Friday, May 07, 2010

A Full Coalition Can Work

Hilarious. I have just been dropped from a Newsnight discussion on a potential Tory-LibDem coalition because I am seen as too pro LibDem. I never thought those would be words I would ever write. But I know what they mean.

I have spent most of the day explaining on the media why I believe a full coalition could work - not just a supply and confidence agreement, but a full coalition, with LibDem Ministers and a formal four year long coalition agreement along the lines of what they do in Germany. This is the only way a lasting, stable government can be brought about. The early discussions need to centre on the areas of agreement rather than disagreement. The difficult bits can come later. If there is goodwill on both sides agreement can be reached.

There will be red lines on both sides. That's clear. But I truly believe the LibDems are far more likely to come to an agreement with the Conservatives than with Brown. Brown can only carry on if he creates what the Germans would call an 'Ampelkoalition', where by all the Irish and nationalist parties are included too. Even then he could barely get a majority. And there's no guarantee that his own MPs would vote in favour of electoral reform.

It is widely thought that electoral reform will be the sticking point between the LibDems and the Tories. It doesn't have to be. Cameron's opening gambit of a Commission on Electoral Reform won't be good enough for the LibDems. They've been there, done that with Tony Blair.

I'd offer them a free vote in Parliament on whether there should be a referendum on electoral reform. And my final position, if that failed, would be to offer them a referendum but then campaign in favour of FPTP in that referendum campaign. I could also envisage PR being offered for the House of Lords and local elections.

I think LibDems have been slightly taken aback by Cameron's offer. They want to be reassured he really means it. Nick Clegg's task must now be to convince a sceptical party that this is a road they should go down. As I have repeatedly said, the LibDems presumably came into politics to change things. They now have their first real opportunity in a century to wield real power and do just that.

The question is: will they take it?

70 comments:

Ann said...

NO they won't Iain. The Lib Dem Parliamentary Party is a shambles.
Cameron has made a fair offer - even the bolshevik broadcasting corporation agree with that.
However, the parliamentary party are viscerally anti-Tory, especially the likes of Cable and Campbell. They will eventually prop up Bruin. And that is the best thing that can come out of this shambles for the Conservative Party. The referendum on PR will happen against a background of a rising deficit and market unrest.
A referendum promoted by a coalition of losers will not be passed especially when voters are seriously fed up that they are still lumbered with Bruin.
From then on it is only a matter of time before the lib lab pact collapses.
Then teh Conservatives can move in and pick up what is left of the country and sort it out - with a full mandate.
Unfortunately a lot of people are going to suffer because of this.
But if they are dumb enough to vote Labour they deserve all they get.

Osama the Nazarene said...

It is by no means clear that a free vote for a referendum on electoral reform would have a majority. A lot of labour MPs would oppose it (and I can't see them being whipped) and of course a lot of Conservatives are in favour of first past the post and MAY well oppose a referendum given a free vote.

Cleggy would feel very let down at this point!

Hawkeye said...

I'm still waiting for you to keep your exit poll promise and run starkers down Whitehall.

That'll get you back on to Newsnight. C'mon Dale - get your kit off....

Jason Myers said...

Anyone attacking Cameron should not. We had a massive task to win because we started from such a low point. The campaign was weak I accept that and I think they should've had some better people running it. I think we should've seen more of the team because SOME voters hate Cameron but would have listened to Ken Clarke/Hague/Others.

Having said that Cameron has given us our biggest seat gains since the 30s. Quite an achievement. If we'd stuck to the right like many wanted I'm confident we would have won 40-50 less seats.

Alan said...

I think Cameron has been really clever here.

You say that "the LibDems presumably came into politics to change things", but most LD activists I know are much happier carping from the sidelines.

It's quite easy running a local authority - you are not accountable for the level of taxation (which is done by central govt).

I am not sure the LDs have the appetite to actually step up to help implement any of their policies.

Where Cameron has been clever is that if they do step up, then the pain of the spending cuts can be shared. If they do not, then he can legitimately ask "where was the spirit of working together that we heard so much about". This was seen in the debates as being something the great unwashed public really cared about. They will not forgive.

Clegg is in a real bind here.

Shame.

:-)

Bardirect said...

Can Clegg really contemplate a pact with the left wing, union recruited and funded, "old" Labour party who just crept in without anyone really noticing?

