BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Head v hearts

Nick Robinson | 10:26 UK time, Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Numbers versus instinct.

No contest, you might think.

After all, all recent Lib Dem leaders - David Steel, Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell - have all reached political maturity in opposition, if not antagonism, to the Tories

Nick Clegg and Gordon BrownThe deputy leader Vince Cable has hinted that he would have stayed in the Labour Party - he once co-wrote a pamphlet with Gordon Brown - if he hadn't moved to London where the so-called "loony Left" had taken the party over.

Many of the party's leading veterans and founders - Baroness (Shirley) Williams and Lord (Tom) McNally - were senior figures in the last Lib-Lab pact.

Since the party failed to make a northern breakthrough against Labour, more of its MPs and activists see the Conservatives as the enemy.

So, why can you not assume that Nick Clegg will march into Gordon Brown's cabinet today?

The answer is his own declared objective to form a "strong and stable" government. A Lib-Lab coalition would not have a parliamentary majority. Ah, said Paddy Ashdown this morning, but the Tories would never be able to form a blocking majority with the SNP, Plaid and the Unionists. They wouldn't need to. The thing that defeats, exhausts and depresses minority governments is rebellions on their own side, the insistent demands of their allies and the passion of their opponents to run them ragged. Ask John Major or any veteran of the Wilson or Callaghan governments and they'll tell you that.

Now, if there is enough commitment on the Labour side to make this work all those inevitable problems of a minority government could be lived with to build "a progressive alliance".

That, though, is what Lib Dems are asking themselves this morning. Do David Blunkett and John Reid speak for many Labour figures who question the legitimacy of this arrangement and would rather go into opposition and fight the Tories. How many agree with Jack Straw's private doubts about the wisdom of this coalition? Will Ed Balls be more interested in making the new politics work or in securing the leadership of the Labour Party by standing up for his party against their new bedfellows?

As one Lib Dem put it to me - Gordon Brown going was a key that unlocked the door to a deal but it unlocked another door - to a leadership contest in which some candidates will position themselves as hostile to a deal. Another senior figure confessed that if you stripped away the party labels we'd have to go with the Conservative offer as it was so much more substantial.

So, the sincerity with which Labour enters their negotiations this morning and the reaction of the wider Labour movement will determine whether by the end of today the Lib Dems follow their hearts and ignore those nagging doubts in their heads.

Update 12:03: More and more Labour MPs are saying privately that the proposed Lib/Lab deal cannot work.

To understand what this could mean in practice in the Commons, picture the following scene.

It's an hour before midnight. A group of Labour MPs is in the Strangers' Bar in the Commons. It's the latest in a long line of late-night sittings forced on them by the guerilla war run by the Tory whips' office in which they refuse to co-operate with the government. A Labour whip walks in and tells his colleagues that a vote is imminent on a vital amendment to the home secretary's cherished Bill. "You mean Clegg's daft plan?" one asks, downing his pint. "He's not one of ours, is he?" another adds sarcastically while ordering another. "My voters didn't vote for him as far as I can recall," adds a third bitterly.

The whip runs upstairs to tell his boss. The chief whip has just seen dozens of Tory MPs returning from long relaxing dinners - after all, none of them has any government responsibilities to worry about. "I thought you said they'd all gone home," he says to one of the junior whips. "Where are the Nats?" he asks another, to be told that after the chancellor refused to back the New Scotland Growth fund, Alex Salmond's boys chose to take early flights to their constituencies. "What about the Unionists?" he shouts, only to be told that Nick Clegg has offended them with his latest liberal utterance.

The home secretary's PPS is called for and is told to pass him a note warning him that sadly the government hasn't got the votes for his Bill. Nick Clegg pulls out of his pocket the dog-eared photocopy of page 120 of his mentor Paddy Ashdown's diaries. Underlined in red pen three times is one line he wished he'd paid more attention to: "A hung Parliament would not be a dream. It would be a nightmare."

PS: I'm well aware, of course, that much of what I've described could also apply to an uncomfortable Tory/Lib-Dem coalition which was resented or rejected by backbenchers of both parties. The big difference, though, is that it would not be a minority government. It would have a significant Parliamentary majority.


Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    52% voted for liberal and labour policies, 36% for conservative policies. Once proportional representation (every vote counts) is established in the UK, the Conservatives will be finished for a decade.

  • Comment number 2.

    Now we have the prospect of a Lib-Lab pact in an effort to stop the Tory party gaining power, all because the Liberals want electoral reform. How ironic then that such a government will be able to pass legislation affecting England such as education and health using Scottish and Welsh Lib-Lab MP's and where English MP,s cannot do the same in their countries. In England there is a clear majority of Tory MP's it would be immoral for Scottish and Welsh MP's to vote on such legislation affecting England.

    I do not hear any words from Labour or the Liberals on electoral reform to resolve these problems, but they are happy to make use of the anomaly to retain their own power and pass legislation on electoral reform.

    I also note this is a question never posed by Nick Robinson to any of the key figures in this ongoing saga or indeed one that he comments on.

    I am in favour of electoral reform, but real and meaningful electoral reform not just one that will favour only the governing party.

    It must also be noted that an AV or PR system PR of electing MP's might have its merits, but if indeed it stops the Tories for a generation as Labour and the Liberals would like, then it will be very bad for democracy as there will be no effective opposition. The very idea that parliament will be more representative and open will, given the law of unintended consequences, give us a parliament with a very long spell of a centre left coalition with very few changes of MP's at any election. We know the consequences of this and the effects of access to unfettered power. Be careful what you wish for !

  • Comment number 3.

    The LD party will force NC to go with the Labour.

    Election 14/10/2010

    two taxis waiting one for Cleggee and the other for GB.

    GB to lead labour into the next election.

    Bet labour as wishign they ousted GB last year

  • Comment number 4.

    Again we have a outrageous prejudicial press, a press which is self-righteous, hates liberty and open debate. Will the Tories really show they have changed and condemn the Tory press. Bets on they stay silent. On the radio this morning even the confused and so it seems BBC golden boy for some strange reason, Michael Portillo, has to admit to the incompatibility of capitalism and democracy as the rich increasingly benefit over the poor without any social justification. Yet the Tories seek to rule while their paymasters will want their moneys worth back, they do not invest in the Tory Party for nothing. Certainly they do not invest for the accountable of politicians to the electorate. Ethics should come first, not personal profits.

    This is the real issue. Until we have a democracy which acts ethically within a humane and personal understanding then no theoretical ideal of power can work. You either admit that the human condition is condemned or that human nature can transform itself into something better. If for the better than you can not escape ethics.

    On the news this morning they seemed to be saying its best not to take a risk. Join the Tories, sacrifice principle in the national interest for a safe coalition with the Tories. At the same time they try to frighten the British Public as to market reactions. No, principles are in the national interest. Take a risk. Better to stick to principle, lose later in the hope of winning again. The majority of people voted for something better. My vote counts and it wasn't for the Tories.

  • Comment number 5.

    Was going to blog, but Nick has said most of what I would have. Just a thought - Liberal Democracy - surely Nick Clegg is negotiating with two peers (Adonis and Mandelson [and who would trust him?]) and a 'spin doctor' (Alistari Campbell). Liberal Democracy ? WHAT A SHAMBLES!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    The rush by many commentators and disappointed Conservatives to somehow paint the election result as "Scotland voted Labour, but England voted for the Conservatives" is simplistic lazy journalism, to the point of being irresponsible.

