LibLink: Julian Glover – Ten tips for the Liberal Democrats

The Guardian’s Julian Glover is one of the very few commentators to emerge as a True Believer in the Coalition, and a champion of the Lib Dems’ role within it… much to the undisguised fury of regular inhabitants of the paper’s Comment is Free website. He’s popped up again to offer the party 10 tips to prove the Coalition-sceptics wrong, preserve our identity, and try to establish a distinctive message. It’s well worth reading in full, but here’s three…

1) Don’t panic. There is no crisis. Don’t believe people who tell you that there is. The polls are poor, not catastrophic – 16% in the last Guardian/ICM survey is the same as the party scored in early 2009. The Lib Dem conference was the calmest and most successful of the three. Most Lib Dems believe that joining the coalition was the right thing to do – which isn’t the same as approving of all its consequences. There’s an impressive determination to make it work. What’s striking is not the scale of dissent – but how little there is.

5) Stop saying there’s no alternative, as if the party has been taken hostage by forces outside its control. Voters know it’s untrue. Both the coalition, and the scale and speed of cuts, are the product of choices that involved Lib Dems. The party should be proud of this. It took tough decisions and the right decisions. It could have ducked them and looked feeble.

10) Turn Labour’s hate on itself. No one expects the opposition to approve of doing deals with Tories. But the majority of voters understand why it happened. Labour has misjudged the tone. Sneering at Clegg’s party will not destroy it. Labour comes over as angry and isolated. Every time a Labour MP calls for the Lib Dems to be destroyed, Clegg’s decision to join forces with the Tories in the national interest appears more legitimate.

You can read Julian’s article in full here.

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67 Comments

  • I take it that Julian Glover is an over-paid armchair scribbler whose experience of real life is somewhat limited? If so, why is Lib Dem Voice giving his musings such prominence?

    The “coalition” was imposed on the Liberal Democrats by a series of interlocking deceits. Let’s go through them one-by-one:-

    (1) David Cameron would call a second general election within a matter of weeks or months and win an overall majority. Anyone see anything wrong with this? For those who can’t, let me state the obvious:
    (a) There is no guarantee that the Tories would have won an overall majority. They would have had a very tight window in which to do it (before the CSR) and it would have looked like opportunism.
    (b) If the Tories really could have got an overall majority in a second general election, then surely Cameron would have called one anyway?

    (2) Gilts traders would panic and the economy would go into freefall. Was a single jot of factual evidence advanced in support of this claim? It sounds to me like a variation on the standard Tory theme that anything other than a Conservative government damages confidence in the City. Should gilts traders be allowed to dictate how this country is governed? Are voters not supposed to do that?

    (3) The Liberal Democrats would have real influence. There is no doubt that the Liberal Democrats have had some influence on the “coalition” government, but what little we get is bought at a terrible price. The price is Liberal Democrat politicians advocating Tory policies and rubbishing Liberal Democrat policies, and the shutting down of the Liberal Democrats as an independent political force for the lifetime of the Parliament (and possibly forever).

    (4) The Liberal Democrats would have more influence in a “coalition” than allowing the Tories to govern as a minority. Wrong, wrong, a thousand times wrong. If there was a minority Tory government, there would be no deep and immediate cuts. We would vote them down. There would be no lifting of the cap on student tuition fees. We would vote that down. There would be no part-privatisation of the NHS. We would vote it down. And what else would we be able to do? Yes, our leaders would be free to proselytise Liberal Democrat policies and values (at least those leaders who actually believe in them).

    (5) We would get PR. No, we wouldn’t. What is on offer is AV, a system which is less proportional than FPTP and is likely to benefit the Conservative Party by fracturing the opposition. Along with AV comes an accelerated boundaries review with no right of appeal based on arbitrary population criteria, which is likely to benefit the Tories and hurt the Liberal Democrats most. Oh, and a reduction in the number of MPs, which will weaken Parliament and make it more difficult for Liberal Democrats to get elected.

