Nick Clegg’s leadership: What are Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? (updated)

TypingWe’ve heard what the papers have had to say about Nick Clegg’s future, and we’ve had some reports of tv interviews with senior party figures. But what’s the Liberal Democrat blogosphere say? As you might expect, there is a wide range of opinion. Here are some snippets.

Senior Liverpool councillor Richard Kemp, who gave one of the best speeches at Federal Conference last Autumn against the Bedroom Tax,  says that Nick should stay:

I believe that Nick Clegg is a thoroughly decent man who has made the best of a bad deal for our Country’s sake. So many people have benefitted and will benefit from the uniquely liberal things that Nick and his excellent team of Ministers has achieved.

We’ve had a look at what the papers are saying about Nick Clegg’s leadership, but what about Liberal Democrat bloggers?

Carl Minns, former leader of Hull City Council, says that our difficulties are a natural consequence of being in Government:

 if anyone has cause to be upset with Clegg it’s me. I’m not. Why? I’m a grown up politician and acknowledge that this is what happens to Councillors when their party enters government. It happened to Labour and Tory Councillors and we spent decades taking full advantage of that and now it’s happening to us. It’s not nice and  it’s not fair and it wasn’t for those Tory and Labour Councillors too but that’s life in politics. The only way to avoid this as a party is to never enter national government. If the numbers were different in 2010 and we did a coalition with Labour our local government election base would have taken a beating from a different set of voters.

Mark Valladares questions the idea that a new leader would get a fair hearing in the press.

This government is doing a whole bunch of unpopular things – cutting benefits and finding ways of running government more cheaply are never, ever, going to be easy or popular, and any new Leader will be confronted with the same hostile media, the same cynical public and the same recent political history. Why on Earth do they believe that simply changing the Leader will make a significant difference?
Or is it simply that the organisers hope that, in the event of a leadership contest, a white knight on a charger will ride over the hill and lead us to a glorious recovery in public opinion? I’m an optimist, and even I can’t see that one coming, especially this close to a General Election.

Gareth Epps says that the Party has a number of problems which will not be resolved by merely replacing the leader:

While the personal poll ratings of no political leader since records began have been as consistently bad as those of Nick – traceable, obviously, to the tuition fees fiasco but with many other causes – it is far from the only institutional problem facing the party. The accompanying issue of trust will take much longer to address – but as with Labour and Iraq, such issues can be addressed in time.

For that very reason, simply walking away from Government now would be a particularly daft move. It would make the party look both spineless and duplicitous – quite a hard combination to pull off. We went into a five-year coalition – however reluctantly – and whatever last Thursday’s vote did say, it was not: ‘can we have a year of Tory minority government please?’

Letter signatory Martin Tod outlines a series of problems that he sees that the party faces. To be honest, he’s not wrong on many of them, even if I don’t agree with him on the cure.

The biggest problem is communication. Effective communication produces results. And the communication we’ve seen during the recent European campaign has not been effective. This isn’t about being in Government. We were in Government before the Clegg/Farage debates. Nick was able to connect with people (sometimes brilliantly) in the past but is now a busted flush. Perhaps unfairly, a whole chunk of the electorate who we need to win over is irrevocably alienated from him. His polling is dire. The sad fact is no-one will listen to him in 2015 – and anyone who thinks that isn’t a problem has a very strange view of how General Elections work.

Alex Marsh says he thinks Nick Clegg should lead the party into 2015, but he acknowledges that there are problems with that:

My feeling is that Nick Clegg is, indeed, almost certainly terminally unpopular with the electorate. For many voters he has become a lightning rod for discontent. That is undoubtedly not very fair to him. But then no one says politics is fair.

Yet I don’t think a change of leader will make a huge difference to the party’s chances in 2015. My feeling is that the party itself is now pretty unpopular in the world at large. It is no doubt attracting new members among those who appreciate what the party has done in coalition. These are people who, I guess, mostly sit somewhere on the soft centre right. But I don’t encounter many people when I’m out and about with a good word to say for the party nationally, apart from party members. Most people seem to view the party as useful idiots facilitating a deeply ideological Tory party – the liberal measures the party has managed to put in place totally swamped by the carnage the Tories have inflicted on society. It may, of course, be the company I keep, but I live in strongly yellow territory. Again, many of the criticisms you encounter aren’t fair, or even necessarily anchored in anything solid, but that doesn’t make the situation less true.

