Will the Lib Dems accept Cameron’s offer?


David Cameron has made a “big, open and comprehensive offer” to the Liberal Democrats. It included the possibility of all party committee of inquiry on Electoral Reform. Will it be enough for the Lib Dems?

Lib Dem Voice say “Cameron offers … er, not very much really”:

“Cameron looked to be offering only one new proposal: a cross-party commission on electoral and political reform.

“That of course was Blair’s offer in 1997 which subsequently turned to dust.”

Nothing yet from Lib Dem Voice (which seems to have fallen over) but Meanwhile, a range of other Lib Dems have set out their opinion:

• Lib Dem councillor and prominent tweeter, Sara Bedford says: “The LibDems are looking for a meaningful relationship, not a one night stand. Looks like we might be remaining single, then?”

• Blogger Mark Thompson replies to a question on his views: “Sounds like change from FPTP is being ruled out if I am reading this right. Not near a TV though. Just basing on tweets.”

• Lib Dem Alex Wilcock: “Cameron promises “committee of enquiry” on electoral reform. That’s what Heath said in 1974. We told him to sod off, too.”

• Alix Mortimer says, “Uh-oh. Long grass on PR.”

• Another Lib Dem, Matt (@Kopmatt88) says, “Completely against. Electoral reform is a must for any lib dem support.”

At Next Left, the Fabian Society’s Tim Horton (not a Lib Dem incidentally) says:

“For many progressive voters who voted Lib Dem on the grounds that they believed them to be a progressive party, a Lib-Tory coalition would be an outrage. (It certainly makes a mockery of the rather sanctimonious commentaries we have had in the liberal broadsheets, casting the Lib Dems as somehow more progressive than the Labour Party.) For many voters who believed Nick Clegg when he toured the country claiming to be the party of fairness, falling in with the Tories would be a betrayal.

“The real point to make in advance of any coalition talks is this: the Lib Dems should not entertain the idea that they can be part of a de facto coalition-by-abstention with the Conservatives whilst avoiding political fallout from the resulting Conservative actions. If they are tempted down this route, I suspect the Labour Party, together with many progressives up and down the country, would work very hard to ensure the Lib Dems paid a heavy political price for such behaviour amongst voters on the centre-left.”

UPDATE 15.35:

@JoChristieSmith: “Cameron come much further than expected; could be a trap but lets see how the negotiations go before dismissing the idea of them”

@SamJordison: “”No, no, no.” Better to make a deal with an adder’s fangs. He offered nothing real.”

@mrrmooseface: “No way dude! Hope Nick Clegg won’t betray us all – we need proportional representation”

@alexwilcock: “And after 13 years of Labour lying about it we’d be mad to trust them either!”

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  • Modicum

    @britbox:

    “Please don’t be foolish enough to think you will actually get 22% of the vote if proportional representation is brought in. A large number of those votes are tactical votes”

    The Liberals lose at least as many votes due to tactical voting as they gain. People are intelligent enough to know that in most constituencies supporting the Lib Dems is a wasted vote.

    In any case the argument for PR is not that it gives anyone a partisan advantage. It is that it is the only system based on majority rule.

    Regardless of what we have been reading in the rightwing press lately, 36% is not a mandate to govern.

  • britbox

    @Modicum

    36% was the mandate for Labour to govern in the last parliament, with a 60+ seat clear majority. I didn’t see much of an outcry from the left in that scenario.

    I disagree with your view on tactical voting – I think the LibDems benefit more from this than you suggest. I’ve never come across anyone voting Labour or Tory as an “Anyone but the Libdems” vote, but plenty of instances where the reverse is true. Still, this is all opinion based and we’d never know the actual truth unless PR was actually brought in.

  • http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/jonathan-pontell-cleggs-rise-is-the-sound-of-generation-jones-clearing-its-throat-1961191.html Kate E

    It is interesting that the two key players in these negotiations, Clegg and Cameron have had very siilar lives and both cme from the same generation. I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more discussion about the major transition between generations we are witnessing in the leadership of our country. After 13 long years of Baby Boomer Prime Ministers, and even longer with a Baby Boomer-dominated Parliament, we now have a new generation in charge: Generation Jones…the previously lost generation between the Boomers and Generation X. We are likely to now have a GenJones PM in Cameron, and Parliament has now undergone a dramatic shift from Boomer to Joneser domination. In other Western countries in recent years, a lot of media attention has accompanied this Boomer to GenJones transition. In fact, it got so much media buzz after Joneser Barack Obama came to power that The Associated Press’ annual Trend Report named The Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009.
    This commentary about GenJones in The Independent last week has a very interesting take on the meaning of Clegg and Cameron’s identities as GenJonesers: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/jonathan-pontell-cleggs-rise-is-the-sound-of-generation-jones-clearing-its-throat-1961191.html

    I also found this site worth looking at to get a quick sense of GenJones in the UK:
    http://www.generationjones.org.uk/

  • Modicum

    @Britbox:

    “36% was the mandate for Labour to govern in the last parliament, with a 60+ seat clear majority. I didn’t see much of an outcry from the left in that scenario.”

    Personally I’ve always advocated electoral reform, but I agree that many in the Labour party have big a blind spot on the issue. Even leaving aside questions of democracy and fairness, in my view reform is in the long term interests of the centre-left. With PR we would probably never have had Thatcher as PM.

  • britbox

    @Modicum

    Indeed, the Labour Party have a huge blind spot on the issue. It was barely an afterthought a year ago – now it’s being discussed almost on the same importance level as the economy. Clearly this is because of their changed circumstances.

    You may be right about Thatcher never being elected as a PM but it’s not a given. I don’t believe you will get the same voting patterns if you replace First Past the Post system with PR, so it would be dangerous to assume those voting percentages would stick if the system was changed.

    I think LibDems would benefit in the short term with PR but in the longer term reduced to something along the lines of the David Steel’s Liberal Party.

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