Rochester & Strood by-election: Ukip win, Lib Dems lose 11th deposit

Mark Reckless won his bid to be re-elected an MP under the UKIP banner last night, following his eve-of-conference defection from the Conservatives. That this wasn’t at all a surprise — the swing from the Tories to UKIP was 28% — says something about the febrile dynamics of politics at the moment. Support for Labour in a seat they held until 2010 also slumped. Geoff Juby for the Lib Dems trailed in fifth place behind the Greens, having shed some nine-tenths of the party’s May 2010 vote. This was Lib Dems’ 11th lost deposit of the parliament.

Here are the votes:

    UKIP Mark Reckless 16,867, 42% (+42%)
    Conservative 13,947, 35% (-14%)
    Labour 6,713, 17% (-12%)
    Green 1,692, 4% (+3%)
    Liberal Democrat Geoff Juby 349, 1% (-16%)

    Majority 2,920 (7%)
    Turnout 40,065 51% (-14%)

It was a big night for UKIP. Rochester and Strood was low down their list of target seats and Nigel Farage’s party didn’t even contest it at the last election. They now have their second elected MP.

The margin of victory, though, was tighter than any of the four constituency by-election polls had indicated. UKIP’s 42% was at the lower end of expectations, while the Tories’ 35% exceeded all four of the polls conducted. The Tories will be hopeful-to-confident that in six months’ time they’ll be able to re-take the seat.

When Lord Ashcroft polled the seat a fortnight ago he found UKIP had a 12% lead for voting intentions in the by-election; but when asked about the general election, the Tories edged it by 1%. That finding, combined with the relative slenderness of their majority last night, suggests Mark Reckless should enjoy being an MP while he can.

For Labour it was a grim, if predictable, night. This was a seat which, under its former name of Medway, the pugnacious Bob Marshall-Andrews won in 1997 and held throughout the New Labour years. Yet Ed Miliband’s Labour was never in this contest, seemingly happy to let UKIP and the Tories slug it out.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Emily Thornberry’s spectacularly de haut en bas tweet — in which she took snarky aim at those people who drive white vans and drape the St George’s flag from their house — prompted even The Guardian to describe it as “the most devastating message Labour has managed to deliver in the past four years”. Over-the-top? Possibly, but Ed Miliband’s immediate decision to resign Ms Thornberry from her shadow cabinet post showed quite how aware he was of the damage it could do, while simultaneously amplifying the air-time one ill-judged tweet has been given.

For the Lib Dems… well, we’ve been here before, haven’t we? Ten times before, to be precise: that’s the number of lost deposits we’ve racked up so far. At £500 a pop it’s one other way the Lib Dems are slowly helping to slow down the spiralling national debt.

We were never serious players in this by-election. Everyone knew it, including our former voters who went elsewhere to send their message: whether UKIP to register their protest, Tory to register their anti-UKIP protest, Labour to register their anti-Coalition protest or Green to register their anti-All-of-the-Above protest.

Credit must go to Geoff Juby and his team. They knew from the start they were fighting a losing cause on this occasion, but did so with resolute pluck, aided by visits from folk such as Lib Dem chief executive Tim Gordon and peer Olly Grender. Nick Clegg’s breezy dismissal of the whole episode prompted my co-editor Caron Lindsay to have a well-deserved pop at him here.

Once again, though, we see the Lib Dem vote slump in a non-target seat. It’s a depressingly familiar story, no less so for the fact that we’ve seen it so many times before.

* 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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  • Depressing results all round. But I think you mean £500 a pop, unless the cost of standing for Parliament has been altered to prevent the wrong type of people (presumably those who display excessive flags) from doing so…

  • Not so depressing the result in Bramhall South ward, Cheadle constituency last night.
    May votes in region of Con 1800, Lib Dem 1300, UKIP 500, Labour 300 and Greens 200. Yesterday no UKIP, Con 2080,
    Lib Dem 1502, Labour and Greens down. This is one of the best Conservative areas in the constituency, the result confirms my expectattion that we will hold Cheadle as well as Hazel Grove next May.
    In the wider long term context this may, in the end, be of more significance than Rochester.

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Nov '14 - 9:28am

    Stephen, it’s a good job that the general election is in May, because a winter election would mean (apart from the danger of UKIP torchlit processions) a very cold streak down Whitehall for you.

  • John Roffey 21st Nov '14 - 9:37am

    Oddest comment from this morning’s papers [Independent]:

    The Liberal Democrats came in a humiliating fifth place and only 300 votes ahead of a Dominatrix who won last year’s best sex worker award. The Liberal Democrats have now lost their deposit eight times in by-elections since joining the coalitions.

    Is NC ‘considering his position’?

  • Depressing but I agree with those who thank Geoff and his small team for their efforts..I have known Geoff for many years as he was one of the 31 councillors who ran next door Gillingham for many years until unitary status overwhelmed us.I agree that the Tories will retake the seat in May but we as a party need to ask ourselves as to how we will win bck votes across the country,spouting what we will do in anothercoalition is unhelpful and rather undelines thpose who say that Clegg is more interested in status than the party

  • No great shock really UKIP have the ground because major parties A refuse to ask electorate B disregard concern over the numbers from EU and C think the public are referring to benefits when most I believe are looking at low wages, schools and NHS. You can all tell us how much the UK gets from our new residents

    I really think some of your woes are “we are the party of in”

  • Julian Gibb 21st Nov '14 - 9:45am

    UKIP 42.0%
    Conservative 34.8%
    Labour 16.7%
    Green 4.2%
    Liberal Democrats 0.9%
    Official Monster Raving Loony 0.4%
    Goldsborough 0.2%
    People Before Profit 0.2%
    Britain First 0.1%
    Barker 0.1%
    Rose 0.1%
    Patriotic Socialist 0.1%
    Challis 0.1%

  • I’m going to go out on a limb and say this was a bad night for us…

  • Is it now time for the Westminster huddle to consider the party on the ground, something has to change, management and strategy We are no longer a national party, we exist in 20 – 30 Rorkes Drift type bastions,. Something has to give.

  • Another humiliation for the Lib Dems. Nick when are you going to resign? Now or when it’s too late?

  • The Monster Raving Looney Party very almost picked up half the votes of the Lib Dems.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Nov '14 - 10:32am

    There’s no point pushing for Clegg to go without a candidate to replace him. Ideally, people who want him to go should lobby their favourite successors and wait for them to make a possible move. It would be bad for everyone to just go into meltdown, like Labour a few weeks ago.

    We all have our theories, but I would like to see evidence on why more people don’t vote Lib Dem. The figures are shockingly low.

  • …. the worst ever percentage share for Liberals or Liberal Democrats in history
    ………….worse than the Glasgow Camlachie result of 1948 (1.2%).

    We have not been here before.   Not in my lifetime.

    There was already a discussion running on this in LDV which clearly reported that the Liberal Democrat vote in Rochester was the worst ever in history.    We polled 0.87%.

    Why has a new discussion been started which tries to spin us away from the truth?

    To try and hide our humiliation by harping on about this being “grim” for the Labour  Party gives a bad name to “putting a brave face on things”.
    The Labour Party came third, we came fifth.
    The Labour Party got many, many more votes than we did.
    The Labour Party did not lose their deposit for the eleventh time in this parliament.

    If it was “grim” for the Labour Party, what the hell was it for the Clegg leadership???

    Instead of joining in the jolly Westminster Bubble jokes about Twitter photographs it is time you got real in LDV and owned up to the fact that this is another humiliating defeat piled on top of so many other humiliating defeats for the Clegg Mob and their ridiculous attempts to shift the party to the right.

    Own up.   Admit that you were wrong.   
    Just acknowledge the facts instead of trying to divert attention away from the facts.

  • Hopefully this will sharpen the minds of the leadership to concentrate on policies that will attract more than 1% of the voting public. Otherwise all the many worthy posts on this site will be irrelevant

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Nov '14 - 10:48am

    John Tilley, we have not been here in anyone’s lifetime, since it was the worst result in the party’s history, and the Liberal party was established in 1859.

  • David Faggiani 21st Nov '14 - 10:51am

    I guess we’ll be arguing about this for years, John Tilley, but I think that Clegg should have gone (of his own accord) after the Euro Elections this year. Nothing against him, personally, but I think that was the right time. I was very disappointed in his judgement when he didn’t. It’s too late now. I know that sounds defeatist…. and it is. Here Comes Defeat.

