Opinion: Why I was persuaded to back LibDems4Change

N30 Public Sector Demonstration, Not HappyI’m no one special in the party. I’m Secretary of my local party, acting Chair of South East Liberal Youth and I once sat on a regional executive for a year.

And since 2010, despite the mistakes I think we’ve made in how we’ve handled being in coalition, until now I’ve always thought that getting rid of Nick Clegg as leader would be a very bad mistake. I thought that by doing so we’d be seen to be rejecting our achievements in coalition whilst failing to win back any of the people we’d already lost.

On top of that, I thought that by now things might be starting to improve. I thought that increased differentiation and a recovering economy and the constant repetition of our message might be starting to get through and we might be starting to turn the corner.

Unfortunately that hasn’t happened. Things are just as bad as ever. Even if we hang on to lots of our MPs next year we’re still being wiped out across vast swathes of the country. We no longer exist in Manchester or in Liverpool – two of our biggest cities do not have a single Liberal Democrat councillor.

On top of that, the Nick versus Nigel debates just confirmed to me that the public aren’t willing to listen to Nick Clegg. Even if he says the right things all the time (which he doesn’t) they just aren’t listening because too many of the people who would consider voting for us or used to vote for us don’t trust him and we will never be able to win back that trust in less than a year. And particularly not when we still have a leadership who fundamentally seem unable to get the mood of activists or of former Liberal Democrat supporters who we desperately need to retain seats in 2015.

So I’m now backing LibDems4Change and have signed their open letter calling for a leadership contest.

I’m not naïve. I don’t think electing a new leader would mean a clean break. I don’t think it will magically win us back loads of lost votes.

But a new leader won’t start with the same trust deficit that Nick Clegg has. A new leader will be given enough of a first chance by the public to be able to put across the message that Nick Clegg has tried and failed to deliver.

That yes, Coalition hasn’t been ideal but that’s the nature of the beast. That we have had some key successes. That our principles and values that people have supported in the past are still the same. And, without such widespread personal distrust, this time the message might actually get through.

Nick Clegg has achieved a lot, but I don’t see how keeping him as leader any longer will do the party any good.

If nothing else, I don’t see how electing a new leader could possibly make things worse any more.

* George Potter is a Vice-Chair of the Social Liberal Forum and a campaigner for Guildford Liberal Democrats, writing in a personal capacity.

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335 Comments

  • Tony Dawson 24th May '14 - 8:47am

    You seriously needed persuading, George?

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 24th May '14 - 8:48am

    While I agree with everyone’s right to sign whatever petitions they like, I think this is wrong. Nick really did lead the campaign in a liberal way. His “In” campaign was inspiring for me. And the number of illiberal misjudgments in government seem to have reduced to a minimum. Nick is a very good leader. Replacing him one year before a general election would be clinically insane.

  • “A new leader will be given enough of a first chance by the public to be able to put across the message that Nick Clegg has tried and failed to deliver”

    And the new leader is….????

    Before we decapitate the party, wouldn’t it actually be better to have some idea as to who is going to head it afterwards?

  • Hurrah, at last some common sense, of course there has to be a change, this is a leader who has managed to effectively lose 1,769 councillors over the past 6 years, a record of manifest failure and in any other organisation would have resigned or been asked to leave by the board. It is time

  • Eddie Sammon 24th May '14 - 9:01am

    I respect your honesty, but the future is centrism. I strongly believe this is the right path pragmatically and morally for the party and our current leader and MPs can take us there.

    I’m not willing to have any debates about it being failing strategy, it has worked for Merkel, Obama, Blair and Clinton. The failing strategy in these elections was the party of IN and the whip up hatred against UKIP campaign.

  • Paul Walter

    I disagree – keeping him would be insane. The Lib Dems are retreating further and further into their strongholds – which are getting smaller and smaller. The results in London, Liverpool, Manchester were dreadful, Clegg was hopeless all the way through the campaign. He’s just not up to the job and never has been, get rid off him, he’s set the party back 30 years – a truely awful leader.

  • This is a call for change of the UKIP variety. Identify and tap into unfocused anger. Don’t have any policies. Offer no actual alternative.

  • The fact is, much as we might feel Nick Clegg is the source of all our woes (he is not), no-one from among our leading MPs is putting themselves forward. Why is this? It is because they know that the media will mete out the same “Clegg treatment” to them too. They know they will face repeated and insistent slamming stories from almost all the large circulation newspapers, as has happened to Clegg ever since the first leaders’ debate in 2010. They know they will still have the problem of squaring up to the Goliath of British two-party politics with the numerical parliamentary equivalent not even of a slingshot, but of a pea-shooter. With the other leading figures cowering in the shadows, hoping simply to save their own seats, demanding a leadership contest is futile. There are no contestants.

  • @ George Potter

    I’m asking for names to put forward, not a “pre-determined crown prince” (princess?)

    If you don’t have any contenders, you can’t even start the process.

  • @RC

    “Four years of centrism under Nick Clegg has succeeded in driving away many former loyal Lib Dem voter”

    No it has not. The fact is that the political ground has shifted. The middle ground has broken up spectacularly and a fault line has opened up. There is a drift to the left (deficit denialism, refusal to acknowledge the need for cuts) and a move to the right (UKIP). I have seen this in my own area of London, where there are now a few islands of rich Conservatives who refuse to pay any more tax and vast seas of red, where the voters are in open rebellion against government cuts and austerity. It is this environment of extremes that is undermining our support.

  • @ George Potter

    “And I really don’t see why the leadership would be a poisoned chalice right now.”

    Really? Do you seriously mean that? I see it brimful of poison with a great big skull and crossbones on it myself.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th May '14 - 9:19am

    OK George, well I’m going to fight for a broadly centrist-liberal party and our MPs can take us there.

    Best wishes

  • “Tim Farron, Ed Davey, Steve Webb, Alistair Carmichael, Danny Alexander, Jo Swinson and Norman Lamb just for starters.”

    Ah, at last we can have a proper debate then.

    Any views on the merits or otherwise on the above and their strengths and weaknesses vis-a-vis Nick Clegg?

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 24th May '14 - 9:29am

    Well one glaring weakness is that all of them are loyal to Nick and won’t stand now.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 24th May '14 - 9:35am

    “The fact is that we’re already at 10% in the opinion polls.”
    Oh. So we did really well to get 30% more than that in Thursday’s council elections, according to Professor John Curtice.

  • Ian Shephard 24th May '14 - 9:42am

    The Local Council/EU election was the first round in the GE campaign and our share of the vote has been higher than the opinion polls would suggest. To change leader now would be suicidal. There is no obvious successor. All Scotland based candidates have been made ineligible until after the referendum in September. Vince Cabel is seen as having handled the PO floatation incompetently and the others on the list so far suggested are unknown to the general public. The only impact this letter will have is to feed the media wolves at the party’s expense. We need to face up to the reality of the situation and ignore knee-jerk reactions such as this.

  • For me the problem isn’t nick clegg but coalition. If we wheeze over the line next year having squeezed very little of a positive nature out of our final year in government then we’re going to be lame ducks in the general election. If we take a judgement now that there’s very little more to gain from staying in government (we promised to sort the economy out and growth is now sturdy) and a lot that needs reversing and needs reversing now… That shows that we are a distinct party with strong principles, and the ability to give up power for the benefit of the British people. We do of course have to make a judgement on whether it would benefit the British people… And secondarily, whether this course of action would benefit our party.

  • George Potter’s list of potential leadership candidates simply illustrates the difficulties that the party is likely to face in selecting a new leader. If we take having voted for tuition fees as a decisive factor in ruling out acceptable candidates, I suspect that rules out all the names on the list except Tim Farron – all the other candidates except Jo Swinson were government ministers at the time that the vote took place, and must necessarily have voted or paired in favour of the proposals – and although I have a good opinion of Tim Farron, we have to face the fact that we cannot in practice withdraw from the Coalition immediately, and I cannot quite see what advantage it will be to us to have a leader in 2014-5 wholly without governmental experience. The upshot might well be that Danny Alexander, as the more experienced Liberal Democrat representative on the “Quad”, would carry even more weight in policy making than he currently does, and is that an eventuality that we actually wish for ?

  • @George Potter

    “The problem I want to talk about is your deficit denial. That is to say, your denial that their is a trust deficit with our current leader.”

    I most definitely do not have that problem. Rightly or wrongly (in my view), there is a “trust deficit”, mainly because of the massively hostile press coverage of his leadership seen over the past four years.

    The problem is, given that the media have been successful in damaging our leader’s credibility beyond repair, who would be able to replace him while facing the same onslaught and at the same time rallying the party to a point where it keeps most of its MPs next year?

  • @ George Potter

    “Any leader will become well known very quickly.”

    Yes, quite so, by being first patronised and then, when that failed, slammed and pilloried like Clegg was.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th May '14 - 10:07am

    By the way, centrism doesn’t mean occupying the space inbetween your opponents. I do this a lot, but on some issues I don’t care if I am the last person in the world believing them. For me it is about leading as well as following. It can also be called liberal, in my view.

  • I have some sympathy with the points that George is making. I have an even bigger problem with Clegg’s lack of any positive vision for the future of the EU, as demonstrated in both the second debate with Farage and his world at one interview. Being the ‘party of IN’ is a start, but its no more than that.

    As to whether Clegg should go? – I will reserve judgement on that one until after the results of the Euro Elections have have been declared.

  • Neil Monnery 24th May '14 - 10:09am

    Change for change sake doesn’t work. Clegg might well be tainted in the eyes of certain voters but so are all Lib Dems. It doesn’t matter if they are insanely liberal and awesome (Julian Huppert) or slightly less liberal and slightly less awesome (Gordon Birtwhistle) and everyone in between. What we saw locally on Thursday here was that people voted party first and the candidate a very distant second).

    I saw locally that councillors who were extremely well liked lost solely because of the party they stood for. I saw a councillor who would’ve won by 500 votes had he stood as an independent come 6th solely because of national anger, not against Clegg but against the party as a whole. This is because a lot of local councillors who are angry at the national party have tried to distance themselves from the national party and focuses solely on the local issues. In some places that will work (where the local party is strong and well led) but in many others it won’t.

    Change is great as long as the change actually has a strong reasoning and foundation behind it. I’m a Lib Dem for change. I want to change the way way we educate our youngsters. I want to change the way we tax our citizens. I want to change the way we think culturally as a nation. I want lots of change but the change I want all comes with a clear goal in mind.

    Changing Nick Clegg or an unknown has the objective of winning back support from voters who have drifted away from us. The thing is we have no idea if it will work. NC has a net approval rating than Ed Miliband who might be the next leader of the country.

    So until libdems4change actually have a plan or a person to go along with the change they are calling for then they can keep quiet as far as I’m concerned.

  • Well done George, for putting your head above the parapet.

    It’s beyond me how anyone can feel Clegg deserves longer in the job after the losses of so many councillors, soon MEPs too, plus awful poll ratings.

    #libdems4change

  • Shaun Nichols 24th May '14 - 10:11am

    “His “In” campaign was inspiring for me ” – I expect not for the voters. We will see on Sunday.

    “I think messaging and focus can change without needing to change leader.” – Four years in and 1400 councillors down and you talk about messaging? Seriously?

    “the future is centrism. I strongly believe this is the right path pragmatically and morally for the party and our current leader and MPs can take us there.” – He will take us there but the party will be destroyed in the process. Do the voters care about this? No.

    Candidates for a leadership election will emerge and it is wrong to say there are no alternatives to Nick.

    BBC PNV of 13% – we haven’t hit rock bottom yet under Nick’s leadership – time for change. He isn’t an electoral asset and is an increasingly divisive figure within this party.

    If you want to back a ‘thoroughly nice guy’ then Nick is your man. However, I will support those in the party calling for change at the top.

  • Neil Monnery 24th May '14 - 10:11am

    ‘Any leader will become well known very quickly’

    People know Caroline Lucas but do they know Natalie Bennett?

    Our LD battle bus had NC and Vince on because at the start of the GE campaign more people knew Vince than NC. He only became known thanks to leadership debates. Whoever takes over as leader at this juncture if we had a change at the top would not be as well known as NC.

  • I’m almost at this point myself. I’m willing to defend Clegg until the cows come home but the fact is the vast majority of voters just won’t give him a chance. No matter how much we talk about our achivements or the parliamentary arithmetic in 2010, to most Clegg just symbolises everything wrong with politics and they stop listening. With the exception of Eastleigh he has failed pretty much every electoral test, so part of me wants him to carry on as DPM but stand down as leader. Then have a leadership contest over the summer, with people like Farron/Cable/Browne representing various views, work out our future direction as a party and campaign for 2015 from there.

    I know we did well where we have MPs, and that predictions of annihilation are over the top, and we’re likely to keep minimum 30 MPs, and so on. But part of me thinks there must be something better than fighting an electon where a ‘good’ result is losing a third of our MPs.

    I still can’t commit to the idea of replacing him though. There’s something nagging away telling me it’s just wrong, and that it probably wouldn’t change much anyway. (and we’d just end up with two discredited leaders instead of one)

  • #libdems4someoneelsewehaventquitethoughtwhoyetthough

  • Judging from the growth in the Green vote Natalie Bennett has done okay.
    The Clegg leadership has been good for the country but awful for the party. In many places the party does not exist, vote levels in by local by elections are absolutely awful, remember 9, 23, 35 etc, as the Express and Star said last week, the Lib Dems are they any longer a national party? That says it all. Things cannot get worse with a new leader, they may well get better, under NC it will get worse and we have a GE a year away.
    Remember nobody in indispensible and in any field or organisation constant failure, 1769 councilors lost over 6
    would represent abject failure.

  • “#libdems4someoneelsewehaventquitethoughtwhoyetthough”

    Well, you keep asking for names and you keep being given plenty of them.

    If you think Nick Clegg should remain leader, why don’t you just argue his case, rather than pretending that there’s no one else in the party who could possibly do the job – which is a pretty ludicrous idea by any standards.

  • It will be interesting to see if the “there is no alternative” brigade are out in strength again on monday after the Euro election results are published. I’m sure they will, but when do the results get so bad even they have doubts? When do they accept that the voters just don’t like or trust him? I’ll give Clegg his due he’s hopeless at fighting elections, but he’s could at protecting his position.

  • The reason why the party is so unpopular is not the antipathy that so many voters feel towards Mr Clegg, it is because the party is propping up a Tory government, and on top of that, is failing to articulate a Liberal Democrat vision. Getting rid of Mr Clegg will help, but will not help very much. Leaving the so-called “coalition”, while the right thing to do, would be difficult to achieve cleanly and credibly at this stage in the Parliament. I think the solution offered by Mr Tall is probably the best of a bad job in the circumstances. Next week, the men in grey suits tell Mr Clegg that the game is up. He goes, without a prolonged fratricidal dust-up. Then we elect a new leader who is outside of government and can spend just under a year presenting an independent image for the party. We could have an open contest, or we could install Dr Cable in the interim. I also think that MPs should start disengaging from government so that they can spend some time in their constituencies. There are plenty of peers who can replace them. Does anyone seriously believe that Messrs Davey, Cable, Burt, Huppert and Leech will be pleading with Nick to stay next week?

  • Bill le Breton 24th May '14 - 10:34am

    As usual I take my hat off to the councillors and campaigners who have flown our colours in these elections, and thank them for their courage and dedication.

    Paul Walters above implies that a 13% vote share, because it was 3 or 4 or 5 or 6% above our poll rating,was a success.

    But that 13% vote share illustrates a continuing decline from 16% in 2012, 14% in 2013 and 13% this year. And of course 26, yes 26% in 2010. Our national vote share at local elections has halved in four years under Nick Clegg’s leadership!

    He often says, “Where we work, we win”. This is an insult. Campaigning is so much more than that. In many places, where we work just as hard, just as effectively, we still lose. These are the same councillors, campaigners and campaign teams who just a few years ago were gaining national vote shares in the mid twenties.

    13% is a crisis, Paul, and I think in your heart you know it.

    Votes, and lack of them, are messages from the people of the UK. Their combined message is that more and more people are losing trust in us because they don’t trust or feel affinity with our Leader.

    It is time for a change.

    A Party that is losing this

  • Radical Liberal 24th May '14 - 10:39am

    time for clegg to go. to say there is no one to replace him is just untrue. and if the people really believe that why are they part of a party which they think has so little talent.

  • I can’t imagine anyone calling for Clegg to stand down is angling for anyone other than Tim Farron. The main point of a replacement would be to represent a clean break from the coaliton, and most of our ‘talent’ is in the coalition. Obviously Lamb is more removed than Davey who is more removed than Alexander, but ultimately they’re all vulnerable to the same attacks Clegg gets.

    As Party President Farron is one of the only people with the authority of a major role who has also voted against some of the most unpopular legislations from the coalition.

    The question is: would he want the leadership now or prefer to wait until after the 2015 general election? (I’m assuming the only possible way Clegg carries on as leader is in another Lib-Con coalition, which obviously has a lot of difficulties)

  • Two immediate comments, before (possibly) commenting on the actual letter, which I have received by email.
    Firstly, STILL no reply from RC to my oft repeated question WHY on earth does he / she keep asking this counterproductive question? I can only assume to undermine any challenge that may come to Clegg.

    Secondly, to George Potter – of course you are special in the Party. It is nice to be modest, but you have done so much for disabled people’s interests often via the LDDA. I take very seriously what you have to say, as I imagine do thousands of others.

  • “Paul Walters above implies that a 13% vote share, because it was 3 or 4 or 5 or 6% above our poll rating,was a success”

    No , I was being fascetious. Why quote a low opinion poll number when you have a very recent actual election result which is higher? I’m singular by the way.

  • Totally agree with you george at 10.38. I also think you are special and well done for raising the discussion. And sorry for being fascetious.

  • I think the Lib Dems will be “over the moon” if they get anything like 13% in the Euro’s. It will be interesting to see if they can break 10% or even beat the “Greens”.

  • Derek Deedman 24th May '14 - 11:07am

    I agree with Ewan. We have implemented the majority of of our manifesto with apparently nothing much in the Government’s programme for the final year of this Parliament – we should get out of the Coalition now.

  • George Potter said

    “I’m not really sure how much illiberal stuff left there is to possibly enact apart from the government’s current proposals to strip non-medical helpers from disabled students (including notetakers, etc.) which I know would directly stop some of my friends from being able to go to university. And so far on the illiberal front we’ve seen:

    The introduction of secret courts where you can’t here the evidence against you
    The cutting of legal aid thereby restricting access to justice
    The introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’ on people who don’t have anywhere to downsize to
    Rising numbers of people in food poverty and rising numbers of children in poverty
    Subsistence level unemployment benefits being increased below inflation
    Support for severely sick and disabled people being cut and restricted
    The Home secretary being given the power to strip citizenship from people
    LGBT asylum seekers continuing to be deported, literally, to their deaths
    The continuation of New Labour’s restrictions on the freedom to protest

    After all of those, although I support remaining in coalition, I really don’t see how Nick Clegg has the liberal credentials to be leader any more, or how informed liberal voters outside the party can ever be persuaded to come back to us while he’s leader.”

    This is one of the best things I have read on here ever. I left the party party because of Clegg. I was not influenced by the media or anyone else. Of course it is true that if he goes the party would gain. I and thousands like me may be persuaded to vote Lib Dem again. If he went with honour and dignity by resigning the leadership but staying as DPM then that would be a bonus.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th May '14 - 11:16am

    Louis

    As Party President Farron is one of the only people with the authority of a major role who has also voted against some of the most unpopular legislations from the coalition.

