The collapse of the Lib Dems

The main reason the Lib Dems fared so badly can be summed up in two words – tuition fees. The change of their policy on fees was so fundamental because it opened up the whole issue of trust. The only campaign pledge most of us can remember from their campaign of 2010 was the one to abolish tuition fees. They said it so often and so successfully. I can remember the uncomfortable meeting with students they encouraged in Wokingham, when I said I thought any future government was likely to keep fees and put them up. We were all awaiting the Brown review on how to proceed. The Lib Dems pounced and made their very popular offer to the student audience.

When they entered government the Conservatives were generous to them in many ways, treating them as equal partners in the all important Quad at the top of the government and giving them important Ministerial positions throughout Whitehall. Their man was the Secretary of State responsible for tuition fees. Conservatives were willing for the senior Conservative HE Minister in his department to make the decision on fees, and for the Lib Dems to speak against and abstain. Instead Dr Cable handled it himself and proposed himself a 3 line whip for higher fees. I could not understand why he did this, as it was bound to be deeply damaging to the reputation of all Lib Dems.

The Lib Dems compounded their problem of trust by the way they repeatedly sought sole credit for the tax cuts and higher spending on the pupil premium in schools, whilst seeking to lay the blame for any less popular joint policy onto the Conservatives. The truth is all the policies that went through were joint, with the exceptions of the changed boundaries – a Conservative wish – in exchange for an AV referendum – a Lib dem wish. We got the latter but not the former. It all created a portrait of unreliable allies, people who only wanted coalition when it suited them.

The Lib Dem catchy slogan that they would provide heart to a Conservative government and head to a Labour government was a nasty slogan. 68% of the voters supported Conservative or Labour, yet the Lib Dems could arrogantly assert their moral and intellectual superiority to those parties. The electorate decided otherwise, not liking this approach. Their claim to be a moderate policy of the centre was belied by their strongly pro EU and green stance.

They also suffered from the rise of the Greens. If you want a pro EU pro green party that is clearly left of centre the Greens are the purer version. The Lib Dems could not work out whether to shift more towards the Green position, or to attack them.

In permanent opposition as an ideas and protest party it is possible to face left and right at the same time. In government you make choices which define you, and you are meant as Ministers to defend the common line. The new leader of the Lib Dems will have a difficult task to define what a new Lib Dem party stands for, and a further challenge to get people to believe it. I am not sure there is room for two pro EU green parties, as they enjoy a small voter base together, let alone divided.


  1. Old Albion
    May 12, 2015

    Basically they sold out for a sniff of government.

    However, I still do not see how English students can be forced to pay fees when attending a Scottish university. When Scots students and students from the EU do not. If this is not discrimination, then I don’t know what is?
    I don’t particularly favour free education for students. But i do favour equality.

    1. Hope
      May 12, 2015

      JR first paragraph spot on. Second paragraph Tories were generous is ridiculous, they were weak and poor at negotiation even the Lib Dumbs were surprised by how much they were given. It was more about Cameron’s weakness and desire to change your party.

      Willetts was quite happy to give free university education to EU citizens before his own people in the UK. Disgraceful. Most of the public do not realise it, that is why your party has got away with it so far.

      Now of course you propose to stop any benefits to under 25 , quite ridiculous when Cameron allowed 16 year olds to vote for Scottish referendum. This is more about host having to treat them the same as their own citizens ie give as much to EU citizens as their own. Freedom of movement is about making all nations the same for the EU superstate. It would be quite right to treat UK citizens differently from EU citizens.

      Now we see that your party wants to fulfil another EU plan to Balkanise England. Your aim is to offer more devolution in England if there are elected mayors, per your manifesto that you stood to be elected upon. Was this a condition of devolution to Wales and Scotland? I hope people will realise that Cameron is now engaged on regionalising England as part of the long term EU plan.

      Cameron used nationalism to get elected by scaring the English a small number of Scotts would rule the country with Labour. Already he has changed his tune and narrative that he wants one nation. I suspect many of us hope nationalism will force the UK out of the EU.

      1. Jerry
        May 12, 2015

        @Hope; “[that] Tories were generous is ridiculous, they were weak and poor at negotiation even the Lib Dumbs”

        Not sure who is being dumb, the LDs had nothing to loose but everything to win, the Tories had nothing to win (having already become the largest party and thus could have formed a minority government) but everything to loose – the LDs were the King makers in 2010, as Mr Brown found out…

        1. Max Dunbar
          May 13, 2015

          It’s ‘lose’ not ‘loose’.

    2. Lifelogic
      May 12, 2015

      Well the Libdums might as well sell out for a sniff of government, they were irrelevant before and are again now. Were it not for the BBC having exactly the same daft Libdim policies we would have seen far less of them. A very good thing that would have been too. The only policy they have right occasionally is civil liberties.

      It is also a great relief that we will not have Miliband introducing a law to stop people criticising religions as he foolishly promised. Mind you, will do still have an anti-free speech home secretary who bans such free speech people from the country.

    3. ChrisS
      May 12, 2015

      If I were Cameron I would be telling the (SNP leader ed) that she had better start treating English Students in the same way as she treats every other or the Barnett Formula is dead.

      Either that or he should deduct the amount of tuition fees charged to English Students in Scotland from the block grant and refund it to them.

      * Now the election is over perhaps you will allow a little laxity in language ?
      If you edit it out, I will obviously refrain from using the description again.

      1. Hope
        May 12, 2015

        No, Tories want it both ways. The UK govt negotiates with the EU on behalf of the nation, not individual regions. Therefore Scotland is not an independent nation for the purposes of the EU directive. If it were then English students should be treated the same as EU students and have free tuition as the host nation Scotland. If Scotland is not an independent nation then EU students should pay the same as English students. This is our taxes Cameron is giving away in addition to overseas aid!

        The problem that many English would want free education and Scottish universities would be overwhelmed! One more, Cameron and his party put foreigners before their own electorate and countrymen.

    4. petermartin2001
      May 12, 2015

      I think this was tested in court and the ruling was that whilst it is illegal to discriminate against students from other EU countries it isn’t illegal to discriminate against students from different regions of the same EU country.

      It may not be illegal but it’s quite immoral. IMO.

  2. Mark B
    May 12, 2015

    Good morning.

    The main reason the Lib Dems fared so badly can be summed up in two words –

    Tory Party

    There, I corrected for you. Have a nice day.


    1. Mike Stallard
      May 12, 2015

      And the Conservatives?
      Here is a list of things which I personally find seriously offensive too.
      1. Gay Marriage.
      2. Owen Paterson’s sacking.
      3. Michael Gove’s sacking.
      4. The commitment to stay in Europe.

      1. Hope
        May 12, 2015

        Laws back in cabinet?
        EAW so that UK citizens could be arrested and carted off to some backwater without evidence!
        The veto that never was?
        Cut in EU budget sham which means the UK pays more!
        We will not pay the extra £1.7 billion, knowing he would!
        No bail outs to EU countries, he then did!
        No ifs or buts we will cut immigration, worse now than when Labour were in office!
        October 2014, Dowing Street. The Tory party will deliver EVIL. Is his memory that bad?
        Debt has doubled, deficit at £90 billion. Now trying to con that the deficit is linked to GDP. The list is endless.

