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I didn’t vote Lib Dem to get a Tory government…

May 10th, 2010 Posted in Election, UK Politics by

Ha. That’ll have the tweeters wondering what on earth is going on over in LV land!

No I have not gone mad. I am quoting what I have heard on phone-ins/read on various blogs over last 24 hours or so. IF I am to believe some posts, thousands, indeed “hundreds of thousands” are about to walk away from the Lib Dems because “they didn’t vote Lib Dem to get a Tory government”.

I found it a bit annoying when I first heard it – but as this sentiment seems to be spreading – I am getting increasingly irritated by it. In part it’s because I hate that sort of post-event whinging ( “I didn’t get what I wanted so I will throw my toys out of the pram”) but there are more specific reasons why it’s getting under my skin…..

1.     No one voted to get a Tory government. People voted to elect their constituency  MP (or indeed to stop a constituency MP) and hoped that others across the country would vote similarly (the only way to “stop” a Tory (or indeed Labour) government). That worked in some area’s – which is why there are fewer Tory MP’s than anyone expected. Even if “voting Lib Dem” in one area did stop a Tory, clearly not enough people in enough areas did the same – hence the situation we are in. The idea that one vote for one local MP would somehow stop a whole government is laughable.


2.    This seems to throw the blame onto the Lib Dems when the blame (if that is the right word – which it probably isn’t) sits with the voters. If this nation really cared about stopping the Tories (or indeed Labour) more people would have voted Lib Dem. That would have given Nick a much stronger negotiating position to choose who to talk to and on what terms. Just because Mrs Miggins voted Lib Dem to stop the local Tory, does not mean that Mrs Miggins view out trumps the nations view. And whilst she and those like her might whinge now, they have to look at themselves frankly and ask whether, if they cared that much, they could have done more. Goodness knows I think Nick did his bit.


3.    Actually the Lib Dems HAVE STOPPED a Tory government – or at least stopped such a strong Tory government that they can ride rough-shod over everyone. Had the Tories taken the Lib Dem seats they targeted we would already have Mr Cameron at No 10. As we stand here now, it is likely/possible that the Lib Dems have the ability to be a balancing item on Tory legislation. And even if a coalition doesn’t happen the Tory party will have to listen to its own backbenchers much more than the previous regime – and indeed listen to the Lib Dems- that’s in part a result of people voting Lib Dem.


4.    Perhaps most importantly it’s annoying because Nick Clegg could not have been clearer, throughout the general election, that the Lib Dems would not decide who to talk to in the event of a hung parliament – he would NOT be kingmaker. It would be the people who would dictate it by virtue of which party  had the largest mandate. It is demonstrably clear that the Tories have the most seats and the largest vote share. In these circumstances, had Nick decided to ignore the Tories, I think the country would have rightly been outraged that Nick had gone back on his word. Where were these people-  who are now complaining that they did not vote Lib Dem to get a Tory government – during the last 4 weeks? Integrity matters – and like the outcome we find ourselves in or not (mainly “not”)- Nick has shown to be a man of integrity – and that counts for a lot these days.


Now of course the proof is in the pudding. Can the Lib Dem negotiators extract enough ground across its 4 key manifesto pledges to feel that their position is honourable (and right for the country let’s not forget!) – accepting of course it’s relative position in the situation (more people voted for Tory policies than Lib Dem policies).


If the Tories are not willing to concede sufficient ground to allow the Lib Dem’s to feel their position with their voters is honourable, then I suspect that they won’t go into full coalition – but sit back and allow a minority Tory party to govern as best it can.   (I remain convinced that the idea of a Lib/Lab/nationalist/green uncle tom cobbley and all coalition is for the fairies).


But to read/listen to people moaning at this stage because Nick is attempting to find a workable solution with the Tories is nothing short of ridiculous.

20 Responses to “I didn’t vote Lib Dem to get a Tory government…”

  1. Ross Says:

    I totally agree with you Angela. It’s a bit like some Tory voters making the same sort of complaints – “I voted Tory and I got Lib Dems?”

    Nick Clegg has been true to his word. I’ve been a bit concerned about the Lib/Lab conversations. I’m not sure what’s being said between Clegg and Brown but I would be very disappointed if he entered into a deal with Labour/Nationalists/Greens if a Con/Lib agreement couldn’t be met. But I don’t believe Nick and the LDs would be that stupid. I want electoral reform but not at any price. Doing a deal with Labour will discredit the LDs with the voter.

