Opinon: From the mouths of babes comes the idiocy of media

Coalition: esp. in Politics. An alliance for combined action of distinct parties, persons, or states, without permanent incorporation into one body.

During the general election, if you asked my politics class who they would vote for if they could vote, the result was almost unanimously Liberal Democrat, with the occasional Conservative blip (but I’m fairly sure that those people merely said Conservative because they thought David Cameron was good looking. No comment.) Now? Now it’s a different story.

Take today, for example, discussing the peculiarities of the US political system. “I don’t understand how two parties can rule a country,” Classmate A says. “Well, we’re doing it!” I point out. “Yes, but that’s only because one party has completely sold their morals down the drain.” Classmate B counters.

And you can bet your membership card that she wasn’t referring to the Tories.

I will accept that we’ve deviated from our manifesto – but because our manifesto was for a majority Liberal Democrat government, and (newsflash!) we’re not in that situation. I will accept that people aren’t happy with it. But I won’t accept criticism by people who don’t look at the facts, who don’t even read it, and then repeat parrot fashion the scaremongering tactics of the press.

Close to my heart is obviously tuition fees, I’m in the process of applying for university as we speak. And I don’t support an increase, of course I don’t, and Lib Dem supporters are right (in my opinion) to feel aggrieved by the proposed increase. But that isn’t our only policy! We have other policies that are being implemented as we speak. One thing that I’ve noticed – and that Tim Farron highlighted in his presidential campaign – is that the achievements we’re making in government are not being broadcast. Arguing with a classmate (Classmate B, as it happens), I raise the pupil premium, I raise the income tax threshold policy, I raise AV. My response?

“Oh. I didn’t know about that.”

And that’s not fair. The media allow us to be vilified as traitors, as power grabbers who dissolve their morals for power. The cries of “I would prefer a Lib-Lab coalition” are nonsensical, and most sane people have accepted that, at the most brutal and calculating level, the numbers wouldn’t work. Look at the problems two parties are having in coalition. Imagine the problems added to by a “Rainbow coalition”, with so many parties that cover the spectrum in such a broad manner. It just wouldn’t be feasible. I point this out to another classmate. The response?

“Oh. I didn’t know about that.”

I attended a lecture at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on October 16th, headed by Jonathan Powell. I can’t remember all of it (I remember finding it less interesting that Alastair Campbell’s talk the previous week, and arguing the Falklands with a Year 12, but irrelevance notwithstanding), but one thing did stand out. Jonathan Powell admitted himself that Labour did nothing of relevance in their first term, because they wanted a second term. Equal rights? Public sector? Sorry, call us again after we’ve secured our second term!

I was too young to remember any of the media coverage on this, so I don’t know how that was received by the people at large, but they certainly got their second term. And I hate to sound repetitive, but this isn’t fair. It’s too soon for us to be judged on this coalition, and we may not come out well. We may be burning our membership cards in the thousands. But we’re doing something, and, say what you like about it, we aren’t avoiding controversy. And imagine the alternative: a minority Tory government. I can assure my classmates there that fees would rise, unquestionably. And you wouldn’t like that either, would you?

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  • Matt, how come after 13 years of Labour government, this country has higher levels of inequality than it did after 18 years of Conservative governments. The poor on the otherhand saw their income fall under Labour. There are now 700,000 more people in extreme poverty than when Labour took office, and incredibly more than at any point since records began. Figures that all came before the credit crunch, deficit and recession – a time of unheralded government wealth. The rich, under Labour, have done very well; of the extra income enjoyed by British households over the Labour years, 40% has accrued to the richest 10%.

  • It is very good.

    Matt, there is no such thing as New Money. Increasing spending on one things means cutting another or increasing taxes – difficult decisions that need to be considered as a whole.

    But even if, as you are suggesting, the only way to have a Pupil Premium is to take it out of the overall Education budget, I would still make that choice since the pupil premium follows the most disadvantaged in the system and makes it fairer.

    Even if the 40% tax threshold is reduced to £42k from £44k, and child benefits are cut from those in the top bracket, our policy to raise the initial threshold to £10k will be implemented. So the lowest earners pay less or no tax and this makes it fairer.