    Tim Farron has been an enthusiastic cheer-leader for the line of boasting about being “in government”. He was one the main promoters, may have been THE main promoter, of that line “75% of our manifesto policies implemented” based on some back-of-an-envelope which anyone with any political sense or real feeling for why this current extreme-right government is so bad would have realised was nonsense. Not just nonsense, but a line that when pushed was bound to damage us, because whatever clever-clever arguments were used to justify it, most people read it (not quite correct mathematically) as implying a boast that this government is 75% Liberal Democrat in its policies.

    I am deeply unimpressed by Tim Farron, to the point that my vote would go to anyone-but-Farron, even to an Orange Booker type if I thought that Orange Booker type had at least some tactical sense and was willing to listen to the activists and respond to what they are saying rather than pump out stale old ad-men lines.

  • George Potter

    I’ve agreed with nearly every point you have made and people like you are the reason I used to vote LibDem, but don’t get to carried away – “Danny Alexander” he Clegg, Laws and Brown are the reason I stopped voting for them. Charles Kennedy for me – if he would stand. The LibDems need someone who is trusted by voters.

  • I think people need to accept how much of a liability Nick Clegg is to the party.

    Left Leaning voters who have abandoned the party who feel betrayed by Nick Clegg and the broken promises will not vote for the party again until the party changes direction. The party also needs to reflect on what and how it has got things so very badly wrong, to remind itself of it’s constitution and what it once stood for with such pride and passion.

    The party will find it near impossible to squeeze Labour voters in Tory/Libdem marginals with Clegg still at the helm because of all the betrayals.
    And the same is true for a majority of Tory Voters in Labour/Libdem marginals. Most Tories despise the Liberal Democrats and have not liked being tied to this coalition, they are also frustrated with Cameron. These Tory Voters will more than likely vote UKIP to send a clear message to Cameron of their discontent and also because they would not wish to run the risk of there being another hung parliament in which they have to endure another coalition with the Libdems.

    I see only one sensible option for the Liberal Democrats and that is for not only for a change in leadership but also for a change in direction.

  • @George Potter :

    “I agree that people are voting for the party first and the candidate second in local elections. ”

    What evidence do you have for this? I know a number of seats this year which have been largely determined (both ‘for’ and ‘against)’ by the individual representing the Party.

  • Peter Watson 24th May '14 - 11:30am

    This seems like a suitable thread in which to link to and quote a post elsewhere this morning by Eduardo Goncalves (https://www.libdemvoice.org/local-elections-2014-friday-afternoon-roundup-40265.html#comment-294007) which summarises the “success” of the party under Nick Clegg’s leadership:

    Nick Clegg became leader in December 2007.

    Since then the local election results have been as follows:
    2008: +33 councillors
    2009: -2 councillors
    2010: -132 councillors
    2011: -748 councillors
    2012: -190 councillors
    2013: -124 councillors
    2014: -284 councillors
    (the above does not include by-election results)

    Westminster results as follows:
    a) 2010 General election: -5 seats
    b) By-elections:
    Crewe & Nantwich -4.0%
    Henley +1.8%
    Glasgow E -8.3%
    Glenrothes -10.1%
    Norwich N -2.2%
    Oldham E & Saddleworth +0.3%
    Barnsley C -13.1%
    Leicester S -4.4%
    Inverclyde -11.1%
    Feltham & Heston -7.8%
    Bradford W -7.1%
    Manchester C -17.2%
    Corby -9.5%
    Cardiff S & Penarth -11.5%
    Rotherham -13.9%
    Middlesbrough -10.0%
    Croydon N -10.5%
    Eastleigh -14.4%
    S Shields -12.8%
    Wythenshawe & Sale E -11.0%

  • @Neil Monnery:

    ” Clegg might well be tainted in the eyes of certain voters but so are all Lib Dems.”

    That just is not true.

    Despite the severe Clegg handicap, in Southport we have just had a repeat of the (2012) best local government election results any Liberal Party has ever had in Southport (ie back to when Qheen Viccy were a lass). People would not vote for us in any numbers if they did not trust their LOCAL Lib Dem representatives (including our MP).

  • Bill le Breton 24th May '14 - 11:35am

    Paul, sincere apologies. I must have turned my fascetiousness antenna off last night and quite forgot to turn it on this morning. I did get your ‘heart’ right though, didn’t I?

    For the avoidance of doubt, I signed here: http://www.libdems4change.org/

    Louis, there are many worthy potential leaders to chose from: the old guard might like to vote for Nick Harvey, not mentioned above. Personally I was very impressed with this c.v. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynne_Featherstone
    a person who began in a black hole, and built a superb team around her, campaigned instinctively on Liberal Issues, attracted the opprobrium of all the type of people whose ideas I oppose and would be a distinctive carrier of our banner around whom we could campaign with pride.

  • Brenda Lana Smith 24th May '14 - 11:38am

    Sadly, this former SDP party member is now backing LibDems4Change, too, as Bermuda’s national motto might well befit our party’s status quo: “Quo Fata Ferunt” = “Whither the Fates Carry [Us]… “

  • Peter Chegwyn 24th May '14 - 11:42am

    Oh s*d it!

    There’s so much I could say about Clegg being toxic with the electorate and not caring about the destruction of our local government base but I’ve said it so often since 2010 that there’s no point in saying it all again.

    Having held all our seats in Gosport, gained another from the Tories and come within 16 & 79 votes of gaining two more, I’d rather go out in the sunshine and deliver some ‘Thank You’ leaflets to real people who have still supported us locally.

    It’s strangely therapeutic.

  • Peter Chegwyn 24th May '14 - 11:45am

    Just a pity Clegg and the people round him never seem interested in those us with a proven record of winning local and national elections in good and bad times for over 40 years.

    We were winning elections long before anyone had heard of Nick Clegg and some of us will still be here fighting and winning elections long after he’s gone.

  • To me one word exeplifies the almost wholesale decline of the Lib Dems as a local and national party overthe past 6 years:

    ISLINGTON

    It was the land of my childhood, how proud to see so much of it elect Lib Dem, NOW well none at all , says it all.

  • @George Potter

    The key issue is whether it’s Clegg who has been discredited by the electorate, or the Liberal Democrats as a whole.

    I believe it’s the former, but the danger of a leadership change is that it becomes the latter. Taking your Alexander example, he’d immediately be portrayed as Clegg version two with the same faults. Then it becomes “all these Lib Dems are the same, they’re all bloody Tories!”. Saying it can’t get any worse is probably accurate in the short term, but the long term future of the party will suffer with an ill-advised change.

    More than ever, the next Liberal Democrat leader (whenever that is) has to be an accomplished media performer, capable of explaining our arguments, which are fairly complex, in a clear succinct manner. I’d also want them to be quite combative, because they’ll need to be if anyone will listen. Chris Huhne would have been well-suited actually, it never felt like he was really part of the government.

    @Matthew Huntbach

    The 75% of our manifesto claim, and 40% (or something around that) of coalition agreement being LD policy, was at least an attempt to show we got something for entering government. The methodology might have been flawed but it’s the argument we need to make.

    Farron’s not perfect, and not worthy of this ‘saviour’ tag some seem to attach to him, but I maintain that if Clegg goes he’s the best option we have.

    @Bill le Breton

    I don’t mind Featherstone but I’ve never seen her convincingly sell something she believes in.

    I overlooked Harvey, he’s kept a low profile…might not be a bad thing I suppose.

  • George Potter well done to you, your whole thread is music to my ears and I’ll be getting onto that petition and make sure it goes out to as many people as I know who will also sign it. We could now move the party away from the reactionary Orange Bookers for good and back to the radical reformist party admired and respected throughout the land. The Lib Dems were wiped out in Lewisham my neighbouring borough and many good and hard working councillors lost their seats. I’ll forward the link onto them as well. This is a great campaign and I’m right behind it, if there is anything I or others can do to help then let me know.

  • Peter Watson 24th May '14 - 12:09pm

    I do think the problems discussed here are important and encapsulate a number of significant problems and dilemmas for the party.

    We copied the other two parties with our own version of an ‘all spin – no delivery’ Blair and Cameron, and the leader became the personification of the party; just look at the last broadcast of the 2010 election (Clegg talking earnestly and photogenically to camera about “no more broken promises”). Now Clegg is toxic, the Lib Dem brand is infected, and the party loses council seats where local politicians have worked hard to address local issues.

    But the solution proposed is simply “replace the leader”. We should have learned by now that the party is more than just the leader. Clegg was put there by the members (yes, that’s you lot), and is not solely responsible for all of the problems since then. He was aided and abetted by members, MPs and Lords, some of whom make up the depressingly short list of potential replacements.

    The party needs a clear idea of what it stands for and in which direction it wants to move; it should not simply appoint another leader and let him/her decide. Replacing Clegg now means that Lib Dems will divide over whether a disastrous 2015 is because of the change of direction or what happened before. And any new leader might not even hold their own seat. I believe that the choices will be much clearer after 2015 when the success or failure of the current leadership will be laid bare. A decimated party can distance itself from the Coalition years, while electoral success (however unlikely) would justify the Orange Book approach. Also, post-2015, the pool of MPs available to take the party forward will be set for another 5 years.

    Essentially, I think the Lib Dems have made their bed, and must now lie in it. After 2015, if a new leader is still required, the party can rebuild itself and hopefully become one that I can vote for again.

  • Peter , in many, many places it is decimated already. Things can hardly be worse, a change may just revitalise people and get things moving before the general. BUT importantly the public will have a new figure to focus onto and hopefully listen to at that election. They will not listen to NC. After the recent debates even he must realise that.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th May '14 - 12:21pm

    Louis

    The 75% of our manifesto claim, and 40% (or something around that) of coalition agreement being LD policy, was at least an attempt to show we got something for entering government. The methodology might have been flawed but it’s the argument we need to make.

    Yes, but as I’ve pointed out the way it was done was all wrong. That was my point. Anyone with any political sense, particularly anyone who has some left-wing feeling would NOT have done it this way. I fully appreciate and have been arguing continuously since May 2010 that we had no real choice but to go into the coalition. All along, however, I’ve been pointing out that exaggerating what we can achieve in it, and making out we are major players in it is so wrong tactically, because the balance of its composition is overwhelmingly Tory, its policies of necessity follow that, so such boasting makes us look as if we are far closer to the Tories than we really are.

    The 75% line was particularly damaging because of the mathematically incorrect way in which it was likely to be read i.e. that most of what this government is doing is what the Liberal Democrats wanted to do. So many people who are APPALLED by much of what this government is doing would see it and think “I never knew the Liberal Democrats were like that, if they’re so happy with this government to boast that three quarters of its policy is theirs, I’m never going to vote for them again and I’m sorry I ever did”.

    The group that made the 75% calculation did the calculation again on another envelope and came up with 40%. Anyone with any sort of sense ought to have realised that 75% figure was a bit dubious, and would have gone into just how it was calculated, and questioned it, rather than just trumpeting it without further thought. This sort of sense with figures is really quite an important part of being a good politician, a lot of the work underneath involves this sort of critical analysis rather than just accepting what you are told. In particular, anyone with a sense of how extremely far right are the policies of the Tories and how very far removed they are from mainstream Liberal Democrats would NOT just have taken that 75% figure on trust, and would NOT have assumed those it was trumpeted to would have taken it on trust either. Anyone with a sense of political DECENCY would have apologised deeply for the mistake made and damage caused when the 75% got revised to 40%. However, although the 75% figure swiftly disappeared from party publicity, there was no message about it, no-one came out and said “sorry, we got it wrong”, no-one told us that the figure was wrong and we shouldn’t carry in using it in the way we gad been told to use it.

    So, yes of course we needed to be able to say something positive about our role in government, but from the start we should have been clear to spell out it would be a very limited role, that it was a five-sixths Conservative government, that is was thus very far from our ideal, and that what we could get out of it was limited to swinging the balance a little to our side where the Conservatives were fairly evenly divided. The “75%” boast was not that at all, was it? It was damaging and incompetent that is why I feel anyone associated with it is not fit to be in any leadership position in the party.

    It was this flow of damaging and incompetent stuff coming from the national leadership – and that includes Tim Farron – that made me feel I couldn’t get involved in any campaigning for the party this year, because it was a waste of time because all the work I would be putting in would just be undermined by the messages coming out from the national leadership.

    Farron’s demonstration of complete incompetence on this issue convinces me he should NOT be our next leader.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th May '14 - 12:31pm

    Peter Watson

    But the solution proposed is simply “replace the leader”. We should have learned by now that the party is more than just the leader. Clegg was put there by the members (yes, that’s you lot)

    Not by me. I argued against Clegg from the moment he was pushed forward by the right-wing press and the liberal elitist press as “Obviously the person to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats”. Right from the start I could see the flaws in him that have become so apparent since.

    I have also argued continuously against this way of promoting the party all based on its leader, to me that’s the opposite of how a liberal democratic party should work.

    So, Peter, please don’t play this line “No-one knew, no-one thought about it, now we know better”. I was telling you and anyone who would listen these things from the start. From the start I was predicting that Clegg’s leadership would take us to what we are seeing this weekend. Go and look at my past postings to Liberal Democrat Voice, right back to the last leadership contest, to see that.

  • Too much thinking as loyal (mostly) Lib dems……… not enough on how the ‘ordinary’ public see the Lib Dems. Just think a little. IMO Nick Clegg is TOXIC leader to the Lib Dems….. just like Michael Foot (a great politician in my book), Duncan Smith, and even Ming……………once the negative sticks – it will not be removed. He LIED about Tuition Fees as the public sees it and by default the Lib Dems. Clegg appears not to understand its just if not more important the way that you do than what you do,

    The stakes are high…..
    The Lib Dems may be able to hold the balance of power & agree a programme with Labour?? in 2015 and again try to get PR especially if Labour have AV + in their manifesto .
    Who to replace Clegg…………………………………………………………….. Clegg resigns in November…….. too near Christmas & GE to hold a leader vote – Charles Kennedy steps in as a caretaker & says he will also put his name forward after the GE ( and then………..on Doctors ????? advice doesn’t!!!! to this after GE) . Advantages – CK known – well liked by the public – voted against Tuition fees (I think)…… knows the ropes as Leader. and….. NOT CLEGG.

  • I never voted for him as neither of the choices Clegg or Huhne appealed to me, a woman should’ve stood I spoilt my ballot paper and wrote Charles Kennedy over it.. I loathed the way he was deposed without any consultation with party members. Your Orange Bookers only benefit your well off tory types, those on the right, the Libertarians and I realise by coming on this site how much this party has drifted to the right and is all the worse for it. You do nothing to appeal to me as a council estate tenant and lifelong member of the party since my early 20s and your constant destruction of public services, the Careers Service is another one that fails to get mentioned. The sooner this narrow minded band of Jeremy Browne types (who is indistinguishable to the tories) is consigned to history the better and to me this petition is a start in that direction. The OBs will do their damndest to stop it and filibuster it in every way they can as they are attempting to do on this thread, but we must move on and change the party for the good so that we can repair the damage done by the leadership. reverse our electoral fortunes and return to the values of social liberalism not neo libertarian economics. It’s time for Clegg to go and I am opting for Farron who is untainted by the coalition by not being a Minister to take the party forward and that’s what we must do.

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    I’m under the impression that the following statements are both correct:

    A. 75% of our 2010 manifesto was in the coalition agreement
    B. 40% of the coalition agreement is Liberal Democrat policy

    The seeming discrepancy is because the Conservative manifesto was more comprehensive than ours.

    We have to acknowledge that policies aren’t of equal worth, which simple percentages don’t show. We allowed the Conservatives to lay out the economic policy of the government. And we were poor at ensuring the implementation of the agreement, I think there were structural problems where our ministers have been spread too thin across almost all departments.

    But I think we have to use figures such as those to prove we did make a difference; I don’t think they can be used to completely discredit Farron. Of course compromises were essential as part of coalition, but hiding away from government would have probably led to a Conservative majority in Autumn 2010, and we made the best of a bad situation to secure policy achivements such as X Y and Z. That’s the narrative we need to use to ‘defend’ our actions, while outlining our own positive vision for the future.

  • Well done George Potter for making a reasonable case and managing to remain patient with some of the less reasonable defenders of Clegg. A stark contrast to the rather intolerant twittering of Mr Thornsby.

  • … although there are other very good candidates, Lynne Featherstone I admire and she is not too attached to the government even as a Minister, Nick Harvey is more euro sceptic but nonetheless is a very able communicator and seems to share many of my beliefs,

  • Wonderful I’ve sent if out to 30 people who are going to sign in due course. This is giving me hope against the despair of the last few years and the isolationists gains and losing so many of our excellent, hard working councillors particularly in London where I live.

  • @Bill le Breton
    Thanks. I’m not sure what you mean by my hear. I don’t see the local elections as a success but they were also not a disaster. But changing leader now is a non-starter. It’s not going to happen anyway.

  • George – can we get this out to the media so more party members are aware, not many I know come on this site as they think it’s too right wing and this has been proved as such. I will try liberal left but am not sure how much it’s used nowadays. If there is anyway we can get this out there to give members a say so that it gets as wide a circulation as possible then let me know, I can even deliver a flyer to addresses if that helps.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th May '14 - 1:05pm

    George Potter

    The problem is that Nick Clegg is a massive barrier to explaining that nuance. Because he is so distrusted when he tries to explain that nuance people just tune out and don’t listen to him

    Yes, a lot of politics is like that. Most people aren’t interested in the details, and just go by the general feel. The general feel can often be deeply unfair, generated by a few newspaper headline, one or two incidents that got a lot of publicity, some funny image that got to people. When that happens, it’s very hard, impossible even, to get out of it by rational argument.

    We’ve seen the way this works in opposite directions with Clegg and Farage. Farage benefits from all the misleading anti-EU headlines in the populist press, but also from that image of him they keep using of the cheery bloke with the smile and the pint, “one of us”, “not your typical politician”. It’s all rot, he’s someone from a big-money background paid by big money to push right-wing policies and hide the real cause of the problems people are suffering by pretending it’s due to the EU. However, all most people see of him is the bloke who is not a typical politician with a big smile. With Clegg, it’s the other way round – he went out of his way to put himself across as the “typical politician”, to expel from people’s thought any old remaining memories of the Liberals as beards and sandals or tweed suits (as Simon Hoggart used to put it, the REAL division in the party) anti-establishment types.Even though a lot of the attacks on Clegg for what’s been done under the coalition are unfair – I do think we’ve achieved about what was possible under the circumstances – the image that has stuck has been the man who rolled over and gave in to the Tories. No amount of rational argument seems to be able to get us out of that, people just turn off if you try, they won’t listen to the nuance

    I’m reminded also of how it was when the Liberal Party and the SDP merged. The press painted this as some huge break-out of discord, as if the Alliance had split into many warring factions, as if something big and horrible had gone wrong. In fact almost everywhere the merger went very smoothly, and local activists were ready to get on with being active locally. But because of this damaging national image of something big going wrong, the party’s poll support plummeted, and it took years of patient activity to rebuild it. As with now, the situation wasn’t helped by the national leadership and its public relations people playing it disastrously wrong, putting out all the lines and imagery that helped reinforce people’s negative but uninformed feelings. Back then, the most important message we needed to put out was continuity, that the merger hadn’t meant a big change, that locally it was still the same people doing the same thing. The PR people, however, thought that what was needed was to pretend it was all knew, that the SLD (as the party was then abbreviated to) was some new thing that had sprung put of nowhere with no roots in the past.

    Perhaps the underlying message is never listen to the PR people when playing politics, listen to the members on the ground who are out there doing it.

    George, you are right, even if there was nothing else wrong with Clegg, even if it is completely unfair, he has been damaged beyond repair by the national image that has been built up of him, just on that basis he should go. Remember there are other leaders who had the decency to go just because, e.g. a silly image of them wearing a baseball cap damaged them beyond repair.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th May '14 - 1:07pm

    Louis

    I’m under the impression that the following statements are both correct:

    A. 75% of our 2010 manifesto was in the coalition agreement
    B. 40% of the coalition agreement is Liberal Democrat policy

    You aren’t getting the point, are you?