    If the LDs can’t do a deal with the Tories, then let the Tories run as a minority Government. It will at least give “Call me Dave” a chance to prove that they have changed as a party.

    But I remain hopeful that an agreement will be met. And if it is, then it should be seen as a positive step forward in politics.

  2. Giles Freethink Says:

    What a brilliant post.

  3. mpg Says:

    Amen, Angela. Someone who knows the British constitution.

  4. Nicholas Says:

    England voted for a Tory government and now will seemingly be frustrated because the SNP and the LibDems will prop up Labour. I think it is now time for democracy: English independence.

  5. Martin Drew Says:

    If the LibDems can, by going into coalition with the Conservative Party, draw some of their teeth and temper their policies with sensible more moderate policies then the whole of Britain will be better off. Most people voted Tory to get out Labour rather than because they wanted their more extreme and bizarre policies. Has it ocurred to any LibDem that we might have lost several million votes because people thought our immigration amnesty policy was bizarre and that the public who deserted us between the first debate and the election now hope that in a coalition the Conservatives will temper that?

  6. Ian Wilson Says:

    Agree completely. If Labour dangle PR, the Lib Dems must be clear that what the public and press will see as a “coalition of the losers” cannot deliver. All it would take is a dozen labour MPs to disobey the whip and it would be dead in the water.
    Nick Clegg made it clear he would do the right thing by the country. The right thing is to prove that Liberal Democrats can be part of a successful and effective government. This is far more important that electoral reform. If we support a failed government just to get PR then the public, especially the English public, which actually voted for a Conservative Government, will not forgive us. Liberal Democrats would be annihilated in a snap Autumn election. We would be back to a two party state, perhaps for a lifetime.

  7. Ellie Says:

    Thing is, I really don’t see a LibDem/Conservative coalition being stable and delivering what is promised. I’m not anti Tory (well, I am, but not enough to lose all powers of rational though over coalition talks), but electoral reform is toxic to the Conservatives. We know that, they know that, but they can’t get Cameron to No10 without us.

    Problem is, once he’s in there, they don’t need us anymore. They can tear up the agreement and some people will get cross but, crucially, not their own supporters who don’t want the coalition anyway. All of this “national interest” nonsense is just so much horse apples, because every party sees themselves having the most power as being in the national interest.

    They would be a minority government, but not so far short of a majority that a vote of no confidence would be expected immediately and we would have no bargaining power. That’s why I’m increasingly against a coalition with the Conservatives, whatever they offer.

    Labour, on the other hand, are offering more, they have reform built into their own manifesto* and they need the coalition to work even more than we do. If it fell apart, they would face an almost immediate vote of no confidence and an election in which they would be obliterated. Even the Labour old dogs apparently against reform know that to be true. When the chips are down, it is a rare politician indeed who chooses principal over their seat.

    With Labour, the two parties best interests are aligned, with the Tories they are not.

    *I don’t buy the whole “they’ve had 13 years to deliver reform, why should we believe them now?” argument because that sort of reform is simply not practical while you have a majority. They couldn’t deliver it; they needed a hung parliament.

  8. Ian Sanderson Says:

    What all these ‘I didn’t vote LibDem to get a Tory government’ voices forget is that there are plenty of people, myself included, that didn’t vote LibDem to get a Labour government either.

    My vote in a Labour safe seat for the LibDems was as much an anti-Labour vote as it was a pro-LibDem vote.

    My great worry for a Lib-Lab coalition is that it will lack legitimacy. Not just the risk it may be viewed as a coalition of losers, nor the fact that we would end up with another unelected Prime-Minister. English health, education and transport policy would be again pushed through parliament by the votes of Scottish Labour and LibDem MPs, whose own constituents would not be effected by their votes. This is not democratic and continues to push English voters towards the Tories and fringe parties.

    As much as some LibDem activists hate the Tories, realistically, and for the sake of legitimacy, there is only one option for government.

  9. TommyP Says:

    Thought I’d share another taster of this sort of nonsense with you all :)

    A labour party member hated Tories so much (ofc) that in his constituancy he voted LD’s to make sure the tories didnt get in. (im sure you all can understand the consituancy impact and his reasons e.t.c.)

    He then starts whining about a minority Tory Government, and saying how horrified he is that Clegg is even considering talks with the Tories.

    My answer:

    If we had PR, you would have voted for who you actually supported, and not made expectations of those who you would vote against at your 1st strategic opportunity.

