Newark by-election: Tories win well, Ukip falls short, Labour dips, Lib Dems collapse

Phot @bbcalexforsyth newark by-electionA lot of politics is about momentum. At the moment it’s the Tories who have it. Not quite the Big Mo, but a Moderate Mo that’s growing.

Here are the results of last night’s Newark by-election:

    Robert Jenrick (Con) 17,431 (45.03%, -8.82%)
    Roger Helmer (UKIP) 10,028 (25.91%, +22.09%)
    Michael Payne (Lab) 6,842 (17.68%, -4.65%)
    Paul Baggaley (Ind) 1,891 (4.89%)
    David Kirwan (Green) 1,057 (2.73%)
    David Watts (LD) 1,004 (2.59%, -17.41%)

    15.46% swing Con to UKIP
    Electorate 73,486; Turnout 38,707 (52.67%, -18.69%)

The Tory vote declined a bit and the Ukip vote grew a lot. The headline swing of over 15% from Tories to Ukip might suggest the Tories should be downcast, worried. They won’t be. Their vote-share held up pretty well considering they’re in government.

At least as importantly, it enthused the party. Activists turned up by the coach load. Tory MPs turned out in their droves – 273 in total, a hundred of them on polling day itself. Of course, the Tories cannot put in anything like that effort on a general election day – some £250,000 was apparently lavished on the campaign – just as the Lib Dems wouldn’t be able to repeat our Eastleigh showing. But it points to a party optimistic about its chances and enthusiastic about the election to come.

Ukip will say they’re happy with their second place – and why not? It’s another second place, another vote surge. But not even Nigel Farage can pretend this was an earthquake. Having unwisely allowed the media to run with the idea he’d parachute in as candidate, his decision not to jump showed Ukip’s lack of confidence they could storm to victory. So it proved.

Wise Ukip heads will worry what the result means for the party’s prospects of gaining even one seat at the next general election. To date, the party has yet to poll over 30% in a parliamentary by-election, the minimum threshold they’re likely to need to win a seat. Its best performance was in Eastleigh, where it’s probably not a coincidence their candidate, Diane James, was a sensible enough-sounding woman.

Its decision to field Roger Helmer, a male candidate who plays up to Ukip’s sexist, homophobic, xenophobic stereotype, led to a large differential vote: men were more than twice as likely as women to vote Ukip, 37% v 17%, according to the final Survation poll. It’s all very well having the protest vote support of a highly motivated 20-25% of the electorate; but it’s unlikely to yield seats in a first-past-the-post system.

There is anecdotal evidence that Ukip, the new protest vote party, has generated its own protest vote: both Labour and Lib Dem canvassers reported voters saying they would hold their noses and vote Tory to make sure Nigel Farage was thwarted. Ironically, then, the Tories may be benefiting, especially if, by comparison at least, the Tories suddenly seem the more moderate, less toxic, right-wing party.

Labour did not expect to win. That in itself tells its own story. As election expert Professor John Curtice pointed out last night:

“The truth is that they [Labour] should be on tenterhooks as to whether they will win the seat. That swing that they would need, it is less than the Labour Party achieved in Norwich, less than the Conservatives achieved in Norwich in the last Parliament, less than Labour achieved in Dudley West, Wirrel South just before they won the 1997 election. When oppositions look as though they are on course for government, the kind of swing that is required for Labour to win has been relatively common. To that extent, we have to ask ourselves, why is it we are not asking the question, could Labour win this? It is all of a piece, as a result of the recent elections, Labour do not have the enthusiasm and depth of support in the electorate that make them look like an alternative government.”

And then there’s the Lib Dems… It was another dire night, to cap a dire fortnight. We didn’t just lose our deposit, we came sixth. Our vote collapsed. Four years ago, 10,246 Newark voters marked a ‘X’ beside the Lib Dem box. Yesterday, just 1,004 did so. In contrast to the Tories, not a single Lib Dem MP turned up to campaign. To be fair, they’re doubtless all knackered after a gruelling election period: but if our MPs couldn’t be persuaded to show up for our candidate why should we be surprised if the voters didn’t?

Much credit to our candidate, David Watts, who did his best in what was clearly a tricky campaign. Commenting on the result last night, David was phlegamtic: “Well it wasn’t a good result, but smaller parties often get squeezed in by-elections and that’s what’s happened to us here. We knew, from talking to people today, that a lot of our voters had transferred to vote against UKIP to make sure UKIP didn’t get elected and some have clearly gone to Paul’s [Independent candidate Paul Baggaley] campaign on the hospital which is a very important campaign.”

This is all true, and it would be unwise to read over-much into a by-election like Newark. The Lib Dems will do much better in those seats where we have an MP and/or an active campaign. But, as I said at the start, politics is about momentum. Our Coalition partners have it. We don’t. Time’s running out to re-gain it.

Photo tweeted by @AlexForsythBBC

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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217 Comments

  • Kevin White 6th Jun '14 - 9:19am

    Well it’s not all gloom and despondency, at least we’re more popular than Bus Pass Elvis and Nick the Flying Brick.

  • I think many of us owe David an apology. That being said, the absence of a HQ made helping harder. It does though underline the weakness of the ‘never mind the black holes’ strategy and the long term effect of that on the party. Black holes have a habit of growing and sucking in all around them.

  • There can be no excuses. Surely, surely our leader will now accept the end, put us out of our misery, allow us to find a new leader next month, review our strategy etc. We can then stabilize and have a chance of moving forward. Even the most die hard Clegg loyalist must know this now.

  • Shaun Nichols 6th Jun '14 - 9:27am

    An opportunity by LD HQ to seize the initiative and increase morale within the party. Unfortunately, Danny Alexander et al did nothing and sat on their hands.

    It is the Tories that are winning credit for the economic recovery and not us. We need a change of strategy and a change of leader NOW.

  • Down to only 2.6 %?! Getting only 1,000 votes – that’s pretty much just ‘friends and family’! Why was the candidate abandoned by the Party?

    It’s all very well concentrating on the MPs seats for May 2015 but the longer people see the LibDems coming fifth/sixth, the less inclined they will be to vote for a losing party.

  • daft ha'p'orth 6th Jun '14 - 9:32am

    Well done anyway to David Watts for trying; cautiously staying on message perhaps slightly less so, not that there’s much else he could’ve done under the circumstances. On the plus side, the Loony chaps do add a lot of visual interest to photos of the event.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/06/06/newark-by-election-lib-dems-ukip_n_5457384.html?utm_hp_ref=uk#slide=3821637

  • Jonathan Pile 6th Jun '14 - 9:36am

    Newark must be the worse by election result in our history. I note the point about no Lib Dem MPs visiting and David Watts comments about Lord Oakeshott’s role in damaging the party. Now is the time for a unity of purpose – that the party should survive 2015. The party to find a path back to the people. Only a manifesto which sets out a true lib dem agenda for 2015-2020 will work. We need to focus on lib dem core principles which are popular with the public – fairness, freedom, power to the people and away from corporations, lobbyists, governments and the so called metropolitan elite. We need to address ordinary peoples concerns about migration pressure without pandering to prejudice and promote Europe without pushing for federalism. We need like the greens and ukip oppose hs2 which a labour and Tory nightmare imposed on Middle England

  • Julian Critchley 6th Jun '14 - 9:36am

    Don’t worry, it’s just a case of not getting the message across effectively. When that happens, all those right-wing conservative voters who don’t want to vote for the conservative party for some reason, will come out of the woodwork in droves to vote for the LibDems and reward them for their hard choices in maintaining the coalition. It’s important not to change tack now, because that’s where the votes are, isn’t it ? Those non-conservative voting conservatives who support a conservative set of policies but don’t want to vote for the conservative party. Loads of them, apparently. They’re just not voting yet.

    That’s right, isn’t it Nick ?

  • Paul In Wokingham 6th Jun '14 - 9:40am

    Politics is about momentum. Our Coalition partners have it. We don’t. Time’s running out to re-gain it.

    The rate of change of momentum is force. There is no force. The party is coasting. Its strategy is to repeat stale, meaningless, on-message soundbites and assume – with absolutely no evidence – that eventually they will plant in the collective consciousness of the electorate.

    Does anyone really, seriously, genuinely think that the party’s current “strategy” is ever going to work? If so, what is the evidence?

  • Bill le Breton 6th Jun '14 - 9:48am

    Many thanks to a seriously strong champion for the Party in David Watts. Not many could have served the party twith such distinction and with such dignity.

    There must now be found a way for the Parliamentary Party to communicate, in private to the Chief Whip, their true feelings about the Leader.

    Also, Stephen writes, “The Lib Dems will do much better in those seats where we have an MP and/or an active campaign. ”

    I think that this is becoming less and less likely. Labour facing seats are in an impossible position under this leadership.

    Tory facing seats have always depended on Labour voters voting tactically. Until recently there were signs that this tactical vote would hold up. But the message to those Labour voters from the locals, the Euros and now Newark is (erroneously) “the Lib Dems won’t stop the Tories here, I’ll go back to my first choice, Labour.” I have seen that happen in many seats where when we start to slip we end up actually behind Labour in third. Tactical voting only occurs when people are confident that we are the only way to stop the Tories. Once that belief goes the votes disappear dramatically.

    Also unless we change the Leader, the Liberal Democrat voters (as opposed to the Labour tactical voters) who have left us will not return, but find long term homes elsewhere, be that with the Tories, UKIP, the Greens or Labour.

    As some of us have been saying, this is an existential crisis over TRUST. Many have argued that changing the leader will not help and may further unsettle our support. But, really, there is now nothing to lose and everything to gain by having a new leader more able to be connect with our potential voters, more able to campaign in such a way that people appreciate our part in the last four years and more trusted that we can play a similar role in the future.

    There really are just these next 72 hours to save the Liberal Democrats.

  • Panicos Georgiou 6th Jun '14 - 9:53am

    This was always going to be a tough one for the Lib Dems especially with all the fall-out from the Local and Euro elections, but it cannot be dismissed as a “special” case. To come 6th is a disaster and the party leadership needs to focus on the message of lower taxes , improved economy and stop being the cheerleader of the EU and policies that people do not give a damn for but go down well in the metropolitan chattering classes’ dining tables .

  • David Evans 6th Jun '14 - 9:56am

    The only way now has to be up and we all have to start making it happen now. Recruitment up; Membership up; Support for each other up; Nick Clegg’s time up. If we don’t make it happen now, the game will be up in 11 months time.

  • One of the major problems of the last election for leader was that we had no candidate from the radical wing of the party. We had two candidates coming from a similar political and economic position – OK, they had major differences of personality and approach. Nick is / was smooth, polite, very likeable, Chris was combative and could sometimes upset people. Any election now must have a radical candidate. The problem being that many centre left / green / radical members have already upped, left, lapsed etc because of the party’s direction. Party rules will not allow these people to vote in a leadership election if one were to take place, there being a one year qualifying period for “new” (including lapsed) members, which would give huge advantage to any candidate from the current leadership group, meaning the party’s direction of travel will remain the same, and will therefore result in the same electoral result. How do we get out of this bind?

    An idea could be that previous members could be given an amnesty from this rule, to allow people to rejoin and vote, in the hope that the party may be reoriented in its direction.

  • We are now in a situation where it is EITHER CLEGG OR THE PARTY. The two are incompatible. I am sure anyone with any sense of politics knows that it has to be the party.

  • It is only with people like David Watts that this party will survive. The lack of MP support and national party interest is a disgrace and underlines how our seniors consider party members and activists.

  • Panicos _ I hope this is a pseudonym, and you really are posting with metaphorical tongue in cheek! I think one of the issues for the party’s forward strategy (what am I? an eternal optimist??) is to recognise that some party members and elected representatives have opted for the easy populist answers over long-term principled aims. Perhaps it took “being in power” centrally for everyone to wake up to that fact. Clegg “centrism” in some ways represents an uneasy mix of the populist with the ideology.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 6th Jun '14 - 10:11am

    David Watts did a fantastic job in incredibly difficult circumstances. He and his small team could have done no more and I think it’s amazing and inspiring that we have people who are prepared to really put the effort in these sorts of contests.

    Given the effort that the Conservatives put into the campaign, it’s no surprise that our vote was squeezed in a seat where we were never really going to be in contention. If I’d had that nice Ken Clarke on my doorstep asking me to vote Tory to keep that nasty misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic Mr Helmer out, I would have smiled and said no. But that’s because I could not imagine any circumstance in which I would ever vote for the Conservatives. Ever. Being the better option to Helmer only makes them less nasty and I know the horrors that would result from a majority Conservative Government – even more nonsensical anti immigration measures, removing benefits from young people, capping child benefit at two children, tax cuts for the rich and the like. Liberal Democrats stopped them doing these things.

    But it’s understandable that many people in Newark made that choice. Our vote will be better next year and I agree with Stephen that we will do better in our held seats.

  • Very depressing – the main problem is not Clegg, not the party hierarchy – it is the fact that we are in coalition – it would be no different with anybody else – we know its unfair – but the simple truth is that we are no longer the vehicle for protest – we are the ones making the decisions – and when the economy is improving – the Tories get the credit – the real issue – do we stay in coalition or pull out?

  • Cllr Alex Perkins 6th Jun '14 - 10:13am

    I’ve been a Lib Dem Councillor since 1987. I used to be the Lib Dem leader of a City Council. And remain as leader of the Lib Dem Group on that council – the largest opposition group.

    I talk to a lot of people. They stop me in the street and talk to me. There is one over-riding theme – it goes roughly like this: What on earth are the Lib Dem Party doing ? Why don’t we just accept that we are on the wrong track? How did we become SO arrogant and introspective that we stopped listening to our supporters and voters ?

    They’re not wrong. They don’t want to vote for the policies our parliamentarians have voted for. We have been and are being lead into oblivion. And why can’t those at the top of the party see this?

    I think it’s probably best described by a few lines from Flanders and Swann’s Ostrich Song:

    “Peek-a-Boo, I can’t see you,
    Everything must be grand.
    Boo-ka-Pee, they can’t see me,
    As long as I’ve got me head in the sand.
    Peek-a-Boo, it may be true,
    There’s something in what you’ve said,
    But we’ve got enough troubles in everyday life,
    I just bury me head!”

  • John Barrett 6th Jun '14 - 10:22am

    The party may wish to dismiss poor by-election results like Newark and abandon candidates like David Watts to their fate and continue to say “where we work we win” or that all is well in held seats, but year after year of witnessing a wipe-out of councillors, Members of the Scottish Parliament, MEPs and a dwindling membership and vote in many by-elections, it must now be sinking in that every one of those elected groups mentioned has paid the price at the ballot box for the actions of the party in the coalition and the leadership at Westminster, yet not one of those groups was directly responsible for their actions. When it comes to the General Election next year and those who are directly responsible, or have led the way, are on the receiving end of the voters’ wrath, do the leadership, the MPs or those who continue to trumpet the message that all is well in held seats, really believe that next year’s results will not be as bad as the previous four? Ending up with a small group of MPs as part of the next coalition government might be the only consolation for those who remain. It might be good enough for them – it is not good enough for the party.

  • Bit of a Tory love-in here?

    Strange that when Labour won their own seat in Wythenshawe under UKIP pressure their vote went up (Labour went up 11% and Tories in Newark were down 10%)

    The John Curtice analysis fails on many points – and it is sad to see someone who is supposed to be a professional speaking thus.

    Tories: Okay result but nothing more and perhaps less seeing they threw the kitchen sink at it
    UKIP: Poor candidate choice and seat demographics not the best for them. They seem to have a ceiling of 25%
    Labour: Okayish. Wouldn’t expect to win with UKIP in the game as the ‘protest’ vote and the seat has changed lots since 97
    LD: Poor but noone on here thinks that. Will all come good by 2015?

