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This isn’t coalition – it’s government by blackmail

17 May 2014

We have had much occasion to reflect, recently, on Disraeli’s dictum that Britain ‘does not love coalitions’. It’s now becoming depressingly clear that coalitions don’t much love Britain either. What started off as functional coalition government has descended into the most appalling policy blackmail which I looked at in my Daily Telegraph column yesterday. I said that granting ‘minority’ status to the Cornish was the result of such a horse-trade. We’ve had more examples today. The Daily Mail has stood up the fact that the Cornish move was in return for Clegg approving a £600 million reform of Town Hall pensions. The Times leader joins this theme, saying the horse trading is ‘an example of how not to govern‘. But it’s an example of what our government has now become.

In Dominic Cummings’ incendiary blog, he reveals that Nick Clegg’s ‘universal free school meals’ policy was demanded in exchange for his not vetoing Cameron’s £700 million marriage tax break Given that 1,700 schools don’t even have kitchens, it’s a bad policy already bringing chaos to smaller schools. It could only have been produced by the horsetrading system that now exists where proper government used to be. Cummings is acting as whistleblower, a pursuit that this coalition has moved to protect. Which makes it all the more amusing that Clegg now wants him arrested.

How, you might ask, did the Lib Dems come to have a veto over anything? The answer lies in something called the Home Affairs Committee in cabinet. Clegg chairs this committee, and uses it as a device to veto policies that the Tories are keen on. ‘He then banks it,’ a Cabinet member explained to me, ‘and then uses it barter in the Quad. That’s where the horse-trading takes place. None of us know what goes on there.’

The ‘Quad’ is David Cameron, George Osborne and their respective LibDem deputies: Clegg and Danny Alexander. This, rather than the Cabinet, makes the decisions for British government and grants 50 per cent of the power to a party with just 9 per cent of the seats. Say what you like about Clegg, but he has negotiated a pretty good deal for his party. As one Tory puts it: ‘While the PM is watching box sets with Sam Cam, Clegg is pulls the strings which run the  British government ‘


And why doesn’t Cameron nudge Clegg off the chairmanship of this committee? ‘Because he doesn’t like conflict, he’d rather resolve things over a chat,’ says a minister And there’s plenty to chat about in the Quad, with Clegg able to walk into each meeting holding a bunch of Tory policies hostage and willing to negotiate for their release. ‘But it’s not as bad as you think,’ a senior Cameron-friendly Tory told me. ‘We do it too.’ Yes, that’s not as bad as you think — it’s far worse. It means both Tories and LibDems are now putting party before country.

That Tories also veto good LibDem policies just for the hell of it underlines that  coalition is now inimical to good government in Britain.  Jeremy Heywood should, quite frankly, be ashamed to preside over a mechanism which shortcuts all the checks and balances that a democratic system is supposed to bring. Result? Under-examined policy ideas, omnishambolic budgets, U-turns aplenty and simply bad government. Gimmicks supplanting good policy.

The model of co-operation which looked so impressive at the start of this government has given way to tit-f0r-tat battle for headlines — with Clegg playing the role of saboteur, and Tories joining in his game. Cameron should have given the LibDems their own departments so they’d judge themselves on what they can create — not on how often they put a spoke in Tory wheels.

The party political broadcast made by the Tories (above) before the last election warning about the horror of coalitions now looks horribly prophetic. Lack of transparency? Tick — meet the Quad. Under-the-table deals? Tick — meet the Home Affairs cabinet committee (actually, we’ll never meet either as their affairs are conducted in secret, and promises scribbled on Post-It notes so they can’t be FOI’d). Smashed piggy — tick. Anyone seen the rate of interest on Cash ISAs recently? Saving is now a mug’s game. We haven’t had a new election, though. Looking at what’s become of the government, you rather wish we had.

