So, we might have Ed Balls in a Lab/Lib Dem coalition cabinet after all…

Interesting article in today’s Independent on Sunday quoting sources close to Nick Clegg that there will be no push for changes of personnel in Coalition negotiations after the 2015 election. This seems to me to be perfectly sensible. I always thought it was daft to demand that Gordon Brown go during the negotiations in 2010. You have to make these things about actual issues. Of course, this appears to be a pre-emptive strike to ensure that Nick Clegg’s head on a plate is not demanded by Labour.

There’s some interesting speculation on the policies up for grabs, too. Electoral reform makes a comeback – but for local government. Labour agreed to that in Scotland in 2003 from a position of weakness. Would they repeat the exercise that’s ridded them of so many of their Scottish fiefdoms?

Lords reform is back on the agenda, too, after this Parliament’s efforts were wrecked by Labour and the Conservatives. And,

Policy demands Mr Clegg is likely to make include extending the pupil premium, a flagship Lib Dem measure introduced under the coalition, further tax cuts for low earners and a better deal for the environment.

The last thing we need to be doing, though, is spending the next 18 months talking about red lines and coalition negotiations. Nick played it cleverly last time, talking about leaving it to the people to make their choice and then talk to the biggest party. Liberal Democrat and Liberal leaders before have always risked getting bogged down in that kind of stuff. What’s really important is that we get our message across about what we have achieved in government and what we want to do in the future. We don’t get enough air time to deviate from that. We need to show why coalition negotiations are necessary, why we need to be in the mix and we can only do that by setting out what our values are and how they have translated into action.

What I expect as a citizen in any coalition  negotiations is that people behave like grown-ups and talk seriously about the issues. There should be no unhelpful, bitchy press briefings and everything should be approached professionally and with maturity.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

89 Comments

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 29th Dec '13 - 2:43pm

    I think on the NHS, we couldn’t just go back to the way things were under Labour where private services were used incredibly wastefully, but I don’t think that many Lib Dems would weep for the majority of the elements of the health and social care bill. I guess we’d have to look at the evidence at the time about the effects of that legislation and act accordingly.

  • This article should be put in the archives, and returned to mid 2015 when you really could do with a good chuckle.

  • A demand that Brown step down was sloppy thinking, just as it would be very foolish to demand anything similar. If Nick Clegg as leader of the Liberal Democrats were excluded, cabinet government would be impossible. Effectively, freed from collective decision making, Nick Clegg would have license for power without responsibility.

    Ivan White’s comment about the Health and Social Care act simply betrays wishful thinking. Doubtless Labour would introduce a new act, which would effectively amend rather than repeal and it is the detail of such an act that would be negotiated. On past Labour performance in office, it would be Lib Dems acting yet again arguing to constrain marketisation.

  • Chris Manners 29th Dec '13 - 3:15pm

    Interesting article? It’s utter non news. Clegg can’t demand or concede anything.

    Labour ought to come out and say they’ll demand getting rid of Clegg, Alexander and Cable as a price for any Coalition.

  • Chris Manners 29th Dec '13 - 3:18pm

    “. Doubtless Labour would introduce a new act, which would effectively amend rather than repeal and it is the detail of such an act that would be negotiated. On past Labour performance in office, it would be Lib Dems acting yet again arguing to constrain marketisation.”

    You’ve not constrained marketization of health in the Coalition very successfully, have you? Do you even believe this stuff yourself? You’ve gone way, way further to marketise than Labour did. You also chucked the Coalition Agreement in the process.

    Your Orange Book pals set up privatisation so it can’t be undone.

  • Little Jackie Paper 29th Dec '13 - 3:33pm

    I would make six observations, in no order.

    1) Say what ever you want to about LD red lines, Labour will make a red line out of an energy price freeze, a policy that Clegg referred to in less than flattering terms. That is a big, bit issue for a Lib/Lab coalition.

    2) Is the LD party ‘triple lock’ still in effect?

    3) Electoral reform is a pipe-dream for at least two decades. STV for local elections is as good as it will get, and my feeling is that in a lot of areas it would make little if any difference.

    4) The idea in 2010 of demanding Brown step down was a very bad one and I hope that no one repeats that sort of thought.

    5) Interesting that the pupil premium appears. It does rather beg the question of how free school meals was prioritised over increasing the PP, which seemed a more obvious route to go down.

    6) This all does beg the question of whether a Lib/Lab coalition would have a 2017 EU referendum.

  • ”Of course, this appears to be a pre-emptive strike to ensure that Nick Clegg’s head on a plate is not demanded by Labour.”

    Approx 90% of 2015 voters will likely want to see Clegg out of government in 2015.
    How undemocratic to be so desperate to cling onto power if Labour don’t win a majority.
    It also reminds people of his hubris in 2010, making demands he had no right to make.

  • Alisdair McGregor 29th Dec '13 - 4:36pm

    Ed Balls main problem is the fact that he’s disliked or mistrusted by the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

    Anyway, I foresee him being replaced by Alistair Darling after the Scotland referendum.

  • Caron wrote:
    “Nick played it cleverly last time, talking about leaving it to the people to make their choice and then talk to the biggest party. ”

    Does biggest party mean most votes or biggest number of seats ?

    I think the electorate have the right to a straight answer to this question rather than the evasive answers given by Clegg thus far.

