Opinion: A Letter to Nick Clegg

Dear Nick,

Don’t give away the family silver. Since the formation of the Liberal Party all those years ago, we’ve campaigned for massive overhaul and clear change to the way in which are governments are appointed. Throughout a raft of changes in policy on education, defence, welfare and the economy, the one steadfast within the party has always been that with a quarter of the votes returning ten percent of the seats, the election system in our country simply does not work.

To discuss the notion of a coalition government with the Conservative Party, a party at whose core lies the belief that the way we’ve done things is the way that we’ll continue to do things, is to destroy the first and probably last chance that we as Liberal Democrats will ever have to bring about a proportionally accurate, representative electoral system. We owe it not just to those 23% of the LibDem voting electorate whose voices are hushed in Parliament, but moreover to the 12% of voters voting for none of the big three to use this “mandate of cooperation” to engender a politics of representation that does not hinge on geographical boundaries and two and a half choices.

David Cameron has offered an adjustment of his party’s policy to make it more palatable to our party, a hint of sugar in his economy collapsing, society breaking medicine. Whether we agree within the party on these new conservative democrat policy points or whether we believe they don’t cut far enough into Trident, European cohesion and fairer taxation is a moot point. These are not the minutes for negotiating the tiny ways we can attempt to cushion a Conservative disaster government but rather this is our hour for enfranchising our population, so that we can have these discussions in the future.

Nick, think of it in terms of the way that you put forward the issue of renewing Trident. You told the electorate that the parties will inevitably have different views on the nuclear deterrent but the point was not the policy differences but rather the fundamental truth that we can’t afford to have this conversation now. The parallels are plain to see. We can no longer afford to discuss the concept of electoral reform, not when it’s on the table and demanded by the majority of the electorate. We can longer afford to be the possibility party of potential change when Westminster is broken and the electorate have demanded complete reform. For not one minute longer can 23% of our national electorate be given a disproportionate voice in our nations decisions on the basis of geography, not when the cracks in the Westminster system have become vast chasms of public disgust.

As you’ve rightly said Nick, under this system the Tories should have the first crack at forming government but if, as we can surely imagine they will, they refuse a referendum in exchange for a few cabinet posts, some minor policy change and a Conservative majority in the next General Election a year from now then you must say no. You must go to Gordon Brown and you must demand above all else the referendum that our nation so desperately needs and so loudly demands.

A LibLab coalition would represent 52% (an unheard of majority) of a population that knew at voting time that a coalition government was possible. You will have a mandate. Some will argue that they voted out Brown, but it won’t be the 29% of Labour voters that voted him back and it definitely won’t be the 23% of Liberal voters or the 12% that tick “Others” that so desperately want their voices to be heard, it’ll be Tories who have benefited from a fraudulent, disenfranchising system all these years.

Be brave Nick, this is our only chance.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • catherine heron 8th May '10 - 4:02pm

    Nothing short of PR will do! Go Nick!!!

  • Steve Trowbridge 8th May '10 - 4:11pm

    At the first time of asking the Lib Dems have choosen to put themselves before the country. Perhaps after a year in Government to show that they could be trusted we would have been considered PR. Not now. How right the population are to distrust them. They are no better than the rest.

    a plague on your house

    Steve T

  • Don’t sell out clegg, you are going to lose alot of support and all respect, do what’s in the best interest of the voters, not yourself. We all have to work with people we dont like sometimes, when working for people, if were doing our job right its about getting it right as a job and for those people-not necessarily for our own personal gain. Your policies are so far removed from conservatives it seems ridiculous that you are even considering this coalition with the conservatives rather than labour. We are going to have a very angry country if this happens. I’ve always voted labour, but nearly voted lib dems this time around, I agree with your policies as much as many of browns, its only due to the recession that i thought bringing in a new party at this crisis point was a bad idea, as Im sure many people may have thought. But this may of changed in the future, and there could of been a real chance for lib dems to get in, in the next general elections. If this turns out the way its looking right now, I certainly won’t even consider voting lib dems in the future. Im shocked by how all this is turning out!

  • Steve T – I think you’re at the wrong place for your childish ConservativeHome propaganda post.

    I agree with Ben. PR is the *first* point of call, not something to be discussed later. Those who argue that the ‘national’ interest does not involve a fair electoral system have their priorities confused. We can never recover from the situation we are in without knowing that our Parliamentary decision-making body is legitimate, and that the rightful choice of the electors is represented in the Commons.

  • Afterthought 8th May '10 - 4:30pm

    If the Conservatives want a minority government in exchange for True PR and a fixed interval election system, so be it. Who cares who the faces are. It is the structure of government that matters, and derivatively, the policies.

    A minority Conservative government would have all the headaches of trying to pass bills with only 309 votes; in other words, it would be neutered n terms of policy. A minority Tory government would surely be wiped out in the next election as the public anger for bad government transferred from Labour to them.

    The alternative must be made clear to the Tories: PR anyway (via a rainbow coalition), fixed interval elections anyway.

    In that case, the choice for the Conservatives would be of the following: 1) graciously governing with lib dem support, which would be a chance to gain in popularity for a job well done 2) lob bombs at a progressive coalition and hope it fails, so that a right coalition could gain a majority in the subsequent election, 3) or third, a bona fide government of unity where some of the better and more popular ideas from all parties could be implemented while at the same time rectitude is restored to the UK finances.

    #1 and #3 are probably not genetically possible for Tories. In any event, Cameron lost the plot when he didn’t put True PR on the table from the beginning. That truly would have been an offer the Lib Dems could not refuse.

  • Sam Cattell 8th May '10 - 4:36pm

    PR or Nothing at all. If you give in to the Tory press pressure, you will lose respect from some of your closest supporters here in West Yorkshire. We’re counting on you Nick. No pressure…

  • Terry Gilbert 8th May '10 - 4:46pm

    The Tories won’t accept PR for the Commons (many of them depend on FPTP for their safe seats), but they might for the New ‘Lords’, as I’ve argued (cogently, according to one comment) on this site today. (Though admittedly I was also accused of ‘arrogant twaddle’ by an irate Tory called ‘badger’!)

