LibLink: Richard Reeves: The Clegg Factor

Remember Richard Reeves, Nick Clegg’s former head of strategy? He left about 18 months ago but has written a couple of pieces in recent days, one for the Guardian and another for the Centre Forum blog. In his Guardian piece, he suggests that it’s after 2020 that the Liberal Democrats will really reap the rewards of our performance in Government. His theory is that we’ll do well enough to stay in government in 2015 and by 2020 we will have killed “the presumption of  one-party government.”

At Centre Forum’s blog, he concentrates on Nick Clegg and his achievements and opportunities:

 Clegg’s political brand was badly damaged, but not broken. In focus groups I observed in 2011, the main negative emotion about Clegg was ‘disappointment’. I thought then, and still believe now, that a politician can recover from disappointment. Somebody can only disappoint you if you thought well of them in the first place; and somebody who disappoints you can redeem themselves through their subsequent actions.

British voters award high marks for grit, resilience – for ‘stick-with-it-ness’. Clegg has demonstrated these qualities beyond any doubt. The fact that he’s had such a rough time of it, and yet soldiered on, will count with swing voters. The conversation I imagine voters having goes like this: ‘I think he made some mistakes, but fair enough, he has stuck in there, and I think things are better because he did’.

Clegg remains the best communicator of the three leaders, and is now doing a better job of playing to this strength. He’s the only leader to hold a monthly press conference; the first one ever to host a talk radio show. When people turn their attention back to politics, in the final weeks and days before the election, they will see some of thing they liked about him back in 2010, as well as a new steeliness, forged in the political fire.

You can read the whole article here. 

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52 Comments

  • Paul Pettinger 31st Dec '13 - 5:19pm

    Richard Reeves wrote ‘nobody can now mistake the Lib Dems for an adjunct of the left. That is why it was politically vital to agree to longer term fiscal plans’.

    But Nick Clegg failed to achieve this, instead supporting an SLF amendment at last Autumn Conference which set out an unquestionably social liberal economic policy for the future.

    In Sept 2010 when Richard Reeves was his Head of Strategy Nick Clegg said “Britain in 2010 is anxious, unsure about the future, but Britain in 2015 will be a different country. Strong, fair, free and full of hope again. A country we can be proud to hand on to our children. That is the goal we must keep firmly fixed in our minds. That is the prize.” http://www.libdems.org.uk/latest_news_detail.aspx?title=Nick_Clegg%E2%80%99s_speech_to_Autumn_Conference_&pPK=89ecdad2-048d-4910-bc5f-0ef443e9b0bf

    Richard Reeves wrote ‘The real prize will come not in 2015 but 2020. A decade of power at the national level would change the Lib Dems for good, and kill the presumption of one-party government.’ That is quite a remarkable moving of the goal posts, not just by moving them back by five years, but by instead judging Nick Clegg on the luck of electoral maths, rather changes in government and wider society . The final verdict rests with the electorate – I hope in 2015 it won’t be the Party that is anxious and unsure about the future.

  • Quite funny to read this bit:
    “The odds on another ‘hung’ parliament are high, simply because “neither Cameron nor Miliband have a credible strategy for gaining a parliamentary majority”.”

    But perhaps it’s inevitable that a spin doctor should base his expectations on the quality of a party’s “strategy” rather than the level of its popularity with the electorate.

  • Paul Pettinger 31st Dec '13 - 5:42pm

    Tony – if the rhetoric of moving the Party to the centre is to believed then the Party must in fact return to the centre-centre left, as it’s the logic of four Party politics. Otherwise the 21 century is likely to as dominated by Labour, as the 20th was by the Conservatives. The right of the Party don’t have a convincing narrative or wider electoral support – there isn’t a large constituency of voters who like equality of opportunity, but not outcome; the right only have patronage. I know what side I’d prefer to on.

