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Good to hear. It is careful we are not too keen of course, because it may give the libs more bargaining power, but it certainly doesn't hurt to build relations in preparation for a sensible route back to power - one which would be truly representative.

Rather than 'Libservative', how about Con-Dem...

I quite see Libservative - as I see it as adding a new Liberal edge to the Conservative party. A new era of values such as freedom and democracy (which after all are both very Conservative values) taking new importance will be something I look forward to.

Sorry, that should read 'I quite like' rather than see.

I've got lots of reservations about this.... however as a mechanism of destabalising the Lib-Dems its PERFECT!

That is one party that doesn't know whether its coming or going, and hiding lots of skeletons that just need a coalition debate to expose. However, the thought that they could have even a slight say in running the Country makes me want to greet.

Matthew, there is a difference between 'liberal', meaning liberal in views, and 'Liberal' in the Lib-Dem Party. The former means allowing freedom of choice for individuals, the 'Liberal' in Lib-Dem doesn't mean this at all, but is just a catchy name. If anything, Conservatism is the truest for of liberalisation, a left leaning Lib-Dem party is certainly not this. This is a common source of confusion, but the distinction is very real.

I have been thinking for a while that a Libservative pact could do wonderful things...for 2 years or so, then it would have to break up.

Abolishing ID cards and bringing back the old relationship between individual and state, restoring freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, trial by jury and presumption of innocence, and good old British parliamentary democracy...all things on which we agree and which will be pressingly necessary in the wreckage of Blair's assault on our liberties.

However when all that is done we'd have to face facts that we don't see eye-to-eye on how to actually *run* a free country, and break up the coalition and call fresh elections.

But at least we'd have saved the country.

The possibility of a Lib-Con alliance, if needs be, will cause serious problems inside the Lib Dem party.

Orange bookers will be keen, especially for the sense of power. The left will hate the idea but might put up with it if they think they'll get PR.

But the Lib Dem grassroots is the most interesting - a look at their blogs show they are obsessed with Cameron, talking about him far more than Blair. This has the potential to rip them apart.

Restoring British democracy means (inter alia) reducing the powers of the European Union, and repealing the Human Rights Act?

Can we imagine the Lib Dems agreeing to those?

We're giving the Lib Dems credibility they don't deserve. Besides, their grass roots would never allow it.

This is a perfectly sensible idea and there are, im sure, many Liberal MPs with whom we could work quite comfortably.

There is absolutely no need to believe moderate, centerist politicians from all parties can't work together.

It seems pragmatic to have an informal "issue based" alliance rather than a formal pact. Although a formal pact could offer an opportunity for both parties to think about there respective agendas in a different context.

If we are the largest party in in parliament the LimpDums will vote for measures they aprove of anyway (repealing of ID cards etc) as they are always going on about 'principled opposition'. On radical economic changes we would be far more likely to win support from UeberBlairites than the LDs. If any LD wakes up and realises they've joined the wrong party they can join us. One day the inherent contradictions in Libdemmery will cause them to split and I suppose this is a good way to help that process along.

I think the idea sucks. Such talk now demonstrates a desire for power above anything else and is becoming worryingly consistent with Cameron.

On the upside, perhaps now I will win my £100 EPP withdrawal bet with Tim as I can't see that pledge being compatible with cosying up to the LibDems (and I still think it will be forgotten/surpassed after the B2L 'mandate' vote).

Keep talking about a coalition with the Liberals is actually quite subtle strategy actually. It reinforces a number of things, firstly the inherent reasonableness of the Conservative party under Cameron. Secondly it will serve to push up the Conservative vote as people will consider that the Conservatives will actually be restrained by a coalition and so find it acceptable to vote Conservative. It may even encourage tactical voting.

I've dug this January ToryDiary piece out of the Liberal Democrat's section which I think is relevant - assessing the future of the LDs by looking at their younger members.

p.s. I wonder if anyone has compiled a list of derogatory variations of the phrase "LibDem" - I've seen several!

