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Whither the Coalition now?

Nick Robinson | 09:09 UK time, Friday, 6 May 2011

It was inevitable after a night like that. Someone somewhere would call for Nick Clegg to resign. The defeated leader of Nottingham's Lib Dems, Gary Long, was the first to the microphone. If he got the backing of 74 local parties there would have to be a leadership contest. But where are they? And who support such an idea? And who would run against Clegg?

What is striking so far is that those councillors who lost in Sheffield and Liverpool and Hull gave their leader and the Coalition their backing. So too did backbench rebels Mike Hancock and Adrian Saunders...and Chris Huhne, who was widely thought to be "on manoeuvres" after his clash over the Cabinet table with David Cameron and George Osborne...and Tim Farron the party's president and young pretender.

So, for now the pressure is not for the Coalition to end or Clegg to go but for him to fight harder and more publicly for Lib Dem policies and against what he himself called this morning "a return to Thatcherism".

Stand by, therefore, for more Coalition rows on the NHS, on banking reform, on immigration and tax. Standby for less ministerial chumminess and more business-like negotiations.

Don't hold your breath though for a change of leader or an end to the Coalition.

Most Liberal Democrats will try first to prove - in Paddy Ashdown's words - that "compromise is not betrayal".

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Politicians or poseurs? Discuss.

  • Comment number 2.

    Can we put an end to the FibDem lie that they helped to save the country by joining the Government: the Tory deficit reduction plan would have been implemented whether they joined the Coalition or not. They only joined the Govt to get their hands on power though have ended up as the Tories' human shield - Ashdown really is a pompous twit when he pretends otherwise.

  • Comment number 3.

    A dose of reality!

    The love in had to end as the reality is that the Tories are cutters at heart and the LibDems aren't. Slash and burn, so that your friends can profit, against a community not to say commutaire approach were never going to be easy bedfellows.

    David Cameron must defend the NHS against his own party!

    We are now past being able to blame everything on the outgoing Labour party and the damage that people see around them will be put at the door of the both Tory and LibDems. (However the difference in result stems from the attitude of each parties voters - Tory's generally only care about themselves; whereas LibDems are bothered about others too! Hence the reality has resulted in a far harder hit for the LibDems than the Tories!

  • Comment number 4.

    Would someone please tell Nick Clegg and the stream of Lib Dem apologists I witnessed last night, that the reason I could not put my cross against a Lib Dem candidate was not the cuts, or the size of the cuts. It was because student fees went up when the Liberal Democrat manifesto said that the fees would be abolished.

    I could have accepted if the fees remained the same. But the didn't, they went up and I don't like being lied to.

  • Comment number 5.

    The Lib/Dems, after this disastrous election result, no longer hold any of the power in the Coalition, so it will not be their opinion that counts. They may well want to continue with the Coalition and make trouble within it, but will the Conservatives is the question. Cameron should go for an election as soon as he can, in my opinion, the Coalition is effectively dead. " He who dares wins", is something I hope Cameron has learnt from when Brown should have gone to the Country and did not.

    With Scotland going to the SNP and the Lib/Dem vote dead, Cameron has a great chance of forming a Conservative Government if he goes to the Country.

    Interesting to see Ashdown suddenly backing down a lot this morning, now he has seen such bad results for the Lib/Dems. All of a sudden he is in favour of the Coalition continuing and working with the Conservatives for the good of the Country.

  • Comment number 6.

    Won't make any difference. This is the Lib/ Dems we're talking about, nothing will put them off trying to hang on to their only chance of getting a little bit of power. Huhne , Clegg, Cable etc. will make noises, but not too much in case they lose their little empires. This is what has always distinguished the Lib / Dems, since the days of Owen and Steel, their total lack of integrity.

  • Comment number 7.

    Clegg will go down in history as the Marshall Petain of this Govt - more collaborator than coalition partner

  • Comment number 8.

    "Nick Clegg says the Lib Dems are being blamed for spending cuts"

    then he is wrong, he is getting the payback for betraying his supporters on just about every promise he made to get elected

  • Comment number 9.

    Good. Looking forward to the impending implosion of what was always only a home to a protest vote anyway. Now its plain to see why this bunch of non-entities werent trusted with the reins of government since the end of the first world war.

    You cant be all things to all people; a northern outpost of the Islington sandalistas one moment and a southern refuge for disaffected tories or Labour refuseniks in tory safeseats in the south the next.

    And, given that liberalism has not exactly done us any favours over the years, I'll be glad to see the back of it. Cameron in time will also be cast aside as a blue lefty, wetter than an otters pocket. Cant come soon enough.

    Lots of bitter and twisted LD's on your previous blog Nick. Think you're going to be in for a weekend of this type of howling. What fun....

  • Comment number 10.

    I was a Liberal election agent in the 1980s and have always voted for them. But yesterday I didn't. The Lib Dems, consumed by the very opportunity of office, have lost everything they stood for, including the votes of their most loyal supporters. It is time for the progressive majority in the party to stand up to the leadership and re-define the purpose of the party. And the sooner Clegg moves into the Tory party and leaves us alone, the better.

  • Comment number 11.

    The LibDems got the referendum on AV that they wanted, on the date that they wanted, with the wording they wanted. But still they whine and complain about how unfair it is when they cannot convince the public! Most ludicrous of all is the notion that Cameron should not have voiced his own opinion.

    LibDems want more coalitions - but when put to the test, they have shown themselves to be incapable. The reason LibDems have done so badly in the local elections is because people can now see they cannot be trusted.

    LibDems broke their election promise on the EU constitutional treaty referendum, but stuck to their guns on a self-serving referendum on the voting system. For LibDems to talk about the unfairness of democracy is breath-taking.

  • Comment number 12.

    Where I live we worked hard to replace the liberal with an independent in the ward next to my own - first time I've ever actively done anything in politics.

    There is little point arguing with the tories - fundamental evil can not be reasoned with.

    However, a policy of targeting the liberals until they either (a) reign in the tories (b) collapse the coalition is entirely viable.

