Exclusive survey for LDV readers – what should Nick Clegg do next…?

by Stephen Tall on April 18, 2008

The new Politics Home website is conducting a survey this morning, asking what Nick Clegg should do about a range of issues: in the event of a hung Parliament, in establishing the party’s ‘brand’, and the Lib Dems’ strategic options.

Politics Home is giving Liberal Democrat Voice readers the opportunity to take part. The survey was designed to be answered by the site’s PHI100 panel – a politically representative group of 100 opinion formers. There are six questions, and it should take no more than 2-3 minutes to complete.

To complete the survey, please click on this link.

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Done. The questions are a bit rubbish, mind. The usual left / right palaver and so on.

by Julian H on April 18, 2008 at 9:33 am. Reply #

I notice that the poll repeats the fallacy that you have to be right wing to take Tory seats and left wing to take Labour ones.

In many cases, the people voting for us in a strong second in Labour seats are people who who are anti-Labour (and not left wing). Add in the third place Tory votes and that can be enough to beat Labour. In current Conservative seats, we may be forefront of the anti-Tory coalition, which doesn’t mean being right wing at all.

(This isn’t a reflection on our position on the left-right scale so much as our ability to campaign.)

by Graeme on April 18, 2008 at 9:58 am. Reply #

I think I might give this one a miss. This is a voodoo poll : it only measures the opinions of people who happen to come on to this particular website at a given time.

The questions are dodgy. What’s a “dramatic” or a “modest” increase in seats? We all have different interpretations of those phrases.

A brand isn’t just about “issues” and the options given are a joke. For instance, health and education are bracketed together. Economic responsibility (a policy theme, albeit a vague one) is put alongside more neutral terms, like “civil liberties”. What’s “social justice”?

Does anyone with any knowledge or experience of our campaigns recognise the “move right – hold off Tories” vs. “move left – win Labout seats” equation?

I hope that Lib Dems will see this poll for what it is – a piece of fun, hopefully not at the party’s expense.

by Neil Stockley on April 18, 2008 at 10:53 am. Reply #

Pretty weak survey, I have to say. I found I disagreed with virtually all of the ‘strategies’ on offer, none of which reflected my views.

I got the impression that either it had been written by someone with very little idea about the Liberal Democrats, or was a deliberate attempt to caricature the Party’s position. Not very good for a “serious” “grown-up-politics” website.

And it’s Lib Dem not LibDem…

by Chris Keating on April 18, 2008 at 12:00 pm. Reply #

Resign and let Vince Cable take over while there is still a party left?

by James Lees on April 18, 2008 at 12:20 pm. Reply #

I didn’t complete the survey, as it was so poor. It read like it was produced by a Labour/ Tory journalist, who wanted to classify opinions in a way that fitted with their simplistic world-view/ analysis.

The hung parliament question, where it asks if we should work with other parties, is particularly simplistic. There is working with other parties in a coalition (to which I’m vehemently opposed) and working with a party to prop them up in government in a confidence and supply relationship, which, if they are the party more likely to operate the most liberal government and introduce the most aspects from our manifesto, I’d be in favour pursuing. Both options involve ‘working’ with other parties, but are VERY different beasts.

by Paul Petninja on April 18, 2008 at 3:05 pm. Reply #

Paul, completely confused now, you think we’d be better off propping up a Govt by a different party than we would be actually in Govt implementing our policies?

If we form a proper coalition, then we’ve got our policies on the table, that’s what mature democracies do. If we stay out and merely vote to prop them up if there’s a confidence motion, then we lose all respect within the electorate and the media.

If it’s an option, a coalition with agreed terms, whcih would then be neither a “Labour” govt nor a “Tory” govt but a coalition, is the best option. But we CANNOT prop up Labour, and I sincerely doubt Cameron would even offer it, why would he, if he can form a minority he can do so, and call a new election at his leisure using the ’74 precedent.

I agree that the survey itself is badly done though.

by MatGB on April 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm. Reply #

But that’s the problem Matt, we don’t have a mature democracy, Westminster operates under FPTP.

As a consequence we have a divisive (and often tribal) two and a half party politics. The commons does not contain lots of parties representing a rainbow of ideas and ideologies. If we join a coalition it will have to be with either Labour or the Tories. Working with either party will create divisions in the party – I have heard many Lib Dems say they could never entertain the idea of working work with Labour and others the Tories over the years. Meanwhile a wing of own electorate will also think about rejecting us. You only have to skim read the twentieth century history of the Liberal Party to see how we tore our selves apart trying to deal with both the spectre of socialism vs. our the fight with old enemy the Conservatives.

