Clegg set to spell out Lib Dem post-election demands

by Stephen Tall on February 2, 2009

There’s a rather remarkable feature in today’s Independent – a fair and balanced feature article highlighting Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s town hall tours. The first part focuses on what Nick’s learned from the process, and how he feels these Q&As have helped keep him grounded as leader:

The public meetings have convinced him that all politics is personal as well as local; people want to know what it will do for them. He is straight, not flashy, very good at connecting with people, and genuinely enjoys the town-hall circuit. “It’s good to know what people are thinking; sometimes you see the weaknesses of your own answers,” he admits. His rural and urban rides persuade him that Labour is “knackered” and can’t win the next election, but that the country has not yet been won over by David Cameron’s Conservatives. He detects a North-South divide: people in the North are less disgruntled than those in the South.

It then focuses on the difficulties the third party leader faces in getting his message across to a media which rarely shows any inclination to listen – even though the Lib Dems have been making the running throughout the current financial crisis:

At Prime Minister’s Questions, he gets only two shots to Mr Cameron’s six, making it easier for Gordon Brown to swat him away. Normally, the only way he makes the TV news bulletins is by raising the same issue as the Tory leader. But that makes him sound like Little Sir Echo. As they try to carve out their own niche, the Liberal Democrats have been ahead of the curve on the debt crisis, the housing bubble, fuel poverty and the nationalisation of Northern Rock. Now they dare to raise the question of joining the euro and call for state ownership of the weakest banks.

And finally, but perhaps most significantly, Nick once again makes clear that the party is preparing itself to state quite clearly what will be its position in the event of a hung Parliament:

“It is important that I provide stability and clarity about what, whatever the circumstances, a vote for the Lib Dems means,” he says. “What would be wrong would be for them not to know what we would do.” If no party wins outright, Mr Clegg won’t not pick up the phone. He believes one of the big two will enjoy a “moral mandate”, so its leader will have to make the first move – either to go-it-alone or seek the support of smaller parties. An understanding under which the Liberal Democrats would not vote down a Queen’s Speech is much more likely than a formal coalition. Unlike his predecessor, Paddy Ashdown, in 1997, Mr Clegg insists: “I am not interested in blunting our zeal for change because of the prospect of a bum or two on the back of ministerial limousines.” He is surprisingly confident that he will be able to defy the odds and have more bums on the Liberal Democrat benches in the Commons. He argues that the current crisis is political as well as economic, that it has been 20 years in the making, so the Tories as well as Labour are to blame.

You can read the article in full here. (Hat-tip: Peter Black AM).

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40 comments

Hmmm… that sounds like a remarkably similar strategy to the one he was denouncing twelve months ago. Pleased to see him finally coming round!

by James Graham on February 2, 2009 at 11:47 am. Reply #

Whoooppppeeee! About time too!

by Grammar Police on February 2, 2009 at 12:10 pm. Reply #

“It is important that I provide stability and clarity about what, whatever the circumstances, a vote for the Lib Dems means

He believes one of the big two will enjoy a “moral mandate”, so its leader will have to make the first move – either to go-it-alone or seek the support of smaller parties. An understanding under which the Liberal Democrats would not vote down a Queen’s Speech is much more likely than a formal coalition.”

Is that meant to be the clarity, or is the clarity still to come?

This concept of a party with a minority in the House of Commons having a “moral mandate” is pretty bizarre coming from a Lib Dem leader. Haven’t we been saying for years that even parties with a majority in the Commons don’t have a proper mandate because of the unfairness of the electoral system?

But what does it actually mean in practice? Obviously if one party was close to a majority in the Commons, then the Lib Dems probably wouldn’t have the option of choosing which party to support, only whether and in what way to support the one with more MPs.

The only way the Lib Dems are likely to have a choice is if the parties end up fairly evenly matched in the Commons. Of course, the most awkward outcome would be Labour losing its majority and getting less votes than the Tories, but still being the largest party in the Commons. That’s the kind of difficult scenario that Clegg needs to think about. There’s not much virtue in being clear about the easy choices, if you still leave everyone in the dark about the hard ones.

