Opinion: GE2015, where did it all go wrong?

The 2015 election is certainly not one to remember for the Liberal Democrats. Losing many great MP’s like David Laws and Vince Cable will certainly take a long time to recover from, but what exactly went wrong and why did we do much worse than forecast.

Triumph of fear over hope.

There is no doubt that the Conservative tactics of pitting England against Scotland worked for them. The idea of a Labour-SNP coalition was too much for many centre ground floating voters who voted tactically for them. Instead of defending their record and talking about the real issues the Conservatives instead spent the campaign promoting English nationalism and spreading fear. This tactic did for many of our MPs in Tory-LD marginal in the southern regions of England. Whilst it has worked in the short term it will cause problems for David Cameron over the course of the next parliament as he governs a hugely divided country with little support north of the border.

SNP Success

The unprecedented success of the SNP north of the border was too much for both ourselves and Labour. Swings of up to 39% (Portillo in 1997 was 17%) meant that virtually no one was able to survive the SNP tide. Huge credit has to go to Alistair Carmichael in Orkney and Shetland who managed to hold on to his seat. The Scots have inadvertently let David Cameron back in to Downing Street. The double whammy of a reduced opposition force of Lib Dem and Labour MPs and the aforementioned scare tactics employed by the Tories in England mean that the success of the SNP has directly led to a Conservative majority – ironically the thing they were trying to stop at all costs.

Lack of campaign clarity

It certainly seemed at times that we were unsure of how to position themselves against Labour and the Conservatives. On one hand they were defending the record of the coalition government which alienated many of the left-leaning supporters who voted for us in 2010 and on the other we distanced ourselves from it which persuaded many centre-right voters to ditch them for the Conservatives. Whilst promoting the balanced and sensible approach is certainly a credible and sensible position to take, it left many not knowing what the party stands for other than limiting the excesses of the others.

In spite of the hammering we got on Thursday we know that Liberalism and values of fairness and liberty will never die. It will take a long time to recover from this but there is no doubt that we will. Over the next parliament it will become apparent that much of the work done by Lib Dem MPs was sensible and worthwhile and a Tory government lurching off to the right will show the electorate that they made a mistake this time.

* Adam Warner is a Lib Dem activist in Worcester

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73 Comments

  • “Over the next parliament it will become apparent that much of the work done by Lib Dem MPs was sensible and worthwhile and a Tory government lurching off to the right will show the electorate that they made a mistake this time.”

    Personally, I think that narrative a vote loser. I’m going to call it the ‘wagging finger’ narrative.

  • Here we go, another in denial. Its all the voters’ fault! You became Tories so why not vote for Tories or someone not Tory was the response.

  • It all went wrong when we joined with the Tories and reneged on previous manifesto commitments, in particular on education and the NHS. I thought this was well understood, but clearly some members are still in pre-election utopian narrative mode; nobody likes phrases like the “Triumph of fear over hope”, it makes it sound like you’re saying what someone has told you to say, probably Tim Farron – not a good look.

    >It will take a long time to recover from this but there is no doubt that we will.

    The splinter Liberal Party used to say they’d recover from the SDP/Liberal Alliance, they never did. I’d suggest stop talking, start listening? Perhaps you don’t have the answers yet?

    >Over the next parliament it will become apparent

    If you know what’s going to happen next you should of spoken up prior to the wipeout. Many did.

    Another great illustration of what has gone so badly wrong.

  • WildColonialBoy 10th May '15 - 4:05pm

    @Bolano

    Well said. The electorate will not take kindly to being lectured by the Liberal Democrats. Fundamentally, by the end of the coalition the Lib Dems didn’t seem like they stood for anything except being in coalition (which obviously suits the party principals just fine given they hold onto red boxes and ministerial limos).

    The problem is that so much of what we have been told by the Lib Dems has been self-serving nonsense; like the idea that if they hadn’t have gone into coalition, the Tories would have been able to do anything they liked. How? Without a majority they would have been impotent. And the idea that the Tories would have won an election if the Lib Dems had shown some backbone and put their foot down on policies like tuition fees; again, how? Labour was far, far ahead in the polls until mid-2013.

    Which brings me to another self-serving myth of the coalition; the idea that they came in to fix the books. The coalition cut hard until 2012, until they realised the economy was tanking. They then u-turned, and in fact the deficit increased from 2012 to 2013 (going up from about 90 billion to 108 billion). Between then and the 2015 election there was very little actual progress on the deficit (reduced to 76 billion when it should have been 0 by the election).

    The Lib Dems still don’t seem to realise they were played by the Tories, and that some in the Liberal Democrat leadership were quite happy to be played because it allowed them to drop policies they didn’t agree with anyway.

    The fact is that you cannot buy the fictitious Tory arguments about Labour wrecking the economy and then expect centre-left voters to consider voting for you.

  • As a former member and former Lib Dem voter I want to add my voice as to what went wrong for the Lib Dems. I’ve been a Lib Dem voter all my life until in both 2010 and 2015 I found myself living in seats (Derbyshire South 2010 and Exeter this year) which were pure Labour-Tory marginals with Lib Dems a very distant third, so I voted Labour. If I was in a seat where Lib Dems were 2nd or 1st or close 3rd I would have voted Lib Dem, so you hadn’t totally lost my support but I voted to try and keep the Tories out.

    Firstly the problems started in the coalition negotiations in 2010. The tuition fees pledge had to be an absolute red line, anything else was and has proved to be suicide. This more than anything else destroyed trust in the party and lost votes from young people.

    Other issues in no particular order:-

    1) NHS Health and Social Reform Act and the disaster of private companies taking over some services
    2) The “Gagging” Law and TTIP which gained a lot of traction with 38 degrees and which I never heard the Lib Dems robustly either defend or attack.
    3) Bedroom tax, such a shame Andrew George’s bill got filibustered.
    4) Keep talking about Britain being more equal even though the gap between rich and poor has increased. Yes the party to its credit got the tax allowance up but it was totally the wrong line to say Britain was fairer after the coalition as it blatantly wasn’t. The right line would have been to say it was fairer than it would have been if the Tories had a majority.
    5) The poor election campaign strategy of saying you were between Labour and Tories was a big blunder as it felt to a lot of voters that Lib Dems had no identity. So I agree there was a lack of clarity in part due to the tricky position of being a junior coalition partner.
    6) People also got angry (me included) by Iain Duncan Smith’s terrible attack on disability benefits and the shambiolic ATOS assessments. It really damaged the Lib ems to be associated with that even if not directly responsible.
    7) Finally no effective counter-strategy to the effective but dirty Tory negative scare-mongering tactics.