  • Passing through 29th Dec '13 - 6:04pm

    I’m not even sure Clegg could be part of any Labour-led Coalition in 2015. By necessity such a Coalition is going to have to govern on the basis, fairly or unfairly, that the current Coalition has made terrible mistakes and most of it’s policies were wrong and need reversing or massive amendments.

    How can Clegg, Mr Coalition himself, be expected to publicly denounce the policies he was hailing as wonderful successes only a few years earlier. Particularly given the demands for Brown to go in 2010, the fact the LDs are likely to be in an even weaker negotiating position next time round and that Clegg is electorally toxic a demand he steps down in favour of someone more amenable to Labour like Cable is the only way such a Coalition could work, even if you consider that grossly unfair.

    A final point about the LDs pre-election promise in 2010 to try to first form a Coalition with the party with most votes, don’t pretend that that was some sort of honourable bowing to the “Will of the People”, the polls at the time were clear, this always was going to mean that the Conservatives were going to be first choice as Coalition partner which was as Clegg has always wanted.

    It is interesting to see that with the outcome of 2015 less clear-cut that this time round the LDs are keeping their options open which means it is possible that in 2015 Labour gets the most votes and most seats but the LDs still ultimately decide that they’d rather form another Coalition with the Conservatives and the “Will of the People” be damned.

    Don’t get me wrong, “keeping your options open” is the only sensible option for a third party looking to hold the balance of power it just makes the effective 2010 pre-election pledge to form a Coalition with the Conservatives regardless such a strange, and usually unremarked, thing to have chosen to do.

  • Stuart Mitchell 29th Dec '13 - 6:58pm

    @Simon Shaw
    “If only they would, but I don’t think even Labour are that stupid.”

    Correct. There’s only one party stupid enough to insist on another party dropping their leader before they’ll talk to them.

  • Stuart Mitchell 29th Dec '13 - 7:27pm

    @Simon Shaw
    Nick Clegg will lose the next General Election. Is it OK for other parties to insist on getting rid of him then?

  • John Broggio 29th Dec '13 - 7:33pm

    Nick Clegg clearly didn’t win the 2010 one either…

  • @ Simon Shaw
    Do you seriously think the electorate have not learned the lesson from 2010, and of a Liberal Democrat leader, who keeps a red and blue negligee under his pillow,… just in case?

  • No one has addressed the sheer impracticality of a coalition between two parties where the leader of one party is outside the government, on the backbenches. Having said that, in the event of the Lib Dems losing seats and votes, I am not sure how Nick Clegg could continue as deputy PM, a position such as Foreign Secretary might be feasible.

  • Tom Snowdon 29th Dec '13 - 8:43pm

    The whole agenda for a coalition is set in the few days after the election. And that agenda is agreed by the handful of people involved in negotiations. So next time, can we have a negotiation team that reflects the views and priorities of the party membership ? Remember, they are the people that get the MPs elected. And as mentioned above, is the triple lock still in place?

  • Peter Watson 29th Dec '13 - 8:47pm

    @Passing through “How can Clegg, Mr Coalition himself, be expected to publicly denounce the policies he was hailing as wonderful successes only a few years earlier.”
    Oh, I think Clegg would have no problems at all doing that 😉

  • paul barker 29th Dec '13 - 8:57pm

    I Agree with the article in full but in practise I think the chance of any Government involving “The Labour Party” is Zero. Ex-Labour MPs/Fragments is another thing entirely. Ed Balls would be welcome of course but I doubt he has enough humility to carry on in Political life after everything hes associated with has been proved wrong.

  • Paul In Twickenham 29th Dec '13 - 9:12pm

    Why are “senior figures in Mr. Clegg’s circle” contacting the Indy at this time to talk about coalition negotiations? Is this an attempt to create a perception that coalition is inevitable in 2015? It would make some sense to talk up this prospect now as Labour’s poll lead has been falling this year, even if the Lib Dems have been flatlining at 9% throughout.

  • Passing through 29th Dec '13 - 10:50pm

    @Simon Shaw

    And the problem with your comment is the polls had the Conservatives as largest party as far back as October 2007 and bar a few months of Brown’s honeymoon in 2007 even as far back as January 2006.

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/voting-intention-2005-2010

    Genuine question, does anyone know when “coalition with largest party” became officially and publicly the LDs preference in the event of a hung parliament?

    Interesting to see theoretically what would have happened in the unlikely event that the largest party had turned out to be the likes of the BNP, or even UKIP, would the LDs still have insisted on the “Will of the People” over more ideologically-palatable, alternative Coalition options.

  • The deviation from what you expected is where decision making goes wrong. Unscientific decision making , indoctrinated decision making. 2,3 ,4 ,5 sides to Ed balls #popular he’s a good dude lets not forget. The critical element of politics always has to be in existence on the mountains .

  • Stuart Mitchell 30th Dec '13 - 12:05am

    @Simon Shaw
    “Unlike Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown was Prime Minister before the General Election. He was clearly seen to have ‘lost’.”

    So only the ruling party can lose an election? Interesting. Now that the Lib Dems are in government, can they lose the next one, or will you come up with some special exemption?

    “For him to stay on as PM would have been seen by many as a negation of democracy.”

    Perhaps some of the 8.6 million people who had just voted for Brown’s party would have regarded it as a “negation of democracy” for the leader of the third party to be ousting Brown in such a way.

  • Labour have a small dilemma over Clegg and the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems are now Britain’s most widely hated party. So Labour will not want to say much about the idea of working with the Lib Dems, because it would cost them votes. However, if on the other hand Labour were to demand Clegg’s resignation or rule out a Lib Dem coalition altogether, then that could also cost them votes. As indicated by posters above, it would be seen as arrogant, bossy and intransigent.