  • Maybe Nick is one step ahead and has foreseen talks breaking down with the Tory party for the numerous reasons that separate the parties. He’s cleverly asked those petitioning outside his Smith Square meeting to go to other areas and spread the word of their campaign to get them to disperse and head to the Tory talks and let them continue with talks in peace. Maybe he had a gut feeling that Labour MPs would creep out of the woodwork to call for Gordon’s resignation as Leader of the Labour party. Maybe once talks are seen to have done their best by his party and him yet broken down with the Tories then he can return to Labour with a new leader asking if they will maintain Gordon’s promise on immediate electoral reform and get PR without the stale hurdle for progress that is seen by his own cabinet as Gordon Brown and alongside a new openminded pro change and progress Labour leader. This is naturally purely speculation.

  • Dave NinetyNine 8th May '10 - 5:05pm

    If Clegg and the upper echelons of the Lib-Dem party surrender a cast iron guarantee of PR in order to avoid Murdoch’s press berating them for talking to Labour, or in order to get Tory cabinet posts, their core voters will desert them for a generation and cast the Liberal party to the winds.

    Do the right thing Clegg and get on the phone to Downing Street to talk to the party that have already offered us PR.

  • If LD MPs do not ensure that we get PR out of this we will end up with 2 terms of conservative rule and no chance of PR for another generation. The minor parties will all support an alliance with labour. Do not allow personal dislike of GB to cause the loss of this fantastic opportunity.

  • I gave the liberals my vote because they said a vote for the lib dems was a vote for them. Please don’t sell out to the Conservatives. To do so is not only to doom the country but will ensure people like me never trust the lib dems again. How short are your memories? Are you really going to sell out your principles, the public sector and millions of ordinary people for a slice of power?

  • This is our only chance to get a FAIR VOTING SYSTEM. PLEASE Nick don’t let us down!

  • Clegg won’t get the electoral reform he’s looking for from either of these two parties… much better to stay independent and side with either party based on each individual bill during the tenure of a minority Conservative goverment…

    Labour would eat him alive in a formal coalition… and the media would tear him to bits as Labour’s poodle…

    Clegg will be under incredible pressure to declare for one of them, but it’s not upto him, it’s upto them… he must continue to walk the tight rope between them… this is his moment to prove what he’s made of…

  • Before we all get upset please just think about the alternative
    1. We go in with Labour, the government falls before a referendum on PR (not impossible given the current political/economic situation. We are tarnished with the Labour brand and potentially get wiped out at the election.
    2. We have a referendum on PR and….I know this is unthinkable but go with me….. we lose. How could this happen? We have a right wing press and if the perception comes about that PR is an attempt by Labour (already unpopular and could become more so) to retain power then it is not impossible. We end up in an election….see option 1
    Nick Clegg has a tough choice but if he can win enough concessions from the Tories we could end up with a chance to change Britain and actually get some of our policies implemented. I know the thought offends a lot of people and I would not be Nick Clegg right now. He is being touted as a ‘kingmaker’ but looking at it another way this country is inb for a rough time and consideration must be given to the possibility of the wrong choice causing Liberal Democrats real damage in the future.

  • Anyone who voted for the LibDems on Thursday knew that this election outcome was a possibility – maybe even a probability. They also voted for the LibDems knowing that Nick Clegg had pretty much ruled out working with Gordon Brown and seemed more likely to do a deal with the Conservatives.

    Perhaps that was the reason that some decided to back Labour after all – we don’t know.

    However, what is also true is that the electorate gave the LibDems no big gains because of the surge – either in terms of seats or vote share, despite a clear focus on PR as a differentiating policy. This could be interpreted that the general population do not think of PR / electoral reform as their #1 issue.

    The unpalatable fact may be that the mass of new voters opted for the LDs because they liked Clegg personally, or because of Cable, or tax or various other things, rather than *specifically* for the popular but traditionalist grass-roots PR policy.

    *If* that is true, then the LDs are right to prioritise other things above PR in pursuing a deal. Because if it is a deal-breaker, then it breaks a deal that could otherwise deliver things which perhaps should be priorities instead.

    (Disclose: I’m a Conservative voter, although very much on a “best of a bad bunch” basis)

  • Quote from this article:

    “Some will argue that they voted out Brown, but it won’t be the 29% of Labour voters that voted him back and it definitely won’t be the 23% of Liberal voters or the 12% that tick “Others” that so desperately want their voices to be heard”

    I could not disagree more. I voted lib dem, I did not vote Labour. The lib dems represent a philosophy that does not correlate with either Labour or the Conservatives, however at this time it still comes closer to what the Conservatives represent than Labour.

    Labour have been responsible for the most reprehensible violations of civil rights in this country for generations. They have trampled upon the freedoms of this country like some Orwellian monster. They are responsible for war crimes and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. How can anyone support these vile, lying, corrupt psychopaths? How can any of you wish to assist back into power a man who has never been elected and is despised by most of the country?

    A lab/lib coalition would represent a gross violation of democracy for this country.

  • @ Philip
    Thats not a popular view with everyone on this site but i am inclined to agree with you.

  • Philip & Helen……I also agree 100%, most people on this and other forums are activists, most blindly and quite wrongly think that Labour is some kind of progressive centre left party….as Philip alluded to are you all mad??!

    I listed same as you a list of the disgraceful wilting away of our civil liberties that not even a Tory government(not even Thatcher) would dare do in the name of “security”….. however it is simply that they are control freak socialist to their soul and why any true Liberal would want anything to do with the Labour party is beyond me.

    Just because people perceive Labour as still being centre left(have any of you actual read their manifesto….please show me the “progressive” bits of it??) does not make it so, just because that’s how it used to be does not mean it is any-more. How on earth can any party with such a disregard for any civil rights be seen as progressive and “less vile” than the Tories?

    We need to drop our almost inherit hate-distrust of the Tories and open our eyes to just what a disgrace Labour are, lets deal with what Labour has passed as law the past 13 years and not what the Tories did over 14 years ago….basically lets get a grip of ourselves and stop whining like spoilt kids that only the Tories are the “badies”…excuse my French but that’s utter horse shit, and some people need to grow up from the university debating society when some of this may have got a few cheap claps.

    Those on the left of our own party still hanker for the SDP and thus think their views are the only ones that can possibly be representative of the wider party or those that voted for us…..I would ask them to take a closer look at the breakdown of our polling numbers….YOU might be centre left but those that vote Lid Dem are split 50/50 left/right at best. You are living in the past if you think anything else, you are deluded and frankly you are holding the party back.