I'd prefer an informal pact as I think we'd win any following election (voters seem to want to give parties a chance in those circumstances)

Its always possible but unlikely that the LibDems will split as the Liberal Party did in late 19th century - but if faced with supporting a minority Labour admin with possibly more seats but lower popular vote or a Conservative Party with less seats but a better mandate there could be a severe strain between the Orange booker tendency and the more socialist elements.

It isn't a revolutionary idea - people seem to forget that a major strand of 20th century Conservatism came from the entry of Liberals first through alliance then integration through Liberal Unionists in England and in Scotland. Indeed there could be an argument that our decline in Scotland started in mid 60's when the Sots Tories finally joined the Conservatives and the old Liberal Unionist link was lost.

I'm actually now more confident that we could win either a close minority or a small majority as I think if Labour falls below 33% we will find seats falling to us in unlikely places. But we've got to hope Labour just cannot get its act together; that their maladministration and incompetence in actually running things continues (which things like the C4 exposure of illegal immigrants working for Immigration seems to show is likely).

Though of course any talk of pacts depends on the LibDims getting enough seats - did anyone see their spokesman on C4 News? Tory response to illegals employed by Immigration "you couldn't make it up!", LD response a tired looking spokesman defending illegals as generally hardworking good people, completely missing the point about Home Office failure.

I asked Francis Maude about the very possibility of working closer with the Lib Dems - and the if he envisaged a coalition with them, when I interviewed him. I will post the first part of the interview on Monday.

What would be really newsworthy would be some sort of co-operation in the election itself.....i.e. an electoral pact. Anything else is total speculation as the next election is wide open.

I'd rather having us in alliance with New Labour than the Lib Dems. The latter are merely a more radical verion of the former.

The difficulty is that some voters who are considering voting for us might decide to vote Labour if they see us thinking about a coalition with the Liberals, because they might think that if the Liberal Democrats are going to be dictating policies in a Tory-Liberal coalition, they might as well have Labour in office anyway.

I'll re-iterate again that working more closely with MPs from the Liberal Democrats would, in many ways, force us to think about our approach to issues such as public service improvement in a more thorough way.

I'd be very interested to hear what Francis Maude has to say on this issue Jonathan.

I'm slightly uneasy about involving ourselves in electoral pacts which deny voters of the opportunity to vote for any of the main parties or none. It has a very undemocratic sense about it.

The Liberal Democrats are obviously very wary about any deals with other partys with regard to forming a government, if there's a hung parliament next time the most likely thing is that the Liberal Democrats would prefer to see the other parties try to form a minority government and then bring it down at the time of their choosing, I imagine that any coalition is only going to be accepted by the Liberal Democrats if they are offered equal representation in cabinet and in policy formulation and probably a referendum on STV as well, probably more than would be palatable to the other 2 parties and so far the only people talking about a coalition involving the Liberal Democrats are a small number around David Cameron and they forget that just because they say that this is what will hapopen does not mean that it will, I think they think that after an election that if they offer the Liberal Democrats 1 or 2 cabinet positions and make a few minor policy concessions that the Liberal Democrats would rush to join up in a coalition and though I don't think a Hung Parliament will be the outcome and that rather the Liberal Democrats are going to have a major setback, if it does happen I think the Liberal Democrat response might well be to tell the other parties to get stuffed.

What would be really newsworthy would be some sort of co-operation in the election itself.....i.e. an electoral pact.

Really, Comstock? Why don't we just use the 'Redwood' technique? Publicise LD policies to LD voters. They have no idea what their own policies are. When they find out, they are invariably shocked and stop voting LD. (e.g. crime, sex education etc)

Electoral pacts require the cooperation of the membership of two parties. Can you imagine Conservative voters agreeing to vote LD in weak Conservative seats, and vice versa?

This is just a Conservative brand building exercise, calculated to erode LD support, and make the Conservatives sound like we are in the centre of politics. It might actually work as a PR strategy in this way.

