Opinion: Let’s not throw away all we have worked for just as it’s starting to pay off

nick clegg rally 1

As a working-class Northern lad it would be fair to say that in terms of personal background I don’t have much in common with Nick Clegg. And like Carl Minns and Richard Kemp I’ve been on the wrong end of some tough election results in recent years.  But I totally disagree with George Potter – I passionately believe Nick should lead our party into the next General Election and beyond.

 I’ve probably had more arguments with Nick than most commentators on here, and he knows I’m more than willing to tell him when he’s wrong. Over many years we have done a lot of campaigning together, but you don’t need to have spent as much time with Nick as I have to know what a thoroughly decent, authentic, and brave liberal he is. These are qualities that are so self evident at every conference fringe event, every campaign stop, every fundraising dinner and now every Thursday on LBC!

 I defy anybody to listen to Nick on that week in week out and not feel proud that this man leads our party and know that he articulates our fundamental values. What other leader would take questions from all comers in Town Halls across the country regularly and radio listeners weekly? Not forgetting of course questions from party members every conference time! And what other leader could continue to behave with such good grace even as the establishment and much of the media do all they can to undermine us?

 We all know that in 2010 we faced a General Election campaign against us, against Nick, of staggering brutality and ruthlessness. But we and he took it with resilience, patience and good grace. And together we showed huge courage to enter coalition, knowing the price we would likely pay. Nick led us into government at a UK level for the first time since the Second World War because it was the decent thing to do in the face of the huge economic crisis facing us. And we backed him because he was right to, now we must continue to hold our nerve against the huge amounts of vested interest in the media and elsewhere

 I’m a Liberal Democrat who believes in change – who amongst us doesn’t?! But the change I want to see is not change that throws away all we have worked for just at the moment it is starting to pay off. It isn’t change that desperately hopes for something better with no plan as to how to get there.

 The change I want is more low paid workers being lifted out of paying income tax, more education funding for less advantaged children, creating a greener and more balanced economy and ensuring real equality for all through policies like equal marriage. It also means standing up to Murdoch, ending child detention and delivering on our 0.7% promise. All things we as a party, with Nick as leader, have delivered on in government.

 Some might even call it changing our country to build a stronger economy and a fairer society enabling everyone to get on in life. These are the changes Nick has started and these are the changes he should get the chance to continue.

* Paul Scriven is a member of the House of Lords. He is a former Liberal Democrat Councillor and Leader of Sheffield City Council.

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49 Comments

  • Andrew Tennant 25th May '14 - 7:42pm

    Well said.

  • “The change I want is more low paid workers being lifted out of paying income tax …”

    If that’s done by raising the threshold further, what it means is yet more billions of tax cuts for those on above-average incomes. And how is that going to be paid for? More benefit cuts? More spending cuts? What?

  • Paul Pettinger 25th May '14 - 7:58pm

    I thought you voted Conservative in the elections Andrew Tennant?

  • John Roffey 25th May '14 - 8:09pm

    As a bystander, I am becoming increasingly perplexed as to why the Tory, and even Labour – who have won seats, leaderships have felt obliged to say that ‘we will learn lessons’ with regard to the UKIP charge – whilst the Lib/Dem’s leadership, whose results have been far worse – and look to be about to become even worse when the EU results are in, say no need to learn anything, no need to change – just carry on as before.

    I feel as if there is something undisclosed.

    Is there a deal with Cameron that NC will become an EU Commissioner if the Party stays the course until the next GE that senior people in the Party know – but not the rank and file?

    Has some extremely large donor said that they will only continue financing the Party if the Coalition agreement is stuck to until the end?

    Or is the Party the personal fiefdom of a small group – that only becomes apparent at times such as these.

  • Martin Land 25th May '14 - 8:17pm

    The next EU Commissioner will be Andrew Lansley.

  • John Roffey 25th May '14 - 8:25pm

    @ Martin Land

    Thanks – that discounts one of my questions – but it does not explain why the Party behaves so differently to the main parties after such a political earthquake.

