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What am I bid?

Nick Robinson | 10:56 UK time, Monday, 9 March 2009

Step into Vince Cable's office and you will see a whiteboard complete with "mind maps" plotting the interaction of party interests and negotiating strategies in the event of a hung parliament. So an intriguing piece in the FT tells us this morning.

The Lib Dems are, we learn, "war gaming" to prepare for the "auction for power" they will stage in the after the next election. The negotiating team is to be Cable, Chris Huhne and - oh, I almost forgot - their leader Nick Clegg, who let it be known at his weekend conference that he had turned down a dinner invitation chez Cameron.

What do we learn from this?

(1) The Lib Dem leadership is contemplating a deal with the Tories if the electorate rejects Labour.
(2) They know that many in their party don't and won't like the idea of their leaders trying to get "their bums" on the leather of a ministerial Rover (as Paddy Ashdown once referred to it).
(3) What's more, they know that many of their members still regard the Tories as the bitter enemy.
(4) And even trickier, some Lib Dems are suspicious that Nick Clegg is, as some have claimed, "Cameron Lite".

Thus, the reassurance to the party that:

3 lib dems(1) This is being approached professionally and scientifically, using game theory and advanced mathematics.
(2) Clegg's so anti-Cameron that he even turned down the chance of roast polenta and chianti at his Notting Hill home.
(3) Don't worry, Clegg won't be in charge anyway: it's Vince and Chris... and you know they're not Tories.

Now, what price Lib Dem support for a Cameron minority government?


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  • Comment number 1.

    I'd be surprised

  • Comment number 2.

    "in the event of a hung parliament"


    Ever the optimists Eh?

  • Comment number 3.

    If you are reliant upon the FT, does that mean you haven't looked yourself Nick?

    It would be nice to get this info much more regularly, and thereby provide balance

    I also think that you are making a gross over simplification

    NuLabour came to power on the back of "vote anything but Tory" campaign

    It would be perfect karma if Brown sees it come around again.

    For one thing, the electorate would need to know who came second last time around to a labour candidate if they were then to vote tactically to oust the incumbent.

    Thus I think it would actually matter what happened in the labour heartlands where they could be defeated by SNP, Plaid Cymru etc

  • Comment number 4.

    Not much point the Lib Dems even thinking about this.

    The way Labour are heading the Lib Dems will be the opposition in their own right and Labour will be lucky to be third ahead of the BNP

  • Comment number 5.

    Hmm, methinks the LDs are getting ahead of things a bit here.

    Given the polls and a good bit of crystal-ball gazing, the Conservatives will be in with a large majority so will have no need of the LDs.

    I am not for one second saying that this is a good thing: Large majorities do not make for good Government and stifle proper scrutiny of law. Take the majority of the laws passed by this Government and they almost invariaibly have unintended consequenses due to poor drafting.

  • Comment number 6.

    Even more importantly, what price Lib Dem support for a National Government?

    Are our tragic political parties still operating under the illusion that any of them command significant enough respect to carry the country with them? Do any of them have a political identity, as such, or are they merely competing bands of bureaucrats seeking exclusive access to a power base which, in turn, will allow access to those grand state office buildings, and the staff and perks that go with them?

    Within Parliament, there are people of substance and talent - most notably Frank Field and Vince Cable - who are denied access to the decision-making process because they might say things which would achieve short-term unpopularity. That, in turn, might cause the loss of the next election.

    Part of the reason for the current mess is Blair only ever took a 2-4 year view of things, all the while applying the principle that short-term popularity, with a view to winning the next election, was what mattered.

    The Frank Field sacking, within months of NuLab coming to power in 1997, set the tone. He was instructed to "think the unthinkabe", did so - and was shown the door, in large part because of the intervention of Gordon Brown. Blair accepted that what Field said had to be done (mainly in the context of pensions) would lose popularity for Nulab - and, feasably, the next election.

    Now, twelve years on, the unthinkable has arrived, with a vengeance, and the ambitions of vain, silly, carreerist politicians has to take a back seat. We need whatever people of talent are around, working together, telling it like it is, and doing unpopular things, if they are the right things.

    That scenario does not allow any of the current poltical groupings to win less than 25% of eligible votes in a general election, and have four or five years to spend courting popularity for the next time - as has been the model for too long in this country.

  • Comment number 7.

    Oh well - anything that gets Vince Cable nearer to running the country is ok with me.

    I hoe this is the help that we have been waiting for.

  • Comment number 8.

    Fascinating, but probably pointless.

    There are still months to go before an election - unless Brown & Co can find a spot of sunshine they think will provide a brief uplift.

    By the time we get there, half of the UK's banks will be government controlled. They'll probably be trying to shovel money into the path of an exasperated electorate, to lubricate a sense of a "recovery inspired and led by Brown"...

    Businesses will not doubt still be struggling to get sensible loans at reasonable prices.

    No doubt we'll had an "initiative a month" - but almost certainly about as much delivery as the Royal Mail on Christmas Day! At least that has been our experience over a decade. Why should it change now?

    Might be better for Lib/Dems to focus on an inquiry into the real circumstances under which Brown, Darling, Blank and Daniels conspired to turn LloydsTSB from a fairly sensibly run, dividend-paying bank, into the latest wrecked business.

    Funny that Brown has been determined to prop up banks whose leadership created this mess (under the careful regulations HE put in place)...

