Newark by-election: what I told BBC’s Daily Politics

imageI got a call from the BBC’s Daily Politics this morning asking if I’d be willing to pitch up this lunchtime to discuss the Lib Dem performance, as the party wasn’t willing to put up anyone official. (Labour didn’t either.) I duly did so and you can see what I said below. If you want to skip Grant Shapps and Roger Helmer, I pop up briefly at the 12 minute mark. As ever, you only really get to string together a couple of sentences: I blogged my fuller views on Newark this morning here.

For those who asked afterwards: I haven’t changed my mind since last week, I still think Nick Clegg – for the good of the party – should stand down. That’s rough justice. I like and respect Nick a lot. He has shown grit and resilience for the past four years few of us can imagine. In a fair world, he would get deserved kudos for what he’s achieved as Deputy Prime Minister.

But we don’t live in a fair world. Though the Newark by-election in itself isn’t that significant, what it points to is: at the next election as it stands the Lib Dem vote will collapse in most areas bar our bastions. At the last election the party finished in first or second place in almost 300 seats across the UK. That figure is likely to be in double digits in 11 months’ time.

I don’t think a new leader is a magic wand. I’m not at all sure it will much improve our poll ratings (certainly not if it’s the result of a bloody coup). Bluntly it’s a last roll of the dice – but one which might, just might, be enough to rally activists and restore enough momentum before May 2015 to save a handful of extra seats and shore up the Lib Dem vote. As importantly, it will mean the party has in place a leader who can negotiate with authority and credibility in the event of a hung parliament.

Anyway, here’s what I did say

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

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Parliamentary by-elections and YouTube.
Advert

106 Comments

  • “Though the Newark by-election in itself isn’t that significant, what it points to is: at the next election as it stands the Lib Dem vote will collapse in most areas bar our bastions.”

    That is obviously true on the national opinion poll ratings. The key question is how many “bastions” – where your vote holds up well enough to mount a significant challenge – there will be. Will it be more than 10 or 20? I don’t think there’s good evidence that the answer to that question is “Yes”.

  • “…I don’t think a new leader is a magic wand. I’m not at all sure it will much improve our poll ratings (certainly not if it’s the result of a bloody coup). Bluntly it’s a last roll of the dice – but one which might, just might, be enough to rally activists and restore enough momentum before May 2015 to save a handful of extra seats and shore up the Lib Dem vote. ”

    Indeed, the few extra seats it might save could make all the difference in the run up to 2020.

    Stephen Tall you are to be congratulated first on signing the letter from LibDems4Change and secondly on being able to look beyond April 2015. I may not agree with much else that you say but your recognition of the facts of political life in June 2014 is refreshing. It is also a welcome relief in contrast to the “more of the same” brigade.

    The election result deniers have lost their grip on real politics. Blindly trying to cling on to Clegg will get nobody anywhere, least of all Clegg himself. I cannot believe that anyone thinks they are really being kind to or helpful to Clegg by talking him out of resigning . Someone needs to take him on one side and explain that he will not be giving up, or running away but he will be doing what is best for the party.

    He got where he did and achieved whatever he feels proud of achieving on the back of the party. Without the party he inherited he would be nothing. It is time for him to pay back what he owes to the party by doing what is best for the party. Nobody, but nobody out there in the real world of voters and elections thinks it would be a good idea for him to cling on.

  • Stephen, well done for putting your head above the parapet and, ahem, sticking to your guns. Excuse the metaphors.

    But I don’t see changing leader as a ‘last roll of the dice’. I see it as a way of bringing the party back in line with the views of its members and activists and voters. Clegg patronised many of us from the early days of his leadership with his comments about the party not being a left-wing alternative to Labour and how opposition was an irrelevance.

    He may not have been alone in charting the course of his leadership, but it’s hard to believe the people around Clegg would advise the same course being followed were Vince Cable or Tim Farron in charge. If they were still in a job.

    I don’t like this thing to be personal, but ultimately Clegg is the leader and the man who must stand or fall by the success or otherwise of his decisions. And I’m afraid it has to be fall.

  • Good interview, Stephen, you handled yourself well.

  • Steve Comer 7th Jun '14 - 12:29am

    Good comments Stephen, and John and Will too.
    I saw most of the clip, and apparently this is the worst Liberal/Lib Dem by-election result since 1945!

    Just when will ‘cling-on Clegg’ wake up, smell the coffee, and realise that he either has to go now or drag the party down further in 2015? Or when will some of his fans in the bunker have the guts to tell him that the game is up?

  • paul barker 7th Jun '14 - 6:17am

    The problem I have with the Libdem Collapse theory is that its so vague; it would be really helpful if people actually said what they expect the LD vote share will be.
    Currently Polling averages have Labour at 34-5% & Tories 31-4%. Theres no clear direction of travel for The Conservatives but Labour have fallen 8-9% in the last 15 months. Project the long term changes forward to next May & we get Labour on 27-9%, Tories on 32-5%.
    Many commenters seem to expect that we will get 10-15%.
    Add those figures up & we get a grand total of 69-79%. That leaves The Others with 21-31%, up from 10% last time with most of the increase going to UKIP.
    Theres the problem in a nutshell, The Others vote share has never risen more than 4% over a single Parliament, can it really go up 3, 4 or even 5 times that much next May? Are we really expecting UKIP to get 15 or 20% at a General Election ?
    I am expecting UKIP to get 7-12% next May & The Other Others (Greens, SNP etc) 7-10%.
    The implication is that Libdems must get between 14% & 27%.
    Any thoughts ?

  • Tony Dawson 7th Jun '14 - 6:23am

    @Julian Critchley:

    (from previous thread)

    “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.”

    (with apologies)

    First they came for the Lib Dem councillors.

    But I was not a councillor so I did nothing.

    Next they came for the Scottish Parliament Members

    But I was not an MSP so I sat on my hands.

    Next they came for the Lib Dem MEPs

    But I was not an MEP. . . . . . .

    Then they came again for the councillors……and again…. and again…..

    ……and the bailiffs came for the Party.

    Those who sit at Westminster and constantly chant their mantra proclaiming the Lib Dem Emperor’s New Clothes would appear to be themselves clothed only in comfort blankets which they clutch tightly to their chests to keep out the cold chill of the truth. And a life of relative comfort will inevitably be theirs, regardless of what happens. Are they not prepared to act, in respect of their duty to the Party as a whole which, together with the personal talents of some of them, brought them to where they are today? 🙁

  • Coalition government is an experimental project that Lib Dems must see through for the longer term consequences. The greatest long term disaster for the Party would be if the outcome were that a coalition government became, in retrospect, generally acknowledged as a failure. Irrespective of whether the more centrist wing or more radical wing of the party becomes dominant in the future.

    Nick Clegg does seem to espouse centrism and because the Coalition is with Conservatives, this tendency in the party inevitably dominates. More radical elements in the Party have had to either hold back or retreat to the sidelines. I can see that centrists in the Party might fear that a bad result in 2015 might severely discredit their political stance and therefore support a change that would spread responsibility for the 2015 result more evenly.

    This could be OK if there were clear signs that a change of leader and political direction were possible and would revive the Party’s standing. I can neither see that the political direction could change significantly, whilst remaining in coalition, nor any indication that the departure of Nick Clegg would translate into an electoral boost. I do see that Clegg’s departure would provide a pretext for the media to ignore the party and make it easier for opponents to dismiss Lib Dems as irrelevant.

