What will the impact be of Thursday?

The House Magazine has a new feature out looking at the likely political fallout from Thursday’s elections and referendum. It looks at both a Yes or a No vote, including this from me on future Lib Dem / Labour relations:

At the launch of the Yes2AV campaign, a tantalising glimpse into the future was offered for those who dream of a unification of the progressive left. On the stage at Methodist Central Hall sat Labour leader Ed Miliband, Green leader Caroline Lucas, and Liberal Democrat stalwarts Charles Kennedy and Shirley Williams. And Tim Farron, Lib Dem party president and a likely future leadership contender, was there too. However, Mark Pack, co-editor of Lib Dem Voice, warns against reading too much into the apparent bonhomie. “Coalitions are driven by parliamentary arithmetic far more than by politicians’ own preferences,” Pack says. “So the answer really depends on the public rather than how relations between politicians are affected by the referendum.

It also quotes Olly Grender on the possible policy implications of a No vote:

If the referendum is lost, then disgruntled Lib Dem backbenchers will be keen to contribute to a ‘shopping list’ for Nick Clegg to take to David Cameron. Insiders say the plans to reform the NHS will become a priority, while proposals for reform of the Upper House will be published at the end of the month. Olly Grender, former communications chief for the Lib Dems, sets out the desired gains from the NHS and Social Care Bill:

“There should be clear safeguards regarding the issue of competition and the private sector, and funding should be secured on the understanding that reform and reduction are impossible to achieve together,” Grender argues. “There should also be a change of pace regarding the introduction of GP consortia.” Further goals, says Grender, should include “a faster drive towards the increased threshold of £10,000 helping people on lowest incomes during the toughest times”, while greater safeguards of critical public services – “whilst continuing to try to pay down the deficit” – should, she says, be put in place. On top of House of Lords reform, Grender argues, climate change and social mobility need greater emphasis.

I’ve talked in more detail about what to watch out for in Thursday’s results in this YouTube clip:

(I recorded the video for my regular email newsletter about the Liberal Democrats. You can sign up to receive them by email yourself here.)

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  • “What will the impact be of Thursday?”

    It doesn’t really matter which voting system is used anymore when politcians break signed pledges.

    I shall ‘Vote No.’

    Now remove my comment.

  • Heh. Labour: Progressive left.

    Comedy gold.

  • @RichardSM

    Hope you feel better for your verbal fit.

    If we lose the AV referendum on Thursday, we groan disappointedly, shrug our shoulders and go back to work on Friday.

  • Emsworthian 4th May '11 - 7:58pm

    Back to the drawing board and start over. A very badly managed campaign
    left us fighting for a ‘miserable little compromise’ we never believed
    in from the start. We knew it, the voters know it. What else?

  • Old Codger Chris 4th May '11 - 10:45pm

    If Olly Grender is right about a backbenchers’ shopping list this might prove much more valuable than AV.

    Except that I don’t see why Cameron would find it necessary to make any concessions. Even if his party would let him. He promised a referendum and delivered.

  • John Fraser 4th May '11 - 11:18pm

    Fully agree with Old Codger if losing AV rewkens the Lib Dems collective concience that might not be a bad thing. The Conservatives need to make concessions as they are currently fairly likely to lose an immediate election. Either Cleggs negotiating game has been amaturish and appauling or he actually agrees with much of the Tory nonsense. Either way if he continues to be a push over surely time for you guys to get a new party leader ?

  • The Tories are in no mood to make concessions, nor do they need to. I think Olly Grender is living in fantasy land. Without the shield of AV and with dreadful opinion polls Lib Dem MP’s know that most of them would lose their seats if there was a snap election. They are not going to vote for the end of their own political careers. Cameron has effectively neutralised them and Clegg’s ‘strategy’ has been shown up for the foolish exercise in wishful thinking that it is. Any ‘concessions’ that are made on the NHS ‘reforms’ will be purely based on Tory instincts for electoral self-preservation. And I wouldn’t hold your breathe on an elected Lords.

  • Hmmm….

    After this set of elections, we could see a more secure Labour Party, a rejuvinated SNP, the Greens doing well in Scotland. There then might just be enough of a bind for the “rainbow coalition” to revive itself (minus Clegg, though, who’d be packed off to Brussels as the compromise.)