    One way for Labour to escape their dilemma might be to set very demanding conditions for any Lib Dem coalition, conditions which the Lib Dems would probably refuse. That way, Labour could largely avoid being blamed for going it alone as a minority government, should the election result make that a viable option.

    However, if Labour took that route, they would instead risk a different potentially adverse outcome. Clegg and his team, who despite a few noisy arguments are clearly determined to stick with the Tories, would just love the opportunity to claim credibly that it was Labour who had made a Lib-Lab coalition well-nigh impossible. If such a claim were credible, then Clegg could “justify” going into the election in alliance with the Tories. Clegg could try to argue that the Centre must ally with the Right if Labour adopt far-left or impractical policies. It would be a false argument, as Clegg’s “centrism” is in reality a paid-up pro-Tory position, as most of the general public well understand. Still, it might win back a few credulous voters for the Lib Dems, and, nothing else seems likely to do that.

    Labour would then be faced with the need to stand alone against a semi-united campaign by the Tories and Lib Dems working together. Would Labour be happy to do that?

    If Labour had the balls and the Balls, they would go for it, they would delight in fighting for the squeezed middle against two discredited austerity parties, and they would probably win. However, Labour have the Miliband, a more timorous personality, who would be fearful of what his opponents might achieve by a joint campaign (a coupon election for example). Miliband will probably prefer to keep things vague and avoid burning any boats.

    Clegg, meanwhile, has been busy continually burning his boats with Labour for years, with a constant rain of anti-Labour rhetoric. Quite why anybody can still believe that Clegg might one day work with Labour is one of the great mysteries of our time. The answer must lie with the rose-tinted spectacles of all those Lib Dem activists who say they would prefer a coalition with Labour – and who then continue to work under a leadership to whom the idea is a complete non-starter!

  • @Passing through

    Whilst I agree with the general thrust of your comments, I disagree with the statement: “It is interesting to see that with the outcome of 2015 less clear-cut “. The average Tory lead in the polls at the equivalent stage in December 2008 was around 4.5%, which is marginally less than Labour’s current lead in the polls – a lead which has an equal statistical probability of increasing as decreasing. What’s more, a small Labour lead is more likely to lead to an outright Labour victory than a small Tory lead, so the next election is currently looking more clear-cut than at the equivalent stage last time.

  • I think this attempt to stigmatise Nick Clegg is just more of the same Labour bullying and scapegoating we’ve seen over the past three years as Labourites react with tribalist venom to another left of centre party being in government. They just can’t stomach it, can they?

    If Labour insists on our leader standing down, we’ll insist on Ed Miliband standing down. See how they like that.

  • Simon Banks 30th Dec '13 - 9:50am

    Ivan and Chris: I doubt if Labour’s leaders are quite so silly as to think they could demand Liberal Democrats change their leader, let alone other members of the team. If they do, it’s a clear sign they don’t want coalition at all. On our side, we may find Ed Balls repugnant, but not in the way we would someone who peddled racism, for example, and it would be equally silly to refuse to work with him. Previous coalition experience (not just this one) suggests parties often find people they couldn’t stand before are actually fine to work with. Jeremy Thorpe was very unwise to complain about Michael Foot’s inclusion in Labour’s 1974 government.

    I agree that Nick Clegg leans to the right, but as for his rhetoric, before 2010 he wasn’t very complimentary about the Tories either, and since 2010 he’s been in coalition with them and facing constant Labour attacks. What do you expect him to do in response? Agree with them? Stay on the defensive?

  • @ David Allen
    “Labour have a small dilemma over Clegg and the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems are now Britain’s most widely hated party.”

    Based on what, exactly? That is just more of the same bullying, scapegoating Labourite talk of which we’ve had far too much already.

    “Clegg and his team, who despite a few noisy arguments are clearly determined to stick with the Tories”

    What are you talking about? Again, you show zero understanding of the events from May 2010 onwards. Do you really think that collapsing the government would have done us any good at all? They are sticking with the government because that is what they said they would do. And Labour can’t stand that fact because they think our sole role is to make up their numbers when they weren’t popular enough to get re-elected.

    “If Labour had the balls and the Balls, they would go for it, they would delight in fighting for the squeezed middle against two discredited austerity parties, and they would probably win.”

    Again, I am flabbergasted at this statement. What is supposed to be discredited about a Coalition that has not only taken on Labour’s deficit, bringing it down, and has also got the economy growing again? And what on earth does “fighting for the squeezed middle” mean exactly? It’s just a meaningless soundbite culled from one of Miliband’s failed spin efforts.

    “Clegg, meanwhile, has been busy continually burning his boats with Labour for years, with a constant rain of anti-Labour rhetoric.”

    Unbelievable that you can make this statement, given the unceasing rain of hatred, aggression and violent hate speech poured on Nick Clegg and our party for years by Labour. Labour left the economy and the public finances in a complete mess and are still in denial over it. Not to point this out would have been utterly extraordinary.

    Frankly, I have never before come across such a concoction of Labour-supporting non sequiturs in one single LDV comment.

  • More pie in the sky, nobody will have a party with 10 or less MPs in a coalition with them. Forget it.

  • Stuart Mitchell 30th Dec '13 - 11:20am

    @Geoffrey Payne
    Surely the leadership of whatever party should be decided by the members of that party and nobody else. You can’t get much more anti-democratic than the leader of one party forcing the leader of another party to step down. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect to happen in Zimbabwe or Russia, not Britain.

