Opinion: A challenge for LDV readers

The BBC has a Hung Parliament Coalition Builder, based on various projections of seats, and different possible outcomes depending on small voting shifts in the handful of marginal seats.

The challenge is to get a coalition without the Lib Dems. It is almost impossible!

There is an assumption this election –the Lib Dems are going to be at the negotiating table on May 8th.

But, given the likely outcome for our party, what if we start from the assumption that we will not be at the negotiating table, and we will go into opposition and oppose any and all Queen’s Speeches? What would our red line(s) be?

I have one red line – PR – and the argument is for good government and a fair democracy:

The Conservatives will get 33% of the vote and nearly half the MPs. Labour will be similar.

The Lib Dems will get about 9% of the vote and anything from 3 – 5% of the MPs depending on how effectively we can work in the next two weeks.

The Greens will get 6% of the vote and one MP

UKIP will get 12% of the vote and enough MPs to get into a taxi.

The SNP will get about 3% of the national vote and about 8% of MPs.

This is not democracy. It is the preservation of power by the parties that benefit (massively) from our First Past the Post electoral system.

In 2010, the front page of our manifesto called for electoral reform. It is the one thing that the Conservatives (with Labour) blocked. They will block it again if we allow ourselves to be a push over. Let them try to govern without us, or give the country a voting system fit for purpose for the 21st century.

* William Hobhouse lives in Bath and is co-founder of the Lib Dem Campaign for Manufacturing.

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160 Comments

  • “I have one red line – PR – and the argument is for good government and a fair democracy… This is not democracy. It is the preservation of power by the parties that benefit (massively) from our First Past the Post electoral system.”

    Though strangely, Clegg has given an interview with the FT this morning in which he claims that only a government led by the largest party would have legitimacy. This sounds like an ultra-FPTP position, and makes me wonder whether he gets the arguments for PR at all.

  • PR should have been a red line issue in 2010 when everyone was desperate for Lib

  • Stuart are all your posts an opportunity to have a go at Nick or question if he gets this or that knowing full well he does.
    You do yourself no favours with your hatred for everything Clegg and to say it clouds your judgement….just like “blind loyalty” is thrown around as a negative “blind hatred” is just as bad if not worse as its based almost purely on emotion than fact.
    No leader be it in politics or any other walk of life gets it all right and for you and others to assume that leadership is a nice straight line and any deviation is a sign of weakness or heresy is ridiculous.

    No leader will ever appeal to everyone in the party, ours or any other party, but to continually use every post to bring it back to them is like UKIP bring every argument, every issue, every problem back to immigration.
    e all know Nick and others have made mistakes, but to bring everything back to him as your comment above is not just perplexing but says a lot more about your hang ups then it does reality.

  • I see that Clegg, in his FT interview today, has ruled out any coalition which involves SNP support, thus effectively ruling out any deal with Labour and looking instead for a Tory-DUP-LibDem coalition which might require UKIP support to pass the Queen’s speech. The deals on offer aren’t good but that prospect is horrific. How do LibDem members and voters feel at the prospect of voting Clegg and getting Peter Robinson? As far as I’m concerned, a Labour-SNP deal is more attractive, and is likely to produce a deal which is closer to the principles outlined in the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution. (It’s here, for anyone who has forgotten what it says: http://www.libdems.org.uk/constitution )

  • @ Malc, we had the vote and lost…the Tories did renege on a deal not to campaign against it but we did get the vote

    @ Colin, that such a simplistic and crass interpretation….obviously you are on here to wind people up but that’s not the case at all and you know it. You can have your opinion but to twist it as you have is obviously nothing to do with reality and just a cheap shot, pretty much sums up the majority of posts from you….easy to lob things in and step back.

  • PR should have been a red line issue in 2010 when everyone was desperate for LibDem support, but they blew it. Not sure that the LibDems will be needed by anyone after the election, for me it will be a Labour government, supported by the SNP and a few other small parties. It’s back to drawing board for the LibDems, hopefully with a new leader that everyone can get behind.

    PS. Not sure what happened to my earlier comment, my machine seemed to have a mind of it’s own and posted it before I was finished.

  • it is disappointing that for some people everything is about the leader.Are our MPs so weak that they do not interject when something is said they dont agree with.I dont think so,anyone who has led a group on a Council especially where it has power has to take his group with him or he/she will be ousted.
    PR is the holy grail for this party but it should be a form which commands all round support not one which was attacked by people like David Alton et al

  • @Rabih Makki
    For information, I’ve been posting here for five years and have made it clear numerous times that I am not a Lib Dem so I certainly feel no obligation to ignore Nick Clegg’s mistakes. Before you call me a “troll” or suchlike please note also that the LDV site policy welcomes comments from non-Lib Dems.

    It’s also worth noting that there are many Lib Dem posters here who spend a lot more time slagging off Clegg than I do!

  • @ Malc…not sure they blew it, think the party were stitched up by the Tories.
    Second and yet again someone making the point that plays to the crowd but is factually wrong. No leader from any part ever has everyone behind them, even if it starts that way people soon find fault and issues and will drift…faster with some leaders than others.
    Some on here and in the party had a visceral hate of Nick from day one, not sure how that helps he was democratically voted in and yet some campaigned against him from the start.

    So no matter who the leader there will be issues , the simple argument like many football clubs do these days that replacing the manager will solve all issues is just to simplistic….sometimes its the players that are the issue….

  • @ Bob spot on! Not only lead a political grouping but lead in any way in life, you only have that role(in a democracy anyway) if those you lead give you it, Nick doesn’t sit and impose like some Cesar from the top yet reading so many posts people would think that’s exactly what he’s done.
    Leadership is a lonely and tough job, that’s why many can manage but few can lead, I would suggest some of you on here and further afield have never known that pressure so as always comment from a position of comfort having never been in that position.
    Yes he has got things wrong, he has held his hand up, but he leads not just 57 MPs but the larger party and pinning it all on one person and washing your hands of things(as many seem to do Pontius Pilot style) is as illiberal as you can get. We all bear some reasonability for things that went wrong….or are we all glory seekers that only step up/crow when things go right?

  • Nine comments and four of these come from same one person who is dominating many of the other threads. I used to like LDV but I think today I might have better things to do.

  • Rabih Makki

    If they were stitched up by the Tories on a red line issue surely that should have been the end of the coalition. Also I doubt anyone had a strong dislike of Nick Clegg from day one, many of us voted for him at the GE. However, his support and involvement of what many ex-LibDem members consider a very right wing government has turned us against him. You like him you vote for him, many of us will go elsewhere next month and return when we have a leadership and policies we are comfortable with.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '15 - 11:00am

    I don’t think PR should be people’s number one priority. It might be better than FPTP, but it has drawbacks too. PR would lead to much bigger constituencies or many more politicians.

    I don’t have a single policy redline. I like what I said yesterday about not having “favourite” public services or indeed areas of politics. We should govern according to need and desirability, not pet projects.

    In 2010 I was surprised the third placed party got into government. I always thought it should have been a grand coalition and think it looks bad on politics if the two biggest parties hate each other. The future for Lib Dems is in stealing moderates from all parties. That is what I see anyway.

  • I want to see the results first but I am inclined to think we should take a couple of years in opposition while we rebuild. As for red lines, the obvious one is the proposed Eurpean Referendum. The very least we should demand is a seperate vote in each of the 4 Nations of The UK with each having a veto on change.

  • I’m quite hopeful that proportional representation (not AV) may gain acceptance with the electorate, if, as widely predicted, a Labour SNP deal puts EM in Downing Street. Many people will see the extent to which their vote hasn’t counted.

    Any red line on PR needs to thought about carefully – I think, with precendent established, a change in the voting system would need another referendum, and the farce over AV, which both sides contributed to, set back fair votes years. Even NC has acknowledged that.

    It is of only mild amusement to me that Cameron’s chances of remaining PM might have been stronger, with all those second preference votes from Kippers under AV in the marginals. I laugh a little louder at the central belt labourites who are now collapsing under the FPTP SNP tsunami, since they relied on the same principle for decades to keep Scotland a red fiefdom.

  • I think that Stuart raised an important point of possible inconsistency in Cleggs position and that it is Rabbi, who has diverted the thread to claim that this is about his leadership.I think David Allen was spot on, in another thread, in claiming that it is only if the Tories vote with SNP, that Sturgeon has all the possible power attributed to her.
    If Clegg sticks to the position of not joining any possible arrangement with SNP,etc,and a a Government not put in place, would there be another election?

  • STV (only STV) for local elections and a royal commission for general election system.

  • Sorry to have spelled Rabih,wrongly.

  • > PR would lead to much bigger constituencies or many more politicians.

    This is not necessarily the case. A mediocre MMP system could function with constituencies 1.5 times their current size, for example. It is also possible to engineer some PR systems (including MMP and STV systems) to work fairly with variable constituency sizes, and this is probably a better aim than trying to make every constituency roughly the same size. It means that you can allocate constituencies according to more natural socio-geographic boundaries, with less need to slice up towns arbitrarily.

  • Just in case anyone missed this – or wants a reminder:

    C4 ‘Coalition’

    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/coalition

  • @ Malc, the issue is you and others keep making this a Clegg only issue, as if he did it all and the rest of the party from top to bottom stood by and was dragged along with no choice and no voice. Again I say this is so far from the truth and the way post events people wash there hands and use the old “it was him not us” excuse is not just disappointing but pretty disgraceful behaviour.
    As for waking out from coalition after the PR vote do you think the very people that voted no in such numbers would then have appreciated another GE or a minority Tory government that would have been properly right wing, not what we had which if you think that was right wing you are either hyperballing or just whipping up people knowing its not the case.

    @John….since when was a person only allocated a certain amount of times to comment, you have better things to do then do them and don’t complain, free world my friend.

    @ Paul…a couple of years in opposition? That’s what Labour thought 5 years ago…..

    @ Margaret I have not deviated it at all, it was not me from the first post that bought Clegg in to this but Stuart…strange how all those anti Clegg just glance over things and attack me and others who may not be and ignore the facts…Stuarts initial post went straight to blaming Nick, not sure that’s me deviating it but merely replying to it.

    @ Eddie well put and agree, like many things the public catch up with the progressive things like PR after political parties….its just when not if I hope.

  • Gone are the days when people were born, educated, worked, housed, socialised, retired and buried within the bounds of a single constituency. Multi-member (3 to 5) sub-regional constituencies will not break the link between MP and voters – rather they will have more chance of being represented and multiple MP’s from various parties may indeed work together for the benefit of their shared constituents – the future beckons!

    It’s time to kill off FPTP and this election could be that chance; take it!

  • @ Eddie. Totally agree we should govern according to need. Indeed if we go into any form of coalition I think our red line should be absolutely no more benefit cuts for the most needy.

  • There’s a lot of pseudo-constitutional nonsense around here today, and not all is from LD members.
    First, any (indeed, all) of the parties that get MPs elected have a right, you might prefer duty, to particpate in the government of the union, in any way. None are proscribed, and none are illegal, although flimsy new barriers about commitment to the union seem to be being flung up to try to bar some. Come May 8th, these barriers will be as dust.
    Second, this nonsense is going on to hide the failure of FPTP. LDs should have none of this, and should help to make voters choke on the distorted outcomes it results in now that FOR ONCE it is likely to throw up a result that makes the Tory press choke. Sorry Tory Press guys, this is the system you preferred to AV. Live with it, or support reform.
    Third, Clegg is clearly preparing the way for another coalition with Cameron. Ironicallly, he’ll probably have wiped out any last hopes that the sixth pRt of the outgoing parliamentary party that was based in Scotland might have had about climging on. Sadly, I think that this pronouncement will mean that he will have to cease as leader if the party wants to do anything othervthan spending 10 years propping Cameron up.
    Fourth, since when did liberals so bitterly oppose self determination ?

