LibLink: Norman Lamb on the coalition – ‘It’s our national duty’

The new edition of House magazine features an extended interview with Norman Lamb, written by Sam Macrory.

Norman features on the cover, with the strapline “The business minister on why ‘flunking’ the coalition is not an option”.

The interview took place on election day, so Norman had thoughts for those facing tough polling fights, while defending the coaltion:

It’s very difficult for those people who are doing brilliant work in their local communities if they lose seats because of the position we are in in government, but you’ve got to try and do the right thing.

Obviously you’re concerned about the impact of government on a party, but I think… there’s a sort of national duty, not to put it too highly, for parties to actually take some responsibility. We could have just opted out, we could have just said, you know, we’re not going to participate in this [and] we will just criticise from the sidelines.

Do you do that to maintain cheap popular support or do you just take responsibility and get stuck in? What’s the point of being in this job, why do it if, ultimately, you flunk it? I just think you take responsibility, you see it through, you try and explain and justify as much as you can and ultimately, even if you’ve gone through very difficult periods, if you can see it through and actually end up in a better place [then] there is a possible reward in that.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in LibLink.
Advert

32 Comments

  • The problem is that voters don’t seem to be in the mood for rewarding anyone doing their “duty”. All we get is brickbats and insults and demands for more non-existent money to be spent, while Labour is able to posture and pose and pretend all you have to do is re-open the spending floodgates and that the budget deficit will magically disappear.

    How do we resolve that conundrum, then?

  • There appears to be a massive confusion between ‘doing your duty’ (ie jointly-progressing the bare bones of the common Coalition agenda regarding deficit reduction, and doing so fairly) and embarking upon a sizable horse-traded programme of government parts of which are grossly ill-thought-out and for much of which there is no natural majority support either in the House of Commons or the country at large.

  • In some countries, India and Italy spring to mind, parties have been set up purely with the aim of cleaning up politics. Are we getting to the point with for example, Hunt, and other crises, where we can’t carry on with a Tory party which doesn’t even acknowledge it is wrong or modify its behaviour when it is caught red handed? Its not just about popularity or communication, how are we “doing the right thing” when an £8Bn deal can be handled the way it is and Clegg doesn’t even demand Hunts resignation publicly? Its a basic matter of confidence – I don’t have confidence in Cameron’s judgement, and up to a point, it doesn’t matter if Cameron is held to account by a cabinet including a Lib Dem bloc. But this “holding to account” is not working correctly.

  • jenny barnes 14th May '12 - 12:56pm

    It’s a bit like a domestic abuse scenario ” I promise I’ll never do it again – no more broken promises “… and then you get to help the Tories… I can’t really go on.

  • @MF
    “No RC voters expected you to stick by your manifesto which they voted for not for you to renege on it when you got a sniff of power.”

    Your criticism would be very valid if we had a majority in parliament, like Labour did for the preceding 13 years, during which time it manifestly failed to keep to many of its manifesto commitments.

    Newsflash: We do not have a majority in parliament. Presumably you are defining not “reneging” on a manifesto as “insisting all our policies are implemented and no Tory ones”. Exactly how realistic do you think that is with 8% of MPs?

    You really do not understand how our political system works do you? If you don’t have a majority, you can’t implement your manifesto in full, can you? I don’t know, can you?

    How would you have put through all your policies without a majority? I’m interested to know your ideas on that one. Tell me, please.

  • Bill le Breton 14th May '12 - 1:11pm

    There are so many straw men being knocked down in this short extract that it seems to insult readers. It is clearly a bit of finger wagging towards the Party, even its supporters and especially its councillors.

    Although some people here for example wish to leave the coalition, most do not. That will apply to activists and councillors too.

    And no-one has ever said that we should put party interest before the national interest. Each and every person I have read contributing here from within the party (and the great majority from outside) have given their sincere views on what they believe is in the best interests of the country, including their views on the way the Coalition conducts itself.

    How we act and the decisions we then publically ally ourselves within the Coalition are genuine matters for debate and it is perfectly legitimate to criticise those decisions in the national interest, especially where they undermine the reputation of our Party (and indeed of our Coalition party for consistency and honour.

