Statement from the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg MP

This statement dropped into our mailbox shortly before 2am this morning.

“Tonight the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party and the Federal Executive of the Liberal Democrat party have overwhelmingly accepted my recommendation that we should now enter into a coalition government with the Conservative Party.”

“Before I say anything more about that coalition government I would like to express my thanks and admiration for Gordon Brown. He has been a towering figure in British politics for well over a decade. And the manner in which he has acted over the last few days has demonstrated immense dignity, grace and a profound sense of his public duty.

“We are now going to form a new government More importantly than anything else, we are going to form a new kind of government; I hope this is the start of a new kind of politics I have always believed in. Diverse, plural, where politicians with different points of view find a way to work together to provide the good government for the sake of the whole country deserves.

“That was what we were asked to do by the people of Britain in the General Election last Thursday and that is what we will deliver.

“I want to thank David Cameron for the very open, constructive and workmanlike way in which we have come together to make this agreement on how we can come together in this coalition government. We are obviously politicians from different parties. I believe we are now united in seeking to meet the immense challenges that now face the country and to deliver a fairer, better Britain.

“Of course there will be problems along the way; of course there will be glitches. But I will always do my best to prove that new politics isn’t just possible – it is also better.

“I’d like to say something directly to the nearly seven million people who supported the Liberal Democrats in the General Election last week. I am now acutely aware that I carry your hopes and aspirations into this coalition agreement.

“I am sure you have many questions, maybe many doubts. But I can assure you I would not have entered into this agreement unless I was genuinely convinced it was a unique opportunity to deliver the changes you and I believe in.

  • Fair taxes.
  • A fair start in life for every child.
  • A new approach to our discredited banking system and the prospect of green and sustainable economic growth.
  • And new, open politics which you can trust once again.

“So I hope you will now keep faith with us let us prove to you that we can serve this country with humility, with fairness at the heart of everything we do. And with total dedication to the interests and livelihoods of everyone in this country.”

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93 Comments

  • You should be ashamed at rubbishing Gordon Brown every chance you had, Deputy Conservative Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

  • Funnily enough I did, still left baffled by why an individual who stated Gordon Brown was not fit to govern, and had been rejected by the electorate, is now DPM, with far less votes and seats than the aforementioned Mr Brown.

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 2:54am

    “And the manner in which he has acted over the last few days has demonstrated immense dignity, grace and a profound sense of his public duty.” – Which made something of a contrast to his behaviour during the first 10 years of New Labour’s administration.

    @Smith – Er… I don’t think Brown was up for the job of DPM? The DPM is the leader of a party which received 23% of the popular vote. This is not unusual in world political terms.

  • Funnily enough Duncan, Nick Clegg didn’t have any trouble dismissing the Labour party as finished, and Gordon Brown as rejected, when Labour got 29% of the vote, and two million more votes than LD’s. Now 23% is new threshold to govern, I see.

  • He’s not wrong about our hopes for coalition government. This government will make or break the idea of proportional representation to the electorate, and considering the near unanimous support among the party leadership for this coalition it seems that we have the right people for this job in there.

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 3:10am

    @Smith – What?! They lost 91 seats, I think that’s what he had in mind. Are you saying our coalition with the Conservatives shouldn’t have included any LibDems in key roles? I’m… kind of glad you weren’t in those negotiations.

  • I’m saying that the Liberal Democratic party has lost its identity, and will now be seen as one with the Conservatives, in David Cameron’s absence, Clegg will be leader of the Conservatives. Dire times ahead for LD in Scotland for a start.

  • Clegg will be leader of the Conservatives

    [citation needed]

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 3:30am

    @Alex, what Smith is saying is that when Cameron goes on maternity leave Nick will stand in for him at PMQs, like what happens with coalitions everywhere else in the world.

    @Smith – I’m a Scottish Lib Dem. I’m up for it if they are. Frankly if I had my way the presses would already be printing leaflets for Glasgow South – ‘Why did Tom Harris scupper the Lib-Lab deal?’ ‘Why does Tom Harris opposed a fair voting system; what is he afraid of?’ I have confidence in my countrymen if you don’t. But we’ll see what happens at the Kirkcaldy and Glasgow Ballieston (Holyrood) by-elections. If Labour were sensible they’d run them simultaneously and devote most of their attention to the former; they’d risk the SNP taking Ballieston but they could present an increased majority in Kirkcaldy as a vote against the coalition and a vote of confidence in the new Labour leader… whoever that is.

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 3:31am

    Maybe they wouldn’t say ‘why does Tom Harris opposed’. It’s 3:30AM.

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 4:14am

    Presumably this list is open to some expansion. I see nothing there about the environment policy or housing but I can’t imagine incentives to weatherize or renovating derelict property would be anathema to the Tories. I’m hoping we get Chris Huhne as environment sec.

    It sounds like we’ve dropped matching capital gains to income tax (income from investment isn’t income?) which is a crying shame but would never happen with the Tories involved 🙁

    The ‘welfare reform programme’ presumably a) review of the benefits programme, b) means testing benefits (the one mentioned during the campaign was you won’t get child benefit if your income is over £50,000) and c) probably ‘we’ll get people off the dole’ which if we /can/ fight them on we should. It’s absurd to demand people must take the first job offered irrespective of where it is or how long it takes to get there.

    I’m guessing the DEBill is going to be untouched; the Tories and Labour both supported it. Maybe the ‘internet ban’ part could be ameliorated 🙁

    All the items which are subject to ‘reviews’ we should fight them on. I’d hate for libel reform to be ‘reviewed’ and then ignored but obviously it’s a concern of some of the financial backers of the Conservative party that it not go ahead.

  • And new, open politics which you can trust once again.

    It started with electoral reform which became political reform and now reduced to just “open politics”. Well done Nick. Your new office must be spectacular to merit the compromise. I cant wait to watch you stand in for Cameron in the house of commons and defend Tory policies. But if you’re lucky Cameron will spare you the trouble and leave you to watch the newborn.