And only to give Salmond the sort of minority party leverage usually reserved for Israeli coalitions?

Its a shame that Cam cannot identify just 10 disgruntled people to "cross the floor" which would be enough to go it "alone" with a majority.

Glyn H said...

Dale; this is madness.
1. LinDems are a left wing party
2. They are split into Orange Bookers (who prevail in Westminster) and beards who run the local parties & have policy making function. Hence the loony manifesto.
3. Cameron may have damaged the Tory brand by even sugesting in his 10 minute effort at 2.30 this afternoon.
4. Can he be being too clever, and doing a double blind to let them into GB coalition - hence back to '74 an another election which Lib/Labs cannot afford?
5. Cable at even No 3 at Treasury. Make Usher and Shiti V look like slighty competent souls.

Struggling to do this on phone but heard you earlier onR4. This is barking. Let Brown and Clegg try and in a few months we might get the Government we need. To seek a Con/Lib pact is both vile, disgusting and very damaging to any chance of getting us out of the latest lefty mess Broon has malevolently brought upon us.

gordon-bennett said...

Iain: You make the mistake about the German coalition system that all the pundits make.

Germany is a successful country but if they have always been in coalitions then you cannot know how well they would have done if they had used our FPTP system.

For all you know, they might have been even more prosperous.

J said...

They dropped you because they probably want a Tory who says it will not work, thereby showing the "split" in the Tory party. The BBC cannot possibly allow anyone to think there is any degree of unity in the Tories.

Sean Haffey said...

You're not pro LibDem. You're pro a strong government that will roll up its sleeves and start fixing our problems. I'm staggered by those people who are unable to tell the difference.

Stephen said...

The Liberals 57 doesn't mean anything. They will be incapable of any discipline and will unravel under any exposure.

The likes of Harris and Opik may have slipped off the ship but if the media can drag up Manish Sood they can easily find more malcontent Lib Dem MPs.

Great to see UKIP fizzle out, wonderful to see the BNP fail, none of them in this mix. I don't even mind the nice lady from the Greens. I'd have her over Galloway for sure.

There seem to be a lot of scientologists in Brighton so maybe there's something in the wind.

Kieran said...

It is very unlikely this can work im my view. . Clegg and a few others at the "Orange" end of the Libs may well be able to find a good bit of common ground with the Tories, but the Libs I understand have a constitution which requires quite a lot of referral to it's activist membership, and they will be hard to keep onside when the going gets gritty on the economic front, which won't be long.

The Tories, for their part have some who will froth at the mouth at the very question of doing business with a man like Clegg who plays the Eu banjo as his first instrument.

Clegg has a lot to lose here. It might not look like it given their difficult time last night, but they have not been in this position for a generation and if he plays the moral high ground he could lose his chance. He would be better not pushing too hard for an electoral reform that won't come, at least not as quick as he would like. His best bet IMO would be to offer genuinely constructive help, accept a ministerial portfolio ot two, and cash in at the next election when the Libs responsibility could well be rewarded.

If he pushes for immediate reform, doesn't get it and goes off in a stropp, Cameron will be able to run the country as a minority government, take the moral high ground themselves, call an election when it suits them, (as soon as August maybe) and in all probability win it.

So IMO, it could work, but politicians tend to be venal and self serving, and so I wouldn't want money on it. Actually it looks like it is the Labour Party who should be hoping for chaos here. They are out of the loop now for the first time in thirteen years, and it isn't that difficult , if common ground was found and common sense followed (on the Con/ Lib part that is) to see a stitch up that would nueter Labour for a very long time.

Peter said...

A referendum on electoral reform would be a good way to restore the voters faith with politics and reengage the electorate.
The outcome would be a challenge for all parties to work on.

Newmania said...

I think in the long term it is important for both Parties that they can work together

Paul said...

Surely if Clegg cam out and said that the only hold up was electoral reform and went along the lines of "We both disagree on this - shouldn;t the country have it's say" it would then be very hard for Cameron to turn it down. Otherwise he looks like he's rejecting stable government in order to be able to stop the people from deciding what system they want and that surely wouldn't go down well

DespairingLiberal said...

Not to be unduly suspicious of motives here, but during the last few days Iain, we were treated to an avalanche of abuse of the LibDems by yourself and other Tory bloggers. Today we seem almost to be best friends! Could this be anything to do with wanting to hold office? Just a thought.