    The Liberal wing on the party be in centre or centre right(represented by the Orange bookers that now quite clearly control the party at the top end) have gone past this silly left wing aspirations long ago.
    As Blair said to his lot in 1995 change or die….so get on board with Nick or go back to what many of you seem to hanker for and the Labour party……I believe there were some life jackets on the Titanic….good luck!

  • P. kavanagh 8th May '10 - 6:42pm

    I am a 48 year old man, who until this election, had always voted Labour. I cannot believe that myself and all those other people, both young and old, who Nick Clegg convinced to take part in this election, some, first time voters, others people like myself looking for a new political home, actually voted Tory. What a betrayal.

  • ‘Afterthought’ is completely right. It must be made clear to the Tories that their choice is either PR with them as the minority Government or PR by a coalition with them left out in the cold. That should bring them to their senses.

  • P.Kavanagh…..I am sure their are Tories thinking the same that voted Lib Dem….what on earth would you have Nick do? Ignore Cameron? even Labour concede that Nick has the right to talk to him first.

    We all do need to grow up from this hurt feelings syndrome….in all but 3 countries of Europe(UK included) people know that they vote for a party but make get 2-3 in power sharing…do they cry, do they come over all hurt and betrayed….or do they act like adults and think pragmatically that in life you rarely if EVER get exactly 100% what you want.

    We except compromise in every other walk of life, we accept we need to work with others every day or we could not function….but then in our politics(and mostly from people who call themselves progressive!) we are the most narrow minded & frankly pathetic people you could find…basically we return to being tribal at a time when the country needs everyone pulling together.

    Please can everyone grow a pair, get a grip, stop whining like my children and accept this is the best chance for us to get any kind of PR and a share of power….or we could just stand on the sidelines like spoilt kids(and our oh so lofty principles) and watch the others play…..as we have done for over 80 years!!

    By the way P.kavanagh who told you the Lib Dems are here to replace Labour or the Tories…we are who we are…we are not here for people such as yourselves to take solitude and then bitch we were not what YOU thought…that is what I call ungrateful.

  • Andrew Suffield 8th May '10 - 7:16pm

    I’m sticking to something very simple: Lib Dem support should go to whoever is willing to fully support electoral reform (not just allow a referendum then campaign against it).

    And I’m reasonably confident that Clegg is not some kind of insane power-hungry appeaser, as some commenters have suggested in the past few days, and is going to hold out for more or less exactly that. There’s going to be another election in a year or two, and it must be a fair election. We can’t have another one like this.

  • I, as another first time Lib Dem voter, always Labour before, am frankly annoyed that Nick Clegg wants to help the Tories.
    In my area Labour do not stand a chance so the two main parties fight it out. I voted Lib Dem to hopefully stop the Tory candidate getting in. It was looking good in this area but surprisingly the Tory candidate won.
    Having spoken to other people in the area they are also annoyed what is happening and like me feel that a Lib/Lab pact would be more sensible.

  • Ben Stephenson 8th May '10 - 7:20pm

    Phillip, I don’t mean to deteriorate these comments into an argument but I feel since I wrote the article that you, fairly at points, disagree with so fundamentally, I owe some kind of defence and direct response to you.

    I couldn’t agree with you more that at the heart of a large amount of Labour policy over the past 13 years has been legislation which has infringed civil liberties; I.D. Card legislation, a massive increase in the number of CCTV cameras and an despicable attempt to keep suspects locked up for 90 days without trial all in the name of some fictitious national security. I also see your point, to an extent, that our core beliefs and philosophies don’t align themselves with either the Conservative or the Labour Party.

    However, I think that you’re response is in line with the central theme of the article. This is the idea that attempting to use a coalition to wrestle any sort of meaningful policy change would be neither effective nor desirable. The point is that this election has shown that under the present electoral system, our beliefs and those of millions of people in this country will never be effectively debated, legislated for or considered. We should use this once in a generation opportunity to influence the current “main parties” in order to bring about a proper representation. I agree that our collective ideologies (although I’d argue that we are closer to Labour than you give credit) are too divergent to achieve any sort of meaningful collaborative policy, the point is the coalition could be our means to a representative end.

    This argument of party policy and to what extent we can form a coalition on that basis is one to be had when we have a system that allows Liberal Democrat views to be properly debated in the House of Commons, not just on blogs.

  • Labour are offering a genuine chance at PR, Conservatives are not going to do so, the choice is clear. It may be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

  • Chris Mills 8th May '10 - 7:49pm

    Nick is a Liberal Democrat at heart. He’s talking now, nothing more. He’s doing his duty in the national interest. There’s no deal on the table yet. He talks about open politics. He means it. He needs the backing of both the FE of the party (as a member it’s my party) and the parliamentary party. The deal depends on the party, not on the leader. Nick is talking, he will bring back the offer (if he thinks it’s ok), the party then decides whether it’s ok or not. Unlike Labour and the Tories, we are the party of real change.

    We’re not going to settle for second best. Nick is talking to them first because they are the party with the biggest share of the vote per party (the same as we would under PR). I joined the Liberal Democrats because I believe in them. Nothing has changed that. Every election, our share of the vote is growing. With PR, we’d have a quarter of the seats. This is why I believe Nick and the rest of the party will put this first.

  • I’m glad to see there are others that agree with me. I was beginning to think most liberal supporters weren’t really what I thought they were.

    Big Mak: I think you’re totally right. This view that Labour are somehow progressive is very old fashioned, and just simply is not true anymore. The Tories, once the archetypal face of British elitism, have defiantly softened. They are not the party they used to be, just as Labour are not the party they used to be. There are many proposals in the Conservative manifesto regarding civil rights that share common ground with the Lib Dem manifesto. Labour don’t even mention such things (and rightly so, on their part, for to do so would be hypocrisy beyond measure.) Nick Clegg himself expressed his disgust at Labour’s total lack of regard for civil liberties.

    Can Labour even be described as “leftist” anymore? I’m not really sure what to call them. Maybe just “fascists” will do!