Badly Drawn Llama doubts a new leader could change our fortunes:

Even if we now changed to some mythical liberal leader with the combined charisma of Lloyd-George and Pierre Trudeau (a personal Canadian Liberal hero) would find it difficult if not impossible to turns things around between now and next May; moreover, any votes gained would correspond with votes lost to people whowould see it as political cynicism of the very worst kind.

If we are silly enough to call ourselves a democracy, it means our leader must take us into the next election, explain and justify the positions taken and let the electorate pass their democratic judgement. If it means that we have to pick the pieces up again afterwards, so be it, after all, the darkest hour is often before the dawn….

Mark Mils says it might not be fair to blame Nick for all the troubles of the party, but he has to be the scapegoat:

So the choice for us Liberal Democrats is stark: take a deeply unpopular leader into the next General Election or find a less unpopular replacement. Regicide is not a pleasant option and I accept that this would essentially amount to making Clegg a scapegoat.

The original scapegoats were in fact literal goats. The Book of Leviticus describes how on the Day of Atonement the High Priest would choose two goats: one would be made a blood sacrifice and the other was abandoned to die in the wilderness. The rationale behind this was that these goats would embody the sins of the community. Killing them might be cruel and it was certainly unfair – the goats after all had not in fact sinned. However, it was seen as necessary to avoid God’s wrath which would wreak grave damage on the community as a whole.

Like the Ancient Israelites, political parties serve a vengeful and often cruel God: the electorate. And while offering them Clegg as a sacrifice might not be just that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary.

Antiochian says we not only need a new leader, but that that person should not be Deputy Prime Minister:

And by timely I mean in the next few weeks. We could muse upon who a new Leader might be but whoever it is I feel it is important that that person NOT become Deputy Prime Minister and that the party takes its distance from the Tories both on policy and style and also physically by NOT having our Leader sit cheek-by-jowl in the House with the PM and his cohorts. We need some distance and their is absolutely NO way that that distance can be made by having constant photo opportunities with the PM no matter much that may have massaged the ego of the outgoing incumbent. Neither is it desirable that our Leader address and justify Tory policy as has been done at DPMQ time. 

Jennie Rigg is far from impressed with the “where we work we win” stuff coming out of HQ. She also has this to say on the leadership:

if you want to get rid of the leader, there are several methods outlined in the party constitution. Anonymous willy-waving is not one of them. I suspect that all LibDems4Change have achieved is to annoy people who might have been on their side had they been approached reasonably, and made it less likely Clegg will go.

And something a bit motivational that we can all sympathise with:

When life gives you lemons, bugger lemonade, slice them up and put them in a gin and tonic. And then have another gin and tonic.

Kavya Kaushik says it should be Labour, UKIP and the Tories we should be angry with, not Nick.

The truth of the matter is that Nick Clegg had the balls to confront the vile racist rhetoric UKIP were putting out. Clegg said all the right arguments. But Labour, the party who should have exposed Farage’s horns and combat the national rise of xenophobia stayed silent. Instead they progressed with their 4 year long Nick Clegg character assassination which will only continue into the next year. To be honest I would rather direct my anger and attention towards Labour for putting out liesthan wasting time being furious at the guy who raised the income tax threshold to £10,000; raised the number of apprenticeships; and introduced same sex marriage.

Stackee says that we have so much more we should be doing rather than fight amongst ourselves:

We do need a discussion on how to best communicate our policies and beliefs to voters, of course we do – but by dumping our leader now, all we would be doing is making things worse. And we simply can’t afford to be doing that.

So, let’s have that discussion – without the silly coup talk – and get on with working towards keeping our MPs in 2015.

Now, I’d love to be able to tell you what Peter Black is going on about, but this is what happens whenever I try to get to his site. The headline “Liberal Democrats are already delivering change and Nick Clegg is leading he way” is a bit of a clue, though.

Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 16.22.22

I’m sure you will have more luck in actually reading what Peter say and if the geeks among you can give me some idea as to why Peter’s site, and Liberator’s for that matter are forbidden territory to any technology I own, please tell me.

