Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Lib Dems should take the Tory deal

I have agonised about publishing this post but in the end I have to be honest about what I think is politically possible.


First of all I think that our negotiating team has done a great job. The fact that the Conservative Party is now offering a guaranteed, whipped vote in the Commons on the Alternative Vote system is testament to how well they have done. The Tories are so wedded to FPTP that that has to be viewed as a real concession.

However let me also be very clear that AV is not what I ultimately want. It can actually be less proportional than FPTP. I went through some contortions on this subject last year which revolved around pragmatism of accepting AV as a "first step" towards the much more proportional STV (it gets people used to preference voting, removes the need for tactical voting and would probably give the Lib Dems 50% more seats than under FPTP). At the time I concluded that we should do everything we can to try and get STV. Indeed in a blog post I wrote on Friday I stated that PR is a red line for me in the negotiations. But in the last few days I have watched how the discussions have gone and have talked to numerous people from both Labour and the Conservatives and have concluded that with the electoral arithmetic as it stands at the moment, we cannot get PR.

Every single Conservative I have spoken to (and there have been a fair few) off the record has assured me that a referendum on AV is their absolute bottom line. I do not think this is a negotiating tactic, I think it is a statement of fact. No matter how much I disagree with them on this that is the position.

So the alternative that we are looking at is some sort of minority Labour/Lib Dem government perhaps bolstered by the support of nationalist parties and the Green MP. Gordon Brown has promised instant legislation to bring in AV for the Commons and a referendum on something more proportional. There are numerous problems with this approach but the most fundamental one is that even with all the nationalists and parties that would support AV and a referendum would get us to about 330 votes with about 315 ranged against it from the Conservatives and their Northern Ireland partners. It would only take a few Labour MPs to vote against this for it to fall. And having conversed with some Labour backbench MPs I am convinced that there would be enough for this to happen. So what Brown is promising simply cannot be delivered. That is aside from all the other problems about being seen as "a coalition of the losers", propping up Brown for the next few months and how precariously balanced such a government would be constantly teetering on the edge etc. which are big enough in themselves. The "prize" at the end of it all would not even be there anyway.

(Also, as a brief aside I do not want AV, or any change to the electoral system imposed on the country in any situation. People did not vote for that and it should be put to a referendum).

The other option is to allow the Tories to form a minority government but then we would be unlikely to get any change to the electoral system. We would also have forfeited our chance to show what we are capable of in government. Frankly, if we are ever going to get PR we need to demonstrate how coalitions can work in practise. This is our chance to do that. If we forfeit this chance then we risk making the arguments against stronger by showing that we are not willing to step up to the plate and hence giving succour to opponents of reform.

So although it is very difficult for me given my feelings about electoral reform, I have concluded that the red line that I stated should be there on Friday is unachievable with the current parliamentary arithmetic. If we'd been able to get another dozen or more seats or if Labour had outsted Brown last year (as I kept telling them they should do) then things might be very different. But politics is the art of the possible and PR at the moment, sadly is not.

I am going to dismiss the idea of a "confidence and supply" arrangement (as I blogged about on Sunday, it is too risky and from what I can tell our negotiating team seems to agree) so that only leaves us with agreeing to a coalition with the Conservatives.

There are still lots of things that we could achieve in a coalition and things such as fixed term parliaments, a fully elected (and proportional) House of Lords appear to be potentially on the table as well as all sorts of other things that I expect a Conservative administration on its own would not implement. But with the Lib Dems, all of these things become possible. We should also make very, very clear that our acceptance of AV is for us just a first step and reiterate ad nauseum our ultimate commitment to a proportional system.

As I said at the start, it pains me to write what I have done above and I appreciate it may make me look a bit inconsistent and hypocritical but in all negotiations you aim high and ultimately get what you can. I think we have done that but now is the time to accept the limits of what can be achieved. I expect some Lib Dems will be annoyed with me but I have to call it as I see it.

Most important now is to conclude a deal. We are risking damaging our reputation if these negotiations go on too much longer. I have done numerous radio phone in programmes in the last few days and I am just starting to get the feeling that the public's patience is wearing a bit thin. Ordinarily I would be happy for us to take our time but with the global financial markets as precariously balanced as they are at the moment a decision needs to be taken. Preferably today. At the latest tomorrow.

In conclusion, the situation we find ourselves in is far from ideal but a coalition with the Tories is now realistically the best outcome for the party and the country.

We should take the Tory deal.

101 comments:

Rachel said...

I agree with you, its not the greatest, but the most pragmatic. We need to take the deal and work to prove to the electorate that 2 parties can work together sensibly.

thebluemenace said...

*Risk* damaging your reputation?

It is already shot Mark.

All trust has evaporated on the Tory side. Gone. Obliterated by Clegg's shenanigans.

At the beginning of this week there was a lot of good will towards the Lib Dems on the Tory side. A genuine desire to make a deal work.

That has been replaced by anger and mistrust and beneath the surface a burning desire for political retribution. A lethal combination if you are looking to make this thing stick.

Richard T said...

As with Rachel, I agree with with your conclusion as I can't see any alternative to the pragmatic approach and taking the deal with the Tories. There's no guarantee of any stability for any linkage with Labour because in the end, any alliance is going to depend on the SNP because the Tories will work heaven and earth to destroy the prospective government. I suspect that labour wills truggle to deliver a vote from its scots backbenchers who dislike us and the SNP equally. They dislike further the thought of politcal reform because it will destroy their Central Belt fiefdoms

Vishal said...

I am afraid it is not just pragmatic - right now, Clegg's statement to 'support the party that has the biggest mandate' is still fresh in my mind. And what is happening right now is just prostitution. Whatever happened to 'national interest', who is thinking about the economy?!

Is Labour the right choice? Big government, uncontrolled public spending - is that what the Lib Dems want?

WIT AND WISDOM said...

And the comments from 'The Blue Menace' sum up why I think we can't work with the Tories. They aren't serious about coalition. They don't understand about discussions and politics. They won't compromise, they will simply bide their time, foment a spurious argument about procurement of pens in the MoD and call a snap election, in the process rubbishing us to try to win this time round.

To Hell with the Tories

Anonymous said...

Your nice Mr Clegg promised before the election that you would work with the party with the most votes and seats to form a stable government. He also said changing the voting system wasn't a pre-condition. Well, Mr "I'm new politics just nice guys", you have shown your hand with your grubby, dishonest back room dealing and horsetrading and the electorate won't forget.

Alix said...

IAWTP

@thebluemenace

If that's true, then the Tories are dumber than I thought. But I don't think they are. I'm sure the grassroots will have endless fun spitting with fury at the idea that anybody could consider them on a par with the Labour party for desirability. And some backbenchers were pretty obviously always opposed. But I suspect the negotiators and all sensible MPs will simply accept a deal, if and when it happens, as a good outcome. This is politics for grown-ups.

Constantly Furious said...

You're right Mark - you should. It's nearly too late.

What's Cleggy gonna do when he goes back to the Tories - as he'll be forced to when the 'Rainbow coalition' collapses later today - and finds that a load of things have been taken from the table?

Resignation?

John said...

