What Labour’s manifesto actually said about electoral reform

It’s become a bit of an urban myth in some (Labour) circles that Labour’s 2010 general election manifesto only promised a referendum on the alternative vote, but didn’t say anything about committing Labour MPs or the Labour Party to a yes vote. But that’s not actually what the manifesto said:

To ensure that every MP is supported by the majority of their constituents voting at each election, we will hold a referendum on introducing the Alternative Vote for elections to the House of Commons.

To ensure means not only holding a referendum, but also voting Yes.

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64 Comments

  • To ensure means not only holding a referendum, but also voting Yes.

    Under your word games it would mean overriding a no vote. Very undemocratic.

    PS Don’t forget to pledge means to make a solemn promise to do one thing, not the opposite… Do you really want to bring manifestos into the argument?

  • A referendum could never “ensure” such a thing. It’s a referendum. People can vote no. (Leaving aside the fact that it’s trivially obvious that AV doesn’t mean that every MP is supported by the majority of their constituents.)

  • @ g

    We pledged to do things on the basis of being elected with a majority. We weren’t.

    With 8% of MPs against two larger parties both in favour of tuition fees, plus there being NO MONEY to do it, how do you suggest we abolish fees and ensure sufficient funding for higher education? What precisely were the Lib Dems supposed to have done? Put a bomb under parliament and hold the other MPs hostage?

    Labour had a majority to implement electoral reform and there was no question of money being needed for it, yet still did nothing in 13 years.

    I call that a massive Labour betrayal.

  • @ Robert C

    Just how lame can you be; on the basis of your argument the LIB DEMS could have pledged to deposit a million pounds into each persons bank account & they could have pledged to create world peace and end famine such was the chances of them getting into government with a majority.

    People including myself decided to vote for the lib dems on policies such as education and vat and unfortunately that trust is now destroyed and the argument that pledges can be cast aside because the party didn’t win at a canter is just plain pathetic.

  • @Mark Pack

    If you take your argument to its logical conclusion it would mean that Labour wouldn’t allow a free vote on the issue and would 3-line whip the MPs to support and take disciplinary action against those not taking the whip.

    And even if you go down that route how can Labour ensure that the electorate votes YES because without that the Manifesto Commitment could never be ‘ensured’. To take the jibes thrown by some of your LibDem supporters at myself why not just go for the One-Party state without elections and that will solve everything as you can just declare a YES vote or would it actually end up a NO vote – after all a One-Party state wouldn’t allow choice.

    Of course it seems that LibDem MPs do have problems deciding whether to vote YES or NO as was evidenced the other night when some went through both the NO and YES voting lobbies and were branded ‘unparliamentary’ by the Speaker when their jolly jape was rumbled.

    It’s also a glasshouse issue as we have been told ad nauseum by the LibDems that Manifesto Commitments don’t count unless you are elected into government. I won’t go into semantics at this stage on tuition fees and the fact that the LibDems actually are in government so why have their Manifesto Commitment been ditched.

    All in all a very curious post – seems to me that the LibDems really have lost the plot and can no longer see the trees because they’ve sold the woods. Well except in Scotland where Danny Alexander is campaigning to defend Scottish woods 🙂

  • @Robert C “We pledged to do things on the basis of being elected with a majority. We weren’t.”

    No, the fees pledge wasn’t made on that basis. Do stop repeating that particular lie. The NUS pledge wording was:

    “I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative”

    Simple. No caveats about ‘if we are elected with a majority’. Individuals signing the pledge were saying they would vote against a fees increase REGARDLESS of the composition of the next government. It could be argued that they were silly to do so. But don’t try to spin away what the actual pledge was.

    And on the original post, as other’s have said, it is bizarre for some LD’s to be quibbling about wording in Labour’s manifesto, when they have been banging on for months about how their own manifesto commitments have to be put aside.

  • @Robert C

    You make a very poor argument. It doesn’t follow that because you couldn’t abolish fees you therefore had to vote to triple them.

    Also, I’m somewhat baffled by the idea that the party that lost the election is bound by the manifesto that the electorate rejected but the parties in government are not it seems bound either by their manifestos or even the coalition agreement.

