Opinion: Vote one thing, get another

I keep hearing all these concerns about having voted for one thing (e.g. LibDems) getting another (e.g. Tory). It seems to be the only thing disaffected party members can think of saying (at least those the media has been lining up for us, tearing up membership cards in front of the NEC).

I wish the people spouting all of this would take a step back and realise just how silly they sound. I’ve voted LibDem since I could vote; three different governments, one Conservative, two Labour were the result. I voted LibDem and I got Tory, then I got Labour, then I got Labour again. I truly voted for one thing but got another.

If I were anything like those disaffected members I’d have quit the LibDems right after that first Tory government. I’d voted for LibDems and got Tory. Totally betrayed by the party; they failed me, they failed to deliver their manifesto, they betrayed members; all the arguments I’m hearing ad nauseam in the press but this time with some actual truth to them.

What nonsense.

I voted LibDem this time and what I got was much more LibDem than I’ve ever had before. Yes, I could have voted LibDem and got Tory (again), I could have voted LibDem and got Labour (again), but instead I voted LibDem and I got… LibDem!

It’s not 100% LibDem it’s about 40% LibDem. Considering we have a 1/5 of the seats that the Tory’s have that’s a pretty good deal. We didn’t get everything; we didn’t get a LibDem PM; nor every single manifesto pledge, but we got something that’s much better than what we’ve ever had, certainly in my lifetime, probably in most people’s lifetime. We get our policies in government, if just one of those policies is implemented this will have been the most successful LibDem election since long before I was born.

What arrogance these “disaffected members” show in thinking that having only the third highest vote (both seats and percentage) we should somehow be entitled to get every single one of our policies implemented. We’ve always been third in my lifetime, but unlike every other time, this time we actually get some policies.

I do feel sorry for those policies we wanted but didn’t get; I feel sorry for those people whose pet policies weren’t possible in this coalition (a number of mine didn’t make it). But let’s stop all this nonsense about voting one thing and getting another. This is the reality of coalition government, the norm should we ever have a true proportional voting system.

I voted LibDem this time and I actually get to see LibDems in the Cabinet and LibDem manifesto promises on the Parliamentary schedule. For the first time ever in my lifetime I voted LibDem and I actually got some LibDem!

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42 Comments

  • “I voted LibDem this time and I actually get to see LibDems in the Cabinet and LibDem manifesto promises on the Parliamentary schedule. For the first time ever in my lifetime I voted LibDem and I actually got some LibDem!”

    Bingo!

    Also, people keep saying about Trident being a sell-out. But we are getting a review of cheaper alternatives now, which is one thing we hadn’t managed to do because it’s all nice to say we don’t want it renewed when we don’t have a clear plan as to what else to do about it & how much it will cost.

  • Afterthought 18th May '10 - 12:13pm

    While it is true that if we had all voted Labour, then we would have a Labour government.

    It is also true that a Labour government would be much worse than what we have now.

    What any new system (Mr. Clegg, are you listening?) must have is an end to any incentives for tactical voting. The voter should go to the poll and place an X for the candidate or party with whom they most agree. Period.

  • “I wish the people spouting all of this would take a step back and realise just how silly they sound.”

    Personally, I wish the people spouting this would work out why this problem exists and start helping to campaign for electoral reform in order to solve it.

  • Greg – But will Nick Clegg have access to the launch codes??? 😮

  • @Afterthought – AV would allow you to rank them in order of preference, and would make tactical voting hugely less likely.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 18th May '10 - 12:25pm

    “Greg – But will Nick Clegg have access to the launch codes???”

    And what would have happened if Kazakhstan had launched a nuclear attack on us in the period between Gordon Brown leaving the Palace and David Cameron arriving? Did the Queen have her finger on the trigger?

  • Martin – But we ARE getting a committee to find cheaper alternatives on Trident which is exactly what we said we wanted!