    I do really hope the Lib Dems can recover and be a force for fairness and freedom again, Britain needs that more than ever. If whoever wins the leadership hits the right note I will consider rejoining the party.

    Jon

  • Ray Cobbett 10th May '15 - 4:10pm

    Never accept an invitation from a Tory to have lunch unless you want to be on the menu

  • Douglas McLellan 10th May '15 - 4:11pm

    “The Scots have inadvertently let David Cameron back in to Downing Street.”

    This is a comment that both Lib Dems and Labour have been holding onto like some kind of comfort blanket. Now, during the referendum campaign the unionists argued that Scotland was part of the UK and is valued and that it would be better for the Scots, rather than seek their own solutions to social inequalities, should show solidarity with those elsewhere in the UK.

    However, the second the it looked like there would be some SNP MPs who could affect how a UK government thinks, the response of the unionist parties was to either question the legitimacy of MPs, elected in the UK, to form part the UK government (Lib Dems) or would say that they’d rather have a Tory gov than see SNP supporting a gov (Labour).

    This was lunacy as both parties created the impression they favoured probable instability so gave their soft voters permission to vote for stability. It also gave the Scots permission to vote more heavily for the SNP to at least have a voice that the Lib Dems thought was illegitimate and Labour wasn’t going to listen to anyway. Lib Dems could have countered the instability argument by demonstrating their own record of stable government. Labour could have countered by saying any deals offered would not include an automatic 2nd referendum but instead clearer devolution to spread power from Westminster to all areas of the UK properly.

    Nick Clegg bemoaned the rise of identity politics. Yet he was the one he questioned legitimate democratic choices made by voters. Scotland didnt let Cameron back in. Unionist desire to appease rightwing scaremongering let Cameron back in.

  • David Evans 10th May '15 - 4:11pm

    “Liberalism and values of fairness and liberty will never die. It will take a long time to recover from this but there is no doubt that we will.” There is a lot of doubt now. Nick really has done that much damage.

    If you think there is no doubt, you don’t realise how hard you are going to have to work. Those of us with parents who were Liberals in the 1960s know a bit, but in those days the general public were moderately benign to us.

  • WildColonialBoy 10th May '15 - 4:14pm

    @All Lib Dems

    Another very important point I’d make; it rankles that the Liberal Democrats bought into the entirely unearned Tory reputation for economic competence, and Labour’s unearned reputation for incompetence.

    Between 1979 – 1997, the Tories spent on average 43.5% of GDP each year in government spending.
    Between 1997 – 2010 (including bailouts), the Labour government spent average 39% of GDP each year
    Between 2010 – 2015, the Coalition spent on average 44% of GDP each year

    Furthermore, Labour inherited a debt-to-GDP ratio of 42% from Major in 1997 and got it down to 37% by 2008. Under 18 years of Tory rule to 1997, their deficits averaged 3.2% whereas under Labour from 1997-2007 it was 1.3%
    That is precisely why Osborne pledged to match Labour’s spending in 2007

    The lie that Labour overspent, that modest investments in hospitals and schools were outrageous communist cashsplashes, is one that the Liberal Democrats gleefully repeated. Of course, by doing that they alienated many centre-left supporters, while the centre-right supporters concluded they’d rather vote for the real thing rather than an ersatz Yellow Tory

  • Living in a country with a proportional representation I know that being a junior partner in a coalition government poses great risks for a political party. Therefore a smaller party must set strict conditions for entering a coalition, and must be prepared to exit the government any time, if the conditions aren’t met. Looking things from outside I think what went wrong was the fact that Liberal Democrats didn’t know how to hold their own in a coalition.

  • Over the next parliament it will become apparent that much of the work done by Lib Dem MPs was sensible and worthwhile …

    It might be comforting to those who have caused all the damage to think this, I doubt very much whether the electorate will care less. Besides which are you thinking of the support for NHS reorganisation as sensible and worthwhile…..?

  • “The Scots have inadvertently let David Cameron back in to Downing Street.”

    This isn’t actually true. If the SNP had won no seats the Tories would still have had a majority.

    In a sense this was the perfect outcome for the SNP. If the SNP surge had cost Labour the chance to be the largest party, Labour could quite accurately have pointed out that SNP votes had let the Tories in. As it is, nobody can say that – and the SNP will undoubtedly win more devolution concessions from the Tories, who now seem content to be an English party, ruling over some sort of loose UK federation.

    As for why you lost the election, there are only two major reasons :-

    1) Abandonment of equidistance – think “rose garden”.
    2) Loss of trust – you know what I mean.

  • Douglas McLellan-

    Very many people undoubtedly voted “against Nicola” in England. How many we don’t know, but it does seem reasonable to think that the fear of an imaginary Communist dictatorship led by Nicola Sturgeon was profound, and without it we’d probably have been looking at the hung parliament. How much this affected Liberal Democrat support I would not hazard to guess. But the bottom line is that the Tories played this election despicably well, and Sturgeon provided the scare they needed. And the SNP didn’t realise they were trashing the non-Tory vote in England until too late to do anything about it.

    If there is any lesson for the Liberal Democrats, it is that the “co-operative, consensus, new politics” that has been the mantra since at least Paddy Ashdown’s heyday in reality is a breakfast with sharks.

  • Here’s an interesting article about the polling failures in 2015:
    http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/what-we-got-wrong-in-our-2015-uk-general-election-model/

    The really important thing here for the Lib Dems is both that the polling got the Lib Dem results wrong and why they got them wrong. Here at LDV and elsewhere we often heard that the polls were underestimating the Lib Dem vote share by failing to ask a candidate-specific question — and it was quite true that asking such questions gave the Lib Dems a better result. It was also a wrong result. It turns out that a generic question about party is a better prediction of actual voting behaviour. This is a fact we need not to forget in 2020.

  • “Over the next parliament it will become apparent that much of the work done by Lib Dem MPs was sensible and worthwhile …”

    I think this is true, but of no practical help – no-one is going to vote LibDem in 2020 because they remember some good work done by a LibDem minister eight or nine years previous.

    We have to spend a lot of time expanding on what we mean by ‘fair society’ – one that treats everyone reasonably, in terms of opportunity not necessarily outcome; that does not pander to the privileged and rich at the expense of the poor, as the Tories generally do, but that is not Labour’s vision of ‘fairness’ which is largely finding ways to reward ‘their own people’ and ignoring the urgent need to sort out the tax and benefit systems.