    The Tories have all the press behind them so it is not surprising they have some momentum

  • “I know the horrors that would result from a majority Conservative Government ……tax cuts for the rich and the like. Liberal Democrats stopped them doing these things.”

    No they didn’t. That’s the whole point. Under your …”and the like…” let’s count the bedroom tax, NHS reorganisation, Secret Courts, Welfare reforms etc etc. that’s why people have stopped voting Lib Dem.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 6th Jun '14 - 10:29am

    Helen, I agree with you on that last part. We need to show a bit of willingness to do things differently. Anything else just looks pig-headed.

  • David Watts our candidate is perhaps the only Liberal Democrat to come out of this with much dignity.
    He stood on the burning deck whilst Clegg who had set fire to the ship stayed away.

    The Huff Postbheadline says it all——–“. Lib Dems Annihilated In Sixth Place. ”

    So, what next after less than 3% and sixth place? A ninth lost deposit in four years.
    More circling of the wagons?
    Will poor old Paddy be dragged into the TV studios again for further humiliation as he struggles to defend the indefensible Clegg?

    Or will Clegg do the decent thing and just go?

  • nvelope2003 6th Jun '14 - 10:37am

    There always seem to be excuses why the party did so badly and obviously the movement of the traditional protest vote to UKIP which used to go to the Liberal Democrats has not helped but the real reason for the recent appalling results can only be the unpopularity of the current leadership shown in almost every opinion poll.
    Mr Clegg, although an intelligent man, does not inspire any trust and seems to be hanging on in the hope that however many councillors and potential MPs have to be sacrificed a handful of Liberal Democrat MPs will survive to give him a place in a future coalition. I do not think this will happen even if he retains his seat because he is tainted or damaged goods and neither the Conservatives or Labour will want him in any coalition even in the unlikely event that one could be formed after the next election. Whatever the likely result one of the 2 larger parties will form a single party Government. The only circumstance that they would form a coalition would be if the Liberal Democrats won a large number of seats and this is unlikely. If neither party gains a majority the leader of the biggest one will ask for a vote of confidence and if he loses then another general election will be held. I cannot see the remaining Liberal Democrat MPs, if there are any, voting for another election as they would be wiped out as happned in 1924.
    They will support the new Government from the back benches as David Steel did in the late 1970s and be lucky to keep their seats in 2020 but if there is a majority Government after 2015 then the party has a chance to revive, especially if it is a Conservative Government which is the most likely outcome with the Labour Party under such an uninspiring leader.

  • Steve Griffiths 6th Jun '14 - 10:44am

    @Bill le Breton

    “There really are just these next 72 hours to save the Liberal Democrats.”

    I suspect you may be right Bill, the decisions made by the party managers in the next few hours may well determine the Lib Dem’s fate in the next few years. Even the most die-hard economic liberal must now see that the direction must change and that the voters have rejected your solutions. When politicians say that they “must shout louder to get our message across”, it simply means the public don’t like their policies.

    I just hope that there is some activity behind the scenes at Westminster, because if the parliamentary party is as supine as it was over the Newark by-election then you are indeed in trouble.

    @David

    “the main problem is not Clegg, not the party hierarchy”

    Nonsense, it’s him and his ideas; go and speak to people and look at his popularity ratings.

  • Not a good result.

    Can we begin to recover in the polls before the next election, or does the party have to go through the metaphorical flames, pay the price for its mistakes and then move on to a recovery and renewal under a new leader?

    That’s the issue. Chances are the party will take a beating next year, regardless of the leader. Squirming on the hook won’t change that.

    We also can’t press on by just complaining about how unfair it is that the Tories are getting the credit while we’re getting the blame. We need to lay stronger claim to our successes, ditch any remaining 75% triumphalism and acknowledge that we have essentially been taken for a ride by the Tories on too many issues.

    On coalitionary maneouvrings ahead of next May’s results, we absolutely need to drop the line where we look forward to being back in a formal coalition with Tories. We also need to avoid the flirting with Labour that’s been in some of the papers lately. We’re not a party of government at all costs. We have already proved that we can make that call when there is an actual emergency to respond to. For 2015 we should be answering hung parliament speculation by confirming that either party can rely on our negotiation in good faith regarding confidence and supply, but that coalitions would be built after the votes are in and through a more careful, deliberative process than the frantic rush to government that happened in 2010.

  • edna murphy 6th Jun '14 - 10:50am

    The strategy has been two fold: to tough out the unpopularity the coalition would undoubtedly bring on the basis that we would get credit for economic recovery, and that we w’d attract a new type of ‘centrist’ supporter. Both have failed. Cons getting credit for economic recovery, but not us. No sign of centris surge. Note that in 2010 we experienced – and resisted – a squeeze in 3rd place and even increased our share against trend. It’s not about the candidate, and lack of MPs speaks volumes about failure of leadership. Time for Nick to take responsibility and do the right thing. There is no way forward unless he goes, and goes quickly.

  • Helen Tedcastle

    “Time to differentiate ourselves completely from the likes of Gove, Osborne and IDS”

    Certainly agree with that, but I’m not sure how Lib Dems ministers will get around all the praise and support they have given IDS.

  • Bill le Breton 6th Jun '14 - 10:52am

    Sorry to have another go, but I thought this review of how we have built our vote over the last 35 years might be a useful cautionary tale:

    Caron and Stephen express an article of faith that we shall perform much better in the 2015 general election and by implication that we shall hold significant numbers of our Tory facing seats.

    A quick look at the history of those seats is interesting. Prior to 1983 we were generally third behind Labour and the Conservatives held the seats.

    The 1983 election was a significant moment for the Liberal SDP Alliance in those seats we were eventually as much as 15 to 20 years later to win. Although the Alliance had a disappointing overall result in ’83, given our mid-term highpoint, Michael Foot’s disastrous campaign saw Labour drop behind the Alliance in those seats, allowing the Alliance to become the ‘challenger’.

    Subsequent elections saw the gradual but persistent squeeze of the third party, Labour, candidate until such time as the (now) Liberal Democrat candidate was able to defeat the Conservatives. This took a number of elections and virtually exhausted the pool of tactical voters.

    It is also true to say that once in the position of MP (and during the Tory Sleaze era) our MP was able to gain the support of disaffected Tories and establish an incumbency advantage.

    The danger in 2015: Where these MPs retire it will be hard work keeping the former Tory type voters from returning to their old home. Incumbency is difficult to will to a successor. Even where the MP continues to stand those former Tories will be confronted by a Conservative Party that appears to have done well what they always want from a Tory party, economic security in an insecure world. There will be gratitude and a little guilt for their dalliance with another lover!

    Among that catchment of previously Labour voting supporters (and their descendent families) the question will be asked, is the Liberal Democrat still our best bet to keep the Tories out of 10 Downing Street? I think that question rather than the often quoted ‘who can beat them locally’ is such a persons first consideration. They vote for a Prime Minister and a Government. This will be a very difficult question to help them answer, and Nick Clegg’s every utterance seems to discourage rather than encourage them to stay with us in 2015. If fact his image (never mind the reality) is such as to rebuff them.

    The fall back to the 1979 situation in those seats (generally third behind Labour and the Conservatives) could be very quick. In places it could happen in one election – 2015. Just look at what happens to our vote as compared to Labour where we do lose grasp of that ‘challenger; role. The Isle of Wight, Ribble Valley, to name but two.

    Faith is not enough. Change is essential.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Jun '14 - 10:57am

    David

    Very depressing – the main problem is not Clegg, not the party hierarchy – it is the fact that we are in coalition – it would be no different with anybody else

    No.

    It was always going to be difficult to handle the coalition situation, but Clegg has just played into the hands of our opponents by doing and saying everything that would make the inevitable unfair attacks stick. The biggest problem is that he and others of the “Orange Book” type gave the impression they wanted to push the party that way anyway, with the consequences that the lines about “necessary compromise” (which came too late and too quiet anyway) just were not believed, similarly all the austerity stuff is easy to write off as “austerity is just an excuse – we know it’s what you wanted in the first place” when it comes from an Orange Booker who has never disassociated himself from those close to him who have come out openly and said his coming to the leadership was a “coup” and those who were once mainstream in the party but are now considered leftists ought to leave it anyway.

    A leader with more experience and a greater willingness to be fair to all opinions in the party would not have made many of the mistakes Clegg made. I think at this stage we’d still be seeing a big drop in support, but not as big as the one we have seen.

  • Edna “Cons getting credit for economic recovery,”

    Well the ‘Stronger Economy, Fairer Society” message has always been explained as ‘Lib Dems will be better at running the economy than Labour and better at ‘fairness’ than the Tories’. It’s always been a weakness of that strap line that it kind of admits that the Tories are good at running the economy . It’s a bit of an own goal.

  • Malc

    “how Lib Dems ministers will get around all the praise and support they have given IDS.”

    I’d be interested to see any evidence of that.

  • Charles Rothwell 6th Jun '14 - 11:01am

    So just HOW bad does it have to get? The thinking “at the top” is obviously to ‘circle the waggons’/throw everything that possibly can be gotten hold of at the seats with sitting MPs/pray that the economic upturn will kick in for many voters who are certainly not currently feeling it/hang onto as many as these seats as possible in 2015/pray for another hung Parliament and then keep the ministerial seats with either the Tories as the majority party or Labour (although, on the basis of the past few weeks and Milliband’s total lack of traction with huge swathes of the electorate, the chances of the latter happening must be dwindling by the week). What an inspirational and idealistic basis for a national party to operate on! But the truth is, of course, that the LDs will not be a national party any more but one just confined to the enclaves where they can hope to retain MPs. If this is the course to be followed, then surely further humiliations like Newark can be saved and the party should abandon such constituencies to the Greens (for idealism) and Tories or Labour (for tactical voters who want (as I would) at all costs to keep the Kippers out/stop them gaining seats at Westminster). I personally have no doubt that, in ten years at the latest, that would land us precisely where the German FDP is; totally humiliated (3% in the EP elections after failing (for the first time in 64 years to win a seat in Bundestag last year) and virtually now being written off as a serious political force in German politics. On the other hand, I do (still) believe there IS an alternative: Clegg announces he will be standing down immediately after the 2015 GE while a radical and all-encompassing policy review begins focused solely on seeing the party reborn as a RADICAL, national party which actually stands for improving the lives of the majority of people in this country and their children and grandchildren. Just going on (and on) repeating “We need to get our message across better” like some Tibetan Buddhist mantra (when all that the “message” really consists of is the game plan outlined at the beginning) is certainly not going to cut it!

  • nvelope2003 6th Jun '14 - 11:03am

    There will be little gain in opposing the right wing policies of the Conservatives and UKIP as they are popular with the majority of the voters. That is why the Labour Party has made such little headway. All those highly educated , generally middle class, people who advocate more immigration and increased welfare benefits seem to be unaware that many less well off people resent having to pay taxes to support those who do not wish to work and feel that lower paid immigrants are responsible for the lack of pay rises or cuts in pay they have experienced. They might vote for left wing union leaders because they hope they will be more militant in getting them pay rises but they would not elect them to Parliament.
    We are told that we need more immigration to run the NHS and rectify skill shortages but then we learn that more than 20% of those completing higher education can only find relatively low skilled poorly paid work and many of those using the NHS are young immigrants – the vast majority in my local Heallth Centre and Hospital where I am normally the only British born patient.

  • Nvelope.
    Ttere is absolutely no chance of a tory majority, Governments do not gain seats in power. They are consistently 9% behind their 2010 position whether those votes go to UKIP or Labour or even the Lib Dems. To win they now need a swing of around 16 to 18 percent, I think this is why Nick Clegg is given support at top of the party . The stats say no overall majority and thus still favour a coalition. The problem is that the Lib Dems will not be in a position to form one without drastic change and UKIP can’t convert their votes into seats. There is an opportunity here but it requires decisive leadership.

  • @nvelope2003

    There is absolutely no need for another party to parrot the right wing lines of the Tories and UKIP. Labour are doing a fine job of that already, and this party has already drifted dangerously close to it under its present leadership.

    We must stand on a radical, Liberal vision for the future. There would be no point otherwise.

  • Richard Harris 6th Jun '14 - 11:17am

    @Caron
    “We need to show a bit of willingness to do things differently” – you can’t do that whilst still supporting this Tory government. The only way you are going to make the general public pay any attention to the LD point of view is to have a big falling out with the Tories on a matter of principle and pull the plug on this awful government. You absolutely cannot regain support whilst previous supporters see Cameron and know he is only in power because the LDs are keeping him there. The LD MPs need to show some backbone and pull the plug, a.s.a.p.

  • Olly fae Orkney 6th Jun '14 - 11:22am

    This belief that “where we work we win” and that our vote will hold up in seats where we have sitting MPs in nonsense that is not bourne out by the reality of what happens in elections.
    Just look at the virtual wipeout that our hard working, local MSPs had at the last Scottish Parliament elections. The whole party worked our socks off trying to get MSPs who had done great work for their constituencies re-elected –
    all to no avail.

    Ordinary voters hate us for what we’ve done in government and no amount of spin or Paddy appearing on BBC News will do a single thing about that. We need to act and act now. We need to leave this disasterous arrangement with the Tories and get a new leader who is untainted by time in the cabinet. Only then will we have a chance of having folk listen to us again.

    How many elections do we need to lose before this is taken seriously? As John Barrett correctly says – when the voters have a chance to take it out on the people (our MPs) actually responsble for this coallition (our MPs) they will – big time.

    To suggest that somehow it’ll all come good in 2015 is dangerous and completely removed from reality. We will be wiped out if we don’t change and change now.

  • The reality, that much if not most of the voluntary party is on strike, has been ignored for ages. now that the professional politicians have shown their contempt for the campaign surely and at last the members must take the party back? I am not a social liberal (sic) nor even anti-clegg but I am very anti everything worked for and funded for 32 years being flung away. First step – deselect all members of the parliamentary parties who couldn’t make it to Newark.
    Second step – re engage the voluntary party, fast.

  • Sid Cumberland

    I can easily find you some more, but it will have to be later when I have more time.

    Steve Webb on working with Iain Duncan Smith

    Today, he and Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith have become Westminster’s odd couple. IDS is renowned for his Right-wing stance on benefits and welfare, and Mr Webb is a liberal Lib Dem — but they’ve become close allies. ‘It’s actually Iain’s 60th birthday today,’ remembers Mr Webb. ‘I didn’t send him a card, which is remiss of me. It’s not a political statement, I forgot to send my goddaughter one recently, too.

    ‘I respect the fact that as an ex-leader of the Conservative party, he could have just gone off, not had any other grief or hassle and been a director of a dozen firms and had an easy life. But what does he do? He sets up a think-tank and devotes himself to social reform of the benefits system. You’ve got to respect that dedication. It helps that we’ve been working together for four years now. We can look back and say: yes, that was a success. When it comes to pensions I think he trusts my judgment.’

  • @nvelope2003

    More specifically, we should be helping to build the case for the EU to introduce minimum wages across the Union that ensure roughly equal purchasing power across it. Nobody would then need to migrate to achieve a survivable economic situation, purchasing power and thus general economic wellbeing would rise in the poorer members and richer ones would still be able to fill in skills shortages by paying accordingly.

    The health issues you raise are already covered. Most of those non British born service users will be getting the treatment thanks to the EHIC deal or a similar agreement where the country of origin covers its person’s costs to the NHS. Any issues with crowding or inefficiency are primarily a funding issue for which immigration is nothing but a scapegoat.