        1. Lifelogic
          May 13, 2015

          Indeed it is. Hopefully the sensible wing of 80? can not exert a little more influence to steer Cameron away from being a wrong on nearly every issue Libdem.

    2. Timaction
      May 12, 2015


      1. Timaction
        May 12, 2015

        Ask Ed Balls! Vince Cable!

  3. Lifelogic
    May 12, 2015

    Well trust was important I agree but the main reason they lost is most of the public did not want expensive energy, the greencrap global warming catastrophe/exaggeration religion, an even bigger state, moronic employment laws, ever more EU, augmentation of the feckless and the destruction of any residual UK democracy. In short their policies were the complete opposite of what was wanted and needed.

    Cameron too has the lack of trust problem, before the last election ratting on Cast Iron (costing him a majority) and after when ratting on:- the split between taxes and government cuts, on borrowing level and above all on the £1M IHT threshold promise. Now finally replaced but with a pathetic & grossly inferior fudge. One that mugs pensions yet again to pay for it.

    Most voters English voters simply wanted to stop Miliband/SNP and the Tories were the only real option they had. UKIP voters held their noses and helped the Tories hugely. A UKIP/Tory deal would of course have given a much larger majority.

    The way forwards for the coalition was a graduate tax fudge for the Libdums and getting boundary changes and the IHT promise through in return.

    Cameron should now try to restore some of his credibility by returning to the original £1M each IHT threshold promise of 7? years ago, instead of the new pathetic pension mugging and restricted IHT fudge.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 12, 2015

      There seems little sign Cameron is going to run a real Tory government even now, given the poor selection of ministers in the main so far. If the economy is going to really recover we need action now within the next couple of months on employment laws, planning, tax levels, bank competition, IHT, cheap energy, the EU, the endless regulations, the absurd complexity of taxation ……. some real pro business vision for a change.

      Will we ever get any such vision? Now is the time for it not in one or two years time.
      These policies need time to have an effect but they will work.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 12, 2015

        There seems little sign he is going to run a real Tory government even now he has a full majority. He seems happy continuing with essentially a Libdem approach but we shall see.

        A pro business real Tory agenda would give him a much stronger economy in 2020 to take to the country, but it needs to start now with some real pro business vision. Is there much/any vision in his new Cabinet?

        1. Hope
          May 12, 2015

          Read the manifesto they are saying they will implement, namely continuing support for the Climat Change Act! Whoever voted Tory voted for expensive energy based on the EU energy policy to cut the farcical CO2 emission targets. Cameron signed up to more last October.

          1. Lifelogic
            May 13, 2015

            Indeed they have an absurd & totally unscientific positions on both energy production and climate change. Do they believe in the daft religion or do they just cynically think there are votes in it?

            They are wrong on both counts anyway.

      2. Richard1
        May 12, 2015

        I’m not sure you’re right. The issue is how to go about it. Take green issues. It is said Ms Rudd the new energy secretary is an enthusiast for fracking. Excellent but how should she go about it? One way would be to confront the green blob, tell them they are talking rubbish and have a terrific fight. A more subtle way would be to proceed, cut subsidies to wind farms, say we have enough wind farms and fracking will enable us to ‘meet our climate change obligations’, gas having 1/2 the emissions of coal and oil. Not strictly intellectually honest but more practical given the weight of the forces against energy rationality, and much harder for the green blob to attack. As the years go by, we don’t see the warming forecast by hysterics or the extreme weather events, green policies can be quietly dropped. What matters is what actually happens.

        Meanwhile it is clear education and welfare reform will continue, there will be an EU renegotiation and let’s hope for some sensible tax reforms such as a cut in the revenue losing rate of CGT. We will be heading for budget balance. It even looks like the govt will finally sort out the BBC, which has become like the audio-visual arm of the Guardian.

        Of course there are still some silly policies like HS2, but don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!

      3. Sir Graphus
        May 12, 2015

        The trouble with proper old-style Tory policies is that they don’t win elections anymore. We could have a manifesto we could really be proud of, and we’d be singing its praises from the opposition benches.

        Elections are won by persuading timid centre ground voters that we aren’t scary.

        1. John C.
          May 12, 2015

          Well, certainly Blair won this way. But a lot of Tory voters are unhappy with Cameron; if he had to resign, would there have been the reaction like the one Farage had? I feel many Tories voted unenthusiastically.
          Blair did not have a strong, growing party out to his Left Like Cameron has in the shape of UKIP to the Right.
          In other words the Tories could swing Right and still have support, probably more enthusiastic than they do now.

    2. Lifelogic
      May 12, 2015

      The complete abolition of IHT and perhaps a Capital Gains tax on death instead might well be the best approach. Though CGT should clearly be indexed by inflation and only at about 20% maximum.

      Some real vision for a change is needed money would flood in to the UK as a direct result of some real vision.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 12, 2015

        This would be a more neutral system and would allow people to sell CGT rich assets before death without a large penalty for doing so.

  4. agricola
    May 12, 2015

    They also reneged on the reform of constituencies in direct conflict with their coalition partners after a hissy fit. This demonstrated that they were neither liberal nor democratic. Not many people, a supine conservative party apart, had much time for their love affaire with windmills. It is a myth that they sacrificed all for the good of the nation. It must have been like being in bed with someone you knew would be ringing the newspapers next morning.

    1. Roy Grainger
      May 12, 2015

      Somewhat like the hissy fit of their Tory counterparts on Lord’s reform.

    2. Mondeo Man
      May 12, 2015

      They also had their share of sex abuse scandals.

  5. agricola
    May 12, 2015

    Having had our gloat over the losers, can we now get on with what the government programme is and what is it’s timetable. Exactly how will the total loss of sovereignty be answered by the government.

  6. Richard1
    May 12, 2015

    Good summary, I hadn’t realised Vince Cable insisted on fronting tuition fees with a 3 line whip. There is a lot of unedifying losers’ whinging. We see the very unpleasant leftist thugs trying to get up mini riots. labour are claiming the Conservatives won by ‘fear’. Were the endless tedious Labour allegations of Tory plans to ‘cut’ and ‘privatise’ the NHS not also scaremongering? They should listen to Rafa Nadal explaining graciously why he lost to Andy Murray the other day – Murray played better.

    I think the Liberals made a big mistake by not owning coalition policies. I don’t think I’ve heard Lord Ashdown these last 5 years open his mouth other than to criticise the horrid Tories. Clegg foolishly adopted this tone in the election.

    Norman Lamb would be the most sensible choice for them as leader, I hear he is an excellent constituency MP.

  7. Jerry
    May 12, 2015

    “The main reason the Lib Dems fared so badly can be summed up in two words – tuition fees. The change of their policy on fees was so fundamental because it opened up the whole issue of trust. [..//..] They also suffered from the rise of the Greens. If you want a pro EU pro green party that is clearly left of centre the Greens are the purer version.

    Indeed the first did not exactly help the LDs cause amongst students but I suspect that the party could have ridden out that storm (after all didn’t the Brown report suggest unlimited fees, things could have been a lot worse for those looking for a free ride so to speak) but I suspect that the parties previous courting of the pro EU, pro green vote caused much more damage within the parties support, many of whom were borderline Green members anyway, certainly much further to the left that Lab or the LDs themselves, why bother voting LD when you want a Socialist state who then “shack up” with the Tories – who they consider anti EU, anti green, pro USA etc etc…

    My only surprise, both at the last EU elections and the GE just gone, is why anyone was surprised that the LDs did so badly.