    The membership was bounced into the “coalition”. We were given a full weekend to think about it and told that dire consequences would result from rejection. The whole thing is a sham. It is a Tory government propped up by emasculated Liberal Democrats. And our party is doomed if we continue with it.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Nov '10 - 11:37am

    “The polls are poor, not catastrophic – 16% in the last Guardian/ICM survey is the same as the party scored in early 2009.”

    Of course, it’s easy to pick the most favourable polls and ignore the others (such as YouGov’s latest, which puts the Lib Dems on just 9%, which would leave them with only 11 seats on a uniform swing projection).

    There’s an interesting discussion of the possible reasons for the divergence between the Lib Dem ratings produced by YouGov and ICM on Anthony Wells’s blog:
    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2863

    He appears to view the 9% rating as a possible outlier, though he says it suggests the downwards trend in Lib Dem support is continuing. He observes that, naturally, each pollster believes they are using the right methodology, otherwise they would change it. But he does come out with a couple of quite plausible suggested explanations for the difference, neither of which bodes particularly well for apologists who quote ICM and ignore YouGov.

    First, he points out that ICM assume that 50% of “don’t knows” will vote for the same party they did last time, whereas YouGov relies on straightfoward voting intention. He reckons that may account for nearly half the difference, as there are a large number of ex-Lib Dem “don’t knows” at the moment.

    Second, he suggests that, while Internet pollsters have access to data on previous voting behaviour from past surveys, telephone pollsters only know what their respondents say now about how they have voted in the past. He says that data from Ipsos-MORI shows “a clear and rapid downwards trend” in the number of people who say they voted Lib Dem in May. The result of that may be that telephone pollsters are not correcting adequately for false recall of previous voting behaviour, and may be ending up with an inflated Lib Dem rating as a result.

  • paul barker 4th Nov '10 - 11:53am

    On “The Polls”, Mike Smithson has another great post over at Political Betting, pointing out the huge discrepancy between YouGovs current showing of 9% for LDs & the 15/16% from the Phone Pollsters. Mike is suggesting that YGs weighting for Newspaper readership may be a factor, generating a bias towards Labour loyalists.
    Whatever the explanation there is no doubt that YG are giving us much lower scores & bringing them out every day, dominating the Media narrative.

  • Anthony Aloysius St

    “Of course, it’s easy to pick the most favourable polls and ignore the others (such as YouGov’s latest, which puts the Lib Dems on just 9%, which would leave them with only 11 seats on a uniform swing projection).”

    An interesting example of opinion polls getting it wrong is the Senate race in Nevada, where all the final polls showed the Republicans winning, though the Democrats ended up holding the seat by 50.2% to 44.6%.

    Was there a sudden swing to the Democrats during the early hours or were the polls simply wrong?

    A clue may be found in the fact that more people in Nevada voted Republican than Democrat in the House races. An accurate opinion poll would certainly have put the Republicans ahead of the Democrats if the question was about overall voting intentions, rather than support for individual candidates. What questions were asked, I wonder?

    We see the same thing here in the UK. In 1979, an opinion poll in Berwick-upon-Tweed showed Alan Beith losing badly, but a couple of weeks later Beith held on, albeit only just. Similarly, Liberal Democrats are out-performing the opinion-polls in real elections where they are presented with named candidates and there is a campaign that focusses on local rather than national issues.

    None of this helps Clegg. What it does show, perhaps, is that once Clegg goes and the “coalition” is over, the party can rebuild its support at Westminster level.

  • LeftLeaning 4th Nov '10 - 12:17pm

    LOL.