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39 Comments

  • Jennie, thank you! You took the words right out if my mouth.

  • “For many voters he has become a lightning rod for discontent. That is undoubtedly not very fair to him”

    I disagree. Clegg made the last GE ALL about his own personal integrity with his “no more broken promises” he didn’t have to go down that route, as he knew he might find himself in a Coalition and compromises would have to be made, but having done so, it is totally fair that he should be held responsible for going back on it.

  • What’s more, he didn’t have to write this letter

    http://rtaylor.co.uk/files/nick_clegg_tuition_fees.html

    But he did and now he must take the consequences.

  • It would be good to see a woman stand in the leadership election, Lynne Featherstone perhaps.

  • @david

    Is it a good idea to have a leader who’s very likely to lose her seat in 2015 ?

  • Tony Greaves 25th May '14 - 3:12pm

    Peter – don’t expect (most of) the people who run LDV to be unbiased or fair.

    Tony

  • Is she, I am not sure what the prediction is for Hornsey and Wood Green do you have insider information?

  • @david

    Electoral Calculus have Featherstone as having a 16.5% chance of retaining her seat, Labour a 75% chance of winning it.
    http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/conlist_f_k.html#HornseyandWoodGreen

    Think those figures are from before the council elections this week.
    Haringey is reported by the local paper as having had a Lib Dem bloodbath losing 60% of their councillors, with Labour ‘painting the town red’.

    It’s all been there for those following the results. Maybe Lib Dems have been avoiding reading/hearing about what actually happened, or have been taken in by the BBC and media’s narrative that it was bad for Labour [they gained 338 seats, what a disaster eh 🙂 ?]

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th May '14 - 4:10pm

    Jennie, you posted after I’d started watching the Grand Prix as we’ve discussed on Twitter.

    Peter. I have a problem with reading your blog. I have no idea why, but my machine just won’t load it – when you got in the Golden Dozen recently, I had to say that I had no idea what it was about because I couldn’t read it. Any ideas? I did try to get on to your post to see what it said. I’ll put a link in.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th May '14 - 4:11pm

    Tony, that’s a bit unfair. I’ve been bending over backwards to reflect all the strands of opinion over the last few days.

  • People who posted warnings on LDV post-May 2010 warning of the electoral meltdown in council elections for the party were given a hard time, accused of writing jeremiads and thoroughly sneered at.

    An apology from those who ridiculed those predicting what was obvious would not go amiss.
    But will not hold my breath.

    What is most sad is it looks as if the party’s self destruction has led to a vacancy in the protest party area, and Ukip are benefitting. Clegg’s failed attempts to take on Farage head to head just increased the oxygen to Ukip’s campaign.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th May '14 - 4:46pm

    Ok, everyone has been added in to the main post.

  • Sarah Ludford 25th May '14 - 5:10pm

    I thoroughly endorse Kavya Kaushik’s comment that “Nick Clegg had the balls to confront the vile racist rhetoric UKIP were putting out” and “Clegg said all the right arguments” I totally disagree with Sandy’ s comment that “Clegg’s failed attempts to take on Farage head to head just increased the oxygen to Ukip’s campaign”. The journos at the first debate were going to call it for Clegg until they saw the poll and decided not to have the courage of their own convictions. Then the sheep-like media hysteria about Farage did the rest.

    I cannot believe that any real LibDems can pillory Nick about Farage instead of cowardly silent Labour which as Kavya said instead of targeting UKIP “progressed with their 4 year long Nick Clegg character assassination which will only continue into the next year. ”

    Indeed their election address said almost nothing about Europe. My contempt for Labour is total.

  • Ultimately I have no doubt that Nick Clegg is a thoroughly decent man who has made the best of a bad deal for our Country’s sake, and on the whole I have no doubt that he has bought to the government some very important policy ideas.

    However this is starting to feel very much like Gordon Browns last 18 months in power with the inevitable happening. I do not blame Nick for going into government but in hindsight its done more damage to the party than good (this is a very selfish point but was Nick et al to concerned with the short term stability of a government of the day or should he have been more concerned by the long term outlook of the party).What I feel Nick also forgot is that the Tories needed him more than he needed them (in fact he didnt need them at all and had the far stronger hand). He never ever had to compromise on tuition fees, and he chose a poor compromise in campaigning for AV when it cost many millions of pounds and had no chance of getting an overall yes vote in the referendum.