I agree with this whether it's a CAS or coalition. The reason the Tories didn't get a working majority is because the public didn't buy their european partners nor their tax rebates for the super-rich.

Labour's tribalists will always be that - football supporters that take the ostrich position.

Whatever happens the ruinous deficit would have to be clearly explained and castigated.

As for bluemenace I'm not going to take the utterances of a tory troll to decide what I think about the whole tory party!

Justin Credible said...

I had quite a bit of time for Nick Clegg, and voted Libdem the last 3 times (excluding last week).

His behaviour over the past four days has revealed just how much his "fairer politics" will be the same - or worse.

Anonymous said...

As a Tory voter 80% of the time I voted Lib Dem this time in what has turned out to be a safe tory seat thanks to boundary changes.
I did so fairy sure the tory would win But i wanted to add to the overall lim Dem Total Also I couldnt control but wanted no party with a huge majority.

In this blog common sense has broken out and i agree with all of it.

The fact I voted at all was a miracle I was somewhat angered by expenses and still think more MPs should have attracted the attention of the CPS.

The leaders debates caught my attention and Nick Clegg was for me the one to listen to.

I can understand to a degree Lib Dems have to talk to Labour to satisfy their activists and Vince Cables wing of the party

I also think a lot of this is stage managed and everyones following a script

What should happen is common sense
The rainbow allaince is not stable and will take Lib Dems back to the winter of discontent and the following election a grand total of 6 MPs

Lib Dems get everything with con Lib Dem and have the chance to prove they can govern

PR or whatever form of fairer voting is something I agree with and should be a referendum as should continued membership of the EU.

That dosnt mean i want out of the Eu it means I am fed up with hearing about it and lets put it bed

I hoper responses to this blog are reasoned points, we live in a tolorant society some reponses in other lib den blogs have varied from slightly to the right of ATILA THE HUN so a left wing so wide medical attention is required
Everyone needs to calm down

Kalvis Jansons said...

I agree, or we will see the decline of the Lib Dems for a long time.

Neil Harding said...

Vishal: Call it prostitution if you must. But without talking to Labour, the Tories would never of offered a referendum on AV.

I have to admit, this is a tough choice. The Tory press will make winning any referendum difficult whoever is in power. Remember though that Murdoch respects winners, he won't want to harm his business interests by too hostile to a Lab/Lib government that could last years in power. John Major had a majority of 21 and lasted 5 years. A rainbow coalition without CON & DUP would have a 22 majority. With the DUP a rainbow coalition would have a 38 majority. Remember the DUP are not natural Tory allies. But there would have to be some concrete guarantees. The key, as Mark suggests is Labour rebellion on AV and PR. How many Labour MPs can Labour guarantee? If just 9 vote with the Tories and DUP then AV would be scuppered. With DUP support it would take 17 Labour MPs to vote with the Tories to stop it. Still not many considering the strength of feeling these safe seat MPs feel for the system that keeps them safe. But, how many of these MPs would prefer opposition to being in government, a high government post might buy off quite a few. Personally I wouldn't trust the Tories not to call a cut and run election and double-cross you. Whereas the rainbow parties will want to make it work, because an election another election so soon is unaffordable for all of them. Interesting times indeed and Clegg has a tough choice.

Alasdair said...

I'm a Lib Dem supporter, and I have to agree with the substance of this post. My heart would prefer a coalition with Labour, but my head says a coalition with the Tories is the only sensible choice. David Cameron's offer of a referendum on AV is the best Nick Clegg's ever going to get, and he should take it.

Stephen C said...

A very clear and accurate assessment. This is a head moment - the heart option is untenable. I only hope the negotiation messup hasn't screwed the Lib-Con deal.

Anonymous said...

Good post but I'd like to point out that your assumption that the Labour MPs would defy a three line whip and vote against the proposed legislation is wrong. There is no reason that the proposal will not get through parliament so AV is now more of a reality than it would be with the Tories offering a referendum and them actively campaigning against any form of PR

John said...

So Clegg has mortgaged his 'new politics' shtick against an AV vote. Not sure the LibDem negotiating teams will look that clever when the LibDems are annihilated in the next general election (in about six months time) after the electorate conclude that Clegg is even more devious and untrustworthy than the 'old parties'' politicians.

Most people don't give a stuff about AV, STV, PR etc. They want to see grown up policitians forming a coalition in the best interests of the country in a time of financial crisis. LibDems will have hell to pay from an electorate who now see that this was all about furthering narrow party interests.

J Davies said...

In the eyes of the public you have shot yourselves in the foot. Why on earth would a voter want PR of any kind if it leaves to more of these shadowy backstabbing political manoevers. You have just lost.

Anonymous said...

AV is utter sh*te, if you let it happen, you will never ever have a realistic chance to get abetter alternative than FPTF.

Let Cameron c.s. rule as a minority government and support them when they act in the interest of the country.

If you go for Labour, do not accept anything other than immediate legislation for STV.

Anonymous said...

As a Labour party member and long time supporter of PR, I agree with your words Mark. The only options that have a chance of lasting longer than 6 months is a Con-Lib deal or a Confidence and Supply arrangement with the Tories. I fear that the LDs behaviour yesterday is very close to damaging them permanantly in the eyes of the electorate.

zeno said...

It's an uncomfortable position for Clegg: his own party is divided and there will be pressure from both Tories and Labour to do a deal.

The news that there were secret talks with Labour will have tarnished the LD's image. Fair enough, talk to Labour - we'd all expect it - but it looks sleazy to do it the way it's apparently been done.

As a personal comment - can you really do a deal with a party whose leader you don't know? And a party which has shown itself to be one of the most illiberal in living memory? Unless you think you can trust that nice Mr. Mandelson, of course!

Anonymous said...

I think there is one flaw in your analysis about the chances of a vote on AV getting through the Commons. I agree that many Labour MPs would be unhappy with it, but if the Whips made clear this was a confidence vote and the gov't would resign and call fresh elections if the bill fell, they'd have to toe the line or face electoral decimation under FPTP. The Rainbow Coalition can work - just.

Seafang said...

I voted Lib Dem last week.

I was impressed with Clegg last Friday.

But the skullduggery and duplicity that is now going on makes me feel sick.

When we voted for change we didnt vote for this - we didnt vote for propping Brown and Balls up in a Coalition of the Losers.

The Lib Dems are rapidly looking like the biggest band of opportunists going and it is doing serious and irreparable damage to public goodwill.

Even Labour stalwarts like Blunkett, Abbott and Reid think the whole thing stinks.

Close a deal with the Tories quickly before any further damage is done.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the new politics.

Even less democratic than the old politics.

John said...

If the Lib Dems are ever going to convince the public that PR is a good idea then they need to do a deal asap and that deal has to be with the Tories.

I think that the general public are supportive of PR, but if this current paralysis continues for much longer then it is the worse advert for PR ever. It's clear that in PR the Lib Dems would be the junior partner in any government and that essentially the country will flip between lib-lab and lib-tory coalitions.

People are now asking if you work with the Lib Dems or not? If the Lib Dems take the Labour deal then it is clear that PR would bring about a permanent lib-lab coalition. I for one and am fan of parties spending time in opposition every now and then to renew themselves.

tonyw said...

