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What Clegg is thinking

Nick Robinson | 13:16 UK time, Sunday, 25 April 2010

clegg_bbc226.gifUp until today, Nick Clegg has been very very careful to stick to a carefully drawn-up formula about how the Liberal Democrats would react to a hung Parliament - the party with the biggest mandate (a word carefully left undefined) should get the chance to govern; the Lib Dems were not interested in getting "bums on to the seats" of ministerial cars and would, instead, focus on delivering their four election priorities - a fairer taxes, extra help for disadvantaged children at school, a green economy and a fairer political system.

Today's interview with Andrew Marr marked the first shift from that. Clegg said that if Labour had the most seats in the Commons but the least votes (a possibility, according to recent polls) they could not govern:

"I think a party which has come third and so millions of people have decided to abandon them, has lost the election spectacularly, cannot then lay claim to providing the prime minister of this country".

In that case, unless there is a spectacular Lib Dem breakthrough, the assumption must be that Clegg would support - if not necessarily join - the Tories in forming a government. Nick Clegg's predecessor and adviser Lord Ashdown told The People today: "A coalition (with the Tories) is not an option for us. The parties are too far apart."

Coalition with one or other big party is clearly on the Lib-Dem leader's mind, though, as this exchange shows:

Marr: Could you sit round a cabinet table with David Cameron?
Clegg: I could sit around a cabinet table with anyone who agrees with me that what we need to do is hard wire fairness into the British... into the tax system.
Marr: Including Gordon Brown?
Clegg: Anyone...

As I write this, I am aware that this is precisely the sort of "poll-based, what if" speculation that angers Gordon Brown. I'm told that Labour has asked the two other big parties to sign a joint letter to broadcasters criticising them for covering the debates and the polls too much and claiming that the news bulletins had "failed to deliver the usual specialist examination of specific policy areas". The Lib Dems and the Tories have refused to sign. The BBC has yet to receive the letter.

Update 1520: Labour now confirms that it talked to the other parties about sending a letter to broadcasters.

A party spokesperson says:

"We believe that an unintended consequence of the attention (the debates) get has been a lack of policy scrutiny and discussion that was normal in previous election coverage.
"We think the public are being short-changed by the focus on process not policy. Yesterday both of the other main parties said this idea had merit today they don't - that's tells you all you need to know about their enthusiasm for a policy discussion. They are the anything but policy parties."

This is the full draft of the suggested letter:

"To: BBC, ITV, Channel Four,
"If there is one thing which all parties can agree on it's that the televised leaders' debates have been a welcome development which has given a real sense of energy and excitement to the election campaign.
"However, as we reach the final stages of the campaign we also share a common belief that the focus on the debates, both the process surrounding them, and the polling before and after which they have attracted, has dramatically reduced the amount of airtime dedicated to the scrutiny of the policies of the parties. This is particularly so in the case of the main bulletins which remain the main source of news for many people.
"We feel that whilst our manifestos were fully, fairly and properly covered, since then the usual specialist examination of specific policy areas has not been done.
"We are writing to broadcasting organisations with a public service remit to ask you all to ensure that during the last ten days of the campaign your programmes analyse our policy proposals to the same level of detail as at previous election campaigns.
"If the public are not exposed to the different policy details and arguments which we are presenting we are concerned that you will not be fulfilling your traditional duty of explaining and probing the plans of all the main parties. If the public don't hear the arguments we believe that, despite the impact of the debates, many will still be in the dark as to the differences between our plans and values.
"We are copying this letter to Sky News."


Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Thank goodness for a new blog, getting a bit heated and not a little surreal over on the previous one.

  • Comment number 2.

    "Today's interview with Andrew Marr marked the first shift from that. Clegg said that if Labour had the most seats in the Commons but the least votes (a possibility, according to recent polls) they could not govern:

    "I think a party which has come third and so millions of people have decided to abandon them, has lost the election spectacularly, cannot then lay claim to providing the Prime Minister of this country".


    Good call by Clegg, glad that obfuscation has gone. He might get my vote now.

  • Comment number 3.

    "I'm told that Labour has asked the two other big parties to sign a joint letter to broadcasters criticsing them for covering the debates and the polls too much and claiming that the news bulletins had "failed to deliver the usual specialist examination of specific policy areas". The Lib Dems and the Tories have refused to sign. The BBC has yet to receive the letter."


    Hmmm, Gordon "I agree with Nick" Brown seems to be regretting his lamentable Elvis stunt already, and wants to deflect attention away.

  • Comment number 4.

    Desperate Brown is all shook up! - the Tories will get in with a working majority IMO

  • Comment number 5.

    I so want to read / listen to , serious debate between/about UKIP , BNP , Greens and English Dems as well. There are some real changes on offer from these parties , interesting policies - cant we see them costed up by your economics editors , in an unbiased way ? Some of us may decide to vote for non mainstream parties without knowing whether their sums add up .People who work find it difficult to go out to political meetings to ask .
    I would also like to see a Public sector employee-o-graph . For example , if a party plans community volunteers , will they need a zillion £ HQ with a zillion civil servants to administer the scheme and do the paedophile checks ?
    I also suggest a party plans a Ministry Of Common Sense , then I will vote for them .

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Yes. PR is the holy grail for the Lib Dems, so to support a party in government which came THIRD in the popular vote (even, to be honest, if that party got the most seats) would seem absurd. They'd be allowing the vagaries of the very FPTP system which they disparage to dictate who governs. So, no. Coalition with the Tories? Ooo very difficult. Best outcome (IMVIO) is Labour as the largest party (in seats AND votes) and an arrangement with the Libs to govern for at least two years. Maybe a formal coalition or maybe something a little looser. So you know ... fingers, toes (and pretty much everything else) crossed.

  • Comment number 8.

    This blogger realised a while back that the political system needed a radical re-ordering in England as our democracy had become stale and the people's voice muted.

    If, indirectly, the Lib-Dems are the political vehicle that act as the catalyst, then so be it.

    Since the Lib-Dems came to prominence in the consciousness of the English public, via these Leaders Debates, the vested interests of the other 'old parties' have come out in force in an attempt to maintain the status quo.

    They must fail as the will of the people of England seems to demand a fairer democratic representation.

  • Comment number 9.

    Clegg's comments do not imply that he would do a deal with Cameron. He would be perfectly entitled to propose a Lib Dem / Lab deal with himself as Prime Minister even if a majority of ministerial posts were held by Labour.

  • Comment number 10.

    Proportional representation is only fair if people are electing parties and not individual representatives.

    What is unfair is the inequality relating to the size of the polling areas! They are disproportionate to the electorate.

    If I vote for my local MP regardless of party I want them to represent me in Parliament not a Lib Dem candidate who got in just because one quarter of the wider County managed to get more Lib Dem supporters out to vote than others.

    I totally agree with Nick Clegg about Labour getting more seats and less votes, but that highlights the problems with the sizes of the Polling Areas not the system.

  • Comment number 11.

    Cant he not just blame the Americans as he usually does!

  • Comment number 12.

