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Clegg: No-one knows what to think

Nick Robinson | 09:36 UK time, Monday, 19 April 2010

The spirit of Dunkirk has gripped the nation. The country has found a politician it likes even more than Winston Churchill, according to one poll. How long can it be, then, before we see a national government led by Nick Clegg?

Nick CleggWhat makes this election so unpredictable is that I can write that paragraph without it seeming like an absurd fantasy. In public, senior Labour and Conservative figures described Cleggmania either as like a teenage crush, in the case of Peter Mandelson, or as "the biggest load of media-driven nonsense since the funeral of Diana" - that was Boris Johnson speaking.

Privately, people on all sides admit that they simply do not know what to think.

One poll finding captures what I think is going on. Populus asked people whether it was time for a change from Labour. 75% said "yes". Was it time, the poll went on, for a change to the Conservatives? Only 34% said "yes". Soon, it will be "make your mind up" time for that 41%.

The two big parties will struggle to tap into the mood for change, deploying the argument for political renewal and banker-bashing in Labour's case and spelling out what "the Big Society" means in the Tories'. Both will, however, deploy, above all, fear. "Imagine how you'll feel if you wake up on 7 May and find [either Gordon Brown or David Cameron] outside No 10 - and just think of the chaos an uncertain result could unleash."

Nick Clegg will try, Obama-like, to ride the wave of discontent with the other two all the way to polling day. My hunch is that the public is increasingly treating opinion-poll questions like voting in the X Factor - a sort of instant verdict on who you want to keep in the contest to make it more fun.

The country will, just as in the X Factor, only make up its mind who it wants to win at the last minute. Let me stress that I am not - repeat, not - comparing Nick and Vince with the Jedward twins.

If the Lib Dems are not to be squeezed by that most powerful of emotions, fear, they will have to make the positive case for what they used to call "breaking the mould" of British politics.

They will have to convince people that it is worth risking waking up with a prime minister you may not want, the uncertainties of a hung Parliament and the tedium of a debate about changing the voting system for the sake of creating a new politics where the idea of Prime Minister Clegg in a national government seems no more bizarre than the idea of a fleet of small ships crossing the channel to rescue stranded Britons.

Comments

Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    Cleggy on the way to number ten!

  • Comment number 2.

    Firstly, I think it's easy to look good when you share a stage with two people that the majority of the country detest.

    Secondly, I think Clegg will come unstuck once people actually start examining his policies.

    Hopefully though, they will perform well enough to replace Labour as the "second" party. That will be a victory of sorts.

    Before the election, however, I think it's very important the Clegg confirms his intentions for the eventuality of a hung parliament.

  • Comment number 3.

    Nick

    this was posted on Andrew Neils blog can you confirm that this is a true picture of what would happen if the polls are correct?

    Con 31% = 239 seats
    LDs 29% = 103 seats
    Lab 27% = 279 seats
    Others13% = 29 seats

    As can be seen labour comes third but Brown is likely to be back in power as head of a Lib Lab pact.

    Do you think the sheeple are aware of this?

  • Comment number 4.


    Sorry to burst the bubble Nick, but I do not buy into the Cleggmania hype.

    This has been whipped up by the media looking for an exciting election story line and by New Labour spinners to take the heat off Brown.

    Banging the drum for Clegg fuels the hung parliament narrative which would see Brown still clinging onto power.

    LibDems need to be put under the same harsh sunlight of scrutiny the media has been so keen to shine on the two main Westminster parties.

    Resorting to reporting opinion polls is lazy journalism. It's a farce. What next? Clegg more popular than Jesus?

    http://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/clegg-more-popular-than-jesus.html

  • Comment number 5.

    f the Lib Dems are not to be squeezed by that most powerful of emotions, fear, they will have to make the positive case for what they used to call "breaking the mould" of British politics.

    They will have to convince people that it is worth risking waking up with a prime minister you may not want, the uncertainties of a hung Parliament and the tedium of a debate about changing the voting system for the sake of creating a new politics where the idea of Prime Minister Clegg in a national government seems no more bizarre than the idea of a fleet of small ships crossing the channel to rescue stranded Britons.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Indeed they will Nicholas. And it will need to be a convincing argument too.

    3#

    They're probably aware of it in an in-one-ear-out-of-the-other type way, but the majority probably dont get it and wont do until they find out their chosen party has been unsuccessful.

    Then it'll be back to Britains Got Talent, Over The Rainbow and the impending World Cup... apathy rules OK.... If Cleggy can turn the polls on their heads by saying absolutely nothing about LD policies and just decrying the others as squabbling fossils from a bygone age, why go to the trouble of explaining details that the voters have absolutely no interest in?

  • Comment number 6.

    Strange campaign, I have to say,
    Composite Tory, many ideas he strays,
    Fog-filled Brown, for my vote he begs,
    National government?
    That would be Compo, Foggy and Clegg

  • Comment number 7.

    "If the Lib Dems are not to be squeezed by that most powerful of emotions, fear, they will have to make the positive case for what they used to call "breaking the mould" of British politics"

    Some say that before they made Nick Clegg they broke the mould. All I know is his policies have the whiff of sandals, not sandalwood.




  • Comment number 8.

    re #3, PortcullisGate.

    Moreover, how will the sheeple react when it becomes suddenly apparent to them that the distorted nature of our electoral system means that the least popular party, and the one they least wanted to govern, has 'won'?

    Wide scale unrest, or just a shrug of the shoulders?

  • Comment number 9.

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

  • Comment number 10.

    I was a Labour Party member for 40 years until the dodgy dossier so I am not likely to vote Conservative. Luckily I live in Twickenham so I have the most popular MP in the country to vote for. A Labour-LibDem government would cross all my boxes except one. It would say to Labour that the electorate is disappointed, it would give us Vince Cable as Chancellor and it would mean the economy was not threatened by a too rapid pay down of the national debt (still low on a G8 comparison). The only box it does not tick is my desire to get more euro for the pound but I think the city slickers are just reverting to type and when a Lib-Lab government is in place the pound will rise anyway. Of course, if the 1924 precedent was followed with both major parties losing ground, the LibDems could form a minority government with tacit Labour support. Either way, we would get a proper electoral system where everyone's vote has equal weight.

  • Comment number 11.

    Up until Thursday the general wisdom was 'It's a wasted vote, opting for the LibDems because not enough people vote for them to make a difference and the reason that not enough people vote for them to make a difference is because, er, it's a wasted vote, opting for the LibDems.' The last few days have given the LibDems a chance to shoot off at a tangent from that vicious circle.

    Nick Clegg won't be walking into No. 10, but if he can force the governing party to adopt electoral reform, the LibDems will have my support.

  • Comment number 12.

    'Let me stress that I am not - repeat, not - comparing Nick and Vince with the Jedward twins.'
    No, that would be David and Edward Miliband or Deadwood!

  • Comment number 13.

    Personally, I would vote for the "uncertainties of a hung parliament" any day.

    A government that had to worry about whether it might have to face an election in the near future, would probably not risk forcing unpopular measures through parliament, but would pause to argue the case for any measures that it believed were necessary. The result would be a more democratic and possibly better government.

    The alternative, which we usually have to put up with, whereby a party, as a reward for getting perhaps only about 40% of the votes cast, can ignore the wishes of the rest of the electorate for up to five years, may suit power hungry politicians, but cannot be classed as government for the people and by the people. The argument that a government has to be strong enough to implement unpopular measures, is essentially a denial of democracy.

  • Comment number 14.

    The London based media has gifted (stitched up) an electoral advantage for the liberals.

    The SNP highlighted the unfairness of the debates to Scotland as soon as the debates were announced. The London based media has been duplicitous through out and is now milking the aftermath of the debates, thus compounding the unfairness.

    In Scotland, it is only the SNP who have teams of local activists in every constituency going round the doors. But, how can the SNP compete when the TV coverage of UK elections is so undemocratically skewed against them, within their own country?

    westminster portrays itself as the mother of all parliaments, from a Scottish perspective it looks like the mother of all carve ups!

