LibLink: Norman Baker – with the LibDems reduced to a “pile of rubble”, we’re in danger of sleepwalking into a one party state

Writing in the Independent, Norman Baker details a number of reasons why we are “sleepwalking into a one-nation state”, concluding as follows:

…we are seeing attacks on other balancing elements essential to a functioning democracy. The appointment of John Whittingdale to be culture secretary is a very clear sign that the BBC is to be eviscerated when Charter renewal comes up shortly, to the delight of Rupert Murdoch and the rest of the right-wing media. We are already seeing signs of a new, tame BBC, such as the recent excruciating piece on the Today programme when Jim Naughtie bowled the softest of balls to a Tory MP there to lionise at length so-called country sports.

Meanwhile, legal aid is disappearing and with it those public-minded legal professionals who often act in the public interest rather than their own. And just to be in the safe side, there is the review of the Freedom of Information Act which has been much too effective at producing embarrassing information about our rulers.

Those interested in the continuation of a viable multi-party democracy need to wake up, act and act together before it is too late.

You can read the full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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124 Comments

  • Given widespread glee at the likely election of Jeremy Corbyn, I thought a one-party state was exactly what many Lib Dems actively wanted – at least for the next 15-20 years

  • Peter Andrews 13th Aug '15 - 12:05pm

    Did he mean a one party state? We already are a one nation state (made up of 4 separate Countries/Provinces).

  • An who is to blame for the emerging one party state?

    Those who refused to vote tactically for Liberal Democrats in Lib Dem Tory-facing seats (like Norman’s).

    No doubt those voters felt great about doing down the Lib Dems, but what they got was the Tories. And we are all now having to pay the price for their stupidity.

  • I agree with Norman, and to some extent Stuart. Tory’s run this country and I don’t see that changing any time soon. There’s no credible opposition and left-leaning voters are spread between a load of ineffective parties. In the event of Corbyn winning the Labour leadership I think it’s safe to say we’ll be stuck in this position for a long time to come.

  • Phil Wainewright 13th Aug '15 - 12:11pm

    one party not ‘one nation’

  • Norman Baker has lost the plot.

  • Nick Collins 13th Aug '15 - 12:37pm

    The LibDems self-destructed and now Labour seem to be intent on doing the same:albeit by different means. It’s all very depressing and probably means that the Tories are going to have things pretty much their own way for quite a long time unless they, too, self-destruct

    Sorry, Sesenco, it’s no good blaming the voters. And calling them “stupid” is not likely to persuade them to consider voting for you in future.

  • David Boothroyd 13th Aug '15 - 12:49pm

    So Norman Baker wants a multi-party democracy. More sensible people have realised that the best form of democracy is based on two parties, divided by general ideology, each broadly based.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '15 - 12:54pm

    Vince Cable commented that he had been described as a Jeremiah, “but Jeremiah was right”. Norman Baker is right.
    Meanwhile unemployment is rising, whereas it was falling under the previous government, “No government minister was available” Are they all on holiday? The British Chamber of Commerce commented on the large number of unfilled vacancies for skilled people. Fill those and there would be consequential opportunities for semi-skilled and unskilled people.

    Norman had been doing a good job at Transport, such as electrifying railways, which Labour had done very little of.
    Asking even the toughest of Liberal Democrat MPs to work for Theresa May was challenging: “parachuted behind enemy lines”. Although the DPM chaired the Home Office cabinet sub-committee he was looking at a wide range of issues across all departments.

  • Many assume that Jeremy Corbin will meet the same fate as Michael Foot but circumstances are completely different from 1983. People were fed up with 40 years of Socialism and Mrs Thatcher seemed a great improvement on the ineffectual and irresolute politicians who had preceded her. There was also her triumph in the Falklands War when she took on the Argentinians whilst the people suspected her predecessors would have given in to them. Most liked that. It was also before the miners’ strike and the poll tax.

    Now we have had 30 years of unpopular though necessary privatisations and 5 years of cuts, massive immigration, problems with the NHS, stagnating pay and a desperate housing shortage so many people are unhappy, especially young ones, although pensioners and the wealthy are doing ok. Mr Corbyn seems to have fresh ideas, even though he doesn’t and the discontented will flock to him from all parties, especially ex Lib Dems, Greens and lapsed Labour voters. But as Neil Kinnock will remember, mass rallies and the support of the discontented do not always mean victory in an election and those who are more cautious or happy with things might still prevail. Elections are often won by those who sit quietly at home, not those who make a lot of noise but he might still win if the discontented prevail.

  • Phil Thomas wrote:

    “Norman Baker has lost the plot.”

    On the contrary, he is stating the obvious.

    Nick Collins wrote:

    “Sorry, Sesenco, it’s no good blaming the voters. And calling them “stupid” is not likely to persuade them to consider voting for you in future.”

    So , in your view, left-leaning voters helping the Tories win an outright majority is not stupid. I will have to look out of the window and check which planet I am living on.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '15 - 1:15pm

    PHIL THOMAS 13th Aug ’15 – 12:15pm You said that “Norman Baker has lost the plot.”.
    He has lost his seat, but why not give us your reasons as to why you think that?
    He has long experience as a councillor, a council leader and a researcher before he became an MP.
    Opponents in other parties have commented “Beware, he is more often right than wrong.”

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '15 - 1:18pm

    nvelope2003 13th Aug ’15 – 12:54pm 1983 was also before 1989.

  • Nick Collins 13th Aug '15 - 2:53pm

    “So , in your view, left-leaning voters helping the Tories win an outright majority is not stupid. I will have to look out of the window and check which planet I am living on.”

    I expressed no such view, Sesenco. Please do not put words in my mouth. I do however, stand by what I did say:

    “Sorry, Sesenco, it’s no good blaming the voters. And calling them “stupid” is not likely to persuade them to consider voting for you in future.”

    It also seems to me that insulting the voters is rather inappropriate behaviour for a supporter of a party whose name consists of the words “liberal” and “democrat”. whatever planet they happen to be on.

  • David Evans 13th Aug '15 - 3:20pm

    Sadly Sesenco, the left leaning voters decided that the Lib Dems under Nick Clegg had become so much like Tories that there was no difference. You may think that was stupidity, I do too, but it was stupidity on the behalf of the Lib Dems who just let Nick paint us all into an ever smaller corner. We should have had the sense to get out in 2014 or even earlier, but we didn’t, and even now too many Lib Dems are unwilling to believe it wasn’t their fault. Until we all get real and own up to the mess Nick made, nothing Tim, Norman or anyone else says can even start to reverse our decline.

  • Jenny Barnes 13th Aug '15 - 3:21pm

    What evidence is there that the privatisations were necessary?

  • nvelope2003 13th Aug '15 - 4:01pm

    Jenny Barnes: I do not know how old you are but I recall that nationalised industries were regarded as inefficient and were widely disliked often even by those who had a cushy job with them. Herbert Morrison who was responsible for implementing some of the 1940s nationalisations said he got more complaints about them than anything else and advised the Labour Party to abandon further nationalisation which they did and as a result started to win elections again. Harold Wilson when asked about nationalisation caught the popular mood when he said ironically it would be like bringing Marks & Spencer up to the standards of the Co-op. They were prone to endless strikes like the London Underground is now. As I recall the only opposition to privatisation came from the unions and the Labour Party.

    Before Mrs Thatcher the Conservatives deliberately retained nationalisation as it was a stick to beat the labour Party with. Even Mrs Thatcher declined to privatise the railways as she felt it was essential to retain the very worst of them as a sign of what labour stood for. With a privatised railway system Labour kept power for three elections, something they had never achieved before. It was not that which lost them the election.

  • nvelope2003 13th Aug '15 - 4:05pm

    Would anyone here want a Lib Dem Government to be responsible and have to answer for every late terrain or power cut ? The railway franchises might be acquired free as they ended but not the railway leasing companies and it would cost billions to renationalise, gas, electricity and water. Where would the money come from ?

  • Nick Collins 13th Aug '15 - 4:18pm

    @nvelope(whatever year).

    Is the history which you keep re-writing the kind of history which will, in future, be kind to Nick Clegg?

  • Jayne Mansfield 13th Aug '15 - 10:51pm

    @ Senesco,
    Hey,who are you calling stupid?

  • What a load of rubbish, nvelope. Alliance perties in the 80s, and the Lib Dems in the 90s opposed privatisation as much as other elements of the left and centre left. It was only in the very late 90s, and around the time of the Orange Book that any Lib Dems made any real move to support privatisation as a principle.

  • The point about the BBC is laughable in a day when a banker in a court case is sentenced to a slap on the wrist for violence at the same time as some poor people are thrown in the clink for not paying the licence makes me weep for the poor BBC. This BBC licence fee is a poll tax not unlike Thatchers and likewise is despised by the people of Scotland.

  • John Tilley 14th Aug '15 - 9:48am

    Norman Baker writes in The Independent –
    “…Lib Dems may well have an energetic new leader in Tim Farron, but they were reduced to a pile of rubble at the last election..”

    At the moment most of the people at the top of the party do not seem to recognise what Norman Baker describes as “rubble” and seem to think the party can just go back to behaving as we have over the last ten years.

    Some of those people who have been at the top of the party for some years need to admit their part in creating the mess we are in.    They seem to be reluctant to admit their share of responsiility for the disaster.

    Nick Clegg resigned but has anyone else?    

    It was not just about the leader it was about what had become the culture, organisation and attitudes at the top of the party.    Interestingly the same phenomenon is present at the top of the Labour Party at the moment.

    We Liberal Democrats have got an excellent new leader with an interesting and diverse new team in parliament.    However, you do not transform what is in a cake by swapping what is on top.  

    What about those at the top of party structures who have been there for many years and are keeping their heads down hoping to carry on as before?

    Is it unreasonable to ask them to consider that they might NOT be part of the solution — because they were so much a part of the problem?

  • Simon Shaw 14th Aug ’15 – 10:09am….

    Yet again, you have nothing constructive to add and just try and derail rational discussion…..

  • Simon Shaw
    I will remind you that I have said many times that I regret not openly criticising the Clegg leadership before the summer of 2013.
    I kept quiet for 8 years out of a mistaken sense of loyalty to the party.

    But my role as an ordinary member is not at all relevant to the topic under discussion in this thread. I have not been at the top of the party or in any elected position in the federal party during the ten years when things went from one disaster to another until we were almost wiped out. Do you think it wise to stick with people who constantly denied any problem existed and insisted right up to the general electon that it would be “all right on the night”???

    Perhaps you could agree that we need to learn from the mistakes of the last ten years rather than gloss over them and pretend they did not happen?

