LDV survey: 84% reject idea of any electoral arrangement with the Conservatives

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of a variety of key issues, and what you make of the Lib Dems’ and Government’s performance to date. Almost 600 party members have responded, and we’re currently publishing the full results of our survey.

The possibility of a non-aggression electoral pact between the Lib Dems and Conservatives has been proposed by some of the more credulous political journalists (for instance, Jim Pickard in the FT here) – so we thought we’d take the temperature of Lib Dem Voice-reading party members.

There have been some suggestions that, if the Coalition holds until 2015, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats should consider some form of electoral arrangement: perhaps the Conservatives might not stand against all Lib Dems and vice versa, or there could even be joint ‘Coalition candidates’. What best describes your view of any such arrangement:

    3% – We should actively encourage an electoral arrangement with the Conservatives in 2015, including standing down Lib Dems in some seats.
    9% – We should be open to the idea of an electoral arrangement with the Conservatives in 2015 so long as the Lib Dems contest all seats.
    84% – We should reject any suggestion of an electoral arrangement with the Conservatives and fight the next election in all seats as a party independent of either Conservatives or Labour.
    2% – Other
    1% – Don’t know / No opinion

I think we can call that a pretty decisive result, with an overwhelming majority rejecting any suggestion of a non-aggression pact, and just 3% suggesting the party should be prepared to stand down in favour of the Tories in some seats.

Interestingly, our sample of party members contrasts with ConservativeHome’s survey of registered readers, which suggested more than half of Tories were at least open to the idea of a non-aggression oact if it proved necessary.

Here’s a sample of your comments:

Any form of arrangement like that and the party is dead.

This is not a liberal government, it is a government with some liberalism. Fighting all seats allows us to argue fr a greater liberal input in the next Parliament and, if the result works out in favour of a coalition, within the next government.

Let’s see what evolves organically over the next five years, without closing off any options

I’m astonished this has been asked as a serious question. There is no way this would or should happen. I am happy to accept a coalition but if there was an electoral arrangement then that would be the thing that perhaps stopped me working for the party (and I’m a councillor)

If the alternative vote was in operation this question would be unnecessary.

We are a separate party with very different policies to the Conservatives. I supported the formation of a coalition in May, but the parties must remain completely separate.

Bollocks on stilts. Anyone even thinking about a pact has boiled their head in a vat of LSD.

You can access all the results of past Lib Dem Voice surveys of party members here.

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43 Comments

  • Mark Wilson 30th Aug '10 - 9:02am

    I am very glad that this issue has come up, and heartened by the response. I would go further. The eyes and the ears of Britain will be scrutinising much, much more closely the decisions taken at the next Lib Dem Conference. It is vital for the sanctity of the party not to allow the Fedaral Party Committee to supress genuine descent on issues that Lib Dems feel passionately that Lib Dem MP’s in the Coalition Govt are in danger of, or have already crossed the rubicon. It could be much easier for Coalition Lib Dem MP’s to advocate not rocking the boat than you might think. This could potentially be damaging for Liberal Democracy itself if given the right sceanrio these MP’s are not challenged. It would be supreme arrogance if Coaltion Lib Dem MP’s totally ignored the Lib Dem rank and file.
    But just a message to thos MP’s who fear they having nothing to worry about . Just because Lib Dem members have not extensively used their power to deselect their MP does not mean that cannot happen. As a former Lib Councillor perhaps guilty of not working hard enough in my ward I was deselected.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 30th Aug '10 - 9:22am

    The trouble is, the people who will really decide this are not the party members now, but the Members of Parliament in late 2014.

  • Simon Hughes has already made it quite clear to the press that standing down in some seats would violate the party constitution. Everyone should have the opportunity to vote for a Liberal Democrat.

    If we were to change the constitution and stand down in some seats, I believe the Liberal party might see a bit of a resurgance!

  • How preposterous to even contemplate this. You may as well say that you should merge the two parties!

