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No rejection; no acceptance

Nick Robinson | 15:02 UK time, Monday, 10 May 2010

Westminster Hall: All the signs are that there is as yet still no deal between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. Nick Clegg and his negotiating team have been briefing their parliamentary colleagues for almost an hour and a half already. The word I hear is that, though there has been no outright rejection, there has also been no acceptance either.

Meantime, Gordon Brown is preparing to make a statement in response to the final outcome of this meeting, which he may use to set out an alternative way forward. The case I think he will present - if he gets the chance - is a promise to help lead European efforts to stabilise the economy and moves towards fundamental political reform before standing aside for a new leader and new prime minister.


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  • Comment number 1.


    One way or another, starting tomorrow, the markets will decide for them.

    Hold on to your hats, everyone!

  • Comment number 2.

    Based on the events of the long-weekend so far, I'm less than impressed with the notion of the hung parliament. the Lib Dems seem torn both ways and any decision is likely to fracture the party and their supporters.

    About the only thing that's clear is that Gordon Brown shouldn't be in number 10 any more. As such I don't see why any announcement he makes that isn't a resignation speech should be given any weight at all.

    The sensible option I think is for Cameron to form a minority government without any coalition, with the promise of another GE in the autumn. That way nobody loses face or has to compromise, we get the PM that most people voted for, and we get another chance to have our say very quickly.

    Meanwhile the indecision and uncertainty is doing nobody any favours.

  • Comment number 3.

    "a promise to help lead European efforts to stabilise the economy and moves towards fundamental political reform before standing aside for a new leader and new prime minister."????

    A promise to hang on my his grubby fingernails for weeks and months longer in the desperate hope that he can somehow rescue HIS horrible predicament and hang on as PM.

    I say NO! This unelected, dreadful Prime Minister can not be allowed to mess up our economy for 1 day longer.

  • Comment number 4.

    To be a fly on the wall...and hear everything being said behind closed doors....

  • Comment number 5.

    Some Lib Dems seem to be completely opposed to any co-operative with the tories. How then, I wonder, will they ever get on in a PR situation which will always result in no overall majority. Lib/Lab for ever then?

  • Comment number 6.

    I do hope your prediction is incorrect - Mr Brown has absolutely no mandate to continue to do anything on behalf of this country. He has already caused us untold damage. He should resign now and start packing.

  • Comment number 7.

    Wouldn't the Lib Dems need time to figure out what to say, regardless of what decision they have made?

  • Comment number 8.

    Just go.

    The taxi is waiting.

  • Comment number 9.

    Oh no, I can't afford another Labour Government.

    About 40 per cent of the workforce is employed in the public sector (doing what) this has got to stop.
    These are obviously the people that voted for them, stop it and go and get a proper job.

  • Comment number 10.

    So all those that voted Labour / Gordon Brown will get Labour / who?

    They can't possibly do this to the country again surely?

    They have to call another GE.

  • Comment number 11.

    It highly ironic, The Guardian controversially switches support from Labour to the Lib Dems very late in the day, who come last with less seats, then the Lib Dems most likely go on to support the Conservative government in partnership.

    How ungrateful of them :)

  • Comment number 12.

    The country - we - find ourselves in an unprecedented situation that demands an unpredcedented clarity of thought from everyone involved in deciding the make-up of the new Parliamentary administration.

    Above all, each and every one of those involved should ask themselves whether any of the views they presently hold could be a stumbling block to Britain's political system delivering week-in-week-out sensible, efficient and constructive decisons.

    The public will not any more tolerate behaviour in Parliament that looks as if it is deliberately destructive, cowardly or underhand.

  • Comment number 13.

    Can we please get Brown and his destructive cohorts away from the levers of power? Since being unelected, they've managed to throw ANOTHER 15 Billion quid to the EU.

    These were the muppets saying that cutting the NI tax by 6 Billion was unaffordable.

  • Comment number 14.

    I feel that it's gone on too long now and if the Lib Dems were going to deal with the Tories they would have done so by now.

    I don't believe a deal with Labour, even one without Gordon Brown, is legitamate and so I can only see one option - a minority Conservative Government blaming the Lib Dems for no deal and almost certainly another election.

    The question is will Tory support firm up in a new poll or will voters be scared off by what might have been - bearing in mind Miliband might be leading Labour by then.

  • Comment number 15.

    This is a disgrace to democracy. Spinners are flogging the dead horse, pushing out the New Labour lines in a shameful sham to cheat the electorate with an illegitimate regime clinging on to power.

    The charade is to paint Brown as a PM just doing his 'constitutional duty' for Queen and country.

    But stealing the election from under the nose of the electorate is the name of the endgame.

    No wonder voters got disillusioned with politics?

  • Comment number 16.

    Just to be trivial for once (hem hem), does anyone else find difficulty in distinguishing Cameron from Clegg in the photos on the BBC news front page?

    Is this part of a conspiracy by the Beeb to make subliminal suggestions about their politics? ;-D

  • Comment number 17.

    Good to see Nick Clegg trying to get the best outcome for all voters and an end to the 'rotten boroughs' style voting which essentially disenfranchises 95% of voters.

    Having had almost 40 yrs of living under this dreadful system which Hitler would have been happy to operate under, if Clegg does not demand PR now and demand a simple vote of parliament backed by support from the party with which he eventually supports, it will be his last chance to do so and a dreadful opportunity missed for most voters to have the change we need...

    Once the voting system reflects the populace wants we will then almost automatically end up much closer to policies reflecting much closer to what we the electorate want, won't we?