    While he has abandonned any pretence to care about private sector people whose pension prospects have now been destroyed. If even Lloyds will not be paying dividends (and their share value has been decimated), how long does Brown expect pension funds to be able to continue? Does he have contingency plans to bail them out?

    Maybe he should just nationalise everything, make us all civil servants. Then everybody would have guaranteed pensions paid for by... well, paid for by which part of the economy, exactly?

    It really no longer matters who leads the next government - as long as it isn't this bunch of smug, self-satisfied, over-hopers and under-deliverers.

  • Comment number 9.

    Clegg and Cable can dream on, the public do not want his policies and when he wakes up the day after the general election he will be sat on the same bench in the house of commons as he was before, all be it with a few extra mates who won labour seats!
    The public have seen the Lib Dems getting all mately with Labour in Scotland, it didnt work and let the SNP in there, many have also experienced the massive costs to their council tax bills under the lib dems in local government, so having seen failure with labour and thinking of their family budgets in a recessionthe public will vote to ensure Cameron wins with a massive majority. Sorry Mr Clegg it's just not going to happen for you!

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Nick,

    What price that Nick Clegg is not longer leader of the LibDems by the middle of next year?

    See you in the pub.

  • Comment number 11.

    Uh oh.

    The Lib Dems are about to kill the golden goose.

    "Now, what price Lib Dem support for a Cameron minority government?"

    Maybe a fourth term for Labour.

  • Comment number 12.

    If its the price we have to pay for a PR electoral system (preferably without party lists.) or more Direct system of Government (where the electorite get to vote on Major/Constitutionally important issues) then its a price worth paying.

  • Comment number 13.

    Clegg will be the reason the Lib Dems get nowhere in the next election (whenever that may be ) He is a liabilty to the party.

    Appointing him shows just how out of touch the whole lot are (with the exception of one Lib Dem of course who needs no introduction, and stands head and shoulders above the entire party)

    Another wasted opportunity for British voters to have any alternative to the two other useless parties

  • Comment number 14.

    Oh dear Nick. Did Clegg upset you with a similar refusal recently?

    Anyone but Labour.

  • Comment number 15.

    Surely Nick, you would agree that a hung parliament would be more representative of the Uk than a landslide for one party or another.
    I for one am heartily fed up with the current system that brings nothing but wealth to the few and poverty and hardship to the majority.
    Under one party rule nothing changes, the tories make the rich richer and aparantly so do Labour.
    Until we get PR this maybe the only good thing to come out of the recession.

    Assuming Gordon doesnt introduce a state of emergency around August time.

  • Comment number 16.

    What's happening with the moderators?

    12:22 published at 12:30 (#12) with ones before waiting nearly an hour........

  • Comment number 17.

    The way things are looking at the moment a hung parliament is unlikely.

    But the current boundaries do favour the Labour party at the expense of both the Tories and the Lib Dems so I hope whoever gets in imposes electoral reform to balance this out.

  • Comment number 18.

    I could never support any party whose policy announcements should be followed with the following disclaimer:

    "This is not a promise of a policy. All Liberal Democrat polices should be approved by the EU before implementation. The EU will reserve the right to refuse to allow any policy from being implemented without notice. Any sincerity in the announcement of a policy should be tempered by the realisation that policies will only be implemented with EU approval"

    IF the lib-dems were to stand up to the EU, then I would support their policies more fully. Until then, ALL their policy initiatives must be taken with a massive pinch of salt as their central pro-EU policy renders EVERY other policy moot.

    The next Liberal Democrat manifesto should be on one small sheet of paper and be:

    "We will do whatever the EU tells us to do."

  • Comment number 19.

    I can't really see this happening.

    I don't see Vince Cable getting involved in any scheme or deal that involves putting a New Labour government in power, especially if Gordon Brown is still leading them.

    Hopefully this situation won't arise.

  • Comment number 20.


    Is this some coded reference to the idea that the Liberal Democrats elected the wrong leader?

    I think they did and it shows.

    They have everything to play for at the next election - even pushing Labour into third place - but they need to convince themselves of this possibility first.

    Come the next election Labour are finished. The Tories have no big ideas so, surely there has to be an opportunity for the third biggest party. Cue Clegg? Forget it!

  • Comment number 21.

    It seems to me there are some flaws in this exercise which Calamity and Co should address 1st;

    1: How to actually run an effective enough campaign to bring about a hung parliament - otherwise there really is no point worrying further. It seems entirely plausible that the SNP could end up with more seats than the LibDems in Westminster after the next election.

    2: How to ensure that disaffected Labour supporters in Tory free areas actively switch to LD and not register protest votes with other less palatable alternatives which undoubtedly will be available at the next election. Old Labour areas are not just going to fall into LibDem hands by default.

    3: How to avoid the resurgent Tories reducing the current LibDem membership of the house to numbers where they are not actually in a position to broker anything even in a hung parliament, as they will have insufficient parliamentary experience on offer (more than 3 known faces seems a pre-requisite and there is no certainty all will retain their seats).

    Then perhaps there might be some point to working out what policies can be bargained for in a hung parliament.

    However we will have to wait for next year - after Lloyds and RBS announce their profit figures for 2009 and El Gordo can claim he has fixed the banks - for an election to find out whether this has been a worthwhile use of Vince' time.

  • Comment number 22.

    Actually, I would be happy for the commons to be a hung Parliament after the next election, bt ONLY so long as the majority of the members are local independent candidates who are there to solely represent the wishes of their constituents. I cannot stand the loyal party puppets who solely represent the interests of the global banking elite at the expense of the electorate.

