Lib Dems Direction

I've mostly been following the Guardian live blog on the fomations of the next UK government. Nick Robinson's "There is an alternative" is where this post is heading-- a must read:

That is the message coming from the leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond. He's calling on the Liberal Democrats to join him and Plaid Cymru and Labour in a "progressive alliance" instead of doing a deal with the Conservatives.

All the talk is about the possibility of a Lib Dem - Conservative "marriage in hell" government. That would be surprising. First, because it wouldn't likely work well given they disagree on about everything; second, because the Lib Dems ranks would revolt at the first sign of the government becoming more conservative. The Tories are calling it the "change coalition" and the progressives are calling it an outrage.

Here's what I agree with:

Monitor Twitter and the blogosphere today and the conventional wisdom consensus that emerges is that Nick Clegg is indeed about to do a deal with the Conservatives, possibly even at the cost of electoral reform ...

Is this really possible? I cannot believe it, and not just because Clegg reiterated his support for electoral reform at yesterday's central London rally. You can call it wishful thinking, but I genuinely believe that there is an element of going through the motions going on here, and that talks with the Tories may yet break down, after which the Lib Dems will give a serious look at Labour's comprehensive offer of PR and numerous Cabinet places.

A pact of the Lib Dems with Labour hasn't looked very attractive either to Clegg. He's probably going to demand a new PM for it to work. The interesting development is that, because Labour doesn't have enough seats to reach 326 with the Lib Dems (even though its arguable that only 320 or so are needed), other minor parties will be needed in the coalition, and this is where it gets interesting.

The call for a Labour/Lib Dem/nationalist progressive alliance:

If Labour (258 MPs), the Lib Dems (57 MPs), the SNP (6 MPs), Plaid Cymru (3 MPs), the SDLP (3 MPs) and the Greens (1 MP) all join forces, they would have 328 votes in the Commons - a majority.

The details of the nationalists putting this out yesterday after the jump.

That comes after this post yesterday:

4.51pm: Plaid Cymru is supporting the SNP call for a progressive alliance in the Commons (see 2.47pm and 3.46pm). Plaid's leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, has said this:

We will now do what is expected of us by the electorate and explore the potential of working with other parties in Westminster in order to achieve the best deal for Wales. A more balanced Parliament is a real opportunity to bring about a new approach to politics in the UK which would be welcomed throughout the nations of these islands.

Plaid Cymru and the SNP have appointed teams to discuss the mechanics of possible coalition negoations. That does not mean they have started talks with Labour. It just means they are making contingency plans.

3.46pm: Jackie Ashley at Cif at the polls says Alex Salmond's intervention in the hung parliament debate today (see 2.47pm and 3.28pm) could be "critical".

Now that Salmond is offering SNP and Plaid Cymru support – even if it is only to bring in PR – that's another 9 MPs, bringing the numbers to 324. Caroline Lucas, the sole Green MP could be expected to join them too – 325. Then there are 3 SDLP MPs, or the 1 Alliance MP from Northern Ireland who may lend support and bingo – the once in a lifetime chance to change the electoral system.

2.47pm: According to the BBC, here is what Alex Salmond has said about a pro-PR alliance (see 1.39pm)

The assumption is a Tory/Liberal Democrat pact is not correct. There are alternative and more progressive options available if politicians have the will to seize the moment. The SNP and Plaid are indicating that we do.

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Sinn Fein

     Do they really need 326? Five of the MPs elected Thursday are members of Sinn Fein, but they won't take their seats because they won't pledge loyalty to the Monarchy. So it will only take 323 votes to defeat a No Confidence motion.

by Ron Thompson 2010-05-09 01:00PM | 0 recs
RE: Sinn Fein

Its even lower, there was a good pre-election post on it here.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-05-09 01:05PM | 0 recs
Oh, And Your Figures Are Wrong

     You say Labour and the Lib Dems can't reach 236, but it's arguable that only 220 are needed. It should be 326 and 320.

by Ron Thompson 2010-05-09 01:03PM | 0 recs
RE: Oh, And Your Figures Are Wrong

edited that dyslexic part... can't see Clegg going with Con-Lib-- could really set back the Lib Dems.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-05-09 01:16PM | 0 recs
Jerome off base as usual

The whole posting once again shows that Jerome political antennae is suspect. Here are some thoughts to put what is happening in the UK into perspective.

1) The UK Conservative Party is more progrseeive than the USA Democratic party - it is nothing like the US GOP - so stop using that false filter / misleading perspective.

2) Clegg and Cameron as individuals are actually quite similar, similar backgrounds and they actually quite like each other.

3) For the Libs to help labour - it would be seen as the the coalition of losers, with Clegg using his one shot at credibility by supporting a tired and very unpopular party- a party whose domestic agenda is in tatters. For Brown to maintain power would have to rely on four or five parties and have to pander to regional interests at the expense of England - thus further weakening the union - which itself would  hurt Labour since they rely on Scotland (in the long term) to give any shot singular power.

4) Anything other than a Conservative /Liberal alliance would be percieved as week Government - and this is a very bad moment in time to have that perception.

