Read Read !!

Rob Fenwick highlights some of the big concerns I have. Read his article HERE.


Anonymous said...

He is judging Cameron and Clegg not by their actions but the circumstances of their birth.

He is rejecting coalition government, and doesn't like the idea that Lib Dem MPs might be held responsible for making compromises to get their own policies enacted.

I guess it makes perfect sense he no longer feels comfortable being a Liberal Democrat - the reality of having an opportunity to do more than carp from the sidelines has forced him to admit he doesn't like the principles he signed up to.

dazmando said...

Rob Fenwick does not have his comments turned on. I dont respect a blogger who does not accept comments

Anonymous said...


I write as an unswerving member of the Liberals & Lib Dems for more than 40 years, and a great believer in proportional representation.

How can PR ever be achieved ? Never, I think you will agree, voluntarily by either Labour or Tory parties. And the two-party FPtP system means we are extremely unlikely to win a parliamentary majority ourselves to enact the necessary legslation.

The only way to force one of the other parties to accept at least a referendum, is when they need Lib Dem support in a hung parliament. Also the MP numbers have to be in the right proportions.

Last week produced a hung parliament, but the MP numbers aren't right because only Con + Lib Dem makes a stable majority. Lab (with its many die hard anti-PR types) + Lib Dem + Green etc equals a very flakey majority at best. Furthermore, we are weakened by having lost MPs rather than gained them.

So what are the options for our 57 MPs ?

1) Try to cobble together an arrangement with Labour who have lost nearly 100 seats, have no leader, and are exhausted and discredited after 13 years in power. Surely no Lib Dem would want to do this. Even some tribal Labourites recognise they need a period in opposition.

2) Let the Tories form a minority government where we have little or no influence even on a "confidence & supply" basis, and allowing Cameron to call another election in a few months like Wilson did in October 1974. We would be very likely to see a Conservative majority in those circumstances, as well as many fewer Lib Dem MPs.

3) A full blown coalition with the Conservatives including Lib Dem ministers, a negotiated set of policies, and a fixed term parliament. This is what is on offer.

If full PR is the prize we Lib Dems want above almost everything else, we have to negate the argument that only FPtP gives strong and/or stable government. The Clegg-Cameron coalition gives us a chance to prove that multi-party arrangements can work to the country's benefit.

This is the only way the agreed referendum on AV can be won, in my opinion. And it shouldn't be held until the coalition has been going for at least a year.

Yes, of course, AV is not PR but it is a step on the way in that the electorate learn how to like voting 1,2,3 rather than with a single X. AV should also give the Lib Dems extra seats, thus making hung parliaments more likely.

With more MPs, we have more bargaining power when next negotiating a coalition. Given the right circumstances, we could make PR an absolute "must" before signing up to any agreemet with either Labour or the Tories.

If you accept my argument that AV can be a step on the way to PR sometime in the future, and that AV is the best we could get from Cameron, then the question is whether the downsides of the coalition on offer outweigh the upsides.

I totally accept the downsides you list in your "How many reasons..." post, and i'm sure you have heard many of the upsides. Besides my argument on the benefit of a referendum on AV, our participation in a coalition negates all the nonsense about Lib Dems having no experience, are a wasted vote, and none of our policies matter because we'll never be in power.

Opposing coalition will keep our hands clean, free from the taint of Conservatives we loathe, and Conservative policies we hate. But we will forever be on the sidelines just helping to elect a few dozen good constituency Lib Dem MPs who have little or no influence on the government.

Cameron may turn out to be yet another crock of Tory shit, but he seems to be leading his party away from its most detestable elements. Clegg and all our MPs seem to trust him, and we have the greatest opportunity for decades.

Please stay aboard, Nich. We need honourable Lib Dems with your drive and commitment. At least give the coalition a chance for a year or two.


David L

Anonymous said...

Just as an aside to my previous and overlong comment, I always listen to Lord Tony Greaves on important party dilemmas.

He saved the party from the Red Guard excesses of previous regimes when he became Chairman of the Young Liberals in the late 1960s (yes, I was there!).

He was a leading exponent of the Community Politics strategy passed at the Eastbourne conference after our near wipe out in the 1970 election.

He finally came down in favour of the merger between the Liberal Party and the Social Democrats.

He approves of the Clegg-Cameron coalition.

David L

Duncan said...

"1) Try to cobble together an arrangement with Labour who have lost nearly 100 seats, have no leader, and are exhausted and discredited after 13 years in power. Surely no Lib Dem would want to do this. Even some tribal Labourites recognise they need a period in opposition."