    Sally Magnusson's excellent insight on the Conservatives in Scotland highlighted that rather than voting Labour because we are a nation of spongers, many ordinary Scots voted Labour out of a sense of fairness to the wider community, even if a vote for the Conservatives would have made those people better off individually.

    The claim that "England voted Conservative" has to be challenged since the picture is far more complicated. Take Scotland out of the picture and the raw data does indeed show that the Conservatives would have an overwhelming majority, 63 seats more than Labour and the Lib Dems.

    But hang on if it's OK to "ignore" Labour's stronghold in Scotland, it must be fair to do the same for the Conservatives. Jettisoning the diehard Tory voters in the south of England and Labour win both the popular vote and a majority of seats.

    The often quoted “2million votes more” for the Conservatives are all south of England votes from just 2 regions. The more you look at the figures the more it becomes clear that 3 regions of the south of England voted overwhelmingly for the Conservatives, but they performed much worse in the majority of the country…in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Bristol…not a Scottish city among this list by the way.

    So how about independence for the South of England please...we already know Cornwall are keen on it and we don't want your bloated housing market or your bankers...go your own way and chase all the petrified wild animals you like, though I’m sure they will quickly relocate to a more civilised area of the country.

    Better still can we recognise that discarding the views of millions of people just because we don’t like the result isn’t sensible and can we please have a grown up discussion about what is best for the UK. It’s time to stop claiming that Scotland is some sort of political backwater when the figures clearly show we are in tune with the majority of English voters.

    Conservative politicians and commentators might want to start asking that if Mr Cameron's team botched the election and if Mr Cameron's team botched talks with the Lib Dems, what on earth will his team botch if they make it into government?

  • Comment number 7.

    It's certainly a new kind of politics. One that has managed to eclipse the expenses scandal by some distance in its repugnance.

    Looks as though things need to get worse before they get better. I wouldn't fancy being a sitting LibDem MP in the follow-up election though.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's very clear that Clegg is under pressure from his party to do the deal with Labour, not the Tories. This makes true the warning, 'Vote Lib-Dem, Get Labour'.

    Clegg initially said he would deal with the biggest party - the one that got the most votes. That would seem to be the fair thing to do. But now, under pressure from his 'old guard', he looks more likely to sign up to Labour.

    Clegg has campaigned on a 'fair vote' platform. But how fair can it be to conspire with the discredited Labour party to keep the the largest party out of the equation?

    Will the people who voted Lib-Dem now thank Clegg for propping up Labour, when the only party that gained seats was the Tories? I doubt it.

    What this shows very clearly is that you simply cannot trust the Lib Dems. When the chips are down, the old guard will go for party advantage, not what is best for the country - or fairest for the the electorate.

    First-Past-The-Post does throw up some anomalies. that's true. But today we see how hung parliaments and PR simply result in a different and more sinister type of injustice.

    Clegg is not seriously thinking about a coalition in the 'National Interest'. It is a conspiracy to thwart the will of the people for narrow party political advantage.

  • Comment number 9.

    Surely the smart thing to do is for the Tories to make the Lib Dems an offer they can't accept whilst presenting it very publicly as "wide-ranging and generous". That forces Clegg into the welcoming arms of his more natural allies (Labour) and leaves the Tories in a much stronger long-term political position: that of an opposition party that could bring the Government down pretty much at will. The Lib Dems would be seen by the electorate as propping up a failed regeme and would surely be squeezed at the next election and Labour could face the prospect of simultaneously fighting a general election and holding their own leadership ballot. Of course, this scenario assumes - rather cynically - that politicians put themselves and their parties ahead of the national interest so it will probably not happen like this!

  • Comment number 10.

    It’s about policy not personalities! What's happening in the Eurozone this week is at least as significant as the ambitions of our leading politicians.
    It's a common understanding that Lib-Dems are much closer to the Labour Party's vision for our country than to the Conservatives' vision. Moreover, with nearly half the seats, many Tories envision that they have a clear mandate to implement their manifesto in full. And not some other party's priorities.
    We should expect another general election to be called by next Spring as economic and political crisis returns.

  • Comment number 11.

    These politicians are 'playing' with the future of the U.K. No Lib/Lab pact would survive, even if it was agreed.

    The Lib-Dems are now coming across at 'amateurish' and not fit to be a serious party in government.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    A disgrace. Tell me when and where for the demonstrations. I have never felt so let down by my politicians. Even during the expense scandal. This is the future of our country at stake and Labour cannot admit defeat.
    What happened to honour? What happened to the UK?

  • Comment number 14.

    Isn't it interesting that the more we see of Nick Clegg's 'new politics' the more it looks like the same old politics he was so desperately urging us to vote against. People who voted for him on this basis must be kicking themselves. People who voted Lib Dem tactically to keep Labour out must be kicking themselves. People who voted Lib Dem tactically to keep the Conservatives out must have kicked themselves on Friday.

    So if you see someone hobbling - they probably voted Lib Dem. It would be fascinating for someone to do an opinion poll now of how people would vote if there was an election tomorrow.

  • Comment number 15.





    The Lib Dumb activists and triple lock system is highly likely to prevent at best and hamstring at worst any kind of alliance with the blues. Going with the reds instead just shows utterly naked self interest and tribal hatred, above the national interest which they were meant to be a break from.

    Now you can all see why the Libs havent been in power since the 1920's. And, if they back the wrong horse this time, why it'll be another 50 years before they get a sniff of the No10 doormat.

    Cameron meanwhile, has made a rod for his own back by not being a stronger leader during the last 5 years.

    I'm beginning to think my theory of Cameron throwing this election is actually beginning to have some substance. Why else, after what is potentially one of the darkest political days this year, would there just be Michael Gove out there in TV land attempting to spin the tory side? If they were as hacked off as they are entitled to feel, the blue side of the house would be filling virtually every tv screen on every channel... rather odd for a party that won the most seats....

  • Comment number 16.

    It's clear that the Labour party need to step away from power, and I say this as a Labour voter.

    An alliance with the Lib Dems must go against the grain with many in the party, especially with right-leaning Nick Clegg in charge.

    The perfect situation would be the Lib Dems joining with the Tories, a strong Labour leader to come to the fore (D Milliband) and for an election to be called in October (surely the Con-Dems can't hang on to power for very long). Perfect for the Labour party, but unfortunately potentially disasterous for the country.

  • Comment number 17.

    What a stich-up!

  • Comment number 18.

    It would be in the interests of the country if those politicians on all sides not involved with coalition talks kept quiet and let those that are involved get on with the negotiations. Those same "quick to talk" politicians appear to be the only ones who dont want a coalition.
    The country voted for change, so far we havn't seen any.

  • Comment number 19.

    It Is The British Electorate Who Are Truly Progressive:

  • Comment number 20.

    I can't see there's any going back to the Tories for Nick Clegg now that the will of his party has truiumphed over his own need for political expediency.

    Any potential Lib-Con deal has been shown to be ridiculously fragile - whilst a Lib-Lab deal has always been impossibly so.

    Perhaps at the next election we can have a proper debate on how to deal with the deficit.

  • Comment number 21.

    They are welcome to each other.

    A hornet's nest of competing ideological claptrap and a never ending thirst for ruinous levels of taxation to fund their pet projects.

    They will tear themselves to pieces. It will be some spectacle.

    Clegg is a tart, as described by both the troy MP for Shipley and David Blunkett. They all have the apperance of silly students who can't believe they got the keys to the common room.

    Does Clegg really want to be in government? Or is he just adept at trumpeting 'change' ... when the only change to be delivered by any government for the next five years will be the implosion of public spending.