    The last blog was much better - pinning Brown down on areas for cuts ( and making him admit 'making an error' on child benefit administration savings)

    Instead of continuing in the same vein on policy with all the parties you're back to process .I guess it's just too enticing. Don't forget real jobs and futures are at stake in this election - not just journalists' scoops.

  • Comment number 13.

    Nick Clegg has a colourful mouth e.g. He suggested that Gordon Brown would be “squatting in Number Ten” - if having won fewer votes in the General Election, he came out with the most number of seats.
    In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mr Clegg suggested “You can’t have Gordon Brown squatting in No 10 just because of the irrational idiosyncrasies of our electoral system.”
    Even so, Nick Clegg said he would be more than willing to form a coalition with "anyone" who furthered the LibDem poliicies, even the so-called squatter.
    Earlier, as the Labour Party sank to third place, Mr Clegg had described Labour as “increasingly irrelevant”. He went as far as to suggest that it was now a straight race between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.
    I thought Lord Mandelson, had a most interesting quote (and very expressive of my own opinion) when he said that voters might start flirting with Nick Clegg, but end up marrying David Cameron.
    Nick Clegg is too much “everyman” - or “all things to everyman”.
    For the life of me, I find it next to impossible to find my balance on his ship; it’s almost like he runs to the left and then runs to the right – wherever he feels he needs balance, and well...I just run to keep up with him.
    About Gordon Brown Letter:
    Apparently, Labour asked the 2 other parties to sign a joint letter to broadcasters
    - criticizing them for covering the debates and the polls too much and
    - claiming that the news had "failed to deliver the usual specialist examination of specific policy areas".
    Yes, I agree with this. The voting public needs to know what can be done and what cannot be done based on facts, figures and analysis.
    What exactly do debates and polls tell the voting public, except some vague thing about candidate popularity?
    This has been one of the worst Uk elections for personality analysis vs. policy analysis.

  • Comment number 14.

    Interesting tactics from Clegg. He is directly countering the "Vote Lib, get Lab" or "Vote Glegg, get Brown" sound bite that is being put forward by the tories thus attemping to gain more votes form the tories. But will anyone believe he'd actually side with the tories? After what he said today re supporting the party with the largest vote share as opposed to the largest number of seats he may very well have to.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hmm. I am rather going off Clegg. If I want a Tory government, I might as well vote Tory. But I dont. So I think I might switch back to Labour.

  • Comment number 16.

    Nick Clegg's interview with Andrew Marr is sounding more like rhubarb crumble than apple pie.

    Crumbling economic policy
    Crumbling immigration policy
    Crumbling European policy
    Crumbling defence policy

    We've seen the one man and a dog outfit so surely it's time to bring on the rest of them so we can really have a good look at what the LibDems stand for and who else they've got in their war chest?

    So far we have a crumbly sweet topping but we haven't yet tasted the sour mix underneath.

  • Comment number 17.

    The election has come alive,a little over a week ago it was a tired plod to the polls,now we could be on the cusp of a transformation into how Britain is governed.

    There is a sense in which the existing structures of government feed into the enduring patterns of inequality and deprivation that mark British society.

    Reforms are reversed and are never permament.The post-war commitment to full employment endorsed by Labour and Conservative governments was dropped by Margaret Thatcher who tolerated,some say welcomed,high levels of unemployment as a means of disciplining the work force.She broke the link between pensions and earnings,sold of publicly owned assets and took away children`s school milk.

    Families without work are the major source of poverty for adults and children,so employment levels matter,even if only one parent works.

    The reversion to a market based system of reward continued into the Major era and was adapted by the Labour government,although modified by Tax credits for families and pensioners,winter fuel allowance,the minimum wage,EMA,Sure Start and Kindergarten funding for working parents.

    The significance of a change to three party government is that it is unlikely that any single party would dominate the levers of economic power ever again.The opportunity to manage the market on behalf of all the people by discussion and conciliation could be a first step to a more cohesive and more equal society.

  • Comment number 18.

    Very astute and thought-provoking post there, Saga. What a bitter irony that the parties who have the influence to introduce PR are those which would benefit least.
    I still believe that if NC starts to shmooze the Tories there is a danger his fair-weather fans will start to drift away, back whence they came.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think Nick Clegg is thinking what a lot of us are now beginning to think - this election is no longer about seats, it is about votes. This election *is* the referendum for a new voting system. In the last election only 1 in 5 registered voters voted Labour (more people abstained than voted Labour!). I think that Cleggmania is not about personality or LibDem policies, but because the leaders debate made us realise that a change from Labour/Conservative was possible. In this election there are no safe seats, as it doesn't matter who wins in each constituency. What matters is the popular vote. Every vote counts.

  • Comment number 20.

    Please remember when you are just about to cast your vote, pause and think, 'DEPUTY-LEADER HARMAN AND THE FEMINIST AGENDA' - and make you mark somwhere else, ANYWHERE ELSE!

  • Comment number 21.

    agree with 8 and 9.
    For me it is time for a change of thinking and that will need a change of system. Two party politics should be a thing of the past. Bring on the Liberal Democrats but also others as well (it has worked in Scotland and Wales). Problem is that ‘the establishment’ do not want it to happen and are running scared. They know how to control the existing system and promote their own interests, why would they not run scared. I am sure that a hung parliament will be difficult and we may be in for a rough ride. But things have to change. I don’t want to go back to the social division of the 1980’s and I don’t want to leave Brown in power.

  • Comment number 22.

    A new blog, and on a Sunday as well. Happy days.

    If I read this correctly, Clegg has only addressed the case where Labour came third in votes cast (as per some of the recent opinion polls).

    There is still the case where Labour come second and the LibDems third (most likely scenario perhaps). This also sub-divides by number of votes and number of seats.

    Perhaps I've missed it, but Clegg has not said that he wouldn't work with Brown if Labour come second. So all the anti-Tories (the ones with no positive ideas of their own) can take heart that a Lib/Lab pact is still the most likely outcome of the election (vote Clegg, get Brown).

    Unless, that is, the leadership of the Tory partnership is secretly considering some form of PR (perhaps equal constituency sizes, with a top-up list for the LibDems). This would hit Labour hard.

    Will the Tories stay transfixed in the spotlight of electoral reform, or will they be players in the game?

  • Comment number 23.

    The election debates have ruined this election.

    In the last full week before the election can you please forget personalities and focus on a) policies and b) getting as many people as possible out to vote.

    After the election can you please hold the winning party(ies) to account and measure their promised targets against what they actually achieve. Highlight every election promise that was forgotten and every target that was missed or is not on target to be achieved.
    This election is full of promises, how many of them will be met?

  • Comment number 24.

    8. At 2:37pm on 25 Apr 2010, JohnConstable wrote:
    ...the will of the people of England seems to demand a fairer democratic representation.

    Absolutely, John. And PR is way to supply it.

  • Comment number 25.

    It is fairly straightforward to figure out what will happen over time, if the hung-Westminster-Parliament/London parties* coalition scenario comes into being.

    The minority parties in the so-called UK will have a lot of leverage and this Englishman fully expects Alex Salmond and the SNP to squeeze the Westminster Government until the pips well and truly squeak.

