Opinion: For those about to defect – we don’t salute you

As the finishing touches are put to the coalition deal and the Laws-Osborne team begins to tackle public spending, what is becoming apparent is the Lib Dems will lose some members and voters who may never return.

Yet common sense must prevail, we are less than a week into a coalition Government and whilst there will be numerous concessions (nuclear power, the return of legal fox hunting and abstaining on tuition fees will disappoint the core vote), many are already turning their backs on the party now that it has secured the influence that it long campaigned for.

Indeed, it seems that bizarrely some people may have renounced their Liberalism before the exact details of the deal were actually announced, giving the impression that for some even talking to the Tories rendered the Lib Dems morally bankrupt.

But those turning their backs on the party must get a sense of perspective. Whilst many will have feel their skin crawl for a few years as many more concessions are extracted, it is only from within Government that Lib Dem aspirations such as wealth redistribution, reducing inequality and enacting much needed constitutional reforms can be implemented. The alternative would be to continue to fight principled but irrelevant causes such as saving local post offices.

This is not to say that the Lib Dems should continue to easily concede more of those key policies which made them distinct from the others and attracted people to the partyfor the sake of seats around the cabinet table. But those who voted Lib Dem have got exactly what they voted for – Lib Dem MPs and peers in Government and implementing policy.

Those who are now all too keen to fall into the arms of the welcoming Green Party or Labour must ask themselves why they even voted Lib Dem? Many may have regarded the Lib Dems as merely a subsidiary of Labour and a trendy protest vote – that the desire for a proportional system and a hung Parliament was not to influence Government policy but instead to cook up the numbers with Labour to stitch up the other parties.

Partnering on a formal basis with the Tories is far from ideal and there are many, including myself, who romanticize about a ‘progressive alliance’, although the phrase is easily used and harder defined, to curb the forces of Conservatism. However, given the Parliamentary arithmetic the public would have treated the Lib Dems with confusion followed by vitriol had they partnered with Labour. Besides, the Lib Dems have always been far more committed to this than Labour.

Labour believes it can now ‘carry the progressive mantle’ since the Lib Dems have ‘sold out’ by seeking to extract a deal enabling them to influence the programme of Government. Yet Labour’s actions in Government don’t back up their claims – they did not support party funding reforms, they do too well out of first past the post to want change, and the less said about the 90 days detention without charge the better. David Miliband’s comment that Labour ‘has been punished enough already’ for Iraq epitomises this inability to match rhetoric to reality.

Government is always unpopular and the Lib Dems will probably not benefit at the next General Election – as in Wales – yet if the Lib Dems can implement some of their key policies they can campaign at the next election on a record of Government rather than of aspirations.

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126 Comments

  • Does the anti fox hunting bill have to be lost? It is the one area where I disagree, for certain, with the current cTory policies.

  • Well said James, spot on and something I have been saying all week….the speed at which some people have jumped ship seems to be fine in their minds, the party has “sold out” according to them but they can’t see that that’s exactly what they have done.
    I fear for many leaving the party its but an excuse to go back to Labour under the guise of anger at this deal, others are clearly not & never have been true Liberal nor Democrats if they think that Labour can offer them want they want….and as you say we defiantly do not salute you!

    Billy while not meaning to dismiss anything as unimportant me thinks that in the top 10, 20 or even 50 problems facing the country fox hunting is(and probably always was) a very low priority to those other than a handful of people.
    As always Labour made a big song & dance about banning fox hunting for one simple reason….it was an easy way to stick it to the “toffs’….it made little political sense(most people in urban & suburban areas do not give it a second thought) but was a nice easy headline for New Labour.

    Lets hope this coalition has more pressing things to attend to then fox hunting and just leaves the law as is for the time being….I don’t think many in the country will be think taking up parliamentary time with this issue is a good idea.

    Back to Steve’s article lets hope that those with that passionate, irrational & basically narrow view that they can not stay on in the party depart now with little fuss or ceremony and let the rest of us get on.
    You’ve made your point and as the saying goes…now jog on.

  • ref Rantersparadise

    but we’re not labour-lite. Labour has shown themselves to be anti-liberalism and left the country in a total mess on so many levels. Of course, my views are coloured by the last 13 years and not the last 65 years but that’s the reality of where we are here and now.

    We’re not choosing the Tories over Labour. Labour couldn’t deliver. We’re choosing liberalism, our liberalism, our agenda – as much of it as we possibly can.

  • Andrew Shuttlewood 16th May '10 - 9:50am

    @billy

    The conservatives stated that there would be a FREE vote on fox hunting, ie NOT party line whipped.

    I would imagine that in this issue, the liberal democrat MPs would vote with their conscience, unless there is party policy that dictates otherwise? (Some may feel that fox hunting is a liberty matter?)

    Assuming that the majority of Labour MPs vote against, and some Tories vote against, then there probably wouldn’t be sufficient votes to undo the fox hunting ban.

  • Paul McKeown 16th May '10 - 9:51am

    A firm raspberry to Labour mini me’s everywhere.

    Now bog off so we can get on with the job of bringing real benefit to the lowest paid in the country, rather than just whinging.

  • Your workers came to my door and said vote lib dem and keep the Tories out becasue labour could not, you lied to me a voter, never again will I trust the lib dems.

  • I do not salute you either – you betrayed the cause – I haven’t.

    Trident
    Imigration
    Nuclear Power
    Europe
    Cuts
    PR

    You hav gained nothing but power and power is useless without principles.

    I shall find a party which believes in something.

  • If you have subscribed to Liberal philosophy You will not jump ship.
    There is very little similarity between any of the other parties and the Lib Dems.
    Of course some of the policies, both Labour and Tory, have arrived at the same point as Liberal ones, simply because they are the sensible option, not because the philosophies that they are advised by are the same.

    All party political policy making is the art of the possible, when it come to a coalition it is all that with knobs on.

    Were things like the repeal of fox hunting to come to the fore, MP’s would vote as they have always done. There would not be a three line whip. ( those with long memories will recall the Old Liberal party never use a three line whip anyway).

    A Coalition does require greater discipline by all parties, as those from both side will be required to follow the agreed agenda.

    In this particular coalition Both parties have been given the option to abstain on many traditional positions.

  • I agree with James. Good riddance to those who saw voting Lib Dem as a minor protest against the war in Iraq etc. And farewell to those who brand themselves ‘progressive’- they tend to be so Labour that they are conservative. This is an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats to influence policy from the inside; as opposed to stuck in our corner in the commons. I didn’t vote Lib Dem in the hope that I could wear our political impotence like a martyrs crown, and I have little time for those that did. I am not saying that this is ideal. Nor am I saying it will definitely work out for the best. But I voted Lib Dem because I wanted them to influence Government policy. Now they are the Government. If they desert their principles in power, then I will desert them, but I have no intention of abandoning them simply because they didn’t follow the Labour whip.

  • Participating, or not participating, in a coalition is not an emotive matter.

    Being offended by participation in a coalition is an emotive matter. A very small number of people seem offended that the Liberal Democrats did not vote for the failed Labour Party. To back this up, they lie about the intellectual pedigree of the Beveridge Report – to Liberals, of all people!