    Liberal anticipation of this electoral meltdown is probably what lead to the U-turn on the NHS.

    Let's see what happens in the next few weeks.



    It's a great time to be anything other than a liberal.

  • Comment number 13.

    The Liberal Democrat MPs won't bring down the coalition as they know it will hasten their own political demise. Better to have 4 more years in power as they will never get the opportunity again.

  • Comment number 14.

    This all is so sad, so unfortunate: a Coalition forged on a single principle, that a return in 2010 to a 1976-style bondholders' strike would make the UK even more economically weaker. The politics is failing because the economics is failing.

    This is what Keynesians call the 'invisible bond vigilantes' argument: it applies when the central bank has control of the interest rate, but not when the interest rate is up against the zero-bound. There will be no bondholder strike in a country with its own currency and flexible exchange rate while the UK is in a liquidity trap.

    This is why I read Paul Krugman's blog (New Keyesian and Nobel winner 2008), and avoid getting my economic information from the BBC:

    "May 2, 2011, 4:41 pm
    Prognosticate That!
    Ahem:
    'CLINTON, N.Y. – Op-ed columnists and TV’s talking heads build followings by making bold, confident predictions about politics and the economy. But rarely are their predictions analyzed for accuracy.
    Now, a class at Hamilton College led by public policy professor P. Gary Wyckoff has analyzed the predictions of 26 prognosticators between September 2007 and December 2008. Their findings? Anyone can make as accurate a prediction as most of them if just by flipping a coin…The students found that only nine of the prognosticators they studied could predict more accurately than a coin flip. Two were significantly less accurate, and the remaining 14 were not statistically any better or worse than a coin flip. The top prognosticators – led by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman – scored above five points and were labeled “Good,” while those scoring between zero and five were “Bad.” Anyone scoring less than zero (which was possible because prognosticators lost points for inaccurate predictions) were put into “The Ugly” category. Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas came up short and scored the lowest of the 26.'

    Update: Oh, wow — I’ve only had time to skim the underlying paper (pdf), but here’s what it says, based on evidence, about what makes a good prognosticator:
    'Perhaps most importantly, being a good prognosticator seems to be a product of choices, not birth. Anyone can be good; all they need to do is avoid law school and buy into liberalism as an overarching philosophy.'"

  • Comment number 15.

    The Lib Dems now find themselves in a position where they are weakened substantially. They are effectively trapped in the coalition whether they want to leave or not. The Tories probably new this when the coalition agreement was initially offered. The Tories didn't take a big hit as they are effectively delivering what they said they would before the general election. The Lib Dems are taking a battering as they are the ones enabling them to do so. How naive they are to think that the Torries didn't have all this planned.

  • Comment number 16.

    Nick Clegg should resign.

    The Lib Dems should remove themselves from this awful coalition.

    But let us not forget who the real enemies are : the pro-banker Tories.

  • Comment number 17.

    Anyone else find it a bit odd that the party that got hammered in this election now feels it's entitled to a bigger say in government?

    Looks like the gruby side of coalition politics is about to come to the fore

  • Comment number 18.

    The Lib Dems are in a pickle because of the situation, not because of Nick Clegg's leadership, so who would want to take his position? Could a rival honestly claim that they would have entered a coalition and not compromised?

    Lib Dem support has collapsed because they have fewer visceral voters than Labour or the Conservatives. People say "I'm a Labour (or Conservative) voter", but they say "I think I'll vote LibDem" - so are more likely to think again when things don't work out the way they expected. Although personally, I would like to ask the Lib Dem votes en masse what exactly they did expect. It's mad to complain that holding the balance of power is an appalling betrayal of principle when that has always been the party's only realistic ambition.

  • Comment number 19.

    You of course mean Adrian Sanders MP.....

  • Comment number 20.

    I don't think that we should dwell on the 'Nick Clegg' factor. We have had one year of Coalition government for the first time in decades and it takes a bit of getting used to.

    I understand Lib Dem grass roots discontent but the option is either play a constructive part in government or retreat to the comfortable position where you just become a protest party on the sidelines.

    Does anyone seriously believe that the Lib Dems would have fared better if they had propped up a Gordon Brown led Lab/Lib Dem coalition?

  • Comment number 21.

    People have forgotten how badly labour were malled in the last round of council elections with the lib dems picking up a lot of their councillors. Labour gains this time and the lib dems losses were inevitable due to this protest vote last time round.

  • Comment number 22.

    The Liberal Democrats are living in a dream land if they believe things will get better. The reality is that the electorate feel betrayed by them over broken promises and that only winners from staying in the coalition are the Tories. They will lose the AV vote and then back benchers will ask "Was it worth it?"

    I would recommend that Clegg quits and they leave the coalition now

  • Comment number 23.

    I voted LibDem in '10. Silly Me!
    This is not a coalition it's a coalescence.
    What we now have is the Axis of Nasty.
    Before someone leaves Mr Clegg alone in a room with a bottle of Whiskey and a loaded revolver there is only one thing he should do - just GO!

  • Comment number 24.

    I understand that the Lib Dems are about 15.7% of the coalition government. What percentage of government business do their 4 key policies from their manifesto constitute? How should be analyse their effect on other policies?

  • Comment number 25.

    "So, for now the pressure is not for the Coalition to end or Clegg to go but for him to fight harder and more publicly for Lib Dem policies and against what he himself called this morning "a return to Thatcherism".

    That might upset voters in southern constituencies who have caused swings from LibDem to Tory because they don't like the boast that the LibDems have stopped the Tories carrying out their manifesto.

    As for the trashing of Thatcher, her govt can't have been all bad when it was elected three times in a row - the same as Blair.

  • Comment number 26.

    I''m not surprised that there are calls for Nick Clegg to go but just like the Tories, after Blair's victories, changing the leader wil not make a bit of difference. The Lib Dems lost because a lot of their voters are left of centre and are unlikely to ever vote Tory. Last year both in the council elections and in the GE you voted Lib Dem you got Tory policies. That was certainly the case here in the Northwest. The area that incidently stopped Cameron getting his majority against the most unpopular PM in living memory.

