Menzies and Paddy on coalition politics and the election

Menzies and PaddyIn today’s Guardian, Menzies Campbell says that Nick Clegg has turned the corner and his role as leader is no longer under threat:

Coalition politics is not for the faint-hearted. Nor is leadership, as Nick Clegg will tell you. As he contemplates his fourth party conference as deputy PM, his thoughts, and his leader’s speech, need to be turning to the general election, now less than two years away. He can do so with more confidence than 12 months ago. Last year’s atrial flutterings over his leadership have died away. His policy of differentiation between the Liberal Democrats and their Tory partners has become overt and even reciprocated.

Saying that the Syria vote was a personal defeat for Cameron, he questions Milband’s credibility:

The Labour leader’s August has been a wicked month. One by one Blairites and foot soldiers alike have queued up to question his ability to win.

And he has a message for Lib Dems doubting the coalition:

You signed up to the coalition in the national interest because of the economic crisis. At last, albeit slowly, we seem to be on the way to resolving that crisis, just hold your nerve.

In yesterday’s Telegraph, Paddy Ashdown  said that the party would have to give up ‘‘childish’’ strategies of scooping up protest votes from all sides and campaign instead as a party of government.

We will be judged, the Lib Dems and the Tories, on how well we have governed. That’s the fundamental thing.

Looking forward to the 2015 election, he said:

The days of easy oppositionist politics are over. From time to time we could take the basically liberal vote and add to it coalitions of others in Eastbourne and by-elections and in constituencies. ‘Now we’re a party of government, and we have to put aside such childish things. We have to behave like a party in government and we have to fight an election like one.

Ashdown said it would be “mad” to start preparing for possible coalition deals ahead of the election.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at

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This entry was posted in Conference and General Election.


  • It will be interesting to compare this year’s LDV Survey with last year’s. My sense is that Ming’s assessment is, er, optimistic…

  • Mack(Not a Lib Dem) 13th Sep '13 - 10:58am

    “Coalition politics is not for the faint hearted.”
    Neither is it for the principled! Sarah Teather seems to have discovered that.

  • Um. I agreed with the Coalition Agreement because of what it contained. I was uneasy about what it did not contain.

  • “In today’s Guardian, Menzies Campbell says that Nick Clegg has turned the corner and his role as leader is no longer under threat”

    Strangely I don’t remember Menzies Campbell ever saying Nick Clegg’s leadership was under threat in the first place. Maybe I missed it.

  • paul barker 13th Sep '13 - 1:01pm

    I was one of the people saying I was sad about Sarah going & complaining about the tone of many of the comments attacking her. That said, her timing did look like it was meant to damage us.
    Another Leader approval survey 2 days ago, Clegg on 24%, Milliband on 24%. If you belive “The Polls” then you have to conclude that Clegg is a massive asset for us.

  • “If you belive “The Polls” then you have to conclude that Clegg is a massive asset for us.”

    I think you misunderstand what that satisfaction rating means. It’s not that people are picking the leader they are most satisfied with. It’s that everyone – including supporters of all parties – is being asked in turn whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with each party leader. The results for Clegg were 24% satisfied and 64% dissatisfied.

    Obviously that cannot be compared with a party rating where people are asked to choose their favourite party. You could only make a comparison with a party rating if the question was “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the Lib Dems?” (I suspect that if you asked that question the party’s rating would come out above Clegg’s, but unless someone asks the question there’s no way to be sure.)

  • David Allen 13th Sep '13 - 1:37pm

    “Clegg on 24% … you have to conclude that Clegg is a massive asset for us.”

    That’s a pretty strong contender, but once again, the Dr Pangloss Competition Winner for synthetic rabid optimism goes to Nick himself, with “An economic dawn appears to be breaking … I don’t think that would’ve happened if we hadn’t been there.”

    Second place to Ashdown, with “We will be judged, the Lib Dems and the Tories, on how well we have governed. That’s the fundamental thing.” In other words, we are permanently part of the greater Conservative Movement now, and you can’t get a cigarette paper between us and the Tories.

    It was just like this before 1987. The more ludicrous the Owen-Steel double-headed leadership appeared to the public, the more hyperbole the Alliance came up with to claim that having two leaders fighting each other was the brilliant political innovation of the century.

    It will, of course, all end in tears. Clegg will assuredly be out on his neck in mid May 2015. We all know this. But we won’t do anything about it.

    Because, for senior figures to show “disloyalty” now would mean earning a black ball, Whereas Paddy and Ming, rallying loyally now, will be able to say come 2015 “Well, I tried my best. I was totally loyal. It wasn’t my fault. It must have been someone else’s fault. Now who on earth might that be?”

  • David Allen 13th Sep '13 - 1:38pm

    To add: It’s just like the C Smith affair reported on Channel 4 last night, which I see is not getting a big mention on this site. It seems that once a bad mistake has been made, everybody rushes to avoid reversing it.

    So it is with wrongdoing, and so it is with political leadership. Until after death, in the case of wrongdoing: and until after the election, in the case of leadership.

  • These two had their chance, its time they were ignored. I’m not interested in hearing from a man who spent years killing others and another who obviously has something against women. Nasty little men. They remind me of the two old men from the muppet show without the humour.

  • The Menzies Cambell article is just saying things are good for Nick Clegg without going into the difficulties that the party faces with its reduced membership and councillor base. Hopefully he is wrong about Nick Clegg’s leadership and in 2014 he will be replaced.

    Paddy Ashdown is supposed to have said, “Student fees? Forget all that.” We won some university seats most likely on the back of the student vote and we have lost that. Those who were students in 2010 and went to university in the years following the reform of the tuition fees are unlikely to vote for us. So while we have to move on from our broken pledge it has reduced our support in these groups and with others because we can’t be trusted to keep our promises and all we can really do is keep our figures crossed. I am surprised that Paddy doesn’t recognise this.

    Paddy is supposed to have said, “(the key questions) are … Can I trust … you for the next five years?” But he doesn’t really address this issue either except to say concentrate on governing. In fact the article doesn’t really address the issue of what we should be doing to attract new supporters.

    Therefore I conclude that both men are living in a different world to the rest of the UK population.

  • David Lowrence 14th Sep '13 - 8:14am

    Helen Tedcastle
    Why is it that a senior male party grandee feels the need to lay into Sarah…

    Because her disloyalty has been shown to be serial…Charles who?. Remember Liberal Democrats and be ashamed at the way you jumped on this young lady’s bandwagon.

  • Paddy Ashdown right on track … campaign as a party of government no watering down of policies or the manifesto in advance of election outcome.

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