  • @David I don’t think you need to worry about media exposure. It’s already been in the Guardian and Independent.

  • Peter Watson 24th May '14 - 1:10pm

    @theakes “Things can hardly be worse, a change may just revitalise people and get things moving before the general.”
    This is where I have to contradict my own opinion!! A change in leader and direction now means I could vote Lib Dem in 2015, and if enough others do the same then that could be good for the party.
    However, such a short-term measure just doesn’t feel to me like the right thing for the party to do; I believe the risks are too great.

  • The risks are far greater if you do nothing.

  • Alisdair McGregor 24th May '14 - 1:43pm

    If you believe this then don’t muck about with online petitions that are nowt more than pointless posturing. Read Article 10.2(f).

    Otherwise, shut up.

  • High time that Nick Clegg did the honourable thing and stood down as the leader of the party.
    He is yet again loosing the Lib Dems votes and costing decent councillors their seats!

  • How can we boast about the accountability of Lib Dem leadership when party members must hesitate to hold that leadership to account because they fear reprisals? Doesn’t that suggest that something is seriously wrong?

  • You only have to look at the results in areas like

    Brent (Sarah Teather) Constituency. All but one of the 15 Liberal Democrat Councillors lost their seats. And Sarah is stepping down at the 2015 election

    Lynne Featherstone. Hornsey and Wood Green, the party lost 14 of its 23 seats on Haringey Council

    Julian Huppert, Cambridge the party lost 7 of its 21 seats and went from 14 years of Liberal Democrat rule to a Labour council.

    it is widely reported that Vince Cable and Simon Hughes seats could be vulnerable at the next election.

    With dwindling foot soldiers funds and resources, The Liberal Democrats will have to throw almost all their resources at trying to save these senior party members.
    Leaving MP’s like my constituency MP Simon Wright who only has a majority of 0.7% (310 votes) extremely vulnerable.

    The Tories have nicely replenished coffers to fight the 2015 election and you should be under no illusion that they will run a brutal campaign and will go all out in trashing Liberal Democrats in the hope of winning a majority.

  • I don’t read the Guardian or Independent, I’d like to see it in the other mainstream media, the Orange Booker type press include.

  • Radical Liberal 24th May '14 - 2:24pm

    Matt – Lib Dem HQ have already written off people like Simon Wright. We were told that the next campaign would be 57 by elections. In reality, they are going to focus on around two thirds of seats. A third are already goners.

    Its a shame this party has become so right wing. There’s being loyal and then there’s just being a dupe and a mug to a group of very out of touch people who don’t give a damn about liberalism.

  • Exactly RL, they are ruining the party and getting away with it., It’s time to take a stand and even borrow the football expression now highjacked by the Isolationists for exenophobic reasons and now claim our party back.

    I signed the party, gave my membership number, email etc but haven’t got the link to click on for validation in my email yet. Is there a problem with signing or has it been highjacked by the Orange Booker brigade to disrupt our cause.

  • @David-1 “….when party members must hesitate to hold that leadership to account because they fear reprisals?”

    I think we may be in danger of tripping over the borderline between reality and fantasy here.
    “Reprisals”? What specifically are you referring to apart from robust debate?

    it really is completely disingenuous to imply that local party associations won’t trigger 10
    .2 (f) because they “risk the ire” of HQ. Utter balderdash., George. Despite everything LibDems do have cojones.! The reason they won’t do it is because mot enough people feel strongly enough about the case put forward.

    But yes, of course, have the debate. Who on earth can stop you even if they wanted to?

  • Matt – The OBs couldn’t care less about them so the sooner their types are voted out the better as the electorate sees through them. Sarah doesn’t like what they’ve done to the Party and she was treated very badly after her decision to stand down. Rather than acknowledging her achievements in winning that seat and holding onto it all I could see was their bitterness and resentment. They would probably like to see Simon Hughes go but he can call on support from activists in seats like Lewisham and Greenwich who now have more time on their hands, but not for the right reasons. I don’t know much about Simon Wright does he ever go on Question Time?

  • This Caron Linsday and her Oranger Booker supporters are dominating the twitter account with their anti petition tweets only allowing one side of the argument. How ridiculous is that.

  • We have a problem, the election results are more than enough evidence of this.
    We do need a solution, while I see some alleged possible solution(s) proposed…
    I am yet to see one that is both pragmatic and likely to bear fruit that will be palatable enough for me and/or the electorate to want to eat it… ::Shrugs::
    Something is wrong, but it does not necessarily follow that something needs to be done NOW.
    As doing something that doesn’t make things better seems a bigger mistake than the least worst way forward which seems for now to be holding the course…

  • Bill le Breton 24th May '14 - 3:15pm

    Paradoxically, a large number of our MPs are now dependent on a strong general election showing from UKIP in order to keep their seats. Just have a look at some local election results and see the UKIP effect on our success rate.

    It will be interesting to see which are the 20 or so UKIP targets that emerge in the next few months. A deal between the Conservative Party and UKIP may seem unlikely at this moment, but there are scenarios in which a deal around a referendum & immigration campaign – and 20 free shots in return for clear runs elsewhere would totally transform the position for Conservative facing Liberal Democrats. They might even use the Lab/Lib Dem play book from 1997.

  • John Wright 24th May '14 - 3:25pm

    Paul Walter: ‘I do not see the local elections as a success but I do not see them as a disaster.’ Really? REALLY? When the party has been wiped out in Manchester & Liverpool, decimated across London and even former strongholds like Richmond. I work with 16-18 year olds and they neither have any respect for Clegg and the party leadership nor believe anything they say. The ‘IN’ campaign was treated with utter disdain – not because they weren’t open to hearing it but because of who was saying it. I’ve watched the party’s performance with increasing despair since even before 2010 and as a party member I could not in all conscience go out to campaign defending decisions I could not ever agree with. Many of my colleagues who voted Lib Dem with hope in 2010 will not be again in 2015. The Lib Dems cannot any more be called a national party and unless something is done and fast they never will be again.

  • @david not at all ridiculous. There are two tweets from Caron making up about 1% of the screen if you have this postbopen, while this post and comments takes up about 70% of the screen. To give them their due the LDV team published George’s excellent post first thing this morning and, as yet, haven’t put up a competing post. The Twitter feed on the right is the Twitter stream of the LDV team. They have allowed the libdems4change side of the argument to have their say through this post and the debate involving over 100 comments below it.

  • A deal between the Conservative Party and UKIP may seem unlikely at this moment, but there are scenarios in which a deal around a referendum & immigration campaign – and 20 free shots in return for clear runs elsewhere would totally transform the position for Conservative facing Liberal Democrats.

    Even in the absence of a deal there will be tremendous scope for the Tories to squeeze the UKIP vote in Con/LD marginals, especially if there is perceived to be little prospect of UKIP winning any MPs. Clegg has made that much easier for the Tories through his misconceived “party of IN” campaign. Being positive about Europe would be one thing, but the strategy of picking a fight with UKIP has allowed Clegg to be portrayed as the “anti-Farage” – an extreme Euro-enthusiast who doesn’t even want to reform the EU.

  • @david

    “I don’t know much about Simon Wright does he ever go on Question Time?”

    Not to my knowledge, unless it was on an occasion I missed.

    I did have deep respect for Simon Wright because he voted against tuition fees.

    Not sure how he voted on secret courts though .
    But then I do not like his voting record on the welfare reforms where he supported the government.

    He was appointed PPS to Nick Clegg in 2014, which I think will go against him with Norwich South Constituents.

    But I am sure there are going to be many other MP’s like him within the party who find themselves fighting the 2015 election without much support or resources because HQ will be throwing all the resources and the kitchen sink in places like Sheffield Hallham, Hornsey and Wood Green, Eastleigh, Cambridge and Twickenham

  • @George Potter
    “That’s because of the (unfair) perception of Nick Clegg as a spineless leader”

    So tell me. Who was the Lib Dem leader who agreed to the NHS reforms?

  • John Roffey 24th May '14 - 4:11pm

    From the standpoint of an interested observer who would like the Party to survive – it seems to me that it has to decide if it is going to follow one of two paths:

    1] Continue with the ambition to be part of a coalition agreement after the next GE – which means, essentially, doing what NC has been doing to try to avoid losing as few as possible MPs at the GE. If this is the choice, NC may as well remain as leader as he ducks and dives as well as anyone. This also requires a vague manifesto so that an agreement can be reached with either Labour or the Tories and NC can remain as DPM.

    I would have thought that, since the Party is unlikely to get much credit through being the minor party in a coalition – this route must sound the death knell of the Party within the not too distant future, or:

    2} Move to the left and produce a creative manifesto to deal with what the majority are likely to see as the most critical issues of our time – from the Guardian – Britain’s richest 1% own as much as poorest 55% of population:
    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/may/15/britains-richest-1-percent-own-same-as-bottom-55-population

    … and what UKIP are exploiting – again from the Guardian – Fury with MPs is main reason for not voting – poll:
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/dec/26/fury-mps-not-voting-poll

    Clearly NC cannot be leader if this route is chosen. I would suggest it is only those who negotiated the Coalition Agreement have been seriously tainted by coalition government – the others have simply been loyal to the Party and its leader.

    I do not believe any party can bridge the gap between options 1 & 2 .

  • John Roffey “I would have thought that, since the Party is unlikely to get much credit through being the minor party in a coalition – this route must sound the death knell of the Party within the not too distant future…”

    Other countries seem far better at running coalition governments. Since the LibDems believe in proportional government, and therefore perpetual coalitions, there needs to be a much more sophisticated and mature approach to being in coalition so that the junior partner is not annihilated after the five years is up.

  • Well I have never joined the party however I have respected my status as a voter for 42 years when LibDem started having candidates in the area I live I started supporting local councillor then EU candidates. Good news I never voted for you in a general election so my reluctant and for me truly amazing decision not to vote LibDem again is a shock for me.

    I have become totally disillusioned in the party my final straw was radio 4 at 1.30pm today I found I could not agree the views stated by LibDem I respect your right to party view but mine still tend to be help the under dog now the party feels like it’s the sherif of Nottingham not Robin Hood

    I may accept that you champion other nations more than the UK electorate now and that’s the parties right

    Some criticised Edd Milliband with his £80 shopping bill but on question time Tim telling people that £12 k tax allowance would remove minimum pay workers from tax is a jest I hope easy as bad as labour

    So in conclusion I wish you as individuals good luck and health but not as a party your direction is not for me now.

    Allan

  • Stuart Mitchell 24th May '14 - 4:25pm

    As an outsider, I’d say it’s far too late for a new leader to make a huge difference to Lib Dem fortunes next May. Better to let Clegg take the hit and then allow the next leader the luxury of starting from a low base.

    The real nightmare scenario for Lib Dems would be an election result that meant another Tory / Lib Dem coalition. Under those circumstances, a campaign like this would need to be successful very, very quickly if the Lib Dems were to avoid total destruction. If a Labour / Lib Dem coalition is the outcome, Labour will (rightly) insist on Clegg’s head on a plate – and they’ll be doing the Lib Dems a huge favour.

  • Alisdair McGregor 24th May ’14 – 1:43pm
    “If you believe this then don’t muck about with online petitions that are nowt more than pointless posturing. Read Article 10.2(f).

    Otherwise, shut up.”

    How rude.

  • Louis “More than ever, the next Liberal Democrat leader (whenever that is) has to be an accomplished media performer, capable of explaining our arguments, which are fairly complex, in a clear succinct manner. .”

    See, here’s the thing. Nick Clegg IS ‘an accomplished media performer’ and he IS capable if explaining in a clear and succinct way. I’ve listened to him on Call Clegg and he comes across well. However the problem is that he doesn’t BELIEVE in, say reforming the EU which most people think is necessary. Also his media-savvy-ess, coupled with his broken promises, means that whenever we see him in the media people just think ‘you lie’ because we remember how sincere and earnestly he looked at us when saying “No more broken promises”. So yes it’s good to have media ‘presence (Ed Miliband is not good on TV or radio) but not be so polished that it comes across as a ‘performance’ which clearly is what Clegg was giving us: the performance of his life!

  • Stuart I agree that may be a good way of getting rid of Mr Clegg but far better to let the Party members do this. I only hope the 300 odd defeated Councillors as well as their local party branches see sense and sign the Clegg Out petition. Of course the Orange Bookers want him to stay, want to destroy the left of centre liberals like myself who admire Charles Kennedy but we mustn’t let them. They are out in their droves on here defending the status quo but look what happened to Pangloss in Volaire’s Candide and his fate is exactly what will happen to them. The Isolationists could also target some Lib Dem seats as they are taking votes from us so that has to be factored in as well.

  • Radical Liberal 24th May ’14 – 10:39am
    “time for clegg to go. to say there is no one to replace him is just untrue. and if the people really believe that why are they part of a party which they think has so little talent.”

    Well quite! What would happen if Clegg fell under the proverbial bus??

    There’s your answer.

  • Stockport people sounding very self-satisfied.

  • He isn’t an accomplished performer. I listen to it too and he stumbles, repeats himself, isn’t clear and doesn’t give a straight answer to a straight question; that’s different from disagreeing with them and explaining why but he does lots of the former. My partner who is a non Lib Dem voter thinks he’s awful and this has put her off voting for the Party. She voted Ukip mainly because of immigration. I disagree with her but there is an issue with uncontrolled immigration or unmanaged immigration in a way the French and Germans wouldn’t allow when the Eastern European countries acceded to the EU. As much as the EU needs reform of its structures and I say that as someone who is very pro EU so does immigration policy with for example caps as has happened in other EU countries. Just listen to Vicky Pryce when she was on Question Time and got this exactly right.

  • Looking at the detailed results for this year, but without ready access to the results for 2012, it seems to me possible that in 2014 we won more seats in metropolitan boroughs than we did in 2012. Has anyone made this calculation ? If it is the case that we have done better this year in this category of seat than last time round, even if the improvement is a slight one, it must be worth our saying so.

  • “Stuart I agree that may be a good way of getting rid of Mr Clegg but far better to let the Party members do this. I only hope the 300 odd defeated Councillors as well as their local party branches see sense and sign the Clegg Out petition.”

    The thing about all this is that the MPs will get rid of Clegg in five minutes flat if they become convinced that they’re going to lose their seats and that getting rid of him will save them (as Charles Kennedy and Ming Campbell can confirm). But if the MPs carry on supporting him, there’s no way the members will be able to oust him.

    If the MPs think most of the people who are now supporting UKIP will carry on doing so next May, perhaps they won’t feel too badly threatened. But if they think a lot of them will end up supporting the other parties they must feel very nervous indeed.

  • John Roffey 24th May '14 - 5:14pm

    It might be worth those who are arguing for ‘no change’ to sit down and define the profile of the ever reducing clique that the Party now appeals to – or list the qualities of the Party that would cause someone to say ‘I must vote Lib/Dem’!

  • David Evershed 24th May '14 - 5:26pm

    I haven’t yet seen any analysis which shows that the reason for the fall in Lib Dem support is that it is because the leader is Nick Clegg.

    The steep fall in support came about shortly after Lib Dems went into coalition and MPs mostly failed to oppose the increase in tuition fees (albeit effectively turning the upfront fees into a graduate tax).

    The recent tactic of (incorrectly) claiming Lib Dems are unconditionally in favour of being in the EU has not seen much of a fall in the polls for Lib Dem seats at Westminster, even if it reduces support for Lib Dem MEPs.

    Coalition Decision
    The decision to go into coalition was agreed by an almost unanimous vote of MPs (Charles Kennedy is rumoured to have dissented). When voting, MPs knew from the German Liberals experience of going into coalition that it would be unpopular with those who hate the Conservatives more than they love Lib Dems.

    Tuition Fees Pledge
    Nick Clegg was reluctant (and one of the last) to sign the tuition fees pledge before the 2010 election. Given the economic circumstances it was a mistake to have the prominent election pledge and the ‘graduate tax’ solution has proved to be a fair solution – but is not what was pledged. This means voters do not trust Lib Dems.

    Failure of Party Policy or Nick Clegg?
    So it seems to me that it has been the party wide policies on coalition and the tuition fees pledge which are the most likely cause of the loss of support, not Nick Clegg’s leadership, although I try to keep an open mind.

    Where are Lib Dem votes going?
    Who are our voters turning to? Those who saw Lib Dems as a protest party are likely to vote UKIP now. Polls show that those who regarded Lib Dems as Labour Lite have returned to voting Labour.

    Because the Liberal Party merged with the Social Democrat Party, left wing Conservatives who might have switched to the Liberals to replace the lost Labour Lite vote, have not switched to a ‘Social Democrat’ party..

    Liberals versus Social Democrats
    The next leadership contest, whenever it comes, is likely to be a contest between liberals (the old Liberal Party) and interventionists (the old SDP). The liberals will be represented by Danny Alexander and David Laws; and the interventionists by Vince Cable and Tim Farron. Nick Clegg has tried to straddle the divide.

    Whichever side loses is likely to drift away from the Lib Dems, which would then become a niche party of either Liberals or Social Democrats. All parties are a coalition of philosophies. Whilst I am a liberal nowadays rather than SDP. I am happy with the internal coalition because we are stronger together.

    My Conclusion
    So at present, I don’t want to see a challenge to the party leadership which could bring about a split between the old Liberal and SDP elements. A split party a year before the general election would guarantee being wiped out in 2015.

  • @david – I can tell you for certain that Caron Lindsay is most definitely not an “Orange Booker” and I don’t think I’d want to see her reaction if you said that to her face!

    One interesting point I’ve just realised. Baroness Ashton’s term as EU Commissioner runs out in October. Most of the runners and riders at the moment are Tories, simply because of the “Buggins’ Turn” philosophy between Labour and the Tories since we joined the EU. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that – would Cameron really want to risk a Tory by-election 6 or 7 months ahead of the GE? It’s not beyond the realms of doubt that he might offer it to Nick – and, to be fair, Nick would be a really strong candidate and excellent Commissioner.

  • “albeit effectively turning the upfront fees into a graduate tax”

    ?

    Of course they didn’t turn “upfront fees into a graduate tax”. There weren’t upfront fees previously – there was deferred payment of fees through a loan system. There isn’t a graduate tax now – there is deferred payment of fees through a loan system.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th May '14 - 5:38pm

    “This Caron Linsday and her Oranger Booker supporters are dominating the twitter account with their anti petition tweets only allowing one side of the argument. How ridiculous is that.”

    This is probably my favourite comment ever. I made one comment, without even using the hashtag #libdems4change at around 10 am this morning. Since then, I’ve been in a meeting, then the pub, and have barely tweeted at all.

    And I bet there are genuine economic liberals who are crying at being associated with me.

    This debate is not unexpected following the elections. Many of the people who have signed the letter are my friends. I don’t agree with them. That doesn’t make either me or them bad people. In my experience, we are better when we talk to each other not at each other.

  • John Roffey 24th May '14 - 5:50pm

    @ Keith Legg

    ‘It’s not beyond the realms of doubt that he might offer it to Nick’

    Although this will not be liked – I thought that Cameron made that offer around the time that the Coalition Agreement was signed – NC’s continued preparedness to sacrifice the Party to the advantage of the Tories from then on seemed to confirm this was the case – that is why I left.

    Of course I do not know that this was the case – just a continuing nagging explanation of his actions – time will tell.