    In any case, I suspect holding the AV referendum in May is a major tactical blunder. I think it is more likely to get a yes vote if it was delayed for a few months. May is going to be about giving the coalition a kicking (esp in Scotland) . The argument for electoral reform is going to get drowned out. I’d bet Cameron can hardly believe his luck that the Lib Dem leadership is making such a poor fist of things.

  • Come on Mr Pack, this is reachy stuff, and deep down you surely know it. If the wording was, ‘we will hold a referendum and ensure that a yes is secured,’ you might have a point – but it plainly doesn’t. It is like the, ‘urban myth,’ that the Coalition Agreement said Lib Dem MPs would all abstain in any vote on HE fees.

    You can’t seriously be telling us that a manifesto can or for that matter should preempt a referendum result?

    Robert C – As has already been pointed out, the pledge on fees specifically envisaged that the party would not be in the majority, given that it talked about pressuring the government. I will vote against ANY increase – that seems clear to me.

    There is a wider point here about manifestos – they were never meant to be detailed tick lists. In their current form they are little more than hostages to fortune. Manifestos should be short, thin statements of aims – not wish-lists. That, of course, would not stop anyone holding out hostages to fortune and making signed promises outside of a manifesto however.

  • @Duncan Stott: Seriously? You think Labour are bound by a manifesto rejected by the electorate?

    Also, “Labour are free to follow their manifesto without the restraint of a Coalition Agreement” is kind of silly, since the Labour manifesto was all about things Labour would do if it won the election. Since it didn’t, they’re not free to follow their manifesto at all – they’re specifically barred from following their manifesto, as their manifesto committed them to hundreds of things only governments can do. The same has always been true of losing parties, and it’s not normal to accuse them of a breach of promise when they fail to govern the country as a result of not being the government.

  • Comments on tuition fees are irrelevant to this particular discussion.

  • To me all this says is that whoever wrote/agreed that part of the Labour manifesto theselves supported a change in the voting system, and left the wording somewhat muddled. Or maybe they wanted to hint at support without actually spelling this out? Or go a stage further and suggest that they wanted to appear to be hinting at support whilst in reality keeping their options open? It doesn’t really matter much now, anyhow – the key questions are how the Labour party divides between yes and no, and whether any more forward-thinking Tories come forward to support the change.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 4th Feb '11 - 12:31pm

    @Robert C “We pledged to do things on the basis of being elected with a majority. We weren’t.”

    The corollary of this is of course is that if the LibDems are not elected with a majority – then any manifesto pledges are worthless. Which is of course the view I suspect the electorate will take at the next election.

    I am right in saying that the new politics means that if no party receives an overall majority then any manifesto pledges can be ignored altogether by the governing parties and that as implied by this post only the opposition parties should be held to account?

  • I don’t see the argument that what is in a particular manifesto that results in opposition must be pickled in aspic and regarded as binding. I can’t see why, when a leader steps down their successor should be bound by what went before and I certainly can’t see the argument that voting to hold a referendum necessarily binds a party’s MPs to vote in any way in a subsequent referendum campaign (as distinct from any enabling legislation).

    The Conservative Party have agreed to a referendum being held, but all the indications are that they will mount an active no campaign. I simply do not see how the Coalition Agreement, or the fact of a coalition is an issue here. Again, what concessions Labour would or would not have made on the point is conjecture at best.

    The arguments about the AV referendum might make more sense were the bill in Parliament about holding a referendum, rather than a referendum and a number of other issues. Whether Labour would vote for a bill specifically on a referendum is, of course, also open to conjecture.

    On fees, the point being made is that it was not only a manifesto issue, but also one where Lib Dem candidates made a personal signed pledge, often in front of the media and then backed it up with visits to universities. The manifesto point on fees is not really the issue, the personal nature of the pledge most certainly is.

  • I see no Iceberg 4th Feb '11 - 1:16pm

    No amount of semantic wordgames are goign to win this and it just sounds desperate.

    Speaking of desperate, when Is Nick going to finally start campaiging for a Yes vote ?