    @RC
    “They are sticking with the government because that is what they said they would do. And Labour can’t stand that fact because they think our sole role is to make up their numbers when they weren’t popular enough to get re-elected.”

    You’ve got it wrong. As a Labour supporter I’m absolutely delighted that the Lib Dems are in coalition with the Tories, because it’s meant that over half your 2010 voters have abandoned you and most of them plan to vote Labour instead.

    “the unceasing rain of hatred, aggression and violent hate speech poured on Nick Clegg and our party for years by Labour”

    Can you provide any examples? Should be easy if it’s been “unceasing”.

  • Dave G Fawcett 30th Dec '13 - 12:10pm

    Stuart Mitchell: ‘You’ve got it wrong. As a Labour supporter I’m absolutely delighted that the Lib Dems are in coalition with the Tories, because it’s meant that over half your 2010 voters have abandoned you and most of them plan to vote Labour instead.’

    One detail no-one is factoring in. In my own ward in Gateshead (and in other wards in the town), surveys show that voters are deserting the Labour party in droves for UKIP. Though these surveys are perhaps not statistically significant, tey do give a flavour of the mood of Labour voters and lead me to suspect that in the North of England Labour will lose quite a lot of votes to UKIP. Even the local Labour party is waking up to this scenario.

  • Stuart Mitchell 30th Dec '13 - 2:34pm

    @Simon Shaw
    What you said was that Brown lost the election “unlike Nick Clegg”. Implying that you think there’s some sense in which Clegg’s third place amounted to a victory. Bizarre.

    “But it was the electorate who ousted Gordon Brown – 71% voted for other parties.”

    Just as 77% voted for parties other than the Lib Dems (this figure could be over 90% in 2015). Yet still you see nothing anti-democratic in Clegg using electoral circumstance to force other party leaders to quit.

    “In fact 54% voted for the two parties which ended up forming the Coalition Government.”

    Hilarious. Fact: not one single person voted for a coalition government.

    “As I said above, I very much hope that Labour do exactly that. That would then enable the Lib Dems to avoid going into coalition with Labour in 2015, an outcome which I would regard as the least desirable from the point of view of the Lib Dems.”

    That would suit me too, as it would be the final nail in the Lib Dems’ coffin. If a Labour/LD coalition is the only viable result of the election, the Lib Dems would be toast if they refused to participate – especially as the barmy fixed parliament law they brought in could condemn us to five years of utter chaos.

    Though of course, a Labour/LD coalition would also be disastrous for the Lib Dems, as your party would haemorrhage yet more members, this time from the right (including perhaps yourself Simon?). So perhaps what you should be praying for is an outright victory for either one of the two main parties.

    Anyway, if Clegg doesn’t want to form a coalition with Labour, he doesn’t need Labour to provide him with an excuse. He’s never committed himself to forming a coalition with anybody. All he’s ever said is that he would “talk first” to the party with the most votes/seats – which, in typical Clegg fashion, actually means nothing and commits him to nothing.

  • It was wrong of Nick Clegg to say that Brown should step down, but it was never clarified what Brown should step down from. At the time, I took this to be from the position of Prime Minister; I still think that was what was meant.

    What another party cannot do is to demand that another party change its leader. This is clearly impossible as it would require a new leadership election. Obviously, the Labour party would not expect Clegg to be PM so the situation does not arise in the same way. It would be possible for Labour to refuse Clegg as deputy PM. However, as I have written before, excluding the leader of a coalition party from the cabinet would be asking for trouble and seriously weaken the cabinet.

    On the other hand it might be fun for those who enjoy politics as a spectator sport.

  • Stuart Mitchell 30th Dec '13 - 4:03pm

    @Simon
    You snipped the bit where you referred to Brown losing the election. Seems to me I summarised your point fairly. Did Clegg lose the election, or not?

    “I believe that an outrght Labour victory in 2015 is the best possible outcome from a selfish Lib Dem point of view.”

    Are there any other Lib Dems who would rather see a Labour victory than a Lib Dem one, or does only Simon think such things?

  • Nick Barlow 30th Dec '13 - 4:56pm

    I’m just amused that ‘senior party figures’ who are happy with George Osborne as Chancellor seem to think they have a leg to stand on in blocking Ed Balls. What planet are these people on?

  • Stuart Mitchell 30th Dec '13 - 7:17pm

    @Simon Shaw
    I suggest you go back and read the full exchange. The comment you quote was a direct response to something I said about Nick Clegg, so I am not misrepresenting you. I don’t differentiate between Nick Clegg losing an election and Gordon Brown losing one – though you still appear to. If I’ve got this wrong, please stop blustering and clear it up. Did Clegg lose the election, or didn’t he?

    “Do you think Gordon Brown won the election?”

    Er, no. I’ve never suggested he did.

    “Is that why you think that he should have remained as PM?”

    Eh? When did I say that? And you complain about misquoting! What I said was that Gordon Brown’s leadership of the Labour Party was a matter for him and the Labour Party ONLY – certainly not Nick Clegg. As far as I can gather, most Lib Dems would agree with this and are embarrassed by the stunt Clegg tried to pull.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 31st Dec '13 - 2:39am

    Whilst I really don’t want to intrude on Stuart and Simon’s love fest…

    This is a fascinating non-story. It seems to make some pretty heroic assumptions that Labour can’t win the next election on their own, which flies in the face of current and recent polling data. Yes, much can change, and may yet, but why brief the media on conjecture?