  • Eddie Sammon 31st Dec '13 - 5:54pm

    Paul. what about Tony Blair? Didn’t he win three elections by moving his party to the centre? You can disagree with centrism all you like, but why resort to lazy arguments that elections can only be won from the left or the right?

  • @ Paul Pettinger

    The party never did move to the right. What happened was that the policies we were able to negotiate given our lack of MPs and the disastrous public finances left by Labour (remember one pound in every four spent being borrowed) meant that many left of centre options were simply not possible. This is not “moving to the right”. It is facing up to brutal reality of what we can and can’t do. Given the results in 2010, many many options were simply not available.

    @ Tony Greaves

    I agree with you that another coalition with the Tories would be disastrous for the party, but what kind of policies do you think we would be pursuing if we were in coalition with Labour? The falling living standards would still be there, because those haven’t been caused by government policy. The need for cuts would still be there. The fact that cuts in public services fall on the less well off, because the rich don’t tend to use them, would not have been avoided. Limits to benefits spending would still have had to be imposed. Radical reform of the way we are governed would have been blocked by the same old vested interests.

    To say: “we can start to rebuild the progressive centre-left Liberal Party that most of us joined”, to me sounds like rebuilding the old party that never had to face up to being in government, so it could fantasise about all sorts of stuff without ever having to face the consequences of wielding national power.

  • Paul Pettinger 31st Dec '13 - 6:13pm

    Eddie Sammon – I was merely better applying the logic espoused by the leader. As for the Party, I would like it to be true to itself and to focus on long term political change, not be swept in the aspirations of a few seeking a mid-career boost.

  • David Evans 31st Dec '13 - 6:26pm

    @RC

    I fear your logic is rather suspect and your pessimism rampant. After all, it was the progressive centre left party that got us into government. Sadly the leader and his close advisors squandered the opportunity and preferred a love in with that nice posh David Cameron. There were choices on cuts and tax increases, but we chose to follow the Tory line 99%.

  • Bill le Breton 31st Dec '13 - 6:29pm

    Clutching at straws. Still selling himself.

  • Tony Dawson 31st Dec '13 - 7:06pm

    So the ‘Strategy’ (sic) all along was to plunge the Party into an electoral tail-spin so that we would reap the benefits a decade later? Fantastic. I mean FANTASTIC. 🙁

  • Tony Dawson 31st Dec '13 - 7:09pm

    RC sounds like rebuilding the old party that never had to face up to being in government”

    Unfortunately, the present Party shows little evidence of having ‘faced up to government’ – or of being granted any opportunity so to do. The upper echelons alone of the parlaimentary party have applied other bits of their anatomy to the process – and to the Party.

  • paul barker 31st Dec '13 - 7:21pm

    I thought this article would bring out the moaners & it has, pity they dont have anything new to say.

  • David Evans 31st Dec '13 - 7:43pm

    But do you have anything new to say paul barker? At least those who think things could and should be much better have put forward reasons. You just seem to want to moan about them.

  • Frank Booth 31st Dec '13 - 8:29pm

    A very strange article I thought. What is this ‘presumption of one-party government stuff?’ The party has never really had to convince the electorate of the positives of coalition, the public were very open minded in 2010. If the public were so wary of coalitions, the Tories would have won a majority in 2010. And in the end it was 1997 not 2010 that changed British politics. With a 3rd party getting over 40 seats, majority governments were obviously going to be harder to come by unless the 3rd party could be wiped out – unlikely once you are embedded. Labour managed to win majorities under Tony Blair but then he reached out to the centre right and won in ‘Tory’ areas. So what is the great Clegg achievement? And what is the point of a centrist party in the current circumstances when all the pressure is on parties to move to the centre in order to win elections and if they move away from it in government they get punished. It may have made some sense with Thatcher and Foot, but with Cameron and Miliband?

    The cynic in me would suggest its purpose is just to provide a permanent seat in government for a few people. I wait to be proved wrong.