    This election is like the curates egg for all 3 party leaders. Cameron has kept his support at the same level that failed to win him the GE last year; Clegg has discovered that grown up politics is not easy and it may lead him to wake up and grow a pair in Government and stand up to DC and GO more; Milliband has taken a few steps back from the really bad defeat last year but the Scottish result is a warning that he still has a long way to go.

    Overall the result is pretty much what I expected -tories who want to see a small state continuing to vote for the Conservatives. The left of centre voters voting for the only left of centre party left Labour.

    If the Lib Dems manage to make the government more progressive -(spouting on about tax allowance increases and the pupil premium is not enough to offset Osbourne's right wing policies) then they will do better. If they don't then they will continue to get a good kicking at each election up to the next General Election. Cameron needs to increase his vote share though if he has any hope of a majority ditto for Miliband (although not as much as Cameron needs to on yesterdays vote share projections).

  • Comment number 27.

    It's astonishing that Paddy Ashdown accuses the Tories of a 'breach of faith'.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13303862

    What about LibDem's breach of faith over tuition fees?

    It is reported that Clegg planned to abandon his 'tuition fees' pledge BEFORE the last election - which means the LibDem manifesto was deliberately making false promises to win extra votes.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/12/lib-dems-tuition-fees-clegg

    Voters know they can't trust the LibDems - and that's why they have been clobbered at the polls. Instead of whining about the electoral system, why don't LibDems try being more honest?

  • Comment number 28.

    Mr. Cameron should go to the country when the No vote to AV comes in. The coalition is not working. The sooner Mr. Cameron has a majority the sooner he can get on with running the country the conservative way. However, he needs to promise a referendem on Europe first as the people in this country desperately want to come out of Europe

  • Comment number 29.

    The betrayal on tuition fees was the final straw, there is nothing Clegg can do to save his name (and quite probably us Lib Dems) in history. The betrayal was the Lib Dems, not the Tories, hence the Tories are getting off scot-free. Resign please Nick.

  • Comment number 30.

    I feel this quote applies nicely to the Lib Dem MPs and Councillors ...
    "Who's the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows him?"

  • Comment number 31.

    I am exasperted by the procession of Lib-Dems saying their reaction to this defeat will be to "differentiate more" and "oppose the tories on anything not covered by the coalition agreement". Don't they get tht this is the problem. The sheer hypocrisy of attacking a party which owes its grasp on power to your own support is a recipe for electoral wipeout. Instead, if the LibDems ever want to be electable again, they have to show true support. They have to make the case that the Tories' policies are right and necessary and have their full support-at least, that way, if the policies are successful, the LibDems can take a share of the credit. Taking their current line leads only to "heads you win, tails we lose".

  • Comment number 32.

    Weill, Nick, with their track record, can't see the Lib Dems or Clegg doing much opposing - they like the power too much. Stand by for the typical 'We have to take hard decisions' mantra we've been hearing for 12 months. If the Lib Dems don;t chuck him out they are crazy.

  • Comment number 33.

    It's going to take us decades to get out of the mess Labour got us all into yet people still vote for them!

    This country is on the decline the damage has already been done, hard work is not rewarded in the UK anymore!

  • Comment number 34.

    "Nick Clegg says the Lib Dems are being blamed for spending cuts"

    I would suspect that the students he betrayed are the major reasons their seats are being decimated.
    You see its not only the student themselves but their elder relatives who dont want to see their youngsters heavily indebted to the very people who caused the mayhem in the first place.

  • Comment number 35.

    Nick Clegg was meant to lead the Lib Dems as a sensible alternative to Labour, not turn Tory blue with a Lib Dem yellow streak down his back. Yes, he talKed the talk, he promised & pledged, but he hasn't walked the walk & delivered. A prime example of Clegg's poor leadership is his failing to stand up to Cameron on PR. Resulting in a patronising 'half choice' referendum on AV.

    The British electorate are savvy enough to determine their own voting system & should have had a proper referendum on FPTP, AV or full PR. Instead, a coalition deal on AV was struck & a half-baked referendum was rolled out just so Clegg could get his shot at power. That power has now been diminished by the electorate.

  • Comment number 36.

    Last night's parade of studio guests and polling station interviewees showed UK politics in its finest light. We had couple of sex scandal survivors, the usual line-up of hypocrites, casuists and purveyors of untruths and even a message from a jailed ex-MP.
    Fantastic.

  • Comment number 37.

    "Before someone leaves Mr Clegg alone in a room with a bottle of Whiskey and a loaded revolver there is only one thing he should do - just GO!"

    So, (the person with the revolver and the scotch) he should go before leaving the revolver & scotch (in which case there would be nothing left for Nick to martyr himself with) or he (Nick) should just go without resorting to using the scotch and the shooter....?

    Which is it to be? Typical LibDem confusion!!!

  • Comment number 38.

    If you have ever worked on a Board, you will know that people fall out, shout, bawl etc.. The reporting of this Chris Huhne thing is a bit immature - it happens every day in every business.

    The issue here is that most Labour supporters or those who lent their vote to the Lib Dems at the last election, work in quite low paid jobs and so therefore feel that Lib Dems have stabbed them in the back. They don't understand Boardroom business.

    Take the kicking and move on.

    The fact is that Labour strongholds are generally in poorer areas of the country. People should ask themselves why that is - it isn't because they are suppressed it is because socialism doesn't work. Labour is not the cure, it is the disease.

    Personally I don't vote - I don't believe any party has the expertise required to run a business the size of UK Plc - but worrying about who votes for you seems a bit naive. Do what you can do and if you lose votes, who cares? Leave the country in a better state than you left it and then get a job on a Board of an oil company - retire rich!

    I can't understand this demand to be popular.

  • Comment number 39.

    #17

    "Anyone else find it a bit odd that the party that got hammered in this election now feels it's entitled to a bigger say in government?