  • John Roffey. UKIPs vote was barely 5% of the electorate. We are right to ignore them and their voters.

  • John Roffey 25th May '14 - 8:36pm

    @ Tabman

    So there is a confidence that, even though UKIP is likely to devastate the Party’s EU representation – and has pushed it into fourth place in domestic politics – it will not do any further damage to the Party at the GE? So they can safely be ignored?

  • Throw away, what.
    1800 lost councillors, MEPS down the drain, a coalition that has been awful for the party, constituency parties folding, dereliction in many areas, no longer a national party, no wonder it appears that the establishment of the party has lost touch.
    We need to throw away the baggage, you know what I mean!

  • Eddie Sammon 25th May '14 - 8:45pm

    The solution to this mess is for Clegg to agree to stand down immediately after the 2015 election. We should put this behind us and get behind the party, unless he starts driving towards another cliff and refuses to turn.

    I also think we need disciplinary action against those who clearly don’t support the party and are just waiting for another chance to launch a coup. If you try to launch a coup and fail then there should be consequences. Crack the whip and professionalise the party.

  • The fundamental question is this: Was it worth giving up control of our borders, rule from unelected bureaucrats on most aspects of our lives, and relentless progression towards being a federal state in return for a trading agreement that now finds us tied to a sclerotic and toxic Euro economy with no hope of growth in the foreseeable future?

  • “UKIPs vote was barely 5% of the electorate. We are right to ignore them and their voters.”

    Rallings and Thrasher projected a national vote of 18% on the basis on UKIP’s results in the local elections, compared with 11% for the LIb Dems.

    And is your comment about the party being “right to ignore them” an ironic one? During this election campaign the party has talked of little else but UKIP!

  • John Roffey. 4th place on a turnout half that of a general election.

  • I am rather surprised that thisnshouldstartbwith a reference to Richard Kemp being on the wrong end of tough election results.
    You cannot be on the wrong end of an election result if you do not put up a candidate in the election.
    My friends in Liverpool tell me that disillusion with the party in that City has become so bad that we were unable to even put up anything like a full slate of candidates.
    I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong but I think we were unable to put up candidates in Liverpool in a significant number of seats.
    As Richard has been leader of the group on Lverpool City Council for some items now, and is an old hand at elections I am sure he will agree that the first priority in an election is to have a candidate.

  • John Roffey 25th May '14 - 9:13pm

    @Tabman

    The Ashcroft poll seems to have been taken seriously by seasoned political commentators – because it was such a large sample in the marginals:

    Ashcroft National Poll: Con 29%, Lab 35%, LD 9%, UKIP 14%

    http://lordashcroftpolls.com/

    Has that been viewed as an acceptable outcome?

    Reading between the lines of Ashcroft’s comments [and Osborne’s – the favorite to take over from Cameron ] the implication was that if the Tories were not clear favorites to win the next GE – a pact between the two parties should be seriously considered.

    Such a pact would wipe away any chance of the Lib/Dems featuring in any coalition after May – for it would ensure an outright victory for the Tories.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th May '14 - 9:44pm

    I need to clarify my comment because I sound a bit like Kim Jong-un. Parties can be too disciplined and rule by fear, but if you go too far the other way then you have people metaphorically hanging around with knives in hand waiting for an opportune moment to stick it in. I’m not talking about the MPs, I’m talking about whoever made that libdems4change site.

  • If liberalism means anything, it means that dissent is welcomed as part of dialogue, not suppressed as a fifth column. One thing all Lib Dems have in common is that they love to disagree with each other, that some of them have very little in common with others, yet they’re all under the same roof. But this works only as long as those who have different views — whether they’re views on policy or views on how to steer the party – don’t start to see the others as enemies. Good policies and politics come from robust disagreement and dissent that allow questionable decisions to be re-evaluated.

    One of the problems that the Party has developed over the past four years is the sense that dissent is disloyalty, that the Party is navigating dangerous waters and that anyone who doesn’t keep quiet and go along is rocking the boat for the fun of it. Therefore voices that spoke up suggesting that there were dangerous reefs ahead were unheeded or scoffed at.

