Opinion: An open letter to Nick Clegg

Nick-CleggDear Nick,

When I joined the party in 2006, one of the first things I did was to hit the streets of Dudley, my hometown, delivering Focus and canvassing voters. I’ve been an active, campaigning party member ever since.

Another of the first things I did was to locate and read a copy of the Orange Book. And I liked it. I agreed with a lot of it, and “Orange Booker” has been a badge I have worn with slightly perverse pride ever since.

I like what you’re doing, Nick – and I like what you’re saying. In these times of the UKIP “surge” and Labour and the Conservatives’ refusal to challenge their regressive rhetoric, Britain needs a strong and credible party of the liberal centre ground. A party who can take apart the knee-jerk anti-immigrant hysteria, the little-England insularity and the politics of fear.

I like what you’re saying about delivering free school meals – that’s going to be a big help to millions of families.

I like what you’re delivering with tax cuts targeted at people like me and many on low or average incomes in my community.

I like that my local schools are getting pupil premium funding. I like that we are meeting our commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on international aid. I like that, as a gay man, I now have the right to marry the partner of my choice.

Most of all, I like the message that, when Labour cannot be trusted with the economy and the Tories cannot be trusted to be concerned with the vulnerable, ours is a party that stands for both a stronger economy and a fairer society.

And if they were willing and able to hear about them, I believe a large proportion of the public would like them too. But they are not. As unfair as it may seem, it is clear that a large proportion of the electorate is simply no longer interested in listening to what you, and by extension the Liberal Democrats, have to say.

As the messenger, you have become an impediment to the message, and so, I can see no other rational decision but for the party to elect a new leader. Someone new who is more likely to be seen as credible by the millions of people who would be better off with a Liberal Democrat MP, a Liberal Democrat council or Liberal Democrats in government, but who will not get them unless we are able to get the message out there.

People like our policies, they agree with our message and they need us to represent and fight for them.

The time has come, Nick. For the sake of the party, it is time to go.

* Ben Mathis is an agent and activist from Hackney

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73 Comments

  • “you’re delivering with tax cuts targeted at people like me and many on low”

    Actually, this was paid for with a non-progressive rise of VAT

  • Really well said. It’s time, Nick.

  • Could not have put it better, well said. On the money.

  • Ed Stradling 26th May '14 - 4:24pm

    Not a party member, but I’ve come to a similar conclusion:
    http://edstradling.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/time-for-hero-clegg-to-make-the-supreme-sacrifice/

  • Benjamin

    These ‘free school meals’ are actually being part paid for by already cash strapped schools who will have to find the money somehow. Will is be less books or putting repairs off for yet another year? Great scheme…

  • As this post seems to countenance no change in message or policies, it would seem that all that is going to change is the name of the leader

  • Paul Griffiths 26th May '14 - 4:34pm

    Wait, didn’t we do this yesterday?

  • Andrew Heffernan 26th May '14 - 4:42pm

    The Liberal Democrats are in government and have had to make unpopular decisions. However, they have also been able to achieve a lot: £10,000 tax free and rising, pupil premium, trident delay, ID cards abolished, an attempt at electoral reform etc. This is due to Nick Clegg’s negotiation of the Coalition Agreement and steady leadership despite setback after setback. It is also due to party discipline, which we cannot afford to lose now.

    Nick was the first leader to have the bravery to come out for equal marriage and the ONLY leader to even try to build a positive argument for the UK’s continued engagement with Europe and to take the fight to UKIP. These were unpopular and politically courageous positions to take, but they were the right thing to do. I cannot immediately see someone else in the party willing to do this.

    It is cowardice to throw Clegg away to protect ourselves and if it happens, we deserve anything that we get in 2015 when the public conclude we are not yet a mature enough party to govern.

  • Nich Starling 26th May '14 - 4:44pm

    Superbly put.

  • Robert Eggleston 26th May '14 - 4:56pm

    This is in the end, I believe a decision for Nick, to make. Let’s all allow some time for reflection rather than rushing to knife the guy when he’s probably feeling worse than most of us at the moment

  • The writer is far too kind to Nick Clegg and the LibDem leadership in general, in government it has been hard to tell them apart from the Tories – they have been dreadful. However, I agree Nick Clegg needs to resign asap, so we can back to LibDem polices and hopefully regain the publics trust..

  • What will our % vote be at Newark 2, 3, 4%? if we are lucky.
    That would be the final nail in the coffin.