  • I don’t see why a leadership contest has to be taken as the precursor to a party split (which, if one were to take place for any reason, would certainly not be along Liberal vs. SDP lines — that distinction no longer has meaning in the present-day party). This is how democratic parties make decisions: if there are doubts about the political wisdom and political choices of the leader, put him (or her, maybe one day) up for a vote and let the party members decide, after both sides have made their case, which way they want to go. There’s no reason to bash those calling for a vote or to accuse them of promoting disharmony and so forth. Raising issues and getting questions out into the open where they can be fully discussed is healthy for the Party — it’s the suppression of disagreement and dissent that is far more likely to lead to splits. People don’t stop grumbling simply because they’ve been made to shut up or been told that their voices don’t, can’t, and never should count.

  • Well, now is the critical time. We can do one of two things. Stick with Nick Clegg and fight a fairly disastrous general election campaign on the 57 by-elections model where we’ll return 30 members next time if we’re lucky.

    Or run a nice and fast leadership challenge by organising, *within the party*, a movement which unites the 75 or more local parties behind a motion to trigger a leadership election and pick someone new in time for party conference season and the start of the campaign.

    The risks are plain – option one, we will be fighting a general election with a leader who has basically become toxic to any issue he goes near, with a result which even optimists would agree could be a halving of our representation in Parliament, or worse. Option two, we’ll spend months fighting eachother, risking a split, before putting an untried candidate through what is going to be a very bruising general election whoever leads it and maybe having to find a replacement shortly afterwards anyway, due to either seat loss or Scottish Independence.

    Having just stated the obvious, I’d say its worth handing the whole question to the local parties. If they honestly believe that the national leadership is putting their local success – the bedrock on which the rest of the party is built – at risk, then its time for a change.

    But either way, we need to put aside harsh invectives against ‘Orange Bookers’ or ‘Libertarians’ – Clegg has done the best he can with a terrible situation, and nothing will be achieved by rubbishing him or his supporters within the party, even if we end up deciding that it is time for a change.

  • “Except under 10.2 (f) of the constitution”

    I’m sure there are constitutional (or unconstitutional) ways of doing it, but what I’m saying is that in practical terms if the MPs carry on supporting Clegg it’s not going to happen.

  • John Roffey 24th May '14 - 6:02pm

    @T-J

    ‘I’d say its worth handing the whole question to the local parties. If they honestly believe that the national leadership is putting their local success – the bedrock on which the rest of the party is built – at risk, then its time for a change.’

    By far and away the best comment I have seen amongst the many concerning the leadership dilemma – the only truly viable solution.

  • Richard Dean 24th May '14 - 6:03pm

    Like David Evershed, I see no evidence that Clegg is either the prime reason for the 2010/11 fall in LibDem support, or “toxic” in the eyes of existing LibDem voters or of possible swing voters.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th May '14 - 6:09pm

    George Potter also said something about Nick being portrayed as toxic and he acknowledged that it was unfair. Is there an argument that we, as liberals, if we see someone being unfairly treated, we should stand up for them? Nick Clegg has had the sharp end of my keyboard when he’s deserved it, but a lot of the vitriol directed at someone who is actually a very effective communicator by opponents and the press has been grossly unfair.

    We’ve had a hellish couple of days and it’s not over yet. I feel for all the councillors who have lost their seats in the last few years. It’s not fair that they have paid that price over national issues. But life isn’t fair. Way back before the Coalition was a twinkle in anybody’s eye, a particularly vicious election saw 3 of my friends portrayed by Labour as the 3 Little Pigs and ridiculed and variously vilified. They lost their seats. Should we have ditched them because Labour were nasty? In fact, next time roux they were re-elected. Some of them, 15 years on, are still councillors.

    I hope that we don’t have to go through a period of Tory majority government to realise exactly how much Nick Clegg has achieved in holding them back. The reason I want him to stay is because he backs so many issues that are fundamentally important to me – shared parental leave, which has the potential to revolutionise working lives for women, mental health support (a work in progress and a reason that we need to stay in government till the end of the Parliament) and giving extra help to kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. These are the things he was interested in when I first knew him 16 years ago. I may not always agree with him – and economically, he’s way too right wing for an old fashioned tax and spend liberal like me- but he is one of the most straightforward, consistent people I’ve come across in politics.

    I don’t think there is anybody who could better defend our record in government. For me, Nick needs to lead us into 2015. The fact that the right and left (or what passes for left in this country) wing press hate him equally shows that he’s effective.

    Note that I’m not giving him a totally free pass. If he never used the phrase party of protest again, it would be too soon. I think he needs some non-Westminster Bubble people, people the party respects, around him in his team telling him how it is in the real world. I wouldn’t necessarily get rid of any one around him, I’d just augment the team a bit with people who have on-the-ground experience. I’d also bring some of the people who were responsible for the DA’s recent success in S Africa in if possible, I also think we need to return Ryan Coetzee to the actual campaigning side, get him out of Whitehall and working for the party rather than doing the Government strategy thing.

    If he does those things, then I think this would be a better way to improve our chances than a leadership contest which may not actually move us forward.

  • The problem for the party is that the public is more aware of the policies and finds them diametrically opposed to popular public opinion. David Cameron, as a PR man, proposes changes that he knows the voters want to hear. (It matters not, in this discussion whether or not he being honest.) Then Nick Clegg, eager to differentiate his party, pops up and says he will oppose everything.

    So Clegg objects to mandatory sentences for second knife offences, he objects to a cap on immigration, he objects to an EU referendum, he objects to capping the EU budget, he objects to trying to maintain our rebate, and no doubt he would welcome our full integration within a Federalist EU complete with Euro membership.

    The public were completely ignorant about LibDem policies before they entered the coalition. Now the party is regarded as standing up for every unpopular cause in today’s politics. Now, I know that many party supporters are proud of their policies and will stand by them and that is to be admired. However, the party is very out of step with public opinion and must be prepared to perform badly in elections for the foreseeable future. I am firmly of the belief that many of these policies were adopted during the long years in the wilderness when the prospect of being in government never arose and a reality check seemed superfluous.

    A change of leader will not, in my opinion, make much difference to the electoral performance for the above reasons, but it could make a significant, positive difference to the party image.

  • Having read your epistle three times I can see you are having very serious misgivings as well but keepi9ng your options open. The biggest risk is doing nothing and staying with a status quo that is going to simply maintain the parties downward path

  • John Roffey 24th May '14 - 6:25pm

    @ Caron

    ‘I hope that we don’t have to go through a period of Tory majority government to realise exactly how much Nick Clegg has achieved in holding them back. ‘

    No – is such an easy word to say – except in those cases where a policy was absolutely essential to ensure the resolution of the financial crisis. The bedroom tax, the vilification of the unemployed when there were far too few jobs, zero hours contracts, so many tax loop-holes – these were political to aid Tory multinational backers.

  • My last entry was in response to Caron. Sorry I did not make that clear.

  • “George Potter also said something about Nick being portrayed toxic and he acknowledged that it was unfair.”

    No. He didn’t say that it was unfair that he was portrayed as toxic. He said it was unfair that he was portrayed as “a spineless leader who’ll agree to anything the Tories want in exchange for a sniff at power”.

    There are very good reasons why people don’t trust Clegg. The way in which he broke his signed promise about tuition fees within days of the election is only the most obvious.

  • Further to my earlier post (if it survives moderation) before its role in the coalition, the party was known best, and well respected, for its local Council activities. There was not much room in the day to day management of that for the national policies to be aired and tested.

  • Peter Watson 24th May '14 - 6:34pm

    @David Evershed
    “The steep fall in support came about shortly after Lib Dems went into coalition and MPs mostly failed to oppose the increase in tuition fees (albeit effectively turning the upfront fees into a graduate tax).”
    Chris beat me to this one, but how is the current scheme any more like a graduate tax in principle than the previous one. All that has changed is the size of the loan, the interest rate, and the repayment threshold (with at least two of these being features of a ‘loan’ rather than a ‘tax’), but the mechanics are the same. The Coalition Agreement showed that Lib Dems were moving away from their tuition fees pledge (albeit with a provision to abstain rather than vote for an increase) and Clegg gave the impression he was delighted with the outcome (fag paper between the parties, nothing to disagree about in the leadership debates, Rose Garden love-in, etc.) so it is unclear whether it was the simple act of coalition with the tories or the way it was presented that caused support for Lib Dems to fall away.

    “Nick Clegg was reluctant (and one of the last) to sign the tuition fees pledge before the 2010 election.”
    Then whose idea was it for every Lib Dem candidate to publicly sign the NUS pledge? If it did not come from the leadership, who is responsible for that mess?

    “the ‘graduate tax’ solution has proved to be a fair solution – but is not what was pledged. This means voters do not trust Lib Dems.”
    It doesn’t matter how many times you say it, it is not a graduate tax. And is it fair, or even fairer than the previous scheme? As Martin Lewis points out (http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/students/should-i-get-student-loan), those with the cash and high salary expectations can save money by paying fees up-front and avoiding the so-called tax. But I agree that this is why voters do not trust Lib Dems. Individual MPs, and most prominently the leader, made a very specific promise, campaigned on “no more broken promises”, and then broke that promise. The consequent lack of trust has damaged every issue with which Clegg has associated himself. I am sure that Alex Salmond would be delighted if he can draw Clegg in to the Scottish independence debate if he can’t get Cameron.

  • Peter Watson 24th May '14 - 6:46pm

    @Richard Dean “Like David Evershed, I see no evidence that Clegg is either the prime reason for the 2010/11 fall in LibDem support, or “toxic” in the eyes of existing LibDem voters or of possible swing voters.”
    As evidence to the contrary, I would suggest the AV referendum. Clegg was used to great effect by those opposed to electoral reform and featured more prominently in their leaflets, etc. than he did in his own ‘yes’ campaign.

  • Richard Dean 24th May '14 - 6:48pm

    @Peter Watson
    Interesting, and the electorate voted to keep the present system. Sounds like Clegg is more in tune with the electorate than many of his detractors are!

  • Simon Hebditch 24th May '14 - 6:51pm

    This has been a useful discussion albeit it is happening around the local elections only and we will only know the European results tomorrow night. Personally, I always opposed going into the current coalition so would veer towards those wanting a major change now because of the debacle. However, ditching a leader now may make matters even worse. If we come out of a coalition I hate, we will simply be seen as cutting and running before the GE. We will lose the support of those Lib Dem voters who like the coalition without necessarily being able to pull back all those who have defected because of the coalition!

    I fear that the party has no option but to soldier on towards disaster and then decide how to rebuild itself after May next year. For individuals like me personal decisions will have to be taken as to whether we can continue to support the party because of the experience of the last four years. One criterion must now revolve around the party’s manifesto and the commitments we make for the future. If we can surmount that hurdle, the next question might be how a coalition is constructed post the GE. If we went in again with the Tories (assuming they would have us) then it is the end of a centre left, progressive Lib Dem party and another wide slew of party members will depart.

  • Peter Watson 24th May '14 - 6:57pm

    @Richard Dean “Sounds like Clegg is more in tune with the electorate than many of his detractors are!”
    Sadly it was the fact that Clegg wanted electoral reform (and that it might give him more influence) which was highlighted by the ‘No’ campaign, and voters were invited by them to punish him. Unfortunately it also punished the rest of us.

  • There’s nothing harsh about it. I’m sticking up for those of us who have been marginalised by the Orange Bookers who are Libertarians. We have to sit hear listening to Clegg’s platitudes on the economy and how the pain is all worth the gain and it’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds Pangloss philosophy – go read Voltaire so you can see what happened to him. Time after time the electorate yes the electorate are giving our Councillors a bloody nose thanks to Clegg and his OB band. I was actually told today that Jeremy Browne is a tory when I explained no he
    was elected a Liberal Democrat but would do better switching parties as would probably David Laws. It’s even ridiculous to suggest a split along SDP/Liberal lines as most ex SDP members I know seem to be more left of Centre than some of the old school Liberals any way. And Charles Kennedy anyone from the SDP and more radical than Clegg and Saint Vince. That’s why he was so popular with the voters as leader.

  • Peter Watson 24th May '14 - 7:01pm

    It can’t be a good sign that the biggest debate over Clegg’s leadership appears to be whether it should end immediately or immediately after the 2015 election. I wasn’t following this or other websites when previous leaders were encouraged to step aside, but was there a similar mood or was it very different?

  • I live in Bristol, where 7 seats were lost.

    Voters were telling us they’d vote for “Tim” or “Gary”, but not “Lib Dem.”

    Not a single new candidate won- in one of the safest wards the vote halved & Labour won.

    The brand is toxic.

  • Nonconformistradical 24th May '14 - 7:04pm

    @Chris
    “There isn’t a graduate tax now – there is deferred payment of fees through a loan system.”
    Which many students will NOT have to repay fully – see http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/students/student-loans-tuition-fees-changes#18

  • The problem with Clegg is not that he is a nasty or an evil man. I do not know him, but I imagine he is a nice man, a well-meaning man, perhaps even a good man. But one can be a good man and simultaneously be a bad politician. Clegg now has a record of political moves and political choices on which he can be judged. It is my opinion that these moves have been, with rare exceptions, politically disastrous for the Party. I do not think Clegg shares this view; I think his attitude toward the current and coming losses to the Party has been one of stunned incomprehension coupled with wilful denial. For this reason, I doubt that he is the right person to lead the Party out of the wilderness, and I suspect it might be a deal safer in other hands.

  • “I see no evidence that Clegg is either the prime reason for the 2010/11 fall in LibDem support, or “toxic” in the eyes of existing LibDem voters or of possible swing voters.””

    Then you need to get out more!

  • David-1 Yes it’s a head in the sand and approach out of touch with reality and with no Plan B.
    My signature still hasn’t come up on the petition yet but I expect we can get this up to 1000 within the next 7 days. It will be hard work because there’s so much resistance to saving the party from the OBs but let’s keep at it. Pass the link onto friend and family who are members, forward it to your constituency parties and councillors. We can do it, get a new leader in and the Party back on track. I expect there to be even more momentum after the EU election results tomorrow night as the EU campaign failed to have any impact with the voters.

  • ““– but is not what was pledged. This means voters do not trust Lib Dems.””

    Exactly! Someone tells you very solemnly to trust them, that they are not like other politicians, they promise ‘no more broken promises’ if you vote for them and make a big Pledge, then the minute they get ‘in government, they break that pledge. And you REALLY think that person is NOT toxic? Really please have a quiet word with yourselves and take a reality check. ‘

    If you google “nick Clegg, autofill suggests ” Nick Clegg liar”!

  • Phyllis – that’s just what I think.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 24th May '14 - 7:29pm
  • “Which many students will NOT have to repay fully”

    That too is a feature of both the old and the new systems. Only the numbers have changed. Under the old system the balance was written off after 25 years. Under the new it’s written off after 30 years.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 24th May '14 - 7:31pm

    There are now more comments on this post than there are signatures on the petition. Just saying.

  • Radical Liberal 24th May '14 - 7:39pm

    Paul Walker – guess its touched a nerve with all these orange book fanatics leading them to try and shout real liberals down.

  • Some recent comments point to the view (with which I agree) that it is not entirely Nick Clegg’s fault where we find ourselves. It is, however, despite those who say we shouldn’t be “calling one another names” etc, the fault of the orange Bookers, and a seeming great desire to occupy positions of power.So, if Nick were to be replaced, and I disagree with Paul Walter in dismissing the possibility as “it’s not going to happen”, it would largely be symbolic, and if all that happened were that another OB were elected the new leader, with fellow senior OB Cabinet Ministers, the public could well be forgiven for thinking very little change had taken place. NC and communication – he can be good, but far too often his out-of-touchness-with ordinary life / political naivete / cliched patronising comments eg “grown-up politics” (I see the occasional poster on here using this dreadful phrase now!) take over, and he is awful.

    So what can the party do? Jeremy Browne was removed as a Minister a while ago throwing a sprat to the Social Liberals. The reappointment of David Laws was not sensible, and were it not for the fact that the media has now enlarged a Gove vs Laws argument, he could have been sacked and replaced by a full blooded radical. But ultimately if the policy, the politics, and especially the rhetoric stay the same, then the results in the ballot box won’t change. While the Lib Dems are seen to be a different party to that which many people have voted for over the years, those people will not be persuaded back, and it is increasingly clear that we are not really getting a significant number of Nick Clegg’s fabled centrist voters to replace them. There is no market for a German style FDP lite in Britain. Nick Clegg’s politics seem to me to be a disturbing mix of Leon Brittan influenced Thatcherite laissez faire and European Liberal influenced free marketeering. The UK is in no mood for, and does not need such a mix, especially from its historic radical party.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 24th May '14 - 8:01pm

    @Radical Liberal. Can you name the Orange Bookers on this thread? We had Caron named as one earlier, which is hilarious. I hope you are not implying I’m an Orange Booker are you? I haven’t even read the bloody thing. By the way, I am a Walter not a Walker.

    If we sign up to the preamble to the party we are Liberals. I am certainly not one to say anyone is more liberal or more authentic liberal than anyone else. If they are members. That would be daft.

    And at no time has anyone shouted at anyone here. (the exception being a “shut up” which I deplore). Everyone has a right to robustly put their argument.

    I am chiefly saying now is not the time to ditch the leader. That is mainly a question of judgment on timing.

  • It’s not hilarious as that’s how she comes across in defending those OB views espoused by Mr Clegg. As for your sly dig at the number of signatures on the petition, many on here posting are the same people myself included so what you’re saying is a misnomer. These Orange Bookers are just like Ukip, if it wasn’t for the EU you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. They have and are destroying the Party and must be stopped now.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 24th May '14 - 8:22pm

    @david after reading your comment at 8.07pm I say good night and farewell, dear thread! A bottle of Merlot awaits.

  • Graham Evans 24th May '14 - 8:32pm

    Much of the UK is actually in the mood for reactionary, nationalist, and popuarist policies, which may not be in the counytry’ s long term interests, but provide an emotional release from complex problems. The problem for liberals is that we do not represent this strand of thinking, while both Labour and the Tories try to finesse the issue. Arguments over particular actions of the Coalition, or over the strengths and weaknesses of NC or our MPs, sare essentially irrelevant to addressing the central problem of how to convince the electorate that their gut feelings are leading them down a dangerous path.

  • One of the main problems for Nick is not picking the right fights which the electorate most cares about.

    For the first 2 and half years Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander became nodding boys for the Tories. There was no differences or disagreements between the 2 parties (publicly anyway) were told that disagreements did exist however for the harmony of government and Ministers being bound by collective responsibility we would not be given details of this.
    This was a catastrophic error on the Liberal Democrats part. Because without those disagreements being made public, the electorate were totally unaware of the negotiations taken place, we did not know what the Liberal Democrats starting position was on a particular policy and what ended up as the compromise. therefore it was impossible to judge what, if any influence the party had on the final policy outcome. It is therefore reasonable that many people drawed the conclusions that Nick Clegg and co where rolling over and not only accepting but endorsing Tory Polices.

    That is a barmy way to run a coalition because the end result is that the public perception is that junior party is ineffectual and therefore plural politics does not work and we might as well go back to 2 party politics.

    Nick Clegg did show some balls when he scuppered the boundary reforms in retaliation for the Tories blocking the House of Lords. However to the majority of the public this was totally the wrong issue to show some backbone. Most of the electorate did not care enough about this issue.
    Where they did want to see the negotiating power of Nick Clegg and the party was on issues like the NHS reforms.

    Ni ck Clegg also made a catastrophic error in the debate with Farage when he said in response to a question from the audience about how the EU would look in 10 years’ time, he said that it would look “quite similar to what it is now”. That is totally out of touch with public opinion and what a majority of the country wants.

    Nick Clegg and his advisers needs to go for the sake of the party and for the country. It is clearly evident that Nick is not learning from the mistakes that have been made, he has a carry on regardless attitude, it is an ugly trait in the eyes of the public which is tainting the entire party, this is deeply unfair to the rest of the parliamentary party, Councillors, grassroots and members.