  • Stephen Campbell 10th May '15 - 5:16pm

    I agree with Anne, Bolano, ChrisB, WCB, Ray Cobbett, David Evans, Douglas McLellan, peebee Ian B, David-1 and Ian. All sensible points.

    @Adam Warner: “a Tory government lurching off to the right will show the electorate that they made a mistake this time”

    So I guess humility is not on the menu when it comes to evaluating your mistakes? You still seem to want to blame someone, anyone instead of yourselves. Maybe the voters didn’t make a mistake. Maybe they saw you had practically become Tories in the way you acted and voted during the past 5 years and decided to go for the real thing. And maybe all those left-leaning voters you alienated and spent so much time calling “Labour Tr0lls” decided to go off to Labour, the SNP or as in my case, the Greens. You say the Tories spent time whipping up English nationalism and scaremongering over the SNP or a Labour/SNP deal, yet Clegg himself did the same, warning about a possible deal between the two.

    The past 5 years was spent by the LibDems and Tories doing things TO us, not WITH us. How about asking the electorate and your members what they actually want, rather than telling us what we want.

    Stop blaming other people for your own failures. Find your humility and eat some humble pie. The only people to blame for the position you find yourselves in are yourselves and those who led you.

  • Jane Ann Liston 10th May '15 - 5:18pm

    @WCB ‘The problem is that so much of what we have been told by the Lib Dems has been self-serving nonsense; like the idea that if they hadn’t have gone into coalition, the Tories would have been able to do anything they liked. How? Without a majority they would have been impotent. ‘

    Because sooner rather than later Cameron’s minority gvt would have failed to get a piece of legislation through and he’d have been off to the palace to request a dissolution; remember, without the LibDems there would have been no fixed-term parliament legislation. That would have meant another GE shortly after the 2010 one; maybe that same year. Given that the Conservatives would have been (and still are) financially the best-placed to fight another GE so soon after the last one, and that the most recent second GEs in quick succession (1964 & 66, and 1974 (2)) have resulted in giving an increased majority to the incumbents, the likelihood is that there would have been a majority Tory gvt as a result. And that would have meant: no raising of the basic tax threshold from £6450, no triple-lock on pensions, no pupil premium in England, plus unmitigated increased tuition fees, cutting the higher rate of tax to 40p, the ‘bedroom tax’ without any mitigation, removal of housing benefit for under 25s, increased threshold of the inheritance tax, the Snoopers Charter (now back on the scene), and we would have been further down the road to leaving Europe and the Human Rights Act. And the NHS changes and increase in VAT would have still happened.

    But that’s all in the past, and it’s very easy to be wise after the even. Although we can’t ignore the coalition’s legacy, we need to concentrate on the future. Firstly, there will be a few by-elections as a result of cllrs being elected to Parliament, and we need to be ready to fight them. Then there are the Scottish Elections in a year’s time; elsewhere on the forum it was being suggested that some of our defeated MPs might stand for Holyrood, but as the top list places have already been filled, and at least some constituencies have already selected their candidates, that presents difficulties. Next is most likely the EU referendum, then in 2017 the local government elections in Scotland (sorry, I don’t know the timetable for the ones in England & Wales) and finally, looming in a menacing way on the horizon, another referendum on Scottish separation. NB – please could we ensure that we take control of any cross-party pro-UK campaign as the Labour-run BT one was pathetic! Either that, or we run our own campaign.
    Oh yes, and the Euro elections in 2019, assuming we are still in, and then back to a GE in 2020. So we’ve plenty to get on with, sooner than we might think, and need to be ready with an eye to the future, rather than continually harking back.

  • Ian:
    I think Nick Clegg has an important role in the new parliament as an insider witness. He could yet prove a thorn in the side of the Tory government. However, I do wonder how present he will be in Westminster, there must be a strong temptation for him to take a very low profile.

  • It’s pretty clear what went wrong!

    1. The party should not have entered into a coalition with the Tories and instead made a confidence and supply arrangement. This would have left far greater flexibility for open debate, disagreement and out right opposition to Tory plans when needed. The party was far too gullible, readily swallowing the Tory line of the need for a “strong” government. It needed an effective government and that should have been a minority government (please don’t resort to Mystic Meg rebuttals about the Tories forcing a second election that they would have won – had they thought that, they would never have entered into a coalition themselves.

    2. Having entered into a coalition the party should have gained far more from the Coalition agreement than they did with at least one of the big 4 positions going to a LibDem and one of the larger departments (education, Health or Welfare). The AV referendum, coming so early in the new government’s tenancy was never going to succeed. The Tories knew that the change from PR to AV would already be perceived as a defeat for the party and it gave the public an early chance to vent their anger at the LibDems going into the coalition.

    3. The rose garden was a disaster. It painted a picture of two buddies who had got what they wanted all along. Joking about how much the pair was in agreement only alienated a sizeable chunk of the voting base further.

    4. Having gone into coalition the party needed to create an image of a deeply uncomfortable, marriage of necessity that was going to be difficult for both parties to maintain. Instead the LibDems became the nodding dogs to the Tories, repeatedly echoing the same mantras about needing to clean up the mess that Labour left the country in. From the start it sounded as though the party had gone full tilt over to the tory side and was effectively electioneering from the off. It alienated the parties supporters on the centre left still further and only confirmed their worst fears.

    5. Tuition fees. It was a disaster and it did not need to happen. The party should have abstained en masse and given voice to its anger. It’s approach of saying “sorry” made it look weak and ingenuous. Whatever the merits of the new system it fundamentally made the party look like the very politicians that they had proclaimed themselves not to be and brought the “trustability” of the party into question.

    6. Not realising the intentions of the Tories or understanding its supporters. The intentions of the Tories all along was a undermine one of its rivals and in doing so they showed a much clearer understanding of the LibDem voter base than the party itself did. In the south west we have spent years forming informal coalitions of disparate groups into supporting the party. The coalition agreement and the behaviour of many of the party’s MPs in their numerous TV appearances, endlessly delivering the bad news and parroting Tory mantras in the early months tore apart an always fragile voting base.

    That’s enough to be going on with!

  • Jenny Barnes 10th May '15 - 5:31pm

    If a voter liked the coalition, in a Tory LD contested seat they better vote Tory, as it was mostly Tory; if they didn’t then they’d better vote Labour or Green, as the LDs would probably support the Tories.
    In a Labour/ LD seat, the same analysis applies. Unsurprisingly, the LDs lost most of their seats.