  • maggie smith 26th May '14 - 5:24pm

    On the piece…

    “…the Tories cannot be trusted to be concerned with the vulnerable…” , there’s not a great deal of evidence to show that LibDems have thrown themselves in the way of that particular runaway train, there’s a lot of vulnerable people who are really suffering because of the policies of this government, so let us not kid ourselves that anyone fought tooth and nail to stop it. It happened, face it.

    @Andrew Heffernan…..

    “It is cowardice to throw Clegg away to protect ourselves and if it happens, we deserve anything that we get in 2015 when the public conclude we are not yet a mature enough party to govern.”

    So, the flip side of that how many councillors do you think the leadership and many of the MPs should sacrifice to protect themselves?? Is this not a similar cowardice you seek to imply others would show? The losses have been in hundreds this round alone, hundreds. I would have asked how many councillors and MEPs but we know how many MEPs remain to be sacrificed, one. It was nearly none, very nearly none.

    We can all blame being pro EU for last night (although in truth I think everyone knows there is a lot more to it) but that does not explain the Local results last week, the people of this country have not forgotten, and it’s no good just saying “we need to explain what we have done” (to the public who for some reason don’t understand?) when the public can see with their own eyes exactly what you have taken part in. The message is lost, the messenger discredited from day one. Abstract concepts like pupil premium mean nothing when you are worrying about the gas bill.

    I wouldn’t even bother with whether you have shifted right of left in this parliament, there are those here who will nit-pick either way. But the evidence is there for you all to see (again) you have a problem and just saying “we need to push on” isn’t going to solve this one.

  • “People like our policies”

    I also think it would be best for Nick to go. I agree that he has lost the trust and the ear of the public.

    Having said that I believe that doesn’t tell the full story. Whilst it might be the case that Nick is part of the problem O also believe he is being scape-goated by many in the party thus allowing them to assauge their conscience and absolve themselves, and the rest of the party, of responsibility.

    As an ex supporter and employee I’ve turned my back on the party because of amongst other things; tuition fees, free schools, bedroom tax, teachers pensions reform, NHS reorganisation… Others have their own red lines.

    Many are deluded if they believe “People like our policies”. They don’t. I have already stated my dislikes. Others would have their own; the secret courts or no referendum on the EU are examples. The parliamentary party has backed many of these controversial proposals and the whole party has either supported or enable them to do so. Many are not even willing to hear of succeses like the tax threshold because whether the party like it on not these successes seem insignificant compared to the enabling function played by coalition for providing a platform for the most mean spirited of Tory governments. you might consider it unfair but thats the way it is. Nick is the messenger but it is also the messages he’s had to deliver for the party that the public are rejecting.

    Nick is not sole reason for the drop of support and anyone who think deposing him will be some kind of pancea are fooling themselves.

  • Piers Allen 26th May '14 - 6:39pm

    Are we really going to allow our disappointment with the election results to give UKIP another another boost by allowing Nigel Farage to claim Nick’s scalp? My 30 years in the party has seen good times and bad – I suggest those for whom this is the first set back take a firm grip on reality and not allow a chattering few to dictate events which will set us back 10 years.

  • Christine Headley 26th May '14 - 7:01pm

    @Piers Allen. We have already been set back about 40. The number of councillors in London is about where it was in the early eighties, and most of them are in Sutton, rather than spread around. In large areas, we are going to have to start again from scratch and, thanks to Tuition Fees, don’t have the young keenies to do it.

  • Both Nick Clegg and many of his supporters are suffering from Indispensable Man Syndrome. Nick has so identified the Liberal Democrats with himself that he appears incapable of believing that they could go on without him. Everything has become about Nick Clegg — not just in the mind of Clegg and his allies, but also, most unfortunately, in the eyes of many voters.
    This has got to stop. It’s time to show that there exists a party of Liberal Democrats quite aside from Clegg & Co.

  • George Carpenter 26th May '14 - 7:48pm

    I support what Nick has done in Government, he has achieved more for liberal and social democrat values than any leader of the party for 100 years but he really is an impediment to the message. Time to move on.
    I think it’s a key point that the Labour PPB did not attack the Liberal Democrats in any way, only Nick and how he’s been abused by the Tories. It really is time to move on, 4 years is a decent innings.

  • People talk like it’ll be the death of him. He’s a guy in a job, his teams figures are seriously down for successive years and he’s really not delivering. Maybe his talents lay somewhere other than winning the popularity contest that is politics, but if numbers are down 50% heads have got to roll.

