Opinion: The Liberal Democrat legacy is unwritten; Labour’s unchanged.

Every vote, member, volunteer and supporter that the Lib Dems have lost as a result of entering into a coalition with the Conservatives will be missed. For most, I assume that this will not be a decision that they take lightly. Instead, it will arise as a conviction, from a small seed of doubt. Doubt about whether or not they believe they can be complicit in a Tory Government. I wish them well, and hope that they will be as open to returning as they have been to leaving.

However, to those still wavering on the brink, perhaps you might be persuaded to stay awhile? I speak particularly to those who joined us in protest from Labour. Might I be so bold as to suggest that, in my opinion at least, recent events have done nothing to bleach Labour’s record?

Now, I know many on the left will hark back to the Thatcher years; an emotive topic for those senior to me. I do not have personal memories of those times, which perhaps explains why I am in favour of this coalition. I do have personal memories of the Labour years, and I have to admit that they weren’t actually that bad. I don’t think that there is any danger of a future Labour leader having to rid his party of the ‘nasty’ tag that Cameron has had to contend with.

Despite this, it is still important not to forget why you were protesting against the Labour Government in the first place. They made a number of huge blunders, for which they deserve to be punished and, more importantly, they betrayed our trust.

The Iraq war, for example. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians; killed in your name. Killed in my name. Killed in our names. Our troops, sent by a Labour government, to die in an illegal war. Brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers, spilling their blood- and for what? Why? No, David, the electorate has not punished you enough for Iraq.

Others of you may have grown tired of the Labour party’s intransigence on political reform. They made a start on the Lords, but ignored electoral reform and party funding. Not just ignored, but blocked. We paid for the Jenkins report to be shelved when, like so much else, the conclusion didn’t fit in with the Labour party’s new power-jaded ‘principles’.

There is immigration- not the phenomena itself, in my opinion, but the poor management of it. We are now represented in Europe by two BNP politicians. I am embarrassed by that, but we have to accept that immigration was allowed to become an issue under the last Government.

This being a blog post as opposed to a full-blown critique of the Labour years, I will stop there; but hopefully the point is clear. The Liberal Democrats served as your haven when disillusionment with the Labour regime grew, why not give us a chance to prove that we will not let you down as they did? As I said, I am too young to be coloured by the legacy of Thatcher, so perhaps it is easy for me to take this line, but I do not see working with the Conservatives as being worse than the betrayals outlined above, and more besides.

I voted for the Liberal Democrats because I believed in their manifesto. My decision was made easier by the fact that I no longer trusted Labour to implement theirs. I don’t see a coalition with the Conservatives as fundamentally opposed to my reasons for voting Lib Dem, I do see it as potentially dangerous and certainly inconvenient. This doesn’t make me any more in favour of another party. Quite the opposite. I intend to do all I can to hold Lib Dem politicians to Lib Dem principles. I ask only that some of those considering leaving might also try this first.

* Charlie Garnett is a member of the Liberal Democrats in Hackney.

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37 Comments

  • Paul McKeown 18th May '10 - 4:31pm

    >>>I don’t think that there is any danger of a future Labour leader having to rid his party of the ‘nasty’ tag that Cameron has had to contend with.

    Au contraire. I find Blair & Brown’s Labour as equally toxic as Thatcher’s Conservatives were, as I remember the appalling things both did. Differently, but equally bad. At least the Conservatives have understood that they are regarded as “nasty” and have been looking at their record and their attitudes in order to understand why, with, so far, limited results. What should be noted, though, is that the Conservatives have, to their great credit, proved flexible and willing to deal genuinely in the recent coalition formation.

  • Paul McKeown 18th May '10 - 4:33pm

    I look forward to the day when I have at least a non-toxic choice, should I wish to vote other than Liberal Democrat. Possibly I may have to wait a long time!