  • You need to be humble. If as I suspect the Tories’s show their true colours, blue in tooth and claw and the present economic growth stalls; you may have an opportunity to push the it was only due to the Lib Dems that the last government worked as well as it did. You need however to couple that with an apology that due to your innate decency you failed to point out how nasty the nasty party are and are sorry that due to that failure they have a majority. You could add that you’ll ensure your never that naive about them again. In Scotland I’d fight the SNP on they are just the party of Little Tory Helpers, but I could be wrong on that one 😉

  • David Pollard 10th May '15 - 5:36pm

    What has to be remembered about Scotland is that LibDems like Alan Reid and Jo Swinson suffered the LEAST fall in the LibDem vote of constituencies in the whole of the UK. The UK losses were primarily due to Labour and Tory voters turning to the SNP.

  • Dacron-

    I think a lot of this was the consequence of what I mentioned above, the long-standing idea of “consensus politics” which Liberal Democrats- notably as I said Paddy Ashdown- have been presenting as a long time as better than adversarialism. The problem is that whether or not this is true, voters want adversaries. They don’t like the parties “getting along”. It’s too cosy. It looks like a stitch-up.

    Five years ago I predicted that the coalition would be a disaster for the Liberal Democrats unless they were extremely careful. I take no pleasure in having been proved right. If there is anything you need to do, it is ditch this “party in the middle who wants to work with the others” idea; the one time it has been tried, this was the result.

    My suggestion FWIW would be to stop being “in the middle” of the Left/Right axis and focus on the liberal/authoritarian axis where there is a big gap in the market for a party.

  • IanB

    And the SNP didn’t realise they were trashing the non-Tory vote in England until too late to do anything about it.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    I think the SNP did know and welcomed the effect, what better than a Tory government for them. They live on division and putting the Lord Snooties in power would be seen as a giant step forward for Independence. However if Cameron pushes FFA they are toast and given the way they are back peddling they know it.. My guess Cameron will push FFA and ther SNP and a large part of Scotland are toasted.

  • Eddie Sammon 10th May '15 - 5:42pm

    The main message I take from this election is your first one: the triumph of fear over hope. I knew nationalism was popular among many, but I didn’t think it was basically mainstream, or at least “soft nationalism” is.

    The message about clarity is also important. Formal coalition with anyone probably has to be ruled out in future. However supporting the largest party for stability purposes is probably fine. It has to be unless we want a two-party system.

    John Rentoul also made me laugh by saying “Given that the polls got it wrong, it is now legitimate to quote anecdotal evidence.”. For me personally the campaign was centrist whilst the manifesto was largely left wing, and that confusion doesn’t appeal to many people. The party cannot seek to win over “soft tories” in future if they are planning a load of new tax rises and regulations. Defence and the Police also hardly got a mention. The strategy of having “pet departments” such as International Development, Health and Education also has to go.

  • I’m not sure that’s all that useful a question, it’s possibly better to look at what other parties have done well. UKIP for example have succeeded due to their simplicity of message. Essentially finding one point that a large section of the population have a problem with and then pretty much single handedly forcing a referendum on it. It is pretty impressive, and quite logical, they answer every question with the same word “Europe”, and subsequently the electorate knows what they stand for. Here’s hoping they start answering the same questions with “Electoral Reform” now they feel the pinch.

  • Stephen Campbell 10th May '15 - 5:53pm

    @Dacron: Excellent post. I agree with almost every word you write apart from on Tuition fees. I think the party should’ve negotiated, from the start, a deal whereby if fees were going to be introduced, LibDems would be free to vote against them.

    ” Having gone into coalition the party needed to create an image of a deeply uncomfortable, marriage of necessity that was going to be difficult for both parties to maintain.”

    This has been my point for the past 5 years. The LibDems (or at least the leadership and those on the right of the party) didn’t treat the coalition as a business arrangement – it treated it as if it was a meeting of minds. One prime example of this is Danny Alexander. Just weeks before coming on tv to robustly defend the way the Tories were about to treat the disabled, he was campaigning (and rightly so) against the way Labour was treating them.

    Trust is one of, if not THE most important things in politics. The electorate does not take kindly to untrustworthy politicians. And they certainly don’t like pledges being broken within weeks of entering government (notwithstanding the new system being slightly fairer). They can’t stand politicians who campaign for a certain issue one week and then take the total opposite the other week.

  • Jane Ann Liston 10th May '15 - 5:54pm

    @Ian B ‘ … voters want adversaries. They don’t like the parties “getting along”. It’s too cosy. It looks like a stitch-up.’

    On the contrary, I’ve heard voters on the doorstep saying that they do like to see politicians working together.

    Having said that, though, it is true that FMQ tickets at Holyrood are very much in demand, and I presume the same is true for PMQ

    So maybe, while voters enjoy the ‘reality TV’ spectacles of Punch & Judy events generating much heat and very little light as entertainment, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty away from the public eye they like to think that politicians can co-operate and come up with consensual policies.

  • Adam, taking your first two points… I think they’re two sides of the same coin. English nationalism was harnessed by the Tories as part of a politics of fear. And the rise of the SNP made that much easier to do. We should not, however, blame ‘The Scots’ or ‘The English’ for either voting SNP or being afraid of the consequences and letting the Tories in. Rather, I feel we must shoulder some of the blame for not being able to articulate a liberal alternative that can accommodate the differences between our countries without letting it become Us versus Them in a climate of fear.

    On the England/Scotland issue, my honest view is that with full fiscal autonomy now very much on the cards, the need for integrated UK-wide party political machines is now greatly reduced – we Liberal Democrats are perhaps now the most embedded in the union, given that we have larger proportions of our Parliamentary party coming from Scotland and Wales than any other UK party (insert hollow laugh here), but we should not be afraid to embrace the change and let our Scottish, English and Welsh parties fly in a looser formation henceforth.

    Your third point, definitely. We lacked campaign clarity. Equidistance simply allows us to be defined on the terms of the big two parties – UKIP aren’t equidistant, they got four million votes and swept the European Elections. The SNP aren’t equidistant, they have Scotland in their pocket now. We weren’t equidistant in 2005, we got 62 seats, the largest third party since 1929. When we again weren’t equidistant.