Cleggs only shot in the longer term term is to be seen as helping to construct a strong Government, since the Prime Minsister can call an election at any time - (and there is likely to be another election within 12 months)where in the Libs would likely get destroyed if he had been party to any failure in creating a strong Government.

The UK public will have Zero tolerance for a Government that can not implement it's manifesto. Unlike the USA - if the Government says it going to (by way of example) raise gas tax, then that is done immediately - no if's and's or but's. The UK public would not tolerate the sought of nonsense created by the US constitution, where election promises are meaningless because one needs 60 Senate seats and those 60 Senators are answerable to special interests at home and not answerable to the verdict of the national electorate.


by dbeall 2010-05-09 01:46PM | 0 recs
RE: Jerome off base as usual

Not true:

The UK Conservative Party is more progrseeive (sic) than the USA Democratic party.

They are anti-immigrant, anti-tax, anti-Europe, anti-science, and global warming deniers.

The Tories may be more progressive than the US GOP but one that's not saying much and two as a whole the Tories are the most right wing of the major European right wing parties. The Tories are way to the right of Merkel and Sarkozy or even Berlusconi. A Thatcherite ideology remains the core of the UK Conservative party.

It's clear that the Tories are an English party not a British one. Outside England, they received few votes. The government at Westminster is a British government, not solely an English one. If Clegg truly appreciates Britain, he would best serve British interests by helping to form a truly more broad-based British government and not cow to the most regressive right wing party of size in Europe today. 

To suggest that Clegg and Cameron are similar individuals is so off the mark. They may both have an elite education but Cameron is married to aristocrat while Clegg has a Spanish born wife. Cameron isn't like Thatcher in the sense that she was British working class, Cameron is the product of rarified England, a blue blood. Clegg is moderately progressive. I'm not really a fan of Clegg or the Lib Dems but Cameron is evil incarnate.

by Charles Lemos 2010-05-09 03:26PM | 0 recs
It Would Be Seen

For the Libs to help labour - it would be seen as the the coalition of losers

     Yes, I suppose "some people would say" that.

     However, this particular "coalition of losers" got well over 50% of the vote, while the Tories got 37%. So after 13 years out of power, facing a divided opposition and a very unpopular Prime Minister, with a young, glib and telegenic candidate, the Tories could not command the support of 3 out of 8 voters. But they should nevertheless be handed power because the alternative "would be seen (presumably by those who voted Tory, and the British equivalent of Beltway Insiders) as the the coalition of losers"?

     It's obvious that the biggest political problem the UK has is that their elections do not produce governments that command anything near majority support among the voters. Labour and the Liberal Democrats are committed to changing that system; the Tories are foursquare against any change. What needs to happen is what Alex Salmond is proposing--a coalition of Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the SDLP, to fix the electtoral system, then another election to elect a House more representative of the popular will.


by Ron Thompson 2010-05-09 04:00PM | 0 recs
RE: Lib Dems Direction

The Conservatives are more progressive than the Dems because:

1) They fully support the national Health Service.

2) They fully support public pensions and publicly funded unemployment benefits.

3) The fully support very high Gas Taxes - which is vital for any intelligent energy policy.

4) They believe is Science and Global Warming.

5) They do not wear retarded Union Jack lapel pins (as even Dem politicians must

6) UK immigtation issue differ from the US and any comparison is misleading.

7) They do not speak religious nonsense loke God Bless America and describe evey incident as a miracle like US Dems must.

8) They support a tax system that generally is higher than those supported by US Dems.

9) There will be no nonsense about abortion with UK Conservatives.

10) David Cameron clearly admires Obama- and only protocol would be preventing him discussing poeple like Palin.

11) Cameron and Clegg are both products of elite boarding schools. These institution produce a certain - I would know.

12) Camerons lack of a spanish wife is somehwat moot - his views on Europe are far more intune with the UK electorate - and even Clegg seems to understand that the Lib dream of being in the Euro would have been a disaster.

13) To say that the Consevatives are only England is incorrect. Your comment is only correct when it comes to Scotland. The Conservatives have a strong presence in Wales and N Ireland via the Ulster Unionist party.

14) US Dems because of the US sytem are bound to talk nonsense on occasion (re energy policy, healthCare, Terrorism etc) because the electorate is so ignorant - the truth in the USA can be politically fatal - the UK Conservatives have no such intellectual burden.

15) Many US Dems come from small non coastal states and are not remotely progressive. UK Conservatives are generally not trapped by parochial special interests and have to support a national agenda.

If the USA had any other leader than Obama - I would far rather have David Cameron as five year Presidential dictator of the USA than the present Democatric power structure. The USA might then emerge from the dark ages with a bit more gusto.


by dbeall 2010-05-09 04:01PM | 0 recs
Knee Jerk partisan Comments

The point of my posts is not to say that any one is wrong in supporting any specific candidate - what I really object too is the knee jerk reaction against a candidate and a party that is far more progressive than the USA Democrats. If Cameron is evil Incarnate, what does that say about virtually every Democratic politician? Hardly a helpful or insightfull comment

Ever since the post World War 2 Welfare state, the brainchild of Churchill (Conservative) but implemented by the Attlee government (Labour) the UK has been far more progressive than the any party in the USA. Even though there have been numerous Conservative Governments since - none of them has significant harm to such ongoing progress. Cameron is significantly to the left of Thatcher, and the Conservative leaders who succeeded her - specially that Howard guy who was totally in bed with the USA -and what ever they did.