It is clear that the voters have NOT chosen PR since the number of LibDem MPs has fallen.

Labour and Gordon Brown especially have clearly been rejected. A LibDem Labour coalition would still not have an overall majority.

We are in the worst ever financial crisis. The important thing for all politicians to do is what is best to get the country and thus people out of this terrible financial mess before we end up like Greece = bust. We should not put party objectives above this no matter how attractive the opportunity to impose PR.

IMHO working with the Conservatives for a fixed term is the best choice.

Woolman's Son said...

I think you have little idea how much damage you are doing to yourselves, to the idea of PR, and indeed to the national interest, in the back-handed and duplicitous way in which the 'negotiations' have been conducted. To say you have lost the moral high ground is putting it at its very least. Just remember, if you go into the losers coalition, you'll be endorsing a proposition which depends upon sworn and open enemies of Britain (ie, the Scot Nats).

What's the point, really. All I can see is that you are, at heart, just untrustworthy. So try your hand with Labour. Please.

Final point. By virtually assuring your subsequent electoral obliteration, you'll have set back the opportunity to restructure the left on something like Liberal grounds for another generation, and probably for all time. The shame and waste are virtually uncountable.

kjt19 said...

I too have agonised about this, as a lib dem who is instinctively more left than right.

In the grown-up, participatory and consensus government that we want, we have to go with the Tory deal.

Apart from anything else, it is our only chance to show those most opposed to PR that sometimes it can actually work for them.

I think the team from the Lib Dems have done a great job, they've shown the Tories that they have no automatic right to rule and they've got more than could have been expected four days ago.

Two years of conservative rule, a referendum on AV which will also allow us to make a strong case for the benefits of PR and then a new election where all bets are off.

Greysquirrel said...

I agree that it is best for the LibDems and the country (and Labour), if there is a Conservative/LibDem coalition.

Clegg will have a great deal of leverage, not only from cabinet posts, but from being able to pull out the Government and force a general election if the Tories become too blood thirsty with their cuts or unfair in their application.

The LibDems will gain the experience and profile of governing to offset the scorn for putting Cameron in power.

Also of critical importance, they will be able to block Cameron's plan to gerrymander enlarged constituencies to produce an in-built Conservative majority. Stopping this is as important as making progress on electoral reform, which may also see progress.

Being part of a minority coalition with the major party distracted by a leadership election, in hock to nationalist parties who will accept no cuts to their grants, would be a disaster.

I hope we have just been watching a master class in politics from Clegg (perhaps in collusion with Mandelson) to dispatch Brown and force a concession on AV from Cameron.

David Thame said...

What exactly is "progressive" about a warmongering DNA-collecting state-directing identitycard-issuing bunch like the Labour Party? If you put aside Labour's own cherished self-image as the Good Party, and simply look at their record, you discover that they are the folk behind, for instance, nuclear bombs, several wars, most depradations on liberty - and recently torture, a police state that won't let you take photographs in public.... and on and on.
Forget Labour. Tories aren't nice but they are, at least, uncontaminated by recent events. Like us, they voted against all that Labour rot.

Peter D said...

Despite being a Labour supporter myself, I find myself having to agree with this: Labour lost, and needs to regroup and decide where it's going to go in the next few years. Forget short term advantage. A Tory-Lib Dem deal of some kind is the only realistic option given the result, and it could end up producing at least some useful outcomes if the Lib Dems play their cards right.

Negotiation is not the same as 'prostitution', so the Tories shouldn't act all annoyed about Clegg exploring his options: this is what happens in all proportional systems anyway, it's just normal.

Rod said...

I agree with you 100% Mark. A ConLib is the only legitimate deal on the table and it would deliver genuine progress. In contrast, a LabLib coalition will mean Lib Dem oblivion at the next election regardless of the voting system.

Adam said...

Mark,

You're 100% right. I've been agonising too over what we should do. I'm not on the right of the party and I dislike much of what the Conservatives stand for - but we need to be biting off their hands to accept their latest offer.

I think we're screwed for awhile anyway, electorally, whatever we do - so let's get a taste of actual power, get some good, liberal things done, and moderate the Tory right's nasty/cutting/bigoted instincts.

This Labour flirtation is destroying us in the eyes of the voters, and confirming their worst fears about coalition talks after a few days when the words being used about the negotitations were "mature", "country-first", "optimistic", "good-natured", etc.

(You're also right on AV, that it's a stepping stone. I'm not sure we'd win the referendum though. And are we sure Cameron could get a whipped vote through the Commons? It was in Labour's manifesto, but they'll be doing everything they can to disrupt us if we're in with the Tories.)

There have been many reasons to be depressed since the election - but our first shot at worthwhile, stable power should not be one of them. I'm one of the "grassroots" that the media keep talking about, and I've watched what Labour's done with civil liberties and in Iraq, I've watched it break its promises on electoral reform until it was staring defeat in the face and I've seen it's arrogant, sneering, tribal bullyboy tactics at work for years. I've got no great love for Labour and don't want us being held hostage by nationalists or Labour's tribal awkward squad.

Let's just get this thing done with the Tories, hold our noses, and see where we get. There's no option which gains us huge amounts of support at the next election - we have to realise that's a pipe dream now - but what are we in politics for if not to get some policies enacted.

Anonymous said...

Naive I think.

I think you have to get hell-for-leather for full PR, otherwise moment has gone for another 30-40 years.

quentin s said...

This 'prostitution' business is complete nonsense. Clegg said that he would first try to help the party with the most votes, not that he would join them unconditionally. How on earth is ensuring that he achieves the best for the LibDems - i.e. what he and the party think is best for the country - 'prostitution' and against the national interest?

Anonymous said...

"If we forfeit this chance then we risk making the arguments against stronger by showing that we are not willing to step up to the plate and hence giving succour opponents of reform."

Do you honestly think that the LibDem dithering to date hasn't already damaged your reputation, particularly as a potential partner in any government? If your leader can't lead and deliver his party when it counts, why would any other party take you seriously?

What will be really amusing is that you are about to get sold a real pig in a poke, coalition with a Labour Party led by you know not who (would you really want to be seen backing, oh say, Harriet Harman, one of the least popular politicians in the country?) on the 'promise' of a Bill which Labour almost certainly won't be able to get through.

Let's face it, in the real world all Labour would have to do to thoroughly shaft the LibDems is to whip the vote but let it be known quietly to their potential rebels that any voting against the whip on PR will be seen as a minor peccadillo, i.e. overtly whip the bill but covertly give the green light to enough rebels for it to be defeated.

Do you honestly think that Mandelson/Whelan will give up the huge advantage Labour enjoys from FPTP without a dirty fight? Are the LibDems really that naive?

And once that Bill has been lost, what then for the LibDems, trapped in a Labour mess for nothing?

But hey, any LibDem who doesn't want the LibDems to ever be anything more than the junior party in coalitions should go ahead and support a coalition with Labour. Personally, I'd like to see more than that from the LibDems ...

Lady Schwarz said...