  • We’re also represented in Europe by a load of racist homophobes who are also our new coalition buddies: the conservatives. Or do we ignore that issue now?

  • @Jonny

    So the ECR and the ALDE are in a coalition too? Pull the other one.

    Maybe if you make sure Labour win a majority of seats next time, the Tories won’t be in power. Yay

  • Iraq undoubtedly is something which will take an enormous amount to forgive, but you seem to be forgetting that there were a very large number of Labour MPs who voted against the war. Conversely only a very small number of Tory MPs did the same (Kenneth Clarke being a notable example). The Tory leadership are wholly complicit in what happened. Indeed many of them are enthusiastic neo-cons (Hague, Fox, Gove etc). Hague is already sabre-rattling over Iran. Why should this be forgotten?

  • @ Vectis

    Not buying it. the Conservatives didn’t have access to the information Labour had. Iraq was a Labour war, nobody elses.

    Europe on the other hand… Its not just the BNP that are embarrassing, whatever blanco might think of their new bedmates.

  • David Chapman 18th May '10 - 5:26pm

    I do remeber the Thatcher years and they were horrible on all fronts. However, although the conservatives (and Cameron) are still tainted by those days, I believe Cameron is happy for the coaltition with the Lib Dems to stiffen his modernising drive. This did appear to be wavering during the election, where his anti-immigration and anti-Europe position seemed to lurch right-wards as it appeared to garner votes. The Lib Dems and Conservatives remain seperate in Europe and hopefully as the coalition strengthens Cameron will drag the conservatives away from the right-wing nutters that disgrace his party. As for Labour. They seem to be de-mob happy now they are back in opposition and they are all running around posing as red hot ‘progressives’ a matter of days after being members of a governing party that was anything but. The Iraq war was a great crime and one I will probably never forgive Labour for dragging us into it. As for progressive, Ralph Miliband, father of David and Ed, had labour’s number years ago. In power they strive to manage capitalism more efficiently than the capitalist party. The capitalist model they bought in to managing under Blair and Brown was the Thatcherite model (re-christened the Anglo-American model and the one that has just failed big time). Labour weren’t as bad as Thatcher, but they were far from being progressive in much apart from their own imagination.

  • @Jonny,

    Iraq was an establisment war led by Labour and the most disgraceful failure of establishment foreign policy since Munich. You didn’t need the information that the Government had to know it was being advanced on false premises – you just had to be paying attention. The opposition to the Iraq war was one of the LibDem’s finest moments and CK and Ming deserve their plaudits. I judge people by what they did and said – there are many more Labour folk who got it right than Tories and it is many of those very same Tories who are now in leading positions in the coalition cabinet. The Tories had the power to stop it if they had voted against. Not only did they not vote against but they very largely enthusiastically supported it. Very uncomfortable bedfellows indeed.

  • Charlie, I remember the Thatcher years, and it so nice to see people who don’t involved in politics. They were not easy years for a lot of people. The Conservatives are called the Conservatives, not the Thatcherists!

  • Andrew Suffield 18th May '10 - 6:29pm

    new Conservative partners in power who insisted on including a cap on non-EU immigration in last week’s deal

    I don’t know why everybody talks about that as if it was a Tory proposal. All three parties had “introduce a cap on non-EU immigration” in their manifesto. The only variation was on what sort of cap.

    Curiously, we don’t yet know whose version the coalition favours.

  • Alex Macfie 18th May '10 - 6:31pm

    @Jonny: the Lib Dems and Conservatives will be fighting the next European election as independent parties, the same as they will be fighting all elections (including, incidentally, parliamentary by-elections) as independent parties during the lifetime of this coalittion. The coalition agreement applies to the government and parliament at Westminster, and nowhere else. There is to be no hook-up between the two parties in the European Parliament, as they will continue to be members of their respective European party blocs. I very much doubt that MEPs of either party will feel themselves inhibited from attacking the other because they happen in be in coalition in their national government.