    To paraphrase American kids, “If you love Labour so much, why don’t you marry them?”

    Coalition Government: *6* Days Without An Illegal War

  • Nich it is obviousr that many of those claiming to be betrayed by the party are not even LibDem voters or supporters, just NuLabour* trolls who love a Government that is complicit in torture, enthusiastic for illegal wars as America’s poodle, and fully signed up to the surveillance police datastate. In my experience LibDems don’t tend to use words like ‘betrayal’ nand ‘traitor’, but NuLab do, all the time.

    *Or Greens. And you know just how ridiculous & authoritarian they are.

  • Andrew Suffield 16th May '10 - 10:33am

    suddenly behaving like Nu Labour has always being Labour when it hasn’t!

    Labour, guided by Tony prick Blair ruled for 13 years ONLY.

    Old Labour did not stand any candidates for election. You have to play the cards you’re dealt.

  • To those going to Labour, have you forgotten the slaughter in Iraq so easily ? Hundreds of thousands died in an unecessary war & until such time as The Labour Party makes a full, collective & unreserved apology every member must take full responsibility. Join Labour & you will have blood on your hands.
    To those going to The Greens I would ask if they really want the break-up of The UK ? The Scottish Greens are overwhelmingly in favour of Independence something that would lead inevitably to the creation of A Little England.

  • Andrew Kenning 16th May '10 - 10:45am

    It is incredible to see how cavalier some of you are at the prospect of lost support. The tone of ‘good riddance’ that underpins those remarks smacks of incredible arrogance in some cases and absolute ignorance in others.

    Like it or not, a lot of the votes that the party secured at the last election were anti-Tory and a great number of those people will not vote Lib Dem again, come hell or high water. So, with them gone, who is it that the Lib Dems attract now and how do they go about it? In the fullness of time, and no matter what the party tries to do to counteract it, it will not be able to shake off its unity with the Tories and will find it hard to create a separate identity.

    Particularly interesting today has been the reaction of Charles Kennedy who abstained from the vote on the proposed coalition. He described the events of last week as having driven ‘a strategic coach and horses through the long-nurtured ‘realignment of the centre-left to which leaders in the Liberal tradition – this one included – have all subscribed since the Jo Grimond era.’

    Just what is the party’s identity now? How is it going to define itself in conference season when all it can really do is attack Labour and go considerably easier on the Tories? On the policies that it is genuinely opposed to but has had to compromise, how will its MPs answer the questions of those in their constituencies voted for them in the belief that they represented a clear set of principles, only for them to abandon many of them for the sake of stitching together the coalition?

    For Labour, this is dreamland. They find themselves in Opposition to TWO rivals and able to take pot shots at coalition policies on which both of the parties involved are not wholly united. Dividing and conquering through unremitting attacks on the consequences of cuts should also prove pretty easy, and might even afford Labour the luxury of a radical realignment to the left, secure in the knowledge that they can prove in the minds of the voters that the Lib Dems have abandoned such principles.

    So, rather than offering a 3rd option, the Lib Dems have instead re-polarised British politics and left themselves in the wilderness of an irrevocably altered political landscape.

  • To be honest if Lib Dem supporters move over to Labour, and I expect some will, then I wish them no hard feelings and the best of luck.

    I’m sure there were quite a few people who still subscribe to the single party politics in their own mind, opposed the conservatives, but didn’t want to support labour who decided that the Lib Dem camp was for them. They could whole heartedly get behind the cause of voting reform and proportional representation, and the other ‘moral high ground’ policies of the Lib dems (that’s no slur, I agree with having morally correct principles and policies), knowing that it would mean more power for Lib Dems in the parliament (which is of course what politics is about, but especially so for for single party politics).

    The recent events have been a bit of a bitter pill to swallow, as people realise that supporting democratic, proportional representation, and coalition governments means making compromise, and that the Lib Dem’s commitment to putting the people before the party really did mean just that. This is hard to accept for people who, in their hearts, are wedded to the idea of single party politics, because with that the party doesn’t have to compromise its policies (even though it may well end up doing so.. and certainly no party has policies that everyone who votes for them agrees completely with).

    I hold no resentment to people who decide that they feel it more important to oppose the conservatives than to commit to the realities of co-operative politics. To be honest I’m very surprised to see the Conservatives embrace it to quite the extent they have, even if it has been ‘over the barrel’ as it were.

    But in my heart I still prefer the social ethics of Labour (if not some of it’s specific policies and solutions) than the right wing conservatives, and would have preferred the votes to mean we had a coalition with them instead. But a coalition, some moderation of Conservative policies, and integration of some Lib Dem policies is still a better result for me than having pure conservative policies put forward by the government.

    I would like to think that, regardless of whether you feel you can be in a party that is working with the conservatives, or whether you feel you can’t and move to Labour, that you at least respect the Lib dems for doing that much for the next 5 years, I hope the general public do as well.

    So to those leaving to Labour. I wish them well. I wish them well in lobbying and supporting policies that work towards a fairer society, and opposing ones which benefit only the well off, and I sincerely hope they do so with an open mind to being fair and impartial, rather than tribal and protective. I hope they can afford us the same respect we should afford them.

    I hold my head up having voted Lib Dem; for me, they have lived up to the principles of fair representation and collaberative, reformed and different government that I so much want. I hope this goes some way to healing over the ‘us’ or ‘them’ mentalities which we have slipped in to as a result of Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives appalling abuse of the poorer people in the 80’s, of the media’s intrusive and damaging influence in the political arena, and of the political system which has relied for far too long on attacking each other, rather than actually working out what is truly best for the country, in the interest of everyone.

    I know some people won’t agree with me, and that’s the whole point of Democracy and Liberalism, they are entitled to their point of view and stance. So I wish the Labour defectors well, and hope they remain open minded enough that we may one day see a Labour and Lib Dem coalition, and really find out what we can do when the people back a progressive government.

  • @nicksherrard 16th May '10 - 11:10am

    The key point for me is that the Liberal Democrats, and indeed the Liberal tradition in the UK, was supposed to be transformational. PR, overarching tax reform, core shifts in the way we go about our foreign policy; these were manifestations of a truly radical agenda focussed on transforming the country.

    As the Liberals have gone into govt they have talked like, walked like, and thought like management consultants. The deal they have done is a list of managerial changes bereft of ambition or sense of justice. And why should they, as their experience of modern Britain was so remote.

    Clegg and Cameron perhaps thought the ‘take it back’ campaign referred to them taking up their birthright rather than people getting a representative system. And yes it does matter for a party in the Liberal tradition that their rise has the effect of turning cabinet into a gentlemens club for white people. But yes some of the comments here are right – people like me should never have voted for, or worked for the Lib Dems.

    We were fooled into thinking it was a progressive party. We won’t make the same mistake again.

  • Let’s not be unkind to people who choose to disagree or leave for Labour. However much as I distrust the Tories the fact remains: children will no longer be held in detention centres, a pupil premium will be introduced, ID cards have been scrapped, the third runway at Heathrow has been scrapped, we are moving to a greener economy, capital gains tax will be restored to 40%, in 2011 those earning under £10,000 per year will be removed from income tax, and electoral reform albeit imperfect is on the radar. The Labour party was firmly against every one of these policies, with the single exception of their deathbed conversion to electoral reform. Sad but true.

