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Clegg, why not do right thing?

by fairleft Sat May 8th, 2010 at 05:37:08 PM EST

Who is Nick Clegg, that he would accept a deal with Conservative David Cameron dashing the dream of generations of Lib Dems (proportional representation) and effectively destroying the party? Who is he; uh, how 'bad' is he? Several here say he'll go Cameron, but what will be his real, get-mine reason? Or, is Clegg simply playing smart politics, pretending there are two tempting choices here cuz it sucks a better deal out of Labour's Brown? What he should do is obvious to 'his people', reading the unscientific but damned overwhelming UK Guardian Reader Poll:

Given the overtures from Gordon Brown and David Cameron, who should Nick Clegg back?

77.4%  Gordon Brown, with his PR referendum

22.6%  David Cameron, with his 'comprehensive offer'

Or, let Polly Toynbee say it all (the header and sub-head are enough):


The hopes of decades rest with Clegg. He must hold his nerve
For once, Lib Dems are in a position to demand crucial voting reform. A once unthinkable progressive coalition is on the table
The Guardian
Saturday 8 May 2010

Will Hutton also puts things forcefully and correctly on the realpolitik (though with too much optimism/idealism on the implications of a Lab/Lib coalition):

Forget the niceties, Nick, shun the Tories and join with Labour
The Liberal Democrats have real power in their hands. They must use it ruthlessly to usher in a fairer Britain
guardian.co.uk
Saturday 8 May 2010 20.00 BST

. . . This is real power and it comes but once a generation. It is power to insist on a referendum on proportional representation. Power to break up the banking system and reconstruct British finance. Power to insist on civil liberties and repeal of the legislation on ID cards. Power to require that British newspapers are owned by EU, if not British, nationals who pay UK tax and conform to British competition policy. Clegg has been so roughed up by News International and the Telegraph that at the very least Mr Murdoch and the Barclays brothers should pay tax for the privilege. The Liberal Democrats can be political eunuchs or they can use the moment to effect the change that brought them into politics.

The Conservative argument is that losers have no democratic right to form a coalition government. Moreover, such is the extent of the budgetary crisis - and the worrying movements of the financial market - that Britain must have stable rather than coalition government to drive through the necessary change. This is wrong on every count.

First, the British parliamentary system is built on representative democracy. After a general election, the government of the day seeks its mandate in the House of Commons. If it can deliver a majority of one, then it is the government. As a matter of psephological fact, the rainbow coalition would represent approaching 53% of the electorate and have a majority in the House of Commons. It may infuriate the Conservatives, but this is a both a constitutionally and politically legitimate government. The "losers" have a parliamentary majority because the general election did not produce a one-party winner.

Once again the tired "The conservatives won, so it's undemocratic that they shouldn't form the government" argument; but is that it, or is there a real principled argument for why Clegg should form a coalition with the Conservatives rather than Labour? Or is this all about Clegg's personal interests and making a deal with a wealthy Conservative Party capable of being very persuasive?

Display:
... a Rainbow Coalition can deliver a viable majority, I think there is a principled argument for sitting in opposition while allowing the Tories to run a minority government.

There is no principled argument for the Libs joining the Tories in government. It gives the lie to their entire electoral platform.

It does seem to comes down to whether the SNP can hold its nose and agree to join a Proportional Representation Unity Government for a set period of time. If I understand the "natural allies" of the Irish parties, that gives an effective majority, and if PC joined them it would be a majority of seats.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 8th, 2010 at 07:28:42 PM EST
What is the rule for declaring yourself Prime Minister? I thought you got elected to that post by the House of Commons, and while the normal assumption is that the majority party would choose their leader to be the PM, it doesn't have to be that way.

Could the LDs go to Brown and say that they would join a coalition if somebody else was the PM?

by asdf on Sat May 8th, 2010 at 07:45:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this is what's likely to happen. The problem is that in spite of appearances, it's not at all clear that Gordo wants to give up the leadership of NuLab.

So - if there's a rainbow coalition, Gordo remains effective PM.

The LDs can't afford to allow him to do that.

So we have a situation where Clegg can't accept on compromise on PR, Cameron can't offer a compromise on PR, Clegg can't accept a compromise on Gordo remaining PM, and Gordo doesn't want to step down.

It's all down to Gordo now. He can go quietly and with dignity, or he can hold everything up while there's a formal leadership challenge.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are plots happening in the Labour camp to reach an agreement with the LDs to remove Gordo and consider a coalition.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 8th, 2010 at 07:55:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown can drag things out until the Autumn party conference season, but not any longer.

But that would be a rather undignified exit, wouldn't it?