    Unlike some of our bloggers living in England, I somewhat perversely welcome that, as the English seem to need to have a lot of pain inflicted before they realise that they need their own Parliament too and if the SNP and others have to do it, well, so be it (again).

    * As our political bloggers on the BBC's Blether with Brian blog tend to call Labour, the Lib-Dems and Conservatives.

  • Comment number 26.

    PR is an obvious next step if we want to re-invigorate our stale political scene. It's always amazed me how we've maintained a corrupt system where around 35% of the votes can produce a majority of seats in Parliament for a party that two-thirds of the electorate have rejected - and then we go to wars to promulgate democracy !? [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 27.

    It's interesting to see all these Lib Dem supporters baying for proportional representation.

    I wonder if the same ones would want such a thing if the Lib Dems were able to get the 38% or more of the votes to gain absolute power.

    I guess not so keep trying and you could have Nick Clegg as PM and Vince Cable as Chancellor.

    Would they want that? Again I guess not for they want power without responsibility. The nice and easy liberal way.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hello Nick, thanks for keeping us all up to speed with all the politicos' shenanigans. More nonsense from Brown. He complains about lack of scrutiny of policy and then doesn't answer a question when you ask it. And another thing, why is he tying National Insurance contributions to policing and education? Surely these payments go into the social fund not the general taxation fund, or am I being naive? Another thing bothers me (only one? For now) what's this about reducing the pension fund? Whose fund? Hasn't he taken enough out of pension funds? This will come back and bite.
    Regards, etc.

  • Comment number 29.

    Hard to argue with that letter, the only BBC articles I've seen at all actually covering policy have been the Stephanomics blog and Robert Peston's.

    Only thing ever on the front page is talk about the debates or meta-discussion about positions in polls and "who's winning!!!!111!!" in breathless tones.

    No surprise that those parties leading in the polls don't want to rock the boat and sign the letter though.

    So BBC reporters, are you actually going to get around to doing your job of informing the public, or are we just going to be stuck with more talk of polls, "who won it" debate coverage and silly stories about meeting elvis impersonators, soap stars and whatever other publicity stunt politicians (of all parties) come up with to get the journalists to actually put them anywhere near the front page?

  • Comment number 30.

    outrage @ 18


    Thinking all this through - and bearing in mind that I live in a genuine three way marginal - the point made at 15 by GHan is a good one. Maybe I have to go home to Labour. They need me.

    (hey no tory terribles (!) on here yet - just smell that fresh air).

  • Comment number 31.

    The polls are presently suggesting a close vote so far as the number of votes cast is concerned. If this is not replicated by the number of seats won, as because of our "potty" system it surely will not, I can foresee at best, a further public disillusionment in the political system, and at worst public unrest.

    For this reason, I agree with Nick (!!) in so far as the system absolutely has to be changed to some form of PR, or perhaps the system used in France where there is a run-off election where no single candidate makes 50% +1 of the popular vote in a particular constituency.

    Elections will never be the same again, not should they ever be.

  • Comment number 32.

    Dear Nick

    Are you planning to report how Nick Clegg came to his momentous decision not to (well maybe not) work with Gordon Brown? Was this an example of party democracy at its best, or old-style leadership diktat?

  • Comment number 33.

    Our current political system is like the moderation here - inconsistent, irrational, biased and undemocratic.

  • Comment number 34.

    Nick Clegg has clearly adopted this position because of the Tory "A Vote for Clegg is a Vote for Brown" campaign, given the media hype to the labour most seats and least votes scenario, it may be the right move.
    Of course if you analyse this scenario say its Tory 32% Lib 30% and Labour 28% and Labour have the most seats, then a Lab/Lib coalition would have 58% of the vote and an overall majority of seats which is not undemocratic in principle, the assumption the media makes is that in this scenario, the Lib Dems would have little say in policy so they would be propping up a very unpopular government. In reality in this scenario it would be for the Lib Dems to argue that a significant amount of their policies and people should be in the government, There would be nothing, in fact, to stop the Lib Dems arguing that power should be split according to percentage of the vote and that Clegg should replace Brown as prime minister. Labour would bitterly resist such an arguement and probably refuse, as is their right. If I were leader of the Lib Dems in that situation I would not enter into a coalition unless Labour agreed to use the percentage of the vote as the determining factor, if they refused then I would indicate that I would rather support a minority Tory govenment and the Labour government would fall unless they could get enough support from minor parties to hang on.
    The trouble is that such an explanation is long winded and given the short attention span of voters and their tendancy to prefer slogans to a proper understanding of the constitution, Clegg may well be right to simply reject the option now.
    The government has 'least votes but most seats' scenario is always a possibility in our current system, the constitution takes no account of the percentage of the vote. If the Tories get in they have no intention of changing this and while Labour does support some electoral reform, its reforms would not prevent this scenario arising either.
    As for Labour's letter, they are right of course, arguing about leaders debates, polls and scenarios which our political system does not even recognise as relevant mean that the parties are not being scrutinised on policy as much as they should. They all have huge holes in their financial arguments, they're all proposing essentially the same economic solution with minor differences without any discussion of other possibilties and none of them want to discuss how much unemployment in both the public and private sectors will result from their policy.

  • Comment number 35.

    First Minister Alex Salmond, the leader of the governing party of Scotland, a territory which comprises about one third of the land area of what remains of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, has written to the Chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons, setting out the Scottish National Party’s intentions to ensure fair and impartial coverage of the UK general election for Scottish voters, whose votes matter, or so it is contended in Scotland even though those voters are not residents of "our England".

    The proposed action would seek to ensure that the debate is broadcast in Scotland with that country's political make-up fairly reflected, either by having SNP representation in this Thursday’s debate or through an agreement to have a further, fair leaders’ debate organized before polling day.

    Mr Salmond said:

    "The decision by the BBC, who are meant to be Scotland’s national broadcaster, paid for by our licence fees, not to have the country’s political make-up properly represented next Thursday is a democratic disgrace.

    Everyone knows it is a stitch-up demanded by the London-based parties and meekly agreed to by the BBC.

    That’s why the SNP are today launching a fighting fund to raise the money needed to challenge the BBC’s decision in court.

    We are mounting an appeal to raise £50,000 by midnight on Monday. That’s the money we estimate we need to mount an action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. It is a huge sum for a party like the SNP. But the issues at stake are too important to ignore."

    Mr Salmond added:

    "Elections, to be democratic, have to be fair. And it is not fair to Scotland – or to Wales – to exclude the governing parties of our countries from TV debates which are now totally dominating all the election coverage.

    The legal papers are being drawn up and, if the financial appeal is successful, we propose to lodge papers at the court first thing on Tuesday morning, seeking justice and fairness.

    The court action we plan means we are asking that Scottish interests are properly represented when the final leaders’ debate is held in Birmingham on Thursday – or that a further and fair leaders’ debate is organized before polling day.

    We want Thursday’s BBC debate to go ahead but we also want Scottish viewers to be given a fair picture of the choices on offer to them at the ballot box on May 6th.