    I wouldn’t take any advice from Julian Glover if I were you..lol

  • LeftLeaning 4th Nov '10 - 12:22pm

    Sesenco,

    The danger for LibDems is that it is becoming TRENDY to bash them – they have become the favourite topic for satirists and comics. They are becoming the party everybody loves to hate with Nick Clegg as their front man. Very soon when the cuts begin to bite, admitting you voted LibDem will be like admitting you voted BNP: It will be seen as treacherous to do so. Unfortunately, the people that would have supported the LibDems would rather go for the real thing in the tories instead.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Nov '10 - 12:28pm

    “Mike is suggesting that YGs weighting for Newspaper readership may be a factor, generating a bias towards Labour loyalists.”

    Actually, that’s not what he’s saying. He’s suggesting a more subtle effect, based on the fact that – as he claims – readers of “red top” newspapers are asked to participate in surveys more often: “Could being asked repeatedly have an impact on their responses and could it mean that the most politically minded are most inclined to take part?”

    But from the data he actually gives, it’s not clear that they _are_ being asked to participate more often, just that their contribution has a higher weighting because there is a smaller proportion of them in the sample than in the population as a whole. So I’m not convinced his suggestion makes sense at all.

    In any case, YouGov’s panel is so huge (280,000) that even with daily polls they don’t need to use individual panellists more than a few times a year.

  • LeftLeaning 4th Nov '10 - 12:56pm

    Geoffrey,

    I have no doubt the LibDems are in the business of trying to make the world a better place. However you’re in coalition with the Conservatives who Don’t give a flying toss about making the world a better place. The conservatives are steering the course of this coalition government I am afraid and the end is not going to be pretty.

  • The coalition was a bad mistake.

    I semi-supported it to begin with, when I was naive enough to think that Clegg et al wouldn’t try and conflate conservatism with lib dem ideology… when I thought they wouldn’t be so cowardly as to break signed election pledges and that they might still argue the lib dem corner.

    But it’s obvious it is a mistake now.

    People who think we would have done ‘worse’ at the next election if we were in a minority government are just wrong. Whatever happened we would probably have done at least slightly worse than we did last election, although it might have been the case that being a powerful minority in government would have made the lib dems look more principled. Yet it is becoming clearer, fast, that we will do worse now at the next election than had we formed part of a minority government.

    And we probably won’t win AV, because Clegg made the unbelievably stupid error of siding with the Conservatives and putting through the referendum in the same parliament. The Conservatives and their press won’t support it and never would have, and many Labour voters will wonder if it will simply lead to even more anti-democratic stitch-ups. Now it appears that there are more people against it than for it… when prior to the election more were for than against. By alienating the left Clegg has alienated the principled people who would have wanted PR. I am almost certain that if the referendum fails the coalition will be wrecked or there will be a party split.

    What people don’t seem to realise is that being in a minority government would have given them far more power than being in a coalition. Sure, AV would have to wait… but it is not a priority (and we won’t win it now anyway). The Tory decisions vis the welfare state are radical.., they are being active in their cuts. That means that we would have had far more of an effect stopping their actions than will have sneaking in a few piddling concessions from our manifesto which the Conservatives agree with anyway.

    The red line should be tuition fees, the MPs should vote against or pull out of the coalition… because it will end in tears anyway. The best thing they can do is to make some sort of last stand and win back support… rather than let support wither until they are irrelevant when the next election is called prematurely.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Nov '10 - 2:34pm

    “If you believe in the Lib Dems, you believe in PR; if you believe in PR, you believe in coalitions; if you believe in coalitions, you believe in compromise and negotiation between parties who might be ideologically quite different.”

    And that somehow makes it right for politicians to make a written promise to the voters to vote in a certain way on a specific issue, and then to vote the opposite way once they’re safely elected?

    In everyday life, you’d call someone who treated you like that a liar and a fraud – wouldn’t you?

  • “If you believe in the Lib Dems, you believe in PR; if you believe in PR, you believe in coalitions; if you believe in coalitions, you believe in compromise and negotiation between parties who might be ideologically quite different.”