  • >”Our vote will be better next year and I agree with Stephen that we will do better in our held seats.”

    40 TIMES BETTER?! C’mon people, this isn’t hard to understand.

  • nvelope2003 6th Jun '14 - 11:38am

    Why not make an electoral pact with the Greens so that we do not oppose each other for the idealist vote ? This might help in seats we hold at present.
    The German FDP was in coalition for almost all the period since 1949 except when there was a Grand Coalition with the SPD and the CDU/CSU but it manged to stay in the Bundestag until last year when it only narrowly missed the 5% threshold. This seems to have been because despite winning a record number of seats at the previous election it was not able to implement many of its policies in Mrs Merkel’s Government and seemed to be persistently disloyal to it like the Lib Dems here. It gave the German electorate the impression they were trouble makers and not serious. The FDP did secure more than 5% of the votes in the former West Germany but were less successful in the former Eastern Germany. Some changes in electoral law had also made it less easy for Christian Democrat voters to help the FDP reach the 5%. The threshold was scrapped by the Federal Constitutional Court for the European elections and as a result the FDP gained 3 seats in a place where they had often been unrepresented except in 2009. Maybe they will try to get the law changed for Federal and state elections where they still have representation in the latter.

  • I am disappointed that there is no comment from paul barker

    I fully expected four or five lines of his usually cheery spin demonstrating how Newark really is the beginning of the good times. He predicted that support for Liberal Democrats would be back on track this summer.
    I expect he will show how building the party to achieve almost 3% is indeed a great success for Nick Clegg and that anything else is just “the usual suspects” and the “right wing media” not giving our man a fair wind.

  • @Charles Rotherwell I do (still) believe there IS an alternative: Clegg announces he will be standing down immediately after the 2015 GE

    Don’t pre-announce that people voting for Lib Dems in 2015 are voting for an as yet to be determined leader – the unavoidable ambiguity over their voting for an as yet to be determined coalition partner and PM is worse enough. On what basis would Nick Clegg even be in the leadership debates if he was already planning to step down and not a potential candidate for PM?

    If you want to choose a new leader then do it this summer but remember that you are choosing someone to lead the party for the next 10 years, not just a safe pair of hands for the next 10 months (and if you want to show you have changed then under no circumstances should it be anyone closely associated with the tuition fees debacle). If you are worried about the new leader being associated with the coalition government then keep Nick Clegg on as Deputy PM, and have the new leader campaigning from outside the cabinet.

  • paul barker 6th Jun '14 - 11:44am

    If I lived in Newark, I would have voted Tory I think. UKIP arent just a Nasty Party, they contain elements that are explicitly Faschist. In Britain we have come to associate Faschism with The “Boot-Boy” tradition of the NF/BNP but thats not Historically been The Faschist mainstream. UKIP are more dangerous because they appear relatively Normal.

  • Charles Rothwell 6th Jun '14 - 11:44am

    I was ashamed to read the details of the “recall of MPs” section of the Queen’s Speech which, given the fact that any such vote can only go ahead with the approval of a parliamentary committee, is already being written off as a classic fudge/window dressing politics (http://www.leftfootforward.org/2014/06/the-queens-speech-not-a-recall-bill-but-a-fudge/). The successor of the parties which introduced the secret ballot and universal suffrage should be at the very forefront of advocating and helping to introduce measures which really invest power in the hands of the electorate, not coming up with headline bites. Of course, THE chance to at least tackle one aspect of the UK voting system (the AV referendum) was, of course, thrown away as many key voters had already lost all faith in the party in the post-tuition fees debacle and direct reform of the electoral system could well have been set back years.

    nvelope2013: Here’s some reading for you http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/labour-market-effects-immigration (even though the authors are very probably ‘middle class’ and, God forbid, educated (as opposed to relying on gut feeling, prejudice, half-truths and hear-say). It is also about SKILLS and the real idiocy of New Labour was not admitting hundreds of thousands of Eastern European immigrants per se (although HOW it was done certainly was idiotic and very many of the electorate have still not forgotten!) but what was was setting an arbitrary target (the only category they could think in) of 50% to got to university without caring less as to WHAT the students were to study and with what ends in mind. The unemployed History, Media Studies,. Sociology, English graduates now working part-time in Nero’s etc are unlikely to forgive them either.

  • More specifically, we should be helping to build the case for the EU to introduce minimum wages across the Union that ensure roughly equal purchasing power across it

    And cripple the economies of the Eastern EU members by making it impossible for them to compete internationally?!?!?

    (In a double-whammy for the ones who have adopted or are about to adopt the Euro: they can’t devalue their currency to keep their exports viable, and now they have massively increased labour costs too!)

    How on Earth would that help anyone?

    (Well, I suppose it might be the final straw which splits the Eurozone wide open.)

  • nvelope2003 6th Jun '14 - 11:50am

    Glenn – You say Governments do not gain seats in power. In 1955 the Conservative Government was re-elected with an increased majority because they won more seats and an even bigger majority in 1959. In 1966 the Labour Government increased its number of seats and so did the Conservative Government in 1983 despite trailing badly in the polls and losing by elections to the Liberals throughout their period of office from 1979 until defeat in 1997. Support for the Conservatives compared to Labour is no where near as bad as it was under previous Conservative Governments but maybe continuing support for UKIP will break the spell. Who knows ? – but Newark, where UKIP won most votes in the recent Europaen elections has possibly broken UKIP’s spell. Why did the voters not vote Labour in a place where they had an MP in 1997 ? Time will tell. There is all to play for.

  • NVelope I’ve heard that Newark was a different constituency in 1997 with more natural Labour voters. . The boundary changes since then have meant more Tory voters in ‘shires’ .

  • Message for Caron, I want to rejoin the party but cannot whilst it is so ineptly led. I have had the high interest Co Op Visa Lib Dem card for years and years with its monthly funding to the party. If there is not a change I will cease the use of that card and transfer the balance elsewhere.

  • Phil Rimmer 6th Jun '14 - 12:01pm

    @ Mathew Huntbach
    Spot on.

    @ Stephen, Caron and anyone else who trots out the “we will do better where we have MPs.”
    Perhaps we will. However, in order to save his skin, Clegg and his supporters at the top of the party have come up with a dangerous electoral strategy that may well end up leaving most of the country as a black hole for Liberal Democrats. The only remaining signs of life being, perhaps 6-30 constituencies with Lib Dem MPs after the next election.

    That would take the UKs liberal party perilously close to where it was when Jo Grimond became leader. The question is, does the party still have the sort of people who dragged our sorry arses out of the mire back in the 1960s and 1970s?

    Now is the time for the Parliamentary Party to do the decent thing and think about saving the party rather than the chances of saving their seat.

  • What all need to recognise in seeking renewal or revival for the party is that, politically, we are not suddenly in the position we are now – it has been coming for many years. What has brought it to the fore, and to people’s attention, is the fact that now we are able to exercise real influence on Government (in deference to Matthew Huntbach, perhaps I should say, the appearance of real power). And the rhetoric, which has been real, from Clegg and other leadership types, now widely reported via the media, and making a real impact on voters, has been very different to the widely known rhetoric over the years, which has depended heavily on an anti-Tory view of the world, but being a lot more freewheeling radicalism rather than the Labour Party’s old approach of machine control politics. Leavened by a more local individual approach, and a strong streak of environmentalism going way back before “People”, “the Ecology Party” and the Green Party came on the scene.

    The other key factor we should recognise is that the world has been moving in our direction – people in other parties have taken up our calls, some Liberals in the past have thought that Thatcherism and / or Blairite nuLab represented what they had thought as Liberalism. Well, they didn’t, no matter what Paddy thought in 1997 and years before and after. The world is more mobile, more populated, more connected, and using ever more natural resources. Free wheeling capitalism is no longer an option for the future – 2008 makes that quite clear from a financial viewpoint, but it has been clear from an environmental position for many years.

    Our Orange Bookers chose precisely the wrong moment to try to synthesise ” market capitalism” with social liberalism
    This drawing on the existing “right” of the party was dramatically the wrong move, and we need to start a long process of reversal. There will be considerable fearful and prejudiced reaction to new and increasingly recognised world realities in this country and in many other countries. The Liberals and Lib Dems cannot afford to be a backward looking track. Sorry nvelope and others. Many people are going to need social, financial, environmental protection, and especially sanctuary from conflict in the coming years. We cannot afford to be on the wrong side of that argument.

  • It seems to me that the worthy Lib Dem ideal of being non-tribal and willing to work with other parties for the common good, while perhaps working at local or regional level in the past, now seems at governmental level to be regarded by voters as mere political opportunism. The open discussions with Labour around a possible post-2015 coalition, makes the party look like it has no ideals or programme of its own and its future role is just to provide a stable government and a mitigating force on the ‘extremes’ of the other parties. However, this ‘mitigating’ role is increasing seen by voters as ‘clinging on to ministerial limos’ at all costs and means that the party has lost all definition as a distinctive force with its own progressive ideology. This is exacerbated by the general ‘not to be trusted’ factor, which hangs around Clegg’s neck like a rancid albatross.
    I would suggest that the party should not form a coalition with any party after the next general election and should make that clear now. The need to provide a stable government in face of an economic emergency has past. Therefore, there is no need to form a coalition and we would have a much stronger and distinctive role in the next parliament (assuming there are enough MPs there to make a difference) by taking each policy presented by the party of government on its merits and supported or opposed as much as practicable in line with party policy. That way, the Lib Dems might more clearly draw a line under the past compromises and start to rebuild the trust that has been lost over the last 4 years.

  • CHarles Rothwell

    . It is also about SKILLS and the real idiocy of New Labour was not admitting hundreds of thousands of Eastern European immigrants per se (although HOW it was done certainly was idiotic and very many of the electorate have still not forgotten!) but what was was setting an arbitrary target (the only category they could think in) of 50% to got to university without caring less as to WHAT the students were to study and with what ends in mind. The unemployed History, Media Studies,. Sociology, English graduates now working part-time in Nero’s etc are unlikely to forgive them either.

    First of all, that 50% target was not universities, but people with post-school qualifications, Further Education, as well as Higher Education.

    Secondly, why do you attack Media Studies – the media sector in the UK is vast, and is one of the fastest growing sectors of employment. Why shouldn’t it recruit graduates with media related degrees?

    More generally, why are you attacking degrees? They teach transferable skills such that graduates do not necessarily have to work in sectors directly related to their degree subject.

    Perhaps the high number of graduates working in low skilled jobs has more to do with the global financial crisis and its aftermath, including the failure of governments to instigate recovery than it does an excess of people going to university.

  • @ Paul Barker
    I’m taking it that a Ukip ‘Faschist’, is a regular fascist who has unfortunately misplaced their false teeth.?

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Jun '14 - 12:14pm

    The public and I are not left wing liberals so I’m not interested in any solution that wants to cherish things such as foreign aid, mass immigration, flag cuddling the EU, lots of red tape for businesses, lots more taxes, mass borrowing and green belt building, discriminating against white people, especially men, lots of benefits and the like.

    I’ll listen to people who accept they want different principles or have a better strategy, but not those who think the Guardian and its prejudices hold the key to Number 10.

  • Eddie, a start to a better strategy has to be to change the leader, ask the public?
    Caron, again complacent about held seats, yes we will do better in them, 4% is better, but. WE are facing a wipe-out next year on the lines of the Canadian Tories in 1993. If NC is the leader and in the TV debates we face total disaster. It is no good having a lame duck as leader, it means the rest of us are sitting ducks!.
    .

  • Bill, if the minimum wage in say Romania were set to nine euros per hour to match Belgium, there’d be a mess.

    But that’s not what I said, was it?

    Set minimum levels of pay across the union that correspond to prices and costs in the respective countries. An equivalent wage in terms of local purchasing power will ensure that both sides of the wealth divide in Europe get some of what they want.

    Opposition to that sort of policy is nothing more than the market fundamentalist fearmongering that accompanied the introduction of the UK’s national minimum wage, fears that proved unfounded.

  • The public and I are not left wing liberals

    Actually about 8-12% of the public are, and it’s those the Liberal Democrats have to appeal to if they are to avoid being wiped out in 2015.

    (They are helped by the fact that although it’s about 8-12% nationally, they tend to cluster together, so — paradoxically — the Lib Dems might end up being saved by exactly the first-past-the-post system they hate).

  • T-J, either a new minimum wage in Romania will not cause any increase in wages, in which case what is the point of it; or it will cause an increase in wages, which means in increase in the costs of production, which means an increase in the price of exports, which means exports are now less competitive.

    There is no break in that chain: if you increase wages, costs go up; if costs go up, then prices have to rise; if prices rise, then exports are less competitive. You can no more raise wages without reducing competitiveness than you can push n one end of a rigid rod and not have the other end move. It’s just physics.

  • Charles Rothwell 6th Jun '14 - 12:34pm

    Eddie Salmon: One needs to afford you the benefit of the doubt when you say you will “listen to people who accept they want different principles” from the tirade of abuse you unleash in the preceding paragraph!
    In my view, what is precisely lacking (not just in the UK but across the entire western world) is a party which can effectively devise and present a realistic “third way” (yet another term cynically hi-jacked and subjected to total abuse by New Labour) between the rabid law of the jungle of untrammelled free market globalisation (which Farage (Conservative Party member at age 15 – he even beat William Hague!) undoubtedly wants at heart, seeing himself as “the true heir of Thatcher”) and the manifold inefficiencies and inadequacies of the old, state-focused nostrums of state socialism, which began to collapse decisively from the 1970s onwards. People thought they were getting this with Obama (some hope in general terms) and many are now vesting their hopes in the backwards-looking nostrums of Messrs Wilders, Haider and Farage and Mmes Le Pen and Palin (until she turned out to be a busted flush) instead. There must be a forward-looking option as well otherwise millions of people are just going to switch off and “cultivate their gardens” instead for years to come!

  • Newark was not Rotherham or Barnsley where we could say; ” well we have no history we have no people on the ground, it’s bad demographics etc”. Newark would have been a seat we would have thought we could have won in pre 2010 days at a by-election.

    2.6% is just miserable, awful, awful and this cannot go on.

  • Seen from a narrowly partisan perspective, this result may look like a disaster, but if you add up the Conservative and Lib Dem numbers, you get 47.62%, a hearty vote of support for the Coalition, and therefore for Nick Clegg, the Face of the Coalition! Another triumph for Nick Clegg! Long Live the Coalition! Who cares about the Party?

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jun '14 - 12:41pm

    An EU-wide minimum wage (apart from being unworkable for reasons given by T-J) is against ALDE (European Liberal Democrat) policy. It is supported by S&D (the centre-left group to which Labour belong). It is reasonable to assume that it is against EPP (the centre-right group) policy.
    An example of how EU-wide policy is not just determined by whether you are pro or anti EU, but by common-or-garden left-right ideological considerations.

  • Bill, the economy isn’t a stick on a fulcrum, and its components aren’t unthinking automatons. The labour market is inherently monopsonistic, with many sellers of labour and few buyers, leading to a neoclassical equilibrium whichs prices labour some way below the socially optimim level.

    Why do we have a minimum wage in the UK? Because the power disparity between employers and the employed is great, because collective action is difficult and risky and because in an environment where the above are true, exploitation is rife. Its major flaw? Setting a single price for labour with no regard for relative costs regionally – London workers being unable to survive there on the statutory minimum, for example. Any European solution would need to learn from this and avoid the centralising, one-size-doesn’t-quite-fit-any approach that characterises British Policy.