    Perhaps you could agree that those who were responsible should be called to account? I am sure that would be your approach as an elected local councillor of some years experience.
    Perhaps you could apply your skills in calling people to account within the party?

  • I’m not sure what it is about this article that made people so angry, but this post seemed to stir people up and result in a cascade of unpleasant interactions. I think calling voters stupid isn’t a very sensible approach to winning votes, falsely attributing views to people even less so, but the main thing that strikes me about articles such as this is our collective inability to be able to accurately describe the problem. I’m not saying that I can do any better but many of us are acting like drunk brawlers after they’ve been initially blindsided; there’s a lack of cohesive narrative, a lot of poorly formed insults and veiled threats. I’d suggest a lot of this is happening because of the dynamic between the former Cleggites and the “I-told-you-so” posse; it’s worth remembering that we’re all losers now and we’re becoming politically irrelevant together. The Lord Greaves article was a demonstration of the lack of basic political survival skills at play, it’s as if we think that the old factions are still relevant when we only have 8 MPs.

  • I welcome the election of Tim Farron as party leader, it will take several month and even a year for people to actually get to know him and what he stands for. Remember, back in 1987 Paddy Ashdown had the same slow start but went on to be successful. It is just sad that Norman Baker is not part of the parliamentary party as he was one of the few generally honest MPs and would have contributed to the LD recovery ( as would the late Charles Kennedy). The LD can be confident that unlike Conservatives and Labour there is not a lot wrong with the liberal ideology.
    In coalition with the Tories the LD team made a lot of mistakes and lost opportunities. Lot has already been said on tution fees, but on electoral reform it was disasterous,
    LD should have never accepted a referendum on AV! If the Tories would not agree to STV, they brought up AV option as a compromise which then they decided not to support anyway- that shown NO clear faith. LD should have left the coalition on breach by the Tories and brought a vote of no confidence in the government.
    This is now water under the bridge, but rather than a Tory government: one party state inflicting lasting damage on their communities, this could well result in further growth of separatism and the breakup of the UK has it stands now. No one really wants that but see no alternative as there is no reforming element in the UK system.

  • ChrisB,

    In order to recover from this situation, we have to analyse its causes correctly.

    We lost our Tory-facing seats because many left-leaning voters in those seats who would normally vote for us tactically voted Labour or Green instead. Their actions resulted in the election of a majority Tory government on 36.9% of the total votes cast.

    Were their actions stupid? Yes, they were stupid. They resulted in the election of a majority Tory government, so they could be nothing else but stupid. What can possibly be wrong with telling the truth?

    What are you suggesting that I say instead? Left-leaning voters in Tory-facing Lib Dem seats were right to elect a majority Tory government and we must respect them for it? A majority Tory government is a small price to pay for punishing the Lib Dems?

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Aug '15 - 6:33pm

    Sesenco

    We lost our Tory-facing seats because many left-leaning voters in those seats who would normally vote for us tactically voted Labour or Green instead. Their actions resulted in the election of a majority Tory government on 36.9% of the total votes cast.

    No, it wasn’t just tactical voters. It was people whose support we had slowly built up over the years. People who were left-leaning but didn’t like Labour. The point about the Liberal Democrats was that we offered a better sort of left than Labour. We still do. Labour themselves are admitting it as they are tearing themselves to pieces now over two different view points of what it means to be left, each despising the other sort so much, and both view points are right in what they say about the other. Yet there is one thing that unifies them, and Labour member David Boothroyd writing at 12.49pm yesterday show it up: a contempt for democracy. They want a two-party state in which they are they unchallenged party of the left so they get can sit there being lazy and complacent thinking the votes come to them by right rather than through needing to be worked for.

    So, Labour tried to destroy us in the Coalition by their “nah nah nah nah nah” approach which called us bad people because 57 Liberal Democrat MPs could not make 307 Conservative MPs jump to our tune, while refusing to provide any constructive alternative because they had none to give. And the Cleggies worked as hard as they could to make Labour’s attacks look justified. With some of them, such as the person Clegg chose as his Director of Strategy cheering on this our loss of support and saying they should all go off and vote Labour because there was some big batch of people just waiting to vote for a new right-wing party they wanted us to be.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Aug '15 - 6:46pm

    Ernest

    LD should have never accepted a referendum on AV! If the Tories would not agree to STV, they brought up AV option as a compromise which then they decided not to support anyway- that shown NO clear faith. LD should have left the coalition on breach by the Tories and brought a vote of no confidence in the government.

    And how would that have gone down?

    It would have been painted as the country in an economic crisis, and the Liberal Democrats making it worse by denying it a stable government over some obscure issue which no-one else understands or cares about, and which the Liberal Democrats only want out of self-interest. Now, I am a strong supporter of STV, have been all my life, and I certainly don’t see it like that. However, like most constitutional issues, few ordinary people can see its importance, and with this one it requires a bit of numeracy to understand, so how does that go down in a country where innumeracy is considered something to boast about? See how the media commentators did this with AV, so how much worse it would have been with STV? “Duh, it’s all a bit mathematical for me, I don’t understand it, so it can’t be any good”. Quite a few media commentary articles amounted to that.

    Sorry, but please stop pushing the myth that we could get whatever we wanted out of the Tories from the situation after the May 2010 general election. This myth has been extremely damaging to us. If you want a few similar examples, see the fate of the New Zealand First party after it went into coalition and the Irish Green Party after it went into coalition. Anyone leading a small party into its first coalition involvement without being aware of that and so not taking the defensive measures those situations show are needed would be completely incompetent. Clegg and the Cleggies not only did not take the defensive measures, they did their best to make us as vulnerable as we could be to the inevitable attacks.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Aug '15 - 7:03pm

    Nick Collins

    The LibDems self-destructed

    OK, but to some extent it’s like the Liberal-SDP merger. It went smoothly, but the media decided to report it as “self destruction” and they did so relentlessly until people believed it.

    As I’ve said, Clegg and the Cleggies’ presentational techniques made a difficult situation much worse, but underneath the party carried on, it did not split. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the Liberal Democrats, we are still who we always were, and stand for what we always stood for. We should, however, have made it much more clear that the Coalition was a sad necessity under the circumstances, because Britain needed a stable government and that was the only one possible. We didn’t choose it because we loved the Tories, and we were weak in it because of the electoral system which we oppose but Labour supports. To unify the party again, I think it would be great if sufficient Cleggies, and maybe Clegg himself could come out and say that “Sorry, we got it wrong, we thought it would look good and be good for the country if we were very positive about the Coalition, but clearly that gave the wrong impression, and now we can see that”.

    A lot of people who used to vote for us won’t do so because they feel “Oh, something went massively wrong with the Liberal Democrats so they hardly exist any more”. We need to show they are wrong. That needs some give and take on both sides within the party. That is why I’m willing to defend some of the policy decision made during the Coalition, not because they are my ideal policies, but because I can see they were necessary compromises at the time, and I don’t believe those who had to agree to those decisions deserve some of the abusive attacks they are getting for it.

  • Simon Arnold 14th Aug '15 - 7:29pm

    The threat of a two, One nation states’ , has never been greater. The party, needs to stand-up to Tories, in England and SNP in Scotland, as I said, on another thread. So, won’t repeat myself.

  • Nick Collins 14th Aug '15 - 8:57pm

    @ Matthew Huntbach

    ” It (the Coalition) went smoothly, but the media decided to report it as “self destruction” and they did so relentlessly until people believed it.”

    I did not need the media to tell me that it was self-destruction. I saw it at the outset. And said so at the time.

    “A lot of people who used to vote for us won’t do so because they feel “Oh, something went massively wrong with the Liberal Democrats so they hardly exist any more”.”

    I know; I’m one of them.

    ” We need to show they are wrong. ”

    Good luck with that.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 14th Aug '15 - 9:32pm

    Thank you Peter Andrews and Phil Wainwright for pointing out my stupid error with the headline. And thank you also to the kind person who DM’d me to tell me about it. It is now corrected. Sorry!

  • A Social Liberal 14th Aug '15 - 9:39pm

    Mathew

    I just don’t recognise your version of how we lost our support. From the Tuition Fees debacle onwards the public decided we were not to be trusted and this was reflected in the polls. It had nothing to do with the press, we were haemorrhaging members every time the coalition government did something illiberal. I have had discussions with members of the public and their most common refrain was that we were not to be trusted.

    Sesenco. It wasn’t that the electorate are stupid, they simply decided that a party that parted ways with its principles was not to be trusted.

  • A Social Liberal you are absolutely right.

    Whenever the issue of trust/Coalition/tuition fees comes up, it’s like we re-run the same arguments over and over again.

  • Nick Collins you are also absolutely right.

  • @ Ernest
    “LD should have never accepted a referendum on AV!”

    With hindsight I agree with you. But in the context of coalition negotiation it made sense. The Conservatives were not offering anything on electoral reform and we opened negotiations with Labour. Gordon Brown offered a referendum on AV and the Conservatives matched it and we accepted. I don’t know how important electoral reform was to our negotiating team or if they just wanted something – anything. It is unlikely that either Labour or the Conservatives would have offered AV without a referendum or STV with a referendum. With hindsight and knowing we wouldn’t win a referendum we should have gone back to the Conservatives and asked for STV for local elections, or something form of PR for local elections but without a referendum. However STV for local elections was not one of our red lines this year, so maybe it was the MPs who didn’t feel it was important enough!

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Aug '15 - 8:35am

    ‘Stupid is as stupid does’.

    Polling showed tat during the coalition years, people might not have agreed with austerity per se but they accepted the need for it. (which parts of the coalition might have persuaded them to that view/)

    By 2015 election as the economy started to grew, You Gov were finding that 45% of people thought that the cuts had been beneficial for the economy. By the time of the election 50% of people thought that the government were handlng the economy well. ( UK polling report 5th Aug.) ( Which part of the coalition was viewed as responsible for the economic improvement) Clue. We are constantly told that the Lib Dems only had 57 MPs and we shouldn’t be unrealistic about their effect on Government, and Danny Alexander always seemed like the disseminator of George Osborne’s plans.

    Uk Polling Report offers a reason for Labour not doing better at the election, but the idea that people like myself who could not bring themselves to vote Liberal Democrat at the last election because we wanted to punish the party in some way is silly. As silly as the whole idea that there is some benefit of cutting one’s nose off to spite one’s face.

    At a sixth form college in North Yorkshire in 2010, after a hustings of candidates, the vast majority of students there said that they would support the Liberal Democrats. In 2015, or so I am told, 70% said they would vote Green. I would argue that insulting the electorate is unlikely to have much effect, it just makes the person doing the insulting seem petulant.