    Now the reason why I say its done more damage than good is that ultimately the public perception is not good (from all political walks of life). In hindsight (yes its a wonderful thing !)the Tories used the Lib Dems to help form a government taking a clever and calculated risk, floating and wavering Labour supporters are extremely unhappy about this, and A) Lib Dems are not happy with a how its panned out and B) the public perception that has arisen.

    No one is to blame, Nick was very brave in going from a “minor party” to forming Government but ultimately it has not worked out in the best interest of the party and its supporters.

    Its not a matter of if Nick Clegg should step down as history shows that in the next 18 months he will, but what is important is that there is someone to take over who can repair the disconnect between leaders/politicians and the public as well as Lib Dem supporters.

  • Thank you Caron, didn’t mean to sound snitty, just needed a cup of tea and a biscuit to restore blood sugar.

  • Paul In Twickenham 25th May '14 - 5:45pm

    @Sarah – I agree with you about the debates. I instantly thought Farage won the first, but thought that in the second debate that Clegg did really quite well (with the exception of the last question about “10 years from now” which he terribly misjudged), and I recall after the event looking at Andrew Sparrow’s live blog in The Guardian and he also called it for Clegg.

    So you, Andrew Sparrow and I all thought Clegg won the second debate but the public gave it to Farage by a bigger margin than they gave him the first debate.

    Why is that?

  • @ Sarah

    I’m a critic of Clegg but I support the EU. In the debate I wanted Clegg to do well even though I think what he’s done has been disastrous for Britain.

    But he did not come up with the facts that would help persuade, it was all too abstract.
    As a woman I felt he missed out lots of ways of appealing to us. It was all too absract somehow,
    Very disappointing.

    I was one of those who warmed to Clegg in 2010. The first debate he performed well.
    But in the second and third debate he seemed shallow, dull behind the eyes and my instincts were correct and when I went to the polling booth I did not vote Lib Dem despite having a poster in my window telling others to do so!
    Have never regretted that decision. Gut instinct tells a lot, we ignore it at out peril.

  • Paul-I-T that’s interesting because I actually though the opposite, that Clegg won the first debate by being calm and rational but was too shouty and sneering in the second. And terrible jokes.

  • Paul-I-T “why was that?”

    Yes interesting question. I can only deduce that no matter what Clegg says any more, the public shut their ears to him. Or worse, that if Clegg believes in something, the public vote for the exact opposite just to give him a kicking for “No more broken promises” .

    I don’t believe it’s some big conspiracy by media or pollsters.

  • Joe Fahmy “Its not a matter of if Nick Clegg should step down as history shows that in the next 18 months he will, ”

    Don’t you believe it. The man has a thicker skin than rhino. He is very happy in his DPM job and if he can pull off another 5 year term with Cameron ‘to finish the job’ then he will take it with both hands.

    And there is not a single thing that the LibDem membership will be able to do about it. ‘Ditch a leader when the Country needs a strong and stable government?? , now is not the right time’ will be the answer in May 2015.

  • @ Phyllis

    I was not suggesting that Nick Clegg should go now, in fact to do anything before the election would be fool hardy, but in 1 years time he will not be DPM and I would be very surprised if he is the leader in 18 months time ! If he has a thick skin to the detriment of the party then we have a problem……..

    Gordon Brown had a thick skin, Margaret Thatcher had a thick skin, but when the writing starts to emerge on the wall and the murmurings begin then it is very hard to see any other outcome.

    Perhaps we can revisit this in 18 months time when one of us will be right.

  • Caron Lindsay 25th May ’14 – 4:11pm
    Tony, that’s a bit unfair. I’ve been bending over backwards to reflect all the strands of opinion over the last few days.

    Caron, I have no doubt that in your case this is absolutely true. I would also say the same when Mary is editing for the day. But my experience of LDV since I started taking an interest last October is that some of your male colleagues at LDV have a macho, “my blog – my rules” approach. I am paraphrasing an e-mail sent direct to me by one of your less objective colleagues.