I don’t blame Clegg, and still regard him as an honest many trying his best to save his party in horrible situation. As it turns out, the adversarial Westminster system suffocates the smaller party in a coalition. (The Holyrood system enhanced the status of minority party, as the Scottish LibDems found to their delight in 2003). For all Clegg’s success out-manouvering the chillaxing Cameron, voters are distinctly unimpressed – the party now stands to lose every one of its beloved MEPs in next week’s election.

What started off as a bold and radical joint attempt to shape Britain is now disintegrating into tawdry deals that bring discredit to both parties. As I said in the Telegraph, the Tories needn’t worry about making a new advert against coalition for the next election – this coalition government has become a very expensive advert for a system that does not bear repeating.

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  • Michael Kingscott

    Clegg – what a cad.

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    I think it would take more than an advert to get rid of the prospect of another hung Parliament. We simply do not and cannot know what type of Parliament will be borne out of the next election. Bombarding members of the public with adverts warding against co-alition governments would surely be prohibitively expensive due to irrelevance.

    Hung Parliaments are OK in my view .. indicative of a necessary breathing space.. surely 5years is time enough for the Law makers to examine their working consciences with a view to improving whatever is left of our parliamentary democracy, on behalf of the electorate, for now and for the future.

  • Nedicus

    It should be noted though that horse trading does not just happen in coalitions but within political parties themselves, which are in some ways are permanent coalitions between different groups. Indeed, one could argue that political parties are by their very definition an exercise in house trading. . .you join a party knowing that they are some policies you disagree with and that you will be expected to vote for these policies and in return other policies which you agree with will also be implemented.

  • David Booth.

    Nick Clegg has been one of the worst things to happened in UK politics, aided and abetted by the short term thinking of David Cameron. Clegg “Stupid Boy” is the child who pesters his father to allow him to drive the family car, the father foolishly agrees and Boy Clegg drives off looking for his next accident.

  • starfish

    Party before country – whooda thunk it?

  • manonthebus

    It’s interesting that MPs have been awarded an extra three weeks break from Parliament because there is no legislative work to be done. Yet, how often do we hear that there is no time to fully debate an interesting Bill, especially a Private Member’s Bill.

    • starfish

      Personally the more time off they have the better. The less time they have inventings ways to interfere with people’s lives and incomes the better.

      Especially as it always seems to be a dogs breakfast of poorly thought through incoherent measures with second and third order effects

      • rtj1211

        You no doubt think that multinational corporations should rearrange their tax affairs to Luxumbourg whilst railing about potholes in the road.

        in case you aren’t intelligent enough to join the dots, the two are inextricably linked……..

        • starfish


  • swatnan

    Disraeli is wrong. The Public love coalitions; thats why in 2010 1nd in 2015 they’ll vote in anpther one. What the public don’t like are arrogant Parties that think they can run roughshod over everyone just because they have 30% of the popular vote.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    I’m chuckling at the Speccie kid’s disparaging of coalition today, when just a few years ago he was broadcasting its magnificence. This flitting about is amusing. It would be nice to have political analysis, but the Speccie seems incapable. For example, the horrors of fixed term parliament could be scrutinized. The political environment and machinations surrounding the original coalition formation could be reviewed and picked apart. There are some interesting bits to this, but I doubt the Speccie could ever be the place to go for that type of work. Bubble scorekeeping and PMQS pantomime seem to be the Speccie’s vocation.

    • rtj1211

      There is no horror to a fixed-term Parliament, it merely removees the right of the Prime Minister to call an election when most beneficial to his party.

      A highly appropriate state of affairs in a democracy, albeit inconvenient for anti-democratic dictators.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        It removes the right of the People to call an election when most beneficial to Them.

        A highly inappropriate state of affairs in a democracy, albeit convenient for anti-democratic dictators.

  • Smithersjones2013

    The party political broadcast made by the Tories (above) before the last
    election warning about the horror of coalitions now looks horribly

    And despite all they already recognised about Coalitions Cameron and co still jumped headlong into one without any real caution or precautions at all. Its amazing what a whiff of power can do……….

    • rtj1211

      The only problem for coalitions are totalitarian messianic true believers who consider compromise to be an evil thing.