  • Neil Sandison 15th Aug '15 - 12:19pm

    Have faith folks should Labour descend into open warfare with its self .A confident and well prepared progressive and radical party that had learned the lessons from being in government ,and was prepared challenge the centre right and far right with an inclusive and redistributive agenda could emerge .Hopefully it will be called the Liberal Democrats but only if we believe in ourselves and work hard like Tim has said ward by ward ,division by division seat by seat .

  • Richard Underhill 16th Aug '15 - 1:41pm

    Jayne Mansfield 15th Aug ’15 – 8:35am If i understand Ryan Coetzee this is about brand, which is a long-term issue and is affected by regional differences.
    A similar point occurred when Paddy Ashdown was leader. He had appointed Des Wilson as campaign manager for a general election, but was told that campaigning on the NHS only helped Labour.
    There were therefore lots of pictures of our good-looking young leader, our only Unique Selling Point at the time,, although Paddy had become an educational expert as spokesman and as the only Liberal Democrat on a House of Commons committee.

  • Thank you Jayne Mansfield for a very good post. If people had voted Lib Dem despite all their broken promises etc, it would have confirmed to the Orange Bookers that they were right all along.

  • Simon Shaw 14th Aug ’15 – 12:13pm ……[email protected]….I’ve no idea who or what you are, expats, but if you think people blaming others, while not recognising their own responsibilities, is “constructive”, then all I can say is that is a use of the word with which I am unfamiliar…..

    “Blaming others”; “Own responsibilities”….? I don’t know who John Tilley is but, as he says, he is just an ‘ordinary member’….
    Your try to equate ‘his’ responsibility to that of Clegg/Alexander/Laws is about as ‘constructive’ as blaming a season ticket holder for a football team’s performance…..

  • nvelope2003 16th Aug '15 - 5:17pm

    Nick Collins: Apart from the occasional typographical error I have not rewritten any history because I was around when it happened. I do not see the point of your comment about the number after my ID. I shall not be praising Nick Clegg for his wisdom and far sightedness because he continually misjudged the situation but I would not say he was wicked so you would no doubt say I was being kind. No one is perfect but with hindsight he should have ended the coalition at least one year before the election and should definitely not have broken the promise on tuition fees. The present government has already broken promises after only 100 days in office but their poll ratings have soared – it is a strange world and not one where the sort of rationality you no doubt pride your self on is really much help.

    I was one of the first to spot that Jeremy Corbyn would not be the disaster for Labour that everyone else was predicting and although I am not sure he will become Prime Minister because the election is a long way off, I would not rule it out. Governments often lose support after a few years in office and the voters might fancy a complete change of direction. I hear young people talking in a very negative way without any knowledge of the practicalities of Government and what is most worrying, like so many on this site, without any idea what the Government should do or what policies they should try to implement. It is all negative unlike 60 years ago when the people wanted certain things done because it was obvious even to those who opposed them that they had to be done. It is not obvious now – the only thing that is obvious is that they do not have a clue what they want except that someone else should pay for it, which generally means those who work hard and pay their taxes. Those are the people who might be the next to revolt – it is those people who cause most revolutions.

  • nvelope2003 16th Aug '15 - 5:34pm

    Tim 13 – I should have said the only significant opposition came from the unions and Labour. As I recall the Liberals won 11 seats in the 1979 election and the Alliance/Liberal Democrats between 20 and 26 in the 1980s and 1990s. I seem to remember Roy Jenkins talking about the mixed economy, no doubt because he had helped to create it and was not going to say he was wrong. Maybe he was right but it did not seem like it then. We have learned a great deal from experience but the world has also changed in ways that could not have been foreseen. On balance I do not think the Government should run things it does not have to run because it is not always very good at it but obviously there are some things that only the Government can do and they do not seem able to cope with that so why add to their burdens ? Even the police have to be supplemented with private security firms and the Courts are a disgrace with their massive delays and colossal costs. Subsidised public transport seems to be provided to those who make most noise while those routes where improved provision would actually make a difference and reduce the use of cars are neglected because there is no money left after running buses carrying 2 or 3 passengers often using brand new buses while the busy routes are in the hands of old ones.

  • Nvelope2003 “The present government has already broken promises after only 100 days in office but their poll ratings have soared – it is a strange world and not one where the sort of rationality you no doubt pride your self on is really much help.”

    The difference is that Nick Clegg made a big deal of promising “an end to broken promises”. He devoted a whole PPB to it, where he tore up all the other parties promises and said “no more broken promises” if we voted Lib Dem, because the Lib Dems were so different from “the old parties” – that was his USB. There would not have been quite the hoo ha if he hadn’t broken the most high profile promise of all, sending letters to all students saying they would phase out tuition fees and had a “fully costed” plan to do so even with the economy as it was.

    So you see, it’s perfectly rational that he and other LDs were punished for breaking a promise, when you look at this in the round.

  • nvelope2003 16th Aug '15 - 9:51pm

    Phyllis – Well if you put it like that I guess you are right and in that case the Liberal Democrats might just as well hibernate for ten years until the voters have either forgotten or died off and been replaced by new ones.

    There have been some interesting local by election results recently which seem to indicate all might not be lost though. And there is still the possibility that Mr Corbyn might put off some moderate Labour people though they are more likely to vote Tory in most cases rather than risk a Liberal Democrat Corbyn Labour coalition.

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Aug '15 - 10:34am

    Phyllis

    The difference is that Nick Clegg made a big deal of promising “an end to broken promises”. He devoted a whole PPB to it, where he tore up all the other parties promises and said “no more broken promises” if we voted Lib Dem, because the Lib Dems were so different from “the old parties” – that was his USB.

    That was a very foolish thing to do when there was quite a high likelihood of the Liberal Democrats ending up in a coalition, and coalitions inevitably have to be about compromise, and compromise is going to be portrayed as “broken promises”.

    “A Social Liberal” says that s/he does not recognise my version of how the Liberal Democrats lost support, but makes the usual line of replying to me as if I were a Cleggie who thought that what the coalition was doing was wonderful, and so very “liberal” (if you take the Richard Reeves etc line of what “liberal” mean i.e. Thatcherite without the remnants of small-c conservatism). So here is the problem, as so often happens we have a debate which has got channeled into two camps with all other positions shut out, so that if you are in neither camp, each accuses you of being in the other.

    My point throughout has been that it is clearly impossible for 57 LibDem MPs to get 307 Conservative MPs to agree to whatever the LibDems want. So to say that the LibDems are bad people and deserve to be destroyed because they could not do that is silly, and that essentially is what most of the critics of the Liberal Democrats were saying, but I am not in that camp. However, just because that’s my position does not mean I support the way the Liberal Democrats were promoted under Clegg’s leadership. In fact I have made very clear, I believe he made a difficult situation much worse.

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Aug '15 - 12:40pm

    Nick Collins

    supposedly quoting me:

    ” It (the Coalition) went smoothly, but the media decided to report it as “self destruction” and they did so relentlessly until people believed it.”

    I did not need the media to tell me that it was self-destruction. I saw it at the outset. And said so at the time.

    No, by “It” I meant the merger between the Liberals and the SDP. It was you who put “(the Coalition)” in those words, they were not in mine.

    As I have already said, I don’t believe it was possible for 57 Liberal Democrat MPs to make 307 Conservative MPs drop what they believed in and adopt Liberal Democrat policies. The idea that a small party which holds the balance of power can get whatever it likes out of that situation is wrong, consider the Irish Green Party (destroyed in the 2011 general election after being a junior coalition partner) and the New Zealand First party (destroyed in the 1999 general election after being a junior coalition partner). The problem is always that junior coalition partners cannot get their own way and fall victim to over-expectation. Especially as the Liberal Democrats did NOT hold the balance of power 2010-2015, because there were not enough of them to combine with Labour to get a majority.

    So when you say the Liberal Democrats “self destructed” what exactly do you mean? I think the situation was made worse by the way the media reported it, the right-wing press playing the line that the LibDems were loonies stopping the Tories doing what was best for the country with their silly liberal ideas, while what is left of left-wing media played the line of painting the Liberal Democrats as having “rolled over and joined the Tories” without any analysis of what it was really possible for them to obtain under the circumstances.

    However, Nick Clegg’s swift resignation and the election of Tim Farron as leader has, I think, saved the party from breaking up in a way that perhaps would have been more likely if it had done well enough for Clegg to stay on as leader. The party has not fallen to pieces in terms of activists, and there are plenty who were unhappy during the coalition time now willing to come back and be active again, as well as a healthy supply of new recruits.

    So I think we are in a position, as we were following the Liberal-SDP merger, where media misreporting of us having been destroyed is a factor holding us back.

  • Nick Collins 17th Aug '15 - 3:10pm

    @ Matthew Huntbach

    I don’t think I have misquoted you. What you said was:
    “OK, but to some extent it’s like the Liberal-SDP merger. It went smoothly, but the media decided to report it as “self destruction” and they did so relentlessly until people believed it.”
    I take it that your first “it” refers to the coalition , the second to the merger and that believe that the two are comparable.

    “So when you say the Liberal Democrats “self destructed” what exactly do you mean?”

    Re-read your own words in the paragraph preceding that question and you have your answer.

  • Nick Collins 17th Aug '15 - 3:12pm

    Sorry, somehow lost the word “you” between “that” and “believe”!

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '15 - 3:52pm

    There were problems over the merger which we should be wary of repeating.
    Firstly the Liberal Party and the SDP formed an Alliance which aimed for first place in the 1983 elections, hence the gold coulour. The second places achieved made lots of tactical voting logical, but their number has declined gradually and then suddenly.
    Secondly the SDP changed its leader. The relationship between the Alliance leaders was different as another general election showed.
    Thirdly there were two splits, SDP2 lost all its MPs at the third general election
    continuing Liberals had no MPs. A former Liberal MP has joined the Liberal Democrats.
    These timescales are too long for the fast-moving age we live in now.

  • David Allen 17th Aug '15 - 3:55pm

    Matthew Huntbach et al

    Endlessly revisiting the SDP – Liberal history gets us nowhere. Equally, endlessly arguing with the way the Tory – Lib Dem coalition has been viewed by the media and others gets us nowhere. We need to move on.

    We need to present Tim Farron as a fresh start. We won’t achieve that if we keep bulling up what we did in Coalition.

  • David Allen 17th Aug '15 - 4:10pm

    Sesenco said “Who is to blame for the emerging one party state? Those who refused to vote tactically for Liberal Democrats in Lib Dem Tory-facing seats.”

    What would have happened if seven more Lib Dem – Tory marginals had been retained by the Lib Dems, eliminating the Tories’ overall majority? Nick Clegg would have clung on and negotiated a revived Coalition with the Tories. Tim Farron would have been sent packing.