  • Rabih, I am baffled by what you write,as does that mean that people cannot criticise anything with Cleggs name in it ?He is the leader after all.Forgive me, but you seem to come over as unfriendly to those, maybe from other parties, who do not agree with your views.
    I regard this website as an oasis where free debate is allowed and have learned a lot over the years since the election.It has helped to partly neutralise my initial hostile feelings about the coalition,as I have learned that many writers,admittedly more on the leftish side,share my views on many things.I could not give the roasting I was planning,to party members canvassing me,in case it was a John Tolley,Stephen Hesketh,etc and many more.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '15 - 12:28pm

    Thanks people. Judy, I have been thinking recently that we could learn something from the SNP and stand up for our most vulnerable citizens more strongly. However, my heart beats as a pragmatist, so this is likely to mean cuts elsewhere, such as potentially international aid.

    Best regards and continue to discuss William’s article.

  • On the assumption that nither Lib Dem + Labour, nor Lib Dem + Conservative ≥ 322 and that SNP, Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems have all stated that SNP will not be in any formal arrangement in a Westminster government, the prospects for a coalition look distinctly unlikely.

    PR is the issue that could entice the Party into a coalition, but having witnessed the behaviour of the two larger parties in the AV referendum; the party would need ot be seized by collective amnesia to be suckered again.

    Cameron’s promise of a dysfunctional relationship with the EU followed by a referendum just at the moment when the country is most sick of him effectively makes another Lib Dem/Conservative coalition a non starter.

    Moreover if we lose even half the seats we are projected to lose, we would have to accept this as a thumbs down to coalition and if are losses are as projected it would become impossible to maintain a balance between MPs on the government payroll and those freer to speak out and vote independently on the back benches.

    A minority government that could hobble along would be Miliband’s Labour, this would require selective abstention and support on key issues from SNP and Lib Dems, but such a government would rapidly attract disapproval ratings that would make Nick Clegg look like a matinée idol by comparison. Have no doubt of the opprobrium that Miliband’s government would engender. In any formal coalition or arrangement more than our share of vilification would be heaped upon us (yet again).

  • Where does Nick Clegg get off by saying
    “I totally rule out any arrangements with the SNP”
    and
    He argued that any coalition with the party that finished second in the election would lack “legitimacy” with voters,

    I thought that the Liberal Democrats believed in plural politics, at least that’s what the party has been arguing for for the last decade.
    Nick Clegg went on and on about 2 party politics being dead and how coalitions would become the norm, which would then bring a new kind of politics that was more open, honest and transparent.

    Can we take it from the language we have been hearing from Nick Clegg that he only believes in plural politics if that means that liberal democrats have the sole monopoly to it?
    Hardly a very liberal attitude and not a good advertisement for any future PR

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 1:14pm

    @ Margaret, quite the reverse. I welcome debate however when everything, every issue, every problem, every negative is laid only on the leaders door step with everyone seemingly exonerated from any blame does grate as its completely untrue.
    Yes he is leader but does he carry the can for anything that you and others believes a problem….while anyone but him will get credit for anything that is perceived as a positive.
    Its simplistic blame game politics that I get annoyed with. the its his fault gov, nothing to do with me attitude that permeates this site to an extent. While contributing to a love in type feeling it does come over to those externally as a bunch throwing their leader to the lions and walking away shouting “next please” to the next leadership victim.
    I’m not advocating blind faith in the leader, but nor do I think the treatment Nick is receiving from some parts of the party is fair or proportionate.

    @ Matt…he “gets off” as being a leader of a party that isn’t willing to deal with a bunch on nationalist using this election clearly as a Trojan horse to get their way after loosing the referendum last year.
    I care not id the Scots go or stay, that’s up to them, but the extreme left wing policies the SNP espouse along with their quite clear indication that unless they get what they want they will make like difficult for none-Scots is not just unpalatable for a lot of people but damn nasty & provocative.

  • It irritates me when I hear language like that coming from any of the leaders of all parties.

    But given the platform that Liberal Democrats have campaigned on for the last decade I find the language particularly surprising from Clegg.

    I would have expected to hear from a leader of a party who firmly believes in PR and plural politics something along the lines of,
    It is for the country and electorate to decide what kind of Government is possible,
    Then for the Parliamentary party and our members to decide what we as a party can bring to Government and if our presence will have a beneficial effect for the country as a whole and us a party, or if we were best to serve the country in opposition where we could achieve more and hold any government to account.

    That’s what I would expect to hear and I think it is the kind of language that the country wants to hear and would respect.
    Not this dictating which is going on from the very top as though he has supremacy over the entire party and its membership

  • @Rabih Makki

    “@ Matt…he “gets off” as being a leader of a party that isn’t willing to deal with a bunch on nationalist using this election clearly as a Trojan horse”

    So why is he not using the same language towards the Tories with the 2017 EU Referendum?
    Why is that not a red line issue? Or is Clegg willing to risk a UK Brexit in exchange for another term as deputy Prime Minister?????

    The truth would appear to be that Nick Clegg seems to be aligning himself ever closer to the Tories and sod what anyone else thinks within the party

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 1:31pm

    @ Matt, you keep saying “that’s what I expect to hear…”that’s want the country wants to hear” well clearly not.
    The simplicity of your argument that I think this so please do that is baffling.
    The country is NOT voting for the SNP only a certain part so the mandate you speak of is limited to a tiny majority of the overall population that through a ridiculous voting system gives them a huge amount of power with barley 5% of the national vote. Why should we accept that a nationalist party that speaks for just one small part of the overall population could hold such power?
    Some people on here are questioning Nicks leadership votes from 2007, getting just under 50% of the vote, yet you espouse a regional party wielding power on the national level wait zero mandate from 95% of the country.
    Least the last coalition was almost 50% of the national vote, Labour/SNP would be not even 40%, yet you think that this is perfectly plural??

    Your last line makes me wonder if you are just kidding or a serious poster, its so laughable, I would say school debating club but even that is giving it credit.
    Its not dictating its leading, we don’t run a collective, we have a leadership and that’s how a democratic party works. Its not supremacy….would you say that to you manager at work? or would you accept that that’s how things work…although if you a communist or socialist then good luck to you, but you are no liberal.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 1:37pm

    @ Matt, because if you add the Tory and UKIP polls they are approaching 50% that is in the anti Europe camp, not saying all of them want out or anti European but that’s fact.
    I disagree as I want us to stay in although with some changes to how Europe is run.
    You can’t compare that with a rump of Scots Nats that have 50% of the vote in a country of 5 million, compared to almost 50% of the greater population that may have anti euro leanings.

    Im not saying Nick should give them a free ride and in the FT one of things that could be extracted by a new coalition is the wording of any referendum, so better to be in and trying to tone the Tories down then letting them plod on as a minority pushing things through.

    That you keep question how Nick “dares lead” is just odd when that’s exactly what he is there to do. You make not like it but that’s fact.

  • matt: I too cannot see the justification for disbarring SNP from government and that is not what anyone said in 2010. MPs once elected have a responsibility to work together to enable some kind of functioning government. Why is SNP considered politically beyond the pale? On another thread Bill le Breton suggests that SNP has been identified as a cause for pushing voters from Lib Dem to Conservative in important marginals. Danny Alexander refers to extreme left wing policies, which overall does not really stack up. Another reason is that since SNP have vowed not to be any part of a Westminster government, it is relatively cost free to say we will not form a coalition with SNP.

    On one hand there are certainly factors that are not easy to understand for non-Scots: there seem to be irrational, tribal issues at play which are getting in the way of rational progress , on the other there is the pragmatic viewpoint that the Party is too fragile to withstand a further coalition.

  • @Rabih Makki

    Out of the 1 week that you have been posting on this forum, your are the rudest, most ignorant person I think I have seen grace these boards in a long time, you are giving the Simon Shaws and the Tabmans a run for their money.

    On that note, I really can not be arsed to respond to any of your comments, but am more than happy to take up discussions with anyone else

  • @Martin

    Thank you a sensible reply that I can respond to 🙂

    “Another reason is that since SNP have vowed not to be any part of a Westminster government, it is relatively cost free to say we will not form a coalition with SNP.”

    I get what you saying, Nick Clegg has gone a step further though in what he has said today. he has said that he will not be a part of any arrangement that involves the SNP.
    Therefore he is saying that should the numbers be viable for a Labour / Liberal Democrat Coalition which also relied on the SNP offering some kind of confidence and supply or even just a confidence vote and vote by vote support. Nick Clegg will have no part in that whatsoever.

  • Maybe I am just reading into the language wrong. But the impression I get is that day by day, Nick Clegg seems to be painting his colors to the mast, which gives the impression that the only coalition he is interested in, is one that is with the Conservatives.
    Otherwise, why has he not said that the EU referendum would be a redline for the Liberal Democrats? He and Danny talks about the risk of UKIP being part of government and causing a Brexit and yet they are prepared to go in to coalition with the only major party that is promising the referendum in the first place and risking the UK’s membership.

  • Rabih: I do not think the ” Labour/SNP would be not even 40%” line really stands up: if Labour had the seats SNP are projected to gain, I cannot see that the legitimacy would really be any better, though I do think that the 60+% for the outgoing coalition certainly helped.

    I do not think there can be any general principle that disbars a representative of a particular party from office.

    matt has a point about the Conservatives’ EU referendum, but unlike him I think that Nick Clegg finds the prospect every bit as dangerous as anything that SNP might propose but I assume thinks it would be electorally counterproductive to raise the profile of this issue.

  • Stephen Campbell 25th Apr '15 - 2:12pm

    @matt: “Out of the 1 week that you have been posting on this forum, your are the rudest, most ignorant person I think I have seen grace these boards in a long time, you are giving the Simon Shaws and the Tabmans a run for their money.”

    After the fiasco with Tabman and all that nastiness, I resolved not to post here again. But I’m breaking my silence to say I agree with you on this. I feel this party has been backed into a corner by its failing leadership and the die-hard supporters of the leadership are lashing out and becoming even nastier at those who dare point out reality to them. Rabih made comments earlier in the week which could very well be construed as physical threats, something even the Tabmans or Simon Shaws would never have done. He has not once come across as either Liberal or democratic. Although I am now only a lurker, it cannot be a coincidence that in the same week Rabih has started posting, the discourse here has become increasingly nasty.

    It is an incredibly sad thing what has happened to this once proud, kind, compassionate party.

  • I’m perplexed that a Party which believes in Proportional Representation can rule out working in a ‘rainbow’ Coalition.

    ???

  • Margaret “I could not give the roasting I was planning,to party members canvassing me,in case it was a John Tolley,Stephen Hesketh,etc and many more.”

    Yes same here! A very nice young man is our Lib Dem candidate and tbh I really couldn’t take him to task over some of the issues I am concerned about as I knew it wasn’t his fault that the Parliamentarians behave badly. Perhaps the ‘local candidate’ factor really will save the LDs from too many lost deposits. I would happily vote for our young candidate if it didn’t mean that Clegg and Cameron could then carry on as usual.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 2:28pm

    @ et el, I do love how calling someone rude, ignorant and that I made comments construed as physical threats, as well as everything else checked at me is all very well but me defending my corner, in my own style, while constantly being told Im wrong, Im this or that is hilarious.
    If you are used to coming on here and posting and everyone to agree or to disagree an inch but one big love in that’s fine. However that this makes me ignorant, unkind or uncompassionate is just as rude as anything I may have said.