  • mark Whitehead 12th May '10 - 5:54am

    I’ve called for a local referendum here in Hornsey and Wood Green to ask voters in this constituency if they agree with our MP, Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone, supporting a Tory-led government.
    This is on the basis that I am sure there are many people here who voted Lib Dem but would not have done so if they thought it would result in the Lib Dems supporting the Tories.
    So in the name of local democracy I think Lynne should go back to the voters and ask their opinion.
    If they say they are happy with the coalition, fine. If not, Lynne should resign the Lib-Dem whip and continue as a very highly regarded constituency MP, but as an Independent.

  • Simon Williams 12th May '10 - 5:59am

    Are these beans magic Nick? Because I’m concerned you’ve sold us out for them.

    Our peers fought tooth and nail to get amendments to Labour’s poorly thought out welfare reform – have you really just signed us up to the Tory’s?! Already the Labour reforms have meant 2/3 of Parkinson sufferers no longer have entitlement to benefits and, perhaps less surprisingly, are still incapable of work. The Tory’s proposals are even harsher.

    I do hope we’re not obligated to support another Tory crusade against ‘scroungers’ which hits the vulnerable as well as the ever elusive millions of scroungers.

  • Peter Hutton 12th May '10 - 6:23am

    Smith – you noted, “I’m saying that the Liberal Democratic party has lost its identity”. How so?. Is that the same way as in Scotland they lost their identity when in coalition with you guys (I am assuming for the purposes of this posting that you are Labour).

    We now see in Westminster the sort of plural, pragmatic politics that is seen in local and regional Government across the UK. Are you saying that any time there is political partnership then the various parties involved have lost their identity?

    If we had gone into a “progressive coalition” (with PC, SNP, Labour, Green and LD) who then would have lost their identity?

    Will this coalition work? We don’t know yet. Do we now have LDs in positions of authority in Government? Yes. Can Government policy now be influenced from the progressive centre rather than rather than “tebbit” right? Yes.

    I am comfortable with initial agreement. If you look to the Tory blog sites you will see the cries of anguish and vitriol from Cameron’s right. For that alone this is a good day.

  • Peter Scott 12th May '10 - 7:07am

    Congratulations to Nick Clegg and the LD team for successfully negotiating an agreement which will bring stable and responsible government to our country. Congratulations too to David Cameron and his team for having the guts to do the right thing (and for seeing that good policies are not the sole preserve of any one Party).

    Let us hope that our seeming ambiguity when Mandy and Labour tried to derail the process is quickly forgotten by the public so that PR is given a real chance (although I have my doubts). I still feel we could have handled the public relations side of the negotiations better, but the result is all in the end.

    Above all let us now get behind our Liberal Deputy Prime Minister and his colleagues and make sure that we are not the ones seen to be trying to derail OUR government. Lets leave that to the Tory right. This is grown up politics and we have to make it work for the sake of the country and the future of our Party.

  • Terry Gilbert 12th May '10 - 7:07am

    Well done for staying up, guys!

    @ Dave.
    Very statesmanlike. (Hang on…..! Dave…..? Surely not…..?)

    Seriously: If the Upper House is to be elected by PR, as has been posted elsewhere, then the scale of the Cameron-Clegg project is truly audacious. IF they are successful – and it is still a big ‘if’ – they will have neutered the Tory Party forever. Cameron may go down in history with Peel and Disraeli, as I argued on this site on Saturday. Then, I doubted him. Now I am starting to be convinced.

  • Never voting LibDem again – voted for them THIS time believing they had sensible and progressive policies. Most appear to have been ditched. You are dillusional if you think the Tories will deliver and in any event at what price to public services? Now they support that party aligned to those ‘nutters’ – the party of the homophobes.

    I feel bitterly let down and duped. I would NEVER have contemplated voting LibDem if there was any prospect of such a coalition. As for in the ‘National interest’, what a joke.

    I had come round to PR but had always been concerned about how deals are done. Naively I thought PR would ensure alliances of ‘broadly similar’ policies. How stupid do I feel now.

    Off to join the Labour Party – Goodbye!

  • I believe in Nick! and the Liberal Democrats. Can’t really say I am made up about a Tory Government but I feel a hell of a lot happier knowing that the Lib Dems will be having a huge voice in government now to act as a bit of a counter weight to Tory excesses.

    To those critsising the fact that a deal was done I don’t understand what they expected. The Lib Dems where never going to sweep to power with an overall majority. To play a part in politics they would always need be part of a coilition government.

    If the new government can make this work, we are well on the way to convincing people that PR will lead to stable yet diverse governments that can reflect the vishes of the electorate.

    Personally I am very excited about what this new era in British Politics will bring. Finally I feel that I have a voice in governmnet.

  • As someone who voted Tory, my initial thoughts are that this is a really exciting time. Both leaders seem committed to making this work, the Tories will temper the excesses of a left wing party (and vice versa I’m sure). DPM is probably the best position for NC, it’s not subject to the same dangers as say Home Sec (where you can be a hostage to fortune), also it means that he will get to do PMQs etc when DC is away, meaning he gets huge amounts of exposure and a chance to prove his ability.

    I may be guilty of letting my sunny nature getting in the way here, but come the next Gen Elec it may be possible that the LDP upsets a mighty huge Labour apple cart

  • Peter Hutton 12th May '10 - 7:48am

    @orbyuk – okay bye bye. I think you will find that the Labour party you will be joining will be one very much of the old left. The two big Unions remain the paymasters and will dictate policy from the statist wing of the party. I really fear for the moderates in Labour. 1997 seems a very, very long time ago.

  • Orbyuk – When you voted Lib Dem what did you want to happen? What did you expect? The electorate had plenty of time to watch the news and see that we were in for a Hung Parlement and that the Tories were ahead in the polls. A Lib Dem – Tory deal was always a strong possibility. People who voted Lib Dem and are now bleating about it and saying “I’ll never vote Lib Dem again” should have paid more attention to the implication of their vote and if finding it unacceptable have voted Labour instead.

    Sounds to me that a lot of people vote Lib Dem to waste their vote thinking it won’t make a difference, that must be why they feel betrayed by this outcome. Hopefully though there are more people who don’t vote Lib Dem because they don’t want to waste their vote. It’s time for them to come home to the Liberal Democrats.

  • Peter Hutton 12th May '10 - 7:59am

    @mark Whitehead – would you have called for a local referendum in Hornsey and Wood Green if Lynne Featherstone had been supporting a Labour -led government?