Or could it be even more devious than simple ambition? Could it be that Iain has hatched a plan to ensure the LibDems share the blame for the savage cuts that lie ahead?

Still, I suppose whoever is in for the next few years will have ordure heaped upon them.

Adrian said...

Will they take it? It seems unlikely. Going into coalition with the Tories, although it means finally getting into power, means shelving electoral reform indefinitely, risking the possibility that come the next election it'll be business as usual.

A short-term arrangement with Labour makes much more sense, in order to get PR passed and arranged for the next election, but (a) if the only thing standing in the way of a Lib-Con pact is electoral reform, why should Labour in effect help those two parties remove that obstacle? and (b) I can't see the LibDems supporting Darling's next budget, which means the Lib-Lab pact could come crashing down before any electoral reform can get passed.

We live in interesting times...

Me said...

Cameron, who really looked like a PM today, should offer the Lib Dems the following: a fixed term, four-year parliament with 10% less MPs all representing constituencies as much the same size as possible.

Tory seat count goes up, Lib Dem seat count goes up, Labour's goes down. Brilliant. And it's FAIRER.

PS Just imagine for one sweet moment that we didn't have Scots in the House of Commons...

Pat said...

It occurs to me that if the Lib-Dems cant go into a coalition with the Tories now- then they wouldn't be able to if a PR system gave them a permanent part in government.
And if they can go into coalition with Labour now- then that coalition will be fairly swiftly defeated, and the country will know where they stand.
Given the financial problems likely to hit any time now- falling pound, rising inflation, possibly an inability to borrow and hence to actually pay government Bills- it might be a bad idea to be associated with the resulting pain- so an alliance with Labour could deal a serious blow to the Lib Dems future- especially as this will involve rejecting a decent, publicly made, offer.
It might well be best if The Libs do reject an alliance with the Tories, given that the Tories have actually made a decent offer- then Cam avoids the blame and has a good chance of cleaning up in say a year.

Richard Baron said...

Looking ahead to the possibility (and I put it no stronger) that electoral reform will be a topic of discussion in the coming months, can I draw people's attention to a recent British Academy report on the topic. If we are going to be discussing electoral reform, it would be really good if we could follow the report's example and discuss the topic impartially, rather than advocating whatever we think will be to our respective parties' advantage. Here is a link to the press release. A little more than half way down the page, a few lines before "Editor's Notes", there is a link to the report (about 1.4 MB pdf):

http://www.britac.ac.uk/news/news.cfm/newsid/20

Tory Outcast said...

Totally agree. I did a series of posts a couple of weeks ago listing the sheer number of identical or nearly identical promises from the two manifestos. There is so much agreement and yet the media and some Lib Dems seem intent to only focus on the disagreement.

They must realise that Cameron is not going to destroy any possibility of their ever being a Tory majority again for the sake of what will almost certainly be little more than a year in power.

Offering Clegg the Home Office and a PR House of Lords would be a generous compromise and one the Lib Dems would be mad to turn down.

Mick Turatian said...

Ampelkoalition literally means 'traffic light coalition' which is to say a multi-coloured coalition comprising, say, reds and greens.

This the Germans have done.

They have yet to try the Frettchenimsackkoalition the paradigm for which will be an entirely British construct.

Weygand said...

Having watched the programme, it is clear why they dropped you.

What a parody of an interview - no attempt to explore what might actually happen, just an attempt to start a punch up.

I'm afraid that as usual Newsnight preferred style over substance - not what we expect from a publicly funded broadcaster.

Alister said...

PR for the lords and 500 MPs with equal voters (none of this western isles 22k voters vs isle of white 110k) for the commons.
Now you have to sort out which is supreme and why - both are elected so you can't argue the commons is supreme as its elected.
And for your final task answer Tam Dalzeil's "west lothian question"

Jabba the Cat said...

I think a lot of people underestimate the driving force of power attainment and the opportunity for both the Tories and LibDims sitting at the big table after many years in the wilderness...

Douglas said...

I agree with you Iain. As a Lib Dem I have to say that a referendum is the line in the sand. Everything else is a matter of quick negotiation. (lets see if you quote me on Twitter again!)

Tories and other will campaign against any reform of FPTP but thats fine. I just want the electorate to be asked about reform. Once we have their answer it will either spur the Lib Dems on or perhaps break us.