    It is to be hoped that the electorate will discover that, quite apart from the hostile media narrative, we didn’t just ‘do nothing’ over the coalition years. But it is not true to say that they were just wrong – they made a decision based on many factors, and we just didn’t come top in enough of those factors to survive on the night. Now, we must not simply look back and rely on the relative extremism of the Tory majority to do our campaigning for us. Although for these early days of the new Parliament, it will be hard.

    Myself, I had a bit of a sad moment when I realised that as the third party, the SNP will likely be the tiebreaker seat on most if not all parliamentary committees. Truly depressing.

  • The outcome of the election in terms of the Libdem vote share was in line with the polls that have been indicating as much for near-on five years now and that have been consistently confirmed year after year in local, European and regional elections, Even the ray of hope from the Eastleigh by-election saw a massive reduction in Libdem support..

    While the loss of so many dedicated MP’s is a painful set-back, the wholesale loss of the local councillor base over the past five years presents an existential crisis. for the party that may take a generation to rebuild.

    Liberalism is not a difficult message to put across. It exists to oppose the forces of conservatism that lead to the abuse of power in society and is a social democratic alternative to the authoritarian and destructive tendencies of socialism.

    Liberal capitalism and social justice are not the preserve of any single political party , but they need to be seen to underpin Liberal Democrat policy in everything we say, and put into practice in everything we do.. Only then can we have the clarity of purpose to answer the question “What do Liberal Democrats stand for”

  • The reason why Farage has done so well is because he made a political party look different to the other mainstream political parties. The reason the liberals have taken a hammering is because they looked like a mainstream political party. This is compounded because their followers have traditionally been of an alternative perasuasion . It is clear that the public have an appetite for politics that seems different to the style they’ve known all their lives. Trying to worry about finding a place in the left right spectrum is absurd, because it is aiming for the politics the general public is rejecting in droves. Offering a political approach unlike anything they’ve seen before is the way to go. Why not call a referendum on PR? By saying the establishment will never give a vote on this, so we will make it our one election pledge for 2020 to introduce PR and then call a snap election. That is a referendum. Agree to instantly call a by-election in all seats gained if we fail to get a majority. This is the kind of politics the people are crying out for. The simplicity of a one party, one policy, one election moment is what has driven support for the SNP and UKIP.

  • Graham Goldsmid 10th May '15 - 7:21pm

    This was posted on the members forum by Tony Dawson pretty much sums it all up
    Tim Farron for leader now!

    First they came for the Lib Dem councillors

    But Nick was not a councillor ….so he kept on pretending.

    Then they came for the MSPs

    But Nick was not a MSP …..so he kept on pretending.

    Then they came for the London Assembly members.

    But Nick was not an Assembly Member….so he kept on pretending.

    Next they came for the MEPs

    But Nick was no longer an MEP. . . .so he kept on pretending.

    Then they came for the backbench Lib Dem MPs.

    But Nick was not a backbencher. . . .

    . . . . .though he is now. 🙁

    Donkeys are largely pleasant creatures, but there are tasks and roles for which they were never designed. This was also true of Nick Clegg and those around him who sat at his feet and scurried around his various offices for the past five years singing the harmonies to Danny Kaye’s famous “The King is in the Altogether. . . ”

    No one can doubt Nick Clegg’s abilities as a communicator – or his commitment to the cause of education. Or indeed that he is a thoroughly nice person. He actually performed rather well during the election campaign itself and impressed quite a lot of the 20 per cent or so of the British people who were any longer prepared to listen to him. What Nick has clearly lacked throughout his reign as Lib Dem Leader has been even the vestiges of political judgment and leadership.

    The Tuition Fees volte face, the Rose Garden ‘love-in’, the NHS ‘reforms’ (sic) and the complete lack of any exit strategy from the Coalition or ‘differentiation’ from the Conservatives in government till the last few months must all be dropped at Nick Clegg’s door. The full responsibility, however, must be shared between the Parliamentary Party and the national Federal Executive the members of whom, with very few exceptions, suspended logical judgment for half a decade, replacing rationality with a groundless wishful thinking.

    I have been responsible for writing most of the literature over the past fifteen years in one of the eight parliamentary seats where Lib Dems clung on in Thursday’s elections, largely in spite of the performance of the party’s parliamentary leadership. My predictions for the eventual result in our town made before Christmas were largely accurate to within 2 or 3 percent for each of the four main Parties. I had hoped that, since Southport was outside the ‘top twenty’ Lib Dem constituencies, this kind of result in Southport would also see a hardened ‘rump’ of 20 to 30 Lib Dem MPs returning to Westminster prepared to lead the re-building of our Party towards 2020 with a 20:20 vision. I am therefore disappointed and greatly saddened by the roll-call of brilliant constituency MPs who have fallen beneath the Tsunami of Conservatism unleashed by Nick Clegg’s docile compliance. I am saddened further by the continuing exit of great long-standing councillors and the failure to elect fresh Lib Dem this year purely as a result of the national parliamentary tide.

    Yes, we were lions led by donkeys. But let’s remind the hyenas of Conservatism and the jackals of the Labour Party that even a lone lion, when backed into a corner, is a formidable fighting force. And put more than three or four of us together and we have a renewed Pride.

  • @Stephen Campbell. You are a self-declared Green Party supporter. Given that you seem to believe my party is lower than Satan and take every opportunity going to denigrate it’s members and activists, may I suggest that your time would be more usefully spent on their message board? You don’t seem to have anything constructive to say.

  • Stephen Campbell 10th May '15 - 7:49pm

    @TCO: “You are a self-declared Green Party supporter. Given that you seem to believe my party is lower than Satan and take every opportunity going to denigrate it’s members and activists, may I suggest that your time would be more usefully spent on their message board? You don’t seem to have anything constructive to say.”

    Look. I spent 20+ years voting for the LibDems and occasionally helping to deliver Focus. I voted Green, yes, but with a very heavy heart as it was the first time since the early 80s that I did not vote Liberal. I don’t think the party is Satan. I think, however, it was taken over by the Clegg grouping who were born privileged and had little experience of life outside the political bubble and could not relate to people who did not come from their walk of life.

    Further, you can see that I agree with a great many of the party’s activists and I know that many of them have been around a very long time and have always shared and tried to advance the views I also put forth.

    It’s simple: the leaderships strategy of being “nice Tories” failed utterly and completely on Thursday. The party can either continue on that path to nowhere or it can once again become an inclusive and social justice based party. If that were to happen, I will join again. If it continues on the Cleggites’ road to nowhere, I won’t.