    Cripes, the Greeks had democracy 2800 yrs ago and we are still struggling and battling to get it here!

    If David Cameron is a one nation Tory and is acting in the national interest he would have given this IMMEDIATELY aa soon as he realised we the electorate were of the opinion from the voting figures that we wanted the parties to work together and co-operate and as soon as he realised by a quirk of the woeful First Past the Post had also delivered this result too.

    After commemorating VE Day 65 yrs ago and the armistice over 92 yrs ago will we finally get a democracy that Tommy and his war bride were fighting for and which we were fortunate to give West Germany in 1946 and which has been so instrumental in enabling West Germans to have more sensible ecoonomic and social polices than us and so become the rich man of Europe after utter devatation and bitter German rivalries?

  • Comment number 18.

    This article does not deserve a comment.

  • Comment number 19.

    As PM GB was to stay out until such time talks between the Tories and the Lib/Dems broke down.

    Nice to see the PM keep to his word again. - If not the worst PM in history definately the worst acting PM in history.

    Perhaps he should have thought about stepping aside last year or calling an election when he first came to power.

  • Comment number 20.

    ' I think he will present - if he gets the chance - is a promise to help lead European efforts to stabilise the economy and moves towards fundamental political reform before standing aside for a new leader and new prime minister. '

    Or in other words stitch up a deal that suits him and his party regardless of what others may think.

  • Comment number 21.

    The sooner Brown resigns the better. Neither he nor his cabinet appear to have any regard or indeed clue of what the electorate really feel about them.
    It is pathetic (to coin a Labour MP's phrase) that they cannot accept or indeed admit that they lost the election. Brown believes it is his destiny and duty to get us out of the dire mess that we are in. He has no understanding of the fact that he was, at least partially, responsible for getting us there.
    We, the electorate, deserve better than the childish and selfish approach Brown and his cronies have taken. The sooner we see Brown in his Jag on the way the palace the better!!
    By the way, just explain to me why c35% of the votes in 2005 gave Labour a 60 odd seat majority and was a vote for the first past the post system? Whilst now they are trying to cobble a 'rainbow' coalition together saying that the majority of voters 'didn't' vote Tory - double standards I suspect!!! But then again what do you expect from an unelected PM (twice) and a Business Secretary in Lord Mandelson who hasn't been elected as an MP either.......

  • Comment number 22.

    I actually liked the idea of getting the best of two party policies. When I was deciding who to vote for it was a majority of one parties manifesto but several of the others as well.

    The idea of coalition with Tories and the Lib Dems suited my manifesto agreements.

    But it appears now that the issue is all about right and left, upper and lower, nasty and less nasty and nothing to do with what is right and in the best interests of the way the country voted.

    Labour supporters on these blogs keep banging on about how 64% didn't vote for the Tories and how the country doesn't want a Tory government, but my reading is that more didn't want a Labour government and even more than that didn't want Lib Dem.

    When you look at it in terms of PR (should that actually happen) I can not see how that can work with so many prejudicial attitudes at play.

    Con 239, Lab 198, LibDem 135 -- Conservatives as the ruling majority would constantly get voted down, which would be hugely unrepresentative of the desires of a major proportion of the country.

    How is this a democracy?

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm signed up with YouGov and have been answering election voting surveys for months now. From the format of their questions, they would definitely know the answers about how PR would affect the vote as they have been asking about whether my vote would be tactical etc.

  • Comment number 24.

    Clegg is starting to look weaker than ever

    This deal needs bedding down tonight or in the morning

    If he plays his hand for too much longer, then Cameron should call his bluff, and then we get another election

  • Comment number 25.

    Clegg's hand is being strengthened in the negotiations with Cameron by the fact that Gordon Brown is still hanging on in there, offering an alternative, centre-left coalition arrangement.

    The Tories are more likely to give ground on issues such as electoral reform in circumstances where they are aware that Labour might offer the Lib Dems a better deal.

    Those members of the Labour party who are currently calling for Brown to step down, should know better than to undermine the negotiations in this way.

  • Comment number 26.

    I’ve never understood why Glegg felt a ‘moral’ need to talk to the Conservatives first.

    I’ve an alternative perspective which carries more ‘moral’ weight…

    More voters cast their votes for parties which are ideologically left of centre; yet by talking to Cameron, Clegg is taking the country towards a situation whereby the majority voted to the left of centre, but will be governed by a Prime Minister who is right of centre – how is that ‘morally right’? Especially for someone who expounds the virtues of proportional representation.

  • Comment number 27.

    1 Gerrymandering

    I do believe you are right.

    If this deal does not materialise in a workable format the thought of weeks of negotiation with small parties all with their own vested interests will move the markets to make the decision for them.

    The thought of Gordon Brown calling the shots is a far more terrifying prospect than a LibDem/Conservative arrangement.

  • Comment number 28.

    In the interest of the country, I hope the parties (regardless of which coalition emerges)get a deal soon and move forward, and to put party 'principles' on the back burner for a couple of years, just get us out of the mess we're in, party politics can be considered at a later stage.

  • Comment number 29.

    Given the excellent analysis on the BBC Election website - have the BBC looked at the current number of MPs by Political Party and what the revised figures would look like under PR - not just by how many seats the Lib Dems would benefit but also what would happen to the Northern Irish contingent, the SNP and in particular the BNP and UKIP. I think I had it calculated at 12 BNP members of Parliament!

  • Comment number 30.