  • Frazer Laing 12th May '10 - 8:00am

    If I wanted to vote Tory I would have. I think a lot of lib dem voters feel the same and would have not voted for them had they known that in reality they were voting for Tory Clegg. I believe this decision is the begining of the end for the lib dems as a party and as they melt into the Tory party they will hold no real power. Had they decided not to accept the pieces of silver they would have had the opportunity to keep a minority in check. Yes this may have meant another general election being called earlier than anyone would want but it may also have meant that all three parties have to work together.

    I feel very disappointed in the New Libtory party.

  • Smith seems upset that the LibDems have confirmed they’re not a wing of the Labour Party (an odd notion that many Labour supporters and members seem to have).
    Also there seems to be a lot of surprise that anyone who considers themselves left wing could ever disagree with the Labour Party

    If Labour had the largest vote share and were amenable to a coalition then I’m sure the LibDems would have worked to form one with them – although I doubt Labour would have given up ID cards and so on.

    What Nick Clegg’s job, as leader of the Liberal Democrats and as a responsibility to those who voted for the Liberal Democrats is to do his best to get LibDem policies enacted – which is what he is doing (so far better than I expected too). That is the job of any party leader in the Commons.

    You can bet the other small parties will do the same.

  • Being driven about in ministerial cars and living in grace and favour homes does not give you any real power to Nick Clegg.

    I know this is a public school boys wet dream but put your feet back on the ground. Labour will appoint Alan Johnson as their next leader to contrast against the two public school leaders. Nick and all our MPs will be silenced by the Con – Dem agreement and in no time the party wont even exist in the eyes of the public as you will just be part of the Tories.

    The Tories will organise a break up of the coalition and call a election and the two party squeeze will be back with a vengeance.

    Well this my last call for the party to come to its senses, me and my vote are off just like millions of others that look like going too.

  • Keith Browning 12th May '10 - 8:17am

    Someone famously said – ‘go back to your constituencies and prepare for government’ – well the Lib Dems are there and with more influence than they could possibly imagined just five weeks ago when the party was at just 18% in the polls.

    Reading these blogs it seems many Lib Dem members were using the party as a protest vote, never aspiring to power. Rather like entering the London Marathon and being happy to finish 24,165 in over five hours. Instead because of the professional work by Nick Clegg and the whole Lib Dem team they have finished on the podium with all sorts of extra honours being thrown their way.
    People laughed when Nick said he wanted to be in the race to be Prime Minister. Second place isn’t a bad effort, and on some days he will be the main man.

    Well done Nick and good luck.

  • Paul McKeown 12th May '10 - 8:24am

    I am pleased that our party will have the opportunity to enact Liberal Democratic policies, remove regressive policies from previous administrations and temper any excesses of our coalition partners, the Conservative party. Bearing in mind the history of our party in the early 20th century, I strongly urge all our MPs to remain united. If you should ever have to cross the floor of the House, you must do it together. One for all, all for one. Do not, under any circumstances, allow personalities or differences over single issues allow the party to split.

    Bear in mind that Labour will try to peel off some of our party members and MPs. This must be resisted. They will claim to be the only, “progressive” party. Remember, though, that as the history of the last government has shewn that has often been but a lying cant. Bear also in mind that Cameron will try to reform his party with a leaning towards a more “One Nation” centrist party with greater electoral appeal. He must not do this at our expense by tempting any of our members or MPs. We must strengthen our identity, constantly remind ourselves of our core Liberal Democratic values, and, even now, prepare for the next General Election, with the development of a new set of policies to keep our message relevant, as our existing policies are largely being implemented or quietly dropped.

    I read the main points of the coalition deal. One thing concerns me slightly, which is that although the parliamentary term has been fixed, for which congratulations are due, a dissolution that notwithstanding still be called with a super-majority in the House of Commons. To mind, and bearing the practice in many other countries with fixed term parliaments, where an independent arbiter, indeed a constitutional court in some, this would appear to give the opposition too much power with which to make mischief. It strikes me that an antipathetic Labour party might seek to deal with the Conservatives at some future time to damage our interests with a dissolution when we might be at our weakest. They might also refuse to allow a dissolution, instead offering to replace the Conservatives in government with our support, again causing mischief. Would it not, at the least, make sense that the Lords could oppose an early dissolution if they thought it against the national interest?

  • Paul McKeown 12th May '10 - 8:27am

    I am pleased that our party will have the opportunity to enact Liberal Democratic policies, remove regressive policies from previous administrations and temper any excesses of our coalition partners, the Conservative party. Bearing in mind the history of our party in the early 20th century, I strongly urge all our MPs to remain united. If you should ever have to cross the floor of the House, you must do it together. One for all, all for one. Do not, under any circumstances, allow personalities or differences over single issues to split the party.

    Bear in mind that Labour will try to peel off some of our party members and MPs. This must be resisted. They will claim to be the only, “progressive” party. Remember, though, that as the history of the last government has shewn that has often been but a lying cant. Bear also in mind that Cameron will try to reform his party with a leaning towards a more “One Nation” centrist party with greater electoral appeal. He must not do this at our expense by tempting any of our members or MPs. We must strengthen our identity, constantly remind ourselves of our core Liberal Democratic values, and, even now, prepare for the next General Election, with the development of a new set of policies to keep our message relevant, as our existing policies are now largely being implemented or quietly dropped.

    I read the main points of the coalition deal. One thing concerns me slightly, which is that although the parliamentary term has been fixed, for which congratulations are due, a dissolution can notwithstanding still be called with a super-majority in the House of Commons. To my mind, and bearing the practice in many other countries with fixed term parliaments, where an independent arbiter, indeed a constitutional court in some, is required to rule a government failed, this would appear to give the opposition too much power with which to make mischief. It strikes me that an antipathetic Labour party might seek to deal with the Conservatives at some future time to damage our interests with a dissolution when we might be at our weakest. They might also refuse to allow a dissolution, instead offering to replace the Conservatives in government with our support, again causing mischief. Would it not, at the least, make sense that the Lords could oppose an early dissolution if they thought it against the national interest?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th May '10 - 8:29am

    It’s odd that even at the very start this agreement involves the Lib Dems abstaining rather than voting in favour on at least one key issue.