    He's set himself up with his endless ranting about change than can deliver; he won't be able to deliver a thing.

    This act of the drama will be the most gratifying to watch as newlabour and the libdems blame each other for failing to deliver.

    At this rate UNITE will be running the country by the end of the year. But then again; that's probably part of the plan.

    It's funny that in this country we never act until we are absolutely forced into a corner. Newlabour and the libdems haven't quite reached that little impasse yet. Not long now though, as the rating agenices are sitting waiting to put some red lines through the deficit reduction plan and declare the UK 'toxic nitroglycerine'.

    Let's see Saint Vince wriggle out of that one... oh he of the ever changing view on bank deregulation.

    Lions led by Donkeys.

  • Comment number 22.

    The electorate voted for a balanced parliament. The Lib-Dems campaigned for a balanced parliament and electoral reform. If the referendum supports AV, it is likely that Lib-Dems will pick up 70-90 seats at the next election and can then pressure for STV or (my preference AV+) as it seems likely that that election will return a balanced parliament as well. The Lib-Dems need to showcase how consensual politics can work (and get themselves some practice at governance). OK, it's "getting into bed with the devil", but we will make allowances for that (and both parties behaviour will be in the spotlight). The Lib-Dems need to bite the bullet on this one and do what's best for the country (and reflect the will of the people) by joining in coalition with the Tories. They can also curb some of the Tory excesses which I think put people off from voting them a clear majority.

  • Comment number 23.

    Disgraceful: we have two UNELECTED individuals, one of whom resigned (forced from government) twice for financial irregularities running the Labour party as GB has lost power / control completely...... Spin meisters in charge of country, how foolish do we look as a country?

    Liberals have shown themselves to be dishonest (secret talks with Labour), untrustworthy and quite frankly holding the country to ransom over PR when they only received 24% of the vote. Again disgraceful. Labour are clinging on to power any which way they can: Mugabe style 80s African politics in play here POWER at any cost. The voters will see through this and if an election were held now, we would see Tories at 50%+ in my humble opinion. How can a cobbled together coalition of losers at election, with a new PM who did not campaign as PM (second one for Labour!) be "stable" government in the best interests of the country?

    All this spin fools no-one it is in the interests of Labour/ and Clegg

    Well done to Reid and Blunkett: at last politicians speaking with honesty and integrity. Hopefully a few more lib and Lab MPs will share their views. Cannot believe Ashdown has got carried away with all this either, thought he had more integrity.

  • Comment number 24.

    Campaign for electoral reform, join this group to get your voice heard. Already has been mentioned on the Channel 4 news, our voice does count, make a difference and join this group, and tell your friends to join :)

  • Comment number 25.

    How dreadful. Nearly 30 million citizens voted. Now the government will be decided by one man - the leader of the party that got least votes - on the basis of who gives him the dodgiest deal.

    We could end up with the party who lost the election (labour) still in power and a deal which gives the liberals an election system which has this sort of anti-democratic outcome virtually every election.

    This whole awful westminster setup just goes from bad to worse.

  • Comment number 26.

    I believe this election has signalled that the country wishes to move away from the left and to a centre/right position. However, Clegg now seems to want to shift the desire of the POPULOUS back to a centre-left situation. Even though the country has voted for a shift, once again the politicians are more interested in their own power rather than the wishes of the electorate. Clegg has done a great deal to re-engage many in the political process but a deal with Labour puts him in danger of quickly extinguishing the spark he has ignited and possibly himself and the Liberal party.

  • Comment number 27.

    After this Farce do we realy want more PR.Mandelson Campbell and the orther non elected leaders of NU Labour are willing to do anything to stop the torries in their own interest not ours. We are responsible for thsi us the voters

  • Comment number 28.

    Frankly, I'm sick of the neo-fascist party masquerading as New Labour. Get these people out! 21% of an electorate is a derisory figure for any Labour Party member to be claiming a mandate, but we've been here before with this bunch of crooks - and we've been saddled with ineptitude on the grand scale. Get rid of them!

  • Comment number 29.

    Excellent analysis, thanks
    A minority Con Govt now looks more and more likely, with a second election this autumn with 3 new party leaders as:

    Clagg cannot carry his party and has shown he'll happily jump in to bed with anyone, any time - and lie to you face whilst doing so

    Brown is going (he says, maybe, sometime) so will they elect a new leader

    Camera-on has missed the biggest open goal in recent political history and the disclosure in The Times of what he offered to Clegg for so little in return, shows him to be nearly as bad as Clegg.

    None of the 3 leaders can carry their MPs (let alone their activists or supporters) in a whipped vote on electoral reform, let alone on the spending cuts that we so desperately need.

    A smart Camera-on would announce his Cabinet, his draft Queen's Speech to a single camera down a news-feed and challenge the other parties to vote it down; he'd make it clear that he would then ask for an immediate General Election (mid-June), with Labour months away from choosing a new leader and Clegg shown as duplicitous.

    He'd do a deal with UKIP beforehand (he was an idiot not to have done so months ago) and walk into No 10 with a 100+ majority.

    There is no longer any possible future for the Camera-on personally in a deal with Clegg as the lack of trust and instability means it would only last 18 months (at best); just long enough to announce the spending cuts, not long enough to see them begin to bear fruit.

    After that, and electoral oblivion in a 2011 election, Cleggy gets PR and from then on just chooses which party to side with from time to time and we can dispense with having messy elections, at all, as he seems just as willing to side with the smaller of the other two parties as with the larger.
    Why vote red, yellow or blue if all you ever get, every time, is 'Cleggy's choice'?


  • Comment number 30.

    I say let a Lib/Lab pact takeover and when they start to loose popularity after arguing over the way the cuts and tax increases are to be made . we can have another elections after we the people not the politicians have decided on how or if we want the electoral system changed . As I am one person who now has more resivations about PR.

  • Comment number 31.

    Head or heart?

    Which is the seat of your sense of honour? Your responsibility to the electorate and the nation as a whole?

    We have spoken. The Conservatives have been elected as the government, albeit one without an overall majority. The honourable course is clear, support them but remain 'critical friends' reminding them of their obligations to serve the entire nation in a fair and prudent manner.

    But what am I doing? Talking about 'honour' and politicians in the same breath? Yet this above all is the time for those who would engage in honest and, yes, honourable, public service to step forward. Is Clegg one of those people?

  • Comment number 32.

    An excellent article Mr. Robinson. The whole question of a 'Rainbow Coalition' is one of perpetual self preservation in this case, rather than the national interest. They would barely have the votes to command a majority and over time, very little time I suspect, it would collapse. I believe such a government in this case is doomed to self-destruction.
    I stand a previous post... if the combination of Conservative/LibDem was 17 million votes and 60% of the popular vote, then surely, the only legitmate Government is of this persuasion... and also the only prospect of establishiung the stabilty the markets desire. This whole scene now is unseemly and must be resolved before the whole country becomes ridiculed in the eyes of the world.

  • Comment number 33.

    A minority party decides who is going to govern. After a General Election? The first thing the Liberals should do when they get their wretched electoral reform is dissolve themselves. What was the point of the election? Just to get three blokes together in a room?

    In the meantime the country's going down the panhole. Crikey, as if there aren't bigger issues than who governs. One wonders, with so much economically at stake, how much of a gamble they all are? Do they all have different ideas of how to tackle the UK economic crisis? Or do they all have the same idea but just want to be 'in charge'? Who's right? Who's going to succeed? Or fail? Terrifying, absolutely terrifying.

