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Personally, I don't see why this should be of any interest to us. We shouldn't even consider the possibility of not winning the next election outright. That should be our goal - not seeing what the LDs might offer if we don't. I have always thought that some LDs relish their position as potential king-makers, and the idea that the 3rd largest party effectively gets to pick and choose what they want in terms of policy is just wrong, for me.

1) A good way for Clegg to generate a story out of an interview and get on the news agenda in the short term. Can't fault him for that, I'd do the same.

2) David above is quite right that we need to keep focussed on winning our target seats at the next GE and forming a majority administration.


3) This does seem to be a shift on the part of the LibDems, as the Editor notes, and regardless of anything else you can't deny that things might be getting interesting now!

More motherhood and apple pie from Clegg. David Cameron should welcome the offer and set some conditions of his own; such as support for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, focussing government policy to support marriage and a reduction in the rate of increase in government spending.

If Clegg is talking in these terms, perhaps there is room for some tactical voting between Conservatives and Lib-Dems up north? Best way to break Labour's stranglehold up there and there would be a democratic case for it.

Although the interview mentions electoral reform there is no direct quote from Clegg about the issue. Interesting. Unfortunately, the absence of this stumbling-block is replaced by another one, namely "warmer relations with Europe". This can only mean support for the Lisbon Constitution. No thank you, Mr Clegg.

" David | February 07, 2008 at 23:15 "

Spot on David. Excellent post.

Looking at the first of tonight's byelection results it may be more sensible to ask what Cameron's conditions are for working with a minority Clegg LibDem government .

Yes, we should be aiming to win a GE outright, not getting side-tracked on speculation about working with the LibDems.

What have we in common with them anyway? How could we work with a party which:

- vigorously oppose David Cameron’s policy on supporting marriage (indeed one of the few clear policy statements from Clegg expressed his opposition to this) and which is a central plank of Mr Cameron's modernising agenda to tackle social injustice and poverty;

- who are advocates of the destructive no sense of right and wrong social liberalism since the 1960s.

- many of who are to the left of Labour (even of Gordon Brown?) wanting high tax and spend;

- and how many Conservatives would agree with the Lib Dems’ EU-enthusiasm?

Ha ha ha Mark. You do provide us with a chuckle.

The arrogance of the Liberal Democrats always makes me laugh. The way they go around the media studios setting out their demands. The sad reality that coalition government is all they are ever going to get and presently they can't even manage that in Scotland or Wales. If I were David cameron or Gordon Brown I would tell Nick Clegg to get lost.

Hey, given the way things are currently going, we'll easily be into majority territory by the time Brown implodes completely in 2010.

And we'll be able to cackle in their SMUG CURMUDGEONLY FACES.

As Richard Carey mentions above this is the first time Clegg has managed to get any publicity for his ideas since he was elected. I've never known a new leader of any of the three major parties to have so little to say about anything.
I hope we respond if we respond at all with skill. In my opinion that would involve a welcome to work together on this subjects where we agree such as ID cards or localism but an unremmiting hostility for their duplicity on the EU constitution or irresponsible tax increases.

Richard @ 09.54 -

"If I were David cameron or Gordon Brown I would tell Nick Clegg to get lost".

That sounds great but does not deal with the fact that we will in all probability have to form a pact with the Liberals. Forming a minority government at Westminster is not feasible and surely working with them on issues such as civil liberies, choice in education and health would not be such a bad thing.

Our leadership should not be drawn into such a discussion for the reason that David heads up the comments with, but there is no reason why we on here cannot discuss it in hypothetical terms and we should certainly note what Clegg is saying.

I think it's a hopeful insurance policy that all might not be lost if we do not get an overall majority. Civil liberties, the environment and localism are all themes that I am very happy with to be emphasised, so maybe that makes it easier for me to say than some others. Actually for me, along with the perennial issue of economic management, they are the most important medium/long term issues there are.

This says nothing about ones degree of confidence that we will get an overall majority but anyone with any sense knows that an overall majority is very far from certain.

Giovanni, after ten years of Labour failure now is definitely the time to break up their power base in the north. It is no surprise that the most deprived areas of our country are all Labour heartlands. Cause and effect. What is most heartbreaking is that Labour often win in these areas with as little as a 15% turnout in local elections. Almost as if people have given up and accepted Labour rule, they need to be presented with an alternative vision. Once their is a Conservative government it will be more difficult to break into Labour heartlands because governments tend to suffer hostility no matter what, the time to act is now. Is the any sort of strategy to liberate the north from Labour rule?

The devil will be in the detail on all of this.

Take each of the four issues suggested by Clegg:

Will, for example working with LibDems on civil liberties mean that preachers of hate like Qaradawi are bannable? Or will the LibDems require that we appease the more extreme Muslim voters that LibDem anti-war candidates have courted?

On education reforms will Clegg insist that he will work with us as long as we drop the idea of 'grammar streams'?

On the environment will that mean no to nuclear power stations? Their position, not ours.

On local powers will that mean real empowerment of local schools and faith-based charities or more powers to regional politicians?