    Frankly Kevinb I think you deliberately misunderstanding and misrepresenting my point on the previous topic. I'm not saying the BNP and UKIP are alike, merely that they are both to the right of the conservatives. The advocates of PR tend (not always, but tend) to be left of centre and therefore see it as a way of ousting anyone vaguely right of centre. In the same way, the Greens and the SNP are not alike, but would form part of the so called "rainbow alliance" in a coalition of the left. I'm just trying to illustrate the point that the proponents of PR seem to see the outcome as one way only, when the law of unintended consequences throws up something else altogether.

  • Comment number 31.

    When I voted last week, I certainly didnt vote for this, and it is not right that a party with few seats all be it not the fewest can play one off against the other to suit their own ends, if that was what we wanted they would have won the election in the first place. It would be grossly unfair for teh Tories to lose out if Lib Dems swap sides and jump in with Labour, when clearly the result was Tories with the most seats, and that is caled democracy!"!

  • Comment number 32.

    "5. At 3:27pm on 10 May 2010, Alan Bishop wrote:
    Some Lib Dems seem to be completely opposed to any co-operative with the tories. How then, I wonder, will they ever get on in a PR situation which will always result in no overall majority. Lib/Lab for ever then?"

    The logic at present would suggest that, but perhaps PR would result in a fragmentation of the tories into the left leaning Ken Clarke/Michael Heseltine torie light and the rabid right wing Tebbit camp. I can see how the former might be acceptable in some form of coalition government but I don't think the public have an appetite for the latter.

  • Comment number 33.

    # At 3:19pm on 10 May 2010, Adam - London wrote:

    > Putting aside for one second that no party achieved a
    > majority

    You mean "let's pretend the Tories won"?

    > Plaid Cymru stated they would sell their support
    > for an additional £300M per year into Welsh coffers.

    That's cheap at twice the price. Some bankers earn
    as much as that. When you have the Saisneg (saxons) over
    a barrel, it's best to make the most of it while it lasts,
    I reckon. Make hay while the sun shines!

  • Comment number 34.

    We we are going to have a Conservative Prime minister [a CON/DEM collaboration - the tabloid pun ] who when the Cons were last in power was the 'right hand man' to Chancellor Lamont and by his side throughout Black Wednesday the architect of the mother of all self inflicted RECESSIONS - the pound crashing out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Though just student at the time I remember watching the Chancellor poping up - on the hour, every hour announcing an interest rate increase - he did not stop till he hit 15% - all in one afternoon and all in vain - 10 billion pounds gone in just a few hours and more followed. Several years of dire consequences - bad if one was student ( drastic cuts in education) but much worse for millions who lost their jobs and homes. GOD HELP US!

  • Comment number 35.

    So why did we all bother to go out and vote? The public are not deciding who gets into no. 10, Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems are. If we had all wanted PR, we'd have voted Lib Dem.

    If they want to change the voting system, they should start with on-line voting. That would mean you wouldn't be confined to voting at one polling station. If the Icelandic ash cloud situation had happened a bit later than it did, a lot of people would not have been able to vote. If we had online voting, more young people would vote; people wouldn't be put off by queues; it would save a lot of paper - the advantages are endless. Yes, our voting system needs updating, but not by PR. This is the first time I've experienced a hung Parliament and I hope its the last. Get Cameron into No. 10 - its what the majority voted for. Clegg was encouraging us all to vote for change - if, thanks to him, we end up with Labour, it will change nothing. Experience has shown that Brown does not keep his word anyway.

  • Comment number 36.

    It's simple, the Tories have lost the election (according to key Tories) and only won 36.1% of the vote and even with our corrupt system this didn't equate a majority (the Tories even outspent everyone else by £10million and had the Murdoch media machine behind it).

    The LibDems and Labour combined on the other hand won 52% it's a very clear sign that the country doesn't want the Tories and both parties want to join up - for now anyway.

    There's appetite for change, let it happen with 52% of voters backing it.

  • Comment number 37.

    First past the post doesn't work in an essentially three party situation. Two of the 3 are left of centre; this gives the Tories a massive advantage in that their opponents vote will always be split.
    15,000,000 people voted for a left-of-centre government; 10,000,000 voted for the Tories - the country do not want a right wing government; Cameron has no mandate to rule; even under this crazy system, with a third term government in power, with an unpopular PM, with the backing of the rabid press and tens of millions of pounds in campaign funding the people did not vote for a right wing government.

    1st past the post may well deliver stable government 'most of the time', but does it deliver 'good government' ? The Tories have been telling us what a mess we're all in ; well is that a result of the FPTP system?

  • Comment number 38.

    It would be extraordinary if the Tories were to offer anything in the way of voting reform which would help the Lib Dems, because to do so would damage their own future prospects so seriously.

    It seems obvious that the Lib Dems should take the bird in the hand of an alternative voting system already on offer by Labour. No constituency boundary changes are required, so it could be implemented quickly. Since they would be the main beneficiaries of alternative votes, it would lock in their position as an essential coalition partner in the future. It would give them a spring board for further advances.

  • Comment number 39.

    Whilst everything is still fresh in our minds - why not just go for another Election ASAP ..... !

  • Comment number 40.

    Throw anything at us -

    Volcanic ash: didn't even notice.
    No government: what's the big deal?
    Sterling crisis: what crisis?
    Market turmoil: I might run out of bananas.

    If we can beat Hitler, why worry about some
    toffs in London, eh?

  • Comment number 41.

    # 8 rockRobin

    "Just go.

    The taxi is waiting."

    I take it your comments are aimed at Cameron. At last we can agree on something.... you lose an election in spite of having the largest budget in history and a massive media machine behind you, then you've got to go.