    Now that the boat is not merely steering toward the rocks, however, but is in their midst with the water pouring through the breached boards, this argument has much less persuasive power. With this situation comes a sense of desperation and a willingness to try anything, even going outside normal channels. Voices that have been suppressed for a long time will re-emerge if the leadership loses its claim to authority. If the captain and his mates have wrecked the boat, the feeling is, why not put someone else at the helm?

  • Andrew Whyte 25th May '14 - 10:27pm

    As an activist/ex councillor/member for over 40 years, the current setbacks are neither new nor impossible to recover from over time.

    Somebody once said “when the facts change, I change my mind”

    Nothing fundamental has changed since we entered coalition – we are still financially in the brown stuff, and we are still in government to try and turn that round.

    With honorable exceptions, the Tory party has always been fundamentally anti EU and the labour party’s psychophrenic stance has swung back and fro, so the rise of UKIP (a slightly nicer BNP) was almost inevitable.

    Given the medias unwillingness/inability to expose Emperor Nigel’s absence of policies, together with a few rich backers, UKIPs rise becomes even more inevitable .

    Yes, blameless hard working MEPs and councillors have suffered collateral damage, but the majority of that damage was caused by reneging on an impossible policy promise that was warmly supported by conference, and those same councillors and MEPs.

    And let’s not forget that UKIPs vote share in the locals actually went down, so with the right approach and the right policies, the GE is still all to play for.

  • One thing I have noticed throughout this mini-implosion (which I admit I am shocked is coming so late in the day) is that us ‘status quo types’ seem to be very focused on what the party being party of a coalition has meant for the country (good and bad), whilst those who wishing for change are focused on what our being part of a coalition has meant for our party (mostly bad).

    I am not criticising or promoting either approach (though, it is clear which I favour), but I think looking at it this way and understanding the different perspectives we have on this issue may help us better reunit because at the end of the day, we are Lib Dems and we are in this together. There are enough people outside of the party willing to take bites out of us, let us not help them by destroying ourselves from within. (This is not to say that self-reflection and self-criticism are bad things, but that we should be working together to improve and overcome our past mistakes, not attacking each other.)

  • @Andrew
    “so with the right approach and the right policies, the GE is still all to play for”

    I am not clear what you are saying here. What is the right approach? And does it include Clegg?

  • Caracatus, we now have fixed term parliaments . The one clear constitutional acievemement .

  • “Let’s not throw away all we have worked for, just as it is starting to pay off ”

    Really? Does the “pay off” include losing all 12 MEPS?

  • Andrew Whyte 26th May '14 - 12:37am

    @Phyliss

    But MEPs are rather like the US Vice President – not worth a bucket of warm spit

  • David wilkinson 26th May '14 - 4:17am

    The remark by Andrew Whyte “But MEPs are rather like the US Vice President – not worth a bucket of warm spit” is for a member of the Lib Dems a disgraceful remark to make about the MEP’s who lost, our North West MEP Chris Davies has worked his socks off for the party and the North West.

  • Steve Comer 26th May '14 - 4:20am

    Andrew Whyte: “Somebody once said “when the facts change, I change my mind”
    That someone was one John Maynard Keynes the famous Liberal economist.

    His words should be both heeded and acted upon! I said I would not sign the petition George organised, but would wait until after the Euro election results. Wel having waited for them I have now signed George’s petition. It wasn’t just the results that convinced me, In the interviews after the extent of the debacle was clear Martin Tod was coherent and positive whilst Danny Alexander looked uncomfortable and inarticulately presented a “more of the same” message.

    This is our worst result in a national election since the 1989 Euro elections. Those were conducted under FPTP and at least then we didn’t have any MEPs to lose! If I had £10 for every voter I met on the doorsteps this year who said
    “I like what the FOCUS Team are doing in the area, but I’m disillusioned with the national party” I could have gone on a good holiday on the proceeds. The trouble is the Leadership and most of the Party in Westminster is just not listening to what voters and activists have been telling them for more than three years.