    We are better off without Clegg. The voters you call “stupid” have enabled us to regain our principles, our independence, our self-respect, and our future.

  • Matthew Huntbach

    My point was in answer to the suggestion that it is “irrational” that the Lib Dems were punished for breaking promises when the other parties do so all the time without any public opprobrium.

  • Matt (Bristol) 17th Aug '15 - 4:53pm

    The depressing irony of the whole thing is that we arguably have a much more plural politics than in, say, 2008.

    But what we don’t appear have at the moment (although 5 years is a long time) is a plausible plurality of possible outcomes – because all the plurality have been on the left, and there has been no similar and balancing diversification of the right:
    – Nick Clegg’s hope that we could be come a party acceptable to the the moderate/liberal centre-right was a disaster for us as it appeared to lose us committed the left of our support; and I suspect the pragmatists amnong that group of voters won’t vote for a party of ‘losers’.
    – Ken Clarke-style ‘one-nation’ Pro-European Toryism has bitten the dust
    – Cameron so far continues to stifle or finesse internal opposition (whether based on ideology, personality, or regionality) relatively effectively.
    – Carswell’s defection to UKIP looks a one-off
    – UKIP in general seem to have gone very quiet (saving cash for the referendum?).

    Nuts.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '15 - 5:20pm

    There are big elections in London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in May 2016.
    Ken Clarke is still an MP and will be a YES vote in the EU referendum.

  • Matt (Bristol) 17th Aug '15 - 5:39pm

    Richard – yes to both your points. But I don’t see that the elections you mention will diversify the right. Our best hope is that can play a stronger part in a stronger centre-left, and of course, with a new LibDem leadership and most likely an untried, uneasy and controversial Labour leadership there is all to play for.

    I suspect that the reason Ken Clarke was tolerated beyond the mi-2000s is that he does not represent a faction within Toryism, he by and large now only speaks for himself.

    I am not arguing that a dominant Tory party means they have things all their way; that would not be entirely true – but they do appear so far (and I do realise it’s very, very, very early) to have a head start on the next general election.

  • Matt (Bristol) 17th Aug '15 - 5:40pm

    sorry – ey missing word was “WE can play a part in a stronger centre-left…”

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '15 - 6:18pm

    jedibeeftrix 15th Aug ’15 – 8:11am We do not yet know what Cameron will achieve in negotiations and therefore we do not yet know what he will say to the Tory conference this autumn. We cannot be sure who the Labour leader will be until the votes are counted, Peter Kellner says the two You Gov polls in the Times should be taken with buckets of salt. The big issue is the EU referendum. Labour might switch from YES to NO, depending on what Cameron negotiates and on who the next Labour leader is. SNP will be YES. Greens will be YES. We will be YES, All these parties will be saying YES, but for different reasons. Frankly the EU referendum is more important than our party interest because NO vote would be a disaster for the country.

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Aug '15 - 8:50pm

    David Allen

    We need to present Tim Farron as a fresh start. We won’t achieve that if we keep bulling up what we did in Coalition.

    But I’m not “bulling up” what we did in the Coalition. Indeed, I think I’m doing the opposite, I’m saying the problem was that it was “bulled up” (if by that you mean “exaggerated”), and that actually made the rather modest achievements look worse. However, I don’t think it helps either to accept the unrealistic attacks which paint us as thoroughly bad people for not achieving the impossible.

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Aug '15 - 8:53pm

    David Allen

    Endlessly revisiting the SDP – Liberal history gets us nowhere

    And not learning from the past gets us nowhere either.

    If the leader and those marketing the Liberal Democrats had bothered to look at what has happened to small parties in their first experience of coalition elsewhere, and learnt from that, they’d have avoided some of the terrible mistakes they made.

  • Matt (Bristol) “Cameron so far continues to stifle or finesse internal opposition (whether based on ideology, personality, or regionality) relatively”

    I think Cameron’s enemies are biding their time. It’s only three months since he won an unexpected majority (it seems so much longer) and we are now in recess. Wait til we get nearer the Referendum. The knives will be out then. This is still the honeymoon period.

  • paul barker 17th Aug '15 - 9:55pm

    I dont think its helpful to exagerate our position, we have not been reduced to a pile of rubble, that would suggest disunity whereas in fact we are more united than Tories or Labour. The big problem with our time in Government wasnt so much voter dissaproval as our invisibility. As far as most voters are concerned we might as well have gone on holiday for five years. The first job is to get ourselves noticed again & our second is to stop talking ourselves down.

  • Paul Barker ” invisibility”?? I remember Lib Dems being far too visible for all the wrong reasons! Danny Alexander was on the TV and radio countless times defending Osbornes policies. Nick Clegg was on the media all the time too defending the Govts policies and had a slot on LBC every Wednesday morning. The Lib Dem conferences were trailed and covered on all the news channels. I don’t think the Lib Dems have ever had so much visibility.

  • John Tilley 18th Aug '15 - 7:11am

    Paul Walter 17th Aug ’15 – 9:18pm
    ““The reality is that it is difficult to effectively police a land border.”
    I agree. Fortunately, this is not a problem we face.”

    The UK has at least two land orders within the EU. Do you remember the Republic of Ireland ?

    There is also the land border with Spain. (Gibraltar is not an independent country and whilst the Treaty of Utrecht has the clarity of mud in the hands of officials at the FCO it is highly likely that the UK will continue to have problems with this land border).

    If “swarms” of migrants decide that the best way to defy David Cameron and gain access to the UK is to walk across the border into Gibraltar, the Spanish Government might smile on the migrants and help them on their way.

    It would after all be a lot easier than jumping on a lorry at Calais.

  • Phyllis 17th Aug ’15 – 11:05pm ..Exactly! THAT was/is the reason for our current situation., not some media or Labour plot….
    Hearing Alexander I, sometimes, thought he was almost ‘intoxicated’ by having such publicity. I’m reminded of Marley’s appearance to Scrooge when he tells him the “Chains are those he forged himself”. Sadly those ‘chains’ were not restricted to Alexander…

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Aug '15 - 10:20am

    Phyllis

    Paul Barker ” invisibility”?? I remember Lib Dems being far too visible for all the wrong reasons! Danny Alexander was on the TV and radio countless times defending Osbornes policies. Nick Clegg was on the media all the time too defending the Govts policies and had a slot on LBC every Wednesday morning.

    Yes, but that’s a rather restricted visibility. The publicity given to Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg hid the broader image of the Liberal Democrats. It was not the case that every Liberal Democrat agreed with what Alexander and Clegg were saying and doing. Once again, you Phyllis, use language which implied that every Liberal Democrat member agreed with Alexander and Clegg, that all of us were mad keen on the government and would want to defend all it did. You refuse to listen to those of us who saw the Coalition as a compromise forced on us by the situation, and when we try to argue our case, your repose has always been “nah nah nah nah nah, I’m not listening” under the supposition that every single one of us is a Cleggie.

    That is why people like you helped destroy the Liberal Democrats, because when those who were unhappy with what Clegg was doing tried to express that and show that the Liberal Democrats had not abandoned their principles and criticise Clegg for the direction he was taking the party, we looked around for support from the sort of people who we thought agreed with our position, and we got none, just “nah nah nah nah nah”. That response did so much to build up the false image of the Liberal Democrats which has lost us so many votes.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Aug '15 - 10:34am

    paul barker

    I dont think its helpful to exagerate our position, we have not been reduced to a pile of rubble, that would suggest disunity whereas in fact we are more united than Tories or Labour.

    Yes, that’s what I meant by mentioning the time of the Liberal-SDP merger. The merger went smoothly, with almost all activists on both sides coming together and working as one party. There were plenty of people like myself who were not happy with aspects of the merger but accepted it was what had happened, supported by the two parties’ democratic mechanisms, therefore we needed to get behind it and make it work. For most of us it was business as usual in terms of our local campaigning activity.

    Yet the press reported it as if some hugely terrible thing had happened and the Liberal-SDP alliance had crumbled into ruin. So people who would have been happy to vote for us, and were doing so at local level, stopped doing do so because they thought we had just become a pile of rubble.

    Same with the situation now. Sure, many of us and our voters were unhappy with the coalition, but does that justify the current way in which our party is dismissed as if it has been completely destroyed? We can see this in current commentary on the Labour Party leadership election, where the supposed destruction of our party gets mentioned casually as if there really is nothing left of it and no way it can revive.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Aug '15 - 10:50am

    One of the other things we can learn from the SDP era is the way first impressions count, and so often something still gets viewed and reported as it first was, even if that was a fairly fleeting moment.

    When the SDP was started, it wanted to be a Labour Party Mark II, and the aim was that it would take the bulk of the Labour vote, leaving the official Labour Party as a small rump. However, it did not work like that. The SDP’s support turned out to be much the same sort of people who voted Liberal. So instead of winning over hard-core Labour voters in Labour seats, it won over people who were unhappy with both Conservatives and Labour, particularly in areas where the Labour Party was weak anyway. This became apparent very quickly, the period when it could be thought of as “Labour Party Mark II” was just a few months.

    Yet because of how it was reported at the start, the myth grew that it had “split the Labour vote” and so “let the Tories in”, and this has been written up as history by now. It is, however, untrue. Every opinion poll showed no real difference between SDP voters and Liberal voters (an SDP voter was essentially a Liberal voter who lived in an area where the Liberals had not been active), and showed that for second choice they split equally between Labour and Conservative. There was no vote split, the equal split of second preferences meant the presence of an SDP candidate made no difference as to whether Labour or the Conservatives won.

    So with the Coalition. The first impression of the Rose Garden love-in was impossible to get out of people’s minds. Whatever the Liberal Democrats did, that was still how it was reported and people tended to see it.

  • Paul Walter 18th Aug ’15 – 8:35am
    “…. Jedibeeftrix, not me. ”

    Apologies all round for my confusion!

    jedibeeftrix 18th Aug ’15 – 8:39am
    I went across the border from Spain to Gibraltar only last year. In comparison to walking through the Channel Tunnel or scrabbling into a lorry at Calais it is not really a controlled border at all except when the Spanish Government wants to make a point.

    Large numbers of smugglers (mainly cigarettes but some hard drugs) are daily walk across from Gibraltar to Spain and their contraband is openly on sale in the grubby and slightly threatening area around MacDonalds on the Spanish side.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Aug '15 - 12:01pm

    Nick Collins (in reply to me)

    “So when you say the Liberal Democrats “self destructed” what exactly do you mean?”

    Re-read your own words in the paragraph preceding that question and you have your answer.

    No.

    By “self-destruct” you imply that the Liberal Democrats destroyed themselves, that they alone are to blame for what happened to them in terms of loss of support.