    Meanwhile insolvencies are rocketing, they might give some thought to reform of insolvency law, ordinary people are paying with their livelihoods for this complete mess.


  • Comment number 34.

    If Gordon Brown wanted to annoy the Conservatives and David Cameron and be a champion for the Scottish People who voted for Labour to stop Tory rule in Scotland he could announce;

    That the pro Scottish parts of the Calman Commission are to be put into place immediately.

    Reverse the secret order that Labour's Henry McLeish put through in 1999 that made 6,000 square miles of Scotland's Sea English. That took 15% of oil and gas revenues out of the Scottish sector of the North Sea. Thus taking £2.5 Billion per year out of the Scottish Economy which is more than the proposed credit crunch cuts proposed for Scotland.

    Suggest that Trident is scapped and force the MOD to be accountable to SEPA. To allow SEPA to regulate the nuclear submarines at Faslane that have leaked untreated nuclear radioactive coolant in the Loch more than 40 times. After all he may spend some of his retirement in the sea side town of Helensburgh.

    Also read the facts behind the Myths of the jobs that may be lost at Faslane.

    Get the CND facts and figures on Trident costs and decommissioning cost PDF report.

    CND report available at

    If the Labour, the Liberals, the Nationalist, the Socialist and Green Parties can get together to form a Government.

    The UK could see a balanced Government in power.

    A government that addresses the Nationalist view that exist in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    If England had its own Parliament it would give the English the respect that they deserve to deal with their own domestic affairs as successfully as Holyrood has dealt with Scotland. If all Parliaments had full financial control over their economies.

    Westminster with equal Scottish, Welsh, Irish and English representation to deal with the international politics of the British Isles.

    The year is 2010 not 1810 therefore the house of Lords should be kicked out and the building used for the English Parliament.

    As the Conservative party would be a right wing opposition they could get their more sensible policies through Westminster, whilst keeping tabs on the economic recovery. for facts, videos, newspaper reports and figures

    The alternative would be that Nick Clegg and David Cameron should announce the immediate introduction of the Pro Scottish content of the pro Scottish parts of the Calman Commission. To satisfy the 18.9% of Scot's that watched the American style TV leaders debates? and voted Liberal Democrats in the interest of Political Justice and the 16.7% who voted Conservative.

  • Comment number 35.

    Is it within the constitution for the parties to suggest a national referendum on who should be in a coalition government given the results of the election? Or do they have too much invested interests of their own to take this seemingly most democratic option.

  • Comment number 36.

    For God's sake Cleggy, don't go Lib/Lab, or seriously I'm about to sign up as a Tory voter full time and will never vote for you ever again. Progress in the country must be from liberal conservatism.

  • Comment number 37.

    I was really irritated by SIR Malcolm Rifkin bleating on being apparently upset and angry at the fact that Clegg had decided to talk to Labour after having talked to the conservatives. He sounds like some sort of child. Nick Clegg said that he would talk to them first - he did this. He has every right and indeed it is his duty to talk to Labour, as his party and the voters that put him in this position would want him to talk to Labour - if only to negotiate down the arrogant Conservatives and Cameron (demanding that these negotiations now come to a conclusion! He yet has no right to do that). The country can wait if the media just calm down....and start to be more robust in their questions. I know Paxman is tired but please wheel him out to stop the Cons stirring up momentum that it not yet required. The city know that a government will result from these talks. A day or too more will do no harm. If the market goes down as a result, as soon as a government if formed then it will bounce straight back up again to where it was as the dirty bankers make there speculative buck!!

  • Comment number 38.

    I seriously considered voting Lib Dem in this election - and am now mightily relieved that I didn't. Their duplicity and venality over the past 24 hours has, if anything, been worse than that of the two 'old' parties they are always decrying.

    The elctorate have asked the questions as to whether the Lib Dems are a serious and credible party of government and whether Nick Clegg really is the serious and credible leader he appeared to be in the debates. The answer, it now appears, is a resounding 'No'!

  • Comment number 39.

    And again I say: aren't we looking at a THREE-PARTY solution? There seems to be much that overlaps across the big three. What divides are the egos. We need some folk to come together to serve the country for the common good. This National Government should work for a fixed term - thus introducing that discipline - and to an agenda that is high on common sense and low on 'clever' ideas.

  • Comment number 40.

    New Labour typing test:
    The sly Brown fox jumped all over the multi-faced lap dog.

  • Comment number 41.

    Interesting to see John Reid resurface today. Thought he was chairing Celtic Football Club?

    As to him saying that only 24% voted for PR he of course hasn't looked at the Labour Party manifesto wherein Labour say they propose a referendum on PR...Therefore one can safely say that at least 54% voted in favour of it.

    What a pity he couldn't have looked at his own party manifesto or listen to Gordon Brown in the debates, eh?

    Of course a Labour guy from the Gorbals is as likely to be as staunchly against having a fair voting system as any Tory, as to both it is about power rather than democracy, isn't it?

    I wonder what John Reid would say when the Tories with a black hole twcie the size of the LibDems decided to slash expenditue and send unemployment thru the roof and repeat Mrs Thatcher's 'I will give them a real recession' policies.

    Today I felt proud that at long long last we might, just might, become a real democracy and make me proud to tell my 2 paternal grandparents, who both died early of war wounds, of their sacrifice...

    Once we have PR we will have mature political people and better decisionmaking and a final end in the safe seats mentality which allows so many Tory and Labour MPs to treat us as serfs and ignore us ALL

    Roll on that day where we have real democracy not the sham fraud...If we do it will go down in the annals of our nation's history as a landmark we can all be proud of (unless you're a Tory to whom democracy and fair play count for nought and are to be actively opposed)

    Seeing William Hague today (he who wriggled over his mistakes re his personal friend, Mr, now Lord, Ashcroft) say they would offer the Alternative Vote at a referendum but he would campaign and vote against it was a farce.

    As for Lord Hurd, who I had thought rather more of, what a whopping falsehood he tried to pull today and was made to look like any cheapshot MP by his BBC interviewer! So underneath his Old Etonian exterior he's just some cheap little car boot sale spiv too!

  • Comment number 42.

    Regardless of which parties form a coalition or partnership, perhaps the need to make every MP's vote count will be a good thing.

    MPs will be under closer scrutiny and will have to work harder to represent us: anonymous back-benchers won't be able to fill their time with outside jobs and just turn up to be shepherded through lobby doors by their whips every once in a while.

  • Comment number 43.

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

  • Comment number 44.

    Just to get away from this argument for a minute.
    I think that Man. Utd and Arsenal should form a coalition and become joint champions as after all between them they have far more points than Celsea.

  • Comment number 45.

    "So, the sincerity with which Labour enters their negotiations this morning and the reaction of the wider Labour movement will determine whether by the end of today the Lib Dems follow their hearts and ignore those nagging doubts in their heads."

    If sincerity is the benchmark then given the negotiating team from Labour it should be an easy decision for the LibDems.


    If they go with their hearts their likely reward is a stake through it in the not too distant future.

  • Comment number 46.

    It seems to me that Conservative discomfort with the idea of electoral reform could be eased by combining the issue with a solution to the West Lothian Question. Conservatives are worried that a reformed electoral system would never produce a Conservative majority. But if legislation on issues that have been devolved in Wales and Scotland is discussed in a committee of English MPs., Conservatives are unlikely to find themselves in permanent opposition on those issues.

  • Comment number 47.

