Ouch. My first thoughts on the European election results for the four main parties

The results are all but in (Scotland will formal declare later today) and the scores on the doors make depressing reading for the Lib Dems – here’s the BBC’s breakdown:

euro elections 2014

Here are 5 quick points:

1) A good night for Ukip

Fair do’s to Farage: he inverted the usual expectations management game by vowing Ukip would top the poll, and they did. Their share of the vote, 27.5%, means they become the first party since 1906 to beat both the Conservatives and Labour. They’ve gained at least 10 MEPs, and may add another in Scotland. The local elections were not, despite the media hype, a dazzling success for Ukip: but the Euros have proved to be nothing less than a triumph.

The question now is whether this is as good as it gets for Ukip and their vote declines over the next 11 months, or whether they can sustain their third place in the Westminster polls. One of the most interesting things will be seeing Ukip come up with a general election manifesto. Farage himself has cheerfully admitted to only two policies: being anti-EU and pro grammar schools. How will the party bridge its right-libertarian origins and their new influx of ‘Red Ukip’ supporters?

2) A disappointing night for Labour

For a while last night, it looked like Labour might end up in third place for the second successive European election. In the end, their excellent results in London saved them: they edged in front of the Tories by just 1%, winning 25.4% of the vote. The general election is in less than a year’s time but Labour has produced disappointing results in both the local and European elections, and is only a nose in front in the opinion polls. True, Lord Ashcroft’s latest poll of the marginals has happier news for Ed Miliband’s party – they lead in their top targets – but the equivalent poll a this stage of the parliament in 2009 suggested the Tories were on course for a solid 70-seat majority, and look what happened.

Only some of the blame can, I think, be laid at Miliband’s door. The economy was always likely to recover, and with it Tory fortunes. The Labour leader has clutched hold of the pendulum, which worked when it was swinging his way, but there’s little he can do now it’s swinging back.

3) A surprisingly okay result for the Tories

It’s not that the Tories did well: they didn’t. They polled just one-quarter of the national vote came third, and lost seven MEPs. But defeat had long since been priced-in and when it came it was less bad than expected. On New Year’s Eve, I predicted the Euro election results. Ukip and Labour I got more or less spot-on (I reckoned 26% and 25% respectively), but the Tories I thought would be pegged back at 18%. In fact, they won 23.9% of the vote, down only 4% o five years ago when they were in opposition, and they held on to 19 of their MEPs.

As I argued here, David Cameron has done an effective job of “winning the war of framing the Europe debate”, triangulating between the fervently anti-EU Ukip and pro-EU Lib Dems, hitting the electoral sweet spot of moderate Euroscepticism. As a result, the Tories finished just 2.5% behind Ukip. In the circumstances, that’s impressive.

4) A catastrophic result for the Lib Dems

Fifth place behind the Greens and a possible wipeout of all our MEPs had long been a possibility, though it was one I thought we’d avoid. And we did, just: Catherine Bearder just held onto a seat in the South East of England. For a short time, Nick Clegg’s ‘Party of IN’ strategy and his laying down of the gauntlet to Nigel Farage seemed to have worked, raising party morale and shoring up the party’s vote. Even after the first televised debate, it seemed to be working, with Clegg’s arguments persuading Lib Dem and Labour voters, while Farage appealed to Ukip and Tory voters. Then came the second debate: Clegg had an off night at the worst possible moment, Farage was widely judged to have bested him even by Lib Dem members, and the rest is electoral history. We have lost 10 of our 11 MEPs, recording just 6.9% of the vote. You have to go back to 1989, another Euro election, to find a worse Lib Dem result.