    In permanent opposition as an ideas and protest party it is possible to face left and right at the same time. In government you make choices which define you”

    Indeed, and something that UKIP might, one day, have to face up to – be careful what you pledge… Something that might still come back to haunt Cameron & Co., many noted during the election campaign that whilst there was a pledge on no direct taxation rises there was no such pledge about indirect taxes, something that will be far more damaging to the government come 2020 than reneging on their direct taxation pledge I suspect.

    1. Timaction
      May 12, 2015

      Welcome back Jerry. The EU controls VAT!

      1. Jerry
        May 13, 2015

        @Timaction; Only part of VAT is a statutory EU tax, hence why Labour couldn’t remove VAT from energy bills entirely, thus there is still 5% VAT on electricity, gas and water.

        1. Hope
          May 13, 2015

          So the EU controls it then. The UK should only be allowed to raise or cut taxes not the EU!

          1. Jerry
            May 13, 2015

            @Hope: Actually, if you want to be 100% pedantic on stilts, the UK government has total control over VAT as the UK government could decide to repeal the Act of Accession, leave the EU and thus scrap VAT…

          2. Edward2
            May 13, 2015

            If the EU has control of VAT how do many member states have different rates and zero rated items?

  8. Mondeo Man
    May 12, 2015

    The Lib Dems lost because they appeal to kids.

    That’s why the tuition fees issue was such a deal breaker – no other age group would have cared quite enough to destroy a party over it. Ergo we can take it that a significant proportion of voters were of that age group.

    UKIP is now the new protest vote with Labour voters having no problem switching to them, according to Denis’s figures.

    1. Mondeo Man
      May 12, 2015

      Whoever produces “Don’t blame me – I voted UKIP” bumper stickers is going to clean up in a year or two’s time.

      1. Jerry
        May 12, 2015

        Mondeo Man; “Whoever produces “Don’t blame me – I voted UKIP” bumper stickers is going to clean up in a year or two’s time.”

        Indeed they will, that is clean up the warehouse racking after forklifting pallet load after pallet load of such stickers, whose the adhesive has started to fail and the corners are curling, into the skips for the local landfill site, the product not even being fit for recycling!

        1. Timaction
          May 12, 2015

          …………………in your dreams Jerry!

        2. Mondeo Man
          May 12, 2015

          Doubtless the work will be done by a wharehouse cleaner – once he’s completed his apprenticeship.

          1. Jerry
            May 13, 2015

            @Mondeo Man; No, more likely a post-grad EU migrant prepared to do any job that pays them a wage…

          2. Mondeo Man
            May 13, 2015

            Jerry – A surfeit of graduates cleaning wharehouses.

            Like I said. Don’t blame me. I voted UKIP.

          3. Jerry
            May 16, 2015

            @Mondeo Man; “Like I said. Don’t blame me. I voted UKIP.”

            But I do blame people like you as it’s UKIP who perpetuate the myth that many UK job seekers are above doing low waged jobs (the idea that it is migrants who are forcing wages down in the UK and not world-wide economic forces or technology [1]), in the above instance had it not been for the highly qualified migrant doing low skilled, lower paid work it would not have been an employee of your fictional printing company skipping the trash but the contractors of the bank appointed administrator….

            [1] for example, why do you need to buy a “Don’t blame me – I voted UKIP” bumper sticker when you can print one yourself without to much effort, why does any SME need to pay an outside print company for branded headed paper why they can design and print the entire letter themselves on a quality sub £150 printer – only massive print run numbers now need outside assistance

    2. Lifelogic
      May 12, 2015

      Kids and some of the dafter students, whom they then kicked in the teeth with their tuition fee ratting.

  9. formula57
    May 12, 2015

    Would you not say a further Lib Dem problem was the way they opposed the Coalition from within, but only after lending the support needed to see measures passed?

    The last budget provides a recent good example, where one day they are nodding and cheering Chancellor Osborne as he reveals the agreed upon plan only soon thereafter to pull their alternative “yellow box” budget stunt, a ridiculous spectacle that showed them to be as hypocritical as they were petulant.

    Overall, treachery received its just reward on election night.

  10. JoeSoap
    May 12, 2015

    Oaten, Huhne, Rennard.
    People don’t forget.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      May 12, 2015

      Don’t forget Laws.

    2. Lifelogic
      May 12, 2015

      Had the whole of the libdem MPs gone it would have been no loss. Davey, Laws, Cable, Hughes their policies of green crap, high taxes, big government, over regulation and love of the EU just does not work and never will work.

  11. JoeSoap
    May 12, 2015

    Anyhow, like Windscale, they are now changing their name. Nominations please?

  12. Douglas Carter
    May 12, 2015

    I think one of their main flaws is not only hidden in plain sight, it’s that they’re used to disregarding flaws openly in plain sight.

    A luckless Guardian writer penning soon subsequent to the AV referendum candidly admitted that the pro- campaign had lost because they had spent the entire period talking solely to the Pro- Electoral Reform lobby. They did not even conceive of talking to their opponents or to waverers who needed to be won over. She was awarded several hundred withering aggressive replies for her honesty, by people who clearly had no idea of the concept of self-awareness.

    Even practically to this day, you can barely find a LibDem who will spontaneously admit to the occurrence of that Referendum, let alone concede the result. No matter the apparent failures of the UK polls last week, the long-term polls for the LibDems was pretty much bang on, with their eventual recorded result being well within the 3% margins of error which variously placed them between 6% and 11%. That’s also well within the margin of error of the actual result they won in the previous nationwide election – the Euro Elections of 2014 in which they were awarded 6.6% of the turnout, and fewer than 3% of the entire qualified electorate.

    The writing has been on the wall for the LibDems for some considerable time and it was observably so. Even unambiguously so. Whilst tuition fees will take a part of the blame, much can be laid upon the complacent and self-satisfied culture of the individuals in this Party. They aren’t prepared to even ponder reverses, let alone commit to the tedious task of applying themselves to that repair. I doubt that culture, that nature emplaced within the party can be changed. If it does not change, it will be one of the prime factors which perpetuates their exile from front-line politics.

  13. margaret brandreth-j
    May 12, 2015

    A good theory John, but I don’t believe that is so. It is merely a tacit understanding that this Country remains a two party arrangement and coalition wouldn’t help either side.

  14. Stephen O
    May 12, 2015

    I rather thought that the Lib Dems problem was that in opposition they had developed some skill at giving the illusion of being all things to all men. Sending different messages to different groups of supporters or in different constituencies. But in government they could not maintain this and the illusion was shattered.

    Tuition fees was simply the most glaring example of this.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      May 12, 2015

      Far too goody-two-shoes for me plus their hatred of anything traditional. I prayed here the other day that they be annihilated and I am unhappy that there are still some left. They are only a party and one with a daft name at that.

  15. Know-Dice
    May 12, 2015

    Yes “tuition fees” but it wasn’t just that they reneged on a pledge that probably could never be delivered, but Vince Cable was pushing the idea that an increase from £3400 to £9000 wasn’t a problem as you earn that back plus more in a working lifetime. Then allowed uncontrolled immigration to undercut our children’s investment in education.