  • Those members who actually want to belong to a party that takes its orders from billionaires, fights illegal wars, and is incredibly relaxed about people getting filthy rich, then joining Labour makes sense.

    Those who oppose propping up the Tory government, but are Liberal Democrats – and I count myself among them – they must stay and fight. When in 6 months time the miasma of delusion that has descended on the party this last week lifts, and daylight obtrudes, they will be needed.

  • @ rantersparadise

    I hear what you are saying.

    I understand too well the problems Conservatives created with their treatment of the poor and single mothers. I grew up in such a situation and I’ll never be able to forgive Thatcher for the way she treated some elements of society, not to mention creating a society more concerned with making money and with materialistic, personal gain, than with shared community, humanitarian and moral issues.

    I, like you, am pretty shocked that we, as a society seem to have forgotten this and that a large percentage voted for conservatives (or as I put it rather nastily, and probably unfairly, on one of my social networks, ‘against social equality’).

    I do respect the improvements Labour made to the NHS and to the welfare system, many people are angry that it is so open to abuse and fraud, which the Conservatives have used to their benefit in their campaign. I however would rather have a system that was abused, but provided for those who really do need it, than a system that was harsh, but didn’t provide the much needed support it should. Obviously the best is a system that is both supportive of those in need, and unable to be abused… but like all things ideals are never normally possible and a compromise needs to be found.

    However I do disagree with you over whether the party ever attained any power. I support them because I believe in what they stand for, not so that I can feel morally superior in knowing I back them, but because I want our country to have their principles at the heart of it’s government. You can’t do this by sitting on the sidelines.

    I don’t particularly like being in coalition with the conservatives, but even without the arguments that a coalition with Labour would create an insecure government (which I feel it would) and lead to an early election where the Tory’s could mount a pretty damning attack on the other coalition parties, and stand a better chance of getting a true majority; we still had to deal with the fact that Labour were, according to the Lib Dem negotiating team, not prepared to compromise on many issues, and were not generally up for making it work. Add to that the public opposition from leading Labour MP’s and the picture is pretty clear that Labour wasn’t prepared to do whatever it took to keep out a conservative government, knowing, probably quite rightly, that a few years to consolidate and pull themselves together would allow them to come back in a stronger position.

    The Lib Dems on the other hand, had only two real choices. Leave the population to be governed by a minority Tory government, propped up by an agreement to abstain from key votes on the budget and approaching the Queen. Or they could form a coalition and see how much they could modify the Tory government towards the ideals and principles they feel would be more beneficial to the general public. Let’s be clear, the Lib Dem leadership isn’t stupid, they would have known full well the effect a conservative coalition would have on their party. I find it hard to believe that anyone supporting the Lib dems, or Labour, can argue that 5 years of pure tory government would be better for the people than 5 years of the current coalition government. I at least hope people would respect the Lib Dems for putting their party on the line for that.

    Now the question is, given what we have seen, which party put the people before party, and which acted for its own benefits? I think it’s pretty obvious, which is why the Lib Dem’s retain my support. Because I didn’t just back them because I believe in their principles and policies (which I do), but also because I believe they truly do put the interest of the nation first, that they aren’t like ‘the two old parties’ when it comes to how they behave, standing for plurality and diverse representation in government.

    Ironically it is when those you most disagree with are in power, that you most need to be in a position to moderate what is going on. I’d have liked the Lib Dem’s to have more influence to moderate the conservative manifesto, I’d have liked the Conservatives to have had less influence in parliament, but the general public voted that way, we can’t hold the Party’s responsible for that, the fault lies with us (collectively meaning the whole country) not them.

    I think the Lib Dems have done the responsible thing, stuck to their belief in Democracy – which as you know means ‘rule of the people’, i.e. recognising the wishes of the people, not forcing your own views on them – and used the hand they were dealt as best they can.

    If we want a truly liberal and democratic society and government, it is the people of the nation we need to convince of this, they need to vote for liberal ideas, we can’t force it on them. But being in government gives a better opportunity to raise the kind of questions that need to be asked to get people thinking along those lines, and gives an opportunity to show what liberalism and democracy actually means.

  • @ @nicksherrard

    I think you’ll find that the Lib Dems still stand for all those overarching grand sweeping changes, however they cannot implement them without the will of the people… that is what Democracy means, did you think 23% of the vote (not to mention only 57 parliamentary setas) gave them a remit to enact all their policies? I’m surprised so many people fail to recognise this. The Lib Dems were not given a ticket to implement their manifesto unhindered, the people did not care enough to see it happen. So they had a choice of implement in a diluted form, concurrent with the actual amount of influence they were afforded by the general public, or not implement any of it at all, and see a fully conservative manifesto be implemented instead.

    If you stand for democracy, coalitions and the right of everyone to have a voice, you have to be bound by these too. It’s that simple.

  • Charles Anglin 16th May '10 - 12:20pm

    The fundamental flaw with the idea of a progressive alliance is that there has to be another progressive party to ally with, when in fact we were faced with a choice between two conservative parties. On the 3 issues we have been most criticised for compromising on – immigration, trident and nuclear there was no discernible difference between the Tories & labour. When it came to our demands on civil liberties, the environment and education it was the Tories who were prepared to meet us not Labour.

    Even looking back at the record of the last 13 years Labours record as s progressive govt is at best mixed – at worst ugly and authoritarian. The party of the Iraq war lie, of ID cards, of a rosing gap between rich & poor, of broken promises on PR referenda, which prevented councils from building council homes has abdicated any right it might have claimed to a progressive mantle.

    So looking back over the past week we could have subsumed ourselves into an alliance with a failed govt which long ago abandoned it’s principles or we could have done what it the end we did – and be true to ours & embrace a new politics.

    We are liberals and u believe we made the right choice. Now we have work to do.

  • Charles Anglin 16th May '10 - 12:54pm

    Kehaar

    Your point about spending cuts is sound – they will hit the poorest hard, but what you are choosing to ignore is that labour would have had to cut spending too. Govt spending of 49% GDP would have been unsustainable at the best of times, which these are most assuredly not. Labours only real claim to a progressive record s it’s massive rise in public spending but as we all know they too entered the election pledged to £50 billion of the very cuts which you describe.

    Due n large partto Labours economic mishandling the next few years are notgoing to be pretty but I for one that the party which has consistently stood up for social justice, civl liberties & the environment will be at the heart of decision making.

  • Ah yes, the “it doesn’t affect people on the dole” complaint about tax changes.

    Remind me of when it was that New Labour made signing on less difficult, and hiked dole to something nearer a liveable sum, I must have missed the papers that day. Indeed as I was on the dole for three years under Labour, they must have been doing it all wrong at my jobcentre – if only I’d known, I could have reported them!

  • rantersparadise
    “We should’ve stayed by ourselves and let the Tory run this country into a state. People came out in droves to vote for them, so THEY need to be responsible for their actions.”

    How short sited & stupid are you?
    Yes those that voted Tory may be to blame but we ALL have to live with the consequences, its not just Tory supporters…just how stupid a comment is that??