    If legislation is introduced to fix the term of this parliament we are going to be in a very odd situation. Cameron will not be able to deploy the threat of a snap election, and there will be still be a House of Commons with a “natural” anti-Tory majority. No one can foresee the future. What if in a couple of years’ time the Tories and the Lib Dems found it impossible to agree on a fundamental issue and the coalition came apart?

  • Had they decided not to accept the pieces of silver they would have had the opportunity to keep a minority in check. Yes this may have meant another general election being called earlier than anyone would want but it may also have meant that all three parties have to work together.

    If we threatened to block Tory policies we didn’t like in a minority government, PM Cameron would have just called another election, blamed it on us and won a nice big majority in the process. All three parties working together? Yeah, right – Labour proved over the last couple of days they weren’t even willing to work with us, never mind the Conservatives. Hell, at the moment they’re so divided they can’t even work with each other!

    I’m cautiously optimistic. Nick and the negotiating team have done a great job and we’ve got way more concessions than we were ever likely to given we’ve only got 57 MPs. I’m not keen on us abstaining from the marriage tax thing, but hey you can’t have everything.

    One of the best outcomes may actually be that our party finally grows up and realises that government in a democracy means compromise – especially coalition government which is what PR is all about. If said compromise means we get some of our key policies on fairer taxes and pupil premium – policies that will actually improve the lives of some of the worst off in our society – then to echo with Paddy Ashdown: “hooray!”.

    We’ll probably lose those of our members who either prefer perpetual opposition or just see us as some kind of little sister to Labour, but that may not be a bad thing if it helps us grow up and start really fighting for a more liberal country.

  • I think you all need to see the agreement (being published later today). People will hopefully recognise that what the LibDems were after was the maximum number of policies getting put into practice. I hope this works, it is the sort of government they have have argued for for decades – not to take the chance of putting it into effect would have been hypocrisy and cowardice.

    Getting LibDems to agree is like herding cats, but last night out of the 100 members of the MPs, the Peers and Federal Executive, 99 voted in favour. That is unheard of, *unheard of* in the thirty years I’ve been involved with the party.

  • If ‘new’ means a minority party with the smallest share of the votes gets to punch above it’s weight, then I think I’ll stick with the ‘old’. Ta.

  • The Lost Leader 12th May '10 - 9:18am

    Someone else posted this poem by Robert Browning in the comments on a post here, but it fits perfectly:

    Just for a handful of silver he left us,
    Just for a riband to stick in his coat—
    Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us,
    Lost all the others she lets us devote;
    They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver,
    So much was theirs who so little allowed:
    How all our copper had gone for his service!
    Rags—were they purple, his heart had been proud!
    We that had loved him so, followed him, honoured him,
    Lived in his mild and magnificent eye,
    Learned his great language, caught his clear accents,
    Made him our pattern to live and to die!
    Shakespeare was of us, Milton was for us,
    Burns, Shelley, were with us,—they watch from their graves!
    He alone breaks from the van and the freemen,
    He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves!

    We shall march prospering,—not through his presence;
    Songs may inspirit us,—not from his lyre;
    Deeds will be done,—while he boasts his quiescence,
    Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire:
    Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more,
    One task more declined, one more footpath untrod,
    One more triumph for devils and sorrow for angels,
    One wrong more to man, one more insult to God!
    Life’s night begins: let him never come back to us!
    There would be doubt, hesitation and pain,
    Forced praise on our part—the glimmer of twilight,
    Never glad confident morning again!
    Best fight on well, for we taught him—strike gallantly,
    Menace our heart ere we pierce through his own;
    Then let him receive the new knowledge and wait us,
    Pardoned in heaven, the first by the throne!

  • I’m a Tory and came here to see what my new pals were discussing. I’m amazed at the Lib Dems who seem antagonistic to this coalition. I thought this was EXACTLY what the Lib Dems have been wanting for ages, and what Nick Clegg said: ie, a new politics in which compromises were made between informed politicians who fundamentally believe in the same destination but have diverse views on the journey to get there. My understanding is that Lib Dem policy for ages has been PR: a consequence of PR is coalition Government. If Lib Dems are hostile to engaging in coalition with clearly the largest party then why were they in the Lib Dems anyway?

  • Hi all
    my argument had been that staying clear of coalition while offering support may have been the best way forward, but I’m now quite pleased that we are able to use the words lib dem and government in the same phrase. Don’t get me wrong, I am still on the left of the party and would have dearly
    loved to see a left-leaning alliance with the less authoritarian elements of labour. But realistically that hope died when we failed to win enough seats last Thursday.
    A rainbow coalition was unworkable. The numbers only barely worked if you brought in the SNP and plaid, two parties with massively different views of the national interest, who would have sacrificed the wider good of the country for narrow party gains on funding. Also not forgetting that 13 years of labour have not exactly been ‘progressive’ and that they have so far spectacularly failed to show the level of maturity required of the new parliament.
    I am sceptical that the Tories will deliver everything promised to us, but if nothing else both Cameron and Hague seem to be carrying themselves along the lines of the Old Tories, rather than thatcher, which is something to be grateful for provided it lasts.
    So while I’ve not been a fan of the proposed arrangement, we have to suck it and see – from our end, try and make it work in good faith, and not teat ourselves apart. We are not idealogues but liberals, now we need to prove we have the maturity to govern…

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th May '10 - 10:04am

    I’m not happy, but I’m not going to go flouncing off tearing up my Liberal Democrat membership card.

    There were two aspects here which favoured some sort of agreement with the Conservatives:

    1) Labour had become so tired and right-wing that I could not summon up much enthusiasm for any sort of agreement with them. I hope in opposition they can come up with something much better than “New Labour”. Sadly the anti-pluralist elements on their left made their usual noises when the possibility of a Labour-LibDem deal was being talked of, which reminded me just why I’ve stuck with the LibDems even though some of my views, particularly on economics, are very much to the left.

    2) The arithmetic of the new Parliament meant that any coalition of non-Conservatives would be very shaky, there were just not enough numbers to make it work long term.

    Having seen this, I could see by the time on Friday morning we had enough results to see what was happening, that we ought to be going for “supply and confidence” to a Cameron government.