  • “I will accept that we’ve deviated from our manifesto – but because our manifesto was for a majority Liberal Democrat government, and we’re not in that situation.”

    I’m sorry but I find that argument intellectually dishonest, and nothing more than an excuse for caving in to the Tories time and again. If a party has principles, it should stick to them. Of course not everything in the LD manifesto could be implemented, but Tory policies which are diametrically opposed to what you believe should be resisted not excused.

    I knew this coalition was going to be a disaster when the Cabinet was announced, and all of the important jobs (PM, Chancellor, Foreign, Home, Health and Education) were filled by Tories. Clegg is too comfortable with the Tories to strike a good deal from them. A minority Tory government would have been preferable, because its more vicious policies could have been blocked, and LD integrity would have remained intact.

  • I think rather than concern yourself with what that variant of the sheeple which inhabits your classes believes at the moment, you might go much deeper in your analysis. Are you not concerned that the same types who” if you asked my politics class who they would vote for if they could vote, the result was almost unanimously Liberal Democrat, with the occasional Conservative blip”, are now evidently pretty much ‘ignorant’ dupes led around by the media ?

    Maybe the problem is that they were pretty much ALWAYS ignorant dupes led around by the media and their insular environments, and their ‘heartfelt’ support for you was every bit as shallow and ill-considered as their current dislike. I think that description of reality is far more likely than a sudden mass decent into stupidity. Is this the type of ‘base’ upon which you really thought you could build a Party, in those pre-Coalition days of yore ? If so, you should be grateful every day that NOW, you are playing with the adults and sitting at the grown up table at long last.

    Do your best in the Coalition and AFTER its work has been completed in 2015, ask for support based upon what you have accomplished. In 2015, I think your ‘success’ will or will not be pretty much self-evident. Until then, sheeple will be sheeple, and it’s often a a case of whose ox is being gored not the ‘goodness’ of the decisions. Especially with the ‘student’ types whose veneer of kumbaya idealism appears to have been severely dented by not getting those FREE university degrees that the Party rather foolishly promised way back then. In retrospect, not that great an idea, just at at time when the giant financial ponzi scheme began to completely unravel, and people seriously began to ask how it was that the State could continue to spend more than it took in, every year, FOREVER.

    But tomorrows another day and lots more things will cause upset before 2015. Explanations to clarify reality are always good if the potential audience is listening, but I wish the LibDems would stop apologizing for making adult decisions. Just make them, defend them as right in the circumstances, and ‘damn the torpedoes’. Weakness encourages attack. It just does.

  • LeftLeaning 6th Nov '10 - 12:40pm

    Posted 6th November 2010 at 12:15 pm

    You are a Tory voter and I claim my £5.

  • I think you miss the point where thinking voters are upset with the Lib Dems in coalition.

    1. They seemed to overnight change their often stated (indeed central electoral statement) that reducing the deficit should take longer than one parliament. If they had had the courage to say (as most believe) that they disagreed with this policy but saw it’s inclusion of the price for coalition, if you like the give and take of any relationship. To say they changed their opinion so soon after the election seems disingenuous. There is no shame in having to drop policies in coalition.

    2. Rather than portraying the cuts as a neccesary evil the LD ministers were seen to be cheering Osbourne which in the public’s view ties them to the ideological rather than than the economical argument for cuts. The approach I think I expected to see was somber and serious not smug and confrontational.

    3. They return to the deficit as the root of all evil. They seem to want to blame the Tory game of forgetting that the vast majority of the deficit is linked to the financial crisis. Labour are responsible for mis-management, but not for the global financial meltdown. We have the biggest deficit in the EU because we have the biggest financial centre. We have an underlying deficit because Labour got some decisions wrong. Attack the underlying amount stop insulting the publics intelligence.

    4. They state that the financial situation has changed for the worse since the election campaign. This is patently false. Any reading of the figures show that actually the economy was broadly in line with expectations if anything it performed slightly better.

    5. They refuse to answer reasonable questions in the House, instead trotting out the mantra of Osbourne which instead asks for Labour’s alternatives. Opposition have a role in holding the Goverment to account. Answer the question then highlight the lack of stated alternative.