    Yes I am combative, and yes I don’t hold back, yet I stick by that and wont be intimidated by those wanting to, to paint is as “you bad, us good”
    Why is it that only one style is acceptable, only way is approved. That is illiberal and undemocratic. I have my right to say as I want, if you do not wish to engage I accept that and this is your prerogative.
    Those others you mention(and Tabman I know) rarely post now because you have hounded them out, you may feel great about that, but does that not reflect on you and this forum that only people that “fit it” are welcomed.

    For matt and others not to respond and engage, splendid, but what many of you are doing, even in your own lovely & kind hearted way is telling me to get lost as I don’t fit in. How gracious and open hearted of you.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 2:31pm

    Just as a quick follow up Vie been posting for years, although I did stop for a while as I found the forum over run by people such as matt & David Evans who while saying they are Lib Dems acted as anything but, I got pretty depressed at fighting a corner when all they wanted to do was put the boot in to either Clegg or the leadership in general. It seemed only their opinion mattered and anyone else was shouted down, bullied or harassed…while all the time being told they were the issue.
    You should all be very proud.

  • matt:
    “Therefore he is saying that should the numbers be viable for a Labour / Liberal Democrat Coalition which also relied on the SNP offering some kind of confidence and supply or even just a confidence vote and vote by vote support [he] will have no part in that whatsoever

    I do not think he is saying that at all.From the FT “Mr Clegg said he would not join a coalition with Labour that required a deal with 40-50 SNP MPs to survive” quoting Nick Clegg ” ““I totally rule out any arrangements with the SNP”. Vote by vote support hardly counts as a “deal” or an “arrangement”. That said however, as i have explained before, such conditions would be likely to be so damaging for Lib Dems as to effectively rule out a coalition.

    This does not mean that a coalition with Conservatives would be any better or more plausible, there I agree with Rabih’s response, partly for reasons you give but in either case a diminished parliamentary party would make a coalition equally non-viable.

  • @Stephen Campbell

    I am glad to see you posting again.

    Please Please don’t allow other to suppress you, You have a voice and an important one too.
    You are articulate and compassionate and you have been brave enough to post about your own difficult and traumatic struggles in life.
    Whether you support the Liberal Democrats or not, your voice is important to them, as is mine.
    There are some very very good people still on the left of center of the party, who through thick and thin are fighting in a internal battle to steer the part back towards it traditional roots. If and when they succeed, People like you and me will have real choice on who to vote for again in an election.
    The John Tilley’s, George Potters, David Allens, Matthew Huntbach’s and whole host of others I am sure appreciate hearing from people like you as it reminds them what they are fighting for.
    So please, please stay and carry on contributing, I for one get a great deal of comfort from some of your postings 🙂

  • Nick Collins 25th Apr '15 - 2:38pm

    @ Martin and Stephen: Don’t you think you’re being a little harsh? Is there not something rather endearing about Rabih and his refreshing disregard for such sophisticated niceties as logic, grammar, spelling and courtesy to other contributors?

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '15 - 2:40pm

    I think it is time for one of those intermittent discussion articles about getting the tone of debate right. I know I’ve been on the warpath in the past, but I think I’ve got a bit better and I’ve always enjoyed honest debates with people anyway.

    Some of my best times on here have been when in the middle of a heated debate someone has cracked a joke. 😀

  • @Rabih Makki

    “Just as a quick follow up Vie been posting for years, although I did stop for a while as I found the forum over run by people such as matt & David Evans who while saying they are Lib Dems ”

    I have never ever said that I am a Libdem, your assumption is as wrong as your arguments.

    There are a lot of people who have stopped posting on this forum over the last 12 months especially.
    A lot of left leaning voters gave up posting as they felt they were constantly shouted down by those on the right of the party.
    I notice a lot of left leaning members of this site have also stopped posting, we do not hear much from the George Kendals and the George Potters anymore unfortunately, though I imagine they are busy working hard behind the scenes fighting for their party and beliefs and the direction they think the parry should be taking. I expect to hear a lot more from them after this election when hopefully their voices will be given a more fairer hearing.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 2:50pm

    @ Matt, shall I get you guys a room?.

    @ Nick, ahh how lovely of you…again insulting me but in your own endearing way seems acceptable, but my more muscular In terms of spelling & grammar would you berate anyone that may struggle with this or say a speech impediment? How do you know that I don’t have some issue or struggle with this? Nice and open minded of you.

    As for logic that’s a matter of opinion, I think many on here throw away logic for ideology and courtesy is both ways, as is respect. If none has been forthcoming then none will be dispensed.

    ….oh and the comment to Matt is a joke…bad one I accept.

  • Damn, I have a short memory, I forgot I was supposed to be ignoring you lol.

  • I love freedom of speech, but when Rabih Makki, Big Mak, TCO etc (are they all the same man?) get going it would be nice to have a filter button.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 2:57pm

    @ Matt so not a Lib Dem by trying to take the party to the left so you and others can create it in your image.
    That is a good summary I think. Again to say that your friends on the left are working hard and myself or others who are not that way inclined are not is pretty insulting.
    Your last comment almost reads as a threat, everyone gets a fair hearing in the party, if you were a member or say came to conference or a member of a local group you’d know that.
    As much as you think those on the left have been forced out many think the same of those of us on the economic liberal wing, I would guess both sets would say they are not getting a fair hearing at some time or another.

    As a matter of interest where does your political loyalty lye and if not a Lib Dem why such an interest for the forum? You argue against me who is a Lib Dem as if you own the party and all my views are wrong, yet not even a party supporter or member. Yes anyone’s opinion is valid but I find that slightly odd you take such offence to me posting when as a Lib Dem I have every right, this is my home as such, while you have free choice to go elsewhere.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 3:01pm

    @ matt, ended 🙂
    @ malc, no not the same person(well Big Mak is me, pre me logging in as a member) but if you are serious then that’s very telling…if you only like to hear from people you agree with or in a way you dictate. Unfortunately that’s not life nor liberal. Trust me the thought has passed my mind about a few on here…..

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Apr '15 - 3:01pm

    Stephen Campbell 25th Apr ’15 – 2:12pm

    Good to see you breaking your silence!

    I would certainly agree with you regarding the likes of Tabman and other serial invaders of this site over the past few months. I can’t recall all their pen names but believe a list of his/their online identities and posting frequencies might prove most enlightening.

    It would however be a genuine mistake to count Simon Shaw amongst their number – even if he does like to get his money’s worth when he has paid for the full half hours argument and counter-statement 🙂

  • Alex Sabine 25th Apr '15 - 3:02pm

    @ matt
    “There are a lot of people who have stopped posting on this forum over the last 12 months especially.
    A lot of left leaning voters gave up posting as they felt they were constantly shouted down by those on the right of the party.”

    Is that a fair characterisation? I’m sure that some people have stopped posting because they are put off by personal insults, trolling and a lack of common courtesy, which is offputting and tiresome. Fortunately I find that the majority of commenters usually want to have a civilised debate, so as long as that continues to be the case I will put my two pennies’ worth in when I can. But I don’t think “those on the right of the party” have silenced “left-leaning voters”. That is not the impression I get about the balance of opinion on these boards.

  • Nick Collins 25th Apr '15 - 3:03pm

    “Muscular spelling and grammar”: an interesting concept with which I am not familiar. I’d love to stay and investigate further the ‘wit and wisdom’ of Rabih, but it’s time for the cricket.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 3:05pm

    All the best Nick, you go play with your balls while I work on my spelling.

  • Inappropriate.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '15 - 3:34pm

    Rabih, you are coming across as intolerant. We can’t just be friends with people who agree with us. If someone keeps banging on about Clegg then just ignore it. People do get told off if they keep doing it on unrelated threads.

    Regards

  • For the record, whether agreeing or not with his point of view, I have often been entertained by Simon Shaw’s forensic demolition of lazily received arguments on these pages. Usually he is able to back his arguments with referenced data or quotations, which only riles his opponents further.

    I also note that those (Lib Dems and anti-LIb Dems) who use LDV to take free pot shots at their imagined versions of Nick Clegg, and one or two others, are tolerated with extraordinary latitude even when their characterisations are a travesty of representation. Are there Labour/ Conservative etc sites that are so generous?

    Sometimes the anti factions so predominate that sensible discussion is stifled. I would very much like to see the knee-jerk responders holding back after May when there will be an important need for informed, open aired discussion and we will need to hear from the many who have in recent times considered it more constructive to hold back.

  • “I also note that those (Lib Dems and anti-LIb Dems) who use LDV to take free pot shots at their imagined versions of Nick Clegg, and one or two others, are tolerated with extraordinary latitude even when their characterisations are a travesty of representation”

    Hear, hear.

  • @Alex Sabine

    “Is that a fair characterisation? ”

    As far as my personal perceptions of events are, I consider that a fair characterization.

    There are a lot of voices of whom I would have considered on the left of the party have either stopped entirely or dramatically reduced the amount they post on this forum especially over the last 12 months.

    It is my belief that a lot of people {not the ones I mentioned earlier} probably stopped contributing as they were constantly being shouted down by anyone on the right of the party. If they so much as criticized the leadership or the direction of the party they were shouted down, usually by the more vocal members of the board.

    Since 2011 they has been a distinct fall in the number of women who post on the board. Now I am not saying for one moment that they would have all been left of center Lib Dems, but neither do I think these ladies have been put off by those pesky ogre like creatures. I think it more likely they have been put off voicing an opinion due to the combative style of debating often used by the more vocal people on the right of the party.
    That is my honest conclusion of how I have seen things progress, especially over the last 12 months.

    The voices on the right are far far louder and more aggressive to anyone who does not conform to their ideals and end up being accused of not being Liberal

  • Alex Sabine 25th Apr '15 - 3:45pm

    For context, I have been commenting on LDV since 2007 (I think) so I am making an observation about the balance of opinion and the range of posters over the past 7-8 years: I don’t see a relentless rightward shift. People with my sort of views will always be in the minority here and I accept that: they were when I was a party member and they still are. But there were a fair few posters who expressed broadly similar views who have also stopped contributing. It has not been one-way traffic in my judgement.

    Anyhow, keeping a civilised tone of debate and treating other commenters with courtesy has nothing to do with what wing of the party – or outside of it – someone is on, surely? It is about good manners and intellectual maturity. There hasn’t been much of either on display in some recent exchanges, which in turn leads to sense of humour failures on all sides, a downward spiral and all heat and no light.

  • Nick Collins 25th Apr '15 - 3:49pm

    I thought I’d pop back, jut to cheer you all up with the news that Anderson has taken three wickets for one run in four overs with the new ball: a brilliant catch by Cook, by the way.

  • Nick Collins 25th Apr '15 - 3:57pm

    just

  • While the case for STV for the House of Commons will be stronger now than in 2010 we shouldn’t make it a red line. As long as PR for the HoC will only be introduced after a referendum we need to educate the public and so get it for local authorities first. We also need to point out that where PR has been introduced we have suffered and not benefited.

    The Federal party conference has never discussed the possibility of being in government with the SNP and I hope that as Newsnight reported Clegg’s position is just an election tactic. I am not scarred of the SNP in government. I believe a Conservative government and an EU referendum is the biggest threat to the unity of the UK.

    I would like three line red lines:
    300,000 new homes a year by 2020;
    Scraping of the Work Capability Assessment to be replaced with one health assessment linked to the provision of social care and financial support;
    No more than £3bn worth of welfare cuts.