    2015 may well prove a nadir for the Party, but the best opportunity for long term revival in both political and electoral terms is to defend as vigorously as possible the Lib Dem contribution to Coalition government, to show that coalition government can work, but in the wake of the 2015 result to accept a radical re-evaluation of the Party’s political direction.

    My opinion is influenced by scepticism that a leader change would have much effect on poll ratings; a belief that a second coalition with either Labour or Conservatives would be impractical, not possible to adequately negotiate and electorally further damaging; and a lack of sympathy with the centrist stance, feeling that even at best, it rests on a political fallacy.

  • Shaun Cunningham 7th Jun '14 - 7:53am

    @martin

    Quote “Lib Dems must see through for the longer term consequences”.

    I profoundly disagree with you The long term consequences are plain for all to see. We have lost 1700. Good hardworking Councillors, we have lost all but one of our EMP’s , we have lost 43% of our members, we now have the lowest local government base since 1980, we have now become a party of the fringe groups. Please don’t dismiss Thursdays result being a mere protest vote because to do so would show a complete misunderstanding where this party stands in the eyes of the public.

    We are all looking at a disaster area and if we took the road of HOPE instead of decisive action this party will be in the political desert for years.

    Sorry we need change now, not tomorrow but today.

  • paul barker7th Jun ’14 – 6:17am……..I am expecting UKIP to get 7-12% next May & The Other Others (Greens, SNP etc) 7-10%…… The implication is that Libdems must get between 14% & 27%.
    Any thoughts ?

    Yes! You are being wildly optimistic about the LibDem share…
    In politics momentum is everything; UKIP have it., LibDems are in ‘free-fall’…Perhaps you might offer a scenario that will see rise from the less than 3% in Newark to the 20% plus you are predicting?

  • David Blake 7th Jun '14 - 8:21am

    10-12% max.

  • paul barker 7th Jun '14 - 8:29am

    @JoBailey/David Blake, Polling trens suggest both Labour & Tories will be down on 2010, if our vote collapses where do all these extra votes go ? Currently UKIP are in the range of 13-19% in the Polls, are you predicting they will rise further?

  • “The problem I have with the Libdem Collapse theory is that its so vague; it would be really helpful if people actually said what they expect the LD vote share will be.”

    Really, talking about the the Lib Dem collapse “theory” at this stage is a bit like talking about the Daily Sunrise Theory or the Pope’s Catholicity Theory.

    It’s not hard to form a reasonable estimate of the party’s vote share next year. Its rating in opinion polls has been amazingly steady at around 10% for the last three and a half years, while the others have gone up and down like yo-yos. It’s logical to assume it will still be there at the start of the general election campaign, unless something happens to change it that hasn’t happened in the last three and a half years (a change of leader, for example!). Normally we’d expect the party’s rating to rise a couple of points during the campaign because of increased exposure, but I wonder whether that will happen in 2015, because (1) the party has been getting much more exposure than usual during this parliament as a coalition partner and (2) what will be exposed in the campaign is primarily Nick Clegg.

    So for my money it’s difficult to see why the party’s vote share next year should be significantly more than 10%.

  • @Paul Barker — You are making every schoolboy mistake in electoral maths and then sum. First, you cannot project Labour’s slide of a few points indefinitely into the future, as personally gratifying as that might be to you. Second, you cannot go by past elections; obviously the rise of UKIP and, to some extent, the Greens is going to make a big difference. Third, you cannot lowball numbers and then expect the Lib Dems to hoover up the rest.
    As far as “where will the Lib Dem vote go,” it doesn’t have to go anywhere, of course (although obviously a large proportion of it has already gone to Labour or the Greens or the SNP). If previously loyal Lib Dem voters just stay home, then that will be reflected in an overall rise in share for the other parties, because measured over a smaller denominator. That is all.
    Probably Labour and the Tories will manage about two thirds of the vote, and “Other” will take up a quarter or so. That will leave the Lib Dems with 8.3%, which seems about right.
    Of course, after the next election, there will no longer be any reason not to lump the Lib Dems in with “Other.”

  • David Blake 7th Jun '14 - 9:07am

    If we go into the election with Nick Clegg as leader, just think about what the media coverage will be like. There will be no discussion of policy, a total focus on him and constant thoughts of how badly we might do. That’s what happened with the Euros where most of the coverage was about us being wiped out. If that’s all people are fed, then it’s not surprising when the result is disaster. At least if we have a new leader we can begin to look to the future.

  • peter tyzack 7th Jun '14 - 9:30am

    I am saddened, not by our result, that was predictable, but by ‘friends’ above who see it as an excuse to blame Nick. DON’T BE SO RIDICULOUS !! No matter how wonderful our Leader was, how well broadcast our policies, how many of our MPs turned up (how many of those above went to help or phone-canvass?) we would still have been well down the list.. simply because this is First-Past-The-Post.. the only positions that count are first and second, and in this seat we have never been anywhere near. The REAL story is that Labour were squeezed out of second place … They are the party who should be changing their Leader.
    As for our Leader, maybe he could have sent a few MPs to show willing, maybe he could have made a speech about tactical voting to encourage the anti-Ukip switching that clearly happened, yes. But he is the best person for the job of Leader, he just needs to communicate better with those members and supporters who seem to get their news from our opponents in the press… but stay he must, as long as he has the energy, and make it absolutely clear that any future coalition will be on condition of 1)reform of our voting system(not a vote on whether to)… and 2) measures to bring control of our media back into the hands of those who live, work and pay taxes in the UK.

  • “No matter how wonderful our Leader was, … we would still have been well down the list.. simply because this is First-Past-The-Post.”

    Remind me what your excuse was for the party having come fifth in the European elections.

  • Shaun Cunningham: Liberal Democrats will have no hope at a national level for generations to come if the final conclusion is that Coalition government is a failure. The priority has to be to make the case for multi-party government.

    Perhaps you could spell out what you think is hope, but I do fear you may be deluding yourself. You and others can prepare for rebuilding the party after May 2015, but I can only see matters made significantly worse if a turnaround is attempted before hand. Whether Lib Dem involvement in government continued or ended with a change of leader, the Conservatives would mercilessly exploit the perceived weakness. Labour would dismiss Lib Dems as an amateurish mess. The media would concur on both sides. If it were widely accepted that the more radical wing of the Party had pushed for the change, the radicals would have to shoulder the blame.

    In short it would be an even more severe blow for Liberalism with some very long term damaging consequences. Possibly my long term consequences are longer than yours. I think you need to look further ahead.

    I feel that post 2015 there will be a compelling opportunity to strengthen and reorientate social Liberalism within the Party.

  • Tony Dawson 7th Jun '14 - 10:17am

    @Martin

    ” Labour would dismiss Lib Dems as an amateurish mess.”

    Martin, have you not recognised that this is the view ALREADY of not just most of the electorate at large but also a large chunk of our own members, particularly those diminishing band who know how to win anything?

  • I’m not sure that the coalition will be judged a failure, and if that’s what ‘Middle England’ really thought, the Tories would have had a predictable disaster on Thursday too.

    The party will be judged a failure if it walks away from the coalition govt now for obvious political reasons, but it will fail too as a party if it can’t engage with its members and former supporters.