    6. The most damming issue, and the one that will cost them dearly, is tuition fees. This is not a question of changing policy, this is a question of breaking personal pledges. All LD candidates signed the NUS pledge, and all courted the student vote by doing so. Nick Clegg cannot lead an election campaign highlighting past “broken promises” and then encourage all his MP’s to do just that. It’s a matter of personal integrity, this should have been the ultimate red line as it has lost the LD’s the appearance of being the “honest” party. Again they return to blaming Labour. Labour MP’s did not sign the pledge en masse.

    It’s not the media led sheep the party should be concerned about, it’s those who see beyond the spin. Whatever happens in the lifetime of this parliament people will remember (and be reminded by Labour) of the betrayal of the first year.

  • Obviously it is not rocket science, it is far more difficult than that.
    Pupil Premium – tick, increase in education budget – ok cross (although I’m just blindly accepting your analysis). Per my first post though, I’ll still take that and I’m certainly not screaming about spin and LIARS!

    Even if we had won the election with a huge majority, I would still accept that some of the manifesto pledges would not get implemented when faced with actually governing (as presumably every Labour voter does post 1997). The fact that we are a 20% minority in a coalition means we need to be even more pragmatic.

    And I’m very happy so far with the influence that the LIb Dems seem to be having. Every policy announcement I have heard has something around fairness. The influence we are having seems to be pulling the government to the centre ground. If we had turned down coalition, a new election could have provided a Conservative government with a massive majority and clear mandate, and I shudder at that thought.

  • Yet another article, or should I say exercise in self justification, I would like to ask those long standing Lib Dems a question, would you of supported the polices now being actively supported by the leadership before the election? These polices include ‘punishment’ cuts to welfare (10% HB), Increased Tuition fees, HB caps, the speed of deficit reduction, This list goes on and on but I think you get the idea, oh and please don’t spout the usual excuse of ‘we didn’t know how bad it was’ or ‘it’s worse than we thought’ because frankly, it’s boring now and not to mention untrue, try something new eh?
    I asked myself these questions and I concluded I would not of supported them (if only because I like my principles intact) that’s why there’s an ‘ex’LD in my sig

    nige (exLD)

  • “@dougf
    Thanks for your support … I think “ 🙂 -GK

    Now that’s just ‘defeatist’. Have you not heard that thingy about gift horses and the inspecting thereof ? 🙂

    I consider myself an equal opportunity pest. I receive a decidedly negative response from some at ‘Conservative Home’ when I try to tell the believers that they should be thanking the Libdems for manning up to their historical position in the Coalition ,and that the LDs have contributed much of value to the process and should be considered as valuable partners. So it’s not just LibDems who worship the quicksand I might trod upon.

    Does that help ? 🙂

  • George W. Potter 6th Nov '10 - 3:06pm

    @nige In answer to your question, if in 2009 someone had told me what the political circumstances would be now then I’d still have supported the coalition. I still fundamentally dislike the tories but all I’ve learnt since May is that Labour are just as bad, if not worse.

  • Jezz Palmer 6th Nov '10 - 3:06pm

    @ LibertarianLou – Thank you! I don’t seem to have much contact with the party as a whole, but I have noticed that the Lib Dem ministers do respond to me on Twitter, which is the extent of my contact!

    @Matt – I can’t help but think, at least our “excuse” is that we’re in a coalition that won’t let all our policies through, as opposed to the Labour reasoning of “we want a second term” that Jonathan Powell said.

    “until the party can be honest with itself, it will never be able to be honest with the public.” – Surely that could be a motto for every political party that ever got into government, and probably all the ones that didn’t too?
    The purpose of my argument wasn’t necessarily railing against the constant slating of the LibDems, but the fact that so many people just slate without thinking, as my classmates demonstrate so ably.

    @Ivan White – In some ways, I don’t think LD integrity WOULD be kept intact; we have so often advocated coalition politics, and then to run like “frightened bunnies” (to use David Laws’ phrase) would definitely have impacted our integrity in some way.
    “If a party has principles, it should stick to them.” – Didn’t Labour say that they wouldn’t introduce tuition fees, or increase them? Perhaps we should return to the original perception of anarchy and just rule ourselves!