    Coalition sacrifices our ability to be independent critics of that government (how much we shall see) in return for more influence over it. From what I’ve seen, our influence will be very modest, and there is no recognition of an increased weighting of influence for us to recognise share of votes as opposed to share of seats. No doubt it will be argued it’s the best we could have got, and the Tory right are already supporting that notion by their moaning about it. I’m not sure.

    Sadly Clegg is showing, as he always has, no recognition of the balance within his party. He picked the men of the right to do the negotiating, now, unless the rumours are completely wrong, he’s picking the men of the right for government posts.

    Still, we have to recognise that something like this was inevitable if we were to survive as a party. If we were to say that we can’t manage multi-party politics and all that involves, then what is the point in our existence? An election in a few months on the grounds “there are too many Liberal Democrat MPs and because they won’t make deals no stable government can be formed” would result in us being destroyed every bit as much as we will be by people who say “I can never vote for you now you’ve made an agreement with X” where X could be either of the other two parties.

    For those on the left in the Liberal Democrats now most certainly is not the time to leave it. We must organise and build our strength within the party. Nick Clegg made big mistakes in campaigning, that’s why we are where we are now, he has perhaps made mistakes in negotiating but I don’t want to be too hasty in condemning it now, he most certainly will make mistakes in government in future. We need to keep alive the independent Liberal and social democratic traditions in our party, and the activist base that it will need unless Clegg does a complete National Liberal style sell-out by the time of the next election.

    I am a realist and recognise the need for stable government, however much those who despise us on the Liberal Democrat left (i.e. just about everyone else in British politics) love to paint us as beardy sandalled weirdoes who haven’t a clue. I did not spend twelve years as a LibDem councillor looking at budgets and management plans and dealing with the reality of fractious communities and competing demands not to have a fairly good idea of how one’s ideals have to be tempered when hit with the real world. So I don’t want even to be running down Clegg and his allies in the party for doing what they have to do in the real world. But we need to be there to watch them, as critical friends. If the time comes when we are not such friends, we need to be there to do our duty for liberalism.

  • Lawrence Horam 12th May '10 - 10:34am

    May 11…a day that will go down in infamy.You have sown the wind and will now reap the whirlwind.

    I’ve just joined the labour Party.

  • Here in Thirsk and Malton we’re waiting for the polls to open on the 27th May to show what we really think of your coalition. Will the Lib-Dems and the Tories now be standing against Labour as the Lib-Dem Tory Coalition Party or as separate parties. Can anyone provide the answer?

  • The behaviour of Labour posters, who had previously supported a Labour majority government that got 35% of the votes, now that there is a coalition government that got 60% of the votes, is purely astonishing. The arrogance and bile is quite some spectacle. I guess it’s the bile of 13-years of disappointment that’s done it.

  • “Before I say anything more about that coalition government I would like to express my thanks and admiration for Gordon Brown. He has been a towering figure in British politics for well over a decade. And the manner in which he has acted over the last few days has demonstrated immense dignity, grace and a profound sense of his public duty.”

    Not the same as you said during the election and for many months before it. Has he suddenly become less desperate in your eyes, clinging on to power at all costs? Of course! Compared to your desperation for power at any cost, he probably is.

    You led your Party to defeat in 13 seats (21% of your MPs), gained eight but are still short five from your 2005 level (8% less) and failed to win many marginals from the Tories (and some Labour) easily within your grasp. You and your party got caught up in Cleggmania and forgot to fight where it counts. In order to reward yourself for this spectacular rejection of your party, you snuggle up in bed with Cameron. Indeed this is the real coalition of losers, both needing each other to save your political careers. Self serving, self interested politics of the worst kind.

    Instead of standing up for the values and visions of your Party you revealed yourself to be a true blue Tory at heart. You failed to respect the constitution and negotiate properly with Labour, which was your first duty. Worse, you engaged in the kind of old school politics you supposedly reject to cynically remove a sitting Prime Minister. Now you and David seem to think you can make this parliament last a fixed term, again riding rough shod over centuries of our constitutional arrangements. A fixed term parliament can only be legitimate for future elections once all the constitutional implications have been thought through and resolved.

    No one who voted Lib Dem imagined that you would allow a Tory Government to cut £6 billion from our economy in nine months, yet in order to taste the trappings of power, this is the price our country will pay. There is a clear majority in Parliament to block this disaster for our country, but your own self-interest took over.

    There will be a Queens speech you can spin to your party, but the legislation will not follow. The Tory party will disown you at the first available opportunity and so, hopefully, will your party.

    The new politics would have been to stand up to the Tories and make them earn their legislation through Parliament as a minority Government, instead you have caved in believing they will deliver on your policies. The truth is that they will not be able to keep their party in line on many of these issues and deliver on their faux promises.

    This is a dark day for Britain and a dark day for the Lib Dems.

  • David Raynor 12th May '10 - 11:37am

    So to all you fickle people who think we have entered a new era of power sharing with the Tory scum, just remember they are pulling all the strings, they can turn around and flick us away anytime they like.

    My best guess is, they will prioritise their own agenda and pull away in time to renege on anything to with AV/PR, or whatever. Or if they do go with a Referendum they’ll find a way of not implementing things if they go the wrong way for themselves.

    Tory = Look after my Rich and wealthy pals, always has done and always will.

    This is a shameful day for the Lib Dem party and it’s leader has well and truly turned against all genuine Lib Dem voters with this unforgivable pact.

    Ask yourself when all these so called concessions on policy are going to take place.
    Answer (in Spanish) Manana.

    Shame on the Exec for ratifying as well.

  • Straight from the BBC Website. The betrayal and spin begins:

    Lib Dem Chris Huhne, who we think will soon take up a cabinet post, says he doesn’t believe there was ever as much difference between the Lib Dems and the Tories on the issue of spending cuts as was made out during the election campaign. In a line that could have been taken straight from David Cameron’s mouth, he says: “We have to make a start on cutting the deficit this year.”