    Plus if with the Tories reforming the bedroom tax so it only applies to those who have been offered a smaller home and takes into account the needs of disabled people and those who have a temporary need for a spare room (including parents of students and those who need the spare rooms for their children to visit when the parents have separate households).

    @ Rabih Makki
    I am not surprised that you are attacked. The reason is because instead of keeping to the issues you attack the person. For example Stuart – “ultra-FPTP position” (You – “Stuart are all your posts an opportunity to have a go at Nick”); Colin – “Scottish representatives are illegitimate,” (You – “simplistic and crass interpretation … you are on here to wind people up”). You failed to say why Nick Clegg’s position shouldn’t be seen as an “ultra-FPTP position” and you failed to say why “Scottish representatives are illegitimate”. Would you say that the 86 Irish nationals elected in 1885 and who put Gladstone back as Prime Minister were illegitimate? Were the 73 Sinn Fein MPs elected in 1918 in some way not legitimately elected?

    I am glad you haven’t yet attacked me.

  • @Alex Sabine

    “Anyhow, keeping a civilised tone of debate and treating other commenters with courtesy has nothing to do with what wing of the party – or outside of it – someone is on, surely? It is about good manners and intellectual maturity”

    I very much agree with. It also makes for much more constructive debate.

    I will say however though that in my experience, And I started posting on here in late 2010
    There were lot of people who identify themselves as either ex Labour Voters who voted LD for the first time or floating voters or even people who had voted libdem most of their lives but were not party members found themselves being accused of being them ogre like creatures when they posted on these forums. Sure a lot of them were angry about things, Tuition fee’s, NHS, welfare reforms and they expressed their disapproval on these forums,
    Surely understandable in the circumstances, but instead of engaging with these people, there were those on the right of the party who accused them of either not being liberally minded, being an ogre like creature, or Ex Lab protest voters who were never really wanted.
    After being rejected like that, is it any wonder that some of these people have become more combative themselves in their posts.

    I agree it is not constructive and it gets nobody anywhere.

    I hope things will be very different after May 2015,
    but then of course it is no secret I am hoping for the return of a party as a left of center party 😉

  • Stephen Campbell 25th Apr '15 - 4:09pm

    @Martin: “I also note that those (Lib Dems and anti-LIb Dems) who use LDV to take free pot shots at their imagined versions of Nick Clegg, and one or two others, are tolerated with extraordinary latitude even when their characterisations are a travesty of representation. Are there Labour/ Conservative etc sites that are so generous? ”

    Please remember that in becoming a “serious party of government”, Clegg and the party have enacted policies which have had a detrimental effect on many people in this country. If your party wants to be a party of government, with that responsibility comes having to deal with (and listen to) those who have been harmed by your party’s actions in government. For example: several disabled and mentally ill people have taken their lives due to welfare reforms and DWP sanctions voted for by many of your MPs. People have been made destitute by these sanctions, only being able to eat due to the generosity of those who donate to food banks. They did not cause the financial crisis and the deficit yet they have been made to suffer for the mistakes of the financial sector and the political class.

    If you don’t want to hear criticism or stories from people who your actions in government have hurt, then you should not be in government.

    @matt and @Stephen Heskith: Thank you for your kind words 🙂

    @Eddie Sammon: “Rabih, you are coming across as intolerant. We can’t just be friends with people who agree with us. If someone keeps banging on about Clegg then just ignore it. People do get told off if they keep doing it on unrelated threads.”

    Exactly. I don’t always agree with you; you’re more on the right whereas I’m firmly of the left. Although you have become angry from time to time (who doesn’t), you have never descended into personal abuse or veiled physical threats. You’re someone I often disagree with who I’d be happy to debate. There are several others on the right of the party who I also hold in high regard. But I refuse to debate with people who twist words, are consistently rude and/or use threatening language.

  • @Michael BG

    Another well reasoned and sensible poster and I agree with pretty much everything you said.

    Can I ask you though. Don’t you think Nick Clegg’s recent language might be dangerous and damaging the case for STV?

    All we have heard on the news and in print over the last few days is that Nick Clegg does not believe in a rainbow coalitions and a coalition with the 2nd highest party would lack legitimacy.
    How does this language fit with a party that is supposed to be a supporter of plural politics?

    IMO it is certainly not going to encourage the electorate to get on board with STV, it’s madness

  • Stephen Campbell 25th Apr '15 - 4:15pm

    @Alex Sabine: “Anyhow, keeping a civilised tone of debate and treating other commenters with courtesy has nothing to do with what wing of the party – or outside of it – someone is on, surely? It is about good manners and intellectual maturity.”

    Here, here. Again, I don’t always agree with what you write. But I would never call you names or issue threats simply because you have views I disagree with. In the other thread about tuition fees, @Rabih made this comment to another poster (and I quote directly from his own words):

    ” For me you’ve over stepped the mark with such remarks, I suggest you think very carefully about your next post or this will I promise reach beyond this forum.”

    That to me sounds like a violent threat. I was horrified that comment was left to stand. Those kind of threatening words should have no place on a forum such as this and certainly sound more like something from the thuggish far-right than from a liberal-minded person.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '15 - 4:36pm

    Thanks Stephen. All the same to you. This thread has now gone ridiculously off topic. I guess that it won’t be allowed to happen again anytime soon.

  • Nick Collins 25th Apr '15 - 4:38pm

    ” For me you’ve over stepped the mark with such remarks, I suggest you think very carefully about your next post or this will I promise reach beyond this forum.”

    I agree with Stephen Campbell that “Those kind of threatening words … sound more like something from the thuggish far-right than from a liberal-minded person.”

    I suggest that the following are not much better:

    ” … courtesy is both ways, as is respect. If none has been forthcoming then none will be dispensed.”

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 4:43pm

    @ David-1 sure Nick took that in the tongue in cheek manner it was meant.

    @ Stephen, as always when you cut and paste a quote out of context you can make it look and seem as you want it to. Did you read what David Evans had written about me? Was this in your mind ok because you disagree with me so those having pop shots as someone you disagree with are cut a lot more latitude, as has been mentioned by others above. His words were provocative and in fact at one point when it came to my character and role in the party I would say skirting that of being libellous.
    If someone can smear me quite publicly and without reason, playing very much the man, then yes I replied in strong terms.
    I stick to this, if you cant or wont say something to someone’s face don’t say it at all. Clearly David Evans would never insinuate those things to my face, so my reply was that I would go “off forum” in terms of holding David Evans to account. No physical threat was ever made, that you read that in to it is obviously your own issue. What I was pointing out that his comments would be tackled off this forum, as in I would look to strop his personal smear campaign against me.
    Let me be clear never was this meant in a physical or threating manner bar to say it would reach in to for want of a better word the “real” world if he carried on that track.
    Your insinuation Stephen could be taken as a personal smear or worse on my character, lets leave it there shall we.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 4:48pm

    @ Nick, as per Stephen your remarks insinuation I am a “thug” are quite blatant and unpleasant, for people so queasy at my language you sure now how to dish it out.

    As for my line about respect and courtesy, in what way is that not very normal, if you show me no respect why would I to you? That’s not thuggish nor unusual but fact, its a very established principle.

    I agree its gone way off topic, mostly to attack me, so well done all. For all espousing liberal and democratic values hunting in a pack for someone who dares disagree or express things in a different way seems to come easy.

  • Can someone link to the controversial exchange of words as I can not find it in a search

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 4:55pm

    @ Matt, why, is it now a sport going back to see what I have written and line up to throw your two pennies worth?
    To me its done, David Evans and myself have left that as such, seems strange why you are all so interested(although its there to find) other than to make trouble.
    I despair, I really do. Lets hope Caron shuts this convo off soon.

  • I was not going to comment on it in this thread.

    I was just interested in reading it in context so I can form my own opinion, is that not allowed anymore?

    I have no desire to throw my two pennies worth in on your disagreement with another poster. I am however interested in reading previous comments to see if personal opinions that i have formed of you {which I would always keep to myself} are indeed warranted 🙂

  • Stephen Campbell 25th Apr '15 - 5:04pm

    @Rabih: “Let me be clear never was this meant in a physical or threating manner bar to say it would reach in to for want of a better word the “real” world if he carried on that track.
    Your insinuation Stephen could be taken as a personal smear or worse on my character, lets leave it there shall we.”

    Well, you do come across as threatening and aggressive. Just my personal opinion, however. Not a smear. However, most people would never dream of taking things “off forum” or making threats, physical or otherwise. But if you want to talk about smears, how’s this: people on benefits who are too ill to work have had their characters smeared constantly for 5 years by this government. They’re not strivers. They’re not part of “alarm clock Britain”. They’re “scroungers” (which isn’t too far away from calling them “useless eaters” as certain odious regimes in the past have described disabled or mentally ill people). This is far more serious than someone disagreeing with you on a discussion forum. Your governments actions have led to deaths of people whose only “crime” has been being on benefits.

    So, yes, you may be annoyed that people come here having a go at one of the governing parties which has harmed them. You may feel personally attacked, but I assure you some of the actions this government have taken are far more serious than words on a screen. Your party is in government. Take responsibility for your actions or don’t fight to stay in government.

    One can disagree and debate without making threats, personally attacking someone or being, well, mean.

    @matt, the thread I refer to is here: https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-why-i-believe-students-should-vote-for-the-liberal-democrats-45557.html

    Like the thread where you and I were attacked by a different poster, this one was closed by the moderators after it became increasingly nasty.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 5:06pm

    @matt…you clearly haven’t kept those thoughts to yourself previously, so please do share, get it off your chest.
    As I have said if you want to form a proper opinion on someone a few posts wont do that, only way is meeting face to face and chatting over a drink. Offer there for anyone to take up, although I can imagine the replies of “why would we want to spend time with you?” but I make the offer anyway.
    I’m in London often or at conference in September, Id be genuinely happy to meet up.

  • Stephen Campbell 25th Apr '15 - 5:08pm

    @matt, I replied to your question about the thread I was referring to, but it’s being held up by moderation, so I’ll just give you the link and if the other post is approved, just ignore it: https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-why-i-believe-students-should-vote-for-the-liberal-democrats-45557.html

    Like the thread where you and I were attacked, this one was closed by the moderators (and rightly so!) because it descended into nastiness.

  • David Allen 25th Apr '15 - 5:08pm

    I don’t suppose that Rabih Makki is, in fact, a violent thug. However, he does speak in a way which is quite similar to the way that violent thugs speak. He has taunted an adversary by asking whether he was “nervous”. He has “promised that this will reach beyond this forum”.

    It is well known that violent thugs often play verbal games, in which words are used which seemingly stop short of actual threats, but which are in fact well understood by the prospective victim as representing a real threat. The classic, of course, is the Godfather’s “offer you can’t refuse”. But there are many parallel forms of disguised threat, including some which are rather similar to Rabih’s words.

    I have complained previously to LDV. I was told in response that I, personally, was “often cited” as having “derailed” threads, by raising points of view that should not have been raised. Presumably the implication was that my complaint about Rabih’s language would be dismissed, irrespective of whether it was justified or not, because it came from me, and LDV does not like me.

  • Nick Collins 25th Apr '15 - 5:09pm

    Having commenced the morning on 202 for 2, W Indies are 286 for 7 at lunch. Jimmy Anderson has taken three wickets, two catches and a run out.

