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2015: the Oyster Card election

By Simon Goldie
December 22nd, 2010 at 11:59 am | 3 Comments | Posted in coalition

In 1918 Conservative and Liberal electoral candidates were given a signed letter from Lloyd George and Bonar Law stating that they were supported by both leaders.  Asquith famously called the letter a coupon and the campaign has been known as the ‘coupon election’ ever since.

The UK’s next general election isn’t scheduled until 2015. Despite that, there has been talk of some sort of informal pact between the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats already.

At yesterday’s PM and DPM press conference, David Cameron said that it was likely that the coalition partners would fight the campaign separately.

Likely is not certain.

It is doubtful we would have a ‘coupon’ election. But we just might have an ‘Oyster card’ election.

What that means is that candidates from both parties would campaign on their manifestos but refer to the successes of the coalition.  More importantly, like an Oyster card, they might top-up their manifesto pledges with commitments that cut across both parties.

A lot can happen in the next four and a half years.

If we do have an ‘Oyster card’ election, remember you read it here first.

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“If LDs sink then Dave is out”

By Angela Harbutt
December 1st, 2010 at 2:25 am | 9 Comments | Posted in coalition, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats

HAT TIP : Read this from……..

You have to see the chart….but here is a taster… (click on the link to read full article and see the chart…. you want to…i know you want to……)

” ….The above chart shows the actual poll shares achieved at the general elections from 1979 onwards. The 2015 numbers are the current PAPA numbers (Mike’s polling average). It also shows the GE turnout % (green line) and the combined share of Labour plus the LibDems (dotted line).

What does it tell us?

Firstly, it shows that there is quite some truth in the notion that Labour and the LibDems have historically fed off each other’s vote. Their combined vote has traditionally been a little over 50%, but this went up to the high 50s during Labour’s time in power. The Labour view that the LibDems were ‘on our side’ is not entirely unjustified – and hence the bitter feelings of betrayal that many lefty voters now feel about the LibDem decision to get in bed with Dave. This is very dangerous for Dave. Labour’s vote translates disproportionately into seats as their vote gets towards 40%. When Labour and Tories are neck and neck in the polls that means, I’m afraid, that Labour are well ahead in seats. Equalising constituencies and sorting postal votes out will help Dave, but only so much. If the LibDems sink then Dave is out.

Secondly, current polling shows that the LibDems’ joining a coalition with Dave has not apparently broken the tradition. The Tory polling remains steady in the high 30s – to 40s range, and Labour is up wholly at the LibDems’ expense. This gives Clegg a sharp dilemma – it seems the lefty half of the party has drifted to the red camp and I don’t think they’re coming back. At 12.5% the LibDems are just not going to win many seats at a GE and the ones they do win will be due to big name local incumbents. The marginals (and Scotland?) will be gone. My own (FPTP based) model has the LibDems gaining just 22 seats at the current level in the polls and an enormous Labour majority. The LibDems would be dead (and Dave too) if current polls were actual GE vote shares.

This raises some serious questions about tactical voting. I think historically the vast majority of tactical voting has been Labour and LibDem voters supporting whoever would keep out the local Tory. We have never seen much tactical voting by Tories – if they are not happy they just stay at home, as the clear alignment of Tory and Turnout lines shows. But now that the LibDems are proving to be good partners in government, I think it is fair to expect there will in future be some Blue / Yellow tactical voting to keep Labour out of some marginals.

And that leaves the LibDems and Dave with some very clear messages …….

……The LibDems’ future lies not in being the third party but in being the conscience of a permanent centre right alignment based on civil liberties and sound money…”

Ok you know thr on the above link to read the rest….

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The future of Liberal Democrat thinking

By Timothy Cox
October 28th, 2010 at 4:04 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in UK Politics

Last night I had the pleasure of speaking at the Institute for Government, on behalf of Liberal Vision, on “The future of Liberal Democrat thinking.” Chaired by Lord Adonis (boo… hiss!), the other panellists included Lord Clement-Jones, Neil Sherlock and Julian Astle from Centre Forum.

The IfG have provided a comprehensive summary of the discussion here (and, for those of you who are really bored, a full podcast here!) but I thought I’d briefly add my thoughts on some of the issues raised:

Lord Clement-Jones lauded our exulted one, rightly describing Clegg’s decision to join the coalition as “bold” and referring back to the writings of Jo Grimond to demonstrate that he is “entirely in line with the antecedents in the party”. I was less convinced by his referral to The Spirit Level (Wilkinson and Pickett) when summarising key liberal texts from which to set the agenda for future liberal thinking. Really?!

Neil Sherlock, spoke well on the forthcoming priorities for the LDs: ensuring that the government is successful, delivering LD policies and demonstrating that coalition politics worked. All valid points, from a man who certainly knows a thing or two about the higher echelons of the party.

Julian Astle, Exec Director at the liberal (with a small “l”) think tank Centre Forum, was excellent in his defence of liberal values and in addressing the issues at the core of modern liberal thinking. His description of the “big society” as having a liberal core was particularly refreshing: it’s good to see a liberal sticking up for a liberal thesis irrespective of which party it emanated from.


Which brings us on to my point, which was that the LDs must be careful not to warp their agenda in order to distinguish themselves from the Conservatives. Liberal (small l) and conservative ideology is as distinct today as it was at the turn of the 20th century- when the Labour Representation Committee only held 2 seats (arh… for the good ole days!). Attempting to force the distinction, by compromising our core agenda for the benefit of the hard left, risks playing into the hands of our opponents at the ballot box- be they red, blue, green or simply nuts.

Let’s get on with bringing a truly liberal agenda to this government, show that coalition governance works for the people and stop worrying about what disaffected Labour voters think of the LDs in government.

NOTE: Some excellent questions from the floor followed; my favourite of which can be summarised as “what would the LD’s have done differently had they been in power in 1997”. Well not THIS for a starters. Thanks very much for your thirteen year flirtation with “social-democracy”, but I think we’ve all had quite enough now!

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24 types of authoritarians

By Julian Harris
July 14th, 2010 at 2:01 pm | 15 Comments | Posted in Satire

Following in the footsteps of this.


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Achieving coalition with the Tories is a triumph for the so-called Orange Book tendency…

By Angela Harbutt
May 13th, 2010 at 3:32 am | 3 Comments | Posted in Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, UK Politics

Recommended …. 

Telegraph article written by Mark Littlewood… (yes you know..once of this parish, now DG of the IEA)

In his article (which I wish I had penned btw) he basically argues that the formation of a Conservative-Liberal coalition government finally blows apart the idea that the Liberals are natural bedfellows of the Labour Party or some fictious centre-left “progressive alliance”.

Mark also identifies – as did we – the importance of David Laws in the formation of this coalition…. “From the Liberal Democrat perspective, achieving coalition with the Tories is a triumph for the party’s so-called Orange Book tendency of classical, market-orientated liberals. David Laws, who played a central role in the negotiations with the Conservatives, personifies this wing of the party“.

Hear hear.

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