I actually feel the same way about asking Scots about independence. Less have the question answered so we can all move on.

Good call with the post Iain.

Terry said...

I agree with your thoughts Iain. 2 points. First Brown is only offering a referendum on STV which as I understand it is not proportional. Second Cable is a former Labour councillor and failed Labour PPC who has been deconstructed twice - by Andrew Neil and by others. Not a lot of credibility but could be a real pain.

angry and despondent said...

We partisan supporters of both the Tories and the LibDems have to face the realities of the current situation. It became apparent during the television debates that Clegg and Cameron thought that Gordon Brown was "damaged goods" and I can't believe that the LibDem party would prop up a discredited loser or a party that has been proven to be endemically corrupt whilst in government. Propping up Labour surely can't be the "change" and the "different style of politics" Clegg tried to sell to the electorate?

A Con-Lib coalition or partnership WOULD be different for this country and I think should be tried out. Although I'm very cynical of politicians, I actually believe Cameron when he says he will work in the national interest. The economic crisis facing this country is too great for sensible politicians to engage in narrow party political point scoring ( just look at the way Alex Salmond was drooling over the possibility of his party holding a minority government to ransom for Scottish interests and to hell with the rest of Britain!)

It may be hard for die hard party tribalists on both sides to contemplate an accommodation between them but the reality is this is where the country is and you can't ignore the situation. If the LibDems turn down this chance to help the country in its moment of greatest need because of their obsession with P.R. then I think the majority of voters will never forgive them and could punish them in the sooner than later forthcoming general election.

In the current situation Cameron could do worse than offer Clegg the position of Foreign Secretary. I understand he's fluent in a number of languages and his his somewhat anti-American views could be a gift to this country that has, under Labour, has been supine over aggressive U.S. foreign policy. I would think he would also ensure we will not be dragged into any further overseas military adventures dreamed up be the Pentagon.

Vince Cable could be nominated for the role of Speaker. Unfortunately for Cable, he has shown he's something of a flipflopping bumbler when closely questioned on the economy and even now appears somewhat diminished as an economic sage. Huhne, I think, is too petulant to be given an office of state. His recent TV appearances have shown him to be a hysterical and overbearing character.

That, for what it's worth, is my view. Do bloggers have any other ideas? I'm off to beddy bye-boes now. It's been a long day.

Just one thought - the LibDem's love in with the E.U. should be considered an irrelevance at this time. It's entirely possible that the Eurozone, due to economic meltdown, could be an entirely different entity this time next year.

cassandra said...

I cannot believe a tory is even thinking about a coalition with the libdems.

They will stab a partner in the back at the first opportunity and do their level best to sabotage a coalition, they are the scorpion at the river bank and to even think about giving them a piggyback ride across is to invite disaster!

Cameron would have to be a complete imbecile to deal with the libdems OR has that been the plan all along?
Destroy the right forever by diluting it with a social democrat party, the right wing destroyed from the inside out.

cassandra said...

Dear Iain,

The stunningly obvious needs pointing out?

The ONLY person who will benefit from a libcon deal will be GORDON BROWN!
He will be able to retain the leadership of his party and stand watching a libcon party enact deeply unpopular cuts and the libcons will take the full blame(the BBC will make sure of that).
Far better to let the liblab pact to enact the savage cuts and tax rises and sit back as they destroy themselves.
The next regime will be very unpopular indeed,is that what you want?

JuliaM said...

"They dropped you because they probably want a Tory who says it will not work, thereby showing the "split" in the Tory party."

J has the right of it.

javelin said...

I have an important question.

Is David Cameron going to publish the agreement with the LibDems?

Cameron has said any contract should be published because transparency is important. Given this contract is replacing the manifesto I would expect him to publish it in full. No secret deals, no hidden agendas.

JoeF said...

There are only 2 key issues-

1. The ONLY potential government that can have majority of parliament is Con/LD coalition (add up the numbers, you need Lab-LD-SDLP-Green-SNP/Plaid to even get a narrow majority, can you imagine??). Cameron has made a serious and decent offer to get this and be able to have government in national interest. Obviously Cons have to give on a few points and LDs will have to give on more points of detail to get a fair agreement reflecting will of the people. The alternative is chaos and another election in next few weeks/months.