  • RC Your prescription given in your comment to Tony Greaves sounds very like what some of us mean by “a move to the right”. It should be remembered that the Party’s move to the right did NOT take place in one go when a coalition with the Tories had formed, but had been going on for quite a number of years, with Clegg’s election as leader, along with the failure of any radical candidate to stand on that occasion a significant milepost. An even more seminal moment, for me, was the Charles Kennedy interview during the 2005 campaign on the topic of Local Income Tax, when Charles could not answer key questions about the tax. That moment gave the Orange Bookers their excuse, both for the defenestration of Kennedy (who I never thought of as particularly radical or “left wing”), and for the removal of income tax as a tool for redistribution in society and the economy. It was already moving away from that when the “1p income tax to fund education” policy of Paddy Ashdown’s was dropped. Some may call this realistic – I call it a significant move to the right.

  • Frank Booth 31st Dec '13 - 9:51pm

    Tim – Hmmm. Don’t forget there was a big increase in Education funding under Labour. I can understand if the issue was no longer ‘more resources’. As for Kennedy’s leadership, I think we all know what happened there and I don’t think you can blame the Party right for it. The important point o me is that Clegg stood in 2007 as a fairly standard Lib Dem candidate, made fairly standard Lib Dem speeches (saying things in many ways far more radical than New Labour would) and then a pretty standard 2010 election campaign. It’s why the shift since then has been such a shock to people like me. How did that happen and where did the mandate come from?

  • David Allen 31st Dec '13 - 9:56pm

    All those words about how we are going to achieve permanent power, and yet not a peep as to how we will do it. By selling ourselves to the highest bidder? By favouring whichever party wins more seats? By sticking with the Tories through thick and thin?

    Reeves doesn’t want to talk about these options. Why not?

    The current LD campaign style clearly favours Option 3. The total unwillingness to engage with Labour suggests either that their views are beyond the pale as far as our leadership is concerned, or that we have given up any hope that they could work with us.

    When will people like Reeves and Clegg spit this out? Do they really believe they can keep ducking the question, and be all-things-to-all-men, right up to election day?

  • Frank – Knowing a bit (OK only a bit) about national rumours etc in the Party, many people knew of CK’s drinking habits, it’s been sung about at Conferences, written about in papers etc. If there had been a serious worry about that, he wouldn’t have been encouraged forward as a candidate. No, sorry, there were other reasons, and those reasons were strongly associated with other rumours, seemingly emanating from the Parliamentary Party, also published in newspapers, that the Party had not done well in 2005 under CK’s leadership. I think there is a level of naivete not to associate that with the right. There are also many statements by Clegg and allies making it quite plain which side of the political spectrum he was from, and again, only read the comment columns from the time for an unbiased view.

  • I thought the article was quite interesting as it offered a possible path for how the party could benefit from a second coalition with Labour. Of course this presupposes a lot and we know that the chances of a second election without an overall majority are possible but not probable.

    Put this in conjunction with Steve Richrds’ article in The Independent and you get a glimpse of what may be happening. Nick Clegg may well be firmly centrist (and so on the right side of the Party) and open to work with any reasonable partner. An interesting point that Richards argues is that a Lib-Tory coalition post 2015 is virtually impossible for a combination of factors: immigration, austerity, EU issues, Cameron’s position in his Party and the lack of anything tangible the Conservatives could offer Liberal Democrats.

    Both articles make a good case for Nick Clegg being able to cut a distinctive furrow to that carved out by Cameron and Osborne.

  • @Eddie Sammon The difference with Blair is that he moved Labour to the centre BEFORE the 1997 election. In other words, voters knew what they were getting.

    In contrast, the Lib Dems were centre left before the 2010 election. Clegg went into that election appealing to one group of voters, and then ditched the policies that had appealed to them to go into Coalition with the Tories.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Jan '14 - 11:53am

    Paul Pettinger, no worries, I’m sure I could agree to some of that.

    Will Mann, you make a good point, back in the Summer I withdraw my support for Clegg because I thought he had an honesty problem (nothing to do with tuition fees), but I’ve started supporting him again because I think he has improved.