  • In Scotland, a moderate, unashamedly pro-europe party of government, the SNP topped the poll with a higher share of the vote than UKIP got in England. In Scotland UKIP finished a lowly fourth. There are two alternative mutually exclusive explanations. Either you accept that Scotland is fundamentally different socially and politically to England and that it is therefore best for all concerned that there is a yes vote in September so that Scotland can go its own way, negotiate its own membership of the EU with its own terms and the rest of the UK can have a different relationship with europe. Following this narrative, there was nothing Nick Clegg or anyone else could have done, England (and probably Wales) is just not prepared to vote for a strongly pro-european governing party in the way Scotland is just now.

    The alternative is to say that Scotland is not that much different to England in which case it was possible for a moderate, unashamedly pro-europe party of government to top the poll in England. The only party in England that fits that bill is the Lib Dems. If you accept this premise then the fact that LDs did so badly when it should have won is nothing to do with the policy of being pro-europe or being in government and everything to do with how and who communicated that policy and how being in government has been handled. The buck for these things has nowhere else to stop but with the leader, Nick Clegg.

    Take your pick!

  • Andrew Tennant 26th May '14 - 8:31pm

    Our negative public image isn’t an issue specific to Clegg.
    The character assassination by Labour and our opponents’ allies in the media has been relentless and of the party as a whole. Changing the leader will not change receptiveness or give us a fair hearing. The only way to change how we are perceived is to deliver the message as we see it directly to voters.

  • An amalgamation of posts: get rid of Clegg if you must, but it will not solve your problems with the electorate.

    Occam’s Razor: a line of reasoning that says the simplest answer is often correct. Yes, Nick Clegg is associated with every bad policy this govt has implemented, but those ill-liberal policies were pushed through by too many LibDem MPs who happily voted alongside their Tory counterparts. The LibDem party is not getting punished because they’re the junior partner or minority party in govt – they’re getting hammered by the electorate for telling us that they were liberals and for the people, when their MPs are/were patently not.

    We expected this behaviour of the Tories – it’s who they are, it’s what they do – and it’s why they still couldn’t win an election after a global financial meltdown. Even if it meant climbing into bed with the Tories, the LibDems had an opportunity to show the electorate what a coalition could achieve, but instead of understanding that they held the power and forcing through more liberalism, they were seduced by their bedfellows and seemingly drugged into submission.

    If anyone truly believes that Nick Clegg is the only LibDem problem, then you don’t understand how hated Danny Alexander is, how Laws & Hughes are reviled, the joke Davey has become and how mystifyingly often Cable allows himself to be made a patsy and still sits fiddling in his ministerial office to name but a few.

    Just in case I’ve not been clear enough: Clegg ain’t the problem, it’s the majority of the LibDem parliamentary party and it’s departure from grass-root policies and beliefs. The party of In is likely to become the party of Out in 2015, because the LibDems can’t even be a protest party when they’re a party that people don’t trust.

    Ashdown, Farron and Cable know that there is nigh-on zero chance that a change in leadership would rejuvenate LibDem electoral fortunes and none of them want to become the leader that takes the LibDems back into the wilderness. The long game is in play now – they understand that the LibDem brand has been torched by their generation and that it will take years to regain trust; and they understand that this will only begin when the public have had their blood-lust satiated on election day with the heads of those they hold responsible,

    Clegg’s last sacrifice for the LibDem’s will be to go down with the ship and take the blame – a plump European job and a peerage being the reward.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th May '14 - 9:20pm

    Centrist liberals should fall in line behind the rest of them in the parliamentary party, at this moment in time.

    Regards

  • Julian Tisi 26th May '14 - 9:44pm

    I agree with Andrew Tennant entirely. Changing our leader won’t suddenly improve things.

  • David Allen 26th May '14 - 9:54pm

    “Changing our leader won’t suddenly improve things” – but it is the essential first step.

  • “Julian Tisi 26th May ’14 – 9:44pm
    I agree with Andrew Tennant entirely. Changing our leader won’t suddenly improve things.”

    No, but it will improve things a darn sight quicker than waiting another year – and let’s face it things can’t get much worse under someone else. They sure as heck aren’t going to get any better with Clegg. The man is a busted flush.

