[personal profile] matgb
Clegg has been offered a deal by the Conservatives, who have executed a massive u-turn on their pre-election "no coalition" position. Mathematically, this is the only coalition possible, the so called "Progressive Majority" coalition is non-starter in terms of votes in the House of Commons.

So Clegg has to decide what he wants to do, and then persuade the Lib Dem party that this is viable. Note, as a democratic party, there are strict rules on this. He needs to persuade 75% of our MPs, and 75% of the Federal Executive, that the deal is viable. If he can't do this (and if he can it might be good politics anyway), he can call a special conference in which he'll need the support of 2/3rds of Voting Representatives from across the Liberal Democrat party.

As one of those voting reps, and as one with strong opinions on this, I might have a say. However, the Federal Executive is taking consultations from anyone, here is the email I have sent:
We're not going to get any form of reform--and we should argue for STV-- immediately. Too much opposition from some in the Conservative Party.

But our official party policy is for a Citizen's Convention on reform. Have that, followed by binding referenda on a number of issues; and let them throw Europe into the mix given it's our policy to have one, would be nice to see Cameron and Hague forced off fence and campaign in favour of continued membership.

Tories can support reform (as Portillo has shown on BBC Any Questions), as long
as it's seen as something that works for them and isn't a stitch-up.

We should form a coalition based around repeal of ID cards, tax reform, a citizen's convention and reform of shools; point out to them that our schools policy is a watered down version of what DAvid Laws and Clegg first proposed, and that their schools policy is a very fast jump, shock therapy is risky in schools, so a first step would be to return power to schools and sort out funding arrangement

This is of course my personal view, and I speak for myself, but for the record am Membership Secretary and Voting Rep for Caderdale Area Party, and chair of the Brighouse branch. My regards to Ros and to Nick, not an easy position to be in.

I'm completely, utterly, committed to reforming our political and electoral system. It's the reason I got involved in politics, the reason I rejoined the Lib Dems, and the reason I've become very active within it. My long-expired membership of the Lib Dems was renewed at a time when Labour were riding high in the polls and passing legislation I abhorred. The party is committed to genuine reform of the constitution, and official policy is to call for a citizen's convention, a policy passed (with my vote in the conference chamber) significantly after I a argued that Britain needs a constitutional convention. We need electoral reform, but many in the Tory backwoods instinctively oppose it.

Jennie argues, and I agree with her, that they shouldn't oppose it, and sets out how we could sell STV in multi member constituencies to tribal Tories. But a citizen's convention is almost certainly the best way to acheive this.

The country needs stable government. The only viable stable government possible is a Tory/Lib Dem coalition. It's either this or another election in 6 months time. While I, personally, don't object to more elections (apart from the exhaustion, I really enjoyed the last few weeks), and a fresh election would favour the LDs in a lot of seats they only just came 2nd in, I don't think that's a good thing for the country.

LDs do not hold the balance of power

The Lib Dems do not hold the balance of power. They don't get to choose between parties. They can only choose between forming a stable Govt with some reform, and an unstable Govt with another election soon. That's not a nice choice. And Clegg has to make it, and and it's possible that I might have to go to a conference and vote on that choice.

That's not a nice position to be in.

Date: 2010-05-08 03:48 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] missedith01
FWIW, three things:

I think you should remember that this is not the first time the promise of a review of the alternatives to FPTP has been offered, nor even the second, and the last people to offer it was my own party who walked away from the result. Beware another stitch-up. I think many grass-roots tories are implaccably opposed to PR and I think Mr Cameron is very aware of this.

A coalition should offer both parties something that they weren't otherwise going to get. Mr Cameron's broad offer seemed to me pretty skimpy on stuff the Tories weren't going to do anyway. What are they offering that they wouldn't otherwise do?

Nothing put in place now is going to be very stable. The Tories can easily afford another election and will be calculating that if they get in now they will consolidate after a second poll (because that's usually what happens). I really fear for the Lib Dems at the next election; if you couldn't get the break-thru this time, when all was so auspicious, then when? Next time you'll have less money and no "Clegg-mania". I would be severely tempted to get something concrete on electoral reform now, while the iron is hot.

Exciting times for you and your party ... sincere good luck!

Date: 2010-05-08 04:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paulatpingu.livejournal.com
The Lib Dems should certainly take the coalition if offered, but PR needs to be a set commitment before doing so. Anything less means the coalition will ultimately be irrelevant - another election in six or twelve month time which will return more votes for the Conservatives and end the coalition with the Lib Dems getting nothing from it.

I think, if nothing else, there's an appetite for electoral reform at the minute - the election has shown many different scenarios where the outcome wouldn't be fair, and it's been discussed and explained much more than I can remember at any previous election. Assuming a referendum on PR, it also needs to be done when there's support for it - that's the case now, but would it be the case again?

I'm dreaming of a Lab/Lib/SNP/PC coalition which pushes PR and then dissolves, but as desperate as Labour may be to maintain power, I don't see it happening...
perlmonger: (libdem)

Date: 2010-05-08 08:02 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] perlmonger
I'm unconvinced that *any* sort of formal association with the Tories would be anything other than a poisoned chalice, but that aside, we would need not just a written commitment to a referendum (and one with STV as the PR choice), but a timetable committed to for the entire process, up to and including implementation after public approval.

Even that wouldn't be enough, of course; an early election (whether engineered to this end or no) could be used as a reset, and with implacable opposition to PR from all the Fair and Balanced media, in concert with Dacre's and the pornographer's organs (and maybe even the Mirror too), and most of the Tory party and much of Labour at all levels doing their best to sabotage, there's maybe not even an evens chance of a "yes" vote.