Agreed, this is the hand that's been dealt. It may not be ideal, yet how on earth can the Lib Dems call themselves Liberal or even democratic, if they ignore 10 million votes for the Tories, push through parliament a voting system the electorate haven't given a mandate on, prop up Brown, only to then hand over power to the next Labour leader with no mandate (whoever that may be?). Will that really be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the electorate?

A minority coalition will be anything but stable, let alone a coalition between more than two parties. A deal with the Tories is the lesser of the two evils.

Jane said...

A really excellent, balanced post, Mark - thanks a lot. I completely agree. We may, of course, get screwed in the end - but we have to do the best with what we've got. Your phrase about politics being the art of what's possible is the key here. Many thanks.

Reza said...

I fully agree with you. As some that has always voted Liberals, I would be very disappointed if we did not go with the principles that Nick Clegg so eloquently put across during the election that we need to respond to the will of the people.

As now there seems to be a very good offer on the table from the Conservatives we should take it, and form a coalition government showing how it can be done successfully and constructively. That should be our next big objective, fair and balanced government. The Labour party is going to be in taters and if we join them we will be pulled into their mess, which would destroy us. If we go with Labour it would really disappoint me, and would be a big factor in effecting the way I would vote the next time.

Andy said...

Hi Mark,

Some interesting points. Some of your arguments have changed how I feel on the subject, although do you not think that by joining with the Tories Clegg would be damaging the LibDems for the next election (by whatever system)? I would be interested to hear what you have to say on what I have written.

http://thinkimpartially.blogspot.com/

Cheers,

Andy

PQJ said...

It is awfully difficult not to think less of the Lib-Dems for their actions over the last couple of days. If, as Nick Clegg said on Friday, it was for the Conservatives' right to try and form a government, then why were they talking to Labour. This is a particularly strong sense of bad faith in doing so in secret while letting everyone believe that the were only talking with the Conservatives.

Yet that for me is not the cause of greatest concern. It is now clear that many in the Lib-Dems, including many senior figures, believe that they could in no circumstances go with the Conservatives. Now in one sense that is fine, they believe themselves to be a left-wing party and on that basis it is not surprising that they say they can not go with the Conservatives.

My question is this - why didn't they say so before the election. The issue came up time and time again immediately that a hung parliament became a possibility. Why then were Nick Clegg and the rest of the Lib-Dems not honest with the public, why did they not say "we are a left wing party and could only ever go into coalition with Labour", why did they feed us this line about the party with the most votes and seats?

Deceit? Dishonesty? Dissembling? As I say, it's hard not to think less of the Lib-Dems.

Anonymous said...

To "Wit and wisdom"

Oh do grow up!

Do you honestly think that burning your boats with the Tories will somehow gain you brownie points from Labour? That Labour will suddenly decide you are all such fine upstanding fellows that they'll willingly give up a FPTP system that is so massively biased in their own favour? From the likes of Mandelson, Whelan, Dromey and so on?

Labour are laughing at you already ...

Alister said...

What about FPTP will equal voters for the commons and straight PR for the Lords? Why can't Lords reform be part of the equation? It is part of the legislature, see Madelson et al

As to Clegg meeting Brown that's either blackmail or grabbing power for power's sake - it damaged him and his party. Swing voters will look at LIbDems as ready to jump in to bed with Labour at the earliest opportunity

Bill Dunlop said...

It's true a Conservative / Lib-Dem coalition is the pragmatic option. However, it greatly risks allienating voters in several parts of the UK. In virtualy Tory-free Scotland, the effect on next year's Scottish Parliament elections could be disastrous for Lib Dem candidates. Equally, the examples of minority governemt at Holyrood and of co-operation at Stormont seem to barely penetrate the consciousness of the Westminster village and beyond. There's a real 'north south' (and 'east-west') divide to take into account. Possibly the most-likely-to-last-and-do-least-damage option would be to agree 'supply and confidence' with pairing for votes other than the Queen's Speech and Budget. Coward's way out, I know, but preferable to serious splits within the party.

SaavyLibDem said...

Look at all the supposed Lib Dem voters disgusted by Clegg's negotiating skills...

There's a Tory at the keyboard for you...

Anonymous said...

Mark the Conservatives will eat the Liberal Democrats for breakfast - watch it happen. They know about power. They understand political strategy. They have knowledge and experience the LDs do not.

AV is a red herring. It's a rubbish system. What you need is STV or MMP. At least MMP retains an element of local representation.

This a view from outside the UK, having lived there recently for a number of years. I'm not from the UK.

Anonymous said...

As a first time Lib Dem voter it will be my last Lib Dem vote if they do a deal with the conservatives.

The reality is now that as Clegg failed to deliver in the election unless some level of PR or AV is achieved BEFORE the next election the Lib Dems are doomed as a party. Those who moved to vote LibDem this time round will not do the same again on a first past the post system election.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what the best thing to do would be, or what would be the best tactics to progress towards PR. I do think that there are real pitfalls to coalition with the Tories that don't get discussed very much. LibDems will be the junior partner in such a coalition, even with prominent cabinet seats, and would be hostage to the Tories fortunes. The Tories are the only party with the resources to go to a snap election so they could break an agreement for a term of government with less to lose than if the LibDems decided they needed to pull out. There was so little scrutiny of the Tories and their policies during the campaign and it seems to me that the Eurosceptic, Thatherite wing of the party weilds some big knives that would make cooperation between Tories and LibDems in government nearly impossible.

I am also worried that people seem to just accept the notion that a Lib-Lab coalition would be a coalition of "losers" or that it would lack legitimacy. That's just us being the echo chamber for the Tory press. Everyone who voted Labour voted to send a Labour MP; everyone who voted Liberal Democrat voted to send a Liberal Democrat to Parliament and none of these voters will think it's "illegitimate" for the party they supported to form a government.

I'd like to see LibDems doing more to highlight how positive the experience of the parties negotiating to form a government has been -- it's the best argument for PR you can make right now.

And, well, admittedly I don't want to see a Tory government, but why not press for a Lib-Lab coalition with Darling as Chancellor and Clegg as PM (obviating the "unelected PM" argument), with AV whipped through Parliament and a referendum on a more proportional system in 12 months and another general election in 24 months?

Chris said...

Fascinating.

In the world of psychology their is a concept called "The Drama Triangle" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karpman_drama_triangle)

It would appear that a classic DT has been established here and all are playing out their roles in full:

Tories - Persecutors
LibDem's - Victims
Labour - Rescuers

Wonderful to hear Malcolm Rifkind this morning trying to shift the Tory position to "Victim" and the LibDem's to Persecutor. Whatever NC decides today there is more drama to come no doubt.

peterreynolds said...

http://peterreynolds.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/there-can-only-be-one-choice-for-clegg/

Of course they should! If Clegg reneges on his promise to deal with the Tories first he will never recover from it. A Lib/Lab coalition is fantasy. You've got a good deal. Now stop dithering!

