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Lets develop our own policies, put forward our own message and see how the dice fall in next election. If Labour don't win a plurality, and neither do we, it depends on the arithmetic - if we have the largest number of seats then try a minority government because history is on our side, once a party is given a chance electors tend to confirm that at next election however soon it comes.

It may be that its sensible for a semi-detached senior backbencher to explore common ground but its far to early to bring coalition government to the fore.

There is no shame in exploring similarities and working together for the common legislative good. We do so already in the House of Lords. This should be the normal way of politics. There is no need for nastiness, often we have honest differences but frequently we can come to a common cause and in those circumstances we should work together.

I don’t want a politics that is characterised by unpleasantness but by doing the best for country, that’s why we all came in to politics and that’s how we should work in it.

I'm pleased to hear a senior figure talk of this, I'd welcome any alliance with the liberals.

I am afraid that Ken has once again shown why he would not have made a good leader of the party.

Lib Dems may seem all cosy in the confines of Westminster but out on the ground they are a pretty poisonous bunch. They are also very seriously split between the two factions that came together in 88; the SDP and the old Liberal party. They are uncomfortable bedfellows and our energies should be aimed at getting back the seats they won from us.

Where we agree then co-operation is good politics but I am not that sure we agree on very much apart from ID cards. They don't support student fees, the don't support the education bill, they support regional government, they support local income tax and they support PR. What kind of coalition would that be?

My concern is that by looking at a hung parliament this far out we give creedence to the Lib Dems as the safe option to the disenchanted Labour voters - "vote LD and get a Tory/LD alliance with LDs able to stop the Nasty Party coming out again"

I recognise it could be an advantage as we do want an opposition split - 38:27:27 gives us a good working majority and if LDs hit Labour hard we may see a further re-alignment towards the right (Mingers seem less left wing than promised)

But I don't want us to actively seek a near joint platform with them.

I agree Ted. Surely playing electoral-possibilites now shows a weakness of conviction in your message.

As much as I hate the thought of it, we all have to face the real possibility that Brown will be returned with a majority whether slightly less, or even slightly more.

Now is the time to build a foundation of real values and aims that are unmistakedly conservative and not likely to be jettisoned after the next election if the tide turns against Cameron.

Unrealistic hopes, short-termism, and insincere shifts in focus will keep Labour in power for years to come.

Sincerity or strategy? One will carry the Tories through even after election defeat next time, the other will just perpetuate failure.

I honestly don't believe it's a choice between the two. We can fight effectively in the constituencies for electoral gain, winning the hearts and minds of voters and in Westminster work together when it is in the legislative interest.

It's just about a mature approach to politics, we're not living in the nineties anymore. Gordon Brown is an old style politician who won't seek to work with people, we will when it's in the interest of the country.

modern voters will punish politicians who are overly partisan, it repulses them and rightly so. They want to see politics working honestly for the common good.

"modern voters will punish politicians who are overly partisan, it repulses them and rightly so."

I don't see any evidence for this. Voters seem very partisan to me.

I'm not quite clear on this. Is Ken suggesting co-operation *at* the next election, or merely not ruling out co-operation *after* the next election if neither main party wins outright.

If it's the latter, there is really nothing new here. If the former then it is potentially very significant.

Ken Clarke came to Twickenham last April for an election rally. He spent the first few minutes of his speech praising Vince Cable, our Liberal Democrat opponent, and saying how much he agreed with hom on Europe, Iraq etyc. It was, frankly, an insult to our PPC who was ignored and needed encouragement. Many of the local activists voiced their disapproval.

Personally I can't stand the liberals.

If I voted Tory and we formed an alliance with them I wouldn't vote for them again. I would consider voting Labour. I'd rather see a Brown gov than a mish-mash, pro-immigration, anti-Iraq, pro-EU bunch of unprincipled politicians in office.

They are the worst most pious bunch of idiots...yet what are their policies which they think make them 'nicer' - subsidising middle class students and nursing homes and bad environmentalism through Kyoto.

As the Economist once pointed out - they have all the smugness of socialists without any policies aimed at those who are at the bottom of the pile.

I should say 'I wouldn't vote for them (the current leaders of the Tory party)'

Isn't some sort of Tartan stitch-up whereby England comes under the rule of the Kingdom of Fife more likely?

I think that Ken's comments are probably pretty fair, although perhaps a little unguarded at this stage of the electoral cycle. The Liberal Democrats are a curious mish-mash, from traditional "soft left" Simon Hughes to people like David Laws and Nick Clegg who are probably to the right of some of our modernising wing. So long as we take the sensible "Orange Book" element and leave behind the social democrats, I don't see why a coalition is out of the question.

Let's put it this way: given a Con/LD coalition or four more years' of Labour (or possibly Lab/LD), which would you prefer?


At least you know where you are with Brown.