And is “much more likely” the clearest thing that can be said about the possibility of an understanding rather than a formal coalition?

Obviously this is a terribly dangerous and thorny issue, and there’s no magic way of dealing with it. Refusing to discuss the options has its drawbacks, but discussing them requires considerable finesse if large sections of the electorate aren’t to be alienated. Nothing I have seen has convinced me that Nick Clegg is a master of finesse.

by Anonymous on February 2, 2009 at 12:47 pm. Reply #

The clarity only seems to be that he wouldn’t be the first to pick up the phone – not whether/why he would offer support to the other party

by Hywel on February 2, 2009 at 1:19 pm. Reply #

Clearly, if Labour cannot win the next election outright, they will not have a “moral mandate”. The verdict of the nation will inevitably be understood to be a rejection of their record in government and their proposal to extend it.

So it was, when Heath called his “who governs Britain?” election over the miners’ strike, back in 1974. Heath offered Thorpe a deal, but Thorpe refused to pursue it, no doubt partly because propping up a rejected government would have lost us a lot of credence. It was also very relevant that Labour won four more seats than the Tories did. Had it been the other way round, a case could have been made that the Labour Opposition had equally been rejected, allowing the third party to strike a pragmatic (or indeed a principled) deal with either big party.

If the Tories cannot win the next election outright, could they claim to have a “moral mandate”? Much more plausible. They suffer an inherent bias against them in the electoral system, so if they fail to win an outright majority in seats, they may well nevertheless win a healthy lead in terms of the popular vote. That could readily be taken as a “moral mandate”, whether or not their seats tally were to end up ahead of Labour’s. The Tories are also the new, untried option. Most people would say that if your current goalie is hopeless and your reserve guy is a bit of an unknown quantity, it’s only fair (and “moral”) to let the new guy have his chance.

The use of a “moral mandate” criterion to decide who our preferred partner should be is therefore inextricably biased in favour of the Tories. It will not take long for the journalists to work that out.

Cable has argued that we should expect to work with whoever wins most seats. That is a fair, equidistant, unbiased criterion. It also has the advantage that it maximises our negotiating strength, because it makes it clear that we could deal with either side. So, should the party winning most seats simply refuse to play ball, we could easily justify turning to the other.

The “moral mandate” criterion has no such advantages. Were the Tories to offer a rotten deal, we would be unable to appeal to Labour, as we would then be ridiculed for abandoning the “moral mandate” requirement. Since the Tories would know that in advance, they would feel encouraged to offer us a rotten deal, because they would expect us to feel compelled to accept.

I will not comment as to why Clegg has put forward a criterion that favours a Tory deal. I will leave it to others to find an explanation.

by David Allen on February 2, 2009 at 1:27 pm. Reply #

I have that explanation!

Nick Clegg is a cleverly disguised ConBot, programmed by the Tories to infiltrate the Liberal Democrats. Once safely ensconsced as party leader (acheived by the use of his brain-washing aerials) he will guide the rump of MPs left after the next election home into the Tory port.

Job done.

by David Allen's Candid Friend on February 2, 2009 at 1:36 pm. Reply #

“The clarity only seems to be that he wouldn’t be the first to pick up the phone – not whether/why he would offer support to the other party”

Actually, if you read it carefully, it says he “won’t not pick up the phone”…

Whatever that means.

by Anonymous on February 2, 2009 at 1:48 pm. Reply #

“So it was, when Heath called his “who governs Britain?” election ”

In which of course he won the most votes so had *some* moral authority to govern.

by Hywel on February 2, 2009 at 2:10 pm. Reply #

This is the road to hell.

1. Hung Parliaments are infrequent i Britai and don’t last long.

2. they are self denying phrophecies. a campaign like 1992 which flags up the posibility will polarise opinion one way or another.

3. because of 1 and 2 they facinate political journalists but bore every one else. Speculation about the senario in a recession when bread and butter isues resonate will make us out of touch.

4. Discusion of hung parliaments validates at a subliminal level the central charge the establishment makes against us. that we can’t win on our own and are therefore a wasted vote.

5. All speculation ends in a senario where we back one side or another in some form.For a party so dpendent on tactical voting thats a big loser.