  • @Duncan

    I agree with all that you say except possibly for the comment: ‘The manifesto point on fees is not really the issue’.

    I think it might be in the sense that I believe the original party policy to enact the scrapping of tuition fees immediately was watered-down to produce the – what was it – 5-year time frame then I think it important to look at the party mechanics that brought the change about because I believe the moves to bring about a Tory/LibDem coalition were being secretly hatched at a much earlier date than has yet been established.

    And if that is the case then it did have an important effect on the Manifesto Commitment and many other issues.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 4th Feb '11 - 1:21pm

    Oh well done, Mark: a beautifully executed own-goal.

    Any LibDems who now use the words “manifesto” or “pledge” might now just as well wear a label on on their backsides with the injuction “kick me”

  • Very poorly thought through article, shot down by the very first comment. No wonder there has been no response. Do LibDems not recognise their own hypocrisy? The excuse often banded about is that they didn’t win the election, so can not be held to their manifesto commitments. They are in government, Labour are not. Why would an opposition be committed to a manifesto that was rejected by the electorate?

  • Nick (not Clegg) 4th Feb '11 - 1:27pm

    @ I see no iceberg.

    Do you want the “Yes” campaign to win? if so, my advice would be to keep Clegg well away from it, just as Blair was air-brushed from many Labour candidates’ campaign leaflets in 2005.

  • Given that AV does not ‘ensure that every MP is supported by the majority of their constituents voting at each election’, (there will be a not insignificant number of voters who will only put down their first (few) preferences), the statement is not logically valid anyway.

  • Lots of people here wailing pathetically about broken pledges.

    What if we had voted to bring down the government, like you want, on this one single issue? Magically, for you, Labour get elected with a massive, triumphant majority. They introduce a graduate tax. Whoopee. So existing and future students face the rest of their lives paying for their university education, with unlimited commitment in the future. i.e. an even worse result than at present.

    Result!

  • Just as a matter of interest, of those who are angry with the Lib Dems about tuition fees and say they have been betrayed, who among you would have voted Labour instead?

    And precisely what would you have expected as a consequence?

  • @Robert C: That’s fine. On your logic, breaking promises is defensible. Now stop complaining about an alleged broken promise by the Labour Party. It will make you look silly. Thanks.

  • Depressed Ex Lib Dem 4th Feb '11 - 2:58pm

    “All MPs need to be accountable, not just government MPs. For me, manifestos commitments are a crucial way of ensuring every MP keeps their word.”

    You’re really saying that as a supporter of the Lib Dems? Has your sense of irony been surgically removed?

  • @Depressed Ex Lib Dem

    Like I said, LibDems don’t seem to recognise their own hypocrisy. It is truly remarkable to witness.

  • Oh dear.

    I’m a Labour member who strongly supports AV, and am disappointed to see so many of our MPs supporting a ‘No’ vote, so as to cut off their nose to spite their face…. but Lib Dems are the very last people I’m going to take lectures from on breaking election promises.

    Go back to writing articles on all the wondrous concessions you’re supposedly wringing out of the Tories (i.e. getting them to change the name of “curfews” to “overnight residence requirements”).

  • @ Mark

    Labour’s past is chock full of broken promises. Do you remember “No more boom and bust”? We broke ours because there was no money and we had too few MPs to force through what we wanted. In retrospect, we should have avoided making those promises, because they were not deliverable.

    What excuses does Labour have? Yet I see no end to those who say they are willing to vote for them and who now swear they are the best thing since sliced bread.

  • “Just as a matter of interest, of those who are angry with the Lib Dems about tuition fees and say they have been betrayed, who among you would have voted Labour instead?

    And precisely what would you have expected as a consequence?”

    Haven’t seen many answers to my question yet. Strange, eh?

  • I did not vote Labour – I voted Liberal Democrat and will make my next voting decision when the time comes.

    I always vote so I will have to choose somebody to vote for.

    My politics throughout have stayed moderate left and at the moment there are not too many choices in this area. The Greens are too anti-science and Luddite for me and the LD I hold responsable for the enactment of right-wing policies that are completely against my values.