  • What is the situation re: Trident and the review?
    Personally I think the Tories could be left floating on this issue, it’s a hideously expensive indulgence of the national ego , pick any of the Bliars or the Broons ‘national initiatives’ and and they are actually fiscally more efficient than a 100 billion pound security massage for the ever fearful right. It is so often said how the most frightening WMD is the ‘suitcase nuke’, why not buy a few ( I haven’t googled the price of nukes as I don’t fancy MI5 kickin’ my door in), get a leasehold package deal from Sam’s Gunshop, a dozen cruise plus goody bags.
    It has been a long time since there was any significant public debate on Nuclear Weapons, the Cold war is over and yet all this time MAD persists, and like ‘Markets’ MAD has its own dynamic will beyond that of its proponents and I believe, is a significant security threat in itself, they will go one way or the other, I prefer the dismantlement method.
    Why blow much needed body armour and helicopters on essentially, ‘ a big message’ ? , In a wider debate the Cold-War Warriors would have to ‘agree with Gordon’ and have to explain to Our Boys (many of them Sun readers ) how the next jobs we send them on will also require some borrowing and bodging to try and get by and get back in one piece.

    In order to have the debate we need to know some framework of options and costs of what is available to the nation, it would have been good to have had some ballpark figures available when this first came up in the televised debate, for a wider public debate, credible numbers are needed a.s.a.p .

  • What you fail to realise is that in many marginals people voted liberal to keep the Tories out of power. I was one of those, I sit on the left and voted for a party who said they wouldn’t cut public spending and risk the recovery. When infact mr clegg was all to happy to be camerons bed mate. This is going to hurt the party at a local government level.

  • We’ve got a Libdem Chain and Muzzle on a Tory Pit Bull, if more people had voted Libdem then it would be a Libdem Mutt ( not a chihuaua ), at least it currently can’t try and eat the children. Plus whatever dog won the day, it was always going to be a working hound with a job to do.

  • Ndy – what you fail to realise is that for the party that you voted for to be able to do all the things that you wanted them to do, that party has to win the election with a majority, and at this election, no party got that.

    What you also fail to realise is that you would not need to place a tactical vote in a different electoral system. The LibDems are the only party that advocates an electoral system in which there would be no tactical votes. It is called “proportional representation”, and you might find it offers you a solution to your frustration.

  • I think most of this tripe is served up by Labour supporters who voted Lib Dem once and the media. I cannot fathom why the ‘thousands’ of Lib Dem supporters would be flocking to the Labour party, particularly with its stance on civil liberties.

    I don’t know anyone with that view, yet I discovered a lot of people who I know coming out in support of the Lib Dems. Hardly anyone for the other two parties.

    I also believe the loss in support in the run up to the election was due to tactical voting. In my area, Lib Dems are third. However, I felt my vote counted for something (if not now, in 2015) and there was a significant swing to the Lib Dems.

    The mistake was that voting tactically means we don’t get the society we want as it is a skewed vision envisaged by Arrows and Lipsey’s theory of the second best. The more Lib Dem votes, including for those who’d have prefered a Labour coalition, means Lib Dem policies get a louder voice in the new/current parliament.

    With a hung parliament predicted, it seems many have tactically voted one way or the other, still got a hung parliament and lost their voice by not voting Lib Dem. That’s the only way I can see a loss of 5% in support in 24 hours.

    I think the deal offered to the Lib Dems has been amazingly generous by the Tories. Far from being ‘disillusioned’ by the loss of policies, I’m heartened by what has been accepted. It’s a glass half full view. It doesn’t stop new policies being discussed at conference and it doesn’t mean we have to agree – but a commonsense approach means there will have to be some give and take. Giving ground isn’t a sign of weakness, its a sign that the Lib Dems are stepping back in order to get other policies in place.

    Hopefully the demonstration of ‘good politics’ will mean more people will choose the Lib Dems first next time round.