    The key elements of coalition are threefold – electoral mathematics, policy convergence and mutual respect. Each element has to exist in order for a coalition to be successful, so if politicians from all parties perhaps treated each other with respect, that might be a good jumping off point.

    Oh, and whilst I am here, the triple lock currently applies, unless there are plans to alter it, of which I am unaware. It isn’t quite what outsiders think it is, but it still exists.

  • Paul In Twickenham 31st Dec '13 - 7:03am

    @Mark – I agree, exactly the point I was trying to make earlier. The story is not “Lib Dems says they might work with Ed Balls in Lib/Lab coalition”, the story is “Lib Dem leadership talk up the prospect of post-2015 coalition with Labour”: so what is their purpose in going to the press to raise this proposal at this time? Someone thinks they’re playing a clever game. But based on recent history they’re probably not.

  • Jayne Mansfield 31st Dec '13 - 9:49am

    Ed Miliband seems a thoughtful, decent sort of person but I am not sure what he or his party stand for. But would he and his party really consider coalition with the Liberal Democrats when the Labour party has been constantly blamed and criticised by the Lib Dems fo all our current problems?

    I just can’t envision what will happen. Will the Liberal Democrat leader and Lib Dem MP’s be nodding and smirking when Ed Miliband criticises the Coalition record on the NHS, the economy, the constant refrain of ‘ we are clearing up Labour’s mess’ etc.

    I can’t image anything more likely to make the electorate even more cynical than we now are.

  • Stuart Mitchell 31st Dec '13 - 10:38am

    @Simon Shaw

    Hey Simon, you forgot to answer my question about whether you accept that Nick Clegg lost the 2010 election. Again.

    “Excellent! So you agree with most of the electorate that Gordon Brown clearly lost the General Election and should not have remained as PM.”

    I don’t think you quite understand how UK general elections work. The election was not a referendum on whether the people wanted Gordon Brown as PM. By your way of thinking, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg ALL “clearly lost” the election and none of them should have been PM. If by some circumstance Brown had stayed on as PM, his mandate would have been stronger than Nick Clegg’s is now as deputy PM. Likewise, if Clegg as deputy PM is rejected in 2015 by large swathes of his 2010 voters (which at the moment looks certain), then by your own reasoning (though not mine) Labour would be entirely justified in demanding Clegg’s head on a plate as part of any 2015 coalition negotiations. But of course you are outraged by such a suggestion, because you are inconsistent. Not so with me – I think no party leader should ever try to oust the leader of another party in that way. It was a daft thing for Clegg to do, and most Lib Dems (even Caron Lindsay!) would seem to agree with me on that.

  • Mark Valladares, re:

    This is a fascinating non-story. It seems to make some pretty heroic assumptions that Labour can’t win the next election on their own

    I think you miss the point here. It is important that the Lib Dem leadership clear the decks well before an electoral campaign, so that they are not accused of making last minute, self-interested decisions. It is actually better that this sort of statement emerges while Labour is clearly ahead in the polls. This invites Labour to ignore/ accept or ignore the proposition and forestalls incessant questions from the media in the run up to the election about who Lib Dems might work with.

    Whether Labour can win outright is a moot point, rather than an heroic assumption. If they do it will be from the lowest mid term advantage in polling history. However, polling history does not record a parallel to the current coalition government, so we have to be careful about reference to precedents

  • Simon, I think you are right and wrong: effectively there was an overall rejection of Gordon Brown and it is difficult to see how h could have changed his style to be a coalition PM, but you are overstating it to claim that such a coalition (with Brown as PM) would have been “a negation of democracy”. In fact a few seats going other ways might have ended up with this possibility.

    It would be interesting to review exactly what Nick Clegg did say in the run up to and in the aftermath of the 2010 election. Surely he could not have demanded that the Labour Party change their leader could he? I took it at the time to mean that a Lib-Lab coalition would have to find another PM. Even this looks dreadfully mistaken, and unstatesmanlike, as it would have exacerbated warring factions which would have crippled any such coalition.

  • @Martin
    “If they do it will be from the lowest mid term advantage in polling history.”

    Evidence for your assertion?

    Let’s look at the last two times the opposition party turfed out the government: 1997 – Labour were well ahead 17 months before the election and they had a landslide in 1997. 1979 – the Tories were an average of 2.7% behind Labour 17 months before the election in Dec 1975, yet they managed to win outright.

    The most accurate estimate we have for the next election is the current polling, which shows Labour winning with a small majority. Their polling is just as likely to increase as decrease before May 2015. Playing guessing games based on a personal gut feeling isn’t informative.

  • Stuart Mitchell 31st Dec '13 - 2:16pm

    @Simon Shaw
    Two more posts, two more failures to answer my question about whether Nick Clegg lost the 2010 election. Instead you prefer to carry on arguing with some imaginary person (for it was nobody on this thread) who denies that Gordon Brown lost the 2010 election.

    “It clearly says something about the character of Gordon Brown that he didn’t stand down immediately himself.”

    Yes, it says that he took his constitutional duties seriously and quite rightly stayed put until Nick Clegg stopped playing games and allowed a new government to be formed. The fact that this took nearly a week was entirely down to Nick Clegg.

    From The Guardian, Tuesday 11th May 2010: “Brown knew his premiership was at an end, and had wanted for some hours to go to Buckingham Palace to see [the Queen] to tender his resignation. But the palace said No. Protocol suggested that he must wait for the call from Nick Clegg, telling him he had struck a deal with the Conservative party.”