    Certainly the idea of a Tory minority government doesnt fill me with joy, but they did get most of the votes, and most of the seats, and we need to honor that imo. or else we are no better than the old parties we despise.

    If you want to preach from the moral high ground, you need to stay up on that moral high ground no matter how uncomfortable it is.

  10. Mr Steve Says:

    Okay, for the first time in my long life i voted lib dem to keep the tories out, so i now face the exact result i did not want, or vote for, so am i let down? you bet, my thoughts are if you have a lib dem and a con pact then you are CON- DEM ing the country if no party has enough then re- run the election. what is certain as sure as hens lay eggs if this deal goes ahead i will NEVER vote lib-dem again

  11. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Mr steve – sorry to hear your comments. But as I say – you could only vote lib dem to keep one tory out – the MP in your constituency. Sadly not enough people in other constituencies did the same or Nick would be in a stronger position to negotiate. If Nick had a hundred seats then we may have seen a very different turn of events. I dont think however you can blame Nick for sticking to his word. The talks with Labour broke down – it looks like Labour did not want the deal. In the circumstances the electorate delivered I think that a Lib/Con coaltion is infinitely better than a minority Tory government. I really hope that when the dust has settled you rethink your position – or at least listen to what Nick has to say,. Thanks for the post though.x

  12. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Mr steve – you might also be a little pleased at least to know that the liberals have negotiated to put on hold the inheritance tax and married people tax policies whilst lib dems are in govt. so some good has surely come of this.

  13. Dee Wills Says:

    What a lot of people are finding hard to swallow is this apparent u turn by both parties insulting each other lst week and now all cosying up. Is the arrangement best for the country or best for the Lib dems because it seems funny how all the negotiators have cabinet jobs.
    I have voted Lib Dem in last 2 elections and never will again. So come on gives us electoral reform and say goodbye to ever getting back into cabinet again.

  14. Ellie Says:


    That is what happens in a coalition. It isn’t a U-turn, it’s just how it works and it will happen after every election if we ever get proper PR.

    You’re apparently against co-operation and pro-electoral reform. Surely you can see that is a contradictory position?

  15. Dee Says:

    On the contrary Ellie- many people voted Lib Dem because they saw them as the lesser of 2 evils. In my view PR would allow us to representation from many parties in our area but the proportions ( it’s in the name) would be governed by their share of the vote, this is not what has happened here . The Alternate Vote does not deliver what the Liberals have long campaigned for.
    So for the Liberals to throw away half of their principles for cabinet posts is not a U turn but brakes on, change driver and throw out half your passengers.
    They could have been patient, we were getting there steadily increasing the vote
    The economy was one of the biggest themes in this election and the Liberals, instead of the sound economic policies put forward by Vince Cable, are being squashed by George Osborne. This isn’t co operation it’s a hijacking.

  16. Ellie Says:


    I agree that AV is not PR, however, it should deliver more LibDem MPs in the future, making the move to STV easier to achieve. Surely it is better to take that step than to hold out for a move to STV in one go, which will almost certainly never happen.

    I think you are wrong to believe we could have been patient and got there with a steady increase of our vote share. The problem lies with FPTP, which breaks down when there are 3 approximately equally sized parties and delivers hung parliaments; as we saw in 1974 and as we are seeing now.

    What that means in practice, is that steady growth is only possible upto ~25%. Then, the only way for a small party to move forwards is to usurp one of the other big two and leap to a share of 40%. It is possible that, one day, one of the big two will collapse in such a dramatic and terminal manner that that will become possible, but I don’t fancy hanging around waiting for it, do you?

  17. tom mackenzie Says:

    Have the Tories fooled us with a trendy tree? For more comment see;

  18. Richard Davies Says:

    I’ve voted Liberal note for 30 YEARS but not anymore.Clegg has turned out to be nothing more than Camerons puppet. Don’t be surprised to see(assuming the coalition lasts that long)a loss of a lot of lib dem councillors come the next local elections. Don’t forget 5 million Public Sector workers will have a lot of votes not to cast for Tory/Lib Dem in revenge for treating them like scum of the earth.

  19. paul Says:

    lib dem sold its soul i have been a voter of libdem since i was 18 never again for as long as i live if tht is how they treat there voters

    no wonder they never get in


  20. Ruth Says:

    And NOW we see the promises of both parties being denied.Bring back Labour, all is forgiven!