  • Comment number 23.

    Well spun Mr Robinson, 3 down in 1 strike:
    -dig at Clegg, who I think was elected to be the front man of the lib dems. In addition, it cna be hugely beneficial to the quality of debate and policy when a party has several strong front benchers rather than Aie sayers only;
    -dig at Cameron, that he was snubbed by Clegg;
    -dig at conservatives, as you expect them to end up with a minority.
    Guess sniping at the other big party is off-limits at the Beeb.

    I suppose a discussion of the merits of first-past-the-post versus proportional representation was too much of a challenge on the monday morning. Or is it anathema now that Labour needs fewer votes per seat than the conservatives?

    PS Still waiting for the spin on Brown's sublet constituency office (how long has the guy been an MP?)

    PS2 Waiting for a piece that explains which tax haven or shadow bank or US citizen brought down Northern Rock, Alliance and Leicester, Bradford and Bingly, Royal Bank of Scotland and HBoS (now LBG).

  • Comment number 24.

    Hung Parliament???

    You wish eh Nick
    Brown is as busted as the Country he has ruined.

    The majority of Citizens if not the Staff at the BBC have finally seen him for what he is

    Call an Election

  • Comment number 25.


    "mind maps", "war gaming", "auction for power", "game theory and advanced mathematics".

    This is "professional and scientific".

    Any humanity in there? Any straight talking? Any just let's cut down to the quick, take all the dross out and create a rational business and social plan for UK?

    Or would that be too easy?

  • Comment number 26.

    So... consensus would seem to indicate that with a couple of interesting exceptions, that'll be a no then?? :-)

    OK, heres another one to chuck into the mix... what price another "Gang Of Four", but this time a more cross-party breakaway - Cable, Clark, Field, etc?

  • Comment number 27.

    I think the Lib dem are being a bit slow here.

    I believe that there is a strong mood to punish Labour for what they have done in the country that does not automatically represent a move to the Tories.

    If the LD's got behind such a campaign I believe they could become the main opposition.
    Then the next step would be to go for a electoral win.
    But if they keep up this plague on both your houses then they will miss the opportunity.
    They should get behind a band wagon of Don't Vote Labour

  • Comment number 28.

    3. At 11:38am on 09 Mar 2009, StrongholdBarricades wrote:

    Thus I think it would actually matter what happened in the labour heartlands where they could be defeated by SNP, Plaid Cymru etc

    In Cardiff South and Penarth where I am, Labour had 56.2% in 2001 and then 47.3% in 2005. The Tories were runners up in both cases with 21.8% and 22.2%.
    Now the LD are putting leaflets through people's doors saying they are the official opposition and the only hope of getting rid of Labour. After all LD gained Cardiff Central off Lab in 2005.
    I'll probably vote Conservative but it's tricky. The last thing I want is to let Labour back in throught the back door by voting for a third place party.

  • Comment number 29.

    I don't believe that the Tories will need the Lib Dem's

    The vast bulk of English Voters will go for the Tories. Many because they are "not Labour".

    The SNP will probably make gains in Scotland. Again the "not Labour" will play a part

    The Welsh will vote Plaid Cymru in all likeness. Once again the "not Labour" will play a part

    Labour has become so unpopular that they are making the Tories popular. The Tories arent making themselves popular. Labour is doing a good enough job on their own.

    The party political roundabout continues to go round and round

  • Comment number 30.

    Oh and I meant to say.

    The minority government in Scotland is leading to things not being pushed through by a dominant party but rather to the different political viewpoints having to be brought together to find consensus. I hope that at the next general ellection (whenever that will be) we end up with a relatively balanced group of mp's (sounds crazy I know, MPs and balanced) who can see past their Party line to the needs of the people.

    No party has it all right.

  • Comment number 31.

    Nick, you really think that IF we have an election (and it's a big IF), the Tories only have a minority government?

    The only way that would happen is if postal voting increased 10,000%, the electoral registers were lost and nobody bothered to actually check the ballot papers.

    Oh, hang on, didn't that happen in a by-election somewhere is Scotland recently?

  • Comment number 32.


    You need to understand that all UK Political parties have to do what the E.U tells them whilst we are still a member. (yes we have a small say in shaping that policy) Its too late our Sovereignty has been lost already.

  • Comment number 33.

    The Conservatives and Liberals have been running Birmingham City council for a few years with a mixed cabinet.

    It wouldn't take a leap of faith to see a couple of Liberal Ministers in a Cameron led government.

  • Comment number 34.

    At least the Liberal Democrat's are being honest about it

  • Comment number 35.

    Hung Parliament?

    In your dreams, matey.

    I realise that the prospect of a Labour defeat is seriously unpallatable to the majority of those at BBC HQ, however I'm afraid it's something you chaps will just have to get used to. Wrapping yourselves in the consolation of a hung Parliament may help you sleep at night but it is not a reflection of the political realities.

    The Tories, like it or not, will be forming the next UK government and probably with a sufficiently healthy majority that will see it through a second term. The question, therefore is not whether the Lib Dems should enter into a coallition with the Tories to form a government (they won't get the chance), but whether they launch a lifeboat for the rump of the New Labour Project that does not want to retreat to the far left with the rest of the Labour Party.

    A coallition of the centre left will be all the more urgent given the likely emergence of the BNP as a parliamentary force following the next election, and the Lib Dems and Labour will have their work cut out fighting an Independence Referendum in Scotland at the end of next year (rest assured, the Tories will pay no more than lip service). In this context, it is far more important that New Labour starts modifying its language when dealing with the Lib Dems. After the next election, they may be the only friends they have left.