    Looks like the gruby side of coalition politics is about to come to the fore"

    Yes, this is the point! With coalitions, it's all about the tail wagging the dog with untrustworthy MPs doing cosy deals behind closed doors in order to remain in power.

    The LibDems always claim to be a party that cares for the environment. Perhaps they should stop printing election manifestos full of promises we know they will break: it's a waste of paper and just ends up in the recycling bin.

  • Comment number 40.

    16#

    Yawn.

    Change the record....

  • Comment number 41.

    Let's face it - which serious politician would fancy taking on the Lib Dem leadership now? Surely they'd be better waiting until the next general election thumping and then be seen as the phoenix rising from the ashes.

  • Comment number 42.

    Cameron pulling the Tories further right. Miliband, with his union affiliation, has dragged Labour further to the left. The Lib Dems should quit this coalition, continue down the centre and go back to obscurity.

  • Comment number 43.

    Since when did any sitting government do well in local elections early in their term? Governments don't generally go in for populist moves until later in their term, they do the hard stuff upfront. Given the things this coalition has had to address I'm surprised that anyone is surprised at these results.

    It's undeniable that the LibDems have broken promises and commitments in order to get a couple of fingers on the driving wheel, therefore no surprise that the electorate have, in turn given them the finger.

    Of far more lasting import are the referendum results, and nobody is very focussed on that. But that's not surprising, for various shabby reasons of their own our political and media classes have variously soft-peddled and (in some quarters) deliberately obscured the referendum. For example, I know several tabloid readers who knew every detail about the Royal Wedding, but didn't even know that a referendum was happening, much less what it was about. Rule by "bread and circuses" triumphs again.

    We deserve all we get.

    Alan T

  • Comment number 44.

    @23. At 10:13am 6th May 2011, Keith_Scott

    Axis of Weasels more like :)

  • Comment number 45.

    What a shambles. And as always the joke is on them and the fine is on you for being pushed out of the frame ever so cautiously giving the pretentious few an unchallenged opportunity to remain unscathed at the top of the democratic ladder of hypocrisy. Meanwhile the majority of people paying through the roof for the privilege of holding up the ladder of shame and indignation get tidily squat in exchange for supporting the local misfits. Who will always receive a rapturous cheer from the beckoning crowd when they eventually make a balls up of everything and fall to their doom. Can you spare any more change governor as it is not in my job description to scrape incompetence off the pavement every five minutes.

  • Comment number 46.

    "fundamental evil can not be reasoned with."


    Likewise blind, ignorant stupidity.

  • Comment number 47.

    I wonder what the odds are for Nick Clegg to lose his seat at the next election - prob odds on.

  • Comment number 48.

    I loved the Alex Salmond quote where Red Ed Milliband (son of Brown) with his side kick Ed Balls campaigned in 14 Scottish constituencies and all of them were won by the SNP. I just wonder how big the rout would have been if Brown himself had campaigned for the Scottish Labour party.

    On the BBC radio the "party" line was the Lib Dem implosion, but the Lib Dems in Scotland are ranked number three. It is hard to believe that Edinburgh pentlands (Malcolm Rifkind's Tory seat in the 1980's) is now held by SNP. The SNP also had swings of about 10 percent so this is a big sea change.

  • Comment number 49.

    The Lib Shameocrats cannot afford to bring down the coalition government. They'd be decimated at a general election, and they know it. So we are stuck with Cameron. Thank you Mr Clegg - for nothing.

  • Comment number 50.

    9 Fubar

    Lots of bitter and twisted LD's on your previous blog Nick. Think you're going to be in for a weekend of this type of howling. What fun....


    It's far more likely that the blog will close just as the discussion begins to actually produce constructive ideas.

  • Comment number 51.

    I wonder if Nick Clegg or his advisors reads these blogs? If so, have a look at this. It might give you a clue why people don't trust you:

    http://bit.ly/bAa9fh

  • Comment number 52.

    16. At 09:58am 6th May 2011, Tory Bankers Stole My Cash wrote:
    Nick Clegg should resign.

    The Lib Dems should remove themselves from this awful coalition.

    But let us not forget who the real enemies are : the pro-banker Tories.

    --------

    Remind me. Did Gordon Brown reign in the banks? Or did he deregulate them, encourage their recklessness, reap the rewards while we borrowed trouble, then claim it was nothing to do with him when they failed?

    Rhetorical question by the way, in case you aren't able to spot it.

  • Comment number 53.

    A good local election for the Conservatives. The labour vote has bounced back, due to people's short memories about their plundering of pension schemes. The liberal vote has disappeared and we are moving back to a 2 party system where one party wins and the other loses and we get on with business as usual. As for talk about compulsary voting, we live in a Democracy which means we have the right to vote for who we wish to, and this includes the right not to vote at all.

  • Comment number 54.

    "29. At 10:26am 6th May 2011, singhy wrote:
    The betrayal on tuition fees was the final straw"

    What betrayal? The Lib-Dems said that IF they won the election they'd abolish tuition fees. They didn't win.

  • Comment number 55.

    Oh dear, Nick, it appears that they were only fair-weather friends after all! Or that Fubar is correct and you were a protest vote. Anyway, cheer up because although it was bad it could have been a lot worse.

    I didn't vote for you because I only ever saw this as a local election, and there are far too many local issues that need addressing to fanny around 'sending messages'.
    Which is why I voted for the local Independents.

  • Comment number 56.

    "34. At 10:39am 6th May 2011, AqualungCumbria wrote:
    "Nick Clegg says the Lib Dems are being blamed for spending cuts"

    You see its not only the student themselves but their elder relatives who dont want to see their youngsters heavily indebted to the very people who caused the mayhem in the first place."

    So these people will never take out a loan to buy a car then? Or to set themselves up in business? Or even one day to buy a house?

    If someone demanded £27,000 from the Government so they could set themselves up in business you'd tell them they were unrealistic yet you seem to think the Government should fund them through Uni?

  • Comment number 57.

    Am I right in thinking that Lefty was offering his services as a Councillor? I wonder how he fared. Good luck to him.