    This year I’ve seen the football team I’ve supported for 45 years relegated to the Conference. The same thing is now happening to the Party I joined 40 years ago.

    It may be unfair, and it is sad, but in the words of an old manifesto The Time Has Come for Nick Clegg to resign as Leader and give us the chance to have a new leader untainted by toxicity in time for Party Conference.
    I see no reason why Nick could not finish the job as Deputy PM if he wants to, but I do feel the new Party Leader should not be a Minister, but should be working on saving her or his own seat and on the messages and organisation of the General Election.

  • Steve Comer 26th May '14 - 4:35am

    Forgot to comment on the heading: “Lets not throw away all we’ve worked for…”
    Isn’t that precisely what we’ve done in three successive local elections, one Euro election and one ill-thought out AV referendum?

  • Sarah Ludford 26th May '14 - 5:47am

    It’s 5.40 am, I’ve just lost, I went to bed but can’t sleep.

    I agree with Paul Scriven re Nick Clegg : “you don’t need to have spent as much time with Nick as I have to know what a thoroughly decent, authentic, and brave liberal he is.”

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th May '14 - 7:08am

    Sarah Ludford

    I agree with Paul Scriven re Nick Clegg : “you don’t need to have spent as much time with Nick as I have to know what a thoroughly decent, authentic, and brave liberal he is.”

    Maybe. I’ve always been willing to believe that the many mistakes he has made are more due to personal incompetence and lack of background and connections that would help him realise why his has got so much wrong than due to any underlying indecency or lack of liberal attitudes. To me, he has always seemed curiously naive, lacking that deviousness which is necessary to be a really effective politician, and thus easily led the wrong way.The image he has of where the Liberal Democrats should be going has been commonplace coming from right-wing and social elite commentators. The “The Liberals should become real liberals, which means adopting extreme free market economics to the exclusion of almost everything else” article seemed to get published under a different name with slightly different wording almost every year at our conference time in one of the Times, Spectator or Telegraph from the days I first joined the party, and it’s easy to see Clegg in his naivety taking it seriously and thinking ‘gosh, that sounds interesting, maybe that’s what we should do’.

    The only personal contact I had with Clegg, which was on the issue of directly elected mayors when he was a backbencher writing a pamphlet in favour of them while I was Leader of the Opposition fiercely opposing the idea in the “New Labour flagship” London Borough trying to push it, very much left me with this impression of him. His arguments for it seemed to me to be very superficial and very much influenced by the way executive mayors are a trendy idea among the elite, and he thought he was being brave to support the idea. But he didn’t seem to have worked through the deeper liberal concerns that I find most liberals have about it, and he certainly didn’t think to contact the local Liberal Democrats in Lewisham before heaping praise on Labour there for what it was doing, and repeating their propaganda in favour of it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th May '14 - 7:36am

    Andrew Whyte

    Yes, blameless hard working MEPs and councillors have suffered collateral damage, but the majority of that damage was caused by reneging on an impossible policy promise that was warmly supported by conference, and those same councillors and MEPs

    No-one urged Clegg to single this policy out, and make it the centre point of our campaign with a “pledge” that only made sense in the context of it being a red line in a potential coalition or supply and confidence agreement.

    We did take it on trust when we were told it was “costed”. Of course it was not “impossible”, but I accept the tax rises that would have been necessary to pay for it would never have got agreement from the Tories. Funnily enough, what we ended up with was disguised graduate tax and disguised state borrowing to pay for it, so almost exactly what those who abuse us for our position on it want anyway. I can see the theoretical argument that says that was a better compromise than sticking to the letter of the pledge at the cost of drastically slashing the number of university places to pay for it. I can also see that’s a far too sophisticated argument to satisfy those ranting at us about the situation.