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th May '11 - 2:02pm

    The poor nature of the “Yes” campaign is yet another example of the incompetency of those at the top of our party. They are just making mistake after mistake in presentation. You can see my own comments in various places in Liberal Democrat Voice warning in advance of what the mistakes were, though I’m not the only one. Deborah Orr in today’s Guardian G2 supplement manages – as she always does, spookily so – to get it exactly right. Anyone who thinks Clegg is “doing the best he can under difficult circumstances” should read Orr’s article.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th May '11 - 2:16pm

    As to what should be done, assuming the polls are right.

    Immediately – nothing. At least, in public. Any sort of reaction would seem like sour grapes.

    In private, prepare to ditch Clegg and all those advising him on presentation. He may be a nice person, but he’s a walking disaster as party leader. Don’t do it immediately, obviously, just start the ball rolling.

    Slowly, build up the defence on the lines “Well, don’t blame us, you voted for it”. This to be used against anyone who moans about UK politics. Anyone who uses the “you jumped into bed with the Tories” line, again “Well, the Tories won the election First Past the Post, and Britain has voted to endorse that system, if you don’t like it, you should have voted ‘Yes'”. As Deborah Orr is saying in today’s Guardian, this is the line we should have been using all along since May 2010 – “Don’t blame us, Britain voted for it we’re just agreeing to what people voted for”. We can use that line even more convincingly now because the defence “but the Tories only gained … of the vote” (whatever it was, much less than 50%) no longer holds up given that Britain has voted (if the polls are correct) to endorse the position of biggest wins all regardless of whether they have a true majority.

    Be clear on this, for ANYONE who publicly endorsed “No” in the referendum, we should run their noses in it – by voting “No” they endorsed the “First Past the Post” principle, and by that principle David Cameron has every right to run the country exactly as he and the Conservatives want, so they are utter hypocrites if they dare utter any criticism of us for our supposed involvement in allowing that.

  • Be clear on this, for ANYONE who publicly endorsed “No” in the referendum, we should run their noses in it – by voting “No” they endorsed the “First Past the Post” principle, and by that principle David Cameron has every right to run the country exactly as he and the Conservatives want, so they are utter hypocrites if they dare utter any criticism of us for our supposed involvement in allowing that.

    Oh dear – So lets get this clear – None of this is liberal democrats fault – It’s everyone else that’s to blame.

    Incidentally, by the sentence above you agree with the fact that David Cameron and the conservatives are implementing all their policies as is their right and your just there to support them.

    That portion rings true

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th May '11 - 9:49am


    Oh dear – So lets get this clear – None of this is liberal democrats fault – It’s everyone else that’s to blame.

    Er, didn’t you read my third paragraph? I think this is a very strong acceptance that it is “liberal democrats” fault, at least as the media use the term “Liberal Democrats” which is they think of it as meaning primarily its leader and those surrounding and advising him, just assuming the rest of us blindly follow and agree with him. But I would blame the party as a whole for electing him as Leader, and letting him get away with all his mistakes in presentation which have brought us to this point. I have used Liberal Democrat Voice and other channels throughout the time he first stood as leader to argue against all this. I clearly warned before he was elected that I felt Clegg would be a disaster as a leader. I clearly warned that I felt our general election campaign was going wrong. I clearly warned that though I accepted the formation of the coaltion out of necessity, the way our leadership presented it was all wrong and would damage us. I clearly warned that the way we were putting the “Yes to AV” case was wrong and would lose us the vote. In all of these, I spelt out the very different way I felt we should be presenting our case.

    All of my advice was for free. How much are the PR peopel and ad-men advising those at the top so disastrously getting paid for it?

  • @John Brace

    That is just not true – the provision for 75 local parties passing resolutions calling for a leadership election applies regardless of whether they are in government or not.

    Even if it didn’t I’d suggest that if 75 local parties passed motions calling on the leader to resign then any leader would pretty much find their position untenable.

    How do people answer the question, is Nick Clegg the best person to sell the message to get the supporters we’ve lost back on board? Many of them are not opposed to the coalition per-se – they are opposed to the way we have acted in government

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