A coalition will only be needed in the event of a hung Parliament. The rise of minor parties makes this more likely to happen. At the last GE 2005, it is thought that UKIP's 2% share of the vote was enough to change the result of 26 seats. Imagine what would happen if a minor party came along which won say 6-7%? All electoral calculations could go haywire.

If that party was racist, then you might be right and an electoral pact to stop them might become possible.

Most Tory voters want Tory policies, not talk of a pact with any other parties. Talk of a pact sounds weak and plays into the hands of the Lib Dems. If an election were to produce a hung parliament we could deal with that then. Until then we should only talk of outright victory.

Please, please, PLEASE ditch the word 'Libservative'.

It sounds ugly. It puts the Liberals first. It suggest that we would be united as one, instead of merely co-operating with them where we had to.

Moreover, if we do have go into coalition, I hope we would seek out the Orange Bookers and get them to split their ridiculous party, rather than getting into bed with the high tax, pro EU, anti war simpletons who are the majority in the Liberal (sic) Democrats (sic).

Liberal (sic) Democrats (sic)
Please define Conservative (sic) for me.

>>>>At the last GE 2005, it is thought that UKIP's 2% share of the vote was enough to change the result of 26 seats. Imagine what would happen if a minor party came along which won say 6-7%?<<<<
UKIP are the only one of the other parties I could see reaching such levels at the next General Election, I think they will increase their vote at the next General Election again (In fact they got 2.5% of the vote in the 2005 General Election which is the same percentage as the Liberal Party got in 1951 and nearly as high as the Liberal Party got in 1955, it just hasn't translated into any seats yet for them) but probably only 4% or so.

The Labour and the Conservative votes are both going to increase at the next General Election, the Liberal Democrats will go way down and some of the other parties will increase their votes a bit, sitting Liberal Democrat MP's though may well be difficult to shift especially where Labour and Conservative voters are convinced that their candidate can't win.

This is an interesting thread because it's clear some people have a far better handle on the Lib Dems - and the whole issue - than others. There's a lot of reliance by some on tired and out-of-touch arguments.

I'd be interested in you expanding on that Valerie..

>>>>rather than getting into bed with the high tax, pro EU, anti war simpletons who are the majority in the Liberal (sic) Democrats (sic).<<<<
Aside from Paddy Ashdown I haven't heard a single Liberal Democrat express support for the War in Iraq, in fact most whichever part of the party they are from seem to favour pulling troops out now, Meinzes Campbell took a more realistic position in that it would be irresponsible to pull troops out until the Iraqi Security Forces were at adequate strength to establish order across the country and this is the position of the Governor of Basrah as well - if it had been left up to any of the Liberal Democrats, and even Paddy Ashdown only supported on the grounds of the rather spurious notion of "Special Relationship" whereas as with other international actions it is a coalition of the willing that gets things done, anyway if left to any of the Liberal Democrats then nothing that would have removed the regime would have been done and Saddam Hussein would still be in power now with his sons and other relatives getting ready for who would succeed him and once international attention had shifted from Iraq resuming development of atomic weapons that could be used in the new missiles that Iraq had been working on.

As an alternative to "Libservative" how about "neo-Peelite"?

I find the thought of going into partnership with UKIP as seems to be suggested as highly amusing to say the least. It would be like invitinmg the lunatics to help run the asylum!

What about "Liberal Unionist"? Oh!

The Dimlebs problem is that they are a party of "idealists" which doesnt always come off. Half of them are old fashioned Liberals, circa 1920s, and half of them are quazi labour social democrats, a hang over from the "gang of four". An unhealthy, indigestible stew IMHO.
Now then, which half do you want to have a coalition with? remember, the two halves face both ways, and they have no particular urge to merge.

Actually Annabel - I agree with your analysis of what LibDems are - but I have a theory that the half that swing our way (fnarr - sorry) are probably psychologically desperate to unpick themselves from the car crash that is the LibDem party 2006. I imagine most of them signed up when they thought - wrongly, in my opinion - that we were this ghastly, unelectable rightwing sect. (I don't believe that, I'm trying to emphathise with them is all). I don't believe that concept is sustainable in the light of mainly David Cameron, but also the disintegration of the LibDem brand. They can keep The Screeching Kramer and The Straight Choice For Bermondsey Hughes - but they do have some people that would be at home with us. We should keep up the psychological pressure on them.