  • Comment number 58.

    I still don't get what the Lib Dem voters thought they were going to get. The PM was going to be either Cameron or Brown. If the Lib Dems held the balance of power which was highly likely they were going to have to snipe from the sidelines or be very junior partners in a coalition.
    Clegg wants electoral reform and he was prepared to pay any price for it. He thought the personal popularity that he gained during the election would carry a referendum if it could be done quickly.
    Stop being naive and believing that politicians are there for our benefit, they will always act in their parties/individual best interests. Clegg is no different. For this reason the coalition will hold together because Clegg and co's only hope is that things turn around in the next 4 years otherwise they will lose their ministerial cars and face political suicide at least if they stay in coalition they keep their cars (for 4 years) even if they are wiped out.
    I may be cynical but I think time will prove that I am close to the truth.

  • Comment number 59.

    So, what were the options for the LibDems in May 2010?

    Humph off into a corner, moaning, "We didn't win the election, so we're not playing!" or "Okay, the Tories got the most seats and the biggest share of the vote, so we'll work with them, create a stable government and try to get as much as we can out of it, bearing in mind that we'll be the junior partner, didn't win the election and won't be able to get everything we want."

    I guess it's become so ingrained in the political psyche of this country that it'll just take a while before most people come round to the idea that handing power to one ideological extreme which does not enjoy the support of the majority of the voters only for it to be replaced by the other political extreme in one or two elections' time is not the best way of running our country.

    It's a difficult message, it's a messy message, but the way the LibDems and Tories are working together simply reflects (a) what the current voting system has thrown up and, more importantly, (b) the way the vast majority of people in this country live their working lives, i.e. working with and compromising with people with whom they do not always agree.

    Is what we have now the best of all possible worlds? Probably not.
    Is it better than the an outright Tory majority government or an outright Labour government? Maybe.
    Immediately after the election last year, stand-up comedians across the country could wander onto stage and say "The Coalition - nobody voted for that!" and get loud applause. Yes, but the electorate did not vote for a Tory or a Labour majority government either, at least not in sufficient numbers. There was a reason for that.

    This coalition will be judged on results and how effective it is in stearing the country out of its current troubles (which are, if you stop to think about it, a little challenging).

    I want transparency and honesty and real debate in politics, not the bogus, partisan arguments that some people have been stuffing through my door and shouting at me in the street over the past few weeks.

    And I think most people in this country want that.

  • Comment number 60.

    "The British electorate are savvy enough to determine their own voting system & should have had a proper referendum on FPTP, AV or full PR."

    Those that could be bothered to put the bag of Dorritos down and get off the Sofa long enough to vote instead of watching The Only Way Is Essex? British Voting public, savvy??

    I wouldnt count on it!

  • Comment number 61.

    Danny Alexander has a lot to answer for the libdem annihilation in Scotland.

  • Comment number 62.

    33. At 10:34am 6th May 2011, maff1980 wrote:

    ...This country is on the decline the damage has already been done, hard work is not rewarded in the UK anymore!


    Well the Scots haven't done too badly out of it - they're spending all the money that was borrowed.

  • Comment number 63.

    Self, Self Self, Why do people not realise that there are greater problems this country has to come to terms with, it's obviously flavour of the month to kick someone when they are down, this has become the British passtime, we gave Labour years to ruin the country and at my age this is not the first experience of that, and now we have two political parties atempting to bring us back from the abyse, give them time and stop the Self, Self Self syndrome.

  • Comment number 64.

    48 "I just wonder how big the rout would have been if Brown himself had campaigned for the Scottish Labour party."

    Apparently he did....

    http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland/Brown-shrugs-off-poll-gloom.6756037.jp

    http://heritage.scotsman.com/scotland/Election-diary-Labour-campaign-short.6761517.jp

  • Comment number 65.

    The LibDems are being routed because of Clegg. No one has really felt much of the cuts yet and it is not the cause of their decline, if Clegg thinks this then it will be just another error to add to a growing list of mistakes and poor judgements.

    If the party don't attempt to ditch him and reboot the coalition (though what moral authority they will have is another matter) with a more agressive approach then we will return to two party politics and those who can't stomach Conservative governments should make plans to leave the country, permanently.

  • Comment number 66.

    Isn't it about time the Tory bashers stopped claiming how things would have been hugely different under Labour. For every £17 of cuts instigated by the coalition Labour planned £16 of cuts. Even Labour admitted the cuts were required in order to recover from the mess they left.

  • Comment number 67.

    Before anyone gets too excited, neither the Lib Dems nor the Tories are going to pull out and force an early election any time soon. Both trail Labour in the polls, and, quite frankly, the financial uncertainty a general election would create at this time would be economic suicide - the voters will not thank the party that brings this on the country.

    There is, however, another option for the Lib Dems. They can pull out of the coalition and allow the Conservatives to run as a minority government "in the interests of national stability". That way, any further unpopular decisions will reflect on the Conservatives alone, whilst the Lib Dems will gain a lot more freedom to vote against unpopular moves to make themselves look good.

    The other factor is that the Fixed Term Parliaments Bill will probably become law very soon. That will make it a lot harder for a single party to unilaterally call an election.

    Like it or not, we are probably stuck with a dysfunctional government for a long time yet.

  • Comment number 68.

    As long as the Lib Dems continue to support the coalition, they will suffer electorally. Many people are terrified by the effect of coalition policies upon them and their families and will vote for whatever party looks most likely to protect them from those policies.

    Hence the astoundingly good results achieved by the SNP in Scotland. Make no mistake, many will even go so far as to vote for Scottish independence to avoid the periodic imposition of Thatcherite economic policies by governments voted into power mainly by South of England voters.

  • Comment number 69.

    Some wonderful posts above - hope I don't lower the tone.

    If Dave's plan all along was to destroy the Lib Dems in case the country decided it wanted AV, STV or full PR, it looks as though he may have succeeded. But the pivotal tuition fee issue is as likely to bite the Tories in the longer end of the short-term just when they are fighting the next election.