    Since WHEN are the Lib Dems so keen on the Conservatives? I thought this was a short marriage of convenience, but the idea of acting like one party at the next election presupposes that it’s a long term arrangement. Why would such a thing be necessary and why are you asking such daft questions?

    I’ve voted Lib Dem all my life. Unlikely I’ll bother from now on. Will probably vote Green!

  • I voted the second option mainly because we cannot tell another party what to do. No internal triple lock can influence another party’s behaviour, unfortunately.

  • Paul McKeown 30th Aug '10 - 10:26am

    @Jane

    Your comment lacks all logic: 84% of LD members were against the idea. The idea comes from Conservative sources, for them it seems a good idea as they think it would guarantee them the next government. Labour, of course, has been playing up the idea, as it is good anti-Lib Dem propaganda. Liberal Democrats won’t support the idea, as it would be the end of the party’s independent existence. Support the Greens by all means, but do so because you support their policies (and I suspect you will loathe them if you study them carefully), not because you have fallen from some half-baked idea media played out in the Conservative supporting media.

  • Rabi Martins 30th Aug '10 - 10:35am

    @Jane
    Liberal Democrats did the right thing by our country and prevented the Tories forming a minoirity administration
    You dont reward that by walking away !

    So where has this talk of a pact with the Tories come from – ? only the media and Labour leadership contenders.
    I certainly have not heard Nick suggest this and Simon Hughes has categorilcally ruled it out
    I know the majority of the Party is with Simon

    My only regret is that so many of our MPs have taken up Ministerial posts in government and thereby got themselves locked into “collective responsibility”
    Thus the number of MPs who can speak up against Tory policies is rather small
    That puts the onus to promote Liberal Democrats policies and oppose Tory squarely policies being pushed through by the coalition on Liberal Democrats councillors and other members
    We have a duty to the Party to speak up for Liberal Democrats policies which we know from the increased support we got in the last General Election is what the country wants
    And that is because our policies are based on a genuine intention to “put the people first”
    The country needs a strong Liberal Democrats voice now more than it has ever done. Our MPs in governemnt need us to speak up for the Party because they cannot

  • Anthony Aloysius St 30th Aug '10 - 11:35am

    “Liberal Democrats did the right thing by our country and prevented the Tories forming a minoirity administration”

    ??? ? ?? ? ???

  • Liberal Democrats are probably more aware of the history of their party than either Labour or the Conservatives are of theirs; and one of the parts of that history is the disastrous rôle played by electoral pacts in bringing about the collapse of the Liberals. If one must dance with the Conservatives, it is best to do it at arms’ length and with gloves on; like the black widow spider and the praying mantis, the Conservatives have a bad habit of devouring mates who get too close.

  • People with long memories will recall just how difficult it was arranging such an electoral deal between The Liberals & The SDP, 2 parties with huge amounts of policy & philosophy in common. Tying to repeat that with the Tories would be a practical impossibility.
    The exception might be the case of City Mayors, elected partly as individuals & with a very limited range of powers.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 30th Aug '10 - 1:00pm

    “the Conservatives have a bad habit of devouring mates who get too close”

    I think we should leave the allegations about the Foreign Secretary out of this.

  • Rabi Martins 30th Aug '10 - 1:03pm

    @ Paul

    No – there can be NO circumstances in which we stand down in favour of the Tories — none what so ever

    @ Anthony

    You point being ???????????/

  • Jane isn’t the piece showing that virtually everyone agrees with you? This is a coalition and not a merger. Seeing both Lib Dems and Tories on ballot papers will make this clear one hope to all but the most credulous of people.

    We have been doing rather well in local by-elections against the Tories in reccent months as well.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 30th Aug '10 - 3:31pm

    “You point being ???????????/”

    Let’s just say that the Lib Dems prevented the Tories forming a minority administration in rather the same way as the missionary prevented the cannibal from having an empty stomach.

  • So what happens if we lose the AV vote and carry on at current opinion ratings. Labour going for a scorched earth policy and planning to reverese the coalitions reforms on ID Cards, civil liberties etc.
    Would the idea that the Tories stand down in say 50 of our seats and we do try same for them still be so unacceptable?