  • Martin Gill 18th May '10 - 2:28pm

    You’re completely missing the point. Liberal Democrat voters (which I am not) voted for a party that said it wouldn’t start cutting public spending this year, have an amnesty for illegal immigrants, pursue a proactive and positive relationship with the European Union.

    Not at all, that is the point. The people who voted LibDem voted for our manifesto, not for bits of our manifesto, for all of it. If we were totally in government, they would rightly expect us to implement everything in our manifesto.

    This is a coalition, it’s all about sharing, about give and take. People are right to be disappointed that we didn’t get everything; but then, we didn’t get all of the votes or all of the seats either. The question I have to ask people who are so upset that we didn’t get all of our policies, or not the specific ones they wanted, is “Why are you voting for a party that wants proportional representation?” We received 24% of the vote, by rights, proportionally, we should get 24% of our manifesto implemented. It’s only in first-past-the-post, with an absolute majority where you have a right to implement all your manifesto pledges. Isn’t wanting everything, almost by definition, a rather totalitarian view, instead of a democratic one?

  • Andrea Gill 18th May '10 - 2:45pm

    @Thomas: “I think most of this tripe is served up by Labour supporters who voted Lib Dem once and the media. I cannot fathom why the ‘thousands’ of Lib Dem supporters would be flocking to the Labour party, particularly with its stance on civil liberties.”

    I agree, some genuine activists and members have joined the Greens which makes much more sense ideologically. But I suspect the faff in the media and on forums is largely one-off Lib Dem voters – not actual members – who jumped on a bandwagon without understanding what we’re about, and now jump on the Labour wagon by joining the party, presumably again without grasping what they’re about. They’ll probably either not vote or vote for someone else altogether next time round…

    I am hoping very much that by the time of the next elections, those who vote for Lib Dems do so because they understand what we stand for, and have seen what good even a relatively small part of our policies implemented in government have brought.

  • “Isn’t wanting everything, almost by definition, a rather totalitarian view, instead of a democratic one?”

    I think it is.

  • Andrea Gill 18th May '10 - 2:48pm

    @Martin Gill – Probably worth mentioning that even in a majority government by far not all of their manifesto gets implemented, which is why there was so much distrust about promises of right of recall and AV referendum in the Labour manifesto

  • Er, speaking as a liberal LibDem, living now under the only Green on the map, I am confused about how leaving LibDems for the Greens makes more ideological sense. I suppose if the people who did that were looking for a non-Labour left wing, then it makes sense. I just hope the people who have turned out to not like coalition politics, the responsibility of a share in power, or whatever else put them off the LibDems lately, have found a political home elsewhere. If those people prefer the totalitarian tendencies of one party government, they are going to have to learn to cope with losing and hope the efforts to get electoral reform fail.

    I would rather live in a country where every vote counts myself, but then I can deal with negotiation and compromise at the top.

  • Andrea Gill 18th May '10 - 3:16pm

    RCM – I meant those who leave over things like nuclear power, other green issues (see Sunday Independent for how un-green they think this will be – not that I believe it!) or foreign policy etc. Because from those points of view Labour weren’t exactly forthcoming – as bad as “those Tories” – over the past 13 years, so I can understand this switch more. Also the Greens also support PR (perhaps for obvious reasons).

  • You’re completely missing the point. Liberal Democrat voters (which I am not) voted for a party that said it wouldn’t start cutting public spending this year, have an amnesty for illegal immigrants, pursue a proactive and positive relationship with the European Union.

    Oliver, you didn’t vote for them, but I did – Not one of those reasons was a vote winner for me whether I agree or not. I think you’d be hard to find anyone who agrees with 100% of any parties manefesto. The reasons I voted were partly on my local MP choice (it is still about choosing my rep. in government), partly about who I trusted on the economy and the fact the Lib Dems were the only party looking at investing in our youngsters through education. No, I’m not cockahoop at Mr Gove being in charge of Education, but then more people voted Tory.

    Like I said earlier, your view is a glass half empty view, mine is a glass half full.