      If you refused to compromise to your wife’s sexual preferences in any way, you would worthily be in front of a judge for rape.

  • Peter Stroud

    Fraser, you describe Mr Clegg as an honest man: I suggest you are in a minority with that view. Clegg, like most of his senior Party members, is completely untrustworthy: as he showed us over the Boundaries Act. His disciple, Laws, has similar traits. Michael Gove supported him, against many other Tories, to get him on to the cabinet. Now Laws is briefing continuously agains his boss. If we add the treachery of the LibDems to Cameron’s aversion to confrontation, and the Cabinet Secretary’s inefficiency, we have a poisonous combination. How can it last another year?

    • rtj1211

      Dear oh dear oh dear. Go read the Telegraph from election day onward and ask who was briefing them about the Liberal Democrats. They ran a never-ending deluge of poison pen artlcles and you make out like that doesn’t matter.

      You are a murderer condemning a petty thief.

      • itdoesntaddup

        I see that libel and slander are a commonplace for you. Better you keep away from law courts.

  • Jonathan Sidaway

    Clegg always looks as though he is on chemical assistance to me : that strange, uninvolved facial expression of his, the averted eyes. Also: does anyone out there have the lowdown on his antecedents? Some wag on the Torygraph years ago said that he ought more properly to be in charge of the Brussel office charged with administering olive oil purity. One of those Euro-types, formally unaccountable, and really of no account. Is his real name Nik van Kleig or something? For those into painting, there is a Velazquez in the Prado of Bacchus and some realistic drunkards. Bacchus has similarly averted eyes. It can be taken as a metaphor for the end of the interest art need take in mythology.

    • rtj1211

      What you mean is, you don’t like him. He’s as English as Boris Johnson is, which isn’t saying much.

      • Jonathan Sidaway

        Too right!

  • itdoesntaddup

    This is a warning that PR elections do not deliver power in accordance with the share of the vote. They grant massive power to the small factions that hold the balance of power, way out of proportion to their votes – and often almost perpetually. Alternating power for the major factions in our political system is a far better way to ensure that our main voices in politics get a crack of the whip.

    • rtj1211

      If you stated this in a court of law, you would be warned by the judge as to the consequences for you of committing perjury.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        You have an active imagination, it appears.

      • itdoesntaddup

        Huh? I suggest you read up on Banzhaf indices. It’s proven fact. Perhaps you meant to comment on someone else’s contribution, because I certainly can make no sense of your comment in context here at all.

  • Colonel Mustard

    “And why doesn’t Cameron nudge Clegg off the chairmanship of this committee? ‘Because he doesn’t like conflict, he’d rather resolve things over a chat,’”

    And he’s lazy. Can’t fight or won’t fight for what he believes in, if he believed in anything, which isn’t much beyond the bourgeois prejudices and preferences of his privileged, metro “new man” background.

    • Tony_E

      Cameron has played the long game – it’s the economy that can save Conservatives from outright defeat .

      So his strategic aim has been to hold the coalition together until the economic factors override the political downsides.

      While of course everyone has criticised Cameron for this strategy, Labour are losing ground, simply because all Miliband has is short term tactics (attack this or that), but no long term strategy. Cameron can appeal to the middle ground, and has tried to make himself appear neutral or progressive on most social issues to secure that vote. He has let Gove and Osborne do the heavy lifting, and hence his approval ratings haven’t been as negative as they might have been.

      Also, people vote ‘for’ (or sometimes against) a PM at GEs, not a local candidate in most cases, the local candidate being largely anonymous. Cameron is well ahead of Miliband on those stakes.

      I still think he will lose (but not by a huge margin), because the boundaries and the Labour core is too great for him to beat.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Dave isn’t going to be around for the long game, and I doubt the clueless poshboy would know how to play it in any event. In 20 years, people are going to have difficulty remembering this guy’s name.