    On the selection of blogs above I had already seen several of them before I came to this thread. As I say I have no doubt that you have made efforts to be fair. But your interpretations, and your selections from the blogs would not have been mine.

    This is intended to be a gentle observation. I appreciate the work that you do. But sometimes even you perhaps do not achieve complete impartiality.

  • Chris Squire 26th May '14 - 12:56am

    I can read Peter Black OK, running Chrome under Mac OSX. perhaps you need to update/change your browser.

    My own view is that party politics is a kind of show business. Clegg, partly through his own mistakes, has become a national bad joke unfit for purpose. He was only very narrowly voted in in the first place. He should resign.

    Let the cleansing tide of democracy flow right to the top of the party! If we can’t pick a better leader then we should wind up the party and go out of business. Whatever happened to that nice Mr Huhne? I met him, liked him and voted for him . .

  • Chris Squire 26th May '14 - 11:12am

    Lib Dems 4 Change are at: http://www.libdems4change.org/

  • John CArlisle 26th May '14 - 11:51am

    When you point a finger at someone, three point back at you. Look at the initiatives the LibDems promoted/applauded as, I assume priorities, e.g. gay marriage, school dinners, LGBT bullying prevention, while the Tories were driving the privatisation cart and horses through the NHS and other public sector departments, with competition as the lead rein. Menawhile Vince Cable still has not produced an economic policy that creates real employment, houses are not being built, IDS gets away with murder in Social Welfare, and the only real LibDem who has taken up the immigration baton, Sarah Teather, has been vilified over her faith.
    Just what did you expect the electorate to do?

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th May '14 - 12:19pm

    Joe Fahmy

    What I feel Nick also forgot is that the Tories needed him more than he needed them (in fact he didnt need them at all and had the far stronger hand). He never ever had to compromise on tuition fees, and he chose a poor compromise in campaigning for AV when it cost many millions of pounds and had no chance of getting an overall yes vote in the referendum.

    Quite remarkable, I disagree with almost everything you’ve written in your message.

    I’ve always been willing to defend Clegg on what he has been able to achieve in the coalition. He most certainly did NOT have a strong hand in the coalition. How was he going to force the Tories to drop their policies and adopt ours? The only real card he had to play was “If you don’t, I’ll leave the country in a mess by not doing the one thing that would give it a stable government”. Do you REALLY think the people of this country would have been cheering Clegg if he had done this? I think it would very quickly have been written up as “fiddling while Rome burns”, the party which came third in the elections and won fewer than one in ten of the seats holding the country to ransom over some silly policy ideas of its own which no-one else supports.

    How on earth do you think he could not have compromised on tuition fees when the cost of full university subsidy would have been tax rises which the Conservatives would never support? Do you really think all 303 Tory MPs would have rolled over, given up all they believed in on lower taxes, in order to satisfy the LibDems’ election pledge? Why wouldn’t they have stuck to their ideals just as much as you say Clegg could have stuck to the LibDems’ ideals? If the coalition had not been formed, Cameron would have been appointed PM of a minority government, and would have been in a win-win situation: if the economy improved, he’d take the credit, if it didn’t he’d blame the LibDems for blocking the formation of a stable government – and he would have been loudly cheered on by Labour for that, as they used just that line in the AV referendum (at least all those Labour people who said anything – supposedly the party was not anti-AV officially, but no-one would have known that, given that no-one from Labour so far as I recall ever said or did anything that was pro-AV to balance the Labour antis). A few months of this, obviously saving the nasties till later, he’d call another general election in which the LibDems would have been flattened, he’d have won a clear majority, and the nasties would then have come out, without the moderating influence the LibDems have managed even if few will give them credit for it.

    On AV, what makes you think it stood no chance when the polls were showing the majority of the people in favour of it for most of the time until we got close to the actual referendum? I think the “Yes” campaign was very badly managed, like the LibDems nationally in general, too many PR people at the top who thought they knew better than those at grassroots how to play politics but came out with a superficial elitist campaign that lacked proper information so proved to be a turn-off. Like Clegg against Farage, too much energy spent trying to adopt an “I’m so modern and trendy, admire me for that” pose, not enough on actual facts and explanation that would show up most of what the other side was spouting as nonsense.

