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A Lib Dem-Tory pact iosnt going to happen, simple as that. Theres simply no point to it. That said, the New Tories do share a Lib Dem love for "Mugging the Motorist" so theres hope.

I get a bit pissed off with this talk of his ‘amazing life story’. He was from a nice part of Glasgow (Hillhead IIRC) and plenty middle class Glaswegians, then as now, lived in tenements. We’re hardly talking about being brought up in a slum here.

On top of that the school he attended – Hillhead High – was in those days owned by the Glasgow Corporation and charged modest fees to attend. Again it doesn’t sound like he had it too tough.

And to top it all off he talks about his love of cricket and rugby but doesn’t even mention football. Doesn’t sound like your average working class Glaswegian to me.

I hope he does try to portray himself as a working class boy made good because he’ll open himself up to ridicule.

Ming is from my part of Glasgow. Working class tenements, err no. Tenements converted into houses yes!

Max, I agree, I hope he does try to portry himself as a working class boy made good as it just won't wash.

Sir Menzies Campbell CBE QC MP what could be more down to earth than that.

Seriously though the lib dems know they have a huge problem selling their uninspiring and painfully pedestrian leader to the public. I think Nick Robinson summed up their problem quite nicely when he said that in Charles Kennedy they had a popular leader who wasn't terribly serious, in Ming they have a very serious leader who isn't popular and they are now trying to work out if they are better off or not.

I can't see that going on about Ming's sporting career 40 years ago is going to do much to help him connect with todays voters. Isn't his big problem that everything he says and does is identified with the past.

I'd agree that this talk about being a working class hero is a little pathetic. I suppose it's to try and counter Camerons background, and the Labour MP who called him a toff. Looks a pretty clumsy effort though.

Going after the orange bookers with the promise of power and splitting the Lib Dems seems the realistic way a coalition can be formed. I wouldn't be betting on it though.

Spot on, Tim. Those of us who have campaigned against the Lib Dems locally know just what they're like. We should aim to have nothing to do with them in government and do our utmost to make sure that the need won't arise. Of course, if any 'Orange Bookers' decide to defect ...

Surely the Tories should be seeking to work with UKIP?

Why would a pact with the left-wing LibDems be deemed more acceptable to conservatives than working with another party in the centre-right?

1 or 2 UKIP MP's seems a fair deal to avoid damaging vote splitting 30+ seats etc and it would mean that we could have a government working with a conservative agenda.

As you note, in a hung parliament situation, the influence of small parties increases disproportionately.

Even if a LibCon alliance was made, it would be fragile and prevent the government ruling in a conservative way.
Mr Cameron would achoieve more by rebuilding bridges with other conservatives rather than seeking to woo the left-wing.

Oh come on, I'm no Lib Dem by any stretch of the imagination, but he does have an interesting life story. Olympic athlete, the law, fights north east fife 4 times before winning it and now converting what should be strong tory territory into a Lib Dem stronghold.

Bash him for his politics, but to suggest that he doesn't have an interesting life story is ludicrous.

As for the coalition. There was a strong rumour that Ming was approached in the late days of the Major Government to cross the floor. A coalition is not unimaginable. I'm sure Hague and Clarke have both raised the possibility in this parliament.

It would however be the end for many people in our Party is suspect, myself probably included.

when hell freezes over chad, anyway the idea UKIP will have any MP's to co-operate with is fanciful.

In Michael White's interview with Ming he asked him "why didn't you join labour when your old friend John Smith asked you to?" his answer "because I'm a liberal"

Thank heavens they don't want us. Dave has been trying to make us move as far left as the LDs, but luckily they have moved even further.

At least they realise they stand for utterly different values from us (even if Dave has not taken that fact on board in his leftward lunge for power). The LDs are far to the left of Blair: so it is New Labour which the Cameron Party is more suited to join with....

I don't think a coalition is on under any circumstances. The Lib Dems were totally misled by Blair between 1996-2002 over PR who led them a merry dance as to whether he would promise it or not.They won't fall for that sort of game again.Cameron could not if he wants to have a party to lead offer PR to them I think.The Lib Dems would settle for nothing less.

Chad, that's crazy even by your standards. Firstly UKIP will not get any MP's but secondly if we were to form a coalition with them, we might as well just adopt Better Off Out as our own policy.

Jonathan I agree he has an interesting past, but I expect he's going to try and ruin it by exaggerating some of the facts which will take over the story. Watching Jackie Milburn springs to mind.

John Major has an interesting life story. Didn't save him though.

I simply cannot understand how someone with conservative values could even consider an alliance with the LibDems.

UKIP's potency may currently be as a vote-splitter, but that in itself is a very powerful tool in a hung parliament situation.