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I'm Irish, and there's a very interesting analogy with an Irish election, the 1992 version. In that election, the Irish Labour Party made what was hailed as a breakthrough, and they were in a similar position: the numbers for a coalition were there with the party with whom they had more ideological differences, Fianna Fail, but weren't quite there with the party they were more comfortable with, Fine Gael. In the end, they went with the numbers and did a deal with Fianna Fail, and got hammered for it at the next election - "I didn't vote for you to get THEM in."
In my view, the Lib Dems should be very, very wary of the danger of alienating a lot of anti-Tory Lib Dem voters (like me!) by underwriting what will be a very hard Right Tory administration.

Lee Griffin said...

I think I agree, I don't think it'll be the best thing for the country, but I don't see a fractured Labour party (on reform issues at least) being able to deliver much change.

On the one hand we'd be talking less cuts, with likely less reform (ironically) with Labour, against more civil liberties and a genuine support over a referendum as a first step AV with Tories.

I can just about stomach living with a shit situation on immigration and such for a term if it means having a fairer run at trying to get the fairest system next time around. At the end of the day it has to be better that terrible Tory policies have to be tempered somewhat with the Lib Dems support in mind, I hope.

timmytank said...

Some people on here seem to be critical of what the Lib Dems have done in speaking to Labour but by doing so they have managed to improve their position in the bargining process massively. The Tories weren't offering the referendum on AV or the potential cabinet positions before the talks with Labour were muted.
So the Tories might be a little annoyed, Boo Hoo. Grow up. Sooner we change the electoral system and politicians get used to having to work together as in every other industry the better.

Rod said...

One other thing. The Lib Dem negotiating team should seek to enshrine the state funding of parties in any deal. One huge step towards cleaning up politics in this country.

Anonymous said...

as a Lib Dem I never thought I'd say this but the Tories have behaved well and seem to have given us a good deal- Labour on the other hand are a complete mess, discredited and unpopular. We must now demonstrate how a coalition can work for the best and prepare for an AV election in 4 years time.

Rod said...

One more thing. The Lib Dem negotiating team should seek to enshrine the state funding of parties into any deal. It would be a huge step towards cleaning up politics in this country.

Blaamain said...

Hi all. Watching with interest from the other side of the Irish Sea.

The key point for me, echoing Mark's main point I believe, is that the priority is for the Lib's to demonstrate that non-majority government can work. This will be the only campaign-able common ground between Labour and the Tories when the referendum comes around.

Secondly, you need, morally and politically, to give the centre-right some belief that hung parliments do not automatically equate to Lib/Lab coalition.

The vote swing and Lib's stagnation seat-wise proves that ideology is not winning elections anymore and that the electorates fear of hung parliament is the prime mover.

Matt Thrower said...

Hmm. I'd love nothing more than a Lib/Lab coalition - it'd suit my politics quite precisely and I dislike Cameron and the Tories intensely.

However, the fact of the matter is that the Conservatives are the largest party. That means that to align with Labour is both undemocratic and potentially unstable since it doesn't actually make an overall majority. That seemed to be Nick Clegg's original position and it made sense. The country does need stable government, and quickly. So to look to the tories first seemed statesmanlike and the correct thing to do.

And amazed as I am to say this it seems as though Cameron is the man who has come out of this looking like the true statesman, while Brown and Clegg look like the politics-as-usual people. Cameron has managed to wring the maximum possible concession from his party in terms of voting reform in the interests of the country - there's no way AV is going to benefit the tories. And Clegg's response? To double-deal with Labour.

I'll re-iterate: saying anything nice about the Tories bends every political bone in my body. But in the current situation it's the right thing to do morally and politically, and Clegg actually now has some catching up to do to look as big a man as David Cameron does right now. Accept the Tory deal, now, to save as much bad feeling as possible. I hate the idea: but it's the right thing for the country.

Anonymous said...

Sadly Mark
All of this merely highlights how dangerous it is for a party when someone sets themselves up via a blog as a spokesperson and appears on radio phone-ins as the one "libDem" voice on the panel. That single voice is now being amplified on BBC TV as being representative of the mood within the party. Is it?

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

So it IS true then - "Vote Yellow, get Brown"

In fairness to Clegg, he may not have been living in this country for the last few years and have no idea what a rotten government New Labour has provided.

The Lib Dems do not have to do anything other than vote in the 'Commons as policy and conscience dictate - why support this rotten government? :-(

From a party perspective, the strategic aim remains to replace New Labour - that will be set back a long way by entering a coalition with New Labour.

It will take a generation for the Lib Dems to recover from this.

Raskolnikov said...

I find it strange that most calculations focus only on benefits. There is little apreciation for the negative impact of having a right wing government. If you take a step back, i think there is a price that lib dems will pay for making a deal with the conservatives. We are after all talking about two radically different parties. It cannot only be about what the lib dems want. It also has to be about what they do not want. That is after all a massive part of why people who voted lib dem did not vote for labour or the conservatives.

JonathanCR said...

As a Lib Dem voter who is at heart an "anyone but the Tories" person, I do agree that the Conservatives' offer is the one to go for. It is a good offer - better than might have been expected from them - and I think that the Lib Dems would work well at softening the worst aspects of a Tory government. The alternative "coalition of the damned" might be entirely constitutionally acceptable but that does not mean the public would be happy with it.

Personally I thought that a C&S arrangement like that suggested by Shirley Williams would be best. Whoever forms the next government is going to be forced to make massive cuts and become horrendously unpopular, and it would probably be better for the Lib Dems not to be a full-blooded part of it. But as I understand it, that possibility is now out of the window and they are headed for a full coalition with someone or other.

It surprises me that the Conservatives or anyone else should be either surprised or annoyed with Clegg for having talks with Labour. He committed to giving the Tories the first chance at making a deal, and he has not done anything to renege on that promise. He did not say he would *only* talk to the Tories until such time as a deal with them was definitely ruled out. And it seems to me that it would have been irresponsible to do that; if a deal proved impossible he'd have to start negotiations from scratch with Labour, and we'd all be back to square one. It was quite right to speak to both Labour and the Conservatives, while still giving the Conservatives first refusal, and I am surprised that the Tories should be so precious about it.

Vote Clegg Get Brown said...

Hi Mark,

Clegg has played a good hand badly. The losers coalition will have 6 months top, no new voting system will be in place and you'll be lucky if you'll end up with 20 seats. Still Vince will have been Chancellor for a couple of months and be able to tell his grandchildren all about the sterling crisis he had to deal with, the day the UK lost its AAA rating.......... ah the memories!

Ben Leedham said...

May be risky going with Labour, but there are no guarantees with the Tories either, a whipped referendum on PR, yeah right. Cameron's position in his party must be weakening by the second.

Going with Labour is worth the risk for the LibDems because less of their voters will feel betrayed, what's the point of getting a referendum on PR when no one is going to vote for you.

It's not a nice choice but a Lib-Con coalition will be deadly for the Lib half.

Ronnie Soak said...

Well said Mark. I do think Clegg is right to take his time, and consider all sides, and not be rushed, but I am of the opinion that the Tory deal is the more sensible option, despite the taste that leaves in my mouth.

Ewan Hoyle said...

I agree with much of what you say Mark although we have a Scottish Parliament election coming up next year and any sign of cooperation with Conservatives in Westminster would seriously damage any ambitions we have of making gains in Scotland.