    At the moment Labour seem the only choice unless the LD can tear themselves away from supporting the Tories and come up with a convincing way forward. I am, however, still not convinced by Labour so would vote otherwise if there was another

    It was the LD party that has moved away from me rather than I have moved away from the party!

  • @ Duncan Scott:

    “In the end it’s for the voters to decide. If they’re happy for their MP to say one thing to get elected but then use their power to do another, they can say so at the ballot box next time round.”

    What do you think the electorate will remember most in 2015 – a vaguely worded commitment by the Labour Party to some form of voting reform, or the entire Parliamentary Liberal Democrat party holding up personally signed pledges to vote against a rise in tuition fees?

  • What utter rubbish. They were committed to holding a referendum. And as all we have been hearing from Lib Dems is that they don’t have to keep to their manifesto in Government then it is more than a bit rich using this argument.

    It is obvious that holding a referendum and campaigning for it would ensure nothing other than giving people the chance to have their say making a mockery of Marks argument.

  • “It was the LD party that has moved away from me rather than I have moved away from the party!”

    Ah yes, the traditional apologia from defectors trying to assuage their consciences.

  • “And precisely what would you have expected as a consequence?
    Haven’t seen many answers to my question yet. Strange, eh?”

    Not really. I find it difficult to care about what Labour might have done when I’m fully occupied worrying about what the party i voted for actually have done. I expect Labour would have put up tuition fees by a grand or two. I seriously doubt the Tories would have tripled fees if they hadn’t had the Lib Dems to act as fall guys.

  • @ Paul B

    Come 2015 they will be wondering whether to vote for a Labour party that left our economy and public finances in a mess, wrongly predicted a double dip and opposed any measures to cut our deficit, or a party that helped sort out the economy, made our electoral system fairer, created cheaper access to university courses for the least well off students and gave workers £10,000 personal allowances.

    Don’t bet they won’t vote for the second.

  • @Robert C

    Assuming your prediction comes true, why would voters choose Lib Dem over the Tories? If the coalition does wonderful work then surely the biggest party will take the most credit and consequently the most votes?

  • oldDinosaur 4th Feb '11 - 5:12pm

    I have always voted Lib-Dem and with the benefit of hindsight ( Coalition with the Tories ) I would have done.

    And for me the volte face of the liberal manifesto has been core to my decision making at present.

    One thing is now certain: That is I am loathe to provide support to the party at present. So even should AV pass, people like myself that have steadfastly voted lib-dem, will no longer do so. So forget about receieving a vote from me as a primary, secondary, tertiary etc. .And thats one of the hurdles the party will now have to overcome. And it is a MONUMENTAL hurdle.

    To qualify I must add I have never been a party member \ activist ( Just agreed with and supported the party from the sidelines) so I am one of the core demographic, you need to win back. The arguments aren’t convincing …..

  • oldDinosaur 4th Feb '11 - 5:14pm

    I can never get the html quote portion correct …..

    The above was in response to Robert C’s question

    “Just as a matter of interest, of those who are angry with the Lib Dems about tuition fees and say they have been betrayed, who among you would have voted Labour instead?”

  • Vote for me, I agreed with George!

    Inspiring stuff. You’ll be beating the voters off with a stick.

  • @Duncan Stott who stated: ‘If the manifestos of opposition MPs are dead in the water, that means they are totally unaccountable for any decisions they take’.

    My understanding of the purpose of a Manifesto is that it is a programme basically put to the electorate as a shop-window of the party policies.

    But Party Policy is another beast – the policy remains and often is much more detailed than found in a Manifesto although Manifestoes certainly used to be a lot thinner than now,

    Also Party Conferences continue after a GE and you could have five conferences before another GE at which old policies will be reversed, new ones formed, others modified and some stand the same. The result of the changes over these 5 years will then be distilled into a new Manifesto.

    This is a process common to all political parties as far as I am aware.

    We then have the position of the Manifesto of the party which takes power as that is the road map for the electorate in determining who they gave an electoral mandate to. That then leaves the position of the ‘failed’ Manifestoes to be addressed. They either continue or fall – although NB my position re the ever-changing policy issue above. But if they don’t fall then why do we get the constant whine from LibDems and Tories that we have no plan – the plan must exist surely in the Manifesto.