    The best we can make of it now is make it a renewing defeat. Kind of like a Dr Who regeneration 🙂

  • A third of our vote everywhere has gone to Labour – as a third would have gone to the Tories had we partnered with Labour. NOT that we had any choice. A larger fraction of our vote than anyone has ever cared to admit has always been a ‘kick the establishment’ vote for which we were the obvious receptacle. That’s now forfeit too, to UKIP and the Greens, and would again have been so whichever Party we’d supported. The number of ‘true believers’ in Liberalism has always been smaller than any of us would like to admit. The pressure to vote Tory or UKIP in Rochester will have been huge. How we imagined we would ever do better in this seat under these circumstances is beyond me. It means nothing beyond itself. Kudos the the candidate and campaigners. The wider factors I mentioned earlier do of course mean that we won’t continue our long-term growth of votes/seats at the next election, as we might have done as the eternal opposition Party – though how we would have been regarded then, having bottled the chance of entering Government that we’ve always called for, who knows. But, and we had no real choice, we have made a real difference to the good at a time when the country needed it most.

    Grimly ironic, too, to see that Cameron’s pathetic scuppering of AV is going to ensure he doesn’t get a majority in 2015. There is a god.

  • Anyone watching last night’s coverage would have seen a clear media narrative of dismissing the party as an irrelevance in the big political picture – despite the last three years of Clegg’s ‘governing from the centre’ strategy. And being seen as an also ran is a killer for the party’s chances next May in the seats we hold and unravels thousands of tactical votes in held seats .

    Opinion polling is dire and we are now getting into a battle for fifth place with the Greens. and there is no sign of things getting better.

    So what should Clegg say today? Thanks to Bill le Breton I think he should say something like this:

    “The message from Rochester is clear, Britain wants a strong team of Liberal Democrats to oppose and under my leadership I have to admit the power of Liberal Democrats to oppose … has deteriorated.

    My personal standing is also detracting from the excellent work being done by Liberal Democrats ministers.

    I recognise the British public have lost confidence in their politicians at Westminster and I have contributed significantly to this. That view is no doubt right and the public needs to see significant change in the next six months so that their judgment in May 2015 becomes a turning point in our country’s future.

    It is therefore vital for the sake of the country for me to step down both as Leader of my Party and Deputy Prime Minister. I have spoken to the Prime Minister who has agreed to appoint Vince Cable in my place. I have spoken to the Party’s President who assures me that a new Party leader can be put in place in a timely fashion and is setting the wheels in motion as I speak.

    I won’t be taking questions. Thank you.”

    However what I fear he will say is:

    “Poor result, never a target seat for the party, mid term elections blah, blah. Come May 2015 we hope the electorate will recognise our record of delivery in government, stronger economy, fairer society, blah blah. ”

    What the electorate will hear: “Five more years in a minsterial limo for Nick Clegg”

  • I think the Monster Raving Loony Party need to ask themselves whether the loony faction – the orange colouring in bookers – are at fault for losing their deposit. If the the party had been led along Raving Social lines, the party would be in a much stronger position prior to the general election but we wouldn’t want Screaming Lord Such to have to stand down.

  • David – It is never too late until you give up. Nick is the problem and he has to go now. The question is, ‘Are enough of us prepared to stand up for the party and do something about it?’ Or do we just sit back and do nothing but wring our hands, say it is too late and delude ourselves that it is not our fault because it was never the right time for us to do anything.

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Nov '14 - 11:27am


    If you and your colleagues cannot take the necessary steps to sack the leader, why on earth should anybody, member or supporter, attempt to help?

    This is a real, genuine question, not a troll hit.

  • Helen Tedcastle 21st Nov '14 - 11:31am

    John Tilley is right. The Lib Dem result was not just a setback but an utter humiliation. No, we haven’t been here before as the Lib Dems in a by-election. Just look at the number of votes cast for us!

    Stephen Tall’s swipe at Emily Thornberry is a bit unfair aswell. She revealed what many many middle class metropolitan types in politics think about working class people.Let’s face it, the Lib Dems are not immune from this kind of sneering. Is LDV immune?

    One thing is for sure, the current ‘centre-ground’ strategy, the language of soft Toryism and the obsession with identity politics over economic justice, doesn’t resonate at all.

    Meanwhile LDV will run yet another story on trans-gender/gay marriage awareness…

  • My mind is so conflicted now.

    Before, when I still had some hope in the Liberal Democrats, I wanted Nick Clegg to resign. I thought replacing Nick with someone else would give the party best chance of retaining most of their seats and hopefully stop the Tories from winning a majority in 2015.

    Now I am not so sure.

    I desperately want the Tories out of Government in 2015 and to see Labour in Government.

    The best way of achieving that is to see Nick Clegg remain as leader. The Liberal Democrats lose 30 seats (hopefully most going to Labour) No doubt that Liberal Democrats will lose some seats to tories, but hopefully this will be offset by the number of seats UKIP take from Tories
    I don’t think Labour will lose any seats to the Conservatives.
    The Tories losing 20 Seats to UKIP.
    It is pretty clear that Labour are going to lose a substantial number of seats to the SNP (20 maybe)

    Hopefully it will mean Labour will have a very small majority or will be in a position to go into coalition with the SNP.

    In my opinion it is in the countries best interest to get shot of this Tory led government, which means sacrificing the Liberal Democrats as the 3rd party in Government by Keeping Nick Clegg as a leader.

    Trust me, I do not like saying that as I have a huge amount of respect for some Liberal Democrat members and I especially admire Caron Lindsay & George Potter both of whom stand up tirelessly for the disadvantaged

  • @ David Evans

    “it is not our fault because it was never the right time for us to do anything”

    What I do not think the majority of members appreciate is just how difficult it is for a very small party to make any progress once it is ignored by the media generally [think of the fate of the SDP] – when there are other contending parties that are seen as real future challengers – primarily because most members are used to their party commanding some attention.

    If NC stays as leader and no new strategy is devised – one that has some appeal to the majority of voters – there is a very distinct possibility that the Party will get less than 10 MPs – with even the most popular having to work very hard to hold onto their seat. Primarily because the Party has become a joke party.

    Until the GE, while the Party has 50+ MPS – the MSM is obliged to report on its activities. After the GE, with just a handful of MPs and its reputation in tatters – this will not be the case.

    I would suggest that if members want the Party to survive they must rid themselves of NC quickly and install a leader who wishes to appeal to a much wider audience – for now is very likely their last chance.

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Nov '14 - 11:50am

    @Helen Tadcastle

    “Meanwhile LDV will run yet another story on trans-gender/gay marriage awareness…”

    You are right inasmuch as these issues do not dominate the thinking of most voters, but to add insult to injury, very few posts are even allowed on these topics. questions by confused (about matters like terminology etc)people like me are not allowed and not answered.

  • Exiled Scot

    Slight correction – The battle for 5th. place was between the LD’s and the Monster Loony Party. The Greens had almost 5 times LD vote.

  • Paul in Wokingham 21st Nov '14 - 11:58am

    @David Evans – but what can be done? There are plenty of people on LDV who have been saying these things for a long time, peaking in the aftermath of the Euro election debacle. But nothing has happened. The leadership continue to behave as though none of these elections has any relevance. Every result is discounted. Every lost deposit written off with a casual shrug.

    Only the parliamentary party has the ability to effect the necessary change and – for whatever reason – they do not appear able to act. Meanwhile the rest of us are left wondering just what will remain of this party in 6 months time.

  • I am well aware that the LibDems are proud and passionate about their policies and would defend them with much determination. NC chose to highlight some of these policies to differentiate the party from its coalition partners. Being in power has also given much exposure to the LibDem position on a number of topics. There is no easy way of saying this but many of the policies run counter to the public mood.

    Generally, the LibDems strongly approve of the EU, they welcome immigration, they would grant an amnesty to illegal immigrants. They strongly approve of millions spent on aid and climate change as a matter of principle, ignoring concerns that the money is not correctly managed. The majority of voters take the opposite view on these matters.

    As someone who used to vote for the party, I sympathise with the problem because as I said, you are passionate about your policies but they are vote losers in the polling station. I think it is misleading to explain the poor performance by pointing at the leadership or being in government, though these have a contribution. Getting less than one percent of the vote is not due to protest, it is comprehensive wipe out.

    I’m sorry but I don’t have a solution. I don’t think you will change your policies but I urge you to review them with objectivity rather than ideology. I think you need to understand what the voters want and why, rather than seeing the LibDems always giving the lead on what you want. I feel that the party is very inward looking, selecting policies that meet your ideological needs. Remember that the majority of the voters may have very different priorities.