  • Never thought I’d find myself in agreement with Polly Toynbee, but she sums it up nicely in today’s Guardian:

    “So what made the Lib Dems sniff at the feast and walk away? The company at the table was not enticing, as the worst of the old Labour Party, the knuckle-dragging neanderthal tendency, emerged to roaring opposition to the guests. David Blunkett, John Reid, Jack Straw, Diane Abbott, now unleashed from government, reminded the world how backward, how unprogressive, tribal and sectarian much of the People’s Party still is. “

  • David Raynor 12th May '10 - 11:53am

    Disown them all and start a new party?

    Call it the real Lib Dem party.

    I am sure the genuine Lib Dems will find their way home from Judas’s pact.

  • More from the BBC

    We understand that under the new agreement for fixed-term parliaments, the only way to remove the government between elections would be a vote of no confidence with the support of 55% of MPs. At present, any no confidence vote requires only 50%, plus one MP.

    Perfectly reasonable for future Parliaments, but would be completely unconstitutional to impose this on the current Parliament. If Lib Dem MPs vote this through, then I shudder to think what else they will allow. It is a complete affront to democracy.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th May '10 - 12:09pm

    “We understand that under the new agreement for fixed-term parliaments, the only way to remove the government between elections would be a vote of no confidence with the support of 55% of MPs. At present, any no confidence vote requires only 50%, plus one MP.”

    That’s ridiculous. The Tories currently have 47% of the MPs. It’s obviously designed purely to keep the Tories in power even if the coalition breaks down.

    It’s ludicrous to enact in law that a minority government that has lost a vote of confidence should remain in power even if there is an alternative government which could command the support of a majority of MPs. That is fundamentally undemocratic.

  • David Raynor 12th May '10 - 12:09pm

    Cameron has put a “big-hitter” in charge of constitutional reform. Clarke is committed to an elected House of Lords. But he will also be in charge of the legislation for a referendum on the alternative vote. Cameron could have given this job to a Liberal Democrat who actually believes in AV. He didn’t.

    • There’s a vacancy at business. Perhaps that’s where Vincent Cable is heading.

    Serious about electoral reform, day 1 and this, who are you kidding Clegg!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What a joke

  • @Mark we’ll be standing in Thirsk & Malton as the separate parties that we are and always will be. Creating a coalition government doesn’t mean merging the two parties and anyone that thinks it does simply doesn’t understand politics.

  • Sorry I meant Mack not Mark

  • David Raynor 12th May '10 - 12:41pm

    @Peter a bit like saying if someone screws a whore, it’s not an extra marital affair!

    True, but the same outcome for the affected parties.

    Clegg is now a Tory, face facts, he has his cosy job in Govt and crossed the floor.

    Urge the existing Lib Dem voters in Thirsk & Malton switch allegiance (unless the Lib Dem PPC takes a moral stand against this treachery) and vote in droves against the Tory (safe) majority.

  • Peter1919, obviously the Lib-Dems and the Tories have entered a coalition not a merger but now that the Lib-Dems have conceded so many policies to the Tories the Lib Dem manifesto which applied to the May 6th election is otiose as far as the May 27th election for Thirsk and Malton.

  • @David Raynor

    Get Real!

    Thereis no need for you to start a new Party. If you were only ever going to form an alliance with the Labour Party you should never have been in the Lib Dems anyway – go join Labour!

    This coalition may or may not prove to be the right thing for our Party, but it is certainly the right thing for the Country and if we don’t do what’s right for the Country we won’t be a Party for long.

  • should end : the Lib Dem manifesto which applied to the May 6th election is otiose as far as the May 27th election for Thirsk and Malton is concerned.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th May '10 - 12:55pm

    “We understand that under the new agreement for fixed-term parliaments, the only way to remove the government between elections would be a vote of no confidence with the support of 55% of MPs. At present, any no confidence vote requires only 50%, plus one MP.”

    I can’t believe this was made clear to the parliamentary party and the Federal Executive before they supported the deal.

    If it was, shame on them.

  • Peter Scott 12th May '10 - 1:15pm

    I suspect the 55% rule is because if we move to a PR system at some later stage then a very small party could hold the country to ransom with a handful of MPs by refusing to deal with either major bloc. (For example imagine if Sinn Fein had had 5 MPs in 1974 they could have paralysed the government).

  • Duncan Crowe 12th May '10 - 1:30pm

    @Peter – This assumes that no politician is willing to be principled and vote against party lines. I realise 13 years of watching Labour lobby-fodder whipped into voting for the craziest things might give this impression but….

  • Andy (Disillusioned) 12th May '10 - 1:34pm

    My wife and I were first time Lib Dem voters and were really concerned yesterday about the possibility of our vote contributing to keeping Labour in as we firmly agreed not to vote with Labour. As a teacher and senior management consultant we felt Labour had left us high and dry. Voting Tory really didnt sit well as we were both born and raised during the Thatcher years (awful). However we are both keen (if not somewhat cautious too) that this coalition could work. What ever the make up of a coalition, any party would not get everything they want.
    We really hope that partisan fanatics on both sides can temper and moderate there feelings for the good of the country. Let the key Lib Dem figures use their skills and knowledge to curb the Tory excesses and make sure fairness is delivered and not get derailed by those who want see it fail.

    Good luck to Nick and those key Lib Dem players, people like my wife and I are counting on you.

  • Lib Dem MPs with any principles left should resign the whip and sit in opposition. Will any have the integrity to do so?

  • Andy (Disillusioned) 12th May '10 - 2:16pm

    @ Steve D

    It’s that kind of view that will ruin any kind of hope for this working. Surely better to have a voice than no voice.

    If you want to take the view of ‘It’s my ball, my rules and your’e not playing by them so I’m taking it home’ I am sure the self interest, squabling and own nest building principles of the Labour party may have a place for you.

  • @Andy (Disillusioned)

    You think it is right for Lib Dem MPs to support significant cuts in the next nine months on top of those already planned or in progress and to vote to try and fix the term of this parliament in a wholly undemocratic way? This is only the start. If that is having a voice then Lib Dem MPs should be ashamed to speak.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th May '10 - 2:34pm

    “I suspect the 55% rule is because if we move to a PR system at some later stage then a very small party could hold the country to ransom with a handful of MPs by refusing to deal with either major bloc.”

    I’m afraid I can’t make sense of that on any level.