    They (the Lib Dems) should have at least abstained from a vote on this matter, rather than promote this as a good idea.

    Back to Scotland – How is this government going to stop the Scots from “maxing out” their credit card and then coming back for more?

    Fiscal autonomy is fair enough, but along with this comes responsibility. I don’t see the SNP sticking to any agreement on this. Nicola Sturgeon has already said (Andrew Marr show on Sunday) that they might not pay their proportion of the defence budget or national dept interest.

    And your little “tête-à-tête” last night with the SNP representative on Panorama shows that they have no interest in fairness with respect to English votes or the fact that UKIP & the Greens had much more of the population voting for them vs. the SNP – Oh I’m sorry English votes don’t count…silly me…

    Remind me why this Union is so good, or is it just sentimentality.

    1. JoolsB
      May 12, 2015

      Very disappointed to see the Tories are sticking with Hague’s English vetoes proposal John. The backbenchers have never been more powerful and if any of them gave a stuff about England and the West Lothian Question not to mention the English Question, they would insist Cameron offers England more than this insulting sop.

      England has spoken last week but it seems there is still no more chance of England getting a fraction of the devolution the rest of the UK enjoys than it would have had under Labour. Does anyone beside you in your party care anything about England and the rotten deal it gets from this union?

      1. Timaction
        May 12, 2015

        4000,000 = 1 MP. Lib Dems/SNP 64 MP’s. We live in a dictatorship ruled by the EU!

        1. Jerry
          May 13, 2015

          @Timaction; ” We live in a dictatorship ruled by the EU!”

          Tell that to the people in North Korea.

  16. Lifelogic
    May 12, 2015

    Tories go to war with the BBC, I read in the telegraph. Well the vastly over paid and inept BBC certainly needs sorting out urgently. It pushes very silly unscientific and uneconomic agendas indeed.

    But Cameron is (or was) essentially a “BBC think” man – on expensive energy, on the warming catastrophe (the huge exaggeration thereof), on big government, on the EUphile love in, on the enforced fake “equality” agenda, on magic money tree economics, on open door non selective immigration……. or has Cameron now changed? Last time he even appointed Lord Patten, of all people, to the BBC trust one assumes to keep it exactly as it was.

    1. Chris
      May 12, 2015

      It seems like it is all a lot of hype to catch the headlines. D Tel reports Whittingdale saying the licence fee is going nowhere. Same pattern as usual – make the headlines which they know will appeal and then the electorate has to wait for the effective action, and we wait…

      1. Timaction
        May 12, 2015

        Keep waiting. UKIP gave up and did something!

    2. Bob
      May 12, 2015

      The way they deal with the BBC will be a touchstone by which to judge their true nature.

    3. Denis Cooper
      May 12, 2015

      The BBC’s present Charter runs to the end of 2016. We learn from the Guardian today that Cameron is thinking of bringing the “in-out” EU referendum forward to 2016, from which I deduce that he is not planning to ask for anything which would be too difficult for the other member states to accept and he thinks it can all be agreed quite quickly. Personally I guess that he will go for May 5th, when there will be important elections in parts of the country which are somewhat more in favour of the EU, but not in most of England outside London.

      I may be wrong, and it’s possible that the Electoral Commission will object that it is bad practice to combine a referendum and an election on the same day, and it’s even possible that the Lords will hold up the necessary Bill for long enough to make that date impossible. But that is my best guess at the moment, May 5th 2016, and as they say “You’ve heard it here first”, unless of course you are in or close to the Tory strategy team planning how to maximise the chances of an “in” vote when you will have already heard it.

      Anyway the referendum may present the BBC with a good opportunity to turn aside the wrath of this new government and save itself from whatever fate is threatened, just by helping out with even greater pro-EU bias than usual.

      1. Jerry
        May 12, 2015

        @Denis Cooper; “We learn from the Guardian today that Cameron is thinking of bringing the “in-out” EU referendum forward to 2016, from which I deduce that he is not planning to ask for anything which would be too difficult for the other member states to accept and he thinks it can all be agreed quite quickly.”

        On the other hand bringing it forward could be a sign that there will likely be nothing gained from the EU renegotiations and thus the recommendation will be to quit, that will thus give an extra year to achieve a Brexit or fix an exit date, before campaigning has to start for the 2020 GE.

        Don’t you just love conspiracy theories, any number of possibilities from the same factoid, some being more credible than others, usually the more complex the less likely, the more “KISS”, the more plausible…

        1. Denis Cooper
          May 13, 2015

          Sometimes you make me laugh, Jerry. Not often, but sometimes, and this is one of those occasions … do you really believe that Cameron would ever recommend that we leave the EU?

          1. Jerry
            May 13, 2015

            @Denis Cooper; “do you really believe that Cameron would ever recommend that we leave the EU?”

            Will you publicly eat your hat if he does?!

          2. Denis Cooper
            May 13, 2015

            I will answer your question once you have answered mine, and answered it honestly.

    4. Mondeo Man
      May 12, 2015

      Lifelogic – a few simple changes which the BBC couldn’t possibly argue with:

      – bearing in mind they don’t think cannabis should be illegal because it ‘clogs up the courts’…

      well about 14% of court cases are taken up with non payment of BBC licence fees. A few people have gone to prison for it. There should be a campaign against this clogging up of court time – led by the BBC.

      Once non-licence payment is decriminalised then people like me (who are fed up to the back teeth with its propaganda – especially in soaps and drama) will do the rest and it should be brought down to size pretty quickly.

      Describing the licence as a poll tax is an excellent move.

      1. Jerry
        May 13, 2015

        @Mondeo Man; “Describing the licence as a poll tax is an excellent move.”

        AS much as I like the new CM&S Secretary of State I do no think that was one of his better judged comments, the TVL fee is no more a “Poll Tax” as the VED on private motor cars is, unlike a place to live both a TV and motor car are not an essential item for most.

  17. Iain Gill
    May 12, 2015

    Not just that, which is very close to the populist version the tabloids would have us believe.
    There is the whole layer exposed by SPAD’s and ex SPADS’s spilling the beans on the internet, which the educated and politically interested read. The kinds of people reading this stuff are thought leaders in their communities, and influence more votes than most realise. This exposed Cleggs enthusiasm for fees behind the scenes, it was not even a decision he made with a heavy heart. Also exposed the damage to other important work, for instance, his decision to give free meals to the youngest children did to other “in flight” education programmes, and the way it was done by Clegg supported by the quad without talking to the education dept. So the stuff he forced through which superficially was aimed at helping probably did as much harm as good, and the difference between his real position and public position was exposed for all to see.
    I must say much of the reality of Conservative promises and ministers was also exposed in this way. But they were saved by the Labour party being especially unpopular this time, and a Conservative vote being the only way to keep them out.

  18. JoolsB
    May 12, 2015

    Although their betrayal on tuition fees obviously did them harm, I don’t think it was the main reason they were annihilated last Thursday. If that was the case, the Tories would have suffered too. Although I reluctantly voted Tory last week, I resigned from the party in 2010 when they stuck two fingers up at England’s young, and only England’s young, when they tripled fees for our kids and our kids alone without mentioning the word England once.