      • Smithersjones2013

        He will lose because

        a) Forging a coalition with the Libdems drove roughly half their support over to Labour (just check the summer to autumn 2010 polling figures)

        b) His actions in coalition have turned sufficient of his potential supporters against him that he will be unable to build a platform strong enough to overcome the re-unification of the left he caused.

        Some might argue Cameron had no choice but in creating a Coalition he has united the left and divided the right and that is ironically what will bring him down in 2015. He condemned himself to defeat from the start. But hey he always has been crap at the politics of it all…..

        • ButcombeMan

          The danger for Milliband is that without any obvious stratgey, especially economic,where he is weak because of Balls, some of his blue collar Mondeo man voters, will drift off to UKIP and stay there.

          It will be too late to magic up an economic strategy. that draws the punters back.

          Socialism, of the Red Ed sort, is no longer fashionable, just a fact.

          Milliband made a major mistake in not taking on Farage, head to head. He looks weak. he is weak.

          Maybe he was just not up to it. He has given no reasons to support Labour next week. Maybe there are none?

  • AL

    Watching Scandinavian drama teaches you at least one thing – do NOT allow coalition to become the norm in the UK. Every government will become an unedifying spectacle of dealing and alliances with the minority party calling the shots and nothing achieved.

    • rtj1211

      If you were to present your case for ‘the minority party calling the shots’ you would lose your case by acclamation.

      80% of the legislative programme came from the Conservative manifesto and if you wish to lie about that, then shame on you.

      If you were to be castrated for lying on this matter, it might make you tell the truth. You think that because you can lie, lie and lie again, that it makes it acceptable.

      This is not your OPINION, it is a documented lie based on the legislative programme of the 2010 – 2015 Parliament and the manifestos of the two governing parties.

      If the Conservatives/UKIP would only apply their ‘short sharp shock’ criminal justice policy to their own supporters people like you would learn how to behave.

      They won’t, because deep down, they don’t believe in it for their own supporters.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …an active imagination, and a bizarre mutilation fetish, apparently.

  • HookesLaw

    You do not blame Clegg? The man’s a fool. The LDs have shown themselves ultimately unfit for government.
    You say you do not blame him but his free schools meals policy was just a quick fix self serving gimmick.
    And in the end they have shown themselves as a load of limp wet lettuces. Washy pale red lefties. A coalition is better than a labour govt which is the reason Cameron puts up with him, but they have shown themselves to be dim and weak.

    • Wessex Man

      You certaily try to twist history don’t you Hooky, your feet of clay leader Call me Dave couldn’t win an outright victory despite 13 years of Labour misrule, illegal wars deliberate open door immigration and the total collapse of the economy.

      Now four years down the line we have a small fragile recovery which has nothing to do with Call me Dave but the usual industry of the British people. In fact it been a recovery despite Call me Dave, not because of him.

      I look forward to UKip holding the balance of power and Call me Dave being slung out on his ear if there are any real Tories left in the Tory Party come 2015!

      • Tony_E

        I think you are a little unfair on Cameron. The weight of the factors he faced were tremendous.

        1) Incumbency – a massive factor that is oft understated, but will save Lib Dem seats in 2015. It saved Balls for example.

        2) The purchase vote – when you are in receipt of a substantial portion of your income from the state, you are easy to scare.

        3) The State sector – it was massively increased over the Labour years.

        4) New voters since 1992 – all of whom have been through the education system (left wing and pro EU)

        5) The BBC

        6) The sheer number of seats he had to win – he swung more than any leader in modern history.

        7) Scotland (and to a degree Wales) – Tory free, and now so left wing in their outlook that they will never vote for a free market party.

        8) UKIP- not the phenomenon they currently are, but still they split the right and deprived the Tories of votes.

        9)Brown – he saved the world, and the BBC reported it as fact. An economic giant, he had brought forward years of spending to create a false pre election boost. Had he not called a northern pensioner a Bigot, he would probably be in No10 now, with Nick Clegg as his poodle surrounded by the littered remains of a thousand Nokia 3310s.

        All in all, Cameron probably did as well as anyone should have realistically expected.