  • From a Tory viewpoint the coalition has been a success, their voters would be more than happy with another 5-years of the same. From a LibDem point of view it’s been a disaster, they have been part of a right wing government and are now seen in the same light as the Tories. The LibDems will not gain Tory votes, but will lose many votes from the left and centre of their own party. After the last GE Clegg was between a rock and a hard place about what to do. However, if he was a stronger man he could have made it work with the Tories or Labour, but he isn’t and he didn’t.

  • Well said Stephen Tall.
    I’m honestly amazed that some people are still not getting it..

  • Johnmc: I agree with you, however there will be no shortage of interested Parties who will seize whatever opportunity there may be to portray the Coalition as a failure. It seems to me that many of the comments here would play straight into the hands of our opponents..

    Those looking for change would do better to engage members (and possibly former supporters) in preparation for a fresh start after the election. Unless the post 2015 government is incredibly lucky, I suspect that whoever is in power will have to weather considerable unpopularity. Incidentally this is one reason why I find Cameron’s referendum pledge so incomprehensible (unless he is banking on losing the election).

  • Stephen, my sentiments entirely. I am sure this is now the majority view in the party. Probably it is a question of managing it in the right way so as not to adversely affect the markets. Well they have had nearly two weeks already to work on that.
    Whatever way you look at it, he has quite a CV, Deputy prime Minister for 4 years. Should get him an excellent highly paid job.

  • Stephen Hesketh 7th Jun '14 - 11:04am

    Some excellent posts, particularly those from John Tilley, Will Mann and Tony Dawson.

    @Paul Barker “The problem I have with the Libdem Collapse theory is that its so vague; it would be really helpful if people actually said what they expect the LD vote share will be. … Any thoughts?”

    Vague? How much evidence do you need for the disaster unfolding before our eyes?

    But to answer your question, my guess, assuming Nick Clegg remains as leader, is that we will get about 12-15%. But that this will be due to the hard work of MPs and members at constituency level rather than the party leadership to whom ordinary voters have simply stopped listening.
    I would also expect many constituencies and candidates to take quite an independent centre-left line, as opposed to the unappealing NC/HQ self-perpetuating equidistant centre party position.

    But Paul, now that I and others have answered your question, I am aware of an evidence-based theory that you are not a Lib Dem member AND long-term voter. Any thoughts?

  • Bill le Breton 7th Jun '14 - 11:04am

    Paul Barker offers an important challenge, “The problem I have with the Libdem Collapse theory is that its so vague; it would be really helpful if people actually said what they expect the LD vote share will be.”

    I too have been looking closely at this. For those who use the members’ forum I posted yesterday ‘Tory Facing Seats – The Structure of Our Vote.” I’d welcome comments and developments there.

    Paul asks the wrong question, it has nothing to do with vote share. This is FPTP. It is the distribution of our vote (and of our opponents) in 60 seats. I concentrate on Tory facing seats. [I leave it to you to guess what I think of the fate of Labour facing seats.] How will our vote hold up there? To begin to answer this I ask, how did this vote come into being?

    I looked at the history of some high profile ‘non traditional’ seats i.e. seats that we did not hold in or prior to 1974. I found that the 1983 election was key to their progress. Although ‘nationally’ the election was a great disappointment to Liberals and the SDP, it was in this election that many of our subsequent gains from the Tories moved above Labour into second place and where we could campaign as ‘challengers’.

    There followed a more and more effective squeeze of the Labour vote. In some this was sufficient to bring us success before 97. But during the 92/97 Parliament, Black Wednesday lost the Tories their reputation for economic management and ‘sleaze’ persuaded many Tories to try the Liberal Democrats. There followed 97/2010 the building up of incumbency support in these now LD seats.

    These votes will leave us in the same order that they arrived, but at a much greater pace. With a background of better weather on the economic front, I think it very difficult to transfer the incumbency to a new candidate. In those seats they will return to the Tories.

    Many Tories who had flirted with a new lover over the last dozen years will also return to their old partner (not without a slightly guilty look as they pass the ‘tellers’, whether we have a new or a longer standing MP.

    Then those Labour voters who first lent us their vote to topple the sitting Tory and then gave us a longer lease because of Iraq and incumbency, as well as for our challenger status, will ask the questions a) are these LDs still the challenger around here given their recent showing, and b) have they actually challenged the Tories – kept to the contract – over the last five years?

    So, Paul, I think there will be a mass exodus.

    It is impossible yet to see how the conservative block, which is potentially made from both the Conservatives and UKIP, will split on election day. I have always thought that UKIP would fall – given the crunch – to 6%ish. I think the Conservatives fought their battle of St Albans (if that is not confusing) on Thursday. Incumbency and major challenger status will work for them in 2015’s FPTP election.

    Please criticize the analysis, if you see any value in it, do your calculations, and from those draw up your own very, very tight list of targets.

    Sorry to be so long.

  • Peter T “any future coalition will be on condition of 1)reform of our voting system(not a vote on whether to)…”

    There is so much I disagree with in your post but I must comment on this. The voting system reform ship has sailed. The country, sadly, voted against it by a factor of 2 to one. Surely Liberal Democrats of all people, believe in listening to the electorate?

  • David Evans 7th Jun '14 - 11:18am

    Bill has provided more useful insight in this one post, than Paul has in his dozens of posts.

  • @David1
    “You are making every schoolboy mistake in electoral maths and then sum.”

    Made me chuckle, even if it was a typo.

    @peter tyzack
    “The REAL story is that Labour were squeezed out of second place … They are the party who should be changing their Leader.”

    Don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this.

    It’s blindingly obvious to all & sundry that Labour didn’t put huge effort into this seat – why would they when they were never likely to win ?
    But to declare that they are the ‘real’ story & on this result should be changing their leader is just ridiculous.
    In this seat, the LDs won 20% of the vote share in 2010 yet have fallen to less than 3% this year but you would prefer to talk about Labour ?! It’s a very poor ‘look, squirrel’ effort on your part.

    As for Clegg – leave him be. Why poison the chances for any other prospective leader ? Would you want a job knowing that you’re going to be fired within a few months when you can sit tight in your existing job then ride to glory within the year ? That’s why the Parliamentary Party are saying nothing – they don’t want to be holding the potato when the music stops next year.

  • Richard Dean 7th Jun '14 - 11:28am

    The problem I have with Bill le Breton’s collapse theory is that it contains no action plan to reverse the collapse. Are Libdems simply going to wallow in their defeat, or are they going to develop realistic policies that are liberal, democratic, attractive, and focussed on the main issues that concern the electorate: the economy, the eu, and immigration?

  • Richard Dean 7th Jun '14 - 11:29am

    … and the nhs of course

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Jun '14 - 11:37am

    I just wanted t say that I thought you spoke really well.

    I didn’t skip watching the two who hogged so much of the interview. Watching Roger Helmer as the representative of a ‘People’s army’ was always going to be a surreal experience.

    Given the current situation, I would have held my nose and voted conservative at the Newark by-election. It would have been painful but it wasn’t going to change the make up of the government for the next year, and I find Farage and Ukip loathsome.

    In the General Election, I was uncertain whether `I would continue to vote Lib Dem but I realise that with FPTP, I shall have no choice but to vote conservative if I want to see Ukip, their main challenger, crushed. I suspect that this sort of tactical voting will be widespread making the outcome of the GE less predictable than normal.