    Normally politicians say that they need to work harder at getting the message across. That is not the problem here.

    I expect some will strongly resent this comment, but I do make it with good intentions. I have no allegiance to any party and judge them on their policies. I don’t want to see a once greatly respected party disappear from the political scene.

  • This began, of course, with disgust and distrust for the party which ditched its principles and turned into a bunch of well paid friends of for Cameron. But it has gone beyond that now. Simply, the Lib Dems are irrelevant. They have nothing left to say that anyone wants to hear.

    They can’t even pose as potential kingmakers. The public has absorbed, with equanimity, the message that the SNP and UKIP will share in holding the balance in any hung parliament, and so the Lib Dems will have little influence.

    Change the leadership? It should have been done years ago. It should have been done over tuition fees, over the Lansley Bill, over the AV vote, over the bedroom tax, over the Party of In, over everything. It should now be done, but not because it will gain votes. It is too late to do that.

  • @ Paul in Wokingham

    “Only the parliamentary party has the ability to effect the necessary change and – for whatever reason – they do not appear able to act. Meanwhile the rest of us are left wondering just what will remain of this party in 6 months time.”

    I would have thought that, at least, there was an obligation on one of the MPs – who speaks for their majority – to explain why they continue to support NC as leader and the unpopular strategy he is pursuing. After all each and every one of them were elected to the HofC on the back of a great deal of very hard work from Party members.

  • John Barrett 21st Nov '14 - 12:42pm

    Changing the captain, after the ship under his control has hit the ice-berg and is going down, sadly will make no difference to the end result.

  • Stephen Donnelly 21st Nov '14 - 12:43pm

    On a positive note there are 349 potential members in that constituency.. People who will vote for us come what may. Sign them up.

  • Roger Roberts 21st Nov '14 - 12:45pm

    Yesterday had our Lords debate on the Azure Card – Some progress made towards the abolition of a method of support, while welcome, that discriminates , is insufficient and results in genuine poverty.

    Issues such as this are at the heart of our Liberal vision. Is it not time that we once again are seen (in by-elections !) as the most genuine campaigners for the most disadvantaged by multiple reasons – the “have nots” in society ? .There is a very clear message needing to be heard. THERE I SUGGEST IS OUR CORE VOTE>

  • Jayne Mansfield 21st Nov '14 - 12:56pm

    Once more I agree with helen Tedcastle.

    Much is made of the smallness of the core Liberal vote. As someone who consistently voted Liberal/ Lib Dem, I would like to point out that there is no smallness of the left of centre vote in this country.

    I belong to what I believe to be this majority and I have been sickened by the way the Liberal democrats have trashed Labour even when there seems to be a measure of agreement between the two parties. If those who have done this think that they were attracting left leaning people to the party instead of repelling them, in my opinion, they have been very wrong. They have just undermined the values of anyone who is left of centre and added to the appeal of the right, including the appeal of UKIp.

    It is a pity that people cannot bring themselves to point out that Emily Thornbury grew up in poverty and in a council house, and compare this with those in UKIP and their hedge fund millionaire backers who now frame themselves as the champions of the working class.

  • @ John Barrett

    “Changing the captain, after the ship under his control has hit the ice-berg and is going down, sadly will make no difference to the end result.”

    But the ship is not going down – that will not happen until after the GE. Until then the ship will be floundering and unstable unless the captain who guided the ship into the iceberg is replaced by someone who does not have the habit of guiding the ship into every iceberg on the horizon!

  • David Evans 21st Nov '14 - 1:09pm

    @ Paul in Wokingham. My suggestions are: 1) Call a meeting of your local party to hold a vote of no confidence in Nick Clegg as leader. 2) E-mail every Lib Dem MP (plus those in House of Lords if you wish) to ask them why they have done nothing to date when the party is collapsing around them and what they propose to do now. 3) Publish all the replies you get on a website so everyone can see what their views are. 4) Try to get as many people who have left the party to rejoin so that if all else fails we will have enough to vote Nick out after May. Then we can begin to rebuild and ensure that there is a Lib Dem party out there to fight for the values we hold dear.

  • Exiled Scot 21st Nov '14 - 1:29pm

    @Julian Gibb – I meant a battle in national opinion polls for fifth place…

  • David Allen 21st Nov '14 - 1:34pm

    Peter said:

    “I am well aware that the LibDems are proud and passionate about their policies … but many of the policies run counter to the public mood. Generally, the LibDems strongly approve of the EU, they welcome immigration… strongly approve of millions spent on aid and climate change as a matter of principle, ignoring concerns that the money is not correctly managed. The majority of voters take the opposite view on these matters….

    I think you need to understand what the voters want and why, rather than seeing the LibDems always giving the lead on what you want. I feel that the party is very inward looking, selecting policies that meet your ideological needs. Remember that the majority of the voters may have very different priorities.”

    That’s a very important challenge, Peter. I’ll start by saying what part of it I don’t agree with, and then pick up on what I very much do agree with.

    First – There are no doubt plenty of voters who hate foreigners, don’t care about our business interests in Europe, and would like to kid themselves that climate change isn’t happening. Lib Dems will never get their votes, and they shouldn’t try.

    But secondly – When we look at Lib Dem attitudes, far too often we are stuck with the mindset of a generation ago.

    Plenty of voters accept that we have to work within Europe, despite its major problems. Precious few adopt the starry-eyed sixties idealism of the “Party of In”, with its uncritical acceptance of a horribly messy situation and its old-fashioned appeal to keeping the peace in the aftermath of the Second World War.

    Plenty of voters can see that we do need immigration. But Lib Dems so often seem to be completely blind to the downside, to the way it puts stress on services, to the way it drives down wages. Lib Dems don’t need to ape UKIP. They do need policies that tackle the downside – like special support for communities with highest influx of immigrants.

    Lib Dems spend a lot of time talking about local councils, about “Community Politics”, about real issues presented in abstract terms such as “human rights”, about changing the voting system in ways that would help themselves. All these things are for policy geeks. They turn off voters.

    Lib Dems maintain allegiance to a party that has failed to demonstrate strong action against unacceptable behaviour by some of its own highly placed members. Lib Dems maintain allegiance to a party which put its principles and promises a distant second when it was offered the chance to get into prestigious government employment.

    I no longer believe that the Lib Dems, as a party, are capable of changing these outdated attitudes. Many individuals know what must be changed, but the party institution is not capable of change.

    The best hope for the future is a wipeout. Then there is the opportunity for a completely fresh start. That is what is needed.

  • If Clegg stays as leader past the election we’ll need a new party – it’s that simple. If this was a business the CEO would of been out years ago for failing to deliver, but Lib Dems continue to prop him up so now nobody respects them either. We could replace him with a rotting cauliflower and it would improved the parties current standing, because nobody respects a party that doesn’t listen to what the public is telling them.

    This is the low ebb and I blame everyone who supported Clegg past the Euro elections for what happens next; I suspect a lot of loyalists thought they’d get their knighthood, but I think there’s a more likely outcome. Revolution is coming, bring forth the guillotine!

  • David Allen – I’m not sure that a lot of people hate foreigners but a lot are concerned about the huge increase in the number of migrants. It is not a racist thing, more to do with pressure on infrastructure and the community. However, these subjects are complex and not easy to describe adequately in a couple of lines.

    I think the party needs a frank debate about some of the subjects you raise. That is the way forward. I suspect that the party either changes or disappears. Your comment about fresh start is interesting. Easier to say than do, though.

    Does the party have an obvious leader in waiting who has the vision and qualities to lead it out of this mess? I don’t know enough about the organisation to know whether the power lies with the grass roots or what.

    I think people need to grasp change. I pointed out that the policies did not match the public needs many times this year and got ignored every time. It is over to you and others now to find a solution.

  • I am no expert, but it seems to me that Lib Dem policies need to be more relevant to where people are really at. We need more on protection for workers – taking up where the unions are failing – more on building up manufacturing and skilled jobs, more on education and making amends for the appalling injustice of grossly excessive tuition fees (£50 a lecture in some cases), restoring a sense of the right to protest (I think students have again had a raw deal here), reasonable rail fares and a truly ethical foreign policy. I think people also want o hear what the Lib Dems have to say about the NHS generally, beyond the mental health question, great though the Lib Dems work on this has been. And we have to have higher taxation on wealth, spending and property development..

  • Peter Chegwyn 21st Nov '14 - 2:29pm

    Stephen Tall says: ‘For the Lib Dems… well, we’ve been here before, haven’t we?’