  • Andrea Gill 18th May '10 - 3:28pm

    And @RCM I do agree, my main point was that for someone to claim to be a Lib Dem member (not just a recent perhaps “trend” voter) to hop right into Labour membership because Labour as they stand at the moment (I am willing to be optimistic that they can change and become less authoritarian etc) really aren’t all that close to Lib Dems, at all.

    Yes my initial gut instinct on Friday was go for a Lib/Lab rainbow coalition but that evaporated as soon as I came to my senses and remembered the last 13 years… and also when I realised just how open the Conservatives turned out to be in negotiations.

  • Paul McKeown 18th May '10 - 3:30pm

    @Andrea Gill
    >>>and also when I realised just how open the Conservatives turned out to be in negotiations.

    As long as the end result is not some amorphous National Liberal group. The Liberal Democrats must fiercely defend their unique identity, even at short term cost.

  • Andrea Gill 18th May '10 - 3:48pm

    Paul, definitely agree, and I think it is actually a good thing that there will be issues where both parties disagree or one has to abstain, and where the odd dissenting voice is aired, because it reminds people that we are still two separate parties.

  • John Emerson 18th May '10 - 4:27pm

    Why people voted for a particular canditate is entirely up to them. Whether it was a tactical vote to keep out a particular party, for our manifesto policy(ies), or because they liked the actual canditate, it is their choice. The only question that we have to answer is whether we misrepesented what we would do if our canditates got elected, either nationally or locally. In terms of policies, I think most of our voters knew that there would have to be a fair amount of comprimise no matter what the situation was, (Of course they can make up their own minds on whether we achieve good deals). In terms of joining a coalition with the conservatives, I do not think we made clear how high the chances were that we would join. Hence some probably have good reason to be annoyed.

    “It’s not 100% LibDem it’s about 40% LibDem.” Lets be a little honest, out of the 6 most senior government position, we have none, (PM, Chancellor, Home secretary, Foreign secretary, Health secretary and Education secretary), although I would imagine that Nick will be one of the more powerful Deputies that Britain has had.

    Andrea Gill
    “Martin – But we ARE getting a committee to find cheaper alternatives on Trident which is exactly what we said we wanted!”

    That would be good news! Do you have a link?
    (Didn’t Cameron say that was one of the areas he wouldn’t comprimise on just after the election?)

  • Paul McKeown 18th May '10 - 4:43pm

    @John Emerson

    There is clearly potential that the Trident replacement may be kicked into the long grass with this review of cost effectiveness; the formulation may in fact indicate some tacit acknowledgement that a stronger justification is necessary than it being the nation’s iconic phallic symbol. It would clearly require a disproportionate take of the Defense budget at a time when all departments will face serious cutbacks and whilst our armed forces are actively engaged in theatres of war for which they are poorly equipped. I would not altogether be surprised if a cheaper but nevertheless adequate solution was miraculously found off-the-shelf in the catalogue of some US defence equipment manufacturer.

  • Paul McKeown 18th May '10 - 5:18pm

    @John Emerson

    And further to that, I rather suspect that striking down the abolition of fox-hunting and striking down the Human Rights Act will not take place either. Serious tinkering with the Human Rights Act by a “Liberal Conservative” Prime Minister would for me require the 57 Liberal Democratic MPs to cross the floor; I certainly couldn’t continue to support them under those circumstances if they didn’t. For me a cheaper nuclear deterrent and the reinstitution of legal foxhunting, although undesirable, are not red line issues, unlike the Human Rights Act. I am a Liberal Democrat*.

    * voter and former, soon to be current member.

  • Thank you Andrea, yes I get it if they wanted the environment to be the top priority, but then in that case this Green success might have attracted them anyway, with or without the Coalition.

    I do still think some of this complaining might be Labour supporters who just have not got experience of losing an election, and they have seen three before this one. There is an element here of “I voted BLANK, and I got BLEEP.”, because sometimes you vote for the people who lost.