    If they do fall the party policies remain and, as already stated, some of the policies in the Maniesto may change at the first Party conference after a GE so how can the Manifesto then have any legitimacy.

    However to get back to an MP – whether a Manifesto exists or not an MP remains accountable to his Party in many ways including Party Policy.

    We then have the thorny question about the Manifesto of the Party in power – Parties in power often break their Manifesto commitments and there is no redress for the electorate until the next election.

    Then we have a coalition government where neither won as at present so both feel they can wriggle off the hook of previous commitments. I have a lot more thoughts on this area but feel I have gone on long enough at the moment so will address it later.

  • Eddie Holobert 4th Feb '11 - 5:49pm

    Ok, this is getting really pathetic now. We simply, as a party, have no right to lecture any other party about broken promises. I’ve loved and voted for the LDs for years and years but even I am getting to the end of the tether. Our “leaders” are now so beholden to spin and obfuscation that we’re no longer much better than Labour. I’ve kept my mouth relatively quiet on the subject of tuition fees, NHS privi- oops “reform”, the disproportionate targetting of the sick and disabled, etc, but I just can’t any longer. In fact, if things continue like this, I will never vote for the party I loved again. Robert C., you break my heart by being everything we LibDems always stood against. You’re actually making excuses for us as a party enacting policies most of us would naturally vote against. You even suggest we should not make promises or pledges to the public instead of supporting these pledges. You don’t have the moral courage to stand up for what you believe in! It’s just all about power these days it seems. We’re too feeble to attack the banks, to tax the rich properly, etc. Instead we’re going after the weak and the poor. We’re quickly becoming the new Nasty Party, especially considering how willing some of our “leaders” (and commentators on this site) are to defend Tory policy.

    Why are we so focused on what Labour would or would not have done? Why are we selling everything we believe in just to be friends with Tories? I thought we’d have some good influence on the Tories but it seems the opposite is true. Like I’ve said before, we can shout “pupil premium” til we die, but that won’t help students who don’t want to be saddled with debt, that won’t help disabled people losing their lifelines, it won’t make a difference once we’ve made the NHS private, it won’t help libraries stay open. We’re helping to kill social mobility just like Labour and the Tories did by attacking everything people who are not rich rely on.

    I now know how Labour voters felt when they were taken over by New Labour. With every passing day, my party is becoming something I would never even dream of supporting. And, for what? To have some bums on government benches? The public are already turning on us in droves. And long-term LibDem supporters, like myself, are just giving up. And so many people are happy with this. It’s really heart breaking for someone like me who has always seen us as a left-of-cente bunch..

  • Tabman

    Why are you so pathetically tribalist – do you want to be a small ideologically pure party that has no need for voters on the fringe.

    It seems from the polls a number would agree with me – at least I am still giving you a chance!

  • @ Eddie Holobert

    If admitting there isn’t any money left to do what we said we wanted to do ( i.e. move towards free higher education) is “breaking your heart”, then so be it. Where are you saying the money should have come from to do that? More cuts elsewhere?

    On the other hand, I agree with you that the idea of allowing the private sector near the NHS – something New Labour was also keen to promote, it should be added – is downright silly and I oppose it. I also share your worry about the effect of cuts on vulnerable people. But what would Labour have cut? You can’t criticise the party for making the wrong cuts unless you are saying either (1) there should be no cuts or (2) something else should have been cut harder instead. As for increasing taxes to make up the difference, (1) they ARE being increased and (2) look how people squeal when they are raised. They hate that too.

    Even if I don’t agree with everything the Coalition government is doing (when did Labour supporters agree with everything New Labour did?) it doesn’t mean that I want to leave the party. It remains a million times better than either of the two main alternatives.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 4th Feb '11 - 10:23pm

    Well said, Eddie Holobert.