  • Andrew Tennant 26th May '14 - 10:18pm

    A Lib Dem party which deposes a leader who had led them into government, through the implementation of significant proportions of their manifesto, and which makes the liberal case to the media and public on the issues of the day, for nothing more than perceived political expediency, will not improve its standing with the public. The message such a coup sends out is one of self-serving, weak willed, untrustworthiness. Those who have stuck with us or who admire what we’ve achieved would soon cease to do so.

  • That’s a very handsome concatenation of adjectives, but the fact is that it’s no use threatening political catastrophe as the result of removing Clegg — nothing could be worse than the catastrophe that’s already been achieved under his leadership.

  • Richard Dean 26th May '14 - 10:39pm

    Wait for 2015, David-1. You’ll change your tune then! This party has gone. In spite of Clegg’s best efforts to save it.

  • Andrew Tennant “Those who have stuck with us or who admire what we’ve achieved would soon cease to do so.”

    There’s not many of them to be honest. Did you see the leader board last night? LDs coming fifth/last in region after region after region.

    The people standing up to Clegg are courageous in my view and are the last hope of saving the Party.

  • “The message such a coup sends out is one of self-serving, weak willed, untrustworthiness”

    That’s what most of the country thinks of Clegg – self-serving, weak-willed, untrustworthy. Wake up, the Party has NO standing in the country. The Party has been all but annihilated. Clegg has the worst approval rating if any party leader in living memory. No one is voting for the Lib Dems any more. That ship has sailed.

  • Andrew Tennant 26th May '14 - 11:18pm

    Making an appeal to the disillusioned 70% who last week didn’t vote for anyone is far more important than the current breakdown of the 30% who did. Europe is quite different to a general election and the issues on which people vote cannot safely be extrapolated to such a separate contest.

  • “Making an appeal to the disillusioned 70% who last week didn’t vote for anyone is far more important ”

    I do wonder why there are so many ‘disillusioned’ voters? Could it be because politician lie to them, saying one thing and doing the opposite in power, whilst promising ” an end to broken promises”?

    All roads lead back to Clegg.

  • Peter Watson 26th May '14 - 11:42pm

    @Simon Shaw “Yes, and …. ?”
    Some food is subject to VAT. One of the Tory changes in the early 80s was putting VAT on take-away food, the so-called “Fish and Chips” tax, and the recent “Pasty Tax” was just tying up a few loose ends from that. The Tories have form on increasing and extending VAT; that’s why we warned voters about their VAT bombshell in 2010.
    Whether or not the VAT rise is regressive has been debated before. I recall that the IFS report redefined it in terms of expenditure rather than income. Either way, it is another issue where the difference in Lib Dem opinions before and after the election causes voters to mistrust the party and leads to the problems we have seen this weekend.

  • @Andrew Tennant – “Making an appeal to the disillusioned 70% who last week didn’t vote for anyone is far more important than the current breakdown of the 30% who did. Europe is quite different to a general election and the issues on which people vote cannot safely be extrapolated to such a separate contest.”

    Entirely correct; however, I suspect that a greater turnout of the electorate will result in an even poorer showing by the LibDems, especially in Sheffield among many othe

  • @Andrew Tennant – “Making an appeal to the disillusioned 70% who last week didn’t vote for anyone is far more important than the current breakdown of the 30% who did. Europe is quite different to a general election and the issues on which people vote cannot safely be extrapolated to such a separate contest.”

    Entirely correct; however, I suspect that a greater turnout of the electorate will result in an even poorer showing by the LibDems, especially in Sheffield among many othe

  • @Andrew Tennant – “Making an appeal to the disillusioned 70% who last week didn’t vote for anyone is far more important than the current breakdown of the 30% who did. Europe is quite different to a general election and the issues on which people vote cannot safely be extrapolated to such a separate contest.”

    Entirely correct; however, I suspect that a greater turnout of the electorate will result in an even poorer showing by the LibDems, especially in Sheffield.

  • Sorry for multiple posts – some kind of refresh problem.

  • David Allen 27th May '14 - 1:10am

    Jimble,

    “Get rid of Clegg if you must, but it will not solve your problems with the electorate. …Yes, Nick Clegg is associated with every bad policy this govt has implemented, but those ill-liberal policies were pushed through by too many LibDem MPs who happily voted alongside their Tory counterparts. …Clegg ain’t the problem, it’s the majority of the LibDem parliamentary party and it’s departure from grass-root policies and beliefs. The party of In is likely to become the party of Out in 2015…”

    Right Mr Jimble, so you are salivating at the enticing prospect of Lib Dem oblivion. Your advice to us is to keep Nick Clegg. Do you think we should trust that advice as being put forward in our party’s best interests?