    C McK

    C McK

  • Comment number 15.

    I thought David Cameron wanted us to vote for change. Liberals back in power after nearly a century sounds like a pretty radical change to me......................

  • Comment number 16.

    #5 -- Sorry I don't understand what you're on about. "Cleggy can turn the polls on their heads by saying absolutely nothing about LD policies."

    Errrr... you mean, for example, he hasn't ever mentioned changing the tax threshold to £10k? Or perhaps he hasn't given any details about how to do this (as Cameron said twice in the leaders' debate. Each time Clegg gave details and said "Numbers are in our manifesto" -- they're not in Lab/Con manifestos). I guess you also mean he hasn't said that he wants the STV electoral system for the Commons and Lords. Or that he hasn't said about plans to scrap Trident and get a system which is appropriate to the now, not the cold war. Or maybe that he hasn't talked about..... you get my drift. In fact, I would argue (although I admit to a pro-Lib Dem bias) that we've heard more on policy from Clegg than anyone else.

    Any on trust, let me remind you (since the media have chosen not to) of the exchange between the leaders on the issue of trust following the expenses scandal.

    Brown and Cameron both said "We will give you the right to recall your MP." Clegg responded (and you can check whether this is true), "But I *proposed that* in the Commons, it could have been law by now. But the Tories voted against it and Labour MPs voted against it."

    I'd say that was a fairly clear policy statement too, wouldn't you? And a pretty damning exposure of the other two parties who are pledging to do something they actively voted against only a few months ago.

    On the "hung parliament" issue -- I agree that with this crazy (or to quote Clegg, "Potty") system we have, anything but a sizeable win for Cameron or Clegg will result in Labour having the most seats, and I also think that a Lab/Lib coalition is more likely because Labour are more likely to submit to Lib Dem demands than the Tories. But I don't think voting Clegg is voting Hung Parliament. It's voting Lib Dem, and a Lib Dem win is possible. If the point is that dividing the "non-Labour vote" makes a Labour seat-win more likely then one could equally well say "a vote for Cameron is a vote for Brown" -- it all depends on your perspective. BUT -- if we want toa void this ludicrous situation again where Labour can come 3rd and "win" we need electoral reform. And the Tories are the only one of the 3 parties opposed to it.

  • Comment number 17.

    Our fleet of ships turned back by the french 'our European neighbours' and Nick Cleggs mates.

    Makes you proud to be in Europe.

    And if Cleggy gets in then expect more of the same.

    The french turn down british business because it is british, and yet we have two parties, one of whom forced us into Europe without asking us and the other wants us to be bestest buddies with all of Europe and build a superstate!

    ANd yet most of my British business clients can't get the french to buy their goods unless they pretend to be french and based in france.

    Simon Cowell for Prime Minister

  • Comment number 18.

    I'll vote Lib Dem purely on the policy of proportional representation.

    Its about time that a parties share of the vote was reflected in the number of MPs they have in parliament, not the ridioculously undemocratic system we have now, where a party can potentially get 10% of the vote & end up with no MPs, or as in Laboures case get the lowest percentage of votes but still have the most seats.

    Proprtional representation should end The Parliamentary Members Club (only labour, conservative or liberals need apply)forever.

  • Comment number 19.

    I have to say its a sad old day. If we do get a hung parliament it will be the second worse outcome for this country. The worst outcome by far is an outright Labour victory.

    Now, shoud it be hung, is it automatic that the Lib Dems would side with Labour? I'm not sure, but those boys are so hungry for power they'd forget what history teaches them, that Labour promises aren't to be trusted, and go along with keeping El Gordo in power.

    I suspect that we may see fragmented voting all over the country, particularly in Wales and Scotland, but in the north, where I suspect that some Labour seats will fall to the Lib Dems.

    If that happens, I would hope that the Lib Dems would seek some sort of pact with the Conservatives who, for their part, ought to welcome it for a while, and the have another election in a couple of years. By which time, with the entire European project in jeopardy, it might be combined with an in or out referendum. Bring it on.

  • Comment number 20.

    N03 PortcullisGate.
    The answer appears to be yes.The Lib/Dems will insist on full PR. That would result in the third rate Thatcherites leading the 'nasty' party being confined to a well earned dustbin for the foreseeable future. A wonderful prospect.

  • Comment number 21.

    All three parties are banging on about political reform. It may be a good idea to start looking into an electoral system that would allow a party coming third by popular vote in an election to garner more seats that the party coming first. This is disgusting and an affront to democracy.

  • Comment number 22.

    To be honest, if that Europhile national defence-chancer or the waxy-faced moron get into power, I'm buying tinned or dried foods and holding up in my attic.
    If they get into a coalition, I'm moving to France, along with everyone who is wealthy, aspirational, values their liberty, safety or job or has a functioning brain.

  • Comment number 23.

    The sooner we get proportional representation into our election system, the sooner we will become a democracy. The Party system means that we are doomed to government by the usual minority - members
    of the highly privileged 'upper' class, whatever Party banner they may wave, Clegg and Cameron are the last people to want to change. Their backgrounds are remarkably similar.
    Here's hoping that Clegg doesn't go down in Political history as "Clegg the Spoiler". If he does it could only
    be proof of the fact that "The people get the Government they deserve"

  • Comment number 24.

    portcullis @ 3

    Mmm, it does look a bit unfair to your poor little Tories (doesn't it?) but if there's sufficient enthusiasm for them, they will still win - and if there is, then so they should. That's the system we have. Same one now as it's always been. It's far more unfair to the Lib Dems - a third of the vote gains only a sixth of the seats. That's the real unfairness. This is the argument for electoral reform - for PR for Westminster - so we don't get this again; so that all votes count equally. Only one way we WON'T get it following this election - an outright Tory victory. So the message is simple and obvious ... Tories vote Tory, but for real and long lasting (structural) change, vote anything BUT Tory.

    Yes?

  • Comment number 25.

    8. At 10:16am on 19 Apr 2010, citizenloz wrote:
    re #3, PortcullisGate.

    Moreover, how will the sheeple react when it becomes suddenly apparent to them that the distorted nature of our electoral system means that the least popular party, and the one they least wanted to govern, has 'won'?

    Wide scale unrest, or just a shrug of the shoulders?

    ==================================================

    They will just be bewildered.

    Most people aren't interested all they want is an easy life.

    The next sheeple outcome will be to blame the electoral system not the false Labour boundaries created by the boundary commission (Who's Chair was that bastion of fairness Speaker Martin. I cant understand how the system favours Labour after Martin ran the show can you?)Or the unequal sized constituencies.

    If this is the outcome a Lib Lab pact then a form of PR will be brought in that means we will have perpetual coalition maybe including the BNP as you have had in Israel where the religious zealots hold the balance of power and become king makers.

    This is what we are faced with as I have now lost any faith in the British electorate to vote on an informed basis.

    But I would say that the media has a lot to answer for.

    They treat the opposition like they have been in power for the last 13 years and can't lay a glove on the Government that has.

  • Comment number 26.

    The LibDems getting into power is about as likely as a volcano going off and grounding all planes in Northern Europe! LOL! What are the chances of that happening?

  • Comment number 27.

    PortcullisGate wrote:

    "Con 31% = 239 seats
    LDs 29% = 103 seats
    Lab 27% = 279 seats
    Others13% = 29 seats

    As can be seen labour comes third but Brown is likely to be back in power as head of a Lib Lab pact."


    Firstly, do not buy in to those 'seat calculator' websites. They only work for swings between Labour and Tory and, for example, utterly failed to predict the Lib Dems doubling their MPs in the 1997 election. They also assume an unrealistic 'uniform national swing'.