2. If LDs refuse this (and I do think there is a good chance they will), the chaos and 2nd election are on their heads. How many MPs will they have after such a 2nd election? What would their campaign message be- vote for more chaos?

GM said...

Saw the programme. Wark was on one message, Clarke and Wallace on a different one altogether. Clarke and Wallace both clear about the need for mature politics to work round some of the differences and produce a credible, strong government, but Wark kept on trying to lead them back to divisions. She couldn't cope with people agreeing with each other. Clarke in particular ran rings round her. Typical media - keep carping on about politicians being inadequate and divisive, and do their level best to keep it that way.

tapestry said...

The funny thing about all this PR talk is that when the Lib Dems finally get their heads around the reality of PR, they definitely won't want it.

Their vote will splinter as it did in the EP and the Greens will shoot to 10%, sending the LD's down to the mid teens again.

UKIP will surge past them, and a likely Conservative UKIP alliance will be within a whisker of an outright majority.

They should test PR in the Lords and see if they like it or not. They won't!!

cherami said...

Brown is still prime minister.

It is up to him to form a government.

Were I Cameron, I'd let him get on with trying.
Clegg is far too intelligent to link himself with a lost cause.

Even if Brown hangs on until a Queen's Speech, Cameron and Clegg can get rid of him when they want.

Ann - interesting post from the opposite point of view!

Paddy Briggs said...

There is little or no ideolgical common ground between the Conservatives and the LibDems - and there never has been. On the other hand Labour and the LibDems are historically much closer and the same applies today - if you remove personalities from the equation. Clegg is as an individual much closer to Cameron than he is to Brown - but the LibDems in the country surely don't want a LibDem/Tory arrangement of any sort. Brown has to be out of the running completely and then a perfectly workable potential coalition of the centre/left starts to emerge. Clegg could virtually demand the make-up of a (say) Milliband government - and a Lib/Lab cabinet could include some impressive and able people - and there would be no Labour time-servers just in power as a payback for loyalty.

Chris said...

@Tapestry - I agree. In terms of vote share Lib Dems are huge beneficiaries from FPTP as they are the only neutral brand that can be used as a vehicle for voting against either of the two main parties in safe seats. Redcar is an example. The Lib Dems had got to second place in 2005 so became the focal point for voters wanting to eject Vera Baird. That would not happen under PR. You simply vote for any other party. Under PR, the neutral brand the Lib Dems have cultivated so as to be an acceptable choice for either Labour or Conservative voters will be a disadvantage. The clearer identity of parties like the Greens and UKIP will erode their support. I know that this thinking exists inside the Liberal Democrat party.

Bill Quango MP said...

Asked the local lib dem activists what they thought of a coalition.
to a man or woman they said they would resign rather than have a Tory government.

Not a good sign

skynine said...

We don't need electoral reform we need Constitutional reform.

The Scotland Act should be repealed and a new Devolution Act should be passed with all four countries getting devolution of internal matters.

With fixed term elections the same MP's could also be MSP's and ME(nglish)P's in the devolved assemblies. FPTP with PR augmentation would restore the political balance.

What would be unacceptable is the coalition of all the other parties enacting legislation for English matters. Not that the democratic nonsense of it seems to concern GoBro one second.

Paul said...

Tapestry - that's not really the point - the point is that the system needs fixing as it simply isn't fair at the moment - who would win and loose should be ignored just in the interests of achieving fairness.

Tories coming out and saying they won't support PR on the grounds that it would leave them out of power for decades doesn't exactly sound like them acting out of the public interest.

There are many arguments for and against PR but I think the key issue is that it should be up to the voters to decide - not the politicians based on a calculation of whether or not it would suit them.

robonly said...

With the state of the country at the moment, there is no room for petty idealism in EITHER party, both the Tories and the Lib Dems have to be realistic and pragmatic. What matters is getting a deal done FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY. If both sides can keep it in mind, above anything else, then a deal should be possible.

Right Hon. said...

Tory coalition won't happen. Cameron won't offer any real change to our unfair voting system, Clegg won't accept anything less.

Tony_E said...

I've just heard Clegg on Sky News. There is no chance of him getting what he wants because he want 2 things that he cannot have:

Control over education policy, and 'fundamental political reform'.

The first, and it must be control because Gove's plans will not fly with the LibDems, is not deliverable. Cameron won what mandate he has based on the manifesto - and education policy was a big factor.