Just asking these questions worries me.

One assumption made is that if there were to be some kind of Liberal Democrat supported administration or coalition with the Liberal Democrats that they would support the leader of the other party being PM.

Liberal Democrats are frequently very praising of Kenneth Clarke and it is quite possible that many Liberal Democrat MPs would demand that Kenneth Clarke be PM - his views on many issues are much more similar to the Liberal Democrats than those of other Conservative MPs, no doubt Kenneth Clarke if made PM would then pick his own coalition cabinet which might well be very different from either the current Conservative one and the Liberal Democrat frontbenches - David Cameron and Nick Clegg might not even appear in the government ranks, or might have positions without portfolio - Menzies Campbell might be a possible First Secretary of State in such a situation, probably Vincent Cable as Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Paddy Ashdown possibly as Defence Secretary, David Cameron as Home Secretary, Andrew Lansley as Health Secretary; Julia Goldsworthy as Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Familes; Nick Clegg as Innovation and Universities Secretary, Francis Maude perhaps as Foreign Secreatary, maybe Theresa May as Justice Secretary, David Willetts at Work & Pensions - and so on probably half LD half Conservative, anyway it a coalition would be a sort of hybrid and no doubt Conservative members and Liberal Democrat members would both complain about it.

The circumstances of a full coalition rather than merely a minority Conservative government perhaps with some Liberal Democrat cabinet ministers and backing would be one in which the Liberal Democrats had made some kind of further advances and the Conservatives had got into government more because of a decline in Labour support and Conservative support had again only shown a slight increase.

I imagine such as Liam Fox, William Hague, John Redwood would not be likely to be included in a full coalition administration.

The price of David Cameron being PM might be referendums on introducing STV and a vote on EU membership - which I could be delighted at as I want to see the UK withdraw and do not care whether this would be by referendum or through use of the Royal Prerogative. With Kenneth Clarke as PM though and probably no vote on the new Treaty I imagine the Liberal Democrats would drop the insistence.

If the Liberal Democrats lost a lot of seats but there was a hung parliament, surely some kind of Unionist coalition with the DUP, UUP and any UKIP MPs would be better and somewhat more wholesome - this would likely involve David Cameron moderating his liberalism.

It is indeed a seismic shift from the Dim-Libs: they no longer require PR as a precondition. They have clearly realised, following the last euro-elections, that under PR, UKIP and (perhaps) the Greens would ensure they are no longer the 3rd party in parliament - and this clearly terrifies their strategists!

Yet Another Anon overlooks the simple that if Cameron was in the position of being asked by the Queen to form a Government, it's because he would be leader of the largest party in Parliament. Clegg would be in no position to insist that the Tories choose another leader.
I've said it before and see no reason to change my opinion that the best outcome for the Tories at the election will be to be the largest party. Without a shift in Scotland, Wales and the urban seats of northern England, the Tories cannot win the election. And if we sneaked home by one or two? - what sort of result would that be, hostage to fortune of parliamentary ambushes and by-election defeats. (I'm not 100% convinced we'd hold even Henley in a by-election if Johnson becomes London mayor). There's absolutely no chance of getting a comfortable working majority without MPs in the three areas I've mentioned.
I've tried to persuade Tim to put an option in the monthly survey asking people "Do you think DC will be the leader of the largest party after the election?" but he hasn't taken the bait - when asked "do you think DC will be Prime Minister?" I'm left with no alternative but to vote `no.
While I think DC could probably get Clegg on board if he conceded PR for English council elections - I'm sure Tories at large would back that - I don't think DC can move enough on Europe to placate Clegg.

Tony Makara- There is a strategy in "the north", William Hague heads up campaign north, and we have shadow ministers assigned to important cities, Chris Grayling in Liverpool for instance. Later this month we will have the second annual North West Conservatives Conference at Bolton.

The north is a big place and Labour are not strong everywhere, I think that we control more councils in the north west than Labour or Lib Dem, and hopefully this support will be reflected at the next election.

Yet Another Anon overlooks the simple that if Cameron was in the position of being asked by the Queen to form a Government, it's because he would be leader of the largest party in Parliament. Clegg would be in no position to insist that the Tories choose another leader.
It is up to the person chosen to try and form a government, if David Cameron was chosen and could not get a majority for the government and Liberal Democrat MPs said they would not accept him and wanted Kenneth Clarke then David Cameron would no doubt report this back to the Queen, there would be the option of him trying to form a government with other parties or asking for a dissolution, or he might say she should try someone else, he might even advise that Kenneth Clarke should be sent for.

The circumstances of a hung parliament are unfamiliar to this country and it is up to the Queen who she chooses to attempt to form a government - they must be an MP or Member of the Lords.

There is a requirement that they be most likely to be able to form a government, but this is not defined.

After an election, David Cameron or Gordon Brown might be called and already have decided that they could not form a government and suggest an alternative.

In 1923 Ramsay Macdonald ended up PM with fewer seats than the Conservatives have now, it is quite possible that one or other party might decide that Nick Clegg as PM could cause political problems for their opponents but still be limited in what they do and Nick Clegg then could end up as PM.