  • Alex Macfie 18th May '10 - 6:34pm

    Thatcher may have been bad , but Labour in government (with its policies of the time) would (IMO) have been even worse.

  • Clearly we should neither forgive the Conservative Party nor the Labour Party for voting for the invasion of Iraq at a time when the United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix was begging for more time to investigate Iraqi claims that they had disarmed. No inside knowledge was needed. Hans Blix’s statements were public.

    There were lots of individual Labour Party members who opposed the war in Iraq – but if the bombing of Baghdad and the tens of thousands of civilians who died during the war were important to them surely they would have resigned – and having not resigned surely they would now be seeking to elect John Denham as Labour Party leader – the only surviving senior member of the party to have taken a stand on this issue.

  • Frankly all this harking back to past issues is pointless. Yes thacherism wasn’t pretty and neither was the war, but there are both past> I don’t say forget them, I do so forgive them. We need to look forward not back, which is I think what the coalition is trying to do.

  • Just a point about Thatcher, I am quite amused by a lot of what is written these days about how bad it was and how she was the devil incarnate but this is the same person who won three elections with big majorities so she had a lot of support. She did a lot of unpleasdant things and I for one lost my career in an industry that is sadly virtually dead in the UK now during the 80’s so I do not look back on her with fond memories but I am pragmatic and I will say that unfortunately the country needed someone like her at that time, if Labour had stayed in power in 79 or got back at the next election, where would the country be now. I am in no way defending her government but the position the country was in some of the measures were a necessity at the time.

  • @Jonny

    David Cameron is on record as late as 2006 saying that Iraq was the right decision to make, surely at that stage the “We were misinformed” argument no longer holds up?

  • @Daan – David Miliband still won’t admit it was wrong either. I think the point people are partly trying to make is that both Labour and the Conservatives have been for or against a lot of things we voted against/for, and we can’t say “OMG not the TORIES” when in fact Labour have been just as bad on many things and worse on others.

  • Apologies to Charlie if English is not his first language. His rather stilted prose is annoying but I assume he means what he says.

    “I voted for the Liberal Democrats because I believed in their manifesto. My decision was made easier by the fact that I no longer trusted Labour to implement theirs. I don’t see a coalition with the Conservatives as fundamentally opposed to my reasons for voting Lib Dem”

    So doing things that are the opposite of the manifesto you believed in doesn’t disturb you?

  • Not sure why people are so intent on stating they will or won’t be voting for or against any party right now. When exactly is the next general election going to be?

    Personally I’m going to see how it pans out. I have optimism, yes, but I’m not going to say now who I’ll vote for next time round… we’ve got the time to see how this all unfolds, why rush in to a decision before you’ve even seen what’s going to happen; the only rational, sensible and responsible thing to do is to make your decision when it’s actually time to decide… based on the evidence you have seen right up to that point.

    No one has a crystal ball to see the future, so how can you possibly know what it holds in store?

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th May '10 - 10:43am


    There is immigration- not the phenomena itself, in my opinion, but the poor management of it. We are now represented in Europe by two BNP politicians. I am embarrassed by that, but we have to accept that immigration was allowed to become an issue under the last Government.

    What Jon Cruddas wrote on this topic in his recent Guardian article should be read carefully:

    Immigration has been used as a 21st-century incomes policy, mixing a liberal sense of free for all with a free-market disdain for clear and effective rules. We have known this was a problem. Yet the answer for the government lay in a ratcheted-up rhetoric rather than solutions that may have challenged liberal assumptions and business lobbyists alike.

    Low pay and job insecurity, despite a minimum wage, has left people on the edge of society looking in on new levels of riches. This has happened while migrant workers are set against British workers by rogue employers looking to shave costs to make a bigger buck.

    I’ve been trying to say a few things like that within LibDem bloggery, but it’s just so difficult, because it seems almost all Liberal Democrats have a knee-jerk reaction “Immigration is wonderful, it can never ever be the cause of any problems, it can only be 100% beneficial, anyone who says otherwise is a dirty rotten racist”.