  • Paul McKeown 30th Aug '10 - 4:28pm

    @Smcg

    Deal with hypotheticals when and if they should actually arise?

    As it is “Lib/Lab” was the Tory line against the Lib Dems for decades. There is no point needlessly handing Labour a “Lib/Con” stick to beat the LDs with, is there?

  • Hopeful Cynic 30th Aug '10 - 5:59pm

    If I’m reading this right, someone’s taken offence at a question in a survey? It’s not the Lib Dems contemplating the notion of merging with the Tories, rather just LDV gauging the opinion of a notion that’s been floating around in the media. 84% of Lib Dem members who replied rejected the idea, so it’s not going to happen.

  • I write as a supporter of the Coalition. As a party which has long campaigned for electoral reform we must accept that the likely outcome of most ( if indeed not all) elections under a fairer system is government by coalition. However, in this context our political and negotiating strength must surely be related to our independence. Any pact with the Tories or Labour removes that. We have been down this route before with the Liberal Nationals and we shouldn’t forget that in 1951 only one of our six MPS (Jo Grimond) was returned against both Labour and Tory opposition. The one gain, Bolton West, was the result of a formal pact with the Tories. I would much rather have a taxi’s worth of Liberal Democrat MPs who were independent than a coachload who were in debt to the Tories.

  • Paul McKeown 30th Aug '10 - 7:51pm

    @Paul Hunt

    “I would much rather have a taxi’s worth of Liberal Democrat MPs who were independent than a coachload who were in debt to the Tories.”

    Absolutely on the money.

  • Liberal Neil 30th Aug '10 - 8:19pm

    I’m surprised it is only 84% against!

  • Patrick Smith 30th Aug '10 - 9:10pm

    There should not be any `coupon’ or `pact’ with the Tories by dint of this pragmatic `Coalition Government’ that has the momentum for liberal reform until 2015.

    The Country needs a strong and independent Liberal Democrat Party with its own progressive manifesto commitment to liberty, justice,`fair votes’,cleaning up politics, electoral reform and cleaner and safer environment.

  • Matthew Huntbach 31st Aug '10 - 12:08am

    As with a lot of press comment on our party, it’s difficult to tell whether it’s ignorance, comfort zone or softening us up.

    Ignorance – they really do think that “electoral pact” is going to be reasonably popular in our party and only a few “rebels” woudl oppose it.

    Comfort zone – they know it isn’t really like that, but they’re desperate for politics to get back to the nice easy two-party system they understand, so they’ll report it as if it is and try and push it that way.

    Softening us up – they really do want to destroy us, so they’re doing this in order to do so. They’ll go on and on about this being the sensible line, and that only a fool would oppose an electoral pact. Then anyone who has a lead position in our party and who says anything against an electoral pact will be reported as a “left-wing rebel”, and subject to the usual line of personal denunciation that the right-wing press gives to “left wing rebels”. Meanwhile, anyone in our party who says something in favour of it will be praised as “intelligent”, “someone to watch out for”, “obviously leadership material” etc etc. After five years of this, they hope enough of our members will believe their propaganda to have some truth in it in to make it happen.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 31st Aug '10 - 8:54am

    “There’s nothing the Parliamentary party can do to stop my local party from putting forward a candidate at the next general election, …”

    Just as there’s nothing to stop the Lib Dem conference this year throwing out all the policy changes that Clegg and Co have made unilaterally. But we know perfectly well it’s not going to happen. Just as we know that Clegg will take not a blind bit of notice of the conduct of the coalition.

    The point is that if the MPs look at the polls in 2014 and decide that a pact is necessary if they are to keep their jobs, then there will be a pact, and maverick candidates put up by local members will have about as much relevance as those continuing “Liberal” candidates who occasionally stand and pick up a few dozen votes.