  • Peter Watson 7th Jun '14 - 11:37am

    @Bill le Breton “I leave it to you to guess what I think of the fate of Labour facing seats.”
    I do wonder about that one. The Oldham and Saddleworth by-election showed that Conservative voters were prepared to flock to the Lib Dems in a Labour-facing seat, but in that instance not enough to replace the Lib Dems that abandoned the party. If the tories invest in winning the Con-LD marginals but keep a low-profile in the Lab-LD seats what might happen? Would Lib Dems retain seats they don’t expect or would they be wiped out?

  • Those writing off UKIP might do well to remember Thatcher….Her message was simple…”Who should run the country; government or unions?”…Everything that was’wrong’was laid at their door..

    UKIP offer an equally simple message…..I have spoken to several who have voted UKIP; only one had any idea what their detailed policies were…However, they all said that they are fed up with the mainstream parties and will vote UKIP in 2015……

  • Technical Ephemera 7th Jun '14 - 11:44am

    In answer to PBs question.

    I think the Lib Dems will get 10% which probably translates to 20-25 seats, a bias towards holding on to Tory – LD marginals and against holding Labour – Lib Dem marginals. You can probably write off almost everything in the North (Nick Clegg will hang on, Danny Alexander won’t). I think UKIP will manage 12% and no seats.

    The idea that the Labour vote will be down on 2010 isn’t exactly credible, if the party was going to implode it would have done so by now. The poll lead is edging up at the moment but that doesn’t mean much.

    Newark was another awful result for the Lib Dems because the party has clearly lost a chunk of its base vote, but by-elections tend to turn into two horse races anyway so maybe you might expect that. UKIP have hit a wall in what was a very safe Tory seat less than a year out from a GE – Even Brown won a by-election in similar circumstances. I think the analysis that UKIP have become too toxic a brand for protest voters rings true. It is hardly shocking that women won’t vote for them given their positions on women’s rights.

  • The one factor that would strengthen Bill’s collapse theory, would be if Coalition government was widely accepted as unworkable in the UK. The result would be a stronger reinforcement of two party politics.

    If anyone thinks I am mistaken in believing that the first priority is to establish that coalition governments can achieve stability, more pluralist policies and economic competence, please explain.

  • Technical Ephemera 7th Jun '14 - 11:51am

    @ Peter Watson.

    “I do wonder about that one. The Oldham and Saddleworth by-election showed that Conservative voters were prepared to flock to the Lib Dems in a Labour-facing seat”

    I think the Lib Dem position has declined significantly since that result. Plus IIRC there was quite a high Tory base in that seat. The reality will probably be the Tories won’t switch in significant numbers and Labour will comfortably take those seats. The fate of LD councillors in local elections provides a strong clue.

  • Shaun Cunningham 7th Jun '14 - 12:24pm

    @Martin

    If there is any one on here deluding themselves is you. How many doors have to canvassed? Simply sitting on the fence is no longer good enough. The facts are the coalition has been the means to argue large parts of this party needs to be sacrificed so a few can sit at the top table. Many in this party have been made sacrificial lambs for what. A poll rating of 6%, a local government base at the lowest level since 1980. What can you offer, more of the same? Honestly that an agenda of a defeatist who won’t or can’t grasp the scale of the problem this party now faces.

    Martian all you can offer is the same old agenda…..Hope. Hope that between now and the election a miracle may happen. Well we need more than hope, we action to re-stall some pride and dignity back into this party, and turn it once again into a party that can win.

  • Our candidate just won a mere 2.59% of the vote, falling behind the Greens and a local campaigner, and coming in   only one place ahead of   ‘Nick The Flying Brick’  of the Monster Raving Loony Party.

    But paul barker and Peter Tyzack think all is OK, no need for any change, just carry on as we are with more of the same.   
    Like magic they promise us that this will result in an astonishing electoral success  in May next year.
    All we have to do is believe in fairies and clap our hands and Tinkerbell will fly again.

    This from paul — “…The problem I have with the Libdem Collapse theory is that its so vague; it would be really helpful if people actually said what they expect the LD vote share will be. ……..
    I am expecting …..that Libdems must get between 14% & 27%. [at The 2015 general election]”

    Yes paul barker and I am expecting to win £89 million in the next EuroMillions draw.  On the basis of the facts I think I have the better chance.

    This from Peter — ” he is the best person for the job of Leader, he just needs to communicate better with those members and supporters who seem to get their news from our opponents in the press …”.      
    One can only assume Peter gets his news from ‘Complacency Weekly’, I expect he has a subscription.

  • Peter Chegwyn 7th Jun '14 - 12:31pm

    I’d echo the comments by Technical Ephemera and much of what Bill Le Breton has said as well.

    On a different note, and to provide some light relief after another awful week for our party, have a look at today’s Portsmouth News link below.

    It’s always good to know that the Conservative Party are also still capable of pressing the ‘self-destruct’ button lol.

    http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/local/mayor-of-gosport-banned-from-town-s-pubs-1-6105817

  • Shaun Cunningham

    Martian ?????

    Are you telling me tht the Cling-ons come from the planet Mars ?

  • Stephen Hesketh 7th Jun '14 - 12:36pm

    @Richard Dean 7th Jun ’14 – 11:28+29am
    “The problem I have with Bill le Breton’s collapse theory is that it contains no action plan to reverse the collapse. Are Libdems simply going to wallow in their defeat, or are they going to develop realistic policies that are liberal, democratic, attractive, and focussed on the main issues that concern the electorate: the economy, the eu, and immigration? … and the nhs of course”

    Setting aside your use of ‘their and they’ in discussing us, surely Bill is highlighting what he believes to be the danger; a danger that the leadership seem oblivious to. Until NC and HQ take on board what Bill and others are warning of, ideas concerning the rebuilding may be a bit premature.

    My suggested 12-15% vote may be completely over optimistic (and I fully accept Bill’s point re seats and FPTP) but was based on my belief in our sitting MPs and constituency teams’ ability and dedication. Having said that ability and dedication hasn’t proved particularly decisive in recent times … perhaps adding weight to Bill le Breton’s scenario!

  • Assume for a moment that your starting point for understanding recent election results are ~ ‘ a plague on all your establishment houses’
    Up until 2010, Liberal Democrats had the luxury of not being ‘the establishment’. However, the Rose garden, Nick Clegg, and the Orange Bookers, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt over the last 4 years, that LibDems callously deceived voters hoping for a better style of politics, and indeed ARE the establishment, and just as bad as ~The rest of em!~. But that is not the end of it. Lib Dems under Nick Clegg have shown their ‘whorish’ willingness to sleep (read coalesce), with either establishment ‘reds’, or establishment ‘blues’, post May 2015, in order to keep a grip on that shiny ‘establishment ministerial car’.
    So given the mood of anger at ‘the establishment’, the real question is ~ Why would anyone even consider voting for a ‘minor’ establishment party, who’s declared objective is to coalesce with, and give Westminster voting support to, the (despised) ‘Establishment’, in 2015?
    In short, if you are an angry voter, and want to make serious fundamental changes to the arrogant self serving political establishment, then voting for the Lib Dem ‘Praetorian guard’ of the establishment, is utter madness, and ultimately counterproductive.?

  • Peter Chegwyn

    That is a priceless report from the Potsmouth News.

    They deserve an award for entertaining reporting. I was not quite rolling on the floor, but I was laughing out loud.

  • @Shaun Cunningham

    I don’t think that’s what he’s offering. It reads more like he’s saying that allowing Clegg and the market liberals to lead the party into the fire in 2015 is the best chance of securing a lasting social liberal reorientation of the party, if it can weather the storm well enough to remain significant.