I'm am simply amazed that "conservatives" consider a plan to build a pact with the LibDems sane, but a plan to work with other centre-right conservatives as "crazy".

If that is the change that Cameron has introduced, then as a conservative, I clearly made the right decision to leave.

Andrew - " we might as well just adopt Better Off Out as our own policy."

What a good idea - Why didn't I think of that? :-) - might win outright then!

It would also heal the Major-induced schism in the party.

Anyone have any polling numbers on how the voters would regard a BOO campaign?

I fail to see any common ground between us and the Lib Dems.

The latest demonstration of Lib-Dem taxation proposals makes them throughly unelectable. They have chosen to listen to a core of advisors and gone for a fancy redistributive policy jazzed up with the green eco-flag. The people who will be hit by these policies are Middle British and even the most apathetic voter is going to realise that paying upwards of £850 pa in car tax is a non starter.
It really is time that governments or putative governments learnt to listen to the people, rather than policy advisors who are totally divirced from reality and don't really have to struggle to live.
The Lib-Dems will get their traditional core of voters from the eco looney lefties and those that are on a vegetarian diet and abhor leather.
It is time for Dave and the party to move on and capitise on the ridiculous Lib-Dem tax policies and the disarray in NuLab with a further arrest today in the loans for peerages scandal.
There is fantastic leeway to capture the left of centre and centrist voters with an attractive plan involving exeat from EU and a through tax regime overhaul.

I do think there is a bit of delusion here. Talk of a coalition is the effect of us losing votes to them in local, national and European elections. It's not necessarily the answer.

What is needed is for everyone who is now foaming at the mouth at the prospect of a coalition, to realise why we lost votes and why doing the same old thing in every campaign, without any realisation or understanding of why we keep losing in certain wards and constituencies is no longer good enough.

There are plenty of ways to beat the Lib Dems it just takes more work on the ground and a bit of 'strategic' thinking...

I never thought I'd say this, but Shirley Williams has actually come out with something quite sensible:


(Looks as though she needs to ease back a bit on the sherry though.)

Andrew @ 09.57:
" we might as well just adopt Better Off Out as our own policy."
That is a proposal that becomes more attractive by the minute and, if the UK looks like losing the veto on criminal justice policies (as suggested on a previous thread), it would be the last straw as far as I am concerned.
I firmly supported the two founding principles of the original EEC (i) an association of European nations to prevent Germany from ever starting WW3 and (ii) a common market.
However, the EU is run by politicians, mainly socialist at that, and bureaucrats, so we have inefficiency, waste, gravy trains, corruption and an ever increasing intrusion of the superstate into our own lives.
It has gone so far that I don't think the tories could possibly reform it from within, even if they show the will to do so.
The case for withdrawal from the EU and entering EFTA is well made by Dan Hannan at www.brugesgroup.com/mediacentre/index.live?article=10488 and is well worth considering.

Perhaps we should ask the Editor to conduct a simple CH referendum on the matter. No debate - that gets too heated and personal but simply answer "Yes", "No" or "Don't Know" to the question:
"Should the Conservatives call a referendum early in their first term of office, proposing withdrawal from the EU and entry into EFTA"?
If the tories adopted that line, I believe that all debate about possible hung parliaments, possible alliances with Lib Dems, UKIP or whoever would be even more academic than they are at the moment, as we would be very likely to win a resounding victory in the GE.

Nice idea David.What about it Tim?

Nobody campaigns for a hung parliament (well except may be for Claire Short). My aspiration is to see a Conservative government elected and that's what we should be working towards, in the event of a hung parliament obviously various political parties enter in to discussions about forming a government. That isn't a sensible debate to have years before an election takes place.

I agree with David and Malcolm. Let's have a calm, simple, vote.

I agree David. Whether it's politically achievable at the moment I don't know. If groups like BOO can keep working to change the publics mind so we could win the referendum, then the more chance it becomes an achievable aim.

We're getting off topic btw. Here comes Ming.

"it's politically achievable at the moment I don't know."

It's very unlikely that Cameron would adopt it even if it received overwhelming support (see 81% here against the extension to state funding of political parties).

However, if support for BOO is large enough, it might finally make Cameron to learn that UKIP is a better ally than enemy.

Tim, I agree with you - the best way to fight both the Lib Dems and Labour is to plug the line that only a Conservative vote - not tactical voting, not voting for for others in a moment of peevishness, can result in a change of government.

Westminster is a simple dichotomy: A or B. All the abstainers, NHS consultant candidates, cranky single-issue parties, and Celtic nationalists, can't escape the iron law of electoral gravity - the Prime Minister will either be Tory or Labour. Regardless of where you live, or how you vote, or whether you vote, you will be by default to a greater or lesser extent be contributing to Cameron or his Labour opponent's success.