    The European Commission needs to ask itself, why are parts of its Union depopulating themselves, why are others struggling with the political backlash against immigration and how is it going to address the wealth gap without causing fracture? Ensuring fair pay across the Union is one part of a potential solution.

  • Jonathan Pile 6th Jun '14 - 12:47pm

    Three calamitous leaders from History: General Custer( massacre of little big horn) , Captain Smith( titanic), Nevile Chamberlain, (ww2) Nick Clegg (destruction of lib dems 2015) Each leader led their group to disaster in the obvious face of the facts. In May 1940 – the great Liberal Winston Churchill stood loyal to Neville Chamberlain in the Norway Debate whilst the great Liberal ex pm David Lloyd George took on Chamberlain and called for him to make the sacrifice and in the name of England go, When will a senior figure ask Nick Clegg to put his party first? if we are to clear the air let the party have a choice on the leader and the 2015 manifesto .

  • The labour market is inherently monopsonistic, with many sellers of labour and few buyers, leading to a neoclassical equilibrium whichs prices labour some way below the socially optimim level.

    If there are many sellers of something and few buyers, then the correct price for it will be low, as supply greatly exceeds demand. It is of low value. (And your statement only applies to low-value, low-skilled work anyway; as one moves up the ladder of skills there are fewer sellers of labour so they can command a higher price).

    However, that’s by the by. Say you run a machine shop in Krakow, exporting widgets. A minimum wage is brought in which increases your wage bill by (say) 5%. How can you not increase prices, and therefore make your widgets less appealing than those from the competing widget factory in India, and therefore have all your customers switch to importing Indian widgets, and therefore go bust (so your employees, after emjoying a coupe of months at the new minimum wage, now have no wages at all)?

    (You seem to be assuming that there is some massive profit margin in the widget-manufacturing business that can be reduced to absorb the increased wage bill. But there isn’t, because if there was, then it would have already been used to reduce prices to better compete with the Indian widget-factory).

  • @Alex Macfie

    Juncker of the EPP has come out in favour of requiring all EU members to have a minimum wage, but stops short of suggesting it should be set by the EU.

    I personally believe that there is a role at present for the EU to determine what level a member state’s minimum should be at to ensure its workers are being paid at levels that compare reasonably with the local costs of living and doing business. An EU where everyone on minimum wage gets the same Purchasing Power Parity adjusted income (note, not the same nine euro minimum, but enough to buy locally what nine euros buy in Brussels) would be fairer and less fractious.

  • @ Eddie, they’ve made a party just for you, it’s called UKIP and it’s very successful right now. There is nothing more ridiculous than white men trying to convince the world that they’re being discriminated against.

  • @Bill

    ‘If there are many sellers of something and few buyers, then the correct price for it will be low, as supply greatly exceeds demand. It is of low value.’

    Can’t disagree strongly enough. If I run my widget factory and employ one thousand workers, I need one thousand workers. My demand for labour is quite high. But because only so many people can run a widget factory, the number of people buying labour is low. A market economy, through the mechanism of competition, is always driving down the number of buyers of labour. In their theoretical struggle to monopolise the widget market they monopsonise the labour market. The process, once past a certain point, operates independently of any reference to the actual demand for widgets.

    The free market fundamentalist says that if the ordinary widgeteers on the factory floor don’t like the terms I as widgetmaster general dictate, they’re free to go into business making widgets on their own. Conveniently forgetting things like startup costs and the fact that labour, premises and skills aren’t completely interchangeable between people and positions.

  • Stephen Hesketh 6th Jun '14 - 1:22pm

    The voters have stopped listening to Nick Clegg and, in most of the country, to us as a party. I believe things are now so dire that we must change both our leadership and our message. The New Lib Dem project has failed. The present strategy has failed.

    We must elect a new leader urgently, revert to ‘traditional’ centre left Liberal Democrat policies and then get out on the streets in preparation for next years GE.

  • Ian Bailey (Labour) 6th Jun '14 - 1:25pm

    Things are on the mend! Having lost 91% of your MEPs last week you’ve only lost 87% of your voters in Newark.

    Its very simple. We have a choice of two governments – a Labour one or a Conservative one. If people want to support the government they vote Conservative, if people don’t want the Conservative government they vote Labour. Or UKIP. Or Green. Or Elvis. Or some random Independent.

    What they don’t do is say “the LibDems have brought some excellent policies in this Coalition government. They have been a moderating force on the Tories, and we will be voting for them”. Why not? Because Tories see this as a Tory government. Because Labour see this as a Tory government. Because the 87% of voters you’ve lost see this as a Tory government. Noone buys the “moderating force” line. They just see Tory policies loyally voted through by LibDems. Note that the Tories are doing better than expected – its not that the government is wildly unpopular everywhere, its just that you get 0% of any credit available and 100% of the blame. Unfair? Not entirely true? Biased? Who cares! Its the reality on the ground.

    And that reality is that in May 2015 you will lose another 30-40% of remaining council seats, and at least that percentage of MPs. Then you will have a leadership contest, a new leader, a period of introspection and come to the conclusion that the leader and his political direction smashed you, if only you had done something sooner. Like my party has recently had to do after leaving Brown in place 12 months longer than anyone could tolerate.

    Or, you can decide that those 300-400 councillors shouldn’t lose their jobs for something they haven’t done, and remove Clegg. Is there any party leader who has ever lead any major party to such a succession of electoral disasters and been left in place to keep reigning down obliteration year after year? Is Obliteration the plan of the party? Immolation? No? Then why have you left him as leader? You are the singularly most democratic party in how you are structured and organised. Removing your leader is something the grass roots can genuinely drive which isn’t something I can say for my party or the Tories. So what is wrong with you?

  • Steve Comer 6th Jun '14 - 1:30pm

    So many contributors here have said what I’m thinking, and I’m struck by how many saying ‘Clegg must go’, and ‘we need a change of direction’ are doing so out of sadness, and fear for the future not out of anger. There were some positive things in the Queen’s Speech, but even the PubCo reform was overshadowed by ham fisted presentation.

    Remember the last time Westminster politicians were parroting the mantra “We need to get our message across better?” Tory Ministers kept saying it during the John Major government, a time when Lib Dems actually WON by-elections like Ribble Valley, Newbury, Eastleigh, Christchurch etc. It didn’t work then – it doesn’t work now.

    Nick Clegg seems determined to cling-on as Leader (or is it just that those in his bunker keep telling him he must stay?). If he won’t go he needs to make clear what he will change, not keep saying “we’re doing a great job – more of the same.” Even if some Lib Dems believe it, the public clearly don’t.

  • Philip Rolle 6th Jun '14 - 1:39pm

    From the Newark stats, it would appear a not insignificant number of former Lib Dem voters voted UKIP. Signs are from these May elections that being in coalition has cost the Lib Dems the protest vote, as well as the anti-Conservative vote.

    Just for good measure, Nick Clegg has lost the party the youth vote and the “don’t go back on your word vote”.

    In the face of all this, it is hard to explain why “more of the same” can be the answer.

  • Peter Chegwyn 6th Jun '14 - 1:40pm

    Well at last the vast majority of people posting here have woken up and smelt the coffee as the electoral debacle that some of us have been predicting since 2010 becomes reality.

    Now could someone please put the kettle on in Nick Clegg’s office so that he too can smell the coffee and see the reality of the situation we’re now in… and what he needs to do if he wishes to help save many of his colleagues skins in 2015 (not forgetting the 1,000+ councillors who also face losing their seats next year if Nick remains Leader and his message remains unaltered).

    It takes a brave man to fall on his sword but better to lay down your life for your friends than lay down your friends for your life.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Jun '14 - 1:45pm

    I’m backing Clegg as long as the rest of the senior moderates/centrists/liberals in the party do. Barring exceptional circumstances.

    Helen, I love Guardian readers, as I do all people, I just feel personally attacked by the paper so will point it out. I wouldn’t vote for a party that pandered to the Daily Mail or even the Telegraph either.

    Theakes, see my first paragraph, I’m backing the leader as long as he has the support of senior Lib Dems who roughly believe in what I do.

    Charles, I agree we need a third way, but that is what I see Clegg broadly offering. No one is perfect.

    ChrisB, I find UKIP offensive, so you are just wasting your time and mine by fighting straw men.

  • Phyllis 6th Jun ’14 – 11:55am
    “NVelope I’ve heard that Newark was a different constituency in 1997 with more natural Labour voters. . The boundary changes since then have meant more Tory voters in ‘shires’ .”

    That is correct. The ‘All that’s left’ blog wrote about it earlier this week:

    Labour cannot win back Newark barring a freak landslide. The boundary changes in 2010 were relatively minor over all but harmed Labour here: the Labour inclined town of Retford was transferred northwards to the safe Labour Bassetlaw constituency whilst the Rushcliffe territory around Bingham was added.

    Labour took 48% of the vote across Retford this year, to the Conservatives’ 26% and UKIP’s 23%: an edge of 1,300 votes. In contrast, the last elections in Rushcliffe (2011) had a Conservative vote of 47% with Labour on 28%, a Conservative lead of 1,500 votes. That is a net change in the Conservatives’ direction of 2,800 on a lower local election turnout.

    http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2014/06/by-election-special-newark/

  • Nigel Cheeseman 6th Jun '14 - 1:54pm

    I see no grounds for optimism. There is no reason why 2.6% should be a low water mark. It is quite likely that support will continue to slide as we get nearer the general election. I live in Orkney, part of what, on paper, is our safest constituency. If I were a betting man I’d be looking at the Liberal Democrats holding between 2 and 5 seats. Providing we continue on the downward trajectory, even Orkney and Shetland will be lost. (We got the highest vote in the euros, well ahead of the SNP)

  • Good grief, I’ve just heard Lord Newby on Sky saying that the local elections were “by no means the disaster they appeared” !!

    So losing nearly 300 council seats and taking a terrible pasting in London, Manchester and Liverpool is not a disaster after all.

    Bimey !

  • Keith Browning 6th Jun '14 - 2:07pm

    With just five less votes (a possible counting error) the number would have been 999 …!!

    EMERGENCY – which service do you require..??

  • If I run my widget factory and employ one thousand workers, I need one thousand workers. My demand for labour is quite high

    Yes, but the value of a widget-maker’s skills depend not just on demand, but also on supply. If making widgets is a highly specialised trade requiring great intelligence, manual dexterity, and training, then the people you need will be in short supply and will have lots of other options open to them (both other competing widget-makers and in other industries who want such people) so you will have to pay a lot for them. They are highly valuable.

    On the other hand, if widget-making is a mechanical process that any idiot with a GCSE in media studies can do, then you have a huge supply of interchangeable labour-units who don’t have very many other options. These people therefore are of low value and you won’t have to pay much for them.

    The market therefore sets the correct value on an individual based on how great the demand is for their capabilities, compared to how many people in the population have those capabilities. High demand, low capable proportion of the population: high value; low demand, any idiot can do it: low value.

    The free market fundamentalist says that if the ordinary widgeteers on the factory floor don’t like the terms I as widgetmaster general dictate, they’re free to go into business making widgets on their own

    No, they’re free to quit and go work for someone else. Their value depends on (a) how many other people are desperate to hire them and (b) how hard they will be to replace.

    The minimum wage will only affect these low-value, interchangeable individuals, as high-value individuals who are in demand will already be being paid more than the minimum wage.

  • paul barker 6th Jun '14 - 2:07pm

    So thats Climate Change 6, Deportations Nil & Newark/Sack/Dont Sack Clegg 83. Can I appeal to all sides of the Party to stop this Narcissistic festival of Self -Harm & talk about stuff that matters.
    If members want to dump Clegg they can call an Emergency General Meeting of their Local Party, a mmeeting that has the Power to do things rather than talk about them. Its not as if any of us have anything new to say.
    The predictive value of Parliamentary By-Elections is Zero.

  • I don’t understand this desire for Clegg to go. Surely it would be far better for the party to go down in flames next year, then junk Clegg and have a fresh start, then junk Clegg now, get a new leader still go down in flames, and then have to get yet another new leader?

    Clegg’s political career is already over; why burn another potential leader as well?

  • daft ha'p'orth 6th Jun '14 - 2:13pm

    @paul barker
    Do you seriously believe that the predictive power of the last fortnight is zero?

    Because if so then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. Guaranteed returns. One careful owner.

  • If Clegg intends to stay as leader…….. why didn’t he make at least one showing…… he cant be damaged any more…I always thought leaders should lead, even against impossible odds ….not hide away……. So to all those Clegg loyalist – yes you MP’s – where were you??????????? I’m mad…… no damn mad…….and not even a Lib Dem member at present.

  • Peter Watson 6th Jun '14 - 2:31pm

    @Bill “Surely it would be far better for the party to go down in flames next year, then junk Clegg and have a fresh start”
    A couple of weeks ago that was my view as well as it seemed the safest bet. If 2015 is a disaster, then from a low-water mark, what remains of the parliamentary party can rebuild by distancing itself from the Clegg years. And if it turns out that 2015 is a success then Lib Dems can carry on as they are.
    It struck me though that if I would return to voting Lib Dem in 2015 if the part y changes, then perhaps others would as well. So slowly I’ve come round to sympathise with those who think that Clegg should go sooner rather than later in order to avoid a possibly irrecoverable position after 2015 (e.g. a small number of ‘orange book’ / ‘economic liberal’ MPs who benefited from the return of tactical voters, the incumbency effect and a targeted investment in election campaigning by Lib Dem HQ).

  • Steve Comer 6th Jun '14 - 2:44pm

    “From the Newark stats, it would appear a not insignificant number of former Lib Dem voters voted UKIP.”
    Well this is possible, but all the signs are the Tories put a lot of effort into target mailing to try to get people to switch to them in order to halt the UKIP bandwagon. (A bit like in 1983 when St John Stevas went round wavering Tory/Liberal voters n Chelmsford saying that returning him as MP was a better way of protesting against Thatcher!)
    I never thought I’d be relieved to see the Tories hold a seat, but a UKIP victory would have been an absolute disaster, and I am pleased they didn’t even come close.

    As for the Lib Dem 6th position, when will ‘cling-on Clegg’ and his sycophantic minders finally accept that he’s not part of the solution, he’s part of the problem?

  • Kevin Colwill 6th Jun '14 - 2:47pm

    So, five years “moderating” a Tory led coalition then what…. a political generation in the wilderness whilst the Tories do what the hell they like?

    Nick Clegg will get a peerage out of it and there’ll be a few best selling political autobiographies. Woo hoo!

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Jun '14 - 2:54pm

    So now if you make sacrifices for your children and send them to private school the left wants to penalise you for it:

    http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jun/06/universities-urged-lower-entry-grades-comprehensive-school-pupils

    I’m beginning to think that I’m doing myself a disservice by being in the same party as people who pander to the left (or right). Clegg needs to assert himself and stop messing about.

  • Peter Chegwyn 6th Jun '14 - 2:56pm

    @Bill and Peter Watson

    Better to take the tough decisions now and start re-building than wait for a total electoral disaster next May.

    It’s perfectly possible to transform our fortunes under a new Leader with a new message.

    It’s perfectly possible to save more Parliamentary & Council seats next May than we will otherwise.

  • Better to take the tough decisions now and start re-building than wait for a total electoral disaster next May.

    But if the tough decisions are taken, the re-building begins, and then it’s all wiped out by the total disaster coming next May, you’re in a worse position because the new leader will have to resign and all the progress made will be destroyed, setting the Lib Dems back to where they would have been anyway.

    The total disaster is inevitable, the only question is whether to use Clegg, who is already a dead man walking politically, to take the fall, or whether to put some other poor soul in the way and lose two leaders instead of one.

