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« Michael Ashcroft: The Rules On Funding Parties Are Clearly Mad - So Let Voters Add Some Sanity | Main | Nicholas D Kristof: How Much Genocide Is Too Much? »

Comments

Dontmakemelaugh

"The Tories and the Lib/Dems have much in common." I am gobsmacked! Read Melanie Phillip's regarding what the leading Lib/Dim MEP said in that hallowed insitution.

James Bethell

The LibDems remain such a fragmented party where no seems to agree on anything that it is impossible to work with them en masse, or across many issues.

Isn't it more likely that a patchwork of loose alliances between Tories and LibDem groupings on individual causes will continue to expand, creating a pretty useful network, but a cross-party alliance remains a far, far away dream?

James Bethell

The LibDems remain such a fragmented party where no seems to agree on anything that it is impossible to work with them en masse, or across many issues.

Isn't it more likely that a patchwork of loose alliances between Tories and LibDem groupings on individual causes will continue to expand, creating a pretty useful network, but a cross-party alliance remains a far, far away dream?

Peter Franklin

Before a Lib-Con pact becomes a serious option two things would have to happen:

1) We'd need to be sure that there's no chance of us winning back most of the seats we've lost to the Lib Dems since 1997.

2) Charles Kennedy would have to go as leader. After all, where would he fit into a Cameron Cabinet? Foreign Secretary? Best not. Chancellor? Ha! Home Secretary? Simply unacceptable.

Of course, these two things may well happen. But there are other problems. As Mr Ed points out, there is a yawning void between the poseur multilateralism of the Lib Dem's foreign policy and the neo-conservativism of the Cameroonies. Yet more problematic, is the fact that the "Beveridge Group" Lib Dems are well to the Left of New Labour on fiscal and public sector policy. I can't think of any realistic scenario in which a Lib-Con pact wouldn't tear the Lib Dems apart.

However, if the Conservative Party continues to reach out to the Lib Dems on localism, greenery and civil liberties, there is a very real prospect of attracting significant defections from centre-right Lib Dems fed up with their unreconstructed colleagues.

At various points in the last 150 years the Conservative Party's gravitational pull has detached and attracted various pieces of the Liberal Party (e.g. the old Whigs,the National Liberals etc). The time has come to make ourselves attractive again!

Selsdon Man

We can only consider a pact around the time of the next election. Until then we must fight them vigorously in the local, Scottish and European elections.In the meantime, we can work with them in the Commons on issues where we agree.

Kate Castle

Quite right Selsdon Man, can we add Wales to your list though :-)

For the first time in a long time the Conservatives have more unity and more direction than Lab or Libs, lets make the most of it. One of the best things about the hustings are people saying that Cameron/Davis are part of a team to bring us back to power, they might be rivals but it is not the division we've seen in recent years.

The last 15 years a lot of young people who would naturally be Conservatives found us unappealling and became Liberals. If we get the next term right we can make huge strides and may not require a formal pact, but rather work together on common issues.

Chris Palmer

Depsite what they say in public, the only reason the Conservatives voted against the Terror Bill was because they saw an easy way of giving Tony Blair his first Commons defeat - not because they actually and truely held the Lib Dem viewpoint. Just because both sides voted no doesn't mean they voted no for the same reasons.

malcolm

Ferdinand Mount was obviously not at the London Hustings when David Davis commented that 'I hate the Lib-Dems' raised the biggest cheer of the evening.
I think it would be very difficult to enter any formal alliance with them as their MPs seem to be so divided amongst themselves on so many areas of policy.Some very hard thinking has to be done by our party over how to combat them however.Sometimes we seem to treat them as a bit of a joke which although probably quite justified is not good politics.

Richard Allen

Never underestimate the attraction of an alliance of convenience. Here in Birmingham we Conservatives and the Lib Dems spent years hating each other to a degree that was almost deranged. Yet after the 2004 local elections when the arithmatic allowed for an end to 20 years of Labour rule we were able to put aside years of hostility and form a ruling coalition. Labour were simply stunned as they (like everyone else) believed that a Con-Lib pact was impossible and that as the largest group they would still control the city.

Sadly, judging by it's record the Con-Lib partnership would be incapable of running a small garden fate let alone the largest local authorty in Western Europe.

Rob

Exactly, a Con-lib coalition might seem an attractive way of kicking Labour out of power, however the compromises we would be forced to take would mean a Con-Lib government would be hardly any better than a Labour one, damging us. The only way an acceptable pact could be made was if the genuine 'liberal' MPs left the lib dems to help prop up a Conservative minority government.

henry curteis

An Electoral Pact to remove Labour from power as enabled Blair's 2001 second landslide would be on interest. That does not require a coalition in government.

The unspoken phrase might be PR. That was how Blair conned the Liberals into supporting him - Ashdown, Jenkins, Kennedy - by pretending to offer it to them, but it was always another bit of chicanery.

Blair sold the Lib Dems down the river. No wonder they're looking for a new home.

If we prefer to fight the Lib Dems, the way to do that is not difficult. Just publicise to Lib Dem voters what Lib Dem policies are. Few have any idea. Once they find out, they are shocked.

I think Cameron would play the subtleties of the situation a lot better than Davis with his 'I hate the Lib Dems'. Never fight a war you don't need to fight - being a good guiding principle.

Martin Smith

Picking up on 2 points:

1. "If we prefer to fight the Lib Dems, the way to do that is not difficult. Just publicise to Lib Dem voters what Lib Dem policies are. Few have any idea. Once they find out, they are shocked."

This sounds logical enough, of course, their policies are all utter madness. But people don't vote for them for their policies. They don't vote for them thinking they'll get into government and enact those policies. I covered almost the whole SW in the election campaign, an area almost blanket-covered by Tory-LibDem marginals and the same thing came up everywhere: people vote LibDem because they're not the Tories and they're not Labour, they will not get into government, but the guy would be a committed local MP. The only way to turn people back from the LibDems is to be a more attractive option ourselves, both locally and nationally.

2. The LibDems' tax position: an example of how the intellectual air war slips away from the Tories without us noticing. The LibDems have dropped their calls for higher taxes because the government have delivered them, not because CK has had a Damascene conversation to Thatcherism. By gullibly accepting that the LDs no longer stand for big government, we are in effect accepting our current bloated public sector as something other than big government.

And this is how the centre of gravity is shifted leftwards. After all the stealthy tax rises,the size of the state is presented as a fait accompli, a natural state of affairs without which we would all die through lack of healthcare provision. And anyone who attempts to say that the state should be smaller is automatically deemed an extremist.

For proof of this, just look at the 2005 election, where a supposedly centre-right party could do nothing better than call for the tax burden to rise to 42% instead of 43% of GDP.

malcolm

A most perceptive post Martin.I agree with you about the way to fight the Lib Dems.I live near Colchester which has in recent year become a Lib Dem stronghold despite returning Conservatives on the council.The local MP Bob Russell has an excellent reputation on local issues and several rather apolitical people I know who should be natural Tories vote for him.

Rick

Labour were simply stunned as they (like everyone else) believed that a Con-Lib pact was impossible

How stupid of them - Leeds and Bradford show it is possible.

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