    This is obviously designed to allow the Tories, with 47% of the MPs, to remain in government even if the coalition breaks down.

    Put simply, this is legislation to rig the constitutional position in favour of a particular party in a particular parliament. It really is shameful that the party has agreed to it (assuming it was made clear to the party, which I can only wonder about).

  • @Anthony Aloysius St

    Absolutely agree 100%. If we had a proportional system, then coalition governments could be formed and then voted out by 55%, leading to a new coalition government within the fixed term. Perfectly reasonable to have fixed term parliaments but there has to be a mechanism reflecting the realities of the parliament and the mandate it has. This parliament was not elected on the basis that it serve a fixed term. To attempt to impose it on this parliament is undemocratic, unconstitutional and an affront to the Queen. If this is really what is planned then it is the most disgusting act of betrayal and should be opposed by all democratic people across the political spectrum. Some on Conservative Home are equally as horrified by this!

  • Parliament cannot bind itself, so 50% + 1 will always be sufficient to bring down a government (A V Dicey and Professor Wade).

    I don’t like this arrangement. I will support Lib Dem ministers, but I will oppose the government. If there is a Members’ ballot, I will vote “no”. Will I leave the party? No. I will continue to campaign for Liberal Democrat values and will be ready and waiting to fight another general election once this shaky Frankenstein contraption falls apart.

    The new Tory Cabinet is a collection of free market fanatics, Europhobes, necons and misanthropes. Labour voters will be rueing the day that their leaders refused to work with us.

    On balance, I don’t believe Nick Clegg has sold out. I think he felt that coalition was a better option, both for the country and the party, than walking away leaving the Tories to govern unhindered with the power to spring a general election at any time of their choosing. On top of that, as a public school Oxbridge man he probably found it easier to talk to the urbane Cameron, Hague and Gove than the raging bull, Brown (with grotesques like Reid and Blunkett skulking in the wings).

    When Nick stood for the leadership, I supported Chris Huhne, because I feared that Nick would take the party to the right. To his credit, Nick didn’t do that – he behaved like a genuine liberal. On the other hand, the media helped Nick win the leadership election because their proprietors believed that he would support the Tories in the event of a hung Parliament and back a war against Iran (something that probably won’t happen so long as Barack Obama remains in the White House). Having said all that, I cannot be certain that Chris Huhne (or anyone else) would have acted differently.

    So I stay, as all progressive people should, in the Liberal Democrats, to (1) give our ministers support, and (2) sort out the mess when the Tory right pulls the plug. We fulfilled our duty to our country – we tried to make it work.

  • Peter Scott 12th May '10 - 3:39pm

    @ Anthony Aloysius St

    I’ll explain then:

    If you have a fixed term parliament then you would not necessarily have an election if a coalition government were to lose a vote of confidence. Instead a new government would form from other parties (or possibly part of the same). Look at the so-called “Rainbow” coalition which was being touted and consider what would have happened if the Scot Nats voted against the rainbow, but then also voted against a Tory led coalition. You have paralysis. The Scot Nats on their own may not have been enough, but you get the picture that 2% or less of Parliament could hold the rest to ransom.

  • Peter Scott 12th May '10 - 3:50pm

    @ Anthony Aloysius St

    I don’t think you need to worry that a single Party with 47% of MPs would use that to cling to power. The Labour leadership have just tried something similar. I think you have to credit at least some MPs from each Party with a sense of decency honour and respect for the democratic system QED.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th May '10 - 3:51pm

    Peter Scott

    Actually, it turns out that – according to the text of the agreement – the 55% is nothing to do with no-confidence motions after all. It’s the majority that would be required to dissolve parliament, not vote out the government.

    On that basis, I think the only criticism would be that it’s too low a threshold, as under FPTP it would still give the prime minister power to dissolve parliament most of the time.

  • Peter Scott 12th May '10 - 4:03pm

    “Actually, it turns out that – according to the text of the agreement – the 55% is nothing to do with no-confidence motions after all. It’s the majority that would be required to dissolve parliament, not vote out the government.”

    Yes – I assumed that that was what was meant.

  • Peter Scott 12th May '10 - 4:05pm

    LOL @ Vince Cable ignoring his Ministerial Car – power obviouisly hasn’t gone to his head.

  • This is truly a coalition of losers, and the public can see it.

  • Keith Browning 12th May '10 - 4:42pm

    As a Lib/Lib Dem supporter for over 30 years it never occured to me that the party was socialist. I am a middle of the road Liberal that doesn’t like the extremes of the right or the left. Both have been neutered by this coalition government. Perfick !!!!!

  • Nick Clegg… Oh dear what have you done. Tut tut. Will never vote Lib Dem ever again.

  • Just been watching the BBC news videos of Camlegg and I can see some loving glances between them, they look as though they are both after some special cuddles with each other.
    Just an observation.

  • @Anthony Aloysius St

    Actually, it turns out that – according to the text of the agreement – the 55% is nothing to do with no-confidence motions after all. It’s the majority that would be required to dissolve parliament, not vote out the government.

    On that basis, I think the only criticism would be that it’s too low a threshold, as under FPTP it would still give the prime minister power to dissolve parliament most of the time.

    ——————————

    Sorry but it is completely unconstitutional and undemocratic to try and bind the current Parliament in this way. It is very clear that this is an attempt to keep the coalition in Government for five years regardless of it’s ability to command a majority. For future Parliaments, that is a different matter entirely.

    This is the Text

    The parties agree to the establishment of five year fixed-term parliaments. A Conservative-Liberal
    Democrat coalition government will put a binding motion before the House of Commons in the first
    days following this agreement stating that the next general election will be held on the first
    Thursday of May 2015. Following this motion, legislation will be brought forward to make
    provision for fixed term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution
    if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.

    So it seems the 55% would be for future fixed term parliaments, but the key here is the audacity of trying to bind the current parliament to a fixed term of five years. This simply tears up centuries of constitutional arrangements for short term political expediency. It’s not clear from the text what would happen if a future Parliament cannot get a simple majority. What would happen if the government of the day tried to extract further concessions from its coalition party by using this mechanism to threaten dissolution?

    This is an extremely bad, off the cuff piece of legislation which must be opposed. There is a duty to let Lib Dem MPs know this in no uncertain terms.