6. If we go along with this the media will happily spend every minute of our equal air time in a GE campaign discussing this. It will suck the oxygen out of the air war and cloud our policy posiions.

I think some very inexperienced people in cowley street who don’t remember 83 and 87 are playing with fire in opening up this debate.

by Another Anonymous on February 2, 2009 at 2:15 pm. Reply #

@ Another Anonymous

“5. All speculation ends in a senario where we back one side or another in some form.For a party so dpendent on tactical voting thats a big loser.

6. If we go along with this the media will happily spend every minute of our equal air time in a GE campaign discussing this. It will suck the oxygen out of the air war and cloud our policy posiions.
. . .
I think some very inexperienced people in cowley street who don’t remember 83 and 87 are playing with fire in opening up this debate.”

—————————
Haven’t you noticed that this is what happens anyway?? And our usual response is “Nah nah nah, we’re not listening, we’re not listening . . . “.

Our refusal to discuss it means that Lab/Con portray us as having something to hide, ‘tricksy’ politician’s only interested in power with no principles, sitting on the fence.

Let’s actually fight this coming election with a relatively sensible answer to the question “If there’s a hung parliament, who would you back?” – an answer that doesn’t paint us as Labour or Tory-lite and makes a certain amount of sense (ie the party with the most seats is the one that should try to form a Govt, and we’ll just concentrate on making that administration and its legislation as liberal as possible).

If we refuse to answer the question, it will dog us throughout the campaign, making the only thing about us “who will they back and why won’t they say?”

by Grammar Police on February 2, 2009 at 2:32 pm. Reply #

Grammar Police:
“Our refusal to discuss it means that Lab/Con portray us as having something to hide, ‘tricksy’ politician’s only interested in power with no principles …”

Hmmm.

If that’s what you’re concerned about, isn’t it just a little bit of a drawback to have a leader who has said he is “hungry for power … under almost any circumstances”?

by Anonymous on February 2, 2009 at 2:36 pm. Reply #

Oh for Pete’s sake, this isn’t about increasing speculation about what we’d do in a hung parliament – it’s about ending it.

Remarkably, it is an almost carbon copy of the Charles Kennedy line in 2001 and 2005, yet this time it is being presented as a desire to do deals.

What is significant by these remarks is that Nick is damping down speculation about the Lib Dems entering a coalition. Would people prefer it if he was bigging that up (which would take us back to 1987 and 1992)?

by James Graham on February 2, 2009 at 3:04 pm. Reply #

James Graham

“Oh for Pete’s sake, this isn’t about increasing speculation about what we’d do in a hung parliament – it’s about ending it.”

And it does that how?

by Anonymous on February 2, 2009 at 3:33 pm. Reply #

James,

You have a point. Clegg has indeed indicated that while he is likely to want to choose sides, he would most probably stop short of a formal coalition deal, and merely agree not to vote down a Queen’s Speech.

That makes sense, if you want to ease your party gently towards support for the Tories. Tacit support is less likely to provoke major internal dissent than trying to broker a coalition.

by David Allen on February 2, 2009 at 3:35 pm. Reply #

Nah, it’s the ConBot brain-washing aerials doing their thang.

by David Allen's Candid Friend on February 2, 2009 at 3:45 pm. Reply #

Oh, for heaven’s sake – complete tosh. Open your eyes man: “That makes sense, if you want to ease your party gently towards support for the Tories. Tacit support is less likely to provoke major internal dissent than trying to broker a coalition.”

Would you be happy with anything David, short of him saying he’s going to prop-up the Labour party? And if he did that, do you actually think we’d have a party left? I’ve no desire to support either Labour or the Tories – and actually, that’s what Nick is outlining. Trying to interpret everything Clegg does in a negative light just makes you sound completely ridiculous.

by The original David Allen's Candid Friend on February 2, 2009 at 8:45 pm. Reply #

Let me first say a word about Socialism. There are a great many Socialists whose opinions and whose views I have the greatest respect for men some of whom I know well, and whose friendship I have the honour to enjoy. A good many of those gentlemen who have these delightful, rosy views of a great and brilliant future to the world are so remote from hard facts of daily life and of ordinary politics that I am not very sure that they will bring any useful or effective influence to bear upon the immediate course of events. I am dealing rather with those of violent and extreme views who call themselves Socialists in the next few observations I shall venture with your indulgence to address to you.