    And couldn’t just maybe Nick Clegg have made a stronger point like Cruddas’s second paragraph when he was thrown by the immigration question in the TV debates? It is in the fat cats’ interest for there to be lots of illegal immigrants in this country, they work for cheap, they don’t answer back, and if they do, just threaten to call the Border Agency and they soon shut up. Outsourcing of jobs like cleaning to private agencies – as advocated by the Tories as “private sector know-how” “competition driving down prices” and the usual crap – has all helped with this. The fat cats don’t themselves get into the illegal immigration racket, they contract out to middle-men to do it. Same with local government, the NHS, etc – there’s big money to be made running agencies providing cleaning staff, care staff, etc, and there’s smart people from the communities the illegals come from running those agencies and making it.

    Too many Liberal Democrats are of the “Isn’t it great we can get cheap plumbers/nannies these days?” variety, or “isn’t is delightfully multi-cultural here” as they pass through on their way to their white outer suburbs or country villages variety, or “aren’t those council estate bigots, who say their children should get the council housing rather than immigrants, disgusting?” as they go off to organise mummy and daddy writing their will to leave their house to them variety, or the “isn’t it good that so many languages are spoken around here?” variety as they organise for their children to go to schools which aren’t tied down using all their resources coping with that variety.

  • I wouldn’t be missing all those activists who have supposedly switched their allegiance to Labour following the coalition deal. Their commitment to the cause is questionable. If you’re in favour of the “new politics” and more to the point, PR then coalition governments are going to be the norm. This will inevitably result in compromise and occasionally alliances we would not consider “natural”. However this is the nature of a mature, modern democracy. As for those Lib Dem voters/activists who feel cheated by this coalition, they weren’t paying much attention to the campaign were they? Nick Clegg made it quite plain that he believed the largest party, should it also command the largest share of the vote had the right to form a government and given the opinion polls that were always likely to be Cameron and Co.

    Take a step back and look at what the coalition deal has to offer. Potentially it will be the biggest change to our country since Attlee’s post-war Labour government. Certainly it would be more than Labour delivered in its 13 years in power, which was very little after its first term. Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating and 5 years is an eternity in political terms but as I see it Lib Dem supporters could get more from a government than the days of Asquith and Lloyd George.

  • Your naivity is breathtaking. Yes Labour deserve to have been punished for the Iraq fiasco however that pales into significance with regard to what it was like to live in Britain under Thatcher and then the wholly discredited Major Conservative mess and your party has aligned itself with this history.

    You should do some research/reading etc on what happened to Britain under the last Tory governments. It was bloody horrendous and this is what is likely to happen again with the Lib Dems complicit in it. The Lib Dems deserve to wiped out as a result of this cynically unprincipled and opportunistic act of desperation.

    Clegg effectively smashed the precedence of the British Constitution in insisting that the Conservatives have the first attempt at forming a Government so effectively we have had a right-wing coup in this country with the Lib Dems blessing. It is quite shameful. A shocking grab for power.

    The Coservatives never to do anything socially worthwhile in Govt. Ask a Tory what they have done in government and they will go on about the unions and grammar schools. Well I ask, “Is that it?” and that is infact IT! They do nothing and the Lib Dems will achieve NOTHING with the Tory’s in this disgraceful coaltion and will disappear from the political landscape without a trace. It’s time that Lib Dems Do Not agree with Nick and get out of this shameful coalition before it’s too late.
    John Henry

  • If you feel you have lost members and support now just wait until the tough decisions start to crop up.Our local newspaper had a huge headline today about a new hospital, school build and road widening scheme under threat from the Tory/Lib Dem coalition. Get used to it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th May '10 - 10:16pm

    john henry

    The Lib Dems deserve to wiped out as a result of this cynically unprincipled and opportunistic act of desperation.

