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Liberal Democrats achieve PR

Michael Crick | 10:05 UK time, Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Coalition seems to be giving the Liberal Democrats some of what they want. And at last Nick Clegg has achieved his party's long-cherished ambition of proportional representation.

The Lib Dems got almost 8.8 per cent of the seats at the last election - 57 MPs out of 650.

And in the latest YouGov poll their support is now down to 9 per cent.


  • Comment number 1.

    Funny stuff, Michael, funny stuff.

  • Comment number 2.

    what do LibDems do in a hole? That's right....keep digging....their own graves.....

  • Comment number 3.

    Not too sure what Newsnight thinks folk want other folk to hear, or what indeed they/we do, but it might be nice to move from the relentless Westminster bubble to some stuff out in the real world of licence fee payers.

    For instance, I am starting to get more than concerned with the antics of quite a few entitities (Gov, quango, NGO, charity or whatever) in theory tasked with oversight on matters of public interest, safety or security. Especially any starting with the prefix 'OF' and even more so when they and all around survey their panties round their ankles... again... and solemnly intone that 'lessons have/will be learned' when they patently haven't and/or won't.

    I refer to this minor bit of 'news':

    'In a statement, Ofsed responded to the findings by saying: "Ofsted has already implemented a number of changes in the way we work as a result of this review and to address the recommendations made."

    Apt first acronym spelling, all things considered.

    I am already getting a wee bit interested with OFSTED's record when it comes to glowing reccomendations that mean diddly squat, begging the question of who is being still paid what and why if they are so ineffective.

    I am also pursuing a complaint on elder care standards with the NHS/PCT/CQC/Uncle Tom Cobbly and many more with, so far, all pointing elsewhere and using 'the system' as an excuse but no good reason for vulnerbale persons to fall between vast and multitudinous cracks.

    And all, it seems to me, because there are so many of 'them', in so many different empires, with no possibility of coherence or accountability, that the main aim can only be to ensure pay, perks and pensions over delivering any valid services.

    So a few cuts, in the right places, seem positively overdue if this is what we can expect before they actually kick in.

  • Comment number 4.

    While the Lib Dems may get some of what they want, their membership in this government appears to be doing them much more harm than good... (and chronicled on my The Brooks Blog).

  • Comment number 5.


    Not one of the APPARENT offices that keep an eye on Westminster 'democracy' will engage with election literature. You are advised to make a complaint to the police.

    How honourable is that? (Not to mention 'fair' - going forward.)

  • Comment number 6.

    The level of support for the LibDem members of the government is irrelevant to their future because IMHO it doesn't matter to their own personal political agendas.

    Nick Clegg and the LibDem payroll members of the coalition Government knew all along that their commitment to the ConDem Coalition spelt decimation for their Party at the polls - they knew that 180 degrees on spending cuts, university fees and the sort of damage being done to local government/arts would mean after the next election their Parliamentary Party would barely fill a London Taxi.

    But Clegg is no fool - he camped @ Sheffield Uni Students' Union during the election and avowed his undying opposition to student tuition fees - yet he has done the opposite and won't go back to the University to explain his policies to those he has betrayed.


    Because IMHO he never intended to have to face the electorate as a LibDem at the next election - the Party has fulfilled its historical role - to make him and his small clique of henchmen into ministers and deliver to David Cameron the killer blow to those on the Right of the Tory Party who held the Major government to ransom - the "bast*rds" as Major called them - the hardwired Eurosceptics and loony backwoodsmen aren't able to hold a Tory government to ransom when it's in coalition.

    In due time Clegg et al will cross the floor and be embraced by Cameron as Tory candidates at the next election. The LibDems will be left beheaded, blamed and the whipping boys for the betray of their leadership, who will have forged a political future for themselves in a realigned Conservative Party that will still have to take the fallout from their economic policy - if the cuts work, the payback will be huge, but even if they fail, Clegg will be able to claim the political dividend of all turncoats down the ages: "I walked away from my political roots for your sake - YOU OWE ME!"

    Where does this leave us?

    The LibDems had better try and cement their leadership into the Party's future to ensure those that those that took them into coalition with Cameron actually pay the personal price for their actions - asking them to sign a clear undertaking not to join another political party and only to run as LibDem Candidates in the future would be a start.

    Such an undertaking probably wouldn't be worth the paper it was written on, but it would be a powerful tool in undermining Clegg's future personal integrity if he did betray the rank & file LibDems - even more than he has already.

    Those coalition sceptics in the LibDems need to harpen their quills and start demanding written commitments pretty sharpish...

  • Comment number 7.