To the revolutionary Socialist I do not appeal as the Liberal candidate for Dundee. I recognise that they are perfectly right in voting against me and voting against the Liberals, because Liberalism is not Socialism, and never will be. There is a great gulf fixed. It is not only a gulf of method, it is a gulf of principle. There are many steps we have to take which our Socialist opponents or friends, whichever they like to call themselves, will have to take with us; but there are immense differences of principle and of political philosophy between the views we put forward and the views they put forward.

Liberalism has its own history and its own tradition. Socialism has its own formulas and its own aims. Socialism seeks to pull down wealth; Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty. Socialism would destroy private interests; Liberalism would preserve private interests in the only way in which they can be safely and justly preserved, namely, by reconciling them with public right. Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference. Socialism assails the pre-eminence of the individual; Liberalism seeks, and shall seek more in the future, to build up a minimum standard for the mass. Socialism exalts the rule; Liberalism exalts the man. Socialism attacks capital; Liberalism attacks monopoly. These are the great distinctions which I draw, and which, I think, you will think I am right in drawing at this election between our philosophies and our ideals. Don’t think that Liberalism is a faith that is played out; that it is a philosophy to which there is no expanding future. As long as the world rolls round Liberalism will have its part to play – a grand, beneficent, and ameliorating part to play – in relation to men and States.

Ah, gentlemen, I don’t want to embark on bitter or harsh controversy, but I think the exalted ideal of the Socialists – a universal brotherhood, owning all things in common – is not always supported by the evidence of their practice. They put before us a creed of universal self-sacrifice. They preach it in the language of spite and envy, of hatred, and all uncharitableness. They tell us that we should dwell together in unity and comradeship. They are themselves split into twenty obscure factions, who hate and abuse each other more than they hate and abuse us. They wish to reconstruct the world. They begin by leaving out human nature. Consider how barren a philosophy is the creed of absolute Collectivism. Equality of reward, irrespective of service rendered! It is expressed in other ways. You know the phrase – “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” How nice that sounds. Let me put it another way – “You shall work according to your fancy; you shall be paid according to your appetite.”

Although I have tried my very best to understand these propositions, I have never been able to imagine the mechanical heart in the Socialist world which is to replace the ordinary human heart that palpitates in our breasts. What motive is to induce the men, not for a day, or an hour, or a year, but for all their lives, to make a supreme sacrifice of their individuality? What motive is to induce the men who spread all over the world and make their way by various paths to eminence and power in every land and climate to make the great and supreme sacrifice of their individuality? I have heard of loyalty to a Sovereign. We have heard of love of country. Ah, but it is to be a great cosmopolitan, republic. We have heard of love of family and wives and children. These are the mere weaknesses of the bad era in which we live. We have heard of faith in a world beyond this when all its transitory pleasures and perils shall have passed away, a hope that carries serene consolation to the heart of men. Ah, but they deny its existence. And what then are we to make this sacrifice for? It is for the sake of society.

And what is society? I will tell you what society is. Translated into concrete terms, Socialistic “society” is a set of disagreeable individuals who obtained a majority for their caucus at some recent election, and whose officials in consequence would look on humanity through innumerable grills and pigeon-holes and across innumerable counters, and say to them, “Tickets, please.” Truly this grey old world has never seen so grim a joke. Now, ladies and gentlemen, no man can be either a collectivist or an individualist. He must be both; everybody must be both a collectivist and an individualist. For certain of our affairs we must have our arrangements in common. Others we must have sacredly individual and to ourselves. We have many good things in common. You have the police, the army, the navy, and officials. But we don’t eat in common; we eat individually.