Graeme! are you saying the dimlebs are swingers to boot, as well as facing both ways?? Be an interesting coalition if nothing else.

UKIP's heyday is past, Jack Stone. Look at their performance in the Council elections -no net gains. UKIP would only form a pact if Conservatives vacated seats in UKIP's favour - not very likely!

This was discussed (off the record) when IDS was leader - not by IDS himself but by activists liaising between the Parties. Adding UKIP's then level of support boosted by Kilroy to Conservatives then at 40% would have been enough to win a GE. But Kilroy was sent packing as was IDS, both by their own parties, and all the talk ended.

The next upcoming electoral threat might be from another party on the right.

"This was discussed (off the record) when IDS was leader - not by IDS himself but by activists liaising between the Parties. Adding UKIP's then level of support boosted by Kilroy to Conservatives then at 40% would have been enough to win a GE."

That could have made things interesting. Of course not all the UKIP votes would have flowed to the Tories but several seats might have changed hands on the basis of such an arangement.

I wonder what UKIP would have got in return?

>>>>UKIP's heyday is past, Jack Stone. Look at their performance in the Council elections -no net gains.<<<<
UKIP haven't established themselves in the minds of people as a party of Local Government, but they may well do better in coming EU elections and in the next General Election than previously and they may yet succeed in establishing themselves as a party in Local Government. UKIP's problem has been that their support has so far been spread thinly so while they do well under List Systems they do much less well under Single seat constituency systems.

If Robert Kilroy Silk was really as great a factor as people claimed then Veritas would have got more than 0.3% of the vote compared to 2.5% of the vote for UKIP in the last General Election.

>>>>UKIP would only form a pact if Conservatives vacated seats in UKIP's favour - not very likely!<<<<
UKIP would only form a pact if the Conservative Party as a party decided to change it's policy on the EU to standing for a policy of withdrawal from the EU, they might support a Conservative Government in coalition but as with the Liberal Democrats they have some big differences on policy issues with the Conservative Party which make an Electoral Pact implausible.

>>>>I wonder what UKIP would have got in return? <<<<
UKIP want to make the breakthrough at national level and win parliamentary seats, ultimately they either want to work with MP's in other parties to push through withdrawal from the EU or to form a government themselves and do this.

If UKIP really wished to pursue withdrawal they would have supported IDS when he was under attack from the modernisers in 2002. Here was an openly eurosceptic Conservative Party leader at 40% in the polls, and a fair chance of winning power and they didn't lift a finger.

During informal negotiations, they requested an electoral pact based on Conservatives withdrawing from three Westminster seats, in return for UKIP not competing against known Conservative eurosceptic MP's. This was clearly impossible so nothing further was said. They made no policy requests,as you might have expected.

UKIP consistently stand against known Conservative eurosceptic MP's, which is barmy, as the Conservative Party is the only way the EU withdrawal programme can ever be achieved. UKIP's strategic commitment to their own cause has to be questioned.

UKIP say they would prefer to be sold out to Europe by Labour who claim to be selling us, than the Conservatives who pretend to be eurosceptic, but who in fact always sign away sovereignty when it comes down to it. Not a very sensible approach if they were genuinely interested in leaving the EU. They should be trying to get as many eurosceptic MP's into Westminster from any source.

Since UKIP's Kilroy push, which was their greatest moment and which they squandered, the party has split, and their support has wasted away. If Cameron looks more eurosceptic as the GE approaches they will not revive.

If there is a party that threatens from the Right wing, it is more likely to be another one now. The more Cameron starts to fight against State Funding, the HRA and other European programmes, he will undercut any tendency to drift off to smaller parties.

He started by calling UKIP 'closet racists, fruitcakes and loonies' etc and calling another party 'hatred-based', but since then he has started to promise to reform or repeal the HRA - so the risk of the right wing of the Conservatives fracturing has lessened in the last fortnight.