    No we haven’t Stephen! We have never, ever polled less than 1% in a parliamentary by-election before.

    For those who said it couldn’t get any worse post-Clacton, it just did.

    And what has our leader got to say about it? Nothing!

    Cameron, Miliband, Farage, the Greens, even the Scot. Nats and the Loonies have all been on TV commenting on the result but our own dear leader is conspicuous by his absence. No word of comfort for Geoff Juby. No word of explanation for the result. No word of encouragement to boost the troops. Nick Clegg disappeared for four days after the Clacton debacle and he appears to have disappeared again.

    Generals used to lead their troops from the front. Now ours hides away in a bunker and says nothing. Some leadership!

  • This is what happens when you take a centre Left electorate into a Centre Right Government. People lose faith when they vote for one thing and get another. The older parties over play the idea of a protest vote , when voters vote for policies.

  • It’s a shame. In Britain today we really need a grassroots based party pursuing Keynesian economic policies with a fairly enlightened attitude towards the wider world. There’s nothing wrong with the Lib Dems being positive about immigrants or activist towards climate change, but they need t acknowledge the concerns people have rather than just treat it as a dogmatic article of faith.

  • We are getting what we deserve to be frank. We have become so BORING. Take the premanifesto, of it’s four main points, I can only remember the Mental Health point (which is very laudable) Everything else (while being perfectly fine) could have appeared on the front of either the Tory or Labour manifestoes and nobody would have noticed.

    We’ve stopped being radical. The party I joined was one that was the only British political party to oppose the Iraq. It wanted free higher education. It said things that went against conventional politics and I loved it for it. Now everything we come out with is so safe and so conventional nobodies listens.

    In the last few weeks we could have come and said in the wake of the drugs reform we wanted to legalise cannabis. In the wake of the Scottish referendum we could have said we wanted regional parliaments (rather than city region quangoes) We could actually be standing up for immigrants and attacked Labour’s proposed 2 year benefits freeze for immigrants.

    I hate UKIP , but at least they have opinions and that’s why they are popular. It’s almost as all our policies are developed in focus groups and through polling rather than through liberal ideology.

    It’s time to buck up. We’ve got to start leading the agenda (as UKIP has done over immigration) rather than responding to it. It’s time we outspoken,, brash and proud about our politics rather than timid and tepid.

  • David Evans 21st Nov '14 - 3:36pm

    @ Moggy: You couldn’t be more wrong. We’ve lost the ex-Labour vote because Nick behaved like a Tory once he was in Government. We’ve lost the protest vote because Nick, having spoken about a new way of doing government, went native so fast once he was a minister it was just a blur and then chose to talk down about people who had voted for him because they believed politics could be done differently. Any half competent leader could have avoided the messes he made. Sacking Clegg would at least say we know Nick has screwed up and we are sorry and we are doing something about it. If we leave it to next year things will be even worse.

  • What Helen Tedcastle said.

    Perhaps someone can explain something that has long puzzled me – why is the Party as a whole and the MPs in particular so supine in the face of a leader who is so obviously not up to the job at multiple ways?

    Failing leaders are almost invariably the last to acknowledge that they must go. Those who seek out power tend to have – far more than the population at large – personalities with psychopathic or narcissistic leanings so a well run party must have both the constitutional mechanisms and the cultural will to dump a failing leader fast and clinically. Such an approach has stood the Tories well, making them by far the most successful party of the last 100 years. We should learn from them.

    By the way what happens after the General Election? How many – if any – defeated Lib Dems will get offered a peerage? Will Clegg have to accept one from the Tories?

  • David Evans 21st Nov ’14 – 3:36pm……….. We’ve lost the ex-Labour vote because Nick behaved like a Tory once he was in Government. …..

    Not just Clegg! It is almost obligatory (no pun intended) for LDV political posts to contain a ‘dig’ at Labour….”As ye sow, so shall ye reap”

  • paul barker 21st Nov '14 - 4:04pm

    Can I reccomend that everyone read the top articles on UK Polling Report & Labour Uncut. The first is on what Byelections tell us & the second on the next Labour crisis.
    As I said yesterday, I might well have Voted Tory if I lived in R & S, a tactical Vote against the vile UKIP. The point of our campaign there was May not yesterday.
    Actually I would also reccomend Dan Hodges piece in The Telegraph on the need for serious Parties to trust the People. The General Election will be primarily a struggle between serious Parties of Government, Parties of Protest like UKIP , Labour & The Greens will be will be pushed back to the margins.

  • Charles Rothwell 21st Nov '14 - 4:10pm

    “Once again, though, we see the Lib Dem vote slump in a non-target seat. It’s a depressingly familiar story, no less so for the fact that we’ve seen it so many times before.”

    So WHY on earth keep on doing it??? All we are doing is making the Party/ourselves a total laughing stock/object of ridicule. Despite being in government, we just have to admit that we are nothing like a national party with a broad support base at the moment. “Theakes” indicates all that we can do at present; devote resources purely and exclusively to areas (whether at local, regional or constituency level) where there is at least a reasonable chance of us coming within the first three, if not first two and say, “Sorry” to potential voters elsewhere and ask they support us in any possible way they can beyond voting (finance, time, phoning etc) until the recovery (definitely under a Leader whose name is not just toxic/absolutely and totally discredited beyond redemption among millions of the electorate) begins (as I am convinced it will). Each of the main party leaders seems enamoured of seeking non-UK advisers (from South Africa, Australia and the USA) to “help and assist them” (!), but, in the case of our Party, reading Mao Zedong on how to marshall your forces and conduct guerilla warfare when you are faced with potential annihilation might be a much sounder source of imported advice to draw upon, judging by the track record of these ‘experts’ to date!

  • @Paul Barker

    “The General Election will be primarily a struggle between serious Parties of Government, Parties of Protest like UKIP , Labour & The Greens will be will be pushed back to the margins.”

    You sense of optimum never ceases to amaze lol.

    If the Labour party as you suggest gets pushed back to the margins, the Liberal Democrats are sure to be pushed off the page altogether.

    I really do not see how being in such denial does anything to help the party in the near term or the future.

    It is certainly not an attractive trait for floating voters. People constantly make accusations that Labour “have not learnt from mistakes of the last Government”
    Well it would appear that the same is true for this party.

  • David Pollard 21st Nov '14 - 4:33pm

    I’m very surprised by this result. In these circs, I would have expected the LibDem team to target 2-3 of most promising wards and done work on which we could build for the future.

  • David Faggiani 21st Nov '14 - 4:47pm

    I agree with ‘Rob’, above. The Party has become BORING. We need exciting policies, and I think he picks two good areas to highlight there – Drug Reform, and, Devolution. Imaginative, differentiating boldness is all the current leadership has left now, and I mean that in a positive way, they should play these cards. This Manifesto had better be amazing, is all I’m saying…..

  • We need leadership and inspiration, both of which are totally lacking. In the meantime …………………………………

  • Bill Chapman 21st Nov '14 - 5:44pm

    Shoot me down in flames if you want, but … Would it be best for the Liberal Democrats to become a sub-section opf the Labour Party? I see this as the only way ahead.

  • Peter Watson 21st Nov '14 - 5:47pm

    @Stephen Donnelly “On a positive note there are 349 potential members in that constituency.”
    I wonder how many members are already in that constituency.

  • Cllr Nick Cotter 21st Nov '14 - 5:50pm

    Diabolical – I was once SO proud to be a Member (for 30 years), and helping my Dad to get elected as 1st Lib MP for Weston-Super-Mare for 70 odd years (1997 GE).
    I am now an Independent Councillor.
    I really have never heard of these Bloggers who recently joined and have now left the party.
    IF the leader did not visit this constituency then in my view that is Gross Misconduct – a Summary Dismissal matter.
    Congratulations to the candidate for flying the flag – he should at least be heartily thanked for his efforts.
    Next Year will and I really feel very very unhappy for coming to this sorry conclusion be a bloodbath.
    I do so hope however that the party holds on in Hazel Grove and Cheadle – seats that I have very fond memories of from my many years in Manchester.

  • David Blake 21st Nov '14 - 5:56pm

    I agree with Rob and David, above. When I joined in 1972 the party was a leader in British politics. It had a philosophy. It wasn’t boring. It is now.

  • Peter Watson 21st Nov '14 - 5:58pm

    @paul barker “Parties of Protest like UKIP , Labour & The Greens will be will be pushed back to the margins”
    Is that a typo or do you seriously think that in England the 2015 general election will be a two horse race between Lib Dems and the Conservatives?