    Secondly, in the event of a hung parliament, lots of senior Lib Dems have hinted that the party wouldn't join any coalition. Rather, the largest party would be allowed to form a minority government and the Lib Dems would agree to support them in a budget and vote of no confidence, in exchange for them implementing some Lib Dem policies. But if it were Labour who were the party best placed to form a government, it seems pretty apparent that Gordon Brown's resignation would be one of the key prices Clegg would extract in exchange for any deal. Whatever happens, Brown is finished.

    Thirdly, if you insist on believing those seat calculator models: Lib Dem 36.5%, Con 30%, Lab 24% (only a few percentage points off the current polls) would have the Lib Dems winning the most seats.

    YES WE CAN.

  • Comment number 28.

    I agree with Phil Evans post 16. Nick Clegg and the Libdems are the only party so far to actually talk about policies. I took the time to look at their manifesto and found that I agreed with most of it. So now I know where my vote is going.

    Time for a proper change.

    PS It's so funny to see Labour and the Tories running round like Corporal Jones out of Dads Army shouting "Don't panic, don't panice." Priceless.

  • Comment number 29.

    # Skiptic

    "I thought David Cameron wanted us to vote for change. Liberals back in power after nearly a century sounds like a pretty radical change to me......................"

    I think this really highlights the problem. I think most people do want change, but don't know the best way to achieve it.

    A vote for Clegg could certainly result in a hung parliament, but Labour would still have more seats than the Lib Dems.

    A hung parliament would mean Brown stays as Prime Minister. That would not be a 'radical change'.

    To turn things round, the ship needs a new Captain, not a new First Mate.

  • Comment number 30.

    I wonder if Gordon "Nick agrees with me" Brown is regretting his approach during the debate.

    It would seem so as he's now Gordon "Liberal policies must be exposed" Brown.

    What a wally Brown is.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think it's great that there is a little "Cleggmania" around. He's a refreshing face when put up against the sourpuss Mandy and the masked Brown. I think the Lib Dems have some good policies that need serious consideration and I'm happy that the televised "duel" has brought the party into the thoughts of the general population. We are all far too stuck in our ways - which is part of the problem with our particular democracy. A good election outcome depends on far too few people actually making up their minds. Too many people just vote one way because "they always have and so did their fathers".

  • Comment number 32.

    16. At 10:44am on 19 Apr 2010, Phil Evans wrote

    But I don't think voting Clegg is voting Hung Parliament.

    ================================================

    Sorry but you need to read #3 again if these are the seat outcomes on a massive swing to Libs then Brown is back as the biggest party backed by the Libs in return for PR.

    That looks pretty hung to me.

  • Comment number 33.

    Apart from the proven incompetence (13 years is surely proof enough) of Brown and his freakshow, there isn't any apparent difference between the parties.

    Given the wide range of serious issues that need addressing it is time the parties stopped playing safe. Someone needs to break cover and declare real policy- not just more boring grey waffle.

    The parties are sleepwalking towards more of Brown:

    continued fall in the number of employed Brits;
    increasing numbers of nonworking adults;
    debt increasing;
    increasing state take from the economy;
    increasing labour/stasi control and potential criminalisation of every breath;
    uncontrolled immigration used as a failed attempt to grow the economy.....

    Come on, have some guts and say what you think. Farage can't be the only pol with an opinion.

  • Comment number 34.

    The LD's have the same problem as the Tories; one good-ish speaker, a fall back (Vince for the Libs) and (Will Haigh for the Cons) but some real loose artillery behind them. Chris Huhne must be so cheeesed off with his former rival getting all the attention that I can't see him staying on song for ever - and boy does he try to talk over everyone else in a 3-way discussion. With a bit of luck he'll be confused with Geoff Hoon by the electorate...For the Tories none of their front rowers seem to get the better of 3-way debates - whether it's Philip Hammond or Chris Graying etc.



  • Comment number 35.

    #16 phil evans wrote:
    "if we want to avoid this ludicrous situation again where Labour can come 3rd and "win" we need electoral reform. And the Tories are the only one of the 3 parties opposed to it"

    Correct. However, Labour are not in favour of PR. They say they are in favour of the alternative vote (AV) system, which is by no means a proportional system and may be even less proportional than the present system. There will be opposition to this in the Labour Party as it risks their position as the largest centre-left party.

    I predict there will some serious discussion in the Conservative Party as to whether they should drop their opposition to a 'true' PR system (i.e. not AV).

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm just wondering what will be the first issue that any new government will need to address.

    How about a Sterling crisis that puts all manifesto pledges in the dustbin. The voters of the UK could be playing with fire.

  • Comment number 37.

    A lot of people respect the Lib Dems, especially the intelligence of Vince Cable, but at the end of the day, for all the talk of equity and fairness, will they be able to see what's in front of their very eyes, the fact that the working class in this country has been totally neglected for over 30 years?

    We no longer have a party that represents our views. Instead, we get neoliberal apologists who degrade us, telling us to "get on our bikes" and accusing us of being welfare scroungers, benefits thieves, who are happier to collect their unemployment benefit payments rather than actually look for work due to plain laziness. This is extremely unfair on the large number of working class people who have the work ethic, the skills and the desire to work, but they are just unable to find it.

    Then we get the comparisons with the Polish workers, who it is claimed have a superior work ethic and are willing to work for pittance, and therefore deserve our praise. I respect the Polish workers and all immigrants totally, and I admire their strength of will to come to another country to make a better life. However, remember that a lot of these Polish workers will come to the UK, work for a bit, then go back home, so the fact that the wage their earned here was very low, in real terms it is worth a lot more back in Poland, so they are happy. The working class in this country do not have that luxury.

    So what happens instead? A lot of the working class do prefer to live of benefits rather than find degrading, low paid work. The instant response from the free market apologists is that this is because benefits are too high. But have you considered that wages have actually dropped pitifully low? In fact, they have dropped so low that, for ordinary working class families, it is not sufficient to enjoy even a satisfactory quality of life, and even less sufficient for working class families with children. Then we get neoliberals claim that we lack the skills to be useful to the market, so we deserve everything we get. I submit to you that it is sad day when even basic compassion has been lost on people, so much so that they will allow the market, unregulated, to stick two fingers up at those it doesn't fancy, something that will destroy the very livelihoods of many working class people. It's all well and good saying the market will sort it out, but it is a fact that markets don't always achieve social objectives. I submit that this depression of wages in certain industry sectors for many workers is not a positive social outcome.

    So what is the point of posting this? It is in relation to all this Cleggmania that has swept the UK. I like Nick Clegg, and Cable's economic analysis is always sharp, but I have yet to see them confront the issue of the degradation of the working class in the UK, the depression of their wages, which has coincided with the loss of trade union power (who have no longer been able to provide a countervailing force to prevent the exploitation of the working class through wage depression). Unfortunately, the issue of immigration has to be scrutinised in these terms. Moreover, we need to separate immigrants from immigration. I respect and greatly admire immigrants, I know several wonderful people who have been immigrants to this country, and I abhor the bigotry and hate that is aimed towards immigrants by newspapers like the Daily Mail and Express. The insinuations about how immigrants are somehow polluting our English culture and destroying traditional values are just unfair and morally abhorrent in my view.

    However, I must say, immigration as an economic policy has to be reexamined. Immigration has really adversely affected the working class in this country, with the increased competition for limited jobs, immigrants willing to drive wages down (as a lot of them are saving to send money back home anyway), and the increased demand for housing, public services etc, we have been severely affected by immigration. What should be stressed is that this is NOT the immigrant's fault at all, despite with the Mail may say. It is a failure of the extreme free market philosophy that New Labour have pursued since 1997, because let's face it, mass immigration is in fact a right wing economic policy, and it is lauded by organisations like the CBI, because businesses have greater access to extremely cheap labour, who are willing to work long hours doing degrading, menial work, therefore increasing the businesses' profit margins so they are more than happy.