  • There seems to be a belief that the proportion of women posting comments on LDV has declined. Sometimes people have suggested that this is due to the aggressive nature of some of the people who comment, an idea that I disagree with because by and large I think that the tone of debate on LDV is quite civilised in comparison to the sites of other parties, as I hope would be the case with liberals. I decided to sample a week in February 2010 to test the idea that fewer women post now. There were 42 comments where a gender was unclear, 8 women, and 139 men. OK, only a small sample, but I would suggest that the belief is unfounded.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 5:19pm

    @ David Allen, I reiterate while you read it as such it was never physical, it was about meeting face to face and having to say what you do on a forum to someone’s face. A lot of the time like any bully on-line/social media people can put as they like and not have to answer for it. So I always stick to the principle I would never put anything on here or any other forum I would not say to someone if I was sat across from them. That is not threatening, that it makes you feel that is odd as if you are so uncomfortable meeting someone to lay in to them as you would online it means you feel you have said something inappropriate or wrong.

    If you want to complain about me then go ahead, that LDV may or may not dismiss it for past issues with them is not my business, but shows you have form I suppose.
    You can interpret things as you wish David, that’s the issue, because your complaint to me would be not only wrong but also be a way of shutting me up because you(and a few others) may not like it, as opposed to it being say illegals, or espousing hatred or worse toward someone.

    I could in turn look at many comments level at me and put in a formal complain, and we can go round and round.
    That you compare what I have said to a violent mafia film for instance I could say is not only offensive but highly provocative. far from diffusing a situation you seem intent on fuelling it….so maybe your reputation with LDV is well deserved.
    I can imagine you saying those last six words with a quavering lip, dear me.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '15 - 5:26pm

    Rabih, if you want a private chat ask LDV for my email. We shouldn’t be having such a long debate here. I am astonished at some of your comments, but I have also been in a similar situation to you in the past, so I think it would be good to chat.

    Regards

  • Excuse me. My first contribution to this thread was met with hostility from you accusing me of being childish and not Liberal minded.
    It is your personal combative style that turns things negative and personal on this forum.

    Yes I was critical of Nick Clegg in my post, unless you are Nick Clegg in disguise in no way was my postings a personal reflection upon you.

    I raised in what is my opinion perfectly valid questions regarding the language coming out of Nicks mouth over the last couple of days when it comes to coalition government and what it says about plural politics, future political reform and STV.

    “As I have said if you want to form a proper opinion on someone a few posts wont do that”
    And yet you managed to do that to me from just 2 posts on this thread, remarkable isn’t it!

    The likelihood of me ever meeting you face to face is nil, since I already said I was not a member of the Liberal Democrats. I have never been a member of any political party, I am and always will be a floating voter who sits clearly on the left of center and I will vote for a party that is closest to my personal beliefs.
    So the only way I would ever come into contact with someone such as yourself was if you happened to be campaigning and knocked on my door.
    And to be clear, if your style of discussion was the same in person as it was on these forums, I rather suspect the response you would receive would be rather ugly and short.
    However, were I to be canvased in my constituency by someone like George kendal or similar, who has canvassed in my constituency before, I would gladly and enthusiastically engage with them on my door step. Although it is to late for me to change my May 2015 Vote as I have already posted my ballot, I would be keen to discuss why I could not support Liberal Democrats in this election and what it would take for me to vote them again in future elections.

  • David Allen 25th Apr '15 - 5:27pm

    Rabih, I do not want to shut you up. I just ask you to avoid language that could readily be construed as threatening violence. Surely that is not too much to ask?

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 5:40pm

    @ Eddie, thanks, astonished is maybe a bit far but I appreciate the sentiment. Not sure if LDV will give me your details but I will ask as always good to chat, much is lost or misconstrued on here!

    @matt…if I was confronted by some of the comments expressed toward me on here I agree the conversation would be short & ugly, however I rather suspect from doing hundreds of hours on canvassing myself that is rarely if ever the case one someone is stood across from you. You obviously have your favourites you discuss or debate with and I wish you all the luck with that.

    @ David Allan…indeed its not and I reiterate again it was never meant in that way and that you construed it as such is down to you, never ever would I be it online or in person threaten someone. I am combative in my words but if I was that way inclined I would not use my real name or picture on an open forum but hide behind my keyboard and issue all the threats I like from anonymity. That I’d do it with my membership log in would be madness even if that was my intention, so again that never crossed my mind and never would.
    Hopefully that clears things up and we are left in no doubt on my intentions.

  • @ Alex Sabine
    I hadn’t noticed you were on the right of the party. I am always impressed by your knowledge of the details when you post. Please can you post the reasons why you are not a party member any more?

    @ matt
    Thank you for the compliment.
    “Don’t you think Nick Clegg’s recent language might be dangerous and damaging the case for STV?”

    As I said I hope that Nick Clegg is just saying no deal with the SNP as an election tactic. As Bill le Breton posted in another thread https://www.libdemvoice.org/so-how-worried-should-we-be-about-the-ashcroft-poll-on-bristol-west-45622.html, “everything to do with shoring up our vote. It tells me that the Tory scare tactics are biting and firming up soft Tories and flaking off LDs.”

    As the public in England don’t understand how PR Parliaments work and the London based media dislike the idea Nick Clegg’s comments are not helpful. However is it the role of the leader of the Lib Dems to explain STV or try to maximise the number of MPs we get elected? I would say it is the later. I think it is wrong to say we wouldn’t work with the SNP but I would be happy to say we wouldn’t form a government with them (they don’t wish to be part of a UK government).

    The FT states that Nick Clegg ‘fears that any so-called “coalition of the losers” could lack “legitimacy”.’

    I agree with this but I define “the losers” differently. The losers are not the smaller parties but are the parties who have lost the most MPs or percentage of their MPs.

  • David Evans 25th Apr '15 - 5:50pm

    Rabhi, it seems to me you are choosing to smear me, not the other way around. However, I have been in politics as a Lib Dem councillor for long enough to face down real Labour bully boys, and in comparison your comments do not worry me at all. I would expect you think the same, so I presume mine do not worry you. However, if there is any occasion where you consider I have smeared you, perhaps you would like to post it on here? However, I note you haven’t replied to my complaint that you were putting words and phrases into quotation marks when referring to others, when they had never said them. Do you have an answer to that?

    I await your response to either of my questions and I sincerely hope there is no need for me to meet with you, but if you are in Bournemouth or even a Special Conference after May I will look out for you.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 6:04pm

    @ David Evans I never called you a bully so not sure why the comparison with Labour or any others, not my style.
    To me its simple, if you decide to paint me in a certain light to suit your particular position then that’s fine. On the flip side that means me answering your questions is the same when I asked how you can call be X or Y based on what basis other than a few posts and your own though process. If you wont engage with me then I will not with you.

    In truth no your words are like water off a ducks back, I’ve also encountered far worse in my line of work, genuinely terrifying people that I have had to face down, but you are not one. So that’s something we agree on.

    As for meeting again see I make a genuine offer and its a nasty reply, I don’t particularly wish to meet with you maybe but you know what I would. Is it not better to do that, get this out in the open face to face and clear the air. I see no problem with that. I really don’t think there will be a need for a special conference in May, nothing like sneaking that in David, but in Bournemouth I’d say lets meet up even for few minutes, shake hands and chat. I am big and ugly enough to do that….I’ll even get the drinks in.

  • @Michael BG

    “However is it the role of the leader of the Lib Dems to explain STV or try to maximise the number of MPs we get elected? I would say it is the later.”

    To a degree i agree with you, it is the role of Nick Clegg to get as many Liberal Democrat MP’s elected as possible to government, that is his priority.
    However on a flip side Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrat party has been the loudest voice over the years arguing for political reform and STV.
    The public will remember the promises that Nick Clegg made about voting for a new kind of politics where 2 party politics was dead and it was time to vote for a new kind of politics that was more open honest and transparent, plural politics, coalition governments.
    Nick Clegg in early 2010 was making a very strong argument for political reform and I think the general public was by in large buying into it. I know I certainly was,

    It is my opinion that people were put off the idea of AV because the way in which the coalition government acted behind closed doors and the rose garden love in. I do not think it had anything to do with people were angry because they expected the coalition to be one between Labour / Liberal Democrats.
    I genuinely believe it was purely down to the fact that people thought coalition politics was going to be transparent as Nick Clegg had promised and that we would get to see the disagreements between the 2 parties and the compromises that were made. After all it required this kind of transparency for the public to see and judge how the coalition worked and whether the junior party was having an effect on policy outcome or whether it was just being railroaded.
    Because of the lack of transparency and disagreements, people were put off coalition and in my opinion rejected AV.

    Now the language that is coming from Clegg during this election campaign is that plural politics is bad unless it is with Liberal Democrats and if it contains more than 1 junior party. What kind of message is that sending to the electorate?

    I know Labour are proposing political reform in their manifesto, elected house of lords and reducing the age of voting to 16.
    This would be an ideal opportunity for Liberal Democrats to negotiate with Labour and get STV for local elections and get the public used to the idea before putting it to vote again whether it should be carried over to a General Election.

    But like I say the language that is coming out of the Liberal Democrat camp at the moment with regards to plural politics, is that it is a terrible thing.
    It’s madness

  • “your comments do not worry me at all”
    “your words are like water off a ducks back”

    One day I’d like to see someone who doesn’t pretend to be stoical and indifferent in the context of a nasty argument and who would admit “yes, I find your words insulting and annoying and they cause me a great deal of grief.” Someone who is truly indifferent to another person’s comments doesn’t respond at all. One can more accurately judge how much a person cares about another person’s speech by the quantity of verbiage they produce in response.

  • John Roffey 25th Apr '15 - 6:16pm

    Ok guys – we’ve got his address – contact usual source for further details.

  • Nick Collins 25th Apr '15 - 6:26pm

    W Indies are all out for 307. England need 142 (or W Indies 10 wickets) to win in the best part of two sessions.

  • Alex Sabine 25th Apr '15 - 6:28pm

    @ matt
    “Instead of engaging with these people, there were those on the right of the party who accused them of either not being liberally minded, being an ogre like creature, or Ex Lab protest voters who were never really wanted.”

    As I’ve said, I have no time for mud-slinging whoever it comes from. But there is a difference between accusing someone of “not being liberally minded” and being “an ogre like creature”. The latter would be reprehensible. The former I would be cautious about doing, because it is subjective for the reason that John Tilley alluded to in another thread when quoting Conrad Russell: liberal is a ‘hurrah-word’ and people (within the Lib Dems, let alone in the big wide world outside) will always disagree on how it should be defined. I don’t think that even a political party that springs from the Liberal tradition, and certainly not one wing or faction or strand of opinion within that party, can really claim proprietary rigts to it.

    Moreover, I think someone can be “liberally minded” without having a strict adherence to any political philosophy: this applies to a large number of people who haven’t necessarily ever voted for the Lib Dems and might vote Tory or Labour (or, in some cases, even UKIP or the Greens – I am talking aout voters here before anyone cites those parties’ programmes which are both illiberal in contrasting ways).

    However, Lib Dems will always argue about whether an idea or policy is liberal and in the course of debate those on one side may describe the other side’s position as “not very liberal” or whatever, and that may be subjective and polemical but it is the stuff of debate in a political party. Similar philosophical/doctrinal/definitional debates go on in the other parties about the meaning of conservatism or social democracy or socialism.

    In my case I would acknowledge that some of my views are not part of the Lib Dem mainstream (which is why I ultimately decided to leave the party) but I do think they are part of the broader liberal tradition and I like to think there is a fair degree of common ground with many Lib Dems. Others will disagree, that’s their prerogative.