  • Ian Sanderson 31st Aug '10 - 9:41am

    I think the figures show that 93% of the responders are against arrangements which would involve LibDem candidates standing standing done in favour of Conservatives. This is a far cry from the sort of electoral pacts that existed pre-1960 (to which, in the 1950s, 2 out of 5 Liberal MPs owed their seats). Of course, if the electorate gets AV, any sort of pact becomes pointless, except as a way of conserving resources.

    Mainland parties rarely contest seats in Northern Ireland. We have a longstanding affiliation with Alliance there. The Tories have renewed their former pact with the Ulster Unionists. In the 1970s Labour withdrew from NI in favour of the SDLP, thus handing the Protestant working class mostly to the DUP.

    Ian

  • Darren Reynolds 31st Aug '10 - 11:06am

    The poll is laughable, really. Can you imagine if some deal were cooked up in the corridors of Parliament to stand Lib Dems down in certain constituencies? Anywhere there’s a local party at all would simply ignore the deal and stand anyway! It’s a complete nonsense for anyone to think it is even possible.

  • Patrick Smith wrote:-
    ‘The Country needs a strong and independent Liberal Democrat Party with its own progressive manifesto commitment to liberty, justice,`fair votes’,cleaning up politics, electoral reform and cleaner and safer environment.’

    I totally agree, so when IS that going to happen? maybe we need a ‘left-wing rebel’ as Matthew Huntbach puts it to put us on the right track (again)

  • Alex Macfie 31st Aug '10 - 6:08pm

    if the MPs look at the polls in 2014 and decide that a pact is necessary if they are to keep their jobs, then there will be a pact, and maverick candidates put up by local members will have about as much relevance as those continuing “Liberal” candidates who occasionally stand and pick up a few dozen votes.

    You clearly don’t understand the Lib Dems do you? We are not the sort of party where the leadership can decide unilaterally what goes for the party against the objections of the party grassroots. You do know about the “triple-lock” mechanism don’t you? If a pact were to happen, then it would be linked to the Lib Dems splitting into a few people close to the leadership, and the rest of the party. It would be the ones participating in the pact who would drift into irrelevance, since they would become indistinguishable from the Tories within 2-3 general elections. The opponents of pre-election deals would take a hit in the short term, but would recover. How do I know this would happen? It’s what happened with the National Liberals (which became first a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Conservatives, then formally merged with them; now there’s no trace of them, while the Liberals who remained independent, survived).

  • Alex Macfie 31st Aug '10 - 6:11pm

    Of course, if the electorate gets AV, any sort of pact becomes pointless

    Not quite. There would be a lot of ignorant talk of deals around second preferences. I would not be able to accept such arrangements, any more than I could accept a pact involving standing aside in each other’s seats under FPTP.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 31st Aug '10 - 6:53pm

    “We are not the sort of party where the leadership can decide unilaterally what goes for the party against the objections of the party grassroots.”

    I can only assume I missed the democratic procedure by which the grassroots approved the wholesale abandonment of party policy since the general election!

    It’s amazing that people still haven’t got the idea. What happens – for all your talk of the party constitution and grassroots democracy – is that the leadership decides what the party line is going to be, the leadership then announces that line to the public in a fanfare of publicity and rams the point home for the next few months, and finally the party is given the opportunity of rubber-stamping that decision.

    What on earth makes you think it would be any different if the party’s MPs decided an electoral pact was the only way that most of them could hang on to their jobs?

  • Mike(The Labour one) 31st Aug '10 - 8:41pm

    @Paul Griffiths: “We’ve been in secret discussions and *this* is the programme we’ve agreed on. Vote it through.” The Lib Dems are in thrall to Clegg and co. They’ve got you thinking that compromise means agreeing with the Tories just like they do, and that the positions you used to agree with are suddenly “deficit denial” and what have you.

    It’s interesting that the Lib Dems don’t want an electoral pact- but the majority of Tory members polled do, something like 60-odd percent I think it was. So the Tory grassroots like what they’ve seen of the Lib Dems in parliament far more than the Lib Dem grassroots of the Tories. More support for the idea that the Lib Dems are enjoying a shot in the arm from Tory tactical voters suddenly open to the idea of voting Coalition- sorry, Lib Dem.