In one sense, this shouldn’t surprise us. The party rarely does well in European elections: in 2009, we polled just 14%; a year later, at the general election, we hit 23%. Past performance is no guarantee of future failure. However, it’s entirely understandable why party members are questioning the leadership in these circumstances: Nick Clegg put himself front and centre and will know better than anyone he will be held accountable. I wrote last month that this was the scenario – mixed local election results, a dire Euro performance – in which he himself might decide the party would do better with another leader. However, he shows no signs of being a quitter. And I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument from those calling for Nick Clegg to go that doesn’t fall apart after the statement, “Clegg should go”. My guess is the party will end up sticking by the devil it knows.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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62 Comments

  • Radical Liberal 26th May '14 - 12:02pm

    It does not matter what Clegg says as people do not trust him, he is toxic. We need to get rid of him now. The tories got rid of Thatcher and replaced her with Major and went on to win in 1992. We have to do it now and will then have a year for the new leader to communicate with the voters. People who are still sticking to Clegg don’t seem to realise just how HATED he is by the voters. Given that the leader will dominate the campaign – thanks to the leaders debates – we need someone who people will at least listen to.
    Sign up to http://www.libdems4change.org

  • The sight of LDs coming LAST on the leaderboard in region after region after region after region last night and this morning didn’t give you any clues?

  • ” However, he shows no signs of being a quitter. ”

    It’s a question of being honourable and taking responsibility, nothing to do with being a quitter. Whether or not you think Nick is the problem, the buck stops with him.

    If he doesn’t do the honourable thing, the only conclusion we can come to is that he is clinging on to power, ministerial benefits and the DPM salary.

  • Charles Rothwell 26th May '14 - 12:21pm

    I think there must be some spin from LD Towers going on as the Party spokespeople in front of the cameras I have seen this morning (e.g Ming Campbell) keep talking about the Open Letter having been signed by “only 200 or so people”. I have just checked and it is currently up to “840” (i.e. four times that level). As I have stated elsewhere, I shall not be signing myself but if, even in this dire situation, certain people cannot realise that the “air-brushed, on message, everything dandy” kind of communication employed far too often in the past has been precisely one of the primary causes for this debacle, then there is a very long way still to go indeed!

  • Stephen Tall
    “I wrote last month that this was the scenario – mixed local election results, a dire Euro performance – in which he himself might decide the party would do better with another leader. ”
    You must be in denial if you call the local election results mixed. They are near dire as well.

  • Psychologically, humans have two prime responses to the experience of catastrophe. Some people are galvanised into taking drastic, radical actions that may help their community, even at personal risk. Other people are thrown into shock, unable to move or to say anything other than repeated, meaningless phrases; some of these may even enter into a fugue from reality, denying the evidence of their own eyes and ears.

    It is now to be seen which of these reactions predominates among the Liberal Democrats.

  • Radical Liberal 26th May '14 - 12:28pm

    Sean – you are right. A great deal of denial is here. It’s not just wrong but quite sad. Also where’s Clegg? Making phone calls? Can’t he get support?

  • @Charles

    I think you might be looking at the number of Facebook likes. The number of signature s is lower down the page.

  • And where are the MPs coming out in support? I’ve seen something about Lynne but has anyone seen Vince, David et al today?

  • Agree that the leadership debate falls apart swiftly after defenestration – but I still think it needs to happen.

    The public have stopped listening to Clegg, he’s beginning to look like he knows it and is fed up with it. There might not be an obvious replacement in the wings – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore the options.

    It wasn’t at all obvious when Michael Heseltine challenged for the Conservative leadership in 1990 that the Conservative party could unite (however briefly) behind and win under John Major, but it happened and his vote still hasn’t been topped. Whereas ‘put up or shut up’ campaigns in 1995 and 2009 singularly failed to restore party fortunes for Conservatives or Labour.

    So no – I don’t know who can help yet, or how. But I don’t think that should lead to a closing down of debate and status quo as the only option; we have 12 months to find a way back for the party, to retain a decent number of MPs and regain good councillors, and if a change of leadership can help it should absolutely be on the table.

  • Where is this open letter? The libdems4change one seems to have only 300 or so signatures.

  • If Clegg cared about the Party, he would resign after such abysmal failure. Seriously, how can he look himself in the mirror? Has the man no shame?

  • What I find frustrating is that not a single Parliamentarian is standing up for the “poor bloody infantry ” and saying the General has to go (actually our attrition rate for Councillors 40% and MEP’s 90%+ is greater than the Battle of the Somme )

  • Clegg has disappeared, he’s no doubt preparing the resignation speech. 300 means the numbers are going up every day so please don’t do a Paddy Ashdown and trivialise it.