        • Kitty MLB

          I agree. Although I am not a supporter of Cameron. He managed to get the largest share of the votes. But because of the reasons you stated show Labours undemocratic advantage
          and the brainwashing leftie establishment he had not much of a chance of a majority.
          Yet unfortunately going into coalition has proved to have been a very big mistake. A minority government with capable and experienced Conservative ministers would have been a better option.

          • Tony_E

            The only argument against minority government is that it might have fallen at the first budget, in a time when there would have been a market rush to cash in on the pound.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          No, the electorate share doesn’t seem to have been moved off the 13 year trend, and thus Dave’s performance can’t be judged as anything but mediocre, if not complete failure. Anybody else could have done what he did, at minimum. And at maximum, the environment was ripe for a sea change, but Dave snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

    • keith

      hooky my boy you have changed your tune only three comments ago it was a good coalition, or have you forgot you wrote that, come on boy keep up

  • anyfool

    What started off as a bold and radical joint attempt to shape Britain is now disintegrating into tawdry deals that bring discredit to both parties
    It started as such and ended up shaping Britain in the way it did not want to be shaped, hence the UKIP surge.
    That this shaping was a continuance of Labours treacherous plans explains why Cameron having seemingly done a lot of good getting the economy on the right track will not get the thanks he probably deserves.
    The people of this country deserve some of the blame for the disaster this countries heading for, but the elites and their monkeys in the press grinding the organ for them, deserve every bit of whatever tragedies befalls them.

    • rtj1211

      What you mean is, it did not go in the direction that the right wing 35% of this country wished it to go in.

      You do not represent the majority, since if you did, you would win a majority in General Elections, in fact you would get 500+ seats in Parliament using FPTP.

  • keith

    I don’t understand why people say the electorate voted for a coalition, they didn’t, it was the usual bunch of power hungry politicians who saw the chance to cut some deals and laud it over the rest of us.

    • kle4

      People voted in such a way that the only way a majority government could be formed was through a coalition. As the public voted in that proportion of representatives for each party, they implicitly accepted a coalition was a possible outcome (as all the parties warned us about). Unless you believe that coalitions should be illegal, then the public must accept that if they vote in a hung parliament, either they get coalition or minority government, or we face constant votes until the public changes their mind to suit the big two parties and ensure one gets a majority.

      But if you would like an example of someone who did cast their vote hoping it would assist in the formation of a coalition, I did. I voted for the local LD but wanted Cameron to be PM, ideally with the LDs with enough seats to have better negotiating power.

      Have I regretted that? In part, the government has been disappointing in many areas. But there is a least one person who voted, inasmuch as one can under our system, for a coalition.

      • HookesLaw

        All political parties are coalitions but they agree on a platform before the election and balance their interests within themselves. The more parties we have the worse things like this will get. This is just another reason why we should not split the right wing vote and let in labour.

        • Alex

          “All political parties are coalitions…”. Yes, a really important point, and why I have no problem with coalition government (or with P.R., which increases the chance of coalition government).
          The Labour party is a coalition of Social Democrats, Socialists and Marxists; the Lib Dems are a coalition of left-leaning Social Democrats, Greens and liberals, the Conservatives are a coalition of conservatives and right-to-centrist Social Democrats. Labour and the Conservatives are both a coalition of Europhobes and Europhiles. And so on.
          The current problems are not due to us having a coalition of 2 parties; they are because an election is approaching; look at the Labour party implosion before the last election, where the Blairites/Brownites coalition fell apart.
          At least with multi-party coalitions we are more likely to see the cracks, rather than them being hidden from us. And we can vote against the guilty party at election time. And if we had P.R., smaller parties and coalitions, you get more chance to find a party that truly represents your views, rather than a small choice of parties, all of whom have policies you like and policies you hate.

        • keith

          hooky you are starting to sound desperate, all these months slagging those naughty ukippers and now i get the feeling your desperate for those loonys, fruit cakes and closet racists to come home, will they still be closet racists then or are they closet racists that you will put up with

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Suggest you Camerluvvies not split the UKIP vote then, laddie.