    So tell me Simon, what exactly does it say “about the character of Gordon Brown” that he complied with the Queen’s request NOT to resign until Nick Clegg gave the say so?

    “For Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems to have allowed any suggestion to gain traction that Gordon Brown might remain as PM would have been seen as a negation of democracy.”

    But people don’t see it that way – I have seen very few people argue here that Clegg’s move was in any way defensible. You seem to forget that, although most people could see that there was only one viable coalition (a Tory/LD one), the Lib Dems were nevertheless still prepared to negotiate with Labour five days after the election. Suppose the Lib Dems (for it was THEIR choice) had decided to invite Labour to form a coalition with them, and Labour had been daft enough to agree. In such circumstances, who exactly within the Labour or Lib Dem parties would have had more moral or electoral authority than Brown to be PM?

    Nick Clegg, perhaps? It was reported that Clegg suggested that HE could be caretaker PM while Labour elected a new leader. But he was only third favourite with the electorate.

  • Steve, on an earlier thread Donald Smith posted this data about opposition party best polling data betweenelections:

    Option C [Tories the largest party] seems to me the most plausible, simply going by what has happened in almost every parliament since 1945. The main governing party % points deficit (or lead) behind the opposition party in the monthly Gallup and then the ICM polls during the course of each parliament has been –

    1945-50 Gov 13 behind to 3 ahead
    1950-51 Gov 13 behind to 1 ahead
    1951-55 Gov 10 behind to 3 ahead
    1955-59 Gov 17 behind to 6 ahead
    1959-64 Gov 19 behind to 1 ahead
    1964-66 Gov 11 behind to 6 ahead
    1966-70 Gov 32 behind to 3 behind
    1970-74 Gov 25 behind to 1 ahead
    1974-74 Gov 2 ahead to 3 ahead
    1974-79 Gov 25 behind to 7 behind
    1979-83 Gov 13 behind to 15 ahead
    1983-87 Gov 11 behind to 12 ahead
    1987-92 Gov 24 behind to 8 ahead
    1992-97 Gov 29 behind to 13 behind
    1997-01 Gov 4 behind to 9 ahead
    2001-05 Gov 2 ahead to 3 ahead
    2005-10 Gov 20 behind to 7 behind
    2010-15 Con 12 behind to ?

    In general, if a governing party is less than 20% points behind then it usually regains its lead at the following election.
    The election that stands out here as unusual is 1992 and shows the effect of John Major replacing Margaret Thatcher. Will there be a Conservative lead in 2015 – I think there will be

    Patterns can be broken, but it would be foolish to ignore them. There is the possibility that the Conservatives could fall even further behind, of course.

    You seem to be using the between election polling as a guide to what happens in the election, this data tells you that this has never happened.

  • Steve, actually looking at the article, I realise you had seen it and commented on it. Why on earth did you ask for the evidence that you had already seen?

    It is important not to ignore evidence even if you do not like it. Donald Smith was simply quoting what has happened, he took the best opposition polling (worst government polling) and compared it to votes cast in the ensuing general election. A more sophisticated analysis could compute the length of time as well. Incidentally, John Curtice who, specialises in electoral analysis, makes makes similar points.

  • Stuart Mitchell 31st Dec '13 - 5:33pm

    @Simon Shaw
    Thanks Simon, so your answer is Yes, Clegg DID lose the election, which kind of makes me wonder why you’ve spent the last two days getting so shirty about me pointing that out.

    However much Brown was rejected by the voters, Clegg was rejected more so.

  • Stuart Mitchell 31st Dec '13 - 5:38pm

    “It’s not a matter of staying on for a few days which is constitutionally what had to happen.”

    Earlier you condemned him for not resigning “immediately”.

  • Stuart Mitchell 31st Dec '13 - 6:32pm

    @Simon Shaw
    “The negation of democract would have been if Gordon Brown had continued as PM for many months, as he was reported to want to do.”

    Instead we ended up with a PM and deputy PM who had both lost the election as well – and one of their first acts was to ensure they couldn’t be shifted for five years. Negation of democracy indeed.

  • @Martin
    “Steve, actually looking at the article, I realise you had seen it and commented on it. Why on earth did you ask for the evidence that you had already seen?It is important not to ignore evidence even if you do not like it. ”

    I’ve looked up ‘evidence’ in the dictionary and it doesn’t say that it is whatever Martin can find to support his opinions. My critique of Donald Smith’s analysis was comprehensive and sound . I’m a research scientist – I spend a considerable part of my life evaluating evidence and judging other peoples’ evaluation of evidence, but thanks for the advice.

    “You seem to be using the between election polling as a guide to what happens in the election, this data tells you that this has never happened.”

    It does nothing of the sort. Opinion polls tell us the most likely outcome of the next election – there is nothing mid-term about them – they are always the most accurate forecast of what will happen (but obviously you always need to take the average of the most recent few polls) and leads swing back and forth depending on peoples’ decisions for and against voting for certain parties. There is an equal statistical probability of Labour increasing their lead from today’s polling as there is of them decreasing their lead. If there was a soundly derived trend of opposition parties polling higher in the mid-term then the pollsters would try to remove the bias from their methodology – it is in their commercial interests to predict the next election as accurately as possible

  • Chris Manners 31st Dec '13 - 6:54pm

    “Only a blinkered Labour supporter would say that. Compared to 2005 Gordon Brown presided over a 6% fall in the Labour share of the vote, losing nearly 100 seats. Nick Clegg presided over a 1% increase in vote share. My point is that if you asked a sample of people “Who would you say lost the 2010 General Election?”, I think 80%+ of people would say Gordon Brown.”