    So what else should we have done? There simply were not enough non-Tories to make a stable government of everyone else, even if the ywere willing, which large parts of Labour were not.

    Clegg effectively smashed the precedence of the British Constitution in insisting that the Conservatives have the first attempt at forming a Government so effectively we have had a right-wing coup in this country with the Lib Dems blessing. It is quite shameful. A shocking grab for power

    No, it is how democracy is meant to work. The elected representatives get together to see if they can find common points to agree on and on that basis form a government. Politics is about compromise, accepting that diferent people have different ideas, so trying to find a common way through it.

    The Coservatives never to do anything socially worthwhile in Govt. Ask a Tory what they have done in government and they will go on about the unions and grammar schools. Well I ask, “Is that it?” and that is infact IT! They do nothing and the Lib Dems will achieve NOTHING with the Tory’s in this disgraceful coaltion

    And Labour? What has it done? Fed the fat cats, presided over growing inequality, destroyed the morale of public services with its ridiculous targeting mentality, promised an end to boom-and-bust while building up and unsustainable boom that was bound to bust and did, let our infratsructure get bought up by foreign companies that have no interest in the welfare of the people of this country, carried on with the disastrous policies you rightly decry in the Tories.

    Labour simply were NOT WORTH rescuing.

    The point of any coalition is that it removes those elements from the coalition partners that are unpopular. It is to be hoped the Liberal Demcrats can do this with the Tories. In the meantime, it would be worth it if something on the left that were worth coalescing with could put itself together. Whatever it is, Miliband, Miliband or Balls certainly do not inspire any confidence that they could lead it.

  • John Emerson 20th May '10 - 12:31am

    “So what else should we have done? There simply were not enough non-Tories to make a stable government of everyone else, even if the ywere willing, which large parts of Labour were not.”

    I agree it wasn’t feasable to have some sort of rainbow coalition for a number of reason, (would you use Scot Nat. votes to pass legisalition on matters which are devolved in Scotland?), but that still left the choice of minority Tory government with a confidence and supply agreement.

    Which party the lib-dems talked to first is a complete red herring, since both numerically and a resignation of many labour MPs to opposition made a deal impossible, hence inevitably the lib-dems would have talked to the Tories.

    “And Labour? What has it done? Fed the fat cats, presided over growing inequality, destroyed the morale of public services with its ridiculous targeting mentality, promised an end to boom-and-bust while building up and unsustainable boom that was bound to bust and did, let our infratsructure get bought up by foreign companies that have no interest in the welfare of the people of this country, carried on with the disastrous policies you rightly decry in the Tories.”

    While the later years of the labour government were a bit disastrou, they did have a number of achievements earlier. All the fault(s) you find in the Labour partly (mostly correctly) the Conservatives would have and did carry out twofold. So why would you want to join in coalition with them?

    “Whatever it is, Miliband, Miliband or Balls certainly do not inspire any confidence that they could lead it.”

    and Cameron, Osborne, Hague, Smith, Fox, and May do?!

  • @ John Henry

    “The Coservatives never to do anything socially worthwhile in Govt”

    Hmmmm. 1867 Reform Act – far more wide reaching than the 1832 act. Granted the Tories had voted down a bill proposed by Gladstone and the Liberals the year before in an effort to pass the legislation to their own favour but this is no different than the vaunted 1832 act which in itself was to the Whigs’ advantage. A number of acts seen as beneficial to the working classes at the end of the nineteenth century were also passed by Conservative governments under Disraeli. Whether we like it or not in the late 1880s the Conservatives did more for the lower classes the Liberals who until the turn of the century were more pre-occupied by free trade and Irish Home rule.