    I do not believe that the Liberal Democrats would be annihilated if they were to change leader this side of the election. The Tories managed to boot out an unpopular Thatcher and replace her with a halfwit John Major who managed to go on and win an election in 1992.

  • Richard kemps article is spot on – there was no alternative to the coalition with the Tories. Yes there have been mistakes but we have all made mistakes in politics – we are a party of government and have been for 4 years – the way politics is – and has been for some time – is that the party making decisions – that we all knew would be unpopular – but vast majority had to be done – that government gets kicked at any midterm elections. To me it isnt about the leader – it is about the party itself – do we want to try and enact liberal policies for the country – some of which are actually unpopular with the British people and right wing media – or do we just want to be a party of local government and by election wins? Yes it was great in the 80s and 90s and up to 2010 when we controlled councils and loved a great by election – but we didnt get any policies introduced at a national level did we?
    Another issue – how come we did so well in some areas – with MPs and pretty badly in others with MPs – is Clegg not toxic in some areas and toxic in others? Is Clegg not toxic in Southport and not toxic in Bham Yardley?

  • Yes Matt and your points are very well made. I want to pick up on your point on the NHS as one example of where he is severely failing as Leader of our Party and DPM. ‘Where they did want to see the negotiating power of Nick Clegg and the party was on issues like the NHS reforms’ precisely on this.

    In my neighbouring borough of Lewisham, Jeremy Hunt was downgrading the Maternity and A & E with a view to closure as part of his dreadful austerity and marketization style NHS ‘reforms’. Now local people including the local Lib Dems opposed this and supported the campaign to save the Hospital’s services. There was a court challenge and this campaign won a historic victory forcing the government to reverse its position only for Mr Hunt to then change the law so that hospitals can be closed as he sees fit.

    You would expect the Lib Dem Leader as part of the coalition to oppose this and prevent Jeremy Hunt taking this course of action. But what did he do nothing and let this blatant destruction of our NHS hospitals through without a whimper. He is privy in coercion with the Conservatives of dismantling our public services, undermining our NHS and weakening our communities and must GO now.

  • John Roffey 24th May '14 - 8:55pm

    On reflection, I think the problem is that NC is a natural born follower – it is therefore easy to forget this and look for a rational explanation for his actions – and as a consequence judge him too harshly.

  • Who cares about being in government if all it does is consign your party to history for the ensuing years which is exactly what Clegg is doing. I care about the future of this party, not the Conservative party and whether or not they’re in government next.

  • Nearly up to 200, that’s a great start. Let’s get the next batch on and well done to all who are signing up. Carry on forwarding it to your friends, constituents and councillors. Target 1000 here we come.

  • So fellow David – what exactly do you see as the purpose of our party ? – if not in government trying to enact some liberal policies then what? Just what are we here for? And can you please explain why Clegg does not appear to be toxic in all parts of the country? Can you not see that whoever was in charge when we are a party of government – would result in great losses at intervening elections?

  • Sarah Ludford 24th May '14 - 9:08pm

    I will not be signing the petition even if I lose my seat tomorrow, I will be preparing to help deliver thankyou leaflets . Incidentally, for Phyllis to say Nick ‘doesn’t BELIEVE in….reforming the EU’ is quite frankly absurd, as I know from working with him on European matters for over 15 years.

  • Sarah Ludford “I will not be signing the petition even if I lose my seat tomorrow, I will be preparing to help deliver thankyou leaflets . Incidentally, for Phyllis to say Nick ‘doesn’t BELIEVE in….reforming the EU’ is quite frankly absurd, as I know from working with him on European matters for over 15 years.”

    Well then why didn’t he articulate his vision during the second Farage debate? We voters can only say as we find, we are not mind-readers.

  • Radical Liberal 24th May '14 - 9:17pm

    Sarah Ludford – I assure you there’s no ‘if’ about it. The party’s over.

  • “if not in government trying to enact some liberal policies then what?”

    Labour did damage to the right to protest. The Lib Dems have not fixed this. Some liberal policies on this would be nice but will this happen with Clegg in place?

  • Radical Liberal 24th May '14 - 9:21pm

    By the way Sarah Ludford as a former Islington councillor what’s your view on our destruction there especially as we once controlled the council? Did Islington Lib Dems just not work hard? After all, as Nick Clegg keeps telling us, where we work we win.

  • This is not a liberal democrat government and very little that has been enacted apart from the £10k tax threshold can be regarded as liberal democrat policy (from the last manifesto) and I no longer support the extreme austerity which has been supported by many and mostly the Orange Booker MPs. As someone on a low income though I have suffered under this government particularly with the dismantling of the welfare state and reductions in public services and public sector jobs, they have ruined the Career Service.

    Sarah Ludford also seems to be out of touch with many ordinary members and I now realise my vote for her was a mistake.

  • Radical Liberal 24th May '14 - 9:28pm

    @Paul Walker – Well said Sarah Ludford! (Two thirds of the way through the Merlot).

    So THAT’S why you agree with her.

  • Peter Watson 24th May '14 - 9:32pm

    @David “Can you not see that whoever was in charge when we are a party of government – would result in great losses at intervening elections?”
    From a landslide win in 1997 to humiliation in 2010, Labour’s share of the vote dropped by about a third (43% to 29%). From 1979 to 1997 the Tory share dropped by the same (44% to 31%).
    In a fraction of the time, Clegg’s party of government has seen its share of the vote plummet further and faster than its predecessors and more than its coalition partner.
    The loss of support for the party is not because Lib Dems are in government, it is because in government the party is not doing what its voters wanted.

  • David “not in government trying to enact some liberal policies then what”
    So fellow David – what exactly do you see as the purpose of our party ? – if not in government trying to enact some liberal policies then what? Just what are we here for? ”

    Yes good question. And all the hardworking activists walking miles to deliver leaflets etc to get their MPs elected only to see them vote for Secret Courts etc. against the express wishes of the Party, for another five years??

  • We have less than 60 MPs – we are not the govt – just a minority part of it – but I am proud of what we have achieved on low income tax, pensions, school premium, free school meals and of course there is the stopping of many Tory policies that vast majority will not realise – what is it that we should / could have done? Did you agree with the coalition agreement or not? Yes there have been mistakes – some big ones – but name me a govt that has not made mistakes – just look at what happened to the junior party of govt in Germany – we are an easy scapegoat – and always would be – but that does not mean we made the wrong decision – it had to be done.

  • Peter Watson – “The loss of support for the party is not because Lib Dems are in government, ” really – where have you been for 4 years?

  • @Sarah Ludford

    Sober, and I have some sympathy for what you say. Campaigning members can either swallow injured pride in the face of bad results and try to stay engaged with the voters, or they can return to their constituencies and prepare for conspiracy, but signing open petitions outside of the party’s constitutional mechanism for leadership changes and descending into namecalling doesn’t help.

  • Jayne Mansfield 24th May '14 - 9:54pm

    @ Sarah Ludford,
    The impression that I got as a voter was that Nick Clegg thought that everything in the garden was lovely as far as the European Union was concerned. His comment about how he saw the EU in 10years time in the second debate with Mr Farage did nothing to suggest otherwise. I know of no-one who takes that view. If the wrong impression has been given, I suggest that in the year before the General election, he starts to publicise his views on the reform that he believes necessary.

  • Peter Watson 24th May '14 - 9:55pm

    @David
    My complete sentence was, “The loss of support for the party is not because Lib Dems are in government, it is because in government the party is not doing what its voters wanted.”
    The Conservatives have been in government as well. They had a 36% share of the vote in 2010, and are polling around 30-33% now. Lib Dems would love that sort of drop in support.

  • “And I’m sorry, but income tax cuts and the pupil premium only go so far with a limited pool of voters which is far smaller than the pool of voters we need to not do appallingly next year.”

    Exactly and some of feel that the income tax cut is a bit of smoke and mirrors anyway . It benefits those in work, whilst the poorest are out if work and demonised by this government , it helps everyone millionaires included, and is funded by tax cuts for millionaires and the VAT increase and cuts to public services which again impacts on the poorest in society. When a million people are relying on food banks and disabled people are committing suicide because of the government’s actions, I think it’s in very poor taste for Clegg et al to be bragging about ‘taking the poorest out of paying any tax’. The poorest don’t pay tax anyway!! The pupil premium is all well and good but I’m not convinced schools aren’t being cut in other ways and in any case, was the pupil premium worth sacrificing the NHS, the Party’s reputation for integrity and losing the trust of a generation of voters? Really, was that ALL it was worth?

  • “The Clegg leadership has been good for the country but awful for the party.” – theakes

    I know I’m incredibly naive but isn’t the whole point of all this to do good for the country? I’d far rather be doing good and getting kicked for it than gathering power for the sole purpose of holding onto it. Clegg has done brilliantly for the country given the electoral mathematics which presented itself in 2010. I disagree with him on many, many issues but he’s out there every day taking taking phenomenal levels of personal abuse yet still persisting in implementing many of our policies too. With just 10% of MPs I’m extremely proud that the Lib Dems succeeded in scrapping ID cards, introducing equal marriage and raising the personal allowance, taking the poorest workers out of taxation altogether. Can you imagine where the country would be if Clegg hadn’t stepped up to the mark and the Tories had been allowed to govern alone? Because that’s what actually matters in all of this – where the country would be if Clegg had not made the choices he has done.

    Those who’ve set up this letter have every right to do so but it’s beyond cowardly for them not to be upfront about who they are. I expect that’s a large part of why they’ve attracted so few signatures. If you want to lead a charge to remove him then have the guts to say so.

  • It still amazes me that some in the party refuse to accept that Nick Clegg and his top team were totally duped by the Conservatives when it came to negotiations of the coalition and the agreed appointments for cabinet positions.

    The Tories are calculating and devious and a lot of thought would have gone in to thinking how best to undermine the Liberal Democrats during this coalition in order to ensure that they are wiped out at the next election and reduce the threat that they pose to a future Conservative Majority.

    How best to do that? Well give them Ministerial posts which will see the secretary/minister responsible for enacting policies that goes totally against the core of the Liberal Democrats constitution.
    Namely- Vince Cable Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. Poor Vince had to be responsible for enacting and trebling tuition fee’s and defending a policy that deep down neither he or his party agreed with.
    Chris Huhne Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change which saw Chris having to press ahead with a new fleet of Nuclear Power stations, something that Liberal Democrats where strongly against

    These are just a couple of examples.

    At the end of the day the Tory party played a blinder and Nick Clegg and his team where outsmarted and outmaneuvered.
    Nick Clegg could be forgiven for making some mistakes, but when someone refuses to acknowledge mistakes, fails to listen to its members and the electorate refuses to change course, then it is really quite selfish and arrogant and the party needs to take action not only for their own best interests but that of their constituents and that of the country

  • George Potter, you are absolutely right to sign the petition and to write about why you had to do so here on LDV. I supported the Lib Dems and also the Coalition but since then the leadership has supported so many awful things that I not only distrust but also despise them. The NHS Reforms were not in the Coalition Agreement and are eye-watering,y expensive when we are constantly told ‘there is no money’ . The MPs hold the decisions of Conference in contempt by ignoring the votes on Secret Courts etc. they have, in effect, ‘ gone native’. The Lib Dems are supposed to make policy democratically, at Conference but the Parliamentary Party just ignore that and act as authoritarian as ever Labour was. They clearly do not think much of the membership. The question is, will the Party stand up for itself or will they let a small cabal annihilate the years of hard work? The time to take a stand us now, not after the next Election because if you act after May 2015, the voting public will say ‘ you stood by and did nothing until it was too late’ . If you act now, you can say ‘we, the Lib Dem Party membership do NOT agree with what the Leadership is doing and we are making a stand. We are better than that’ .

  • “This is what we are asked to endorse, nothing more, nothing less. And what does it mean?”

    Obviously, it means a change of leadership so that the party isn’t working against the crushing weight of the present leader’s unpopularity.

    Look if you want a new leader who will pull us out of the Coalition, say so …

    Perhaps you haven’t had a chance to read the comments above, but it’s been said over and over again that people aren’t opposed to coalition as such, just to the way coalition has been mishandled under Clegg’s leadership.

  • George Potter – yes spot on! I know many of us who would !

  • Richard Dean 24th May '14 - 10:35pm

    The symbolism of replacing Clegg could also lose a lot of votes. But that just says that “could lose a lot” and “could win us back” are just speculations without any firm foundations. What is certain is this: Everyone knows Clegg, everyone knows he’s a sinner, and everyone loves a sinner who repents. By contrast, no one will be certain at all what a new leader would do.

  • Mark Valladares “I’m not exactly a fan of Nick Clegg, and he must take some responsibility for the gap between the volunteer party and the Leader’s Office, but I’ll wait for a viable alternative strategy before I waste too much time worrying about the leadership of the party, thank you…”

    So the Party is losing vast numbers of Councillors and coming fourth or even fifth in election after election and your response is to …. “wait” ??

  • @Mark
    “but as you offer no credible strategy for what might happen next”

    Why is it not credible to stop the rightward policy drift and return to the Kennedy stance? Is there a future for the Lib Dems on the right? Surely, people would vote Tory if they wanted that

  • “everyone loves a sinner who repents”
    But Clegg has not offered any change. What do you see?

  • Toby Fenwick 24th May '14 - 10:39pm

    @Sarah Ludford: I hope you don’t lose your seat tomorrow, Sarah. And irrespective of the worst happening, thank-you for your hard work in Brussels.

    @david: I don’t know who these Orange Bookers are that you seem to loath so much; I may be one of them. It’s worth remembering that the OB’s authors back a decade ago were David Laws, Ed Davey, Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne, Vince Cable, Susan Kramer, Mark Oaten, Steve Webb, Jo Holland and Paul Marshall. This is actually a broader spread than your anti-OB postings suggest. To suggest that there is some sort of OB organisation policing the party as a praetorian guard for Nick Clegg is nonsense.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 24th May '14 - 10:47pm

    @ George Potter

    In other words, you will the ends, but have nothing to offer in terms of means. Look, I respect your right to seek a new leader, but I don’t see that you and your colleagues offer me an alternative narrative. Come back and talk to me when you have one.

    @ Phyllis,

    Yes, unless you really think that there is an alternative out there that can do better in the existing circumstances. If you’re confident in that, don’t let me hold you back.

    @ Voter,

    Would a new leader halt the ‘rightward policy drift’, as you put it? And did you really expect a party with fifty-seven MPs to dominate the policy making of a Coalition with three hundred and sixty-odd MPs in it?

  • What happens if the next election delivers another hung parliament? If Nick Clegg is the leader in the negotiations can he really be ditched post election? I think not. That means another five years of Nick. That will destroy the Lib Dems for a generation.

    A new leader stands a chance of improving the vote in 2015, and a fresh slate on which to run in coalition from 2015-2020.

  • The debate above is all about whether we need a new leader. Accept, for the purposes of debate, that the answer might be ‘yes’, then the question becomes ‘when?’ Is the best time for a change. It is hard to see an argument that six months before the GE (which is what acting now would mean) is the right answer. Like it or not, the die is cast for the party now, and the next GE is about defending our record and as many of our seats as we can. I don’t see that a new unknown leader,most probably implicated in the key decisions we have made since 2010, will help any? Cf. Blair and Brown. It seems to me that the time to have this debate is post 2015, in which case the best thing the cowardly anonymous organisers behind the ‘change’ campaign can do is shut up for the next 12 months.

    Far more concerning is the kind of society being created in the developed west, as wealth and power inexorably concentrate into fewer and fewer hands and we return to the type of wealth distribution and social structures we had in the 1920s, whilst our national leaders in all three parties tinker about with the detail and abjectly fail to see how society is changing all around them. The sad truth is that none of our national leaders, current or potential, in our party or the others, has the slightest clue how to go about combatting these toxic changes, which undermine everything that as a liberal party we are supposed to exist to achieve.

  • @Mark
    It is up to the new leader what policies he favours, left wing or right wing, freedom-helping or authoritarian.
    As to letting the Conservatives dominate, I thought the whole idea of the coalition agreement was to actually have an agreement between parties. Except that it was thrown out of the window, when it came to the NHS reforms and other items.

  • Paul In Twickenham 24th May '14 - 10:58pm

    @Sarah Ludford – you are a great asset to the EU, to London and to the Liberal Democrats and it would be a tragedy if you were not returned. I wish you the very best tomorrow. But I cannot agree with you about Mr. Clegg. We have lost 3 in every 7 seats we defended on Thursday. We face the prospect of wipeout in the Euros. The party’s spin of this debacle would embarrass the editors of Pravda. If Mr. Clegg does not take responsibility for the disastrous situation in which we find ourselves, then who does?

    Mark Valladares says that those who want Clegg to stand down have no “viable alternative strategy”. So if Clegg stays then what is the strategy that turns around the situation by next year? Is there some “viable strategy” of which I am simply unaware? I see nothing but crossed fingers that – somehow – support based on the economic upturn will attach itself to the Liberal Democrats. What is the evidence that this will happen? What we absolutely do know is that Mr. Clegg is immensely unpopular in the country at large – he has larger “negative” ratings than Michael Foot ever experienced.

    And we are told that changing leader won’t help. I refer you (as someone above already has) to John Major in 1990, or IDS after Brent East. The Tories are traditionally ruthless about doing whatever is needed to obtain and keep power. I suspect that Liberal Democrats may be too sentimental.

  • Toby Fenwick 24th May '14 - 10:58pm

    @George Potter: My fantasy answer to all of this is that because of his personal qualities, and because the Tories will tear themselves apart over the next Commissioner, is for Nick to go to Brussels. He’s got all the background and skills you could ask for, and is one of the few senior Brits who could plausibly be seen as pro-reformist EU. This would create the opening you are looking for, and as the new Commission starts in the autumn, you’d have a new LibDem leader in Glasgow for Conference.

    However, it isn’t going to happen.

  • Getting rid of Nick Clegg so near to the General Election would be madness. Who would we replace him with? How do we know the new leader would fair any better? Do we really want to engage in a bout of infighting before the next election? What we need is to ditch some of the polices we have been silly enough to sign up to. Bedroom tax. Cutting benefits for those who need it etc.

  • Jack 24th May ’14 – 10:51pm
    “What happens if the next election delivers another hung parliament? If Nick Clegg is the leader in the negotiations can he really be ditched post election? I think not. That means another five years of Nick. That will destroy the Lib Dems for a generation.”

    Exactly!!

  • Mark Valladares “@ Phyllis,

    Yes, unless you really think that there is an alternative out there that can do better in the existing circumstances. If you’re confident in that, don’t let me hold you back.”

    These things have a habit of working themselves out. No-one would have predicted that Thatcher would have been replaced by Major, and that he would then win an election. What would happen if Clegg went under a bus tomorrow? There’s your answer!

    In any case, I note that you seem very relaxed about the huge losses of Councillors and votes over the last four years. Regardless of the leadership issue, do you have any views on how the Party can regain support?

  • Eddie Sammon 24th May '14 - 11:11pm

    I still can’t get over this. No to neo-socialism in the Lib Dems!

  • Eddie Sammon 24th May '14 - 11:14pm

    I mean, we have some hard-working and loyal neo-socialists, which I don’t mind, but disloyal neo-socialists should not be in the party!

  • There are plenty of viable alternatives who will prove to be popular with the media and Nick Clegg is loathed by the electorate at large. Just look at the number of Councillors lost yesterday and leave Pangloss land and your utilitarian unwillingness to face reality. As many are saying look at the number of 4 and 5 placed finished, here the Greens were beating Lib Dems in every single seat where they stood as well as the Isolationists.

    Tim Farron would make a good leader and I canvassed some other party Councillors who think he would make a good leader and canvassed them as friends rather than political opponents. I’ve also suggested Nick Harvey who is a good speaker, these are just a few.