  • @Mike(The Labour one): No, it’s because some Tories are quite keen on the idea of recruiting a new generation of “National Liberals”. And nearly all Lib Dems are horrified at that idea.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 31st Aug '10 - 9:45pm

    Paul

    “Your last two comments, for example, were complete cock. … Are you feeling well?”

    Careful – if you were a supporter of another party that’s the kind of comment that might be removed by the moderator! Did I touch a nerve?

    But seriously, all this talk about party democracy is all very well, but do you really believe it? If so, maybe you can give me an example of a significant issue on which the leadership hasn’t succeeded in bouncing the party into following the line it wanted, in the couple of years since Clegg took over.

    And that was when the party was in opposition. You’re dealing with the Deputy Prime Minister and Lord President Of The Council now. Please get a little bit real…

  • Matthew Huntbach 31st Aug '10 - 10:03pm

    Anthony Aloysius St

    The point is that if the MPs look at the polls in 2014 and decide that a pact is necessary if they are to keep their jobs, then there will be a pact, and maverick candidates put up by local members will have about as much relevance as those continuing “Liberal” candidates who occasionally stand and pick up a few dozen votes.

    No, the Liberal Democrats have a clear constitution which sets out what it is to be a Liberal Democrat candidate. The Liberal Democrat MPs acting on their own have no right under that constitution to stop candidates standing in other constituencies from being official Liberal Democrat candidates. If they wanted a pact to be made, they would have to get it agreed through the party’s democratic channels. Why would members of the Liberal Democrats in other constituencies agree to that? They have maybe spent all their adult lives building up the Liberal Democrats in their patch, and you think if an MP from another patch comes along and says “please destroy your life’s work by not standing a candidate so that I can keep my job” they will say “OK, will do”?

    Liberal Democrat MPs only exist because there are Liberal Democrat activists who work to get them votes. Do you think people would have spent so much of their own time and money on the party to see it become a wing of the Conservative Party? If we had wanted such a thing, we would have joined the Conservative Party in the first place. Such a pact would mean the Liberal Democrats would exist only as a serious force in those few seats won in 2010 by the Liberal Democrats and those few Labour ones where the LibDems came second, and in effect be a brand name for the Conservative Party in those seats.

    I think even if a few Liberal Democrat MPs were desperate enough to think that way, the local activists in their constituencies would desert them. So, it seems if a few MPs split off from the party and stand as “National Liberal Democrats” and rely on Conservative Party activists and Conservative Party money to get re-elected, you would say everyone else in the party is a “maverick”?

    OK, if that were to happen the right-wing press would probably join you. The Westminster bubble commentariat would join you because they are clueless about politics on the ground, they think politics is all about the leaders in Westminster, so if a leader splits off and forms his own party, that’s the “real” party to them. But we’ve been through all that – it’s how the press reported what happened in 1988 when their hero David Owen went off and formed his own party. It was painful, the press shamefully put out extremely biased propaganda as “news”, but we won out in the end – Owen and his minute band (consisting at grassroots mainly of the sort of person it was helpful to lose) were shown up for what they were, and the party which the vast majority of ordinary members (and almost every serious local campaigner) stayed with won through, even though not one part of the press was on our side.

  • Matthew Huntbach 31st Aug '10 - 10:17pm

    Anthony Aloysius S

    I can only assume I missed the democratic procedure by which the grassroots approved the wholesale abandonment of party policy since the general election!

    Most party members could see that the arithmetic of the Commons and the situation the election left us in meant a Conservatve-LibDem coalition was the only really viable option. Most members can also accept that the junior partner in a coalition cannot get all it wants, and must allow through a lot of what it doesn’t want. It is a mark of the seriousness of Liberal Democrat activists that the coalition was almost universally accepted when it was formed. Some of us greatly regreted that we had been forced by circumstances into it, but it’s basic democracy – the people of this country elected more Conservative MPs than MPs of any other party, and not enough Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs to make that a viable coalition even if Labour were willing, which they were not. You have to accept what the people voted for, even if it’s not what you want yourself.

