How many reasons do we need not to sit with the Tories ?

How many good reason do we need to know the Tories are not the people we want to sit with ?

1) Homophobia - The Tories have consistently had problems with homophobia amongst their ranks. Chris Grayling started it all off again recently by claiming that B&B owners ought to be able to refuse to have gay peoiple staying in their establishments. Then we had the Tory PPC who set up a prayer group to use the power of religion to stop people geing gay. Need I go on and list all the others ?

2) Nadine Dorries - The twitter account deletion does not hide the fact that she calls people who are pro choice "Dr Death" and has numerous other issues that are totally incompatible with anyone who sees "fairness" as a core principles of their beliefs.

3) Voting reform - AV is not PR. Can I repeat that, AV IS NOT PR !

4) Murdoch - I always see it as a good rule of thumb that if Murdoch supports it, we ought to be against it.

5) Iraq - Let's not forget, the Tories were more supportive of the idea of invading Iraq than Labour were.

6) The NHS - In leaflets distributed by the Lib Dems in the general election, we were apparently to be very afraid of the Tories gettinh their hands on the NHS as they would wreck it. Not my words, but those of the Lib Dems.

7) Non Doms - MPs who are Non-Doms, multi millionaire backers who are Non-Doms. Should I go on ?

8) Flippers - Remember how many Tory MPs and Tory front benchers flipped their mortgages in order to gain the maximum amount from their expenses ? No Lib Dems did it. We were proud of that, but we'll sit with those who do.

9) Cleaning up parliament - How many of Cameron's front bench supported plans to reform parliamentary expenses before the expenses scandal broke ? Would it surprise people that a majhority didn't support reform ?

10) Trident - Apparently we need a cold war weapons system ?

This is a short list thought up by a very tired, fed up, dejected and utterly depressed activist.

I wonder who can add to this list who is feeling more inspired than me ?


Alan said...


Its clearly an emotional list, so I will limit myself to your first point - homophobia

As a gay man, I have still not really forgiven Simon Hughes and his (officially sanctioned) by election 27 years ago - the most openly homophobic election campaign any candidate has EVER undertaken in the UK. He has never apologised.

Grayling was wrong, as was the nutty evangelical PPC, but at least those two supported gay rights openly. Hughes (despite being a total faggot as a youngster) did not. Worst kind of closet case. I was at university then and this has scarred my view of him and the party hierarchies at the time.

Nich Starling said...

The homophobic campaign in Mermondsey was run by the Indepndent Labour people, not the Alliance. This is one of those urban myths that has come about and is perpetuated by people reading what others have said about it.

A friend of mine (Tory and Gay) who was involved with the Tory campaign lived next door to one of the independent Labour people and saw their "Tatchell is a Faggot" templates in the back garden.

Even Tatchell has said Simon Highes did not run a homophobic campaign.

Bert said...

I was in Bermondsey Weekend working for Labour before election and on the day - have a lovely story about a voter called Jimmy - homophobia was from some nasty ex-labour - Tatchell now a Green which really annoys me!!
Tried to get a Labour Party application form for you Nich but the Labour Party site was overwhelmed by applications!!

Blog of Sticks said...

Its all very well having stong views on these topics - but you'll never get PR from a government elected by FPTP - you might get AV at best.
The only viable goverment was a Conservative/Lib Dem one - its also an opportunity to show that coalition government can work - the british public are possibly a little sceptical - you can look at this as a positive if you choose. Both parties here do have a vested interest in some success within this agreement - can compromise work in British politics?
If it can't, even in these difficult times, then what hope for PR in the UK ever becoming a reality?
Work on the things you agree on and know need attention now.
We've not heard much from the Lib Dems yet this evening mind.

James Chard said...

But those are all exactly the reasons why we should sit with the Conservatives, Nich!

There wasn't a real "progressive alliance" on the table as we couldn't command the votes together with Labour. In the absence of that, it is far better in my view to do a deal with the Tories, moderate their excesses and implement many of our own policies.

We didn't win the election and need to achieve as much as we can with the votes and seats we have.

Alan said...

Well - I was certainly handed a Hughes leaflet by someone wearing a "I've been kissed by Tatchell" badge who laid it on thick (not knowing I was struggling with my own sexuality).

I remember thinking at the time it was a case of the pendulum being deliberately swung too far after the Thorpe issues.

You might tell me that was a clever Labour confidence trick.

I am not convinced.