    You would rather the country went even further downhill to prove a point?
    You would rather people suffer just do you can so told you so…..and you think those people will turn round, thank you and ask you to take over and put it all right??!!!

    You think that any party could then pick up the mess and make it all fine & dandy?

    Its tragic that you and many others through your blind hate of the Tories(and some of Labour) would further put the stability of the country at stake so we could allegedly be the ONLY right choice….even as a long standing activist not even I think that would be the outcome….and even it it were at what cost?

    Your comments over the past week have been nothing short of pathetic and this tops the lot. While some say we should be “understanding” to those wanting to leave or having a pop your post does nothing to help that sentiment.

    I beg of you and other like mined people please leave, for the good of the party, country & yourselves…just go!

  • Personally I am very happy for those who are not keen on the coalition to stay if they want to. Surely by know we are grrown up enough to debate policy within the party? Having said that I think the thread is a reaction to those whose immediate reaction to the coalition was to use words like “betrayal” and “treachery” against the negotiators and those of us who support the coalition.

    Hopefully the vitriol on all sides will disiapate in time. Whilst we may have lost a couple of points in the polls (but what do they mean this soon after an election?) I see also that 70%+ of libdem voters support coalition.

  • I got what I voted for and if the free vote on repealing fox hunting is lost I’ll be a very happy man.
    Lib Dems have had principles for years and achieved very little; a little bit of power is already having an effect.

  • The Lib Dems have abandoned their principles for a place below the salt and control of the stationery cupboard. Get out of your farcical coalition while you still can. Join the other opposition parties and allow a minority Tory party to govern. Then your spokesmen and spokeswomen will no longer be gagged and will be able to speak openly; you will be able stand by the principles in your original manifesto; you will be able to exercise the real power a hung parliament has delivered to you: Your Votes; and you will be able to curb the Tories extremism. You may one day also be forgiven for your cynical attempts to cement yourselves and your Tory partners in power with an undemocratic and illiberal rigging of the parliamentary voting system.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 16th May '10 - 4:09pm

    “Whilst we may have lost a couple of points in the polls (but what do they mean this soon after an election?) I see also that 70%+ of libdem voters support coalition.”

    I think it’s important to realise we are still very much in the honeymoon period, and the party has received a huge amount of largely favourable coverage over the last few days. The acid test will come when the government starts to take unpopular measures – beginning with the “emergency budget”.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 16th May '10 - 5:00pm

    “This posting marks a low-point for LDV.”

    It doesn’t sound as though you’ve been reading LDV very long.

  • I find it astounding that there seems to be little understanding why lib dems members wish to go to Labour.
    For goodness sakes David Cameron the tory PM is Nick Clegg the lib dems leader’s boss!
    We have no identity, some people voted for us to keep the tories out.

    The only ones that benefit are Nick Clegg himself and his cabinet ministers. When the election comes they should go out door to door and attempt to convince the voters that a vote for libs is NOT a vote for Conservatives.

  • @Big Mak : you are so right.

    Meanwhile, I can’t believe people are seriously using Margaret Thatcher as a warning about what we are about to return to. No, some of us haven’t forgotten her. Unfortunately her ideology lives on in the policies of the Conservatives, Labour, LibDems, UKIP, Greens and an awful lot of other parties.

    To those saying “it was not Labour it was New Labour”, well, they are still New Labour. You might just as well talk about Conservatives and New Conservatives.

    Are we going to see a return to Thatcherism? Well, speaking as someone with left-leaning views, there would be some at least some good things about that compared to the nice “left-wing” Labour Party of today. Could we expect a rise in corporation taxes for large businesses, perhaps (which New Labour slashed when they got in)? The raising of the higher rate of income tax to 60% (it was at this level for 9 of Thatcher’s 11 years in office, whereas Labour kept it at 40% for 13 years)? The abolition of the tuition fees which Labour brought in? The repeal of their public-private finance initiative? Actually having state dental care vaguely worthy of the name, which was still true under Thatcher? And an Accident & Emergency dept. restored in my home city of 50,000 people, instead of the nearest one being 15 miles away following its closure under the Labour govt?

    Seriously, what is it that is so frightening of that Labour hasn’t already done? Who really thinks that there weren’t going to be huge cuts under labour had they won? Remember what Alastair Darling said before the election? (basically, “Labour will make bigger cuts than Thatcher did”). And I’m not defending Thatcher one bit. She produced the baton. Others since have run further with it.

    By the way, I work in the public sector and a few months ago I voted to strike in protest at the “left-wing” Labour govts. unilateral decision to massively slash the compensation for civil service employees in the event of compulsory redundancy – something they did without any consultation with the unions. Hmm, I wonder why they did that – what could they have been planning next? Well, my union didn’t strike but one other union did and also took legal action – you may have seen the ruling in the High Court – spookily, announced the day after the general election – that the Labour govts. action in this regard was simply illegal.

    New Labour certainly did implement some very worthwhile progressive policies but in other regards they also gladly continued even further down the Thatcher highway and introduced legislation she may have never dreamed about let alone come near to implementing. And I don’t recall Labour ever undoing any of their Tory-friendly legislation. The Conservatives actually abolished the poll tax they introduced and got rid of their beloved leader in the process.

    I respect the views of people who would never support a Coalition with the Tories – just as long as they would never support a coalition with Labour either.

    (A coalition which would probably looked as solid and stable as the very entertaining first 10 mins of this : http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00sfxpd/Scottish_First_Ministers_Questions_13_05_2010/ – they both take a few blows but I’m pretty sure Alex is the winner – if you want some light relief).

  • Wow, less than a week into coaltion govt and the ‘new politics’ appears to consist of telling members of your party that disagree with you to p*** off and join another party. And to think Blair/Brown control freakery was condemned – some ‘Liberals’ are sounding suspiciously Stalinist now they’ve got their hands on a bit of power.

  • ….but Sabrina as many people seem to insinuate its ok if a Lib Dem vote is one for Labour?

    I don’t have a problem with people not being happy with the deal(although Alec’s point about convicted killers is beyond disgraceful….I do wish people like him would truly & literally feck off and let us get on) but the majority seem only concerned that the deal was not with Labour.

    This to the general public & non-sad, anorak types like us smacks of hypocrisy, they hold both the “big” parties in contempt to varying degrees. That so many on here seem to forgive Labour almost dismissing 13 years of failure does not wash with most.
    As I have said for years just because many in the party can’t help naval gazing does not mean the general public feel the same as the party(about this subject or many things….voting Lib Dem does not mean an automatic second preference for Labour….no matter what people may insist)

    Until someone can show a poll of those who voted Lib Dem on May 5th with what may have been their second preference all this talk of “betrayal & selling out” is guess work & presumption that even the Dark Lord Madelson would be proud of!

  • Sabrina….who is “we”??

    I have NOTHING is common with Labour, and that you seem so ready to say you do would seriously pi** a lot of voters off south of the Watford Gap(and maybe a bit beyond)….if Labour as seems to be painted on these pages at times are so progressive, so great, so good why did they get hammered last week…..and why did you not vote straight for them?