    All I’m seeing in so many of these threads is too many people playing the game of confusing Clegg with coalition, as if the only way the coalition could have been played is as Clegg played it, as if acceptance of the fact of coalition as the best option means you must be a fan of Clegg and all his Rose Garden “isn’t it wonderful I’m standing here looking like a proper establishment politician” stuff. No, these are two entirely separate issues. Most of the attacks made on Clegg about the coalition have been unfair, one of the reasons why I could never defect to Labour is that I am disgusted by most of what they have said about it. The problem is that so much of the way Clegg handled it seemed designed to bolster the unfair attacks by our opponents rather than counter them. For example, the clear bias in appointments he showed not just to the economic right-wing of the party, but to the ultra-right fringe, scuppered any chances of defending compromises as a necessity, because it could be and was used to suggest that right-wing economic solutions were what he really wanted anyway. I’m not sure Clegg even realised how damaging this was, I suspect he was naively influenced by the company surrounding him playing the usual game of equating “clever” with “ability to spout tired old economic right rhetoric”.

  • John Tilley “This is intended to be a gentle observation. I appreciate the work that you do. But sometimes even you perhaps do not achieve complete impartiality.”

    I agree absolutely. The bias hits you between the eyes.

  • Joe Fahmy I hope you are right and that I am wrong.

    On the subject of coalition negotiations, you are right and Matthew Huntbach is wrong. That is all I have to say on the matter.

  • My first time commenting on this or any other Lib Dem blog. I have been a long-term supporter of the party (campaigned for Jenny Randerson and Jenny Willott when I lived in Cardiff – I now live in Streatham) but only during the coalition days have I been a signed-up member. Partly because for the first time I had the income to do so, partly because I was worried about our loss of support and the party’s coffers as a result. Not because I wholeheartedly support everything this government has done…because I don’t.

    The last few days have been really tough as someone who believes in what the party stands for. Seeing UKIP storm to victory in the European elections. Seeing Lib Dem councillors, in their hundreds, bear the brunt of everything unpopular about the government. And knowing, in my heart of hearts, what this means for the next General Election. We will get a kicking, we all know it. I just hope we can hold onto to 20+ seats. But right now, I would not bet on it.

    What can we do to stop the rot? Ditch Clegg?

    Personally, I think it is a long hard road back from our current situation, and not one we can navigate more quickly simply by changing our leader now.

    Don’t get me wrong, he will have to go at some point. Clegg is toxic to the electorate – they simply don’t trust him. There is, I am afraid, no way back from that. But to be honest, part of me thinks you have to give the electorate the chance to make that point. If we ditch the leader just before the General Election, I think many will feel a bit cheated by it and see it as a disingenuous move. We can’t, as Lib Dems, erase history and pretend we didn’t back our leader. We did, and everyone knows we did. And we shall pay the price at the ballot box for it – whether we feel that is fair or not.

    If, as I expect, the General Election delivers a damning assessment of how the electorate view our time in government, then that should be the time when Clegg resigns. Then we elect a new leader to take us in a new direction, with 5 years (not 12 months) to win back voters. Because that is the minimum amount of time it will take to rebuild trust in the party.

    We face a fundamental challenge in how we convince people it is worth voting Lib Dems. I still believe that a great many people in this country are sympathetic to the core values and principles we stand for as a party. The question isn’t whether we have the right policies, it is whether we can be trusted to deliver them. The tuition fees fiasco being the clearest example, but there are lots of others.

    The fact is, people know that if they vote Labour it could produce a Labour government. They know if they vote Tory it could produce a Tory government. But for those that vote Lib Dem, could that mean a Tory-led coalition government, or a Labour-led coalition government? And in either scenario, what does a Lib Dem vote then translate into when in a government?

    That is a very difficult message to sell. But the fact that we shied away from doing so at the last General Election is the root cause of our crisis now. There, I said it, we are in a crisis.

    In my opinion, the best route is honesty.

    We should produce a manifesto for the next election which does two things 1) it sets out a clear vision for what a Lib Dem-led government would stand for – in other words, what we believe a future Britain should look like, and 2) it sets out our priorities for the next 5 years – making it absolutely clear to the electorate what our negotiating positions would be if the Tories needed a coalition partner, and what our negotiating positions would be if Labour needed a partner.