    The time is now right for a leadership election. This is a failing leader leading a party heading towards the political equivalent of the Conference, outside the football league. He has to go. As for some of coalition policies, pupil premium is meaningless, people don’t understand what it is and the coalition agreement was deliberately vague just to get some form of working arrangement going and in many cases the Conservative have sidestepped it. Are you proud of the bedroom tax as well, as someone with a disability I will never forgive it.. Are you proud of the abolition of the agricultural wages board and royal mail privatisation something Thatcher wouldn’t have done.

    The case for Clegg going is getting stronger and stronger. I didn’t bother commenting after the last 2010 council elections but am fed up with seeing so many hard working councillors trying to make their communities better and lose their seats and his glib comments like there is an anti politics mood, well that didn’t stop the tories losing so many seats or labour gaining them. Just like a failing football manager trying to explain why the team didn’t win week after week, loss after loss. Perhaps he needs to listen to Prof John Curtice, of the University of Strathclyde who said: “By the standards of Liberal Democrat history in local government elections, 13% is frankly an abysmal performance.” But he is too arrogant to acknowledge that.

    We must push the petition over the coming days and Iwill be using my time to ensure it goes to as many people as possible within the Party who want progress and not oblivion and that involves the removal Mr Clegg, a weakening of the power base and authoritarian control of the Orange Bookers and a return to radical left of centre liberal democracy.

  • Radical Liberal 24th May '14 - 11:22pm

    George – Mark Valladeres ins’t interested in being persuaded. He’s made up his mind and he knows best so there. For some reason he’s got into his head that those who want a leadership election need to provide the next leader as well. How about having a debate (remember those?) and letting the members vote on it? When the disaster comes in May 2015 we know who bears responsibility and we know who were the one’s who just walked into electoral disaster because they wanted other people to do all their thinking for them.

  • Radical Liberal 24th May '14 - 11:23pm

    Eddie Salmon – you’re the one who sounds like the Lenninist. Obey the leadership, never question, just obey!!!

  • How patronising that you don’t mind, ever heard of loyalty to a Party and what a Party stands for than to a failing leader.

  • It’s full of them RL, very patronising people. They are just waiting for the chance to push their economic dogma of manic privatisation and laissez faire free markets. The neo liberals on the far right who have infiltrated the party are the ones who are desperate to keep Clegg to protect their power base.

  • What is everybody panicking about anyway? It’s the European election results tomorrow and I fully expect us to double our number of MEP’s.

  • @jack

    “What happens if the next election delivers another hung parliament? If Nick Clegg is the leader in the negotiations can he really be ditched post election? I think not. That means another five years of Nick. That will destroy the Lib Dems for a generation”

    Clegg could certainly be removed in coalition negotiations. In the Lib Dem Labour negotiations in May 2010 Clegg and his team made it perfectly clear that they couldn’t support a government led by Gordon Brown. The negotiations ultimately failed because the numbers (315 I believe) weren’t there, but Brown’s initial refusal to commit to stepping down by the Autumn party conferences was also a factor. When he did resign it was too late, the Con-Lib coalition was already in motion.

    So 2015…picture any scenario where it’s a hung parliament with a Lib-Lab coalition possible. I’m almost certain that, just as we demanded that Brown step aside, Labour would insist that they couldn’t work with Clegg. Coalition with Labour, Cable as interim leader, probable leadership contest over the summer. It’d represent a good time for Clegg to go, he took us into government and leaves with us still there, and gives us the opportunity to redefine the party in different circumstances.

  • Caron Lindsay @caronmlindsay

    Can’t decide if my fave comment is @sarahludfordmep’s or the one saying I’m an Orange Booker. #fb https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-why-i-was-persuaded-to-back-libdems4change-40269.html#comments

    That’s right trivialise other members views or newer members who post on here in your tweets, how belittling demeaning and bullying.

  • @Andi Ali

    “Getting rid of Nick Clegg so near to the General Election would be madness. Who would we replace him with? How do we know the new leader would fair any better?”

    I really do not understand this logic. What sort of message does that say about the parliamentary party?
    It really is not having much confidence in the quality of the parties MP’s and to be honest it is a really bad advertisement to potential voters.

    It would be like me owning a restaurant and advertising. Average menu, Mediocre staff and customer service, Look forward to your booking.

    Somehow I don’t think I would be in business very long.

  • First, let us deal with this proxy point about Nick not wishing to change the EU – anyone saying this is either so blinded by their dislike of Nick as to have lost all perspective or is changing history to suit their own views. Nick has been constantly saying since he was an MEP for the East Midlands that the EU needs reform and he is still saying it now. Yes, he messed up his answer to that question, but that does not change 15 years worth of history.

    As for this vote, I am no Orange Booker (in fact, I hold quite a bit of disdain for many of the ideals set out in that book); however, I still completely disagree with this campaign. Nick has made many mistakes (one of them being that he and his team do overly concentrate on winning national votes without considering his impacts on local ones) and supported things I wholly disagree with, but he is the leader of the smaller party in a Coalition with a Right Wing Government (this is not forgetting that most of our MPs are in Right Wing areas) – this was to be expected and begrudgingly accepted. There are things this Government has done that I suspect Nick himself does not agree with, but this politics, anyone going into politics to be a puritan is in the wrong profession.

    However, the reason I cannot support this campaign and the reason I maintain my support for Nick is not just because I find it distasteful to bash someone for finding themselves in a bad situation (though as a Lib Dem, I do find such a view distasteful), but because he has done many good things in a bad situation (for the Lib Dems). Nick has fought tooth and Nail to restrain the true excesses of the Tory and moreover tempered down the ones that could not be wholly stopped. Yes, there are issues, such as the NHS, where I wish Nick could be a white knight who slays the evil Dragon that is Mr Hunt; sadly, Nick is not a White Knight, he is a politician who is out-maned and out-gunned trying to lead a party of very intelligent, passionate and often cynical activists (I mean that last bit in a positive way, I promise), at the same time as running half a Government and playing a power balancing act with the Tory party – I have to accept there are fights he cannot win and him trying to would only cause more harm than good (by him wasting his internal political influence and capital in order to make ineffectual and gratuitous statements publicly). Nick knows and accepts that he gets more done through private discussions (which get him no credit) than through pointless posturing. Now, Matthew Huntbatch often makes very fair points that Nick all too often seems too happy about the Coalition and its actions, but even here, he is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t because distancing himself from his own actions comes off as weak and would make it look as if he is scapegoating others for his own actions.

    So, yes, Nick is far from perfect, but I believe he is fighting hard, but to knife Nick now would be to slay a man for not being perfect in an imperfect world.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 24th May '14 - 11:42pm

    @ Radical Liberal,

    Thank you for so lucidly telling me what I think. I’m entirely persuadable, if there is something on offer that appeals to me. I’m even happy to have that debate, if someone would like to call it – not here on Liberal Democrat Voice, but amongst the wider party. But I suggest that those behind this petition need a stronger case before I am convinced, and a workable Plan B before they can win the argument.

    So far, we have a call to remove Nick Clegg, but no means of delivery of the alternative. Would the membership elect a leader who would end the Coalition immediately? Don’t know, although what evidence there is makes it seem unlikely. Would a new leader take the party in a different philosophical direction? Don’t know, it depends on who runs and what the party membership looks like, bearing in mind that most of our membership losses presumably stem from an unhappiness with the rightward policy drift of the party, as Voter puts it. If what might be described as the left wing of the party has left, it isn’t on the field to fight for a more social liberal stance.

    I don’t see that a leadership change now will effect any significant change in our fortunes, and would therefore rather wait until after the General Election to act, so that a new leader can start with a fresh sheet of paper and a decent chance of establishing themselves. That way, the party can be rebuilt on a stable, liberal base.

    You disagree. Fine, so go out and win the argument, but don’t blame me if you don’t succeed, just as I won’t blame you if you get what you want and things don’t get any better. It’s a democracy, not that you’d entirely be aware of it from some of the comments here…

  • @jade_farr:

    ” isn’t the whole point of all this to do good for the country?”

    Yes, but that includes long term as well as short term. You have been incredibly selective about the good’ things which you have quoted: the Parliamentary Lib Dems (or most of them) have also voted through (or permitted through executive power without vote) quite a lot of awful things which were in no Coalition agreement. And a few short term benefits over four years do not balance the damage to the country of wiping out the force of Liberalism in large parts of this country for decades.

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-27561917#

    Things seem to be moving fast, the BBC are giving it good coverage. I wonder if the MP’s and candidates now questioning Cleggs leadership would have had the courage to talk if this petition had not been started. Well done to whoever started it and well done to George Potter for bringing it to peoples attention.

  • @Caron Lindsay:

    “George Potter also said something about Nick being portrayed as toxic”

    It is nothing to do with ‘being portrayed as…”

    Nick Clegg IS toxic to a sizable portion of the electorate, including a lot of Lib Dem voters, past and present. And not for no reason. You cannot knock on fifty doors without being told this at least once.

  • @Mark
    The advantage of changing the leader now would be that new policies can be developed for the 2015 election.
    The fresh sheet of paper is available as much now as it would be in the future.
    I am not clear what needs to happen in your view before a leader can start rebuilding.

  • @david “@ Caron Lindsay”

    “That’s right trivialise other members views or newer members who post on here in your tweets, how belittling demeaning and bullying.”

    Sorry david, I have agreed with pretty much everything you have said on this thread. However I can not agree with that post about Caron and feel I need to say something.

    My personal experiences of Caron has been one of deep respect and appreciation. She is assisted me with a great deal of compassion and understanding on a matter which was very personal and difficult for me. She went to great lengths for me and I am not even a party member.

    I have always admired Caron’s articles posted on LDV and am sometimes surprised by how much she is prepared to speak out against the establishment at times.

    I am sure Caron was just being light hearted and humerus after what would have been an exhausting couple of days.

    I respect your feelings and your right to express your frustrations, but in my humble opinion you have got the wrong end of the stick on this one.

  • I love this quote:

    Senior party figures were “proud” of the party’s campaign, he said.

    “Nick Clegg stood up for our core values, made the positive case for Britain’s place in Europe, and took on Nigel Farage’s divisive politics.

    “Now is a time to get our message across, and shout what we’re doing in government, and not get distorted by needless infighting.”

    Such ramblings of denial remind me of this fellow:

    http://blackadder.wikia.com/wiki/General_Melchett

  • Andrew Emmerson 25th May '14 - 12:13am

    Although I’m an open Clegg fan boy, I have some sympathy with the idea he needs replaced sooner rather than later. I just so happen to think this shadowy cabal 4 change has picked the worst time. There’s already far too much time and effort being put into slinging mud at each other here, and that’s exactly what a leadership election and a bitter rump of Cleggites (of which I include myself) vs a bitter rump of social Democrats would cause.

    Frankly this is not needed when we should be putting that energy into the general election. I’m not going to say get out and deliver or you’re not a real lib Dem, but frankly those who care about the party must decide how their energy is best spent, slinging mud, campaigning for change or campaigning for our mps

  • Andrew Emmerson

    ” the party must decide how their energy is best spent, slinging mud, campaigning for change or campaigning for our mps”

    Perhaps the best thing we could do to help the MP’s is to lose the leader? He hasn’t been much help in recent campaignes has he.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 25th May '14 - 12:33am

    @ Voter,

    Let’s see. Clegg goes soonish, a leadership contest will run into the autumn, policy making is done by the Party at conference – how do you think a whole bunch of party policy is going to emerge, and why do you assume that a new leader would want to change existing policy, even if they could?

    Party policy, and what can be agreed in a coalition, are not necessarily the same thing, both sides will be obliged to compromise to some extent. In such a circumstance, it’s the ability to negotiate well, something that Nick may not have done as well as he might, but he’s hardly been alone in that.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th May '14 - 1:26am

    David, the claim that “neo liberals on the far right have infiltrated the party” is a straw man. I think most of us want to tax the rich more.

  • Changing the party leader at this time will NOT improve the party’s ratings in fact a leadership contest will cause more damage. A coup won’t work either ( I am at home today because of a real coup by the way)
    What many people in Britain seem to be unable to accept is that the fallout from the financial crisis last years and the result is a difficult situation for a lot of individuals ie loss of jobs etc. A stronger economy will in fact mean more help can be given to those who really need it but the Liberal Democrats have to be there in order for that to happen. Raging inflation and runs on sterling will lead to the vunerable suffering far more than now.
    The great difficulty for the Liberals has always been a lack of our own media to get our views across.We need somethig like the News Chronicle on the internet.Maybe that is where some effort should be made.

  • There is a powerful case for signing the letter –
    So I’m now backing LibDems4Change and have signed their open letter calling for a leadership contest.

    I was particularly impressed with the comment from David-1 24th May ’14 – 7:08pm.
    I have repackaged his comment below, I hope David will not mind,
    The three key points that he makes do not seem to have been answered or countered by the rather hyper-active defenders of the status quo, whose repeated refrain of “more of the same” must be wearing a bit thin even for them.

    1 Clegg now has a record of political moves and political choices on which he can be judged. It is my opinion that these moves have been, with rare exceptions, politically disastrous for the Party.

    2 I do not think Clegg shares this view; I think his attitude toward the current and coming losses to the Party has been one of stunned incomprehension coupled with wilful denial.

    3 For this reason, I doubt that he is the right person to lead the Party out of the wilderness, and I suspect it might be a deal safer in other hands.

    This is a powerful case especially if you take it with the straight facts first posted elsewhere by Eduardo Goncalves
    (https://www.libdemvoice.org/local-elections-2014-friday-afternoon-roundup-40265.html#comment-294007)

    Nick Clegg became leader in December 2007. Since then the local election results have been as follows:
    2008: +33 councillors
    2009: -2 councillors
    2010: -132 councillors
    2011: -748 councillors
    2012: -190 councillors
    2013: -124 councillors
    2014: -284 councillors
    (the above does not include by-election results)

    Westminster results as follows:
    a) 2010 General election: -5 seats
    b) By-elections:
    Crewe & Nantwich -4.0%
    Henley +1.8%
    Glasgow E -8.3%
    Glenrothes -10.1%
    Norwich N -2.2%
    Oldham E & Saddleworth +0.3%
    Barnsley C -13.1%
    Leicester S -4.4%
    Inverclyde -11.1%
    Feltham & Heston -7.8%
    Bradford W -7.1%
    Manchester C -17.2%
    Corby -9.5%
    Cardiff S & Penarth -11.5%
    Rotherham -13.9%
    Middlesbrough -10.0%
    Croydon N -10.5%
    Eastleigh -14.4%
    S Shields -12.8%
    Wythenshawe & Sale E -11.0%

  • Tories and Labour are desperate for Clegg to stay on as leader. All the reasons to keep him are driven by negativity or misplaced loyalty. His biggest fans strongest argument is “now is not a good time” . Is Nick the best leader when it comes to negotiating with the Tories in Government? Is he an electoral asset (to the LibDems)? Is he able to sell our policies? Three nos from me

  • Reading the comments, I suspect most people would agree (even if they didn’t want to say it publicly) that the best thing would be for Nick Clegg himself to take the decision to step down. Vince Cable could quite easily become a caretaker leader until 2015. I’m no great fan of Cable, but he would be a big improvement on Clegg in just about every respect, and would probably be able to salvage more from the wreckage and give the party a better chance of rebuilding for the future.

  • As a Norwich City supporter, I must caution you that changing the leader does not guarantee survival. On the other hand, it does lift the mood!

    And as a fellow City supporter commented on the logic of dismissing Chris Hughton with only 5 games to go, once a manager has lost significant chunks of the supporters and the dressing room, the game is up.

    The results since 2010 indicate that Clegg has already lost a lot of the supporters (me included).

    In this set of elections, I got leafleted by a variety of minor parties and leafleted and canvassed by all but one of the major parties. The one that didn’t? The LDs.

    Given that the LDs locally used to have a highly effective operation (plus the fact of this thread), I can only conclude that Clegg has now lost the dressing room.

    The game is up.

  • Alistair makes an excellent point. I think Tory and Labour strategists must be praying at this moment that LibDems loyally rally behind Nick Clegg.

    The man is leading your party to disaster, where it will take many decades to rebuild (if that is even possible). Fairly or unfairly, he is detested by voters. A leadership contest may be risky but less risky than sticking with Clegg.

  • A good friend of mine just commented to me – ” Why are you Lib Dems trying to get rid of your leader – it would be just the same with someone else – its because they are in government – are they thick or something? ” Now admittedly he is not really into politics and is certainly not a supporter of any party but I think hes got it nailed here.
    I still do not have an answer to
    If Clegg is so toxic – how come we have done really well in some parts of the country?

  • Jedibeeftrix is right, if you ditch Clegg your opponents will love it, if you don’t though, they will also love it. It’s not just Clegg that is the problem, it is the policies that your MPs voted for, and you can’t make all of them resign…

    That is the tragedy of the Clegg years.

    If only he had done a Blair and specifically asked for his party to endorse his vision. Blair’s critics, including many on this blog post, forget that Blair survived for so long because he took his party with him. Clegg has notably not done that.

    Perhaps the best chance of liberalism is for Lib Dems to join either the Tories or Labour and make them more liberal, rather than setting out on their own?

  • Bill le Breton 25th May '14 - 9:30am

    The present situation surely calls for some kind of urgent review. This must necessarily be speedy. To provide speed and legitimacy, that review should be conducted by the Parliamentary Party in the Commons.

    The Leader should resign the leadership of the Party during this process, with Sir Malcolm Bruce overseeing the review process.

    The Liberal Democrat Party in the Commons should speedily invite ‘Candidates’, for that is what she, he or they would be, would be invited to put themselves up to their colleagues in the Commons for consideration as their leader for at least the next 12 months.

    This would not disbar the present leader from putting himself forward.

    All ‘Candidates’ would put forward policy and campaigning proposals for the coming 12 months.

    The selection if there is more than one candidate would be by secret ballot.

    If the Party in the Commons decides to stay with the present leader, then, he would resume his office.

    If it chose another, then, that would be the sole name that would go forward to the Chief Executive of the Party for due process. But as the only candidate their mandate could begin immediately. It should be made clear to the PM that this person is the Party’s candidate for DPM.

    The only condition on their tenure would be that if the Party was no longer in Government after the 2015 general election, the leader would put themselves forward for re-election by conventional means in the summer of 2015.

  • @David … and I had various (non-party Lib Dem supporting) friends commenting how sensible it was.

    There are a significant proportion of people who vote for us locally who are absolutely explicit that they will not vote for us in the General Election because of Nick.

    It may not be fair. It may not be reasonable. But it is a reality. The question is how we address that reality.

    I’m also baffled by this argument that Leadership Elections are automatically bad for our opinion poll rating. They were bad for us when we got rid of a leader the voters liked (Kennedy). And good for us when we got rid of a leader the voters didn’t like (Campbell).

    Martin

  • Elizabeth Daly 25th May '14 - 9:40am

    The situation we find ourselves in is hardly a surprise. You cannot tell the populus we as a party are completely unlike Labour or the Conservatives and then lose the total trust of our supporters and potential voters by lying as expertly and childishly as they do. Voters are obviously aware of the games politicians play and our leader should have known better and given a truthful explanation for the tuition fees fiasco instead of insulting the electorate by blaming everything on the economic crisis. Our 2010 manifesto said we would phase out tuition fees which in effect meant zero tuition fees, and what we did was jump from zero to £9,000 as soon as we had some power in government. One apology, one credible explanation AT THE TIME would have negated these 9,000 mistakes. The lesson to be learnt here is not to insult the intelligence of the populus.

  • George Potter made reference to this yesterday and Andrew Marr in an interview with Tim Farron also brought it up this morning.
    Perhaps what Bill le Breton is suggesting is already in train, I hope so.