Incidentally, I am not aware of any time Tatchell has said that it was not a homophobic campaign. He certainly said "water under the bridge....let bygones be bygones". But I am not aware that he said that he believed the Liberal campaign was not homophobic. As you might imagine, I have a sensitive ear for this issue, and would have noticed it, I am sure.

I guess the point I am making is that no party has a clean record on this (ditto taking taxpayers money, misleading electors, lying about the deficit, sitting with nutters in a European group), and to claim "whiter than white" is not credible.


Get real, we are in a different world now. Comments.

1. Yes there are some unpleasant Tories but are there no LDs you aren't completely in love with? Dave has tried to change the hideous elements of the Tories. The work continues.

2. Yep, string her up.

3. No, AV is not PR but its still a damned sight better than what we have and if it gets people used to writing numbers on a piece of paper its worth a try, isn't it?

4. See answer (2), change gender

5. Agreed but we must move on.

6. This is the one thing the Tories made a commitment on so let's hold them to it.

7. No, we all know this and we should keep a close eye on those Tories who aren't quite attached to this country for tax reasons.

8. Again, we should not forget this but we can still work with many of these 'flippers' to deliver LD priorities. Is a duck house more important than fair taxation?

9. This is on the table. Do you trust your MPs or don't you?

10. Trident is quite simply not a high priority for most people. Once again this is an argument which can be had in coming weeks and months.

We are in a difficult situation and we need to pull together. God knows I have my difficulties with the Tories but face facts, its now our collective @rse in the sling so lets knuckle down and achieve what we can.

None of the above said...

All the slimy deals and tawdry hipocrisy by people who would change their opinion for cheap personal gain and justify it to your face without an ounce of shame or embarrassment put me in mind of Hunter S Thompson who knew politics and politicians better than anyone and can put my view better than I ever could:

"If I followed my better instincts right now, I would put this typewriter in the Volvo and drive to the home of the nearest politician - any politician - and hurl the goddamn machine through his front window ..flush the bugger out with an act of lunatic violence then soak him down with mace and run him naked down Main Street in Aspen with a bell around his neck and black lumps all over his body from the jolts of a high-powered 'Bull Buster' cattle prod"

"In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile—and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely. We owe that to ourselves and our crippled self-image as something better than a nation of panicked sheep."

Johnny Norfolk said...

Nich. If we are going to prgress we have to be far more tollerent of other views. The Tory party has shown this to the Liberals.

We need to just try and get along and if someone does not sgree with homosexuality its not the end of the world. We have become far more narrow about things and we need to be far more liberal about things.

We have an oppotunity to be less confrontational. Lets do it.

None of the above said...

No let's not be less confrontational matey

If someone doesn't 'agree' with homosexuality, they can fuck off back to the 1950s

Or join the Tories

Nice to have you lovely people back

Bernard Salmon said...

I agree with all your reasons why working with the Tories feels wrong, and could probably come up with lots of others - I used to have Michael Howard as my MP, for instance.
And yet, I'm in favour of the coalition deal. I think it offers us the chance to get significant elements of Lib Dem policies and principles approved, while moderating some of the worse aspects of Tory policy (eg inheritance tax). Yes, we'll also have to accept some things we don't entirely approve of, but that's what co-operating with other parties is about. In the situation we were in, the effective choice we faced was between allowing a Tory minority government or going into coalition with them. The figures meant a deal with Labour was a non-starter.
And I think our experience in Scotland shows that we can operate effectively in a coalition and ensure many Lib Dem policies and principles are actually implemented. Is that not why we're part of this party in the first place?

Anonymous said...

So er.. was PR non-negotiable after all, or what?

Or did principles and inconvenient stuff like that get forgotten in the rush to bag a seat in cabinet?

Alan said...

@"None of the above"

"If someone doesn't 'agree' with homosexuality, they can fuck off back to the 1950s"

Really? As a gay man, I don't insist everyone agrees with me.

Or assume everyone who holds a different opinion is to be deported (I guess this is what you mean by sending people away).

I defend the right for people to have different views, even if I profoundlyt disagree with them. I may seek to change their mind, but I would not deport them - that's called tolerance and liberalism

I guess that's the difference between us.

I am always saddened how those who claim that they are liberal are often the least tolerant about people holding different views.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how you can support PR yet be unwilling to share power with the Tories. No doubt there are other PR supporters in the Lib Dems who are unwilling to share power with Labour. I thought that was what PR was about.

What would you do if the current result had arisen under PR?

Dan said...