I think it's fair to say that all of us wanted to do this, but Labour weren't up to it. They couldn't hold their party together for the first day of negotiations, let alone years of coalition government.

Mark Senior said...

Nich , I have been a member of the Liberals/LibDems for 44 years now through bad times and good . My hope throughout this time has been to see us in government with an opportunity to implement policies I have supported and fought for .
Thanks to Nick Cleggs's strength determination and statesmanship we are now in that position . Although it the situation is not ideal , I will judge the success or failure of this in 3/4 years time but for the moment I am more than content .

William Summers said...


I understand the unease you and others have at a Con/LD alliance. I have read your recent posts with interest and have a few points to make on this, addressing both the practical and the political side of things.

Firstly, to state the obvious, we must accept the Liberal Democrats did not win the election. It is therefore not possible at the present time to have a country run on true liberal policies. What we can achieve, however, is a significant liberal influence on government with regards to raising the income tax threshold, more money for education, progress on cleaning up politics. Whilst these things are not the be all and end all of what we would like to see, they would not happen at all if we continue to be a minority opposition party.

I for one did not get involved in politics to wear a yellow shirt and shout from the sidelines – it was because I wanted to see a more liberal and better run country than we currently have. With Nick Clegg and other Liberal Democrats now at the heart of the government I believe this can happen. Some of our policies are already being put in place.

Yes, there will still be things happening we disagree with but some of these (including Trident) would have happened anyway with anything other than a full Lib Dem government. Other dubious policies such as the married couples tax breaks would have gone ahead with a Tory majority, but can now be influenced from within and also used as a bargaining chip to get through some of the things we believe in. That is negotiation and compromise – something politicians are constantly criticised for not doing enough of, and something that can often lead to better decision making.

I recognise of course there is also a separate (and very different) political question about how the Liberal Democrats will fare from now on. My first point on this is to say there was no sensible alternative than to go with the Tories, either as an official coalition or through a more informal arrangement. Propping up a beaten and discredited Labour government would not only be an insult to democracy, but would be political suicide, particularly in Norfolk.

Further to this, I do not think there would be a lot of distinction in the public’s eyes as to whether the Tory/LD coalition is formal or informal – we would still be ‘in with the Tories’. In the latter case however we would not get any Cabinet or ministerial roles, and therefore would not have the opportunity to play a central role in decisions about how our country is being run. Dodgy Tory policies would still be dodgy Tory policies, bigoted MPs would still be bigoted MPs, and Parliament would still not be elected by a system of PR.

Things may go wrong. They always can. However I have every faith that Nick Clegg and his team will play a positive role in government and be seen to be doing this. If that is the case, we can point to our successes and our influence at the next election and ask voters to back a full Lib Dem government from Nick Clegg downwards.

I am not pretending this is easy, and I do not profess to know how things will turn out. I do know however that for the first time we have a Liberal Democrat leader standing on the steps of 10 Downing Street, playing a genuine hand in the running of our country. That is what I have been campaigning for and will continue to campaign for.

We completely need people like you Nich with an upfront and honest approach to politics who can hold the party to account when necessary. I truly hope you and others who feel the same way will take a few days to mull it all over and then get back to campaigning for the Lib Dems – so that next time Nick Clegg doesn’t have to share the doorstep with anyone!

DC said...

I disagree with Fenwick profoundly. How often do we have a chance - which I think we have leveraged way beyond what might have been expected - to implement some - not all, we didn't win the election - of our policies which will make real differences to real lives.

Those who want to retreat to Mount Athos and draw up the ideal Liberal state can do so; I'm a politician not a political vestal virgin.

And I agree that Fenwick is both arrogant and a coward for disabling comments. Spoilt child.

The man in the street said...

So what happened to the Tory VAT bombshell?

a kindler, gentler bomb now?

Cable described Tory economic policy as 'dangerous' and 'suicidal'. Now he's implementing it.

The poorest pay £1 per £7 of their income on VAT. The richest pay £1 per £25 of their income.

I suppose lying has always been the way of politics. Lying and stabbing you in the back at the same time must be 'the new politics' eh?

The man in the street said...

And now it's okay to build more nuclear power stations as long as it's not with public money - according to Huhne.

It has always been our policy to build more nuclear power stations. We have always been at war with Eastasia. Nick Loves You.

loadofoldstodge said...


I understand your concerns but Mark has called this spot on.