    All of us who have thought through coalitions, or been involved in power sharing at local level, understood fully well that it involves reaching compromises which are not your ideal. So I think we were fully aware that what is in the manifesto represents a negotiating position. As such, caution needs to be used in the way it is presented, particularly if there are strong reasons to suppose it would not go down well with potential coalition partners. So welcoming this issue in the manifesto does not necessarily mean pushing it in a way that makes it very hard to back down. I think we would have understood if Clegg had said “Yes, it’s in the manifesto, but in the event of a coalition, it will depend on the willingness of the other party to go along with the tax measures needed to pay for it, so I can’t sign a pledge that holds me to that position under all circumstances”.

    Having made it a pledge, I think the Liberal Democrats should have negotiated with the Conservatives to be allowed to put it to a free vote ALONG WITH a free vote on what taxes would be necessary to pay for it. The free vote on the tax rises should have come first – that would have forced Labour either to back those tax rises, or to back off from attacking us on the issue when they couldn’t.

    You see, thinking all this through requires a certain sort of political deviousness. Which is what I was saying Clegg lacks, in my response to Sarah Ludford.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th May '14 - 7:48am

    David-1

    One of the problems that the Party has developed over the past four years is the sense that dissent is disloyalty, that the Party is navigating dangerous waters and that anyone who doesn’t keep quiet and go along is rocking the boat for the fun of it. Therefore voices that spoke up suggesting that there were dangerous reefs ahead were unheeded or scoffed at.

    Yup. I had taken up being one of those voices knowing I was so far removed from any serious position of influence in the party, not even a councillor after I decided not to restand in 2006, that I could safely make the points I felt needed to be made and be dismissed as some sort of fringe nutter, ranting on the sidelines , yet I hope that somewhere and somehow my continuous criticism of Clegg – NOT for forming the coalition, or even for making compromises, but for the way he presented it – would be taken in, and be of some influence.

    At the very least, I am able to say “I told you so”. My predictions about Clegg and his influence on the party and how all what he did would work out, which I have been making here since the last leadership election, have been proved deadly accurate – I am very sorry to say, I wish it were not the case.

  • Paul In Twickenham 26th May '14 - 7:54am

    @Sarah Ludford – first, my sincerest sympathies and best wishes. I agree with Paul Scriven re Nick Clegg : “you don’t need to have spent as much time with Nick as I have to know what a thoroughly decent, authentic, and brave liberal he is.” I don’t doubt he’s a decent man – I’ve only really met him once (for dinner) and he came across as all that, but can he remain as leader of this party?

  • Bill le Breton 26th May '14 - 8:32am

    When you are facing an existential challenge – that is when you are facing expulsion to the political wilderness – every per cent in the national and therefore local vote share counts. Because …

    In 2015, as few as 300,000 votes could make the difference between a dismal result expelling us to the sidelines of politics throughout 2015-2020 during a climacteric period in the country’s history when the forces of illiberality and inter-community strife will be raging.

    It is essential therefore that we do everything to win over those 300,000 (and more) but especially those 300,000. Win them and we could remain a player during those challenging and dark times.

    Actually, thanks to Paddy and Olly the bricks are in place for such a targeted campaign. Tragically, the Leader and the team of consultants, MPs, Peers and marketeers that he has employed or surrounded himself with, do not understand what is required to achieve this. The whole of the Euro campaign was actually counter-productive to the General Election strategy. None of those 300,000 votes that we need in the target seats will have voted for us for the Euros on Thursday, and many of the MPs appear ‘safe’ only because of the differential effects of the UKIP effect still principally damaging the Tory vote.

    Clegg’s decisions over campaigns and communications (since before 2010 eg the use of Starkey and others in the GE team) have been naïve and a major contribution to our woes. Clegg is not able or willing to change strategy or personnel. Or he would have done so before now. He just isn’t that canny politically and nor are those he has given authority to. In Paddy for example he has secured the services of good working dog and continues to bark feebly himself.

    Finally getting those 300,000 and more is made more difficult when Nick Clegg himself is the message carrier. That is just a political fact. And remember we need every one of those 300,000 electors to feel able to vote for us in May 2015.

    MPs would do well to consider this before rushing to defend the indefensible.