    Plus, to any Labour supporters out there who really want to take back there tactical vote for the LD’s…can I have mine back from 97, please? Oh, and while we are at it, my brother’s from 12 days ago too. Cheers!

  • Andrea Gill 18th May '10 - 6:31pm

    RCM – Good point, seeing it is possible to have one green MP might well have swung it for some anyway!

  • Andrea Gill 18th May '10 - 6:37pm

    John – it is outlined fairly basically under spending review in the agreement docs and various sources have mentioned that the defense review includes looking at cheaper alternative. I think Danny Alexander also referred to this in a recent interview, possibly before Sunday’s meeting: http://libdems.org.uk/latest_news_detail.aspx?title=Conservative_Liberal_Democrat_coalition_agreements&pPK=2697bcdc-7483-47a7-a517-7778979458ff

  • John Emerson 18th May '10 - 7:24pm

    “There is clearly potential that the Trident replacement may be kicked into the long grass with this review of cost effectiveness”
    “It is outlined fairly basically under spending review in the agreement docs and various sources have mentioned that the defense review includes looking at cheaper alternative”

    I hope you are right, but Liam Fox as defense secretary who has been one of the strongest advocates for Trident replacement, a couple a days ago didn’t sound like he was about give an inch.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/conservative/7730756/Liam-Fox-no-compromise-with-Liberal-Democrats-over-Trident.html

    The clearly are better and cheaper alternatives:
    http://www.leftfootforward.org/2009/09/replacing-trident-with-astute-could-save-45-billion/

    but the reasons why the Tories (and some of the labour party) want a like-to-like replacement for trident was never about ‘best value for money’

  • Lib Dem party are in government with the Conservatives, we will only see what policies that the Lib Dem party can claim they succeeded in pushing through parliament at the end of office, until then they are only dreams…

    Of course they will be criticised severely where polices fail, or linked polices only support one aspect, the Lib Dem MPs have got a lot of work to do in securing the basics.

    Pain before gain will almost certainly happen, Tax increases before any change to personal allowances, and from what I can see 10k is an eventual target not a given (and the tax reforms to pay for it have already been negotiated away (I believe)), I do hope that you manage to live up to at least one the core four… before end of office…vote for PR is already a fail, and no I don’t need any explanation…

    The end result and how we got there will be very important, to the Lib Dem party, but more importantly to the country as a whole… I do hope with sincerity that you as part of the government do well, and achieve what is in the best interest of our country, not just what you think is in the best interest…

    Nothing more to do other than wait and watch and scrutinise carefully

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th May '10 - 9:22pm

    Thank you. An excellent take on the recent election result!

  • Christine Headley 18th May '10 - 10:21pm

    I sat in the hall at Conference in September thinking – I can’t remember which motion it was – ‘Whatever. This is all angels on the head of a pin. It’s not as though we will be in a position to deliver after the General Election.’ I have previously heard Chris Huhne spouting about nuclear power/climate change/energy…. ‘He sounds very convincing, but isn’t it all academic? It will be years before he’s able to do anything about it.’

    How wrong I was!

    I’m not keen on the coalition but it’s the best thing on offer. I just hope it doesn’t end in tears, and tend to believe that anything else would have ended in tears sooner.

    (One thing on this website puzzles me. At the top it says, ‘Liberal Democrat Voice. Our place to talk’. It’s not that I’m not interested in the views of the self-confessed non-LibDems who post here, but I do wonder whether they are gate-crashing.)

  • Christine – The LDV forum is members only

  • allentaylorhoad 19th May '10 - 1:11am

    RCM posted: “The LibDems are the only party that advocates an electoral system in which there would be no tactical votes. It is called proportional representation, and you might find it offers you a solution to your frustration.”