  • Comment number 42.

    Labour and the Lib-Dems running the country?


    One group of 'has-beens' and another group of 'wanna-bees'.

    The Tories may not have won the election but they did get the most seats.

    Lib-Dems lost seats.
    Labour lost-seats.

    Hardly a mandate from the voters for either of them to govern the country.

  • Comment number 43.

    I think in some ways the best thing for the long term future of the country is for Lib/Lab to struggle on, our credit rating be downgraded (ergo interest rate rises) and the country be forced to go to the IMF. It will cripple us for a generation but it may well focus people's minds. How short the electorate's memories are, when we took the IMF's money from 1976 - 1980 it led to Maggie getting in to sort out the country. Personally I don't want that again but maybe that's what we need.
    I think we should give kudos to Cameron on running a fair election - he didn't overly criticise Brown, presumably to disinfect the Tories from being the nasty party. Now i think he should have plunged the knife in, then we'd have a strong government and GB could cry about it in Kircaldy.
    One thing to remember is that the election was stacked in Labour's favour because of boundary changes. Otherwise it would have been a landslide.

  • Comment number 44.

    It is hardly surprising that the LibDems need a lot of time, in order to make a decision. They are not very used to making decisions.
    Meanwhile, a nation watches and waits, with increasing bemusement.
    One is reminded of those seemingly endless meetings between politicians and union leaders, held behind closed doors, fuelled by beer and sandwiches, in the Labour Government days of the early 1970s.
    Presumably, two differences today?:- fine wine and canapes, instead of beer and sarnies; and an entrance lobby crammed with smokers (who are thus smoking 'outside'), instead of smoke-filled meeting rooms.
    Whoever foots the bill for all these meetings, we may be sure that it will be us (the great unwashed) who will end up paying, in the end.
    'Taxes for Mr Voter'!

  • Comment number 45.

    Goodnes knows what impression to the wider world the latest garbled update via mobile phone from the Lib-Dems gave!!
    Surely, those Lib-Dem MPs who were elected to serve this country should be prepared to shelve some of their idiological dogma and come to an arrangement that would recognise unfinished business but enable the country to move forward and protect our vital national interests!!
    I, like so many other hard-working people, am so worried about what is down the road for this country if our elected representatives don't join together in the national interest. If not, the markets will deliver their verdict and the ordinary people will suffer most.I wish it were not so but that is what is happening in Greece and I fear we're not that far behind. If we found it necessary to borrow £163b in the boom years of 2002-2007, what hope have we in the desparate situation we now have to face??
    Someone somewhere has got to stand up and begin to lead us out of this minefield.

  • Comment number 46.

    @ 315 (previous thread)


    You cannot compare Gordon Brown's poisition with that of John Major. JM was at least elected by his parliamentary party (who were in turn elected by the grassroots and the public). The same cannot be said of Gordon - he doesn't even have a mandate to be leader of the Labour party!

    And now the public have rejected him also (or rather rejected local Labour candidates under his leadership - it was GB who represented them in the televised debates). It would be an absolute outrage if GB were to play any part in the next government.

  • Comment number 47.

    Is the BBC not in danger of prolonging the agony by unreasonably keeping the Labour story going? Has Mandy manipulated you all yet again?

    No rational person can surely accept the following narrative: "There was a UK general election in which Labour was badly beaten, and then four days later the old PM and government reappeared "for two years" as if nothing had happened"

    If asked to give Gordon advice on how long they should stay in no 10, Sarah Brown should surely answer "Enough time to get the kids' coats".

  • Comment number 48.

    If the lib dems stopped trying to play one party off against the other we might by now have a government. Secret meetings between Libs and Labour over the weekend and continuing dialog between the two today hardly promotes confidence that the Lib Dems are doing anything but looking after themselves. Perhaps they should focus their minds on the only real option open to work with the Tories. If they arent careful, DC will go it alone.

  • Comment number 49.

    This is precisely the reason why

  • Comment number 50.

    Could somebody explain where the £10bn to £15bn that Smiler Gordo has agreed to give to the EU to bail out the Euro is coming from?

    The mind boggles

  • Comment number 51.

    As a bit of fun on the side, could we have some bookmaker prices please, specifically if Clegg now cosies up to Gordo, on the headline in the Sun reading "Brown Nose"?

  • Comment number 52.

    David Cameron and Nick Clegg have an opportunity to give the English people a parliament which properly represents their political leanings and bring in a form of proportional representation. Replace the House of Commons with an English Parliament elected on a first-past-the-post-basis and replace the House of Lords with an Upper House consisting of members from the whole of the United Kingdom elected by proportional representation.

    This Upper House would assume responsibility for matters which affect the whole of the UK, for example defence and foreign policy.

  • Comment number 53.

    Looks as if the Liberals will put PR above the economy..... we'll see

  • Comment number 54.

    The LibDems are rightly worried - they assume (correctly) that siding with either party will split their party and supporters down the middle

    I don't envy them at all - he may be in the position of kingmaker but at what cost?

    The more this unfolds the more I think that the Tories will have to go with a minority government and seek support on an issue-by-issue basis, this will save face for the LibDems and also the Tory hardliners. It may also actually be a good thing to force parliament to vote according to their conscience and not by the party whips (he writes knowing what a stupid thought that is!)

    We shall see.....

    I really hope Gordon Brown doesn't try to hold onto power by hook or by crook.....

  • Comment number 55.


  • Comment number 56.


    I think your forefathers would be ashamed of your views

    Particularly your constant Nazi comments, and slurs on Sir Winston Churchill

  • Comment number 57.