  • Andrew Suffield 6th Jun '14 - 3:06pm

    The lesson to learn here is that “where we don’t really put on much of a fight at all, beyond a small local team, we lose”. That’s not a very surprising lesson.

    Should we have fought this one? We came third in 2010, so I’d say (and did, in advance) that it’s better to save our money and resources than to throw everything at a by-election so we can come second. Targeting: it’s really important, now more than ever.

  • (If Clegg was going to be replaced, the time was 2012. What’s the fastest a leadership election can be held in the Lib Dems? Whatever it is, it won’t leave long enough for a new leader to make any kind of impression on an uninterested electorate.)

  • Eddie: I am on the center right of the party but Clegg must go for all our sakes. (I consider myself a senior in the party!).
    Bill it would all be done by the end of July, could be quicker if there is an agreed replacement and no contest.
    Either way well in time for the party conferences.
    I have to say if that is your argument for not changing the leader it is as thin as it could get. Of course some sort of impression would be made, so much depends on the leadership election debates, look at last time, and if Clegg was there it would be a walking disaster. The public do not trust him at all. THERE MUST, HAS TO BE A CHANGE.

  • Why do you think there will be leadership election debates, and if there are, why do you think the Liberal Democrat leader will be involved in any but the most peripheral way (it will be in both Cameron’s and Miliband’s interests to keep the Lib Dem leaders as sidelined as possible, and the broadcaster will know they have no show if the big two aren’t involved, so they are likely to give in)?

  • Personally I doubt there will be election debates: Cameron doesn’t want them as he has nothing to gain from them this time around, and Labour are beginning to realise Milliband is their greatest electoral weakness so they won’t want something that puts him and just him in all his odd-looking geeky glory squarely in front of the electorate to be judged, so they will try to get out of them. And without any will from them from within the major parties (unless Miliband takes leave of his senses and overrules his entire party) they won’t happen.

  • Shaun Cunningham 6th Jun '14 - 3:25pm

    This is so sad, it doesn’t have to be like this. The top table have lost all credibility now. 2.6% of the vote. How can Nick in all honestly stay in his position. This is now getting ridiculous beyond belief.

    This party is now a laughing stock. We have now joined the fringe groups. Is there anyone wiling to standup and be countered for this terrible mess. One of our lords this morning said the local election results were not that bad, is this the rubbish we members have to put up with.

    Peter Chegwyn is right when he says :
    Better to take the tough decisions now and start re-building than wait for a total electoral disaster next May. It’s perfectly possible to transform our fortunes under a new Leader with a new message.
    It’s perfectly possible to save more Parliamentary & Council seats next May than we will otherwise.

    Let us do it now, it is time to stop talking and get on with the job of rebuilding this Party. Do we really have to wait until next May.

  • Paul Barker I am as passionate as anyone over proper and fair deportation, and more keen than most on measures to delay and minimise climate change. However, while no-one takes the Lib Dems seriously, we need to consider most urgently measures to improve that situation, so we can work together to persuade people on these other vital issues. With almost zero public influence, we can do very little. Clegg’s mantra of “Must be in Government to change things” is virtually stood on its head. We would have much more influence a an opposition!

  • Andrew Suffield Wrong! The media would see this as a sign of us giving up and a return to the 1950s. If that’s what you want, go ahead.

  • Eddie Sammon

    So now if you make sacrifices for your children and send them to private school the left wants to penalise you for it:

    http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jun/06/universities-urged-lower-entry-grades-comprehensive-school-pupils

    I’m beginning to think that I’m doing myself a disservice by being in the same party as people who pander to the left (or right). Clegg needs to assert himself and stop messing about.

    If you read the story you see this is because private school pupils perform less well at university compared to the state educated, thus it is the best interests of universities and the country to get more state pupils into higher education.

    There is a scandal here, and it is that the private schools system is essentially gaming the admissions process by teaching to the test to get more low quality pupils into HE than state schools. Using wealth to game the system is exactly the kind of thing I thought liberals would object to!

    Also, on purely utilitarian electoral grounds, a tiny proportion of people are privately educated, this is not a significant voting demographic and it would be unwise to favour them over the huge majority of state educated…

  • edna murphy 6th Jun '14 - 3:54pm

    Bill
    Total disaster is NOT inevitable. Let’s all fall off a cliff then rebuild is daft. There could be almost no-one left, making rebuilding impossible (or as near as dammit – say a 100 year job). Nothing is going to be perfect but lots of things could be an improvement. Peter Chegwyn, Bill le Breton and others are calling it right! Nick’s got to go, and go quickly!!!

  • Of course there will be a leadership debate. The world has so moved on, they happen almost everywhere. The public would expect it and the first leader seen to back away would get the label “Chicken”,

  • I don’t think the public do expect it, and because they have only happened once before it’s not like they are traditional. It’s not like America, where it’s assumed they will happen and if they don’t someone will be blamed. So no leader has to be ‘the first to back away’.

    Last time, they happened because Cameron challenged Brown and Brown realised that to refuse the challenge would make him look weak.

    This time, who is going to issue the challenge? Not Cameron, because he has nothing to gain and a lot to lose. Not Milliband, at least, not if he listens at all to his campaign team who will tell him what an incredibly bad idea it would be.

    So that leaves Farage and the Liberal Democrat leader, whoever it may be. However, if they call for a debate Cameron can reasonably reply, ‘Why would I as Prime Minister debate with someone who is no, under any circumstances, a potential Prime Minister?’ Then all Miliband has to do is keep quiet and not issue a direct challenge, and there won’t be enough of a story to portray either as ‘running scared’, or at least, as running more scared than the other.

    There won’t be any debates. Neither Cameron nor Miliband wants them, and they are not ‘expected’. Last time was the exception, not the establishing of a new rule.

  • Thanks MartinB

  • @Bill on minimum wages

    You’ve managed to overlook the slight gap between neoclassical economic theory and the situation on the ground in practice.

    Sure, in an idealised market in which an infinite number of widget manufacturers compete to provide an abstract quantity of widgets to an economy defined by a generalised consumer’s insatiable want for widgets, perhaps then your interchangeable labour units will have an optimum price set for their time, assuming perfect and complete information.

    But in any real scenario, there will be a somewhat smaller pool of potential employers for the supply of labour. Perhaps if we’re lucky there’ll be a healthy market properly regulated to break up monopolies and to limit exploitative practices. But really what we tend to see in a mature market economy is some form of oligopoly structure, where your ‘go work for someone else’ simply doesn’t hold.

    It probably all boils down to what we think the economy is for, in the end. The theoretical models are tools to understand processes in isolation, not descriptions of an ideal society.

  • Bill

    You seem so confident in your assumptions – but at is what they are. Assumptions and not based on much either

    Miliband will want to do a debate. he actually comes across well in them and Cameron does not do detail well, and he tends to bluster and get offensive when riled. Miliband has already been written off and this is factored into Labour VI already – he may have the most to gain. You clearly have a poor view of him which is fair enough but I have the same of Cameron – I think Miliband has much better judgement than Cameron

    UKIP will also want to be involved, and who will deny them? Farage will be gunning for Cameron so again there is a reason for Miliband to push for one.

    Your leader will also want one – it will be a last chance and nothing to lose as the party will be at the nadir of their support

    How best would Clegg deal with a leaders debate? Would it be to go for Miliband – risky as it would reinforce the point that Labour will make about him being a Tory; or Cameron to emphasise the differences between the parties?

    I personally think there will be a debate pushed for by Miliband and it will also be between the four national party leaders

  • But really what we tend to see in a mature market economy is some form of oligopoly structure, where your ‘go work for someone else’ simply doesn’t hold

    But it does hold, for people who have skills and abilities that are (a) rare and (b) in demand. They can always find someone else to work for because employers will compete in order to hire them.

    The people who it doesn’t hold for are the ones who are basically interchangeable, where there are more of them than jobs they are capable of doing. And the fact it doesn’t hold, and that therefore they are paid low wages, is the market doing its job of pointing out that they are of low value because they are are over-supplied and not in demand.

    They are having an optimum price set for their time, because the optimum price for their time is very very low as they have nothing to offer to distinguish them from the rest.

    It probably all boils down to what we think the economy is for, in the end.

    The economy is for assigning value to things and people.

  • Bill, you see.

  • Bill and TJ
    you’re straying way off topic.

  • Jonathan Pile 6th Jun '14 - 4:44pm

    The General public are incredulous that we haven’t ditched Clegg already, they are I believe prepared to forgive us for putting the Tories in, they will also forgive us for Austerity because they know despite what lying Labour say, that they would have done the same. What the public cannot forgive us, and Nick Clegg for is the triple betrayal over Tuition Fees – namely – promising something you didn’t believe in, then abandoning it without thought as part of the negotiations and then failing to effectively remedy the crisis when the public (students) reacted. Until the party pledges to scrap tuition fees, wipe all student debts and restore local authority grants we wont rebuild the lost trust. And Bill I do feel that even if a new leader, new policies and a new party approach to openness and fair treatment of women doesn’t work a miracle – it can’t hurt. The public know we are divided and papering over and more lies is a Recipe for more electoral pain. We might lose the next leader at May 2015 but we need to start detoxifying the party now

  • But anyway, the theoretical musings about economics are beside the actual point, which is:

    Say you run a machine shop in Krakow, exporting widgets. A minimum wage is brought in which increases your wage bill by (say) 5%. How can you not increase prices, and therefore make your widgets less appealing than those from the competing widget factory in India, and therefore have all your customers switch to importing Indian widgets, and therefore go bust (so your employees, after emjoying a coupe of months at the new minimum wage, now have no wages at all)?

    A minimum wage, at a level which makes a difference (ie where it increases wage bills), must necessarily decrease competitiveness in a global market for those industries which it effects, and therefore to introduce one in Europe would mean places like Poland and Romania losing business to places like India and china, and that is exactly what Europe does not need while it’s trying to recover from a decade in which many of its economies were allowed to be under-competitive.

  • Bill, In your last sentence – yes, the science, social science, whatever, that we describe economics, this holds. When you start realising these are real people with families, wishes, needs in various forms, you start realising that value allocation in a market economy is not what a “good society” should be about. Economics may help analyse but it cannot make the political decisions that shape society. Certainly in a liberal or liberal and democratic society that would be the case.

  • Firm Liberal 6th Jun '14 - 4:56pm

    Did not John Major whilst retaining the Premiership resign as Conservative leader to allow Tory members a vote in a leadership contest ? Is that an honourable way forward ? But whatever path the party is taking it must be soon !

  • Economics may help analyse but it cannot make the political decisions that shape society

    Of course not: that’s what politics is for. I was just pointing out that the labour market does not price wages below the correct level; it in fact accurately pins values on people and tells us which people are economically worth more or less by demonstrating which have skills and abilities that are rare and in demand, and which are just basically fodder.

    (Well, in the main it does. Obviously it’s as susceptible to bizarre bubbles as any market. I, for example, have no idea why the ability to propel a sphere into a net is in such demand, but it can’t be denied that it is in demand and the skill thus required is rare and that is why those who possess it are valuable. I can more easily understand why those who possess the rare skill of being able to cut open human beings, take out diseased or cancerous tissue, and sew then back up again without killing them, are in demand, but then that’s maybe just me.)

    But as you say economics can only provide that information, not tell us what we should do with it. What we do with it is a question of politics and is why we have votes rather than having a Central Committee of Technocrats running everything based on reports and evidence.

  • The last Tory candidate to win a by-election, with the Tories in Government, with a bigger majority than 7403 was Tim Smith at Beaconsfield in 1982. A by election where a young ACL Blair lost his deposit. That’s how long since such a stonking Tory victory with the Tories in power.

  • Whatever the pros and cons of Clegg, Alexander et al I think (David Beckett @ 5.08pm) they are almost certainly planning to fight an election in 2015, not 1915… 😀

  • And outsiders viewpoint once more (floating voter, centrist, libertarian in outlook but not lib dem)

    Reading down the comments and also comments by Lib Dem supporters on the Guardian. Telegraph etc and my feeling is there is still much delusion going on by political-techo’s rather than facing up to the things the general public are saying (and i accept that it is my feeling/guessimate on what people are saying but I think I am probably in the right demographic to judge it).

    1)You say.. people are not giving the Lib Dems credit for the economy. Two reasons for this:

    a) Lib Dem policy before the election/last 25 years has been of leftist/higher spending policies, The austerity that most people don’t like but do accept as being necessary and the right thing to do (the reason being is everyone has overspent on a credit card and know to clear it off you have to stop spending and pay it off. it fits with peoples feelings that we as a country have had to do that no matter the pain) BUT see it as being a Tory policy in formation so gives you no credit.

    b) the Public don’t trust or believe you so if you say ” We are responsible for the economy, look what Danny Alexander has done”…. while this might be true the public (myself included) just say ” we’ll you would say that wouldn’t you! you’ll say anything to get elected and you lie so I don’t believe you”. The break down in trust means any achievement you want to say will never be believed.

    2) We had to do what we did in the national interest…. People do accept this. However they feel very let down by any substantive lack of opposition to the more controversial polices.

    3) Student Tuition fee’s pledge. People do not accept that such a critical, central and flagship policy could be dumped so quickly and then support the exact opposite (for a Lib Dem political vanity project of an AV vote that the rest of the country had no interest in (people belly ache but generally like the first-past-the-post system, they really do.., simple and accountable)

    It is also not acceptable to say “well things change in a coalition”, ” we didn’t think we would be in government as otherwise we would not have made the pledge… Both of these go to the heart of the delusion, The Public (myself) think why the hell make a lie in the first place by including a policy you knew could not be afforded or implemented just to try and win the student vote…. That, that is the problem… you told a lie in the first place… It completely destroys Lib Dem creditability and the reason Nick Cleggs apology and Lib Dem excuses are not believed or accepted.

    This one decision has broken the trust of the public in anything you say for at least the next decade, maybe longer. It is that serious. The nearest thing I can think to it is the effect of the poll tax on Thatcher. As I remember there were 2 lines about reviewing the local tax system, this was used to justify the introduction of the community charge. The public were outraged as they said ” we did not vote for this”, And it was true, no spin could get away with the fact there was no mandate for it ans the public felt lied to. Thatcher at her height of power could not survive that lethal break of trust with the public. Even to this day this is on of the roots of the Tories being the “nasty party”

    The Lib Dems are in the same position . I honestly don’t know the answers to this, but you current leaders aren’t credible in any form.

  • Ruth Bright 6th Jun '14 - 5:52pm

    After seeing the super-human efforts colleagues in Southwark had to summon just to salvage 13 seats it is very hard to see Malcolm Bruce on the by-election coverage assuring us that we do well where we have a good organisation to get the message across.

    Ta for the morale boost Malcolm. Our MPs just don’t seem to get it do they?

  • Richard Dean 6th Jun '14 - 6:07pm

    It seems to me feasible that some LibDem voters may have voted UKIP, and others may have voted tactically Tory to keep UKIP out. The latter would be consistent with the LibDem presence in government, and could have been the message intended by the leadership’s absence.

    2015 could be a repeat, of course, unless LibDems find policies and arguments that appeal to a larger section of the electorate. Possibly the worst possible future would be achieved by focussing on minority issues, and the best by developing convincing, numerically supported arguments about the economy, the value of being in the EU, and the value of immigration and the way to control it.

  • Peter Chegwyn 6th Jun '14 - 6:07pm

    Ruth, Sadly our MPs ‘really don’t seem to get it’ but the overwhelming majority of party activists and forum commentators certainly do.

    There has to be a change of message and messenger… and fast.

    If there is, then it is still possible to reverse the decline in our fortunes in time to save more MPs and councillors next May.