    We ‘opted in’ as Lamb puts it, but there was no reason why we should have volunteered to defend the arguments that we lost and which the Conservatives won: that was their job.

    Just as I wouldn’t expect the Conservatives to defend positions that we have succeeded in during the necessary trading between the members of a coalition.

    Collective Cabinet Responsibility is a convention – it is actually proving not well suited to Coalition and has frequently led to the public not understanding why we are supporting issues that we have never supported before.

    That has given both Parties the reputation for opportunism and has therefore been against the national interest and has undermined Coalition governance.

    It is interesting that the latest YouGov figures show that 55% of those polled think that the Government ‘seems to chop and change all the time: you can never be quite sure what it stands for.’

    If this proves to be the last coalition that the British public votes for, then, that will be down to how it has conducted itself. And it will have failed in an important duty.

  • paul barker 14th May '12 - 1:26pm

    To answer RCs point, the problem with local elections is that most voters dont treat them seriously so if they bother to vote why not protest against everything you dont like ?
    The same goes for opinion polls only more so.
    By establishing fixed-term parliaments we have given the voters a holiday from having to think about politics, we can only hope they return from that holiday in 2015 more willing to listen.

  • Norman Lamb’s argument might be more persuasive if the supposed central aim of the coalition, to sort out the deficit, was going slightly less disastrously.

  • @ Bill le Breton

    How the Coalition government conducts itself is down to both partners. If the Tories spend all their time briefing that they are going to do all sorts of things that they want e.g. ripping up workplace regulations or ignoring Lords reform, but are clearly unacceptable to the Lib Dems then it is clear there is going to be a picture of inconsistency. That is because there are few points where we agree. How few is becoming rapidly more clear over time. The point is also exacerbated by the amount of press firepower the Tories enjoy, with the majority of national newspapers on their side or at least hostile to the Lib Dems. That is also going to produce a distorted and inaccurate picture which we will struggle to rectify.

  • @ Aaron.

    It isn’t “going disastrously”. It has been brought down from a peak of 11.4% to 8.3% at a time when for many reasons – massive consumer indebtedness, high oil and commodity prices, the Eurozone crisis affecting investment and exports – growth in the UK economy has been sluggish or absent.

  • Bill le Breton 14th May '12 - 1:53pm

    How are the two approaches you describe, RC, going down with their respective supporters?

    YouGov also asked: do you approve or disapprove of the Government’s record to date:
    Of the Lib Dem’s polled, 34% approave, 43% disapprove and 18% D/K
    Of the Conservatives polled 69% approve, 13% disapprove and 19% D/K

    And does that mean that Lamb is calling into question the patriotism of 43% of Lib Dem voters? I hope not too many of them read the House Magazine.

  • RC. You seem to be saying ‘We didn’t get enough votes to have principles, give us lots of votes and then we will act in a principled way’. Your argument is the one that is demostrably failing to impress voters – as it should. Any political party – left, right or centre – should have their principles which guide it, such principles should be adhered to whether a party has one MP, ten MPs or 400 MPs. The Liberal Democrats, pre-General Electiom, claimed to have their principled policies, and they were admirable (the reason why people like me voted for them); they wanted open government, an end to governments’ broken promises, no big NHS re-organisation, ‘clean’ politics, no unfair welfare cuts, and so on. We all know that the LibDems didn’t get an overall majority but that, of itself, did not giver them carte blanch to vote in favour of policies that they had been previously totally opposed to. Most of the the LIbDem MPs claimed to ‘not like’ the Health Reform’ Bill – then proceeded to vote it through [in the Lords, Baroness Williams claimed to ‘not like’ the Bill almost as she voted in favour of it]. Why did they not vote against it and face the consequences of a principled stand. Similarty, in the last two years the LibDems have supported many Conservative policies that previously they opposed, and the Parliamentary arithmetic has nothing whatsoever to do with principled behaviour. I would submit that not only are LibDems losing voters, they are losing the respect of the electorate. And I do know exactly how our political system works.

  • Bill le Breton. I hadn’ t thought of Mr Lamb’s words having a ‘patriotic’ slant, but you are quite right. Nice one!