    The latest thread from the Tory press is that the Tories got far more seats in England so why should they be over-ruled by Scottish, Irish and Welsh MPs. Strange that they saw nothing wrong with previous situations where without a single MP for a scottish or welsh constituency they had no qualms about dictating to Scotland and Wales.
    How can a press ( and its lapdog party) proclaim the strength of the union in the face of those who wish devolution and then demand regionalism? But then the Tory press have never been known for consistency.

  • Comment number 48.

    Has Brown actually said he will stand down as PM? Listen to his words yesterday carefully and he only refers to stepping down as Labour Party leader by October.

    Could he be manoevering to stay on as a "presidential" PM supported by two party leaders (Clegg and ????).

    Any thoughts Nick R?

  • Comment number 49.

    How can the Lib Dems finailse a deal with Labour when no-one knows who the Labour leader will be? To suggest that the name of the leader (and hence Prime Minister) is not important is as patronising as it is ridiculous. Labour under Brown is not the same as Labour under Blair. The party leader matters - hugely - and I can not see how a deal can be reached whilst this information is unknown.

    Whilst it is true that we don't vote for the PM, who the party leaders are is surely unarguably the biggest single factor that influences the way majority of the electorate vote. If Milliband is going to be PM, should he not have entered the PMs Debates?

    Surely an "unelected" PM should have to hold an election withing 12 months? I know its not in the rules, but that was the excuse used in the expenses scandal and it didn't wash then either. If you genuinely want electoral reform, it is cleaning up this side of sleazy dealmaking that should be the priority.

    And as for PR... I think this shows that there is no point having elections if we adopt PR. Just let the Lib Dems decide who they want.

    Talking of PR, taken to a logical extreme, rather than allowing Lib Dems 23% of MPs, why not allow them to pass 23% of legislation, Labour 29% and the Tories 36%. BNP could have 1% and UKIP 5% too? That is a "fairer" way of giving a voice to the voters. Utterly stupid, of course, but fair.

    The real stumbling block will be getting the Lib Dem party members to agree a deal. As I understand it, nothing can happen without the agreement of 75% of members (not MPs, ordinary members). I doubt 75% would support an alliance with either Labour or the Conservatives.

  • Comment number 50.

    You know as well as anyone else that we do not elect a PM so why do you continue to assert that Gordon Brown was not elected as PM and that his successor would also not have been elected as PM (if the lab-lib-dem pact goes ahead)?
    The result of the General Election can be construed as the electorate being fed up of two party politics.We must therefore get used to the deal making to-ing and fro-ing. After all it hasn't done the German people any harm with their system avoiding extreme policies from the left or right

  • Comment number 51.

    Can anyone who's allegiance lies with a certain party give a level headed comment about this situation.I think not,if you were already committed to a party which is involved in this agreement(argument)how can you give a fair all round assessment of what is happening.

  • Comment number 52.

    I write this as a supporter of the Tories, but if the Labour Party had any sense, they would take a step back, let the Tories and/or Lib Dems get on with it, elect a new leader then come back in 9 months or whenever a General Election is called and present themselves as the new, refreshed New Labour Party, and i believe they would do well at the polls. But that won't happen, as the Left/ or what's left of the party is desperate to get it's grubby paws on any semblance of power, even if it means deals with the Lib Dems just to form a minority government with 10 or so more seats than the Tories.

    One-upmanship at it's finest I reckon.

  • Comment number 53.

    • It was suggested on BBC news at 10 last night, that the voters put us in this current political situation - this rather fluid, fickle and fiendish mess. If the politicans cannot assuage things today, or indeed reassure a potentially angry and frustrated British public, may I suggest the following? An expedient re-election, BUT ONLY in the seats that were marginal as well, embracing the constituencies where the seats were not conclusive on account of closing doors. Let the marginal seats decide with renewed vigour! Such an event would restore marginality to centrality and put the decision in certain seats back onto us!That way a conclusive result would be ensured, without the added fear of another major general election in six months.

  • Comment number 54.

    Labour has been defeated. Why don't they stand down NOW?

    Ah, one forgets so quickly - this nasty little fascist party does not care about the electorate.

  • Comment number 55.

    1. If all deals fall through, what is the earliest date that there would be another election?

    2. Now that Gordon Brown has announced his departure, what is the earliest date that the Labour Party could select a new leader?

    3. If the answer to number 1 is an earlier date than the answer to number 2, do Adonis, Mandelson and Campbell expect Labour supporters to vte for local Labour candidate with identity of Gordon's successor to be advised later?

    4. If number 3 occurs, do the Labour Party think -

    a). Their vote will go up because Gordon was unpopular with many voters and they will be happy to vote Labour regardless of who becomes leader?

    b). Their vote will stay the same because we all know that we just vote for our local MP and the party selects the leader?

    c). Their vote will plummet because former supporters will feel they are being treated with contempt?

  • Comment number 56.

    It should be no contest. We didn't vote for a winner but we gave Labour the boot. Now a prospect beckons of Labour propped up by minority parties who will vote according to constituency interest with potential to block fiscal measures in Scotland, Wales and NI. Fabulous for ligitimacy. I hope Clegg goes with the Tories and they work at a compromise.

  • Comment number 57.

    If Nick Clegg does a deal with Labour, how is this democracy?
    This would be nothing less than a bloodless coup. It would make
    me hate my country, somnething I thought I would never feel.

  • Comment number 58.

    There are strategic differences between a Lib-Dem-Labour alliance and the Tories on economic policy.On orthodox Keynesian grounds I believe the conservatives are wrong and their economic failure will be destabilizing in relation to the economy and deficit.

    However,there are questions of social cohesion and whether a government that denied power to the largest party has legitimacy? Regretfully I don`t think it does, so Labour should stand aside,resolve the leadership and move forward with no taint of self interest or opportunism.

    Given the institutional momentum in the party to secure a deal with the Lib-Dems this is now difficult but not impossible.They could decide not to accede to Lib_Dem demands on taxation and point a finger of blame at the profligate Tories who seem to have have given in on this one.It would look responsible and can be done with grace.

  • Comment number 59.

    2004 Council Election Birmingham:

    Labour 53
    Conservatives 39
    Liberal Dems 28.

    Lib Dems and Conservatives formed a coalition, tough titty for Labour as they didn't have the numbers. That's how the system works.

    I fully expect the Lib dems to go with the Tories, but if they were to go with Labour, it's not wrong to do so, it's not cheating, it's how the numbers stand.

  • Comment number 60.

    What is clear now is that it is impossible for the LibDems NOT to do a deal with one or other of the main parties. There will be some sort of move to electoral reform and there won't be a conservative minority government. I can't wait to see what the polls say about LibDem duplicity, Labour lack of principle and Tory weakness

  • Comment number 61.

    Clegg has clogged up the works. He should have stood aside after the election and let Lab and Tory face each other in a stand off.

    Clegg is a boy to whom power has gone to his head. He wouldn't get it any other way, would he?

  • Comment number 62.

    Clegg has outstayed his welcome

    Taxi for the Dutchman!

  • Comment number 63.

    The Conservatives did not get a decent majority because an increasing proportion of the electorate are addicted to the ever increasing benefits brought in by the Labour government over the last 13 years. They did not want to loose their tax credits etc. It is likley that they will not be shifted. Just as turkeys do not vote for Christmas.

    On PR. After this shenanigans, I doubt if the country would endorse PR via a referendum. After all 77% did NOT vote for LDs manifesto and their main PR promise. Neither will MPs if attempts are made to pass it as a bill. Both Lab and Tory MPs will kill it - and it denies the country a view on it which is hardly PR.