    @dougf – Oh, certainly. I have no doubt that my classmates were “election Lib Dems”, excited by the energy in the campaign. I should probably had made it clear in the article, which I wrote when I was angry after the conversation I detailed above.
    “Especially with the ‘student’ types whose veneer of kumbaya idealism appears to have been severely dented by not getting those FREE university degrees that the Party rather foolishly promised way back then.” – Ouch. Us ‘student’ types do care about more than just those ‘FREE’ degrees (even if it’s not all of us), but can you blame us for not really relishing going into our adult life with a debt that could be up to, what, £18k?

    @Steve Way – I didn’t intend to aim my article at the “thinking voters” as such, but rather the ones that DON’T think, and just parrot off the media’s spin.
    I do agree that all the points you have raised certainly have impacted the perception of the Lib Dems, but my interpretation of the Labour-blame tuition fees was more the incredulity that Labour could rail against tuition fees that they introduced in the first place!

    @George Kendall – thank you! You seem to have battled these comments better than I have, and possibly in a far more coherent way.

    @nige – Fair enough. (For the record, I’m only a “longstanding Lib Dem” in the way that I told my school friends I supported them aged 7. I joined the party officially in September).

  • Great 1st article, I think the writer raises some very strong points. I believe the key issue is the publics reliance on the media bias to form opinions. We’re all too quick to point the finger, before knowing the facts.

  • ‘ “Especially with the ‘student’ types whose veneer of kumbaya idealism appears to have been severely dented by not getting those FREE university degrees that the Party rather foolishly promised way back then.” – Ouch. Us ‘student’ types do care about more than just those ‘FREE’ degrees (even if it’s not all of us), but can you blame us for not really relishing going into our adult life with a debt that could be up to, what, £18k?’

    Well actually I ,being possessed of the strange thought that the National Entity is greater than the mere sum of its parts, can and do ‘blame’ those who cannot or will not see beyond their immediate ‘wants’. That’s how we got where we now are and that’s how we will ALL stay in that place trying to divide the same stagnating pie.
    But all that personalness aside, what is really annoying about ‘student’ self-interest is that it is invariably couched in annoyingly moralistic terms. Sure students can argue that they want ‘theirs’ but please just refrain from laying on the moralistic icing. It gets old. Really, really fast. There is no difference whatsoever between student whining and any other whining. It’s still just whining about ‘being entitled to our entitlements’.
    The State is bankrupt in all but name. That’s the truth of the matter and that trumps everything. Worse still there is now a permanent underclass that lives solely upon State largess, and for whom the future is every bit as bleak or quite likely much bleaker, as the past and present.. There is no urgent need for ‘free’ University. There is a dire need for some form of re-industrialization or as I have grown fond of classifying the structural problem —- Jobs For Yobs. Without some form of meaningful ‘work’, bad things happen to even the best intentioned of people, particularly over time, and not everyone(or frankly even most) is suited for a virtual economy. The entire north of England IS this problem and no-one is currently seemingly able to even venture a viable solution. Make even a good start to correct this and everything else will become a mere side-show. In short, LOTS more ‘UK”s Toughest Jobs’ , less permanently parking people in some forgotten and decaying social housing and pretending that they aren’t there unless there is trouble that can’t be ignored. Again to be blunt —- no money left. Even for that.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 6th Nov '10 - 4:08pm

    Such misplaced condescension. You’re pretty sure that people only voted Conservative because they thought David Cameron was handsome? Your classmates didn’t know about all these things? Is your class pre-school?

    ‘I raise the pupil premium’- taken out of the education budget, unlike what Nick Clegg was telling people even after the announcement. No victory there, money’s been cut from other social-mobility policies to fund it, no new resources have been supplied.

    ‘I raise the income tax threshold policy’- a tax cut that aids the middle class more than the poor and working class, and necessitates deeper cuts than otherwise to fund it, all so Clegg can go on TV and say ‘we’ve taken the poorest out of tax’, despite the poorest gaining little and losing so much more because of it.