Having said that, if we are to support the conservatives, it has to be as part of a coalition so that we can have some influence in softening or preventing their harsher policies.

For me the whole thing rests on being able to get an AV referendum through. If the party of power can't whip their MPs into line and the bill doesn't pass then it has to be made clear that we wouldn't support them as the party of power anymore. A guarantee has to have consequences if it doesn't come to fruition.

I'd also like to see Nick Clegg as Home Secretary for obvious reasons.

And to all those saying Nick Clegg is a two-faced back-stabber. He's just trying to get the best deal for his party manifesto which is the same thing as the best deal for the country in his view. You'd do the same if you had any sense.

Scott said...

Whatever party you support, a coalition of losers makes a mockery of democracy. With the nationalist parties demanding their territories be ring fenced from cost cuts and their financial support increased as the price of their support, England would be the big loser. As for the Lib Dems, working for the greater good of the country with the party that has the biggest mandate has become a secondary consideration as they play the main parties off against each other to secure the best deal for themselves and their policies. The past few days have been classic tail wagging dog stuff, but that is what you get with PR/AV.

Anonymous said...

"I hope we have just been watching a master class in politics from Clegg (perhaps in collusion with Mandelson) to dispatch Brown and force a concession on AV from Cameron."

That would be quite a story, one day.

Anonymous said...

The Conservatives opened and conducted negotiations with a lot of good will - don't underestimate what it takes for a Tory to compromise on constitutional matters or to consider sharing power with Liberal Democrats.

As a Tory voter, I actually thought 'OK, let's make the best of this, we need a strong front to cope with the tough times over the next few years'.

All that is shot to pieces now - it's obvious that Clegg's word can't be trusted, and that he doesn't really control his party anyway.

Minority government here we go - hopefully no soft coup d'etat attempt from Labour and LibDems, I'll be up in London burning stuff if that happens. John Reid and David Blunkett have already seen the next few moves, and they're shitting themselves about what it'll mean for the country. Clever guys.

Derek said...

Old Chinese curse 'May you live in interesting times..'

Nick Hughes said...

I wish the Lib Dems were honest about PR, truly honest. You don't want it because it is a fairer voting system (that is up for debate), you want it because it makes the Lib Dems power brokers in government. There is a reason why the Lib Dems are the third party and it's not because the electoral system is against you and it's not because the media is out to sideline you (how much of the media and celebs do you have at your disposal now?) but because the harsh fact is you don't appeal to enough of the electorate. Even under PR, you'd still be the 3rd party. So instead of having a "proportional" number of MPs, you'll have a disproportionate influence on the larger parties in government. So let's end this pretence that the Lib Dem desire for PR is for the good of the country: It's for the good of the Lib Dems.

Anonymous said...

I see the problem, but the pro-Tory thinking is rather short-termist. Economic circumstances (and the Tories) are such that soon blood (ie cuts) will be on the hands of the incoming government, and the Lib Dems will be lumped with the Tories in terms of public ire: in fact, they'll get much more than their share. For many 'progressive' people, the Lib Dems will be toast: not a party you could ever vote for again (I've voted for them on some occasions in the past). Also, pragmatically, who's going to campaign for AV if the Lib Dems join the Tories? The Lib Dems will, I suppose, but it's not what they really want (and they're short of cash): Labour can scarcely do so with any conviction because they won't want to associate themselves with the Lib Dems, and the tribalists will be opposed to it anyway. So, I suspect that vote would be lost. In which case, the Lib Dems would be in power, but would be blamed for cuts and wouldn't even get what they (minimally) want.

As for the rainbow coalition: yes, it would be problematic. If it could be time-limited to 2 years (as Will Hutton outlined in the Observer before the election), that would be better. But even if it didn't work, new elections could well assure an increased Lib-Lab majority rather than a Tory government: remember, things are going to get pretty ugly amongst their ranks if Cameron doesn't form a government now (and they won't look pretty even if he does). And the Lib Dems will be able to extract an awful lot of concessions from Labour - apart from poverty reduction programmes, what do you think most Labour party politicians and activists feel strongly about? ID cards? I think not.

Don't be distracted by the squealing in the Murdoch / Dacre / Desmond press about the 'coalition of losers' / 'national interest' etc: as we've seen, their influence is on the way down. So, the situation is pretty clear. If you really can't stomach a deal with Labour etc, then you'll just
have to let the Tories form a minority govt. A deal with the Tories will, in the long-term, be a mistake that the Lib Dems will not be able to recover from in their present form. I suppose if you want a more moderate Conservative party out of this situation (as Cameron tries to make his party more centrist, some ex-Lib Dems would be handy), then that's no bad thing. But is that your aim?

Simon Fawthrop said...

. We would also have forfeited our chance to show what we are capable of in government. Frankly, if we are ever going to get PR we need to demonstrate how coalitions can work in practise. This is our chance to do that. If we forfeit this chance then we risk making the arguments against stronger by showing that we are not willing to step up to the plate and hence giving succour to opponents of reform.

Exactly. The vast majority of the public don't understand the arcane differences between various PR systems and will wonder what you are playing at. The Conservatives have crossed their red line and you still don't want to play coalition politics with them and you could well get slaughtered for that.

All Cameron has to do is to go for a minority Govt, make sure he implements the more popular of their policies, and when it all gets difficult go to the country and say "I tried" but they don't want to play. As a real killer he could then offer a Royal Commission to look at the whole issue of PR. That gives him 5 years to devise ways to kick any PR proposal in to the long grass.

It strikes me that your MPs have been playing a dangerous game.

Will 883 said...

Good post, and as a LD member I agree. The Lib Dems did not win the election, so we cannot therefore expect a liberal government with liberal policies. What we can achieve, however, is a liberal influence into the next government.

I still have every faith in Nick Clegg playing a good hand here. Those criticising him for talking to Labour should keep an open mind that perhaps it is just a clever negotiating strategy and could give us a good win on electoral reform.

Will 883 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Will 883 said...

@Nick Hughes

I believe you are mistaken to say Lib Dems want electoral reform because it suits them. Even if that may be true in some individual cases, the majority of activists I know care passionately about reforming our broken system because they believe in a modern and fair democracy.

When people tell me on the doorstep they will not be voting because it is all a waste of time and their vote won’t make a difference anyway, I want to be able to tell them they are wrong and their vote will count as much as anybody elses. At minimum I want to remove this excuse for not voting.

Our government should properly represent the views of the British people, not just those of us in key marginal seats. A Conservative voter in Aberdeen or a Labour voter in Maidstone should have just as much say in who runs the country as anybody else. At present they do not.

Rupert said...