  • @TCO 10th May ’15 – 7:25pm
    “@Stephen Campbell. You are a self-declared Green Party supporter. Given that you seem to believe my party is lower than Satan and take every opportunity going to denigrate it’s members and activists, may I suggest that your time would be more usefully spent on their message board? You don’t seem to have anything constructive to say.”

    Is this your way of telling us you’re standing for the leadership, TCO?

  • Stephen Campbell 10th May '15 - 8:03pm

    @TCO: “You don’t seem to have anything constructive to say.”

    On the contrary, almost everything I’ve read on this post by members are things I agree with. And several people seem to agree with me as well about where the party went wrong and how to rebuild it. I’m not going to tell you to go away or anything (that would not be very liberal), but I will defend my right to voice my opinion. At the same time I will also defend your right to voice your opinion, even if I strongly disagree with it.

    That stance may be a bit too liberal for you, but there we are.

  • Jane Ann Liston 10th May '15 - 8:03pm

    @Caractacus ‘yet the leadership of the Party in Scotland refused to talk to the SNP in 2007, ‘

    Because we didn’t support a referendum on independence; how on earth could we have promoted a referendum in which we didn’t believe? I remember a journalist at the time who was quite certain that we would sacrifice this principle to keep ‘ministerial Mondeos’. I don’t think he ever acknowledged that we did not do this, instead opting for opposition.

    In fact, I’m not even certain that the SNP made any offer of negotiations back in 2007.

    As for not having ‘devo max’ on the ballot paper, the problem was that there was no definition of what ‘devo max’ was, and still isn’t. Everybody knows, or thinks they know, what ‘independence’ means, though the version proposed last year by the SNP, involving a currency union and keeping the Queen, was a far cry from the likes of my late father’s view which involved ambassadors, embassies and border posts. But ‘devo max’ means different things to different people, and had it been on the ballot paper we’d have been bogged down throughout the campaign defining it. As it is, many voters didn’t realise that the Calman report was already going to lead to significant changes, even before the Smith commission, which I note the SNP seem to be disowning, even although they signed the agreement. Surely we should give these proposals, agreed by all Scottish parties, a chance to work, before deciding to go even further and irrevocably split the country?

  • @WCB “The lie that Labour overspent, that modest investments in hospitals.”

    Labour didn’t use government borrowing to fund this capital spending; it used PFI where the borrowing was kept off balance sheet.

    Unfortunately extremely poor contracts were signed and the payments to the PFI providers is one of the reasons the NHS budget us in trouble.

  • @Jane Ann Liston – “Because sooner rather than later Cameron’s minority gvt would have failed to get a piece of legislation through and he’d have been off to the palace to request a dissolution; remember, without the LibDems there would have been no fixed-term parliament legislation. That would have meant another GE shortly after the 2010 one; maybe that same year.”

    Isn’t that the problem? I’ve read a lot about principles on here the past few days – if working in coalition is so against what you stand for then no matter if it causes another GE – you get out – you just get out! It tells your voters, and those who didn’t vote for you, that you have values not to be compromised. If party beliefs and pledges play second fiddle to the mechanics of a majority then why bother having them before an election if you’re a smaller party?

  • Where did it all go wrong?

    If you really want to know the answer to that I would suggest that you ask the posters who ‘got it right’, the posters who say this catastrophe coming for years. I advise asking those who have been proven right, posters like Matthew Huntsbach, Theaks, Peter and others, and ignore those posters that were predicting 30 seats or so and have been proven wrong.

    Listen to those who have been proven right would be a really good start.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th May '15 - 11:03pm

    Graham Goldsmid

    Yes, we were lions led by donkeys. But let’s remind the hyenas of Conservatism and the jackals of the Labour Party that even a lone lion, when backed into a corner, is a formidable fighting force. And put more than three or four of us together and we have a renewed Pride.

    I appreciate your message, but though you say you have had this leading role in one of the few places where we have retained an MP, I don’t remember hearing it from you before.

    It would have been good if you and others who felt as you do had gone public about it a long time back. I have been posting my concerns about Clegg and what he was doing with the party since he became leader, but during most if that time I felt like a lone voice here.

    I summarised my concerns in an article in Liberator published shortly before the general election, see here. Thanks Mr Wallace for mentioning me in your comment.

  • Can anyone explain why in the 6 liberal seats we lost in the W Country, the UKIP vote went up about 10%, the Tories 2-4 % and Labour and Greens 0.5-2% ? It would appear LD vote has moved to UKIP; this does not make sense.

  • Matthew, Graham was quoting from me, not himself.

  • Charlie, how does a 14 per cent transfer of Lib Dems to Tory accompanied by a 10 per cent transfer of Tories to UKIP not add up? Not happy with it, but it adds up.

  • @Charlie

    That doesn’t tell us anything – we don’t know if those UKIP voters were voting for the first time and Lib Dem voters decided to stay home.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th May '15 - 11:38pm

    Charlie

    Can anyone explain why in the 6 liberal seats we lost in the W Country, the UKIP vote went up about 10%, the Tories 2-4 % and Labour and Greens 0.5-2% ? It would appear LD vote has moved to UKIP; this does not make sense.

    UKIP has given the impression of being a “party of the people” which is challenging the elitists in the mainstream parties. I believe in its anything but, however, I can see how people who voted LibDem in the past could switch to UKIP because they used to think that the LibDems were the “party of the people” challenging established power.

  • Geoffrey Baker-Hytch 10th May '15 - 11:53pm

    Charlie: “It would appear the LD vote has moved to UKIP; this does not make sense.” Maybe we should acknowledge that when our national vote share was 20+ %, it included large numbers of ‘protest’ voters. At least some of these now find a (temporary?) refuge in UKIP.

  • Not again.
    Charlie, you don’t know who switched without asking them, but it is quite probable that a good number of Lib Dem voters switched to Labour and a good number of Labour voters switched to UKIP, hence the reason Labour’s share remained the same whilst the Lib Dems went down and UKIP up. That explanation fits with the demographics of those three parties.

  • Exit poll of one on the morning of May 8th: a Sky engineer fitting a new box at my Dad’s flat. He voted UKIP because “Labour messed it all up and the Tories don’t care about ordinary people”. This is not a good statistical sample, but I think LDs need to recognise the number of “neither of the two big parties” votes that may have once gone LD went to UKIP. This of course is also damning for UKIP; rather than a “people’s army” demanding EU Exit, they just got a lot of “neither” votes. It may be that the Liberal Democrats have lost their Anti-Establishment voter core who, due to the Coalition,now saw it as an Establishment, insider party like the other two- while UKIP now had a chance of winning seats on a resolutely “outsider” message, so attracted those votes. Which means that it wasn’t really about policies at all.

