Wednesday, 18 January 2006

The Liberal Dilemma

I have received today a very pleasant comment on a previous post concerning my (negative) views on the electability of Mr Kennedy.

Steve Guy said:

Having just attended a presentation of the 2005 British Electoral Survey ( a couple of things you should know are: 1) The personal rating of Charles Kennedy was a HUGE factor in increasing Lib Dem votes, 2) It takes a swing of just 3% away from Labour to produce a hung parliament, but a massive 12% to deliver a Tory majority - so the Tories really should start being a bit nicer to the Lib Dems. The odd of the LDs holding the balance of power next time out are very high.

To which I would respond:

1. I am unable to fathom any possible way in which Kennedy inspired votes, but that's beside the point.
2. Your % swing analysis merely highlights the differing aspirations and expectations that we seek from our politics. We aim at outright Government. The Libs aspire solely to being a weak and uninfluencial partner. That really matters because majorities within electorates back winners.
3. We Tories are being kind to the Libs. We have helped motivate you to pick a better leader; we are even constantly promoting your best potential candidate - Mr Clegg (see you've got me doing it now!); and we are offering a more influencial home to your more sensible Orange Bookers.

Most modern Tories would be delighted to work a little more closely with the Liberals, but before that can happen we need to press them into defining who and what they are. For too long they have wandered about in a world of contradiction and global platitudes.

Please don't think that Cameron hasn't thought this one through - he has, and whichever way the Libs fall, he wins.

You can go East and he will pick up lots of votes and all your serious, young Orange Bookers in a stampede across the floor or you can go West and he picks up an election winning (Junior) ally, that, as you rightly observe, can influence the outcome of the next election. Which ever way you look at it, you are going to propel Cameron into Govt.

And to think that we Tories have struggled with how to deal with the Libs for all these years and the answer so simple.


frvfvsdvdsv said...

Thank you for your prompt response - nice to know you read your comments (and answer them)! I think you underestimate our ambitions a little: we are certainly not going to be anyone's 'uninfluencial' partner. One lesson that Lib Dems have learned well is that no minority government would ever again enjoy LD support without electoral reform. To achieve the reform of our outdated and rotten voting system would be, in my view, pretty influencial! You also say that most modern Tories would be delighted to work with LDs - if only we could define who we are. I think it's fair to say that from we're sitting (and we haven't really moved) the Tories spent many years deciding whether they were 'right-wing' or 'very right-wing' and this perhaps made the centre ground we have always occupied look a little 'soft' of 'left-wing'. We are flattered that DC has recognised that the centre ground is where most British people are, because that's where we always were. If DC is being true to his own beliefs, the only thing stopping him joining Lib Dems is the knowledge that with first past the post, the odds are always stacked against us.

Serf said...

The one thing that should never be up for grabs is electoral reform. It is one of those horrible European ideas that the Lib Dems love so much and would curse us as a country to consensual politics.

Why curse? Because consensus means zero accountability. For all its faults FPTP offers a clear opportunity to sack the government.

Richard Bailey said...

EU rightly observes that the Tories and Labour will never offer you electoral reform. FPTP is great for government and whilst bloody uncomfortable in opposition, doesn't half motivate you!

I am quite sure that in the face of a choice between cabinet posts and no cabinet posts, even your holy grail of PR would be compromised.

Finally, choosing the difference between 'right wing' and 'very right wing' is unquestionably less politically embarrassing than choosing whether one is LIBERAL (open minded, unprejudiced and favouring personal freedom) or SOCIALIST (advocating state ownership of means of production, distribution and exchange).

We both have some sorting out to do, and ultimately your party must judge which horse to back and the resulting effect it can expect to have. But as I say, once its all decided you will either be with us or against us and if you are with us, I am sure you will prefer seats round the table than sitting in the stalls (and if you don't you would be truly bonkers!).

Now enough of this Lib Dem consultancy work. I'm not giving you any more clues. You'll have to figure the rest out for yourselves!!

Chris Palmer said...

Firstly, many "modern Conservatives" probably wouldn't want to work with the Lib Dims. In seats such as my own where it is only the Lib Dims or Conservatives that have any chance of winning - there is a huge amount of tension between the two sides. I cannot possibly see the two sides (who are - despite pathetic people likening both sides - completely different.) Further, allowing them any power in the next parliament dispells many truths about them never being able to get into power. Conservatives should NEVER aid Lib Dems.

Secondly, Steve Guy (don't know who you are, don't really care either,) you know full well that a Conservative party will never give into PR. As EU-Serf says, Britian would be destroyed by meaningless and timewasting consensus coalitions where nothing is ever achieved and compromise is the name of the game.

The centre ground does not exist. It is an excuse to sit on the fence; to not have any opinions or ideas; a method of inaction rather than action; an unpolitcal stance of the political inept. For the most part, the British people have conservatives views, so don't try to kid yourself by believing that "the centre ground is where most British people are," because it's not. It is human nature to be cautious and conservative, and the revival of the Conservative brand will easily prove this fact.

Lib Dems will never be in power, so you might as well give up now and go home. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Chris Palmer - your complacency is delightful.

Look forward to that 9% lead over Labour in the polls which will give you that magic absolute majority of 1.