    And in Scotland that picture includes the SNP."

    Sorry, chaps. As you can see, it is not only the UK PM who has reservations about these undemocratically exclusive party-leaders' debates that are seriously distorting media coverage of the election campaign. The prime minister of Scotland is, as you can see, not merely writing a letter about what is happening but is going to court.

    Admittedly, the court in question, the Court of Session, is not within the jurisdiction of the legal system of "our England" but, as Scotland is, lamentably, still in the UK, even though you do do your damnedest to ignore it, I am afraid that, whatever it decides, if the application for an interdict goes ahead, its determination will have to be heeded. If that is too upsetting for you, just carry on pushing Scotland out of the UK.

    Toodle pip.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think the Labour letter is correct in principle, but of course they are only moaning because they are losing. The other two parties probably agree with Labour (in principle), but because they are both, in their different ways, winning, then they won't want a change just yet. In a non-presidential system the debates don't really make sense, but of course in a Britain's-got-talent world, they do, which is one (only one) of the reasons that the telegenic Mr Clegg is doing so well, and the non-telegenic Mr Brown doing so badly. Is it a good thing that the UK's electoral system has come down to a TV talent contest? Probably not, but it is too late now, it puts the meedja at the centre of things, which is where it has to be, and there'll be no going back now... MacLuan was right.

  • Comment number 37.

    Commentators are assuming that any potential coalition will between Lib-Dems and either the Conservatives or Labour. Here in Cumbria we have a Labour/Conservative coalition. The two main party's members do not want to have any form of PR and this may be a way out.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm all for an independent Scotland - the sooner the better!

  • Comment number 39.

    The most tragic aspect of BROWN'S administration is it's obsession with the UK population's PERSONAL IT data (lost on trains, buses, planes and in car parks)?

    Just because a gang of IT consultants OR civil servants tell a government Minister it will save money for that Ministry by forcing people to use the internet - it doesn't make it true or safe.

    Just because a consultant company selling their IT as progress and 'money-saving' to hospitals and schools - it doesn't make that 'progress' right?

    Actually, this is 'not off topic' because we know the mess Labour have making of our personal data - but, Conservatives and LibDems and other political parties have made no comments or reassurances either on child benefit data and elders pension data?

  • Comment number 40.

    9. At 2:40pm on 25 Apr 2010, Simon wrote:
    Clegg's comments do not imply that he would do a deal with Cameron. He would be perfectly entitled to propose a Lib Dem / Lab deal with himself as Prime Minister even if a majority of ministerial posts were held by Labour.

    I think Clegg is playing a very clever game and Brown and Cameron may be underestimating him. Clegg may as you imply to be looking form a coalition that he leads himself (a coalition of all the talents, a national government, or a coalition with one of the other parties). If he comes second in the popular vote he could achieve this. There is no constitutional position that says the PM needs to be the leader of the largest party, its a matter of commanding the majority support.

    If most people want a coalition government (or fear a Tory or Labour one even more) this is a good strategy. But having spent the past few weeks firmly wedded to voting for the reelection of my local LD candidate, as a simple, local tactical vote, maybe I need to re-think this plan if this is Cleggs plan.

    The real problem is that the number of seats will be determined by the geographical distribution which is very difficult to predict.

  • Comment number 41.

    Update 15:20 - should that read: "A Labour party spokesperson said " ..

    Apologies to moderators?

  • Comment number 42.

    2. At 1:59pm on 25 Apr 2010, you wrote:
    This comment is awaiting moderation. Explain.


    Come on mods, either publish it or bin it, but doing nothing for three hours is a cop out.

    It was only three lines, nothing contentious, what's the delay?

  • Comment number 43.

    How can the party that unveiled "Elvis" yesterday demand we focus on policy today?!

  • Comment number 44.

    35. At 4:06pm on 25 Apr 2010, frankly__francophone wrote:

    ..Sorry, chaps. As you can see, it is not only the UK PM who has reservations about these undemocratically exclusive party-leaders' debates that are seriously distorting media coverage of the election campaign. The prime minister of Scotland is, as you can see, not merely writing a letter about what is happening but is going to court.


    I thought Gordon "I agree with Nick" Brown was Prime Minister of Scotland?

    Toodle pip!

  • Comment number 45.

    It is positioning by Clegg, nothing more nothing less

    How can he publicly say before the election that he would not work with Brown?

    You may very well find that it is a different matter entirely behind the scenes

  • Comment number 46.


    Can we send Gordon Brown back to Scotland, marked 'return to sender'

  • Comment number 47.

    30. At 4:00pm on 25 Apr 2010, sagamix wrote:
    outrage @ 18

    Thinking all this through - and bearing in mind that I live in a genuine three way marginal - the point made at 15 by GHan is a good one. Maybe I have to go home to Labour. They need me.

    (hey no tory terribles (!) on here yet - just smell that fresh air).

    Not in any way to suggest that you would not be a vital ally, Saga, but they're certainly going to need all the help they can get.
    Except where I live. My Labour MP is an exemplary constituency fighter, has twice turned down invitations to government jobs in spite of being a thorn in the governments side by being the leading voice against post office closures, has not been tainted by the expenses thing, looks you in the eye, has a sense of humour and is absolutely unassailable.

    It's not fair.

  • Comment number 48.

    Nick, you don't understand the word "mandate". The party with the most votes will have the biggest mandate but not necessariy the support of a majority of voters.
    Nick Clegg has not reversed his previous position by saying that it would be preposterous for the party with the most seats to form a government if they had only the third highest popular vote.
    Since led by Jo Grimond, Liberals have said that we would never put a minority government into power.
    But it is possible that two parties working together would have a combined vote of more than 50%. That would be a mandate to govern on a joint programme if one can be agreed.

  • Comment number 49.

    37 Northcountry

    Shh! You're only supposed to whisper that at the moment.

    For the sake of the country it would be a better working relationship if they could put their differences aside and concentrate on the bigger picture Without Brown of course.

  • Comment number 50.

    So Labour are really spooked now.

    Tories highest number of votes but no overall majority. Liberals second with least number of seats. Where does that leave El Gordo?

    Leading the party with most seats but no majority, and the smallest number of votes, and no mates.

    I think its fair to say that El Gordo is toast.

  • Comment number 51.

    #40 MaxWax wrote:
    "I think Clegg is playing a very clever game..."

    But I thought the (Nu)LibDems were the 'new' party and did not play (backroom) political games like the 'old' parties.

    As far as examining policies is concerned it cannot come soon enough.

    LibDem's manifesto says they will bring in minimum pricing on alcohol BUT in Scotland their manifesto says they: "..will look at alternative methods of taxation on alcohol" NuLibDem speak for 'minimum pricing on alcohol' This is a transparent fig leaf to cover the fact that LibDem MSPs in Holyrood OPPOSE the introduction of minimum pricing on alcohol proposed in a bill tabled by the SNP government. So how would LibDem MPs representing constituencies in Scotland vote when if the issue comes up at Westminster?

    NuLibDems speak with forked tongue. NuLibDems sound awfully like the 'old' parties do they not?