And you will find the truth lies in these matters, as it always lies in difficult matters, midway between extreme formulae. It is in the nice adjustment of the respective ideas of collectivism and individualism that the problem of the world and the solution of that problem lie in the years to come. But I have no hesitation in saying that I am on the side of those who think that a greater collective element should be introduced into the State and municipalities. I should like to see the State undertaking new functions, particularly stepping forward into those spheres of activity which are governed by an element of monopoly. Your great public works, which are of a monopolistic and privileged character there I see a wide field for State enterprise to embark upon. But when we are told to exalt and admire a philosophy which destroys individualism and seeks to replace it by collectivism, I say that is a monstrous and imbecile conception which can find no real foothold in the brains and hearts – and the hearts are as trustworthy as the brains – in the hearts of sensible people.

How stands the case of the Trades Unionists? Do they really believe – I put this question to them fairly – do they really believe that there is no difference whatever between a Tory and a Liberal Government? One gentlemen in this great gathering believes that there is no difference between a Tory and a Liberal Government.

by Alan David on February 2, 2009 at 9:34 pm. Reply #

“Trying to interpret everything Clegg does in a negative light just makes you sound completely ridiculous.”

“Interpret”? Surely all that’s needed is to quote Clegg’s utterances

by Clegg's Candid Friend (Original) on February 2, 2009 at 10:27 pm. Reply #

TODACF

“Would you be happy with anything David, short of him saying he’s going to prop-up the Labour party?”

If you actually read my post, you will see that I praised Cable’s stance of true equidistance between the Tories and Labour. I do NOT favour Labour. You would like to believe that I am just a crypto-socialist in disguise, because then you wouldn’t have to bother thinking about what I’m saying. Sadly it’s not true.

Admittedly, like most of us, I would have favoured Blair over Major in 1997. Things are very different now. The Iraq betrayal, the endless spin, and the over-bossy State have made it impossible to love Labour now. The Tories always pose a threat to govern for the rich and ignore the poor, but Cameron’s bland meaninglessness might perhaps be better than Howard’s outright nastiness, and they do at least pose as pale green liberals.

In that situation, we should be seeking the best opportunity to achieve our own aims. That means being prepared to talk to either Tory or Labour, and indeed, playing the one off against the other, so as to maximise our influence.

I have argued that the “moral mandate” criterion undermines us in this. It reduces our bargaining power. Instead of relying on cheap shots and jibes, can’t Lib Dems please try to argue rationally with these contentions?

Or, is all the taunting and name-calling just a means of distracting yourselves from the unpalatable thought that I might have judged Clegg’s motives correctly?

by David Allen on February 2, 2009 at 11:51 pm. Reply #

It is self-evident that I don’t agree with David Allen here, but I am concerned with all these sock puppet attacks on him.

I’ve noticed a certain increase in slavishly loyal trolling on a number of blogs recently. I do hope no-one is under the impression it is at all effective or helpful.

by James Graham on February 3, 2009 at 12:09 am. Reply #

If there is to be a hung parliament it is important that we show ourselves open to negotiation in the wider interests of the country. Clegg has done this.

If we are to enter negotiations we should do so from a position of strength, not having revealed our hand. Clegg has also succeeded here – he has simply drawn up the range of options for any putative offer without indicating any preference.

If we are to be in a position of strength we need to fight for as many LibDem votes as possible to win as many LibDem seats as possible. We should all be working on this.

If anyone wants to speculate on deals let’s first hear what Labour and the Conservatives are prepared to offer us before we consider any potential outcomes. Brown and Cameron have yet to pony up and lay anything on the table, so as yet we have nothing to answer.

If anyone in our party is more interested in fighting partisan ideological causes than getting on with the important jobs, then let them go away to the tories and Labour etc and let us get on with more practical matters. You’ll be missed, but you can be replaced.

by Oranjepan on February 3, 2009 at 7:39 am. Reply #

Polite request from the LDV Editorial Collective: can commenters please resist the temptation to use various pseudonyms, no matter what the satirical/ironic intention? We deliberately operate very light comment moderation on LDV, and understand there are folk who will wish to post under a name other than their own. Please stick to one pseudonym to ensure our comment threads remain constructive discussion areas. Thank you.

Stephen Tall
Editor at Large, LDV

by Stephen Tall on February 3, 2009 at 9:38 am. Reply #

“That makes sense, if you want to ease your party gently towards support for the Tories. Tacit support is less likely to provoke major internal dissent than trying to broker a coalition.”