    I don’t believe in coalitions with parties which have manifestos which are at best entirely incompatible with liberal ideology and our own manifesto, and at worst the exact opposite of what we campaigned upon.

    Yes I believe in pluralism, but this isn’t pluralism…. or democratic. I did not meet another Lib Dem before the election that entertained the idea of a coalition with the Conservatives… indeed several MP’s campaigned on specifically on keeping the Tories out. It was clear that the majority of people voted for a fairer and slower deficit reduction stratergy … the stratergy that the Lib Dems and Labour agreed on. This coalition is anti-democratic… if you can break your signed voting pledges can I take back my vote, please?

  • ContentedLibDem,

    Was Jim Callaghan forced into a general election when his party lost its Commons majority? If my memory serves me right, he went to great lengths to avoid one. Why would Cameron have behaved differently?

    In 1979, David Steel fought the general election campaign asking voters to give him a “wedge of 50 Liberals” to moderate whichever government came to power, ie, he was calling for minority government, not coalition. Steel was right, Clegg and his rapidly diminishing band of admirers are catastrophically wrong.

  • paul barker 4th Nov '10 - 3:57pm

    The best way to sum up the attitude of the Labour Trolls is the fine old phrase THE DEMOCRATIC DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT. In essence they beleive that only The Working Class & their allies have any right to have an opinion. People who voted Libdem must have assumed they were really voting Labour & those who voted Tory are Evil or dupes & dont count at all. Thus the 3 in 10 who actually voted for Labour really represent the Majority while the 7 in 10 who didnt just dont count at all.

  • ContentedLibDem,

    “The man whose failure to call an election or contemplate a coalition led to the two decade long wipeout of the Labour party?”

    Er… Callaghan was brought down by the trade unions and the left-wing of his own party. But you don’t dispute that he avoided calling a general election, which was my point. He did it once, and if only just paid off, so he was probably right not to go to the country in the Autumn of 1978.

    I don’t expect Clegg and Cameron to take my advice, nor yours. The only “advice” they do take comes from the US military-industrial complex and billionaire families, and doubtless a few media moghuls and mega-rich business leaders closer to home, plus the “think tanks” and “experts” who do their talking for them. After all, they are the people who put Clegg and Cameron where they are.

    What Clegg is really about is sacrificing the Liberal Democrats in order to create a “modern”, stable party of the centre-right, shorn of its more conscpicuously nasty elements.

  • “The best way to sum up the attitude of the Labour Trolls…”

    Bingo. Paul Barker gets to his standard way of dismissing dissent in 2 posts. Is Sesenco a Labour Troll, Paul?

  • Paul McKeown 4th Nov '10 - 4:26pm

    @Geoffrey Payne

    “It is about changing the world to become a better place, and going down in history for doing so. That is how the coalition will be judged in years to come.”

    I would agree with that. I note, bye the bye, that even Bob Ainsworth and his Labour Party seems to be catching up with the altered politics: Labour are going to rethink their policy of replacing Trident (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11696768).

    I have seen so many changes for the better in the British political narrative since May, with Liberal Democrat’s in a position to impose much of their thinking that both Labour and the Conservatives are radically changing much of their political positions too.

    It’s enough to make a Lib Dem voter smug, were it not for the warning given by “Left Leaning” of the possibility that it could become fashionable to kick the Lib Dems. The general unpolitical electorate tend to swallow much of the media narrative without looking deeper – and the narrative is a one-dimensional tale of treachery, spineless and loss of support. Happily I have read several articles here on LDV recently (pace Mark Pack) suggesting that the Liberal Democrats need to mould the narrative, rather than react to or become its victim. And I have also read that the LD ministers are to hire more policy advisors, too. Signs that the Lib Dems are wising up, getting tougher and preparing to fight back. Good!