  • Comment number 36.

    I suppose the lib dem 'leaders' have to make it look as if they are working for their money.

    But noone could do a deal with them.

    Lib Dems can't be trusted (vis, lisbon treaty referendum)

    Labour... a couple of Scots finally destroy the UK...

    So it will be the tories next time... (just hope they keep their promises (leaving the EPP anyone? whiter than white Ms Spelman?)...

  • Comment number 37.


    Local focused independents that's what I can buy into.

    Their local constituents are the first priority not a party.

  • Comment number 38.

    Oh Dear!..Is this the latest,and last ditch,attempt of the Labour Party to cling on to power?

    Create the illusional prospect of a hung Parliament...a coalition of the Tories and LibDems..and hey presto!,such a horrific scenario is implanted in the electorates mind that NL might just survive........


  • Comment number 39.


    It's an interesting point, but you know what....I wish that rather than speculating on hypotheticals, this useless government would hold an election and then we would actually see whether thsi is worth postulating about or not.

    If teh Tories become the largest party, but with no majority, and the Libs supported the current incompetents to keep the Tories out, I don't think the people would forgive them. A second election would have to be held and they would get wiped out....and that would do nobody any good whatsoever. Now Labour getting wiped out...that's a different kettle of fish all together. Here's hoping.

    Oh, and btw, if the Libs do become the 2nd party, which is surely what they should be aiming for, rather than just being a 'larger 3rd party', would that mean politics would have come full circle - back to the days of Whigs vs Tories?

    That should feature nicely in your history series Nick. I look forward to royalties on the episode.

  • Comment number 40.

    Isn't this just a case of musical chairs, Nick, with MPs bidding their principles (or what's left of them) for the most lucrative positions.

    And I'm certainly for reducing MPs salaries (which have NOT attracted 'the brightest and the best' - far from it), allowing expenses only on receipted and necessary expenditure, and getting rid of the 'Whips' in Parliament.

    About time we put an end to 'careerism' politics and promoted those with some thought for truth and integrity.

  • Comment number 41.

    It's good to see the LibDems are putting some thought into what to do in a hung parliament. It's quite a likely outcome of the next election.

    Whatever they decide to do, I do hope they'll be honest with the electorate about it. I'm very keen to get rid of Labour, and will probably vote LibDem myself at the next election, although if I thought they were going to prop up a Labour government, I might think twice.

  • Comment number 42.

    Anyone who actually thinks the Conservatives can win the next election should do some serious research into the 2005 election. The very best we can hope for is a hung parliament, but then the last election SHOULD have been a hung parliament.

    When I looked at the last election it became clear that Labour can still hold a majority with only 20% of the vote (and not just 20% of the population voting for them as now). The election is rigged in Labour's favour and the best we can hope for is Labour holding such a slim majority that any rebels in their ranks will stop any more bad legislation from being passed.

  • Comment number 43.

    Lib Dem men with delusions of potential grandeur!

    Get a life boys! You're going to be swept over by a tidal wave of change and lose many more seats that your anticipate at the next election.

    As in 1979 and 1997 the electorate is going to give the Opposition a clear direction and a handsome working majority.

    No amount of classroom whiteboards and schoolboy maths stunts will get them what they so desperately desire....POWER!

  • Comment number 44.

    ""mind maps", "war gaming", "auction for power", "game theory and advanced mathematics".

    This is "professional and scientific"."

    Just so long as he does not start computer modelling. The IPCC and the banking sector have based way too much of their decision making on rubbish computer model projections that have failed.

    Please spare us from well meaning idiots and their useless computer models.

  • Comment number 45.

    Your explanation of minds maps solve one problem I was wrestling with.

    At his Spring Conference Clegg had been "done over" by a style guru. Did you see his newly dyed hair and his short "dragged through a hedge backwards" hairstyle? I think his plan is to appeal to the younger voters, Cleggy has become a teeny bopper.

    What more is in store?

  • Comment number 46.

    Irrespective of whether it is hung or not, after teh next election Vince Cable must be brought into government.

    Such is the magnitude of the disater that is facing us, the Tories will need all his skills. They tryuly will need a government of all the skills as they wrestle with the dreadful mess we have been plunged into.

    And the first acts of the Tory Government shoudl be to claw back every last penny piece of pension that Gordon Brown has stashed away since 1997 (I wont use the term "earned" as that sticks in my craw) and pass a law that bans Brown from ever holding any public office again - even as a Lollipop Man!!

  • Comment number 47.

    "32. At 1:18pm on 09 Mar 2009, WhiteEnglishProud wrote:


    You need to understand that all UK Political parties have to do what the E.U tells them whilst we are still a member. (yes we have a small say in shaping that policy) Its too late our Sovereignty has been lost already. "

    That is why I would only support a candidate that would pledge, promise, guarantee, ensure and dedicate themselves to actually do something about that first. The Conservatives are the only mainstream, establishment party that have pledged to try to renegotiate our place in the EU, to retake powers back. Whist I do not believe that they have a hope in hell of achieving it, at least they promise to try. What will happen when they fail? Withdrawal from the EU or further surrender to it? Cameron will not say.

    As for Labour, they claim to be able to negotiate in our interests in the EU by being positive in the EU. So far that has produced abject surrender of our national interest replaced by EU sovereign interests.

