Rumours of talks with the Conservatives put to bed

The Times is reporting discussions between Conservative and Liberal Democrat chiefs of staff.

Before we get all breathless about ‘deals’ being struck it is worth noting that Times is no suggesting that so much as

The Conservatives confirmed that they had spoken about working together on areas on which they agree. The two parties have a number of shared priorities, such as mental health …

And the Press Office is clearly saying ‘no deals’.

I can see some excitement and/or dread coming out of this story, but it is pretty clear that the Conservatives have a deal to be propped up by the DUP and have no need of being propped up by anyone else. That’s confidence and supply votes taken care of.

And when it comes to issue-by-issue votes, it is blindingly obvious that we should vote for what we agree with and vote against what we don’t. This may involve some discussion, because a minority government has to find at least on other party to support it in order to get anything through parliament, and will therefore have to make some concessions issue by issue.

I’d rather this government proposed a mental health policy that we agree with than one that Labour or the SNP or the DUP agreed with. But it is up to them who they try.

There are, there should be, no commitments, no deals, but opposition parties should vote for things they agree with, rather than oppose as a knee-jerk. This is how minority government is supposed to work, and opposition parties that don’t play along are betraying their manifestos.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017, is a councillor in Sheffield and is Tuesday editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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25 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 4th Jul '17 - 1:48pm

    Thanet South court case referred to Southwark crown court.

  • Sadie Smith 4th Jul '17 - 2:15pm

    She could regret ignoring advice for five years!

  • Thanks Joe. Yes, obviously talking to the Tories right now would be a monumentally stupid thing for our people to do, and it’s nice to be reassured that they are not in fact doing it!
    Incidentally, Mike Smithson had an interesting graph on his twitter account recently (I don’t do twitter myself so I can’t retweet it or link to it) about the number of by-elections due to death/illness since 2001. Basically there was only 1 Tory one, 1 LibDem (Patsy Calton), 2 ‘others’ and 15 Labour. The point being that if people think the Tory/DUP majority is going to be whittled away through by-electoral attrition, recent history suggests otherwise.

  • Dave Orbison 4th Jul '17 - 4:47pm

    So the LibDems catagorically deny this yet the Tories give a different version.

    Wouldn’t put my money on either.

    @Frankie – earlier post on this subject “be hard to vote against a policy you had in your manifesto, but don’t let facts get in the way of your theory that we are all waiting to jump back in bed with the Tories.” I think the problem arose when the LibDems voted through something not at all in their manifesto in support of propping up the Tories.

    Also, in today’s Guardian a report that May was sitting on the funding of terrorism report. It reports that this was supposed to be released in 2016 in a deal with the Tories in support of bombing a bit more of Syria and that Tim Farron’s demands that it should be published are being ignored. Tories playing the LibDems still.

  • Andrew McCaig 4th Jul '17 - 5:55pm

    Dave,
    Perhaps the Tories are proposing a deal to stay in the Single Market after trying Labour who said no?

  • Richard Underhill 4th Jul '17 - 6:46pm

    Stephen Lloyd MP (Eastbourne) wants to talk, passionately, to Transport minister Chris Grayling.

  • George Crozier 4th Jul '17 - 7:07pm

    All sounds very sensible. Important that any changes in policy we persuade ministers to make are effectively communicated to the voters!

    To be fair the Times article is pretty reasonable once you get past the headline. And below the line comments seem to be broadly approving of talking in areas where parties might find agreement too.

  • Kate Harris 4th Jul '17 - 7:44pm

    Dearie me, you will never learn will you? If you think it’s ‘politics as usual’ or ‘grown up politics’ you must have missed the whole level of anger out here, the rise of UKIP and the success of Mr Fromage. Well, I am discovering my inner yob, my own inner fury too. Yes, I am a member of the Liberal Democrats, but life has made me rather more realistic despite having worked for both central and local government. Time to stop enjoying the comfort of the green leather seats, the rather pretty tiled floors and the tearoom. If you are not prepared to stand up and be counted for what you believe in, then you will soon be history. End of. (I’ve been told off for using ‘End of’ as it’s regarded, apparently as a ‘Leave EU phrase’ by someone on a Liberal Democrat thread).

  • Dave Orbison 4th Jul '17 - 7:53pm

    George Kendall – if the LibDems could persuade the Tories to end the pay cap.

    Well that’s really funny. It is clear that Labour made all the running on this and the Tories are in disarray and will, as they should, implode on this issue. It is just a matter of time.

    But please don’t suggest that this has anything to do with pressure from the LibDems. Of course I welcome support from anyone in the HofC who votes to end this nasty and unfair policy.

    But just for the record George let’s not forgot who were the architects. I watched far too many patronising lectures on Newsnight from Danny Alexander supporting the freeze and the cap and lecturing public sector workers about their gold plated pensions. It was if the public sector was responsible for the banking crisis- oh I forgot that was the free market that so many here worship as the ultimate in liberal economics.