    More generally, there is nothing wrong with a “combative style of debating” – for instance I’ve locked horns once or twice with Stuart, who I find debates in this style, but in general I find his arguments stimulating and challenging, so they help to crystallise my own thoughts. That is quite different from the intolerance and personal rancour that some recent exchanges have degenerated into.

  • Nick Collins 25th Apr '15 - 6:31pm

    @ Matt; Congratulations on your valiant attempt to get this thread back on topic. Good luck with keeping it there.

  • @Alex Sabine

    For clarity, when I was using the term ogre like creature, I was trying to be clever and avoid the auto-police by using the word Troll, sorry if i confused the point I was trying to make.

  • @Nick Collins

    lol thanks. Hard work most of the time, but sometimes worth the effort and gets results 😉 though I can not claim to be a saint and have at times been an offender lol

  • David Allen 25th Apr '15 - 7:14pm

    Alex Sabine,

    “People with my sort of views will always be in the minority here and I accept that: they were when I was a party member and they still are. ”

    My perception is that the centrist/right is dominant when it comes to LDV Team articles, whereas the centre/left are probably a majority of the commenters.

    I don’t, frankly, recognise a lot of other people who share your “sort of views”. Whilst you often make a case for prudent economic management, it seems to me that what drives and motivates you is respect for rigorous analysis, rather than the attempt to justify greater inequality which generally underlines true “right-wing” thinking. I find your posts valuable and interesting. I don’t always agree with them, but I don’t find them annoying, because they are not dishonest or slanted.

    In general, I think right-of-centre people argue dishonestly far more often than left-of-centre people – but that’s because to argue for greater kleptocracy can only be done dishonestly! And I don’t think that’s your gig.

  • Denis Mollison 25th Apr '15 - 7:26pm

    @William
    Thanks for getting us back on topic.
    The SNP are also in favour of proportional representation – indeed, of STV as I recall – so ought to be natural allies for this. Indeed, on this occasion they might be those rarest of allies – people benefitting from an unfair system that wish to change it!

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Apr '15 - 8:51pm

    @William Hobhouse – A challenge to LDV Readers

    My first red line has to be a change in leadership. A change to the leadership of this party.

    Having spent the years since his election as the party leader attempting to make us into something somewhere between a Centre party and a continental societally Liberal but economically conservative party … and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no constituency for such a party in British politics. He simply has to go. If he doesn’t many more active ‘walk the streets’ members will leave, and those presently hibernating will not return.

    Vince Cable to again take over as caretaker/acting leader while a leadership election can be arranged. Ideally Vince won’t subsequently stand for the leadership due to the timescale probably required to rebuild the party. The main task for Liberal Democrats in the next parliament must be this rebuilding. If we are not in a much more coherently Liberal position by 2020, there is a serious danger we will cease to exist as a meaningful political force.

    Ideally Labour and SNP will be able to form the coalition leaving us to concentrate on the rebuilding for 2020 and a more level playing field in that election.

    If, against the better judgement of many of us, we do end up in coalition negotiations, then I agree with William’s red line – true PR to which I would add the establishment of regional assemblies across the country.

    This may well require some very unusual bed fellows but if this is our best chance of breaking the old undemocratic order then so be it.

  • stuart moran 25th Apr '15 - 9:21pm

    Can I just add something to this post may 7 scenario – this is based on what the polls are saying. I know there are other possible outcomes but this is one that has potentially important repercussions

    The most likely outcome, in reality, is that Ed Miliband will be elected PM

    He will be elected PM because he will carry a majority of the people who vote for PM, i.e. the MPs. The assumption I make is that under the new FTP law that it will be unlikely, at least at first, that enough will vote for a dissolution

    The MPs supporting Miliband will be Labour, SDLP, Greens and SNP – with possibly some LD support as well

    It is also very possible that the largest individual block of MPs will be from the Conservative Party – I sincerely hope this is not the case but it may be, and the assumption from most commentators is, rather surprisingly looking at the manifestos, that the LD will support a continuation of Cameron as PM

    The worry I have is that the Conservative party and their lapdogs in the undemocratic and oligarch-owned press will try to undermine and question the legitimacy of a Government that will command a majority in the HoC.

    Under our clearly imperfect system any such Government will be legitimate and any attempt to challenge the will of the people as performed by the MPs by the press and other undemocratic organisations supported by the Tories will surely be a disgraceful undermining of our democratic processes.

    I think that this reaction is not a certainty but definitely very possible if the behaviour of the press during this campain is anything to go by

    I just wonder what the LD would do in a situation like this – would you take the Tory side and try to undermine the Government – one that is probably supported by the SNP?

  • Clegg should make the distinction between the number of votes a party receives and the number of MPs it has. Though I feel his job is to get the best policy outcomes for the county and LibDem voters and not to set artificial barriers in his own path.

  • stuart moran 25th Apr '15 - 9:49pm

    Alistair

    I am frequently amazed at how people rewrite our democratic processes to give the result they want. Those that understand how it works grudgingly accepted the coalition as the only response to the make up of the HoC

    MPs are selected by FPTP in a constituency
    MPs vote for a PM and a Program for Government set out by a party leader
    Which is the largest party is irrelevant if the leader does not command a majority of MPs
    The number of votes a party gets has no relevance in our system
    The Government stays in place until 5 years is up, dissolution is granted by MP vote, or there is a lost vote of confidence

    If you do not like it then you can complain and vote for an alternative (I would support it to) but we have what we have. If Clegg chooses by who has the most votes, in a FPTP system, then he is even more ridiculous than I thought. And to be fair he hasn’t said he would do that (unless it allows him to keep Dave as PM of course)

  • Matt “I know Labour are proposing political reform in their manifesto, elected house of lords and reducing the age of voting to 16.
    This would be an ideal opportunity for Liberal Democrats to negotiate with Labour and get STV for local elections and get the public used to the idea before putting it to vote again whether it should be carried over to a General Election.”

    Yes yes and yes! If there are any Lib Dems on here who can influence things, please use the scenario of a hung parliament to make progress on STV, even if it is just the start of a long game. I can’t tell you how depressing it is to live in a safe seat, even though I usually vote for the majority party I still feel affronted that my vote does not really count. We really have to get away from FPTP.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '15 - 10:30pm

    Phyllis, I honestly think a similar result to STV can be achieved by keeping FPTP but increasing the number of constituencies. This would also have the added benefit of reducing MP’s workloads, which desperately needs to happen and current proposals for STV do not deal with that problem (although they could, but at a higher cost).

    What I am trying to say is the way that we count votes is not inherently bad, but the constituency map, perhaps is.

  • stuart moran 25th Apr '15 - 10:36pm

    Eddie

    You are really an original thinker……in a time where people talk of reducing the number of consitutencies you try to argue the opposite

    I am not sure if i agree with you totally but I find it refreshing that some one puts forward a different view.

    I am definitely opposed to reducing the number of constituencies and it could be that increasing the number could help, or we could go for the proportional system. I never understood why the Lib Dems supported a typically poorly thought through proposal from the Tories on reducing the number of constituencies (I am clear that any constitutional idea from the Tories is normally bad as they are there to make sure the country becomes more feudal) without the balance of a more federalised system that you wanted to implement

  • More MP’s !!

    Where are they all going to sit in the HoC? People think there too many now, we do not want more !!

  • @ Rabih Makki
    “I really don’t think there will be a need for a special conference in May”

    I hope you are correct and we go into opposition, but I am surprised you would want that as you have stated being in government is very important for a political party (rephrased).

    @ matt

    I have accepted that STV for the House of Common will not be proposed until after the 2020 election. I am not sure that the majority of people who voted NO in the referendum would have voted yes if only Nick Clegg had been so much better at having the workings of the coalition made fully public (however I like the idea). I am not sure even the majority of Lib Dem voters in 2010 wanted to see how good coalition government would be. However some would have been voting for an end to broken promises and wanted to vote for a party whose MPs they could trust to do what they said they would do.

    You do have a valid point that Nick Clegg is saying he doesn’t believe in plural politics because he hates the idea that either the SNP or UKIP will be able to represent their voters better this time round. He should be grateful that the real extreme parties on the left and right have no chance of getting an MP.

    @ Stephen Hesketh
    “would add the establishment of regional assemblies across the country.”

    The opposite should be a red line – that there should be no English votes for English laws. Scottish MPs don’t make Scottish laws and Welsh MPs don’t govern Wales. Regional Assemblies shouldn’t be imposed there needs to be public support for each new regional assembly.

    I am a little disappointed no one except matt has commented on my three red lines.

  • The question on this site is really about who would support any kind of coalition if the election delivers anything like the predicted setback ? Even supposing that Nick Clegg would do anything to remain in government (though reading between the lines I think the opposite is more the case) he has to persuade both the parliamentary Party and the membership – doesn’t he need a 2/3 vote in favour?

    My other guess is that Nick Clegg will start the process of electing a new leader, by announcing his intention to stand down.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '15 - 10:46pm

    Sorry let me just clarify that STV is not necessarily more expensive than FPTP. I get told off for making overblown criticisms of STV. 🙂

  • Malcolm Todd 25th Apr '15 - 11:13pm

    A number of references above to MPs “voting for the PM”. Simply wrong: the PM is appointed by the Crown on the basis of a belief that they can command a majority in the Commons. That is not a mere technical distinction: having been appointed the PM needs to be ousted, in effect, by a vote of no confidence in the Commons (though the only technical effect of such a vote, under the Fixed Term Parliament Act, is a new election depending on what happens next); I think getting a majority for election in the first place is harder than preventing a majority being constructed against you once you have the position of PM.

  • Malcolm Todd 25th Apr '15 - 11:18pm

    Eddie Sammon
    “Phyllis, I honestly think a similar result to STV can be achieved by keeping FPTP but increasing the number of constituencies.”

    That’s undoubtedly true — at least as far as getting a more proportional overall result is concerned, with less geographically homogeneous representation, though some other drawbacks of FPTP would be unaffected — but it sits oddly with your comment earlier that “PR … might be better than FPTP, but it has drawbacks too. PR would lead to much bigger constituencies or many more politicians.” (emphasis added) If you’re going to, say, triple the number of MPs, then why not do it by increasing the number of MPs from existing constituencies and electing them by STV?

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '15 - 11:28pm

    Hi Malcolm. I just like the simplicity of FPTP. It’s not a red line, I just like it. I just don’t get why so much emphasis is placed on changing it – increasing the number of constituencies and keeping FPTP could work, but it seems that FPTP needs to go no matter what. The electoral reform society calls it the “very worst system” and I just don’t see it.

    Regards

  • @Michael BG

    “I have accepted that STV for the House of Common will not be proposed until after the 2020 election. ”

    I think you are right, there is no chance of STV in the HOC being proposed until after 2020.
    I think that the electorate needs to be eased into this kind of political reform gently. There will be no straight going from FPTP to STV for a general election because the public is now far to suspicious of this for reasons and I do come back to what I have said previously and blame the coalition for the way they operated behind closed doors, the lack of transparency and the rose garden love in. The public has had no way of assessing the influence of the junior party.
    On every policy where there was no coalition agreement we should have seen how the policy developed.
    It should have been clear that Liberal Democrats starting point was (a) The Tories starting point was (b) and through negotiations and disagreements and compromises we arrived at point (c)
    Open and transparent, the kind of politics that was being promised by Nick Clegg. The public would have been able to assess the effectiveness of coalition politics and junior parties.
    Of course it would never have been in Cameron’s or the Tories interests to have this type of Government, because lets face it, they do not want any form of PR or coalition governments, they did not want the electorate to get a taste of what could be achieved and the influence junior parties could have.
    So they would have insisted on complete cabinet responsibility on every issue, there were to be no public disagreements between parties. Nick Clegg went along with this and it ended up being a complete disaster for the party. Nick Clegg should really have been delivering the type of coalition that he promised and selling the idea to the electorate, maybe then the AV would not have been lost.