  • Bill le Breton 26th May '14 - 12:51pm

    Has anyone heard of Faux Reflection?

    The ever vigilant and much maligned Nick T’s twitter stream to the right of this page features a tweet by Patrick Wintour that reads: “The Panglossian rubbish put out by the Lib Dems on Friday treated the party like fools. Nick Clegg’s silence shows proper reflection goin on?”

    Now that has all the hallmarks of complicity in spin rather than investigative journalism, and the smudgy thumb print of a Party spin-quack.

    140 characters to dissasociate the Leader from an appallingly judged email from the innocent Annette Brookes put out by his chosen emissaries – now there’s gallantry for you – AND a nice positive image of the Leader sitting at home with worried frown on his face putting together a solution to the present slight difficulties. Neat? Too neat?

    That is actually as poor a piece of communication as the Friday email – no its worse. Faux Reflection? The trouble is one cannot now be sure about a word others say for him.

  • What about the missing point 5 – that two- thirds of the electorate couldn’t be bothered to vote?

    I know we can’t force people to go out and vote, but I find this much more disturbing than the vote share among the parties.

  • To Helen Tedcastle and others calling for a resignation: I do not think Stephen Tall was referring to the ‘Clegg must go’ part of the argument, it is the ‘and then’ follow up that falls apart. It is natural to wish that the opprobrium that weighs on Lib Dems is all encapsulated in Nick Clegg. Do you really believe that? Have you considered how would the next election go with someone else (who?) having to defend the Lib Dem record? Would a change of leader really help counter allegations that Lib Dems are opportunistic and lacking in principles?

  • Radical Liberal 26th May '14 - 12:59pm

    Martin – personally I would like Charles Kennedy to return as leader. He always had good trust ratings and is not associated with the coalition in the way other lib dems mp’s are. Plus he is an actual liberal unlike the Cleggites.

  • Jeremy Morfey 26th May '14 - 1:07pm

    I wandered on here with the morbid interest after seeing how much of the Glasgow School of Art could be resurrected. The difference seems to be that the Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece was torched by clumsiness, whereas the demolition of the Liberal Democrats was a slow fuse lit by the Orange Book New Labour “reforms” and then fuelled up by being lumbered with Government in 2010, like it or not. I am not one to condemn Clegg for going in Coalition with the Tories. If he hadn’t then there would have been a run on the banks and the UK would have ended up like Iceland or Greece within the week.

    I went off the party (after having been a very active member in Alliance days) with the refusal to raise Income Tax and lower Council Tax, Business Rates and VAT during the Budget Deficit. Going along with Osborne was stupid of Cameron; for the Lib Dems, it was suicidal. Why pick on Gove, just because he looks silly? He’s fairly benign, wanting a return to the 1950s, which is the desire of much of his party. I don’t think he is that dangerous (which is perhaps the Lib Dems pick on him?). The real villain is the Chancellor, who wants to run all departments of the Government, pushing Cameron aside. Are we too weak and lightweight to take him on? Are we to rubberstamp fracking, HS2 and building on the Green Belt just because we have to do what Osborne’s special advisers say? No wonder nobody can take the Lib Dems seriously as a political force any longer.

    Nor did I like the authoritarianism that had crept in with the Orange Book. Not only is political discussion in the Party discouraged these days (for fear of going off message), the poverty of thought is best illustrated by the four choices given in the Taxation Questionnaire on the Party’s own website, none of which appeal to me. Even when campaigning for the Party in 2005, I was told off by the Party organisers for writing a letter to the local paper supporting Lib Dem decisions on the Council over leasing a park to a football club and social housing in a nearby village that the Tories were making mischief with, but I felt were right. Nobody, least of all a politician, tells me not to voice my public concerns, and when they are actually supporting their position, it is crazy to silence me, just because I am not on the Committee. What was all this about withdrawing amendments to the Lobbying Act? What a spineless and unprincipled bunch of wallies we seem to have let decay in Parliament! Nothing in the end was done about corporate lobbyists and special advisers, and the only concern seems to have been to stop the students going en masse to Sheffield to make life hell for Clegg.