  • Steve Comer 27th May '14 - 1:19am

    Andrew Heffernon says “It is cowardice to throw Clegg away to protect ourselves” So what about the hundreds of local Councillors and the MEPs who’ve been thrown away over the last three years? Do they not count, or have we all become as Westminster obsessed as the Labour and Tory Parties? As to saying that nobody has heard of other MPs that is something you could say about almost all new Leaders. Not many people knew who Nick Clegg was before 2007.

  • Tracey A Brown 27th May '14 - 1:24am

    I voted for the liberal democrats, for the first time , in my local election and in the European elections,the main reason was and is because of Nick Clegg, and now I hear that some members of the party want him to stand down and I’m dismayed at this, I think the way he has conducted himself and the party has been wonderful during the coalition with the Tories, I grow up during the Thatcher years, and I remember to well how hard it was for the ordinary working man, and I think we would be back to those dark days for the many and the good days for the very few, if it had not been for Nick, he has stuck to his guns on many things that matter to me and my family and we have benefited greatly because of him, so please think long and hard before you have a knee jerk reaction to the polls at the moment, as I’ve been a strong Labour supporter for many years I now see very little between them and the Tories, Labour lost the last General election, because they stopped listening to the people who put them in power, we were worried about immigration, they told us it was all in our minds, but locally we could see what was happening, they did the same with the bankers , I could go on, so please listen to the people who are voting and let Nick carry on being the only voice of reason we have left to vote for.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th May '14 - 6:03am

    Rosa

    So great idea. Lets get rid of the most well known figure head of the Liberal Democrats who got us into power in the first place (i agree with Nick),

    No he didn’t. The third party vote shot up in the 1974 general elections and has been going up and down a bit ever since then. The 2010 general election showed no dramatic rise in share of vote, and it showed a fall in number of seats from the previous general election. The share of vote we got in the 2010 general election was about the share we had in the polls before it started. There was no dramatic Clegg effect, or if there was, it was not long-lasting. Personally I’d say the big boost at the start of the campaign was as much due to activists cranking up the machine and getting out the pre-election delivery as it was down to Clegg’s first appearance in the TV leaders’s debates. But I think because it was attributed all to him, attention then turned to him, and his poor performances in the second and third debates brought it down again.

    There was nothing particularly special about Clegg that caused the coalition to happen. It just happened to be the case that this was the first general election since February 2010 which did not deliver an overall majority to one party. It was more down to the random effects of the First-Past-The-Post electoral system than anything to do with Clegg. The higher number of Liberal Democrats seats was a factor, but that had started in the 2005 general election, and was due to more concentration of activists in a smaller number of target seats, which is why more seats were won than in 1983, despite more votes being won than in 2010. In none of this was there any special Clegg effect.

    Everyone could see from the balance in Parliament following the May 2010 that we would have to go into coalition, the balance meant there was only one option, this was due to the distortions of FPTP. Not to have gone for this one option would have meant a minority Conservative government calling another general election very soon with the message “get rid of the Liberal Democrats who are blocking this country having a stable government”. There was no special Clegg effect. Whoever was leader of the party in this situation would have had to make the same decision.

    replace him with someone the public doesnt know and get back to where we were pre 2010 trying to tell the public who we are and what we stand for but this time from a much harder position.

    But by your very argument this does not work, because no-one had heard of Clegg when the 2010 general election started. I think part of the reason he was very positively received early on was his complete failure to make an impact up till then, so when people saw him in the first leaders’ debate, he benefited from a big novelty factor.

    To me, one of the biggest problems our party faces is the danger of being seen as a one-man band, so its standing rises and falls because of how that one man is perceived, rather than in terms of how our policies are perceived. This was a factor in 1979, when the Liberal Party was struggling not to be seen as the “Jeremy Thorpe Party”, it was a factor during the Alliance years when it was often over-identified with David Steel, and it was certainly a big factor with Paddy Ashdown. I think one of the reasons Charles Kennedy is so warmly remembered is that he was the first leader NOT to over dominate the party with his own personality (perhaps for reason we now know were not good ones, but still fortuitous), thus allowing it to be seen more in terms of its whole policy picture and in terms of having many people with good talents, not just The Leader.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th May '14 - 6:04am

    Me

    since February 2010

    Should be since February 1974.