    But the words I wrote and you tell me are an answer to my question make it clear that it was the situation that the Liberal Democrats found themselves in that was the problem, and not just what the Liberal Democrats chose to do.

    The Liberal Democrats were relentlessly attacked by people I call “nah nah nah nah nah”s because they were not able to get everything that Liberal Democrats would want out of the situation following the 2010 general election. The “nah nah nah nah nah” say this mean the Liberal Democrats are bad people and deserved to be destroyed for that. What I wrote says something completely different, it says that small parties in general cannot achieve as much as is naively supposed in “balance of power” situations.

    I certainly believe the Liberal Democrat leadership handled the situation badly, and I was saying that throughout the period of the coalition. However, I don’t think there was an easy way that would have resulted in the Liberal Democrats emerging triumphant from the situation. Not joining the coalition would have resulted in another general election held on the grounds “Britain needs a stable single party government”, with the Liberal Democrats destroyed for being what was blocking that.

  • @ Matthew Huntbach

    ‘The SDP’s support turned out to be much the same sort of people who voted Liberal. …
    ‘Yet because of how it was reported at the start, the myth grew that it had “split the Labour vote” and so “let the Tories in”,’

    While I agree with the first statement but would emphasis MUCH; the second is not totally true.
    The split in February 1974 was Lab 37.2%, Con 37.9%, Lib 19.3%.
    In October 1974 – Lab 39.2%, Con 35.8% Lib 18.3%.
    In 1979 – Lab 36.9%, Con 43.9% Lib 13.8%.
    In 1983 – Lab 27.6%, Con 42.4% All 25.4%.

    The huge majority the Conservatives achieved in 1983 was mainly down to the split of the anti-Conservative vote. It is clear that the increase in the Liberal vote to the Alliance vote in 1983 affected the Labour share vastly more than the Conservative share.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Aug '15 - 1:48pm

    Michael BG 18th Aug ’15 – 1:13pm Yes, but it was not an SDP or Liberal MP who described Labour’s manifesto as the “longest suicide not in history” or told Labour’s leader that every time he spoke they dropped in the polls.
    Although the SDP had been above 50% in the polls and the Alliance aimed for first place, turning votes into seats remained a problem. The peaks and troughs of supoport acroos the country evened out a bit, but, sadly the SDP mainly filled in the troughs without electing many MPs, just a few celebrities and the brilliant Charles Kennedy.

  • Malcolm Todd 18th Aug '15 - 1:49pm

    Michael BG
    “the split of the anti-Conservative vote”

    Not that old canard, again… People aren’t asked, first, “Do you want to vote for or against the Conservatives”, and only if they answer “against”, “Okay, who do you want to vote for?”
    People who switched from Labour to the Alliance were mostly switching precisely in order to get away from Labour, I reckon. Some would no doubt have stayed with Labour if the SDP hadn’t existed; others would have switched to the Tories or not voted, or voted SNP.
    The existence of people who despise the Tory Party and will never vote for it but are by no means convinced that the Labour Party is any better (or sufficiently better to swallow principle and vote for it) was and apparently still remains a source of mystification to some on the left. It’s easier to call people “stupid” (not you, MBG — I’m referring back to Sesenco’s most temperate contribution at the beginning of this debate) than to accept that your overriding priority might not, legitimately, be theirs.

  • @ Malcolm Todd
    I am surprised that you dislike the term “the anti-Conservative vote” and then refer to “people who despise the Tory Party and will never vote for it”. Aren’t these the same people? From the figures I posted it might be inferred that 13.8% was the level of support of those who held liberal principles. I do think there is an anti-government vote in most general elections and in 1983 it was anti-Conservative. I thought anti-Conservative vote was a better description than Labour vote.

  • Malcolm Todd 18th Aug '15 - 2:44pm

    “I am surprised that you dislike the term ‘the anti-Conservative vote’ and then refer to ‘people who despise the Tory Party and will never vote for it’.”

    You just chopped my definition in half and then implied it amounted to the same thing as your definition. That’s like saying “People who hate both cornflakes and Weetabix” are the same as “People who hate cornflakes” and that they should therefore be grateful to be offered Weetabix.

  • Nick Collins 18th Aug '15 - 2:49pm

    @ Matthew Huntbach

    ” … it was the situation that the Liberal Democrats found themselves in that was the problem, and not just what the Liberal Democrats chose to do.”

    Delete the words “not just” and will agree with you.

    A small parliamentary party going into coalition with a much larger one was a recipe for disaster for the former. That was one reason why I voted against the coalition at the Birmingham Conference . Sadly the majority chose, lemming-like to follow Clegg et al over the precipice.

    You have made it repeatedly clear that you believe that the alternative choice of not going into coalition would also have led to disaster. I believe that the said alternative would certainly have been difficult, but not nearly so disastrous as the choice to go into coalition: and the five-year car crash which followed from that decision.

    Only a visit to a parallel universe in which the LibDems chose not to go into coalition will determine which of us is right. Let’s leave it at that, shall we?

  • David Allen 18th Aug '15 - 5:11pm

    Matthew Huntbach,

    “One of the other things we can learn from the SDP era is the way first impressions count, and so often something still gets viewed and reported as it first was, even if that was a fairly fleeting moment.”

    OK, I’ll grant you that you make an important point there – though I don’t think it is necessary to learn it from the SDP era! A better example might be how Gordon Brown’s brief honeymoon with the voters came to a shuddering halt when he chickened out of holding an election and became Bottler Brown.

    Today, Tim Farron can hope for a honeymoon with the voters. Like Brown, he can only hope to do that if he presents himself as a big break from a discredited past. Convoluted rationalisations about how the past was a lesser disaster than it might have been because the Lib Dems made a complex mixture of awful mistakes combined with a supposedly courageous and self-sacrificing decision to, er, accept lots of well-paid government jobs, are not going to help to portray this big, clean break!

    Cleggism is dead, so is the SDP, so are the quarrels of the 1980s and the Coalition era. Let’s move on!

  • David Allen 18th Aug '15 - 6:24pm

    Nick Collins,

    It’s a bit like the parable of the man dying of thirst. The djinn puts two bottles of liquid in front of him, and then remarks with an evil leer that at least one of the bottles contains deadly poison.

    So the man swigs down the contents of the green bottle. As he writhes and chokes to death on the poison, he gasps out “Just as well I didn’t go for the red bottle”!

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Aug '15 - 7:30pm

    Michael BG

    The huge majority the Conservatives achieved in 1983 was mainly down to the split of the anti-Conservative vote.

    Sorry, there you go repeating Labour propaganda, which is essentially “all those votes were ours by right”.

    Let me repeat what I said. All the opinion polls at the time showed the Liberal-SDP vote split almost equally between Labour and Conservative as second preference. Therefore it is simply wrong to describe it as an “anti-Conservative vote” as if otherwise it would all have gone to Labour. Given the equal split of second preferences, it makes just as much sense to describe it as an “anti-Labour vote”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Aug '15 - 8:02pm

    Nick Collins

    Only a visit to a parallel universe in which the LibDems chose not to go into coalition will determine which of us is right. Let’s leave it at that, shall we?

    No, I will not leave it at that so long as you and other make false and insulting accusations against those who agreed to the coalition. When you start your comment with “Sadly the majority chose, lemming-like to follow Clegg et al over the precipice”, you are not leaving it in satisfactory “agree to disagree” position. You are not giving the courtesy to those who agreed to the coalition of accepting that perhaps they had thought it through and perhaps they did think as I thought, that the alternative would have been even more damaging.

    From the very start of the Coalition I made clear it was something I accepted very reluctantly because I could see what would happen if we had refused to join it, and I also made it clear that I completely disagreed with Clegg’s “Rose Garden” presentation of it as super-duper wonderful, and the impression he gave at the start, and allowed the media to give, that it was a Coalition built on mutual love rather than a sad necessity.

    You in the words you start your comment off with refuse to accept that I have a right to my own opinion and you refuse to accept that maybe I thought it through and came to a different position than you. Instead, you join the “nah nah nah nah nah”s in suggesting it was so obvious that your conclusion was the right one that I could not possibly mean what I have been saying, so in reality it is a cover-up, a disguise for me being a secret Tory.

    That is a very nasty and untrue accusation, and I will not “leave it at that” when you have made it.

  • Matthew Huntbach what you say is simply false. Sure, there are a few of you on here who disagreed with Clegg’s direction but the whole of the Parliamentary Party supported Clegg and even after the Euro massacre when some Lib Dems called for a change of leader, the Party at large declined to force a leadership contest. They were lambasted on here even by one of the LDV editors for criticising ” a democratically elected leader”

    As for not supporting those who criticised Clegg, I have been one of his most vociferous critics on here, and elsewhere. What else would you wish me to do when the majority of the Lib Dems, not least the Parliamentary Party in its entirety, did not listen to their own longstanding, active members such as yourself, John Tilley and Bill le Breton. Why don’t you turn your fire on the people in your party, Lub Dem activists and people with a vote and influence, for not supporting you, someone who has devoted his whole life to Lib Dem activism?

  • Nick Collins 18th Aug '15 - 9:49pm

    @ Matthew Huntbach

    I have not said that you do not have a right a your opinion. Your false allegation that I have is, in your own words, “a nasty and untrue accusation” .

    I fail to see how any objective reader of my comment could place on it the interpretation which you have chosen to in your penultimate paragraph. Please try to get out of the habit of setting up nine-pins in order to knock them down

    Everything else in your post , including your signature chorus of “nah,nah … etc”, is repetition of stuff you have said, frequently and at length, in other threads . Do you imagine that by endlessly repeating the same points, and aggressively insulting anyone who has the temerity to disagree with them, you will persuade people that they are right? ?

    That question, by the way, is rhetorical. I will “leave it at that” , whether you choose to do so or not, because I have more interesting things to do , for the next few days, than revisit this site.

  • Nick Collins 18th Aug '15 - 9:59pm

    @ David Allen

    I’ve not heard that parable before. I rather like it.

  • @ Matthew Huntbach

    I don’t recall reading that Alliance second preferences would split “almost equally between Labour and Conservative”. However I still feel that those whose first preferences that were not Conservative can be called “anti-Conservative” at that election and this is not the same as assuming that all of these people would vote Labour if there were only two candidates in each seat. My assumption is that NOT all those votes were Labour votes.