    What I would like to see on political reform is an english assembly. HoC would work on UK stuff Mon - Wed question time, then pm Wed - Fri on English stuff.

    On Lib tax. £10,000 0 band is an excellent idea, but at the moment?? Greece 0 band is €12500, and look at their situation.

    Education. LD/Cons can agree on that.

    Markets - falling as a result of GB statement last night. Hardly encouraging stable government.

    LD party is probably going to be consigned to the wastelands.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think Nick R is right but you could apply the same arguement to a Libdem Tory pact as well. Just look at some of the right wing commentators views alongside Norman Tebbit et al. I am not convinced that a Tory LibDem pact is stable either apart from the Maths on paper.
    Can DC carry all of his back benchers -after all John Major questioned the marital status of a lot of his colleagues parents and had to fight a leadership election whilst he was PM. I can't see LibDem MPs siding with the 'nutters' on Europe either so any pact with the Tories has lots of instability in it.
    I think this could be harder to sell to the huge numbers of new Tory MPs in the long term. I think they will be OK for 6 months or so but then the compromises on their right wing values will bite as public support for the coalition/agreement drops.
    I still favour giving the Tories a chance. If their policies are as good for the economy as they say there are let them get on with it. We can judge them by results. Without a majority in parliament at least they will be called to account if things do not work out.
    Whatever happens DC has lost the momentum of the election -it's too easy a hit to talk about Lame duck PMs -especially when one of his names is Donald :-)

  • Comment number 65.

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

  • Comment number 66.

    General election 2010 Conservatives get 37% of the popular vote and a vast increase in number of MPs in Parliament, making the largest single party by a significant number.
    However, Labour supporters use the arguement that more people voted for Labour and Lib-Dems than voted for the Tories, therefore we should have a Lab-Lib government and keep the Tories out.
    If only we had thought of that in 1997 when the Conservative-Lib vote outnumbered Labour and we could have avoided 13yrs of Labour, two highly suspect wars, mass immigration, failing schools and hospitals, crippling debt, Tony Blair, Gordan Brown and Lord Mandleson.
    But we couldn't have done that, could we? Labour would have called it undemocratic and immoral - surely Tony Blair had a mandate with 37% of the popular vote!
    Apparently what most people would consider morally corrupt, Lord Mandelson and Nick Clegg now consider to be perfectly acceptable.

  • Comment number 67.

    I have been a Liberal for 30 years. The party I supported was built on personal freedom and responsibility. I disliked Mrs "T" with a passion but as I get older my Mrs "T" list includes a long list of Labour home sectaries (ID cards, pre-trial detention, right to protest in London, CCTV access etc.) Tony Blair (dodgy war) Gordon Brown (Longest lending bubble in history based on house price inflation using a huge trade deficit with the far east to keep a cap on inflation).

    I know the instincts of our old SDP comrades is to return home but as an old liberal I see more in common with Dave then Gordon.

    Economic competence, Personal Liberty, and some voting reform in that order.

    In addition I remember the horrific damage the Lib Lab pact did to the Liberals credibility last time round.

  • Comment number 68.

    The BBC are making too much of the moral right for a conservative government, they took just over 36% of the vote. The entire right took 42% if you include BNP & UKIP.

    58% of the electorate are progressive and on the left. Which is the only FACT about this election, in a parliamentary democracy this should be recognised, and the BBC should recognise this above the Tory line. Are the BBC worried about a backlash from the Tories (+ Murdoch) should they form a government?

    What is even more depressing is labour party members who are worried about the 'party' rather than the people. Their party has already failed, if they want to win back any respect they should put the national interest first which, according to the voters, is keeping out the right. It's so simple ... I'm left wondering if this is the same Labour party members who tried to sabotage GB's government these last few years. For what ends? A Tory govt.?!

    Stop using 'government of the losers' its completely loaded and misleading, the BBC are trying to direct the decision making using this term. We voted for a progressive and left leaning parliament please respect this BBC.

  • Comment number 69.

    Gosh Nick another pro Tory piece...

    I wonder when you will look at things from the view of a standard voter who say wants the right decision and a fair decision and one which is not the Westmister village view of the 2 big parties.

    William Hague suddenly announcing 4 days after the election and 3 days after negotiations began and little was offered, and crucially after Gordon Brown had offered his resignation so that negotiations could begin between Labour and the Libs, says that the Tories will offer a referendum on PR but he will actively campaign against it as will almost certianly Cameron and his Cabinetm, is a non-offer as the Tory press will again be instructed by Cameron to scaremonger and oppose it.

    How about Nick some semblance of fairness and welcoming a fair vote for all at long last.

    How about recognising too that a Labour Lib coalition would work since the SDLP and Alliance would support it, and the Scottish and Welsh Nats are unlikely to oppose it

    It seems that your Westminster and Tory spectacles and Tory sympathies come to the fore as soon as David Cameron your old chum doesn't get exactly what he wants.

    Or is it the dreadful 'Oxford mafia' at work again at work where if you are an Oxford grad we are nice to each other and fight to keep out any non Oxford person including Cambridge grads too...?

    If so, surely its time to grow up and stop the 'Oxford mafia' commentariat which you and I know runs next to nothing now, except for of course our wonderful BBC?

  • Comment number 70.

    So, the Tories win, with 2 million more votes than Labour, and 4 million more than the Lib-Dems. In England the Tories have a clear majority of 63 seats. And yet they may not see power, the tiny minority of SNP and Plaid Cymru will ensure that no cuts are made to their regions and the English will foot the bill as usual. How about a new strategy? How about the Tories promise complete independence to Scotland, cut them loose and stop English taxes going North - careful what you wish for Mr Salmond. Then the and English Conservative party can govern England for the English majority that voted for them. Democracy? What democracy?

  • Comment number 71.

    You are right Nick. If there is a lib lab coalition, the question in voters minds is which will survive? I suspect the answer is lab because of their working class roots but with a long period in opposition. The libs will be back to very few seats and proportional representation off the agenda. Make sure you have a break when all this over because there will be an election re run in 18 months at most. Finally, the Scots must remember they are not much bigger than Yorkshire in population. Important - yes - to be respected - yes but not much more than a large county.

  • Comment number 72.

    Rather ironic that the man who claimed to want an end to the old politics seems to be revelling in the limelight of it now.

    Lions led by donkeys

  • Comment number 73.

    If they wanted proportional representation, Labour should have implemented the Jenkin's report whilst they still had a thumping great majority, rather than now, when they can't even scrabble together a majority in coalition with the Lib-Dems.

    No need to wonder why they didn't.

  • Comment number 74.

    I'm all for a change to the voting system but not for full PR

    You can't get rid of a bad MP under PR, they also don't represent a regular constituency, another system needs to be thought of (or current PR systems adapted) as votes under PR equals a certain number of MP's per party; this will lead to the worst type of politician we can think of - not accountable to the electorate

    We need a change but not to this. We have to have some say as to who our local MP is. I realise we don't vote for a PM but we do cast our local vote as to the party politics we like

    My local MP (used to be a Labour seat) was actually a good MP who did a lot for the local area. She lost to the Tories this time round - and I don't think it was down to her personally; people have had enough of Labour and voted for the Tory even though she was a good local MP.

    We do vote for parties (not necessarily PM's) and you can shout 'we don't vote in PM's' all you like but in essence we do vote for the party we think will do the best - not our local MP

    I know this isn't how it is supposed to work but get real - this is reality, we vote for parties and not MP's any more. People don't want Brown

  • Comment number 75.