Alister is right. Lords reform should be part of the equation - can make it easier for Labour to PROMISE you something that they can deliver.
And of course you are going to be nervous on whether Labour can deliver on PR. But if they don't, then you bring them down, they go to the country, and they get annihilated.
Here are the questions for you, if you really are contemplating this deal with 'Dave':
Do you really want to be responsible for handing the keys of #10 to the Tories? (And what about all the people who used to vote for you 'to keep the Tories out'?)
Also: When immediate Tory cuts and dismantlement of parts of the welfare state take place and the economy and society start to tank, how are your electoral prospects going to look?
And are you really willing to give up on the prospect of full PR?
These questions are pretty obvious, but I haven't seen any good answers to them from you.
...I hope that you reject this offer, and keep the 'progressive alliance' idea alive. For believe you me, if you go in with Dave and George, you are going to need PR, real PR. Because your vote will shrink so fast that AV won't help you.
p.s. 'Labour offers closest value match', says @DrEvanHarris http://gu.com/p/2hv3d/ip via @tom_watson #progressivemajority

Tom Freeman said...

"if we are ever going to get PR we need to demonstrate how coalitions can work in practise"

The Tories, of course, have the opposite incentive.

Rod said...

I really object the the received wisdom that Labour can be defined as a 'progressive party' and that they are our natural bedfellows as part of a 'progressive alliance'. Anyone who examines their thirteen year record of authoritarian, statist, corporatist, corrupt, spendthrift, war-mongering hegemony surely cannot believe this. The Tories are hardly likeable but at least they're untainted by the mess that the Labour Party have created. Progressive my arse.

Mark Reckons said...

Anonymous @ 12:02:

You said:

"Sadly Mark
All of this merely highlights how dangerous it is for a party when someone sets themselves up via a blog as a spokesperson and appears on radio phone-ins as the one "libDem" voice on the panel. That single voice is now being amplified on BBC TV as being representative of the mood within the party. Is it?"

I have not set myself up as a spokesperson for anything, apart from my own brain. I am just a Lib Dem blogger/activist and speak only in that capacity. I try and point that out regularly when I appear on the media. I am absolutely not speaking for the party, simply my view. In other words what I reckon about stuff, as in the title of the blog.

I don't know if my view is representative of the view in the party. There are numerous other blog posts today from Lib Dems along similar lines but views are changing all the time. We'll have to wait and see what happens but I have laid out what I think should happen, for whatever it is worth.

Bill Quango MP said...

I'm surprised so many Libs seem to be taking the Rainbow seriously.
It cannot last.
The idea that for every vote on every issue a 100% of their MPs will turn up is incredulous. How many by elections/illnesses/scandals or just other commitments does it take for it to fail.

The only reason that the Tories aren't in Downing street now is the need for a workable majority. Workable...
They have 48 seats over their rivals Labour and that isn't really enough.
How well will a party manage with 5?

And the Tories only need to offer an English Parliament to all those enraged right of centre votes.
BNP and UKIP polled 1,500,000 votes. Even if only 20% go to the right Lib Dems especially could very well end up with less MPs after an October election than before.

{MRS Q and many at the mums groups voted Lib Dem - For the local MP who has a good record.
She has said she will never vote for him again. So have many others. Its quite shocking this sense of betrayal.
Not a scare story ..just a fact. libs actually have the most to lose. Labour can easily bounce back..they will have a new,better, leader next time in October.
The Tories will have the failed UKIP and disaffected Tories and ex Cleggmanias.
What will the Libs have?
An example of how PR works in practice..back room deals and the minorities holding the majority to ransom..
Doesn't sound like much of a vote winner.

Anonymous said...

No way, They will not honour any promise. I find the Conservatives policies abhorrent. They will Marginalise us in Europe, We will not get PR. This will be an opportunity missed. The Lib Dem vote will be wiped out in Scotland. I for one will never vote Lib Dem again! At best I could stomach "Confidence and Supply"

charlie said...

The longer this goes on, the greater the danger that it brings the whole idea of post-election trading and discussion into grubby disrepute. Think of how it will colour the public's view of whether ANY kind of PR is a mistake.
Clegg was right on Friday: the Tories are the only game he should be playing. He should take it. Now.

Anonymous said...

Mark, you forget one very important thing, the Tories cannot be trusted to keep their promises. If they get in electoral reform will be deferred while Cameron and co spend a few months wooing the electorate before announcing another general election. If they get in after that electoral reform will once again be sidelined.

If Labour can deliver any kind of electoral reform we must grab it. It will not happen otherwise.

Rod said...

For all those who support the Lib Dems but who insist that a deal with either Lab or Con is unacceptable - why don't you just join one of the two old parties? The nature of a centre party which supports PR is that a deal *has* to be possible with either side. Otherwise what exactly is the point of voting Lib Dem? Just vote Red or Blue and be done with it.

Ethan said...

The Tories cannot be trusted? Have they been conducting secret negotions with Labour then?
Didn't the Labour and Lib Dems Manifesto promise a Lisbon referendum? Then LD abstained and Labour just lied. And you have problems trusting Tories? I suggest the rest of the world has rather more trouble trusting you lot.

As a Tory I want no part of the LD's and suggest we just have another Election right away. Then I prefer democracy, unlike Cleggie and his new chum Gordo.

Anonymous said...

Nice quote from a veteran Labour MP

"I find it hard to feel positively-minded towards a Lib Dem deal for two reasons. First, the arithmetic doesn't stack up, and it's quite hard to see how you get a stable government. I am sure you could get an agreement but how long that would last is another matter.

The second is I think the Lib Dems are acting in an unseemly manner. Tendering maybe appropriate for a building contract but I am not sure it's appropriate here. This feels like competitive bidding for something and somebody will be punished for this and I don't want it to be the Labour party."

Yes, it's the "new politics" in action....

Anonymous said...

Nick Clegg is right to get the best deal he can. What he is trying to squeeze out of the other parties is a fair electoral system.

The Tories would prefer to stick with the current system where they win seats in wealthy rural constituencies with small populations or as a minority choice in larger constituencies where the progressive vote is split.

Labour would like AV because under that system they would pick up all the anti tory second choices.

The Lib Dems want PR which is a fair system reflecting the number of votes in the number of seats. Governments would still be mainly controlled by Labour or Conservatives but ALL of the smaller parties would have a voice. While I dislike many of the smaller parties and what they stand for I prefer PR. That is democracy after all.

akashic said...

To Mark, credit for writing what must have been a difficult post.

To all those Lib Dems out there, stop and think for a moment. You came third in the election. You lost seats. Aren't you happy to be getting anything? You seem to think you won the election.

I'm amazed it's taken this long for the saner members of the Lib Dem party to realise firstly their behaviour in the last 24 hours has destroyed the reputation that was gained during the election, and secondly a deal with Labour wouldn't last more than a month before another election would have to be called, at which point you would be wiped out. Incredible how the hubris over being kingmaker has blinded you.

Next perhaps we'll see the triple lock mechanism refuse the deal with the Tories, force you to deal with Labour, and then get wiped out in the summer election. Unless the grass roots of the party come to their senses.

Now all that's remaining is for David Cameron to rescind the offer of a referendum on AV.

Anonymous said...

After the fashion of Tim Minchin's song,

we don't like PR
you don't like PR
lets not like PR together..

CON LAB coalition!

Anonymous said...

The fundamental problem with full PR is that it gives smaller parties massively disproportionate bargaining power relative to their electoral mandate. Why should we be held to ransom by a tiny minority vote negotiating "special favours" to basically sell their vote. How is that in the "National Interest"?