    Moreover, don't believe that the conservatives would have pursued a different policy on immigration. They are extremely pro-business, so any policy that will aid private enterprise in their pursuit of even more super-normal profit is a policy that the Tories would follow. The only difference is, while Labour have pursued mass immigration with the secondary aim of fostering a diverse, multicultural and tolerant society (an aim I very much admire), the Tories would not aim for any such thing, instead seeing the external social effects of immigration as a necessary evil to aid free enterprise, and as an opportunity to stick two fingers against the unruly working class and their trade union friends, who have caused the Conservatives so much bother over the last 100 years.

    Apologies for the long post, but I really needed to say what a lot of proud, disenfranchised working class people in this country need to say. They are not against immigrants at all, and feel that the immigrants have been as much a victim of the free market doctrine imposed upon us by the ruling political classes (with input from business world) as we, the working class, have been. So, although I am sceptical about Clegg, I will give him a chance. I used to vote Labour (and will probably do so again), but like a lot of people I have become disillusioned with their policies. Something new and fresh may not be a bad idea at all. I implore the Lib Dem activists and councillors to go around the country, especially to the North-East, North-West and inner London, and speak to the working class populations in these regions and hear what WE have to say. If this happens, and subsequently a hung parliament is formed with a lib-lab alliance, there will be a tiny array of hope for the forgotten people in this country. Hopefully, Labour will return at least partially to their roots, and with the Liberal democrats' giving intellectual guidance to the Labour party (in the form of the very impressive Cable and Huhne), we may actually see a fairer, more equitable Britain, a Britain where there is true social mobility, and the a Britain where the working classes especially may once against get their dignity back.

  • Comment number 38.

    Has anyone noticed that Brown is wearing what appears to be an Old Westminster School tie (black with pink stripes) at his press conference this morning? Is he sucking up to Clegg?

  • Comment number 39.

    #13 stanblogger wrote:
    "A government that had to worry about whether it might have to face an election in the near future, would probably not risk forcing unpopular measures through parliament"

    Unfortunately unpopular measures are often the right ones.

  • Comment number 40.

    Clegg is more Jimmy Carter than Barack Obama.
    Why is the nation so unenthusiastic about a Cameron government?
    Is Brown really that bad?

  • Comment number 41.

    What about this scenario:

    A coalition government formed by either the Lib Dems and Conservative and the Lib Dems and Labour, with a red line demand being immediate electoral reform and a referendum on introducing proportional representation.

    A second general election called within a year, as has happened in the past - with parties looking to achieve a majority, and the Liberal Democrats taking power.

    Sounds like a plan to me.

  • Comment number 42.

    A hung parliament would break the mould of british politics for the better. Compromise in politis isn't actually a bad thing. For most people compromise is an adult way to manage their lives with other people.
    An effective polotocal dictatorship that which allows one party to utterly ignore public opinion is a bad thing. If Labour had had to compromise over some of their legislation maybe there would be less of it and it would be workable from the start. The terror legislation is a good example.

  • Comment number 43.

    If use of the patronising and highly-offensive "sheeple" to describe the electorate by supporters of the two main parties on here and elsewhere is indicative of the mindset of their party leadership, then Clegg/the Lib-Dems are on a winner by offering the electorate an alternative to the old guard.

  • Comment number 44.

    I see ol sounbite Brown's at it again, this time calling for an investigation into Goldman Sachs.

    First off, they are an American bank, and primary repsonsibility lies there. Their operations in UK are supposed to be monitored by the FSA, due to El Gordo's magificent tinkering with the regulatory regim in 1997.

    Second, if they have earned money worldwide and want to distrubute some to their employees, that is their concern, and only their concern.

    Third, if they are guilty of some underhand practices, then that is a separate issue. What they are accused of dates back a few years, before the actual collpase of the mortgage market. It is entirely believable that they would have assembled a package of mortgages for re-sale to investing clients. It is highly believable that they might have received input from a certain client, very possibly they might have acquired the assets directly from that client, and earned a fee for that activity. Now, supposedly there are "chiness walls" in place within investment banks, that are designed to prevent the spread of inside knowledge around departments that are supposed to prevent what happened from happening.

    I'm guessing that only lip service was paid to this principle and that the regulators, in US and other markets, were a bit naive in reviewing what happens.

    The sales force in Goldman, it seems, sold all these bonds to a variety of investors. I don't know if they were open about the quality of the asset that were in the package. I wasn't approached, so don't know. All I do know is, buyer beware.

    So the value of the assets went down, and the buyers lost money. The canny hedge fund, whose idea the whole thing seemed to be, made money, as did Goldman's. Is it legal? Seemingly, if Goldman's are to be believed. Is it moral? I'd say no, but I'm a purist.

    Should the regulators have been doing more? Oh yes, but those in the UK have been poorly prepared, ill trained, and lacking in any understanding of what goes on.

    What of the politicians you may ask? Incompetent is the best you can say, I'm afraid.

    After all, El Gordo, the man who exhorts us not to give the job to people with little or no experience, was in exactly that position in 1997, and look where he's got us.

    IMVHO we should put the governor of the Bank of England in charge of the national finances, regardless of which political party wins the election.

  • Comment number 45.

    No22 Tomb123.
    Do you require any help with your packing?

  • Comment number 46.

    Another suggestion - what would happen in the polls if Clegg were to state that he stands by his promise to work with whichever party recieves the bigger mandate, but that in the event of a Lib-Lab coalition he will stipulate that Gordon Brown may not remain as Prime Minister. That would just about seal the deal for many people I've spoken to.

  • Comment number 47.

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

  • Comment number 48.

    Momentum wins votes at every layer of Democracy, The lib Dems have that momentum by the media exposure catalyzed by the debate. The unpopularity and unattractiveness of the incumbent parties, aligned to that you have the expenses scandal, the "posh" portrayal/actuality of Dave and George, a tired gavernment dominated by a non-charasmatic unelected leader and all, does not make it impossible given the X factor of the TV viewing public via the debates that Nick Clegg could push the Lib Dem % of vote well beyond the 37.5% share that I estimate they need to form the next government.

    By far the most interesting aspect of the latest opinion polls with the Lib Dems running 4 and 5% more than Labour: does the party with the most seats call the tune or does such a clear preference in votes give Nick Clegg the moral authority to visit the queen?

    Either way, The Lib Dems have so much momentum especially amongst the disaffected, where they are in the polls won't be reversed and its more likely that their numbers will continue to climb through to polling days.

  • Comment number 49.

    A General Election of increasing irrelevence to Scotland.

  • Comment number 50.

    27. At 11:09am on 19 Apr 2010, molinette wrote:
    PortcullisGate wrote:

    "Con 31% = 239 seats
    LDs 29% = 103 seats
    Lab 27% = 279 seats
    Others13% = 29 seats

    As can be seen labour comes third but Brown is likely to be back in power as head of a Lib Lab pact."


    Firstly, do not buy in to those 'seat calculator' websites.
    ==================================================

    What are your seat outcomes then?

  • Comment number 51.

    Only the Conservative party is close enough to displace Labour and they need to take about 70 seats from Labour to do it. Those who want to see the most incompetent and mendacious government in the great history of these islands removed from office must vote Conservative. Cameron is not perfect but he is our only hope.

    Nick Clegg advocates change and it will be, but for the worse. He will simply join Brown and keep the clunking fist in office until the coalition collapses in bickering. In the meantime our national decline will gather pace with a combination of drift and policies that are either bad, unworkable or both.

    So, if you want to see Gordon Brown returned vote Labour or Lib Dem on May 6th. Otherwise, vote Conservative. Everything else is merely a distraction.






  • Comment number 52.

    I agree with Roy (#41)

  • Comment number 53.

    All gone a bit quiet on the 'tory toffs' front from the newlabour apologists.

    And how come sagamix, of all people, the UNITE sponsored Brown supporter has suddenly switched to a party run by someone educated at Caldicot, Westminster and Cambridge?

    Are we finally recognising that we have some of the finest primary, secondary and tertiary education in the world in this country and that the people who atttend them, be they newlabour, libdem or tory, really are 'born to lead' .... after all, it's not just a question of them not choosing their education, they didn't choose to be born either.