  • Stevan Rose 21st Nov '14 - 6:06pm

    I think it is evidence that we should not take part in these silly UKIP publicity stunts. Having done so, someone has to carry the can for the humiliation and that has to be Nick Clegg. We need imaginative and appealing policies that don’t alienate vast swathes of the vote, like students, and a new leader who the public can trust. I’m 100% pro-coalition but you draw red lines and you don’t cross them. Alan Johnson said he would never stand for Labour leader. Could someone have a word and offer him the Deputy PM job?

  • Stevan Rose 21st Nov '14 - 6:15pm

    David Blake – “When I joined in 1972 the party was a leader in British politics. It had a philosophy. It wasn’t boring. It is now.”

    Hardly. It had 7.5% of the vote and 6 MPs in 1972. But of course Cyril Smith won the Rochdale by election that year. Ah, the good old days!

  • Neil Jennison 21st Nov '14 - 6:18pm

    Some very funny comments……isn’t it amazing how being wiped is excused as a protest? Of course it couldn’t have anything to do with Lib Dem unpopular policies could it?

    The clue here is in the name – United Kingdom Independence Party…….they won if you recall. Clegg’s Lib Dems….””we must join the Euro, we love the EU, we love being governed by unelected foreigners etc. etc.etc…..”” < 350 votes.

    Think hard about it… might see the connection.

  • Where is Nick Clegg? Has anyone seen him on TV, heard him on radio?

  • John Roffey 21st Nov '14 - 6:27pm

    @ Peter Chegwyn

    “Nick Clegg disappeared for four days after the Clacton debacle and he appears to have disappeared again.”

    I accept that this is speculation [although informed to some extent]. Seeing the extent to which Cameron appears to dominate NC [from the Rose Garden onwards] – it is not impossible that NC would like to resign but Cameron insists he remains leader because his own position would be very significantly weakened if he could not rely on the LD MP’s votes whenever he needed them – and NC can deliver these.

    It would provide explanation of why NC has apparently abnegated the role of leader of the Party.

  • Stevan Rose 21st Nov '14 - 6:40pm

    How can Cameron insist Clegg stays and what possible benefit would there be to Clegg in saving Cameron’s neck. What is possible is that no-one wants to step up and take the job.

  • John Roffey 21st Nov '14 - 6:53pm

    @ Stevan Rose

    If NC resigned – I have little doubt there would be quite a few who threw their hats into the ring to replace him.

    I have admitted that my explanation was speculative [based on the oddities of the Cameron/Clegg relationship – given that they are the leaders of two separate parties]. What is your explanation of why NC has abnegated his role of Party leader?

  • The new model Lib Dems aren’t just BORING but pointless and irrelevant.

    I can’t help wondering if the distinction between ‘orange bookers’ and ‘social liberals’ isn’t matched by another division – between a minority of would-be radicals and a majority interested only in power for its own sake. That at least is the implication of Clegg’s” Party of Government” nonsense.

    To be sure the radicals haven’t helped their case by being very confused about exactly how their radicalism might actually work – a perennial problem for liberal revolutionaries – but decent leadership could have fixed that by finding the golden threads among the dross. Too many actions in recent years have been excused by the constraints of the political system, being a small party and all that. Well, yes – but only to a point. Those are practical difficulties but in the medium to long run they are easily trumped by standing for something, even if it comes with a large measure of snake oil. That’s what the SNP and UKIP, each in their own way, have done and they started off as even smaller parties. Now the whole nation is desperate for a lead, for someone to stand up in Parliament and demand that crooked bankers go to jail for instance and that the very people who crashed the economy stop taking it out on the powerless.

    I and most others have no interest whatsoever in working for or providing funding for the advancement of anyone’s career in Westminster. I am, however, very concerned to see this country get back to a sane course. For heaven’s sake show some decency in LD Towers and fall on your swords – the lot of you.

  • @Helen Tedcastle – Emily Thornberry didn’t make any comment when she posted the photo. It wasn’t until Crosby/Staines got hold of it that she was forced to make any comment on it at all.

  • Martin Land 21st Nov '14 - 7:09pm

    So much negativity! This is all part of the brilliant strategy of our Glorious Leader and his brilliant team. Such results are no doubt just part of tactics to lull our opponents into underestimating our Dear Leaders genius which will light up the firmament next May.

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Nov '14 - 7:09pm

    I hinted at my explanation for the Leader’s absence on the Olly Grender Rochester thread.

    I said something like, “If somebody wrote a novel about a right-wing party setting out to destroy a left-of-centre party by getting the protege of a very senior member of the right-wing party to stand as leader of the left-of-centre party, would anyone believe it?”

    I even suggested a name for the novel, Manchurian Nick.

    (My apologies if I have inadvertently offended any Manchurians).

  • Peter Chegwyn 21st Nov '14 - 7:21pm

    @ Tsar Nicholas – Of course the Conservatives haven’t infiltrated the Lib. Dems. and got one of their own elected as Lib. Dem. Leader to destroy us from within.

    But if they had done, they couldn’t have done a better job of it!

    P.S. It’s now 7.20pm and still no sign of Nick anywhere, no comment from him on Rochester or anything else. Has he left the country? Does anyone know where he is? Can anyone close to the bunker please explain why, just like after Clacton, he seemingly has nothing to say about how he intends to get the Party he supposedly leads out of the mess it’s now in?

  • David Blake 21st Nov '14 - 7:32pm

    Stevan – it had new ideas and it was winning by-elections. And it won quite a few in the following years.

  • I think Nick Clegg’s disappearance is significant. The press hasn’t mentioned him as far as I know so that suggests he has talked to them. Perhaps he has arranged a press conference but has other matters to attend to first.

    Pure speculation on my part.

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Nov '14 - 7:40pm

    @Peter Chegwyn

    I hate to bring it up but the leader’s absence appears (to me at least ) to be a 25th amendment situation

    “Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

    Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”


  • “For the Lib Dems… well, we’ve been here before, haven’t we?”

    No, you haven’t actually.

    Not only was this the worst result in Lib Dem history. It was the worst result for any governing party in history. It was even, apparently, the worst result for any major Westminster party in history.

  • Why has the press not been asking in two foot high letters, “Where is Nick Clegg?”.

    If he has decided to step down, there are things to sort out. The future of the coalition, whether to dissolve it or carry on with a new deputy PM.

    My guess is that the press haven’t mentioned him because they have been given the promise of an invitation to a press conference provided they keep qiet now.

    Just a guess. It seems like a case of why didn’t the dog bark.?

  • Perhaps he has gone into the wilderness for 40 days and nights! That would be helpful as we could have a fresh face talking to the cameras etc up to the end of the year! He may come back refreshed and a different man with different strategies and inspire us to success…

  • @paul barker
    “Actually I would also reccomend (sic) Dan Hodges piece in The Telegraph on the need for serious Parties to trust the People. The General Election will be primarily a struggle between serious Parties of Government, Parties of Protest like UKIP , Labour & The Greens will be will be pushed back to the margins.”

    Dan Hodges – the Telegraph’s Ed Miliband hating token Labour columnist writes, in Walter Mitty fashion – that UKIP, in particular, will be pushed to the margins. The Lib Dems hardly register as enough of a threat even to be pushed to the margins. I suggest you re-read the article.

  • Paul in Wokingham 21st Nov '14 - 9:05pm

    Mr. Clegg has form in disappearing in the aftermath of electoral defeat so I read nothing significant into it, but would be delighted to be proven wrong. Because does anyone seriously think that the electoral prospects of our party will be diminished if Clegg resigns? Under what other leader would we do worse than 0.87% in a by-election? Under what other leader would we get less than 5% in a national opinion poll? Under what other leader would the rank – and – file be more demotivated and disillusioned? But frankly I expect nothing. Mr. Clegg will reappear next Monday, Rochester will be expunged from the collective memory and we will continue as before.

  • nvelope2003 21st Nov '14 - 9:12pm

    £5,500 wasted on lost deposits fighting hopeless seats and they keep asking me for money to help the election campaign. All these disastrous results give our opponents the opportunity to ridicule the party. I just hope that the tradition of not holding a by election within 6 months of a General Election still holds so there are no more disasters for the press to latch onto but I fear they have learned nothing. The fact that our candidate appeared to be dressed like the Monster Raving Loony candidate cannot have helped. Appearances are important whatever some may say.