The IDS surge came before the Kilroy surge. My memory confused the two. But otherwise I believe the facts related are broadly correct. I cannot reveal sources of information, however.

>>>>If UKIP really wished to pursue withdrawal they would have supported IDS when he was under attack from the modernisers in 2002. Here was an openly eurosceptic Conservative Party leader at 40% in the polls, and a fair chance of winning power and they didn't lift a finger.<<<<
IDS while he was leader maintained a policy of "being in Europe but not run by Europe", if UKIP supported such a policy then they would be in the Conservative Party, the UKIP position has always been that Conservative EU policy is a failure and that the only option is withdrawal from the EU, for them to back a government taking any other position would be rank hypocrisy, the Conservative Party could adopt a policy of withdrawal from the EU but does not - if it did I'm sure UKIP would breakup within a matter of days, naturally failing the Conservative Party taking such a line and given that there are some Conservative MP's who are known to be pro-withdrawal naturally they would seek an agreement to help Conservative candidates known to be favourable to withdrawal from the EU while also being granted a free run at some other seats.

>>>>Since UKIP's Kilroy push, which was their greatest moment and which they squandered, the party has split, and their support has wasted away.<<<<
An element left to join Veritas who have since virtually ceased to be a party, UKIP actually gained more votes in 2005 as compared with 2001 than the Conservative Party did, expecting them to get 2.7 million votes at the last General Election would have been somewhat unrealistic because the EU elections had used a List System and UKIP don't have many seats in which they are established challengers

>>>>If there is a party that threatens from the Right wing, it is more likely to be another one now.<<<<
I take it you are referring to your favourite one that only got a third the number of votes that UKIP got in the last General Election, has no MEP's, no MP's and only 54 councillors out of thousands - no County Councillors.

In fact the DUP and Ulster Unionist Party are closer to power given that they are starting with a Regional Base and far more support.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, JAA. IDS was 'in the hand'. UKIP winning power is 'in the bush'.

Cameron has shown some good eurosceptic moves of late - HRA comments, and EPP promise sounding more substantial.

On the other side of the account was his lack of determined opposition to the 'end of Parliament Bill', his idea of reducing numbers of MP's by 10% and his seeming willingness to move to State Funding.

If Cameron shows more eurosceptic leg, UKIP is definitely no threat. My 'favourite' Party as you call it, are making progress because there was no sign of Labour, Lib Dem or Conservative offering to take responsibility for the concerns of millions of voters. That might now be changing.

I hope that the threat from 'MFP' is dealt with. I am concerned that the Conservative Party moves early so that it doesn't lose support by underestimating the threat. Get it?

>>>>IDS was 'in the hand'<<<<
What support exactly could UKIP give?, he was removed by Conservative MP's who ignored among others Conservative Members, he was betrayed by his own parliamentary party.

Anyway this isn't about posturing, people who vote for UKIP do so because they want the UK out of the EU, not because they want a few powers back and a slight tweaking of the existing situation.

David Cameron may well go for repealing the Humam Rights Act, but is he going to go for effective action against Terrorists and other criminals by bringing back internment and reintroducing forms of Capital and Corporal Punishment in prisons - in fact in recent years the Conservative Party has been becoming more Liberal not less.

IDS was only elected by one vote against Portillo in the Parliamentary rounds. In many ways, he was a miracle. Everyone expected Portillo and Clarke to win the Parliamentary rounds and work as a team - helping Blair to cooperate with Brussels.

The UKIP campaign in the 2001 GE shocked Conservative MP's. Hague's canvas returns were showing that UKIP's message was getting out, and that maybe 20% of Tories were thinking of voting UKIP. His rhetoric pre-poll focused on this threat.

In the event UKIP's poll was puny, but Owen Paterson MP, IDS' campaign manager for the leadership contest was able to use this recent scare to focus minds and point out that if the Party did not become eurosceptic, the progress of UKIP's and the like was likely to grow. It was a pivotal event in Conservative and British history when IDS beat Portillo and made it to the leadership.