  • @ Bill

    Which approaches do you mean, exactly?

  • @rc
    Are you suggesting that given a majority the party would be implementing the manifesto and other stated policies? I’m not convinced this would be so afterall nick clegg said he had an epiphany on the finances – which he deigned not to share with voters – and many mps have voted through policies outside of the coalition agreement on the basis of being persuaded of their merits (eg. Tuition fees and top down organisation of the nhs). They weren’t obliged to. So it begs the question – is the implementation of policies at odds with those promised to the electorate really just because the party doesn’t hold a majority?

  • @ Simon

    I think if we had a Lib Dem majority government, the financial mix of cuts versus taxes would be different and I think that yes, we would have found very different solutions to matters like tuition fees. We promised to abolish those but we would have faced a massive funding problem there. It would have had to be funded from general taxation. Instead, we are in practice simply imposing a tax on graduates who earn over £21,000.

    As for healthcare, it would have also depended on the mix of MPs brought in as to what the final detailed policy adopted would have been. I think there would have been much less pressure for any reorganisation and more likelihood of smaller reforms within the existing system. In the manifesto, we promised to open up the NHS to different types of provider but to avoid (Labour’s previously imposed) bias towards private companies. That is what is happening.

  • Simon Bamonte 14th May '12 - 5:18pm

    I see, @RC, that you are still blaming the electorate for the failings of our MPs. Yes, you think we’re too stupid to understand LibDem policy and too stupid to understand the electoral system as well. Well, I understand both, thank you very much. I also understand coalitions – and coalitions on the continent are far different from ours, as I see parties there put forth many red lines they refuse to cross. Greens in coalition with the German SDP did not fail to be green and they certainly said “NO” to the larger party many, many times. I’ve yet to see any red lines LibDem MPs will not cross and no right-wing Tory bill they will not vote “yes” for.

    Take the NHS bill, for example. The Tories would have probably passed this bill even with mass abstentions or “no” votes from Lib Dem MPs. Yes, I do understand parliamentary arithmetic. These plans were not sold to the electorate during the 2010 election, in fact we were sold “no top-down reorganisations” of the NHS. Yet the opposite has happened. LibDem MPs would have been well within their rights to vote this down as a) it broke the coalition agreement and b) the public simply did not want these reforms. But instead of listening to the public, our MPs went ahead and voted for a bill they claim to not like. This would have probably not happened in a continental coalition.

    You can call us stupid and say we don’t understand anything, that is your right. But if we are to ever recover as a party, we need to take responsibility for our own actions. Contrary to what you think, the public are not stupid. Nobody forced our MPs to vote for NHS reform, tuition fees, welfare reform, etc. Our MPs have free well, do they not? Is the survival of the coalition more important to them., and to you, than the will of the electorate when it comes to unwanted and unpopular policy? Or have we turned into a New Labour-style, “we know best” type of party?

    When are some LibDems going to stop blaming the public for the failures of our MPs to say “no” to Tory policy that was not in the coalition agreement? When are some LibDems going to stop telling us we’re all wrong, “don’t understand” policy and maybe, just maybe, hold themselves to blame for failing to stop the worst excesses of the Tories?

    Blaming the electorate for the failure of LibDem MPs not being liberal enough will never wash and will never win us any votes. Why is it so hard for some people to see the problem is with us and not with the public?

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th May '12 - 6:16pm

    Simon Bamonte, what you really seem to be saying is that every party should block everything proposed by every other party that is not entirely in accord with its manifesto. This then leads to stalemate. It seems to me that if the LibDems had tried to work this way after the 2010 general election, they would be accused, by both Labour and the Tories, of being the spoilers topping democratic government. The argument would be used “What right have the LibDems, with less than one in ten MPs, to stop this country from being governed?”. I’m afraid the argument that the LibDems actually had nearly one in four votes wouldn’t work, unfortunately because we’re the only ones that ever use that argument it tends to come across as self-seving trickery. I’m saying this merely to be practical, I wish that argument were better understood, and perhaps it would if we didn’t have a commentariat dominated by arts graduates who are often proudly innummerate. If Labour joined in with the argument it might work, but they won’t because they have a self-interest in blocking electoral reform.