  • Comment number 52.

    I don't think this is actually a party political point.

    I think all the parties have suffered from the lack of examination, explanation and scrutiny of the their policies. But most of all the British public are getting a bit of a raw deal.

    This isn't something new unfortunately - it's been getting worse over the last 4 or 5 general elections.

    I think generally the media has picked up that speaking about policies is often 'boring' telly so they try and liven things up by obsessing on personalities or process.

    I watched a Sky News report yesterday with Gordon Brown and all they wanted to ask him about was his kids and his family, what his ideal day was etc etc. Completely irrelevent. Gordon came across as a nice guy but as he himself said, thats not why anyone should vote for him or anyone else.

    It would be nice if this last 10 days or so of the election campaign was actually focused on expaining the policies of each of the parties and the differences between them but sadly I think that is unlikely.

    We have moved to a more presidential system without the checks and balances of the U.S.

    If Camerons idea for being unable to remove a sitting Prime Minister without triggering a general election is put in place then that will make matters even worse. It will make Prime Ministers virtually invincible unless a party wants to commit electoral suicide.

    Thats probably why Cameron wants to do it though - its a way of heading off a future leadership threat. He doesn't want to end up like Thatcher or Major having to fight off leadership challengers at every turn.

    Do we really want a presidential system in this country? That should be the question that should be asked and we should have an open debate, and maybe even a referendum, about that.

  • Comment number 53.

    Nice helicopter post (17) Bryhers, but listen - tories score top in the popular vote, and in seats, but don't win enough for an outright majority. Good news. No, wait! Labour come third in the poll and second in seats, Lib Dems hold up and get 75ish - hold the balance of power. Can't coalesce with the tories (left leaning members won't wear it) and the clowns for their part won't offer PR - not prepared to give up the privileges of FPTP. So, a Cameron minority government. What a shower. They struggle on for a short while, do a few populist bits & pieces (bring back the birch or something) and blame Labour for all the bad stuff. Slam dunk and they get away with it. Second election called in November - outright clown win this time, the Libs either continue advancing and challenge/supplant Labour as the Opposition, or they melt away and things revert to normal. So ... back to square one but with a tory government, or (worse) a tory government and our main party of the Left severely damaged. Yuck.

  • Comment number 54.

    If that letter is true, then both Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron are extremely stupid.

    Because Mr Brown can wield that letter in front of millions of watchers next week and ask them both why they refused to request the media examine their policies in specific areas. He can go for the kill knowing that they cannot possibly defend their position whilst maintain a position of being the new stewards of a clean political process.

    Go for it, Mr Brown.

    Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron can't say 'we are the Parties of change', but not encourage the media to examine the implications of their changes in comparison to the Labour Party's position as part of the election campaign.....

    Bad, bad strategy from both parties of change.

    I hope they change their position post-haste.

  • Comment number 55.

    Having got away from the Tory calim
    "a vote for Clegg is a vote for Brown"
    he now seems to be landed with
    "a vote for Clegg is a vote for Camron"
    from labour

  • Comment number 56.

    We are writing to broadcasting organisations with a public service remit to ask you all to ensure that during the last ten days of the campaign your programmes analyse our policy proposals to the same level of detail as at previous election campaigns.

    Yes. Well... Good luck with that one, boys.

  • Comment number 57.

    #50 toryandproud

    In that situation you are probably right.

    However - not sure how secure Camerons position will be post election either even if he wins the most seats. He's managed to lose a 20%+ lead in the opinion polls and turn it into a hung parliament.

    Your not telling me there won't be massive pressures on him, similar to John Manjor in the 90's. He's going to have trouble keeping his party together after the election.

  • Comment number 58.

    30 saga

    Me going back to Clowns - You going back to the Reds. Hardly Clear Thinking Progressive is it.

    It all started so well last week that we could vote to change the World but no back to a two horse race.

    Looks like we might have to wait for that revolution.

    Election Call - C36

  • Comment number 59.

    I want more focus on policy and less on the debates....I want the BBC to question ALL parties on their proposals. I'm fed up with nothing more in-depth than Nick Clegg's suit, David Cameron's haircut and Gordon Brown's dour delivery style getting blanket 24-7 news coverage. There has been more coverage of how the leaders have 'come across' than of the issues. Our last election was in 2005 our next will be in 2015, how often do we get a say in the running of our country? You can bet your life that whoever wins the election, once they get into No 10 will lock the door behind them, stick two fingers up at us through the letter box, and we'll be back to the days of "We asked for an interview but no-one was avaiable". We deserve better than this from our news media....its just not good enough.

  • Comment number 60.

    21. blogjt

    'Problem is that ‘the establishment’ do not want it to happen and are running scared.'

    Yep, you're right. The Lib Dems, a party with a rich tradition, led by Nick Clegg, a man educated at Westminster with a background working as a lobbyist and MEP, are representative of real change. They are in no way themselves 'establishment'. Not at all. I mean, it's not as if the party has accepted dodgy donations, made disingenuous policy promises, indulged in dirty campaigning or been embroiled in the expenses scandal.

    Oh, wait...

  • Comment number 61.

    This letter is throroughly amusing.

    It's all well and good to demand scrutiny of policy. I fully support that and anyone in favour of democracy should too. I just find it strange that Labour should desire greater exposure on substance. The last thirteen years indicate that this is not their strong suit.

    Problematically, neither is style an area of strength. So, where to turn?

  • Comment number 62.

    One thing that's becoming particularly obvious in a lot of the reporting I hear today is that there is little understanding that 'PR' is an umbrella term for many different systems and that reporters and the general public do not have a clear understanding which kind of PR the Lib Dems are proposing.

    I checked this in their manifesto and it seems they support STV. This is a constituency-based form of PR, each constituency would be larger but have between 4 and 6 seats. Voting would be preferential - you put a number next to each of the candidates for the order you prefer them, leaving blank those you would not like to see get a seat.

    This is very different to most European forms of PR (usually they have party lists), and many commentators seem to be confused on this issue.

    For those interested in reading more around this area, the Electoral Reform Society provides a good overview of the benefits and shortcomings of each of the possible PR systems -

  • Comment number 63.


    I couldnt agree more. Then England could be free of the constant whinging and moaning from all the smug nationalists. Im so sick of these people biting the hand that feeds them. Unhappily though the peoples of the Scotland and probably Wales and NI wouldnt vote for independence as in doing so the tap suddenly gets turned off and god forbid they would actually then have to pay their own way rather than the generational subsidies that past and particularly this Labour government ( and why wouldnt they when half the cabinet have scottish seats) have provided.

    The supreme irony for the independence minded is that voting SNP will guarantee that it wouldnt happen. Voting Tory however ( according to the polling of scots) would create a likelihood of a later vote in favour becoming a real possibility because they say that the Tories will cut of the funds to Scotland. Says it all really.

    So you SNP lovers, you know what to do - Vote Tory for an independent Scotland - and God willing maybe just maybe the English will finally be able to have a proper say in how their tax is spent - in England!

  • Comment number 64.