    If no decision is reached soon, Cameron should just break off negotiations and announce he is ready to form a minority Government.

    This will achieve two things:

    1. It will stop Labour's effort to get in by the back door.

    2. It will bring an early election which, hopefully would resolve the matter.

    This will give all parties time to regroup and assess where they went wrong on May 6th.

    They could then come back to the electorate later this year with policies we can understand.

    Does anyone honestly know what 'Big Society' is?

    What does the 'Changes you Want' mean?

    I can't imagine the Vicky Pollards of this World are all switching off the soaps so that they can discuss 'Proportional Representation'

    The parties must come back with policies we understand and associate with.

    A bit less of the 'I'm making up a scare story about what the other lot will do, but I'm not telling you my plans' speeches on the hustings would be welcome.

  • Comment number 58.

    Is it not possible for Mr Brown to go to The Queen, tender his resignation and the advise The Queen to send for Mr Cameron to form what will be a minority Government? It seems to me that Mr Cameron should have held back, resisted Mr Clegg's siren call that the Party with the largest number of seats/share of the vote should be consulted first; Mr Cameron should have sat back and said very publicly it is up to the incumbent PM to see if he can form a Government.

    Oh well!!

  • Comment number 59.

    So the he 'invisable hands' of the market will decide - you mean greedy human speculators will try to take advantage. Case for Brown to lead Progressive Alliance until Labour elects new leader September Conference. I say a windfall tax on top 100 UK companies, as John Lennon wrote in Power To The People, "Give them what they really own!" but then again I'm just an old fashioned socialist. Keep Hope Alive!

  • Comment number 60.

    I find it amazing the lib dems want to a deal with the tories at all. Their policys are so different & clearly there is more common ground with labour! I think they should sort a deal with labour out & come to some arrangement for gordon brown to step down. The tories will promise the lib dems the earth but will never deliver what they really want. Labour will offer the lib dems PR on a plate.


  • Comment number 61.

    I think we are all now tired of this charade, the time for horse trading has stopped, the time for media speculation has ended. David Cameron has done his best, he should now ask for the keys to No.10

  • Comment number 62.

    Right. Time to stop dithering. The Conservatives should forget about the LibDems and just get on with a minority government, tackle the deficit and when the Opposition parties vote against them, call a General Election. Then see how far the LibDems get then...

  • Comment number 63.

    I find all this horse trading masquerading in the name of 'strong and stable government' distasteful. We were invited to vote for change, for fairness, for government that we can now trust. I would like to see the present Labour Government given a one month extension of tenure and a new general election called without advertising, without door knocking and without TV beauty parades. No one voted for this carving up of party interests and no one should be given it.

  • Comment number 64.

    The tories and the lib dems must for the sake of this country come to an agreement about what to do and fast. The tories got the most votes so I fail to see what the problem is. They should be in govt and Cameron should be PM. The lib dems have a chance to be involved in a government which they would not have otherwise have had. They SHOULD not be allowed to play around and muck about with the the country's ability to make change. Labour has wrecked this country and Brown should go now, and stop trying to think that he is any good.

  • Comment number 65.

    During the election campaigns there were striking separations between the parties' approach to deficit reduction. The Lib Dems agreed with Labour's proposals to make around 15bn savings this year, saying further cuts prior to 2011/12 would risk the recovery. Today, David Laws seemed to indicate that his party have torn up their manifesto and swallowed Tory policy. Have the Lib Dems caved in? Spot the difference:

    David Laws' statement today: "deficit reduction and a plan to bring down the deficit as soon as possible must be at the heart of the agreement".

    Lib Dem manifesto: "We have already identified over £15 billion of savings in government spending per year ... vastly in excess of the £5 billion per year that we have set aside for additional spending commitments. All our spending commitments will be funded from this pool of identifi ed savings, with all remaining savings used to reduce the deficit.

    We must ensure the timing is right. If spending is cut too soon, it would undermine the much-needed recovery and cost jobs. We will base the timing of cuts on an objective assessment of economic conditions, not political dogma. Our working assumption is that the economy will be in a stable enough condition to bear cuts from the beginning of 2011–12."

    Vote Lib Dem, get ... Conservative?

  • Comment number 66.

    Party before country -PR before stable government sums the Lib Dems up

  • Comment number 67.

    19. At 3:45pm on 10 May 2010, mrnaughty2 wrote:
    As PM GB was to stay out until such time talks between the Tories and the Lib/Dems broke down.


    I posted similar comment on the previous blog.

    Thinking about it though, it's what Brown does! Interferes in everything.

    I'm just surprised my sock size and colour preference hasn't yet been asked for by some target-driven, database recording hosiery standards co-ordinator.

  • Comment number 68.

    Oh to be a fly on the wall in all these discussions!
    The sad thing is that there are a lot of people (albeit a minority) who are declaring that it's a travesty and throwing much everywhere they can, which doesn't help matters for anyone. We are also witnessing a whole lot of "Maggie fear" even though she's not been in the Commons for nearly 2 decades and is so frail now that she couldn't possibly impact things now, even if she wanted to!

  • Comment number 69.

    I feel so very frustrated. As as I am sure, everyone else who is waiting to hear the outcome of these talks is too.

    I was a Conservative, formally a Conservative Borough and County Councillor, but over the past few years I have felt disenfranchised, as I felt that my vote didn't count. This election, after much deliberation, I voted Lib Dem, not because I agreed with all their policies, as I also agreed with many of the Conservative policies, but because I wanted a fairer voting system, where I felt my vote could make a difference. I think the current voting system is so unfair.