David Allen. This implies that you see Nick as preferring the Tories to Labour. If so, why did (a) Nick not just join the Conservative Party, and (b) he seek selection in a seat where the main opposition is the Tories?

I am sure that Nick wants, as do all of us,
a Lib Dem government. I am also sure that he views both other parties as being in the main anti-Liberal.

However – your personal stance seems to be to rule out a coalition with the Conservatives under any circumstances. This strikes me as being electorally arrogant – we have to work with whatever situation is given by the elctorate, and not ruel things in or out.

Clearly, the best scenario would be a coalition involving liberals (small l) from all parties. If I was Nick Clegg, that’s the line I would take.

by Tabman on February 3, 2009 at 10:26 am. Reply #

Tabman said,

“your personal stance seems to be to rule out a coalition with the Conservatives under any circumstances.”

Just read what I wrote, please, instead of inventing a straw man you can demolish. I said:

“we should be seeking the best opportunity to achieve our own aims. That means being prepared to talk to either Tory or Labour”

In case that isn’t clear enough, no we should not rule out coalition with either Tories or Labour.

by David Allen on February 3, 2009 at 2:02 pm. Reply #

So why do you rubbish Nick Clegg for saying pretty much the same thing?

by Tabman on February 3, 2009 at 10:34 pm. Reply #

In my view, Clegg has virtually ruled out a coalition with Labour. I can see no circumstances where Labour could be perceived as the party with the “moral mandate” from the public, if the election result were to be no overall control. I have explained my reasons once, see my post of 2nd Feb at 1.27pm, if you can analyse what I said and find a flaw please do so.

As Vince Cable and also Grammar Police above have said, an unbiased approach is to say that we would expect to work with the party that won most seats. The question you might like to consider is, why is Clegg NOT saying that? Why has he avoided saying something that is clearly “equidistant” and unbiased, and instead adopted a formula that implicitly favours a coalition with the Tories?

by David Allen on February 4, 2009 at 12:55 pm. Reply #

Well, at any rate it’s clear that this concept of a “moral mandate” isn’t going to result in clarity, because it’s open to different interpretations.

It’s interesting that Cable did actually use a similar phrase (“moral victory”), but then went on to clarify that the criterion would be which party won more seats in the Commons:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5485155.ece

I think the wisdom of tying one’s hands to that extent is open to question, but at least the statement was clear. If Cable could make a clear statement, why couldn’t Clegg?

by Anonymous on February 4, 2009 at 1:13 pm. Reply #

David Allen – of course there are circumstances where Labour could be viewed as having a “moral mandate”.

On a simplistic basis, the outcomes are as follows:

Labour Majority – no issue
Conservative Majority – no issue
NOC Labour most votes and seats – moral mandate
NOC Labour fewer votes, most seats – no moral mandate
NOC Conservatives most votes and seats – moral mandate
NOC Conservatives fewer votes, most seats – no moral mandate

Easy, isn’t it?

by Tabman on February 4, 2009 at 2:07 pm. Reply #

Tabman

So Vince Cable was wrong about the party with more seats having won a “moral victory”?

You think Nick Clegg is trying to convey something different – more seats and more votes?

If he could only confirm that interpretation – and sort out the difference of opinion between Clegg and Cable, we might be getting somewhere.

Then they could go on to give us some “clarity” on the more difficult situation in which Labour had more seats and less votes …

by Anonymous on February 4, 2009 at 2:47 pm. Reply #

😀

Well, if I were either I woudln’t be too prescriptive, whilst trying to answer the question. Hence “moral victory” is deliberately loose.

The biggest bugbear is that FPTP doesn’t deliver seats commensurate to votes, and that makes the whole issue fraught.