    Ho Hum. Gordon Brown; born to bore us all to tears with tractor production, or Cleggy and Cameron; born to lead.

    So it's a libdem toff or a tory toff then? How refreshing.

    Taxi for Brown!

  • Comment number 54.

    33. At 11:21am on 19 Apr 2010, myneerkop wrote:

    increasing state take from the economy;

    uncontrolled immigration used as a failed attempt to grow the economy.....

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Those two ideas are in ways contradictory. If we have increased state control of the economy, then stronger regulations and caps on immigrations can be implemented, rather than the free market working its magic by allowing the free movement of labour across borders. With a stronger state control of the economy, the ability to bring immigrant numbers right down is more feasible.
    I should stress that I am absolutely not against immigrants, and in fact I am not against immigration at all. But MASS immigration, and the levels we have seen in this country, have not had a positive effect on certain socioeconomic classes, and we need to reverse the situation, out of necessity, not because of xenophobia or because the Daily Mail say immigrants are ruining our way of life blah blah etc.

  • Comment number 55.

    "the biggest load of media-driven nonsense since the funeral of Diana"

    The BBC quote the Sun poll today, stating fieldwork was done on Saturday and Sunday. The BBC conclude, "It suggests the bounce Mr Clegg received after his widely-praised performance in Thursday's inaugural televised prime ministerial debate, is enduring."

    The debate was late Thursday night. Support that extends to Saturday and Sunday is now considered to be "enduring" by the BBC!

    What a load of tosh. If the support is still there in a few weeks the BBC can claim it is enduring, but after 2/3 days?

  • Comment number 56.

    No Robin since the Lib Dem surge. Getting a little worried - anyone know where they've taken him? I've got grapes and I'm anxious to visit.

  • Comment number 57.

    I'm usually quick to defend claim's of your impartiality Nick, despite you being so close to politics..

    "Let me stress that I am not - repeat, not - comparing Nick and Vince with the Jedward twins."

    ..but you just have though, haven't you? The negative suggestion is now out there.

    And as for the rest of you and this "sheeple" lark, doesn't this at least prove people can take an interest in politics? What exactly do you want to happen next?

  • Comment number 58.

    This Liberal Democrat "bounce" is the most ridiculous thing I've seen in politics... and that's saying something!

    Are the British public seriously saying that a single (or even three)ninety minute TV debates is enough for them to decide that Nick Clegg is the man for them? Yes... he did best of the three in the first debate... but he had an open goal (because the other two were obliged to attack each other) and the advantage of being able to expose only the 'palatable' Liberal Democrat policies into his snipes from the sideline.

    This is X-Factor politics and it is seriously unbecoming of one of the oldest democracies in the world. Nick Clegg is "the most popular party leader since Winston Churchill" - what a ridiculous bunch of sheep we all are if this is deemed to be true following one TV debate. Shame on us all.

    Ultimately, this will do no more than deliver a Lib/Lab hung parliament and, after thirteen years of Labour, I hope that the British public are genuinely cognisant of exactly what that means.

  • Comment number 59.

    If anyone thinks politics has been dirty recently, just wait till you get a hung parliament and all the wheeler-dealing of coalition politics. The times when governments have got measures through by means of a shabby deal with a minority party - often one of the Ulster parties - have always provoked outrage, and rightly so. Posters here who think a hung parliament will somehow lead to a purer form of politics are being hopelessly naive.

  • Comment number 60.

    So we need some scrutiny of the Lib Dems policies:

    Bank taxes. I'm as furious as everyone else about how the banks played fast and lose with our money, and behaved so irresponsibly. taxing them to death sounds like fun, and would certainly be popular. But there is a reason both labour and tories have shied away from this - and its not for childish reasons of protecting friends. Its because we would be cutting our nose off to spite our face. Love 'em or loathe 'em, the banks are essential to our recovery. Lib Dems = Bad Policy

    Trident. £100 billion saving over 25 years. By Labour argument such a large scale project would be a boost to the economy, so scrapping Trident would lose us money. Without argument, there are a lot of highly skilled jobs on the line if Trident is cancelled. Why is spending money on hospitals seen as investment yet spending money on such a vital, strategic defence system is seen as waste? If Trident is cancelled we will NEVER get it back - technically and politically it would be impossible. Can we be sure that we will NEVER need the deterrent of nuclear weapons. WW2 was only two of my life times ago and yet it is impossible for me to imagine how that situation could occur. Equally I can not begin to imagine what the world will be like in another 70 years. It is absolutely vital we keep and replace Trident. Lib Dems = Bad Policy

    Redistribution of wealth. Lib Dem tax proposals are socialist in their redistribution, far far more so than Labour's plans. I fully accept that the super wealthy (footballers, bankers etc) are now obscenely rich, but wholesale redistribution does not encourage the hard work that the country so badly needs from us all. Lib Dems = Bad Policy

    Pensions tax. Lack of money in our old age is one of the biggest single prblems this country faces. Taxing pensions is totally the wrong thing to do if you want to encourage folk to start paying more in to them. Quite absurd. Lib Dems = Bad Policy

    I haven't checked them out recently, but suspect that transport and drugs policies are also 'potty'. Personally I'm not bothered one way or another about sterling or Euro's, but how many recent Lib Dem converts are aware, or have remebered, the staunch pro-Europe stance? And what of their views on the monarchy/republicism?

    The Lib Dem party provide an excellent way of developing innovative new ideas, but so many of them don't stand up to scrutiny. Their only core value is a belief that there must be another way, to rebel against the mainstream and promote the alternatives. Great for a think tank. Rubbish for government.

  • Comment number 61.

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

  • Comment number 62.

    This is ridiculous!!! I must have been watching a different program on a different planet! I thought Clegg was lightweight and did not say anything of consequence. Much of what he did say was simply a rehash of what Cameron had already said. I found his comments such as "the more these two argue, the more they sound the same" was embarrassing playground pointscoring. Sucking up to the electorate like a goody goody. PATHETIC. He was clearly shy of telling us much of the detail of many of the LibDems harebrained policies. Join the Euro, Mansion Tax, more integration into Europe, cancel Trident replacement (what a time in the world's affairs to say that)and his fanciful "Tax breaks". This Clegg nonsense is over hyped by the media, much as Cablemania was (and what an advert for vain pomposity that was!) It really is true. Like it or not, a vote for the LibDems is effectively a vote for Labour. I have to have more faith in my fellow countrymen than to believe that they REALLY want 5 more years of Brown and his ghastly government that has placed us all and our children and grandchildren under a surveillance State carrying a millstone of suffocating debt. If you have any sense, vote for the Conservatives and Cameron.

  • Comment number 63.

    Ultimately, this will do no more than deliver a Lib/Lab hung parliament and, after thirteen years of Labour, I hope that the British public are genuinely cognisant of exactly what that means.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think a large percentage of the British public know exactly with a Tory victory would mean as well, which would be savage cuts to public services, and a concept of "Big Society" that would simply be a prelude to mass privatisation. Big society is merely a euphemism for "do it yourself", as the government cedes its responsibility to provide important services and support the less fortunate people in our society, who are the losers in our competition driven rat race.

  • Comment number 64.

    My biggest concern is the poll shift being as a direct result of the televised debate. If the election outcome is determined on a media-led presidential style TV job interview then that is pretty poor. The electorate must remember that they are voting to elect a government, with the Prime Minister being leader of that government. They are not voting to elect a Prime Minister directly. If that were the case then Gordon Brown would never have been PM as he has never been directly elected.

    It seems the majority of the public only wake up when it is possible vote for something that they can see on their TV screens. Maybe by the time the next election comes around we will simply have to press the 'Red Button' on the remote to place our vote, or maybe we could use a clapometer.

    My advice to all would be to take things back as close to home as possible. Look at what your constituency candidates offer and decide whether or not they will be a good representative for the area in which you live.

  • Comment number 65.