    For me though, worst of all was how the Party used its first stab at Government for a century. I do not support making the House of Lords a clone of the Commons, since constitutionally the Commons (and the EU Commission for that matter) is a disgrace, and far worse than even the unelected aristocracy, who often mean well and sometimes do a great deal of good. As for pushing through Single Sex Marriage, whether we like it or not, without it being in any Party manifesto, just because it appealed to London media trendies, what this said to the nation was that you can vote for who you like, and they will just go and do something quite different once they are safely on their benches and there is not a blind thing anyone can do about it for five years. In fact, it had nothing to do with Equality (which was already well addressed by Civil Partnerships) and everything to do with a malicious desire to destroy a uniquely straight institution. Was this the Great Vision I fought for during those dark days in the 1980s when we were assembling our pavement politicians with great dedication?

  • Martin “It is natural to wish that the opprobrium that weighs on Lib Dems is all encapsulated in Nick Clegg. Do you really believe that?”

    The feedback from the doorstep is much more valid than the Westminster bubble, so yes I believe it.

  • ok, I’ll offer a “what then …”

    We have a leadership election offering a genuine choice of direction:-

    Candidate A – drawn from the ‘administration’ i.e. someone who has served in the coalition as a minister

    Candidate B – distanced from the coalition

    The membership chooses.

    [I have my own views on which option would be best, but that’s not the point at this stage]

  • @Radical Liberal

    If we could be sure that Kennedy had put his previous personal problems behind him, then I would back you fully.

    But what if the Scots vote ‘Yes’ in September?

    I personally would like Paddy Ashdown back, but our constitution says the leader has to be an MP and he shows no desire whatever to be leader again.

  • Stephen, I have yet to hear a reasoned argument for him to stay. It is no good being stuck with somebody, that is the worst of all scenarios. There is a hint of despair in your script, we cannot go on i9n this state, a clean break is what is needed.

  • Having just completed the survey which includes a list of all Lib Dem MPs was a good reminder that there are many talented alternatives available should NC stand down. Regarding timing, this is actually a very good time for a leadership change, as there is now a 4 month break until the main party conferences before the GE and I don’t think there is much parliamentary activity during this period. A new leadership team would have time to decide on its approach to the final year of coalition because at present very little legislation is planned for the next queens speech and there is an opportunity to negotiate while the conservatives are also re-thinking their approach for the run-in.

  • Jenny Barnes 26th May '14 - 1:29pm

    Exactly how bad do the results have to be before the OB crew realise that the electorate doesn’t need a 3rd neoliberal party? If the electorate want to vote Tory, there’s a perfectly viable Tory party to vote for, why would they vote LD? After the general election, with the parliamentary party halved, local councillors devastated, 1 Euro MP?

    ‘…”My name is Ozymandias, king of kings. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” Nothing beside remains.
    Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.’
    ( Percy Bysshe Shelley)

  • I am not a LD voter and would describe myself as pro European and free trade yet a vehement anti-federalist. Do not the the LDs understand that people like me could never vote for the LDs who come across as unthinkingly craven to anything which comes out of Brussels. ‘The party of in’ as a slogan was never going to appeal except to a minority of a minority (which turned out to be 7% of those bothering to vote, say just over 2% of the electorate.)

  • When we had less than 20 MP’s we always seemed to manage to find a leader ,so why do we feel our current MP’s are all so inadequate to provide a new voice

    Nick isnt entirely to blame ( but he will never loose the tag of “liar” over Tuition fees etc). People aren’t listening to him anymore .In fact a large section of our potential support has a visceral rejection of him . No CEO would be left in place with his record and the public will have more respect for us for showing we have listened to them.

  • Just to follow up my recent submission, being stuck with someone makes them a lame duck. How can that person conduct any sort of election campaign.

  • jedibeeftrix 26th May '14 - 1:47pm

    UK election results for EU parties:

    EFD = 24 (UKIP),
    PES = 20 (Lab),
    AECR = 20 (Tory),
    ALDE = 1 (Lib)

    looks like a strong case for a referendum in 2017!