    @Robert C,, I wish i could agree with your last sentence, but i’m afraid i can’t

    @ Tabman, if I decide to leave the LibDems; or rather, yes, that they have left me; I shall not need to assuage my conscience. What I have to decide is how much longer my conscience can allow me to remain a member of an outfit whose leaders are now campaigning for a set of policies m ost of which I do not support and which,in any other circumstance, I would be vigorously opposing.

  • Robert C

    I am replying as an ex-Labour voter who moved to the LD because of my disgust at the Labour Party policies after the rightward shift post-2001.

    There is no need to keep banging on about how crap Labour were as that is why they were abandoned by a lot of voters.

    What I am looking at now is that the LD are supporting policies far further to the right than the Labour Party did. Did you see today how LVMH had a bumper year in 2010. Seems some people are doing very well thank you and it is not the bottom 95%.

  • Patrick Smith 4th Feb '11 - 10:52pm

    The `Fair Votes’ AV `Yes’ in the proposed Refendum on May 5th means benefits to all smaller political parties,ethnic majorities and women.

    AV will clearly guarantee for the first time in a UK General Election, that each voter`s vote will actually count, and none wasted as before, to elect someone by at least 50%. across all near equal constituencies.

    How possibly could Labour have any issue with a potential change to AV that makes voting fairer for all minorities and women?

  • David Allen 4th Feb '11 - 10:59pm

    Hey, we’re holding a weaselling competition here! Yes, Labour’s manifesto weaselled its way around the AV issue by saying something that sort of partly looked like a commitment and partly didn’t. But for Mark to go criticising that, after all we’ve done with our manifesto pledges – Well! Pots and kettles!

    Joe Public, of course, can’t stand any of us party politicians, for reasons that should be obvious. With the possible exception of some Tories, who, despite having the most appalling policies, occasionally speak in Human.

  • Bazsc – one of the last things I am is tribal. i want to see a proper Liberal Party, with broad support form the centre of British politics, that embraces the liberal left of the Tories and the liberal right of Labour. I want a left wing socialist party, and a right wing little England party. Far too many Liberals are currently in the wrong place – in a common home, so many more things could be done without having to pander to the reactionaries on both wings.

  • Ed The Snapper 4th Feb '11 - 11:12pm

    What a crummily worded manifesto commitment. It is staggering that whoever worded that manifesto was probably some hotshot who went to a supposedly elite university. The wording does not indicate that Labour committed to voting in favour of AV. It shows that whoever wrote that part of the manifesto was a fool who cannot draft wording.

  • Ed the Snapper – “some hotshot who went to a supposedly elite university”

    That’s what happens when you use second-rate PPErs 😉

  • Ed The Snapper 4th Feb '11 - 11:23pm

    @Tabman “Ed the Snapper – “some hotshot who went to a supposedly elite university”
    That’s what happens when you use second-rate PPErs”

    That is obviously some kind of political in-joke that is not comprehnsible to a simple dole-ite like me. The poor wording of this manifesto commitment and many other bumbling antics by prominent politicians from all parties just shows me that most of the people who run our political parties are not nearly as clever as they purport to be.

  • ETS – PPE is the course that most politicos study at Oxford. The Eds, David Cameron, George Osborne etc.

  • Bazsc – good strong evidence-based piece on how the Lib Dem leadership is more in touch with Lib Dem voters than its members. http://neilstockley.blogspot.com/2011/02/liberal-democrats-and-their-centrist.html

  • Ed The Snapper 4th Feb '11 - 11:52pm

    “ETS – PPE is the course that most politicos study at Oxford. The Eds, David Cameron, George Osborne etc.”
    It’s obviously not a very good course then since all of those people talk a lot of rot most of the time then include foolishly ambiguous wording like this in their manifesto’s. Time we went back to electing politicians who had done something useful with their lives such as working in industry or serving in the military.

  • Are you guys really so desperate to try and defelct attention from your U-turns that you have to see whether Labour crossed every t and dotted every i? Really? Is this your attempt out of letting down the folk who voted for you, it simply won’t wash.

  • @RobertC “Robert C
    Posted 4th February 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    @ Paul B

    Come 2015 they will be wondering whether to vote for a Labour party that left our economy and public finances in a mess, wrongly predicted a double dip and opposed any measures to cut our deficit, or a party that helped sort out the economy, made our electoral system fairer, created cheaper access to university courses for the least well off students and gave workers £10,000 personal allowances.