    Ben: Thanks for your response. I understand what you’re saying, but it strikes me that if this deal were to be reached with Labour it would be like making a deal with the Devil. And the Devil will always squirm his way out of a deal! It seems dangerous and even hypocritical to trust Labour, a party that has demonstrated time and time again that it has no qualms about deception and manipulation to retain its power. The very fact that Gordon Brown has not made mention of stepping down as prime minister should be enough to set off warning alarms. He has lost the election. The majority of people have said they do not want him anymore, and yet still he clings to power in the only way a parasite knows how.

    Though PR or some kind of electoral reform is essential for the future of this country, I fear that a pact with Labour is a price too high to pay. I hope the Conservatives offer a good deal.

  • Not sure about that, Cons will not offer PR, any other deal will push away supporters, I think Labour can win the next election outright, Economy will be back in recession pronto with Cons at the helm.

  • To be brief on the current issues:

    A coalition with Labour is better for the country as a whole (and the financial markets) and keeping Gordon Brown is key in terms of stability. This is the best option but it will obviously need the smaller parties to assist in order to give a majority.

    Nick needs to be tough with GB, and negotiating with Cameron was a good move to give leverage on GB, however a coalition with the Tories will never work. The core policies are too far apart.

    If coalition with GB/Labour there is minimum of: (Chris Huhne: Home Secretary, Vince Cable: Chancellor)

    If there was a coalition with the Tories, Cameron will agree to things in principle but will not carry them out. The likes of Liam Fox and George Osbourne hold the Libdems in complete contempt, and the Tories will treat the Libdems as an inconvenience rather than an effective partner. It will be a disaster for the Party and the country.

    And we know the Tories will never give us full PR but will probably have an inquiry not leading to anything. The Tories do not want PR; as they know it will dramatically increase our seats and reduce theirs if there is another quick election.

    Hope it all goes well as we are all very fearful of a Tory alliance, after a bit of a disaster in our own election polls.

  • Roy Douglas 8th May '10 - 9:57pm

    Nick Clegg holds the future of the Party & progressive politics in his hands. He could form a rainbow progressive alliance committed to electoral reform, fairness and a Government of the whole nation. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Any arrangement with the Tories would be a complete betrayal and would mark Nick Clegg down in history as the man who blew the moment. Take the wrong decision and the Lib ems will end up as an irrelevance.

  • Roy Douglas 8th May '10 - 9:59pm

    An open letter sent to Nick Clegg and all MP’s on Friday:

    Dear Nick and friends,

    We all feel a tremendous sense of disappointment about last night’s results. We’re bound to feel deflated and, yes, a bit defeated. So much seemed to be possible but, though our vote share has increased since 2005, we have less MP’s.

    But we must not let that disappointment blind us to the historic, and probably, unique position we find ourselves in. The fact is we do all but hold the balance of power and we must not squander that opportunity nor fail to recognise that we achieved 23% of the vote. If we don’t use the opportunity we now have really to effect change, it will not only never reoccur but we could see the Lib Dems gradually dying as a political force.

    There must be absolutely no question of entering into any sort of coalition or arrangement with the Tories. We are a progressive party and have virtually nothing in common with the Tories. They will never agree to fair taxes, a fundamental reform of the political system, a sensible relationship with Europe, deferring cuts for this year, etc. What Cameron has offered is, frankly, nothing. Any agreement with the Tories would be a betrayal of what we have fought for and would lead to the eventual collapse of support for the party (not least from me).

    So talk with the Tories but realise that, for all the reasons Nick made clear in the campaign, any sort of deal is impossible. The values of the 2 parties are just too different.

    Then talk to Labour. It is clear that the Labour Party is ready to concede many Lib Dem demands, not least as regards electoral reform (we need to agree on AV+ as per the Jenkins commission). Both parties want to avoid a double-dip depression, both parties believe in public services, both parties believe in fairness – and Labour must recognise the Liberal tradition that permeates our politics. Of course, there are difficulties. Gordon Brown is not popular. But 52% of people voted Labour/Lib Dem – a clear majority which would give any new Government real democratic credibility. Probably, we could not avoid GB remaining as PM, but Nick could become deputy PM with particular responsibility for domestic policy and Vince Cable could become Chancellor (perhaps jointly with Alastair Darling?). We could bring in Caroline Lucas by offering her a Govt post in environment and we would end up with 316 MP’s – 1 more than the Tories & the DUP. OK, short of 326 but Sinn Fein don’t take their seats – and would the SNP & PC bring down the Government?

    This could mean we have a new, stable and radical progressive Government that would have the support of most who voted Lab/Lib Dem. If we in any way help the Tories, our support would haemorrhage. We have the chance to effect change, despite our disappointment. We must not let media pundits, commentators, and the markets pressurise us into sacrificing what we are about in the alleged ‘interests of the country.’

  • It was noticeable that in addressing the demonstration Nick Clegg spoke only of political reform rather than electoral reform. If the Lib Dems now align with the Tories for a mere promise of having fewer MPs and a few Cabinet posts the party will be finished.

  • Tony Butcher 8th May '10 - 10:33pm

    Lib Dems should embrace this opportunity and Pushing for Proportional Representation now could be bad for Lib Dems a blog: http://wp.me/pRHY4-C

  • I haven’t voted Lib Dem in the past (sorry !) but I did this time because it’s screamingly obvious that it’s time for change… fundamental change including PR to curb union and business vested interests.

    This is a perfect storm to make that change happen. If I were writing my own open letter to Nick Clegg, I’d say, ‘Countries can do more than one thing at a time so ignore all the nonsense about economic and voting reform being mutually exclusive. Do the deal with Labour under a new leader. The forces of hell (i.e. right wing press) will be unleashed on you, but you wanted power. You have it; now use it.”

  • Ok enough!!!!!

    Please, please someone of you moaning “progressives” please enlighten me & others on the points that Labour, or SNP or Plaid(for the love of God have you heard them speak!!) are progressive in any way, shape or form.

    Come on I dare you, I double dare you to set out exactly what Labour in 13 years has done that’s so bloody progressive, that so made my life and that of others seem so much better…..and if so why the hell did they not sweep back in to power on Friday?

    Let me take a punt on this…..because they are about as progressive as the Catholic Church, Taliban and Fox News rolled in to one!!!
    Now granted this does not mean the Tories and better(nor worse to date) but please stop this bullshit of seeing a link up with Labour or any other small time left wing nut job(you think SNP & Plaid are taken seriously even in their own countries?!) as the silver bullet to this situation.