I suppose it's still our last, best hope though :)

Date: 2010-05-08 10:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] davidnm.livejournal.com
I think what's happened, electorally, is a complete mess. Now that it's been a couple of days or so and I've had a chance to think about it, I feel like I'm finally starting to understand it at least a little. I get the impression that people did want some sort of change, but they were frightened about what might happen if they got it, sort of the devil-you-know type dilemma. I mean, I guess it's no wonder - we've had a month of the Tory media and the Labour Party both trying to scare voters into submission. (Ironically, I'd say it's backfired on them, too. So much for the Tory majority...) The key to it, I think, is that there doesn't seem to have been any big surge to the nationalist parties either - that's showing that people just don't know whether they want change or some sort of variant on the status quo.

However, on balance and having read the text of what Cameron said more closely, I think I'm feeling less optimistic then I was yesterday PM.

Date: 2010-05-08 11:17 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] missedith01
I think you overestimate people's capacity for being frightened by the press. The Lib Dem surge, it seems to me, was mainly media hype ... to say "Oh, people wanted a bigger Lib Dem presence in the Commons but were scared to vote for it ..." is a delusion. They didn't want it, they didn't vote for it and they haven't got it. That's not to say press didn't lie to achieve the first of these, but that's a different matter.
birguslatro: Birgus Latro III icon (Default)

Date: 2010-05-09 01:19 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] birguslatro
What's the advantage to being in government as apposed to supporting a minority Tory government on confidence and supply if they'll agree to a specific bunch of Lib Dem wishes?

The advantages to staying out is you still get some policies you want while being free to criticize the Tories on everything else, something that's a lot harder to do when you're part of the government. You'll still get accused of propping them up, but the taint won't be nearly as strong as when you're part of the government.

Date: 2010-05-09 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 0ct0pus.livejournal.com
It's all about the SDP. This became crushingly obvious to me when I saw Shirley Williams stoving in about "anyone-but-Dave".

A chunk of the Liberal Democrats is basically proto-Blairite Labour that didn't bother going back when Blair happened. This isn't so much at grass roots level, but certainly amongst the senior parliamentary party and the recent "cleggasm" converts. And I think it is their hysteria that is causing the problems here.

The Liberal Democrat party can, and probably will, split - and along long-established pre-existing lines. The old-school Liberals have no ideological issues with forming a blue-yellow coalition as long as they get what they want out of it: proper movement on PR, less knee-jerk nonsense on immigration and europe. And they have a lot to offer the conservatives: a sensible tax policy, a sensible education policy and the whiff of genuine change that Cameron has worked so hard to replicate.

My personal issue with that is the nasty bits of the Conservative party (sexuality, immigration, little-england, murdoch, pro-bank, cut'n'slash) are precisely what the country *doesn't* need right now. For me one of the defining images of the campaign was the Mail front page warning of the Greek-style carnage that awaits if we dare to deliver a hung parliament. Yes, Greek like in Greece where a party with a large majority trashed the nation by cutting too much too soon. A con/ld coalition would hopefully staunch some of this, but it's nervewracking. Eventually they will try to fuck us in the ass - it's just a question of when. And if the LDs are too intimately involved (and fundamentally split), and Labour still in an early-80s-esque purification spiral, who is going to stop them?

The SDP, conversely, would be a great government right now. A kind of Labour-lite arguing intelligently for Big Government as a fix to our problems (just like in '45). For that reason I hope we don't see the split - but unless handled carefully a deal with DC seems inevitable. And no party with a Labour background are going to cozy up to the Tories.

So we're left with the rainbow coalition - which would really only work if Brown and most of the ministers were gone. There's too much clinging to them... (add your own list here)... to make them viable.

There are going to be big changes in the political system over the next two or three years. Electoral reform, but also some new smaller parties. Each one of the big three is split right down the middle:

one-nation tories vs thatcherite/freidmanite tories
old labour vs new labour
liberal vs sdp

and both the greens and national parties are a growing force. PR will help this happen faster, which is why it needs to be a priority if we are going to get any government genuinely of the centre politically and socially.

Date: 2010-05-09 07:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] purpletigron.livejournal.com
I note that the Liberal Democrats (23%) plus Labour (29%) have a combined majority in the popular vote (52%), whilst the Conservatives (36%) vote barely exceeds the percentage of registered voters who felt unable to support any party (35%).

It depends on how you define 'balance of power', I suppose.

Date: 2010-05-10 06:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] purpletigron.livejournal.com
Well, I've realised that in my flu-ridden funk yesterday, I both split the discussion, for which apologies, and I was confused by the misleading way that results are quoted ... given a turnout of 65%, it should be

No Party: 35%
Conservative 23% = 0.65 * 0.36
Labour 19% = 0.65 * 0.29
LibDem 15% = 0.65 * 0.19
Other 8%

of the registered voters.

Given that the electoral registration process must weed out _some_ of the dead, and we have around a 1% annual death rate nationally, I wouldn't imagine that's a significant problem. Likewise, ceasing to be eligible for other reasons?

I'll stop here, as that addresses the factual points you've made, and can close this thread.

Date: 2010-05-10 08:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raggedhalo.livejournal.com
Straight Lib + Lab wouldn't help, but involve Plaid, the SNP, the SDLP and the Alliance Party and that's a (narrow) majority. I suspect the Green MP would vote to support a Lib/Lab coalition around PR etc. in favour of a Tory/anyone one, too.

But that would totally require more work.
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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October 2015


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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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