    I am one of those, I have publicly argued the coalition had to be accepted on those grounds. But that does not mean I will throw away the 32 years of my life and thousands of pounds of my money I have put into building up our country’s third party. So your idea that I, and other like me, would just meekly say “OK, we’ll form a pact with our Tories and stop fighting elections except where theTories let us” is COMPLETE AND CLUELESS RUBBISH.

    If I feel Mr Clegg has gone too far, I will do what I can to remove him. He must justify what he has done in front of his party’s membership. I appreciate he has been in a very difficult position. Many of us activists have already been in that position at local government level, so we know what it is like. But I am utterly sure we will disown him if he tries to force an electoral pact with the Toires on us.

  • Andrew Suffield 31st Aug '10 - 11:37pm

    But I am utterly sure we will disown him if he tries to force an electoral pact with the Toires on us.

    He can’t anyway. This question has been quite closely examined. No national electoral pact of that form is possible; the Lib Dem party constitution won’t allow it.

    Now, a series of local per-constituency arrangements are permitted – but only with the explicit approval of the local party’s executive (which effectively means the members in that constituency, since local party executives are easily replaced).

    Any MP who wishes to stand as a Lib Dem must have their local party’s support. Otherwise, the only “agreement” they can make with the Tories is to join them and stand as the Tory candidate, in opposition to the Lib Dem party. I suppose it’s not impossible, but I can’t see that being very likely.

    Now, obviously no constituency that has an incumbent Lib Dem MP is going to agree to not stand a candidate. So all those local parties are already out of the equation. The only local parties who might be willing to make a deal are those without a Lib Dem MP and without any prospect of electing one. So the Lib Dem MPs are the ones who have the least say in the matter, since not one of them comes from a constituency without a Lib Dem MP

  • Anthony Aloysius St 1st Sep '10 - 12:44am

    “The Liberal Democrat MPs acting on their own have no right under that constitution to stop candidates standing in other constituencies from being official Liberal Democrat candidates.”

    Yes, yes – of course that’s the constitutional position (just as it’s the constitutional position that the party leader can’t make up policy unilaterally!).

    The question is whether the party would defy the leadership in a situation in which it was heading towards an election with the kind of poll ratings it’s enjoying at the moment – 11% in tonight’s YouGov, incidentally – and the MPs decided that the only way they could save their jobs was through an electoral pact.

    And of course, the other thing you have to consider is what kind of party it’s likely to be after four years of what we’ve been experiencing of “coalition” so far. Do you think the kind of people most likely to show backbone and stand up to the leadership will still be there at all?

  • Alex Macfie 1st Sep '10 - 5:46pm

    Anthony Aloysius St: Other Lib Dem posters have already made it clear that they would not consider a Lib Dem party in an electoral pact to be worth supporting, and therefore would absolutely oppose such an arrangement. So there’s your answer. What you have to understand is that Lib Dem MPs who owe their jobs to an electoral pact with the Tories would not be Lib Dem MPs (as we understand it now) any more: they would become Conservative MPs. So if the choice is between 20 MPs elected under a “Lib Dem” label via an electoral pact, and 5 independent Lib Dem MPs, then most Lib Dems would prefer the 5, because the 20 Lib Dem MPs would actually be no Lib Dem MPs.

  • Matthew Huntbach 2nd Sep '10 - 12:11am

    Anthony Aloysius St

    Yes, yes – of course that’s the constitutional position (just as it’s the constitutional position that the party leader can’t make up policy unilaterally!).

    No he can’t, because what he says or does is not party policy. We are not a Stalinist or Fascist party, we do not have to agree 100% with our leader, our party is not the personal tool of its leader. We do not mandate our MPs to vote in particular ways. We do, however, have the power to deny them continuing to be Liberal Democrat MPs, and to say to the Leader of the party “you’re sacked from that job”.