In a Hung Parliament, especially with all partys being well short of a majority all kinds of things can happen.

While I think DC could probably get Clegg on board if he conceded PR for English council elections - I'm sure Tories at large would back that
I wouldn't be surprised if Gordon Brown also backed using STV for Local Elections, but I doubt that would be enough for the Liberal Democrats who will cite deals in 1929 and 1977 and say there must be a referendum at least on it.

We should be considering STV for local elections regardless of whether it's a sop to prop up a minority Tory government or not.

Not least because it would help us break Labour's corrupt stranglehold on Northern councils, and be a genuinely democratizing move for local government.

And, I don't see it requiring a referendum because it doesn't fundamentally change any constitutional balance of the country, simply makes our councils a little bit less full of Labour filth and corruption.

@Yet another anon:

I think we can assume that by 2010, Gordon will have got his constitutional reform bill through parliament removing most royal prerogatives.

That means the next PM will probably be elected by Parliament, rather than chosen by Brenda.

The LibDems are just repositioning themselves to get votes from both sides.

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot"

I think you're living in a dream world Gospel Of Enoch. Much as I dislike the Lib Dems the idea that they should treat a party like UKIP as anything other than an electoral joke is fantasy.
Martin Coxall, shouldn't the Conservative party support a system of voting that produces the type of government we believe in (FPTP) rather than anything that is put in place simply to give us electoral advantage?

Martin Coxall - By all means make your point, but please don't stoop to bashing Her Majesty the Queen!

@Malcolm Dunn:

Speak for yourself. FPTP is not a bad system for the House of Commons, but I definitely think we could do *better*. That doesn't mean I want PR for the Commons: far from it. Systems which exaggerate swings are my favourite.

As far as I'm concerned though, it's unrelated to how we should elect councils. The question is, how do we break the stranglehold of corrupt local parties controlling one council for 30/40/50 years?

Clearly FPTP does not achieve this, so we need to look for alternatives.

@James Burdett:

I wasm't bashing Her Maj, I was using Private Eye's affectionate nickname for her. I quite like it, it's cute.

Never forget that the Libdems are fundamentally spineless. The moment they feel that there is more to be had in electoral terms from tacking a little to the right, they will come round to tory ways of thinking - give or take the odd nauseating huff and puff of preening purity.

Just stumbled on this site - have to say Clegg is winning on this one - he has said quite clearly what demands are - and honest with it - all I can say about the Tories is that they want support for marriage and a referendum on Lisbon - is this the extent of policies - please someone tell me what the top 5 demands from the Tories would be in a similar position

One senior Lib Dem figure said that the prospect of closer links with the Tories had hardened after Caroline Flint, the new Housing Minister, who attends Cabinet, floated the idea this week that council tenants could have to commit to seek work as a condition of getting a home.
From a Daily Telegraph article referred to on this site - probably rhetoric as usual, but I don't see why the Liberal Democrats would suppose a Conservative government was any less likely to introduce such a policy than a Labour one in some form or other, but indeed if they wanted to in coalition they could force alteration of such a policy.

But then again a lot of what is being said about different people's positions amounts to politicking for votes on all sides and media speculation.

Don't respond to it atall. Tories should set out to win on our own - and we can, with a disciplined targetted campaign, provided we set out a program for alternative government.

There should be no deal with this nasty, opportunistic, unprincipled, shallow, spoiler party atall.

As for Caroline Flint's brave idea, I think it's in retreat already like cash point fines. They won't really make SS layabouts work when we're obliged to house them, and Andy Burnham was totally unable to explain or clarify where we now are with this policy on Question Time last week - despite talking for literally about 50-55% of the program.

David Thomas, 'Clegg is winning on this one'. Eh? Winning what exactly? I would agree with Mr Broughton. We shouldn't respond at all. We should work where we agree but we must never stop telling the electorate that Clegg has abandoned his party promise to hold a referendum on the EU constitution. He's just another dishonest two bit politician on the make.

You have missed the point, Malcolm Dunn: Yes, the Dim-Libs treat UKIP as a joke under FPTP, but under PR, as evidenced in the EU elections, they would lose seats, and this prospect terrifies them - which is why they have stopped banging on about it...

Yes, the Dim-Libs treat UKIP as a joke under FPTP, but under PR, as evidenced in the EU elections, they would lose seats, and this prospect terrifies them
The Liberal Democrats and the Alliance before them have always done badly in EU elections, the best percentage vote was 19% in 1984.

However since the introduction of the new system, Labour and the Conservatives have had their lowest votes ever in national elections - the Conservative vote at 26.7% in 2004 was even lower than in 1994 and their lowest national result ever; Labour's vote of just over 22% was their lowest national vote since the 1918 General Election.

Partys such as Green and UKIP have taken huge numbers of votes off all three in EU elections.

Please dont be so rude calling us Dim-Libs. Were not.

Nick Clegg was wrong to offer anyone else a deal becos we lib dems, with stupendous momentum, are going to win the next general election anyway.

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