  • Ian Hurdley 27th May '14 - 8:01am

    It is a fallacy to say that it is Nick Clegg that a substantial number of voters don’t trust. They say that the party as a whole is not to be trusted, and accurately or not they trot out evidence for their verdict. So what do we do, ditch Danny Alexander, David Laws, Simon Hughes, Vince Cable? Where do you stop?

  • Andrew Tennant 27th May '14 - 8:09am

    @Jimble
    Sheffield Hallam is re-electing Lib Dems on a consistent basis – for me it’s further evidence that where we can put our own view across and explain the positives of our involvement in government directly we can convince voters that we’re still the best option for them.

  • Tracey A Brown “he has stuck to his guns on many things that matter to me and my family and we have benefited greatly because of him,”

    Please could you expand on this?

  • Andrew Tennant “@Jimble
    Sheffield Hallam is re-electing Lib Dems on a consistent basis – for me it’s further evidence that where we can put our own view across and explain the positives of our involvement in government directly we can convince voters that we’re still the best option for them.”

    So in the rest of the country, bar these few pockets, the Lib Dems are not putting their own view across and explaining the positives of involvement in government directly? Am asking seriously not being sarcastic.

  • Simon Shaw which confirmed to us voters that ‘politician speak with fork tongue’ even the nice Lib Dems. Any wonder people are disillusioned and don’t vote? Or vote for UKIP ?

  • Ian – it was Clegg who looked directly into camera and promised ‘an end to broken promises’. It was Clegg who wrote to students and said ‘vote for us and we will abolish tuition fees’ . It was Clegg who made the GE ALL about his own personal integrity. That is why the issue of trust is all about Clegg.

  • Rosa – what Matthew Huntbach says is absolutely right.

  • Phyllis

    If you think it’s all about Clegg, check out the stream of responses to any of the Lib Dem posts on FB. All party members have to carry the can for where we are today. Scapegoating the leader does us more harm than good because it distracts us from a full analysis of where our communications have gone wrong – as for instance, in failing totally to get across the message that though the much-loathed student loans went forward under the name of loans, we had actually turned them unto what we wanted and had as policy – a graduate tax, repayable only when (and whilst) earning above a threshold and terminating thirty years after graduation.

  • me

    Nothing biblical intended. unto is a typo, I meant into.

  • Ian Hurdley -sigh- you are missing the point. The new scheme may be the best thing ever but that is irrelevant to the trust issue when you say one thong and do the opposite – the very thing you criticised your opposition for. I can only say again to quote Nick Clegg, 2010. “an end to broken promises” . People are saying on the doorsteps they do not trust Nick Clegg. Everything he is personally associated with, fails. It may be harsh but there we have it.

  • Andrew Heffernan 27th May '14 - 10:36am

    @ Steve Comer
    Re: Andrew Heffernon says “It is cowardice to throw Clegg away to protect ourselves” So what about the hundreds of local Councillors and the MEPs who’ve been thrown away over the last three years? Do they not count, or have we all become as Westminster obsessed as the Labour and Tory Parties?

    One of my problems with ditching Clegg now is precisely the point you raise. MPs in the party have been happy with Nick (at least publicly) when it was not their seats on the line. I stand by my point that it is cowardly to stand in 2015 on the back of these policies if the person who led us into the coalition and ensured they were enacted at is removed for expediency,

    @Maggie Smith

    Every councillor and MEP lost is devastating and I cannot begin to imagine how these people feel. None of my comments were directed at them and I would not like to even suggest a collateral damage style argument. I do however believe that as Liberal Democrat members they can be proud of what has been achieved in government even though that is no consolation for their loss.

    In response to your pupil premium comment, I don’t think it is an “abstract” concept. I am a school governor and also work in a school and have seen the real difference that the funding makes for students on FSM, I agree that that there are people struggling to pay bills but the choice is not do we fight unequal education OR lower bills.

  • David Allen – “Right Mr Jimble, so you are salivating at the enticing prospect of Lib Dem oblivion. Your advice to us is to keep Nick Clegg. Do you think we should trust that advice as being put forward in our party’s best interests?”

    My advice hasn’t been to keep Nick Clegg. My argument has been consistent in that getting rid of Clegg will not turn around LibDem fortunes. Just as the breaking of the student pledge on fees was the start, it’s not the sole reason voters are punishing you now.