  • Stephen, you seem confused, it’s very simple – Liberalism in the UK is being wiped out for a generation. Like-minded individuals will not be running town councils, or represent us in Europe nor in Parliament. We will cease to have any influence in UK politics and will have to continue having this argument ad-infinitum until there is change. After next summer it won’t matter any more who our leader is – nobody cares about who manages a non-league team! You’ll have a fraction of the choices after that point, obviously (most MPs will be gone post GE). Now is the only moment left where you can have a real choice, and give enough time to allow a new leader to fight the election. It’s that simple – logic and time dictate the agenda, everything else is just comprehension.

    There needs to be a leadership election, obviously Clegg could stand. It’s the right thing for a democratic party, give people a choice and it’s the last chance before everything we’ve collectively worked for turns to dust. Ozymandian indeed.

  • Cllr Steve Radford 26th May '14 - 2:15pm

    The reputation for Lib ems is damaging us in the Liberal party- you cant hold public trust being elected on a progressive left wing agenda and then slavishly support a right wing agenda for 5 years

    What would Keynes respond to the drive to austerity- replacing Clegg may help a little but the damage is done long term

    Look at the northern cities like LIverpool Lib ems wiped out- whilst we held the Labour tide off in Tueberook

  • RC – Paddy would make an excellent interim until we see who’s left standing after next May. The constitution is there to serve the best interests of the party not the other way round.

  • Jenny Barnes. Replace Tory with Labour in your statement and you’d have the exact situation we’d be in had the coalition been with Brown.

  • Can we stop the claims that the UK would’ve become another Greece in 2010 as a reason to join a coalition and slavishly support Tory policies. Fear mongering of the worst kind at the time and for some to still push that is laughable. No serious economist thought that. The situation was very different – firstly because the UK has its own currency and could devalue, print etc which is what happened anyway with £375 bn QE. Secondly, the UK economy was growing at about 2%. The deficit was huge, pretty much the largest in Europe, but guess what – after 4 years the UK deficit is still the largest in Europe – above Spain, Italy, France etc last year.

    Even those countries ‘on the brink’ now have bonds below 3% – Ireland, Spain, Italy etc.

    It is baffling why the Lib Dem MPs still push this unless they are extremely naive and fell for it, or wanted to do what they have done and it a useful cover.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th May '14 - 2:31pm

    Linkrider

    I am not a LD voter and would describe myself as pro European and free trade yet a vehement anti-federalist. Do not the the LDs understand that people like me could never vote for the LDs who come across as unthinkingly craven to anything which comes out of Brussels

    Cold you perhaps say what this “anything which comes out of Brussels” might be, and how the Liberal Democrats were “unthinkingly craven to it”?

  • Nick isn’t going to go ‘quietly into the night’. Surely the ago old establishment way to deal with this intractable problem is pure nepotism? Is there no juicy job offer for him on the EU gravy train that can be offered to oil his wrist to sign the resignation letter?
    That’s the usual way to do it, surely?

  • ‘A disappointing night for Labour’ who have their greates share of the vote since the 1999 election? 10 years of decline not only arrested, but they increased their vote by more than 1/3.

    Some disappointment.

    Yes, UKIP are the story, but there’s something odd, if not conspiratorial, about trying to portray this result as bad for Labour…

  • Shaun Nichols 26th May '14 - 3:21pm

    I worried about how much resource will be used to ‘circle the waggons’ around Nick’s seat in Hallam at GE’15.

  • @Ivan White

    “and he won the arguments in the debates with Farage”

    Oh you Liberal Democrats and your rose- tinted glasses. Never ceases to amaze me.

    I wonder how long it has been since a party leader lost his seat in a General Election?

  • Well, another thread about Nick Clegg’s leadership. Fascinating.

    The article itself is a useful analysis of what the results mean for the UK parties, but I’d like to see some consideration of what the Europe-wide result means for the main parties in Europe.

    The EPP have lost the most seats but still have the most left. The social democrats have gained, but not enough. ALDE would have made modest gains, but between us and the PNL in Romania, the result is stagnation. And the big result of the night has to be twenty-four far right MEPs each coming from Britain and France. Will they be able to stitch together an entente cordiale, or will each consider the other too racist, too fascistic and too damn foreign to deal with?