    I was also clear in not saying that the Conservative victory in 1983 was because of the increase in the Liberal vote to the Alliance vote. I said that one of the reasons that the Conservatives achieved a HUGE majority in 1983 was because of this. Could it not be said that since 1983 until 2005 we have targeted better so our smaller share of the vote gave us more MPs and this is due to persuading those whose first preference was Labour to vote for us when we are in a position to win. (I also recognise that in some seats it was Conservative first preferences that we managed to persuade to vote for us.) I thought it was generally accepted that the SIZE of the Conservative defeat in 1997 was due to people voting for their second preference against the Conservatives in some seats.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Aug '15 - 11:53am

    Phyllis

    As for not supporting those who criticised Clegg, I have been one of his most vociferous critics on here, and elsewhere. What else would you wish me to do when the majority of the Lib Dems, not least the Parliamentary Party in its entirety, did not listen to their own longstanding, active members such as yourself, John Tilley and Bill le Breton.

    I would wish you and others like you to give more support and recognition to people like John Tilley, Bill le Breton and myself. You and others have continually ignored what people like me have been saying, and instead taken the line that ALL Liberal Democrats without exception are bad people, under the assumption that all of us are mad keen Clegg fans who agreed with everything Clegg said and did. You have refused to accept that there may be a position midway between “the Liberal Democrats could easily have got everything they wanted out of the 2010 situation, and they are bad people because they didn’t” and the Clegg position that the Coalition was super-duper wonderful. A good part of the reason we were unable to push things our way in the party was the total lack of outside support, the way in which the universal position on the left outside the Liberal Democrats was “ALL Liberal Democrats are bad people, and the party deserves to be destroyed”. That enabled the right-wing of the party to dismiss us as a lost cause and argue the case that the only way future in the party was to make a permanent shift to the right (see here).

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Aug '15 - 12:04pm

    Nick Collins

    Do you imagine that by endlessly repeating the same points, and aggressively insulting anyone who has the temerity to disagree with them, you will persuade people that they are right? ?

    All I am asking for here is an acceptance that some of us genuinely did think through the situation, and came to different conclusions to the one you came to, not because we are secret Tories who just told untruths in the 2010 general election campaign, but because we recognised what a difficult situation the Parliamentary balance of May 2010 left us in.

    I’m not seeing that here, so we aren’t in a position to “agree to disagree”. The line that you and other give continues to be that the only reason any Liberal Democrat would have agreed to the Coalition was because they were secret Tories who loved its right-wing policies, or unthinking “lemmings”. On tuition fees, you’ve refused to accept the suggestion I’ve made (and it is only a suggestion) that it was the best compromise available, and had it not been done the alternative would have been damaging cuts to universities. I’m not saying you should agree to it, just accept that it’s a legitimate position, and so stop using the line that all Liberal Democrats are bad people who should be driven to political destruction because of this issue.

    You accuse me of endlessly repeating the same points, but I’d have stopped if I’d have got this “agree to disagree” response from you and others, which suggested you had at least got my point even if you disagreed with it. But all I got was the impression that you weren’t listening, that you only came to this website to jeer at us, and that’s why I started calling you “nah nah nah nah nah”s.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Aug '15 - 12:06pm

    Michael BG

    I don’t recall reading that Alliance second preferences would split “almost equally between Labour and Conservative”.

    I remember almost every opinion poll at the time which asked that question got that as the answer – an almost equal split.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Aug '15 - 12:17pm

    Michael BG

    I was also clear in not saying that the Conservative victory in 1983 was because of the increase in the Liberal vote to the Alliance vote. I said that one of the reasons that the Conservatives achieved a HUGE majority in 1983 was because of this

    And I am saying that I believe this to be false. Had there been no significant Liberal-SDP support in 1983, I believe the Conservatives would still have had a huge majority. That is partly due to the electoral system which Labour supports and we do not, they are the ones who say its distortion is a good thing. If the votes that went to the Liberal-SDP candidates had instead gone to what the polls say were their second preferences, the equal split means no difference in terms of seats won by Labour and seats won by the Tories,

    So, I don’t blame the Liberals and the SDP for the Tories being in government 1983-1997, which many Labour Party people do.

    One thing the Liberals were able to do, and this is why I started supporting them in the first place, was win supposedly “true blue” constituencies that Labour would never be able to win. That included Lewes and Eastbourne in my home county of Sussex, and at one time it looked like several other of the Tory seats in Sussex could go Liberal Democrat – the Worthing seats were once a great hope, and the LibDems controlled the councils there (Worthing and Adur) at times.

    However, the destruction of the Liberal Democrats, cheered on by the “nah nah nah nah nah”s, has made these places very safe Tory once again. I am so sad, and actually very angry, about that. That is why I fight back against these people and what they did.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Aug '15 - 7:37pm

    David Allen

    It’s a bit like the parable of the man dying of thirst. The djinn puts two bottles of liquid in front of him, and then remarks with an evil leer that at least one of the bottles contains deadly poison.

    So the man swigs down the contents of the green bottle. As he writhes and chokes to death on the poison, he gasps out “Just as well I didn’t go for the red bottle”!

    No. The accusation being made by the “nah nah nah nah nah”s is equivalent to saying that the man knew the green bottle contained poison and the red did not, but chose the green one anyway.

    The other issue, of course, is that Clegg made the coalition a whole lot worse. It is as if both bottles contained poison, but the green bottle contained poison that was less harmful so long as you avoided eating cheese and standing on your head. Clegg was like a man who swigged from the green bottle and then ate a whole load of cheese and stood on his head. And when he was told “You should not have done that”, he yelled at his accuser “You don’t understand, if we had done it your way I’d have taken the red bottle and died”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Aug '15 - 7:48pm

    David Allen

    Convoluted rationalisations about how the past was a lesser disaster than it might have been because the Lib Dems made a complex mixture of awful mistakes combined with a supposedly courageous and self-sacrificing decision to, er, accept lots of well-paid government jobs, are not going to help to portray this big, clean break!

    What “lots of well-paid government jobs”? How many of us ordinary member of the Liberal Democrats got well paid jobs out of the Coalition? A few got jobs as spads maybe, but I think those who did were not ordinary members, indeed they seem to have been mostly right-wing types who had little contact with ordinary members and regarded then with contempt, following the line laid down by Clegg’s Director of Strategy (who maybe appointed them). Ordinary members who had jobs as councillors lost them (a councillor’s allowance is not enough to pay for a full time job, but extra allowances for leadership positions can just do it).

    One of the things I found really off-putting when I was actively involved in electoral activity was this constant accusation that I was doing it to “feather my own pocket” etc, when the reality was that I almost lost my paid job because of the time I spent on politics, and I will never make up the money lost from losing promotion opportunities because though I fulfilled my commitments, I did not do the extras that get you promotion.

    This false image you are promoting of what politics is all about is very damaging, and it aids the political right who benefit from the “politics is all bad, it’s just about people in it for themselves, so don’t get involved” line.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Aug '15 - 8:10pm

    David Allen

    Cleggism is dead, so is the SDP, so are the quarrels of the 1980s and the Coalition era. Let’s move on!

    Yes, as you and I have shown, those of us who were on opposite sides in the 1980s are now often allies working together against the Orange Bookers and their false claims to be the real heirs to the old Liberals.

    However, I think if we don’t fight back against the accusations thrown at us over the Coalition, we’ll find they are always thrown at us. I myself think this Tory government will be so awful, and will end up in a big economic collapse, and then we will be able to say “See, you thought we were just rolling over and backing the Tories, but now see how much worse it was when we aren’t there doing what we can to stop the worst of them”. And Tim Farron has said much the same.

    Also, if we accept the unrealistic lines and accusations made against us over the Coalition, we’ll hit by the same thing if we are ever in that position again.

    Also, I’m not a Leninist, I’m a Liberal. To me, as a Liberal, politics is about representatives coming together to try and find a compromise. So when people say that accepting a compromise means you are bad and evil people, they are in effect attacking liberalism. I don’t agree with the Leninist model of politics which says it’s about a political party making a five-year plan on its own and imposing it.

    The Liberal Democrats were weakened in what they could get in terms of compromise by the distortion of the electoral system. One of the many faults of Clegg was not to get this message across. So just because I argue the case for compromise does not mean I think what came out of the Coalition was how it should have been. However, Labour thinks it should have been 100% Tory because they support distortion in favour of the largest party. Corbyn has said that himself.

  • Matthew Huntbach ” I would wish you and others like you to give more support and recognition to people like John Tilley, Bill le Breton and myself. ”

    I wholehearted support everything John Tilley and Bill lB have said about Nick Clegg and the Coalition years. I find no point at all on which I disagree with anything either of them have said. Not one word. To be crystal clear: in my view both those men have got it 100% right and I find their contribution enlightening and also interesting.

    “….. taken the line that ALL Liberal Democrats without exception are bad people, under the assumption that all of us are mad keen Clegg fans who agreed with everything Clegg said and did”

    I have never said that nor do I believe it. What I do believe is evidence: all the Parliamentarians supported him and so did most of the constituency parties when it came to the crunch. that is most of the Lib Dems – hence referring to them as Lib Dems. Would you rather we all referred to “Lib Dems apart from Matthew Huntbach, John Tilley, Bill Le Breton, Tony Dawson ….” . No political party is homogenous, there are always dissenting voices but everyone knows that when we refer to the Party (whichever one) we mean those at the top.

    “You have refused to accept that there may be a position midway between “the Liberal Democrats could easily have got everything they wanted out of the 2010 situation, and they are bad people because they didn’t” and the Clegg position that the Coalition was super-duper wonderful”

    No I have refused to believe that Nick Clegg and the MPs HAD to agree to the NHS reforms or to the bedroom tax or to Secret Courts because of the “compromises of Coalition”. I still refuse to accept that.

    “A good part of the reason we were unable to push things our way in the party was the total lack of outside support,”

    No. The reason you were unable to push things your way was because of the total lack of support from INSIDE the party. In particular from Paddy, Vince, Shirley or any other prominent LDs.

  • Peter Watson 19th Aug '15 - 9:28pm

    @Matthew Huntbach “I would wish you and others like you to give more support and recognition to people like John Tilley, Bill le Breton and myself. You and others have continually ignored what people like me have been saying, and instead taken the line that ALL Liberal Democrats without exception are bad people, under the assumption that all of us are mad keen Clegg fans who agreed with everything Clegg said and did”
    Whilst I agree with pretty much everything you post and envy the passion and eloquence with which you express yourself, I think you sometimes overreact when, over the last five years, people refer to Lib Dems without explicitly excluding yourself and a few others. I often tried to refer to “parliamentary Lib Dems” or some such to make it a little more specific. We have to accept that the electorate was presented with a view of the party that was very much that of the Cleggies. Those of us who visited this site read articles which generally toed the party line with responses in threads by a few regular dissenters who were often decried as the “usual suspects” or as Labour trolls, etc. by members more loyal to the leadership (I sometimes like to imagine that I was one of those usual suspects but don’t suppose I ever really made it into that gallant band). No matter how much we might wish it were different, the “nah nah nah nah nahs” did not see a divided party: if anything it seemed less split than other parties with no apparent desire to replace Clegg or distance itself from coalition policies. I also think that blaming these voters for letting in a Tory government is a little unfair: however misguided they were, the electorate did not see a Lib Dem party that was a significant alternative to that, but I accept that as part of an ongoing strategy to differentiate Lib Dems from Tories it is a useful message. I truly hope that Tim Farron can lead the party in a different direction, one with which you, John Tilley, et al can agree, as that would be a party that I could support again.