    Sorry Nick but your blog is REALLY DISGUSTING as you ignore the key point which is that the electoral system is one which puts 96% of the peoples' votes into a huge great incinerator (although you Westminster types call it a "wasted vote")

    Every wasted vote means someone is EFFECTIVELY being muzzled, someone's basic human rights destroyed and someone's engagement in the democratic process cynically abused...

    This was your chance to show why the First Past the Post is a completely wicked con and a system that David Cameron could talk and joke about with Hitler or any dictator thug who would be most impressed in that it gives all the appearance of a democracy by letting people vote and then secretly incinerating their vote.

    It was not what every Tommmy in the First World War who gave his life and limb for a wicked false promise, or every suffragette thought she was getting when they were told they would "get the vote" and we will "create a land fit for heroes"...

    90 yrs later and 96% of us in a normal election who vote have absolutely no effect on the result and might as well not bother. How so? Well 80% of us are in safe seats where our vote has no difference...Then add the marginals where approx 30% vote for the winning candidate and rhe rests see their votes wasted and incinerated in practice and have no say...In other words that means in an election nationally approx 80% + (20%x70%) or 94% might as well not bother...

    If you then take into account that only approx 60% of adults vote (50% if you add those eligible but not on the electoral register, IT IS A PALTRY 3-4% WHOSE VOTES MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE AND THE REST OF US MIGHT AS WELL NOT BOTHER.

    Now OK as to the extent to which votes are wasted one can argue that I am being a little harsh but the facts are the facts...

    Yet where do you invite us to debate the real issue here which is that many millions of us are in effect disenfranchised and if like me one choses say the Lib Dems one is PERMANENTLY disenfranchised and in effect MUZZLED FOREVER.

    The simple truth is that the system we have is an elitist con trick a massive and perpetual fraud on the British people that, irrespective of party political affiliation is wrong.

    If Germany had had FPTP in the 1930s Hitler could have come to power in 1929 due to FPTP setting up constituencies and rural ones are smaller than urban) and certainly would have come to power a full yr earlier than he eventually did becasue he got the Conservative Party as his ally and together they got Pope Pius's Catholic Party to support him in the historic Enabling Act, in return for some special benefits to the Catholic Church. With the Nazi's 46% vote and their combined 67% of the vote and thus 67% of MPs, Hitler pushed thru temporary legislation and then knowing that MPs could at any moment overturn him he ended Proportional Representation.

    If Hitler was alive today he would be chuckling with the Tory Party hierarchy saying how wonderful to have a system where you can do anything you like on just 30, 35 or 40% of the vote and with just 15%, 25 or 30% of the adult population...

    What however I find so appalling is how I have yet on these boards to meet a single Tory who thinks that a system where there is no guarantee of equal voted for all or the outcome in the House of Commons is in any way predictable. It is a complete lottery and on the basis of the current voting we could have a landslide for the Tories, Lib Dems or Labour in theory although depending upon various assumptions we could have the party with the smallest % geting most MPs and the party with the most votes, if the Lib Dems having the fewest seats and a tiny fraction of the no,of Tory and Labour MPs

    It is time to end this shocking system now and end this fraud on the sons and daughters of Tommy who was promised more but which Tories and Labour have abused and misused for 90 yrs with devastating effects upon our country.

    The fact that, due to Tories and Labour the world's richest and most powerful country, has been playing this absurd game of Buggins turn for so long and resulted in a shambolic elite swapping sides every 5 yrs or so, ought to make everyone ashamed of a system Hitler would have loved.

    If local govt has mostly coalitions and they work fine, why on earht can't we do this on a national level...?

    Oh I forgot the trustafarians with their silver spoons in their mouths and not a day's real work done in their idle luxury lives, say it is their turn to grab grab grab...! Why let them?!

    Well I taught my children to share and share politely at the ages of 3 or 4, surely our politicians can finally after the Rotten Parliament fiasco*, recognise the unfairness and elitism and say "Enough! We believe in a fair and equal say for everyone"?

    * And of course, if we had fair shares for all we wouldn't have had 500 Tory and Labour MPs knowing they were on safe seats and could rort the system with impugnity. The fact the Lib Dems sinned far less often, no one flipped any house and no London LibDem MP had any Second Home Claim shows a much higher level of integrity by MPs when they know that no seat is safe...

    Indeed why on earth is it called a 'seat', so he can Lord it over the Manor, like an aristocrat?

  • Comment number 65.

    I tend to agree with the Labour Party (no jokes please sagamix !) on the debate coverage - it really is all media frenzied hype, while the real issues go largely unscrutinised. Mind you I'm surprised that Labour are complaining about it. I suppose it's a consequence of the 100 mile an hour, 24 hour blanket, celebrity obsessed, throw away society we live in - or Brwons Britain to you and me. Throw in the media obsession with multiple conflicting polls, any you have enough fodder to allow lazy journalists to gorge themselves with "analysis" instead of proper reporting.

    Neither of the debates so far have actually resulted in any new information from the participants.

    I watched the BBC news immediately before the start of the debate, and I've got to say that the hysterical mdeia frenzy has got seriously out of hand. It looked Emily Matliss and Laura Kuensberg were going to spontaneously combust at one point. The whole of the Westminister village and his dog were given the chance to say what might or might not happen. Then the frenzy of post debate polls produced during the debate were wheeled out to fuel the medias hunger for what passes as news and views these days. And it will continue for some days to come.

    I think the debates themselves are a good idea, if only as a way of attempting to engage the electorate in the election process - especially those people who may not have a high degree of interest in politics normally. But I don't think the reality TV, X-Factor style media frenzy is actually helping - it seems to trivialise the whole process to some extent. I'd like to think that this is not the case, but people do seem to be encouraged by the media that the debate winner is the one to vote for.

    I have a feeling that the interest in the debates is nowhere near as high as the media would like us to think. There was an article on the news the other night where some chap was interviewed and he run the local market wherever they were. He was asked "What are the people in the market saying about the debates?" He replied that "they didn't actually talk about them". Difficult to disagree with that point.

    I still don't think that this campaign has seriously got going yet, and non of the parties are running campaigns which are exciting, interesting or particularly engaging. And I think the media need to up their game as well.

  • Comment number 66.

    Saga 53:

    The electoral scenario you have outlined is possible,but is only one of several combinations and permutations.What progressives need to do is to think strategically about how a change in the way we are governed from a single to a two or three party government will alter the balance of social forces represented and the policy initiatives possible with a broader basis of support.I don`t exclude conservatives from this,all parties have their reactionaries,this is a way of diminishing tgheir power.

  • Comment number 67.

    There is much talk of a hung parliament BUT there is one problem. How many people know what this is. My girlfriend is 22. I suspect, like many people of her age she has little knowledge of this subject. Also, when will somebody produce a programme that FULLy explains how the voting works. There is a risk that if there is clear information in simple english then young voters may start to engage. The language used assume a lot of knowledge.....

  • Comment number 68.