    I just wanted to say that ever since the election the BBC News policy towards the government, as is so vividly illustrated by this blog, has been the production of an endless onslaught of negativity, criticism, and pessimism such that any idea that political impartiality has been maintained can be long forgotten.

    I confess I no longer watch Newsnight, it makes me feel ill. I listen to BBC 6 or 7 in the morning, I want to drown the radio in the bath if I have radio 4 or 5 Live on!

    Where was the BBC coverage of the positive (Lilly-buying)reception given to the science minister when British scientists were positive in their views of the government's decision regarding science funding? Nowhere of course because the BBC cannot stomach the idea of anything that might show the coalition in a positive light. They endlessly portray the government as being mainly the despicable Tories buoyed up by Lib Dem hypocrites and traitors.

    I wonder if there is anywhere else in the world where a state corporation compulsoraly funded by ordinary people has so utterly betrayed it's founders' principles in order to indulge the political bias of it's staff at all levels.

    I doubt it. The BBC is truly unique!

  • Comment number 8.

    7. A tad naive, I feel..

    The role of the media in a democracy is to hold the politicians of the day to account for their policies and actions.

    I don't seem to remember Gordon Brown getting off lightly, do you?

    Tony Blair didn't either - nor did John Major...


    Given the LibDem's commitments @ the election and their complete volt face since on spending cuts, student loans and the impending decimation of local government - no that's not true - "decimation" is one in ten being dispatched - it's more like ONE IN FOUR jobs going - politicians who say one thing @ elections and do precisely the opposite once in office should be mercilessly hammered in the media for their hypocracy.

    Given the LibDem election pledge on the level & speed of spending cuts, there was a big majority of voters who opposed what is now happening, so I'd say there is not a mandate for these high risk economic policies, so having had its will frustrated by Nick Clegg, the electorate quite rightly expects the media to hold the coalition fully to account.

    Your attempt to question the integrity of the BBC about this is either simply naive or you are trying to silence the legitimate, rational assessment and critique of the government by the most respected news organisation in the world.

    I personally feel that the BBC does barely enough in its analysis of the huge risks the coalition are taking with our country's future - it is ludicrous to claim that cutting £110 Bn of spending that equates to nearly £1 Tn of aggregate demand won't tip the economy into a depression.

    It is also simply unbelieveable that the private sector will create 2.7 M new jobs, invest £400 Bn+ in capacity and increase our exports by a third by the next election.

    If these growth numbers are not achieved, government debt WILL GO UP not down and we will be faced with the same economic meltdown that is happening in Eire which is a year ahead of us on a similar cuts policy.

    It is also clear that the coalition believe that unemployment for up to 5 m people is an acceptable risk - "a price worth paying" - personally I don't and I think it amounts to a betrayal of the British people.

    The reason you can't bring yourself to watch NN or listen to R4 is that you don't want to face the reality of what is going on becaue it doesn't fit your own prejudices and the delusional politics of the libertarian economics that has hijacked the agenda on the Right in British politics, which you clearly support.

    "I wonder if there is anywhere else in the world where a state corporation compulsorarily funded by ordinary people has done such a good job in living up to the ideals of public accountability and professional journalism regardless of the personal politics of its staff, in holding the nation's politicians to account for their policies and actions."

  • Comment number 9.

    No8 Richard,
    Role of the media to hold politicians to account? Are you sure?
    The vast majority of the 'media' is owned and controlled by individuals and corporations.
    Their expectation, above anything else, is to maximize profits and dividends.
    Do you seriously think that the porn kings,ex-KGB agents, descendents of Nazi appeasers, tax exiles and 'rodents' from down under, that are the owners, care much about liberal democracy?

  • Comment number 10.

    I wonder who crossed the picket we never know....

  • Comment number 11.

    9. fair enough...

    I didn't say the media was perfect or that there aren't some very dodgy people involved - the theory journos are taught is that the media is some sort of "Fourth Estate of the Realm" - probably pretenious twaddle and in many cases I'd agree that it's simply "fourth rate" these days.

    The Guardian and some other newspapers do a fairly decent job - the thing that worries me is those who seem to think their role is to rubbish all politics, all politicians and every aspect of government because this is the backdoor way to their libertarian heaven: smash the state, abolish taxes and privatise everything by undermining the democratic process itself.

    However I do think the BBC tries to fulfill the role of holding government accountable and I do value what it produces - all the more reason to defend it against those who would leave us to the likes of Murdoch and Fox News.

    The dirty deal to force the BBC to fund the World Service, S4C and the old age free TV license directly is the thin edge of the wedge - and then top-slicing the license fee to fund ITV regional news is another asset grab by Government to undermine public service broadcasting.

    Somerset County Council has just cut 100% of its arts funding - the Arts Council faces huge cuts too - publically funded, publically accountable media is at risk.