    Like several posters, I’m pretty content with the Lib Dem contribution to government. I am not interested in polling numbers; they will improve when the Lib Dems learn to manage the News cycle better. And frankly, I’ve stopped even getting annoyed when people (e.g. AAS) attempt to cherry pick the worst ones to predict doom. Grin, then shrug.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Nov '10 - 4:47pm

    “And frankly, I’ve stopped even getting annoyed when people (e.g. AAS) attempt to cherry pick the worst ones to predict doom. Grin, then shrug.”

    Except of course that – as I was pointing out – it was Julian Glover who was “cherry-picking” the best ones!

    But evidently cheerleading has become a way of life for some…

    PS. Did you ever get around to joining the party?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Nov '10 - 4:51pm

    “as a famous liberal once said, when the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?”

    Of course, changing your mind is one thing, but breaking an unambiguous written promise only a few weeks after you’ve made it is something quite different.

    As I said, in everyday life, you’d call someone who behaved like that a liar and a fraud – wouldn’t you?

  • ContendedLiberalDemocrat,

    “I think the most charitable interpretation I can give to that is that it’s revisionist.”

    A statement of fact, and an opinion I have heard expressed many times. The opinion-poll lead in the Autumn of 1978 was narrow, and Callaghan remembered what happenedd in 1970 (when Labour had emerged from a period of deep unpopularity to enjoy a slight lead). He opted for caution, hoping that the trade unions would be pragmatic enough to stick to 5%. I suggest you check your history before you make vague accusations of revisionism, whatever that means.

    “They also display a fundamental misunderstanding of the structure of the Liberal Democrats.”

    I think I know a little bit about the structure of the Liberal Democrats, having been a member since the party’s inception (though I may not have a party to belong to for much longer, the way Clegg is going).

    “Clegg reached his current position through a one-member one-vote ballot of Lib Dem members, not by the machinations of billionaires and media moguls.”

    Get real. How did Clegg win that ballot? He won it because he was hyped by the media as the obvious person to lead the Liberal Democrats (as Matthew Huntbach puts it). That the media (and their paymasters) very nearly failed is perhaps a product of their over-enthusiasm. Members were beginning to get wise, but not enough of them soon enough, sadly.

    “Indeed, I think Rupert Murdoch would be fair happier if there were no Lib Dems in the government.”

    He might well be. But he probably recognises that it is better for his paymasters to have the Liberal Democrats powerless than voting down Tory measures.

    I repeat. The whole “coalition” project is more than a temporary expedient to put the Tories into government, it is about a radical realignment in British politics. The aim is to create a large, amorphous party of the centre-right, which is pro-business and pro-US, but lacks the “nasty” element that did so much damage to the Tories in the Major years. Such a party, so the theory goes, could be in power for generations. Blair-Mandelsonism from the side of the political spectrum where it truly belonged.

    Question: If, in three years time, President Romney demands UK support for an invasion of Iran, what is Clegg going to say?

  • George Kendall,

    So when would Cameron have started to make his cuts in your scenario? Remember, the Tories spent the election campaign saying immediate cuts were necessary to stop the economy collapsing. As soon as he made cuts he would have lost popularity. The window would have been exceedingly narrow for him.

    Harold Wilson very nearly didn’t succeed. The Labour majority that the October election produced was wafer thin. That is one of the reasons why Jim Callaghan and John Major didn’t go to the country until they absolutely had to.

    If Cameron really did as you suggest, would the Labour Party not come to realise that working with the Liberal Democrats was something that they not only had to contemplate but actually had to do?

    Whatever the outcome, we would have survived as a party. It is quite likely that we will not do now.

  • “He did it once, and if only just paid off, so he was probably right not to go to the country in the Autumn of 1978.”

    I meant to say: His predeccesor did it, and it only just paid off, so he was probably right not to go to the country in the Autumn of 1978.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Nov '10 - 5:43pm

    ContentedLibDem

    You are seriously trying to tell me that the Lib Dem MPs won’t be breaking their promise because what’s proposed is not an increase in university fees?