    ‘I raise AV.’- a miserable compromise that will almost certainly not be voted through in the referendum- by attaching it to the boundary ‘equalisation’ scheme (equalisation when 3.5million eligible people, mostly the poor, aren’t registered since the poll tax? If seats are to be 70,000 or so each how much representation has the poor been deprived of there? That’s a gerrymander) and by setting it on the same day as Welsh, Scottish and English county election. The circumstances of the AV referendum have helped to kill of electoral reform for another generation, thank you and well done.

  • Terry Smith 6th Nov '10 - 5:20pm

    deviate from your manifesto:
    Fine. Its a wishlist.

    Deviate from your principles:
    ‘New’ labour Were ahead of you.

    The tories seem to be the only bunch that stick to their principles. Shame their principles are utterly repellent.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 6th Nov '10 - 5:46pm

    @George Kendall: It’s only right to say that we have the biggest deficit because of the temporary overspend due to the banking crisis. The structural deficit is at the moment based on conjecture- we don’t know what our income is going to be, or how much it will fall due to the cuts, so how much of the deficit is ‘structural’ is unknown.

    The structural deficit is not that big, and besides deep cuts aren’t the fastest, most efficient method of getting the structural deficit down. It’s also msileading to say that the structural deficit is due to overspend, when it could be equally be called ‘undertax’, or ‘under-clobbering-tax-dodging-gets’.

    You’ve chosen a deficit reduction programme that is less effective for its purpose and more harmful to society and especially the vulnerable of society than the alternative put forward by the NIESR to *halve* the cuts and raise direct taxes.

  • Jez – great article!

    I remain amazed to see how some people keep complaing that on a LibDem site (hey, it’s called Liberal Democrat Voice – the clue is in the name) there are some articles which actually defend a LibDem position. Woah – that’s completely unheard of, isn’t it?

    It’s great that this site has visitors who are most decidedly not LibDems, and I always enjoy reading those arguments – OK, almost always. But complaining about pro-LibDem articles on a LibDem site? It really doesn’t make sense.

  • Matt,

    In fairness during the first seven years of the Labour government there was some progress on poverty; however from 2004 onwards things changed. In the three years to 2007/8 the number of people in households living in poverty (as defined as living on less than 60% of median income) rose by 1.3 million; better 1997 but much worse than in 1989 (http://www.poverty.org.uk/01/index.shtml)

    Now turning to the most in need, the number of people in extreme poverty (<40% of median income) pretty much held steady through the first eight years of Labour government, and then rose. So now there are 700,000 more people in extreme poverty than when Labour took office, and that’s more than at any point since records began!

    The fact is Matt, the rich have done extremely well out of Labour government – 40% of the extra income enjoyed by British households over the Labour years has accrued to the richest 10% (http://www.poverty.org.uk/09/index.shtml). Under Labour the richest 1%, have captured a higher share of national income than they have done since the early 1930s. Inequality in the United Kingdom is now higher than at any point since consistent records began, in 1979. QED – after 13 years of Labour government, the UK has higher levels of inequality than after 18 years of Tory government.

  • @George Kendall
    My point was not that there isn’t a structural deficit, more that the scale of it is being spun to death by the coalition. People are more and more seing through it. If, like me, you are a sad follower of Hansard it is easy to see that neither of the parties of government would actually have been in a markedly better position. The Tories wanted to split the proceeds of growth between tax cuts and spending (with the total amounting to the same as Labour spending) and the Lib Dems did not shout thrift from the roof tops with any of their manifesto’s prior to this one.

    The fact is that no one really wanted to fix the roof until the sun was behind a pretty black cloud and the honest approach would be to admit this. Spin was (rightly) the downfall of New Labour and they were far better at it then the coalition are proving to be.

  • LeftLeaning 6th Nov '10 - 9:30pm

    If I were to take off my partisan hat and give an honest critique of the Lib Dems in government I would say:

    It was 100% the right decision to form a coalition with the tories. Failure to do so would have ended any hopes of the LibDems being considered a serious party.