  • nvelope2003 1st Jan '14 - 12:38pm

    Paul Pettinger;

    Equality of opportunity is possible. Equality of outcome is not. Putting forward unrealistic ideas is what got the party into trouble.

  • Frank Booth 1st Jan '14 - 2:12pm

    The Conservatives have hired Lynton Crosby and are not interested in centrist voters. And what exactly ARE centrist voters anyway? On economic issues the Party under Clegg is plainly on the right. The trouble is I think New Labour has confused a lot of people as to where the centre of gravity really is in UK politics. Blair didn’t win huge majorities by appealing the centre ground, he did it by reaching OVER the centre ground and winning in Tory areas.

    A significant chunk of centre right voters wanted to see big increases in health and education spending. They still want renationalisation of the railways and public utilities. And don’t start on Royal Mail privatisation.

  • John Broggio 1st Jan '14 - 3:09pm

    Interesting that Blair & New Labour keep coming up. He led a bunch of Tories that took the (relative) left wing vote for granted (too).

  • Bill le Breton 1st Jan '14 - 4:15pm

    It is good to be reminded of Simon Titley’s excellent account of pre-merger Liberailism and the post 2001 hijacking: http://liberator-magazine.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-rise-and-fall-of-economic-liberalism.html – Tony Greaves fills in the gaps between 1918 and 1970.

    It would seem you need a Thermos mug if you prefer to go your reading with a coffee accompaniment .

  • Steve Griffiths 1st Jan '14 - 4:28pm

    For goodness sake, why do you keep on giving this man and his ideas LDV space and thus bestowing on him any credibility at all? He is one of the key strategists that has got the party in the hole in which it now finds itself. Having done that, he now lectures you on how to survive – what a bl**dy cheek!

    Most of us are old hands at digging-in to areas of strength, knowing which wards are winnable, and where to place our ground troops to hold on. The problem was that he told the centre-lefties to “go back to Labour”; a place we had never been in the first place, and Nick STILL has not repudiated that advice. You are therefore missing the very membership you need to perform Richard Reeves’ ‘escape trick’. Without us you are unlikely to do it in many seats.

  • Paul Pettinger 1st Jan '14 - 6:26pm

    Centre right voters are more likely to consider the party to be centre left, and centre left voters more likely to consider the Party to be centre right. The leadership’s brand of centrism has been a disaster.

    The recession followed a group of social democrats in Government subscribing to neo-liberal economic orthodoxy – now should be a golden opportunity for a liberal analysis and solutions. Instead we have been reduced to name calling with Labour and following what most consider another Party’s (right wing) approach to economic policy, which the leadership has long supposed will yield *us* an electoral reward. It’s not so much wishful thinking, as the emperor’s new clothes.

    nvelope2003 wrote:
    ‘Paul Pettinger; Equality of opportunity is possible. Equality of outcome is not. Putting forward unrealistic ideas is what got the party into trouble.’

    Perhaps you could spell out what you mean. There are people who care about equality of opportunity and outcome, and some who don’t care about either, but there simply isn’t a large constituency of people in the UK who care for opportunity, but not outcome, which the Reeves strategy is based on appealing to – as a practical Party political proposition it’s not centrism, but fundamentally flawed.

    If you refer to things like tuition fees, the obvious political solution was to agree to a freeze and then allow the Brown review to publish: the pledge wouldn’t have been broken and we could have claimed our presence in Govt stopped fees from *tripling*. I write as someone broadly in favour of current fees system. Instead, having isolated many of the Party’s core voters, the leadership now offers empty macho pronouncements that it wants the Party to be serious about Government. Whether or not the Party’s direction of travel is propped up by electoral Maths in 2015, it’s unsustainable.

    If you refer instead to our commitment to build trust in public servants then I still think it is important, even if Liberal Democrat politicians are now (sadly) the least trusted of the main parties:

  • Paul Pettinger 1st Jan '14 - 11:20pm

    Simon – the right of the Party is finally in control, so let’s see what happens in the Euros and at the GE.