    Personally, I agree with that reading of the situation. Post-2015 is where I think the opportunity all exists. Before then, we really can’t evade the electoral consequences of our decisions while in coalition. And the risk is that, by ditching Clegg in advance of the election and replacing leaders, we are seen to be squirming on the hook, trying to avoid those consequences.

    Why now, people will ask. Why not three years ago, when you did the things we’re still angry about?

  • Shaun, I do not think you are addressing the issues. Firstly of whether coalition governments can be seen to have worked and can work in the future, because if the upshot is that the consensus is that the UK cannot do coalition government this would be extremely bad news for Lib Dems at the national level for a very long time ahead; secondly, to advocate change you have to offer a convincing, coherent narrative of significantly better prospects.

    I look forward to anything but the “same old agenda”, I am looking forward to an avowedly Liberal agenda, however I do recognise that this agenda does have minority appeal in the UK (immigration, EU, P.R., minority rights etc.), nonetheless I do think we should make the most of what we offer. I fear that your route would only handicap us further.

    By the way, and I realise it varies from constituency to constituency, do you really find on the doorstep people complaining that we have not been Liberal enough or that they might vote for us if we were more like Labour? Perhaps where you are, the complaints are the opposite. What direction would you like to see the party move to?

    I would like the party, at all levels, to be a radical Liberal (socially liberal) voice that can offer itself as a serious participant in government. I fear a change now would jeopardise the prospects of both for the longer term.

  • Richard Dean 7th Jun '14 - 12:55pm

    @Stephen Hesketh
    I think what you’re advocating is assisted suicide of the party. Very apt that there are two articles on this on LDV now, and a third looking back to past glory days.

  • T-J: That is pretty much what I am saying and in addition that a change now could, in 2015, look like a mistake that had been pushed by a wing of the party that had seen little contribution to government. Thanks.

  • paul barker 7th Jun '14 - 1:12pm

    A thank-you for those who answered my question -“what will be the Libdem vote share.” The answers were 8%, 10% & 12-15%. Perfectly reasonable if you think Others will get a quarter of the vote & if you beleive the Polling trends of the last 15 months are going to reverse.
    The biggest ever rise in Others over a single Parliament was 4%, can you imagine a jump of 15% ? Others are around 25% now but then Others normally rise inbetween General Elections only to fall again as Polling Day nears. I am predicting that The Others will decline slowly.
    Thers nothing odd about Labours decline, its what normally happens to The Opposition, a rise to mid-term & then a fall to The Next Election. Lots of people predicted it & its perfectly reasonable to project it forward. Several Academic studies do the same thing.

  • The point Richard and Martin is that he is NOW a lame duck leader, he is in office but not in power. His credibility has gone and the longer he hangs on he is in danger of,losing respect as well. It is in the overall interests of the party that there is a change and I suspect he knows that as well. It is just about managing the markets through the change.BUT IT NEEDS TO BE DONE NOW so that we can all move on, because otherwise this will go on and on and on. A new leader at the party conference with the party behind him or her will make a complete difference to party morale, outlook and opportunity.

  • Stephen Hesketh 7th Jun '14 - 1:30pm

    paul barker 7th Jun ’14 – 1:12pm
    Thank you for your ongoing insights now how about my earlier question:

    ” … Paul, now that I and others have answered your question, I am aware of an evidence-based theory that you are not a Lib Dem member AND long-term voter. Any thoughts?”

  • Tony Dawson 7th Jun '14 - 1:36pm

    @Peter Watson :

    The Oldham and Saddleworth by-election showed that Conservative voters were prepared to flock to the Lib Dems in a Labour-facing seat, ”

    They didn’t. They largely abstained. The Lib Dem vote fell by three thousand from the previous General Election.

  • Stephen Hesketh 7th Jun '14 - 1:45pm

    @Richard Dean 7th Jun ’14 – 12:55pm
    “I think what you’re advocating is assisted suicide of the party.”

    While you are suggesting leaving a gangrenous area untreated when prompt action might halt its spread to the vital organs 🙂

  • Shaun Cunningham 7th Jun '14 - 1:53pm

    Martin

    You are simply a supporter of no change. You keep on about the coalition and it must be supported at all costs. Are you really saying one must support the coalition even if that means this party is the wilderness. Your argument is beyond belief. Are you really saying this party must die and then hope there’s life after death.

    So what are you offering , more of same. More calamities , more defeats. So we just sit and watch this proud party being turned into a rump of it’s former self. What a price to pay…..years of toll down the pan for what?

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Jun '14 - 1:57pm

    @ John Dunn,
    Ukip are doing a good job of strengthening the ‘establishment’ parties. People who are angry and resentful about them, now have no option but to vote for them to keep Ukip in their box. They have certainly helped to detoxify the tory party according to my moderate conservative friends, ( the type that Nick Clegg thought that he could win over).

  • Richard Dean 7th Jun '14 - 1:58pm

    @Stephen Hesketh
    It’s really a question of whose career you would prefer to destroy. Whoever is leader at the next election is likely to face either electoral annihilation, or a choice of whether to go into coalition. History would suggest that that will be the end of that leader’s political significance.

  • Tony Dawson 7th Jun '14 - 2:09pm

    @JohnTilley :

    “That is a priceless report from the Potsmouth News.”

    I see Peter Chegwyn has ‘called ‘Time” on the drunken Tories! 😉

  • Technical Ephemera 7th Jun '14 - 2:11pm

    PB

    There is no evidence that traditional polling trends will apply, partly because the Labour base and Tory base is static and they are fighting over the Lib Dem switchers. UKIP can’t really be considered others, they are the angry white bloke party.

    If you assume

    Lab 36
    Con 34
    UKIP 12
    Lib Dem 10

    And the greens, SNP to account for, what is hard to believe about that.

    You can argue the toss about the order the first two come in and a percent or so either way,. So Labour 38 Tory 33 or vice versa are possible. I see no reason or room for a Lib Dem revival.

  • Stephen Hesketh 7th Jun '14 - 2:40pm

    @Richard Dean 7th Jun ’14 – 1:58pm “It’s really a question of whose career you would prefer to destroy. Whoever is leader at the next election is likely to face either electoral annihilation, or a choice of whether to go into coalition.”

    Although I don’t agree, I totally understand where you are coming from with this comment. As far as I am concerned, Tim Farron should be the leader. On the vast majority of issues, would he far better reflect the views of the membership and our voters? Yes, I believe so.
    If we are in the position of being able to form a coalition following the next election, would I trust Tim (and just about anyone from the centre left of the party) more than I trust Nick Clegg, David Laws, Jeremy Browne etc. to reflect the views of the membership and its voters, in entering into any future coalition and determining our red line policies? That has got to be a resounding YES!

    Would I or any reasonable person blame a new leader for a less than wonderful showing – due to the electoral hole the Centre-Right has dug for us? I very much believe they wouldn’t.

    The only way is up. Even NC could do so much better if he where to admit his mistakes, change course and make peace with the rest of the party and its supporters. More of the same with yield more of the same.

  • The biggest ever rise in Others over a single Parliament was 4%
    That is simply untrue. Look at Labour, 7.1% in 1910, 21.5% in 1918.

  • edna murphy 7th Jun '14 - 3:56pm

    We have a choice between certain destruction or giving ourselves a chance to live another day. Clegg needs to do the decent thing, and do it now. Alternatively we have a long summer of contituency voting one by one calling for the leader to go. Clegg ‘s choice.