    27. At 11:09am on 19 Apr 2010, molinette wrote

    Thirdly, if you insist on believing those seat calculator models: Lib Dem 36.5%, Con 30%, Lab 24% (only a few percentage points off the current polls) would have the Lib Dems winning the most seats.

    =======================================================

    If you can win under FPTP why do you want to fix the system with PR.

    You must like elections

    Can you tell me how many elections Israel has had since 1947?

    I believe its nearly one a year since Israel was created.

    So much for coalition and PR.

    The Bond markets and currency markets are waving bye bye as we speak.

  • Comment number 66.

    54#

    "With a stronger state control of the economy, the ability to bring immigrant numbers right down is more feasible."

    Just for avoidance of doubt, can you expand on that? How do you reconcile these two things?

  • Comment number 67.

    # 58 Shepscape

    "This is X-Factor politics and it is seriously unbecoming of one of the oldest democracies in the world"

    Welcome to Cleggoland

    With Brown now offering to give children the vote, expect the X-Factor approach to become the norm.

  • Comment number 68.

    Speaking as a Clegg, I think Cleggmania is wonderful. It's about time that we had a Clegg in Number 10. Cleggs around the world are right behind you, Nick.

    Patricia Clegg

  • Comment number 69.

    #23. At 11:00am on 19 Apr 2010, Pamela Read wrote:
    "The sooner we get proportional representation into our election system, the sooner we will become a democracy. The Party system means that we are doomed to government by the usual minority - members
    of the highly privileged 'upper' class, whatever Party banner they may wave, Clegg and Cameron are the last people to want to change. Their backgrounds are remarkably similar.
    Here's hoping that Clegg doesn't go down in Political history as "Clegg the Spoiler". If he does it could only
    be proof of the fact that "The people get the Government they deserve"

    Forgive me for pointing it out, but won’t PR also be on a party system?

    The difference here will be that all the national votes will be counted, and then MPS allocated to represent seats based upon their party's share of the overall vote.

    Seems to me that the party bosses will get to decide who gets what seat, and it won’t be any more democratic than the existing system. Plus, there is the probability that you may have an MP allocated to your constituency who doesn’t represent your views, nor the views of the majority of the people who live in the constituency, and voted in the constituency.

    However, I also have to say I’m a bit bemused by your overall approach. You propose PR, yet are opposed to Clegg, who is the only leader promoting PR. El Gordo’s professed preference is not anything like what the Lib Dems want.


  • Comment number 70.

    Re Roy @ 46

    The question is whether the mandate is in seats or votes?

    Which of the old parties would have achieved a moral victory?

    The one with the most seats or the one with most votes.

    I think that Nick Clegg should tell us

  • Comment number 71.

    #63 PasstheParcel

    You say "Big society is merely a euphemism for "do it yourself", as the government cedes its responsibility'

    No, I think you are quite wrong about this. 'Big Society' is the antidote to the Big State, where this Labour Government feels the need to micromanage every aspect of our daily lives, taking away responsibility and choice from the individual.

    As a result, people begin to feel that they don't count any more, nothing they do can make a difference.

    Apart from the sinister aspects of Labour's nanny/surveillance Big Brother State, having all responsibility removed from people is corrosive and disempowering.

    Perhaps you have lots of faith in our government - believing they always know what's best for us. No point giving people choices, because they cannot be trusted to live their own lives.

    But I believe that Government should be there to serve US, not the other way round.

    Power to the people....

  • Comment number 72.

    It seems a bit early after one debate to assess how well Clegg and the Lib Dems will do. Just being on an even footing with the other two parties and getting equal exposure (for once) was in hindsight bound to give them a push. And both Brown and Cameron seemed not to have thought through the consequences. Next time they will be more prepared, and it will be very interesting to see how Clegg responds.
    The great thing is, though, whatever happens now, this seems to have re-energised many peoples' interests in the political debate and at last helped to move on from the spirit of all out cynicism.
    But Cameron will need to improve his response from today's claim that voting LibDem will keep Labour in. That whiffs of a desperate threat to the voting public, and I also find it quite patronising. The electorate are well-informed enough to make their decision on who to vote for based on the likely end impact at both local and national levels.

  • Comment number 73.

    It's all very depressing.

    Bearing in mind that 9 million watched the TV debates, it means that most did not, so the Lib-Dem surge is based on people believing 2nd hand reports about what happened and being prepared to vote for the Lib-Dems having no knowledge of their policies.

    The Lib-Dems have always had the advantage of being able to say just about anything, largely on the basis that they'd never have to put their policies into practice. Now they might have to.

  • Comment number 74.

    I dont get this poll thing that is being used to push Nich down our throats. I think it was Mail that said that they hade received an opinion from 500 voters and based on that Nick was winning. I am sure the other polls will have had similar number of voters. That is not representative of the 60M+ population in any way and therefore this poll thing is a complete lie if you report only the percentages and not the numbers. More so the people who voted will be the tech savvy people who will one again make up a tiny fraction. So, my request to media, please stop pushing this down as something like a nations decision. I think we have had enough of being driven around by the media over the last few years.

  • Comment number 75.

    "With a stronger state control of the economy, the ability to bring immigrant numbers right down is more feasible."

    Just for avoidance of doubt, can you expand on that? How do you reconcile these two things?
    ===========================================================================

    Perhaps my wording is a bit sloppy here admittedly. Maybe it's not direct state control of the economy that will bring immigration numbers down, but what we need to realise is that mass immigration is a right wing economic policy. It is in effect the free, unregulated working of the free market that helps fuel mass immigration. I know this is too simplistic, because abiding by EU regulations on the free movement of labour also contribute, but if the government takes a bigger role in controlling the borders, we will probably see immigration numbers decrease. Of course, this is not the same as saying we need the government to direct all economic activity, but it's an acceptance that the free market's powers have to be curbed.

  • Comment number 76.

    37#

    Heartfelt stuff and eloquently put, but with our place in Europe being what it is, one of the cornerstones of it recently has been the free movement of labour across the member nations. As you rightly point out, this has led to lower than average wage inflation over the last 12 years or so.

    Now regardless of which party you think may stick two fingers up at the working class, I dont see how you're going to address the root of that particular problem unless you remove the catalyst, which is some people are prepared to work longer and harder for less than others. How are you going to remove the right of those from other EU states to move freely in and out of the UK and other nations to work without huge legislative change?

  • Comment number 77.

    @GlawsCroucher
    Up to a point I'd agree that we don't want to see a disproportionate skew in voting from a TV debate. BUT, if the alternative is a far more strongly skewed vote influenced by Ashcroft/Murdoch on one side and unions on the other, then I'd take the debate any time. It's not the right platform, but at least it's fairer (to the three biggest parties at least...)

    What's really needed is electoral reform and fair party funding. Only then can we feel that our votes are our own and that they count for fair, proportional representation in government.

    Much of this feeling that MPs are needed to stand up for local issues is misplaced too - the really local things are overseen by local councillors. For the bigger stuff happening locally, it's almost always over the head of the local MP anyway, despite their campaigning - e.g. the big planning decisions end up with the secretary of state.

  • Comment number 78.

    Nick,

    If the parties roughly have equal proportions of the vote at the end of the process, we should have a short -lived parliament which organises electoral reform then go back to the electorate and seek their honest opinion about who should govern for the duration of a parliament rather than embedding an unfair distribution for 5 years. Surely that is the least the Lib Dems can seek in any hung parliament?

  • Comment number 79.

    Don't know what all the fuss is about as all of this is really simple.

    If you owned a shop and put a manager in to run it you'd want someone intelligent and educated who's entire focus is on working for you to make sure you get the very best return!

    The UK ultimately is just a shop on the world market. Currently under Labour it's almost bankrupt and unfortunately the Lib Dems while they present ever so nicely are really only selling snake oil! A hung parliament would simply be a number of managers running the shop which would mean we'd never sell anything as they'd all be too busy working out what to sell and arguing amongst them selves.

    That leaves only one safe option the conservatives, love them or hate them if we wish the GB shop to stay in business we need to vote for them.