    Simply assuming we will get credit for being a sensible partner in government is clearly not a strategy that will work. Instead, we need to speak openly and honestly about what coalition politics means in practice. We need to speak the language of compromise. We need to beat the drum for the Lib Dems as a party that can curb the worst excesses of the Tory and Labour parties. We need to abandon the pretence that we believe in everything this coalition has achieved – we should have, from the very inception of the coalition government, presented ourselves as we truly are: begrudging but necessary partners to a Tory-led government, not best buddies at a Downing Street garden party.

    It is still a difficult message to sell, but it is an honest one. And that is the only way we can rebuild trust among those people who share our values but simply don’t trust us to deliver on our promises.

  • Matthew Huntbach is right that there was no way the Tories were ever going to agree to our tuition fees pledge. Why would they?

  • @ Matthew Huntbach

    I have to say I disagree with everything you say. Nick Clegg had an incredibly strong hand, no one forced him into coalition he could of said no. The Tories could have operated a minority government with the agreement of confidence and supply (its an example there were of course other options). The lure of Government was an attractive one which I lay no blame in him going for, but to say he had the weaker hand in a coalition is simply incorrect, in fact without the Lib Dems there would be no Coalition.

    This notion that Nick Clegg “saved the world” in otherwise “had” to form a coalition government is simply not true, that may be the line or mantra spouted, but what you are saying is that all the ills of the country would have been on Nick Clegg for not propping up a Tory Government, is pure fallacy and there is not a shred of evidence in the media or opinion polls to suggest otherwise.

    In terms of AV Nick Clegg never ever wanted this, and it was a very weak compromise. Most YouGov, ComRes, and ICM polls showed there was no appetite for AV.

    Millions upon millions of pounds was spent with donors from both parties giving to both campaigns. The Tories heavily opposed AV and fought tooth and nail to get a no vote for AV, any person with a bit of sense could have seen how this was going to pan out. Nick Clegg could have got a far better deal in this respect or given up this poor compromise for something more beneficial.

    Finally in relation to tuition fees, why is the answer to simply raise taxes ? A far to simplistic argument (especially when you look at the figures), nevertheless his biggest mistake was to say that there would be no rise in tuition fees when there was every possibility that he could be forming a coalition government.

    There is no attack by me on Nick Clegg, I think he is a good, honest, genuine man, but it has not gone right and our message has been desperately lost in the bubble of being in coalition government.

    I do feel it was an error in giving air-time to Nigel Farage (people might say it was brave etc, but again I feel it was naive) , and its completely destroyed our representation in European Parliament. I think this is where there is a disconnect, I am a big fan of Europe and I think most Lib Dems are, but Farage cleverly manipulated it while Nick Clegg’s message got lost.

    Where I live (eastern region) I know many people that voted Lib Dems locally but UKIP for the European Parliament. This is not to say that people want out of Europe but people are saying that we need to reexamine our relationship with Europe.

  • @ James Kay

    Agree with the vast majority of what you say, and you make some excellent points in an eloquent and rational manner.

    My overriding thought is that it would be fool hardy for Nick Clegg to go now and that’s why I am not giving my backing to libdems4change at the current time.

    I also feel a new leaders hand will be tied with the coalition agreement, and could be tarnished with the reminiscence of the embers of such Coalition Government.

    It will be short sighted and a knee jerk reaction for Nick Clegg to leave at this moment in time.

    I think we owe it to Nick Clegg to let him get on with the job without any talk of leadership for the final year and then regroup, reorganise, and collectively decide !

  • Laurence saunders 26th May '14 - 5:13pm

    Nick Clegg trustworthy will actually makes excellent decisions. Mr Clegg is good at his job. His leadership has become superior. Thanks too everyone trying to put the knife in. I have learned in time to trust him. The party should do the same . It makes someone a stronger person to come back than back down. 😉

  • George Miles 28th May '14 - 1:33pm

    We signed up for a 5 year Westminster coalition cos that’s how the votes came out. Holding the PR referendum so soon was the biggest mistake. Hope we learn from our mistakes!

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