    Sadly it doesn’t offer a solution, because PR has been kicked into the long grass. I was shocked that my party (now former party) caved in on that one, and so quickly. I feel betrayed by Clegg, who I am convinced will join the Tory Party (along with Laws) when the coalition goes pear-shaped. I can’t see that the Liberal Democrats are getting anything out of this coalition except unpopularity – no PR, no mansion tax, no scrapping of short-term jail sentences, no amnesty for asylum seekers, a coalition partner whose MEPs are allied to weirdos, homophobes and Nazi lovers, and probably no Trident replacement (from what Fox has been saying). Even the £10k starting threshold for Income Tax is to be phased in over five years, which will probably be little more than in line with inflation.

    You are seriously deluding yourselves if you think that the disquiet with what’s happened will blow over, and that the anti-coalition comments here all come from Labour trolls, although some might. My father was an anti-apartheid activist in the Young Liberals with Peter Hain in the days when the Tories were calling Mandela a terrorist who should be hanged. He’s been a Liberal / Liberal Democrat all his life, but like me, he’s left the party.

    The Green Party is the logical place for Lib Dem defectors to go, but unless you live in Brighton, that may not achieve much until PR is introduced. The Labour Party claimed to have 13,000 new members by Monday, and the party looks immensely more attractive without Gordon Brown and when it is the only credible opposition to this strange, hybrid government.

  • “allentaylorhoad” – PR does provide a solution, it just is not about to be put into practice. It is still the electoral system advocated by the Liberal Democrat Party, and it still solves the problem for millions of British people who are disenfranchised by the FPTP system. I can believe Nick Clegg was clever enough to choose forming the Coalition, rather than risk us all getting stranded under Conservative majority rule indefinitely. Under PR, a lot more governments are going to be coalitions, so if anyone cannot cope with sharing power in this way, I think Lib Dem was the wrong party for them. This election result did not offer Nick Clegg or the Lib Dems majority rule, that is why some policies have had to be left for another time, not because either he or they have no integrity.

    I do live in Brighton Pavillion, and as a person who votes Lib Dem, I am disenfranchised by the FPTP system, not saved by a Green. The ideology the Greens believe in is not a good match for mine as a liberal, or as a person who passionately believes that democracy is the only acceptable way for the UK to be governed. If others have discovered the Greens as a better representation of their beliefs than the Lib Dems I am glad they are free to move. If I ever believed that my freedom were better served in some other party, I would be leaving the Lib Dems. As it is, I see a Freedom Bill coming, I see Nick Clegg backing it, and I am very grateful to that guy for what he is trying to do.

  • I am sorry that I have typed “the Lib Dems are the only party that advocates an electoral system….” above, I meant to write “the Lib Dems are the only major party that advocates an electoral system…”. My apologies to all the members and supporters of smaller parties who in fact do.

  • Andrea Gill 19th May '10 - 3:02pm

    Re: Trident – See http://twitter.com/BBCLauraK/status/14296461164

    “The defence review promised by the govt has already started I’m told – various projects’ value for money already being questioned”

  • llenTaylorHoad qwrote:

    “I feel betrayed by Clegg, who I am convinced will join the Tory Party (along with Laws) when the coalition goes pear-shaped.”

    If Nick Clegg or David Laws had wanted to join the Tory Party they could have done so many years ago and would doubtless be reposiong in its higher echelons by this itme. The fact is, both turned their backs on lucrative careers in business to seek elective office with a party that holds out few opportunities for career advancement. One can criticise their behaviour (and I ahve done) but to dismiss them as crypto-Tories is glib.

  • llenTaylorHoad qrote:

    “I feel betrayed by Clegg, who I am convinced will join the Tory Party (along with Laws) when the coalition goes pear-shaped.”

    Nick Clegg was identified by Nigel lawson as a rising star when he was at the EU and they tried to recruit him into the conservative party where he would have been fast tracked and influential in a party that was closer to power, Clegg stuck totally to his ideals and refused these overtures to stick with the Lib Dems. Why would he now cross to the Conservatives

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