    Although you claim our MPs aren’t listening to the public, when the public were given the chance to air their views on this they voted, by two-to-one, for the “First Past the Post” principle that it’s better to distort representation to have strong government by the biggest party than to have the negotiations and wheeler-dealings of coalitions. So fine – it seems to me that the referendum result in 2011 means the people endorsed the idea that the Conservatives “won” the last general election and should govern. Anyone who wanted the LibDems to exert a power proportional to their 23% of the vote should have voted “Yes” to electoral reform. Not many did.

    The funny thing is I am extremely critical of our party’s leadership, who I believe have handled this situation appallingly badly. Yet underneath, I do understand their position. I’ve been ready to defend them against accusation like “I’ve yet to see any red lines LibDem MPs will not cross and no right-wing Tory bill they will not vote ‘yes’ for” because I can see those accusations are untrue. I can see our MPs are achieving minor concessions, about what you’d expect from a junior coalition partner outnumbered five to one by the senior coalition partner. I don’t like what’s happening at all, yet it seems to me the inevitable consequences of how the people voted in 2010 and in 2011. We lost both times, we were on the other side to the way people voted, so why should we take the blame for the consequences? If you don’t like the Tories, don’t vote for them, if you don’t want to see the Tories domiante on 36% of the vote, don’t vote Labour either, because Labour supports the electoral sysetm which allows this to happen.

    Where our leadership got it wrong, and INCREDIBLY (unless their real aim is to destroy our party) is STILL getting it wrong is to over-emphasise rather than under-emphasise what can be achieved in the current circumstances. Signing up and giving the impression at the start we were equal partners was signing up to take an equal share in the blame even though we don’t have an equal share in the power. All that word-beginning-wth-sm-and-rhyming-with-rug (LDV bans me from using that word directly) look stuff at the start just worked to give the impression that all Clegg wanted in the first place was a comfy post and he was very happy to have one regardless of what he’d had to give away to get it. The real disaster was that the attacks we were going to come under for being in the coalition, even though reality meant we had no alternative, were very predictable, yet Clegg from the start seemed to position himself and hence our party in just the way that ensured they hurt us as much as possible. The other big mistake was not to slap down very quickly right-wing commentators (and the one or two in our own party) who painted the coalition as some sort of ideological meeting of minds rather than something fored by necessity. As a result, the idea was allowed to develop that the cuts were not just done through deficit-reducing strategy, not just with that strategy tolerated because the Tories inevitably have control of the broad thurst of government, but that they were actually done through ideological motivation, with any other line just an excuse. This was hugely damaging to our party. Now, if Clegg wants to continue with the damage done by his poor leadership, what better way than to promote the chief culprit for this, Mr Laws?

  • @matthew huntbach
    I broadly agree with your analysis about the leadership but disagree that the referendum was an endorsement of the Tories. It was a vote against coalition. Reform would have made coalitions more likely and the public concluded they didn’t want that. The tories won the most seats and had a right to seek to govern. The majority of voters endorsed centra-left parties (which this party portrayed itself as) and now having ended up with a right wing government they didn’t want approached the referendum by voting against reform that would make such a scenario more probable in the future.

  • Matthew Huntbach. You appear to be saying that the voting record of the LibDem MPs is “the inevitable consequences of how the people voted in 2010 and in 2011.:” It is that kind of fallacy that is not only incorrect but is convincing no-one – least of all the ellectorate. If you and the LibDems in general persist with this line you (not the electorate who are seeing straight through it) will destroy the party. Nothing about the 2010 election results make anything “inevitable”. The electorate have a right to expect their Members of Parliament to support policies they genuinely believe in, and to oppose policies they do not. And that includes LibDem MPs. This is a simple matter of integrity. In the past as systemic lack of such integrity by our rulers has led directly to present public distain for all things politic and to the lamentable local election turnouts we have seen recently. The LibDem MPs especially should be voting exactly for what they believe in, and thereafter face any resulting consequences knowing that they have acted with integrity.

  • It’s our national duty. Just lie back and think of England 🙂

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th May '12 - 2:35am

    Simon

    I broadly agree with your analysis about the leadership but disagree that the referendum was an endorsement of the Tories. It was a vote against coalition. Reform would have made coalitions more likely and the public concluded they didn’t want that.