        • Smithersjones2013

          The more parties we have the worse things like this will get

          Well you can understand then why so many people want to get rid of the Tories then………

    • HookesLaw

      Yawn. If you cannot think up something better to moan about go somewhere else. This is boring.

      • Wessex Man

        Yawn! Yawn, is that the best you can come up with Hooky Babe? you have so exhausted you small stash of counter argument that you think ‘Yawn’ will get you listened to, you sad person!

      • keith

        hooky boy were have you been, missed your waste of space rants, i am still waiting for the questions to be answered that i asked you about months ago, but you never got back to me, you are a naughty boy, selective amnesia on your part. still sleeping with the liberals must come easy to you hope you keep it up or is that the liberal your in bed with

      • Smithersjones2013

        Well don’t lets us keep you here then. Go and do something you find more interesting (preferably without further bothering people here)…

    • Kitty MLB

      No one ever votes for a coalition. Cameron managed to get the largest share of the vote but not quite and as Cleggie once said about something else,
      its a grubby little compromise, and nothing that is a compromise is in the national interest.

      • Bill Brinsmead

        I guess we have so as both Labour and Conservative Parties are in themselves coalitions. Wise up Kitty.

      • Conway

        That Cameron could not get a majority against Brown when most of the country was only interested in getting rid of him, speaks volumes.

      • rtj1211

        Rubbish, the whole of life is about compromise. Your marriage if you have one is a compromise (I’ll turn a blind eye to my husband’s foibles if he does likewise with regard to mine). Your weekly shopping bag is a compromise (between what you want and what you can afford, what you’d like to eat vs a balanced healthy diet etc etc).

        You are living in a long-gone era when two political tribes went to war.

        The world is becoming multipolar and politics has evolved to reflect that.

    • rtj1211

      By your standards people voted for no-one. No-one. 36% of those who bothered to vote, which was about 25% of the electorate, voted Conservative.

      If you think that’s a mandate to govern, you need to ask yourself whether you are a democrat or an autocrat.

  • Kitty MLB

    Do Cameron doesn’t like conflict. Just a easy going fellow not that politically minded
    or deceitful. Just a naïve fool to trust a bunch of yoghurt knitting, bunny boiling
    tree hugging, treacherous serpents who he shared that Rose Garden moment
    at Downing Street with. At that moment the Lorenz butterfly and chaos theory began.
    Clegg is one of the dishonest politicians we have had for years ( even Milipede has some principles)
    To say they wish to make politics more fair, and allow Labour to keep their unfair advantage. To make those promises to students knowing they could never keep such a promise. And to say they represent ‘ new politics’ when they are the worst of all
    politics show why they are unfit and why coalitions are never in the national interest
    but in the interest of party point scoring and baby sitting.
    Cameron as also allowed the Lib Dems far too much say and I hope he regrets that.

    • rtj1211

      I think you are one of the most disgraceful liars that ever existed.

      The Conservative Party has a long and dishonourable history of brutal bullying, thuggery and trashing of opponents through the Press and if you are so mentally defective that you can’t acknowledge that, you have no place holding court about anyone.

      You are merely expressing your small minded prejudices and hatreds about one party because your spoilt little girl ‘I want to be Queen and you say I can’t be’ schtick refuses to examine Tory Party behaviour but demands that the Liberal Democrats be examined with a fine toothed comb.

      Well, if that isn’t treacherous, I don’t know what is.

  • Frank Heaven

    Come off it Fraser – your columns are normally pretty balanced, even for the Spectator.

    But as the 2015 countdown starts, you’re turning into another rabid cheer leader for the Tories.

    Your mob warned the public what a disaster a hung parliament would be for the nation in April 2010 – and the public gave you a hung parliament.

    So no more spin and lies about what a disaster the coalition has been, and what a disaster another coalition would be – just write about the policies man.