    That really is breathtakingly dishonest.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Nov '10 - 5:48pm

    And your claim that the government is enjoying “overwhelming public support” is just as ridiculous (quite apart from being completely irrelevant to the question of the broken pledge).

    The most recent YouGov poll, as well as showing the Lib Dems on 9%, reported that the government’s approval rating had fallen to a new low of -10%. Just in case you don’t understand these things, the fact that that rating is negative means that more people disapprove than approve!

  • ContentedLiberalDemocrat,

    “they reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between socialism and liberal democracy.”

    I really fail to understand what you are talking about. I haven’t used the word, “socialism”, once, nor have I alluded to it. There were people in the SDP who called themselves socialists. They had a club that called itself the “Limehouse Group”. Some of them are now in the Liberal Democrats, while others followed Dr Owen, or joined the Labour Party. So you can’t complain about people in the Liberal Democrats self-describing as “socialists”, because such self-description is part of our heritage. Actually, I didn’t class anyone in the Limehouse Group as “socialist”, and I was able to take that view because “socialism”, like “liberal democracy”, is such a vague term that it can mean anything or nothing. To Cleggmaniacs and Clegg apologists, “liberal democracy” probably means clever, wealthy, successful people being a little bit nice to the poor, which is why they are happy to class Cameron as a “liberal”.

    I don’t want to be a part of a neocon directed mega-party of the centre-right that takes in everyone from Vince Cable to Iain Duncan Smith. I’m a Liberal Democrat, and I want to belong to an independent, principled party of the centre-left. That’s what I signed up to all those years ago when I left the Labour Party and joined the SDP.

  • David Allen 4th Nov '10 - 6:14pm

    Sesenco, George Kendall,

    It is certainly arguable that there would have been some risks for us with the “confidence and supply” option. It does not follow that the only alternative was to agree a cast-iron solid five-year deal which is enabling Cameron to govern as if he had won a landslide. It does not follow that it was a great idea to put out a dodgy dossier which made no reference to the wholesale privatisation of education and health, and then slip those ideas quietly on to the agenda in the ensuing months.

    Faced with Cameron’s massive demands, accompanied by a respectable but not massive offer in terms of ministerial jobs and voting reform, a Lib Dem leader of a more independent cast of mind would have searched for a different alternative. A two-year deal, for example, to let the Tories make a big show of their financial responsibility over the deficit, while simply marking time on health, education, tuition fees and voting reforms. it might not have looked very pretty, but it would have got rid of Brown, while avoiding most of the disasters we now see looming for our party and our nation.

    The coalition apologists would like to pretend that there were only two options for the Lib Dems – subservient adoption of a hard Right programme, or chaos. As so often, they are not being honest.

  • All is well.

    Silence all dissent because all is well.

    This is the best possible outcome of all possible outcomes because all is well.

    All indicators to the contrary can be ignored because all is well.

    Complaceny is irrelevant because all is well.

    All is well because all is well.

  • Emsworthian 4th Nov '10 - 6:52pm

    Two wheels on my wagon and we’re just rollin’ along. Is Glover the Lib Dems Corporal Jones?
    Frankly I wish he’d go back the Torygraph. Has any anybody worked out that while we represent
    a fifth of the government we’re getting 60% of the flak.

  • An excellent article by an astute political commentator and one-time (before taking up political journalism) Lib Dem activist. Yes, I would have liked to hear rather more defence of our fees policy from Nick and Vince (though personally I am not in favour of scrapping fees – the burden should be shared between the student/graduate and taxpayers in general) but overall I believe that the coalition is delivering the kinds of things I campaigned for at the election – on devolution of power, rebalancing taxes, the pupil premium, the Green Deal, political reform, pensions…

    Okay, our poll ratings aren’t brilliant (though they rarely are between elections) but the coalition is broadly popular and most people recognise that painful medicine is necessary. We should be careful not to be reflexively defensive on the basis of a few very vocal opponents (outside and inside the party).