    John Pugh told the BBC he had canvassed more than a dozen backbenchers.
    “The high command is in danger of seeming like generals at the Somme – repeatedly sending others over the top while being safely ensconced in Westminster and claiming the carnage is all somehow sadly inevitable,” he said.
    The time had passed, he added, for a policy of “misguided stoicism”.

    Mr Pugh said MPs would now “review” the election performance, putting the “wider party and country first”.
    “Our good results are mostly the product of local popularity,” he said.
    “The abysmal loss of well over half our seats last Thursday though is mostly due to national unpopularity.”

  • So is John Pugh saying that many Lib Dems lost their seats last week because they were not as popular locally as his Lib Dems in Southport are? Or is it because Nick Clegg is not as toxic in Southport as he is elsewhere? Which is it? And when are these people going to have the guts to say ‘OK enough is enough – I will stand against Clegg”

  • If Nick Clegg does go, (and I hope he doesn’t) then my choice for leader would be Lembit.

  • Mark Valladares’ comments seem to me to be the most rooted in reality. If there really is a ‘rightwing drift’ in the Party, and with the party in government and in coalition, this is less easy to judge than is often assumed, a change now would be likely to have the opposite effect to that intended in the medium term. A new leader, perceived to be more from the left, losing badly in 2015, would lack Nick Clegg’s narrative of action in government and would appear discredited.

    Such a course would also play into the hands of those who love to claim that Lib Dems lack a sense of responsibility and principled policies. In 2015, come what may, Lib Dems will have to defend their record in government any suggestion of change needs to be able to accommodate to this.

  • Sarah Ludford 25th May '14 - 10:22am

    To Jayne Mansfield re “The impression that I got as a voter was that Nick Clegg thought that everything in the garden was lovely as far as the European Union was concerned. His comment about how he saw the EU in 10years time in the second debate with Mr Farage did nothing to suggest otherwise. I know of no-one who takes that view. If the wrong impression has been given, I suggest that in the year before the General election, he starts to publicise his views on the reform that he believes necessary”,
    see for instance his comments in http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/21/great-britain-little-england-europe-eu-lib-dem-win?CMP=twt_gu and I’m sure there will be more. As I understand it, Nick just meant in the Farage debate that the EU would not look like a federal superstate in 10 years time.

    To Radical Liberal re “By the way Sarah Ludford as a former Islington councillor what’s your view on our destruction there especially as we once controlled the council? Did Islington Lib Dems just not work hard? After all, as Nick Clegg keeps telling us, where we work we win”,
    I’m absolutely gutted about our loss in Islington, how could you possibly think otherwise? I think the ‘where we work we win’ comment from HQ was unfortunate and insensitive, and the result of someone not thinking before incorporating a cliche in the email.

  • “@Caron

    I don’t particularly care if Nick Clegg is the greatest liberal in the world on parental leave and related issues. The fact is that on far too many issues horribly illiberal policies have been enacted and, crucially, the people at the bottom in our society have been hit harder than the people in the middle.

    Furthermore, while it’s unfair for people to see Clegg as spineless since he has actually stood up for what he believes in, it’s not unfair to hold him responsible for the situation facing the party – because it ultimately comes down to the fact that Clegg has not believed in or stood up for liberal values on too many issues.”

    Yes that is exactly spot on! Caron Lindsay never mentions tuitions fees or the NHS or the disabled or food banks or Secret Courts or the Bedroom Tax but goes on about parental leave. She really has her head in the sand about how much the country hates Clegg and his acolytes . Here’s a clue for you, Caron Lindsay – people in vast numbers have STOPPED VOTING for the Lib Dems year after year. First rule of politics – survival !

  • Paul In Twickenham 25th May '14 - 10:37am

    @David – your point about Southport is interesting. No doubt someone will do a detailed analysis of the results in all of the areas where the Liberal Democrats retained their seats, but for some indication (and I am sure there are plenty of people here who will correct/adjust/clarify what I am reporting) here are the results in the 6 ward on Sefton that we held this year, together with the percentage vote change relative to 2010:

    Ainsdale:
    LD 30% (-17%)
    Con 29% (-14%)
    UKIP 25% (+25%)
    Lab 11% (NC)
    Green 5% (+5%)

    Birkdale:
    LD 41% (-16%)
    UKIP 26% (+19%)
    Lab 14% (+7%)
    Con 14% (-11%)
    Green 5% (+5%)

    Cambridge:
    LD 40% (-8%)
    UKIP 26% (+26%)
    Con 21% (-14%)
    Lab 10% (+2%)
    Green 3% (+3%)

    Kew
    LD 34% (-19%)
    UKIP 28% (+28%)
    Lab 19% (+8%)
    Con 13% (-11%)
    Green 6% (+6%)

    Meols
    LD 34% (-15%)
    UKIP 28% (+23%)
    Con 18% (-12%)
    Lab 9% (NC)
    Southport Party 8% (+3%)
    Green 3% (+3%)

    Norwood
    LD 33% (-33%)
    UKIP 23% (+17%)
    Lab 19% (+19%)
    Con 10% (-14%)
    Southport Party 10% (+10%)
    Green 5% (+5%)

    While I congratulate the successful candidates, they experienced an average swing of -17% compared with 2010. That would wipe out many candidates but they began from a very strong base. Obviously with only raw data I cannot comment and would not speculate on the effect of UKIP’s intervention on the LD/Con split, but I note that UKIP registered an average +23% across the wards.

  • Paul In Twickenham 25th May '14 - 10:40am

    Sorry, that should of course be “change in vote share” rather than “swing”. Too many numbers, too early on Sunday.

  • Sarah Lundford “I think the ‘where we work we win’ comment from HQ was unfortunate and insensitive, and the result of someone not thinking before incorporating a cliche in the email.”

    Our words betray our thoughts. The comment indicates the contempt that HQ hold for activists who lost Councillors.

  • Sarah Lundford “I’m absolutely gutted about our loss in Islington, how could you possibly think otherwise?”

    Well what are you going to do about it?

  • Helen Tedcastle “It is the fact that since 2010, policy after policy was drummed through without listening to people with knowledge and experience in the Party – leading to some appalling undiluted Tory changes which were not in the coalition agreement – that disillusion with the leadership has reached boiling point. Nick might be able to turn things around if he completely changed the strategy but after four years, it’s unlikely to occur except superficially.”

    Hear hear !

  • The time to act s now. Remember David Miliband dithering in 2009 about challenging Brown? He bottled it and the Labour Party went on to lose the GE. If the Lib Dems bottle this, the electorate will hold them in contempt for ever.

  • Bill le Breton 25th May '14 - 10:58am

    George, we face an existential problem which requires flexibility and speed within the Constitution.

    You write, “Not that this precludes one candidate capturing the parliamentary party and being the only one to secure nominations mind you.” Which exactly makes my point.

    With the caveat that ‘if we are not in Government post 2015 election the leader ‘asks’ for an election. Within those exceptional circumstances I trust the Parliamentary Party in the Commons to best preserve the strength of the Party over the next 12 months.

    There is a feeling that the country is through the worst of its financial crisis. I don’t think that is certain. I feel that cyclically the world is almost already due another recession which would find the major economies still with very low interest rates and little room for orthodox stimulus. This is therefore the potential for a dangerous rise in unemployment and underemployment with potentially explosive pressure on social cohesion, even deeper inequalities and injustices – perhaps just at the time that the UK is having a referendum/debate on Europe and immigration.

    In such a situation the country will need a strong Liberal party campaigning for Liberal Democrat values. We need fifty or sixty MPs to provide a sufficient guarantee of such strength.

  • I have been waiting for this moment ever since the coalition was formed. My heart sank when I saw the body language in the Rose Garden and everything that has happened since has confirmed that first impression. I have been a party member most of my adult life and was an active Young Liberal in the late ’60s and early ’70s. I believed, and still believe, in what Jo Grimond espoused and have always believed in the party being a centre left party – frequently much more radical than the Labour Party, however. The idea of the party I have supported all my life being a ‘centre party’ is complete anathema to me. I have nearly resigned from the party, but have continued to hope that a change in direction will come as a result of electoral failure resulting from the disastrous course we have taken since joining this right-wing government. I voted Green on Thursday and will continue to do so until the party recovers its true compass.

  • Bill le Breton 25th May '14 - 11:05am

    Paul in T, the other thing which needs to be considered is the differential UKIP effect on our vote and the vote of our major competitor.

    Ashcroft’s polling published yesterday examines where UKIP voters are saying ‘now’ that they will place their vote next May.

  • Paul In Twickenham 25th May '14 - 11:21am

    @Bill – yes, agreed. The very obvious point is that parliamentary success almost always grows out of council success. 3 or 4 of the wards listed above are in John Pugh’s constituency. To say (as in the party’s spin) that we have success where we hold the parliamentary seat is to put the cart before the horse.

  • For those who don’t think the Tuition fees issue is such a big deal, this is what was said in April 2010: we all know what happened. We voters have long memories!

    “Mr Clegg said: “Labour and the Conservatives have been trying to keep tuition fees out of this election campaign.
    “It’s because they don’t want to come clean with you about what they’re planning.
    “Despite the huge financial strain fees already place on Britain’s young people, it is clear both Labour and the Conservatives want to lift the cap on fees.
    “If fees rise to £7,000 a year, as many rumours suggest they would, within five years some students will be leaving university up to £44,000 in debt.
    “That would be a disaster. If we have learnt one thing from the economic crisis, it is that you can’t build a future on debt.
    “The Liberal Democrats are different. Not only will we oppose any raising of the cap, we will scrap tuition fees for good, including for part-time students.
    “We can’t do it overnight, but we can start straight away with students in their first year – that way means anyone at university this autumn will have their debt cut by at least £3,000.”
    “Students can make the difference in countless seats in this election.
    “Use your vote to block those unfair tuition fees and get them scrapped once and for all.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/election-2010/7641956/Lib-Dems-target-student-vote-with-tuition-fees-warning.html

  • One thing that is lost in all this is that we’re only looking ar the third of the electorate most motivated to vote. The middle third has given no verdict and won’t until next May.

  • Phyllis. We didn’t get a lib dem majority. If we had, then that could have been enacted. We didn’t and it wasn’t. An awful lot of people fail to understand that no majority equals no delivery. If they fail to grasp that, they get what they deserve.

  • Sarah Ludford 25th May '14 - 11:51am

    What am I going to do about Islington? Phyllis asks. Well, I will support the team there and across London, continue to campaign, canvass, deliver etc, and look forward to the first byelection in Islington.

    I’m not myopic, I just don’t think a ‘chop off his head’ reaction is either fair or useful. I do not remotely agree that HQ has contempt for activists who lost councillors – remember that Nick’s chief of staff Jonny Oates is a former Kingston councillor and deputy leader there and Matt Hanney in the Clegg office stood in Lambeth.

    Re Clegg and the EU, you really cannot have been listening to or reading what he says, he constantly stresses the need for reform eg see also his speech on 8/10/13 ( I don’t have a weblink) in which he said:

    “if you believe we should stay in Europe, don’t let anybody tell you that you are somehow against change, or anti-reform. Don’t believe this idea that if you see the benefits of membership, you are blind to the EU’s faults.
    I was campaigning to make Brussels more open and transparent a decade and a half ago, when I was an MEP for the East Midlands. Last month, at my Party’s Conference, we signed up to a forty page document filled with ideas to make the EU more streamlined, more accountable, more focused on growth; less meddlesome in areas of national life that are none of its business, and more effective in the areas where nation states cannot act alone.”

  • Ludford, most of your campaigning in at the European Parliament has been to work against a Palestinian state while at the same time telling everybody you support it.

  • “Tabman 25th May ’14 – 11:45am
    Phyllis. We didn’t get a lib dem majority. If we had, then that could have been enacted. We didn’t and it wasn’t. An awful lot of people fail to understand that no majority equals no delivery. If they fail to grasp that, they get what they deserve.”

    And that comment is exactly why the Party has lost most of its support.

  • Andi, I think you meant to type Sarah or Sarah Ludford rather than just Ludford.

  • John Probert 25th May '14 - 12:10pm

    Some Liberals seem to think Nick Clegg is the dog to be kicked when we should perhaps kick ourselves.

    In my area the lead EU candidate put out an election address which didn’t even name his fellow candidates. It was an 8-pager but no page could serve as a window-bill. There was much in it about him but almost nothing about the immense importance of the EU and nothing at all about our manifesto commitments..
    At least the good fellow’s leaflet was in strong Liberal orange , not that wishy-washy yellow so often used these days, making us seem sickly on TV but invisible in newspapers. \strong er colours make for strong messages.

    Anyway – if there’s really no such thing as bad publicity do keep on kicking Clegg! It keeps us in the headlines, doesn’t it?

  • Sarah Ludford “Re Clegg and the EU, you really cannot have been listening to or reading what he says, he constantly stresses the need for reform eg see also his speech on 8/10/13 ( I don’t have a weblink) in which he

    He had a big platform to make his views known and he fluffed it. Just as he neglected to read the White Paper on the NHS reforms before signing it. Just as he has failed to deliver on his DPM portfolio. It’s just one incompetence after another.

  • Supporting the Bedroom Tax was a mistake.

  • Peter Watson 25th May '14 - 12:42pm

    @Tabman “An awful lot of people fail to understand that no majority equals no delivery.”
    People understand that coalition means compromise, but look at the conviction and strength with which Clegg delivered his message about tuition fees and how it made Lib Dems different from the other parties, and the enthusiasm with which candidates publicly made personal pledges that could be kept in government or in opposition. And then consider the speed with which our leaders moved away from this position in the coalition agreement negotiations, and the support given to a new position which is so different from the one on which votes were secured, and the exaggerated claims about how much coalition policy was Lib Dem. No wonder the party looks untrustworthy, and Clegg most of all.

  • Nick Clegg from day 1 in Government has done so many U turns he looks like a dancer spinning out of control. It’s time for him to go now, or this great party may cease to exist…

  • Sarah Ludford 25th May '14 - 12:48pm

    In reply to ATF:

    Andy Ali indeed meant to address me as ‘Ludford’, as he did when he sent me an email a few weeks ago, signing himself ‘Chair: LibDem Friends of Palestine’ . I was surprised as I thought John McHugo was, and nquiries prompted a second email from Mr Ali:

    “Ludford,
    I’ve been asked to make the following clear. I am the Chairman of the Liberal Democrat friends of Palestine on Facebook – this group is not to be confused with the one led by John McHugo.”

    The mystery deepens! I have not heard any more, though am intrigued to know how LDFP is dealing with Mr Ali’s ‘personation’.

  • Many ex LD voters did vote Lib Dem on Thursday and this was borne out by callers into LBC on their elections programme. The reason given was of Nick Clegg likewise a caller said three of her family who always voted Lib Dem had gone and voted Ukip because of Nick Clegg. My partner didn’t get a single election communication through the door but all the other parties did. As this election is about local issues she might have even voted Lib Dem but had no literature as to what the party would do on local issues in her ward despite the fact all the other parties who stood did put out leaflets even the ones which are not national parties. So what did she do, made her decision on the basis of our leader being Nick Clegg and worse still voted Ukip and they got in.

    Paddy Ashdown has just been wheeled out from the old guard, amazingly silent most of the past year, but when hard working councillors lose their seats and candidates come in 5th or 6th behind the greens and others then enough is enough and Clegg has to go. Now is a great time to get a new leader, there is a year to go until the General, enough time for the new leader to raise their profile and offer distinctive policies which would attract former voters back. Let’s face it Clegg isn’t going to and never will as the damage has been done. Wait until tonight I have been warned it will be an unmitigated disaster. As the Winchester PPC said on radio this morning, they won council seats there because of all their hard work and despite Nick Clegg so the fact she said what she did, isn’t sour grapes but this is being realistic and those of us who want the party to survive, its best prospects are without Nick Clegg. He must go now or be prepared to face oblivion in 2015.

  • I mean didn’t vote Lib Dem on Thursday – correction.

  • Sarah Ludford 25th May ’14 – 11:51am
    …. – remember that Nick’s chief of staff Jonny Oates is a former Kingston councillor and deputy leader

    Well yes Sarah, we in Kingston all remember Jon Oates (as he used to be known) indeed he was an unsuccessful candidate here in Kingston on Thursday.
    I employed him as my research assistant when I was leader of Kingston Council although his salary was considerably less than it is now His one term as a councillor was also when I was leader up until 1997 when we had a majority on the council, and had just elected Liberal MPs to the two constituencies in this borough. One of those MPs was JennynTonge.

  • Tony Dawson 25th May '14 - 1:38pm

    @Sarah Ludford:

    “Matt Hanney in the Clegg office stood in Lambeth”

    An interesting distraction for him, no doubt. And how did he do? He ‘tanked’. For some reason, he also scored substantially fewer votes than his Lib Dem colleagues in the ward.

    But Sarah, more importantly, if you believe that anyone at all in this country voted on Thursday in the Euro elections believing that Nick Clegg was in any way critical of the present set up of the EU then you must have a special channel on your Sky which is unavailable to the rest of the UK.

  • Not sure if my last comment was censored or just mangled by my own fat fingers. Apologies.
    It should have ended —
    One of those MPs was Jenny Tonge who was treated extraordinarily badly by Nick Clegg’s office. Jon Oates will be able to tell you all about it.
    Unfortunately the point you were trying to make about HQ attitudes towards local activists and councillors is not best served by reference to Kingston, especially to those of us who were delighted to have Jenny as our MP and continue to support her excellent work in the Lords.

  • Tony Dawson 25th May '14 - 1:50pm

    Paul in Twickenham, I cannot really see the point of you comparing a general election day vote in Southport with a non-GE vote year in local elections. The voters in both samples are very different and in the GE they were also subject to a substantial and effective Labour squeeze which cannot be worked in wards where Labour are known challengers.

    You also got the Norwood ward figures very wrong.

  • Tony Dawson 25th May '14 - 2:10pm

    And, for completeness, the other (seventh) ward in Southport 9( Dukes Ward) is the only one which had a lower Lib Dem fall than Tory fall between 2010 and 2014 as well as the lowest UKIP vote (19 per cent) in town. and reduced Southport Party and static Labour vote shares. The Tories scraped a win here this year.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th May '14 - 2:19pm

    Helen Tedcastle

    At this point an intervention from Matthew Huntbach would explain more eloquently than I, why the form of liberalism of the current leadership is not representative of the Liberal Party pre-merger

    Well, yes, David Evershed is just one of many we keep coming across making comments based on the assumption that division in the party now between those who are keen on market solution and those who are sceptical of them represent a continuation of the division between the SDP and the Liberal Party at the time of merger.

    IT IS JUST NOT TRUE!!!!!

    Please David, APOLOGISE for making that point, because I am FED UP with this untruth being repeated again and again, I guess from people who were not there at the time. It is indeed a sign of something worrying that so many have been led to believe it is true, I take it as a sign that a propaganda game has been played by the extreme market people which involves falsifying history to try and give their position more credibility.

    The reality is that the Liberal Party at the time of the merger with the SDP was not more free market than the SDP. I should know because I was a member of the Liberal Party at the time, I was opposed to the merger with the SDP, and my opposition certainly had nothing to do with the issue of market economics, or if anything the concern was that there were elements in the SDP too keen on that, not the other way round.

  • Charles Kennedy came from the SDP and he is far more of a social liberal than many from the liberal wing of the party and that includes Nick Clegg. That’s why I was delighted with his leadership and against the way he was stabbed in the back and forcibly removed by the Orange Bookers.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th May '14 - 3:06pm

    Liberal Al

    Now, Matthew Huntbatch often makes very fair points that Nick all too often seems too happy about the Coalition and its actions, but even here, he is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t because distancing himself from his own actions comes off as weak and would make it look as if he is scapegoating others for his own actions.