  • Peter Watson, thank you for your post, I agree with most of it. The only point I would make is that those of us who disagreed with the behaviour of Clegg et al were forced to vote for other parties in 2015 and we were right to do so. If the Lib Dems had a few more seats, Clegg would still be DPM, and the right wing of the Party would feel totally vindicated. There would be no ‘rebirth’ under Farron because Clegg would be busy negotiating Coalition 2.0.

  • Peter Watson 20th Aug '15 - 7:53am

    @Phyllis
    I agree with what you have written (pre-moderation means that I could not see your post at 9:20 last night – or mine – until some time after they were submitted).
    I think your point that many felt “forced” to abstain or to vote against Tories and Lib Dems, however reluctantly, is an important one. Each Lib Dem vote could be interpreted as endorsing a version or vision of the party which the voter did not support, and in government, the leadership gave the impression that there would be little difference between a Tory government and one with Lib Dems in coalition (less than a fag packet perhaps, or according to the election campaign, one with a bit more “heart” which implied that Tory policies already had enough “brain”).

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Aug '15 - 9:50am

    Phyllis

    I have never said that nor do I believe it. What I do believe is evidence: all the Parliamentarians supported him and so did most of the constituency parties when it came to the crunch. that is most of the Lib Dems – hence referring to them as Lib Dems.

    This is untrue, for example a high proportion of the Parliamentary Liberal Democrat party voted against the tuition fees rise.

    No I have refused to believe that Nick Clegg and the MPs HAD to agree to the NHS reforms or to the bedroom tax or to Secret Courts because of the “compromises of Coalition”. I still refuse to accept that.

    Yes, and I myself attended the Liberal Democrat conference in Gateshead where there was a strong fightback against the Cleggies’ support of NHS reforms. The argument, which the Cleggies put up Shirley Williams to defend, was that sufficient changes to those reforms had been pushed through by the Liberal Democrats that they could be accepted as a satisfactory compromise. I disagreed, as did a large proportion of the delegates attending the conference, and voted against the Cleggies’ motion on this subject.

    From what you have written, as many others, one might suppose that the whole of the Liberal Democrats apart from a handful of individuals had just given uncritical support to what the Tories proposed.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Aug '15 - 10:05am

    Peter Watson

    In reply to the various points you made in your message of 9:28pm yesterday:

    1) One of the issues is that the attackers of the Liberal Democrats who I dubbed “nah nah nah nah nah”s (that is almost everyone to the left in British politics outside committed supporters of the Liberal Democrats) completely ignored the extent to which the Liberal Democrats had sought and gained compromises with the Tories. Of course we can argue about the extent to which those compromises could have been pushed further towards the Liberal Democrat way. However, I think many commenting from the outside had an unrealistic belief about what could be achieved under the circumstances.

    2) Another is the extent to which the “nah nah nah nah nah”s ignored the spread of opinion in the party, and made out that almost all the party was uncritically in support of Clegg.

    If the idea was that pushing these two messages would encourage the Liberal Democrats to move to the left, it was completely wrong. My very firm belief is that it did the opposite, the “nah nah nah nah nah”s helped Clegg seal control over the party.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Aug '15 - 10:23am

    Phyllis

    No. The reason you were unable to push things your way was because of the total lack of support from INSIDE the party. In particular from Paddy, Vince, Shirley or any other prominent LDs.

    Suppose that people like you, instead of condemning every single Liberal Democrat as an uncritical supporter of Clegg and Clegg as an uncritical support of the Tories and urging that the Liberal Democrats be destroyed for that, had acknowledged internal differences, had said that you would give support to Parliamentary candidates who opposed Clegg, had acknowledged those aspects where the Liberal Democrats had managed to push things away from the worst of what the Tories proposed. What would have been the consequences?

    I believe it would have encouraged more of those on the left of the Liberal Democrats to speak out and challenge Clegg. I believe it would have stopped the drip-drip resignation of members of the party who were to the left and unhappy with Clegg, and encouraged them instead to join the fightback.

    In my own local constituency party I remember there were so many members whose line to me was essentially “I agree with all you say, but I’m afraid to speak out”. These scaredycats NEEDED people like you to encourage them to speak out. You (I mean that in the plural) didn’t. You did the opposite. In that way you backed the Cleggies. You backed the Cleggies in helping push the image that the Liberal Democrats had moved permanently to the right. You made it look as if fighting back was pointless as no-one was listening. In that way you caused a lot of damage.

    I’m not saying this was the only reason the party was damaged. As I said continuously for five years, Clegg seemed to go out of his way to do all he could to make a difficult situation worse. Even if he had had a more competent leader, we would inevitably have lost support due to the Coalition. However, I do think the “nah nah nah nah nah”s were a significant additional factor in pushing the Liberal Democrats even further down.

  • Matthew Huntbach ” the extent to which the Liberal Democrats had sought and gained compromises with the Tories. ”

    Please could you clarify who you mean by “the Liberal Democrats”. Do you mean the negotiating team? Or the Party as a whole??

  • Matthew Huntbach
    “…,you would give support to Parliamentary candidates who opposed Clegg, had acknowledged those aspects where the Liberal Democrats had managed to push things away from the worst of what the Tories proposed. What would have been the consequences?

    How do you suppose that Phyllis saying on LDV that Matthew Huntbach is absolutely right would have made any difference to the takeover of the Party by the Orange Bookers?? Anyone from outside the Party giving you support would have met with ridicule and accusations of ” our enemies are stirring the pot”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Aug '15 - 10:31am

    Phyllis

    No political party is homogenous, there are always dissenting voices but everyone knows that when we refer to the Party (whichever one) we mean those at the top.

    That is not how politics should be. Of course the national media paint it that way, but why should we accept that? One of the problems in politics is that ordinary people now tend just to assume the Leninist model of political party – that a party exists to push The Party Line as set down by The Glorious Leader, and that if you are a member you are signing your life away to be a slave of that leader.

    It would, I think, be helpful if more people could push the liberal democratic view of politics, in which political parties are networks to help people co-operate and get representatives elected and in that way challenge established power.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Aug '15 - 10:39am

    Peter Watson

    Each Lib Dem vote could be interpreted as endorsing a version or vision of the party which the voter did not support, and in government, the leadership gave the impression that there would be little difference between a Tory government and one with Lib Dems in coalition

    The national media put out the line that every single Liberal Democrat was just gagging for the the Coalition to continue, and would regard that as a victory. That was completely untrue. In fact polls of party members showed that many (I think it may have been a majority) did NOT want to see the Liberal Democrats continue in coalition. There was actually very little support for the Coalition as it existed to continue. Of course the right-wing spads who Clegg had appointed wanted it to continue, as it not doing so meant they lost their jobs. But they are not the party, however much they gave the impression they were.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Aug '15 - 10:55am

    Phyllis

    There would be no ‘rebirth’ under Farron because Clegg would be busy negotiating Coalition 2.0.

    I was myself extremely critical of Farron during the time of the Coalition because he was FAR too supportive of Clegg. He was a prime promoter of the disastrous “75% of our manifesto implemented” line, which most people read as “75% of the government’s policies are what the LibDems want”. He always came across to me as a sort of licensed leftie, let out to give the impression of pluralism in the party, but underneath an ultra-loyalist. I was always suspicious of the way the media promoted him as the “candidate of the left” in any forthcoming leadership election, because it seemed to me they were doing so as they regarded him as “safe”.

    OK, but with only 8 MPs left there wasn’t much of a choice, and my original “anyone but Farron” line was demolished by the nasty campaign run by Norman Lamb and his supporters.

    I hope there will be a re-birth, and I hope the Liberal Democrats will once again become a party I am happy to be actively involved in. I do think a re-birth requires a certain reconciliation to bring the party together. It would not be a good approach if Farron employed the sort of factionalist bias which Clegg did. Also I really do think a more objective analysis of what the Liberal Democrats did in the Coalition, which acknowledges the weakness they had as Clegg didn’t, would be helpful rather than a hindrance in the re-birth. As the current government goes on, I think it will be come very obvious that there was much more than “fag packet” difference between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, we’ve had just a few months of it and already the Tories are bringing out horrendous things which the LibDem had stopped when they could.

  • Richard Underhill 20th Aug '15 - 11:33am

    Matthew Huntbach 20th Aug ’15 – 10:55am Come to federal conference if you can and vote in the debate on Trident.
    Then you will see whether we are in coalition with the Conservatives in government or the conservative wing of the labour party. Expect reaction in the press, but remember 1989.

  • Peter Watson 20th Aug '15 - 11:57am

    @Matthew Huntbach “One of the issues is that the attackers of the Liberal Democrats who I dubbed “nah nah nah nah nah”s (that is almost everyone to the left in British politics outside committed supporters of the Liberal Democrats) completely ignored the extent to which the Liberal Democrats had sought and gained compromises with the Tories.”
    Unfortunately it was very difficult to ascertain the extent to which any of the coalition policies were the result of this sort of compromise, and I don’t recall many (any?) being presented as such. Perhaps that is inevitable in coalition government, or a consequence of interpreting collective responsibility as a requirement to hide any disagreements. Policies from a >80% Tory government were wholeheartedly promoted by senior Lib Dems, claims were made that much of the policy was from the Lib Dem manifesto, and as you have pointed out yourself, Clegg’s fearmongering about the SNP gave the impression that the minor party in a coalition could call the tune.
    Even pointing to the nasty Tory government we have now is not proof that Coalition Part 2 would be different from it. Some new government policies can be described as a logical extension of what (the public face of) Lib Dems promoted in government or something that has now become appropriate at this stage in the economic recovery, etc.. After all, the Lib Dem campaign implied that the Tories had the right ideas but needed a little more heart. And in the same way that before May 2015 posters on this site showed that there was not universal support for what came out of the coalition, some posters on this site since then give the impression that there is not blanket opposition to the current government.

  • Richard Underhill 20th Aug '15 - 12:16pm

    The Scottish National Party stand for election in Scotland, which limits their numerical influence, even under first-past-the-post.

  • @ Matthew Huntbach 19th Aug ’15 – 12:17pm
    “And I am saying that I believe this to be false.”
    Unfortunately your belief regarding the 1983 general election is false.