    So is Dave hoping now that instead of the Tories and N.Labour being in a race to see who suffers defections first, that instead his party will stay intact and enough L.Dems will come over to the Tories to keep the Tories going it alone until 2015? Or is he hoping that when it comes to legislative votes and Cleggie tries to pull away from Dave all the L.Dem rebels will vote Dave's way just to spite Cleggie? Or if Cleggie backs Dave on something else, will it automatically mean that L.Dem MPs walk into the opposing Lobby?

    What's the next bit heading for the Statute Book that will provide the opportunity?

  • Comment number 70.

    A good article by John Prescott on AV in the Yorkshire Post (Yes, I know! Who'd have thought it?)

    http://bit.ly/eq7rFh

    Prezza writes:

    " I enjoyed the joke that when someone called the Lib Dem headquarters to buy a copy of their manifesto they were told “sorry we have sold out” and the caller said “I know, but can I buy a copy of your manifesto please?” "

  • Comment number 71.

    get out of politics clegg. go now and hang your lying head in shame!!

  • Comment number 72.

    Mr Reading wrote ...."I understand Lib Dem grass roots discontent but the option is either play a constructive part in government or retreat to the comfortable position where you just become a protest party on the sidelines......."

    By how wide a margin can one miss the point? Disgust with the lib-dems is based on precisely this fact, they embrace grubby pragmatism rather than uphold their principles. We are not engaged in world war three, or subject to a famine or pestilence, one cannot ditch all your principles with such a flimsy justification that someone needed to step up to the plate and form a government. Far better to have forced another election, to have resisted the policies of a minority Conservative government, or to have crashed and burned with New Labour whilst being true to what you believed in. Instead, the credibility of both the lib-dems and voting reform have been completely decimated instead.

    Labour is still too busy courting middle-class voters and the tabloids in the South - so is loosing ground in the North (e.g. Scotland), whilst Cameron will bide his time until the opportunity to force Clegg et. al. out of the coalition arises. The electorate will still project their ire on the Lib-dems, the Conservatives will win an overall majority, and what a truimphant day that will be for Clegg.

  • Comment number 73.

    Please, please stay Nick. Will you please keep the coalition together?

    You're the best thing that's happened to the Tory party.

  • Comment number 74.

    How can liberals block immigration reform. As a TORY/UKIP supporter i thought that immigration controls

    If they want to renage on their coalition agreement and show the tories can reciprocate and block LD wishes

    Please hurry up with Scottish Independance. The sooner the better IMHO. Fed up as a south west person , scottish mps forcing their views on england. Labour will be introuble without their scottish rump of Mps.

    Before people mention Maggie, i would reciprocate and mention Callaghan and Healey before Maggie, who bankrupted UK PLC. oh look whats happened again when labour left office , they have bankrupted UK PLC again . What a surprise.

    England is better off without scotland anyway. So grat SNP :-)) . hard luck labour.

  • Comment number 75.

    Good for you Outrage. The only way the duopoly is going to be broken is if people do more of that, voting for local independents, especially in local elections.

  • Comment number 76.

    # 50 Its_an_Outrage wrote:

    "It's far more likely that the blog will close just as the discussion begins to actually produce constructive ideas"

    When I log on, I keep getting asked if I could spare a few minutes to answer a few questions about this blog.

    I like the blog, and yes it feels 'well made', and yes I would 'talk to other people about it'! But it's annoying that they always close early for no apparent reason. I have said so in my feedback and suggest others do too!

  • Comment number 77.

    News Flash: Left wing LibDem voters are unhappy their party has enabled a right-wing government.

    What a shocker that they're now voting labour!

    Forget the deficit, forget the seriousness of the situation the country is in and lets just vote for those who promise the earth and nevermind how they will pay for it all.

    I'm glad to see the Tory vote has held up, common sense reigning at last!

  • Comment number 78.

    57#

    Providing he wasnt standing north of the border... I'm sure he'll come back on and tell us how he got on.

  • Comment number 79.

    The Lib Dems have lost all Face in politics, the public do not see them as a party of difference which i believe many moderate Labour supporters could opt for.

    I believe that the Lib Dems should bow out of the coalition with the Conservatives and force another Election. But this wont happen as they love the power playing.

    Other than breaking up the coalition many backbencher MPs from Lib Dems should rebel, They can not continue to Fibdem any longer, they are ruining a reputation that has taken 30 years to establish.

  • Comment number 80.

    Last night I particularly enjoyed the example of your inventing news live on air. At about 1.30am you asked a LibDem MP whether he thought it was time for the LibDems to start having their arguments with the Tories out in the open instead of just in Cabinet. (He replied No.)
    At 3.30am you announced that "some people think the LibDems should be having their arguments with the Tories out in the open instead of just in Cabinet".
    Not some people Nick. Just you.

  • Comment number 81.

    The Lib-Dems are learning the difference between being a party in permanent opposition and a party in Government. Its bound to be painful for any party that hasn't had a proper role in Government for decades. For people to go blaming them for every aspect of policy that comes out of the new administration is absurd - remember, the Great British Public voted them into 3rd place at last years general election - and it would be anti-democratic to scupper every policy that they didn't like of the Conservatives, as the Conservatives polled more seats and a greater percentage.

  • Comment number 82.

    The Lib Dems are in deep denial. They act like a getaway driver pleading mitigation because without him the bank robbers would have stolen a car as well.

    They gave up their right to genuinely oppose the tory programmes in exchange for the AV vote, which looks like a poor bargain in the cold light of electoral reality.

    The notion of doing their 'duty' by joining the coalition is a total myth, and not in the least 'what the country voted for' as Ashdown and his ilk continue to claim.

    They could have been equally (more?) effective as a loyal opposition, considering the minority government's proposals and supporting the fiscally necessary while opposing the ideologically unacceptable. That, I suggest, is what the electorate voted for.

    In place of robust and open debate to arrive at a functioning compromise, we have had horse trading and politically expedient deals. They have made themselves accomplices instead of reformers, it doesn't matter how noble their intentions.