  • Comment number 12.

    TMR (7) - "...ever since the election the BBC News policy towards the government, as is so vividly illustrated by this blog, has been the production of an endless onslaught of negativity, criticism, and pessimism..."

    You could have said exactly the same about the BBC and the previous government in the run-up to the election!

  • Comment number 13.

    Great story Michael.

    I hope that before we spend millions having a vote on AV, the country is given the chance to vote specifically on our continued involvement in the EU - somewhat more important in my personal opinion.

  • Comment number 14.

    Nicky didn't..Sheila didn't....Jeremy didn't...Michael didn't...I do know Paul didn't... we are watching y'know...reputations and all that...

  • Comment number 15.

    Sorry but there is bias. For instance the number of times in BBC News products when a Labour/TUC spokesman comes on and is allowed to criticise the government or the management of a company involved in an industrial dispute but nobody from the other side is allowed the chance to respond been noticeably increasing for a long time, going back to before the last election campaign. In the past they used to say, 'We asked the (e.g.)government department for their response but no one was available'. They don't even bother with that nicety anymore, presuably because they don't care what we think, or they don't even bother to ask anymore.

    A good example was during the BA strike when the Unite leader was interviewed at length after the union had announced another round of disruptive industrial action. After he had finished they went on to the next story, leaving listeners wondering why no one from BA was able or willing to respond. Surely we would all agree that viewers should be told whether or not the other party was invited to respond but declined, or were unavailable. Failing to do so leaves it open to suspicion that the BBC were biased and didn't bother to seek a response from the other side.

    I think it is naive and dangerous to assert that that the role of the BBC news is to hold our leaders to account and not simply inform the listeners of what they are saying and doing, and leaving us to come to our own conclusions. The higher purpose of being some kind of edititorialising or judgemental arbiter of government or opposition policies is in contradiction with what the BBC are meant to be about which is allowing people to speak freely to the world. They should leave it far more to the licence payers to make up their own minds.

    Sorry to hear I'm guilty of 'predjuduce' because I dare suggest the BBC is less than impartial, or is it because you think I must therefore be your political opposite?

    How can you think that when I fully support the current industrial action by the 'thousands'!! of BBC journalists. I really enjoyed being transported to the shores of the Wash this morning listening to the calls of Knot and Oystercatchers. In fact I support the truants so much that I hope their strike becomes indefinite and never ends!

  • Comment number 16.

    The Lib Dems could have stayed in opposition and provided limited support to sustain a minority Government provided its actions were not opposite to the manifesto on which Lib Dems were elected. They could have made some compromises between Tory and LibDem policies on less important issues nad stuck to their principles on key issues. They could also have formed a coalition with the same objective.

    Instead a sufficient number of the Lib Dems have sold out their party and their electors by whole heaartedly embracing the Tory policies. They have supported tougher public sector cuts than are needed, allowed policies that are unfair to the poor and favourable to the rich, policies that are socially divisve (relocation of the unemployed and financial denial of opportunities for the children of ordinary people to go to university) and it goes on.

    I would like to believe that they have simply been out-manoeuvred by Cameron, because the alternative is that a significant number of LibDems have sold out their electorate to further their political ambitions. In reality it no longer matters since the electorate will never trust the Lib Dems again, the rest of the LibDems must carry on supporting Cameron, and Clegg and Co will have to fight the next election as Tories claiming a principled conversion to their new faith. That Clegg and Laws would do this was always possible but Cable and Alexander are a disappointment.

    As for PR they have no chance of getting it.

  • Comment number 17.

    10. At 10:46am on 05 Nov 2010, stevie wrote:
    I wonder who crossed the picket we never know....

    What exactly does this have to do with the price of fish?

  • Comment number 18.

    I see the latest illiberal policy emerging from this Coalition is to make the long term unemployed do four weeks work undertaking manual work.

    I am not against the idea that long term unemployed should do this but if the objective is to teach them about the world of work they should at least be paid the minimum wage for doing the job as they would get if they had a job. Yet another emerging Tory policy that the Lib Dems appear to be supporting, maybe slavery is the next step!

  • Comment number 19.


    This is one of those ideas that on paper may seem to be workable, but in practice how and who is going to manage it? Will such management be for free? presumably you will need to measure the effectiveness of the job being done. Someone else will have to monitor the Health and safety element. Will the "employees" be insured? Under existing laws UK and EU this is not feasible nor possibly legal.

  • Comment number 20.

    Harsh, Michael!

    The Lib Dems are taking one for the team.

  • Comment number 21.


    go read the BBC Producer Guidelines:

    There is a clear requirement to ensure all stories are balanced - i.e. that both sides are represented in coverage and that the scripted content is fair in its presentation and assessment of the issue.