    As for the Lib Dums, they showed themselves to be totally unfit for office – petulant, duplicitous, full of their own self importance with childish tit for tat politics as they showed with the boundaries reform. Constantly bad mouthing their coalition partners and distancing themselves from the things they didn’t like whilst bragging that they were responsible for the things they did like. There was only one way to sum up the junior partners – a nasty piece of work – and the electorate saw it.

    Reply The polls show that it was the tuition fee issue which first collapsed their poll rating. The Conservatives had not promised to abolish fees or to avoid an increase, so we were in a different position.

  19. Ian wragg
    May 12, 2015

    So we have the climate change zealot Rudd (who is she related to) as energy minister
    So it’s business as usual, closing down perfectly good power stations and destabilising the grid with windmills. (Sturgeon? ed) won you the election and the limp dumbs were correctly destroyed. Thank God Nigel is back to harry you as you renege on the manifesto promises

  20. oldtimer
    May 12, 2015

    No doubt the tuition fees issue defined the LibDems. Curiously their attempt, in the election campaign, to triangulate between the Conservative and Labour parties only served to remind those that needed reminding that no one knew what they were actually standing for. Voters are not that stupid. As with the Labour party, voters delivered a dose of reality by providing the Conservatives with a clear majority. It is the price of remaining stuck inside the Westminster bubble and thinking that spin alone will save the day.

  21. alan jutson
    May 12, 2015

    Yes tuition fees was the policy which did most harm with their supporters, but the real reason they were deserted, was the fact that they joined in a coalition with the Conservatives in the first place.

    The vast majority of LibDem voters never thought they would have to put their policies to the test in power, they were thought of as a safe protest group, so when their feet were held to the fire with some element of fiscal responsibility, the wheels came off the dream.

    The vast majority of the population still do not understand that when in a coalition, you cannot expect to get your own way on everything, on all of your policies.
    Thus the original manifesto has to be torn up.
    Miliband did not get this either, given he was still saying even in the last week of the election. if I am in coalition I want everyone to follow all of my policies.

    Deluded politicians, deluded supporters.

  22. Michael James
    May 12, 2015

    You suggest that the Lib Dems were ‘people who only wanted coalition when it suited them’, but you explain their demise by their reneging on a pledge to cut tuition fees — which surely indicates the opposite.

  23. Julian
    May 12, 2015

    Its not impossible they are finished for good. Parties do disappear e.g. BNP.

  24. turbo terrier
    May 12, 2015

    Clegg and his cohorts never really grasped the nettle and they never had a divining “sword in the sand moment” during their time in office.

    They could not and did not seem to understand the basic principles of business and if nothing else UKplc is and should be run like a business.

    If a department or sector of the business is not bringing added value to the whole it should go. Every department has two important components. One is maintenance, or support the daily status quo, and the other is to destroy the status quo to improve the circumstances.

    The Lib/Dems did not seem to grasp the need for continual improvement albeit by little steps. Clegg went on about the EU but he failed to listen and understand what some of the Commissioners were actually saying for example:

    Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said that the EU can no longer afford a unilateral energy policy. Out-going Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani said “We are creating an industrial massacre in Europe”.

    What did the Lib/Dems (Davey) do to address situations like this? Nothing, the same as they did nothing to address fuel debt and poverty.

    What one sows so one reaps

  25. agricola
    May 12, 2015

    My verdict on last night’s Panorama.

    Your contribution was informative, surgical, but a bit too calm and polite. Your visible frustration with some of the contributions came through. Maybe on occasion you might let your scalpel slip to the jugular.

    The question of how or why the SNP won in Scotland can be answered by pointing out that Labour lost. Elections are more often lost than won. Much the same happened in England to a degree. Labour had little to offer the electorate and the thought of them combining with the SNP tipped the balance. The English are essentially fair minded but they react to the threat of being bullied. Cameron is I believe a fair minded unionist but you may need to remind him that about 90% of his support is in England and England is about 85% of the union.

    PR is not the only answer to the somewhat crazy illogical result from the votes cast for the SNP,UKIP, and the Lib/Dems. I have suggested an alternative whereby 6Million plus electorate can be made to feel they are involved without upsetting the ultimate balance of power in the H o C.

    Vine was less than impartial and keen to hear his own voice. he seemed in need of a graphic to leap about in. When you consider the resounding victory of the conservatives, the BBC do give their game away by inviting three socialists to oppose your contribution.
    I hope your media and culture man puts a fire to their backsides.

  26. Bert Young
    May 12, 2015

    The LibDems made the fatal mistake during their campaign of disputing the decisions reached of the coalition government . You can’t agree one thing at one moment and then say it wasn’t true the next . Clegg was rather “wishy – washy” in his TV appearances and was not able to cause any sparks to interest the public viewers – very much in contrast to some of the other presenters . These two features , in my book , were the main influences of their decline .
    It is now very difficult to see how they will be able to engineer a come-back ; there are many issues on the table (relationship with the EU) likely to push them further back . I now regard them as a spent force in our political scenery .

  27. DaveM
    May 12, 2015

    Mr Redwood,

    You have blogged about why Labour lost and why the LibDems did badly and are collapsing etc. However, I would beg to differ. My argument is:

    The Conservative Party WON.

    The SNP WON.

    I live in a city which is traditionally Labour, in a county and region (small ”r”!!) which was the bastion of LibDem support.

    The Conservatives painted the whole region blue with the exception of Exeter (and Ben Bradshaw is a very popular local MP who people would probably have voted for regardless of his party – not unlike Martin Salter if you remember him).

    Why did you win down here?

    1. The LibDems have had loads of time and failed to deliver. They were particularly impotent in the face of the flooding. They have a pro-EU stance which threatens local businesses and industries with the CAP and the CFP. The infrastructures in the SW are not equipped to deal with the massive influx of E Europeans who have arrived in the past few years.

    2. Labour supporters here are not cut from the same cloth as the “always have always will” voters from the industrial north. People wanted to vote for Ukip but voted for your party because they were terrified of a Labour govt, and they trusted the Cons to deliver on their promises. And the Con candidates were highly visible and engaging.

    3. Boris, DC, and Gideon visited the region and came up with some real ideas for the future.

    And ultimately, you cannot discount the TV debates of 2010 – look how much effect they had then, and how little effect they had this time – in the words of Roger Daltrey, we won’t be fooled again.

    So, If I was a Con MP now, I would concentrate on why my party won and concentrate harder on delivering on the promises made during the election campaign. Your party won because you generally didn’t engage in the petty bickering, and you presented a credible plan. Like grown-ups.

    You ran your flag up the pole and people saluted it. There is a genuine feeling of optimism and expectation in these parts. Please don’t let us down – they haven’t all got straw in their ears around here; the LibDems took the West Country for granted, and look what happened to them!! That’s democracy.

    Reply Indeed. I will mainly talk here about the Conservative government and what it is doing. As I did not spend time in the election analysing Lib dem,UKIP or GReen policy I may be permitted a few pieces post election to appraise it all.

    1. Mondeo Man
      May 12, 2015

      Dave M

      You have to be very careful in saying that the Conservatives won.

      Anything which resembles triumphalism would upset the many who wanted to vote UKIP but held their noses and voted Tory to keep Lab-SNP out – or are the incessant Tory press headlines which preceeded the election already being forgotten ?

      A massive last minute swing to the Conservatives took place because the voters were happy with them all along ? Shy Conservatives were they ?