    Yes, but the logical corollary of not having coalitions is to distort the representation so that one party has all the power even if it didn’t 50% or more of the votes. If that is the position of the British electorate, then surely their only complaint against the Liberal Democrats should be that they are stopping the Conservatives having all their own way.

    I am not saying that people consciously voted to endorse the Tories, but I am saying that the only way of following through their votes with logical consistency is just that.

    So my REAL point is that the leadership of our party has played this badly in not showing up just how illogical it was to vote “No” to electoral reform because you don’t like the way the current government is dominated by the Tories. As I said at the time, voting “No” to protest about the coalition was like kicking the cat to protest against cruelty to animals.

    The reason the leadership got this wrong was their appalling tactical mistake in over-playing our influence in the coalition. Instead they should have said straight at the time it was a grim decision that had to be made only because the way the electoral system distorts representation meant nothing else was possible, and because of that distortion the balance in the coalition was way towards the Conservative side, so LibDem influence would be small in it. This could then have been followed up by “If you don’t like what you see, join us in calling for a change to the electoral system so never again do we get such an unrepresentative government”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th May '12 - 2:44am

    Godfrey

    Matthew Huntbach. You appear to be saying that the voting record of the LibDem MPs is “the inevitable consequences of how the people voted in 2010 and in 2011.:” It is that kind of fallacy that is not only incorrect but is convincing no-one – least of all the ellectorate. If you and the LibDems in general persist with this line you (not the electorate who are seeing straight through it) will destroy the party. Nothing about the 2010 election results make anything “inevitable”. The electorate have a right to expect their Members of Parliament to support policies they genuinely believe in, and to oppose policies they do not.

    Representative democracy is about coming together to find an acceptable compromise. That inevitably means give and take. I repeat – I hate this government, it is the worst most right wing government in my lifetime. Unfortunately it is what the people voted for by their votes in 2010 and their endorsement of he distortions of the electoral system which gave the Tories so much power in just 36% of the vote in 2011. Anyone who didn’t like it had the simple option – vote to change the electoral system in 2011.

    Compromise in politics inevitably means politicians have to shift away from their personal preferences. You say people don’t like that, but they also don’t like politicians who act in an obstinate way fighting and arguing all the time because none of them will try and reach a compromise and instead all selfishly stick to wanting to have it all their way.

    As I keep saying, if the unhappiness is because the government is too Tory and not enough LibDem, well that;s due to the distortion of the electoral system which gave five times as many Tory MPs as LibDem MPs despite the Tories only getting one and a half times as many votes. So if that’s what people don’t like, next time vote FOR electoral reform, not against.

  • ………………………..We ‘opted in’ as Lamb puts it, but there was no reason why we should have volunteered to defend the arguments that we lost and which the Conservatives won: that was their job…………..

    Oh ,oh so true.

    I ‘m so sick of hearing the whining about , “We are a minority in the coalition so we must vote with the Tories”.

    We are told that 75% of our policies are being implemented so, by my calculation, that means that on only 25% of issues need we ‘compromise’, let alone’abstain’ or, heaven’s preserve us, vote against.

    I thought the Tories with 307, against Labour’s 258 means that where we absolutely disagree we can ‘abstain’ and, even if all ‘Others’ (28) vote with Labour, the issue is ‘carried’ BUT AS A TORY NOT LIBDEM’ bill.

    WWTFIC

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th May '12 - 10:05am

    jason

    We are told that 75% of our policies are being implemented so, by my calculation, that means that on only 25% of issues need we ‘compromise’, let alone’abstain’ or, heaven’s preserve us, vote against.

    No, “75% of our policies implemented” is not the same as “75% of the government’s policies are our policies”.

    However, as you have yourself done, it can easily be interpreted as such, unless one thinks a bit more closely about it. So even if it could be defended (it comes from just one study, and I have never seen a proper explanation of how exactly it was calculated – what in this context is meant by “policy”, what is meant by “implemented” and how is it determined just what percentage of overall policy one “implemented policy” is), I think because of the way it can be misheard or misinterpreted as claiming responsibility for 75% of what this government is doing, this was one of the most damaging things to come out from party headquarters since the coalition was formed.