    If from what I read above and other forums is true you would think that Labour are the saviours of the country not the party that has f*cked this country for a generation, and many of you STILL want to get in to bed with them because of your own chip on your shoulders about the Tories.

    Grow up people, neither party are great to link up with, but this banging on about Labour this, Labour that, better for “us” is just turning my stomach.
    Look at the BBC website and share of the vote anywhere south of the Watford Gap(that would be where 70% of people live and 80% of the money made) and you would see the Lib Dems second to the Tories in vote share.
    North of that we are third, in every region bar Scotland we are a third by a long way.

    So you would rather us cosy up to Labour who just by seeing how people voted in the most populace regions of the country put them third behind us instead of the Tories?
    Lets make sense of that, if you are in the north you voted Labour, Tory, Lib Dem thats how much they believe in the party, in the south its Tory, Lid Dem and a distant third Labour…..but you think most people in England(I am sure the Scots & Welsh will be unhappy whatever happens) want us to shack up with Labour, on what basis??

    The votes simply do not show that in any way, that most of you are commenting on this with personal & quite physiologically worrying hatred toward the Tories does not mean that going with Labour IS the better course of action.
    I am no lover of the Tories at all, I lived through Thatcher and I fought Tories all my life, but I will put that aside for the bigger picture.
    This narrow minded, one eyed talk is just pathetic and heaps more pressure on Nick and his team, What makes any of you think you could do better and get a better deal than Nick might.

    I often shout at the TV at footballers but lets face it if I could do a better job I would be playing and not watching. I would ask many of you to think about that, its all well and good shouting from the sidelines but it does not make you right.
    Give Nick a chance, stop the nonsense talk of “I will never vote Lib Dem again” its beyond childish, it makes want to slap you(literally), get a grip, and stop bitching until you get the fall facts of the deal, this is the closest we have been to power for nearly 100 years….if your not happy pick up your ball and go play with the boys from Labour….they say losers stick together!

    …..and seriously lets have that list of progressive Labour policies, really I would love to see it.

  • Chris Paul…..what is a “progressive reforming coalition”? Who is it, where has it been and why has it all of a sudden sprung up??

    Sorry people but I just don’t get it, Labour are not unless the last 13 years has been a bad dream progressive….regressive yes, but not progressive.

    If you are simply saying that anything that does not include the Tories is progressive then that is feeble beyond belief, because if labour are only going to find their progressive soul after 13 years and being given a good electoral kicking then its hardly a Lazarus type conversion.

    Remember they stitched us on PR in 97, Brown insists on never calling us Liberal Democrats but Liberals(not the end of the world, but just plain rude)….why do so many people have so much time for Labour???

    Again please prove to me how they have been or have set out to be progressive….let me get started:

    ID Cards
    Detention without charge(even 40 days is to much, 1-2 days max in most democratic countries)
    Keeping DNA of innocent/people not charged with any offensive
    Trial without Jury
    Keeping Trident
    Section 44 or 45(I forget) of the disgraceful terrorism act
    More CCTV(but not less crime) than any other country in the world
    1 illegal war
    1 war that seems to have no end or aim
    No change to voting/reform of voting
    Still an unelected House of Lords
    A huge public sector that is OVER funded but UNDER performing
    Lottery on health care
    Lottery on schooling
    Tax rises that hit everyone, even those on average salaries

    …..I could go on but I’m feeling rather quizzy just looking at that list. Now if the above represents progressive then frankly you can stick it!

    If all people can come back with is Tax credits, minimum wage or getting waiting list down then don’t waste your breath as these are not progressive but fiddling round the edges(tax credit system is abused, min wage is too low and ignored and waiting list and hit & miss depending on where you live)

    So is Polly Toynbee out there…..after 13 years , what has progressed…why do I not feel that my life is any better and why are more people(including me) wanting to leave the country?

    If that’s the party you guys want to snuggle up with I would get back on the pills and quick.
    The Tories may not be better but at least they have not cocked up the last 13 years with a fantasy that all that is centre left can only do good for the people….bollocks!!

  • Those on the left who accuse us of betrayal need to realise that it was the Liberal Democrats, not Labour, who prevented the Tories winning an overall majority. If you don’t believe me, look at the results and compare the fate of Lib Dem and Labour seats on the Tory target list.

    There is little to be gained and a lot to lose by becoming Cameron’s puppet, unless we get an immediate commitment to a referendum on STV for the House of Commons. Yes, we might improve government decision-making, but we would do that at the price of losing our independence and alienating our supporters. I think it would be far better to stand back and look at each Parliamentary vote on a case-by-case basis. That way we tie the government’s hand without having a formal deal. We get the credit for curbring excesses while getting none of the blame when things go wrong. Keeping our independence will allow us to argue for Liberal Democrat solutions, rather than having to defend Tory ones, and prepare for the election that will come when Cameron cuts and runs.

  • This term “progressive” is ridiculous.

    Progress means moving forward for humanity, not some arbitrary buzzword for people too scared to say “left wing”

    Progess is nothing to do with politics, it is only to do with science, technology and development.

    Many on the extreme left (Greens) and extreme right (religious nutters) are neo-Luddites who oppose progress at all costs.

    This ludicrous assertion that Labour and LibDems are somehow a “progressive alliance” is a risible concept that is not only inaccurate, but which does not resonate with the general public.

    None of the parties is demonstrably focussed on true progress – stop giving us this bullsh*t rhetoric. The idea that a party opposed to nuclear power can be in favour of progress is hilarious. The precautionary principle is the most regressive philosophy imaginable.

    The people need to reclaim the word “progressive” from those who wouldn’t know progress if it slapped them in the face.

  • DeanB spot on!

    As per the Yougov and other polls taken after the GE most want a Lib-Con if that’s what it has to be(around 65%) while less than half of that want a Lib-Lab pact(especially with the current Labour lot, how can anyone possibly want them to stick around after the as 13 years??!).

    As I said many times on here, in person and on other forums just because many as party activates believe as DeanB says a “left wing” coalition is best it does not translate in the country in general….especially in the more populated south. Polls before and after show exactly this, and while many kids themselves that a Lib-Lab link up is something we all hanker for in the party it does not make it so.

    The residual leftovers of the SDP still permeate the party and I do wish you would either go back to Labour or if your staying with the Lib Dems open your mind that a great left wing coalition is NOT what the majority of the country wants….even if you do!