  • @Edna Murphy

    Actually, I’m not convinced that having the party vote Clegg out through its unique democratic process is the worst thing that could happen with this.

    Indeed, it could potentially draw attention to our democratic nature and our enduring potential as the best vehicle for liberalism in modern politics.

    The worst thing would be if we did what all cynical political types do, the senior MPs cutting a shadowy backroom deal to install a different coalition minister in the leadership role to try and claw back a wavering few %, with no real change of message or of behaviour.

    Luckily, the MPs seem to have decided not to play that game. The ball’s in the grassroots’ court now.

  • David Allen 7th Jun '14 - 4:15pm

    “The problem I have with Bill le Breton’s collapse theory is that it contains no action plan to reverse the collapse. Are Libdems simply going to wallow in their defeat, or are they going to develop realistic policies that….”

    The answer is, we will have a leadership election. The winner will be the person who can put forward the most convincing action plan. Jeremy Browne will no doubt put forward a cogent, passionate case for a shift further to the Right. To defeat him, a more mainstream centre-left candidate will need to match Browne for intelligence and passion, and beat him by presenting a coherent action plan based on our values of social, environmental and ethical responsibility.

    Then we will have an action plan, forged in the fire of a leadership campaign, agreed by the vote, and ready to make a start on rebuilding our fortunes.

  • I am sure Cleggie will resign on Monday,

  • paul barker 7th Jun '14 - 4:48pm

    Some of the comments have reminded me of something I meant to ask; does anyone know how many EGMs have been called over The Leadership question & how many have taken place? I have seen the figure of 15 mentioned. I will be going to one a week tomorow, ( as an observer only ) if they let me – its a neighbouring Constituency.
    I dont see any danger of this dragging on unless theres an even split, if 8 of the first 10 vote one way I would have thought that would be the end of it.

  • Shaun Cunningham 7th Jun '14 - 5:04pm
  • Technical Ephemera 7th Jun '14 - 5:08pm

    @T-J

    As a non Lib Dem I would be quite impressed if your party managed to vote out Clegg through your procedures. I suspect he will either rig the vote or ignore it.

    However I feel that if you did that the Lib Dems would have to make a choice between Orange Book Liberalism or Social Liberalism; the chasm is simply too wide for both to coexist.

    Ejecting Clegg but staying with Orange Book liberalism won’t work because your erstwhile voters have rejected the policies not the man. Your party would have to purge the orange book crew (as Labour did to Militant) and immediately collapse the government; fighting on a platform of “Mea Culpa” in a summer election.

    However I have to say that from what I see the majority are Orange Bookers. Just kicking out Clegg and replacing him with a centre left figure head in an Orange Book party won’t help. In which case stick with Nick, at least you can claim you were true to your principles.

  • David Allen 7th Jun '14 - 5:28pm

    Technical Ephemera,

    Orange Bookery and its predecessors have been a small, tolerated minority group in the Lib Dems for many years. The Orange Book did mark a step forward for these forces of conservatism, as a few ambitious politicians saw the appeal of being bankrolled by hedge funding to develop a dryer economic-liberal line. Nevertheless, they remained a minority, until the election of 2008, when Nick Clegg won the leadership.

    Did he present himself as a force for change in his party, as Blair had done a decade previously? Not a bit of it. He presented himself as an idealistic, even slightly naive bright young man who would be everybody’s friend and would largely just maintain continuity with our previous leaders. In vain, Chris Huhne tried to point out that this was a sham. Huhne could not make headway, because Clegg had carefully left little recorded trace of his real views, favouring privatisation of welfare and shrinking the state. That’s why its organisers called it the “Clegg Coup”.

    So when Clegg went on to declare himself in favour of big tax cuts, reversing the previous “penny on income tax” policy, nobody should really have been surprised. When Clegg signed up for the Tory coalition, many still thought it was out of pragmatism, not right-wing zeal. Gradually the penny dropped. Hence the mass exodus of real Liberal Democrats from the party membership, and from its voting supporters.

    So when you say that the majority in the party are Orange Bookers – Well, they are certainly a higher proportion of our diminished membership than they ever used to be. But the remedy is not to give in to the Clegg coupists. The remedy is to restore our true values.

  • @David Allen

    Of course, Chris Huhne wasn’t part of of the Orange Book…oh, hang on…well, at least Vince didn’t write any of it! Ah, yes forgot that he did…I’m sure Steve Webb didn’t…not again!

    Heaven forfend that a Liberal party believe may at times believe that the state has become too big,especially after Labour put the country in the red from 2002 onwards. If that is ‘right-wing’ zeal, why did Darling say before the election that even Labout cuts would be deeper than Thatcher? I guess he is too right-wing.

    And your talk of ‘real’ Liberal Democrats hardly shows the attitude of tolerence that runs through Liberalism – are Paddy Ashdown and Shirley Williams not ‘real Libeal Democrats’ in your view? That phony LibDem Tim Farron sticking up for Nick Clegg since the Euros, what a phony he is as well…a Tory fifth columnist if ever there was one.

  • T-J
    “Indeed, it could potentially draw attention to our democratic nature”

    What democratic nature? Secret courts and NHS reform went through. What does the party stand for?

  • David Allen 7th Jun '14 - 7:15pm

    ATF,

    Yes, lots of people contributed to the Orange Book, but not all of them signed up for the long term political repositioning which rich city funders were seeking from the Liberal Democrats.

    Yes, you can find some mixed quotes about cuts from Labour people if you look for them, but Clegg’s “big permanent tax cuts”, which he introduced originally as the Big Idea that would define his leadership, is a different story, a long term goal to shrink the state.

    You talk about tolerance. I think those who resigned in disgust at Clegg’s abandonment of Lib Dem principles deserve to be considered as real Liberal Democrats. You don’t. Which of us is being intolerant?

    Yes, everybody at Manchester United said Moyes was wonderful, right up until they sacked him. That’s not a criticism of Man U, it’s just what they had to do in the circumstances. When Clegg goes, we’ll see what his colleagues truly think.

  • Stephen Hesketh 7th Jun '14 - 9:43pm

    @paul barker 7th Jun ’14 – 4:48pm

    So Paul, if a leadership-related EGM were to be held in your constituency, would you be eligible to vote?

    A simple yes or no will suffice!

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Jun '14 - 9:56pm

    Stephen Hesketh
    I’m fascinated by this pursuit of the question of paul barker’s membership. What is it all about?

  • paul barker 7th Jun '14 - 10:25pm

    @Malcolm Todd
    What it is about is calculated rudeness, needling people. Its a trivial example in itself but look at this comments thread as a whole & theres far too much hostility & paranoia. I would appeal to everybody to calm down & exercise some restaint. Theres areal danger of this bout of infighting leaving a legacy of bitterness & suspicion.

  • paul barker 7th Jun ’14 – 4:48pm
    I dont see any danger of this dragging on unless theres an even split, if 8 of the first 10 vote one way I would have thought that would be the end of it.

    Are you saying that 8 constituencies have already voted for Clegg to go so he should therefore go and not let it drag on?