  • George Smith 12th May '10 - 6:38pm

    So how is this consensus politics?
    A two-party stitch up against every other party, thats nice.

    You can all have the right to decide if a government should be defeated but not just now, it just isn’t conveniant for us right now. Don’t worry, this is the new age of politics, of working together and trust, it’s just on standby for a bit, till it suits us.

    Kick the ladder away from you when you get into your coalition, this experiment, this breeding vat of contempt and hypocracy.

    Low Liberal Democrats, Low.

    I dearly hope the opposition parties scheme and plot to scupper this.

  • I dispair reading the comments of the “I’ll never vote Lib Dem” again” variety. Criticism from Labour supporters I can, just about, accept (although I note that their MPs and party grandees were lining up to rubbish the idea of a progressive alliance as soon as it was floated). However, from people who seemingly made a choice to support the Liberal Democrats in this election of all elections, I wonder what you based your decision on?

    You may have been swayed by arguments in your constituency that “its either the Lib Dem or the Tory” and now feel disapointed. Well, stop and think for a minute. Had you not elected a Lib Dem (if you did), there would be one more Tory MP. One more seat closer to a Tory majority. Would that be any better? I suppose you could grumble about being cheated by the electoral system but you’d still have a Tory government without the balnace of the Lib Dem influence.

    I could go on explaining why I think your argument is, simply, wrong but I really can’t be bothered. You wouldn’t listen anyway. Go and join the Labour party if you want to, I’m sure they will welcome you with open arms. But I’m willing to bet you don’t renew your Labour membership next year.

  • David Raynor 13th May '10 - 6:56am

    @ Peter Scott, I’ll resist my urge to fire a big one back at you. Telling me to get real is a bit close to the edge.
    When you have spent your time, money, effort and that of your own family campaigning for, voting for, rallying for, making local strategy for , standing election for and living your politics for a party, you really ought to have a place on a forum where you can express your views as a genuine Lib Dem!

    @ Mark, again I’ll resist the ‘despair’ piece and say you are totally missing the point here. Many of us and that does include me, chose to put our support behind a party that aligned it’self closest to our own beliefs and values!

    Mine are certainly left of centre and I would suggest I am a social reformist without being Labour (Blair got close, but not close enough for me). I am absolutley 100% against the Tories and always have been and as far as I can tell, will always be that way.

    So why is it so hard to grasp for you and others on here, that people like me, don’t want our party linked in any way shape or form to the Tories?

    Nearly 8 million people did not vote for the Tories, they voted for what the Lib Dems stood for. If they had the chance to rewind, be honest with yourselves, how many would still vote for the Lib Dems now?

    The big loser here will be politics and the electoral system as young people in particular see their democratic rights carved up by an alliance of self interested people and the net result will a mass switch off by them in future.

    Enough said from me

  • For all those who are so ready to mock the Labour party for not having done enough in the Lib/Lab coalition talks- The Labour Party were considering what was in the interest of the country, which is why they decided not to sell-out on their principles, and cling desperately onto power, but to remove themselves and take a more considered approach.

    It is my personal view, that we the Liberal Democrats, have gone forward into an agreement with the Conservative party, simply to install our own influence and gain potentially very short-term power. The simple fact of the matter is, there isn’t any particular ‘good government’, Mr Clegg. Nor is one party working in the interest of the country, more so, than another.

    Of course, there is nothing more I could have wanted than for a Liberal Democrat to hold a position of power within government. But to cite their reasons for having done so, as being to Liberalise the Conservative party and work in the ‘interest’ of the country, is quite shameful and disheartening. I did not want an infliction of Liberalism to sweep the country one afternoon and for the principles they once held to be gone five or less years later. The country knows what is best for them, and it just so happened that last Thursday, they could not decide. So, in this current manner within which we work, we are no better, stronger, loyal or principled than the Conservatives, and yet we convince ourselves it is the next logical step.

    Mr Clegg, I urge you to see beyond your nose, and to realise the ever narrowing line between fairness and unfairness. We are not merely Liberals, but also Democrats. Your endeavors have been noble and your logic, perhaps, forgivable. But for me, this is not what I dreamt and hoped for Liberal Democracy. And so, after 6 years of loyal and at times difficult membership, I’m having to say goodbye. Lastly. may I remind you- power comes with principles too.

  • David Raynor 14th May '10 - 6:14am

    @ Tom

    Your eloquence and diplomacy are a credit to you and your principles are in great shape in my opinion.

    I wish I could restrain my own passion in a similar fashion, unfortunatley it has always been the case.

    I shall hold your words with a smile as I depart the scene knowing, I am not the only one.

    Good luck to all the genuine Lib Dem supporters/workers/contributors, on behalf of the old party, thank you and good night.

  • arthur sayers 15th May '10 - 3:56pm

    i wish to send some attach ments to the deputy priminister about GORLESTON FIRE STATION

  • In this country we are free to choose what we do with what we earn. That is surely a fundamentally Liberal principle. We can spend it or save/invest it. Someone with foresight and intelligence will save/invest as much as they can for their retirement, when they can no longer work. The government should rejoice and encourage this as it lowers the burden on State Pensions

    The money my wife and I have invested in property over some 25 years has come from our NET income – We’ve already paid tax on it but chosen to invest as much as we can rather than spend it frivolously. That is a freedom of choice open to anybody, even the poorest member of our society if they want to better their lot over time.

    Not all, but much of the gain in value over the years has been through inflation. It’s one thing to put CGT up, but it should at least be index linked to allow for that inflation or it is a fundamentally unfair tax.

  • last year 22 nd december Nick Cleeg wrote on the guardian on lifting Gaza siege. Today 31st may 2010 the whole world woke up to the massacre of innocent internation protesters who died at the hands of Israel Soldiers. Would the deputy prime minister use his position to isolate Israel. It is a high time now israel must be told to follow international laws and rules and stop behaving like nazis during second world war. Their actions are not different to the nazis. They must be isolated by the international community including UK. Honourable Nick Clegg the world must stop the double standards when dealing with Israelis. The world is not safe because of Afghanistan, it is because of the israelis policies in the middle east and the blind support to Israel by the USA and Europe is making the world unsafe.

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