    Quite obviously, we expect our MPs to think for themselves, and also to react to the situation as it is. Quite obviously, if our MPs do not have a majority on Parliament, they canot get through all of what is party policy, they can only get through what is manageable with the agreement of other MPs. So quite obviously, what our MPs may agree to as part of a compromise with another party is not “party policy”.

    I appreciate that the Labour Party has a vested interest in suggesting otherwise. I also have experienced that the Labour Party is surprisingly Stalinist/fascist in the way it thinks, and because of this streak Labour people do seem to find it very hard to undertand politics through debate and compromise. I really find this, so ingrained is this Stalinist/fascist way of thinking in Labour Party people that they literally cannot understand arguments which work on having a model of political party which isn’t like theirs.

    However, I do regret that the leadership of the Liberal Democrats is not running this well – it is doing a poor job at promoting an understanding of how multi-party politics must inevitably change assumptions built up from the days when governments were always single party. I also do fear that, yes, the coalition has enabled the right-wing in the Liberal Democrats to promote its interpretation of what our party should be about. In part this is because that intepretation is easier to get through in compromise with the Conservatives.


    The question is whether the party would defy the leadership in a situation in which it was heading towards an election with the kind of poll ratings it’s enjoying at the moment – 11% in tonight’s YouGov, incidentally – and the MPs decided that the only way they could save their jobs was through an electoral pact.

    You have completely ignored the point I made – what interest would it serve members of the party to do this? Be rational – an MP desperate to maintain his or her position may promote such a pact, but why would an ordinary member of the party agree to it? Look – we are talking about people who have given huge amounts of their own time and money to developing the party over the years. Why do you suppose such a person would just say “OK, I’ll give up all that to save the jobs of a few of our MPs?”.


    And of course, the other thing you have to consider is what kind of party it’s likely to be after four years of what we’ve been experiencing of “coalition” so far. Do you think the kind of people most likely to show backbone and stand up to the leadership will still be there at all?

    Well, I hope they will. A lot of what I have been posting and writing recently has been very much about encouraging them to do so. It would seem to me that anyone with backbone would certainly stick with the party. If the leadership isn’t doing all it can to promote the party within the coalition, I would hope anyone with backbone would see the party is more than its leadership and stick with it on that basis, and be prepared to challenge the leadership. I also think anyone with backbone would not run away from a difficult situation – as what we were faced with after the 2010 election was. The difficult situation was that we were forced by circumstances into this coalition, and it was obvious then that what we could get out of it was limited, and we would come under much attack from Labour for it. The reality is that the same MPs that were there in 2010 are there now. So if Labour REALLY thinks there was an alternative to the coalition, let it offer one. What is stopping it putting forward an alternative coalition proposal? Two things – there isn’t an alternative bacause there aren’t enough Labour MPs, and Labour knows it got us onto the mess and has no realistic alternative plans to get us out of it.

    So it seems to me the membership of the party must let things develop. As I’ve said I can see both sides – I can see the limited position our leadership is in, obviously it cannot implement the full 2010 Liberal Democrat mainfestio from where it is now. Therefore, Labour attacks on it on the basis that it isn’t doing that are, to me, ridiculous. On the other hand, I share some of the concerns about our party’s leadership being too comfortable in this coalition and I do hope there will be enough members willing to stand up and oppose it should it try to push things in any way towards an electoral pact. I would urge anyone who is unappy about the leadership to stay with the party in the event that such action is needed rather than to slink away silently.

  • Mark Wilson 4th Sep '10 - 2:56pm

    Can someone clarify for me. When the Coalition deal was put together did it prevent a completely “Free” vote on this issue. I cannot believe that LIb Dems in the Coalition locked themselves into not being able to vote for an ammendment on the Referendum debate even if by voting for it they knew without Lab, and Co support it would not get through. It was obvious to anyone that Caroline Lucas would have put forward an ammendment to the Referendum question, andthis should have been taken account of in the Coalition Agreement. Not to do so automatically gives the impression of political opportunitism by Lib Dems in this Coalition Govt!!!!!!

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