    It’s obvious to anyone in this country that the Lib Dems are a thinking party with a good soul to it. Their direction of travel is largely progressive and if they were ever to win a majority, their government would be the most progressive.

    Nick Clegg is the sole achilles heel of the party. His is the face people just can’t stomach. His arrogance and smugness are very offputting.

    Lib Dems like Danny Alexander and Chris Huhne should stop repeating the Labour’s mess mantra. By all means implicate Labour for political leverage but find other words in your vocabulary to describe it than the one Coulson suggested.

    The stigma of Nick Clegg’s dishonesty has rubbed on the party. The first thing that people on the streets think when you say libdems is: Nick Clegg-Liar-About face-Unprincipled.

    I am afraid conclusive defeat for LibDems at the next general elections is now set in stone. Only by ditching Nick Clegg and instating a Left leaning leader can the relics be salvaged.

  • @George Kendall
    “But, come on. Making hard choices, presenting the country with uncomfortable truths, isn’t the job of the opposition.”

    But this is entirely the coalitions answer to any difficult question… What would you do Mr Milliband.

    I also think people pay attention to politics and search more for the truth in harder times. Thatcher and Major won in part because Labour were unelectable they are not looking like making that mistake again. To keep taking the electorate for mugs will be the downfall of the Lib Dems but not the Tories. They’re not really the ones seen to be breaking promises and when they do they blame the Lib dems. When Lib dems do they try to justify with the most dreadful spin and waffle.

    People on the right will feel they may as well vote Tory and those on the left may very well defect to Labour. The current leadership is creating a perfect storm by their actions.

    Before the next election watch for the Channel 4, Newsnight, Dispatches and Panarama specials on the make up of the Deficit. Even today a radio 4 play showed Nick Clegg and his negotiators in a hugely bad light. It claimed they were already demanding a faster deficit reduction in negotiations with Labour in the days after the election. Expect Labour to spin this as demostrating that the Lib Dems 2015 manifesto cannot be trusted and the Tories to spin it as even the Lib Dems realised they were the only ones who were right.

  • Speaking of the Media…

    Steve Bell, master cartoonist though he may be, has not been kind to the coalition. However I thought his jibes about a return to the workhouse were just an exaggeration. Surely even out of touch callous multi-millionaires like Osborne and Cameron wouldn’t dare try that sort of Victorian wickedness ?

    How wrong I was.

    This is the headline from Sundays Observer.
    Jobless told: do unpaid work or lose your benefits

    So this is what the Conservatives are like under the ‘restraining’ influence of Nick and his ministers ?


    I would never in my wildest dreams have believed a Liberal Democrat Leader and his MPs would stand for this vicious cowardly attack on the poor and vulnerable, but there it is. The only thing worse than this would be seeing them try to pretend this return to the workhouse idea wasn’t really a revolting return to victorian values, but actually fair.

    Sadly, going by all the shameful things that have transpired like the proposed 10% cut in housing benefits, far from opposing it they will be the first in line to praise this repugnant policy.

    If this transpires then it is utterly unacceptable for me, and I expect many other Liberal Democrats who consider protecting the poor, disabled and vulnerable from spiteful Thatcherite attacks a matter of conscience, not political expediency.

  • Barry George 7th Nov '10 - 12:29am

    Jobless told: do unpaid work or lose your benefits

    Predictable I’m afraid,

    The rich boys have found a nice way to get all those little jobs done that nobody wants to do and they won’t even have to pay the basic minimum wage.

    Does it make you proud to be proud to be part of a government that treats the unemployed as a commodity?

    Why employ people when you can get them to do the work for free.

    I wonder…. does the 10 % reduction is housing benefit after 12 months now include the 1 month you will have to spend not looking for work, but doing those little jobs that nobody else want’s to do ?

    Or will the coalition be kind and give you 13 months. considering that you spent a month cleaning up the dog mess left by the pets of those fortuned enough to be employed ?


  • Norfolk Boy 7th Nov '10 - 12:36am

    Steve Way

    your original post was excellent, putting all the pertinent points in an easily digestible form. I’d take the fact that no one has addressed most of your points as a compliment.

    and @Maria I voted Lib Dem (to keep out the tories as Norman Lamb put it to us) so I think I will have my comment on here thanks very much.