    Ha ha ha Just seen David Cameron say that a good school means certain things incl teaching children about respect and a full range of ideas, yet when it comes to 'one man one vote' he bottles it and his supporters on here show that words like fairness, equality of opportunity, christian spirit, free enterprise with a concern for those who are ill or temporarily unfit to work etc etc are simply not on their radar and they just sneer at and are patronising about it...

    It is time that we upheld the promises made to 'Tommy' in the First World War and we mean what we say when we claim we are a democracy rather than this manifestly fraudulent and dreadful 300 yr old system!

  • Comment number 69.

    #53 Saga

    Poor old you, not much to look forward to for you is there?

    Can't say I'm too pleased with the prospect of not having an absolute majority, but I could live with being a minority government for a while before winning a larger majority, perhaps early next year.

    Don't lose sight of the big win here, getting rid of Labour, and Brown in particular.

  • Comment number 70.

    I think there is a flaw in Nick Clegg's outrage at a scenario where Labour come third yet still form the bulk of the Government.

    Even if Labour come third in terms of % of the vote, surely there is still an argument that a Lib/Lab deal, delivering a broadly left of centre set of policies, is consistent with what the majority of the electorate have voted for?

    E.g. Poll of polls today has around 34% voting Conservative and around 59% voting for a left of centre agenda.

    I think Mr Clegg is simply saying that he cannot do a deal with Brown. Could he deal with whoever succeeds Brown? Milliband? Johnson? Of course, as suggested by others above, he possibly has an eye on the top job for himself, but still in a Lib/Lab coalition. His policy agenda and the strong view of the vast majority of his party would appear to rule out any deal with the Tories.

  • Comment number 71.

    Why would the public wish to vote for the lesser of the three weevils when they can have a government of national unity.....the BNP.

  • Comment number 72.

    AA @ 67

    "My girlfriend is 22"

    Nice one Alistair!

  • Comment number 73.

    mr N @ 58

    "Election Call - C36"

    Oh don't say that. That's where I started. What was it all for?

  • Comment number 74.

    Labour just want to change the rules, and we all know why!

  • Comment number 75.

    Remember that time in PMQ's (a few months ago - I can't remember the date) when Nick Clegg stood up on the front bench of the H of Cand said that the Labour Party/PM were 'finished' i.e. and a spent force in British politics and Brown and particularly Balls, Darling and Sleepy Johnson were sat there laughing at him for saying it?

    I think that Mr Clegg is now thinking -

    You're not laughing now - You bunch of spent force and finished ...'clowns'!

    It would now be 'something' to see a replay of those moments?

  • Comment number 76.

    The most stupid thing about this election is that we are going to get a result based only on the number of people who bother to go out and vote and as last time we had a government formed by a party who only polled about 22% of the voting population we will never get a clear message about what the majority want.

    Apathy in the voting system is the enemy of democracy and is nothing at all to do with proportional representation. As for the latest waffle from Labour about not allowing a representative who does not command 50% of the votes to be elected, how do you get that with less than 50% of the population voting. We might ( big might) get 50+% voting in a general election but the 'winner' would still only get just over 25% of the actual possible vote.

    It is all smoke and mirrors. We need to ensure people go out and vote but will the British population actually bother to make the effort? I doubt it. And if they cannot be bothered then they will get what they don't want (or will they)?

  • Comment number 77.

    Clegg's claim that he would be unwilling to prop up Labour if they "had the most seats in the Commons but the least votes" cannot be taken seriously, because when the chips are down Lib-Dems always support Labour in the end.

    Just like Labour, the Lib Dems broke their manifesto promise on the referendum and helped Brown push the Lisbon Treaty through both Houses.

    Based on previous track record, nothing that Clegg says can be trusted.

  • Comment number 78.

    bryhers @ 66

    "I don`t exclude conservatives from this, all parties have their reactionaries"

    No, I guess. We need a political device that works like a colander - one of those tight, meshy ones. Pour the Tories in and drain out the few non reactionary ones into a cup. Take what's left in the mesh and discard, then take the cup and pour into a soup with Labour and Lib Dems. Stir it around in a great big casserole pot, pop into the oven for a few hours on a slow cook. Take out when ready and ... delicious!

  • Comment number 79.


    I remember when Mrs N was 22. We were both young and birds were singing, the bees were buzzing, spring was in the air and then just as the moment struck she turned round and said "but Mr N what if there's a hung parliament". Spoilt the moment if I'm honest about it.

  • Comment number 80.

    SP @ 65

    "no jokes please sagamix!"

    Not doing jokes today. Some things are just too tragic to laugh at; plane crashes, terrible diseases ... Cameron at number ten.

  • Comment number 81.

    75.Nautiner (interesting name).

    Jumping the gun a bit arn't we - Don't want to end up with egg on face and then Granny to have to come along, spit on the hanky and wipe it off do we.

  • Comment number 82.

    73. Saga

    Yes sorry, especially now I've exposed Nicky as a Tory.

  • Comment number 83.

    It is an afront to the people of Britain that Gordon Brown has the audacity to claim that he is the only one who can fix the mess we are in! He was party to creating the financial black hole we are in with his blind policy towards the banks. His "light touch, limited touch" on a host of reckless banks / bankers has bankrupted our country. Brown ignored repeated warnings from experts before the financial meltdown of what was about to happen and now wants us to re-elect him and his failed Cabinet for another five years. Some hope! He should retire and hide his head in shame - and without a golden parachute of taxpayers money.

  • Comment number 84.

    O K...1..2...3...breathe nice and deep..


    hold it.............wait............nice and


    there. Feels better doesn't it?

    I give wee t' right 'orrible mumbers...

  • Comment number 85.

    Clegg is just trying to hide the fact that a vote for the lib dems is a vote to keep labour in power.

    If labour come second and the lib dems third he'll be on his knees asking for forgiveness and pr with a willingness to do gordons bidding quicker than aq hungry ferret down a rabbit hole!

  • Comment number 86.

    67 Alistair Agnew

    "My girlfriend is 22."
    Top man !

    "I suspect, like many people of her age she has little knowledge of this subject. "
    Lets hope she doesn't read this ....... try explaining it to her using shoes and handbags as a analogy.

  • Comment number 87.

    outrage @ 47

    No, not fair at all. You have a good bet going though, I'd say. I have the same one (and at about the same price). Will at least be able to go on a specialty tea binge if the "Bad Thing" happens - drown my sorrows.

  • Comment number 88.

    #70 DeepingDavie: "E.g. Poll of polls today has around 34% voting Conservative and around 59% voting for a left of centre agenda."

    DD, this is intentional? So what Labour have been doing and propose to go on doing is "left of centre agenda". You will have to stop spinning to work out what is right or left!

    [For fun, please read GB's 2007 Mansion House speech, as left of centre as it gets.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    Just for information, who is "centre"?

  • Comment number 89.


  • Comment number 90.

    80. At 6:52pm on 25 Apr 2010, sagamix wrote:

    SP @ 65

    "no jokes please sagamix!"

    Not doing jokes today. Some things are just too tragic to laugh at; plane crashes, terrible diseases ... Cameron at number ten.


    I sincerely hope that it happens simply because you hate the idea.