    Anyway we are now where we are and there is no going back from that so you have to look forward.
    And the way to do that in my opinion is to have clear red lines which are
    (a) STV for local elections. Give the electorate a couple of years of voting in local elections using the STV system and then in 2020 making it a red line issue that their should be a referendum on STV for General elections.
    By this time the electorate would have had a chance to assess the workings in local elections and whether they liked it or not and those parties that really believe in political reform would have a stronger platform from which to talk from.
    (b) an elected house of lords
    (c) reduce the voting age to 16 (which Labour agree with anyway)
    (d)Liberal Democrats should also insist on full control of a couple of departments, either education, home office or Energy.

    I think if Liberal Democrats handled a 2nd coalition more effectively and transparently, they would be in a very strong position to make their arguments for full political reform for the 2020 election.

    That is never going to happen with the Tories though and Nick really should not be turning his back on a coalition with other parties which have a much better chance of delivering it,

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '15 - 11:48pm

    Also, I’ll be super honest – if I had grown up with STV I would probably be saying I liked that one the best. My big point is that I don’t want to throw away good policies for the sake of changing the voting system when I see pros and cons to both. The public might just look at STV, think it is complicated and say no. We could have no gain and had paid time, policies and money for it.

    I say we, I am not a Lib Dem (don’t ask), but I see myself as part of the liberal community.

  • @ matt

    I am not sure that the majority of the public would understand why the Lib Dems wouldn’t go into government over an elected House of Lords, which they may think we no longer support because Nick Clegg has supported a mostly elected House of Lords with the strange idea of limiting those elected to one term.

    Quite a few people say having a few departments we could control completely would be better. I agree with Nick on this one. We are not a one issue party; we have to have a veto on everything the government does and not let the Tories do what they like without our agreement in all the non-Lib Dem departments.

    @ Eddie Sammon
    I had the impression you were a party member as I thought you said you had been out canvassing for the party before the manifesto was published.

    There are no extra costs for candidates or government in using STV except for the counting of votes. At present it is done manually and if STV was counted manually the count will last a lot longer. I can’t image anyone would want to start their count after the polls close. They may just verify the votes and count them in the morning – over the course of the next day. The Lib Dems use a computer programme to count their Federal and English STV polls and this means that the information from the ballot papers has to be entered into a computer. I imagine that it would be possible to scan the voting papers and then let the computer do the allocating. Therefore there would be some increased costs for the government in buying the equipment and scanning the ballot papers.

    The Scots use STV to their local elections.

    If we used STV for local elections I would expect the district elections all to be held in one go. At present my local authority elects by thirds. The advantage of this is we can work a seat over a number of years and if we don’t win this year then we might win next year. Another disadvantage of STV is that wards are likely to be larger. Therefore the larger wards will need larger leaflet runs. If a Local Party doesn’t put out leaflets in every ward then we are not likely to get many votes in the wards that we don’t leaflet and instead of STV increasing our representation it will reduce it. The advantages of STV are that Councils are not likely to elect Councillors all from one party. It is more likely that there will always be some opposition Councillors. I would also hope that STV would mean the end of the Cabinet system in local government. It is more likely that the smaller parties will have some representation. There would be a greater need for Councillors from different political groups to work together. There would be fewer wasted votes.

  • Matt writes:
    > It is my opinion that people were put off the idea of AV because the way in
    > which the coalition government acted behind closed doors…I genuinely
    > believe it was purely down to the fact that people thought coalition politics
    > was going to be transparent

    I would agree that distaste for the current coalition would have been a factor.

    But we can also reflect on the experience from around the world showing that the entrenched parties of power are very good at taking advantage of consultation and review periods to drag down voting reform. It really does appear that winning a referendum on the matter is just plain hard, even if you get the model and the campaign mostly right.

    Michael BG writes:
    > As long as PR for the HoC will only be introduced after a referendum we need
    > to educate the public and so get it for local authorities first.

    Matt writes:
    > This would be an ideal opportunity for Liberal Democrats to negotiate with
    > Labour and get STV for local elections and get the public used to the idea
    > before putting it to vote again whether it should be carried over to a
    > General Election.

    As an isolated measure that would be great. But as a way of building support for STV, it seems to me that it also carries risks.

    It would be a standing invitation to detractors to grab any failing in any local government in the intervening five years and blame it on STV. It would directly reinforce claims that PR results in ‘weird’ candidates getting elected, since some already do at local government level.

    Also, relatively few people vote in local elections and the detailed results of those elections are usually not publicised (let alone explained) in the mainstream media. Many of the people who get used to the idea of STV will in fact just be letting it wash over them or pass them by, and that kind of passive acceptance isn’t great for winning a referendum.

    Or, from a different angle, has exposure to list PR in EU elections significantly raised community appetite for the principle of proportionality?

  • Katie Barron wrote:

    > I don’t like list systems and I prefer one rep per constituency. I think it
    > is more accountable. I think the personal relationship/ emotional link is
    > important…

    Eddie Sammon wrote:

    > I just like the simplicity of FPTP

    Just out of curiosity, Katie and Eddie, what would your gut reactions be to an AMS style system that used open lists for the top up?

    (You would elect a local MP using FPTP on the left side of your ballot paper. On the right, you would select one candidate in a top up list for your preferred party. Each party would be allocated top up seats to bring its total share in line with its percentage of the vote, with those seats being won by the individuals in the party with the highest personal votes.)

    To emphasise, I’m asking about your instinctive responses.

  • Stephen Hesketh 26th Apr '15 - 7:28am

    jedibeeftrix 25th Apr ’15 – 4:50pm
    ” … I’d be curious to know whether I am viewed …”

    Jedi – for my part, option1 : An interested right-wing well-wisher adding an alternative pov (as you consider myself to be).

  • Denis Mollison 26th Apr '15 - 11:12am

    On electoral reform, please can we stop re-inventing the wheel? Our party and its predecessors have been thinking about fair votes for over 100 years, and our settled will is for STV.

    Here is the scheme for Westminster that we got voted on in the Commons in February 2010. It was voted down of course by the two main parties, but supported by other minority MPs, including SNP.

    I agree with commenters above that the best strategy looks to be to go first for STV for local elections. But this could change if a hung parliament gives opportunity for a constitutional convention; that is in Labour’s manifesto, though it would need influence of other parties to widen its scope.

    For those who don’t know how STV elections work in practice, here are the complete details for Scotland in 2012. As to local representation, I like it that I now have 3 councillors of different parties and can therefore choose to go to either a governing or opposition councillor depending on the issue I want to raise.

  • Hello
    I find myself strongly disagreeing with Rabih. But that isn’t enough to just sidestep lib dem voice, just the party while Nick Clegg remains leader.

    Electoral reform shouldn’t be a red line because any change to the voting system should be done on the basis of consensus. To get change on how to elect MP’s, a wider conversation needs to take place on a constitutional settlement that will stuck.

    In the meantime, I would urge the lib dems (in england) to keep electoral reform for local government on the table in the next parliament. That is where turnouts need to reverse their current trend. Too many people think their vote doesn’t count anymore.

  • @Eddie @Jedi
    Now that Nick Clegg has come out and said that any government not including the largest party would not be legitimate, the Lib Dems seem to be led by somebody who believes in the principles of FPTP anyway.

  • Denis Mollison 26th Apr ’15 – 11:12am
    On electoral reform, please can we stop re-inventing the wheel? Our party and its predecessors have been thinking about fair votes for over 100 years, and our settled will is for STV.

    Listen to Denis Mollison, he knows what he’s talking about.

    Listen to the ERS (Electoral Reform Society) they know what they are taking about.

    STV is the best, most democratic system for one hundred and one reasons.

    New systems developed on the back of an envelope by well-meanining amateurs are a distraction in the same way that the AV referendum farce was a distraction.

  • Stephen Hesketh 26th Apr '15 - 2:21pm

    Denis Mollison 26th Apr ’15 – 11:12am
    JohnTilley 26th Apr ’15 – 11:37am

    “On electoral reform, please can we stop re-inventing the wheel? Our party and its predecessors have been thinking about fair votes for over 100 years, and our settled will is for STV.”

    100% with Denis and John.

    Contributors who are (clearly) not sure what STV means could do far worse than visit the Electoral Reform Society website and page on the topic: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/single-transferable-vote

    Larger multi-member constituencies remove the need for more MP’s!

    20% of the vote should result in 20% of the seats. 42-44% of the vote should not result in a crushing landslide victory.

    For the grossly distorting effect of FPTP on democracy and government, please see: http://www.politicsresources.net/area/uk/uktable.htm

    Thank you!

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Apr '15 - 2:23pm

    Ha ha, thanks Stuart Moran! I agree reducing the number of constituencies is a terribly tory idea and we should be against it.

    Michael BG, thanks for some interesting points. I wouldn’t have used the word canvassed, but I was trying to get friends and family to vote Lib Dem. They know I follow politics so they often ask me about these things.

    Hi Adrian, my gut reaction is pretty much indifference. What I wouldn’t want to do is to put a lot of negotiating importance on it.

    Thanks Jedi. I agree, but I also have to ask myself whether I like FPTP because I am not a radical.

    Stuart, I agree. I have no qualms with a government led by the second biggest party. Afterall, Lib Dems were the third biggest…

    When it comes to not re-inventing the wheel, I think it is because I am wondering whether we can produce a better wheel. I will have another look at the proposals, but I want to see very specific proposals – such as how many constituencies and how many politicians.

  • Thanks for taking the time to reply Eddie, (an unusual question, perhaps, but it has helped me to get a better picture of your line of reasoning).

  • Denis Mollison 26th Apr '15 - 4:28pm

    @Eddie” I want to see very specific proposals – such as how many constituencies and how many politicians”
    Please see the very specific proposal link in my last post; this gave a Westminster parliament with constituencies fitted to local government boundaries, and an overall total of around 512 MPs – in line with party policy for a 20% reduction in number.

    What was wrong with the Conservative proposal was not the slight (7%) proposed reduction in numbers, but the equalization of electorate numbers, which is superficially attractive but makes minimal contribution to fairness while wrecking any relation to natural community boundaries – e.g. it forces a Devon/Cornwall constituency. There’s an excellent critique of “equalization” by Lewis Baston – it may be on the ERS site, but if not I can provide a link.

  • Denis Mollison 26th Apr '15 - 4:32pm

    PS Thanks to John and Stephen for their support.

    William – “is there any counter-view within the higher reaches of our party that STV is not our position?”
    Not that I’m aware of, but perhaps not enough appreciation of how the present deadlock between the two main parties may be a short window of opportunity to make progress on this key longterm aim.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Apr '15 - 5:22pm

    Hi Denis. I see your plan. 118 constituencies and 513 MPs. My problem is I don’t see how more proportionality can be achieved with fewer MPs. The threshold for votes must be high in order to get elected?

    I also don’t fully understand the preference voting aspect. Are third and fourth preferences allowed? Or just second?

    Sorry if I sound like to have a big opinion on something I know not much about, but the confusing nature of it is partly what drives my opinion. I’m still open minded.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Apr '15 - 5:26pm

    Katie Barron, you raise a good point on the benefits in accountability of only having one MP per constituency. Us STV sceptics are few and far between in liberal circles, but it is important to have a bit of caution.