I want Liberal Democrat policies implemented and I don't care if the Government that achieves it is Lib Dem or not.

The alliance with Labour was a complete non-starter. How could we justify ANOTHER unelected PM ?

It's not ideal but we could just sit polishing our principles and policies in helpless opposition ad infinitum or we could get involved, get some of what we want and get our hands dirty.

I'm happy with what's happened - hang in there and enjoy the ride.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government will put a binding motion before the House of Commons in the first days following this agreement stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Following this motion, legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.

Any LibDem who supports this, who votes for it, who can speak for it is no democrat.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Stodge, your final line is ridiculous and almost taking the mick.

Why would I enjoy our destruction in local government ?

It is your sort of arguments that makes me want to leave.

I want to see that our party still has some backbone, some principles, something it stands for.

I am sick to death of al these roll over and let your tummy be tickled Lib Dems who are wetting themselves at being given some crumbs from the Tory table.

None of the above said...

Stop grandstanding and do the right thing Nich. That way you wont have to spend years making excuses, spinning things and saying things you don't believe in.

Don't backtrack - it wil be excrutiatingly embarrassing

David said...

Fine. Leave. If you thought we were ap ressure group, not a political party, you are probably right; it's time to leave the stage. We grew up: if you don't want to, fine.

Mboy said...

Can I summarise the current debate on this blog:

1. Emotional blog post against coalition government
2. Reasoned argument that Lib Dems believe in coalition government and exist to implement liberal policies and block right-wing and left wing policies.
3. "But you don't understand, it's THE TORIES"
4. Reasoned argument that this was the only option that didnt lead to a full Tory government
5. "But you don't understand, it's THE TORIES"
6. Reasoned argument that PR will lead to permanent coalition government, which means compromise.
7. "But you don't understand, it's THE TORIES"
8. Question: what is it that you actually want from politics?
9. "But you don't understand, it's THE TORIES"
10. Um...
11. "But you don't understand, it's THE TORIES"
12. Is this a tantrum, or a hissy fit from a prima-donna, or some kind of mid-life crisis?
13. "But you don't understand, it's THE TORIES"... and look at all the other bloggers saying the same thing!
14. Yes, you're right, as well as the bile from the Labour Party, there are a small number of liberal bloggers who are having an equally difficult time trying to put 4 sensible words together to form a coherent argument on this, but are attracting a lot of attention anyway. Enjoy the limelight while you can.

{Incoherent blog removed from blogroll}

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Nich will lose a lot of sleep from being removed from a blogroll.

Your arguments fall apart as soon as you mention PR.

When will you silly people learn that AV isn't a form of Proportional Representation ?

Isn't it strange too that a Liberal is attacking another Liberal for having the courage to stick with is convictions.

If only there were more like Nich, the Liberal might actually have amounted to something. As things look at the moment, you seem like a party of charlatans that have been caught out for being political opportunists.

English Pensioner said...

When I read something starting "Two privately educated white male millionaires stepped through the door of Downing Street this morning to usher in an era of new politics", I don't bother to read the rest.
What is wrong with private education, particularly with the abysmal state education now available. What is wrong with millionaires, at least we should have less worries about them being more interested in what they can get out of the job (Blair) than actually doing it. What's wrong with being white & male? Personally I want someone who can do the job, not a person who fits some politically correct profile!

Anonymous said...

For crying out loud, get a life. For the first time you and the Liberal Democrats get the opportunity to help this country which is in near melt down, to find a way out of the appalling mess it has been placed yet again by the Labour Party which has financially ruined the place. So much for fiscal probity.

All you can do is witter that it is unfair.

So is life. Deal with it and try to do something for the good of the country.

None of the above said...

yes, like building those nuclear power stations and implementing those 'dangerous' cuts?

loadofoldstodge said...


I'm sorry you took my previous post so badly and I appreciate you are finding this difficult.

In 1978, we were down to just 100 Councillors everywhere - that is destruction.

No one on the anti-Coalition wing has given a coherent alternative option - we could NOT have gone in with Labour and the Nats - you know that and I know that. It would have fallen apart in months and the Tories would be in with a landslide.

Yes, we could have done nothing and allowed the Tories to form a minority Government. Politically, I suppose it would have been the best, though we'd have been blamed for the instability especially if we had allowed talks to drag on for days without agreement.

Mike Smithson thought the best result would have been a tiny overall majority for the Tories.

I hope you can find it in yourself to carry on supporting the party - I will. I don't accept have "crumbs" - I think we have got a pretty good deal.