  • What Big Mak stated late last night was partly correct. Perhaps 70% of people live and 80% of the money made is south of the Watford Gap. It is also follows then that 70% of the people live and 99% of the money was lost, basically through greed and stupidity, south of the Watford Gap. Using that base, I believe that we would be better, at this moment in time, using the devil we know rather than the angel we don’t.

  • Midlander…oh dear, oh dear when that very same wealth was(and still is) shoring up the rest of the country I did not see anyone complain, when people from the north, Scotland(and yes the Midlands to an extent) come down south to make that very same cash no one complains….when it all goes tits then everyone points the finger at “greedy” southerners….kel surprise!

    I am no apologist nor fan of the money men in London but the fact(and it has been proven) that the SE+London could quite easily form a sustainable country while the rest of the country sinks is an uncomfortable but true fact.
    The regional “penis envy” is not good….especially when money is clearly directed up to the other regions….would we in the SE be better off if Scotland Wales or the north went their own way….me think YES!

    I am advocating this….no….but just like with Scottish independence people in England are so sick and tired of Scots banging on about it that more of them want Scottish independence than Scots!
    You see where I am going with this….sticking with Labour is pure suicide, better the devil you know, sorry but that’s typical cop out talk that has help this party back for so many years.

    As I said in posts above, lets grow a pair shall we!

  • @ben I Agree with Ben, 100%

  • 2 days in and still no one can tell me why while I agree the Tories are not progressive why/how & when in the last 13 years Labour in other than a couple of patches have shown they are?

    In my mind both parties are non-progressive hence why I am a Lib Dem….if so many of you believe Labour are as progressive as you seem to indicate what the hell are you doing voting Lib Dem and not Labour? If Labour really are as many seem to think why not vote for what is the party that could have delivered these so called progressive ideas agenda.
    My guess it because you know its not so, but the grudge you have against the Tories makes you completely one eyed about what a disgrace Labour ALSO are.

    Chris, these “workers” you speak of as we have little on no manufacturing industry who are they, what do they do and if it is they and not the SE that prop the country up why do so many flock down here while so few go the other way?
    If your talking about Labours absurd rush to make as much of the country within the public sector as possible(so they can control the whole lot) then I agree….but its not the public sector that adds to the exchequer is it….it is the beast that has all but bankrupted the country.
    Why is it that public sector workers should get inflation busting pay rises, more holiday, more rights and strike as they wish while those of us in the private sector hang on by our fingernails and thank our employers for not getting rid of us while taking pay cuts?

    The public sector is the a black hole, Labour have poured billions in to with little improvement but has made some people(GPs, consultants….) very rich. If these are the “workers” you refer to then I agree they take much, all the Tax raised from the private sector but little goes back in.
    I am sure we can find out the revenue raising capabilities of each region and I think your remark of a few HQs in London while the rest of the country does all the hard work shows exactly why the country is so deep in the shit…and will stay so until you stop thinking its 1974!

  • Be warned Lib Dems – if you get in bed with the Tories, after Labour offered the full reform package that you stood for during the election – PR, fixed terms, elected H of Lords etc – you will be in electoral oblivion forever. The centre left will never vote for you again, and nor will anyone in Wales or Scotland. The Lib Dems will remain a parcohial libertarian party ignored by both left and right.

  • I agree with Alix on the majority of the points, especially the second paragraph, well put!

    However while the north, Scot & Wales may do a bunk those votes in total do not out weigh the SW, SE, east & London….not even close….so if it was loosing one set of voters to keep another(unfortunate, but realistic at it seems) then I think I would give up the vote north & up for the reasons I have stated in my posts above.

    As for you BillyBong, “be warned”…WTF, you think many people would rather us prop up this disgrace of a Labour government & an unelected(still) Prime Minister for as Alix says our own selfish needs. i think the country we rather do what’s right for the country and not just the party.
    The death bed conversion of Labour to PR, elected House of Lords, fixed terms is a sham(as may well be the Tory offer) but saying its any more less sullied beggars belief.

    Labour will sell(or has sold) its soul to gain & hang on to power…we as a party are better than that and that’s what I hope people would see.
    If the socialist (the centre left thing is bogus) and our Celtic friends feel hard done by then as I say above you can vote labour and have the same mess as per the last 13 years….good luck with that one.

  • Mr Clegg is a Conservative at heart. Albeit a conservative with a small “c”. Watch the liberal values and principles your party allegedly stand for be swept under the carpet as a disgraceful and heavily compromised “deal” paves the way for a draconian right wing government. Sadly the reductive mantra: “Vote Clegg get Cameron” seems to be coming true.

    It’s a crying shame.

  • kim willson 9th May '10 - 2:19pm

    A vote for liberal was not a vote for the conservatives. The majority of the population do not want them in office. Please do not side with the conservatives whose policies on so many issues are completely against liberal policy. Electoral reform is the only way forward.

  • Peter & Kim what would you do, what would any of you do?

    Siding with Labour would be just as unpopular if not even more so than the Tories for different but just as valid reasons.

    Doing nothing and sitting in the sidelines would seem both irresponsible and totally irrational considering that the party has waited for a hung parliament for years. Now we have it people are getting all upset and threatening to take their ball & not play.

    Well people this is called playing with the grown ups, a vote for the Lid Dems was no more a vote for Labour than it was the Tories.
    Would you not rather Peter that Nick and others are in the cabinet tempering an mad rush to the right wing?
    Would you rather according to your principles we do nothing and f*ck the consequences or get in bed with Labour which so many of you seem to have collective amnesia about what an abomination they have become.

    Seriously if you have nothing more serious to say than I don’t like what Nick is doing or I’m upset and I won’t play any-more don’t bother ….let the adults discuss & try to sort things out while you cry with the children in the corner…pathetic!

  • “Well people this is called playing with the grown ups”

    Utter tosh. It’s called selling out. If you genuinely believe we will get more than scraps from the Ashcroft funded and Murdoch supported Tories you are deluded.
    I have no “collective amnesia” about New Labour. However I also have no “collective amnesia” about the Tories either. As much as dislike the former….there are even more reasons to loathe the latter.