    Yet it has been used again and again and again by senior LibDems, we are continuously urged to boast about it, you find leadership-loyal bloggers and commentators forever raising it as some kind of mantra. I believe this to be a terrible mistake: it is typical of the way the leadership of this party has taken the difficult position we were in – which I accept us being in and have always defended – and making it so much worse. I have made this point ever since I first saw this “75% of our policies implemented” phrase get given by some senior LibDem bod. The constant repetition of this phrase by some campaign manager, who was trying to persuade me to put work into the local elections, and the way he accused me of personally insulting him when I said I disagreed with its use and found it offputting and indicating a striking degree of incompetence in the party’s leadership, was the key factor in leading me to decide to opt out of any further campaigning for the Liberal Democrats. That is, though I remain a member and am active in the party internally, I simply cannot go out and work for it publicly when it is so badly led. How can I go out and campaign for the party – which I have been a keen and active member of for over 30 years – when any effort I put in is destroyed by the constant round of mistakes in presentation and tactics made by its leadership?

    So I regard myself as a “Liberal Democrat On Strike”. I am on strike against the leadership of our party, not because of the formation of the coalition which I dislike but accept, but because it seems the leadership just does not care and will not listen to its members, instead by its poor tactics it seems to be willfully leading us to disaster.

    I long for the day when I can again go out, as I used to, and proudly knock on doors and say “I am calling on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, can we rely on your vote?”.

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th May '12 - 10:48am

    @ Matthew Huntbach, Like Jason I of misinterpreted the 75% of policies implemented. I suspect that many others outside of a tight Liberal Democrat circle have too.

    I wish you and Liberal Democrats like yourself well, it is obvious from reading Liberal Democrat Voice that the party is still populated by well meaning people, but as someone who voted Liberal Democrat when there was a promise to raise income tax by a penny to fund better education, it is no longer a party that I can support.

    Watching Lansley address the nurses at their conference was the final straw.

  • Matthew Huntbach …………..Jayne Mansfield……….

    Like both of you I detest the phrase and, actually, believe it to be disingenuous at the very least. However, I am far more concerned with the way loyalty by (all of our MPs, most of our Peers and some of our grassroots) to the survival of a coalition, containing LibDems, far outweighs any loyalty to our, pre 2010, promises.

    However, I signed my 0836 posting with WWTFIC which, in a week where Cameron has renewed our interest in acronyms, stands for “Written with tongue firmly in cheek”…

  • Mathew Huntbach. I too wish you well. I have to agree totally with Jayne Mansfield and Jason.

  • Mathew Huntbach. Yes you are correct re. the “75% of policies” thing – the penny has only just dropped for me. And I thought I had a respectable IQ!

  • Matthew Huntbach 16th May '12 - 2:12am

    Thanks Jason, Godfrey and Jayne. Given the way senior party figures have been using this “75% of our manifesto implemented” phrase again and again, I was beginning to think perhaps it was just me underestimating the capacity of the British public to understand mathematics. My point was that even if the correct interpretation can be obtained after a little thinking, most people are not going to do it that way, and as you say when faced with this phrase casually you do end up interpreting it as claiming agreement with 75% of the government’s policies – and this is a government which is 80% Tory and 20% LibDem.

    So whatever was intended by the phrase, it comes across as suggesting a massive shift of the Liberal Democrats towards adopting Tory policies. This was just such a bad thing to do when we are losing votes due to many of our former supporters thinking we have moved to the right and become just another brand of Tory. The first thing I thought when I heard the phrase was “What’s the methodology, how exactly is this worked out?”. As a scientist I just can’t accept such figures pulled out of thin air without a more detailed explanation, yet I have heard no more explanation of it from any of the party big wigs repeating it again and again. The second thing I thought was what I’ve written above, although with my professional experience I could see what it would really mean if there was a proper methodology for arriving at it, I could see how it would be casually misinterpreted in the way you’ve shown.