Electoral reform means giving up first past the post. Conservatives cannot offer this, it is not on the table. If it were, then they would have no mandate to govern at all as they were totally and very publicly against it. Tory voters will not wear it.

Mostly Ordinary said...

I honestly can't see why Cameron couldn't offer Clegg a referendum on PR. That why Cameron can have a real and honest debate with the country about reformation of the political system and I think he's shine in that. I'm not sure how it would look if it all feel through because they it appeared that Cameron backed away from a coalition because he was afraid what the majority of the country would say in a referendum.

Hawkeye said...

I'd like to have PR for parliamentary elections in the UK because I'd like to see the look on the sanctimonious LibDems' faces when the Great British Electorate puts UKIP, Green and BNP members into parliment.

PR is great for letting people fiddle with protest votes after they allocate their first preference and it certainly won't help the Libs.

Let's have PR and shut the f****rs up. They can apologise publicly on TV when their precious PR system puts the BNP into parliament

Douglas said...

In response to javelin I would say that the complete agreement would be published. We Lib Dems in Scotland did publish our deal with Labour in 99 and 03 which formed the basis of the government programme during those sessions.

I would expect a similar thing for Westminster.

neil craig said...

Sounds like Newsnight were looking to stir up a fight between Conservatives & LibDems.

Nah - can't be - they are just an impartial news organisation.

The technicalities of how it is achieved don't matter if the will to do a deal is there. If it gets down to having a "Parliamentary commission" that takes more than 2 months to report or a claimed inability to get it through Parliament then it would not be sincere. The only technicality that should be allowed to interfere is a referendum, preferably multi-choice.

If the Tories (or indeed the LDs) forced a new election by transparently insincere shennanigans they would be justly slaughtered at the subsequent poll.

sugartraders.co.uk said...

I agree with Iain. We do have an opportunity here to get Labour out of power, which should be our top priority in the national interest.

Steve_Roberts said...

Ace in the hole is to offer SNP a referendum on independence in exchange for 'confidence and supply'.

...and make sure everyone in UK has the right to vote in it..

Scarlet Majors said...

The Conservative Party has an absolute majority in England of 62 MPs.

Conservative: 297 (+92)
Labour: 191 (-87)
LibDem: 43 (-4)
Green: 1 (+1)

We won. Convincingly. England is Conservative by a landslide so why the Noel Edmonds moment with Cleggie?

PIENOMICS said...

This is a moment for 'realpolitik'.The Tories should have won. They didn't.

If Brown had been in Cameron's shoes he would have obliterated Cameron on the economic situation.

As I have said on this blog many times, I cannot understand why the Tories didn't go into the election with a 20% lead in the polls. But we are where we are, and the markets are not going to wait.

Our fiscal situation is dire. It must be addressed immediately. Brown has lost all credibility. So what does DC do? Seek a deal with the LD's, go it alone or wait and let a Labour/LD coalition lead the country to further disaster?

I think he has to go for the first option. If Clegg says no DC doesn't lose anything. The idea of a coalition with the LD's seems to be totally unworkable. More likely some form of informal agreement.

Isn't it strange that the much hyped Clegg, because hyped he and his party were, now wields so much power. Or does he? The electorate did not vote for the LD's. Many of their policies are simply crazy.

As for Labour, I could have vomited when I heard the vilely ingratiating Mr Bradshaw say that the country had voted for 'progressive politics'. Really! So the country voted to put the UK even further into debt?

It's a farce but so typical of the mendacity of this discredited and useless government. Labour are genetically incapable of accepting they have lost big time. Brown hangs on with his tartan fingernails to the door of Number 10.

The Labour party have only been kept in power for so long because of the sovietisation of Scotland and other parts of the UK where the tax payer funded sector rules supreme. The time has arrived for an English Parliament. I say that as a Scotsman. I think it's outrageous the influence McSovietland has over the rest of the wealth producing UK.

I wonder how much my SIPP will be worth on Monday? Vamos a ver

neil craig said...

But Scarlet they did not get anything close to a majority in English votes. This is the same argument generations of leftist Scots have used by pointing out there is just one (1) Scots tory MP (on 400,000 votes).

This demostrates exactly why, beyond party issues, FPTP exagerates regional & sometimes class differences & is thus destructive of the body politic.