    In many cases parties involved in the situation decline to participate - in others they are prevented from doing so by the law - "Sub Judice" - their lawyers/advisors may think going public is not a good idea - or if they are polticians, they are not supposed to make policy announcements in the media - the House of Commons is the place for that.

    In terms of party pplitics, ALL appearances are recorded and the BBC requires a balance of airtime to be achieved between the parties over a period of time - this is even more strictly policed during elections.

    As with any other member of the public, you can register a complaint with the BBC if you feel there has been unfairness or bias.

    So either you're wrong about specific stories being handled unfairly - or one or more parties declined to participate - or the guidelines were breeched by the individuals responsible within the BBC for complying with them.

    The only other alternative is that there is systematic abuse of the system, allowing individuals to ignore the guidelines, flout the law and know that they can get away with it because no action will be taken against them - probably no doubt sponsored by some shadowy group of secret communists hell bent on global domination who have secretly placed hundreds of their followers in the BBC to subvert the nation, ready for the chinese communist hordes to sweep acrose Eurasia and seize the British Isles.

    As there is extensive independent scrutiny of the BBC and there are appointees to the BBC Trust who are clearly not from the Left, the level of conspiracy you are suggesting is simply ludicrous.

    The Daily Mail rots your brain....

  • Comment number 22.

    Who appointed these appointees to the BBC trust? Your recital of the official BBC party line on impartiality has been recited before, but in reality what I have seen and heard on Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, and BBC TV news is in contradiction with it. The example I gave above concerning the BA dispute took place on the Today programme during the summer. But unilateral comments ignoring the government go on all the time. The other way they do it is in the way they interview people. For instance when the Chancellor came on post the budget he was denied any chance to explain his thinking because the only question he was repeatedly asked for the ten allocated minutes was 'Have you got a plan B' which of course was a catch question he would have been crazy to even try to answer.

    Does the Daily Mail rot your brain? I don't know I've never read it. If you're serious, and not some kind of adolescent who has strayed onto the grown ups area of the BBC might I ask what the pathogenesis of this new neurodegenerative disorder is? Why are there no public information campaigns going on to save hapless victims from disaster? Perhaps I'm not the one with prejudice issues.

    The idea that the Lib Dems would have somehow shown more integrity by remaining outside the government but somehow keep the Conservatives in minority government by backing them on votes they were prepared to support is without doubt the most naive, silly thing I've ever heard. In coalition they will achieve a vote on PR, and I think if there is a referendum I think they'll win, and more besides, I hope so anyway. But the HUGE achievement they have pulled off is that they can no longer be dismissed by their enemies as being unfit for central government owing to their complete lack of experience in office.

    As for the policies, during the election Labour were allowed to be incredibly vague about their plans to tackle the deficit, while the other parties were under continuous pressure to be specific. Now it turns out that there's not much between what the coalition are doing, with pretty much the same delay as Labour were stressing the importance of. As for state dependency and the government's proposals, it was Brown himself that said it was a disgrace that working families at the lower end of the pay scale were worse off in real terms than those who didn't work. We hear Labour criticizing everything and anything the coalition come up with, and even the Archbishop of Canterbury joining in, but nothing is ever offered as an alternative, mind you I guess that would involve thinking.

    Oh yeah Labour said the government should create jobs! Just like that! Maybe they've watched too many episodes of Merlin and have started to believe in magic!

  • Comment number 23.

    Ahhhhhh the much discussed PR or AV or as it will become GM or gerrymandering solution.
    This is just one of a raft of policies designed to water down the effectiveness of the Labour party to hold on to inner city constituencies come rain or shine.
    This is not true PR it is a watered down politically motivated survival alternative to ensure along with the other policies the re-election of what will be one of the most bitterly unpopular governments in 2015.

  • Comment number 24.

    As a Labour supporter, presumably through birth or indoctrination, let's face it it's not a decision that can be made on any intellectual grounds known to mankind, can you confirm that you are happy that the present electoral arrangements make it realistically impossible for any other party other than Labour to win a UK election outright. For the rest of us political free thinking non-Labour supporters, a coalition is all we can ever hope for unless things are changed.

    Presumably you would rather see this country become a one party state with Labour and their paymasters the TUC reigning over us in perpetuity. Well let me just say that for what the last election results would suggest is a democratic majority of your fellow citizens it was Labour who had become 'one of the most bitterly unpopular governments', and among this majority who see the coalition as the only way to get our country out of the mess of imminent national bankruptcy and soaring debt the Labour government of 1997 to 2010 left us in, the coalition has much more support than you could, in your condition, ever hope to understand.


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