Eventually people will release that he is pursuing the wrong path and we will stand as a credible alternative. A LD/Con coalition would take the worst part of our party and ally it to a party which is all things to all people.

The only time to talk about coalitions is in the event of a hung parliament. It sounds like we've thrown in the towel already if important figures discuss it like this openly.

The LibDems will want proportional representation as their price, unless Labour and Conservatives both refuse it to them, and that will mean hung parliaments for the foreseeable future.

I'm not saying this is likely, but if I could get odds of 100-1 or better, I'd bung a quid (no more)on a grand coalition a la Ms Merkel.

It's happened before(a very long time ago)

While there are plenty of Liberals that I get on well with I feel that it is completely wrong to talk about coalitions at this stage.

We should be in the game to win it and not play for a draw. The secret is to campaign on our policies, say what we would do, the direction that we will take and be confident. If the Liberals like what we say and want to work with us, then great.

We are the major party they are the “also rans”, they should be courting us, not the other way around.

At least Ken Clarke is confirming he was right about something. That he would have split the party as leader.

Ken is obsessed with Europe. Now forgive me for being a bit Harold Wilson here, but which party is the most pro European? Could Kens thinking be coalition with Lib Dems = A more Pro Europe outlook?

There's also the possibility that a more Old Labour style under Brown would lead to a proportion of radical Blairites splitting off. Stephen Pollard raised this possibility in a CPS pamphlet not so long ago. I'd rather join with them than the beardies.

Anyone who thinks that a coalition with the Lib Dem's would be a good idea should consider what has happened in Scotland where the Lib Dem's stab their coalition partners in the back at every turn. Their campaign in the Dunfermline and Fife West by election was surely the one of the most breathtaking acts of dishonesty, hypocrisy and betrayal in political history. They profited by attacking their partners for what they themselves had done. Many in the Scottish Labour party are now looking for a way forward that doesn't involve the Lib Dem's.

If there is a hung parliament, it is highly likely that (given the current electoral maths) the Conservatives would have won the most votes. This would be true even if Labour held more seats. (for instance try running www.electoralcalculus.co.uk with the numbers Con 37, Lab 34, Lib 20)

If the electoral system gives a 'wrong' result like this I can think of worse outcomes than a Labour govt with Ken Clarke as chancellor. Presumably he doesn't feel he is too old for another term of frontbench politics, having just run in the leadership contest.

The Tories under Major were booted out in 97 for a number of (mostly good IMHO) reasons. I'm not sure that economic imcompetance was one of them though- just look at how Brown has mainly continued Tory economic policy, with so far fairly sucessful results.

I think the public would accept that. One condition would surely have to be 'no entry to the Euro without a referendum' though!

If we were to emerge as the party with most seats, albeit short of a majority, it would make much more sense to form a minority government, and then find an issue on which to go to the country, in order to get an overall majority.

I find it hard to think of any circumstance in which a coalition with the Lib Dems would make sense.

I do not like the idea of going into coalition. Firstly coalitions are largely undemocratic, a programme for government is decided in smoke filled rooms, and the result is something nobody voted for. Secondly evidence shows that most coalitions simply do not work and the party outside of any coalition or pact is the one that benefits. In the case of a hung parliament we should let Labour limp on in a minority government for a few months, they will become increasingly unpopular and and another election would surely not be far off, allowing us to get a decent working majority next time round.I see little sense in compromising our position for a little taste of power, where we would be very limited with what we could achieve. While Labour would have the chance to recover and renew.

Have cross party co-operation on issues with agree with, but dont sell out and form a coalition. We would be much better relying on votes of orange bookers to help us out in a hung parliament.

Either way, the Lib Dems will only form a coalition on the promise of PR. Something we can never afford to give.

There is a need to keep on good terms with the liberal democrats.

Polling suggests that even a 3% lead by the Tories will not be able to get us a majority (or even near).

We must consider the possibility that coalition is possible. I don't suggest having a coalition or talking openly about it, but to keep the libdems on OUR side rather than labours.

Election 2009/2010 will be crucial, its almost like 1992 and we SHOULD win, coalition or no.

I am second to none in my loathing of individual liberal democrats - I would happily spit in the face of Simon Hughes if I ever had the misfortune to be in the same room as him. He makes me sick. I don't actually need a bucket of sanctimony (on C4 news last night, about the horrors of party funding)from a man who's so spineless he can't be honest about his sexuality; or at all from a party with a drunk for his leader (about which they lied to us) or another leadership candidate who paid male prostitutes to ... .

However. Cameron's strategy - to get the libdem voters BACK (they used to be Tories by default) has a parliamentary corollary. If we end up in the awful situation, post poll next time round, of not having a majority, then it should be our explicit tactic to form a parliamentary majority with libdems, to keep the socialists out. The IMPLICIT tactic in such a move should be to remove the normal, centre-right libdems from the freaks like Hughes, and either have them formally cross to the Tories or to split (in the grand liberal tradition) and support us in parliamentary votes.