  • nvelope2003 21st Nov '14 - 9:24pm

    Well I do not think the Conservatives got one of their number to be leader of the Liberal Democrats but what they have done is far more damaging. They have deliberately and consciously endeavoured to undermine the position of the party at every opportunity, using their friends in the press to ridicule every action of our ministers by whatever means ,including lying, and forcing the party to support policies which are contrary to the party’s principles so that they can eliminate us at the next election. It is a sort of rough justice that their tactics seem to have raised up a much more dangerous foe for them in UKIP.

    As regards Mr Clegg I heard him comment on the radio but what is there to say ?

  • A Social Liberal 21st Nov '14 - 9:30pm


    Last time we got over 16% of the vote in Rochester – this shouldn’t have been a deposit loser.

  • @ Peter
    I believe there is a small majority still in favour of being in the EU, but even I don’t know how we wish to reform the EU. We made a mistake when we wanted Britain to be in the Euro because a single currency works best for a particular region (i.e. Sterling – south east England) and there needs to huge amounts spent in the other regions to compensate.

    I would argue that the majority are not against immigration but they are against the increased competition for resources that immigration causes and last night I heard a Liberal Democrat – Brian Paddick say something close to this but then he got diverted into talking about the benefits of immigration.

    The majority I believe do recognise the importance of climate change and would like some action taken, but this action has to be the right action not just increasing taxes and / or cost of energy.

    The public willingly give millions to charity to help foreigners in their own countries so I would like to know what the public really do think about meeting our international commitment for the level of our foreign aid.

    So I would say look at the publics’ priorities – having a home for themselves and for their children, not having overcrowded schools and being able to get their child in the school they wish, and having a job that pays a living wage.

    With regard to Nick Clegg’s as leader I thought it was self-evident that our prospects at the general election would be improved with a new leader, but I don’t think a majority of our active members see this and so we are stuck with Nick until either he resigns or we are no longer in government.

  • @Eddie Salmon I think the main reason why more people don’t vote LibDem was actually diagnosed by Tony Blair (of all people) not so long ago. The LDs were to the left of Labour for a number of years and then joined a government to the right of Labour.

    Add in tuition fees and you start to see why a lot of people might not trust the LDs and therefore not vote for them.

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Nov '14 - 10:06pm


    Your post about fighting hopeless seats leads to the question of whether the party will now abandon ‘the tradition’ of fighting all mainland British parliamentary seats at the general election.

    And you may have heard Mr Clegg on the radio, but it wasn’t today – he has not been around.

  • I despair. I knew things were bad, but not this bad.

  • @nvelope2003
    ” They have deliberately and consciously endeavoured to undermine the position of the party at every opportunity”

    I and others had been saying this since 2011 but nobody cared to listen.

    David Cameron and the Tories played a blinder, they outsmarted and outmaneuvered Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats from the very beginning.
    The Tories went into this coalition knowing full well that they would need to discredit the Libdems and tear them apart in order to win a majority at the next election.

    David Cameron agreed to give Liberal Democrats certain briefs in Government which he knew would cause the party the most reputational harm.
    Vince Cable giving Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills . One of poor Vince’s first responsibilities was the Rise in tuition fee’s. Poor Vince was sent out to defend a policy that he absolutely did not agree with.
    Chris Huhne Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Forced into doing a U-turn on the 2010 policy of no more Nuclear power and subsidies
    Nick Clegg (with special responsibility for political and constitutional reform) What a disaster that was, losing the AV, No house of lords reform and no Boundary reforms. In his brief it has been an unmitigated disaster

    The Tories are a conniving bunch of *expletives* They were always going to be intent on seeing the Liberal Democrats cast to the waste lands.
    Nick Clegg and those around him simply where not are not up to the job, especially when lying in bed next to the masters of deceit the Tories.

    Things have gone on for so long now though that, the party membership as a whole needs to start taking some responsibility for the parties woes, People just squinted their eyes and grit their teeth and hoped that by staying schtum and being ultra loyal to the leadership, somehow magically all would come good in the end.
    The fantasy is soon coming to an end

  • Almaric.
    Part of the problem for the three older parties is an inability to listen. The blunt reality is that UKIP is scoring on immigration because a lot of people ARE against mass immigration and always has been. The Tories are being picked off by UKIP precisely because they have talked up the subject and never actually done anything the supporters of tough anti-immigration policies want them to do. This doesn’t mean that liberals shouldn’t be making a case for a different view.

  • I have posted on this website for a number of months and have repeatedly told you why you are so unpopular (it isn’t rocket science admittedly).

    Now I see a lot of you are starting to get it. But for the slower amongst you I’ll tell you one more time. It is immigration. IMMIGRATION.

    Now is your party going to seriously promise to do something about it or are you all going to pack up and go home?

  • Peter Watson 21st Nov '14 - 11:30pm

    @peter “Why has the press not been asking in two foot high letters, “Where is Nick Clegg?”.”
    Perhaps the press just doesn’t care.

  • nvelope2003 wrote:

    “As regards Mr Clegg I heard him comment on the radio but what is there to say ?”

    “I resign.”

    Those are the only two words we need to hear from him.

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Nov '14 - 11:42pm


    If Nick Clegg said in front of the cameras tomorrow that he was going to personally ensure the implementation of an immigration/emigration policy that was as restrictive as North Korea there would be two consequences:

    1. A huge number of people within the Liberal Democrat establishment would applaud (because Nick, after all, is the leader), and;
    2. Nobody in the wider public would believe him.

    The key words in my first paragraph above are ‘Nick Clegg said.’

  • Simon:
    “I have posted on this website for a number of months and have repeatedly told you why you are so unpopular (it isn’t rocket science admittedly).

    Now I see a lot of you are starting to get it. But for the slower amongst you I’ll tell you one more time. It is immigration. IMMIGRATION.

    Now is your party going to seriously promise to do something about it or are you all going to pack up and go home?”

    We must be telepathic. We foresaw your comment about two years before you made it and took the issue of immigration seriously enough to set up a whole work party which spent 18 months seriously examining the issue, led by one of our most senior parliamentarians, Sir Andrew Stunnell. It then came up with a punchy, finely judged party immigration policy which was approved by the York conference last March. I commend the policy to you. It includes things like making sure the are proper entrance and exit checks for temporary immigrants. Hum drum but fundamental.

    So we have taken the issue very seriously. We still have to sell it. But we have a tough but liberal policy in place.

    Now, if I may anticipate your response, you’re going to say that it’s a woolly liberal policy. OK. Fair enough. We don’t say we want the drawbridges to come up. We don’t say “send them all back to where they came from”. But we’re a liberal party. What do you expect?

  • Peter Chegwyn 22nd Nov '14 - 12:27am

    It’s now past midnight. Still no sign of the Dear Leader. Our worst by-election ever and he still has nothing to say.

    Like many others I’d love him to say “Goodbye” but it’s not going to happen unless a sizeable number of MPs tell him this weekend that his time’s up… and sadly I see no evidence of that happening either.

    Are the MPs all too afraid to speak out for fear of upsetting Nick and losing their chance of a Peerage when they depart the Commons next May, voluntarily or otherwise?

    Maybe they still believe it’ll be alright next May in 20-30 parliamentary seats that we might still hold but what a way to treat the rest of the party including the hundreds of councillors who also have to defend their seats next May.

    But then when did Nick Clegg and those close to him ever show any real concern for our councillors and our local government base which has been decimated over the past five years?

    How are the troops on the ground supposed to maintain morale when the Dear Leader and all around him appear to have gone AWOL?

    It’s utterly depressing to see the leadership of a once great party sleep-walking it over a cliff to electoral disaster.

    And nobody at the top of the party seems able or willing to do anything about it.

  • @ Tsar Nicolas and Peter Chegwyn

    How about a person who would have joined the Conservatives in the 1970s being a traditional Conservative supporter but also being an enthusiastic supporter of the UK being in the EU joining the Liberal Democrats and becoming leader. Then once leader that leader moving the party away from its social liberal traditions to try to make it an economic liberal party with libertarian tendencies?

    @ Glenn

    A lot of people is not necessary a majority. Also if we were providing the things that people who fear immigration wanted and so their fears could be seen by them as unjustified then those who wanted to vote based on a tighter immigration policy would decrease back to their traditional levels.

    @ Paul Walter

    Brian Paddick like you couldn’t quote what is in our immigration policy.