"Do I want to remain in such a party ? Do I hell !"....goodbye Nich.

Johnny Norfolk said...

None of the above.

Its just this sort of nasty attitude that is spoiling this country. You must try and understand other peoples point of view. I do, and have to live with many things a do not want or like. But I try and understand. cast my vote and move on. there is a great oppotunity here and all people should try and live with it.I feel more at ease today than i have for the last 20 years.

Johnny Norfolk said...

I must say that is just the sort of attitude this country needs.

Well said

none of the above said...

How do you "agree" or "disagree" with homosexuality?

Anonymous said...

In the NHs we could handle limited cuts, pay freeze (this year only)

But please stop the Tory plans to hand over large chunks of the NHS to US mulitinationals etc

sure if staff want to set up social enterprise then ok

but not compulsory or forced privatisation of NHS services

Please listen to nurses and doctors in the NHS


JohntheActivist said...

Good posting Nick this has to be the first time I agree with you for a long time.

Irfan Ahmed said...

I agree with you Nick.

I am pissed off with what Clegg has done and I am appalled by how the FEC and Parliamentary party endorsed his behaviour.

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

Nich, you now have egg well and truly on your face. WHow principled are you? You going to stay with the Lib Dems or join Labour?

neil craig said...

2) Indeed - what a dreadful person she must be to engage in online censorship. Even if only rarely unlike the LDs.

davidhenry said...

You would be very welcome in the Green Party :)

Nich Starling said...

The reason why I am so disgusted by all this is because I have principles.

That precludes me ever joining the Grens as they are without principle. I take the view that any organisation associated with Rupert Read is an organisation I should stay clear of.

Anonymous said...

This is a message for Norfolk Blogger and other Lib Dem Party members/activists/supporters.
If anyone out there is so angered/disappointed at the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, the cabinet memebers, the policy compromises etc that this last couple of days has thrown up, and is willing to talk about it to the Independent on Sunday which supported tactical voting to keep the Tories out, please contact me at as soon as possible.
Many thanks

Nina Lakhani
Independent on Sunday
020 7005 2498

Anonymous said...

Nina Lakhani from the Independent on Sunday again, my email is:

Many thanks

Unknown said...

1) True enough. But do you think there's a worry we'll be confused for homophobes. Their party also has Alan Duncan and Iain Dale in it. It's safe to say they'll not get anything homophobic passed during this coalition. There was nothing in their manifesto, there's nothing in the coalition agreement. The worst we'll have is more of LABOUR'S city academies given free reign to teach gay-bashing (amongst other things) fundamentalism.

2) Let's not forget Nicola Blackwood who unseated Evan using in part unsigned leaflets with that exact slur. Look, it's also safe to say no 'progress' on bioethics will be had in this parliament. We're not marrying these people - they're not being invited to tea. This is an arrangement; some of their policies, some of ours and we get someone running the country. Would you rather we /didn't/ form a coalition and these freaks got a free hand to roll back a woman's right to choose?

3) No it's not but it is a fairer system. At least not a candidate most people in the constituency dislike (see above, Nicola Blackwood) could not be elected by a split of the 'progressive' vote. We'll get ourselves another 50-100 MPs if the referendum passes (assuming this coalition doesn't destroy our reputation) which will put us in a stronger position to bargain for a referendum on STV next time. The switch to STV from AV is easier than the switch from FPTP because they use the same balloting system so no one will buy the 'but people in Essex might not know how to write numbers' style arguments. It also means the case for the referendum can be fought on a much tighter basis. Remember; the perfect is the enemy of the possible.

4) I didn't see 'you have to support Murdoch' on the list, however we do have libel reform on there. Someone keep an eye on the Culture Sec - he's a NewsCorp plant. By forming a coalition with the Tories we may have saved the BBC for another five years; don't worry, be happy.

5) We didn't win an election. There's not /much/ we can do about the DEBill, nuclear power, trident, the Iraq war or anything else the labservatives agree on but at least we can /try/ to influence these things and have more chance to do so on the government benches than on the opposition - I didn't notice our opposition to the war managed to stop it happening before. We might be able to stop the next one though.

Unknown said...

6) They've made such a big thing of how much they love the NHS and how they're ringfencing funding I don't think they'll be able to ruin it too much; the agreement seems to be limited to cutting bureaucracy at present though Lansley has a bad habit for falling for quack medicines.