  • David Lawson 9th May '10 - 3:00pm

    Ben Stephenson said “You must go to Gordon Brown and you must demand above all else the referendum…”

    Is a deal with Gordon credible? There appears to be no personal relationship between him and Nick Clegg. I remember seeing, in one of the few reaction shots TV is allowed in PMQs, a clip of Ed Balls red faced in a pantomime guffaw at a Nick Clegg question to Gordon Brown. I doubted then that such personal unpleasantness was wise and I think they are learning it was not.

    I know that the Labour constitution makes it hard to replace leaders. However should we not be laying the ground work for our reply to the likely backlash by explaining the impossible position Labour have put us in by leaving Gordon Brown in place – fairly or unfairly he surely is not going to be able to continue.

  • Three (3) of us in this house voted for the Liberal candidate. Our votes counted for nothing. We voted for change – change in the electrol process. We have this in Scotland and it works well. Under the system here we do have an MSP who works and votes for us and whom we can hold responsible as well as others. PR works.

  • Why Peter because of what happened more tan 13 years ago…why is this any worse then the mess we are in now?
    The Tories screwed up the country in the 80’s and 90’s granted but seriously you say that Labour has not all but brought us to ruin now?

    Do you not want to accept that, can you not bring yourself to accept that Thatcher while great for many of us to demonise never brought us to near bankruptcy, took away so much of our civil liberties and led us to a 2 costly & catastrophic wars….and this from the so called left/progressive party who in your eyes should know better.
    Now that is utter tosh.

    Michly you are jumping the gun we may well get PR or some form of electoral change, I can’t see Nick & his team agreeing to bugger all. Say the Tories had won(as basically they should have based on the polls a month ago) or Labour retained power, what then? I tell you what then nothing, nada, nowt!
    That we have this change is unique, that you expect change in 2 days is ridiculous & unreasonable. Great that you voted Lib Dem(you sound like ex-Labour if you call us plain Liberal) but unless you expected an outright Lib Dem win(not even the most optimistic person did) then what exactly did you expect from a hung parliament?

    Or are you as others(guessing you are being Scottish) a Labour supporter that now feels that we should run in to the arms of Labour because that’s what YOU would do. You lent us your vote, thanks, but it does not give you the right to dictate what course/direction the party now takes….we can’t listen to every jolly come lately and bow down to them.

    Sorry people still not one, not one of you have convinced me that dealing with Labour would be any less dangerous or desirable than a deal with the Tories.

  • Here yet another Guardian article that echo’s much of what I have been saying…especially the last sentence.


  • “Why Peter because of what happened more tan 13 years ago…why is this any worse then the mess we are in now?
    The Tories screwed up the country in the 80’s and 90’s granted but seriously you say that Labour has not all but brought us to ruin now?”

    The seeds of current destruction were originally sown back then. I’m sure you don’t need me to point this out to you. It’s not about “running into the arms of labour”. It should be about trying to work with people who perhaps, just perhaps, share at least SOME of your values and ideals. The Conservative Party by it’s very nature, does not and never will. That’s not empty rhetoric…that’s fact. Check their manifesto.

    I have never been a supporter of this disgraceful Labour government. However they are prepared to offer us what we want. They have little choice after all. That is surely the whole point!

    I hope and pray that any Lib Dem and Conservative “pact” would result in a tempering of the more divisive and socially destructive Conservative policies. I doubt it. There is also the all important Murdoch factor. The Lib Dems could end us as mere whipping boys when things get rocky.

    As I said….I sincerely hope I’m wrong. Time will tell.

  • I agree with everything said by Ben on 8th May: I have voted Lib Dem for years, but as I live in the South West I know many people vote tactically, as Greens and Labour don’t get a look in down here. Over the years many of these have become ‘true’ Lib dems, particularly in response to policies on PR, Science and the Environment, Trident and ID cards. The only excuse for working with the Tories that will be acceptable to these people, and to all true Lib Dem voters, will be a CAST IRON commitment to a properly presented but speedy referendum on PR. If this is not forthcoming, then Nick Clegg MUST NOT even consider it: The party would loose supporters in droves. He must look to Labour and the other sympathetic parties, of which there are many.
    Could he, or one of his aids please issue some kind of explanation for this uncharacteristic behaviour? We all assumed that a hung parliament would result in some kind of coalition or arrangement with sympathetic parties, to work on behalf of the majority towards supporting the economy and enabling a referendum on PR. People are becoming extremely nervous.

  • Come on Peter the “seeds” for the current financial mess can’t be laid from 25 years ago!

    Clinton, Bush, Major & Blair are responsible for basically giving the market whatever they wanted, in reality it was from the mid 90s this disaster was really sown and try as many might the UK Conservatives were not in power for the majority of that.

    New Labour along with Clinton’s Democrats and then Bush and his rabid Republicans are absolutely responsible.
    We all know to tempt the money men Blair dragged his party to the right, thats the only reason they and anyone south of the Watford Gap started to vote for them in the numbers they needed to win an election.

    From 95 onwards Labour stopped being progressive and did whatever it took to take power, any claim they have to being progressive is gone, any claim that they are 99% at fault for the current crisis is a joke.

    My God its like us blaming the Germans for anything after the war….just how long & how many things can you blame them for before it becomes a joke.
    The Tories in the 80s/90s as I say are responsible for a lot bur for the problems in 2008…..I think not Peter, no matter how much you want it to be true.

  • The next government is likely to be massively unpopular due to the need to cut public spending to address our deficit. I hope the Lib Dems form a coalition with the Tories and we get proportional representation but think this is unlikely. If Nick concedes on this point, I hope his followers don’t judge him too harshly. It could ruin the Lib Dems if a Lib/Lab government took on the next 18 months.. Yes to a referendum on proportional representation and promoting awareness on the different types we could adopt. If the Tories won’t agree to that, then could we trust them in power?

  • There is another issue that you pro-Labour coalition people need to consider. The fact is that Labour has been voted out of government. After 13 years of authoritarian abuse and incompetence, the majority of people in this country do not want them anymore.

    Have you considered the possibility that the reason there was an unexpected low turnout for the Lib Dems was that people disagreed with their policies?? Obviously there is more to it than just that (fear being a major factor), but think about it. Maybe people don’t WANT PR! It may seem inconceivable to you, but the figures speak for themselves.