    Regards

  • @ Denis Mollison
    “On electoral reform, please can we stop re-inventing the wheel? Our party and its predecessors have been thinking about fair votes for over 100 years, and our settled will is for STV.”

    Do you have any evidence that the Liberal party was thinking about PR before 1922? Our support for STV has been a dogma of our party for a long time. I think this is because we believe incorrectly that we will benefit from it.
    In 2007 the first time STV was used for local elections our vote fell from 14.5% to 12.7% and we had 9 fewer councillors. Of course in 2012 we were down to 6.6% of the vote and 95 fewer councillors (having only 71). It therefore seems that my argument against STV that it reduces the number of Lib Dem councillors might be true.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Apr '15 - 6:04pm

    What people want when they say PR is a party list system. This is the age old complaint “we got x amount of votes but only x amount of seats”. I’ve never heard someone say “I wish I had preferential voting in multi member constituencies”.

    I’m still open minded, but I am frustrated at the way STV is held up like some sort of democratic God to the point where rather than negotiating to protect budgets or reduce taxes we are saying we want STV for local government.

    Regards

  • Denis Mollison 26th Apr '15 - 6:49pm

    @MichaelBG
    Apologies, you’re right: attempts to get STV in the 1880s seem to have been supported as much by Conservatives as by Liberals.
    As to the results of introducing STV in Scotland, this needs more detailed analysis than I can put in a comment. As would have happened under any more or less proportional system, the main effect was to remove some strikingly undemocratic anomalies. For example, Labour had a majority of seats on Edinburgh Council in 2003 on 27% of the vote; the Lib Dems on almost the same vote had half as many seats, while the SNP on 16% had none. The result in 2007 was close to proportional, and on not spectacularly different percentage votes elected a Lib Dem / SNP coalition.

    @Eddie
    Some of your questions – particularly the one about how proportional an election under the STV scheme proposed for Westminster would have been – are answered in the 6-page paper previously linked to. Happy to answer other questions, e.g. about threshold effects, off-LDV – you’ll find my home page and thus email online if you like to.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Apr '15 - 7:16pm

    Thanks Denis. I’ll send you an email. I quite like the idea of closed list PR, so I’m not against change, it just needs to be sold to me.

  • Stephen Hesketh 26th Apr '15 - 7:41pm

    Eddie Sammon 26th Apr ’15 – 6:04pm
    “I’m still open minded, but I am frustrated at the way STV is held up like some sort of democratic God to the point where rather than negotiating to protect budgets or reduce taxes we are saying we want STV for local government. ”

    Eddie, you really do need to follow the links. STV is not a god, it is not supported exclusively or even predominantly by Radical Liberals; it is ‘merely’ the gold standard for democracy as indicated by the work of the Electoral Reform Society.

    You talk about making political decisions regarding budgets and taxes, if the government does not actually reflect the political views of the electorate at that particular election, what legitimacy does it have to take these and other decisions on behalf of the nation?

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Apr '15 - 8:14pm

    Hi Stephen, I’m going to chat with Denis over email before I post any more on the topic. I have reservations, but maybe they will reduce once I am a bit more clear on the specifics of the proposal.

  • ” if the government does not actually reflect the political views of the electorate at that particular election, what legitimacy does it have to take these and other decisions on behalf of the nation?”

    Well actually a UK government elected by FPTP has full democratic legitimacy! because the government has been elected by a system that the electorate has either directly voted for or has expressed a preference for by not voting for a supposedly more democratic system (eg. AV, which the Electoral Reform Society acknowledged would not of returned a vastly different result in 2010 to the one achieved under FPTP).

    I agree with Eddie’s point about getting hung up about electoral reform; I really have to question just what exactly are the core priorities and principles are of the modern LibDem party if the only red lines that can be agreed on are to do with electoral reform; something that will deliver very little change or benefit to the typical voter. I personally, stopped taking William’s article seriously when he mentioned his one and only red line.

    Surely someone has learnt fro 2010 and will keep all talk about electoral reform out of any coalition negotiations.

  • @ Roland
    Did you read my three (four) red lines?

    “300,000 new homes a year by 2020;
    Scraping of the Work Capability Assessment to be replaced with one health assessment linked to the provision of social care and financial support;
    No more than £3bn worth of welfare cuts.

    “Plus if with the Tories reforming the bedroom tax so it only applies to those who have been offered a smaller home and takes into account the needs of disabled people and those who have a temporary need for a spare room (including parents of students and those who need the spare rooms for their children to visit when the parents have separate households).”

    I was hoping that at least some people would have agreed with me.

    Did you see matt’s four red lines?

    I don’t think anyone else has posted their red lines.

  • Denis Mollison 26th Apr '15 - 10:34pm

    @Roland
    I think you underestimate just how much FPTP distorts politics, and diminishes the choice offered to voters – besides which, that choice is only offered to the small minority of swing voters in marginal constituencies.

    Electoral reform is the most difficult of all political aims, because those in power will always be those who benefit from the existing system. If we have an opportunity now we must seize it.

  • @ jedi
    I see you as (1), an interested right-wing well-wisher offering an alternative point of view. Actually I don’t regard you as that right-wing – your comments show a sense of proportion, a respect for evidence and a faith in the basic good sense of voters that marks you out as a classic Burkean centre-right pragmatist in the best sense. Unfortunately these qualities seem to have become quite unfashionable nowadays in the more atavistic right-wing circles (see the comments sections of some high-profile websites…). There is an important role in politics for this kind of approach as a counter-balance to those of us who are are perhaps more susceptible to ideas/ideals/theories of one flavour or another. I also appreciate your expertise on matters of defence and national security, which is educational for me.

    @ matt
    Sorry I misunderstood your ‘ogre like creature’ reference, I was a bit slow off the mark there!

  • @ Michael BG
    Apologies, I overlooked your comment yesterday asking me to explain why I left the Lib Dems. I don’t want to drag this thread back off-topic now that it has got back to the substantive issues raised by William’s article – so I will keep this as concise as I can, with apologies to other commenters for the detour.

    I was definitely on the ‘right’ of the party insofar as that is a shorthand for economic liberalism – although I don’t feel my support for things like free trade, competition rather than monopoly, open markets, choice in public services, free movement of labour as well as goods and capital, disengagement from corporatist industrial policies that systematically favour big business and insiders over small businesses, a less restrictive and perverse planning system and a shift in the burden of taxation from income and capital accumulation to land values and economic rents, tax simplification to eliminate loopholes at source etc should be seen as synonymous with right-wing…but there we are.

    Basically I came to the conclusion that my views on a number of important subjects, especially economic policy, taxation/tax reform, public spending, public service reform and the EU were out of step with mainstream party opinion. I could try to persuade people of the merits of my views but, having been a party member for several years and debated with people in forums like LDV over that period, and having formed a clearer sense of the climate of opinion among the parliamentary party and leading figures, I didn’t fancy my chances.

    I concluded it would be presumptuous and unreasonable to expect the party to dance to my tunes rather than those that commanded wider or majority support (and that, in truth, were probably closer to the aims and policy orientation suggested by the Preamble to the Lib Dem constitution, although of course there is room for differences of interpretation). Therefore, with regret, I allowed my membership to lapse early in this parliament (I can’t remember exactly when).

    If you’re interested, I explained my reasons in greater detail – and recalled an early chance encounter with Nick Clegg – in another thread:
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/norman-lamb-quizzed-on-leadership-ambitions-by-independent-on-sunday-44917.html
    10th March @ 2.52am, 4.08am, 4.56am

    I’m not attracted by any other party and am still making my mind up who to vote for in this election. I am leaning slightly towards the Lib Dems faute de mieux, but there is then the question of tactical voting because unfortunately my seat is a straight Tory/Labour contest. If the coalition were on the ballot paper I would, with some reservations, vote for that; but obviously that isn’t the case so I am left with a dilemma.

    Relating this personal conundrum back to the issues discussed above, I have become a convert to the need for electoral reform and I favour STV as the least-worst system. I agree with Eddie that there are drawbacks to all voting systems and STV is far from being a panacea. But I think FPTP looks increasingly unable to deliver even those advantages – a clear outcome, a stable majority government, and accountability for manifesto commitments – that once counted in its favour against the obvious downside of disproportionality.

    If the composition of a government and the content of a government programme are now, by necessity, to be decided by horse-trading in the days after the voters have cast their ballots, and perhaps on an ongoing basis according to shifting alliances throughout the lifetime of a parliament, then it is better that the hands dealt to the various power-brokers should broadly reflect their shares of the popular vote. In an era of multi-party, multi-dimensional politics, FPTP increasingly strikes me as trying to force a square peg into a round hole. I would say it was no longer ‘fit for purpose’ if I didn’t recoil at the sheer ugliness of that glib expression…

  • @ Alex Sabine
    Thank you for answering my question and posting the link to your reasons in greater detail. I read more than just the three comments you pointed out. I think your liberalism shines out from what you wrote in March.

  • @Michael BG – re ‘red lines’.

    To me the real question this time around, given the FTPA and the direction of travel towards minority governments, is how confident are we in being able to operate in and influence other MPs in this environment?

    So to me any alliance/coalition agreement should only really cover what is necessary to guarantee our support, which to me seems to be more about the principles, vision, values and objectives of the governing alliance/coalition, than specific policies. Given this is effectively what we do when setting up an industry coalition/alliance.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Apr '15 - 11:23pm

    Pete Salmond, you have strong words about anyone who likes the current FPTP system, so you might want to consider these points:

    1. How is a big constituency with more MPs more proportional than a small constituency with one MP?
    2. Some people like simplicity and don’t like preferential voting.
    3. Some people see more important reforms to be made – such as replacing the Lords with a Senate.

    Best regards

  • @Eddie Salmon go and look at the results of the two oxford seats in 2010 and work out who the mps would have been in a combined constituency

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Apr '15 - 11:41pm

    In fact I quite like the closed party list system we have in Britain for EU elections. I much prefer this to STV.

  • ES: “2. Some people like simplicity and don’t like preferential voting.”

    Surely the simplest thing for a voter is the ability to vote for the person one thinks is the best candidate and be sure that it will have an effect.

    The present system, with its tactical voting and squeezing and so forth is anything but simple. The main reason Liberal Democrats (or rather their Liberal precursors) got behind STV (quite aside from theoretical considerations) was that too many people were saying “I like what the Liberals stand for but they haven’t got a chance, have they?” The point is that one’s vote should always count.

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Apr '15 - 12:43am

    Hi David-1, I just don’t really like it, but I don’t want to keep going around in circles so we’ll have to discuss it another time. I’ll keep listening to what people have to say on the matter though.

  • @Rabih Makki
    I agree with much of what you said, especially about the leader of the LibDems, Nick Clegg, I wish we had more politicians of his ilk.
    Don’t allow those who rail against you bother you too much. There are some who seem to enjoy personal attacks rather than sticking to the exploration or the issues raised by the initial author.
    After saying that our right to free speech means everyone has the right to express themselves as they see fit, even if what they say (unfortunately, with some exceptions) makes little sense and causes offence.
    We have the right to respond in kind – or not.

  • @ Roland
    “which to me seems to be more about the principles, vision, values and objectives of the governing alliance/coalition, than specific policies.”

    I am not sure that the three things I have as red lines could be included in any woolly agreement that only talked about principles, vision, values and objectives.

    This government has said it will protect the vulnerable, but it hasn’t stopped it apply sanctions to those with mental health issues and having Work Capability Assessments that are not fit for purpose. It talks about building more houses but hasn’t a target as I would like to see. What principles would you set out to ensure that only £3bn was cut from the Welfare?

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