  • LeftLeaning 7th Nov '10 - 9:39am

    Jobless told: do unpaid work or lose your benefits

    I saw this headline this morning and a shudder went through my spine. The Tories are Back!!!!!

    What a shame that the LibDems are entangled in this. Surely this should not be even considered at all when there is such a lack of jobs and a million people will be thrown on the dole. Is this kind of callousness even Legal? Words fail me.

  • “Jobless told: do unpaid work or lose your benefits ”

    Slave labour pure and simple, being made to work for 30hrs per week @£2.11p a hour, 37% of the minimum wage, cannot be described as anything else but slave labour and with the threat of benefit withdrawal for 3 months it’s more of a case of ‘do as we say or the options left to you are, beg, become a criminal or die on the streets’ (yes, a bit melodramatic I know but that is the threat afterall)

    absolutely disgusting

    nige (exLD)

  • “The media allow us to be vilified as traitors, as power grabbers who dissolve their morals for power.”

    Well I can’t speak for the media but the Lib Dems are probably perceived in such a way not because the party isn’t following the manifesto but rather that the leadership is seen activley supporting polices that are exactly opposed to the manifesto and are acting in a way that seems opposite to the ‘traditional spirit’ of the party, for instance, will the leadership support this latest Tory idea of making the jobless work?

  • Mike(The Labour one) 7th Nov '10 - 12:43pm

    @Steve Way ‘Before the next election watch for the Channel 4, Newsnight, Dispatches and Panarama specials on the make up of the Deficit. Even today a radio 4 play showed Nick Clegg and his negotiators in a hugely bad light. It claimed they were already demanding a faster deficit reduction in negotiations with Labour in the days after the election. Expect Labour to spin this as demostrating that the Lib Dems 2015 manifesto cannot be trusted and the Tories to spin it as even the Lib Dems realised they were the only ones who were right.’

    Have you not been following your own party? Ed Miliband and Peter Hain came out and said this immediately after the coalition was formed- and Nick Clegg himself said a few months later that he had actually changed his mind on the timing of the cuts before the election. That is how it was.

  • Christopher Crawford 7th Nov '10 - 2:21pm

    The happenings earlier in the year certainly lowered my all ready very low opinion of politicians in general.

    There was after all nothing wrong with 2 political parties going into coalition with 1 another.

    There is however a major problem with 2 parties which are exact opposites going into coalition with one another.

    I would have expected nothing less of the Conservatives since they are not a party based on ideology. I was utterly appalled with the Liberal Democrats who jetisoned virtually everything they stood for, supposedly for the sake of stable Government, but instead I am sure it had more to do with the fact they wanted POWER!

    As someone who voted Liberal Democrat for the first time I feel betrayed by what was done. If I had thought in my wildest nightmares that my vote basically counted as 1 for a Conservative Government I would never have done it. I certainly will never vote Liberal Democrat again and I am sure many of their voters will feel likewise.

    Even if the Government is ultimately deemed to have been a success I shall still never vote Liberal Democrat again. I won’t be able to trust them.

  • @George Kendall
    Sorry you missed my point completely. We are talking about credibility and how Lib Dem candidates can be taken at face value. The southern european crisis occured during the campaign. At what point exactly (when votes were on the line) did the Lib dem leadership come clean and say they now felt faster reduction was required?

    They may have been sincere in their opinions but they were not open with the voters about this until after the ballot boxes closed. It comes back to Nick Clegg and talk of trust and broken promises.

    Also as it has now subsided why not return to the original position ?

    If the decision was already taken, which the play seemed to suggest, then the voters were misled. The Lib Dem canvassers at my door in election week were telling me that the speed of Tory cuts would be disasterous.

    As it happens I agree Labours team appeared agressive and unhelpful. To be honest I think they knew that remaining in power at the expense of the party with the largest vote / MP share was not a realistic option having come second. I think they also knew they needed a time in opposition to regroup.

    Don’t read me wrong I am deeply unhappy at the way Lib Dem ministers are acting at present but I am no fan of Labour.