    The alternative explanations of blocs of voters swapping places in various combinations seem implausible to me. You really though need some good data on last-time LD voters, how they voted this time.

  • Jenny Barnes 11th May '15 - 10:39am

    I don’t think it is trust, so much as knowing what the party stands for. I have a pretty good idea what the Tories and SNP stand for, also the Greens, UKIP and Plaid Cymru. Labour and the LibDems would seem to have both lost their souls to neoliberalism; Labour during the New Labour years, and LDs during the coalition. If there’s no fairly immediate consensus as to what a party is for, it has no reason to exist. Labour used to be the party of the working class; mediating capitalism to make it tolerable for all. LD used to be the party of civil liberties, equality and social cohesion. Or so I thought until the coalition. If either party stood for anything the people cared about, then broken pledges or bacon sandwiches would count for very little.

  • @Ian hurley ““We blocked this last time (and still oppose it).””

    Yes and we also need to say why we blocked it. This is important as it helps to cement our values in public consciousness

  • @Ian hurley goid point. People churn in and out of the pool of not voting, so what looks like LD -> ukip movement is actually LD -> DNV and DNV -> ukip

  • @Jenny Barnes but when Labour ditched socialism and embraced more market bases approaches it won 3 elections in a row. This time, it offered a more left leaning manifesto and lost.

  • There is an approach to economics and markets which is neither Neoliberal nor Socialist. It’s called, er, Liberalism.

  • Stephen Hesketh 11th May '15 - 11:08am

    TCO11th May ’15 – 10:52am
    “@Jenny Barnes but when Labour ditched socialism and embraced more market bases approaches it won 3 elections in a row. This time, it offered a more left leaning manifesto and lost.”

    Let’s just hope the Liberal Democrats don’t ditch Liberalism then.

    Have you considered a Blairite party may be more to your liking? I’m sure there are many labourites who would be happy to embrace your views. A win/win situation.

  • @Stephen Hesketh I’m a Liberal; always have been, always will be. Kindly desist from telling me what I am. I’ve been a member of the party for a long time; maybe even as long as you.

    I note that you don’t address the point I’m making – which is if you want to win popular support you need to embrace the centre ground.

  • jedibeeftrix 11th May '15 - 11:36am

    Blair offered that which is saleable, convinced the electorate he would deliver it, and the electorate duly voted him in three times in succession.

    The worlds changes, and if liberalism is so inflexible that it must rigidly be applied even when unsaleable then the sooner its mourned and buried the better.

    Liberalism isn’t that inflexible, but its up to the party to grasp the nettle and make it saleable!

  • Stephen Hesketh 11th May '15 - 12:11pm

    TCO11th May ’15 – 11:17am
    “I note that you don’t address the point I’m making – which is if you want to win popular support you need to embrace the centre ground.”

    OK TC – I challenge your lazy assumption. You sound like Nick Clegg and his failed Centrism. We occupy the Liberal common ground. Big diference!

  • Stephen Hesketh 11th May '15 - 12:13pm

    Ian B 11th May ’15 – 11:05am
    “There is an approach to economics and markets which is neither Neoliberal nor Socialist. It’s called, er, Liberalism.”

    Well said that man!

  • @Ian B exactly. But neoliberalism does not equal support for market based solutions where appropriate and suitably regulated

  • Stephen Hesketh 11th May '15 - 12:34pm

    @Graham Goldsmid10th May ’15 – 7:21pm

    Graham, thank you for bringing Tony Dawson’s post to our attention – and your own sage observations.

  • I think there was something else happening altogether which no one has yet mentioned, although all the above points are interesting and probably mostly valid. Anyway, I think the party unfortunately got taken over by the men in suits at a time when the general public was starting to go off being told what was good for them by people who had no experience of what their lives were like. All three parties looked and spoke alike and they had apparently never known the problems of not having enough money .This affected the Labour and Lib Dem vote more than the Tories because everyone expects the Tories to be like that and to a certain extent people vote for them in order to become like that too. Sadly the Quad as I think they called themselves all looked and spoke like toffs.
    Also I realise that we want to let off steam but we now have experience of Government. We have very good people who know what it’s like to try to get something through Parliament and we have never had this vital experience before. I do hope our MPs who have lost their seats will not feel that we all want them to go away and never darken our doors again. Yes they got it wrong but I still think going into coalition was the right thing to do for the country’s economy. Then they got dazzled by their own glory and forgot to be on guard against the Tories who were allowing them to join in this power which they had never expected to have. Our party has always put our MPs on a pedestal because we have never had that many of them, so we allowed them to maintain that self delusion. We must put in place opportunities to give MPs feedback from their local party so that it is part of our culture to question what the Parliamentary party are doing without being accused of malice or indeed ignorance. Everyone needs grass roots feedback.

  • Jack Reynard, Clegg did not actually sing his apology, you do know that?!

  • Where did it go wrong?
    liberals spent 5 years supporting a conservative platform. Some party activists don’t seem to get that. Liberals subverted the will of the people not to have a conservative majority government, by creating a conservative majority government which carried out most of the conservative measures non-conservatives didn’t like. Gee, so you moderated their policy a bit, but there is no reason whatever to imagine that will stick in this conservative majority government which you also created, unless the conservatives choose of their own free will to let it. And they well might, because this rhetoric of having tamed the conservatives for 5 years is highly questionable. Economic necessity reigned in their worst plans for cuts, after the economy threatened to collapse. Conservatives grabbed the idea of higher income tax starting rate, once they realised it was a great policy for the rich, and they had probably really only opposed it because it was a political opponent who thought of it first. One reason conservatives have far right policies is to create distance between themselves and labour. They may privately agree they have loony right policies, but of course cannot admit this. Liberals gave them the golden opportunity to reclaim the centre ground for their party.

    And then came the new election. Liberals campaigned on how great a government they had made. Not on what was wrong with it. If conservatives are so great, why vote liberal? Liberals accepted the principle they were the junior partner, couldnt dictate the government’s policy, but then said it was marvellous, even though it was mainly conservative. In the dying days of the campaign when it was far too late, a few libs started attacking the faults of the coalition policy. They finally got it. But this was way way too late, having spent 5 years proudly announcing each new cut on behalf of the conservatives, and letting the conservatives announce each new tax break. Sitting there on question time defending conservative policies anathema to the people who voted liberal. You didnt just form a coalition, you became part of the conservative party. You accepted collective responsibility even though you had no authority.