    If there is not, then we’re facing electoral meltdown.

    Better in my view to take tough decisions now and have a higher base on which to re-build than wait for an electoral catastrophe next May which may result in there being no base on which to re-build in large areas of the country.

    Our MPs should contemplate their own situations this weekend and ask themselves if they are more likely to hold their seats under a Leader whose current popularity rating is minus 56 per cent (and it’s getting worse rather than better), or under someone else, a new face with a new message capable of reinvigorating the troops as well as attracting the interest of the public.

    Two further points:

    i) There is a precedent (of sorts). On the day Jim Callaghan resigned in 1979 after three years of the Lib-Lab pact, many people said we’d lose all our MPs. A stunning by-election victory by David Alton in Liverpool Edge Hill the following day transformed the political scene and helped us do far better than anyone dared hope for. A change of Leader and message can have the same effect now in greatly improving our fortunes.

    ii) Leadership elections attract new members and the return of lapsed members keen to vote for the new Leader. The Leadership election itself can attract considerable positive media coverage if handled right.

  • @Bill

    You’ve just wrapped back around to your original post about a widget factory in Krakow, ignored the fact that the buyers of labour operate in a market tending towards monopsony, brushed past the need for collective bargaining to ensure fair dealing and pretended that markets are somehow immune to error, with prices as some kind of holy writ. You’ve also decided that labour costs are the sole single factor in competing with India or China, an assertion that if true means we might as well just give up now.

    Clearly we’re still posting in 2007 when markets never fail and must not be regulated under any circumstances. Unless of course we’re in 1996 when minimum wages will see unemployment hit 50% by next August if that Mr Blair gets in.

    Of course, there are better policies. A universal basic income would render the minimum wage, along with whole swathes of the welfare system, completely obsolete. But I suspect that the requirements of a Europe-wide system would be too federalistic for the fringe non-euro members.

    @Glenn

    Yes we have. Nice to argue about something that isn’t Mr Clegg’s immediate political future, though.

  • One other thing which I would find disquieting, were I still a party supporter, is that the average Lib Dem support in the three opinion polls conducted in Newark was 5%, but the vote yesterday was only 2.59% – about half of that. Lib Dem optimists tend to assume that opinion polls underestimate LIb Dem support in real elections, but the opposite happened in Newark.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Jun '14 - 6:50pm

    g, thanks for your comment. My criticism of the article wasn’t from an intellectual point of view, not mainly anyway, it was just an example of the barbs of injustice that I feel constantly getting pricked by from the left and right and what I want a leader of the Lib Dems to avoid. There are centrist barbs of injustice too, but overall I personally don’t feel as many. I am quite poor, but with quite a good education, for anyone’s information.

  • Paul In Twickenham 6th Jun '14 - 6:54pm

    @Peter Chegwyn – there is a typo/error in your last posting. You say that Nick Clegg is at -56%. In fact he is at -65% (13% positive/78% negative). This is – of course – the worst approval rating ever reported. At the height of Watergate Richard Nixon was at -42%.

    People might also find it interesting to read this prescient posting by Peter Kellner from 2012 in which he suggests that the party should ditch Mr. Clegg in time for the 2014 conference: http://yougov.co.uk/news/2012/09/24/clegg-least-popular-party-leader-foot/

  • Grace Goodlad 6th Jun '14 - 7:11pm

    It is so very sad.

    Rather like when Gordon Brown got to be Prime Minister and it all started to fall apart in his hands, Nick has led the party into a coalition and a catastrophic collapse in our support.

    I am sure he is no monster, and I am sure he has had many sleepless nights recently. In fact, I am sure he is a nice person and this is really hurting him.

    That is why I really hope he now does the decent thing and stands down as leader of our Party. He has given it his best shot but it hasn’t worked. The run of by-election results that preceded this did not make easy reading, then the local election results, then the euros, now this.

    The public is rejecting the vision of Coalition Liberal Democracy that Nick is trying to sell. Has anyone else noticed in the media that the tories talk about the conservative policies that work, and we talk about the coalition, and ignore the values behind this party. We need to be far more assertive and combative – and we need to change the person telling the story. The public listened to Nick in 2010, and for a while they believed, sadly they feel let down by him and they cannot trust . We can complain that this is the result of evil media baron manipulation until the cows come home (or UKIP turn uo to a key Euro vote – whichever is quicker), but the evil media barons are still pulling the strings and with Nick so badly and damaged, no-one cares what we are saying.

    So I am sorry, but believe it is now without a shadow of a doubt time for Nick to go. A leadership election could dominate the tabloids during the silly season and to give us a chance to recommunicate our vision, and then a Coronation of our new leader in Scotland in September…

  • David Allen 6th Jun '14 - 7:52pm

    “Surely it would be far better for the party to go down in flames next year, then junk Clegg and have a fresh start, then junk Clegg now, get a new leader, still go down in flames, and then have to get yet another new leader? Clegg’s political career is already over; why burn another potential leader as well?”

    Completely disagree.

    First, if we go down in flames, we shall have a tiny band of MPs with no influence, and no more publicity whatsoever after 2015. If there is a hung parliament, we will have to sit back and watch the bigger “third parties” playing their hands – UKIP, the SNP, the Democratic Unionists, maybe even Plaid Cymru. These will be the people with enough MPs to hold the balance and form coalitions. We can choose any leader we like in those circumstances. Nobody will pay that leader the least attention, whatever he or she says. We will be yesterday’s men.

    Secondly, why should you assume that a new leader elected now will “go down in flames”? I would suggest that in fact, things would be quite favourable for such a leader. Let’s suppose that a new leader set a new tone and a new approach, achieved a modest recovery in our vote (say, from 7% back up to 12%), and saved us from total wipeout in terms of seats. The pundits then wouldn’t be saying “Davey Swinfarlamb has failed, it’s his fault the Lib Dems didn’t get 23% like they did in 2010.” No, they would be saying “Davey Swinfarlamb has rescued the Lib Dems from total ignominy, the Party would do well to keep him on, he has some interesting things to say, and we reporters will go on taking a bit of notice of the Lib Dems.”

  • Grace Goodlad. Agree 100% with everything you say.

  • nvelope2003 6th Jun '14 - 8:20pm

    The Canadian Liberals picked a new leader after their disaster under Michael Ignatief who resigned immediately after the last election . Under Justin Trudeau they are now leading in the polls for their 2015 election although the NDP have retained a lot of the support they got last time, if the polls are to be believed. In the Provincial election there recently the Liberals were unexpectedly triumphant in knocking out the Parti Quebequois but the NDP do not seem to have contested that election although they did well there at the last Federal Election almost eliminating the PQ.

    The problem with the Liberal Democrats is that they do not have a distinctive identity which can be put across easily and there is a certain patronising attitude or arrogance which is particularly noticeable in this forum and which annoys many voters. Ordinary people are assumed to be ignorant or racist if they do not espouse left wing middle class attitudes about such things as immigration , even though they may genuinely believe that immigrants are after their jobs and keeping pay down. Liberal Democrats are seen to be fanatically pro EU without any understanding of why some people take a different view.

    I know that the Newark constituency has slightly different boundaries than when they won it in 1997 but if they were the real alternative to the Conservatives they would at least have come second and should have won the seat in view of all the hard decisions which the Coalition have had to take. It does rather seem that the voters respect the Tories for what they are perceived to have done because their main opponents, UKIP, wanted even more of it.

    One aspect of the party’s problems has only been mentioned in passing and that is the almost universal hostility of the press to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats in general. Somehow this media bias has got to be addressed. Maybe someone has got some ideas but starting a Liberal newspaper like the old News Chronicle is not likely to be practical. Can something be done online where so many people now get their news ?

  • Michael Berridge 6th Jun '14 - 8:25pm

    I may have missed something (having speed read most of the 133 comments to date) but it did sound mostly like the liberal left in session. One comment. Last weekend I met an old friend of mine who lives in Bingham and got on well with his former MP Ken Clarke but for years has voted Labour. To my surprise he told me he was planning to vote Lib Dem. I thought he was having me on and jocularly said he’d do better to vote Tory to keep UKIP out. Do you think he followed my advice? And if so, does that “prove” that we should be changing horses in mid stream?

  • Heck, if my MP was Ken Clarke, I’d vote for him. It such a shame that the best chancellor of the last forty years is sitting on his hands whilst the worst chancellor of the last forty years is running the treasury.

    Back on topic. I don’t think there’s much reason to believe this represents a low water mark. I expect the Lib Dems may do better come the election, apart from anything else I imagine tactical voting will prop up a few MPs but the leadership need to stop kidding themselves that this is going to turn around. I believe that the Lib Dems moderated the Tories a little but that’s hardly a commendation. In coalition they’ve helped back a string of the most unpleasant legislation this country has seen in years and even ushered through strictly illiberal acts like that which enables secret courts. Who is expected to vote for this? They’ve lost the trust of anyone who cared about university education, lost the backing of anyone on the left, and even disillusioned anyone the out-and-out liberals. What are you left with? Slightly less mean-spirited Tories? That’s not a base.

  • Grace Goodlad 6th Jun '14 - 9:07pm

    Factionalised name calling is not helpful AT ALL in the current climate.

  • Shaun Cunningham 6th Jun '14 - 9:12pm

    Listening to our leadership trying explain away this horrendous defeat is very painful. They clearly not of this universe. I am beginning to believe in the parallel universe theory. From tactical voting, mid term blues and of course they ( our former supporters ) will be back. But the one which really haunts me , the local elections results were not that bad. Is there a doctor in the house?

    Yes Michael we need to change NOW and not sit on the fence in the belief HOPE will save the party.

    Sorry another comment form the liberal left……..

  • Jonathan Pile 6th Jun '14 - 9:13pm

    Just a thought – are well the Lib Dems turning into a zombie party – incapable of taking action as we hurtle towards the slow motion car crash that is May 2015. Nick Clegg lambasted Gordon Brown for clinging to office after the voters rejected him when will Clegg do the honourable thing or will he drag the party to total destruction?

  • David Allen 6th Jun '14 - 9:32pm

    So where next? Do we simply have to wait and see if party managers can persuade Nick to fall on his sword?

    Let’s remember the libdems4change movement seeking 75 local parties who will call for a leadership election. That is only 75 out of over 600 parties. Most parties haven’t yet started the process, but I understand there is already one party which has decided to make the call. So, 74 to go then…

    We may not get as far as 75. We may not have to. The pressure from the grassroots could concentrate minds, long before the figure of 75 is actually reached!

  • Peter Hayes 6th Jun '14 - 9:39pm

    I really think there is no national response we can make. Where I live we did very well in the last Council and Local elections but did very little to support our MEP. Go back to the local campaign if you have a LibDem MP, ignore the national party, and fight to keep a good local MP keep the Focuses delivering with local news.

  • The Lib-dems are full steam ahead for that car crash, with your blue blinkers on.

    Wipeout in 2015.

  • David Allen 6th Jun ’14 – 9:32pm
    “………. 75 local parties who will call for a leadership election. … … Most parties haven’t yet started the process, but I understand there is already one party which has decided to make the call. So, 74 to go then…”

    Yes David Allen you are right. The inevitable consequence will be a long slow political death for Clegg. More painful, more distressing and almost certainly more damaging to the party. Surely nobody in our party wants that ?
    Those at the top of the party have to think it through — what other route to survival have committed members of the party been allowed?

    A long slow uprising of the members is what will happen (is happening) if Clegg clings on to the illusion of power ( in the words of Lamont – ” in office, but not in power” ).

    Those at the top of the party seem to be in denial. There were some during the last two weeks who were on the media talking nonsense aout the local election results being “mixed” ( Laws, Bruce, Newby).
    Some were saying that discontent in the party would be –“all over by the end of the wek”. ( Paddy, Danny Alexander ). Except that was the week before last and the discontent is clearly growing.

    If Clegg does not go now — voluntarily, or following demands by MPs or others at the top of the party. — the obvious outcome will be a long slow burn of discontent and rebellion amongst those who remain in the party. One by one, constituency parties will get to grips with the constitution and call for a leadership election.

    No matter how often party bigwigs go on TV and demand discipline in the ranks and blind obedience from the troops, the reality is that the poor bloody infantry have had enough.
    Some have already drifted away, some just cannot face another massacre and those that are prepared to fight are only prepared to fight for change at the top of their own command.
    People are organising, people who now have more time on their hands because they do not have to go off to council meetings or carry out the other duties every week because they are no longer councillors.

    The strategy of retreat to less than 37 seats at the next general election releases all the members and activists in the other 600 or so seats to do something else, like campaigning for a new leader.
    I wonder if anyone at the top of the party thought through that aspect of their decision to ‘stick with 37 seats and abandon the rest’ ?
    Did they think that all the rest of us would meekly oblige?

  • It seems to me that the tragedy of this coalition – and indeed of the Clegg leadership in general – is that so far from being able to free others, the party itself has become “enslaved by conformity” to the two-party political consensus – despite the fact that its raison d’etre during my lifetime has been opposition to that consensus.
    The result is that it is difficult for most people to perceive a compelling rationale for its continued existence. I don’t think that’s an overstatement.

  • Julian Critchley 6th Jun '14 - 10:56pm

    Someone on this thread posted that there were 72 hours left to save the party. I’m not sure it can be saved.

    I’ve banged on since 2011 now about how I’ve never understood which voter demographic Clegg was targeting. I do now understand. It’s Eddie Sammon. Someone who supports right-wing economic policies, labels anyone left of Clegg as a “socialist”, and easily disparages public sector workers, Guardian readers and other “lefties” he disagrees with, yet doesn’t want to join the conservative party who share all his views. So that’s Clegg’s demographic, as Jack above describes them : “slightly less mean-spirited Tories”.

    I jest only slightly. Clearly, in terms of policy, Eddie is Clegg’s target voter. He’s the guy who – along with millions of other Eddies – was supposed to replace the millions of us who were members, activists and voters for a left-of-centre anti-authoritarian Liberal Democrat party pre 2010. Clegg’s problem is that the millions of us were very real. You can tell that because of the enormous hole we leave behind whenever the new right-wing LibDem votes are counted in every election. Yet as far as I can see, there’s only one Eddie, rather than millions of slightly less mean-spirited Tories all looking to reward Clegg for his “courage”. Maybe there’s a couple of others too. But obviously they don’t live in Newark.

    The Parliamentary Party are paralysed like deer in the headlights. They are sitting in a locked room with a big bomb counting down to 2015, and rather than trying to do anything to defuse it, they’re all simply shuffling their chairs back to the wall, hoping that somehow, when it goes off, they’ll emerge from the rubble even if all their colleagues are blown away. Sorry guys. The truth is, even if you do something, chances are many of you are goners anyway. But I can guarantee you this : if the LibDems don’t dump Clegg, publicly distance themselves from the Thatcherite policies they’ve been pursuing in government, and have the new leader issue the biggest Mea Culpa the political world has ever seen for what’s happened in the last 4 years, then you won’t have double figures of MPs after the next election, and this party will be stone dead. It could take half a century before another liberal party emerges as a national force.

    Clegg has to go, sure. But it has to go much deeper than that. I personally think the only chance you have of even having the slightest chance of pulling it off is getting Charlie Kennedy to come back and do a US-politics style story of redemption and recovery, while taking the party back to the place he left it as a mass political movement, before the “less mean-spirited Tories” destroyed it. But even then, that’s a long shot.

    Still, what are the remaining members going to do ? Try and defuse that bomb, or just keep shuffling their chairs and hoping a miracle will save them ?