    What right do the Lib Dems have to force upon the nation a policy that, perhaps, people don’t even want? Whatever way you spin it, the Conservatives won this election and the Lib Dems came a pretty poor third. Gordon Brown has never been elected and has no moral right to power, and the Lib Dems using their influence to prop up this pretender to the throne would surely be a gross violation of democracy.

    Brown and the Labour party clearly have no respect for democracy. If they did then they would have done the gracious thing by now. Brown’s only claim to power is via manipulation. He wants to retain his position, against the will of the nation, at all costs. The Lib Dems making a deal with him in exchange for PR would presumably increase their share of power in parliament, but how is this any better than what Labour are doing?? In other words, making a deal with the devil in order to increase your own power.

    Sorry, but that is not a democratic philosophy, and in my opinion it would tarnish the reputation of the Lib Dems as the only major party truly committed to real freedom forever. I for one would never support them again.

  • WE seem to have a lot of people willing to jump ship if we do a deal with the Tories or Labour…..most of who are obvious not true Liberals and have jumped on the bandwagon late for a plethora of reasons.

    I say this to you(as I do Scots or Welsh that bang on about independence) shut the f*ck up talking about it and just do it, stop threatening to take away your vote, do it, run off to your true home because frankly out party is better than some desperate Dans on the fringes.

    If you believed in a party its like a family, like a friend….do you threaten every time a family or friend takes derisions you may not like to not talk to them, to break off your friendship?
    Ah you say but if my friend would never betray me like the party(depending on which way you see the betrayal)…maybe not but most people would compromise, may see there is a bigger picture, may see that there is more at stake then their own selfish feelings.

    Maybe not the best metaphor, but I for one will not just walk away at the drop of a hat. We all have demands, we all have beliefs, but what political party in the world can satisfy ever single member or voter?(in fact political parties should NEVER aim for this….Blair tried it and look where that got us)
    It ain’t ever going to happen, so for you that are already unhappy, walk away, I would say you are not worth the bother….for those who stay cut Nick & the team some slack, lets see what happens before all this hysteria can even be justified.

    When was the last time you got everything 100% right & satisfied everyone around you?(and if you are that perfect your lying or deluded)……he who throws the first stone & all that!

  • Alex Rimmer 9th May '10 - 10:19pm


    I just wanted to say that if PR is not achieved, I will not vote for the Lib dems again.

    Yours faithfully
    Alex Rimmer

  • “Ah you say but if my friend would never betray me like the party(depending on which way you see the betrayal)…maybe not but most people would compromise, may see there is a bigger picture, may see that there is more at stake then their own selfish feelings.”

    You don’t half spout some nonsense. Ironically It’s seeing the “bigger picture” that is making most of us uneasy. Voting for a liberal party in the first place means we have the ability to see their is more at stake than our “own selfish feelings” . That is why we are shocked by the seeming haste in which Mr Clegg has embraced a party with completely opposing political ideology. It’s not “hysteria” either…it’s real and genuine concern as to what this means and the eventual consequences.

    Ok. Enough said. We shall see what happens…

  • Quote:
    “I just wanted to say that if PR is not achieved, I will not vote for the Lib dems again.”

    To re-state what I wrote above: The Liberal Democrats did not win this election! They didn’t even come second! If PR is achieved through a deal then it will be at the whim of either the conervatives or labour. How arrogant it is to demand that your most treasured policy MUST become law to retain your support when your party is nowhere near the seat of power.

    Your attitude, in my opinion, could only be justified if the Lib Dems were actually elected to government and failed to deliver PR.

  • Peter please tell me your not another Labour apologist.
    This bullshit of how we are ideologically closer to Labour just because people say its so doesn’t make it fact.
    I ave challenged people on this forum and others to prove to me & others why Labour are more “suitable” for us to talk to, why are they seen as more progressive, and if that’s the case why they have shat on everything progressive in the last 13 years.

    Look at the voting breakdown of Lid Dem voters, not the narrow field of party activist or members and you know the fact is that when asked they split almost 50/50 Labour/Tory.
    So please tell me how this isn’t yet again of the party talking to itself, yet again seeing no further than its nose?

    Nick & the team can see past this and are in a crap position but are trying, with little help from many members/activist who put their own prejudice before what is good for the country then the party.

    As for people like Alex 4 days ago id one of Labour or Tories got an overall majority you would never have even got a sniff of PR….now we do we get inane statements such as that.
    Jesus do you not think Nick knows this, do you not think he is trying to get something sorted without the petulance that many on this site and many others show.

    Many of you seem to what to cut off your nose to spite your face….typical small minded, small party thinking….if we are to play in the big league we need to stop thinking so narrowly. The Tories did that for so long, look inward that still after 13 years of a dreadful Labour government they have not fully recovered.
    We are now over 80 years without a sniff of genuine power, lets not tie one of Nicks hands behind his back quite so readily based on personal grievances and chips on shoulders!

  • and here as I live & breathe is an article from the respected Canadian newspaper The Globe & Mail, setting out a better argument than I ever could why Labour is no more attractive a link up for the Lib Dems than the Tories:


  • Wow! I am new to this blog, and amazed at the obsession with PR and electoral reform. I have voted lib dem because I believed in many of the policies, and hope that the limited power that Nick has now, he uses to temper some of the policies of whoever he aligns himself with. PR would be good, but if we get it, many of you will lose what seems to be your only reason for voting LD, so who would you vote for next time – maybe not LD? This country is in real trouble right now, and we need a government to deal with it, is it not better to be active in a government with some stability and some credence in the rest of the world rather than one that from the outside may well look like it is made up of all the losers (actually it will be)? PR should not be the “be all and end all”, doing what needs to be done right now is more important and I will be glad if the party I voted for can help to push that forward. I am willing to get behind the party and support its decisions, trusting Nick and the others to do what is right for the country, not just what helps the party.

  • Hey Patrick. Well fortunately, it seems as though Nick has a lot more political sense and understanding of the meaning of democracy than a lot of his supporters seem to. But I think you’re right that putting Brown back into power could cause massive social unrest. It would be more like a coup than an election.

  • You’ve sold yourselves to the devil. Are you on the side of the majority of ‘normal’ people or the eton educated, and the worried about inheritance tax of upto a million, and the anti-european and and the anti-immigrants? Strange bed fellows indeed. I’ve always had a bit of respect for you. But power, or at least the whiff of it, corrupts.

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