  • kle4

    This whinging about the fact of there having been a coalition when you didn’t want one is getting a bit tiresome. At least, unlike your telegraph piece, you give reasons why coalitions are not to be preferred, rather than just list things that all governments do as though they are coalition specific problems (which you have still done though – yes, no lack of transparency or shoddy, shady dealings under the last majority goverment we had. Please. We actually just hear about more of the shady stuff with a coalition, rather than it never existing before, and you cannot possibly pretend otherwise with a straight face).

    • rtj1211

      Quite right: Michael Heseltine didn’t storm out of Cabinet and resign in the Mid 1980s, did he?? Nigel Lawson didn’t do likewise a few years later, did he?? Nor did Geoffrey Howe. All about the inability of darling Maggie to compromise, ‘horse trade’, call it what you will. In the end, Brutus stabbed Caesar and the Roman Empire was never quite the same again……

  • Tony_E

    Clegg isn’t honest. He is in office – his priority should be running the country, yet actually for three years ha hasn’t even tried to temper political manoeuvres to do his job.

    His worst betrayal was the boundaries – because it was clear that the size of constituencies needed to be equalised. But he hadn’t got his own way on Lords reform so he vetoed it, despite having had his failed PR referendum. The lesson is – never give a con man two bites of the cherry – the boundary changes should have been made first.

    At the point Clegg sunk the boundary changes the coalition should have ended and we should have gone to the polls again.

    • HookesLaw

      Thick tory backbenchers ruined the boundaries. If they did not like Cleggs Lords reform they could have stuck with it until they got a majority or trumped him by abolishing it altogether. But they were too thick for that.

      • Tony_E

        Don’t be bloody stupid – you would have allowed constitutional wrecking for short term political gain?

        An elected house of Lords would soon have become a powerful second chamber, given democratic legitimacy by the votes of the public. It would no longer have been a revising chamber, it would have become the supreme senate, but with long terms and little chance of proper legislative scrutiny.

        The Tory backbenchers were the last line against Clegg’s attempt at writing himself some extra long term political advantage on the back of the legitimacy of the Commons.

        • Tony_E

          And I almost forgot – it would have been PR – exactly the system that the public rejected in a referendum only the same year. So he would have got government by PR through the back door against the will of the British electorate.

          • MarkPolden

            Tony the public rejected AV, if given the opportunity I think the people would have accepted PR

            • Tony_E

              I’m really not sure, and nor were the Lib Dems, that people would vote to lose the constituency link. I’m certain that’s why they went the route they did, but people saw it as a trojan horse for full PR, party list style elections. That gives the parties immense power.

              Another argument is that once you lose the historical system, one change is only as large as another, a barrier has been broken through. Gradualism if you like. Every change would be revisited when it suited the party in power.

          • rtj1211

            Wrong, they rejected the worst form of PR available, which is precisely why Cameron allowed it to be put up as the only alternative to FPTP.

            Amazing how delusional people like you can be when tribal politics is involved.

            You want the Brits to reject PR, you offer them the STV, not AV.

            • Tony_E

              I’m not in any way tribal – but there is no doubt that the public rejected AV (a form of PR which the LIb Dems put on a the ballot because they thought it would be the one version that might pass the public smell test).

              It didn’t pass muster, it was overwhelmingly rejected. So to have an upper chamber elected on any form of PR, would be a constitutional affront unless the Public specifically voted for it at either a GE (as a manifesto pledge of the largest elected party) or by referendum.

              Delusional is how one might describe someone who thinks that Parliament would be correct to impose constitutional change without the support of the majority.

        • rtj1211

          So you want an undemocratic illegitimate revising chamber do you??

          • Tony_E

            Yes – or certainly much rather than an elected second chamber which then threatens the legitimacy and supremacy of the commons (which is elected every 5 years by direct vote).

            What I don’t want to lose is the real separation of the powers between the two chambers – I don’t want the upper house to gain power to make law rather than simply amend it. I also don’t want the legitimacy of the Parliament acts eroded which keep the supremacy of the commons in place.