    At least the Lib-Dems are honest in their wholehearted capitulation to the EU and admit that the EU comes first.

    I will be supporting any candidate that is in favour of putting my constituency and this country first.

    We COULD be a lot better off outside the EU.

  • Comment number 48.

    It would be nice to have a hung parliament at the next election, but even better to have a hanged parliament!

  • Comment number 49.

    32. At 1:18pm on 09 Mar 2009, WhiteEnglishProud wrote:

    "You need to understand that all UK Political parties have to do what the E.U tells them whilst we are still a member. (yes we have a small say in shaping that policy) Its too late our Sovereignty has been lost already. "

    Mostly true (though the SNP would have us believe otherwise!) but there is still some hope.

    The Lisbon Treaty has not yet been ratified.

    The EU is at something of a crossroads still.
    The Laeken Declaration highlighted the need for more democracy, more transparency and for less centralisation of powers.

    The response, hi-jacked as it was by Valery Giscard D'Estaing, was the opposite to what had been required in the form of the Constitution, now repackaged (some 96%) as the Lisbon Treaty.

    Those peoples who voted against the Constitution were denied the right to vote against the Lisbon Treaty, that being the privelege given only to the political classes (except in Ireland where the people were ignored).

    We need to ensure that Cameron keeps his promise of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty so we can fully support the people of Ireland and other countries who want greater democracy.

    If the Lisbon Treaty was not fully ratified then leaders in the European Union would have to acknowledge that the current set-up simply isn't wanted by the majority and that control should be wrested from the ruling elite and the Union restored to co-operation between free and independent nations.

  • Comment number 50.

    Electoral reform, an end to mediocre governments we
    ve had for 30+ years with majorities they don't deserve. Some form of PR is needed and an elected second chamber. Will it happen? probably not. The country is to conservative with a small 'c' or 'Stuck in its ways'. Because Great Britain thinks its the best country in the world because of its past we have stopped making any progress. We are stagnating.

  • Comment number 51.


    I don't usually agree with PurpleDogzzz but this time I do when he says "Please spare us from well meaning idiots and their useless computer models."

    I'm a great fan of using computers for what they do well, like analysing and ordering data to help people can make decisions. But the computers can't make decisions:

    "If you computerise a mess, all you have is a computerised mess."

  • Comment number 52.


    Had the positions stayed relatively the same compared to the 05 election, yes, I could see the distinct possibilities of a hung parliament and subscribed to the view myself.


    Given the catastrophic damage that GB's "leadership" has done to NL, I somehow doubt it now.

    The true measure of exactly what the Lib Dems are in it for would definately be spelled out in the event of a hung parliament though.

    Talk about Hobsons' choice... prop up a NL government which has failed and that has been condemned repeatedly by the LD's as failed... or side with their natural enemies the Conservatives?

    Eitherway, it means sleeping with the enemy and elements of their core support will damn them if they do and damn them if they dont.

    There is also the other possibility of Labour being pushed into 3rd and the LD's forming the official opposition to Cameron, but that, given the way the boundaries have been re-drawn to NL's advantage is extremely unlikely.

    Not impossible - given the scale of GB's monumental goofs, nothing is impossible - but extremely unlikely.

    A lot of it is going to depend on just how much worse it is going to get and just how many more chickens come home to roost, carrying their smoking guns with them.

    Plenty of time yet for Downing St to bear even more resemblance to a Bernard Matthew's Turkey Farm than what it does already.....

  • Comment number 53.


    I'm sure many people will recognise those sentiments.

    In cases where there is an "anything but labour" feeling then there will be a natural gravitation towards the party who finished second last time

    It must also be a necessity to discover who actually did come second last time around to prevent the fracturing of the vote that you fear.

    I also think that there may be many dyed in the wool Labour voters who will simply refuse to go out and vote because they feel they can not support what is currently happening.

  • Comment number 54.

    The Liberals don't burn their bridges. If there's a post election deal to be done they'll do it. It's probably just that a pro-Cameron sentiment is in the wind. Even the Guardian is going pro-Cameron, did you see that? So it's a sign of the times but not necessarily of where the Liberals are headed. Usually it's nowhere

  • Comment number 55.

    We will never get a vote on Lisbon, the E.U won't allow it if we get a vote it will be an in or out vote the only hope we really have is if the German High Court throws out the Lisbon Treaty as unconstitutional

  • Comment number 56.

    I also think that Nick Clegg has missed a trick.

    If he is willing to support somebody else in a hung parliament then he should actually put forward who it is he will actually do the deals with.

    If he is willing to do deals with the Labour party then he could get a rush of tactical voters from seats where they realise labour voters can't win

    This could mean that these voters protest vote could limit the extent of New Labour policy if they continued to be the governing party

    I would much prefer it if they chose the "natural opposition" as their slogan, and handled correctly they could galvanise the vote and rout the safe Labour seats. If they subsequently decided to join with the Tories then the political landscape will have changed significantly and it would be up to them to maintain that position

  • Comment number 57.

    42. At 1:36pm on 09 Mar 2009, Alien8n wrote:
    Anyone who actually thinks the Conservatives can win the next election should do some serious research into the 2005 election. The very best we can hope for is a hung parliament, but then the last election SHOULD have been a hung parliament.

    I don't think 2005 will have much bearing the next time the country goes to the polls.
    Look at the mess that has materialised since then.
    Labour have been behind in the voting intention polls (in every single poll) since October 2007, when Brown bottled the election call.