  • Shaun Nichols 26th May '14 - 11:57am

    “Let’s not throw away all we have worked for” – an unfortunate headline considering the massive losses suffered in recent days and over the last several years (under Clegg’s leadership).

  • Is this the pay off Paul was talking about? Soon there won’t be a party to revive, the Orange Book agenda has failed to connect with voters and as Bill le Breton states it leaves an existential problem. I’m one of the 300k he’s referring to, and obviously to get my vote back you’ll need to change. If you can’t change, we’ll create a new party that replaces you – directly over the ground the party occupied prior to the coalition.

    Turns out nobody needs a more right wing Lib Dems – there’s no market for it. Adapt or die.

  • Matthew: I had the same conversation with Nick Clegg about elected Mayors when he was pushing the idea.

    Unfortunately Bristol was the only City stupid enough to vote for idea back in 2012 (and probably would not have done if we had had local elections on the same day). His answer was “Mayors seem to work on the Continent.” He just would not or could not see that the whole problem in the UK context was the paucity of power Westminster gives to local government in the first place.

    I do like Nick Clegg as a person, but voting for the perceived ‘nice guy’ rather than the ‘effective bastard’ has been a feature of Liberal Leadership elections since the Steel/Pardoe contest of 1976. I feel despite my reservations I’ve given Nick the benefit of the doubt for over six years years. Its a bit like liking your football team’s manager though, they should be judged on results, and we’ve gone backwards as a party since Clegg took over. Its not just a recent run of bad results – its successive ones.

  • Lib Dem communications are appalling. How much does it cost to join the Lib Dems? No clear policy or rate card but you can sign up and if you click on the right buttons it eventually shows a choice of £1 to £100. Is this pick your own subs and if so, say so. The Bury Lib Dems site has forthcoming events. For 2010. And a link to join that is goes to an error page. You can’t even tell me basic joining information let alone effectively communicate real achievements in Government and nail UKIP lies.

    I voted Lib Dem on Thursday but I wonder if I wasted those votes. I can’t vote for any of the others so maybe I give up, spoil the ballot so it is counted at least. Let’s not throw away 4 years of achievement by not getting the message of those achievements across and not countering UKIP nonsense and hypocrisy effectively.

    Lib Dems are missing the killer instinct needed for Government – remember the Tories dumped Thatcher and changed policy then won in 1992. Ditch Nick, bring back Charles Kennedy who connects with the ordinary man and woman like Farage does, or even Vince who the public like because he does go off message when he disagrees – it’s an honesty of conviction that Clegg lacks.

    But you also have to say you were wrong about tuition fees and it should have been a red line. Now I’d say introduce 20,000 scholarships covering all or part of the fees for the brightest sparks in the courses where we have national skills shortages, not for accountants and lawyers and historians of fine art but in medical, nursing and midwifery, engineering, science, IT. The subjects most of the public want more of. And you don’t go into Government with any party who refuses to implement that no matter what the other temptations of high office with the peerages and appointments for failure.

    In the meantime someone please put the membership charges policy in clear view.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th May '14 - 3:29pm

    Steve Comer

    His answer was “Mayors seem to work on the Continent.”

    Well, yes, like that form of government when applied to a whole nation on the continent was said to have made the trains run in time. I think that rather misses the point.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th May '14 - 3:41pm

    SteveR

    And you don’t go into Government with any party who refuses to implement that no matter what the other temptations of high office with the peerages and appointments for failure.

    Well, ok. So we have a situation as in May 2010 where there’s only one viable coalition, and the LibDems are refusing to go into it because the other party won’t agree to this and other pet policies. So what happens when the country is left with no stable government? Will the people cheer the LibDems for sticking to their principles? Or curse them for playing politics and bringing the country to a halt over pet things of theirs that no-one else cares much about?