    And leaving the coalition now would be utterly crazy at every level – even worse than not going into it in the first place!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 5th Nov '10 - 12:23am

    ContentedLibDem

    As a matter of fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the Browne recommendations on the whole, and I think if we’re going to have something like 50% of the population going to university, something like those recommendations is the most reasonable way of paying for it. And I’ve certainly made no secret of that view.

    But the awkward fact you need to face up to is that Lib Dem MPs went into the election having made an absolute promise to vote against any increase in university fees. I take it as read that if someone promises to do something, they should do it. And it’s simply no use pretending that fees aren’t being increased. Obviously they are – they are being increased by almost a factor of three, no matter how enlightened and progressive the repayment scheme is.

    Frankly, what amazes me is the extent to which people continue to come up with arguments in defence of dishonesty in politics. When it comes down to it, you can argue about the pros and cons of any issue until you’re blue in the face, but if politicians are free to lie to the electorate – to promise to do one thing in order to get votes, and then do precisely the opposite when they’re safely elected – then you may as well save your breath, because democracy is a dead letter.

  • We could blame lying to the electorate on the NUS and all will be well.

    We will tell a disbelieving public that tripling fees is fair and all will be well.

    We can pretend apocryphal tales of shiny happy aspirational voters trumps the polls and all will be well.

    Clegg was spreading tales of dogsh*t through his door because he knows all will be well.

    We can pose ludicrous hypotheticals about being brave enough not to back imaginary invasions of Iran while pretending the quagmire in Afghanistan isn’t still hugely unpopular and all will be well.

    All is well. This is the best of all possible worlds.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 5th Nov '10 - 9:44am

    “No matter what anyone says to me, or calls me a labour troll, that is exactly what I see as happening, and if you think Conservatives wouldn’t stoop so low, than your being seriously deluded.”

    No problem believing the Conservatives would stoop so low. After all, they are the long-standing political enemies of the Lib Dems, and it’s naive in the extreme to think that they wouldn’t take the opportunity to destroy the party if it arose (or was presented to them on a plate, gift-wrapped!).

    The one saving grace is that if Lib Dem support falls even further (as seems likely, though it’s already near what I originally thought might be its low point), the main beneficiaries with be Labour, so that the Tories won’t be in a position to call a snap election – particularly on the present boundaries.

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 5th Nov '10 - 11:45am

    Matt wrote:
    “SDLP DUP 18”

    That doesn’t fit, as they only (together) hold 11 seats at present. Five of the other Northern Ireland seats are Sinn Fein, who still won’t take their seats at Westminster.

    The other two are Alliance and an Independent, who probably owes her seat to Unionist (non-DUP) and Alliance voters.

  • Matt 4th Nov 7:36
    Labour were planning to make massive cuts if returned to power.
    Under pressure from the financial markets these Labour cuts would have
    been deeper than what have been made.

  • Remember that note from the departing Labour minister,”there is no money left”.He was not joking.
    Ask Alistair Darling about the Labour cuts.
    It sounds as if you were around in the 1970s when Labour went cap in hand to the IMF.
    The situation now is worse than in the 1970s.It is on an international scale. I am sure you know
    what is happening in Ireland (and the southern EU countries) even if you are not familiar with Hungary.
    It also sounds as if you don’t work in the financial sector but maybe you work for the NatWest Bank.

  • Where is the evidence of a strong economic performance by a Labour government?
    Devaluations, austerity, stagnation……

  • I didn’t say every country.
    The Banks in Lebanon are in good shape. No credit default swaps!
    The economies of much of Asia are moving ahead.

  • The IMF is a respected body.

  • The value of sterling was low at the end of the last Labour government.If it had continued to come
    under pressure then borrowing costs would have increased.Thus the money needed to service these
    huge debts would have to be found. As part of an IMF bailout massive cuts would need to be made.
    Remember Argentina at the beginning of this decade.