    Cloudy here in London, I feel the ash cloud cometh again, it could be Paddy Ashcloud, and now, is Nick Clegging things up, we need Steele ourselves with William Vague putting the blame on them, to avoid an overdone Hash Brown and so we end up with a tasty Cameroon.. what happened? Is it the national interest? Or is it self interest? Dark times in politix.. I want a referendum!

  • Comment number 76.


    Is it just hearts and minds?

    What about integrity, honesty and being honourable versus the grubby sleazy politics of yesteryear that apparently is still with us. I think that there may be quite a few defections from the parties in HoC probably to independent status.

    Could Clegg in fact do the honourable thing and resign as Lib Dem leader? that would make the dinosaur Lib Dems look really stupid.

  • Comment number 77.

    The Lib Dems are a disgrace. All they care about is forcing themselves in to power through dirty deals and secret meetings. Whatever the outcome be it a coalition with the cons or labour - there will be a general election in the next 12 months - and they will get full payback then when they lose votes over this disgusting and un-democratic behaviour. Shame on you Clegg.

  • Comment number 78.

    So we are going to get a coalition with a new PM in a few months. How by any stretch of the imagination is this stable government?
    Nick Clegg is in danger of making himself look stupid, the new PM may well decide on his own course of action leaving Clegg with the choice of bringing the government down by which time electoral reform probably won't have gone through. His only choice will be to be a minor party in a rejuvenated labour party.
    Longer term I can see the LD being squeezed further due to a hardening of tory support and a new leader bringing energy to labour.
    Does he really want to be a senior member of the government that is having to fight for every single commons vote and amendment against an unhappy opposition who can muster nearly as nearly as many votes as labour and the lib dems? You can envisage that there will be regular opportunities for the tories to try and vote down the government requiring serious arm twisting of his own MPs.
    He could end up having to share the blame for unpopular legislation while the new PM get credit for more popular measures.

  • Comment number 79.

    1. At 10:43am on 11 May 2010, invisiblehandadvisor wrote:
    52% voted for liberal and labour policies, 36% for conservative policies. Once proportional representation (every vote counts) is established in the UK, the Conservatives will be finished for a decade.


    Well done, you seem to have fortuitously come up with the Conservatives campaign theme for any referendum on PR or next general election whichever is soonest - and the precise reason that such a referendum would fail remember the majority of voters are not activists - they are far more even minded. If Clegg is unable to do the decent thing and deal with the Conservatives now when it is clear that is the most stable outcome, the population will vote down the referendum.

    I am very much minded that PR is a good and fair thing, vote for it tomorrow typem, but if Clegg cannot deal with the Conservatives now then regretably I would have to vote against it at a referendum because our politicians are not mature enough yet to deal with it, such a shame, I thought they were (this is not neccesarily criticism of Clegg since I think it is more others in his party who are against, I still beleive he gets it and I am impressed by Camerons approach).

    PR is not a method to attack Conservatives - it is a method to obtain balanced governments reflecting the will of the people where all sides will deal, the bad extreme edges of all side gets knocked off and the good sound ideas come through.

  • Comment number 80.

    Come on Libdems. The Tories have moved. It makes sense to form a coalition now. An unworkable pact with a discredited Labour government could be political suicide. Do you really want to get blamed for all the hard times ahead, which will be even harder without a stable voting block and a clear programme!? Time to make a difference and look forward to more influential multi-party politics with the prospect of fairer representation in future administrations.

  • Comment number 81.

    I don't care what side of the political spectrum an individual may or may not sit on - it`s bogus for people to continue to add the Labour and Lib Dem vote percentage and numbers together in order to suit their own view point and legitimize this masterstroke of Mandleson and Campbell.

    Anyone can juggle the numbers around anyway they wish but last Thursday the reality of the situation is 36% of the voting public voted Conservative, 29% Labour and 23% Lib Dem. Anyone who took the time to go to the polling booth and marked an X for Lib Dem, Labour or Tory candidate didn't do so hoping that their vote would lead to a coalition be it Lib/Lab, Lib/Con or anything else.

    I'm certain that the 29% of Labour voters turned out and voted for their party did so for an outright Labour majority government and nothing else. Progessive Alliance or Hung Parliament were not on the ballot.

    I thought we were supposed to be heading for a new era of new politics. All I see is the same old spin as politicians try and twist and turn the facts to gel with their own self interest agendas.

    Btw...using this arguement maybe Manchester United could take the points of the highest bidder and declare themselves champions instead of Chelsea. Works for me!

  • Comment number 82.

    This pact with Labour is suicide for the Lib Dems - The coalition will fall apart within 6 months and they will then be annihilated in the subsequent election by a furious electorate

  • Comment number 83.

    1. invisiblehandadvisor wrote:
    "52% voted for liberal and labour policies, 36% for conservative policies. Once proportional representation (every vote counts) is established in the UK, the Conservatives will be finished for a decade."

    True, but does the fact that 59.1% voted for Liberal and Conservative elude you (and many others) - or do you (very much like the current Labour party) only use figures that support your argument and ignore the rest?

  • Comment number 84.

    phoneyDave - 'heir to Blair' what a joke, what a failure.

    Did Tony have a majority of 253 over the Tories?

  • Comment number 85.

    At this moment in time the country needs a government to see off the insanity of the markets which the taxpayers were conscripted into rescuing some eighteen months ago from the consequences of their own stupidity, yet all we are getting both on this blog and and across the Westminster Village and the Media Ghetto is the exhibition of visceral political hatreds whose origins lie in tumults long gone which should have been buried.

    This is not good enough.

    If the Liberal Democrats do not form a coalition with the Conservatives then they lay themselves open to bloody slaughter at the next election and many subsequent ones. As a Liberal candidate at the time of the last Lib-Lab pact I can recall the way in which Liberal support disappeared from off the door-step never to return. If the SDP had not split from Labour not long after then what price would there be in third-party politics today?

    The old adage of vote Liberal, get Labour will be back with a vengeance.

    So far today two colleagues who I know voted Lib-Dem last week have expressed their unhappiness at the talks with Labour and their fears of the economic consequences of political instability.

    From where I sit it seems that Nick Clegg does not have control over his party many of whom are spinning like tops. This is the time for leadership. So far this week the only leader about seems to be Gordon Brown who is going anyway and not before time.

    So either Clegg signs up with Cameron and builds a unified government or goodnight to the Liberal Democratic Party: nice people but with no clue about politics.

  • Comment number 86.

    So democracy will be decided by the few voting with their hearts and not their heads ! Isn't that what the Labour and Liberals base on their decisions on?

    Lets face it - the country needs to 'get real' and face the fact that we are in a bad place right now - socially and financially. We need a government that will strive to sort out these problems - not worry about who will be their new leader.

    I believe its time for Mr Cameron to ditch the liberals and go it alone - either in government or in opposition - who cares !

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    Funny how all those who claim they don't like to see politicians negotiating and acting maturely, are simply repeating what they have read in the Tory press.

    Why don't you think for yourselves for once and see the benefits of coalitions and end the yahboo stlye.

    Pendarves, no 4, clearly you did not read Nick Robinson state a couple of weeks ago that the smears against Nick Clegg all emanated from the Tory Leaders office and so he personally ordered them. Your wish for the Tory party to disown the Tory press is NEVER going to happen as the connection between the Tory Party and its proprietors and their employees, easily dispensible journalists, is ALWAYS taking its ORDER from the Tories...