  • “If I hear another Lib Dem saying that persevering with a less fair student funding system as inherited was the right thing to do in response to the Browne Review I think I’m going to go on a murderous rampage.”

    I wouldn’t be quite as melodramatic as that, but the seemingly endless quest to find excuses for political duplicity does make me angry.

    The point is this. If a politician when seeking election makes an unconditional promise to the electors to vote against a particular measure, then that promise has to be kept. It really is precisely as simple as that.

  • Neil Bradbury 2nd Jan '14 - 10:55am

    Simon Shaw. You have said all I wanted to say, so I will just add some other comments. There really is very little between so called Social Liberals and Economic Liberals. I sometimes agree with one point of view and then with the other. Although Richard Reeves doesn’t strike me as having been very effective in his time with Nick, I am sometimes aghast at so called Social Liberals, who actually appear to vouch for statist, socialist outcomes. I am not sure they should join the Labour party, as Richard advocated, but they certainly shouldn’t be in our party. Just as there are there is the odd anti Europe, anti foreigner member in the party (believe me there are!), who joined because in some (often) Northern towns they joined us because they hated local Labour, there are some members who joined us because Labour wasn’t left wing enough. They are not the core of the social Liberal movement, whose views on decentralization etc are often attractive to this fairly centrist Liberal. I think comments sections like this are not representative of the bulk of the membership, who are painfully fair and decent by and large.

  • Steve Griffiths 2nd Jan '14 - 12:07pm

    @Simon Shaw

    “Having been involved with the Liberals/Lib Dems for 40 years, the idea that anyone “controls” the Party is an interesting one.”

    Yes and as one who has been involved with the Liberals/Lib Dems for as long, or longer (until I left over the broken unconditional promise referred to by Chris above), I largely agree with your comment. However those that favour an economically liberal approach to government form the bulk of the current leadership. So I say, the Economic Liberals are currently leading us, so lets see what happens in the Euros and at the GE.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Jan '14 - 1:33am

    Simon Titley

    We can therefore safely ignore any strategic advice that Reeves has to offer.

    Sure, but why is it that supposedly left-wing newspapers and magazines like the New Statesman and the Guardian give him space to push his strategic advice, and bill him and others on the right-wing fringe of the party as if they are leading figures, while mostly ignoring anyone on the left? When is the last time there was EVER an article in the Guardian from someone as CLEARLY on the left of the party as Reeves is on the right? So far as I can recall, never. At best we get those who are a bit more to the centre, but often still rather right-of-centre, like Vince Cable and Tim Farron.

    Might it not be the case that the Labour sympathies of these papers are coming out here, and they are deliberately doing this in order to damage us and remove the challenge we could be offering to the only party they really like? Or is it just because the right-wingers get lots of money given to them by the rich to promote themselves, while those of us on the left get none of that and so have to fit in our politics in our spare time in between doing the day jobs?

  • I keep hearing the question whether we should go into coalition with the Conservatives again, or with Labour in 2015. For our own sake, would it be better to stand separately and argue our position from outside without the need to compromise principles?

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Jan '14 - 12:05am

    Joe King

    I keep hearing the question whether we should go into coalition with the Conservatives again, or with Labour in 2015.

    The chance of us being in a position to make that decision is small. It requires the other two parties to be close enough in MPs for neither to have a majority , which happened in none of the elections between 1974 and 2010, thanks to the distortions of the electoral system. More than that, it requires the other parties to be so close and few enough MPs from smaller parties that a coalition with either Labour or the Conservatives would have a majority – which was not the case in 2010. Even then, it require equal willingness from the other two for there to be real choice.