    I have given the share of the votes in 1983. Labour down 9.3%, Conservatives down 1.5%. This is a ratio of 1:6.2 Conservative to Labour. 1983 saw the Conservative share decline but they had 65 more MPs elected – hence their huge majority.

    So I have gone to my bookshelves to discover another fact to counter your belief regarding the 1983 general election. I want you to understand I am ONLY talking about the 1983 general election, not the whole period 1981-88.

    According to the BBC/Gallup election survey 10-11 June 1983 25% of people who voted for the Alliance identified themselves as Labour, but only 14% identified as Conservative – a ratio of 1:1.8 Conservative to Labour. 32% stated they voted Labour in 1979 and 20% Conservative – a ratio of 1:1.6 Conservative to Labour (Table 16.2 p. 508 SDP The Birth, Life and Death of the Social Democratic Party – Ivor Crewe and Anthony King 1997 paperpack). Even the lowest figure 1:1.6 can in no way be described as “almost equally”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Aug '15 - 9:53am

    Richard Underhill

    Matthew Huntbach 20th Aug ’15 – 10:55am Come to federal conference if you can and vote in the debate on Trident

    I’m not a delegate. As I have dropped out of all activity campaigning for the party, and have just kept my membership by paying the minimum membership fee, I don’t think it would be fair for me to put myself forward to be a delegate anyway. Plus, I’m a university lecturer, and the Autumn conference ALWAYS fall on the first week of term, which is a very busy one for me which I just cannot take off.

    If I were a delegate, yes, I would definitely vote for the motion to scrap Trident.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Aug '15 - 10:06am

    Michael BG

    According to the BBC/Gallup election survey 10-11 June 1983 25% of people who voted for the Alliance identified themselves as Labour, but only 14% identified as Conservative – a ratio of 1:1.8 Conservative to Labour

    Well, ok, that is not how I recall it, but I accept you point about this being just the 1983 general election, whereas my recollection is about the whole of that period, so would cover the 1987 and 1992 general elections as well.

    There is, however, a subtle difference between “identified themselves as Labour” and “would have voted Labour as second choice”, which is the same that explains the conundrum of many readers of THE Sun newspaper identifying it as a “Labour newspaper” even when it was firmly promoting Thatcher’s Tories. What they meant was that they saw it as the paper of people who would traditionally vote Labour, which is why it was so powerfully effective in promoting the Tories.

    Also, of course there were more people tactically voting Liberal-SDP when their real preference was Labour than there were tactically voting Liberal-SDP when their real preference was Conservative, as even more so in those days the number of seats which were Conservative v. Lib with Labour in poor third place was hugely greater than the number which were Labour v. Lib with Conservatives in poor third place.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Aug '15 - 10:19am

    Peter Watson

    Unfortunately it was very difficult to ascertain the extent to which any of the coalition policies were the result of this sort of compromise, and I don’t recall many (any?) being presented as such. Perhaps that is inevitable in coalition government, or a consequence of interpreting collective responsibility as a requirement to hide any disagreements. Policies from a >80% Tory government were wholeheartedly promoted by senior Lib Dems, claims were made that much of the policy was from the Lib Dem manifesto, and as you have pointed out yourself, Clegg’s fearmongering about the SNP gave the impression that the minor party in a coalition could call the tune.

    Oh sure. Clegg’s joining in the fearmongering about the SNP showed him being incompetent to the last, and I remember slapping my head in frustration about the stupidity of it, because Liberal Democrat survival at the time depended on putting across the message that a party with 50 or so MPs does NOT have as much ability to dictate the central thrust of a government led by a party with 300 or so MPs as is supposed.

    What you say indicates why I felt so trapped during the Coalition time, between two sides who seemed to me to be working together to destroy the party I had devoted my life to: the Cleggies and the “nah nah nah nah nah”s. I felt the latter were being unfair in their condemnation of the Liberal Democrats because they did not recognise the limitations of what could be achieved in that situation. But the Cleggies were continually undermining the defence I was willing to give them by doing all they could to make the mud thrown by the “nah nah nah nah nah”s stick.

    As I have found in many other circumstances where I have tried to put the reasonable middle point, attempting to argue with both sides ended up with both sides accusing me of being one of the other.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Aug '15 - 10:35am

    Peter Watson

    Even pointing to the nasty Tory government we have now is not proof that Coalition Part 2 would be different from it. Some new government policies can be described as a logical extension of what (the public face of) Lib Dems promoted in government or something that has now become appropriate at this stage in the economic recovery, etc.

    This is not fair, because a lot of what the Tory government is doing now IS things that were directly blocked by the Lib Dems.

    After all, the Lib Dem campaign implied that the Tories had the right ideas but needed a little more heart.

    Yes, and I myself said, when that line came out, that it was another example of disastrous incompetency. Again, please don’t attack the whole of the Liberal Democrats for a disastrous central campaign that none of us ordinary members had any say in. While that line looks neutral on the face of it, yes, you are quite right that in effect it is extremely biased towards the Tories. Given a choice between someone who means well but is incompetent, and someone who has the ability but is a little cold, who would you pick to do a job? When the ad-men and spads put out that line they might as well have told ordinary Liberal Democrat members to go out delivering leaflets headed “Vote Conservative”. That lime, along with the SNP one, probably lost us a dozen or so seats we could have held, as it helped persuade people to vote Conservative even in LibDem-held seats.

    When Liberal Democrat members voted to support the Coalition they did so recognising it was necessary to to the Parliamentary balance. They did NOT do so because they thought the Tories closer to them in politics than Labour, and the agreement to the Coalition most certainly did NOT mean agreement to a campaign strategy which abandoned the position of neutrality between Labour and Conservative as to which is better or worse. Clegg and the Cleggies had no mandate to do what they did. If they had any decency they would be kneeling down in apology with heads bowed in shame to ordinary members of the party for the damage they caused to it.

  • @ Matthew Huntsbach
    “Well, ok, that is not how I recall it, but I accept you point about this being just the 1983 general election,”

    I am glad that you have accepted the evidence about the 1983 general election. I don’t understand why you failed to recognise that I was only talking about the 1983 general election and the huge Conservative majority. It seems that you were putting me into a group to which I was not a member of. (Does this action remind you of any other group you often attack?)

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Aug '15 - 10:08pm

    Michael BG

    I am glad that you have accepted the evidence about the 1983 general election. I don’t understand why you failed to recognise that I was only talking about the 1983 general election and the huge Conservative majority.

    I am speaking only from personal recollection. My own recollection of the time was that even in 1983 it was a myth that the Liberals and SDP had “split the vote” and so led to the Conservatives winning large numbers of seats that would otherwise have gone to Labour.

    I’ve no reason to believe you are not telling the truth about the opinion poll you mention, but as I said, “identify as Labour” is not the same as “would have voted Labour if there was no Liberal/SDP candidate”. As I said, there were people who would “identify as Labour” meaning having a working-class background, but would not vote Labour because they thought Labour had abandoned them. This was similar to the “Reagan Democrats” phenomenon occurring at the same time in the USA. So, the presence of a Liberal/SDP candidate might have stopped them going to the Conservatives rather than tempted them away from Labour. Also there was an identifiable tactical vote from Labour supporters for the Liberals/SDP in the many parts of the country where the Liberals had already established themselves as the main opposition to the Tories back in the 1970s, but nothing equivalent in terms of voters whose real preference was the Conservatives. So this would account for more Liberal/SDP voters “identifying as Labour” without that necessarily implying the Liberals and SDP “split the vote” and let in the Tories – since this was happening in places Labour were never going to win anyway.

  • Nick Collins 24th Aug '15 - 1:37pm

    “The line that you and other give continues (sic) to be that the only reason any Liberal Democrat would have agreed to the Coalition was because they were secret Tories who loved its right-wing policies, or unthinking “lemmings”. On tuition fees, you’ve refused to accept the suggestion I’ve made (and it is only a suggestion) that it was the best compromise available, and had it not been done the alternative would have been damaging cuts to universities. I’m not saying you should agree to it, just accept that it’s a legitimate position, and so stop using the line that all Liberal Democrats are bad people who should be driven to political destruction because of this issue.”

    I admit to the use of the word “lemming-like”. Apart from that, I have never expressed any of the views which you attribute to me in the above paragraph. As you persist in putting words into the mouths of other contributors , and arguing with those rather than with what they have actually said, it’s really a waste of time trying to engage in any kind of dialogue with you. I shall therefore make it a rule, in future, not to read any comment which appears under your name, whether it is addressed to me or not.

    “But all I got was the impression that you weren’t listening”

    Not listening to you sounds like a very good idea.

  • @ Matthew Huntsbach

    I am surprised that you wish to continue with the argument when you recognise that I have quoted the facts. I thought considering your profession you would have been convinced by the evidence. Also it seems you still have not understood what I am saying and keep arguing with me as if I am saying something different. This is of course something that you often accuse others of doing, which is why it has surprised me that you are continuing to do it.

    At no time have I said that Labour would have won the 1983 general election if there had been no SDP. In the poll I am quoting, of those who voted Alliance 32% stated they voted Labour in 1979 and 20% Conservative – a ratio of 1:1.6 Conservative to Labour. However the Conservative share of the vote was only down 1.5%. It would be reasonable to assume that as 5.08% of the 25.4% share of the Alliance vote came from the Conservatives, but they were down only 1.5% some people who voted Labour in 1979 voted Conservative in 1983.

    Therefore I do not understand why you can’t accept that the size of Conservative majority was affected by the formation of the Alliance, while still stating that the formation of the Alliance did not lead to the Conservative victory in 1983.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 16th Oct - 7:52pm
    Should there be a confirmatory referendum of party members? (since OMOV).
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 16th Oct - 7:46pm
    Whatever happens, there'll be no end to conflict and division for years to come. What are the options? 1) We remain in the EU. Leavers...
  • User AvatarGraham Martin-Royle 16th Oct - 5:58pm
    If anyone wants to introduce compulsory photo id then they must be willing to issue it free of charge. There also needs to be a...
  • User AvatarSteve Trevethan 16th Oct - 5:49pm
    Has H.M.G., or any other body, produced indicative figures of the number of citizens likely to be obstructed from voting?
  • User AvatarDilettante Eye 16th Oct - 5:48pm
    expats “..according to the Brexit Secretary, Boris Johnson ‘will ask EU for extension’ if no Brexit deal by Saturday…” That’s not quite accurate. What he...
  • User AvatarMark Seaman 16th Oct - 5:45pm
    I agree with Malcolm. The current voting system is all too vulnerable to fraud, and with the high number of repeated non-voters, there is a...