    I suspect, unlike the majority of the electorate, I think there are 2 distinct parts of the LibDem party – it’s grass-roots, with which I share much political and ethical ethos and it’s Parliamentary party who seem to be inhabited by turncoat Tories. I believe the problem the LibDems have is that the majority of the electorate have watched the Parliamentary party implement Tory ideology with seemingly no regrets. So far your councillors and MEPs have paid the price of voters wanting vengence, which is a terrible shame as I understand many of them to be decent people working hard and doing a good job.

    So, when you ask if I am “salivating at the enticing prospect of Lib Dem oblivion”, no I’m not. We need a liberal party to prevent an ever-increasing political shift to the right. Unfortunately your party has been co-opted by closet Tories , but come the 2015 election, then hopefully many of them will depart or fade into obscurity and you can reclaim the party for liberals everywhere.

    P.s. please don’t peddle out the usual guff on the need to compromise in coalitions; the electorate aren’t stupid, we get it. It just seems that the LibDem Parliamentary party seem to have forgotten that not everything should be compromised on – sometime you have to stand up and be counted for and say no, no further.

  • Simin Shaw, well yes of course they are but they are perceived as ‘plain-speaking’ and upfront.

  • Are we driving with our brakes on because the elite in the Westminster bubble are too rapped up in the status quo? Are we not hungry for change any more or just hungry for government? If we cant get our message across in the media lets create our own media out let – lets be bold! Remember we are been talked about so we can get in the good we have done in government.

  • Just swapping nick doesn’t solve the problem of the one man band- that’ll just lead to another man band. All the parties are lead by one man bands at the moment. That’s lazy journalism and a lazy disinterested public. Don’t assume they know what they’re talking about.

    Nick clegg is unpopular because the libdems are unpopular. The libdems are unpopular because of tuition fees, and because we aren’t what people though we were. They thought we were just a protest vote, and we’ve got into parliament and become a serious party. We’ve messed with peoples heads and they don’t like that.

    People and newspapers love politician bashing, let’s not do that to ourselves. If we are proud of our record we are proud of Nick.

    How are people supposed to know what parties stand for if parties bend to polls and papers?

  • P.s im not saying we don’t need to change- we need to remind people that we want to change politics, the voting system, reform reform reform!

  • @Rosa – After the rejection of AV in a national referendum, I think changing the voting system is off the table for at least the next parliament if not longer.

  • But I agree with you it needs changing. The precedent is now set that it needs to be done via a referendum rather than say by parliament enacting the recommendations of the Jenkins commission. So now a national consensus needs to be created before it is even worth putting the question to the vote.

  • If the Labour and Tory vote share continues to plummet (which is not certain), and if the political landscape continues to fragment (and an implosion by the Liberal Democrats would probably create several new attempts to exploit the centre ground) then voters could start to see highly unexpected results in various constituencies. You could have MPs routinely getting in on 25% of the vote. At that point, people might begin to doubt the wisdom of an FPTP system. But you’d still need an extremely unpopular government which FPTP opponents could point to as resulting from the system.
    Arguably that is what we have now! But the Lib Dems are, unfortunately, horribly placed to make that case.
    At least, a fragmented landscape could take away the argument that proportional systems will create unending coalition governments. There will be more coalition governments, simply because it will be harder and harder for one party to get a majority (it’s not clear that any party will get a majority in 2015, and even if they do, it is likely to be the last time that happens for a while). The question will then be whether we have representative coalitions or unrepresentative ones.

  • If you know something of the history of politics you’ll know that this obsession with changing your leaders about as often as your socks in a modern idea – look at Churchill and Attlee, for example, didn’t just give in because they lost an election but continued. Under Clegg the party was back up to 23% of the vote, first time since 87. If the Lib Dems try and put anyone as leader with less than a year to go they won’t be able to make their mark, far better to wait and see 2015.

  • Don’t know if it’s been said above (no time to read all) but it sounds like you have been brainwashed by the Lab/Tory supporting media. Practically the entire media will report in the most negative way possible when it comes to the LIB/Dems- if anything at all, and nothing ever positive. Every “politician” will use student fees as the best discription of Lib/Dems.- of course never saying what they were going to do- worse!
    The Party voted for all we have got and i find you all a load of wimps giving in.
    This is the best Party and Nick Clegg is the best for the job (PM); most people have no idea what the Lib/Dems have done and stand for because no one tells them!

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