Today Nick Clegg "said he would be prepared to work with anyone else within Labour [bar Brown] or any other party that was prepared to deliver his aims — including electoral reform, which is an "absolute pre-condition" for renewing British politics."
Yet only 5 days ago Scottish LibDem leader Tavish Scott said on Newsnicht that such a condition would be putting the party rather than the country first...
GORDON BREWER: Yes, you know what I'm asking you and want I am asking you is a perfectly reasonable question for voters is to ask you. Would the LibDems make PR a condition of either supporting or joining any UK government?
TAVISH SCOTT: Well Nick Clegg hasn't set out any conditions in that way as you know before the election.
GORDON BREWER: Why not?
TAVISH SCOTT: Because the condition he set I think rightly for the whole country is the issue we face most of all is the deficit, the dreadful state of the public finances and is the need to tackle that for the whole country. So rather than putting a party first I think Nick Clegg was very clear over many weeks leading up to the start of this general election campaign to say that he would put the country first because that's what people expect. And I think that's why he's done so well in these debates. He's sought to put...make sure the Liberal Democrats are putting the country first rather than maybe something, yes, we feel very dearly about but perhaps others don't.-
So, which is it, Nick? Country or Party?
Oh please - they ALL put party before country.
Of course Clegg puts party before country!
His logic works like this: "My party would be best for the country. Therefore the interests of the country are the same as the interests of my party!"
ID - So, which is it, Nick? Country or Party?
NC - Oh that's a difficult one, hmm, can I phone a friend. Ooh, party, definitely.
ID - Is that your final answer?
NC - No, no. The answer is Me. I come before country or party.
Is Newnicht what they call Newsnight o'er the border. As in 'Its a braw, bricht moonlicht nicht the nicht'?
I enjoy reading your blog but have found your commentary and analysis of the election very lightweight. I'm very relieved to read this post.
Finally you have come out to attack Clegg and the Lib Dems. Like the party I feel you have totally ignored the threat from Lib Dems. The party has been asleep from the treat, the strategy has been non-existent. The sickening thing now is that we may HAVE to form a coalition with them.
Nop, they put themselves before anyone / anything...
Don't be fooled by the Puppy Dog eyes.
Tavish needs to read a memo once in a while, clearly. Lib Dems have ALWAYS said that there are 4 policy areas that would be an absolute pre-condition for support in a coalition.
Oh come off it Iain. Everytime Cameron argues against a hung parliament he puts party before country - and he uses scare tactics, with the Murdoch press supporting, to intimidate voters. It's pathetic.
Ask Vince Cable - the answer would be country. And party ! About 4 days apart.
It's simple really. All politicians believe their party is best for the country, so by putting their party first they are also putting the country first.
Anything else you'd like me to explain?
Yes. But it cuts both ways. If Cameron attempts to rule on a minority government, then arguably he's putting his party before the country too.
I am hoping for a well hung parliament. A slightly hung parliament where the Conservatives think they can carry on regardless would be a recipe for instability and weak government. But if clear results force politicians to overcome their reluctance to reform, I see that as a good thing.
It's not that I think Electoral Reform is the necessarily the most important thing facing the country, but I see here a rare opportunity to actually do something about it. So I want to grab it with both hands...
Nobody thinks that Labour losing its majority isn’t going to be above all a rejection of Gordon Brown. It hardly seems at all probable that the Lib Dems are going to do a deal with Gordon Brown after all that. It also seems deeply improbable that Brown would carry on as Labour leader either.
But a coalition representing the left majority that has always [in living memory] existed in the UK and has mostly been denied power over the years by the ****-up of the UK’s bent, undemocratic and anti-democratic electoral system would seem to be exactly what the electorate are once again voting for.
As indeed they have for well over 50 years. [I’ve personally already voted.]
Why can't they have it both ways, and put it all in the 'PANTRY', that way, we'll all get some sleep...
Well if making it a condition that we have a democratic electoral system is "putting party before country" as Iain says & "extortion" as Cameron says then that is a tacit admission of something.