    This whole “we” argument is scary, as I said before since when was any party especially the Lid Dems some harmonious, unified mass?
    Your & other’s presumption that all Lid Dems are instantly closer to Labour is insulting at best, you should ask the membership what it thinks, what would be their preference & “second choice”…..I am sure it would be no where in the region you think for Labour(I would bet a lot of money on in it in fact)

    And who do we serve Sabina? The activists only, the membership only or all that voted for us?
    Surely it has to be the widest net and trust me the love for Labour some people such as you have shown for the despicable Labour party is NOT, I repeat NOT born out in the wider sense.

    I think in reality that’s what hurts, you are marginalised, you feel you have been betrayed….just how I would have felt if we had gone in with Labour.
    So please stop using “we” ….you do NOT speak for me or many others with your views, like it or not many of us dislike both parties(many of here seem to have more than a soft spot for Labour) but being pragmatic & sensible(the maths in this case) means we have this deal…ranting about this “closeness”to Labour does the Lid Dem brand as much damage if not more than the coalition with the Tories.

  • Big Mack you need to calm down. There are lib dem voters who would have preferred to go with labour.
    I’m not saying that is everyone’s view.

  • Paul McKeown 16th May '10 - 6:38pm

    I’m a lifelong Lib Dem voter and occasional member and helper. I would just like all the Labour Mini Me’s here know how I really feel: I hate Labour. I hate so much of what they have done over the last 13 years. For me Labour is now equally as TOXIC as the Conservatives were after the Thatcher.

    I am prepared to see to what degree the Conservatives have changed, although it has to be said that I rather reserve judgement, given the ravings of many haters, climate change deniers and the like, that you find on blogs such as Conservative Home. [ Already Phillippa Stroud has been appointed as a special adviser, which really had me grinding my teeth. ]

    But anyone who thinks Labour is at present any way better than the Conservatives is amnesiac and deluded. And the voters certainly didn’t see things the way the Labour-liters did; perhaps they are all just stupid?

    LABOUR = TOXIC

  • “And the voters certainly didn’t see things the way the Labour-liters did; perhaps they are all just stupid?”

    And yet more voted Labour than Lib Dem. Nowt so queer as folk, eh Paul?

  • Nishma, Harrow 16th May '10 - 6:59pm

    Can we get a reallity check on public sector spending please. I am a long standing civil servant, 20 years working under both Tory and Labour governments and would like to think i can offer an insiders perspective on this.

    In 2001, once a 2nd and possibly a 3rd term had been secured, Gordon Brown went on a massive spending spree… Not all of them very sensible. Think ID cards! Up until then Labour had largely been following tory spending plans, then with this sudden increase in funds, they didn’t know how to spend it and to put it bluntly they didn’t trust the civil service, so they hired hundreds of special advisors, consultants and think tanky types to tell them how. People who knew nothing about how the public sector works and we civil servants had to teach them! I have personally worked on a number of projects which didn’t go through because the advice the consultants provided was rubbish and Directors and Ministers refused to go ahead. We are talking £ms of taxpayers money spent on useless powerpoint presentations!

    Secondly, the spending spree went on creating whole tiers of public administration, quangos, non-departmental public bodies, and regional bodies – strategic health authorities, regional development agencies. Each body had its own finance people, hr people, IT people and so the headcount just rose and rose.

    Thirdly, they kept restructuring the machinery of govt with no end of re-branding. Does anyone remember the day that they decided to rename the DTI to the Dept for Productivity, Energy and Innovation. Rebranding complete they realised they had created a DoPEI dept when they launched the website… DoPEI lasted precisley 24 hours before it reverted to DTI!!! I even worked at Defra when they spent a year transforming the NDPB English Nature to Natural England. If anyone can tell me difference in remit between the two I would be grateful!

    And finally why do people assume that the immediate cuts will be in headcount it takes 6-12 months to negotiate redundancy deals with the unions, and you have to work out which policies are going to be dumped first. The immediate cuts will be scrapping stupid big brotheresque schemes like ID cards or the NHS database and scrapping the aforementioned quangos.

    As a good and decent public servant and as a taxpayer I am sick of seeing the wastage of taxpayers money. I want to work for Ministers that set clear priorities rather than a govt which was hell bent on governing every aspect of our existence. So to round off, lets give this bunch a chance to prove themselves, lets face it they cant bungle things any more than the last lot did!

  • Paul McKeown 16th May '10 - 7:28pm

    @Peter – just the majoritarian duopolists scaring the life out of people with their “vote x get y” cant was just the usual attempt to terrify the voters into voting against what they disliked the most rather than what they actually wanted. We’ll see what happens with the reform to party funding, perhaps your vested interest chums in the Trades Unions won’t be able to buy your dear Labour party seats with generous funding. And let’s not forget the electoral reform coming to create equal size constituences, that should fix you and your pro-Labour gerrymander up, too. As it is LD always suffered from the voter’s impression that a vote for LD was a wasted vote, they won’t now, and they will see that the LDs will have implemented large parts of their manifesto to the country’s benefit. But, come back to me in some future date with your numbers after we hold the first general election under proportional representation.

  • Paul McKeown 16th May '10 - 7:30pm

    @Kehar – Yes it never made sense to see the Liberal Democrat party as a Labour Mini Me, did it? Now the Mini Me-ists can just bog off, whilst the rest of us get on with Liberal Democracy.

  • @Paul

    Why are you addressing me as a Labour member/supporter? Where have I said that? In what sense are the Trade Unions ‘my’ vested interest chums? Why would I have instigated a pro-Labour gerrymander?

    I love this ‘new politics’. Not a hint of paranoid tribalist assumption, unsupported assertion and quite disturbing ranting. V refreshing.

  • Paul McKeown 16th May '10 - 7:49pm

    @Peter

    Labour: they don’t like it up em.

  • @ Peter, it’s not the new politics… its just the internet. It’s always been the worst place to try and find reasoned debate, especially amongst essentially unmoderated open comments sections.. 🙂

  • David Morton 16th May '10 - 8:53pm

    What a completely graceless article. Even assuming the coalition is a broad success it will be as popular as small pox in two years time because of the sscale of the public spending cuts needed. Many decent Lib Dem Councillors will discover its not just Labour and Conservatives that lose their seats on national issues.

    When the party is in the trenches I think some might find members less expendible than they do now.

  • @Kehaar: “Because they were Social Democrats?”

    Why not vote “TUSC” then?

  • “yet if the Lib Dems can implement some of their key policies they can campaign at the next election on a record of Government rather than of aspirations.” – does this mean that we will be dropping the campaigning line “Vote LIberal Democrat – the only real option to keep the Conservatives out of government”, which gained us many votes from Labour in this election?

  • Kehaar,

    Now, let’s see. The haar is a mist that comes in off the North Sea. And ke is the Basque word for smoke. So you must be the Icelandic ash cloud.

  • This does sound just a little triumphalist really and gives me cause for concern. If you can be so off-hand with members who are leaving, just what atitude is adopted to the voters who didn’t vote for you? Or those who will at some point object to one thing or another?

    It doesn’t matter what party anyone voted for or in the past now. Publicly (and privately) you all need to be honest, compassionate, professional and responsible when submitting articles to all media.