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 8th, 2010 at 08:10:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the choice is Brown plus proportional representation or Cameron and no proportional representation, isn't the first choice the obvious one? The first is short-term imagery personal politics (for what principles -- from an ostensibly Lib-Dem perspective -- does it matter which Labour PM would be the PM?), while Clegg betrays his party's decades-long dream by making the second choice.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 12:45:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While we might agree with that, a majority of the electorate actually think the financial situation and the lack of jobs are the biggest problems facing Britain and they want it fixed as soon as possible. So the sight of politicians playing constitutional merry-go-round before having another election is likely to create more negativity than you might expect.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 08:30:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All probably true, but it's also the kind of situation in which the LDs may have to bite the bullet and accept the anger of the public in exchange for getting a shot at electoral reform.  Not playing this as though it's their only shot at PR would be foolish.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 08:42:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And even if the public is so angry that the LibDems lose 50% of their support, so what?  If they get PR, they'd still end up with more MPs than they do at present.  

This is a once in a generation chance to get a fair electoral system.  But no doubt, they'll manage to fuck it up.

by IdiotSavant on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 09:02:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also true, I suspect.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 10:46:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are enough things to oppose in Brown's tenure, and New Labour's tenure generally - on civil liberties, on regressive taxation, on the European Union...

So, if Brown doesn't want to let go of Labour's leadership it makes no sense for the Lib Dems to anchor themselves to him. Nor to Cameron.

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 09:37:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My guess is that Brown will stand down in exchange for a LibLab pact.  The party leaders seem to be saying as much, although I'm not sure how close guys like Blunkett and Mandelson are to Brown.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 08:44:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You cant see them throwing him overboard in a second to keep hold of power?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 08:52:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cameron needs to be able to win a vote of no confidence on Brown. He can do it if the Lib Dems abstain.

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 8th, 2010 at 08:12:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Damn slip of the mouse-finger.

What is the rule for declaring yourself Prime Minister?

You don't declare yourself PM - you are appointed by the head of state, who (by convention, backed by the political reality of a PM needing to hold a majority on certain votes) appoints the person who holds the confidence of the House of Commons.  Usually, that person is pretty obvious: the leader of the party with the majority of seats.  In cases like this, where no single party can do it on their own, then it will require some sort of public deal to be reached between parties.  Until that happens, Gordon Brown remains caretaker PM (though he can't make major decisions).

There is a time limit: the House must meet in a couple of weeks.  And if there is no deal by then, then Gordon Brown will face a confidence vote, and the situation will become clear one way or another.

by IdiotSavant on Sat May 8th, 2010 at 08:21:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
at first when I descended from the hills and switched on BBC there was surprise that Lib Dems won so few seats and Tories and Labour got so many.

why do they hold talks? I think it's boiled down to reputation of the outgoing Labour government, Clegg need very short memory to forget too many things Labour done to the country and reputation of Britain.

BBC heads keep routinely talking about markets and for once I belive them given what is happening with the Eurozone. It seems market vultures are keen to plunge the world into second recession and the fall of Britain will mean just that. This should not happen, it will mean not only hardships for British people but also for the rest of the world. That's why Lib Dems and Conservatives may end in up short term coalition arrangement (before referendum on changing voting system) to try to sort out economic mess.

by FarEasterner on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 10:40:50 AM EST
... if Labor cannot stitch together a Rainbow coalition, is to declare that after consultations within his party, his party cannot join a government on the platform promised by the Tories, while concluding that Labour cannot lead a stable government under Gordon Brown, and therefore declare that the LD will abstain on a vote of confidence and sit in opposition to whichever government is formed.

And then bring the Tories down in the Fall after Gordo has been sacked at the Labour leadership conference.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 04:40:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While we're all playing Nick Clegg, here's my offering:

Do a deal with Labour that involves putting a referendum on electoral reform to voters sometime between now and the end of August. Then pledge fresh elections for the fall (October/November) once the referendum outcome is clear. Gordon Brown steps down and some compromise figure heads the government in the interim.

Sure, there might be some more time needed for new elections if a referendum passed, but the concept is the same. Clegg basically says "we're supporting a caretaker government to continue the present policy of economic recovery while we implement the reforms the people of Britain have demanded."

The benefit to the Lib Dems is they aren't seen as propping up Gordon Brown, nor propping up Labour indefinitely. Instead they get to be seen as supporting a government that can manage the economic issues without giving Labour a blank check for another 5 years. And of course, Clegg gets to say he finally delivered electoral reform.