    I give wee t' right 'orrible mumbers...

  • Comment number 91.

    Is the letter only copied to Sky News because they have no public service remit? Then how come they get to host a leaders' debate (and allegedly put their own spin on it)? High time to demand (and enforce) an honest, unbiased service from them, is it not?

  • Comment number 92.

    At 3:25pm on 25 Apr 2010, Christopher wrote:

    "In this election there are no safe seats, as it doesn't matter who wins in each constituency. What matters is the popular vote. Every vote counts."

    Under a PR system that is true, but under the FPTP system that is not necessarily the case.

    In SAFE seats, all votes are largely neglected, the "majority" party doesn't waste their time because the votes are in the bag and minority voters just don't vote. Its easy money. Under a PR system this could not happen, if the voter is neglected the MP is "toast".

    Looking at the electoral landscape, there are more marginals than we are lead to believe. Tactical voting can overturn majorities as large as 10-15%. So we could say that this year every vote does count, as it will pave the way for badly needed electoral reform in the future by breaking the status quo of Red v Blue Ping Pong.

    Whoever you vote for is obviously your choice, but you must vote this year as it could make a historic difference.

  • Comment number 93.

    So a conservative majority will really annoy Lib Dems and Labour

    Great stuff

  • Comment number 94.

    It seems that the current Moderator seems to be showing his or her hand..Days have gone by where posts are supposedly being moderated just after someone else has commented upon it in his 'yah boo, go to hell idiot style'

    Now I get the strong impression that if you dare say we have an electoral system that is bogus and Hitler would love it as it means that under typical conditions for about 94% of voters and 96& of adults it is currently pointless voting as we make absolutely no difference to ANYTHING.

    Sorry BBC Moderator but i really don't think it is your role to censor and take a pro Tory position and an anti voter one.

    Or do you want me to start asking you to begin censoring 50 quite frankly silly posts from someone who seems to share an awful lot of similarities to fascist dictators in his modus operandi and whose business/financial expertise seems to be about as advanced as a farm labourer who has just read the Express, Sun, Mail, Torygraph or Mirror.

    Because I actually believe in free speech I am happy to leave up the angry and unbalanced posts, but in all seriousness this messageboard is now seemingly a place for cranks who read the Sun, Mail, Express and Star to say what they want wheres because these cranks seem to want to be tinpot dictators, they complain

    Has anyone any advice as to how the moderators operate as it seems remarkably right wing and haphazard? It seems favoured people are Lord Ashcroft, William Hague and James Arbuthnot (Tory Chief Whip) so possibly the Tory Party's major sponsor/bankroller has issued lots of gag writs...

    Perhaps that is why one feels Hitler-style bootboy tactics are being employed by Central Office's monitoring team? Or is the BBC so scared of the Tory Party's threats to carve up the BBC? Or is it some young PA to Nick Robinson...?

    This just proves the point that in truth the UK is not really a democracy yet is it?

  • Comment number 95.

    90 ajollygoodfellow.

    You have to understand that not a single person can determine the eletion result which is why so many days and much money is spent on the campaign. With me so far - good.

    Whoever gets in there will be happy faces and not so happy faces - These are called winners and losers. - Tag along.

    Now there is such a thing as a gracious winner and a gracious loser - Still with me.

    And then there are small minded men and small minded women - Thank you for staying with me until the end.

  • Comment number 96.

    2010, DistantTraveller wrote:
    "Clegg's claim that he would be unwilling to prop up Labour if they "had the most seats in the Commons but the least votes" cannot be taken seriously, because when the chips are down Lib-Dems always support Labour in the end.
    Just like Labour, the Lib Dems broke their manifesto promise on the referendum and helped Brown push the Lisbon Treaty through both Houses.
    Based on previous track record, nothing that Clegg says can be trusted."

    I think what Clegg says is true,he is closer to Cameron than Brown,has a similar background and social networks.

    However,we are not concerned with personality but structure.Clegg will do what furthers the interests of the LIB_Dems,his bar for support will be very high indeed,some kind of proportional system as a prelude to full PR.

    He will be indifferent as to whether this is delivered by Cameron or Brown,only that it is a strategic interest for his party and will be his price for cooperation.

    Both the other parties have made encouraging noises,surprisingly even Cameron having first ruled it out.

    From a partisan point of view it breaks the two party duopoly of power.
    However,its potential is to give policies a broader basis of support as well as giving veto powers on policy which is against the common interest.Given Mr.Cameron`s ideas about "The Great Society, (remarkably absent from this blog),I am sure this innovation has your full support.

  • Comment number 97.

    jolly good @ 90

    "I sincerely hope that it happens simply because YOU hate the idea."


    But what if someone else you dislike intensely simply loves the idea of Cameron in number 10. Bruce Forsyth, for example. How are you going to square the circle?

    You DO dislike Bruce Forsyth, don't you? Not a big fan or anything?

  • Comment number 98.

    Distant Traveller, erm you are wrong. Labour said they would vote on the new EU Constitution and not the treaty. It was the Tories who said they would support BOTH a referendum on the Constitution and then after that was ditched the Treaty...

    That means that the Tories reneged on their promises twice and Labour once. As for Tories they have never supported a single referedum on anything as they are always elitist.

    As for the Lib Dems, they supported a referendum on 'Should we be in or out of the the EU?' on both occasions and voted for it on both occasions too. So they didn't lie at ALL

    Maybe being a little more accurate might help rather than trying to smear on a clear falsehood you made up?

  • Comment number 99.

    Complain about this comment

    85. At 7:08pm on 25 Apr 2010, Mabelode wrote:
    Clegg is just trying to hide the fact that a vote for the lib dems is a vote to keep labour in power.
    If labour come second and the lib dems third he'll be on his knees asking for forgiveness and pr with a willingness to do gordons bidding quicker than aq hungry ferret down a rabbit hole!"

    What a malodorous view of human nature.Rabbit holes are not associated to hungry ferrets in nice household but with Alice in Wonderland.!

    Poor Mabelode,you are clearly deprived.Are you related to Quasimodo by any chance? It would explain your acerbic style and wish to turn the nice Mr.Clegg into a victim. On his knees indeed!Is he supposed to be praying to Mr.Brown or what? Getting inside your head is frightening experience,I`m turning on the light and double locking the front door.

  • Comment number 100.

    From memory, there is far more coverage of this election, certainly on the BBC, with extra editions of The Daily Politics, This Week and Newsnight, before we start on the debates.

    But presenters and interviewers only seem interested in setting traps, pouncing on possible gaffes, interrupting and scoring points. There are one or two honourable exceptions, but too often the reporting seem to be more about the egos of the presenters, rather than about giving us, the licence payers, the chance to be presented with clear information and then left to make our own judgment.

    We can, you know. We don't need anyone in the "Meedja" to try, in their less than subtle ways, to influence our votes.

    If Nick Clegg is going to judge "mandate" by numbers of votes cast, then how many people will not feel able to vote tactically for his party in marginal Con/Lib-Dem seats. If he's already moving to a form of PR, where every vote will count, surely all Labour voters will vote for their party.


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