Their pathetic decapitation strategy aside, the real election night surprise for me was the failure of the LibDems to do better in Conservative-held areas. I think, practically, the blocks to them disapperaing entirely are (i) they have some very big majorities now with established incumbents in pre-97 Conservative seats and (ii) there are many urban (and some suburban) areas plus Scotland and Wales where voters are far more likely to vote LibDem than Conservative since the Party has been virtually wiped out.

My gut still tells me that a hung parliament with Labour as the largest party is the most likely GE scenario on current trends, but sadly I don't think the LibDems can be discounted just yet.

David @ 11:26,

I for a while have been part of the EFTA crowd of right wingers. However, in this months Spectator (http://www.spectator.co.uk/archive/features/25131/what-you-can-pick-up-in-iceland.thtml) David Rennie examins that we mightnot actually be welcome in EFTA, and even if we were the EU might withdraw EFTA's membership of the EEA out of spite. I still believe we should look at EFTA, but it does put a bit of a damper on the whole thing. I would scan the whole article in, but I believe my father has stolen my copy :(

I have lived through umpteen General Elections and I can't remember one where a "hung parliament" was not put forward as a likely outcome . The plain fact is that our electoral system doesn't lend itself to such predictions - or `accurately anyway. There's always a built-in bias and at the moment the odds are heavily stacked against the Conservatives in favour of Labour.

In fact they always have been but earlier the LibDems split the anti-Tory vote. That's why Maggie T: kept winning.

So the outcome is that Tories need a 10% lead before counting chickens. At the present 4% lead there would be a Labour government. Since Cameron has taken on board most of their policies and ALL of their attitudes, what's it matter?

I have lived through umpteen General Elections and I can't remember one where a "hung parliament" was not put forward as a likely outcome

Yes.....1945, 1979, 1997 were especially close - I wonder how anyone managed to get a majority at all !!!!!!

Chris at 13:03; many thanks for the reference.
I am sure there would be problems but, as I believe we are a net importer of goods from the EU, I doubt that they would want to lose our trade and anyway there are other markets out there.
Obviously, if it became a live issue - at least the proposal is a positive stance - it would have to be researched in full detail.
It would be good to have an authority, totally independent of all political parties to prepare a briefing note for the electorate, listing all the pros and cons of such a change and then leave it to the people to weigh up what would be best for us and not just for the governing party or, even worse, for the PM of the day.

An independent commission of sorts would be good, but of course it wold inevitably turn out to be completely partisan in all but name :( I agree with you though that EFTA membership should be looked into, because despite the problems outlined in the Spectator article (Found my copy, and uploaded here) I'm sure we could gain membership in some way.

Gordon Brown is said to be willing to concede PR (Mirror last friday according to Comstock). If he is, that would explain how he has achieved such broad media support including Murdoch coming to his rescue after the abortive coup attempt. The EU would be delighted with PR in Britain as the chance of a vote for withdrawal in Parliament would recede.

The other part of being willing to adopt PR will be that Labour will more easily sign up the LD's, and the Conservatives will have to outperform them both.

Interesting that the threat of knocks on the door from the boys in blue is the latest tactic to move Blair on. First threatening Cherie with child abuse. and now Tony with illegal fund-raising.

Who rules Britain thes days? John Prescott in alliance with Murdoch and Gordon Brown? Yet Gordon's popularity rating is diving every week - down from minus 22% to minus 33%. Prescott is loathed, and Murdoch despised. They call us a democracy!

Against such a corrupt cabal, Cameron will shine. We will win without the LD's, no worries. I'm still worried about electoral fraud though. There is little to stop labour from fixing the next election as they did the last one.

Thanks Chris for the Spectator article; I will have to look at it later as I have to go to the airport now. In my book "problems are solutions in disguise"; we should ask Dan Hannan what he thinks our chances would be. From what little I have seen of the srticle, it looks like a bit of moral blackmail to me to stop a rush of big countries following us out of the EU if we did leave.

TomTom - 1945 "close". It was wipe-out for the Tories, which brought me into the party.

But I didn't say no elections were close. I only said there is ALWAYS speculation in advance!!

Tapestry - PR would stifle the Con / Lab dominance. Not only would the LibDems prosper (but not necessarily as they would lose their "protest vote" cachet) but I would guess that UKIP would prosper mightily. Some would go for a "one-off" vote to get us out of the EU before reverting to other issues.

All-in-all Labour weould be unwise to risk that unless there's a Scotland angle I haven't thought of ???

Christina - I am not convinced that UKIP would pull Britain out of the EU. The Party is run by a cabal of self interested individuals, who would more likely take the EU's Euro to play along than catually withdraw. I would trust Cameron to implement BtL which would inevitably bring withdrawal far more than UKIP.