7) They included the restriction on non-Doms serving in their own manifesto as a response to the fallout over Ashcroft and the agreement includes a review on political financing (under Nick's supervision IIRC). Honestly, am I the only LibDem who read the Tory manifesto? It's beginning to feel as if half of you got all your information from focus leaflets; didn't you have to prep for hustings at any point?

8) Yup. And what could Nick have done about it. Would it have been better to have pushed harder for Lib-Lab - four of them are /on trial/ for expenses fraud. We now have to put up with a Health Sec who's a fraudster. I'm afraid we'll have to put it behind us now and move on; concentrate on improving the expenses system for the future and do a good job of it so the public can thank us for it.

9) None of them. But they're going to have to now. Isn't that nice. We've effectively stolen a majority we could never have got at the polls to clean up parliament. Isn't that brilliant? Isn't that what you've been delivering leaflets for years to try and achieve? I know have.

10) Labservatives say we do and the nation apparently wants Labservatives (or hates one half of the Labservatives so much they're willing to put up with the other half). We're at least going to get scrutiny on the spending so it it turns out Ming's right and it's cheaper to retrofit stuart subs or not have them patrolling all the time we'll at least have saved some taxpayer money from being wasted. Again, it's better than nothing which is what the alternative was.

It's going to be a hard slog but we have to stick to our ideals, remind the country that just because we've made a deal with the Tories doesn't mean we /are/ Tories and keep calm and Clegg on.

Unknown said...

Nina the IoS didn't endorse 'tactically voting to keep the Tories out' it endorsed a hung parliament. Mission accomplished. Now the question then is what one does with a hung parliament. Labour backbenchers took a Lib-Lab arrangement off the table so the only options were

a: The Tories get to do whatever they want until they trigger another election at their convenience and achieve a majority (then get to do whatever they want).

b: We form a coalition from them and prevent them enacting the very worst of their manifesto promises and in the process pass some of our (an increase on the party's record since 1945); we're getting the pupil premium, we're getting the income tax threshold raised, we're getting (some) electoral reform and we're going to have Vince and David Laws overseeing the Tories deficit reduction process and changing the way the financial sector operates.

I for one will sleep sounder because of Nick's decision.

Anonymous said...

er, Duncan:

"we have to stick to our ideals"

have you got any funnier material? Surely not?

not that ideals or principles mean anything to people like you these days.

Anonymous said...

"3) Voting reform - AV is not PR. Can I repeat that, AV IS NOT PR !"

True, but it is a step towards STV. After AV, all you need is multimember constituencies, and voilà! You've got STV. I think AV hurts the Conservatives more than the FPTP, and after the next election they might be more prepared to switch to STV. Besides, if I have understood right, the intention is to elect the House of Lords with STV. That's a start, also, though I have much preferred myself, that the House of Lords would have been elected with AV and the House of Commons with STV.

Manfarang said...

Anony 00:35
Ideals, principles?
I don't think anyone from morally bankrupt Nu-Labour can start talking about principles.

Alex W said...

Of course AV isn't PR. We are all aware of this.

What it is though is:
1. more fair than FPTP
2. much less likely to lead to tactical voting (one of the worst causes of vote skewing)
3. A step in the right direction.

The Lib Dems have said they are committed to still pushing for PR, will push for it in local elections whilst in coalition, and continue to push for it onece the coalition government ends.

It's true they didn't succeed in getting it now, but consider what they have done... pushed the voting system a little bit closer to being more representative (assuming the referendum is won), and more importantly, shown that coalition governments are feasible and that politicians can act responsibly and in a grown up manner when balanced parliaments exist.. this is fundamental to getting the general public to accept PR i nthe future.

Alex W said...

Every single one of those points is a damn good arguement why we should be in coalition.

The alternative was to allow a Tory minority government to govern unchecked.

I don't get why people seem to think that you shouldn't be in coalition with people who you disagree with... surely if you disagree with them, then you want to be able to effect as much restraint and moderation over them as possible. It's when you need to be in coalition with them the most.. because you disagree... if you agree with them why are you in a different party?

The Lib Dem's certainly didn't have the parliamentary seats, or the influence to do that by bneing in opposition, and would also have undermined the very arguements for PR... that it provides a more balanced government. Balance doesn't mean two people on the same side tipping the scales unequivically in one direction... it means two opposites 'balancing' each other out.

That's what I don't get over all this... that people seem to think that two people can only work together if they agree, when anyone who knows anything about how groups work will tell you that you get a better result from people who constantly challenge each other and have to find ways to work together. Science and business development would die off if this sort of thinking was applied to it.