    This is why we live in a sham democracy and it is not before time that we have fair votes for us all. The Tories will always oppose democracy and improvments for the average citizen, for the past 250 yrs, and ALWAYS will. It is in their DNA to be unfair and you will seldom find a Tory with an enquiring open mind who cares very much about their fellow citizens at the end of the day...

    That is why infamously one Tory Minister called the Tory Party the stupid party and its then Party Chairman called it something beginning with n.

    Fair votes for all!

  • Comment number 89.

    Without knowing the details of the offers, to me it seems clear that a Lib-Con deal is the one to go for unless things unseen and unspoken would preclude that being an honorable course of action.

    The legitimate blocks would be:

    1. The Tories intend calling a quick election to get a majority, whilst trashing the Libdems in the meanwhile to try and destroy their electoral base. Women shouldn't marry wife-beaters.
    2. The Right Wing of the Tory Party will place impossible blocks to Libdems being in coalition. Women shouldn't marry men who make them prisoners in their own home.
    3. The Libdems contain a large majority of Tory-haters. If you're a lesbian, don't get married to a man.
    4. The Tories are not one-nation Tories but rottweilers for global financial tyrants who wish to crush UK plc into centuries of serfdom. Drug dealers can be great seducers, but I wouldn't want my daughter marrying one.

    I must say there is a lot of self-righteous stuff written on this site about the left being good and the right being bad. To me, leftist mantra is good for children under the age of 9, whereas one-nation Tory mantras are good for those with independent minds. The reality of the world is that not all enjoy a childhood which leads to independent adulthood in spirit, thought and deed. If you deride that, shame on you. But then again, I'm not from a minority, I'm not a woman and I'm not gay. So I can't comment on whether the Tories still treat those hands of cards dealt at birth as 'not cricket'. But if they do: Mr Clegg - tell DC that he's still AC's whipping boy. Before shaking his hand and saying: 'thanks but no thanks.'

    I must say this though: I was pretty useless at physics. And I thought I wanted to do Chemistry at uni.

    Hope this helps......

  • Comment number 90.

    As distasteful as I find the deals that were obviously hatched in smoky rooms between Lib and Lab schemers over the weekend, it is undeniable that this 'coalition' would have some form of mandate throughout the UK by virtue of the large proportion of the total vote received. I can imagine this being thought of by Clegg as justification for going with Labour - after all it is proportional.

    However, it cannot by any stretch of the imagination be seen as meeting the commitment to formation of a 'strong and stable' government that has been stated by every one of the three main party leaders at some time since Friday morning. Nor can it claim to have real legitamcy under the current electoral system. But, what can?

    A Lib-Con coalition would have a majority and a firm mandate everywhere apart from Scotland. Could that be considered strong and stable or would it just disenfanchise a large portion of the UK? - something that would detract from the work needed to re-build the shattered economy. I guess that, so long as Scotland is part of the Union, there is at least a constitutional mandate for the Lib-Cons. Maybe devolution could be put up for grabs at the same time as electoral reform to satisfy the thirst that all minorities seem to have to gain what they can from the current situation.

    I really do hope that common sense prevails soon and that the Liberals realise that it is in the best interest of the UK as a whole, and as it exists now, to go with the Conservatives. That has the merits of at least reflecting the will of the voters under the current 'first past the post' system right across the Union. That will give the Lib-Con coalition the mandate to govern and legitimately bring about the changes that are needed. So, please can common sense prevail and help us get past this first step quickly so that a majority government that can at least demonstrate it has some legitimacy can start to do its job, which should include reforms that aim to address the mess that we now find ourselves in.

    It's perhaps just as well that the UK has become such an insignificant player on the world stage that 'the markets' are more or less oblivious to the current shenanigans.

  • Comment number 91.

    Independence for the South of England, No 6? Since Scotland has its own Parliament where the English are not allowed to vote, then perhaps it should be independence for Scotland. Then they can fund their own NHS prescriptions and universities. Scotland do very well out of the South of England taxpayer, thank you.

  • Comment number 92.

    Nick Clegg is in a cleft stick.

    If he goes with Labour he gets PR but there won't be time to introduce a new system before the Government collapses and causes another FPTP election. Result - end of Lib/Dems as a viable party.

    If he goes with the Tories he gets a referendum on PR but a good chance of losing it in the referendum. No longer any point in remaining in coalition but, may have to continue supporting Tories to keep any semblance of being a valid party.
    More likely though to cause a defeat of the Tories at some time, thus causing another election under FPTP.
    Result - end of Lib/Dems as viable party.

    He can't win either way!

  • Comment number 93.

    At least now that they've had a practice run, local authorities should be able to organise and resource polling stations properly when we return to the ballot box.

  • Comment number 94.

    Whatever happens, if a Lib/Lab coalition forces through electoral reform without a referendum it'll be an even bigger insult to the general public than the Lisbon Treason.

    Sod the coalitions, they're all just like bickering schoolboys trying to score points, and none of them seem to have the interests of the country at heart.

    Let Cameron take over as PM for six months, referendum on electoral reform in the summer, another general election in the autumn. Stop dithering.

  • Comment number 95.

    Surely this is the worst advert for proportional representation

  • Comment number 96.

    Nick has picked up a very key point that Paddy Ashdown missed in his interview today. The SNP may not have the numbers to bring down a minority government but MPs from either Lab or LibDems could do so and it would not take very many of them to give the Conservatives a majority in a vote. 315 - 307 is very close.

    Intriguing that it is also shown that Lab/LibDem was over 50% of the vote, yet no mention that LibDem/Tory vote was over 60% which gives them even more legitimacy as they also have a majority of seats.

  • Comment number 97.

    Enough of this Adonis, Campell, and Mandelson accounting....

    Lab+Lib = 52%...but then Con + Lib = 59% ???

    The argument comes down to how many Liberals are in favour of the Labour party....I reckon at most 2/3rds. Go away and do the maths
    You find percentage wise Lab + Lib = Con + Lib at around 44% in percentage terms and in seat terms the Con + 1/3 of Lib gives 326.

    It seems, therefore, that the public would be marginally more favour of a Con-Lib arrangement than a Lab-Lib deal.

    One twist would be, however, is if the Liberals now walk away from Labour because the deal cannot be done would they get the same terms from Cameron?

  • Comment number 98.

    I think our politicians would do well to take a look at this and the Have Your Say pages to see the depth of anger this mucky little episode is generating.

    This isn't (for the most part) party-political anger either. People of all political shades are almost universally disgusted at what's unfolding.

    Anyone for a middle class riot....

  • Comment number 99.

    Invisiblehandadvisor is wrong. 52% did not vote for labour and liberal policies as there was no joint ticket. Instead 23% voted for the Lib-Dems and 29% for Labour. Under this logic, it is equally true that 59% of the electorate voted for Conservative/Lib-Dems policies - more so in fact given that both parties campaigned with the same fundamental message of Vote for Change - whilst Labour campaign to keep things as they were and that Brown was the only person who could secure recovery for the UK. Now however it is the time for a novice!

  • Comment number 100.

    If he was thinking politically Cameron should be withdrawing any offered concessions immediately. Let the Lib-Lab pact form a government and then Cameron can sit and wait for the inevitable subsequent election (later this year) and walk into Downing Street with the cheers of the grateful public.
    However for all our sakes I hope he conceeds enough to persuade the Libs to call off their blackmail and allow Cameron to implement the economic policies the country needs now - God save us.


Page 1 of 3

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.