I'm a supporter of PR (And in full knowledge that I'm in the minority here) simply because I believe its more democratic. If my party is unable to get a mandate through a perfectly fair system, it doesn't deserve one. Labour having an overall majority at 37% of the vote is simply awful.

Its nigh on impossible for us to even think of winning an overall majority in a PR system without coalition partners, but at least we'd finally be working in a system where punch and judy politics isn't viable because nothing would get done.

I wouold have thought that the only chances of a coalition involving the Liberal Democrats or a Liberal Democrat supported minority government would be if either one of the other 2 main parties does so badly that they see the only prospect in the future of regaining power as being a change in the electoral system or the Liberal Democrats do so well that they start to think that maybe they would be better sticking with the current system and so being able to govern alone in the future - neither of these scenarios looks remotely likely.

Labour having an overall majority at 37% of the vote is simply awful.
35.2% including Ulster, 36.2% if only mainland Britain is counted - between them Labour and the SDLP got 35.7% including Ulster although of course the SDLP does not count towards Labour's tally of seats.

If we had PR all the major parties would fracture into smaller ones. It would be impossible for voters to know how to vote if for example they wished to kick out the government.

All that happens is a reshuffle and the same people come back to power in a different mix in PR countries. It is nearly impossible to dismiss a bad government. Corruption inevitably digs in.

Small parties (counter-intuitively) have far more impact in FPTP countries. If a small party finds a vote-pulling formula, the big ones have to copy it quickly. They have to keep their big tents full, or lose elections.

As a result in Britain the Referendum party was able to lever all the other parties into promising a Referendum on the Euro. Germany and France had similar anti-Euro parties, but they were completely ignored by their ruling coalitions.

UKIP's offer of a referendum on the Constitution was matched by Michael Howard in similar vein, forcing Blair to follow suit. If we were a PR country, Blair could have ignored the challenge and pushed ratification through parliament.

The theory of the 'fairness' of PR systems is not matched in practice.

Thank goodness we don't have to marry the LD's. not a match made in heaven. I wonder who there next leader will be. this Ming blokes as boring as Emmerdale. Whatever happened to all those thrilling gay sex / drinking / male prostitutes / etc leadership gaffes that made the Lib dems exciting and electable. They've just gone all stodgy again.

Germany and France had similar anti-Euro parties
France doesn't have PR, rather they have elections and where the candidate (whether the Presidential or Assembly or even Local candidates) wins more than 50% then they win outright, if none of the candidates win more than 50% then there is another election with candidates being eliminated until someone gets 50% or more of the vote - this is why French elections take so long.

I just hope Steve Richards is right, but sometimes the lust for power.............

Paul @ 1945.

".... lust for power...."

The three words that will determine the nature of government in a hung parliament.

If the 2005 author of the Conservative manifesto can jettison same for the prospect of power, one may only speculate on the terms of a coalition that sets a man into No 10 !!

Ming would rather die than team up with the old enemy. It will take a new generation in the LD's before they would partner us.

The fact that only 8,000 people voted in there ledership election suggests to me that UKIP are not just a minor party they are a minor minor party!
To suggest that the Conservative Party should or would benefit going into coalition with such a minor group of obsessives like them is rubbish.We will only win by attracting votes from the centre not the lunatic right.
All UKIP ever succeeded in doing is making it more likely that all that they say they oppose is more likely to happen.
As for better of out. I know of no seriious politican or economist who believes this country would be better off out of the Euopean Union.
Such a policy wouldn`t benefit the party it would send it into opposition for decades.

The introduction of PR would be a huge boost for democracy. The large unwieldy parties of today would indeed split and genuine political idealists like myself would find a slimmed-down Conservative Party formed very much in our image.

Meanwhile liberal-leftists like Cameron and Jack Stone would vanish without trace in one of the centre-left parties, possibly finding themselves obliged to doff their hats to Sir Menzies Campbell aged 99 years.

Therefore an election result in which the pro-PR Lib-Dems call the shots would be an outcome to be desired.

I can see it happening.

As for better of out. I know of no seriious politican or economist who believes this country would be better off out of the Euopean Union.
Professor Patrick Minford.

Once upon a time: no serious philosopher or politician believed that the earth was not the centre of the universe; anyone who looked at the facts unbiased by "accepted wisdom", and concluded that the earth went round the sun was ridiculed - or worse...

We don't need a governmental pact, just a tactical voting pact. It is in both the Conservative and Lib Dem best interests to co-operate this time - and to the Lib Dem's to remain in opposition. I have just written an article about this myself (http://www.p-chef.blogspot.com/) - I'd be interested to see what people think.

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