Suburbian said...

Let's look at the reality here; more people voted for the change parties of Tories and Lid Dems than for the alternative; Labour. Therefore there is some arithmetical sense in a Conservative and Liberal understanding to move the change agenda forward.
Conservative's need to rapidly understand the emerging reality; this result - in a way - is a true reflection of British public opinion; they don't hugely love any individual party. Therefore consensus politics is more important now than adversary.
A full coalition can work but more than that conservatives should welcome the chance to be at the leading edge of the newly emerging political reality.

Jeremy said...

Iain i agree with your article but would add that we shoul be preared to look at something akin to the German system of partial proportional representation insisting on preserving a basic constituency base for the majority of M>P.s but having a tranche of seats allocated on a regional basis according to the total vote achieved by the parties possibly resricted to parties achieving a minimum of 5% of the total regional poll. This would need refining to avoid too heavy a hand for central offices but has the attraction of counterbalancing te in built Labour majority in the crrent system . Jeremy Savage South Norfolk

skynine said...

The Tories have an overwhelming majority in England, any agreement with the LibDems should be restricted to issues that are not devolved to the Scottish Assembly (they did after all vote for the Scotland Act).

norman said...

@Paddy Briggs. The two losers, who lost their previously held seats cobbling up a programme together? This is what my Indian friend said that other day happens in up and down in his country making the elections meaningless. Sounds like Iraqi or Afghan democracy! So Millipede is imposed on the nation just like Red Ken was imposed on us hapless Londoners through GLA through backroom coup when actually the poor mackintosh won the election. So Millipede becomes the PM thanks to the support of the unelected Lord Meddlesome? How would he achieve it, when the Labour party leader is elected through a third each of MPs, unions and party? What will happen if HattieHarperson gets overwhelming support from the unions, thanks to Dromey and becomes the PM and demands all female cabinet? The Queen's advisers should step in, kick out Brown and ask Cameron to form a minority govt and test his votes in Queen's speech. The two losers can then vote the winner out. if they dare. Seeing the Libdems shenanighans behind closed doors, with word dropped here and there who would like to see the PR where all election result in hung parliaments and close door shenanighans become the order. If Libdems do care, they should join Cameron in redrawing the constituencies so that no one party benefits. This losers chater is really shameful.

norman said...

@gordon-bennett. Consider this. My expereince in Germany, particularly in Berlin for example is their Mercedes bendy buses run smoothly and all passengers pay the fares and their U-Bahn is similar. In our bendy buses, there is as much as 40% fare dodging as passengers use the rear doors. Germany is an exception. This siuation is more like Belgium with parties haggling in a typical Brussels style!

Nigel said...

An agreement with the LibDems is eminently sensible, indeed essential.

If both parties don't make an honest effort to do a deal, then the electorate will rightly condemn them as irresponsible. I'm broadly (but not fanatically) in favour of first past the post, but if those against coalition think that the Conservatives can just sit back and wait for a Lib-Lab coalition to mess up, so that they might then achieve a majority at the resulting election, then they are deluded.

And it's no as though the Conservative shadow cabinet is so packed with talent that places can't be found for coalition partners (the Home Office and the DWP, for example...).

neil craig said...

Norman says "If Libdems do care, they should join Cameron in redrawing the constituencies [& drop PR]"

That makes sense only if FPTP is, while not in the LD interest, clearly in the national interest.

If not then argument should be reversed & if the Tories "do care" then they should be equally willing to immediately dump the voting system that is in their interest to help the nation.

In fact this question is made even more plain by the fact that the LDs are, mostly, asking for a referendum rather than an immediate move to legislation. If the majority of voters went for some form of PR then, unless the "national interest" is something the nation knows nothing about PR is the national interest.

I have, repeatedly, been scathing about the LudDims but am convinced that if the people, in a referendum, voted for FPTP they would, for at least a decade, accept that. That compares very favourably with the behaviour of Labour/Conservatives over so many years who have not allowed the public any say in the openly corrupt electoral system we live under. I will admit I think it very unlikely the people would plump for FPTP.

norman said...

@PIENOMICS. Let me first say I am brown-coloured Brit of indian extraction if we have such a thing!