That the insistence of the Conservatives, for nearly a century, that they would rather lose & see Labour with total control than change a corrupt electoral system that tended to give them power alternately has been the Conservatives "putting party before country" & "extortion" mounted against the British people by them for that century.
Every single time some Tory has said that voting LibDem or UKIP or indeed anybody else "risked letting Labour in", purely because of the cirrupt fascist electoral system you support, was extorting votes.
May we expect an apology for all the Labour governments from their Conservative co-conspirators??
Some years ago I wrote to then leader IDS pointing out that the Conservatives could have guaranteed to win the then approaching election simply by adopting PR & making an electoral pact with the LDs. He obviously didn't reply. So lets not ever have any girning from the anti-democratic Tories that the system no longer works for them & that the public don't respect or trust them.
Ian Dale are you copying me good sir? My 'Flip Flop Clegg' post last night is somewhat similar!
Anyway, yes he is. Opportunistic, pathetic and a career politician.
If you really want to see what this election is about check sky news
DC being roasted by a father of a disabled boy.
Start talking about issues iain and stop taking your orders from CHQ about what to post.
'Which is it?' ---- depends who he is talking to and what day of the week it is
He is a LibDem after all ...
Really Neil and do you think the Public respect and trust a Party that keeps stolen money whilst lecturing everyone’else , whines about the deficit having spent ten years trying to make it bigger deplore and then supports National Insurance Rises , offer £15 billion of invented tax cuts leaves a £30 billion hole in the manifesto even if their sums add up and then call everyone else dishonest ...and then what about the joke immigration policy its like clearing out mice by leaving plates of cheese around .
The truth is Clegg has to grab power only one Party will give him what he wants and that is New labour ...they will ship in Milliband hope the Unions don’t revolt and hope for the best .We are back where we always were vote Lib Dem get New Labour and thousand year Reich of Gerrymandered Progressives .
PR is not democratic it reduces active subjects to a focus group which politicians then know how to avoid this is why it would produce , high immigration , more loss of sovereignty and more progressive faddy crapola despite the opposition of the vast majority . How is that Democracy ?
Labourlist reckon that the constitution means that Gordon will stay in Number 10 if there is a hung parliament.
When I was young, I believed passionately in PR as a fair system. Having seen it in action in both European politics and other "democratic" organisations, I am far less convinced. For a start there is a huge variety of PR systems and I have no idea which the LibDems favour - Gordon is obviously an AV man because it favours Labour in a non Labour world. And PR will not work in a centralised state like the UK.
I can't believe Clegg wants to tie us to 5 more years of Labour (with Brwon or not) but the SDP faction within the party will be drooling at the thought of achieving the aims of the Gang of Four and reconfiguring Labour under a new name.
I tnink the way forward is to try the new Upper house using PR and see how it works in practice before rushing into something that will affect the Commons. Once done, it will be impossible to undo.
And I think that a major consitutional reform needs a bit of thought rather than the LibDems dumping it on an unsuspecting public.
I imagine Mr Clegg imagines that Liberal Democrat policies are in fact in the interests of the country I think you are being somewhat disingenuous by presenting a false dichotomy.
Is there an election on or something?
Clegg will put himself before country or party. He wants power and his hands on the greasy pole like most politicians.
Perhaps Nick could explain how it would be democratic for him to seek to change our electoral system without a referendum when the only major party supporting that position received only a minority vote. Historical precedents for those elected with minority support forcing through changes in electoral systems are not good.
Chances are, Labour will still have more seats than the Lib Dems even if they have fewer votes, in which case Gordon can say he would be happy to deal with the Lib Dems if they got rid of Clegg.
Lib Dems always put party first just like Labour and Gordon Brown.
It is why Labour/LD are so dangerous for this country - they seek to sell out at every turn.
Clegg changes his position on propping up Gordon Brown by the day - only do Lib Dems policy change quicker.
Absolutely right I suspect that Vince Cable's Keynesian economics are much sounder than Clegg's rather weaker understanding of the subject. But perhaps the elctorate should decide first.