    6 months before EU immigrants can claim “benefits”. Does this include in-work benefits and housing benefit and council tax benefit? I think not; only unemployment benefit.
    Tackling low pay and skill shortages. How? It doesn’t include a commitment to increase the minimum wage year on year above inflation to more than recover the lost value since 2007. It doesn’t seem to mean providing grants to people to retrain to get those skills just an accreditation.
    Providing extra support for local services. £1 billion a year to local authority projects.
    Making sure every immigrant can speak English. How? Are we going to give them English tests at passport control? I don’t think so.
    Apply a levy on those who wish their elderly relatives to join them in the UK.

  • John Whitney 22nd Nov '14 - 9:00am

    The 11th straight “Lost deposit” when are “Clegg and his Cronies” going to get out and leave this party to it’s true supporters? There will be no party left soon!

    John Whitney
    Norwich South

  • Patrick C Smith 22nd Nov '14 - 9:10am

    The By Election result for Geoff Juby was indeed humiliating but he has stood firm in this Constituency and was resplendent on the rostrum, since 2005, when converted from Medway and has represented core L/D values with absolutely no apparent result this time that is more to do with `tactical’ voters to keep the UKIP vote down to the min.

    Ther are tow important factors sweeping through British politicsthat touches on the trip-wire of how the media have reacted to the appalling Emily Thornberry put down of one respectable core working class cheering England well-supported have many L/D supporting England supporters in Walthamstow.They are the stuff of our indigenous core supporters of made of in every Election.

    One the rise of legions SPADS under Tony Blair since 1997 that he invented- as a race apart- when he moved into Downing Street with a massive majority and paradoxically did nt really need them.Second the `Westminster Bubble’ and its political mentality and social ambiance that is starkly seen by ordinary hard working class families with their disposable income at a premium each month as being out of touch with the day to day reality of their lives.

  • This is really bad that there has still been no word from Nick Clegg.

    I am sure it is really demoralizing for party members, however, for non party members and floating voters it really damages Nick’s credibility and ability to lead a party and even more so to serve as Deputy Prime Minister for this country.

    You just can not go into hiding and be silent on matters like this

  • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 22nd Nov '14 - 11:46am

    I believe your party set a new record by recording the lowest ever share of the vote in a parliamentary election. It was also your eleventh lost deposit. Ever since your first by-election humiliation as a coalition party I have been urging you to dump Clegg and withdraw into opposition. However, I feel that the desperate pleas from the Tories for Labour and Lib Dem voters to abandon their traditional parties and shore up the only other pro European party against the danger of UKIP probably worked and thousands of decent pro Europeans voted Tory. However your past record of eleven lost deposits puts you now out of any conceivable contention for being a member of a future coalition, I’m sure that many of your members and supporters will welcome that.

  • Almalric,
    About 72 % of the population want stricter immigration controls with about 56% wanting much stricter controls. Unlike you I don’t think this is because of people competing for jobs and resources. In truth there is little evidence that immigration has much impact on jobs. I think it’s because they simply resent change and clump together. I absolutely do not think liberals should be pandering to this, but we should understand what we are up against.

  • If you believe photographs on Twitter, Nick Clegg came out of hiding 46 minutes ago.

    You can tell that he is not in Rochester because a couple of the people with him are holding up posters with those historic words –“Liberal Democrats, Winning Here”.

    The tweeted photograph comes from Sheffield Hallam apparently. There is not an England flag anywhere to be seen.

  • Peter Galton 22nd Nov '14 - 3:19pm

    I think I will put my head in the oven !!!, but wait I see I have some Focus to put out.

  • Neil Sandison 22nd Nov '14 - 3:48pm

    I do wish we would stop rolling over and playing dead .There will be no EU referendum until the PM of the day completes negotiations and parliament accepts his /her report ..Only then will we have a question to put on the ballot paper.That agreed question and time table will then determine the date of any referendum.Any opt outs may be agreed in principle but would need detailed interpretation particlarly with regard to the impact on freedom of movement for employment and trade within EU borders .We must expose the hyprocracy of both the tories and UKIP in telling the public this will all be sorted out the day after polling day in May jus like Cameron could reduce immigration to the tens of thousands he promised at the last general election..

  • @John Tilley

    “If you believe photographs on Twitter, Nick Clegg came out of hiding 46 minutes ago”

    He is certainly doing a good impression of an Armadillo.
    I know Armadillo’s can hold their breaths for 6 minutes, not sure how long they can stay curled up in a little ball though.

  • Peter Chegwyn 22nd Nov '14 - 4:01pm

    John – Are you really sure the Dear Leader came out of hiding 46 minutes ago? Photos on Twitter could have been photo-shopped or be very old photos from the almost forgotten days when NC could indeed be photographed with ‘Liberal Democrats, Winning Here’ posters.

    If he has surfaced from wherever he’s been hiding since Rochester, could he perhaps spare a few minutes to explain why he thinks we’ve just recorded our worst by-election result ever? Could he perhaps explain what plans he has to turn around the fortunes of the party he supposedly still leads? Might he offer a few words of consolation to Geoff Juby in Rochester or even a few morale-boosting words as a tonic for the troops in the rest of the country?

    I understand he can only use 140 characters on Twitter but that’s still enough for him to say “Hello” or, even better, “Goodbye”/

  • Peter Chegwyn 22nd Nov ’14 – 4:01pm
    Remember those TV News reports of Mao Tse Tung swimming across the Yangtze River?

    I am absolutely certain that this picture from Sheffield is just as genuine.

  • paul barker 22nd Nov '14 - 5:10pm

    Does it occur to any of the people complaining about Cleggs silence that right now The “Story” in the MSM & online is either “Have UKIP peaked ?” , who will Defect or Whitevanmangate, bad for UKIp, Tories or Labour. No-one is talking about us (except us of course) & we should strive to keep it that way. Politics will close for Xmas in a few days so lets keep Voters last memories of 2014 on bad news for our rivals.

  • @ Glenn

    Please can you post a link to your figures? All I managed to find was 46% believe that EU citizens shouldn’t have free movement into Britain (36% in favour) –

  • @Paul Barker:
    “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”
    —Oscar Wilde

  • Nigel Cheeseman 22nd Nov '14 - 6:27pm

    I fail to understand why any Liberal Democrat member or supporter would vote Conservative to keep out UKIP. Failure breeds failure, so keeping our vote is far more important than attempting to stop UKIP. It was clear from the outset that UKIP would win this by election. I’m glad that they did. Labour are damaged, and that’s a good thing . Unfortunately the Conservatives did rather well, which sets them fair to continue their slow but steady improvement compared with Labour in the polls. What would be worse? A Conservative majority, or a good old mess with Labour just big enough to cobble together a coalition?

  • Leekliberal 22nd Nov '14 - 6:30pm

    rob 21st Nov ’14 – 3:28pm says ‘We are getting what we deserve to be frank. We have become so BORING.’ I totally agree with his thoughtful piece. What upsets me is that just as the country are finally waking up to the need for constitutional change in terms of devolved decision making in England, we in our pre-manifesto don’t even mention it! In Manchester, 95 of 96 councillors are Labour and the other one is independent Labour! Who will scutinise the actions of this administration? I predict poor decision-making and corruption, not because it is by Labour, but because this is inevitable where there is no effective opposition as in this great city. We MUST back demands from the Electoral Reform Society for PR in local elections in England and Wales as a RED LINE in any coalition negotiations. Let’s be radical again!

  • paul barker 22nd Nov ’14 – 5:10pm
    “…….,Does it occur to any of the people complaining about Cleggs silence that right now The “Story” in the MSM & online is …”

    paul barker, Does it occur to you that whatever the story is in the media, it will not be a Liberal Democrat story if Clegg goes into hiding ever time the party suffers a crushing humiliation as a direct result of his failures as leader?

    If you think the role of a leader is to hide rather than to lead, your comment may have some logic.
    Is that what you think?

  • Peter Chegwyn 22nd Nov '14 - 10:21pm

    Leaders used to march their troops towards the sound of gunfire.

    Goodness knows what Jo Grimond would think of our present Leader.

  • Maybe Mr Clegg is drafting his resignation statement, at least i hope so. He must go now and someone with a bit of charisma must be drafted in to take over as soon as possible as he seems to be hated by the voters, though probably only because of the continuing poisoning of the well of truth by the press. The new leader will get the same treatment but hopefully the voters will need a few months to take it in. The member for Westmorland seems the only credible candidate.

  • Former Liberal Democrat voter, completely disillusioned with the direction Clegg has taken the party with the Tories, and in many ways I am thinking the party is reaping what it sows. However it is a real shame for grass roots members who have worked so hard, and Geoff seems like a decent guy who would have made a good MP. It must be utterly soul destroying to get this result.