All good fun but utterly irrelevant to real politics.

Our aim should be to win outright victory at the next election. To do that we not only need to win >100 seats from Labour, we also need to take at least 25-30 from the Lib Dems. We are not going to achieve that by getting cosy with them beforehand !

Even if the next election does produce a hung parliament with Labour as the largest party, then a coalition with the LDs may be the wrong way forward. Far better to let them prop up Brown for a while, then reap the ensuing whirlwind - as happened to Steel in 1979.

On the other hand, there are two other distinct considerations:

a) we should work with them in Parliament to defeat / embarass Blair as often as practical to deepen the gulf between Blair and his back-benches.

b) we also need the Lib Dems to take votes (and, in places, seats) off Labour to reduce Labour's tally at the next election.

Be true to ourselves is the only way forward,


Gents - coalition politcs is already here ... wake up and smell the coffee.

What happened on Wednesday night?

Of course Ken Clarke wants a coalition with the Liberals - he is one. I cannot see the logic of inviting him back into the inner circle of the Conservative party. You have only to read Kenneth Irvine's post above, sic:

""Ken Clarke came to Twickenham last April for an election rally. He spent the first few minutes of his speech praising Vince Cable, our Liberal Democrat opponent, and saying how much he agreed with him on Europe, Iraq etc. It was, frankly, an insult to our PPC who was ignored and needed encouragement. Many of the local activists voiced their disapproval.""

to realise what a treacherous man he is. The Conservative party is perfectly capable of winning outright at the next election, given the right policies - policies that wouls stick in Ken Clarke's craw.

When I think of the Liberal Democrats, two characteristics come to mind - opportunism and idealism. The apparent idealism is what often attracts students, I can remember being very idealistic. But the opportunism, which I think is a very unattractive trait and most often dishonest, is just what we don't want to be associated with as a resurgent Tory party. I think it would be highly inappropriate to enter into a coalition with the LibDems, Charles Kennedy was vitriolic about the Tories when he felt like it, and Ming Campbell seems to me to get no further than patronising Tory MP's - thats my impression.

"The LibDems will want proportional representation as their price, unless Labour and Conservatives both refuse it to them, and that will mean hung parliaments for the foreseeable future."

And THAT will mean the LibDems as kingmakers for the forseeable future. Better a Labour minority government than that: it is a poison pill the Tories should never consider swallowing.

>>>>Mr Clarke has looked at this electoral geography and thinks that the Tories should cosy up to the LibDems. He likes the look of the Orange Book MPs - Vince Cable, David Laws and Nick Clegg. "These people ought to be Tories," he says, and as for the LibDem leader - "Ming is an old Tory!".<<<<
Equally those people he refers to no doubt wonder why he is in the Conservative Party given that he is more in tune with the Christian Democrat wing of the Liberal Democrats.

So far as coalitions go who knows? If there was a hung parliament then there could be a minority government - indeed as in 1923 when Labour with 171 seats were encouraged to form a minority government by the Conservative Party it might not even be the largest party, in the event of neither Labour nor Conservatives being able to carry their agenda they might tell Meinzes Campbell to form a government (which no doubt would include MP's from other parties because the Liberal Democrats are unlikely to have enough MP's to do it alone) and then bring it down at a time of their choosing and let him do some of the hardwork in the short term and get some of the flak that comes with being in government.

Or there could be a National Government on a particular issue which could for example be an attack on North Korea which would split both main parties.

Indeed the Conservative Party and Labour might form a consensus on anti-terrorist legislation and form a coalition to keep Liberals out of power, or there might indeed be a coalition pledged to deregulate the labour market and downsize the state combining Conservative and Liberal Democrat.

I rather think though that the next election is going to be between the 2 main parties and a hung parliament is unlikely.

>>>>The LibDems will want proportional representation as their price, unless Labour and Conservatives both refuse it to them, and that will mean hung parliaments for the foreseeable future.<<<<
A referendum on the matter offering 3 options
- The First Past the Post System
- Single Transferrable Vote
- Alternative Vote System

If everyone was to have a first preference and second preference on the referendum with the option coming third in First Preferences being eliminated and their 2nd preferences redistributed, this would shut the Liberal Democrats up if the vote went against STV and it would decide the matter for decades, if the Liberal Democrats refused to accept this then an early election could be brought in which they would be wiped out.

>>>>If the electoral system gives a 'wrong' result like this I can think of worse outcomes than a Labour govt with Ken Clarke as chancellor.<<<<
It couldn't be considered a Labour government if Ken Clarke was Prime Minister, any more than a mainly Conservative Government with Gordon Brown or Alastair Darling as Chancellor of the Exchequer could be considered a Conservative Government, with Meinzes Campbell as Chancellor of the Exchequer either way it's the same - it's a key role in the government that defines the nature of the government as most cabinet positions are - Culture, Media & Sport being one of the few exceptions.

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