    Time to act.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Jun '14 - 11:24pm

    Lol! Julian’s post is amusing:

    “I’ve banged on since 2011 now about how I’ve never understood which voter demographic Clegg was targeting. I do now understand. It’s Eddie Sammon.”

    However, I am much more thoughtful than simply someone who supports right wing economic policies but doesn’t like other aspects of tory nastiness. Only the other day I was wondering about taxing billionaires over 50% and have thought of wealth caps in the past.

    Overall, yes I am someone who is broadly centrist, but I think there are a lot of us out there or a lot who can be won over to our position.

  • “Wise Ukip heads will worry what the result means for the party’s prospects of gaining even one seat at the next general election.”

    Good point. Extrapolating from this by election shows us getting no seats and the Lib Dems a landslide of 1906 proportions doesn’t it?

    Are you guys for real????

  • daft ha'p'orth 6th Jun '14 - 11:47pm

    @Eddie Sammon
    “Lol! Julian’s post is amusing. However, I am much more thoughtful than simply someone who supports right wing economic policies but doesn’t like other aspects of tory nastiness. Only the other day I was wondering about taxing billionaires over 50% and have thought of wealth caps in the past. ”
    Well, yes. Julian’s point is that there aren’t many people like you. Your thoughtfulness is probably one of the things that would reinforce that possibility…

  • Peter Chegwyn – Please note my point elsewhere, that new members, as they are once they have lapsed, have a one year qualifying period before they may vote in Leadership elections(unless I am very wrong).

  • daft ha'p'orth 6th Jun '14 - 11:49pm

    @simon
    “Are you guys for real????”
    Nope. Improv theatre.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Jun '14 - 11:59pm

    Daft, thanks :). Although I would add that I think it is a good job if people don’t spend as much time thinking as I do!

  • Steve Comer 7th Jun '14 - 12:52am

    @ Jonathan Pile: “when will Clegg do the honorable thing or will he drag the party to total destruction?”

    I still have hope that he’ll see sense in the next few days, if he doesn’t then its the latter.
    It used to be said that “the captain goes down with the ship” that was in the era before professional Westminster insiders who’ve never done a real job in their lives took over running the three largest parties in the UK. Now they have, then its a case of “the ship goes down with the captain,” it was true of Gordon Brown – it looks to be true of Nick Clegg. Still never mind Paddy Ashdown still thinks Nick is the same wunderkind he discovered in the late ’90s, so all we have to do is keep knocking on doors in all weathers as more and more voters who do live in the real world slam them in our faces…..

  • I have lost so much respect for Paddy Ashdown over the last few weeks 🙁

  • @tim13 You’re very wrong. New members qualify for leadership elections with immediate effect.

  • Much as I predicted for the locals/Euros, you got stuffed, and again in Newark.

    And you decided – in the grandest sense of liberalism – to censor all my posts, because you couldn’t bear to see them in print or to dispute them.

    Read BTL what the vast majority of posters are saying: they’re posting the same as me.

    Clearly it’s time to censor all their posts out of existence too. Oh, LibDem members you say, therefore acceptable? Well, bless my soul.

  • Martin Tod I am totally confused now because I was told by the membership department just a few days ago that only ‘current’ members could vote and that lapsed members ie those who do not renew their membership within three months of the end of their membership, could definitely not vote in any Party elections. I can see why, as otherwise there could be a rush of new members joining before leadership elections just to support one or other faction, along the lines of what happened in Falkirk with the Labour Party.

    Perhaps someone from Membership can give a definitive answer.

  • Jack

    Me too!

  • Like Paul Barker if I lived in Newark I would have considered voting Tory on Thursday just to make sure that UKIP didn’t win. In the end I wouldn’t have done – I am too committed (or tribal) for that. So the fact that in those circumstances 1000 people voted for us in Newark means that there must be huge potential for us there. I don’t know how many of them were identified during the election, but the party needs to put resources into Newark to make sure they are recruited and start campaigning to win the seat next time. (Just my attempt at being more optimistic than Paul).

  • David Lowrence 7th Jun '14 - 7:48am

    tonyhil “So the fact that in those circumstances 1000 people voted for us in Newark means that there must be huge potential for us there”. Can I have a dose of whatever you are on please? Clegg has bounced along with delusions of adequacy for 4 years, dragging our party to a point where the achievements of the last 25 years have been obliterated. he must do the right thing or have it done for him. NOW

  • @phyllis There always is a rush of people rejoining ahead of Leadership elections. New members can’t vote in parliamentary selections, but I’m pretty certain that that is the only type of election which new members can’t vote in.

  • The Labour Party will be more interested in the two neighbouring seats of Lincoln and Sherwood next year as they would both be targets for them to reclaim a majority in the next parliament.
    The fallacy that voting for the Tories will stop UKIP can be shown by the views of Edward Leigh MP from the neighbouring constituency of Gainsborough
    http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2014/05/edward-leigh-mp-the-lesson-of-these-euro-elections-modernisation-has-failed-get-back-to-real-conservatism-end-the-coalition-now.html
    and he has even now come out with wanting a UKIP/Con (non-formal) pact
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-27738205

    We have built up our membership and need to target getting them involved in changing their communities even at the parish council level as we have shown that we can make responsible hard decisions that need to be taken.

  • We went into coalition with the Tories because, as Nick so rightly said, “it was the verdict of the electorate”.
    The electorate have delivered a very clear verdict about Nick. This is what Peter Chegwyn calls ‘smelling the coffee’

  • @Eddie Sammon
    “However, I am much more thoughtful than simply someone who supports right wing economic policies but doesn’t like other aspects of tory nastiness. Only the other day I was wondering about taxing billionaires over 50% and have thought of wealth caps in the past.”

    If you support right wing economic policies then how does that make you a centrist? I’ve never understood this central tenet of Cleggism, so I’d be very grateful if you could please explain how being right wing is centrist, as I’m completely baffled by the concept.

  • http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jun/06/analysis-newark-ukip-is-feeling-the-effect-of-protest-votes

    This view of The Newark result from someone who is not a Liberal Democrat is informative.
    Note the reference to Clegg and the popularity of the Ebola virus.

    The key fact from the last fortnight’s disasters is encapsulated in. —
    BrianD 7th Jun ’14 – 8:17am
    We went into coalition with the Tories because, as Nick so rightly said, “it was the verdict of the electorate”.

    At the time in May 2010, Clegg said he could not possibly come to a coalition agreement with Gordon Brown because of “the verdict of the electorate”.
    Clegg told the world that the voters had decided that Gordon Brown’s days were over. The voters had spoken.

    So will Clegg follow his own approach to reading the will of the electorate and accept that Clegg’s days are over?

    Or will this be another inconvenient truth that he glosses over as he grinds the party into the dust for the sake of his own vanity?

  • peter tyzack 7th Jun '14 - 9:11am

    I got half way down this and couldn’t read anymore. Nothing like a negative comment, Stephen, to bring out all the anti-Cleggers, – at least we have all their names now(well pseudonyms) so we can find them!
    ‘The Story’ that needs to be highlighted is the lack-lustre performance of Labour, the pretenders.. wasn’t this part of the country the home of the uprising of the agricultural workers, and the birthplace of the farmworkers union? On that basis their successors in the Labour ranks should be thoroughly ashamed.
    That Lib-Dems were well down the list is not relevant, this is a two party election system designed for two parties, That Labour failed to be the second party, and that very clearly the ‘Gentry’ classes have grown in power and dominance by so much that they now need to have two parties to represent them, and that they came first and second, now THAT is much more worrying..!

  • Firm Liberal 7th Jun '14 - 9:26am

    The Newark result, the European disaster, t he annual destruction of our local government base and so forth make this the most depressing period in the experience of decades of Liberal and Lib Dem activity. If we continue along this path the 2015 election can lead to nothing but the end of the Liberal / Lib Dem party ( As a person who believes passionately in the need for Liberalism this is the first time in 50 years membership that I have ever said this) as a UK wide movement. In the constituencies we will struggle to find candidates, fight on less than a shoestring, have hardly one person to deliver our literature and forfeit even more deposits than in 1950 (and then it was securing less than 12 1/2 % of the votes – not the 5% of today).
    Tough decisions must be taken immediately so that rebuilding can start – with less than a year to go ! If they are not taken now then the electors will take them for us next May.

  • Thankyou, Martin, for your correction on new members’ rights. Encouraging.

  • Martin Tod

    Thanks Martin, maybe I misunderstood what she was saying.

  • Michael Berridge 7th Jun '14 - 10:56am

    What do I miss in all this debate? It is the question of who would replace Nick Clegg if he went. David Allen suggested “Davey Swinfarlamb” and I can’t even work out who the -far- is (excuse my ignorance). The only other suggestion was to bring back Charles Kennedy, which is either utter madness or a stroke of genius. More and more I find myself remembering Churchill’s comments on democracy – rewritten as: Clegg is the worst leader of the Lib Dems, except for all the others who have been tried (or suggested) from time to time. Think about it!

  • Michael B

    The -far-is Farron,

  • Anthony Hawkes 7th Jun '14 - 11:15am

    I am not an astute politico, just someone who does boring and mundane things for the LibDems.

    Why? Because I want my grandchildren to live in a LiDem country. I have never read anything except the bit that goes, “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.”

    That’s good enough for me, but can you activists please sort things out. It is only 16 years until my granddaughter votes.

  • Michael Berridge

    Are you making a genuine personal comment or are you one of the increasingly tiny group of apologists for Clegg,?
    Do you cling on to Clegg whatever the facts, whatever the weekly electoral disaster?

    Clegg does for the Liberal Democrats what concrete boots do for a troop of Trapeze Artists.

    He drags them down.

    All this nonsense about no other candidate for the leadership job when LDV has just carried out a survey indicating that everyone else can think of at least six MPs who would do a better job.

    As for Charles Kennedy, the evidence is there forvall to see — compared to Clegg, Charles Kennedy was a very safe pair of hands, even with a glass in each one. Check back on the membership figures, the number of MPs elected at General Elections, the number of councillors elected year on year, the fact that in those days we had more than one MEP, we shared in powering both Wales and Scotland without being annihalated afterwards. The Charles Kennedy period of leadership looks like a Golden Age in comparison with the present disasters.

    I suggest you buy some coffee, make a cup, then wake up and smell it.

  • @Anthony Hawkes
    I really want a society that lives up to these principles:
    “to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.”
    Unfortunately I no longer see a party that campaigns for these values or which I can trust to maintain and defend them. These values matter more to me than party loyalty and should come before debates on strategy. If campaigning is merely to win at all costs and core principles are something that can be ditched for the sake of power, why should anyone vote for any party? I don’t know how the Liberal Democrats get back to these principles or gain the trust of people who once supported them. It may be too late for the Lib Dems but, if so, there’s still a need to defend and fight for those important principles and values.

  • @Martin Tod
    I heard that new members couldn’t vote in leadership elections. Can you confirm this to be not the case? Because if that’s true you could maybe persuade a lot of the leavers to rejoin now, get a new leader, have a bit of a revolution and then go on to recover at the GE. Need evidence of this, because it would change the logic of what anti-Clegg campaigners should do.

    I’d quite happily rejoin if it we could resolve this situation. I think the reason Clegg is still in power is down to people like myself leaving.

  • David Allen 7th Jun '14 - 12:33pm

    Michael Berridge,

    “Far” = Farron in the “name” of my mythical next leader, Davey Swinfarlamb. My apologies to several other potential candidates who had to be left out for space reasons.

    Now going back to Labour five years ago, I’d have had even more trouble with composited pseudonyms. Labour’s real leader was Gordon Brown, and his potential replacement was Eddavid Johnharman, I suppose.

    All the polls consistently showed that Labour would gain about 5% if they replaced Brown with any one of the four people who make up my pseudonym. It didn’t much matter which. The point was to get rid of Brown. All his potential replacements also had faults, but lesser faults.

    Labour didn’t get it. The week after the election, Brown went. Leaderless, Labour immediately jumped four points in the polls. If they could then have re-run the election, they would have come in as the largest single party. Sadly they couldn’t. Ed Miliband as leader duly demonstrated his serious faults, but he also showed that he wasn’t Brown and therefore wasn’t completely toxic. So Labour are now polling a lot better than they did under Brown.

    The parallels with our own party are almost uncanny. We need to get away from the mindset of “we don’t know who would be the right replacement for Clegg”. We need to say “Clegg must go, now which of this myriad of better alternative leaders shall we choose?”

  • David Allen 7th Jun '14 - 12:46pm

    Martin Tod, anyone else who knows,

    Are newly joined / rejoined members qualified to vote in a local party Special General Meeting to debate the LibDems4Change resolution calling for a leadership election?

  • @Michael Berridge

    Whilst I would love to see Kennedy as the next leader, I’d quite happily settle for someone other than Clegg, simply because they weren’t the leader that the public now associate with a series of memorable volte-face. I don’t like Farron, but I could live with him, because he’s not a busted flush.

    The Churchill quote really doesn’t pertain to this – no other Lib Dem leader has ever seen the departure of so many members, MPS, MEPs and councillors under their tenure. Clegg is presiding over the Lib Dem apocalypse, there is no sense in which he is better than any other leader. If Chris Huhne were the leader and then went to jail, came out and made amends, I suspect he’d still be more popular at this point in the cycle than Clegg, and we’d all be spinning his rehabilitation story now. Clegg is socially loathed in a special way; short of electing Peter Sutcliffe as the next leader I don’t think we have to worry about getting someone worse! 😉

  • peter tyzack7th Jun ’14 – 9:11am…..I got half way down this and couldn’t read anymore. Nothing like a negative comment, Stephen, to bring out all the anti-Cleggers, – at least we have all their names now(well pseudonyms) so we can find them!
    ‘The Story’ that needs to be highlighted is the lack-lustre performance of Labour, the pretenders.. wasn’t this part of the country the home of the uprising of the agricultural workers, and the birthplace of the farmworkers union? On that basis their successors in the Labour ranks should be thoroughly ashamed.
    That Lib-Dems were well down the list is not relevant, this is a two party election system designed for two parties, That Labour failed to be the second party, and that very clearly the ‘Gentry’ classes have grown in power and dominance by so much that they now need to have two parties to represent them, and that they came first and second, now THAT is much more worrying..!

    SO WE CAN FIND THEM?????? It was Newark not North Korea….

    As far as a problem for Labour/LibDems not being relevant goes…Labour’s problems are for them to sort out (The fact that the current leader is perceived as inneffectual plays a major part in that problem) However, you are right “LibDems have become an irrelevance; not just in Newark but nationally. (The fact that the current leader is perceived as untrustworthy plays a major part in that problem)….

    For all their problems Labour looks likely to be the largest party and possibly with an overall majority…However, UKIP may yet prove to be the ‘kingmakers’ and a five year term of a Tory government constantly trying to appease UKIP on Europe, Health, Welfare, Employment Rights, etc., will see LibDems disappear from the political landscape…

  • Jonathan Pile 7th Jun '14 - 1:12pm

    John Tilley
    I completely agree with you about Charles Kennedy in the eyes of the voters he was a well liked leader who connected with the people and thought about the issues and got them right like Iraq. If he wanted the job and was match fit we would have him back in a trice and he would be the ideal pre- Clegg untainted candidate who could reconnect but alas I feel that he doesn’t want the job. Nonetheless anyone would be better than Clegg. Vince, Simon, Sarah, Jo, Steve or Tim – take your pick any would do. I prefer a Borgen style woman leader for the party in the future like the Greens.