    You never cease to amaze me.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Jun '14 - 11:31pm

    peter tyzack

    As for our Leader, maybe he could have sent a few MPs to show willing, maybe he could have made a speech about tactical voting to encourage the anti-Ukip switching that clearly happened, yes. But he is the best person for the job of Leader, he just needs to communicate better with those members and supporters who seem to get their news from our opponents in the press

    What utter and complete rot. I get my news on what is happening in this party from this website, and I am appalled by it. It is the stuff coming out from party headquarters which appalls me most. I have explained in detail, time and time again, how damaging so much of it is and why, I have explained how so much of it makes the difficult position we are in as part of the coalition worse, I have explained how nearly everything Nick Clegg does and says undermines the defence I would want to give for our party in the coalition.

    Clegg doesn’t need to communicate better, I have heard plenty from him. Neither you nor any of Clegg’s fan club have engaged with any of the criticism I have made of Clegg, you have countered none of the points I have made. You have just kept repeating, with no evidence whatsoever, your claims that he is doing well and is the best person for the job. Well, that just makes it worse, because the emptiness of your argument shows you up – you have none. You just don’t want to admit you have been conned into supporting a man whose incompetence becomes more evident day in, day out. Unless deep down he really is a Tory plant, put there to destroy the Liberal Democrats. If that’s the case, he’s doing a very competent job.

  • I will probably vote Lib Dem because of my MP and I might despise the Daily Mail but after reading a little bit of this site and its comments, I will never not think about their last cover when I think Lib Dems.

    ‘Rats in a sack’ indeed.

  • Stephen Hesketh 8th Jun '14 - 8:28am

    @Malcolm Todd – I hope my explanation below answers your query.
    @paul barker “What it is about is calculated rudeness, needling people. Its a trivial example in itself but look at this comments thread as a whole & theres far too much hostility & paranoia. I would appeal to everybody to calm down & exercise some restaint. Theres areal danger of this bout of infighting leaving a legacy of bitterness & suspicion.”

    Paul, I am sorry you feel my pursuit of evidence as to your membership status is deliberately needling. I can assure you this is absolutely not my intention.

    Your own writing style can also come across as somewhat ‘robust’ at times. You have no problems with continuously asking people to effectively ‘put up or shut up’ and this is exactly what myself and a couple of others did. I asked you if you would similarly openly respond to my question. You chose not to respond. I asked again. My desire for openness and reciprocated fairness should not be interpreted as rudeness or evidence of paranoia.

    Clearly this area of LDV is open to members and supporters of the Lib Dems, supporters of other parties and of none. We also get the odd political troll. So when most people write it is either very easy to tell their status or they openly say so e.g. Technical Ephemera as above. When certain contributors write of ‘you’, ‘their’ ‘your’ in relation to the Liberal Democrats, I ask a similar question. Would I seek to engage in greater depth with a LD member, supporter or voter than someone here to pass the time or for a bit of sport? Yes I would. For me it gives added context to a personal debate.

    Regarding your point “Theres areal danger of this bout of infighting leaving a legacy of bitterness & suspicion.” I have a couple of observations:

    1) Social and economic liberals have always coexisted in the party, as have social democrats (before and since the SDP), ecologists, libertarian socialists and certain strands of conservativism. We have broadly coexisted. Our views are as diverse as our membership.
    2) Under Nick Clegg’s leadership an organised attempt has been made to move us towards a greater acceptance and adoption of sub-Thatcherite economics and an ‘always in office’ centrism. It was this and the resultant disconnect between the party holding office and the rest of the party and its voters that has ultimately precipitated the bitterness and suspicion you note.

    For me this is not about personalities – it is about what we stand for and the policies we seek to implement.

    As I have said previously “The only way is up. Even NC could do so much better if he where to admit his mistakes, change course and make peace with the rest of the party and its supporters. More of the same will yield more of the same.”

  • Dave

    As far as I know, rats do not discuss political strategy, either in a sack or elsewhere. But if they did, I would prefer to be a rat in a sack to being a marcher ant simply following the leader, without discussion, blindly following the leader over the edge of the cliff to destruction.

    Actually rats are particularly good at survival as those of us who live in London know, because we are never more than a couple of m etres away from one. That instinct for survival would appear to be kicking in at the moment in those constituencies calling for a change.

  • edna murphy 8th Jun '14 - 10:11am

    @ TJ
    I agree with you that the grassroots constituency votes could demonstrate our own democratic processes. I didn’t mean to imply that this route was the path of destruction, rather that having no change in leadership would be. The downside of the constituency by constituency approach is that it will take a while when realistically we probably don’t have alot of time, and it does underline just what a leadership vacuum we have in the party (at least to outsiders MPs will seem to be part of the party leadership).

  • No one who would like to see Clegg removed has explained what should happen to the Coalition. Long term prospects for revival for Lib Dems depends upon demonstrating that coalition governments can function in the UK.

  • Tony Dawson 8th Jun '14 - 12:25pm

    @Martin :

    “No one who would like to see Clegg removed has explained what should happen to the Coalition.”

    Yes they have. Endlessly. Some disagree but most see the Coalition as continuing till the election but with the Lib Dems publicly positioning themselves more separately on both their different plans for the future and the allocation between the ‘partners’ of responsibility for good and bad things which have occurred within the coalition.

    “Long term prospects for revival for Lib Dems depends upon demonstrating that coalition governments can function in the UK.”

    That is a statement without foundation. Nobody ever has voted or will vote for a coalition government. Nobody can predict what other people will collectively vote even in one constituency, let alone 600-odd, in order to accurately guess the likelihood of a coalition government or other people’s guess as to the likelihood of same.

    And no Party has a long term future if it does not have a short term future.

  • Shaun Cunningham 8th Jun '14 - 3:03pm

    Martin

    Reference: No one who would like to see Clegg removed has explained what should happen to the Coalition. Long term prospects for revival for Lib Dems depends upon demonstrating that coalition governments can function in the UK.

    That’s complete nonsense. You clearly eat and sleep coalition . There is another world. What has the coalition delivered. I tell you……. Disaster in fact one big disaster.

    Latest poll 6%
    http://www1.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2014/06/07/opinium-poll/

  • Peter Chegwyn 8th Jun '14 - 4:13pm

    Agree with Shaun. Martin is talking rubbish when he says: ‘Long term prospects for revival for Lib Dems depends upon demonstrating that coalition governments can function in the UK..’

    Long term (and indeed short and middle term) prospects for a Lib Dem revival depend on us having a radical, popular and liberal message of our own, a set of distinctive ideas and policies that we communicate clearly to the electorate.

    Something that will never happen under the present Leadership.

  • Shaun: in your future Lib Dems campaign to elect MPs that will have no prospect of participation in government? This would play straight into the hands of those who support a two party system and FPTP.

    Actually you consistently evade the point: an important objective of the Lib Dem contribution to the Coalition was to demonstrate that a coalition government can function. To anyone such as myself who supports proportional representation, this objective is critically important.

    Either you do not understand the importance of this issue or the issue of coalition government does not matter to you.

    I support Lib Dems because of position on electoral reform, because of its commitment to participation in the EU, because of its support for social liberalism and for its participation and influence in government . I do not support these issues because I support the Lib Dems, rather it is the other way round.

  • My reply went into moderation so I have to break it into parts.

    Shaun: in your future Lib Dems campaign to elect MPs that will have no prospect of participation in government? This would play straight into the hands of those who support a two party system and FPTP.

    Peter Chegwyn: so why handicap future leadership with the repost that coalition governments unstable (even undemocratic our opponents say) are not good for the country?

  • Shaun: it seems my first paragraph is tripping the auto moderation , so here are the last paragraphs.