    Post Attlee, what has Labour done? Devolution? Well it’s a step in the right direction but many would argue only a half measure, same of the reforms of the House of Lords. Before that? Comprehensive education. Well intentioned it may have been but in all honesty it has not delivered an education system worthy of the end of the twentieth century, let alone the start of the twenty-first. I know plenty of people who believe the working classes had a better chance of social mobility under the old grammar school system than they do today and I for one cannot disagree with them.

    I’m not exactly convinced that post New Labour, Next Labour or whatever you choose to call it is likely to improve matters. It may well find itself in government in 5 years time, if only because it isn’t responsible for what has to be done over the next few years. Hardly a ringing endorsement. It could easily find itself in power purely on the basis of “It wasn’t us” yet with no idea on how to move forward. Not a pleasant prospect but one which, much against my nature leads me to hope that the current government succeeds.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th May '10 - 11:07am

    In reply to John Emerson, my own preference would have been supply and confidence to a Tory minority government. But even that would have required some deal to prevent them calling a new election in a few months’ time on the grounds “get rid of the instability caused by the presence of too many LibDem MPs”. As party of that deal, LibDem MPs would have to sit in their hands and allow through some of the right-wing nonsense that the coalition has managed to get put aside.

  • John Emerson 20th May '10 - 1:07pm

    “Whether we like it or not in the late 1880s the Conservatives did more for the lower classes the Liberals who until the turn of the century were more pre-occupied by free trade and Irish Home rule.”

    er, what about the 1884-5 reforms act passed by Gladstone. Not to mention the 1883 Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act. From 1886 to 1906 the Liberals only held office for three years and even that was a minority government.

    “Post Attlee, what has Labour done?”

    Well of course it has been a mixed bag, but the open university, ending capital punishment, keeping us out of Vietnam, large advances in ending same-sex discrimination, minimium wage, peace in NI, the human right act etc.

    “As party of that deal, LibDem MPs would have to sit in their hands and allow through some of the right-wing nonsense that the coalition has managed to get put aside.”

    I agree Matthew it wouldn’t have been perfect, no option was, but too many lib-dems are talking as if there was no choice. There was.

  • John, how could we spend so long preaching the merits of coaltion governments, and then turn our noses up at the chance to actually participate in one?

  • @ John Emmerson

    Apologies, I meant the 1870s rather than the 1880s. A lot of Disraeli’s legislation following the 1874 election – Public Health Act 1875, Education Act 1876 and a new Factory Act did more for the working classes than the Whigs/Liberals had managed in previous administrations. Some would even argue it may well go some way to explaining the large number of working class Tories.

    “I agree Matthew it wouldn’t have been perfect, no option was, but too many lib-dems are talking as if there was no choice. There was”

    What choice was their exactly? Supply and confidence? As Matthew points out this may well have required the LibDem MPs to abstain and allow more right-wing legislation through. As for the so called rainbow coalition, that was highly ill-conceived and would have rivalled the 1983 Labour party manifesto for political suicide. There was never enough support for the coaltion and passing any meaningful legislation would have proved difficult. The coaltion would have split, quickly and acrimoniously and the voters would have punished both parties. This would have left the Tory right resurgent, whilst they are for the moment somewhat emasculated.

  • John Emerson 20th May '10 - 6:24pm

    “John, how could we spend so long preaching the merits of coaltion governments, and then turn our noses up at the chance to actually participate in one?”

    It’s relatively simple, you just say no, our two parties are too far apart in aims, policies and ideology at the current time. We did so in Scotland to the SNP just two years ago. But we can still be pragmatic and come to agreements to individual issues.

    “What choice was their exactly? Supply and confidence? As Matthew points out this may well have required the LibDem MPs to abstain and allow more right-wing legislation through.”

    Well, firstly with a supply and confidence agreement we would have achieved quite a lot of what was in the coalition agreement (not AV or ministerial positions but probably the income tax threshold change, civil liberties etc as the conservatives are pretty much in favor or at least indifferent anyway.) We would only be required to abstain on confidence votes and the budget.