  • Andrew McCaig 4th Jul '17 - 9:08pm

    Dave,
    George did not mention the pay freeze (although ending that has been Lib Dem policy the last two elections I believe). He was talking about the recently (post-coalition) imposed cuts/cap on working age benefits and disability allowances..
    The Labour manifesto only promised to stop £2 billion of the £7 billion Tory cuts which are scheduled to come in. Of course this is quite consistent with the fact that most Labour MPs abstained when the cuts were introduced. Not Corbyn though, he has presumably just decided public-school educated students need the money more! I wonder what things in the manifesto he would have changed his mind about? Probably we will never know…

  • Dave Orbison 4th Jul '17 - 9:18pm

    George apologies, as Andrew pointed out I misread your article. My fault for skim reading.

  • “This is how minority government is supposed to work”.

    Sorry, but after the billion pound bung, I thought this was no longer a minority government and that the DUP would tag along with any legislation it proposed.

  • The DUP will tag along but the price they extract will keep going up. Very good at extracting a price are the DUP and they know the opportunity might not present itself again. You can see why the Tories are whistfully looking at the 12 Lib Dems, the price they settled for last time was much less, a few kind words and trinkets. Problem is many of the ones who rushed in are now long gone and the remainder don’t look at all keen, in fact they look dead against it.

  • Talk of supporting the Tories again is disturbing. If the LibDems were more radical they could have an electoral pact with Labour and replace the Tories as a small c party. Labour has now moved to the left so the centre right position is vacant and the Tories would become a rump fox-hunting/Ukip party which is what they have become.
    The Tories are on the way out demographically and a pact could destroy them. How many seats would LibDems win from the Tories if Labour stood down in them? It is a shame they don’t have more choice for leader because Cable and Swinson seem old fashioned and unlikely to have a radical approach .

  • Dave Orbison 5th Jul '17 - 7:28am

    George – I think there was some confusion over this aspect yes. But he has said the freeze would end. The confusion was regrettable certainly.

    I don’t expect politicians under the pressure and intense scrutiny of an election to be infallible. I don’t expect to find a manifesto that I necessarily agree with 100%. Personally, I would support scrapping of Trident for example.

    But I do recognise that all parties have a range of views and so they all have to strike their own balance. Overall I thought the Labour manifesto was one of the most radical I have ever seen. Even Tories I know, who would never vote Labour, were admitting to me that there were lots there they agreed with too.

    There was much in the LibDems I agreed with too. All the more frustrating that the LibDems ran such a negative campaign and attacked Labour almost in equal measure despite many policy overlaps.

    As has been said by others, the LibDems need to resolve what is becoming a paralysing issue for them. Are they forever going to position themselves as centrists defined by the policies of other parties or they going to break from this and set out radical policies regardless of where other parties stand? I hope the latter.

  • One of the upsides to the coalition years is that left wing Tories probably feel more at home in the Lib Dem party than they might have realised before. Consequently when the PM gets pulled to the right by her own party many MPs will have a natural home to defect to. Given the split could become fairly terminal for the Tories then this could be sIgnificant.

  • Christian 5th Jul ’17 – 8:08am……………..One of the upsides to the coalition years is that left wing Tories probably feel more at home in the Lib Dem party than they might have realised before. Consequently when the PM gets pulled to the right by her own party many MPs will have a natural home to defect to. Given the split could become fairly terminal for the Tories then this could be sIgnificant………………..

    More wishful thinking… THAT was the argument used throughout the coalition years…More recently it was how ‘right wing’ Labour had a natural home……

    It seems that some still have faith in General Melchett’s tactical acumen….

  • Richard Underhill 5th Jul '17 - 10:14am

    There was a brief mention in the Daily Politics, denied. Nothing in the Daily Telegraph.
    A vote on foxhunting has been dropped for this 2-year session (BBC).
    Women from Northern Ireland can travel to England for abortions paid for by the NHS (no mention of Scotland or Wales). Extra funding will be needed and should be “new money”.

  • Ronald Murray 5th Jul '17 - 12:52pm

    Sorry we should never work with the Plutocratic Tories ever again. Unless they publicise the Terrorist funding report even if it names her friends in Saudi Arabia the well known family business. Scrap the Pay Cap for public services. While benefiting the rich Grenfe3ll has shown up the Tories & Labour for what they are. I would never vote for either.
    In Dublin recently a tower block went on fire and Dublin Civil Defence set up a rest centre fully equipped with beds, tables chairs and a kitchen in an hour and a half. Labour destroyed our Civil Defence in 1968 saying it would be done by local authorities.
    This is what these two parties are worth nothing living in the bubble of MP’s benefits. End of rant.

  • Ronald Murray 5th Jul '17 - 12:53pm

    I am a member of Dunfermline Lib Dems lost my login details.

  • @ Joe Otten I’d rather this government proposed a mental health policy that we agree with than one that Labour or the SNP or the DUP agreed with.

    Why ? This says more about your lingering nostalgia for the Clegg/Cameron Coaltion than the merits of the policy, Joe. Time to move on.

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