The benefit to Labour is they get a chance to see if economic recovery continues, push through electoral reform, and free the Tories out for a very, very long time. There's a risk that the UK could be fucked by some economic/financial event along the lines of Black Wednesday could screw Labour for the next election as it did the Tories in Sept 1992, but if I'm Labour, it's a risk worth taking.

The benefit to the other parties - SNP, PC, etc - is they finally get a chance to break through FPTP.

The benefit to the Tories is none whatsoever, which is why this is would be a good outcome.

As it looks, though, I'm guessing Clegg will do a "confidence and supply" agreement that winds up giving Cameron 2-3 years before he wins a majority and costing the LDs 10-20 seats, unless Labour somehow recovers under a popular new leader (no clue who that'd be). And electoral reform is lost for another generation.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 05:19:16 PM EST
That's a nice proposal.

Brown has just been in Scotland for the week-end, and then shot off unexpectedly back down to London where he saw Nick Clegg for an hour this p.m.

Continuing my Mandelson kabuki riff - which is looking a bit sick right now as lib/con talks go on - maybe before or after he went to church today, Brown got Alex Salmond squared away pursuant to Salmond's public offer. So that's tied up 6 SNP MPs plus the 3 Plaid Cymru MPs who very wisely have appointed Salmond as their agent.

That's all Labour needs because with Clegg (315 + 6 + 3) this would give them 324, which is enough. They know the lone Green and a couple of Irish MPs will roll with them, but they don't need to be paid off as Salmond would have been - and it won't have been cheap.

So Brown tells Clegg tonight that he is going to resign as Labour party leader, and will then go and tend his roses for a while on the back-benches once the new government is sworn in.

Now it's a question of who the hell from the Labour party can be 'acting' PM without an election for Labour leader. The kabuki scheme has Miliband lined up, but we are already seeing the resistance in the Labour party to this.

Ken Livingstone is always quick on the uptake: the master tactician - whose machinations at the GLC made Machiavelli look like Mother Teresa - wrote today about the need to avoid such a stitch up .

UK ELECTION RESULTS 2010: Forget the New Labour brand, now it's back to what really counts - class | Mail Online

I have no idea what will come out of the manoeuvrings over the next few days between Clegg, Cameron and Brown. But I do know what is going to happen inside the Labour Party. All the marketing ploys and gimmicks that for the past 16 years have hidden the reality of the divide inside it will be stripped away.

This has already begun with Mandelson's manoeuvring to ease his protege David Miliband into the Labour leadership by denying the party members any say in the matter.

This comes back to my point that the requirement is for a 'caretaker' transitional PM pending a proper election for Labour leader.

For this to be Clegg would be the really smart Labour move: and to offer a referendum in the meantime, as you suggest (which Clegg could oversee a caretaker PM) could work well.

The effect of such an Lab/Lib/Celt agreement at this late stage would be devastating for the Tories, who would probably fracture into civil war.


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 06:58:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think there can be another Labour PM without a leadership contest, so Clegg as PM is the natural choice...

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 07:20:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
General election 2010: Deadline day for Conservative Lib Dem deal | Politics | The Guardian

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, has given himself until the end of tomorrow to decide whether to let David Cameron form a government, or instead risk a deal with Labour that might be seen as illegitimate by the public and jeopardise the success of a yes vote in a referendum on electoral reform.

Clegg met Gordon Brown for an hour at the Foreign Office today and is understood to have set out his fear that a Lib-Lab coalition might be regarded as illegitimate even if Brown stood down as its leader.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 09:10:07 PM EST
Because a Lib-Con coalition that threw away the promise of electoral reform would be totally legitimate.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 09:23:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well Cleggs voters voted for him on the grounds that he was going to get electoral reform.  If he dosnt get some form then thats all faith in them gone for the youth vote. and much of the older vote gone too. Why vote for a party that dosnt do what it can to get what has been its major aim for many years when it gets what might be its only opportunity?

From the point of view of the Labour party If Clegg goes with Cameron, this is the Third betrayal by the Lib Dems  since the late 70's, especially if the  upcoming cuts can be blamed on the Libs and  Conservatives.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 09:31:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The legitimacy/"moral right" spin is just bizarre.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 10:18:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hung parliament: Cameron's PR coup to wrong-foot Labour - Telegraph

He is offering to trade reform of the voting system for a two-year deal with Nick Clegg that would deliver economic and social change and, in particular, the painful cuts needed to reduce the deficit. Suddenly, it is the Conservatives who are the radicals.