      It may well be the case that UKIP defectors will go unacknowleged and ignored by the Conservatives – their votes an endorsement of Cameronianism rather than a refuge from the Miligonk and the Tartan InSturgeonts .

      Saying that the Conservatives ‘won’ would confirm my belief that UKIP defectors were being taken for chumps.

      1. DaveM
        May 13, 2015


        Not what I meant, but I see your point. I’m more optimistic than most, and I’m sure in a year or two’s time, when the referendum appears, the phalanx of Ukip supporters, and people who agree with their core policies, will put the cross in the right box.

        I agree with the obvious Ukip policies, but wanted to ensure a referendum, which wouldn’t have happened under Labour. But just because many of us voted for the Con party it doesn’t mean we all suddenly want to stay in the EU just because DC does. In fact, in anticipation of the possibility of the UK staying IN the EU, I am already exploring opportunities abroad.

      2. Jerry
        May 13, 2015

        @Mondeo Man; “UKIP defectors “

        Oh dear… Nothing like a bit of spiteful political infighting within a loosing party, whilst the Lab and LDs dust themselves down and accept that their message just simply wasn’t wanted, UKIP seem intent on the sort of blame game last seen within Labour after their election grubbing of 1983 that left them 14 years in the wilderness.

  28. ChrisS
    May 12, 2015

    Are we going to see an interim budget in June ?

    If so, that will be the perfect opportunity to introduce these measures.
    CGT starting at a rate of 20% and taper relief down to 5% after 10 years and zero after 20 years would be a good start. That would probably double the tax take in year one.

    IHT is more problematical. It might need to be tackled in stages : As a first step, why not exempt a principle place of residence owned for, say, 5 or 7 years from IHT altogether ?

    That would enable a cherished family home to be kept for future generations. Further changes to the allowance and rate could be made as and when the budget allowed. With the PPR excluded, the allowance could remain where it is for the time being and the next move could be to reduce the rate to a flat 20%.

    As far as property and other assets are concerned, I like your idea of treating them in the same way as CGT. If the rates were both taxes were set at 20%, taper relief could then be applied to assets on death as well.

    Under the current rules, I am in the daft position that my children would pay less IHT on my death than if I sold the same assets during my lifetime and paid the punitive 28% LibDem inspired rate of CGT !

  29. Tad Davison
    May 12, 2015

    ‘The main reason the Lib Dems fared so badly can be summed up in two words – tuition fees.’

    Wot, not the EU?

    Farage made mincemeat of Clegg in the EU debate, and they never recovered from it.

    They were found out. They could not defend the indefensible. They promised a referendum on the EU, until it was time to deliver, and that totally destroyed whatever credibility the Lib Dems had left.

    Oh, and their stance on boundary changes didn’t do them any favours either.

    Tad Davison


    1. Mondeo Man
      May 12, 2015


      The Tories have Nigel Farage to thank for two things.

      The destruction of the Lib Dems and for the destrution of many Labour seats.

      Thank you for reminding us.

      1. Mondeo Man
        May 13, 2015

        So much for ‘vote UKIP get Labour’ !

        1. Jerry
          May 13, 2015

          @Mondeo Man; “So much for ‘vote UKIP get Labour’ !”

          That is exactly what did happen in many now Labour seats, had the UKIP vote gone to the Tories some of those seats would almost certainly now have a Tory MP.

  30. behindthefrogs
    May 12, 2015

    So to summarise. Where Libdem policies like raising the income tax band were implemented it was a coalition decision but when their policy on tuition fees was not implemented it was their own fault!

    Reply Try reading it again. They decided to reverse their tuition fee policy. Both Conservatives and Lib dems wanted tax cuts, and willingly signed up to the tax threshold approach as the only tax cut Lib dems would accept.

  31. Ted Mombiot
    May 12, 2015

    Another reason the Lib Dems lost was their sudden change from 5 years of supporting the Conservatives in Government, to attacking their record during the election campaign.
    Did they not realise how counter productive this was and how totally illogical this appeared to voters.

  32. Max Dunbar
    May 12, 2015

    Now that the Lib-Dems have been consigned to their natural place in the wilderness you have a different third party to deal with, (words left out) from Scotland.
    Celebration and relief that you no longer have to deal with the Lib-Dems may be short lived. At least they were civilised and conformed to what most people would consider to be the norms, in the main, of acceptable behaviour.
    The SNP will be very different. Fortunately, they are not your partners but bitter ideological enemies of the Conservative Party whose instincts and behaviour patterns are summed up very well in today’s Scottish edition of The Telegraph by Cochrane.
    As I have emphasised before, they must not be given any concessions and any talk of consensus or compromise would, in any case, be viewed as weakness by them. Give them nothing. Their party operates along disciplined lines that will be familiar to students of post-war eastern European history. They are a serious threat to freedom of speech in Scotland and have, in fact, used their power to muzzle opposition already. The voters of Scotland will regret their stupidity in due course but may already be unable to restore their freedoms. Don’t let the SNP and their allies do to you what they intend to do to the inhabitants of Scotland.
    Etc ed

  33. Atlas
    May 12, 2015

    Being so lap-dog-style pro EU as well as their crackers Energy Policy did for them in my eyes.

    I wonder if the new Secretary of State for Climate Change will get a good impartial anlysis of the evidence – as recommended by the Global Warming Foundation?

    1. Hefner
      May 12, 2015

      That, if you believe that the Global Warming Policy Foundation will provide a good impartial analysis of the evidence.
      Have you ever tried to become a member of this august assembly? And to pay a minimum of £100 membership to be invited to presentations by people as distinguished as Lord Christopher Monckton, who can certainly talk but is not able to realise that the equations he puts on his presentations do not make much sense.

      1. Atlas
        May 13, 2015

        To be honest Hefner, No, I haven’t tried to become a member. However my scientific background makes me very uneasy about the ‘certainties’ that the Global Warming Lobby espouse. In particular, the lack of detail about the ‘corrections’ they apply to their published temperature data’ is not indicative of ‘good’ science. There are many other points as well.

  34. Robert Taggart
    May 12, 2015

    Good riddance – to all LieDims !
    The three previous LieDim voters one knows voted Green, Liebore and UKIP this time.
    They all felt betrayed by a party whom they thought were opposed to the Tories – not ‘in league’ with them !
    The tuition fees debacle played no part in these voters calculations – that just served to confirm their by now antagonistic feelings.
    The LieDims be very much in a ‘league of their own’ now !

    1. Robert Taggart
      May 14, 2015

      FTR – our local LieDim MP – Mark Hunter (a decent fella) – lost his seat to the Tory candidate. The seat was lost to the LieDims at the ’01 General Election – and remained theirs until now.
      Alas, the local Council seat which was also up for election (one of three such seats – elected for a four year term) was retained by the LieDims.

    2. Robert Taggart
      May 14, 2015

      PPS – FTR – oneself voted UKIP – on both counts.
      That said – the General election result ? – was much to our liking !

  35. Sue Doughty
    May 12, 2015

    And their prevention of boundary changes and IHT scuppered a lot of sitting MPs.

  36. Roy Grainger
    May 12, 2015

    For decades the Liberals told us that UK would be governed better by coalitions as are common in Europe yet when they finally get one the result is their party is destroyed. Quite ironic really. They, like the Greens and UKIP, are best suited to permanent sniping from the opposition benches – so much easier than actually have to implement coherent policies.