    Because they think of elections as a two horse race.

    Clegg came third in that two horse race.

  • Chris Manners 31st Dec '13 - 6:57pm

    “RC 30th Dec ’13 – 9:26am

    I think this attempt to stigmatise Nick Clegg is just more of the same Labour bullying and scapegoating we’ve seen over the past three years as Labourites react with tribalist venom to another left of centre party being in government. They just can’t stomach it, can they”

    A left of centre party aren’t in government. An Orange Book clique who took over a left of centre party are.

    Bullying and stigmatising? Welcome to test cricket.

  • Chris Manners 31st Dec '13 - 7:01pm

    “@Chris Manners
    “Labour ought to come out and say they’ll demand getting rid of Clegg, Alexander and Cable as a price for any Coalition.”

    If only they would, but I don’t think even Labour are that stupid. If they did, then the Lib Dems would have a perfect excuse not to enter coalition with Labour.

    Incidentally, your reference to “price” shows that you don’t really understand the Lib Dem Party”

    Given that John Hemming and Mike Hancock remain undisciplined for outrageous behaviour, I think I do understand at least the clique that run it. Holier than thou, worse than the others, conning their members.

  • This discussion has degenerated beyond sense (Labour tribalism is to blame, but I would say that wouldn’t I!)

    Truth is Clegg, Brown and Cameron all WON. Obviously they did since they were elected. Parliamentary procedure means that MPs elect a PM. Cameron became PM because he was able to garner sufficient support amongst MPs. Brown was in no position to do this. Only in this sense did Brown ‘lose’. There was never any prospect of Clegg becoming PM, so ‘win’ or ‘lose’ was never an option. If there is no overall majority next time (and on statistical grounds I regard this as less likely than not), there will be less urgency for a rapidly negotiated deal and more possibility of a minority government. However in such an eventuality, I am certain that Ed Miliband will do all he can to secure his position as PM and he might conclude that a minority government is a decidedly uncomfortable option.

  • It would do well to remember that in the UK we have a “prime minister” not a ” president”

    We do not vote to elect a “prime minister”
    we vote to elect individual “MP’s” to represent us in parliament.
    The party with the largest amount of MP’s tends to form a government and the party elects who the leader of the party is.
    A governing party “could” in theory change their leader any number of times during a course of parliament giving us different Prime Ministers.

  • Chris Manners 31st Dec '13 - 8:09pm

    “As there are no accusations of “outrageous behaviour” against John Hemming, and as Mike Hancock has been approriately disciplined, your smear comments are even less relevant than normal.”

    Sorry that won’t wash. Parts of the report into Mike Hancock have been leaked to The Guardian and Private Eye, despite efforts of Portsmouth Council’s Lib Dems to keep it secret. Not pretty reading.

    Hemming behaved appallingly over the Essex adoption case, building on his deplorable behaviour a couple of years earlier in another case. He compounded that by going on to Mumsnet and threatening to sue a poster and report her to the Bar Council. And then posting Italian court document.

  • Stuart Mitchell 31st Dec '13 - 10:40pm

    @Simon Shaw
    “So as everybody ‘lost’ the election (as you put it), who would you have had as PM? Gordon Brown, perhaps – on the basis that he is Labour, I suppose?”

    I would have had whoever was able to command a majority in the Commons. That person turned out to be David Cameron.

    As it happened, I never thought for one moment that any sort of coalition with Labour in it was a viable possibility. Few people did (though Paddy Ashdown and Peter Mandelson come to mind). However, the fact is that the Lib Dems continued to pursue (or at least pretend to pursue) this as an option right up to the Tuesday following the election. Now, if such a coalition had materialised, why shouldn’t Gordon Brown have led it? As the leader who’d delivered 8.6 million votes for the largest of the coalition parties, it seems to me that he’d have had more moral right to do so than anybody else within Labour or the Lib Dems.

    The essential reason I disagree with you is this. The only way Brown could have continued as PM for any amount of time would have been if he’d been able to command a working majority. But if he’d been able to do that, then it would be ridiculous to describe the situation as undemocratic. Having a majority in the Commons is basically how we define democratic validity in this country. Now, you might argue that the system itself is undemocratic- but that’s not Gordon Brown’s fault.

  • David Allen 1st Jan '14 - 12:40am

    RC said:

    “Unbelievable that you can make this statement, given the unceasing rain of hatred, aggression and violent hate speech poured on Nick Clegg and our party for years by Labour. Labour left the economy and the public finances in a complete mess and are still in denial over it. Not to point this out would have been utterly extraordinary. Frankly, I have never before come across such a concoction of Labour-supporting non sequiturs in one single LDV comment.”

    So, a ceaseless rant of hate-words, reminiscent of Adolf-speak, with the other side blamed for causing all the hatred. Happy New Year, Cleggite tribalists! Maybe make a resolution to lighten up a little? (Oh and PS, I don’t support Labour, I just don’t support tribalism either.)