All I’ve heard from Nick Clegg in the last week is "fairer this, fairer that". Lets look at the LibDem's "fairer immigration policy".
Latest figures in the Times suggest there are at present about a million illegal immigrants in Britain.
The LibDem Manifesto proposes an ill thought out immigration policy with an amnesty for these one
million illegal immigrants. If and when these people became ‘legal’, would not dependents of theirs
living overseas automatically qualify to join them in Britain, under present British and European Law?
That original one million could very well double or treble, who knows the final figure? The additional
influx of these dependents, would increase the already unbearable pressures on housing, the NHS,
Schools and the social services caused by the present Governments policy.
Can Nick Clegg tell me what's fair about people coming to this country illegally, and working for ten
years without paying tax. These people would then be allowed to stay in this country, bring their
dependents in to join them, which would effectively exempt them from paying income tax in the future,
and then enjoy the same benefits which the rest of us have paid for?
Experience in other countries has shown that the implementation of such an amnesty would undoubtedly
encourage another million illegal immigrants to descend on Britain in the expectation of a future, similar
"They ALL put party before country"
Is a blatant lie.
Both the Conservative and Labour Parties have had internal conflicts (the Conservatives over the European Union and the Benn - Healey policy disputes are two recent examples) in which commitments by its members (knowingly) damaged the election prospects of their parties.
Historians could no doubt provide numerous other examples, such as the split in the Tory Party over the Corn Laws or the split in the Liberal Party over Home Rule for Ireland?
The Liberal Democrats making it a pre-condition of any support in a hung parliament that the voting system be changed in the favour, and changed not only in their favour but to a system that would put them permanently in power, exposes their profoundly totalitarian instincts.
Of course totalitarians (of all stripes) think that whatever they do is good for the country! The point is that some people recognise the arrogance and narcissism of such a claim and seek to restrain the power of politicians. It is called a free society.
It amazes me that people have such little understanding (or little regard) for a free society that they are content to kick away one of its central pillars simply because a bunch of Liberal Democrat politicians are so convinced they are right they want to put in place a voting system that prevents us from getting rid of them.
Roger an Upper House elected on PR would mean a constitutional crisis as soon as a majority in the Lords, representing the majority of us, voted no confidence in & started rejecting any Bills from, a government elected by only 1/3rd of the people.
I think it is obvious which House the public would support
Well, Clegg has been expensively educated, so he quite clearly realises that he has to put Party before Country. He is a Party Leader and is solely concerned with the promotion of the party's interests which are met by the need to impose PR prior to any committment to coalition. As we know, PR will solely benefit the Lib-Dems of the 3, and other minority parties, such as the BNP, as collateral damage. For the Tories it will cause irreparable damage. For Labour it will allow for the crystallisation of left wing schisms and allow far more formidable extremists to prosper on the graduations of the scale.
As a prospective candidate, Clegg has no need to even think of country. Once in the maw of a coalition, he will be more in the thrall of party and will have no time to think of country. He will be too busy manouvering, and gaining influence with his sponsors on the one hand and, more importantly, he will be hamstung by his own part rules which are complex, byzantine even, whilst he seeks consensus for coaltion and a modus for the way forward.
The Lib-Dems WILL NOT make good allies, they are too riven with their own rivalries between lefties and centrists and all graduations in-between.
“For a start there is a huge variety of PR systems and I have no idea which the LibDems favour...”
AFAIK the Lib Dems have always and consistently favoured the identical system favoured by the Electoral Reform Society. That’s the tried and successful system used in Ireland - STV. I’m sure that hasn’t changed.
@neil craig said...
“Roger an Upper House elected on PR would mean a constitutional crisis as soon as a majority in the Lords, representing the majority of us, voted no confidence in & started rejecting any Bills from, a government elected by only 1/3rd of the people.”
Exactly so. Jack Straw’s potty notion that you can declare by fiat that an undemocratic House is senior to a democratic one has always been utterly ridiculous.
