory policies and the you want credit for not letting a little bit more Tory through?

    Isn’t that what is called “democracy”? I.e. you accept what the people voted for. The people voted for five times as many Conservative MPs as Liberal Democrat MPs, and just to make it clear, a year later voted by two-to-one to support the distortion which gave us that on the grounds it was a good thing.

    If people didn’t want the only government that could have been formed from the Parliament elected in May 2010, they should have shouted out for electoral reform so that we had a more representative Parliament. They didn’t, they did the opposite. Labour loudly supported the distortion which means the party which gets the most votes gets many more seats than its share of votes. If we follow what Labour said in the AV referendum (or at least those Labour people who said anything), then what we should have had was a complete Conservative government, and the LibDems were bad people when they did stop some aspects of it, rather than bad people for not stopping more of it.

  • Stephen Campbell 8th Jul '15 - 1:42pm

    @Kevin McNamara: “Same-sex marriage, pupil premium, green investment bank, £10k tax threshold, mental health waiting time… not positive?,”

    Mental health services have actually become worse under the coalition. As someone who has mental health issues, I’m now having to wait longer between appointments, I never get to see the same Psychiatrist any more and I’m still, after two years, waiting to be seen for talking therapy.

    For all your party’s boasting of improving mental health services, it simply didn’t happen, at least not in my area.

  • Tony Dawson 8th Jul '15 - 6:26pm

    @Matthew Huntbach:

    “If people didn’t want the only government that could have been formed from the Parliament elected in May 2010,….”

    Matthew, that is uncharacteristically sloppy of you. We could have had any number of minority government permutations or even a Coalition which was run in a minimalist consensus manner rather than an uneven ‘horse trading’ and ‘back-slapping’ model.

  • Tony Dawson 8th Jul '15 - 6:29pm

    @Carl Gardner:

    ” Commons procedures are governed by Standing Orders, and that’s the obvious thing to amend if you want to change those procedures. ”

    You are being deliberately disingenuous. The matter being altered here is a constitutional one, not a purely procedural one. “Which votes count” and “Who can participate” are NOT purely procedural matters. You know that.

  • Paul In Wokingham 9th Jul '15 - 12:15am

    @Kevin Macnamara – Philip doesn’t say that the Lib Dems didn’t do anything good: he says that they did but it had no impact because strategic and tactical errors of judgment by the leadership in the first two years had the effect of nullifying any and all positive achievements in the eyes of the electorate.

  • David Faggiani 9th Jul '15 - 10:47am

    I don’t think Chris Grayling meant it that way. I think he was just insulting us.

  • Nick Osbourne 9th Jul '15 - 10:29pm

    I wouldn’t worry about Chris Grayling too much…
    He would both feel and say that wouldn’t he?
    All the more reason for Liberal Democrats to move on and re-build a radical ALTERNATIVE to
    Conservative and Labour.
    As for the SNP, I admit to a grudging respect for them coming back after the narrow referendum result
    with their Westminster triumph. I’m only sorry it took some Brilliant Scottish Liberal Democrat MP’s .
    Their rout of Labour there was well-deserved.

  • Caron keep ignoring the facts and maintain your hatred of the SNP.
    50 percent of Scots are wrong and Caron is right.

    P.S. It will be a long, long time before anyone faces 20 LibDems never mind 57. I look forward to the wipeout of the LibDems at Holyrood. The Tory alignment will be long remembered in Scotland – not just at Westminster but as their puppets during the Referendum. I don’t think many people feel Better Together now.

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