Until now the Liberal Democrats looked to Labour to deliver "fair votes" - their catchphrase for replacing the existing first-past-the-post system with something that better matches the number of votes cast with the number of seats each party gets in the Commons. Tony Blair led them up the garden path before 1997, only to go back on his word once he was safely in No 10 with a thumping majority.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 09:43:27 PM EST
Hung parliament: Cameron's PR coup to wrong-foot Labour - Telegraph
The Lib Dem statement last night that any agreement would have "deficit reduction and a credible plan for economic recovery" at its heart was taken as encouragement that Mr Cameron's pitch was working, even if the country and, more importantly, the markets [sic] may have to wait a bit longer for the "stable government" all sides are promising.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 09:53:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well worst comes to the worst and the markets crash over this, then we don't bail them out. Fuck them. They should be sitting round being grateful for the help they've received, and be waiting for what happens next not planning a financial coup against the democratic government. "The markets wont like it" well tough. they'll have to wait till a deal is done like everyone else.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 10:00:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree entirely.  If the markets are ready to crash then get on with it.  We will survive and emerge stronger out of the rubble.
by paving on Mon May 10th, 2010 at 04:21:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But don't you know that Britain is Greece!

Even when it's not!

But it is!

WHY DO YOU IGNORE DAVID CAMERON'S MORAL RIGHT TO FORM A GOVERNMENT?

/paxman'd

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 10:25:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rare to see them actually SAY that the markets are more important than the people.  Great catch, ThatBritGuy
by paving on Mon May 10th, 2010 at 04:21:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stalemate: PR and PR, Ice Cream, Bananas and Fudge « The New Adventures of Stephen Fry
One of the most puzzling features of the current unstoppable wave of political punditry that is flooding all channels and outlets at the moment (including this one of course) is the peculiar propensity of commentators to feel qualified to extrapolate from the election results the Manifest Will of Britain.  "The people have voted for change", "The people have told Gordon Brown that he has got to go" , "The people are saying that they don't really trust any one party", "The people have said that they want Parliament reformed, the tea room in the House of Commons redecorated, new carpeting in the women's lavatory of the House of Lords and a vegetarian option in the canteen."  What fevered branch of electoral hermeneutics allows any such interpretations on the basis of the summing of millions of individual's single votes I cannot imagine. It is possible that people do want real change, but a single cross next to a single name is no way to deduce it.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun May 9th, 2010 at 09:45:10 PM EST
First-past-the-post is a rubbish electoral system | And another thing...

I FEEL I should congratulate the vocal supporters of electoral reform. In the past few days they've managed to control the media agenda and paint anyone who opposes them as out-of-touch dinosaurs, cynically clinging to first-past-the-post (FPTP) like a third world dictator refusing to acknowledge that the riots outside his citadel walls mean his reign is over.

But claiming that the opposition have no principles or arguments is itself an anti-democratic, lazy way of leading any debate. As a supporter of FPTP I can acknowledge that the system has its faults and that the alternatives have some merits. From what I've seen so far, supporters of reform cannot make a similar leap.

So I'll make it easy from them: all electoral systems are rubbish. I just happen to believe that first-past-the-post is a bit less rubbish then the rest.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon May 10th, 2010 at 04:59:09 AM EST
Apparently Tory MPs say they are being sounded out over AV and AV+

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon May 10th, 2010 at 07:44:20 AM EST
http://www.bbdo.co.uk/blog/archives/2563

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon May 10th, 2010 at 07:52:23 AM EST
@faisalislam The TRUTH: 'We have no idea whats happening. All imp people have rightly turned mobiles off since Sat. We've reported nothing new for 72hrs'


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon May 10th, 2010 at 09:14:58 AM EST
BBC News - Hung parliament: Lib Dem negotiators met Labour team

Nick Clegg: ''We are working around the clock''

The Lib Dem team negotiating with the Tories over forming a new government also met Labour figures in secret at the weekend, the BBC has learned.

As well as holding talks with senior Tories, they met Lord Mandelson, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Lord Adonis.

And it has now emerged Nick Clegg also met Gordon Brown in private on Monday before a meeting with David Cameron.

I'm thinking that even with the spin, time is running out for a Lib/Con deal. If there's going to be a deal it has to be announced today.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon May 10th, 2010 at 09:17:56 AM EST
well apparently there's due to be a couple of Labour announcements later this afternoon. and theres bound to be some form of leek after the MPs meeting s that Tories and LibDems are having in the next two hours

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon May 10th, 2010 at 09:30:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Common leek, elephant garlic, or kurrat?

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 10th, 2010 at 09:36:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well there are 3 Welsh LibDems there, none of who have my spelling problems. So it'll probably be the common ones

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon May 10th, 2010 at 09:50:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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