    As a voter and member of no party I’m scared. I’m really frightened. I lived the Thatcher nightmare. I lived and worked in what I saw as a false economy under New Labour. The politicians and the media pretended things weren’t as we experienced, and no one in power was ever willing to be honest.

    Those of you who make a living from politics have chosen to work in a career few of the public are willing to trust. That is your choice. You can choose to sort out our politics, our economy and our climate or you can choose to please yourselves.

    For my part I will live in the storms you create. And I will do whatever I can to keep myself safe navigating the destructive storms politics, economics and climate will most definitely throw at us all. Maybe I will survive those storms or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll be one of the lucky ones who holds on to my job, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll be able to keep warm in the winter, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll keep a roof over my head or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll have enough to eat and be able to afford some kind of life with meaning or maybe I won’t. Whatever the price to be paid for political decisions we all know it won’t be the decision-makers who will be paying the real price for the difficulties, the failures, the incompetence and indifference, the lack of responsibility and the dishonesty we’ve had for decades.

    At this very moment I’m listening to an elderly Hurd mention that some of your policies are dotty, this from a man who has a been an elected member of a party, a party that has just hired Stroud as a special adviser, a woman who was rejected at the ballot box! That demonstration of friendly solidarity rather then intelligent, enlightened values with responsibility hardly soothes my fears.

    I was really hoping I’d learn something here today, something of value with understanding of what will be unleashed on us all in the next few years.

    I’m taking a day owed to me tomorrow. I’ve decided. I don’t care what the weather is like, I’m going to pound a country path and spend the day pretending the rest of the world simply doesn’t exist.

  • “some people voted for us to keep the tories out”

    So you didn’t vote Lib Dem to see Lib Dem policies enacted?

    “to keep the Tories out” – what would be the alternative to the Tories in power? Minority or majority, they were going to be there. you wasted your vote, all by yourself, with no help from Clegg.

  • I voted lib dem. I want to see our policies enacted. If I would have known that vote would be used to prop up a tory government then I would not have. It really was a wasted vote.

  • Andrew Kenning 17th May '10 - 4:09am

    The key question at the end of all this has to be, who will the Lib Dems get to vote for them next time? The blog author seems happy to see the back of those who did so as a ‘protest vote’ this time, but the reality is that it is ‘floating’ or ‘protest’ voters who often make a BIG difference to the Lib Dem vote at every election. So, who is it that you think you will attract now, James?

    As a quick example, I supported Amy Kitcher in the constituency of Merthyr Tydfil, a valleys’ Labour stronghold and the first UK seat ever to return a Labour MP (Keir Hardie) in 1905. She did fantastically well in that seat, engineering a 17% swing and reducing a 13,000+ majority to just over 4,000. Take it from me, that will NEVER happen again because many of those who did vote for her (about a dozen of my own family included) feel that they have been made to vote Tory by proxy. True, their vote did not make any difference to the national position, but the feeling that they have, in effect, been made to vote Conservative has left a very bitter taste in their mouths.

  • A lot of people voted Lib Dem because they were worried about Labour under Mr Brown and yet didn’t want Cameron in no 10, not necessarily because they totally agree with LIb Dem. After all Mr Clegg is on film as saying he wouldn’t repeal the hunting ban. But as soon as he got the opportunity to get into power he allied himself with Cameron and has sold out to the Conservatives. And now our wildlife is at risk because he has caved in on the hunting ban, and 80 years of work that culminated in the ban is in danger of being swept aside. This shouldn’t be a concession when more than 75% of the population of this country want the hunting ban to stay.

  • “I voted lib dem. I want to see our policies enacted. If I would have known that vote would be used to prop up a tory government then I would not have. It really was a wasted vote.”

    Lib Dem policies are being enacted. There was no chance of a Labour coalition anyway, and even if there were they would not have budged on any policy.

    The Lib Dems aren’t propping up the Tories. The Tories would be in power anyway. Why does this not penetrate your small skull?

    “A lot of people voted Lib Dem because they were worried about Labour under Mr Brown and yet didn’t want Cameron in no 10, not necessarily because they totally agree with LIb Dem.”

    Why not join Labour and elect a different leader, if that’s what you were worried about? The reason Cameron got the most votes is because everyone hates Labour – not just Brown, but the 10 years before that too.

    If you want a Labour government, vote Labour. It really is that simple.

    Do you all express the same childishness and unwillingness to compromise in everyday life? Then you must all be unemployed keyboard warriors. No one would employ people with such silly, small-minded views of the world.

  • “True, their vote did not make any difference to the national position, but the feeling that they have, in effect, been made to vote Conservative has left a very bitter taste in their mouths.”

    So you acknowledge that their vote “didn’t let the Tories into No.10? Then surely the fault is with them for not understanding how politics works. They haven’t been made to vote Conservative. Sorry, but those people are just stupid. You should educate them.

  • Andrew Kenning 17th May '10 - 9:45am

    “So you acknowledge that their vote “didn’t let the Tories into No.10? Then surely the fault is with them for not understanding how politics works. They haven’t been made to vote Conservative. Sorry, but those people are just stupid. You should educate them.”

    The key words in my posting were ‘they have been made to feel’. No amount of spin is going to make many people see that differently,it is an entirely understandable reaction, one born not of stupidity but a feeling of betrayal,of being made to feel complicit in something that they would never have consciously signed up for. Illogical it might be but it doesn’t devalue it as a response. Politics is as much about emotions as it is about thoughts.

    The key point has also been missed. In constituencies like the one that I mentioned, the Lib Dems have created a situation from which there is no way back for their candidates. They should make the most of their short time in power because it could be decades before they get anywhere near the cabinet table again. They should have let the Tories rule as a minority and retained the dignity of being a genuine opposition party.

  • “They should have let the Tories rule as a minority and retained the dignity of being a genuine opposition party.”

    Letting the Tories rule as an unstable minority government at a time of serious economic crisis would’ve been irresponsible, and you would’ve criticised the Lib Dems had they done that too.

    Not sure what is dignified about being in opposition and not seeing any of your policies passed, when you have the chance to pass many of your most important.

  • blanco you are rude and abusive and I will not be responding to any more of your diatribe.
    Oh and for you information, regarding my employment status I am a A&E Doctor, so why don’t you take your anorak and your flask of tea and head down to your local train station.
    Its this kind of arrogance which will be the party’s downfall.

  • Andrew cheers for that. I have just checked out your blog and it looks pretty cool. A place to discuss issues without being insulted.
    And as for charisma, some people have and unfortunately some people don’t.

  • Andrea Gill 17th May '10 - 4:01pm

    “I voted lib dem. I want to see our policies enacted.”

    And now you will. Stop moaning!

  • Andrew Kenning wrote:

    “Power at any price seems some people’s view.”

    Sounds like Tony Blair.

  • It is almost certain that the party will loose support (and members) over this. I regret that.

    But this coalition is right for the Lib Dems, right for the UK and right for our values. On Sunday one of our MPs said that it’s not about power, it’s about what you do with it. She is absolutely right. I do not believe that any party should sell out in order to get into power, but that is not what we have done. We have had to compromise on some things, and I am deeply unhappy about the agreement on PR and on student fees (I would go so far as to urge Lib Dem MPs to rebel on these issues), but look at what we have managed to get into the agreement then it is clear that this agreement is a good deal for the Lib Dems. Liberal Democrats are now in government, not for the sake of being in government, but there actively putting Lib Dem policies into practice, policies for which we have campaigned for years.