As I stated a few posts up, my take on it would be to turn it round and say “We know there are liberals in all parties, you talk about coalition – I say lets build a liberal coalition with those from all parties who broadly share our beliefs”.

by Tabman on February 4, 2009 at 3:16 pm. Reply #

Tabman,

1. NOC Labour most votes and seats – mathematically unlikely, see below
2. NOC Labour fewer votes, most seats – “no moral mandate”
3. NOC Conservatives most votes and seats – “moral mandate”
4. NOC Conservatives fewer votes, most seats – mathematically very unlikely

The inherent bias in the electoral system (pending boundary revisions, Lab constituencies are on average smaller) makes it virtually impossible for (4) above to happen. See

http://www.makemyvotecount.org.uk/blog/archives/2005/10/clowns_to_the_l.html

(1) is quite unlikely for similar reasons: if Labour get even just one more vote than the Tories, they will probably also gain an overall majority of the seats.

We’re left with (2) and (3) as the realistic possibilities. Your table above then demonstrates that if we use a “moral mandate” criterion, we could do a deal with the Tories, but not with Labour.

by David Allen on February 4, 2009 at 3:26 pm. Reply #

Tabman said:

“…my take on it would be to turn it round and say “We know there are liberals in all parties, you talk about coalition – I say lets build a liberal coalition with those from all parties who broadly share our beliefs”.”

Draft response from J Paxman:

“So you’re telling me that you guys, who are going to come in a distant third, are going to take control, and you’ll pick and choose the Cabinet from a mixture of the winners and the runners-up? Who are you trying to kid? Now stop the waffle, and tell me what you’re really going to do!”

by David Allen on February 4, 2009 at 6:42 pm. Reply #

“We’re left with (2) and (3) as the realistic possibilities. Your table above then demonstrates that if we use a “moral mandate” criterion, we could do a deal with the Tories, but not with Labour.”

Quite. And perhaps you’ll tell me what scenario of propping up a Labour Party that’s been defeated wouldn’t see us absolutely slaughtered at the following election?

Draft response from Mr Paxman: “So, Nick Clegg, you’re seriously going to prop up a defeated Brown government, one that’s been kicked out by the voters? You’re going to go against the wishes of the electorate? You’ve come a distant third and you’re prepared to go against the will of the people?”

We’d be thrashed as soon as the coalition fell apart, and rightly so.

“Draft response from J Paxman:

“So you’re telling me that you guys, who are going to come in a distant third, are going to take control, and you’ll pick and choose the Cabinet from a mixture of the winners and the runners-up? Who are you trying to kid? Now stop the waffle, and tell me what you’re really going to do!””

“Well, Jeremy, if you’ll actually let me make my point. This is a liberal country – David Cameron sells himself as being a liberal politician. There are many Conservatives who have far more in common with ourselves than they do with the John Redwoods and Andrew Rosindells of this world. Similarly, though less so, with Labour. Look – we face the gravest economic crisis since 1929. These are special times, and require special measures. Labour has failed – and run out of ideas. The Conservatives offer nothing new. Time for serious-minded politicians of all parties to come together to try a different solution – a liberal solution.”

by Tabman on February 4, 2009 at 8:42 pm. Reply #

Tabman said,

“Perhaps you’ll tell me what scenario of propping up a Labour Party that’s been defeated wouldn’t see us absolutely slaughtered at the following election?”

We’re getting somewhere at last. You are defending the proposition that we should rule out a deal with Labour, while not ruling out a deal with the Tories (or some form of multi-party unity government).

Glad you clarified that. So the reason why you like the “moral mandate” criterion, and the reason why I don’t, are one and the same. That is, the criterion works to exclude a deal with Labour, and therefore works to favour a deal with the Tories (or possibly some sort of wider deal).

It is a pity Nick Clegg does not share your honesty. When Paddy Ashdown promoted his pro-Labour “Project” a decade ago, he was at least open about it with his own party. He took a lot of flak for that. The evidence is building up to indicate that Nick Clegg is working towards a very different Project, but doing it covertly.

This is bound to end in tears. We are the Liberal Democrats, and we will not take kindly to being covertly misled.

by David Allen on February 4, 2009 at 11:24 pm. Reply #

I note that you’ve completely failed to answer my question. Instead, you impute a position to me that I have never actually stated. Its called “attacking a straw man” (OU Politics, module 1, lesson 1). Well done!

Where have I said that I favour a deal with the Tories? Answer: I haven’t. But you won’t defend doing a deal with Labour – or is it you can’t?