Anyone who thinks PR is a good idea should have a look at Italy. Great country to visit. Crap country to do business in. That's not just my view. It's the view of the many Italians I have met over the last 7 years. The Lib Dems and their utopian ill thought out fantasies would be a disaster. No system is perfect. But PR is the least perfect of all the electoral possibilities. Clegg is a poltical nobody. Vince reminds me of a Parish Council Secretary. As for the rest? I don't even know their names. My vote goes to DC. The best of a bad bunch.
by advocating lectoral reform, clegg is really looking for the best and most representative politics for the people of the UK
Following on your comment about the implications of a PR elected House of Lords.
If the "Lords" in question had been voted in using the Closed List system currently used for MEPs,and with the same enthusiasm and turnout that we see in the Euro elections, I can't see how that would confer any legitimacy on them at all.
100 years ago exactly the Conservatives nearly wrecked the constitution and the monarchy by using the House of Lords to block every major piece of legislation put forward by the then Liberal government, including the budget, disestablishment of the Church of England in Wales, Irish home rule, etc. They also recklessly stirred up sectarian hatred in Ulster through their support for die-hard Orangemen. Now they oppose reform to a system which could well see a party which comes third in terms of votes emerge with the largest number of seats while entering into an alliance with an Ulster party which would most likely bring about the collapse of the peace process. Plus ca change.
I stopped reading the comments after Thatsnews (comment #2) because that sums it up perfectly, so I didn't need to read more.
"I stopped reading after comment #2
['Of course Clegg puts Party before Country. His logic works like this "My Party would be best for the Country. Therefore the interests of the Country are the same as the interests of my Party"']
because that sums it up perfectly"
What it sums up is a totalitarian mindset in which "The Party" is always right, and therefore by the logic of the argument anybody who disagrees with it is always wrong.
No supporter of a free society has ever believed in such a thing.
Anybody who thinks it is obviously correct, who struggles to conceive of there being people (for example in the Conservative Party) who do not think Party interest trumps everything else, is no friend of a free society, indeed they are its enemy.
Iain, some of us want to see a change in the Parliamentary structure because we have had enough of Parliaments that pass bad legislation simply because of the sheer numbers of government lackies going through the division lobbies without even considering the legislation in question. At least PR will allow more diverse opinions to be heard.
burinsAnother one of your PPC's spouting homophobic crap. Why did he get suspended and Grayling not?
The real question is how many more homophobic PPC are there in your party and will they all hide away until after the election.
Do you know of any more homophobic Tory PPC sleepers?
"PR is not democratic it reduces active subjects to a focus group which politicians then know how to avoid this is why it would produce , high immigration , more loss of sovereignty and more progressive faddy crapola despite the opposition of the vast majority."
So no change then!
Steve - your point is that a lower turnout would not confer legitimacy on the dominant group in the "Lords" (or whatever new name you would rather give it).
If the Euro election got fewer votes it merely shows that nobody thinks it affects anything. Hmm maybe that does explain voter apathy here too...
Well we would have to see which House got the better turnout. I am not hopeful of a high turnout this time are you?
I think it very likely that a PR elected "Lords" would get a higher turnout than a corrupt FPTP "Commons". If so would you accept that gave them the mandate to govern or does your theoretical model work only 1 way?
I am absolutely certain that a government in the Lords, with the backing of say 60% of those who voted would have a much higher popular mandate than a "Commons" government elected by 36%.
And that the man in the street (or as judges call him a "reasonable person") would agree.
You cannot get round it - we have had a corrupt electoral system for generations, held in place by a Lab/Con alliance that has always "put party (actually party duopoly) before country" & the British people are so fed up with it that they will even vote LudDim to get rid of it. No token "Lords" concession will get you back to "busines as usual".
The Lib Dems PR simply means the end of democracy. Whichever party you vote for you get the same result - coalition. You might as well remove the party names from the ballot and just ask 'Do you agree to 5 more years of the same?'
This is the kind of choice electors get in Cuba and North Korea.
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