    Actually you consistently evade the point: an important objective of the Lib Dem contribution to the Coalition was to demonstrate that a coalition government can function. To anyone such as myself who supports proportional representation, this objective is critically important.

    Either you do not understand the importance of this issue or the issue of coalition government does not matter to you.

    I support Lib Dems because of position on electoral reform, because of its commitment to participation in the EU, because of its support for social liberalism and for its participation and influence in government . I do not support these issues because I support the Lib Dems, rather it is the other way round.

  • Shaun that did not get through either! So here is para 2

    Actually you consistently evade the point: an important objective of the Lib Dem contribution to the Coalition was to demonstrate that a coalition government can function. To anyone such as myself who supports proportional representation, this objective is critically important.

  • Para 3

    Either you do not understand the importance of this issue or the issue of coalition government does not matter to you.

  • Last para:

    I support Lib Dems because of position on electoral reform, because of its commitment to participation in the EU, because of its support for social liberalism and for its participation and influence in government . I do not support these issues because I support the Lib Dems, rather it is the other way round.

  • Peter Chegwyn: Why handicap any future leadership? If we allow opponents to claim with evidence that coalition government does not work, we remove an important argument for support at a national level. We could be a party of local government, an alternative to the Ratepayers Alliance, but it is not what I would want.

  • Sorry about all those posts but the filtering system is really irritating – I am still one paragraph short.

  • @Martin
    Stephen Tall has argued persuasively that Clegg will not be able to do a deal with Labour or the Tories in May 2015. There will be no further coalitions as long as Clegg remains leader. But even if he is wrong and Clegg, the most unpopular leader in modern British history, is still DPM in June 2015 what do you think the electorate will feel about coalition government then? If you want coalition government to work, and to be seen to work , then you have to get rid of Clegg.

  • AndrewR: I agree that Clegg will not be able to negotiate a further coalition. Moreover, I do not think that anyone would be able to do so; nor, in any case, that a further coalition would be desirable for Lib Dems. I am banking on the likelihood that another party will secure a majority. Lib Dem future success depends on a retrospective favourable evaluation of the Coalition years and that Clegg will promptly stand down after 2015.

    The fastest route back to electoral success for Lib Dems would be a small Tory majority. Second best would be a small Labour majority, which would lead to a revival that would not translate so much into seats. The complication is that a Tory majority could lead to changes in constituencies that would disproportionately further disadvantage Lib Dem ability to translate support into seats.

    All we need is to show that one coalition can produce workable government. The party has done very well to get where it has more or less intact. It needs to persevere to the end of the project. The party really does not need nor could stand a second coalition.

  • Peter Chegwyn 8th Jun '14 - 7:02pm

    Martin – You now seem to be arguing against yourself and against the views you expressed earlier.

    And do you seriously believe the cause of PR has been strengthened through the coalition after what happened in the AV Referendum?

    All very strange.

  • @Martin
    So you want Clegg to stay in order to lower Lib Dem support and give you the best chance of avoiding power in 2015? And somehow this is going to work to your advantage in 2020? Too cunning for me I’m afraid. Even if Clegg manages to reduce you to 20MP’s electoral arithmetic may put you in power like it or not. And who knows what might happen by 2020? We are in a period of weakness for both the bigger parties. There is no guarantee this will continue. You have to give 2015 your best shot cos it may be the only chance you get for decades. Still ,10 out of 10 for originality. I’ve never seen anyone before advancing the proposition that we should keep a political leader because they are a surefire election loser.

  • Peter: a major argument against PR is that it produces coalitions and that coalitions are a bad thing. Anyone such as myself who advocates PR has an interest in showing that coalition governments can function and that pluralist politics is a good thing.

    The AV referendum was a dreadful set back. The only advantage being that if the question arises again, it will be easier to discount AV as an option. I really do not know when the topic could be raised again. A more favourable retrospective judgement on the Coalition would help. I hope when the question does come back, that we can insist that the referendum will be on FPTP and a follow up would decide on what system would replace it. I understand this is how electoral reform was achieved in New Zealand.

  • ” I hope when the question does come back, that we can insist that the referendum will be on FPTP and a follow up would decide on what system would replace it.”

    You want to hold a referendum on whether to abolish FPTP without proposing a definite alternative? That makes no sense.

  • jedibeeftrix 8th Jun '14 - 8:00pm

    “The complication is that a Tory majority could lead to changes in constituencies that would disproportionately further disadvantage Lib Dem ability to translate support into seats.”

    Martin, why would a post-2015 constituency boundaries commission produce worse results during a tory government than you suggest would be the case with a labour government?

  • AndrewR: I am highly sceptical that a change of leader can achieve anything beneficial in electoral terms. I do not believe that it is in anyway possible for Lib Dems to disavow their role in government. However such a ploy would nullify any credit for managing the economy out of the crisis. Moreover it would be much easier for the media and Cameron to disregard any replacement leader (I am assuming that Vince Cable is no longer a possibility).

    In terms of 2015, I think that it will be very hard for Lib Dems to make a claim for involvement in government if there is a sharp decrease in support and I think a decline in support can be used by Lib Dems to decline a new coalition.

    Of course if you can come up with a convincing narrative, including name(s) of a putative leader, I would be open to the argument. However, any narrative needs to consider short, medium and long term consequences.

  • Jedi: I am assuming that the Tories will want to decrease the number of constituencies but that Labour would not. As the number of constituecies decrease under FPTP, the less representative the outcome will be. As the number of constituencies decreases, the more homogeneous the electorate becomes (if all constituencies had equally homogeneous profiles they would all return the same result).

    A way to make FPTP more representative of the political profile would be to increase the number of constituencies.

  • jedibeeftrix 8th Jun '14 - 9:19pm

    They might.

    I never got the impression that cared very much about reducing MP’s per-se, it was just a complicated part of coalition package that included reform of the HoL.

    The boundaries commission will do its work regardless of who is in power, and i imagine it would be very hard to dodge the issue twice in a row.

    The Tory shires would be crying “Revolution!”

  • Jedi: Yes, there is an irony here. Without the reduction in the number of constituencies (which Lib Dem had proposed in conjunction with PR), the Boundaries Commission work would have continued and much of Labour’s advantage would have been reduced. A possible result for the next election could be Labour having most seats but fewer votes than Conservatives. Lib Dems on reduced seats and fewer votes, but still part of the balance of power. I think this would be a terrible, messy and destructive nightmare for Lib Dems.

Post a Comment

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

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

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

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

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

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarChristopher Haigh 16th Nov - 11:54am
    There is a sinister organisation within the Tory party called the European Reform Group which is presumably coordinating a hatchet job on Mrs May. As...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 16th Nov - 11:28am
    First thought .David Beckets comments should be put on all our focus leaflets!! (If that is ok)
  • User AvatarDon Manley 16th Nov - 11:24am
    It is very uncharitable to portray our PM as a common enemy, and I speak as a Remainer LibDem member. She has, at great cost...
  • User AvatarMick Taylor 16th Nov - 10:33am
    Three brief points. 1. Gove is just poseur. If he is going to resign, he juts get on with it. 2. Whilst there may not...
  • User AvatarDavid Becket 16th Nov - 10:01am
    On summing up the failures of the Tory and Labour parties today the "I" concludes "A curse on your houses. This country and its people...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 16th Nov - 9:54am
    On the matter of settling disputes, I was disappointed to witness on television a very regrettable attitude towards a female fellow Lib Dem peer who...