    Even if and when the economy improves, do they really think all will be forgiven? Don't they know by now that the tories will take any credit that's going?

    They need to realise that before it's too late. Maybe it already is.

  • Comment number 83.

    @54. At 11:10am 6th May 2011, AndyC555 wrote:
    What betrayal? The Lib-Dems said that IF they won the election they'd abolish tuition fees. They didn't win.
    --

    Actually, it was an individual pledge signed by each LD candidate - they didn't have to sign up to the pledge, but they chose to. It wasn't just a manifesto commitment, it was a personally signed promise to their constituency members that they would vote a certain way.

    They then had the possibility in government to vote against it - the MPs were encouraged not to, but some had the nerve to stick to their promises and vote against, and some weren't quite man/woman enough to stick to it and abstained.

    However, the promise was made regardless of whether they won the election or not. And the majority decided that they could burn all credibility by proving that what they say (and write) is worthless.

  • Comment number 84.

    Mr, Robinson wrote:

    "So, for now the pressure is not for the Coalition to end or Clegg to go but for him to fight harder and more publicly for Lib Dem policies and against what he himself called this morning "a return to Thatcherism"."

    An understandable reaction from a defeated party,fight harder,our message hasn`t got across,we need more leaflets,good candidates,couriers,public relations operatives,yellow balloons and Nick should grow a moustache.

    Across the bonding exercise of the hastily called weekend conference lies the shadow of Flashman and recurrent images of the Rose Garden.How we were courted,flattered,given offices and titles,ministers of this and that, only to see the substance turned to dust.Nick with no real job,Vince fuming as business secretary amid the debris of Osborne cut-outs,Huhne with half a dozen chilling voices uttering Fukushima in his ear.Danny turned by the coalition into Cameron apparatchik, such a nice boy when he was on the ski lifts at Aviemore.

    They don`t need to fight,they need exorcism from all the nonsense they have been forced to swallow as the price for power.From Flashman.



  • Comment number 85.

    Whilst accepting that it is a true coalition, they are very strange bedfellows; and the most striking difference to me is the difference in the way that this Coalition behaves compared to the old Lib-Lab pact, in which there genuinely seemed to be a compromise on both sides; I struggle to see what Nick Clegg achieved for the Lib Dems except disaster. Yes, he got a vote on the miserable little compromise, but with his own credibility carefully shot to bits by the Tories in the run-up, the mere mention of his name was enough to put off many: I desperately wanted to put a cross in the box marked "Yes but not for Nick".

    Nick Clegg has suffered the fate of the naive girls through the ages who have fallen for the promises of a privileged master; Cameron has used him and moved on, and he's left holding the baby, his reputation and life in tatters, still hoping that someone will make an honest man of him.

  • Comment number 86.

    I think Nick Robinson's work is first rate and a worthy link in the noble heritage of John Cole, John Sargeant and Andrew Marr. All made Politics interesting and accessible.

  • Comment number 87.

    The reason the Liberals Democrats have been pasted by the voters is not because the joined a coalition with the hated Tories but that they lied. No amount of restating that they did this for the good of the country will persuade voters that this is the truth because in supporting the increases in tuition fees they lied.
    I do not beleive that by withdrawing from the coalition they will precipitate a genel election as David Cameron's advisers will tell him it would be better to carry on as a minority administration rather than risk a wipe out at the poles.

    After all the electorate voted for a minority administration not a stitched up coalition. In Scotland the SNP governed very successfully as a minority administration for four years they simply had to comprimise on cherished policies in public and not stitch up deals in private

  • Comment number 88.

    @44. At 10:52 6th May 2011. TheFaqqer

    You call them The Axis of Weasels, I call them the Axis of Nasty.

    I suggest we get together and COMPROMISE - that would involve YOU giving up everything you believe in and doing things MY way.

  • Comment number 89.

    Hmm.....might the silence of some of these former libdem council leaders have something to do with the fact that peerages for the likes of Scriven be in the offing?! I wonder. See "Political Scrapbook" and others - "...today reports that Lib Dem losers — Elwyn Watkins, two-time loser in Oldham East, and soon-to-lose leader of Sheffield Council, Paul Scriven — are to be given “ermine parachutes” in the House of Lords".

  • Comment number 90.

    @20 ARHReading wrote:

    "I understand Lib Dem grass roots discontent but the option is either play a constructive part in government or retreat to the comfortable position where you just become a protest party on the sidelines."

    What you seemed to have failed to grasp is that people do not view the Lib Dems propping up out and out ideologically driven Tory policies as being constructive.

    I think people have every right to expect the Lib Dems to oppose outright the NHS reforms for example. They are not part of the coalition agreement and they were not in either parties manifesto so there is no mandate for them.

    There is a difference between being constructive over the economy and being complicit in implementing Tory policy.

  • Comment number 91.

    Nick - didn't you hear the R4 doc on the "Orange Book Coup" a few weeks ago? This is the CORE OF THE ISSUE - why are you ignoring it?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00yqjtj

    "The Orange Book, published in 2004, is a collection of political essays by leading Liberal Democrats. Although the writers come from a range of viewpoints, the book has been seen as an attempt by party right wingers to reclaim the party's economic liberal origins in the nineteenth century and give it a new modern emphasis. But for some leading Liberal Democrats these ideas are now closer to tenets of Conservative thought. So will the Orange Bookers bind the coalition ever closer together or lead to fractures and even splits in Liberal Democrat ranks?

    Edward Stourton talks to one of the leading Orange Book Liberal Democrats, David Laws MP, about the philosophy behind the book and why they were so keen to publish it. He discusses the consequences for the party of the gap which has now emerged between public perceptions of where the party stands on major issues and where its leadership's inclinations lie. And he discusses what the longer-term implications of the Orange Bookers' relationship with David Cameron's Conservatives will be."

    Quite simply the reason Clegg is toast is because of his actions that I and a great number of other voters and LibDem members consider to be a total abuse of the democratic system and a deliberate misleading of the electorate at the General Election.