    I am the mythical floating voter not a Labour supporter in disguise…..

  • “I would have expected nothing less of the Conservatives since they are not a party based on ideology.”

    What? Smaller state, stand on your own feet, private is good and public is bad, and no such thing as society. In a television interview, IDS added one more item – “work makes you free”, a direct translation of “arbeit macht frei”.

    This country is fast heading into velvet-glove fascism. The Tories are being far more right-wing than they would have dared had they ruled on their own, since they now have Liberal Democrat stooges to take all the blame. Clegg spoke up for Coulson, Cable defended the tuition fees, and today Alexander is defending the new slave labour proposals, no doubt while Cameron and Osborne are elsewhere swigging the Bolly and laughing themselves silly.

  • George Kendall,

    “and the section in the Lib Dem manifesto about using an objective assessment of economic conditions was sensible.”

    Is this Clegg’s “get out”? Buried in the small print?

    Your most recent post is extraordinary. First, you excoriate spin, then you say it is inevitable, and finally, you deploy it yourself.

    You now admit that Clegg didn’t have any honest belief in the party’s manifesto, but lied through his teeth to get votes.

    Oh dear. Sorry, I’m spinning. Just in the opposite direction from you.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 7th Nov '10 - 7:35pm

    @George Kendall: Trying to paint Clegg as some kind of martyr!

    He said, belatedly, after lying through his teeth for months (this is if we believe his current story) that he had changed his mind somewhat before the election, citing March as a turning point. He just didn’t tell anyone.

    He continued, up the week of the election, to pretend he agreed that cutting early would be too damaging- we know they were arguing for early cuts with Labour in discussions, but we haven’t heard if they did with the Tories or whether they continued to pretend to support delaying the cuts in order to get the Tories to bargain them out of it. I think the latter is most likely, considering your lot had no qualms about lying about Labour offering AV without a referendum.

    Lest you all forget, some quotes from a pre-election Nick Clegg-
    ‘Look, the decision on how we govern this country and how people vote shouldn’t be driven by fear of what the markets might do. Let’s say there was a Conservative government. Let’s say a Conservative government announced, in that sort of macho way: “We’re gonna slash public spending by a third, we’ll slash this, we’ll slash this, we’ll do it tomorrow. We have to take early, tough action.”

    Just imagine the reaction of my constituents in south-west Sheffield. I represent a constituency that has more people working in public services as a proportion of the workforce than any other constituency in the country. Lots of people working in universities, the hospitals and so on.

    They have no Conservative councillors. They have no Conservative MPs. There are no Conservative MPs or Conservative councillors as far as the eye can see in South Yorkshire. People like that are going to say: “Who are these people telling us that they are are going to suddenly take our jobs away? What mandate do they have? I didn’t vote for them. No one around here voted for them.”

    I think if we want to go the direction of Greece, where you get real social and industrial unrest, that’s the guaranteed way of doing it.’

    ‘We think that merrily slashing now is an act of economic masochism. If anyone had to rely on our support, and we were involved in government, of course we would say no.’

    Does ‘of course we would say no’ sound like someone trying to give the impression that he was undecided?

    ‘The Conservatives’ spending plans were not yet known, he said, adding: “I think the present line on the budget is: Trust us and we’ll tell you after the election. That simply isn’t good enough.” ‘

    Trust us and we’ll tell you after the election isn’t good enough, he was right about that.

  • @George Kendall
    Sorry but now you’re just not making sense, in fact you’re basically saying that Nick Clegg’s public comments cannot be trusted because we the electorate would find them uncomfortable.

    He based his entire campaign on integrity whilst (according to your post) believing his parties manifesto and his own speeches were wrong from March. To me that means he was elected on a falsehood.

    I voted Lib Dem for many reasons, but one that always struck me was the supposed power of the party to stop a leader ignoring it’s published, debated and agreed policies. It seems to me if what you say is true Nick has basically held a bloodless coup.

    As to your question as to what he should have done, simple he should have showed leadership and stated that the position in Greece would require deficit reduction at a higher pace, this was not a nuanced shift this was a seismic shift.

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