    There’s a whole series of mistakes that Clegg has made, it’s not just the coalition. Clegg and his supporters love to play the game that there are only two positions – either you are a Clegg fan and agree with all he says and does, or you are an opponent of the coalition in the first place and thus lacking in a sense of reality. So very often an attack on Clegg’s leadership is returned with an argument for forming the coalition. This is a political trick designed to silence valid criticism.

    I agree that Clegg was dealt a very difficult hand, and however it was played we would lose some support. I agree and have argued that the coalition was the best option. However, Clegg should have been more open at the start about the limitations of what a party which is one-sixth of the coalition could achieve. I do believe the biggest mistake has been this continual over-optimistic presentation of it, exaggeration of what we can achieve, and writing up of the compromises that have had to be made as if they were what we really wanted in the first place. This is so easily read as “they just rolled over and gave in to the Tories because that is what they really wanted in the first place”. I do believe it could have been played in a different way which got across that the coalition was more about the acceptance of the reality of the balance in Parliament and less about meeting our dreams, but Clegg seems to have gone out of his way not to do it like that.

    But there are plenty of other mistakes made too. I’ve gone on elsewhere about how I believe the line Clegg used against Farage was all wrong and said how I think he ought to have approached it. Coming into these latest set of elections, people have said we have a fine set of MEPs and fine councillors across the country, which is true. But our national election material was dominated by the person of Clegg and by negative attacks. Clegg seems to have surrounded himself by people who are happy to push the party as the Nick Clegg Fan Club and not to make use of our fine assets of hard workers at all levels.

    Clegg ought to have realised that the people in the party who would find it hardest to swallow the coalition are those with views more to the left, and so made sure such people weren’t left feeling they weren’t valued in the party any more. Instead, he has been extremely partisan in his appointments, favouring right-wingers, and doing nothing to settle the unease caused when some of them issue some pretty divisive comments. The result has been that the argument that the coalition was necessity has been much harder to push, because a strong impression has been gained that there is a clique at the top of the party who are using it to push the party permanently to its right. A good and competent leader would have realised the need to maintain party unity, and so despite his own personal inclinations made absolutely sure he was scrupulously fair to all sides. Clegg just hasn’t done that, he’s done the opposite. If it wasn’t intentional to push the message that there was some sort of deliberate “Clegg coup” to push the party to the right and make those on the left so unhappy they step out of activity for it, then it is gross incompetence that this belief has been allowed to flourish and Clegg has continued to make comments and speeches which seem to support it.

    There are other things as well. I’m sorry, but it just seems to be the case that Clegg is incompetent all round. Either that or he is deliberately doing everything he can to damage the party.

  • Paul In Twickenham 25th May '14 - 3:12pm

    @Tony Dawson – I was entirely conscious of the fact that comparison with 2010 meant comparing with the GE, and that this would skew results. But every ward on Thursday is being compared with its results from 4 years ago, so why would I choose a different basis for Southport?

    As for getting Norwood wrong, I suggest you take it up with Sefton council since the numbers come from their website:

    2014:
    Daniel Lewis Liberal Democrats 1085 33% Elected
    Jen Davies United Kingdom Independence Party 739 23% Not elected
    Lesley Delves The Labour Party 604 19% Not elected
    Anthony White Conservative Party 328 10% Not elected
    Jacqueline Barlow The Southport Party 308 10% Not elected
    Neville Grundy The Green Party 176 5% Not elected

    2010:
    David Sumner Liberal Democrats 3425 66% Elected
    Tony Crabtree Conservative Party 1236 24% Not elected
    Gordon Allan Ferguson United Kingdom Independence Party 302 6% Not elected
    Jenny Atherton British National Party 204 4% Not elected

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th May '14 - 3:33pm

    Tony Dawson

    But Sarah, more importantly, if you believe that anyone at all in this country voted on Thursday in the Euro elections believing that Nick Clegg was in any way critical of the present set up of the EU then you must have a special channel on your Sky which is unavailable to the rest of the UK.

    Now I think this is unfair.

    It’s another one of those political games. The anti-EU people play this game that anyone who isn’t a rampant spouter of UKIP-propaganda must be someone who thinks the EU is all absolutely wonderful in everything it does and in how it is organised and could not be changed for the better in any way. I think it ought to be obvious that there are positions in between.

    I don’t recall Clegg coming across in particular as saying the EU is all wonderful. I do think this is more the way the anti-EU people portray all of us who don’t agree with them than a particular problem with Clegg. I do recall Clegg making some critical remarks about “red tape”. However, this in itself was a poor tactic, because it plays into the hands of our opponents. The anti EU-people love to make out the EU is all this useless “red tape”. However, “red tape” is often right-wing sloganeering for workers or environmental protection. To me, the need for international co-operation to prevent global corporations playing one country off against another in a drive to the bottom on these issues is one of the big arguments for the EU, but Clegg here was bolstering our opponents by using language which could be interpreted as agreeing with them on this issue.

  • david “I voted Green on Thursday and will continue to do so”

    That says it all really. The many of us economic liberals who supported the party through the statist years have shown far more loyalty than you. So I won’t be taking any lectures from you.

  • @ Sarah Ludford And we’re intrigued why you keep telling everybody you support a Palestinian state, and then sent a begging letter the to Baroness Ashton – the EU Foreign Minister – urging her not to support the Palestinian bid for statehood when then applied a few years back. Me thinks you tell porkies…

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th May '14 - 4:07pm

    Ian

    The debate above is all about whether we need a new leader. Accept, for the purposes of debate, that the answer might be ‘yes’, then the question becomes ‘when?’

    I think it has to be now. It can’t be left any closer to the general election. It will be too late to get another leader in place if it is not done by the end of summer.

    I think Clegg has to use the line “We have done very badly in these elections, many people have lost who do not deserve to lose, and as national leader of the party I take responsibility for that, and so I resign”. That is, it should be done in a dignified way, which is the tradition in British politics – the person at the top takes responsibility and resigns even if he doesn’t think it’s personally his fault. If it’s done quickly now there does not have to be a blame game. Put it down just to the big election losses and draw the line at that. If that were done, I’d be happy to turn off the anti-Clegg rhetoric, accept him as a colleague who tried his best and did the honourable thing when it didn’t work, and move on to trying to rescue what we can for the next general election. If Clegg remains as leader, as with these elections, I’ll do nothing, no leaflet delivering, no canvassing, because I cannot work for the party when any work I do is undermined by the national leader continuing to say and do things which I believe are damaging our case.

    If Clegg stays on, it will continue to fester. It is clear there are so many people in the party who are deeply unhappy about his leadership. The biggest problem is the drip-drip-drip resignation or dropping out of former keen activists who like me just can’t stomach carrying on doing it while Clegg remains as leader.

    I think we do have to pull out of the Coalition enough time before the general election to re-establish ourselves as an independent party, as one which has its own policies which are not those of the Coalition. I think this is best done with another leader. In fact I just can’t imagine Nick Clegg being able or willing to do it. Yet if we say that the Coalition policies were and are the best policies there could be, we are in effect saying there is little difference between us and the Tories, because the Coalition IS five-sixths Tory, and thus it can’t help but have policies which are close to the Tories. We need to be able to use the line that we supported the policies that emerged from the Coalition not because we thought they were always the ideal, but because we are democrats and we accept that in May 2010, and confirmed by their support for the electoral system which gave it to us in May 2011, the people of this country voted for a Tory-dominated government, it would have been wrong of us to have made this country ungovernable by not agreeing to the only stable government that could have been formed. We need a leader who can say that. I don’t think Nick Clegg can. So if Nick Clegg genuinely wants our party to continue as an independent force and offer a different option at the next general election, here is another reason for him to step down. And if he DOESN’T want our party to continue as an independent force and offer a different option at the next general election, then he certainly has no business staying on as its leader.

  • jedibeeftrix 25th May '14 - 4:38pm

    @ Andy Ali – “@ Sarah Ludford And we’re intrigued why you keep telling everybody you support a Palestinian state, and then sent a begging letter the to Baroness Ashton – the EU Foreign Minister – urging her not to support the Palestinian bid”

    I realise that Israel/Palestine is something of a hobby horse for many, but isn’t it quite frankly peripheral right here and right now, in this thread, discussing internal party politics?

    I’m sure there will be another occasion that fits the requirement quite adequately…

  • No you got that wrong, typical I was giving an example of an ex Lib Dem voter on LBC who voted Green. I am a party member and cast all four votes for the Lib Dems so hard luck, your attempts to smear me have failed. You’re the ones who are destroying the Party with gleeful privatisation of public services, dismantling the welfare state and erosion of the NHS. Nasty nasty people who call themsleves economic liberals shortcode for conservative or libertarian akin to Ukip so go and do us all a favour and join them, it’s where you belong.

  • It was another “david” – if you can’t use a distinctive name I can hardly be blamed for that.

    You’re really not a very nice person, are you? You know nothing about me and my activist record, you don’t understand what a libertarian is or how it differs from an economic liberal; you call me nasty and you exhort me to join UKIP.

    True colours, I feel. No liberal or tollerance in your make up, is there?

  • Surely now is the right time to start pulling out of the coalition, allowing the Tories to finish the term as a minority government or confidence and supply whatever.
    I fail to see how Liberal Democrats will be able to differentiate themselves from the Tories if the coalition goes to the very end.
    It would mean Liberal Democrats signing up to the Chancellors Autumn Statement and committing to spending plans (cuts) that go well beyond the 2015 General Election.

    How do the Liberal Democrats write a convincing manifesto that the public will take seriously when they have already agreed to spending plans beyond the 2015 election.
    It simply would not be credible. That is unless the next manifesto is going to be full of broadly right wing ideologies that has already been rejected by its members and former supporters.

    I think the public are educated enough to understand that at this stage in the parliamentary cycle during a coalition government, it is proper and acceptable for the junior party to be able to withdraw from government in order to be able to differentiate itself from the other party and set out it’s policies for the coming future.

  • Radical Liberal 25th May '14 - 5:04pm

    Tabman – stop trying to deflect attention from Clegg’s failings, I think David made a valid point. You lot with your orange book agenda have led us to the brink of disaster.

  • Simon Hebditch 25th May '14 - 5:09pm

    This is all very difficult. There is certainly no point in having another leader unless we are, at the same time, leaving the coalition. In my view, the coalition policies have been largely disasterous and we should never have joined in the first place. The question for party “rebels” at the moment is whether we favour of wholesale change, come out of the coalition, bring about a change in leadership and adopt a completely different political direction or whether we have no practical option but to march on towards the sound of gunfire and pick up the pieces post the GE. Simply a change of leader will not work.

  • Simon Hebditch 25th May '14 - 5:13pm

    Also, there is still the challenge of agreeing a GE manifesto which should reflect a change in political direction including on economic policy. The manifesto we should be adopting would be in direct contrast to the record of the Coalition. How are we going to square that circle?

  • RL – it was “david” who launched the ad hominem. I was responding to his smears.

  • Simon Hebditch “In my view, the coalition policies have been largely disasterous and we should never have joined in the first place.”

    I don’t think there was much choice but to form a Coalition to be honest but I DO think the Lib Dems were under-prepared for it and much thought needs to be given to how to manage future coalitions to avoid selling the Party’s soul.

  • You’re are the nasty lot, a right wing clique ignoring the rest of us and taking over the party like Lords of the Manor. Tolerance, tell me was the Bedroom Tax a tolerant policy, was closing down NHS hospitals a tolerant policy. Don’t give me tolerance when your Orange Booker lot don’t know what the word means since you took the party over. You despise us and the feeling is mutual.

  • david, you are a well balanced individual. Chips on both shoulders. Keep on with the invective chum, youre damaging only yourself and your cause with these illiberal diatribes.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 25th May '14 - 6:21pm

    @ david and Radical Liberal,

    For those of us like myself who have thirty years of uninterrupted membership of the party and have never actually read the Orange Book, your apparent assumption that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is an Orange Booker libertarian is a sign that, were you to get your way, the emerging party that would be one that is unlikely to welcome dissent.

    The fact is that this party is a coalition of liberals of a variety of stripes, made less diverse by the fact that too many of those who have a social liberal leaning have left. I did wonder at the time what that might mean for the future political direction of the party, but unlike those who stayed to fight for their party, they rather risked achieving exactly what they feared most.

    But going into coalition with another party does rather mean that you compromise upon your principles to some extent. it also means that, to an extent, the party you go into coalition with does too. For liberals, that offers particular challenges as we’re likely to be the junior partner, and less able to impose.

    And, as we’re in coalition with the Conservatives, the compromise is a position more free market and libertarian than most of us like – I accept that. If we had gone into coalition with Labour, the compromise would have been too authoritarian and too weak on civil liberties, thus upsetting an equally large tranche of our members.

    I would love a government that purveys nothing but, as my dear friend Jennie puts it, hot, sexy liberalism. But I’ve been around long enough to know that you don’t go from third party to government in one step – the British public aren’t that volatile yet – and I like the fact that we have, as a party talked about working with others to build a better society.

    I may, or may not, be one of the people who you believe despises you. I don’t, indeed, I respect your passion and belief in your view, but you sure as hell make it difficult to like you.

  • Mark Valladares – you have taken the words right out of my mouth! All political parties are coalitions of a sort … put two together in a coalition, and some people from each party will be pleasantly surprised, while some will freak out. The position we are in now goes back to whether it was right to enter a coalition or not. I am one of many who thinks that was the right thing to do. Things are pretty grim now; but there is no way of knowing how grim they would have been if we hadn’t committed ourselves. Hard choices are, by their very nature, hard. I’m guessing that people who are calling for Nick to go would really like to turn the clock back and not go into government with the Tories. And where would that have left us? ‘Oh yeah, the liberal wossits – the ones who didn’t have the balls to make a difficult choice …’

  • Sarcasm is never that popular and what your lot are doing is damaging the party or rather than doing you’ve already done it. Well done, the party’s lowest ever rating in years you’ve achieved it, the party’s lowest ever and greatest loss of councillors in years you’ve achieved it, annihilation in the EU elections when the results come in tonight, your lot are bound to have achieved it. There is nothing for me to damage and the cause as you see it – you’ve done all the damaging already.

  • Who saying a change of leader is calling for an end to the coalition. Have we got Bismarck on here as well. The new leader would lead the party up to the next election and differentiate between the two parties so that voters come back to us, Nick Clegg isn’t able to do that.

  • “hot, sexy liberalism. ”

    Ugh! {shudder}

  • George, I am sure that many party members will have a list of people that they would like ” sedated and forcibly removed from involvement in politics “. But I doubt very much that you are on those lists. 🙂

  • @Paul In Twickenham:

    I dont know where you got your figures from but I can assure you that there was a Labour candidate in Southport’s Norwood Ward in 2010 and that he got 12 per cent of the vote. You also omitted the BNP candidate who got 3 per cent that year..

    ” I was entirely conscious of the fact that comparison with 2010 meant comparing with the GE, and that this would skew results. But every ward on Thursday is being compared with its results from 4 years ago,”

    Only by people who use statistics meaninglessly.

  • George Potter, please stand for Leader! You’d have my vote!!

  • Whoops! it was the Southport Party which got 3 per cent which you forgot – not the BNP which got a similar share.

  • George Potter – and I hope that you don’t tink that Orang Bookers are trying to destroy the soul of the party

  • Mark Sherratt 26th May '14 - 2:06pm

    Neil Monnery – “Our LD battle bus had NC and Vince on because at the start of the GE campaign more people knew Vince than NC. He only became known thanks to leadership debates. Whoever takes over as leader at this juncture if we had a change at the top would not be as well known as NC.”

    I see, so your advocating that any change in leader should be after the General Election, after any leadership debates, after the party political/election broadcasts and after the membership have spent weeks delivering leaflets and arguing the case locally? Yes, that will ensure a future leader is well known… [/sarcasm]

  • Brian Tanning 26th May '14 - 2:30pm

    I’m a Labour supporter, though I voted Clegg into government in 2010. Oh, well… fool me once and all that.
    I just thought you might have use for an outsider’s perspective on this mess.
    Here it is: A trained monkey can see what’s best for the Lib Dem party. Nigel Farage can see what’s best for the Lib Dem party. Our American wonk can see what’s best for the Lib Dem party. You don’t need me to make the arguments for you.

    But I would like to remind you that the long term nail in the coffin of a party is when the leader provably betrays the trust placed in him in his office. In Tony Blair’s case it was when we saw he was committed to war irrespective of evidence, popular feeling, principle or the national interest. He prioritised coalition with Bush/ the US over all of those.
    Unfortunately, in Clegg’s case, this moment came within a few days of the 2010 election, when the Lib Dem negotiators agreed to a referendum on (rather than concrete steps towards) AV. There was no referendum on the Health and Social Care Act, no referendum on fiver year terms. Not going for AV was the Clegg faction selling out not just the Lib Dems, but all the other parties and those in Labour committed to a fairer voting system. He then went on to give the same lukewarm, politician’s defence of AV as he has done of the Lib Dems in government and of Europe.

    I wrote above that this is a long-term nail in the coffin of any party. Well, in the case of AV, it’s obvious how that works. A once in a generation opportunity sacrificed for vanity. 2010 was always going to be a high point in Lib Dem support, so good luck on getting some seats in the next ten years with support stuck around 20% under FPP.
    But as time goes on, you’ll see the real legacy of Clegg is a seismic schism down the middle of the party, just as Labour had. Labour was lucky it swerved away from the cliff (for now) by electing the mildly left wing and strongly left-field Miliband. At a time when all the forces are right for 1997-like support levels for Labour, there are still questions whether it’ll win in 2015. Because when Blair lost public trust, all those in Labour who hated him rallied round ‘for the sake of the party’. And maybe we even got an extra term out of it. An extra term with which to well and truly earn the dislike of the electorate and associate it with the party, not the man. Though everyone will say that it’s Brown they despise, it is the legacy of Blair which Labour’s fortunes are still reeling from. And the party’s lack of confidence will last until we the terms ‘middle class’ and ‘working class’ are no longer meaningful in British society.
    Under Clegg, the schism has opened up. The crueller of Tory and Labour supporters would say that the obvious class tension which underlies society was already latent in your party but has merely been illuminated. Whatever. It’s there and it’s not going away. All you can do now is decide whether you want to cling to a short-term unity at the cost of that schism lasting just as long, or whether you want to start the very long process of recovery before more damage is done.

    Well, goodbye.
    See you in coalition, perhaps (where the choice of ditching Clegg will no longer be yours to make!)

  • Nearly 400 is fantastic, can the letter be part of a website we can use for those of us who don’t want to post on here and be bullied. I can help with limited funds towards it but a couple of hundred as we’re being so easily dismissed is now becoming another couple. What an excellent result for all of us who stuck our heads above the pulpit.

  • I believe the Orange Bookers are destroying the party and the evidence for all to see is quite simple in London where much of the Lib Dem vote has deserted to Labour as the Party has become too right wing under their aegis. There was nothing in the local campaign that’s if you were lucky enough to get a party leaflet, on the over centralisation of council services, the mayor’s decimation of community policing eg the SNTs and fire service cuts, which have largely been ignored at the expense of negative campaigning against Labour and defending the Coalition’s unpopular record. The only one bright spot was promoting hybrid environmentally friendly buses but that got very little publicity. Clegg out.

  • Sarah Spilsbury 28th May '14 - 6:21pm

    Resigning is shouldering the responsibility when things go wrong. It’s what leaders do (I’d do it myself otherwise).

  • I totally agree Sarah. It is time for a change. Not only that but the focus on us our leadership and a policy review will drive public interest and awareness in a way that nothing else bar the general election will. ( and by then it will be too late).

  • I hope Nick will do the right thing and quit while there is still a party for his successor to lead. There is still time for his resignation to be presented as honourable and for it to come from him and not as the result of a grass roots rebellion. I wonder exactly how badly his supporters think the party should have performed for him to take responsibility.

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