    It took me seconds to work through this thinking. As you have seen, I am prepared in the end to defend what the party is doing because I do realise it is in a very difficult situation, I have been involved in difficult balance of power situations in local government and I know from that the result is that the junior coalition partner ends up getting torn to pieces, and the 2010 situation was just about as bad is it could be for several reasons I have outlined elsewhere which much reduced the ability of the Liberal Democrats to stand their ground in negotiations.

    It is just SO frustrating now to see the party leadership and campaign managers making OBVIOUS mistakes which turn a bad situation worse. They are doing it again and again. All that is actually needed is a bit of honesty about the reality of the situation, instead of this constant marketing-men’s idea that you should always talk up everything like a salesman. I just hope some of these people are reading this and can be persuaded to THINK and perhaps to call on some of the expertise and experience that is in the party instead of supposing that all wisdom lies in bought-in PR people and party members should just be mindless activists who do what the leader tells them and say what the leader tells them.

  • Matthew,

    I’m minded to believe that our leaders have been caught up in their own spin. Instead of ‘minor players’ in a Tory production they have chosen to ‘strut the stage’; Danny Alexander appears to pop up, supporting Tory policies, at every opportunity.
    Do they really believe, despite the last two local elections, that they are serving the party that elected them? I was against a coalition (preferring a C&S approach) but we are where we are and, unless something radical happens soon, the electorate will continue to believe that ‘a LibDem vote is a Tory vote’.
    After the ‘Rose Garden’ and ‘Tractor love ins’ I’m becoming more and more certain that we, as a ‘radical’ polical force will be ‘Killed by Kindness’.

  • John Richardson 16th May '12 - 11:01am

    The first thing I thought when I heard the phrase was “What’s the methodology, how exactly is this worked out?”.

    Matthew, I’ve tried to answer this question as well. It stems from a remark in a UCL ‘interim report’ (See Link 1):

    In terms of policy, the Lib Dems did well, with 75% of their manifesto commitments going into the Programme for Government, compared with only 60% of the Conservative manifesto (Constitution Unit analysis).

    As you can see it only references “Constitution Unit analysis” which I can not find online anywhere. They also reference a published content analysis, a draft of which can be found at Link 2, which states ‘the Liberal Democrats appeared to have done rather better than the Conservatives in the agreement’. (This quote does not appear in the draft but I’m not willing to pay for the final version Link 3). The draft conclusion is more cautious:

    The question of who won the coalition negotiations does not have a simple answer. However, the analysis in this paper offers some clues. On the basis of overall left-right placement, the agreement was closer to the Liberal Democrat manifesto than to the Conservative one, albeit to the right of centre. When individual policy areas were examined, the picture was more complicated and both parties could legitimately claim victories. But on the key issue of the deficit, the Conservatives won the argument

    It would be interesting to see a similar manifesto content analysis vs policy delivered. My feeling is that the conclusion wouldn’t be so different. The coalition is delivering a lot of solid Lib Dem policy but politically it’s all being overshadowed by Osborne’s unswerving commitment to spending cuts..

    Link 1 :http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/research/coalition-government/interim-report2.pdf
    Link 2: http://www.essex.ac.uk/government/epop/Papers/Panel25/P25_Quinn_EPOP2010.pdf
    Link 3: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17457289.2011.562610

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 20th Apr - 6:16am
    @ Andy Daer, Greta Thunberg is coming to London next week. As well as speaking to parliament and MPs, she is hoping to join in...
  • User AvatarGlenn 20th Apr - 4:43am
    I worked in the property market and with housing associations. We had a lot of bedsits, a lot two bedroom properties a lot of people...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 20th Apr - 12:04am
    @Caron Lindsay 19th Apr '19 - 8:10pm It is not and either/or choice but both Attenborough AND Extinction Rebellion. They both have an important if...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 19th Apr - 11:24pm
    @John Marriott There are many reasons for taking action here and protesting even if other countries are not doing enough: 1. This argument can be...
  • User AvatarJennie 19th Apr - 10:45pm
    Oh lord I'm agreeing with Tony Greaves again.
  • User AvatarAndrew Hickey 19th Apr - 10:37pm
    " In the Liberal Democrats I often see a worrying attitude where members castigate success." No-one here has castigated success. People have castigated success at...