    This really is the problem. It’s written up as if the LibDems in such a situation (which I think is unlikely to happen again for a long time) have the luxury of being pickers and choosers and demanding what they want. Labour attack them for this, but is there any sign that Labour would be any more willing to give in to Liberal Democrat demands than the Conservatives? The only parties in the world that can do that are those with strong tribal support – that is, their tribe will back them no matter way, and all the tribe wants to see is policies that support that tribe, it doesn’t care much either way about anything else. So the party can bring the country to a halt to make its demands, make all sorts of compromises on other things, and not suffer any drop in electoral support as a consequence. The problem for the Libeal Democrats is that they are the exact opposite of that sort of party.

  • Matthew Huntbach – full coalition was not the only solution. A supply and confidence agreement could have been entered into to deal with the financial crisis but stopping the Tories from implementing any of their non essential pet projects too. However, personally I was and am fully in support of proper coalition. But all policies implemented by a coalition must be consensus, of little consequence, or subject to a free vote along party lines. Tuition fee promises should not have been made IMO but once they had, in exchange for the student vote, it had to be a red line for Lib Dems. Tories want to increase fees, let them try in a free vote. The Tories would not break the Coalition on that point – imagine them triggering an election for that reason, suicide; it would not be the Lib Dems being blamed.

    Anyway, what’s done is done. Being beaten into 5th place in a national election is the problem now and there is only a year left to recover. More of the same means having parliamentary party meetings in a phone box again, 25 years thrown away not 4. Ruthless politics are needed and avoiding the phone box scenario means undoing the betrayal of the student vote. Clegg can’t undo the betrayal but Kennedy was not involved and Cable is on record as being extremely reluctant, and therefore either have a chance and I think there will be another opportunity next year to set a red line.

    I don’t think Lib Dems should be afraid of an EU referendum, it’ll happen in the next 10 years anyway so embrace. Offer the Tories support on a referendum bill in exchange for 20,000 scholarships, and if they refuse withdraw from the Coalition but provide supply and confidence. Bold politics, decisive politics, rebellious not in the Tory pocket or shadows politics. If it doesn’t work then at least it can’t be any worse than sub-7% of the national vote.

  • Steve Comer 26th May ’14 – 4:35am
    Forgot to comment on the heading: “Lets not throw away all we’ve worked for…”
    Isn’t that precisely what we’ve done in three successive local elections, one Euro election and one ill-thought out AV referendum?

  • JohnRoffey We do need to change quite a lot but the leadership issue is dominating the agenda and preventing the mature discussion we actually need. This is why the attack on the leadership was not a good idea!! Not only damaging but distracting and disruptive. All those supporting @LibDems4Change – well done!!

  • Miranda Ward 28th May '14 - 10:44pm

    I agree with Paul Scriven.

    Surely no-one actually thought there would not be a back-lash for so many, and not just the Lib Dems? Furthermore that the toxic combination of the Farage Factor and the European Parliament elections all at the same time, coming after a very hard recession, which is still effecting so many, was bound to get the less politically aware voting for sweets today rather than proper food for longer.

    Tough times mean tightening belts and soldiering on. Nick Clegg and his team have done and are doing and will continue to do a good job in a difficult coalition. Are members now regretting that we went in to a coalition? And with the party who had the most votes in order to see the country through a rough patch? Stop and think what things might have been like without the coalition? The Tories managing to do it all in their own way? Or a shambolic mess followed by another General Election and maybe even a more right wing Tory majority or, horrors, Labour back to make things even worse?

    The media are loving this back biting and in-fighting – so too the Tories and Labour party! Let’s take it on the chin and show the world we are strong enough to take this without winging and, what is more, stalwart enough in a crisis to be worthy of being THE majority party sometime soon.

    Meanwhile, let us talk through strategies behind closed doors and not give the media a field day – or week!

    I feel very sorry for those people who have lost their seats – it has to be hell – but surely we can pick ourselves up etcetera? The playground shenanigans are unseemly and totally inappropriate from a bunch of adults with responsibilities for everyone in this country as well as our role in Europe!

    My membership had lapsed due to health issues – but given this nastiness I immediately renewed it.

    I agree with Nick!

  • Miranda – tomots Mail is a case in point. I’m sure I’ve read that more Mail readers vote Lib Dem than guardian readers.

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