    Everyone I talk to wants to give Gordon Brown a bloody nose. Personally I think the Tories will have a three figure Common's majority.

  • Comment number 58.

    They could play spot the villain?

    Or they might choose to track contact relationships between opposing parties, their politicians and journalists?

    Will they get Nicked?

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    Absolutely as a life long Labour Supporter (not for much longer) Vince Cable seems to be the only one making any sense whatsoever on the Economy.

    I wouldnt be so sure that the Tory Party will win the next election. As I wrote on another blog the electorate may say a plague on both your houses of mediocrity.

    Lets face it We have now had 18 years of Tory government that ended in abject failure and 12 years of so Labour government that has ended in guess what abject failure.

    Do we really want 12 more years of Tory Government or Labour for that matter that ends in guess what abject failure?

  • Comment number 61.

    If the Lib Dems are going to support a Tory government, who is the rabid anti-Tory voter going to vote for now to show his dissatisfaction with Labour?

    Probably Labour, but with gritted teeth.

  • Comment number 62.

    The Lib Dems would align themselves with the monster raving loonies if they thought it would get them a seat on the cabinet. Like Steel and co. many years ago they would even support this incompetent Labour government for a sniff of power. As for Vince Cable he is as much good as Brown, proclaming himself as Mr Sensible when in fact he is no more than a clone of Charles Kennedy; promise or say anything , however impractical, as long as it sounds sensible and will never have to be implemented.

  • Comment number 63.

    123geronimo wrote:

    Local focused independents that's what I can buy into.

    Their local constituents are the first priority not a party.

    A few months of nothing getting done because of constant shifting alliances between independents looking after their own interests and we would probably be begging parties to come back.

  • Comment number 64.

    The last thing we need is leftist Lib-Lab pact. Look how that worked out in here in Scotland. Utter disaster.

    Any urge to join with the unreliable and untrustworthy Lib Dems should be resisted at every turn.

    Free-market economics is the only way through this minefield. Although it has its hiccups, it is by far and away the best way to raise people out of poverty. The tories should be hammering home this point everytime Lib and Lab point to more interventionism.

  • Comment number 65.

    There is a point to this - how could the Liberal Democrats in all fairness prop up a failed Labour Government should there be a hung Parliament after the next election? Finding a modus operandi with the Conservatives would be the only honourable course of action.

  • Comment number 66.


    Why the comparison with 2005?

    In Feb 2004 the parties were neck and neck - and Labour pulled back 5%

    In Feb 2009 the difference is 10% and Labour do not have a PM with the charisma of Anthony Linton Blair - au contraire.

  • Comment number 67.


    so many numbers, so much middle-management speak!

    Is this blog available on Powerpoint?

  • Comment number 68.

    Nick, you report:

    The Lib Dems are, we learn, "war gaming" to prepare for the "auction for power" they will stage in the after the next election.

    Just shows how naive I am.

    I imagined that party leaderships would be devoting all their energies to formulating policies - particularly given NuLab have steered the ship onto the rocks.

    But, it's obviously not about principles and beliefs - just about power, snouts and troughs.

    Silly me ...

    You should do a piece in a similar vein on NuLab - open up a discussion on how much of what they are spending our money on is due to principle and strategy and how much to keep Brown in power.

    Much more interesting than a blog on Clegg and his band of no-hopers.

  • Comment number 69.

    Errrrrrrrrrrr I think you are a little confused.

    Free-market economics is the only way through this minefield

    What is the mess we are in? We have a Free Market? What has happended to that Free Market? It has failed?

    Go figure the answer to a failed free market is free market economics.


  • Comment number 70.

    Bold stuff Nick!

    You really think Nick Clegg won't be leader after the next election?

    The Liberals won't have any chance of joining in with the Tories the way they're slagging them off.

  • Comment number 71.

    "(1) This is being approached professionally and scientifically, using game theory and advanced mathematics. "

    Sorry but it comes over to me as a bunch of amateurs pretending they understand strategic thinking concepts.

    And some of us haven't forgotten how the Lib/Dems co-operated with NuLabour's bullying tactics to force the vote on the Lisbon Treaty through Parliament. Any party, or individual MP, who was part of that deserves to be thrown out of office at the next election never mind having pretentions to be a member of the next government.

  • Comment number 72.

    Mark_WE 63

    You are exactly right here, the idea of Independents in Government is a bad idea. Nothing will get done because of all the internal arguments that will go on before any agreement is made.

    We will need decisive Government after the election, to get things moving. That is why I hope the Conservatives if they win the next election have a good majority.

  • Comment number 73.

    At no point in the above article is it suggested that the Lib Dems would get into bed with a discredited Labour minority government. It is suggested that they would naturally hesitate to get into bed with a Tory minority one ...people really should learn to read!

    Actually I for one, and being something habitual Lib Dem voter, am hoping that the Lib Dems find themselves the HM's Official Opposition after the next election and build from there.

  • Comment number 74.

    It seems there are some issues where our two main political parties are in complete agreeement.

    In case there are any who still doubt the EU connection in the privatisation of Royal Mail

  • Comment number 75.

    So is it "go back to your consitituencies and prepare for Government" time again?


  • Comment number 76.

    Talk about Lib-Dem coalitions and hung parliaments is flim-flam. It won't happen.

    More interesting are the reports in the papers about the accelerating deterioration of Brown's one functioning eye.

    Is this for real or are we being spun a line so that Brown can make his excuses and exit due to 'health reasons'?

  • Comment number 77.

    Mind mapping?