  • ContentedLibDem,

    “I cannot believe you are telling me to get real on this point. Clegg was hyped in 2007? In 2007 barely anyone outside the Lib Dems knew or cared who Clegg or Huhne was. I doubt Rupert Murdoch knew who he was, and you’re trying to pretend he was the shadowy manipulator of his election campaign. And even if we buy this analysis, then why did members overwhelmingly back the coalition deal, by a lot more than they backed Clegg two and a half years earlier? Are we all just dupes of the right wing media? Did we all just get ‘bounced’ into it? Give us some credit, please.”

    Do you live on the same planet as the rest of us? OK. Maybe you read different newspapers, and turn the BBC News off. FACT: Clegg was relentlessly hyped by media commentators who presented him as the “obvious” successor to Ming Campbell. It was in the Grauniad, the Independent, the Times, and on the BBC, day after day, week after week. It is a matter of record and there are plenty of us who can remember it.

    Did I say that Rupert Murdoch was the shadowy manipulator who made Clegg leader of the Liberal Democrats? No, of course I didn’t, as you well know. But it helps your case to invent such fictions, because it allows you to fix me with the dreaded “conspiracy” smear.

    I have explained why Conference reps (not members) backed the “coalition”. They were given a weekend to think about it, and they were told that there was no alternative and terrible consequences would ensue if they refused to fall into line.

    Your dismissal of my question about Clegg and a possible war against Iran demonstrates extreme naivety on your part. Clegg has rubbished about every policy and value that Liberal Democrats have ever held. What makes you think he would behave any differently when asked to support an illegal war? And as for your claim that a war in Iran would be too expensive to fight. Again, get real. The Vietnam war caused immense suffering to the people of South-East Asia, and was hugely damaging to America’s international reputation, but it was a birthday for the military-industrial complex and the billionaire families. They are the only folk who matter to politicians like Cameron and Clegg. Wake up.

  • Labour went to the IMF in the 1970s.There was nothing silly about it.
    I don’t think many in the Liberal Democrats want to make cuts, other than in waste
    but things can change quickly. Athens was burning.
    A point was reached where bailouts could no longer prevent collapse.
    Listen to RTE. What is happening now in the Republic? Cuts deeper than planned.

  • Sesenco
    The UK will withdraw troops from Afghanistan
    It is hardly likely the UK will become involved in a war
    against Iran. Britain was not involved in the Vietnam war.

  • Manfarang
    The irony is it’s the ROI the UK government have been using as their inspiration – they were the guinea pigs in massive wide-scale cuts and general austerity…and you’re using them as your example for oncoming doom? Yeah, if we do as what they’ve done, perhaps.

  • Manfarang,

    “The UK will withdraw troops from Afghanistan”

    When? Has there been an announcement that I’ve missed?

    “It is hardly likely the UK will become involved in a war
    against Iran.”

    On what basis do you form your opinion? Wishful thinking? Loyalty to Clegg? Or an examination of the past behaviour of British governments?

    “Britain was not involved in the Vietnam war.”

    Wrong. The United Kingdom gave the United States political and diplomatic support, which could well be all Romney (?) demands of Cameron. True, Harold Wilson, to his credit, refused to send British troops to South-East Asia. But that was not the attitude taken by Blair in 2003, was it? Nor is it likely to be Cameron’s stance, given the fact that Cameron is a US puppet shoe-horned into the Tory leadership by the US elite through the mechanism of Frank Luntz and our North American owned media.

    War with Iran has to wait for a Republican President, because Obama won’t do it. So it is a minimum of three years down the line. Cameron, when asked to jump, will say “how high?”. What will Clegg say? The Clegg apologists, as opposed to the Cleggmaniacs, generally say that war with Iran would be a red line for them. What of the “Clegg is the most wonderful politician who has ever lived” brigade? For them, the red line will always be over the horizon, I fear.

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