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The Littlewood Plan: An interesting piece of kite flying?

By Angela Harbutt
October 23rd, 2012 at 2:30 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in Conservatives, Election, Liberal Democrats


Conservative home has got hold the November issue of Standpoint magazine, (released on Thursday), which, they say, carries an article by Mark Littlewood, (formerly of this Parish) advocating a pact between free market Lib Dems and Conservatives after the next election.

The Littlewood Plan would see Conservatives stand down in a Lib Dem seat where the Lib Dem MP agrees to pursue deficit reduction and free market policies, and signs up for a new coalition. He says (presumably addressing Mr Cameron) :

“The arrangement he should seek with free market-leaning (“Orange Book”) Lib Dem MPs should be unilateral but not universal. It would essentially amount to an offer to withdraw the Conservative candidate from those seats in which an incumbent Liberal was willing publicly to take a pledge to continue the work of the coalition beyond 2015, specifically in regard to swiftly completing the process of fiscal consolidation, preferably at a rather more rapid pace than at present.”

Con Home reports that Mark Littlewood argues this arrangement would particularly suit those Lib Dems in ministerial office since they will find it harder to distinguish themselves politically from their Coalition partners, and also have less time to spend campaigning out and about in the constituency. He also suggests that such a scheme would benefit the Conservatives – allowing them to focus their firepower on target Labour seats.

This idea has clearly caught Con Home on the hop. Unsurprisingly they dismiss the suggestion (as do those commenting on the blog) in quick order. Yet they can’t quite articulate a reason why they are against the idea, beyond the fact that any Lib Dem seat in electoral peril should be seized by the Conservatives at all costs. That’s it so far. Hardly a compelling reason to dismiss out of hand. Maybe they will have a bit of a think about it and come up with a somewhat more robust set of reasons to say no.

For our  part we like this out-of-the-box thinking. This far out from an election, it is little more than a  fascinating piece of kite-flying. But there is plenty of time for variations on the Littlewood Plan to be kicked about and mulled over.

Of course what we really want to see is Ministers on both sides knuckling down to the job of getting growth going with some thoughtful ideas that will actually work. But if Vince can engage in cross bench flirting with Ed Miliband, via text or behind closed doors, we should expect, nay demand, a little flirting within the coalition too, surely?

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Lib Dem members back post-2015 cuts to eliminate deficit

By Angela Harbutt
December 19th, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Comments Off on Lib Dem members back post-2015 cuts to eliminate deficit | Posted in Liberal Democrats

I have been away for a few days – but catching up with some reading this afternoon I came across the Lib Dem Voice poll of members. posted last week.

LDV asked: As a result of reduced growth forecasts, it now seems unlikely the Coalition Government will achieve its aim of eliminating the deficit over the lifetime of this parliament. Danny Alexander has indicated that the Liberal Democrats will probably need to go into the next election in 2015 promising nearly £30bn more austerity for a future government to balance the books. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “Eliminating the deficit must remain a top priority, even if that means the Liberal Democrats have to commit to post-2015 cuts at the next general election.”

  • 60% – I agree
  • 32% – I disagree
  • 8% – Don’t know / No opinion

By a 2:1 margin, then, Lib Dem members believe it is important that the party holds steadfast to the Coalition’s stated priority for the next government to balance the books.

Other survey results show that a similar level (62%) of Lib Dem members back the coalition’s deficit policy.

That should bring some Christmas cheer to the leadership!

For further analysis visit the LDV website.

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The new progressive consensus..

By Angela Harbutt
May 12th, 2010 at 1:36 am | 4 Comments | Posted in Election, UK Politics

… was identifed back in November 2007…

Above is an interview on GMTV from November 2007. Mark Littlewood (once of this parish) is being cross examined by Steve Richards (of slightly leftie Independent fame). Littlewood nails it on the blue-yellow coalition. He is now Director General of the IEA (Institute of Economic Affairs) , the original free market think tank. Looks like the IEA might again be ahead of the curve!

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Liberal MPs should be applauded

By Angela Harbutt
May 12th, 2010 at 12:31 am | 4 Comments | Posted in Economics, Liberal Democrats, UK Politics

So the full coalition deal has passed the scrutiny of MPs and Federal executive. Comments from those leaving was that MPs gave 100% backing – that is what is needed and congratulations to each and every one of them. All for one. One for all. What ever the future holds, backing the leader and putting the countries interests first is right.

From the sideways comments from those leaving the meeting, there seems to have been some dissent from the Federal Executive…. but not enought. I have had no news on that yet though….

Onward and upward.

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The Lib Dems: dithering or duplicitous?

By Angela Harbutt
May 11th, 2010 at 10:40 am | 12 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats, UK Politics

This is the first time in most of our life times that we are facing post-election coalition negotiations. It is therefore understandable – as this is new to everyone – that it will take a while to reach a conclusion.

BUT having watched unfolding events yesterday, and listened to various phone-ins this morning, it is clear that the country’s patience is running out. The Liberals are right on the cusp of screwing this up. If a definitive statement is not made in the next few HOURS (not days as some suggest) – then the Liberal’s standing with the electorate may be damaged for a decade – however good the final decision turns out to be.

Reports of the Lib Dems being in parallel talks with both Tories and Labour are not playing out well. Regardless of the facts of the matter, and in spite of statements to the contrary from Nick himself, this LOOKS, for all the world, as though the Liberals are putting party interests before those of the country. Trying to screw out a last few concessions from both parties by playing one party off against the other.

This is NOT the “change” to politics that people signed up for. 

I know Nick, a little. I have no doubt that he is attempting to do “the right thing”. But perception is as important as fact. And the public perception is that self interest is being put first. 

Now comes the time for decisive leadership. He needs to get a grip and bring this thing to a close – and fast.

Having watched the tired old faces from Labour over the past 12 hours, trot out the Campbell-inspired lines on why a Lib/Lab/SNP/Plaid etc etc coalition is legitimate, I am more convinced than ever, that it is not. Even they don’t look very convinced as they mouth the words.

The Tories -the party with the strongest mandate as judged by the electorate – have moved a long way to accomodate the needs of the Liberals – and are sitting smugly on the moral high ground. The Liberals, in contrast, risk looking somewhere between dithering and duplicitous. Sorry that has to be said. 

So, Nick MUST act now. He has in my view has only one option – to go into full coalition with the Conservatives– step up to the plate – and get on with it.

The public will not forgive the Liberals for propping up a defunct Labour party, and a shambolic rag tag of nationalist and independent junior partners (each with a price tag attached to their support). An ugly looking alliance that has little chance of long term stability. Add to that the prospect of a Prime Minister that this country has no say in appointing or judging when they cast their vote for Labour last week and it just becomes an impossibility.

The only other option is to say – for all those demands for PR – that you can’t do a deal with either! One you cant agree with, the other one is too repugnant to contemplate. So you will sit at arms length from the least-worst, like a petulant child. If that is how you plan to sell PR to the public it’s a sorry one. You might as well give up on the idea of PR for good. 

So do a deal with the Conservatives  – take the full blown option – and do it now.

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