  • Stuart Mitchell 1st Jan '14 - 9:59am

    @Simon Shaw
    Reasons so obvious, most Lib Dems seem unable to see them…

  • Chris Manners 2nd Jan '14 - 10:17pm

    “Labour left the economy and the public finances in a complete mess and are still in denial over it. ”

    Growing by 2%, the economy. As for the “complete mess”, see this excellent article by Robert Peston.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15717770

    UK’s debt very prudently scheduled, which is what matters. Spain had falling debt before the recession, but lots of it coming up for renewal.

    The Coalition inherited a much better situation than Hollande did from Sarko in France.

  • Chris Manners 2nd Jan '14 - 10:32pm

    @Simon Shaw

    Hemming is a typical pseudo-campaigner. He’s even worse than Charlotte Leslie, and that’s saying something.

    In 2011, he was slaughtered by a judge for his conduct.

    http://www.headoflegal.com/2011/03/23/john-hemming-mp-abuse-of-power-and-privilege/

    In 2013, he merely posted a court order with personal details of vulnerable children. He then complained about a family court barrister who willingly provided her name to him by email so he could do it. The name’s now made it into the Mail. Fantastic.

    The barrister’s written to Clegg about Hemming. Yet to receive even an acknowledgement.

    He’s consistently been bigged up by a bloke called Ian Joseph who runs a website about “forced adoption”. Here’s a nice bit of advice Joseph’s provided.

    “Never ask them [Social Services] for help.Think very carefully and make sure you have very firm evidence before you report a violent partner(especially if the abuse is only verbal) or even a sexual molester (especially if the children beg you to say nothing) as once social workers or police are involved you risk losing your children for “failing to protect them”

    And

    “IF the “SS” threaten to take your children for adoption,make sure they never forget you .Hug them tight at “last contact” so they cannot easily be removed while you repeat to them that wicked people HAVE KIDNAPPED THEM and are stealing them for money ,and to say no to adoption when they try to give them a horrible new mummy and daddy !”

    Sound like an honourable sort to you? Hemming’s not condemned him.

    Hancock’s resigned the whip? That means nothing. Still in effect a Lib Dem MP and Lib Dem councillor. From what we know already, there’s no way he should still be either. See here, and Private Eye

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/dec/23/mike-hancock-sexual-harassment-allegations

    The report has been kept secret. Given the guff about Falkirk from Clegg, that’s quite something, isn’t it?

    New Politics! Nothing would have happened to Rennard if he’d been an MP.

  • Chris Manners 2nd Jan '14 - 10:36pm

    “Because the Lib Dems wouldn’t have been willing to be part of such a coalition, for the obvious reasons I spelt out above.”

    I thought there was a pressing need for stability, and we were heading the way of Greece and all? But hey, what’s that compared to “Gordon Brown boo!”

  • The Liberal Democrats will be very, very, lucky (in purely statistical terms) if they get a chance to be in coalition with either Labour or the Tories. If such a situation by remote chance arises, they should be counting their blessings (such as they may be), not looking the gift horse in the mouth.

  • I very much doubt that Labour would want to go into coalition with us. Their voters would not stand for it, we have been tarred with the Tory brush as far as they are concerned. My guess is that Labour would try to govern as a minority government.

    Have we seriously screwed up our chances, because of blocking the constituency boundary reforms? I think we have shot ourselves in the foot, because the current boundaries significantly benefit Labour compared to the Conservatives. We should be trying to get the Conservatives back in, albeit with a slim majority. Can we please get the boundary reforms back on the agenda and enacted in time for 2015. Sorry I have been a bit slow to understand what a foolish thing we did.

  • @ David-1 “The Liberal Democrats will be very, very, lucky (in purely statistical terms) if they get a chance to be in coalition with either Labour or the Tories”.

    I do not see this at all David. We can do really well in the next GE if only we fight harder to make our voice heard. One of the reasons we are lagging is that UKIP is talking a lot of popular stuff about the EU and we need to counter their campaign by selling our own policies more forcefully. Like most of us on here, I am a firm supporter of a federal Europe and I am absolutely behind Nick Clegg standing up to the anti-EU brigade and putting spanners in UKIP’s works. We must not accept defeat David. Nick truly believes that his EU dream is everyone’s dream. If we support him without question, I am convinced the lost voters will eventually return to us.

  • David Evans 5th Jan '14 - 9:17pm

    @ Sue Render

    “If we support him without question, I am convinced the lost voters will eventually return to us.”

    I sincerely hope no Lib Dem would be so naive as to support any leader without question. If we do we really have lost it, in addition to all the councillors, members, MPs, MSPs and soon MEPs Nick has lost as leader.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRoy 21st May - 4:34pm
    Nigel Farage has his own views on this. Of Ms Andreasen, he said: “The woman is impossible.” Douglas Carswell was “sniping from the sidelines”. He...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 21st May - 4:31pm
    You Gov polls seem to be advertised a lot on the media including here. As it was founded by Zahawi and Shakespeare both Tories ,one...
  • User Avatarexpats 21st May - 4:15pm
    chris moore 21st May '19 - 1:48pm..........................The Tory membership has changed considerably since 2010 and overall, since the Referendum, become much more radical in its...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 21st May - 3:35pm
    Joseph, It seems that you mistakenly believe that business output has to increase before demand increases. Keynesian economics does not. As I keep telling you...
  • User AvatarDavid Becket 21st May - 3:28pm
    We made many mistakes, our MPs should have controlled Clegg, but we gave stable government, that has not been seen since. The lesson is how...
  • User Avatarjanice james 21st May - 3:21pm
    With a picture of the esteemed actor beside a wine bottle, how did Caron resist the temptation of a pun on claret and clarity?