  37. Mitchel
    May 12, 2015

    My main concern with the Lib-Dems currently is that we do not get their ex- MPs foisted onto the House of Lords.After all,even in the guise of a protest party,they remain an Establishment party, and the Establishment does like to look after its own.

  38. Elliot Kane
    May 12, 2015

    The Lib Dem promise I remember most was ‘we believe it is time for an in-out referendum on the EU’ – which they, along with Labour and Conservatives, then voted against on a three line whip (With only one honourable exception, IIRC).

    Not that there was much doubt by then that the Lib Dems were a party with few people of actual ability, but a lot of childishness, pettiness and spite. They seemed like small children given the keys to the sweet shop more than a serious party of government.

    I had hoped for better, listening to Nick Clegg in the leader debates. I still think he meant what he said about a new politics and a new more co-operative way of doing things. I wish he, and the Lib Dems, had had the strength and stature to live up to his words.

    But words mean little compared with actions, and it was by their actions that the Lib Dems were ultimately judged, I think. They could have insisted on lower tuition fees, as they had promised, but the money went instead to foreign aid – a program so mismanaged that it is frequently used to buoy up dictatorships, or given to countries that neither need nor want it. They could have stood by their actions in government, but chose instead to weep about the horrors of working with the evil Tories – while continuing to pick up the cheques and the ministerial limousines.

    Even so, while I expected half of the Lib Dems at least to lose their seats, I had not expected them to be so far reduced, so swiftly. I suspect that they are soon to be extinct as a party (The next couple of decades will likely see them wound up, IMO), and there is a certain sadness in that. But the sad fact is that the Lib Dem giant, so impressive in opposition, turned out to be merely a pygmy that talked big. That, more than anything else, I suspect the electorate will neither forget nor forgive.

  39. Rods
    May 12, 2015

    Looking at elections in other EU countries where coalitions are much more common due to PR. There are two striking things: None of the parties are able to uphold a high percentage of their manifestoes, due to the horse trading and compromises that each party has to make, they are poorer at delivering on election promises, compared to a single ruling party. The junior partners are then severely punished by their supporters at the next election. Being a junior partner in a coalition is very much a poisoned chalice with period of disproportionate power while in Government followed by periods in the wilderness.

  40. PaulDirac
    May 12, 2015

    The truth is that there is no space in the center, both of the main parties are usually trying hard to straddle the centre, because you can’t win without it (as Ed found out).
    margaret brandreth-j above is basically right, ours is a two party system and the LibDem’s are surplus to requirements.

    Being aware that they don’t have any raison d’etre, they resorted to a campaign style which tried to out-do both main parties, but resulted in a set of unrealistic policies.

    Going into coalition forced them to support reality, which in the end was their moment of “The king is naked”

  41. Payne by name
    May 12, 2015

    So after watching Nick Clegg’s fawning resignation speech and Paddy Ashdown’s nauseatingly sanctimonious explanation on Question Time, it’s really not that hard to see why they lost so heavily.

    You need not look any further than the language and rhetoric of Ashdown’s arrogant and morally superior rant that the British electorate have succumbed to fear and hatred. That we have somehow lost all of the liberal values that seemingly only members of the Liberal party have a monopoly on.

    What staggering petulance to not only claim that they are the sole guardians of liberal values but that we are now so morally bankrupt, that we can’t see how great they are. They sound like a pretentious director who releases an incoherent mess of a film and then proclaims every critic of it as being too stupid to understand it.

    Maybe Nick and Paddy, maybe the electorate just didn’t agree with your policies. Maybe, like too many other politicians, you have become blinded by your own self-importance in telling us what we should be thinking rather than actually listening to what we are saying.

    MPs are meant to represent us. They are an elected individual meant to represent the opinions and attitudes of a constituency of people within the houses of parliament. It’s not to continue spouting the same old rhetoric year after year and enacting only what they think is best for us. They have to adapt and evolve, just as their constituents thoughts and opinions do.

    With all this re-writing and alternative explanations for the Liberals drumming, very few seem willing to recognise that the Liberals were simply out of touch with the people on the policies that they were offering.

    Now that’s fine to offer something different and alternative but please be big enough to recognise that if others don’t share your opinion it’s not because they are lost and have gone to the dark side.

    Almost 4 million people voted for UKIP, practically the same as the SNP and Lib Dems combined. That tells you that a significant number of people within the UK have concerns about Europe and Immigration. That tells you that a significant number of people are not in agreement with the Liberal’s policy of further integration with the EU and the continued unchecked immigration that this brings.

    Hence, when the Liberals are fumbling around in their tombola of dismissive assessments to explain why the British electorate have lost their way and just don’t understand them anymore, maybe they should take a good hard look at themselves.

    So by all means console and delude yourself in your morally righteous way that it is US and not YOU that are the problem but please do not gloss over the fact that you have become too busy pompously telling us what we should be doing, that you have forgotten to listen to what is being said.

    I’m sorry Nick, I’m sorry Paddy but the reality is that it is YOU and not US that are out of touch.

    1. Edward2
      May 13, 2015

      An excellent post.
      I agree with all you have said.

    2. Jerry
      May 13, 2015

      @Payne by name; “Almost 4 million people voted for UKIP,”

      Out of a total of how many UK electorate though, thus your point was what exactly – other than UKIP lost. I’m not sure which is the more “nauseatingly sanctimonious explanation”, that of the LDs Peers explanation as to why they lost or the official UKIPs line, now being feed to social media via the rank-and-file activists, trying to blame the system.

      “That tells you that a significant number of people within the UK have concerns about Europe and Immigration. That tells you that a significant number of people are not in agreement with the Liberal’s policy of further integration with the EU and the continued unchecked immigration that this brings.”

      It also tells us that the vast majority of the electorate do not necessarily want a de-facto Brexit if at all, that a majority wants to first find out if the EU can be reformed (or at the very least the UK can secure significant opt-outs), thus it tells us that a minority of voters actually want such things.

      “I’m sorry Nick, I’m sorry Paddy but the reality is that it is YOU and not US that are out of touch.”

      Hmm, if asked along party lines you might be correct, if asked along policy lines using a blind test (only the policy is know, not from who it came) I’m not at all sure the LDs would actually do so badly, but where would UKIP come?…

      1. Payne by name
        May 14, 2015

        “Out of a total of how many UK electorate though, thus your point was what exactly – other than UKIP lost. I’m not sure which is the more “nauseatingly sanctimonious explanation”, that of the LDs Peers explanation as to why they lost or the official UKIPs line, now being feed to social media via the rank-and-file activists, trying to blame the system.”
        My point was that a party with a view contrary to the Lib Dems received nearly 4 million votes. Hence the intention being to highlight that the Lib Dems policy on the EU, amongst others, was out of tune.

        For what it’s worth, I don’t blame the system. FPTP works fine for me. However, ignoring that a group of people numbering the same as those that voted for the SNP and the Lib Dems combined, is foolhardy.

        “It also tells us that the vast majority of the electorate do not necessarily want a de-facto Brexit if at all, that a majority wants to first find out if the EU can be reformed (or at the very least the UK can secure significant opt-outs), thus it tells us that a minority of voters actually want such things.
        I didn’t say that they wanted a de-facto Brexit. I said that they had concerns but I’m sure we could agree that a large number of the Tory vote would be Euro sceptic.