    And more’s the point, who is going to be the Commission President? Our man Verhofstadt will need to pull the Social Democrats on side to have a hope, which is possible – he was their preferred option last time, I understand. But it will also require Greens, the harder left and an assortment of the saner non-inscrits to do it, all the time under the risk of the EPP doing likewise and putting the uninspiring, business-as-usual type Juncker in charge.

    Interesting times, and for more reasons than the ultimate fate of Nick Clegg.

  • @myself, presuming moderation passes – a correction:

    ALDE losses were worse than I was immediately aware of, as of course the German FDP has been crashed into a wall too. So, for stagnation, read losses that reflect coalition politics within member states.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th May ’14 – 2:31pm

    Cold you perhaps say what this “anything which comes out of Brussels” might be, and how the Liberal Democrats were “unthinkingly craven to it”?

    That the UK should adopt the Euro is probably both top and bottom of a list of ‘anythings’. Committed to it without understanding that without political union it cannot work; but perhaps that is the party’s objective. That is the ‘unthinkingly craven’?

  • I am not a member of the party but have been a supporter for 30 years since I was 17. The party , its values and beliefs are important to me. It’s instinctual and intellectual. Britain needs the Liberal Democrats. But the party is simply wrong about the European Union and needs to address Britain’s deep disaffection with the EU. For a long time I was keen advocate of the European project but gradually applying principles of Liberal Democracy, I just see a technocratic and opaque bureaucracy that is unaccountable. Clearly, the British do not want to belong to a superstate. At no time have we been properly consulted. When we joined in 1973 and again for the referendum in 1975, we were told that we were joining a free trade Common Market. I fear unless the party argues for root and branch reform of the EU and a repatriation of substantial sovereignty, the party faces a very bleak electoral future.

    I am an internationalist and believe in co-operation between countries but the argument the party proposes is entirely economic. What we are failing to address is emotion, attachment to our institutions, which have developed over hundreds of years. But we are also entitled to governance that is democratic. It’s time for Nick Clegg to stop opposing a referendum on our membership. His resistance is part of a fear on the part of the political class that it might lose the argument but this is a debate that cannot be suppressed any longer. We also need to develop serious proposals for reforming the EU. I fear the rise of political extremism unless the electorate is allowed to have full and extensive debate about our relationship with Europe.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th May '14 - 6:04pm

    Linkrider

    That the UK should adopt the Euro is probably both top and bottom of a list of ‘anythings’. Committed to it without understanding that without political union it cannot work; but perhaps that is the party’s objective. That is the ‘unthinkingly craven’

    That does not answer my question at all. You wrote “anything which comes out of Brussels”, but when I asked for details you only named this one issue, and it’s not one which the Liberal Democrats was in the 2010 manifesto, I don’t recall any Liberal Democrat spokesperson speaking in favour of adopting this policy, at least not in the short term, at all in recent years, so that is hardly “cravenly accepting”, which is the words you used.

    When you wrote “anything” that would seem to imply there are large numbers of things which are “cravenly accepted”, yet you have not been able to name a single one when asked to do so. Can you please try again to answer my question?

  • “It’s time for Nick Clegg to stop opposing a referendum on our membership. His resistance is part of a fear on the part of the political class that it might lose the argument ”

    The simple truth is that anything Nick Clegg is associated with, will lose. The public hate him instinctively and viscerally. If he says vote for A, everyone will vote for B. That’s why the AV Referendum was lost and why the IN argument didn’t work. As soon as they see Clegg, people think ‘you lie’.

  • ““and he won the arguments in the debates with Farage”

    By losing all his MEPS bar one?? Strange kind of winning.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th May '14 - 6:14pm

    Josh White

    But the party is simply wrong about the European Union and needs to address Britain’s deep disaffection with the EU. For a long time I was keen advocate of the European project but gradually applying principles of Liberal Democracy, I just see a technocratic and opaque bureaucracy that is unaccountable. Clearly, the British do not want to belong to a superstate.

    Can you please explain what you mean by this?