    Don’t bet they won’t vote for the second.”

    You’re living in cloud cuckoo land, people won’t blame Labour for the economy and public finances in five years time, this is a complete red herring, it simply will not work, if this were the case then Labour’s poll rating would be on its knees now, just after an election that booted them out of power, this line of attack simply will not work in 2015, people will be bothered about what life is like in 2015.

    Whereas there will be some merit to criticisng Labour, the people who recall the economic situation will also recall Tories promising to match Labour spending at the time and Boy George calling for less regulation on the banks. They will recall the Lib Dems prior to the election calling for a slower rate of cuts than the Tories.

    The vast majority of people will vote based on how their life is in 2015.

  • What a mess…

    I still don’t understand why Liberal Democrats are still trying to accuse or blame Labour for their own problems, is this that “a better way to do politics” at work, if it is you can keep it to yourselves.

    I could understand fighting your own corner, but the only answer I ever see from Liberal Democrats is… Labour this… Labour that… we only have 57 MPs and the big boys told us… it is the only way etc, etc…

    Liberal Democrats have dug a hole, a very deep hole, I think after May there will be no way out, the impression I have is… Liberal Democrats have, for whatever reason, followed the agenda of the Conservatives, the actions and beliefs of senior representatives of Liberal Democrats changed and then so did the remainder of the party after that emergency meeting to support the change of policy.

    The reason Liberal Democrats wallow at 8% – 9% in the polls is because of the broken promises and the change of party direction which a portion of Liberal Democrats supporters could not swallow or follow, I do not think it is the end of the downward slide, I think the AV vote is critical, a NO vote and Liberal Democrats will be looking at 4% – 5% in the polls within months as the AV supporters leave the ship, a yes vote and maybe Liberal Democrats can put that slide off until the end of the year, depending how much of the pain the public hold Liberal Democrats responsible for.

  • @Anthony

    Spot on Anthony about 2015 – the voting public are wise enough not to get caught up in hair splitting over Manifesto wording from 5 year’s previously.

    They reach their voting choice on a much more complex basis which is still not fully understood but you are totally correct that a prime consideration will be what their life is like at the time of a GE and what they perceive the short to medium term future to hold for them.

    But built in to the process will be major ‘landmarks’ that affected their choice such as the LibDem broken tuition fees pledge. These ‘landmarks’ can be different for different groups or sections of the public and they apply to all parties. But one thing I know for certain is that th public will not be sitting down looking at how the detail of a Liberal Party Policy for immediate tuition fee scrapping turned into a 5 year Manifesto process or of all the secret work to even water that down pre-election.

    And the reason they won’t is not because they don’t care or are stupid but because they are doing more important things like trying to survice as best they can, trying to hold down a job, trying to get an education, trying to bring up a family, trying to live in a decent house, trying to keep a NHS and trying to retain some dignity in the process.

    These are there priorities so they will judge political parties on the basis of the voter’s perception as to what promises from what party will best help them meet their pewrsonal goals.

    They will be helped in that process with a reality check against their ‘Landmarks’ like students on the streets caused by the LibDem breaking of signed pledges. Simplistic? I don’t actually think so – I think they have cut through all the dross that only political anoraks like people on thise site – including myself – are interested in and grasped the power of the ‘landmarks’ in determining who they should vote for.

    I think my comments are cross-party and only use the LibDem breaking of the tuition fees pledge because it probably goes beyond a ‘landmark’ and crosses into the ‘watershed’ territory although I readily concede it will probably be 2015 before the term can be applied unless the LibDems collapse before that date or there is an earlier GE.

  • TheContinentalOp 5th Feb '11 - 3:30pm

    I can only assume Mark Pack is actually Chris Morris and this article – indeed this entire site post-election – is a wonderfully clever satire.

  • I really don’t think Lib Dems have the right to lecture anyone on manifesto promises!!! You should concentrate more on your own manifesto and taking your leadership to account than bitching about Labour’s.

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