  • andrew purches 7th Jun '14 - 1:24pm

    Our image has to change, our leadership must change, our message is meaningless to most. “Liberal”is a rapidly expanding term of toxic abuse from the Tories and UKIP and is one that is being generally accepted by the electorate. Whatever we have achieved in coalition,and it is considerable in many respects, the public do not think that we had anything at all to do with what good the government has put in place, but we are being blamed for all the faults of this administration: University fees,bedroom taxes,IDS’s neo- fascist behaviour, Gove’s education policies and the crass defence policies. I could go on forever …. for what ? The party should decide exactly who will keep their seats in twelve months time, and I suspect not more than a handful will on present showings , and then decide who should then be our leader to be. Mr Clegg will almost certainly be one of many who will be looking for a new job and I suspect most of the current cabinet members of the Parliamentary Party will be in a similar situation. Those who may well keep their seats will be female, so perhaps Clegg’s successor should be a feisty left of centre woman. Mr Clegg reminds me so much of a previous Tory P.M. who was rightly shafted by a certain Mrs Thatcher : perhaps we have our own Mrs T. awaiting in the wings, to lead a newly born Social, Liberal and Democratic Party. That may save the day !

  • Peter Watson 7th Jun '14 - 1:45pm

    @Steve “If you support right wing economic policies then how does that make you a centrist?”
    I think the centre is too hard to define for a single party to stake a claim on it. Most of us have views that are to the left on some issues and the right on others, and in many cases a left or right is hard to define (is opposing immigration right-wing nationalism or left-wing worker protection?). Does a trade union supporting homophobe “average out” as centrist? Will the same party make a good home for him and somebody with diametrically opposed views on the same issues?

  • Jonathan Pile 7th Jun '14 - 2:03pm

    Peter tyzack
    Your comments about “finding” those people who make comments against Nick Clegg are worthy of a North Korean spin doctor. Please reconsider those remarks we are after all to the end a liberal and Democratic Party. This is about the survival of the party not about left versus right.

  • Thanks Nigel, that’s made it a very easy decision for me.

  • Dr Zulfiqar Ali 7th Jun '14 - 2:51pm

    Guys, it’s pathetic having no compaign activity from Party grandies during Newark bye-elections. I find it hard there was no struggle to improve our poll rating and show some substance our core liberal values have for the masses.If our party Head Quarter was not keen on fighting this election then why to field a candidate and demoralise him. My hats off to David Watt for his courage of standing in these testing times and the way he handled Interviews with both BBC and Sky. He truely looked a MP but unfortunately, being a Liberal Democrats did not carry any weight for him.
    Zulfiqar

  • Stephen Hesketh 7th Jun '14 - 3:14pm

    @Jonathan Pile 7th Jun ’14 – 2:03pm “Peter tyzack – Your comments about “finding” those people who make comments against Nick Clegg are worthy of a North Korean spin doctor. Please reconsider those remarks ….” Totally agree Jonathan. In fairness to Peter, I’m sure it was only a bit of menacing humour!

    @Peter Tyzack re “at least we have all their names now” LOL – How very wrong you are. People I know, both inside and outside the party only disagree WHEN he should go not IF. That is why he and his close associates should not be allowed to predetermine any post election matters.

  • Eddie Sammon 7th Jun '14 - 4:16pm

    Hi Steve, as I whole I don’t support right wing economic policies, such as being soft on the super rich, I just support them in a few areas such as with small and medium sized businesses.

    I think Julian described a Jeremy Browne supporter better than a Clegg one, so I wouldn’t look too much into it.

    Regards

  • Jonathan Pile 7th Jun '14 - 4:17pm

    FairPlay to you Stephen about peter’s comments – it took a lot of courage for loyal people to demand change now. Thinking about John Pugh said about the 36 seat strategy being followed by the party at the moment it seem to me that this a plan which destroys most of the party in the country in order to preserve a nucleus of Westminster MPs who even it worked would have no mandate and no movement in 2015. Let the party stand united behind a new leader who set out a true lib dem manifesto but which celebrates the hard won achievements of the suffering of the last four years. A future where Nick Clegg does the right thing by the party now. He could stay as Deputy Pm and then go to theLords or Europe but we need a new leader and a detoxified party.

  • I am really struggle to understand the logic of the alleged supporters of “keep Clegg “. They must be aware of the strength of feeling, which seems to be getting stronger with each passing day, but they want him to hang on, leading a divided party, which can only mean the abyss. I have to wonder whether they are Lib Dems?

  • Eddie Sammon 7th Jun '14 - 4:50pm

    Theakes, to put it more accurately: at the moment I am an Ed Davey or Danny Alexander supporter and if they support Clegg then so do I. If I were them I am not sure what I would do, but I think it is a tough one so I would back them whatever they decide. I would probably get behind Clegg. People are more interested in the future than a tuition fees broken pledge four years ago. I’m convinced I can get voters to back Clegg as long as he doesn’t do anything stupid like another Party of IN campaign, which was the last time I withdrew my support for him. Funnily enough, many of the people who want Clegg out think the party of IN campaign was fine and dandy and the problem was the messenger.

  • Michael Berridge 7th Jun '14 - 4:53pm

    Phyllis, David Allen: thank you for Farron.
    Wonder why I couldn’t think of his name? Too young? Too loyal to Nick?

  • Eddie Sammon7th Jun ’14 – 4:50pm

    Theakes, to put it more accurately: at the moment I am an Ed Davey or Danny Alexander supporter and if they support Clegg then so do I. If I were them I am not sure what I would do, but I think it is a tough one so I would back them whatever they decide. I would probably get behind Clegg. People are more interested in the future than a tuition fees broken pledge four years ago. I’m convinced I can get voters to back Clegg as long as he doesn’t do anything stupid like another Party of IN campaign, which was the last time I withdrew my support for him. Funnily enough, many of the people who want Clegg out think the party of IN campaign was fine and dandy and the problem was the messenger

    IMO Alexander is part of the problem rather than part of any solution….His multitude of media appearances have been as an uncritical ‘cheerleader’ for Osborne….
    Whoever replaces Clegg needs to distance the party from Cameron/Osborne not reinforce the belief that a “LibDem vote is a vote for Tory policies….
    Playing the “We have stopped the Tories being REALLY nasty” card is easily trumped by NHS, Welfare, Disability, Bedroom Tax, Secret Courts, etc…
    The ever increasing irrelevance of the LibDems as a “The party of difference” will only increase the ‘protest vote’ being transferred to UKIP…..Thatcher had the ‘unions’, Farage has the ‘EU’….

    Simplistic slogans win elections, “Yes, we can” worked wonders…

  • Anyway back to the actual subject,
    The newark By election was not that great for any of the main parties. Labour were well down and despite the spin the Tories lost nearly half their vote.
    Unlike a lot of people I don’t see much of evidence for tactical voting. UKIP were up a lot, but taking rock solid seats is not easy IMO the right leaning press is drawing wagons round the Tories because UKIP is the first serious challenge on their home turf. Whilst the left leaning press is trying to avoid the uncomfortable reality that immigration and The EU are not very popular.

  • Peter Watson 7th Jun '14 - 6:49pm

    @Eddie Sammon “So now if you make sacrifices for your children and send them to private school the left wants to penalise you for it”
    Late to reply, and apologies for going off-topic, but NO, THE LEFT DOES NOT!
    Essentially the article and the research is making the common-sense point that if one child has been pushed through school by parents and teachers and dragged along by peers, who always expected to go to university, whose family socialises with professionals and academics (who can offer work experience and internships), and comes out at the end with a few good A-levels, they might do worse at university when on a level playing-field with someone with slightly lesser A-levels, but who previously had to overcome parental indifference, peer-group pressure that school is not cool, no personal contacts other than teachers with experience of further education, a lack of opportunities and positive role-models, etc.
    If anything, this is about wanting a genuine meritocracy, making sure that children are not penalised because of an accident of birth, and ensuring that “none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”.

  • Jonathan Pile 7th Jun '14 - 6:59pm

    Peter Watson – I quite agree that we don’t want to prevent people getting to university either from rich, middle income or poor families. We need to restore our commitment to universal free for all higher education. We need to restore student grants just to like we had and most importantly fund it through scrapping the current bonkers HS2 route and scheme. We should treating higher education as a long term investment from the capital budget instead of a current spend. BRAINS before TRAINS.

  • Eddie Sammon 7th Jun '14 - 7:07pm

    Hi Joe and Peter,

    Joe, I take your point about reservations about Danny, I have some reservations too, but I have reservations about all possible successors, which is why I still give the nod to Clegg (just).

    Peter, I understand it was unfair of me to use the word “penalise”, but I still think entry grades should be the same for all children.

    I don’t wish to dominate the debate, I sometimes just come out with some provocative statements when the going is getting tough. I’m going to try to sign off on this debate now, but best wishes.

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Jun '14 - 7:15pm

    Eddie
    “Peter, I understand it was unfair of me to use the word ‘penalise’, but I still think entry grades should be the same for all children.”

    So, you’re withdrawing one word (which wasn’t particularly objected to) but standing by the substance of your former comment, even though you have no answer to Peter Watson’s very clear and cogent explanation of the rationale for this change of policy?

  • Jonathan Pile 7th Jun '14 - 7:54pm

    I hear there’s a comic called Clegg on Britain’s Got Talent tonight – let’s hope he has got talent and wins! LOL

  • Those at the top of the party are probably too busy being terribly important people in Government to bother dealing with the likes of the ordinary mortals who take part in these is discussion threads in LDV.. But if any of them are pondering the continuing disasters and even wondering if they will still be MPs in 11 months time maybe they will listen to someone upside the party. Perhaps David Edgar has a point in what he wrote here in The Guardian, on Thursday 5 June 2014  —-

    One underlying reason for all this goes back to the subject matter of the first half of my play, the creation of the coalition itself.
    What seemed at the time to be a matter of convenient political arithmetic was something much more profound: the drawing of a new faultline across the political map, with economic and social liberals (the Orange Book Liberal Democrats and the Cameroons) on the winning side.

    Marginalising the socially authoritarian Tory right as well as the economically interventionist Lib Dem left, the coalition promised a centre-ground politics that could be in power for ever. 
    ……     …
    And, elsewhere, there is sight of an alternative. Labour’s new voters are largely Lib Dems appalled by their party’s pact with Osbornomics.
    On 22 May the Lib Dems were also leaking votes to another party that beat them in the European elections.
    The Greens are socially liberal and economically interventionist; they also believe in the kind of devolutionary, enabling politics that is being developed in Labour’s policy review.
    In other words, the 1.36 million people who voted Green were supporting policies that the Lib Dems abandoned in government and that Labour is seriously exploring.
    And if you put the Labour and the Green vote together, it beats Ukip.

  • Paul In Wokingham 7th Jun '14 - 9:57pm

    Opinium poll tomorrow:

    Lab 35%
    Con 31%
    UKIP 19%
    LD 6%

    Remember the good old days when we used to get 9% and sometimes even 10%?

  • paul barker 7th Jun '14 - 10:33pm

    @Paul & Paul
    Big rounds of Elections usually have a temporary influence on Polling as do By-elections if theres enough Media coverage. If you look back its clear that The Polls shifted after May 23rd, us & The Tories being pushed down & Labour, UKIP & The Other Others up. Normal service should be restored in a few weeks.

  • David Evans 7th Jun '14 - 10:52pm

    Paul B. You are definitely champion of post event rationalization. Shame your future predicitons are not as good.

  • Jonathan Pile 7th Jun '14 - 11:37pm

    So here we are 2% away from oblivion – visit http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk try predicting how many MPs we get with 4% that’s right ZERO – better start reconnecting NOW – it’s Clegg or the Party.

  • @Paul Barker

    Wow, I guess you are ignoring the public anger aimed at the lib-dem leadership. Do you have Blue blinkers on?Because you do know the Tories will take all the credit for what you did, and watch the lib-dems take ALL the blame for their policies.

    The Tories have used and abused Nick. He looks week and ineffective.

    In the GE of 2015 you will be taking that back.

  • Peter Watson 7th Jun '14 - 11:48pm

    @paul barker “Normal service should be restored in a few weeks.”
    Normal service with Opinium was a voting intention for Lib Dems of 7% in April, so not much to look forward to (though Opinium is regularly at the pessimistic end of Lib Dem VI polling).
    But it can’t be a good sign that a large portion of what remains of Lib Dem support wants Clegg to go now or in the aftermath of 2015. Not being a member, I have no idea what the mood is like on the other side of the LibDemVoice curtain in the member’s forums, but it is striking that many of those posting in these public discussions seem to be genuine current or former members , and unlike after the European & local elections, very few Clegg loyalists have been defending the leadership here since the Newark byelection.

  • Peter Chegwyn 8th Jun '14 - 6:21am

    @Peter Watson – There comes a time when even the most loyal of Clegg loyalists can’t defend the indefensible!

  • Paul In Wokingham 8th Jun '14 - 8:05am

    YouGov in today’s Sunday Times:

    Lab 37%
    Con 33%
    UKIP 14%
    LD 7%

    There are outliers. And there are trends.

    This is an unusual poll because it gathers some out-of-the-ordinary opinions, for example on corruption in FIFA , England’s World Cup prospects, the “Trojan Horse” story and secret courts. The field work is well worth a look.

    http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/lwiuydgoju/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-x140606.pdf.pdf

  • Bill Le Breton 8th Jun '14 - 8:22am

    Paul B is right that recent high coverage concerning election results will have had its own suppressing effect on our national polling performance.

    But of course that glare of coverage intensifies in 10 months time.

    There is now a very really danger that the ‘national’ figures will have a serious impact on local support in many of our best Tory facing seats as people ask themselves, “is voting Lib Dem here still the best way of stopping the Tories”

  • Jonathan Pile 8th Jun '14 - 8:36am

    Paul in Wokingham – that poll’s worth a download – only 28% of 2010 Lib dems are going to vote for the party in 2015. We’ve lost 35% to Labour, 12% to the Tories , 10% to UKIP and 10% to the Greens. As for Nick Clegg a whopping 47% of current lib dems rate his as a bad leader and a huge 74% of 2010 lib dems rate him as a bad leader. The writings on the wall. We should be fighting to get back the Green, Labour and ukip voters who voted Lib dem in 2010 but Nick Clegg is preventing this.

  • Peter Watson 8th Jun '14 - 9:42am

    @Paul In Wokingham “LD 7%”
    … and Greens on 6%.
    Some interesting speculation on UKPollingReport about the shrinking General Election voting intention polling gap between Lib Dems and Greens, which raises the possibility that even if it’s only temporary and because of random sampling, a poll might soon show Lib Dems behind Greens. I’m sure that would generate a few more bad headlines. And what if it is a real trend and not a statistical blip?

  • John Broggio 8th Jun '14 - 10:00am

    ‘There is now a very really danger that the ‘national’ figures will have a serious impact on local support in many of our best Tory facing seats as people ask themselves, “is voting Lib Dem here still the best way of stopping the Tories”’

    As someone who made exactly that choice in 2010, the answer is that in all bar maybe 6 MPs voting records, a vote for the LDs produces a more reliable “Tory” in parliament than many Tory MPs.

  • Jonathan Pile 8th Jun '14 - 11:28am

    Well done for Shirley Williams for flying the flag and being on TV today – where is the rest of the party figures – the post Newark silence is deafening – perhaps if we do the same and roll up like a hedgehog into a tint little ball the truck won’t run us down . #hidingfromthetruth

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Jun '14 - 2:05pm

    Hi Malcolm. I never elaborated on my point because I didn’t want to talk too much, but basically I don’t believe equality of outcome and equality of opportunity can really be separated. I think as long as we focus on managing income/wealth equality and reducing child poverty then we don’t need to worry too much about trying to level the playing fields absolutely, an impossible and unfair task in my opinion.

    Regards

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