    Incidently I don’t know if anyone has ever mentioned this on here, but I can’t help thinking that if Clegg had threatened to break up the coalition over the 2012 NHS bill, the position of the party would be very much different now, with him effectively being the man who ‘saved the NHS’.

  • @ Jimbob exactly spot on.He’d have had the perfect excuse, because he could have said he was holding Cameron to his promise on the NHS.

  • @ Paul Walter

    Please accept my apologies I got carried away. Both you and Brian Paddick did remember and mention the counting in and counting out policy. The idea that this could be seen as a major plank does astonish me. And I was particularly under-whelmed by the three things you linked to.

    I went and looked at the policy paper we passed in the spring and listed five other parts of our immigration policy and commented on them. Hopefully Paul next time you can mention more than one item from our policy in your post and will not rely on the underwhelming information on our website.

  • Almaric.
    I did not take the figures from any one source. The figure of 72% was from memory. So I Googled “percentage of Brits wanting reduced immigration” and a figure of 77% was quoted by the BBC, Russia Today, The Daily Mail, Nat Cen and a few more places , whilst the figure of 56% wanting immigration reduced by ” a lot” appeared in the same sources. I agree a lot of British people are very confused by EU immigration and as I said I wouldn’t vote for UKIP if I was paid to.

  • Philip Young 23rd Nov ’14 – 7:52am
    Philip, I doubt very much that there was any impact on our vote in Rochester resulting from Lord Razzall being quoted as saying that cash for peerages is a fact of life in Westminster. It apparently originated from a BBC interview. This is how Huff Post reported it –

    ” In the interview Lord Razzall describes an alarming situation in Westminster politics where offers of cash for honours are commonplace and seemingly never reported to the police. “Anybody who has been a party treasurer of any of the three parties will tell you, if they’re honest, that there are numerous people who come to you and said, you know, I’ll give you a million pounds if I can go in the House of Lords”. There’s nobody to whom that hasn’t happened” he said.

    “In politics a lot of people particularly give big money because they want something,” said the peer who was Treasurer for the Lib Dems for 12 years from 1988 until 2000. “They either want to influence the party’s policies, or they want access to the leader, or in a lot of cases they want some sort of honour, which of course is a criminal offence. Unless you restrict the amount of money that can come into the political process, you will always have quasi-corruption” he said.

    Lord Razzalls descriptions echo some of the concerns of former Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Lord Oakeshott who described in his resignation letter last May his frustration at the failure of his efforts to “expose and end cash for peerages in all parties, including our own.’. ”

    Full article in Huff Post —

  • Surely the coalition could be ended now on the grounds that we are no longer able to achieve any more of our policies because of Conservative opposition. They could continue as a minority Government until 7th May 2015 provided they do not attempt to introduce any legislation to which our party is opposed. At the very least Clegg should be instructed to resign as Deputy Prime Minister as he does not seem to have anything to do apart from his duties as Lord President of the Council. He or hopefully his successor should just have the title of Leader of the Liberal Democrats.
    Is there no mechanism for getting rid of him ?

  • Tsar Nicolas 23rd Nov '14 - 12:56pm

    Back in the depths of the post-merger gloom, after the 1989 Euro-elections gave us 16% (well behind the Greens’ 15%) Paddy Ashdown went around talking to everyone, great and ordinary, small groups and big ones, reassuring, listening, talking up morale.

    I remember being one of about 30 people at the ALDC AGM in Swansea when Paddy turned up to calm our nerves.

    What a contrast with the (frankly disgraceful) stance of the current “leader.”

  • Chris Rennard 23rd Nov '14 - 6:24pm

    @Tsar Nicolas You mean 6% in 1989 (not 16%). I have posted in the members’ only forum.

  • I see Nick Clegg is managing take the time out on his twitter account to congratulate Lewis Hamiliton
    “Nick Clegg @nick_clegg · 3h 3 hours ago
    Many congratulations to @LewisHamilton on his stunning second #F1 world title. You’ve made Britain very proud.”

    Yet has not had the time to speak to the electorate or even his own party members.

    What does that say.

  • Tsar Nicolas 23rd Nov '14 - 7:10pm

    Chris Rennard – yes, I meant 6% and until you pointed it out would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that I had in fact said just that. Who can forget the trauma of 1989? – although I fear it will be as nothing compared to the trauma of 2015.

    Matt – what you have just pasted about the Leader’s twitter account is frankly unbelieveable. If you had a child or a grandchild who indulged in this sort of avoidance behaviour, would you not be extremely concerned?

  • @Paul Walter

    That’s your analysis, fair enough.

    But if by learning from media management you mean that he has learnt that he is toxic and anything he says or does will be torn apart, so better that he stays quiet. What does that say about the suitability for remaining leader of the party or deputy prime minister for that matter?

    My analysis is that it is an appalling disregard for the members of the party and the electorate as a whole.

    I certainly could not vote for a person that goes underground when the going gets rough, It’s not the best person to represent me in parliament or to be holding a position of power within government.

    But that’s just my opinion.

  • Tsar Nicolas 23rd Nov '14 - 7:16pm

    Dear Paul Walter,

    I disagree – I have drawn attention to the way Paddy behaved in 1989 – that is how a leader should be.

    The 1989 trauma was followed by the upturn in the party’s fortunes in 1990/1991 with Eastbourne, Ribble Valley and so on. The foundations for that were laid by the leader and built on by a re-moralised membership.

    This may be good media management (although I personally don’t think so) but I doubt it’s doing much for the troops.

  • Stephen Hesketh 23rd Nov '14 - 7:36pm

    Paul Walter 23rd Nov ’14 – 7:04pm

    “That he has learnt some sensible lessons about media management.”

    About time too.

    Lets just hope that lessons in party leadership and when to quit are next on the curriculum 🙂

  • Stephen Hesketh 23rd Nov '14 - 7:55pm

    @ChrisB 21st Nov ’14 – 1:46pm
    “If Clegg stays as leader past the election we’ll need a new party – it’s that simple.”

    Sadly Chris, I believe you are right.

    Fighting the election of a Centrist Clegg-Laws manifesto is another nail in the coffin. Allowing the Clegg-chosen hung parliament negotiating team to stand is yet another.

    Heads they win, tails we lose.

  • I’m saying nowt!!!

  • Yes I am, perhaps we should credit German engineering at Mercedes?

  • @ Glenn

    ” I wouldn’t vote for UKIP if I was paid to.”

    We don’t need to pay people to vote for us, they go into the polling booth and put their X next to the UKIP candidate’s box in their millions, gratis. It has been all over the news since we won the Euro Elections, please try and keep up.

    Do you know why? This still seems to mystify the commentariat, even now. It is ecause you, Labour and the Tories have let these voters down and betrayed our country . The three Westminster amigos are destroying this nation’s culture through unrestricted immigration and as far as you are all concerned the more immigration the merrier. You have NO plans to restrict, it, what passes for your policy is to try and convince the voters that they are wrong, or to say that they are right but nothing can be don because we have to stay in the EU.

    Let’s face it, do any of you three parties disagree with Emily Thornberry in your heart of hearts? You feel exactly the same when you see a flag with a St George’s Cross. It was just that she left the cat out of the bag.

    Do you believe we don’t know how the failed establishment think? We understand you entirely. You still don’t get UKIP at all.

    Maybe you can buy some Lib Dem votes., Glenn. I can’t see why anyone else would wish to vote for you. Can you?

  • Jimbob/Ben Coe: I agree but what if Cameron had asked for a dissolution or whatever the method for calling an election is now ? Most likely a Conservative victory and the LDs would have been reduced to a handful of seats and gained a reputation for unreliability.

  • >Do you know why?

    They’ve been failed by the education system and don’t understand much about politics. They can’t see what’s going to happen after they’ve elected these clowns and they believe what’s written in the Daily Mail. They live in a climate of fear purposefully created by media organisations.

    >I can’t see why anyone else would wish to vote for you. Can you?

    Sure, to stop nebulous right-wing organisations making this country look like a insular, fascist police state that destroys its prized healthcare system by kicking out the immigrants that make it work. To have politicians that can go 24 hours without having to deny what they’ve just said ever happened. To have representatives that work for the people, instead of purely for their own self-interest. To elect people that care about others, rather than spreading fear and hatred.

  • Simon,
    I’ve never been in office mate. so I’ve let no one down. Also I’ve got Jewish and Romany ancestry so I’m always a little suspicious of self proclaimed peoples armies offering to clean politics up and take countries back.

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