    We have been damaged because in every election since 1974 our position has been talked about as if a no majority Parliament would mean us making the choice and being able to demand and get our price. The 2010 result revealed it just doesn’t work like that, but the continuance of the belief that it does has given the false impression that we chose the Conservatives and that we chose to be very modest in our demands from them. We should have made clear from the start it was a situation we were forced into because the distortions of the electoral system meant it was the only coalition that would have a majority, and because we were forced into it and had our representation so twisted down by the electoral system, we could not achieve much. Instead, our leadership played the opposite line, with the result that we are getting equal blame for the unpleasant policies of this government, even though our influence on it is very limited.

    We will only damage ourselves in the next election if we go along with the line that we will be in a position to choose coalition partners. Instead, if the question is asked “Which party would you go into coalition with?” the answer should be “Go and ask them”. We should also STOP seeming to be so pleased with ourselves for being in this coalition, and instead say we are very disappointed that with such an imbalance of MPs we were not able to achieve much. The line throughout should be “If you want a Liberal Democrat government, you have to vote Liberal Democrat”, and very firmly “The 2010-2015 government was NOT a Liberal Democrat government, it was a Tory-dominated government, very far from what we would want if we had a majority”.

  • Matthew, Thanks for your comments. I disagree with you however. We should indeed be pleased that we have been in government, albeit as a junior partner. It proves to ourselves and to the world that we are up to the job.

    It is wrong to think that the Conservatives had it all their own way. We managed to block the constituency boundary reforms, and so it is quite difficult for the Conservatives to gain more seats than Labour. I feel that we are naturally more closely aligned with Labour than Conservatives, and so this helps improve the chances of our perspective being implemented, even if we ourselves are not part of the next government.

    We have also prevented the Conservatives from holding a referendum on EU membership. It is important that we stay in the EU, there would be quite a high risk that the electorate would vote for us to exit. Labour are unlikely to offer the referendum, and so our blockage of boundary reforms has had the positive benefit also that we are thereby more likely to stay in the EU. What do you think?

  • Malcolm Todd 4th Jan '14 - 8:16am

    Joe King — are you serious? The Lib Dems’ great achievements in government have been (a) to make it harder for the Tories to win an election even if they have the most votes (and easier for Labour to win even if they don’t; (b) to make it harder for the population to be even asked the question about whether they want to leave the EU, a question to which they might give the wrong answer? Look, I’m no Tory — I’d rather have a Labour government than Tory any day; and I’m no Ukipper, I’m in favour of staying in (though I hardly think it will be a disaster if we don’t); but really — doesn’t the “Democrats” part of the party name mean anything to you?

  • David Evans 4th Jan '14 - 9:29am

    I must admit, I am amused when someone is Joe King, but his points do need to be answered.

    “We should indeed be pleased that we have been in government, albeit as a junior partner. It proves to ourselves and to the world that we are up to the job.”

    You may believe that we have proved it to ourselves and the world. Unfortunately the electorate disagree, and they are the ones who will decide if we ever get another chance.

    “It is wrong to think that the Conservatives had it all their own way. We managed to block the constituency boundary reforms, and so it is quite difficult for the Conservatives to gain more seats than Labour. I feel that we are naturally more closely aligned with Labour than Conservatives.”

    So the one example you choose to supply of us stopping the Conservatives doing something is where we do it to help Labour, not something to forward the cause of Liberal Democracy?

    “We have also prevented the Conservatives from holding a referendum on EU membership.”

    I am not at all sure we have, but even so the issue will not go away. Better to lance the boil in a Conservative government and win the referendum than keep kicking the can down the road and looking just like any other bunch of politicians faced with a difficult decision. We did actually promise a referendum once and our leaders ran away when it came to the time. It wasn’t an edifying sight.

  • David, you do make the good point about helping Labour. I feel it was a mistake to go into coalition with the Conservatives, we have never really been part of them. Our historic links were Liberal / SDP, and SDP came out of the Labour party. So logically and emotionally we are more akin to Labour than Conservatives, in my opinion. Don’t you agree?

    I do remember Nick Clegg calling for a real referendum. That was a few years ago however, events move on. I think it must be at least 5 or 6 years ago that it was promised.