    An awful lot more people came out to vote at this election because they wanted to make a difference. I personally will be so disapointed in the Lib Dems if they make a deal with Labour, and I will certainly never, ever vote for them again.

    I do hope the Conservatives and Lib Dems can reach a deal and I do hope the Conservative party realises that the voting system just has to change, so that ordinary voters like me can feel that our vote will count.

  • Comment number 70.

    I thought Laura K's soundings of Lib Dem MPs were interesting - 'some were pleasantly surprised at what the Conservatives have offered.'

    The Lib Dems might well find out soon how much tolerance the electorate has of coalition negotiations - and, unless they get their skates on - they could end up getting the blame for the current impasse.

    I think that Nick Clegg needs to get his senior colleagues in a room and hammer out what they expect to achieve.

    It will be interesting to see what the defeated PM has to say shortly.

  • Comment number 71.

    Surely what the electorate really voted for is a 3 party coalition - the country does not want Gordon Brown (I doubt it ever did) or indeed William Hague we rejected him years ago, but it is clear that the electorate, at this very worrying time in our history, want a Strong Coalition Government that represents all of the UK with David Cameron rightly at the helm as he has the majority seats, but with some Labour and some Lib-Dem ministers. The Country needs The Economy brought right, the Benefit system re-though and means tested, Unemployment brought down, Parliament thoroughly reformed, Crime and Justice dealt with with a strong hand and the British people given clarity on what immigration real means. Britain is a fair and liberal society for all its gripes it doesn't want right or far left policies. Britain wants Strong Government and a true coalition could bring that about. Two years work together then go back to your party politics.... GET THIS RIGHT!

  • Comment number 72.

    The Liberal Democrats have no mandate to push through electoral reform. Any change to the voting system should be put to referendum after an enquiry involving all parties. That's democratic and if they can't agree to it in the interests of the country's more immediate needs then they risk losing the opportunity for another 35 years.
    Some anti-tory picnic of losers is undemocratic and will fall apart as soonas the first 'tough decisions' have to be made.

  • Comment number 73.

    I can't be alone in thinking that we the public are being held to ransome. How can it be that Gordon Brown can be in any position to form any government with the Lib Dems when they both did so badly? - it is incomprehensible.As for PR- do they all think we are so stupid we would not understand the issues? Put them before us and let US decide.

  • Comment number 74.

    If the Lib/Dems do this, and put selfish party beliefs, before the wishes of the electorate and the national interest, and make an alliance with Labour. They will be as discredited as the Labour Party themselves. This alliance of losers, with a determination in mind merely to change Britains voting system, would be a disgrace to democracy itself. England would see itself disadvantaged again by the devolved Governments doing deals, and it will prove beyond doubt that the Lib/Dems cannot be trusted, particulary by the English voters.

    It would see Britain again having to endure an unelected PM, if part of the price to be paid for Lib/Dems support was Browns head.

    If however the Lib/Dems are merely playing games and dangling the possibility of working with Labour to get more concessions out of the Conservatives, they have no honour whatsoever.

    I have never liked the Lib/Dems as a party, seeing them as a cobbled together party of pure opportunists. They are now living up to their name, of mere power sharers hanging onto anything that comes their way.

    If anyone would want a voting system like this in which everything stands still whilst the political class decide what they want to do, instead of what the electorate wants they must be nuts.

  • Comment number 75.

    red dragon said...I’ve never understood why Glegg felt a ‘moral’ need to talk to the Conservatives first.

    I’ve an alternative perspective which carries more ‘moral’ weight…

    More voters cast their votes for parties which are ideologically left of centre; yet by talking to Cameron, Clegg is taking the country towards a situation whereby the majority voted to the left of centre, but will be governed by a Prime Minister who is right of centre – how is that ‘morally right’? Especially for someone who expounds the virtues of proportional representation.
    This point is worth repeating...

  • Comment number 76.

    The electorate placed Lib Dem in third place. Given the parlous state of the economy and since the public voted overwhelmingly for the Tories and Labour should these two parties form an alliance. Their policies are not that dissimilar only their history. I suggest a two year deal to finish with another election. Cameron should be PM, and the Labour leader (not Gordon) should be deputy with a mixture of parties in the cabinet. I know there would not be an effective opposition but the public would not look favourably towards any party stalling on issues for party political dogma.

  • Comment number 77.

    In response to Nicky (posted at 3.30pm):

    'Having had almost 40 yrs of living under this dreadful system which Hitler would have been happy to operate under, if Clegg does not demand PR now and demand a simple vote of parliament backed by support from the party with which he eventually supports, it will be his last chance to do so and a dreadful opportunity missed for most voters to have the change we need...'

    PR isn't the be all and end all - you talk about current system being one Hitler would be happy to operate under, but it seems to have slipped you mind that Hitler was elected using PR.
    Indeed, if there was PR in the last election, with the same number of MP's, there would be 12 BNP MP's based on their share of the vote - the problem with PR being minority and fringe parties which often have extreme views can gain a national platform - something I think to be avoided!

    I'm afraid demanding PR now doesn't do Nick Clegg any favours in my eyes - he appears to be prepared to abandon almost all of his principles to get PR at any cost!

  • Comment number 78.

    26. At 3:55pm on 10 May 2010, Red__Dragon wrote:
    I’ve never understood why Glegg felt a ‘moral’ need to talk to the Conservatives first.