    Meanwhile, over at Labour HQ, Hariet Harperson prepares for the Euro elections by pinning up pictures of a bottom and an elbow to puzzled looks.....

  • Comment number 78.

  • Comment number 79.

    How about this for a nightmare scenario post the next election.

    Of Englands 529 seats this is split as follows.

    Conservative 300
    Labour 170
    Lib Dem 55
    Others 4.

    The Conservatives have a majority in England.

    Of Scotlands 59 current seats this is split.

    Conservatives 5
    Labour 20
    Lib Dems 15
    SNP 19.

    Wales current 40 is split

    Conservatives 5
    Labour 15
    Libe Dem 5
    Plaid 15.

    Northern Ireland 18 split as follows

    UUP/Cons 5
    DUP 6
    SDLP 4
    Sinn Fein 3

    The Conservatives have a huge majorty in England but no overall majority. Then the fun will really begin.

  • Comment number 80.

    May I suggest that No. 4 is absolutely correct in saying that the Lib-Dems could well BE the opposition in the next Government but to go one stage further how about Vince Cable joining the Tories as Chancellor- replacing the overgrown schoolboy who is currently in the frame.
    I know it is easy to talk tough when you are not in the driving seat, but at least VC has shown he is capable of representing the thoughts and aspirations of the electorate which is more than can be said for the present incumbents!

  • Comment number 81.

    The problem is we don't have a free market - there's far too much political meddling

  • Comment number 82.

    A very good reason not to vote for the Lib/Dems is the leader himself. Clegg I think is absolutely hopeless. With Clegg you can never get beyond his gaffe over the state pension. Anybody in Government that is so out of touch should not be in office.

    The Lib/Dems have no policies that they stick to for more than a week, I would genuinely hope they do not power share with anyone.

    Vince Cable to me smacks of a failed Labour politician who has found a little niche for himself saying what he hopes may be popular with the public. Then changing his opinion when it is proved not to be working out the way he says.

    If the Lib/Dems concentrated on trying to get into power by the merit of developing their own policies instead of hanging on the coat tails of the other two parties they would do better. At the moment they are seen by the public as only able to power share.

  • Comment number 83.


    I've just found this and it shows what pressure you are put under but I must say that Adam Boulton doesn't seem to have his hands tied behind his back you can tell by the pay off line at the end.

    This in response to 2 Jag's slagging him off on his
    "Going to be 4th" website

  • Comment number 84.

    A ploy to try and make people think they're worth voting for. They're not of course.

    Bye bye fellers

  • Comment number 85.


    I take it you wont be voting Labour then as their plan seems to be to to plough good money into the banks in a vain attempt to preserve the previous free market that has failed.

    Oh wait that isnt free market economics is either is it.
    Free markets would have allowed the failures to fail then the survivors could get on with rebuilding.

  • Comment number 86.

    My guess is that the Lib Dems will lose 30 seats to the Tories, mainly in the south and south west and pick up at best 10 from labour mainly in the north east and west.
    The Tories will have a comfortable majority because the margin of victory will be sufficient. I agree that the current electoral map has a major bias in favour of Labour but this only works to their advantage when the result is close. When it is not it works against them. The tipping point is the Tories getting more than 44% of the vote. Each point over that has a major effect. Given the ruin we are facing as a country the Lib Dems are wasting their time.

  • Comment number 87.

    I am sure I am not alone in noticing ZaNuLiebour singlehandedly keeping ITV afloat.

    Every advert is paid for by the state, meaning you and me, in a pathetic attempt to promote the message that the current HMG are doing a simply WONDERFUL job and how we'd be such fools not to love them and vote for them.

  • Comment number 88.


    I know you may find this hard to contemplate but forget about hung Parliaments and a Tory/Lib Dem pact, what about the possibility of a New Labour meltdown at the next General Election?

    I appreciate that I may be a tad optimistic but the Lib Dems are far closer to the traditional Labour Party supporter than GB and his lot who sold out to the 'working classes' and 'socialists' a long time ago.

    Clegg has started to realise that attacking the Tories and siding with New Labour is a waste of time. At long last, he can smell fear on the government benches and if he has got any sense, they will be his target.

    If the Lib Dems are successful with their honest 'tax and spend' manifesto which New Labour have always been too shy to mention but go ahead with anyway, then the left of centre vote will end up diluted and weakened, possibly both.

    As for the Tories, it's still to early to tell. Unforeseen events and complacency are their biggest threat as is the threadbare 'what I would do if I was in power' manifesto. However the gaps are starting to be filled in including the suggested scrapping of the FSA.

    I especially mention this last point because I have suggested several times that the FSA is not fit for purpose and should be disbanded in these BBC blogs and indeed to Number 10 itself; each time I have been moderated.

    Now that the Tories are thinking like I do, perhaps now we, and in particular you Nick can develop this idea further. I was never being rude, it's just that the FSA has failed not because of light or heavy regulation. No they failed because even though they knew something was wrong, was warned that something was wrong, they failed to take action against one of their own, the bankers, or their patrons, the government.

    Oh and Nick, well done for asking the PM about apologising to the country when on the plane to the US; I see he lost it but had to read this in The Mail on Sunday to find this out, no mention from you! True or false?

  • Comment number 89.

    71 & 74, spot on!!!

    It's all about capitulating to the undemocratic EU.

  • Comment number 90.




  • Comment number 91.