If he hadn't made it, with Blair at his most powerful and dangerous, pre-Iraq, with Clarke and Portillo dominant in the Conservatives, it is likely that Blair would have been able to use Conservative support to advance his Euro cause.

But with Brown blocking him to the left, and IDS to the right, Blair had no room for manoevre. I believe that that single vote that won IDS the leadership saved Britain from the Euro, and it prevented that moment of greatest danger to our economy.

UKIP were talking to Conservatives informally at that time, but they were only interested in getting seats and winning power. They never once expressed an interest in negotiating on policy. IDS' Prague speech was as far as any Conservative leader could have gone in 2002 - and more, but UKIP sat on their hands.

If they had come in and supported and given momentum to IDS, he might have survived the media assassination which ended his leadership in October. We would have been out of the EPP three years ago, and allying with the Poles, Czechs and then Portuguese (who have since been lost to EUisation), we could possibly have stopped the Constitution and done something to hold back the tide of uncontrolled immigration.

We would probably have won the last GE to boot as the combined votes of UKIP and Conservatives would have cracked the vital 44%.

In addition, IDS was willing to broach any topic and fight what needed to be fought. He would have tackled the postal voting fraud scandal which I believe enabled Blair to steal a third term http://rightlinks.co.uk/linked/modules/wiwimod/index.php?page=Postal+Voting.
He would possibly have withdrawn Britain from the CAP and the CFP by now. That's UKIP's stupidity for you. The chance was there, but it was completely ignored.

In addition to that, UKIP did then have their moment of glory with Kilroy, but they blew that too.

The other lot are making headway in the polls now. Their leadership is far more focused on its political onjectives than UKIP were, and Cameron needs to beef up his act on the HRA, immigration control and the EU, if he is to stop them from threatening his undoubted progress.

As for UKIP it had its chances, and blew them all.

In the event UKIP's poll was puny
It increased in percentage terms, neither the Conservative Party or UKIP really capitalised on the winding up of the Referendum Party, in fact the total numbers of Conservative votes in 2005 was still considerably lower than in 1997, they only moved forward because turnout overall fell substantially as well.

UKIP had been starting from a very low base, the Conservative Party is now the longest established remaining UK party - they have all the advantage of the position they were starting off from, so in fact in a situation in which the governing party had for several years had a collapse in support it would normally be expected that the main beneficiary would be the main opposition parties, but this has not been the case.

In addition, IDS was willing to broach any topic and fight what needed to be fought.
Rhetoric, he was undoubtedly the best leader that the Conservative Party has had since Anthony Eden, he could have stood for full withdrawal but did not do so.

Supporting compromises with regard to the EU will only result in continued membership of the EU and UKIP was setup with an aim to withdraw the UK from the EU, of course UKIP want power, with regard to policy what other policy could there be other than that of full withdrawal from the EU and the Conservative Party have given no sign of granting this and surely this is a pre-requisite and in fact UKIP could decide in a Hung Parliament situation to use it's position to attempt to block the formation of any government after an election until at the very least a Referendum on Membership of the EU was to be put in place.

>>>>they only moved forward because turnout overall fell substantially as well.<<<<
In 2001 that is, in 2005 turnout was slightly up and the Conservative vote was a bit up in actual numbers.

The point is that all this people deciding that a coalition or Electoral Pact with another party is going to happen are failing to take into account that it is other parties they are talking of - UKIP stand on a position that both parties positions regarding the EU which on and off have gone back decades are a copout and both parties have a history on the EU of talking about holding back from further integration and then jumping headlong in.

In parliament at the moment the natural allies of the Conservative Party are not the Liberal Democrats - the so called "Orange Bookers" are in favour of further EU integration and are hostile to the War on Terror, the true allies would be most likely to be the DUP and any Ulster Unionist MP's elected; naturally any UKIP MP's elected would not take part in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats who on the EU are pushing for the direct opposite.

Just a note to a comment made above.

Con-Dem has been in use for a few weeks already...



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