  • Comment number 80.

    I like that Mr Clegg, he did well good in that debate and ting... plus libdems is gonna leagalise innit, that what my mate munroe said, and his dad reads papers and ting so is pretty clued up...

  • Comment number 81.

    Cleggmania - so we do want a public schoolboy in charge after all!!
    Let's wait and see how the next two debates pan out - oh, and the real business of election canvassing. I also think that there is plenty of time for Lib Dem policies to buckle a little under scrutiny.
    Not against a fresh voice and attitude in British politics and I don't think stressing the 'fear' factor is the right response for either Tories or Labour to play - particularly the former. People want to vote for something, not against something - unless, of course it's against MPs ...
    Let's be very clear, however, what we will get if the Tories don't win an outright majority (and I'm not saying they deserve to right at the minute). We'll get some kind of Lab-Lib (in that order) crock who will spend at least 18 months staring at their navels.
    Neither will tackle the deficit - who wants, as a party, never mind two parties, to be associated with that for evermore. It'll be the devil's own job to shift Brown - even if he agreed, by some miracle, to fall on his sword, who'd you get instead? Mandelson.
    Voting reform? Not a chance, at least not willingly.
    The idea that Lab-Lib would be some kind of fresh, post-Brown dawn is little short of laughable. The culture of spin, obfuscation, lies, taking us for mugs will ratchet up a couple of notches at least - there'll be plenty more people to undermine, a whole new party!!
    Lib-Con might work better, but even though Clegg is on the right of his party, I can't see him having the clout to drag the left wing into that - even if he wished it.
    My guess is Cleggmania will die down, with minority parties as a whole holding some power balance post May 6th. The Tories need at least a seven point swing - unless they convince enough people to vote 'for' them they won't get it. I can't see that happening unless Cameron can get a clear, wider and more specific message across. So people will come to realise rather swiftly that it is rather more difficult to get rid of Brown in our system as they had imagined - and they won't thank the Lib Dems any for 'no change'.
    My bet is that there will be a second election before too long. Main question will be whether, in advance of that, Labour rushed through electoral reform as some kind of death throes attempt to keep the Tories out of power, permanently. Will probably work ... so much for a fresh approach ...

  • Comment number 82.

    After countless comparisons between Brown and Churchill by the BBC (especially by Nick Robinson) where the BBC has spent the last year or so constantly saying that Brown is a Churchill figure who's been saving the nation/planet, I bet this headline from the Telegraph (and other papers) really irks the BBC, because not only does it make a comparison with Churchill that doesn't involve brown/labour, it also compares Brown to Stalin.

    Perhaps you'd like to resurrect your "Brown is Churchill, he's saving the planet/economy/country" line now, Nick, and see how far you get.

  • Comment number 83.

    20#

    Sout, you're being very mischevious. It wont, you know, no matter how much you might wish for it.

    Just remember that there is a difference between the number of votes cast and the number of seats won and the sizes of the constituencies... depending on how their support holds up - and it does seem to be fairly constant - its not beyond possibility that it would damage NL more.

    As well as being inherently unstable by design, as the Italians have found over the last 60 years.

  • Comment number 84.

    50. At 11:41am on 19 Apr 2010, PortcullisGate wrote:

    "What are your seat outcomes then?"

    I have none. FPTP is unfair when there are two bigger parties, but then becomes very erratic when that becomes three or more. That's why I don't trust those websites. In Canada in 1993, Kim Campbell's Conservatives went into the election as the government and finished with only 2 seats, something like 1% of the total, despite getting about 20% of the votes. We need to get rid of this ridiculous and archaic system and bring in something that genuinely reflects how the British people are choosing to vote. The two old parties aren't offering that, the best bet to get it is to vote for Nick Clegg and his Lib Dems.

  • Comment number 85.

    Look,we know the Lib-Dem vote is shallow,that it accelerates during election periods due to media exposure and is highly volatile with a lot of churning between parties.

    What has happened now is that all these established trends have come together. The catalyst was the leader`s debates,the underling tensions leading to the surge reflect contempt for parliament and the economic crisis.

    Clegg`s "Two old parties" rhetoric plays to all these constituencies,there was Clegg`s performance last Thursday,then the Lib_Dems emerge from the expenses scandal relatively clean and Vince Cable makes populist sense on the economy.

    I disagree that negative campaigning or "The politics of fear" will reverse the Lib_Dem surge.Far better to compartmentalize the electorate into specific interest groups,then project detailed assessments of their needs and anxieties.This is a chipping away policy rather than grandstanding on vague promises of change, but I see no alternative.Clegg has fired up the campaign,Brown and especially have to show grace under pressure.

  • Comment number 86.

    T&P#

    I for one, welcome Brown's call for an investigation into Goldman Sachs.

    Maybe he could ask Gavyn Davies to investigate?

    For many years he, Gordon Brown, has been advised by Gavyn Davies, who made some £150 million during his period as a Goldman Sachs partner.

    It was Davies who last year urged Gordon to implement Mugabenomics; turn on the printing presses and call it quantitative easing. Davies has been a big donor to the Labour Party and a long-term supporter.

    Davies’ wife Sue Nye was Gordon’s private secretary in Downing Street and they are known to be good friends.

    Questions that the Goldman Sachs special investigator should get answers to:

    * Exactly how many boardroom lunches and suchlike did Gordon Brown have with Goldman Sachs figures?
    * During the many lunches Gordon had with Goldman Sachs did he discuss policy or matters which they were able to exploit to their advantage in the markets?
    * Goldmans were known to be major sellers of gold before Brown announced his extraordinarily ill-conceived plan to sell the Bank of England’s gold reserves.
    * Gavyn Davies was an adviser to Gordon Brown during this period. Did he recommend, advise on or know anything of the intended gold sales policy? Did Sue Nye know of the intention to sell gold?

  • Comment number 87.

    Seldom have I read such a collection of peevish sour grapes, from died in the wood supporters of the status quo. Just because the "Dave and Gord" show failed to ignite enthusiasm from the electorate, and that as a result the young whipper-snapper has had the audacity to have impressed the voters, the electorate are by and large labelled dumb idiots!!

    I was amazed by Cleggs performance, in so far as he listened to the arguements of the other participants, and spoke directly to the audience and viewers directly. Surely Liberal Democrat policies will be put under more scrutiny during the coming weeks, and that scrutiny will decide whether we get a coalition of the Lib Dems with a.n.other, or if one of the other two gets an overall majority.

  • Comment number 88.

    I think its time to revisit the important point of this election, the economy, stupid.

    Apparently it is expected to remain in the doldrums well into next year. In other word, no growth is expected. I’m not certain whether we will get another technical recession, but it will probably feel like it.

    Under those circumstances, what do we want? Failed policies being repeated, or a fresh approach?

    Throwing public money at the problem hasn’t produced good results. The problem persists, and is getting worse.

    Procrastination, Labour’s preferred approach, isn’t going to produce relief, nor is it going to improve the situation.

    Let’s be clear. The budget deficit this year is in excess of £160 bn. It was greater than that for the last two years. That’s us spending more money than we’ve got coming in. Now if you pin your hopes on economic growth providing an assist in cutting that deficit, and it doesn’t come, then you have nothing left to offer.

    But let’s focus on this expectation of an improvement in the economy. If it improves, the major benefit to the treasury is a rising tax take. So if some part of £160 bn represents a tax take, and that tax is at 20%, then the actual economy has to grow by a factor of 5 times whatever the take is. So if it were to produce the whole deficit, the growth in activity would be of the magnitude of £800 bn.

    Now I don’t live in cloud cuckoo land, and I’d like to know which industries in the UK could grow at that kind of rate. I’m always looking for a good investment opportunity.

    Failing that growth, we have to reduce the budget deficit by raising taxes (can anybody afford them?) or cutting spending. One or the other.