    The official LibDem manifesto was bined by Clegg as soon as the coalition talks began and his "Orange Book" blueprint for libertarian policies that had been roundly rejected by his own Party was dusted off and written into the Coalition Agreement -Clegg staged a backroom coup against his own Party's policies and the will of the electorate.

    We thought we'd voted for a Centre-Left party that was in many ways to the left of Labour on many issues - and we actually got one firmly in the libertarian tradition of Thatcherism in slashing the state, imposing charges like tuiition fees for public services, well on the Right of the spectrum.

    We now face the scenario many predicted after the coalition was set up:

    1. The SNP with a majority pressing for the end of the UK and Scottish independence which would be catastrophic for the rest of the UK - no more oil!

    2. Electoral reform in the dustbin of history for at the least a generation.

    3. The LibDems decimated in local government, Scotland & Wales.

    4. For Clegg, everything now hangs on the economy - but just lo

  • Comment number 92.

    "54. At 11:10am 6th May 2011, AndyC555 wrote:
    "29. At 10:26am 6th May 2011, singhy wrote:
    The betrayal on tuition fees was the final straw"

    What betrayal? The Lib-Dems said that IF they won the election they'd abolish tuition fees. They didn't win."

    Alas, it is more complicated than that. True, the LibDems didn't win and therefore could not implement their entire programme and had to make compromises.

    But, having stood so loudly on getting rid of tuition fees pre-election, then to support the raising of fees post election looks bad, very bad.

    The fact that the new system takes away much of the up-front cost for students, increases the numberr of lower paid post-grads who will not have to repay the fees and effectively introduces an affordable graduate tax has, of course, been lost in the mud-slinging. And whether what we ended up with was a fair compromise is up for debate (though, from recollection, I only saw it seriously debated on Newsnight, once).

    But, alas, in a yah-boo sucks, celebrity culture, soundbite world, most debate will struggle to attain even "sub-Paxman" levels.

    I guess it's a question of honesty. Who is more honest, the LibDems for negotiating a compromise on fees that was always going to be difficult for them, or their critics who did not have to make that difficult decision?

  • Comment number 93.

    "The British electorate are savvy enough to determine their own voting system & should have had a proper referendum on FPTP, AV or full PR."

    Those that could be bothered to put the bag of Dorritos down and get off the Sofa long enough to vote instead of watching The Only Way Is Essex? British Voting public, savvy??

    I wouldnt count on it!"


    I agree with that. Also those people who say they are too busy worrying about other issues to be concerned about how we vote. Issues created by our outdated class based 2 party politics. The AV Referendum was a Conservative/Donkeys wearing red rossettes stitch up to protect the gravy train in my view. How are they likely to win on so many obvious lies? The Torygraph doesn't want us to be angry about the Gravy train now we have a Tory/Orange book lib dem coalition. Being who you are, You will obviously strongly disagree on that last Torygraph point.
  • Comment number 94.

    Make no mistake, many will even go so far as to vote for Scottish independence to avoid the periodic imposition of Thatcherite economic policies by governments voted into power mainly by South of England voters.
    ------------------------------------------------------

    Shame we havent had the same opportunity to deny having the likes of plastic socialist megalomaniacs like Brown & Blair being foistered on the English, eh Stan??

    Cant have it both ways.

  • Comment number 95.

    70#

    Not a bad line.... but it feels almost like Jim Davidson or Bernard Manning delivering a Ben Elton line from the 80's.... not quite right. Considering how much of a sell-out Two Jags was/still is....

  • Comment number 96.

    Cleggs crew know that of there was an election tomorrow they are all out on their ear. Cameron knows this and given their love of "power" at expense of priciples will easily push them around now.

    Ashdown sums the Liberal new-found arrogance up to a tee - does he seriously think Labour will be to blame when they lose the AV vote? And does he think we listened to the perpheral rubbish be spouted out on either side? If so he 's crediting the electorate with zero intelligence.

    Let us be clear here It is US that do not want it Paddy. And we don't want it because we want to decide who's in No 10 rather than leave it to your "blow which way the wind blows" party to decide for us every 5 years....

    I hope that is clear to you, now would you please take your party back to obscurity, and stay there.

  • Comment number 97.

    In the last General Election, I went to my polling station and voted Lib Dem because I genuinely believed they were the only party proposing a real change and alternative to the old style politics that has blighted this country. Opinion polls during the television debates suggested that a wave of this belief was surging through the country and that we could really embrace change. However, too many weak willed voters got to their polling stations and lost that belief, hence Mr Clegg ended up being kingmaker with a meagre number of MP's as opposed to what should have been a much greater presence in the Commons to be a equal partner in Coalition. It is us the voters that have created this shambles of a situation due to our inherent fear of real change. We have now further turned our backs on the "third" way and now the AV (miserable compromise that it is) is likely to be voted against (again due to fear of change) we can only look forward to more decades of old style politics. We the voters have shot ourselves in the foot.

  • Comment number 98.

    I still find it incredible that everyone ignores the fact that (whether you like it or not) in England, the Tories have a clear majority in parliament, and if there were an English assembly there would be no need for a coalition.

  • Comment number 99.

    8. At 09:44am 6th May 2011, Jon Cooper wrote:
    "Nick Clegg says the Lib Dems are being blamed for spending cuts"

    then he is wrong, he is getting the payback for betraying his supporters on just about every promise he made to get elected

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

    Or maybe not. Just heard on the radio that an independent review has established that about 75% of the liberal manifesto is currently being actively implemented.

    the problem is that people are to ready to believe the media and political hype and not enough people care enough to find out the facts and act accordingly

  • Comment number 100.

    76. At 11:43am 6th May 2011, DistantTraveller wrote:

    "...I like the blog, and yes it feels 'well made', and yes I would 'talk to other people about it'! But it's annoying that they always close early for no apparent reason..."

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Perhaps if we confined our comments to offering homage to the relevant journo, and did not attempt debate with other contributors they would stay open longer.

 

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