    Really I dont think policy even mattered any more by the time of the election. A party needs policy which is logical and consistent and practical because some inconvenient voter or journalist will create ridicule if it isnt there. But real voters are not reading manifestos. I’m pretty politically savvy and I never read a manifesto in my life. The broad impression given by a party is vital, and we know what impression liberals gave. They said conservative governments are great.

    Labour utterly failed to understand impression is more important than policy. They tied themselves in knots trying to account for every penny they would spend, when the conservatives simply didnt bother. They just made handwaving arguments about paying for everything from cuts, and promised more spending to match anything Labour proposed. Labour totally failed to justify their record for financial responsibility, which is detailed in a post above. They have a decent record, their spending record is defendable, but they chose not to say so. I have no idea whose daft idea that was, but it dated all the way back to the start of the last parliament. Labour kept on about counting pennies and did not address the question of an overall record of good management, which just gave an impression of incompetence and missing the point that a government has to plan for the future. Conservatives put across a message that because cuts were necessary in 2010, they should have been made in the circumstances pertaining in 2005. Its nonsense, yet labour accepted it. They failed to fight for their own reputation. Libs did the same in the compromises they made, instantly reversing cast iron pledges they had made in their manifesto in 2010. Honestly, the conservatives must have been hunting around desperately trying to find the catch in the coalition agreement, because they couldnt see what liberals would get out of it.

    The biggest lie of all is that coalition was necessary for the good of the country. Again this is straight conservative propaganda. The UK has sailed on borrowing vast amounts of money at record low interest rates. It isnt about being in a truly good position, but about being in a good position compared to everyone else. The situation was bad, but pretty good compared to many. If we had needed a national unity government, then it should have been labour-conservative coalition. We didnt. Labour was not in good shape to hold itself together because of party division, but they could have done so. Conservatives were more organised and had more votes, so they could have had a go at minority government. They would have faced far more pressure to compromise than they did from the liberals in coalition. If there had been a new election, very probably the result would have been fewer lib dems. Maybe liberal leadership worried about this, but dont kid the electors you formed a coalition to save the country when you did it to get five years employment for yourselves.

    Labours failed to justify coalition with the SNP, which was the obvious thing for them to do after the vote if it turned out as everyone expected. Once again they accepted the conservatives premise, here that no one could make an agreement with a party whose aim was to break up the Uk. That simply isnt true. SNP did not sweep the board in Scotland because they want to break up the union, but because they stood for a different form of government. If anything, the practical arguments for independence are worse now than at the time of the referendum, because oil price volatility has entirely undermined their budget plans. Coalition between SNP and labour would have been easier than lib-conservative, with the obvious single red line. Liberals….then jumped on the bandwagon of attacking this potential coalition despite simultaneously putting themselves forward as proponents of coalition. Libs went so blatantly conservative even the stupidest voters could not fail to notice they were conservative light pure and simple.

  • “…Over the next parliament it will become apparent that much of the work done by Lib Dem MPs was sensible and worthwhile and a Tory government lurching off to the right will show the electorate that they made a mistake this time”

    The Tories a,ways were off to the right, they do not need to lurch to get there. To rebuild the party we have got to stop looking to the past five years and trying to explain or excuse the mistakes made. It was not a brilliant chapter in the party’s history it was David Cameron’s finest hour because he used Liberal Democrat MOs as human shield until the election when those Loberal Democrat does became dispensible.

    The voters in 2020 will not look back at the coalition government and say “Oh how sensible those junior ministers called Liberal Democrats were between 2010 and 2015”. They are more likely to say “who?” unless we rebuild the party as a radical community based campaigning Liberal Democrat party.

  • Who is the modern Establishment?. Pre 1960s it consisted of land owning classes, City Partners, public school, the Guards, The Times and Telegraph, Oxbridge Colleges such as Christchurch and rural vicars. Nowadays it is Oxbridge PPE graduates, The Guardian, The BBC , senior members of The Welfare State/ Civil Service and NGOs Chiefs who live a largely metropolitan upper middle class socialist lifestyle.

    It is said that the Right won the Economic War and the Left The Cultural War . The New establishment is even more cut off from the working class than the Old establishment. The pre 1914 land owing classes had more daily contact with the working class when they travelled around their estates or factories. There is probably a greater cross section of society attending a fox hunting meet or a rugby game than most dinner parties attended by the likes of D Milliband.

    The more I examine data , the more I think the 2015 Election was a rejection of the cultural attitudes of the metropolitan middle class socialists a significant section of the British population . The Labour and LDs should have read the various essays by G Orwell from 1940-1950 where he criticises the left wing intelligentsia for the following.
    1. Denigration of patriotism.
    2. Denigration of physical courage
    3. Denigration of sports , especially foot ball and rugby.
    4. Denigration of British Culture and veneration of foreign culture , especially the USSR.
    5. Unwillingness to be honest that break of Empire would be a reduction in wealth , especially for the working classes.

    I cannot think of single politician whose face would fit running a construction site or factory , apart from Dan Jarvis .
    Many politicians from Labour, Green and LDs enjoy an upper middle class life largely funded by the taxpayer and have have auras of smug conceit that they are morally and intellectually superior to the vast majority of the British people and treat their many concerns with contempt . A LD or Labour Party wit h MPs such as Frank Field, Simon Danczuk or Kate Hoey playing far more prominent roles may have stopped the rise of UKIP. An example of this lack of understanding are the various gaffes by G Brown especially the letter written to the parents of the dead soldier( family had 5 generations serving in the Army) and not attending the 100th anniversary of the Scottish TAVR which was attended by Salmond.

    What I think turned many people away from the Tories post 1994 was that every MP on the TV gave off an aura of smug conceit that some how they were vastly superior to everyone else. A picture speaks a thousand words.

  • Sally Haynes-Preece 13th May '15 - 3:25pm

    Had we not got into coalition what would have been the result? Would we have been forgiven for ‘causing’ another election so soon? This is a hypothetical question of course. We can’t know…..but presented with two bad options , we as a party chose the least bad in the interests of stability. and the country/ It was always going to end badly……although no-one could have seen how badly! That however does not mean it was the wrong decision. I believe Nick is right. History will be a kinder judge than a scared electorate.

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