LibLink: James Graham – A cruel result for the Lib Dems

Over at The Guardian’s Comment is Free website, Lib Dem blogger James Graham looks at what the results mean for the party:

What can I say about this result? I’m bereft. It isn’t even a result so awful that the Lib Dems could sit by the sidelines and let everyone else sort out the mess the country is in. That, at least, would be easy. In fact, just to make things even more galling, we seem to have actually increased our share of the vote to a level that we would have been delighted with a month ago. What a cruel result. …

It’s been a heavy blow and yet the party only has a few hours to recover before the thorny talks to decide who will be sitting in Downing Street must begin. Some difficult decisions will have to be taken this weekend; what the outcome will be is anybody’s guess.

You can read his article in full, especially his thoughts on the youth vote and the Lib Dems, here.

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6 Comments

  • paul barker 7th May '10 - 8:36pm

    The big problem with a Lab/Lib/Nats coalition is that it would have just enough votes. 3 or 4 Labour rebels could sink any attempt to reform the Electoral system. Most Labour MPs oppose PR, how could we tie all of them down ?
    If the Tory suggestion of a an enquiry into Voting could be turned into a Citizens Convention, that could work.
    There are other problems, any deal with The SNP/DUP/SDLP would involve massive cuts in England while NI & Scotland would be insulated. Its hard to think of a better way to break up the British Union, thats why Salmond is gloating.

  • paul: The DUP and the SNP aren’t needed. Proposed rainbow alliance:

    258 (Lab)
    57 (LD)
    3 (SDLP)
    1 (Green)
    1 (Alliance)
    = 320

    OK, it’s not quite an overall majority but it’s only 5 short if Sinn Fein don’t take up their 5 seats. Would the nationalists really sink it? Be a good opportunity to show them up for the opportunistic greedy bastards they really are.

  • Got an email from a friend in Scotland on the day of the election saying she’d like to vote for Clegg but just couldn’t risk the tories getting in. And that sentiment sums up why the Lib Dems bombed last night. For all the hope, all the desire for a change to our political system, the British public bottled it and reverted to type: tactical voting across two party lines.

    This election shows once and for all that a third party will NEVER be able to break through under the current system.

  • Paul McKeown 8th May '10 - 12:15am

    Jez,

    I would substitute Sylvia Hermon for the Green, as being a more likely fit. The question is to what degree the Labour whip could enforce discipline amongst the awkward squad. Back channels need to explore the viability of such an undertaking.

    The arithmetic is that 5 Sinn Feiners won’t take the oath and the speaker will stay out of divisions. Hence 324 is required for an overall majority; this falls just short, so provided bills are not presented to the house in which DUP, SNP and PC interests are simultaneously damaged, then it should be possible.

    An agreed and timetabled agenda for a fixed parliamentary term of five years, backed by the authority of the party whips, taking into account mutual red lines and forming a sensible synthesis of policy pledges from both Labour and Lib Dems would be required. The understanding would have to be that if one part of the agenda falls due to party indiscipline then all parts of the agenda fall.

  • Paul McKeown 8th May '10 - 12:17am

    Actually I’m getting less depressed than I was in the early hours of this morning. We have options to guarantee our back stops.

  • MAUREEN CLARKE 8th May '10 - 9:25am

    The Lib Dems should not be disheartened by their disappointing seat allocations. They should bare in mind that 3 Months ago they would not have anticipated the focus they have become not only nationlly but globally. This is the beginning of the Party’s future as a prominent player in governing the nation. No longer can their key issue of PR be ignored for much longer. Key to their success is the education and the promotion of the party not only to the young but so many others who have been disillusioned with the other 2 parties for years. Essential to their success also is the effective use and campaigning of local activist supporters. A strategic look at managing this is crucial in order for them to instill the confidence in the governing ability of a Lib government. Whilst Clegg is clearly very capable, the Party needs to front a much wider selection of competent members who they can rely upon to be the face of the Party both nationallly and locally. The polarisation of Clegg is not enough to bolster the party but requires much more support from his colleagues than the other Parties need. This is essential to demonstrate that the Party can not only govern but that its MP’s are highly competent and are also measured by their integrity, ability to respond to the nation’s mood and needs.

    Clegg did not lose on this occasion – the public has. This was a result of insufficient time for the Party to communicate its message effectively. They were only able to start this process through the medium of the TV debates. This was countered by the shock and fear by most of the press who suddenly realised that the Lib Dems is a real threat to their protege Cameron. Their attack on Clegg and the policies of the Party was therefore not surprising but it contributed to the doubt and hesitancy in those undecided voters, who decided in the end to vote tactically or simply continue with the party they normally aligned themselves to.

    So what should they do now? Regroup – gathering and building a diverse support network of grassroot and business support and continuously engaging the public. They also need to maintain their key differences from the 2 main parties and seek to build on the opportunities available from the diversity of the nation and its members. Essential to this is the need to installing an effective communications system which can over ride that from the majority press. Finally recognise that they now have a huge opportunity if they utislise the momentum to increase public support and activism. This requires them to be proactive now whilst the mood of the public is hungry for change. The Party’s communication strategy therefore needs to become a priority focusing on the change that is not only possible but is despertely needed.

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