    Our alternatives were to try to cobble together a deal with a number of different parties with a very reluctant Labour party in the lead of this coalition or to let the Tories go it alone. The first, despite what those of us on the left of the party would have wanted, was never a serious option. Labour were not interested and even if they had been, we’d have been slaughtered for propping up a government which had lost the trust of the people. I don’t like talking about mandates (because it’s a flawed and slippery concept) but the perception on the ground was that Labour, and Gordon Brown in particular had lost their mandate. A minority Tory government would, in my opinion, be a total disaster. I believe that they would have called another election in a few months and tried to get a majority. Even if they hadn’t the instability would have hurt the economy. I do not believe that the markets should be allowed to dictate every aspect of government, but they are a consideration. In the months before the election, I think that Cameron would have had to tack to the right in order to keep the extremes of his back-benches on side.

    I am not uncritical of the coalition, in life you do not always get everything you want and, if we really believe in deliberative democracy and PR, then we have to accept that government has to be based on compromise. I am not happy to see David Cameron in Downing Street, but this is not a Conservative government, this is a Liberal Democrat/Conservative government which is following a Liberal Democrat and Conservative programme for government. If Cameron has to be PM, and I see no other way given the election results and Labours disinterest in compromise, then I would rather have him pandering to Chris Huhne or Charles Kennedy than Norman Tebbit or Dan Hannan.

    In short, we have Liberal Democrat ministers in government pursuing Liberal Democrat policies. We could have stayed in opposition, that would have been easy, but it also would have been fruitless. I didn’t join the Liberal Democrats so that I could be a holier-than-thou purist opposition member un-sullied by government, I joined because I believe in the things that the party stands for. Some of those things are now being progressed.

    It is never nice to lose support (although it was always going to happen) and it is never nice to lose members. Many of these members will be missed. I find the tone of the comments aimed that these members (sod off etc) deeply distasteful. I also regret that we can’t go any further on PR, student fees or public spending, but we must look at the big picture, and the big picture is that we are finally in a position to realise our aspirations and to put our beliefs at the heart of government.

  • you fooled me I thought you were centre left and the most principled

    all my life I ‘ve voted labour/green but have admired and envied many of your constitutional/defence policies

    I really was looking forward to a coalition thgat would bring about PR and unilateralism

    my pie is well and truly in the sky now

  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8688345.stm

    http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland/Baby-girl–held-.6300541.jp

    Good that some Lib Dems have principles. Cue LD meltdown at Holyrood next year. Especially when the Tories’ cuts start to bite.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th May '10 - 10:49am

    There is a big centre ground of people who aren’t really happy with the coalition with the Conservatives, but recognise that it was the only realistic option given the arithmetic of the new parliament and the dire state of the economy. I.e. the argument that if we said we’d go vote by vote for supporting or not a minority Conservative government, the fat cats would threaten their form of industrial action until the country was brought to its knees is a compelling one.

    Nick Clegg needs to remember that if he wishes to remain leader of a sizeable Liberal Democrats, he really needs to make sure he doesn’t piss off those of us in this centre ground. On the other hand, if he wishes to play the John Simon role, I’m sure the Conservatives will let him keep a token National Liberal Democrats to lead, so his job’s safe, even if the rest of us get consigned to oblivion.

  • David Raynor 18th May '10 - 12:54pm

    BTW

    Heil James Staff!

    We dared to question you, but we should have kept our mouths closed clearly!

  • Kevin Colwill 19th May '10 - 12:54am

    For “defect” read, maybe, “realign”.
    We’ve always onsidered a possible realignment of the left. What price a more general realignment of the British politics?
    Tory Euro Sceptics defections to a revamped UKIP. Lib Dem defections to a socially liberal Tory party. The Greens picking up the hard core environmentalist faction. Labour collecting the few Lib Dems who retain collectivist sympathies.
    A chain reaction may have started .The Lib Dems could be realigned out power, influence and ultimately existence.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 19th May '10 - 1:25am

    “The Lib Dems could be realigned out power, influence and ultimately existence.”

    Well, maybe, and maybe not. Either way, it’s good that you’ve been honest about where you’re coming from.

  • Julia Hayward 19th May '10 - 10:42am

    If there’s one thing I look forward to getting out of this coalition, it’s AV. Perhaps not STV to satisfy the proportionality purists, but it would at least lay to rest forever the endless permutations on “vote X if you want Y” crap.

    And when people realise they can vote – and join parties – with their consciences first, rather than form awkward marriages of convenience, I am sure ALL political parties will see a lot of coming and going.

  • I find it deeply depressing that the author of this article, James Staff, can so lightly accept “the return of legal fox hunting”. The campaign to protect wild animals from the cruelty of hunting and coursing goes back well over one hundred years (is that longer than the campaign for proportional representation?) and now just a mere six years after that goal has finally been achieved (albeit with an imperfect law that needs to be improved) there are, apparently, Liberal Democrat politicians who are prepared to concede “the return of legal fox hunting”. Over one hundred years of campaigning overturned in the blink of an eye. I am disgusted.

    And do not forget that the Hunting Act is not just about foxhunting, it also bans deer and hare hunting and the blatant cruelty of hare coursing – how can this coalition government possibly justify re-legalising this vile and barbaric activity?

    With regard to foxhunting, the naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham sums up the situation very well in the current edition of ‘BBC Countryfile Magazine’ (May 2010, page 37). In his list of what is ‘bad about the British countryside’ he includes “Fox Hunting” and writes:
    “The abject notion that fox hunting may be legalised once again contradicts our respect for life. It’s not that the fox is not a ‘pest’, it’s not that it’s a ‘toff’s “sport”‘, it’s not that it’s illegal, it’s that it’s no longer compatible with how we treat our wildlife. How can we condone ripping something to bits for fun?”

    I am extremely unhappy that last Sunday’s Lib Dem conference failed to address this issue and pass an amendment calling for the party to oppose any move to repeal the Hunting Act. Any attempt by the Conservatives, and hence by the Coalition, to repeal the Act and re-legalise fox hunting and hare coursing will be an extremely regressive move. Personally I am going to be furious if I discover that I have been misled into putting in place a government that supports the vile cruelty of hunting.

    I live in a West Country constituency that is a tight Lib Dem/Conservative marginal and one of the reasons I voted Lib Dem is because I strongly support the hunting ban and wanted to stop the Conservatives repealing the Hunting Act (the sitting Lib Dem MP won). I have always been told that the banning of hunting is Lib Dem policy and I recently saw a YouTube video of Nick Clegg stating that he would oppose any attempt to repeal the Act, but that was before this coalition deal. Can I and my family, as Lib Dem voters, trust Mr Clegg not to kowtow to the Conservatives on this issue? If he allows the Conservatives to re-legalise hunting then I’m sorry but I will not be voting Lib Dem again.