Progressives in the USA clearly talk more sense than their counterparts on the right, but blindly following prejudice based upon intellectual pain suffered in the USA - does noy move the debate forward, but rather lowers the debate and diminishes the intellectual gap betwen us and the mental midgets who support the present leaders of the GOP.

Making uninformed generalisations about UK immigration - or say attacking Thatcher for her anti union stance - need to be treated with much suspicion because the ground game differs so much between the countries. i.e I have learned that comparing the tax structures (like immigation) of the UK and the USA is fraught with pitfalls that can not be addressed with sound bite comments. It requires a lot more nuance than knee jerk partisans are prepared to allow for.

by dbeall 2010-05-09 06:26PM | 0 recs
RE: Knee Jerk partisan Comments

Well, "Knee Jerk partisan" would certainly describe many of your opinions.

The comparison of "progressive" is between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Background aside, Nick Clegg is the one whose been saying that the Conservatives are backwards and wrong on just about everything.

The one thing you Tories do well, like your Republican counterparts, is spout talking points over and over, despite their not having any relation to the truth. To call the Lib Dems and Labour a "loser" while the Conservatives, who only managed 38% a winner, tells me all I need to know about the mindset you're arriving with here.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-05-09 08:26PM | 0 recs
RE: Knee Jerk partisan Comments

Jerome - it is pretty obvious your instincts can be quite disappointing and off base and perhaps explain why this site is far less vibrant than would otherwise be the case. But I really hope you make an effort to understand what I am actually trying to say  - instead of resorting to labelling and not understanding the fundamental point - that the UK under Tory or Labour is a far more progressive country. By way of a further example only 21 states outlaw job discrimination based on sexual orientation (although this is a top Obama priority) and any sensible Country recognises this issue along side visitation rights and DADT as outrageous and medieval -so you guys still have a long long way to go. Please do not assume that I am gay - in your penchant for labelling.

First you can not call me a "You Tories" - this election was really a tough nut for me. On the one hand Brown was ahead of the curve in the aftermath of the financial meltdown but one should not overlook that he has blood on his hands (not as much as Blair) regarding the Iraq war and this monstrosity was done by a Labour Government, and Brown has been part of the cover up. But you are so partisan you will forgive that when it suits you. I will never forget. Why do I now loathe Tiger Woods? because of adultery? NO NO NO - it is because he originally chose Ari Fleischer to be his PR guy. No - I do not forget!

In 2005 The Lib Dems were the only party with a moral position on the Iraq War BUT they wanted the UK to join the Euro - and that was a bloody stupid policy. For the UK electorate it was "Sophies choice".Brown actually did a good job on the whole Euro issue and flexibly changed his mind as the facts became more obvious.

One of my main beefs with Labour is that around 1995 or 1997 they said that their main priority was Education and they have indeed thrown massive amounts of money at this - but there is no evidence of improvement - in fact the UK has fallen down the tables - not as low as the USA of course. Similar comments on the National Health Service. There have been massive tax increases, but public services have worsened - rubbish only gets picked up once every two weeks.

Secondly the Labour party by losing nearly 100 seats, with 2 million less votes is clearly the real loser here and the Libs who had a far worse result than expected would link themsleves to a loser and thus carry that image. This is hardly controversial. It hardly warrants descending into infantile non fact based innuendo.

The harping on about 37% is also a bit silly for the following reasons.

1) When labour got 37% they won in a landslide and there were not many complaints. No one suggested that they had not won or did not have a mandate. In fact if both parties had got say 35% - Labour would have ended up with many more seats thna the Conservatives - and that is not equitable - it is just not "Cricket"

2) with the Libs regularly getting around 20%, and with strong regional parties getting another 5% or so, it really is not feasible any more to get even close to 50% of the vote. I agree 37% is hardly resounding but 40% would be resounding in this environment - so you are splitting hairs for partisan purposes.

There is no evidence that the Conservatives are any worse at "spouting talking points over and over" than any other party. In fact Gordon Brown was definely guilty of that during the debates when discussing Corp Taxes in realtion to the Banks and when discussing Inheritance tax.
Cameron was also guilty vis a vis Immigration. Since his ability to control Immigration is less than he is willing to admit.

Clearly you do not understand my mindset any better than your grasp of US Politics which while well intentioned is still encumbered by stubborness. I must admit I do not remember specific posts that of your that I found mindboggling - but have learnt over time not to trust your instincts - which is a shame because before the US Primaries began - this site it seems to me had more credibility.

by dbeall 2010-05-10 12:54AM | 0 recs
RE: Knee Jerk partisan Comments

Of course you don't remember anything specific, that would entail you actually having something to defend rather than just typing on nonsensical blah!

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-05-10 09:50AM | 0 recs


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