    I’ve an alternative perspective which carries more ‘moral’ weight…

    More voters cast their votes for parties which are ideologically left of centre; yet by talking to Cameron, Clegg is taking the country towards a situation whereby the majority voted to the left of centre, but will be governed by a Prime Minister who is right of centre – how is that ‘morally right’? Especially for someone who expounds the virtues of proportional representation.

    This is nonsense

    1)Clegg had to speak to the party with the most seats and votes, having said he would

    2)The Lib Dems are not exclusively full of those who are of the left

    Just remember every tome you tell a fib, a fairy dies

  • Comment number 79.

    So Grodon Brown would like to hang on a bit longer 'in the national interest'.

    It really would be wonderful if Mr. Brown could make a tiny start on repaying, personally, some of the £500Bn 'structural deficit' that he ran up in debt during his tenure during the past decade.

    Every little helps but in the modern idiom of 'getting real' we know that actually the taxpayers and businesses of SE England will have to stump up to reduce this debt, along with the big hosepipe of money that might, if required, be squirted by the BoE.

  • Comment number 80.

    One of the consequences of this dithering is that Alistair Darling attended a meeting as our 'Chancellor' and agreed to underwrite £13bn of European debt, using OUR money in a bail-out for the discredited Euro.

    Darling has no mandate to conduct ANY business on our behalf, his party having lost the election.

    The niceties of our quaint constitution are now damaging the country.

    Even if there is no deal between Clegg and Cameron, they will just have to sort things out as they go. It's possible that there won't be a deal - but the country cannot remain in limbo indefinitely.

    Meanwhile, Brown must stand down. He must go, and go now. He must resign forthwith and advise Her Majesty to send for the leader of the party that won the most seats.

    If Brown doesn't do the honourable thing and leave Number 10 today, the bailiffs should be sent for.

  • Comment number 81.


    As commented upon earlier, any deal that allows Labour to retain power in any shape or form is not viable electorally and will be wholly unsustainable in economic terms. If it were to happen, I predict a more dire outcome than the 1970s when we went cap in hand to the IMF.

    In political terms, this has all the hallmarks of Mandy. Can anyone tell me why senior Labour figures only refer to the Lib Dems as the 'liberals'? Is there some sort of rebranding / stitch up going on to ensure that the Bliar / Mandelson project lives on? Do you think that before the electorate are sold down the river on such a scheme, we might be given the chance to agree or disagree? If not, perhaps it is time to leabve the country before we are subsumed by Europe and the dreadful Euro.

  • Comment number 82.

    Kevinb - on the issue of the underwrting of the £430bn, the European Central Bank isn't doing, the European Commission is, so we are in for the £43bn. Again, unlikely to cost all of it, but a liability we should show like the PFI stuff. The balance sheet of the country is, I think, put together by the same people who did the balance sheet for Enrown.

  • Comment number 83.

    balancent wrote:
    About 40 per cent of the workforce is employed in the public sector. This has got to stop. These are obviously the people that voted for them,
    Well yes I did. I can't see why my pay and pension should be affected, just because the UK's economy is in meltdown and the private sector is on its knees. Can't we just borrow more money? Or just print some? Or tax the private sector a little bit more? I mean, the Greek public sector only rioted a little bit and they were given a half trillion Euros bailout from somewhere or other. So I think everybody is getting worked up about nothing, and I honestly don't think there's any real need for changes here.

  • Comment number 84.

    Brown is about to speak...

    No doubt he will offer to quit in the national interests...


    As in depart...not an encouraging sense

  • Comment number 85.

    I am surprised and a little dismayed by the Liberal statement on the talks. To be asking for clarification at this stage on education, tax and other major policy areas, does make me wonder what on earth that have been discussing, it just smacks of MP's enjoying free tea and muffins on the UK taxpayers expense.

    I am not quite sure how the liberal democrats can be asking for more clarification on education policy. If they are after more than the pupil premium the Conservatives already agree on as well as Tax breaks in the current economic climate then they have shown themselves to be totally insincere about putting economic stability and reducing the deficit as a priority, you cannot have your cake and eat it. There is no way in the current financial mess where Tax breaks and more public spending can be justified.

    We have an over bloated civil service in the country that needs to face a severe slash and burn, with as many as 100,000 posts going and linking public sector pensions and benefits to the private sector. To clarify this further the government at the end of 2009 in answer to a parliamentary question admitted they were not sure how many civil servants there were but estimate it is in the region of 530,000. This does not include, doctors, nurses or emergency service personnel, often referred to as front line staff. There needs to be a real efficiency drive in the NHS, the amount of money thrown at the NHS under labour has shown limited improvements and no where near the level of improvements we should have seen for the massive budget increases they have had thrown at them.

    So the question remains are these newly elected liberal democrat MP's serious in there stated aims of putting deficit reduction as a priority or are they going to fall back on there manifesto policies which got them even less MP's than in the last parliament. Yes there should be a unification of the best conservative and liberal policies. But the statement from the liberals this afternoon seems to smack of we want all our policies and with very little give or negotiation in return for our support. That shows they are not willing to put the national interest above party policy or party politics and shows a real weakness in the argument for PR where this farce would be likely to be played out at every election.

  • Comment number 86.

    If the Lib Dems can't bring themselves to do a deal with the Tories then surely this will show that PR can't work in the UK. The real question is can Nick Clegg deliver on all the statesmanlike comments or will self interest force him to do a deal with Labour ?

  • Comment number 87.

    You don't half get some idiots commenting on here.

    The public does not elect a Prime Minister ... they never have! They elect an MP's!

  • Comment number 88.

    #26 Red_Dragon

    I agree with you... as a nation, we don't want the Tories.