So – I repeat the question in the vain hope that you might actually answer it:

Perhaps you’ll tell me what scenario of propping up a Labour Party that’s been defeated wouldn’t see us absolutely slaughtered at the following election?

by Tabman on February 4, 2009 at 11:31 pm. Reply #

Tabman asked,

“Perhaps you’ll tell me what scenario of propping up a Labour Party that’s been defeated wouldn’t see us absolutely slaughtered at the following election?”

My answer: “Propping up” either a Labour-led or a Tory-led government would indeed by a high risk business. If that government performed badly, we could easily become the scapegoats. That’s a risk we might have to run if we were “hungry for power”, to coin a phrase. But why on earth do you presume that it is only a Labour-led government that would incur that risk?

Tabman also asked,

“Where have I said that I favour a deal with the Tories?”

Well, you’ve hedged it about a bit, and in recognition of your hedging, I have avoided using the blunt words above that you wish to put into my mouth. But what do you expect anyone to make of your statement that “This is a liberal country – David Cameron sells himself as being a liberal politician. There are many Conservatives who have far more in common with ourselves than they do with the John Redwoods….. less so, with Labour”…….?

You are not adopting an equidistant position between Labour and the Tories, are you?

by David Allen on February 4, 2009 at 11:52 pm. Reply #

David Allen:

you’ve again avoided the question. The scenario after the next election is that any situation with NOC would mean that Labour had “lost” the election, having previously been in power. That by definition is not an equivalent situation with the Conservatives, who will also by implication have gained support (albeit not enough to secure a FPTP win).

So we have a situation where supporting Labour is inherently more risky than supporting the Conservatives – at this time,/b>. If the COnservatives had been in power for 12 years, it would be the other way round!

So, please tell me why this would be an equivalent situation?

“There are many Conservatives who have far more in common with ourselves than they do with the John Redwoods….. less so, with Labour”…….?

You are not adopting an equidistant position between Labour and the Tories, are you?”

Because, on present form, there are far more authoritarian Labour MPs than there are Conservative ones.

Name me a list of Labour MPs who would fit in our party.

by Tabman on February 5, 2009 at 3:30 pm. Reply #

To clarify: I am a social and economic liberal. I am aware that there are others of that persuasion in other parties and some in our party who are not of that persuasion.

I am in the Liberal Democrats because I believe that party best fits with my view point.

I do not favour one party over another; I favour social and economic liberalism and will work with who is best placed to deliver it.

I do not favour authoritarianism of either the socialist or paternalist flavour.

I do not favour “doing a deal” with either the Conservatives or Labour.

There are very few circusmtances that I would support a deal with either, but given the present realities the opportunities to deal with Labour are virtually non-existent. They are not much better in the other direction – but that is not because I favour the Tories, it is a simple reality of where we are in the electoral cycle.

This, however, is something you don’t want to face up to.

by Tabman on February 5, 2009 at 3:59 pm. Reply #

David, I’m glad to hear that you’re not a crypto socialist, but you’re simply not presenting any real evidence to interpret the phrase “moral mandate” as specifically pro-Tory.

You feel the phrase undermines our bargaining power in a hung parliament situation, as we’d be forced to negotiate with the largest party, which is likely to be the Conservatives.

I would suggest that it’s in fact the only position that, politically, can be taken. Assisting the smaller of the other two parties into power (whichever that is) would be the end of us a an electoral force.

So where you see crypto-Toryism, I see realism. Given your oft expressed views on Nick Clegg and the alleged change in direction of our party, I can’t say your view surprises me, but it doesn’t make you any the less wrong.

by The original David Allen's Candid Friend on February 8, 2009 at 11:41 pm. Reply #

Editor’s note: I have just unapproved a comment from someone using the pseudonym ‘The original David Allen’s Candid Friend’. As previously stated on other threads, though LDV generally operates very light comment moderation, we’re going to have a period of clamping down on readers using multiple identities or provocative pseudonyms in order to try and keep LDV’s threads as constructive discussion areas. We understand folk may wish not to use their real names for a variety of reasons. Bur stick to just one assumed identity, please, or your comment may well be deleted.

by Stephen Tall on February 9, 2009 at 10:45 am. Reply #

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