I was in contact with educated muslim friends from Tower Hamlets to Bolton, where in the University of Bolton I was once an external examiner and saw that the university had barely 10% whites and Chinese combined, the rest were students from the predominantly asian communities-large proportion of them were muslims. My friends above who are all professionals told me that the Labour used scare stories of cutting child benefits under Tories. These communities many of them were allowed in as immigrants willy nilly during the last 12 years predominantlky are benefit-dependent live in council houses and see the Labour as saviour. There are similar cases in NE, Midlands etc.. No wonder Labour triumphed in these places. Nothing Tories could do. Labour has voting fodder in these places who are guaranteed not to vote Labour. IT IS BENEFITS STUPID!

norman said...

@neil craig. It Clegg who asked Cameron to act in national interest.
Clegg is the leader of a party which has lost seats in the elections and he should recognise that Cameron has the mandate-of gained seats a being just short of a majority. Cameron has suggested a protocol for this. You see that is what in another posting here I referred to the Indian politics situation where the loser dictates terms to the winner and the professor in India said happens all over the country and makes people there detest politicians as backroom fixing takes place.

norman said...

Sorry, shoud read "..guaranteed to vote labour".

neil craig said...

Nornan I read your previous post.

Telling the LDs or anybody else that a party with 23% of the vote has a previously unseen constitutional duty to give a party with 36% of the vote total power with no real benefit to themselves isn't going to work. Nor is it, nor should it be, the automatic position in councils when the Tories have that 20% odd of the vote.

Even under our current corrupt electoral system the Tories have failed to get enough seats to claim a "mandate" & the LDs are not going to touch their forelocks & just say "yes sorr" when Cameron tells them. This is what is known as negotiation & both sides have to enter it willing to negotiate. If Cameron wants the top job he has to give something - be glad it isn't 41% of cabinet places as their share of the vote entitles them to.

Benjamin said...

A thought occurs, even if Clegg were to go with Labour for a coalition of the losers, how strong is party loyalty going to be? Even if the party leaders agree, all the MPs might not. It would just take a few Orange Book Liberals or New Labour MPs to withhold their support and the coalition would collapse.

jbw said...

JoeF said...
...
"2. If LDs refuse this (and I do think there is a good chance they will), the chaos and 2nd election are on their heads. How many MPs will they have after such a 2nd election? What would their campaign message be- vote for more chaos?"

I wonder if Clegg will have to resign as leader if they refuse it?

Ralph Lucas said...

Iain, to get back to your original post, I think PR in an elected Lords would be a useful element of a coalition agreement. The Lords works best when the governing party does not have a majority (which incidentally will not be the case in a week or so, as any coalition will have effective control), and choosing a third of the Lords every 4 or 5 years would keep us sufficiently out of date to ensure Commons supremacy is acknowledged.

Personally, I would like to see a quality filter on parties' lists so that the Lords had worthwhile members, and the Lords PR being based on a separate vote so that it was not polluted by FPP or personal affections in the Commons vote. That should allow the smaller parties to do well if they present some really high quality candidates at the top of their lists - an incentive for the main parties to make their lists attractive too.

norman said...

@neil craig. All this occurred in my opinion because groups of Labour fodder-the benfits-dependent brigade in Greater London and some urban constituencies would not be shifted to vote a party other than Labour. If Cameron has ac then be simply ranting and would be helpless. He would have resigned after losing 6 seats. That is what I was pointing to. Hence the sensible thing for Libdem is to agree to work with Cameron and who knows he may even get PR referendum within the tent.. There is Nu Labour wing which are known to hate PR and they together with Tories may scupper any bill for referendum in a Libdem-Lab govt. It does not take too many MPs to scupper the bill. Brown may even encourage this quietly but remaining outwardly enthusiastic. Whipping would have no effect.

norman said...

Having said what I have said with Euro elections under PR, Scotland, Wales and I elections under PR, the FPTP system for the GE will not continue longer.

neil craig said...

Norman the sensible thing for the LDs would be to support the Tories if & onlt if they get a real promise of PR or a referendum. Anything less would discredit them. If Cameron promised that & was then seen to break the promise (or an out of control Tory party did) that would bring a new election in which the Tories would obviously lose votes.

On a referendum - I am personally happy with that & certain the population would go for it. It strikes me however that it would be tactically wiser for the Tories to jusaccept it rather than going through a referendum which they together with the old Labourists you mention lose humiliatingly & the LDs, UKIP, BNP, Greens come out of with renewed credit.