I also think it is ill advised to enter in a coalition under FPTP, as we do so poorly under the system. It is the number of your MPs that matters in a coalition, not votes at election time. Consequently we would find we were not be able to punch our true weight within a government and I fear our MPs would find them selves largely following another party’s agenda. If Westminster operated under a proportional system my take on coalitions would radically defrost. Unfortunately I fear in practice we would be tied to supporting many policies a lot of Lib Dems did not like and be gagged from speaking out by collective responsibility.

I also think you give too much credence to your fear that the electorate would punish us if we didn’t enter into a coalition. The government does not have to command a majority in the commons. Any one who tells you otherwise is wrong and is possibly also trying to push a narrative that says good government only comes from two party politics, where one side is guaranteed a ‘stable’ majority.

Minority governments are not things that can only work in continental countries (or not work as many Labour/ Tory commentators would like you to believe), but they work here in the UK now. You only have to look at Scotland where the SNP is ruling with 36% of the seats. On my own council in Exeter Labour are in control with just 14 of the 40 seats. Labour already rules in Westminster with out a majority in the Lords. What minority governments must learn though is not act like a government with a majority, If they pick fights they can’t win and don’t learn to be conciliatory then they will fall. A conciliatory minority government has the potential to be far better than a partisan majority government.

If either Labour or the Tories rule as a minority administration after 2010 it also not certain that they will force a general election whenever the political tide is in their favour. If the monarch is doing their job properly they will only allow an election to be called if the commons cannot choose a stable government. If a minority Labour or Tory government falls they can be replaced by another party/ies and sustained so long as they have the confidence of Liberal Democrats and perhaps other parties – just so long as they command the confidence of a majority of MPs.

I think sustaining a minority government, where we were able to curb their illiberal excesses and get in exchange for our confidence some electoral reform, plus other aspects of our manifesto, is the most sensible way forward. Joining either Labour or the Tories in government provides a much higher risk of internal division and loosing support from people who have unsympathetic opinions of our coalition partner. Such developments could significantly weaken the Liberal Democrats and I don’t think the country will be best served in the long term with again a weakened Liberal movement.

by Paul Petninja on April 18, 2008 at 5:55 pm. Reply #

“I think sustaining a minority government, where we were able to curb their illiberal excesses and get in exchange for our confidence some electoral reform, plus other aspects of our manifesto, is the most sensible way forward”

Certainly. Both Labour and Conservatives can gain our support on certain policies, and if they’re in a minority they’ll have to give up their wrongheaded ones 🙂

by asquith on April 19, 2008 at 10:01 am. Reply #

We are an independent political party which represents a distinct political movement. We represent a political constituency unrepresented by the others and we have a responsibility and an interest not to abandon it.

The choices in the survey draw the only conclusion that we must continue to push for constitutional reform and remove damaging institutional favoritism and bias – which still exist in many areas of public life.

I agree that the survey is flawed, mostly by the ambiguous politicised language involved.

by Oranjepan on April 20, 2008 at 10:52 pm. Reply #

Talk about economics! Especially Free Trade and the need for diverse public and private education initiatives! Scrapping the CAP! If Nick Clegg can deliver a solid, hard facts message on global economic liberalism and pursue localism the divides between social and classical liberalism will melt away as an understanding of markets/equity of opportunity will grow alongside a pragmatic approach to public services at the local level.

Social Liberal Localism/Classical Liberal Federalism – that is how Nick Clegg can unite his party and broaden his appeal.

Oh, and rebrand…with the exception of Vince ‘Fedora’ Cable it all looks so weak at the moment…

by Li Zhao on April 20, 2008 at 11:40 pm. Reply #

(that was an answer to what Nick Clegg should do next…)

by Li Zhao on April 20, 2008 at 11:40 pm. Reply #

Li Zhao,

if it all looks so weak at the moment then I suggest you aren’t quite appreciating the whole picture – though that’s more of a criticism of the media than our party.

On rebranding: I don’t think it is honest or helpful to treat politics as subservient to advertising.

The success of a party does depend on the ability to get the message across, but political brands are more to do with the people who make up the party than the umbrella graphics and slogans used by them as a figleaf for their uglier sides.

The problem with the Labour and Conservative parties is not their branding, but their members’ behaviour and their way of creating policy. For this there is no quick fix.

We can do better than to rebrand by simply making a restatement of our principles and purposes at all available opportunities – which shows we have confidence in who we are and what we are about.

by Oranjepan on April 21, 2008 at 1:13 am. Reply #

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