    Going into coalition with the Tories simply gives them another shot at calling an election - word on the streets is that they've got the money and they're ready to go again.

    You refer to the Tories as 'right of centre'. I would disagree with you on this, better to drop the 'centre' altogether.

  • Comment number 89.


    Talk about political reform; making the voting process fairer?

    What right, therefore, does Brown and his motley crew have to remain in any sort of power?

    Cameron won the vote. He should kick Brown out and get some economic reforms under way. Now.

    I cannot stand the expense of more Labour. They will never meet the deficit cut they brought into law. We know it, they'd know it if they reflected on the reality from time to time. I mean look at it! They've just underwritten Eurozone debt by another 8 billion. Will the Eurozone bail out stirling when it fails? You bet not.

  • Comment number 90.

    30. At 4:14pm on 10 May 2010, Kneeslider1 wrote:
    Frankly Kevinb I think you deliberately misunderstanding and misrepresenting my point on the previous topic. I'm not saying the BNP and UKIP are alike, merely that they are both to the right of the conservatives. The advocates of PR tend (not always, but tend) to be left of centre and therefore see it as a way of ousting anyone vaguely right of centre. In the same way, the Greens and the SNP are not alike, but would form part of the so called "rainbow alliance" in a coalition of the left. I'm just trying to illustrate the point that the proponents of PR seem to see the outcome as one way only, when the law of unintended consequences throws up something else altogether.

    You wrote something of great amiguity

    Thank you for clearing it up, and writing something more defined, and consequently removing that ambiguity

  • Comment number 91.

    I think that the Lib Dems would lose credibility with the progressive left for a generation if they get into bed with the Tory party. The Tories will almost certainly renage on any PR agreement and the Lib Dems will have lost both their political virginity and any goodwill they might currently enjoy. I think that Nick Clegg needs to think long and hard before rejecting a solution which more fairly represents the 64% of voters who didn't vote for the "private wealth and public squalor party". C'mon Nick hold your nose and work with Gordon Brown for the greater good.

  • Comment number 92.

    #24 Kevinb

    "Cameron should call his bluff, and then we get another election"

    When the Irish voted the 'wrong' way on the constitution, they were made to vote again.

    (Still, at least they got a vote!)

  • Comment number 93.

    If the tories cannot do a deal with the lib dems their right to form a government is questionable. They may have received 36% of the votes but this means that only 23% of the population actively supports them, compared to 19% for labour and 15% libdem. Each party, therefore, only has the support of a minority of the population. Collaboration between parties is essential if we want to continue with the belief that we are a democratic society.

  • Comment number 94.

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

  • Comment number 95.

    It is now really clear that the extent of Cameron's grave failure to convince any new voters that he had anything to offer is crippling the country. Now he has to deal with people who do not understand that we must have nuclear energy for a period to get us into the renewable or alternative era, want us to join the latest collapsing megalith across the Channel and generally have few sound ideas. It is indeed the blind talking to the blind!!

  • Comment number 96.

    I did not vote Tory but I do feel the Lib Dems have to go with the Tories. If strong stable Government is truly their main aim, then there is no other way. It is also a rare chance to build their credibility and so perform better at elections in the future, with or without voting reform.

  • Comment number 97.

    Pareto principle:
    If asked I'll bet about 80% of the population think that PR is a good thing and we should move towards it. However, I'll also bet that
    80% of the population are finding the current stalemate/lack of agreement and therefore Government somewhere in the tiresome/worrying range.
    This is what will happen pretty much everytime with PR!
    Still think it's a good idea?

  • Comment number 98.

    35. At 4:17pm on 10 May 2010, M Robinson wrote:

    ...........If they want to change the voting system, they should start with on-line voting.........


    You are joking, aren't you? The most insecure means of communication the World, combined with the Government's record on data security, makes that a non-runner.

    We's probably end up with 126% of the eligible electorate casting a vote!

  • Comment number 99.

    John Major 'hit the nail on the head' this morning,(Radio 4), when he alluded to the fact that the public do not fully realise the extent of the UK's national debt problem. Seemingly he is right, which I find simply staggering - the more so because 8.6 million people have allowed themselves to be 'hoodwinked' by Brown, who is the CAUSE of this problem & certainly not the solution! Brown has used the 'global crisis' as a smokescreen to deflect from his appalling record of Chancellor and he now has the arrogance to try & deny the wishes of 17.5 million people - more than twice the number who fell for his deception!

  • Comment number 100.

    One of the complaints about PR is that (at least some) MPs have to be allocated from a pool, and therefore don't represent a defined constituency. I have a better idea. Instead of 1 vote per MP in the Commons, give them a vote that is weighted according to the proportion of the electorate that voted for their party, divided by the number of seats their party gains in the first-past-the-post system. Then, the sum of all weighted votes for each party will exactly match the proportion of the popular vote they received. This can be implemented without changing the electoral system - only the voting system in the House of Commons would need to be changed. Now, the effect of this would be that every vote cast in an election would carry the same weight when represented in parliament, and yet the selection of MPs would be unchanged. Ideal or what?

    On this basis, each Conservative MP would have 0.76 votes and each Labour MP would have 0.74 votes. The big winners would LibDem MPs, who would each have 2.6 votes. For the Green Party, Caroline Lucas would have 6.2 votes!

    In a stroke, this would also remove any temptation to play with boundaries, as it would not alter the balance of power in the Parliament.

    Thinking logically, any objection to this scheme could only be based on the flawed assumption that one party's voters should be more influential in Parliament that anothers'.


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