    If we were part of this “superstate” as you claim, all the big political things which we talk about would be coming from that superstate. Yet when I look at all this talk of political issues, all of what it is claimed is going wrong with this country and making people angry, I see discussion on things like tuition fees, the “bedroom tax”, NHS reforms, the school system, and much else. None of which has anything to do with the EU.

    If the EU was as you put it, surely people would know all the bad things that it is doing, and they would be able to name those things. How can we be part of some tyrannical superstate as you and so many others allege, yet people cannot even name anything which this tyrannical superstate is imposing on us?

    So, is Britain REALLY deeply disaffected by the EU superstate? Or is that there has been a big and well-paid movement to distract people’s attention from other issues by focusing on the EU and making out that’s the cause of our problems? I’m sorry, but if I really was being oppressed by something I think I would be able to state just what it was doing that was oppressing me, and if I was asked what was making me unhappy about the political situation, I’d name those things rather than naming other policies which are nothing to do with the oppressor.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th May '14 - 6:22pm

    Ivan White

    It is highly likely that many of those who share the Lib Dem position on the EU will have refrained from voting for the party because of its failure to rein in a very right-wing and ideological Tory Party. But why is anyone blaming Nick Clegg? The whole party took the decision to join the Tories in government, not just him

    Sorry, why is this point being repeatedly made by so many people as if there is no difference between accepting the formation of the coalition and accepting how Clegg has handled it and other issues?

    These are two different things. It is perfectly possible to accept that joining the coalition was the best option in May 2010 and yet feel Clegg has done a poor job in promoting the coalition and our part in it. It is perfectly possible to feel that the coailtion bit is ok, but Clegg has done a poor job in many other aspects of the position of leader of the party.

    What you are saying is that once once accepts one thing – that the electoral situation in May 2010 forced us to join the coalition – one cannot criticise Nick Clegg for anything he does or says. That is a ridiculoous position, and it just shows up the weakness of the arguments of the Cleggies that it’s one they’ve so often used.

  • Gareth Hartwell 26th May '14 - 9:58pm

    I just want to respond to Elizabeth Patterson’s comment that it’s just the same few people posting here. I’ve never looked at libdemvoice before but as a former parliamentary candidate and local party agent last week, I am so concerned about the situation in terms of voter reaction to our leader, that I’ve come to the site for the first time.

    We have to act now – those who are suggesting we shouldn’t don’t understand the level of hatred (unfair, I agree) of Nick Clegg even among those few who still voted for us. This is what they told us on the doorstep, this is what many of them wrote on their ballot papers which we saw in the counts. It can’t be brushed under the carpet.

  • Ivan ” Of course he won the argument in the debates with Farage”

    By losing ALL bar one of his MEPs? I call that a strange way of winning.

  • I think Clegg did win the argument with Farage, surely that is the most worrying point, ordinary voters are no longer prepared to listen to him, or more importantly trust him, in sufficient numbers.

    He was, in the midst of Cleggmania, the face of “No more broken promises” hope for a new kind of politics. He became the face of one of the most blatant broken promises in recent political history and at the dispatch box sounds just like the other senior politicians from the Tories and Labour.

  • Steve Way , yes once again you are absolutely spot on and that is what I was trying to say. You can be the greatest orator on earth, win umpteen television debates, etc but if you have turned off the electorate then you lose.

  • Ivan White:

    It is highly likely that many of those who share the Lib Dem position on the EU will have refrained from voting for the party because of its failure to rein in a very right-wing and ideological Tory Party. But why is anyone blaming Nick Clegg?

    Perhaps because Clegg was the leading figure of our European election campaign. And I think this was a big mistake, because it meant that the campaign was inevitably associated with Clegg and the Coalition. Except that their MEPs and our MEP (as now) do not take the Coalition whip: there is no agreement or working arrangement of any kind between the Tories and Lib Dems in the European Parliament. Our national Euro election campaign should have been led by our MEPs, with the Westminster-based leadership taking a back seat, so as to emphasize the Lib Dem European Parliamentary Party’s independence from the Coalition and all that goes on at Westminster, and our MEPs’ record in taking the undiluted Lib Dem line on policy matters that affects the UK nationally (through the EU). Had we done this, I think we would have done better than we did: I don’t think would have held on to all our seats, but we would have held onto more than one.

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