  • Nick Collins 4th Jan '14 - 2:29pm

    Two excellent letters in today’s (Saturday’s ) Guardian from Tony Greaves and Les Farris: my thoughts exactly.

    However, I do have one thing to be grateful to Richard Reeves for. I am in my 70s and he has given me an incentive to remain alive and alert until 2020: for the pleasure of seeing him proved wrong.

    Nick Collins (aka “Nick(Not Clegg)”)

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Jan '14 - 7:45am

    Joe King

    Matthew, Thanks for your comments. I disagree with you however. We should indeed be pleased that we have been in government, albeit as a junior partner. It proves to ourselves and to the world that we are up to the job.

    The world sees this as “All they wanted was power, and they’d give up any of their principles to get it”.

    I think this is unfair, but nevertheless if we look “pleased with ourselves” to be “in government” that is how it comes across.

    I am not saying we should not have joined the coalition, and I am not saying we could have achieved more within the coalition, and I am not saying what we have achieved is worthless. All I am saying is that we should not have looked so “pleased with ourselves” about it. It comes across badly. We should instead have been very clear from the outset that it is NOT our ideal result, and that thanks to the way the people voted and the distortions of the electoral system, we are very limited, we are not “in government” as the term has been understood up till now, we are just a small part of a government which is largely made up from the Conservative Party, it is far removed from what a government which was predominantly Liberal Democrat would look like.

    I have been saying this consistently since the coalition was formed when lines like yours were used by so many who seemed to be assuming that joining the coalition would make us look like “serious politicians: and would hence win us votes. It hasn’t, has it?

    You and others like you need to stop dividing the world into those who think the coalition is wonderful and we should all rejoice in it, and those who think we should never have joined it. It’s what our leadership does, in order to dismiss its critics as unrealistic, or as “not interested in power” and so on. But it is perfectly possible to accept that the circumstances of the results of the 2010 general election left it as the best possible option, without that meaning you also agree with the way our leadership has presented being in the coalition, which as I said by exaggerating what we can really do and painting a disappointing election result as a triumph, has just so damaged us.

    Yes, the general election result was a disappointment. Being the (very much) junior parter in a coalition is NOT all we aimed for. It makes us look weak, easily satisfied, without much in long-term aims, if we boast about how things ended up as if that’s all we ever aspired to in the first place.

  • Jayne Mansfield 6th Jan '14 - 9:59am

    RC’s comment depresses me immeasurably.

    All these years I have voted Lib Dem only to find that I have been a fool to do so. S/ He seems to confirm the idea that the Liberal Democrats could make poorly thought through promises and pledgss prior to becoming part of government, but having got into government, they had to acknowledge that they were talking bunkum an the ‘Tory way’ was the ‘mature, serious’ way of doing politics.

    I’m sorry but it just does not wash. Perhaps he should stop parrotting the mantra of ‘the mess that Labour got us into’ and start remembering that Margaret Thatcher started the whole downward spiral and prior to the financial crash the Tories wanted more de=regulation. As for borrowing David Cameron and George Osborne promised that if elected, they would to match Labour spending ‘pound for pound’.

    There is much to criticise Labour for, the unforgivable Iraq war is reason enough, but please don’t try telling people like me that the Tory party that you are now aping as a model of responsible government would have, unlike the rest of the world , foreseen the financial crash or have done anything in government that would have avoided it. Nor that we might have seen the same recovery or perhaps even better if another party with different values had been in power.

    I shan’t be voting at the next election, but I hope the outcome is another Tory/ Liberal Democrat coalition. It will give the public the chance to see what seeds you have sown in this government. Health, Education, Energy. Equality of opportunity. You name it.

    My sympathies to Matthew Huntbach,John Tilley and the rest of the so called ‘moaners’.

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    Ian Bailey If there is a definable “working class” any more most of the people who would be in it either don’t categorise themselves thus...