  • While I cannot support coalition with the Tory Party, I don’t think the Scottish Parliament is a fair comparison. The SNP only just won more votes and seats than Labour and lacks the power to spring a second Holyrood election when conditions are favourable.

    Here is a possible scenario:

    (1) Spring 2011. Some of the Lib Dem driven constitutional changes are got through. Polls show Nick Clegg to be more popular than David Cameron or David Miliband.

    (2) Summer 2012. The Tory-led government (from which Messrs Cable and Webb have already walked) is extremely unpopular on account of deep cuts to public services.

    (3) Autumn 2012. The Tory right, exasperated at Lib Dem refusal to shoulder responsibility for the unpopular cuts, pulls the plug on the coalition.

    (4) Late 2012. The Cameron government, unable to call a general election because of its poor showing in the polls, carries on as an impotent minority administration. The Lib Dems go into opposition mode and blame the Tory right for just about everything.

    (5) Winter of 2015. President Mitt Romney orders David Cameron to support his planned invasion of Iran. David Miliband stands with Romney, as does Cameron. However, more than half the Labour MPs vote agaisnt war, causing Miliband to resign as leader.

    WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

  • Whilst I concede that it’s possible certain aspects of the coaltion deal could have been delivered with a supply and confidence agreement, I not convinced we would have got the big changes – electoral reform, an accountabke secind chamber etc. Granted AV isn’t a proportional system but it is a step in the right direction. It is without doubt a big gamble but I think any Liberal who really wants to see change, to see their ideas implemented, to truly make a difference should welcome the opportunity the electorate has given us. If we do not grasp it now, it might be another generation before we get the chance again. That in my opinion makes it a risk worth taking.

  • John Emerson 20th May '10 - 9:11pm

    Sesenco, loved the scenerio, but President Mitt Romney?! even if he won the primary, (doubtful the evangelical right will not vote for a Morman), there are many democrats salivating at the prospect of a Romney/Obama contest.

    Matt, the problem is, we have to win the referendum. With spending cuts hitting home, and with both parties campaigning against us, it will be far from a gimme. And if we do lose it,a distinct possiblity, it will definitely be a generation before we get another chance, not to mention greatly harming our chance in the next general. We will have anger over spending cuts, destroyed tactical voting in our favour, and been seen to have had our main campaign wish rejected by the electorate. It could be brutal. All for what, AV?!

  • John,

    I would have to ask myself, if such is the view, do LibDems really want power? Are they a serious party or are they as Cameron’s now famous comment about Nick Clegg suggests, simply a joke? If you want to change things in this country then it’s time to roll up your sleeves, get stuck in and get dirty like the other main parties. If that’s not for you then accept that all you can do is sit on the sidelines complaining about how unfair it all is. I doubt the electorate would view this anymore favourably than being a part of a unpopular government.

  • John Emerson 21st May '10 - 12:39am

    “do LibDems really want power? ”

    Yes, I would really like to see a lib-dem PM, or a lib-dem foreign secretary, or a lib-dem home secretary, or a lib-dem health secretary or a lib-dem education secretary etc, but we do not, but we will be blamed for the tory ones.

    “then it’s time to roll up your sleeves, get stuck in and get dirty like the other main parties”

    I have no problem in getting stuck in and getting dirty/blame/defending (for) my parties policies and leaders, I do have a problem with Tory ones. Are you suggesting that in any hung parliament we have to join a coalition?

    We before the election set out 4 test/requirements before going into any coalitions, two of which were fair taxes and voting reform (which I foolishly? assumed to be PR). These were not met. Indeed since there was little chance of the conservatives agreeing to these, hence I assumed that the leadership had de-facto ruled a full coalition out.

    My point was that the benefits of a full-blown coalition, over and above supply and confidence deal, are pretty small compared to rather large risk we have taken on. Calculated risk is one thing, betting your house on a chancy referendum, which only slightly improves voting system seems a touch foolish.

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