by Stephen Tall on May 7, 2010
Courtesy The Guardian, here’s the transcript of Nick’s remarks:
Last night was a disappointment for the Liberal Democrats. Even though more people voted for us than ever before, even though we had a higher proportion of the vote than ever before, it is of course a source of great regret to me that we have lost some really valued friends and colleagues and we have returned to parliament with fewer MPs than before.
Many, many people during the election campaign were excited about the prospect of doing something different. It seems that, when they came to vote, many of them in the end decided to stick with what they knew best.
At a time of great economic uncertainty I totally understand those feelings. But that’s not going to stop me from redoubling my efforts and our efforts to show that real change is the best reassurance that things can get better for people and their families, that it shouldn’t be something that unsettles people.
Now we’re in a very fluid political situation with no party enjoying an absolute majority. As I’ve said before it seems to me in a situation like this, it’s vital that all political parties, all political leaders, act in the national interest and not at narrow party political advantage.
I’ve also said that whichever party gets the most votes and the most seats, if not an absolute majority, has the first right to seek to govern, either on its own or by reaching out to other parties.
And I stick to that view. It seems this morning that it’s the Conservative party that had more votes and more seats but not an absolute majority.
And that is why I think it is now for the Conservative party to prove that it is capable of seeking to govern in the national interest.
At the same time, this election campaign has made it abundantly clear that our electoral system is broken.
It simply doesn’t reflect the hopes and aspirations of the British people. So I repeat again my assurance that whatever happens in the coming hours and days and weeks, I will continue to argue not only for the greater fairness in British society, not only the greater responsibility in economic policy making, but also for the extensive real reforms that we need to fix our political system.
Here’s my original paraphrase of Nick’s remarks at Cowley Street:
Last night was a disappointment for the Lib Dems – though more people voted for us than ever before, though our share of the vote was better than last time. Lost many valued colleagues. During the campaign many people seemed excited by the possibility of change, but it seems they decided to stick with what they knew best when it came to vote, and I understand that. I’m going to re-double my efforts to show them real change is the best way of making things better for themselves and their families. Vital we all act in national interest not out of narrow party political advantage. Party which has most votes and most seats has right to seek to form a government. I stick by that. So now up to the Conservative Party to prove they are capable of meeting that task. Very clear our electoral system is broken, and not up to the job. In coming days and weeks I will continue to argue for fairness in society, and a fairer political system.