    If the Libs want to share power with Cameron, they have a very tricky balancing act to perform. The most likely outcome of the election is, sadly, a Tory overall majority. So the Libs have to try to limit this by attacking the Tories and not having a real go at Labour. However, they have to do this without upsetting the Tories too much.
    Maybe Ian Paisley or Martin McGuiness can offer some advice on how to attack people all your life, then share power with them.

    I believe it's called politics.

  • Comment number 92.

    I still can't quite see Labour losing the next election.

    The received wisdom is that voting for the Liberal Democrats simply splits the (Labour|Conservative) vote, and so reduces the number of votes (the Tories|Labour) need to get in. Also, this year represents the 25th anniversary of the Miners' Strike, and anti-Conservative feelings will be running high.

    Throw into the mix also that the political process is now so tainted that nobody would ever expect a politician to be honest, which should guarantee a low turnout. If Labour can pull something out at the last minute which will appeal to some group of voters, I can honestly see Labour's uninterrupted run outlasting the Tories' one.

    This depresses me.

  • Comment number 93.

    Errrrr I thought the current complaint from the political right was Gordon Brown didnt interfere enough. If you want to win peoples votes at least stick to a cogent argument.
    You cant say the markets have been interfered in too much and then complain GB didnt interfere enough.

    RE:85 No I wont be voting Labour that has ended in abject failure after 12 years and neither will I be voting Tory that ended in abject failure after 18 years.

    Give the Lib Dems a shot I say. Whats the worse that can happen? It may end in abject failure and then where will we be? We will have three parties instead of two that have led us to abject failure.
    You never know they may even surprise us.........

  • Comment number 94.

    I suggest you are trying too hard to be politically neutral here Nick, with phrases like a Cameron "minority" government" and "if the electorate reject a Labour government."

    There will be no ifs and buts about it. The Tories will wipe the floor with both New Labour and the LibDems and both parties have only themselves to blame.

    No wonder voters are confused. The LibDems have always been a cross-over party. The clue is in the Democrat bit of the name - which is hardly any different from Blair's New Labour social democrats.

    New Labour has always viewed the LibDems as the traditional enemy, not the Tories and the feeling is mutual.

    Look at the track record. Cable used to be a Labour man and Hain a Liberal.

    With Euro-boy Clegg still trying to capture the soundbites of a younger Blair they are a Party in a mess.

    The brutal fact is that none of this matters.

    Cameron's Mr Blue who turned into Mr Green and then Mr Angry is due to make a comeback as the New Statesman.

  • Comment number 95.

    Whatever reservations the LibDems have about doing a deal with the Tories should be put aside for the good of the country. They must realise that Brown and co. have to go and any deal which keeps a minority Labour party in power would be disastrous. Surely a deal with the Tories, with the prerequisite that Vince Cable is Chancellor and allowed to control the Treasury (which wouldn't happen if Brown remained PM) would be better for the country and may even convince voters that the LibDems are capable of more than simply being the second opposition party.

  • Comment number 96.


    Trust you, Laugh (Paisley/McGuinness)

    Harsh, but very fair.


    You really know how to cheer people up... :-\

  • Comment number 97.


    The electoral arithmentic is against a significant Tory majority, they need far more votes to win a seat than Labour as there has not been sufficient equalisation of constituency sizes to take account of population shifts in the last 15 years (I wonder why...).

    Also you need to factor in the N Ireland seats and strong Nationalist showings in Scotland and Wales.

    So the likeliest outcome is much stronger majorities in the Tory heartlands but not enough Con gains from Lab, especially as I suspect many will vote tactically for the Lib Dems where they have the best chance of beating Labour.

    As I want a hung Parliament with a strong LD showing this is doesn't worry me...

    I just hope the Ireland, Scotland, Wales position doesn't lead to too much political horse-trading and / or a weak coalition. If the Scots genuinely want indepence this should come from a referendum of their own making, not a Westminster "deal".

  • Comment number 98.

    Nick, could you explain why on Sunday not one BBC political show had a representative from either the Liberal Democrats or the Conservatives?.

    Mr Mandelson was given so much free time to spin his stories, yet the BBC did not think to get a response from one of the other parties!!.

    If the BBC wishes to claim impartiality in its political coverage, then Sunday was a huge own goal, and gives weight to accusations of pro-Labour bias.

    Very poor form by the BBC.

  • Comment number 99.

    #4, #52, and #80:

    It would be nice to think that Labour would be in third place after the next election, but sadly that's just pure fantasy. I think you underestimate the voting inertia of the great British public. The folks who post on these blogs are the ones who think about politics and vote according to their judgement about the current state of the parties and the issues that matter.

    But we are in a tiny minority.

    The vast majority of voters vote either Labour or Tory because they have always voted Labour or Tory, their father and grandfather always voted Labour or Tory before them, and all their mates have always voted Labour or Tory. I have no doubt whatsoever that Labour could be as disastrous as they liked between now and May 2010 and the worst that would happen to them at the next election is that they would come second.

  • Comment number 100.

    93. At 5:18pm on 09 Mar 2009, superAngry wrote:
    Errrrr I thought the current complaint from the political right was Gordon Brown didnt interfere enough. If you want to win peoples votes at least stick to a cogent argument.
    You cant say the markets have been interfered in too much and then complain GB didnt interfere enough. "

    Errrrr NO - my point all along has been there is a deal of over-regulation, much of it simply a bureacratic 'tick-in-the-box' type exercise which achieves the opposite of what the supposed aim is.
    Thanks to EU interference.

    Read the attached - it will clarify.


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