Jon said...

Unlike some on here I don't think that the discussions with both sides will be seen badly by the Tories.

As professional politicians, and politicians who have spent the last month rubbishing the LibDems at every turn, they knew that this wasn't a done deal.

If the two sides reach a deal (which I believe they will), what's happened during the discussions will be history for anyone with a vaguely open mind. Yes those who were never in favour of a deal will keep bringing it up but in reality they were going to seize on whatever they could to undermine the agreement and it should probably be seen in that light.

Anonymous said...

"The fundamental problem with full PR is that it gives smaller parties massively disproportionate bargaining power relative to their electoral mandate"

No, it doesn't. That is a property of the current system with a hung parliament. Under PR the number one choices cast for crackpot candidates and extremists are generally redistributed among the larger parties after elimination.

Anonymous said...

The basics of ANY negotiation is to proceed with "good faith" based on a few simple principles.

First, that the Parties agree to negotiate exclusively for a period of time, ( say 48 hours)

Second, that the Parties keep everything in thast room confidential until the end or breakdown of negotiations.

Third, no other runners, secret chats or parrallel discussions with competitors are held. If they are so. then they are declared.

Honourable conduct has been seen throughout by Cammeron in my view, but not the Liberal leader Clegg, who seems out of his depth frankly.

After thirteen years, if any of you can believe a word Brown, Mandleson or Campbell says, then you are bigger fools than I thought.

The Public and the National Interest demands intergity of actions and brutal transparency, so that a stable Government can be achieved quickly. The Liberals will not be forgiven by the Country if they do not go with the Conservatives now and try for a fanciful failure -that of a rainbow coalition. it will last six months at best

Winston (deceased) said...

Firstly, I did not vote Lib Dem.
This wasn't because I lacked courage, it's because I read your manifesto and found it incomplete, inconsistent and reading like it was written by a Very Large Committee.
The 'Liberal Democrats' received 6,827,938 votes from the total voting population which corresponds to 14.98% of the voting able population, or to put it another way nearly a seventh of the voting population.
This makes the Liberal Democrats the least popular major party by a significant margin.
Today, the run on the pound starts and the FT Index is dropping caused by 'Liberal Democrat' procrastination whilst they flirt with a party with an unelected leader to impose their views on electoral reform without having to go to the trouble of asking the populace. How very European, I think 'Liberal' can now be dropped from the name. Cavorting with an unelected prime actively using three other unelected senior officers Lords Adonis and Mandelson, and Alastair Campbell who lead a party to election defeat by a large margin; Might as well drop the 'democrat' from the name aswell.
Be in no doubt that I and others call this partisan and putting self interest firmly before the welfare of the country.

LordShawlands of Glasgow said...

I'm disgusted, shocked and horrified that we are to support a Tory government with George I've never held a real job in my life Osborne as chancellor. It is a disgrace. The people of Scotland will have been effectively disenfranchised, 85% of Scots voted against a tory government for we still remember Maggie's cuts, the destruction of the unions and with it the lives of thousands. They achieved 15% of the vote in Scotland, and 1 MP. One. Uno. Un.
I do acknowledge the Rainbow Coalition of Progress (including the nice wee Green lady) is not really possible, given the Labour rebels are impossible to control and any vote would rely on them staying put, and on nationalist and Northern Ireland support.
Though I'm disgusted and I would rather let them Tories have their minority government than being associated with them, I realise it's impractical and it's best to have LibDem common sense in the cabinet to put a brake on the tory right wing policies. I cant explain nor express enough how disgusted and disappointed I feel. I'm seriously considering tearing up my membership and joining another party.

T.W. said...

I'd take your point that electoral reform can't be forced on voters from above one step further & say that any referendum must, if successful, be followed by a referendum giving choice among different electoral systems.

How meaningless the idea that the British people are deciding their own politics if the only choice is between status quo and whatever awkward and poorly-designed compromise their overlords can produce!

In New Zealand it was shown that the populace of a democracy, given a choice among voting systems, can exercise it wisely. But in the UK the dominant parties are so afraid of democratic change that they never look above party interests to the question of what would really be a better system.

Winston (deceased) said...

Well, at least we do have a choice and thank goodness for that.

I do find the Labour imposed taxes on pensions an affront, together with the 3,500 new laws including exciting anti terrorist laws now used to snoop on our bin usage.

The recent death of my Father, discovery of the degree of my Mothers succumbing to Altzheimers and the realisation that 'you are on your own boy' under Labour sorting out care, my Mother selling up to pay it (I am doing that for her) brings home the reality of life under Labour, particularly if you have been stupid enough to work all your life and save.

I for one am willing to give a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition a chance.

Surely we have tired of the 'some animals are more equal than others' form of government, where election seems to have become less and less important, snooping on the general public has become more and more important and any need to discuss policies and actions ends up in showcases where suntanned politicians can bodypop their carefully honed evasive skills. Bravo.

Labour have spent decades trying to get 'someone else' to rule us and they finally managed it by signing the Lisbon Treaty on our behalf when they had promised us a referendum. Hurrah for them. What a great legacy. As Blair is apparently credited with 'say what you like before you are elected, do what you like after'. I suppose there will be a very well paid job for the Browns in the EU just as there are now for both Kinnocks. What a surprise. Let's not forget Neil Kinnock nipped out to the Soviet Union whilst Thatcher was in power to see what could be done to destabilise the UK government. Or perhaps he was on holiday.

One rule for them, another for us.

Bathplugs to them all.

Jaded63 said...

For the first time in history we have, en effet, the Whigs and Tories combining. The minority socialist tendency that the Whigs-cum-Liberals-cum-Lib Dems had become lumbered with in latter years can now splinter off and get embedded in Liebore’s rump.

The new Whig-Tory combo could become so powerful that it will keep Liebore out of power for good. Now THAT’S a progressive coalition.

home for eco said...

Well it is the pragmatic choice a coalition between libs and conservatives. It seems to me the liberals have done very well out of this. Hopefully they will come up with some innovative ideas to drive the economy forward.

Anonymous said...

It was the onlty viable option and a good one at that. Rubbish Tory policies like the marraige subsidy and inhertiance tax cut will be scrapped. Whislt policies like £10,000 before income tax, pupils premium and the AV system are Lib dems or close to libdems policies.


Further more i opposed the NI rise becasue i realise that employers factor this in as a cost of hiring someone. This tax would be what economists would consider a leakage from the economy and is the equivalent of spending cuts from the economy of the same account. I for one am grateful that employers have a greater incentive to hire people, and people(in this case throught the markets) rather than government are deciding how our money is allocated.

A Rainbow coalition would mean that the Irish Scots and Welsh would secure their parluiamentary budgets ensuring that England would have to suffer a majority of the cuts. tHis to me is inherintly an unfair proposition.

At this testing time when we need a stable government i think this coalition can only be a good thing, representing the centre left and right.

We havn't achieved all that we hoped to achive, but a lot of what we hoped to achieve. Furthermore the Libs have proved that in the case of a hung parliament they can be trusted as the party to place National Interst over party politcs.(Personaly i think negotiations with labour were box ticking and a bargaining chip)