    Doing nothing doesn’t make the problem go away, and in fact increases the size of the problem for later. The UK has public sector debt of over £1 trillion. The annual interest charge on that is £50 billion. That is the first figure that has to go into the chancellor's budget preparation for each year that no reduction in debt occurs. If we don’t pay it, then our line of credit will be cut off.

    The more borrowing we are forced into doing, the more interest we have to pay, and it's insidious, as anybody who doesn’t pay off their full credit card debt each month can testify.

    Yet here we are with everybody criticising the conservatives for being the only people who want to do the right thing now, and start cutting.

    I know which solution I prefer.

  • Comment number 89.

    Is Cameron not getting the point? Or is the man just an embarrassment?
    He says the country cannot allow more than Labour and the Conservatives to continue as the have been doing for one hundred years or so! This is a two party mess, with most MPs becoming rich and feathering their nests at every possibility!

    Yes we can!

    ...and to think this man met Obama, what a waste of time!

    He wants to form a goverment with 33+ % of the vote! That would mean 66% of the English are the minority? What a Banana state!

    If Mr. Cameron wants a two party system, then he should withdraw the Conservatives from the Elections!
    What about a two party system with the Liberals and the Greens for a while?
    Cameron promised he would fight against the Lisbon treaty, now Sarcozy and his groupie Mergel decide what happens in the EU and the British have nothing to say... and big-mouthed Cameron has done nothing to stop the undemocratic actions of Brown, forcing the British to eat European leftovers... some people might call this treacherous!
    If Brown or his lackey Cameron try to bring this as a weapon against the Liberals, it'll be one of the biggest joke since Thatcher smiled at Callaghan!

    One thing I don't understand... If the Clegg/Liberals have been shouted out of parlament until now by Labour and the Conseratives and this has not been stopped by the speaker of the house... does that not imply that the Speaker is not doing his job and if so, should he be fired for collusion?

  • Comment number 90.

    Just saw Sarah Teather (Lib Dem) on the Politics show.

    She REPEATEDLY refused to confirm or deny whether the Lib Dems would back Gordon Brown and enable him to return to power in the event of a hung parliament.

    Personally, I believe that this is a VERY VALID QUESTION, and am a little disappointed that the Lib Dems are not making good their promise to be open with the electorate.

    This is a FUNDAMENTAL issue - knowing how a vote could affect the power of Gordon Brown is very important to many people.

  • Comment number 91.

    @14

    While MSP's get to vote in both parliaments the SNP should probably keep it's trap shut about political unfairness.

  • Comment number 92.

    22.

    Good luck and good riddance. The less people like you there are in this country the better.

  • Comment number 93.

    At last people are waking up and finding that this election is no longer a two year phoney war but a real chance to do something they've been asking for for so long but eventually gave up on.

    The present hysteria over Clegg is a natural reaction now that they feel they are in control and can play about with these politicians for at least another two weeks until they have to think seriously who they want in control.

    The state of the economy will always come back as the only election issue for unless the country's finances are sorted out everything else will be meaningless.

    After all if LIB DEMS had had their way we would have been part of the Eurozone by now and would not have been able to devalue our currency and print our own money to stem the problems caused by the credit crunch.

    That would have left us in a position where we would have been in a far worse state than Greece Ireland and the rest all put together.

    A very sobering thought indeed which is enough to shake anyone out of their fun and frolics.



  • Comment number 94.

    70. CramondFC17 wrote: The question is whether the mandate is in seats or votes?

    I'm not surprised that Clegg hasn't tied himself to a firm formula here - because we all know its a weak system with a massive grey area. If we arrive at a situation where there is a different party satisfying each of those criteria, then there needs to be an amount of judgement involved - considering the results constituency by consituency and interpreting the true mandate, stripping away tactical voting etc.

    I don't believe Clegg is being evasive by not setting out a clear formula - simply pragmatic. And why should it even make that much difference? The key point, which he has been clear about, is that they do not have a favourite in mind who they will side with against the wishes of the electorate.

  • Comment number 95.

    I'm not sure I get this "lib dem policies will fail under examination" argument. The Tories won't let anyone examine their policies and Labour's have obviously failed some time ago. Those in who live glass houses etc.

  • Comment number 96.

    I thought I would add, as Nick Robinson didn't get it from the manifesto launches or the debate itself, he states: Clegg no one knows what to think.

    Nick, I think you are almost if not more tied up in the Westminster bubble than the politicians you are reporting on.

    As one who has taken good advantage of the Gambling industry generous odds, its not hindsight but simple political analysis when the Tories can't get to over 40% in the polls against the tired unelected Brown's administration in the months leading up to the election. The Tories opened the campaign with a series of gimmicks and then the weakest manifesto they could possibly have had with Dave admitting that he hadn't got a clue, that his and other parties had been conning the public for over 40 years, so the best way forward was to elect him so he could roll out a DTY Big Society.

    Both Labour and Conservative parties are unelectable in the eyes of a great many of the electorate. In what were marginal seats, there will be more tactical voting than ever. Former Tories voting Lib Dems and Labour voting Lib Dems. And newly found Clegg Lib Dems voting Lib Dems.

    As I wrote immediately after the debate it is very likely we are seeing the biggest upset in British political history - and that should not be so surprising.

  • Comment number 97.

    #71, hear hear!

    The more the State does the more money it costs, which means the less of our own money we have to spend on the things that matter to us.

    In simplistic terms, if I find a "needy person" (however I choose to define "needy") and give them £100 then I am £100 worse off and they are £100 better off. If I let the government do it they take my £100, soak up some of it in administration, lose some of it in benefit fraud, and give the remaining £70 or so to someone they consider to be "needy".

    The same applies everywhere. The government tries to break everything down to individual level, so each of us is responsible for ourselves and only ourselves. This serves to build walls between us as each of us takes out insurance for one event after another, afraid that if "something happens" we'll be left on our own unable to cope. By reducing the role of the State we get to keep more of our own money - this not only makes us more likely to be able to cope (financially at least) with the events that life throws at us, but also more able to help others around us who are on the receiving end of unexpected events.

    Of course it also enables us to make choices for ourselves, so the person who frustrates us with the huge stereo they bought on credit shortly before losing their job might not receive so much of our sympathy until they start to behave in a more socially considerate manner.

  • Comment number 98.

    Anthony North wrote:

    "Strange campaign, I have to say,
    Composite Tory, many ideas he strays,
    Fog-filled Brown, for my vote he begs,
    National government?
    That would be Compo, Foggy and Clegg"


    You mean we still haven't supped the last of this tricolor Spring whine?

  • Comment number 99.

    Clegg criticises the other two parties for the expenses scandal but failed to mention that the last Liberal Government sold honours openly.
    Oh well, that would be one way of solving the deficit problem!

  • Comment number 100.

    Proportional representation could achieve several goals in one.

    Instead of nationwide proportional representation we could implement it on a more local level. We could merge, say, 5 constituencies into one and allow it to elect 4 MPs. The major parties might put up four candidates each, the minor parties might put up fewer candidates, and independents could still stand as they do now. With a transferable vote system we could vote for up to four candidates each, our votes being transferred according to our wishes if our preferred candidates were eliminated from voting.

    This would firstly reduce the number of MPs by 20% at a stroke (and achieve the corresponding savings), allow proportional representation while maintaining a direct link between MPs and their constituents, and also allow people to express their preference for minority parties while still also keeping their say which of the major parties should be elected if their first choice had inadequate support.

    It would also allow us to vote for multiple MPs to reflect our preferences. For example my political leanings are towards the Conservatives, but I find myself impressed by Vince Cable. If my "super-constituency" options included Mr Cable I could vote for Conservative candidates to reflect my desires at a national level while also offering one of my votes to Mr Cable to reflect my desire to see him returned to Parliament.

    If needs be we could allow some of the 20% of MPs rendered obsolete by the constituency merger to be elected on the basis of the total popular vote at a nationwide level, to allow surplus votes for successful candidates and votes for unsuccessful candidates to still carry at least some weight.

 

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