    If David Cameron really wants to govern for the ‘good of the country’ and wants to put his ‘Big Society’ ideas into practice then he should accept that the vast majority of the British public support the ban on hunting and, therefore, he should NOT attempt to repeal the Hunting Act. Also, Mr Cameron’s acknowledgement that hunting and coursing really are history in Britain, never to return, would be a sign that the Conservative Party has genuinely modernised itself – this issue is the Conservatives’ ‘Clause Four Moment’. Moreover, any move to repeal the Hunting Act would be extremely divisive both within parliament and within the country at large – something that the new coalition would surely wish to avoid. Nick Clegg should persuade Mr Cameron of this fact.

  • TerryS – I dont condone fox hunting, hooray we don’t have poor little foxes hunted by idiots on horses and a pack of rabid dogs but lets ignore the amount who are poisoned and shot, cos that’s okay isn’t it. To base your principles for voting for a party/government on whether fox hunting is allowed or not when there are far more pressing needs in this country is pretty sad really.
    Kathy – What is a ‘Tory school’

  • The lib dems may pick up members and voters from the coalition as well. I think this move may define them to a new generation of voters – liberals who see themselves as a separate entity from the ‘SDP/ labour offshoot’. Economic liberals who object to the authoritarian and nanny state attitudes of labour, but distrust elements of the tory party they view to be too socially right wing or irrelevant (caring that much about fox hunting).

  • A lot of people voted LibDem because up and down the country we put out leaflets with a little graph saying “Only the LibDems can beat the Tories here” or “Only the LibDems can beat Labour here”. We positively invited the nation to vote tactically and not vote for LibDem policies. So we can hardly complain when many of these people feel they have been treated as fools.

    We are still in the honeymoon and our friends are already whispering about it being a disastrous marriage! We are now locked in for five years, with no chance of a quickie divorce and with a promise from Nick’s boss Dave that we can sit on the fence when the Tories trundle through Trident and increases in tuition fees.

    I hope that next year’s Holyrood and Cardiff elections give us sufficient warning to act on time, withdraw from this disastrous coalition and work in the best Liberal traditions to defeat the Tories when they are wrong and support them when they are right. I suspect that is the even-handedness and free-thinking which appealed to a lot of our voters. I think a lot of people are as shocked as I am that a party with a reputation for principled behaviour has shown itself to be just as grubby as the others as soon as there is any whiff of power.

  • I’ve voted Lib Dem at every local and national election in which I have been eligible. Since Nick Clegg became the leader of the party I’ve felt wary, and a touch put off. I still voted on the grounds that even with his leadership the party still offered the fairest policies, and considered my vote a vote for PR.

    I won’t vote Lib Dem again. I agree with coalition politics, but feel this is not going to benefit the Lib Dems as our electoral system is far from fair and just. The two party dominance will still exist in five years, except the Lib Dems will no longer be able to distance themselves, and will have alienated far more of their traditional support base through the alliance with Cameron.

    I am 25 and to my knowledge 100% healthy. Nick Clegg has ruined the one hope I had that we might actually achieve meaningful electoral reform in my lifetime by demolishing the steady progress that has been made over the past two decades in favour of a quick win. .You may not salute me, I do not care. For I no longer salute you.

  • Cowley, why do you use the word grubby?

    Politics is compromise at times. Given the position they were in the Lib Dems seem to have done pretty well. Of course, the Lib Dems want to beat the Tories. They are a separate party

  • Geoff writes: “… but lets ignore the amount [of foxes] who are poisoned and shot, cos that’s okay isn’t it.”

    No, it most certainly is not okay, and I am disappointed that you should suggest that it is (I note the lack of a question mark terminating your statement). For the record it is already illegal to poison foxes in Britain, so if you are aware of anyone doing this then you should report them to the police so that they can be apprehended and prosecuted. Further, I am strongly opposed to the indiscriminate shooting of foxes, especially with shotguns at excessive distance, and at the very least there should be a closed season during their breeding period, as there is with most other quarry species. I did not refer to any of this in my original message because the coalition policy under discussion was repeal of the Hunting Act which only covers hunting with scent hounds and coursing with sighthounds.

    Geoff writes: “To base your principles for voting for a party/government on whether fox hunting is allowed or not when there are far more pressing needs in this country is pretty sad really.”

    First, you misrepresent what I wrote; in my original message I stated, “one of the reasons I voted Lib Dem is because I strongly support the hunting ban”. In order for a political party to gain my vote then the abolition of foxhunting is a necessary condition, but it is not a sufficient condition. Yes, there are “far more pressing needs in this country”, at no point have I suggested otherwise. In all such cases it is my opinion that either the Lib Dem polices are satisfactory or that they are no worse than the alternatives from other parties or that they, together with all the alternatives, are equally bad (ineffective or irrelevant).

    Second, what really is “pretty sad” is that there are Liberal Democrat politicians who do not appreciate the totemic nature of foxhunting with respect to building a ‘green society’ and with respect to our relationship with the natural world, and ultimately there is nothing more “pressing” than this. (See the words of Chris Packham quoted in my original message.) As an aside, a week ago David Cameron stated that he wants the new coalition administration to be “the greenest government ever”, and yet all he talked about was cutting carbon dioxide emission. Whilst this is indeed important, there is far more to being ‘green’ than this – many other sources of pollution need addressing, habitat and biodiversity needs preserving, animal welfare needs improving, etc, etc, etc. To suggest that an administration that seeks to legalise the tearing apart of wild mammals for fun could possibly be “the greenest government ever” is laughable.

    I want to support this coalition but, come the next General Election, there is no way that my conscience would allow me to vote either Lib Dem or Conservative if the coalition repeals the Hunting Act. I sincerely hope that Nick Clegg ensures that this issue is kicked into the ‘political long grass’ for the duration of this parliament or ensures that any vote to repeal the Act is lost and the hunting ban stays in place. Otherwise the Lib Dems are going to lose a lot of votes here in the West Country where many in the electorate are all too familiar with the needless cruelty and vileness of hunting.

  • If you love foxes why not vote Labour, who brought the ban in FFS?

    I don’t like foxhunting either, and I don’t like those who think they have a “right” to do so. But how is it in any way comparable to the large-scale slaughter of human beings in Iraq and Afghanistan, whose blood is on the hands of the Labour party who you want to cosy up to?

  • Terry S – No I do not believe it is okay to poison and shoot foxes, I was making the point that far more foxes are killed by methods other than hunting. Other than that, I agree with what Blanco said.

  • Blanco, at no point did I say, or even suggest, that I wanted to “cosy up to” the Labour Party (in fact I never even mentioned Labour). You are correct that their record in Iraq and Afghanistan is deplorable and shameful and, as a consequence, I would not vote Labour. Also, on a purely pragmatic level, a vote for Labour is totally wasted where I live – they are never going to win here. At the recent general election Labour received just over 4% of the vote, whereas the Conservatives and the Lib Dems got about 44% and 47% respectively.

    My point is that Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems should have pointed out to David Cameron and the Conservatives that all opinion polls show that the vast majority of the public support the hunting ban, and that a supposedly ‘progressive coalition’ should not be attempting to legalise the tearing apart of wild mammals for fun. I am extremely disappointed that Nick Clegg apparently caved in to David Cameron so easily on this issue.

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