  42. Robert Christopher
    May 12, 2015

    The LibDems (and the Tories) should have broken Blair’s spell over the country and declared that half of school leavers going to university was a waste of the school leaver’s time, money, enthusiasm and hope and a waste of Britain’s wealth and youth.

    Along with the reduction of university entrance, apprenticeships should have been introduced, along with HNCs and HNDs, into the recreated polytechnics.

    There is still time to do it!

  43. Demetrius
    May 12, 2015

    In government there are very few if any “right decisions” since all or almost all options may have a down side or weakness or risk. So the real task is to get as little wrong as possible and that may involve making decisions counter to earlier thinking or intention. The Lib Dem ‘s and for that matter others did not seem to realise this.

  44. Michael Cawood
    May 12, 2015

    What the Liberals didn’t realise was that when they agreed to higher Student Tuition Fees, that effectively the Conservatives had sown the seeds of the Liberals’ destruction and as a result they lost most of their MPs, and I have no sympathy for the Liberals at all.

  45. a-tracy
    May 12, 2015

    I’m not sure I agree John, I think Cleggs stance on the EU and the awakening to the fact that they are full integrators had more to do with it. Otherwise more LD seats would have turned Labour than Conservative because at the end of the day it with the English Conservative party that nearly tripled fees for our children. It’s the people of the South West you need to ask.

    My local town council was Lib Dem for years, the Conservatives started winning more votes off the Lib Dems and now we get a Labour council. We had a Conservative County Council but this election it turned Labour for the first time because our Town and other none primary towns were left out and uncared about, other than for putting problem high density house building to meet quotas, churning up green land and people’s bit of greenery. Problems like litter and parks and flowers are a very low priority there are no areas that you can walk around without stepping over dirt and litter, the local shopping centre is falling down thanks to the Irish owner and the Council being unable to do anything about it at all because no proper protections were put in place and we had a fortune spent on an unnecessary road junction that has given neither motorist or pedestrian no benefit whatsoever, in fact most people in the town are scratching their heads wondering what the months of disruption and spending was all about because nothing is ever explained on the council websites, in fact on the main website you’d think our town didn’t exist. I took photographs over the bank holiday because I was so alarmed that even our only beauty spot was so unkempt.

    I simply think in England people went back to who do we want Conservative or Labour because if we choose Lib Dem we don’t know what we’re going to get and no manifesto pledges have to be honoured at all which frankly isn’t right.

    1. Denis Cooper
      May 13, 2015

      Well, Farage certainly mangled Clegg in two televised debates, but that was long after most of the collapse of LibDem support had happened, in fact it was close to complete by the end of 2010 when they were already down to 10% or 11%:

      That is if we can still believe anything about the opinion polls.

  46. Brian Tomkinson
    May 12, 2015

    Thankfully at this election millions of people realised, what many of us have known for years, that the Lib Dems are a duplicitous gang of two faced, self-servers unworthy of support.

  47. fedupsoutherner
    May 12, 2015

    Agree with much of what you say John but the other main reason the LibDims were almost hated in many sectors was over their stance on ‘waste of money’ renewables and their consistent approach to what was essentially a killer for industry and the economy.

    Ed Davey together with Milliband have lumbered us with this ridiculous approach to powering a modern nation. On the front page of the Scottish Daily Mail today it reports that families are paying an extra £1.4m EVERY day on their energy bills because of subsidies for wind and green energy schemes in Scotland alone. New figures show the bill for renewables has more than doubled after a huge rise in wind farms. The cost has risen to more than £500m a year in Scotland and the number of turbines has doubled over the past year with nearly 5,000 scattered across Scotland. More wind farms are being given the go ahead. On average a wind farm gets paid a third more to switch off than if they produced energy and sold it to the grid. The more that get erected the more they will be asked to switch off as they will be surplus to requirements, and thanks very much, that’s a nice little earner for the developer. Whitelee wind farm, just outside of Glasgow, has been paid more than £20m over the last year to switch off. This is just one wind farm in Scotland. It seems according to the SNP that the community benefit which is offered to local communities in the form of a bribe is now the most important reason for erecting a wind farm. Another way of getting funding for projects in Scotland while expecting everyone in the UK to pay for it through their energy bills.

    The Lib Dims by enforcing such rubbish upon the British public has done so much harm and never more than for those poor souls having to living with the damn things on their doorsteps. It is nothing but scandalous. Cameron has got to put a stop to these subsidies and not in 2 -3 years time but should say that any wind farm not connected to the grid and running by the end of the year gets no subsidies.

    1. ian wragg
      May 12, 2015

      Fat chance. The new minister for DECC is Roland Rudds sister and the Greens are happy with her appointment. A degree in history and illiterate on physics and mechanics. I hope new get some good blackouts this coming winter to highlight the total stupidity of our so called energy policy.

    2. A different Simon
      May 12, 2015

      I was flabbagasted when Ed Davey announced that he was “neither for nor against shale gas” .

      How can a Govt minister have no opinion on his portfolio ?

      At such a early stage the pioneering is done by junior companies which have typically raised risk capital from hundreds of ordinary far from wealthy retail investors .

      I don’t think the new Govt realises just how difficult it is going to be to convince potential investors to come back to UK shale .

      One Lib Dem MP showed some actual talent in a coalition which had a paucity ; Danny Alexander .

    3. Payne by name
      May 14, 2015

      Excellent point. Ed Davey was a buffoon on the environment.

      One of the best election debates I saw was on the BBC politics with reps talking about the environment. Only the UKIP chap seemed to know his facts and stats, whilst all the other parties were too busy trying to usurp each other with even greater proclamations of saving the world, pumping renewables etc.

  48. margaret b-Jones
    May 12, 2015

    I would have liked you to have a place in the cabinet.

  49. lojolondon
    May 12, 2015

    Hi John,
    I have never voted LibDem in my life, but I was tempted just 5 years ago – the main reason being because they committed to a referendum on the EU. I bet that every person who voted LibDem in 2010 for that particular reason, voted UKIP this time round – hence the massive swing. I hope the LibDems will never recover their support, due to the dishonesty of their last leadership.

    One more point, I see all the newspapers today are saying “Tory attack on the BBC”. I need to point out that since 1980 (and probably before), the BBC has solidly and consistently attacked the Conservatives and any party to the right of the LibDems, and acted as a spokesman for the Labour party. The cutting back or preferably down of the Biased BBC is way overdue, my only fear is that Conservative leadership lack the guts to do the necessary.

  50. Lindsay McDougall
    May 14, 2015

    The right wing of the Liberal Democrats, epitomised by Nick Clegg, combine free markets, moderately progressive taxation, love of the EU and a moderate dose of the ‘green crap’. I think that the Green Party is too fond of Clause 4, a big State (50% of GDP) and generally high taxation, including a 60% top rate of income tax.

    Nick Clegg’s wing of the LibDems would happily join up with the pro-European Tory Wets if the opportunity arose. Between them, they may try to water down the Government’s renegotiation stance.

  51. Stuart Saint
    May 14, 2015

    I understand the current favourite for new Leader proposes to rename this misbegotten rump.

    How about the Janus Party, they always like to face both ways.

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