            In the end, if you erode the commons, you remove the necessity of the executive to sit in it, rather than either the upper chamber, or potentially even to have an elected executive (as the US has shown – they elect a president but he appoints his executive).

      • Hello

        You’re wrong on this one Hooky. Lords reform would have been a nightmare, the current constitutional setup is good as it is.

        • Wessex Man

          Hooky is wrong on everthing but but on this one he is half right though it saddens me to say so! Blair and Brown have ruined the lords as a revising House and it needs repair.

          Haiving said that, so much of British Law is now made in the EU, so Call me Dave and his chums can toddle off on holiday again!

          vote UKip!

          • Tony_E

            It was never seen as necessary in our history to have politicians sitting for more than about half the year. There is too much legislation, not enough time to hold the government to account.

            I would love to see a term of office where all that was done was to repeal bad legislation and reduce the burden of law on the population.

            • Conway

              There should be a sunset clause on all new legislation. If it doesn’t work, it should be scrapped.

          • Kennybhoy

            Not so much sad as painful…

        • Conway

          It was better before the HoL was stuffed with placemen and failed politicians. At least the backwoodsmen were there from a sense of noblesse oblige.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Spoken like a true socialist. It’s always two steps forward, one step back with you lot, isn’t it?

      • Kitty MLB

        Hooky, the boundary changes were in the Lib Dem manifesto, all part
        of their making politics more fair. Besides they linked it to AV and just
        because the public were not interested they threw the dummy out of the pram and behaved like treacherous snakes in the grass.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Hooky you are talking drivel as normal. Clegg’s Lords Reforms proposal are possibly the worst proposals of their sort I have heard. They were abysmal and likely unworkable.

      • andagain

        Oh I wouldn’t say “thick”. Self-righteous, perhaps.

    • Smithersjones2013

      The worst betrayal was Cameron’s absurd attempt to further undermine democracy in England (by attempting to reduce the number of our representatives and in doing so further centralise and enhance the power of the main party leaders) for petty personal and party political gain. Like Blair before him Cameron was attempting to abuse the electoral system for his own advantage. That whilst for the wrong reasons blocking Cameron’s boundary gerrymandering is one of the few decent decisions (along with blocking of the Snooper’s Charter) Clegg has made during this Parliament…

      • GeeBee36_6

        So you think a member of the political Liblabcon elite would wish to ‘undermine democracy’? A system which serves up untrammeled political control over a nation in which they do not have a real capital stake? How else, but via democracy, would upstarts on the make (politicians to you) ever get to exercise power without responsibility?

        Any politician seeking to undermine democracy would be exactly like turkeys voting for Christmas; Whoops! that democratic bug just won’t go away will it? It reminds me of Benjamin Franklin’s reputed withering dismissal of democracy. He said that it was ‘two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch’.

        More recently, Radishmag gave this obsevation: ‘

        The latter-day Whig (or “progressive”) assessment of popular
        government reduces to two propositions: (1) that “democracy” is both an ethical necessity and the ideal organizational structure for any country-sized corporation; and (2) that actual public policy decisions should be made by experts (college professors, that is, who will no doubt be Whigs), not whichever politicians happened to win in the last election, let alone 51 percent of some huge, confused mob; these garnished with the all-purpose Whig meta-proposition (3) that, contradictions notwithstanding, these two claims are beyond dispute, typically by appeal to the current date; with the obvious corollary (4) that anyone who disputes them must be stupid, crazy, and evil. In short: “democracy” good, “politics” bad, shut up and don’t ask questions. Call it the democratic double valence.’

        Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that just because your country calls itself a democracy, you get to have a say in how it is run.

  • Denis_Cooper

    Next you’ll be telling us that Cameron wasn’t cosying up to the LibDems even before last general election, and that Clegg has not performed a useful function over the past four years by providing Cameron with the excuse that the LibDems won’t allow him to do what he really wants to do about the EU.

    • Colonel Mustard

      That’s about it. With his u-turns and general slipperiness Cameron is a natural Unliberal Undemocrat, even before we consider the evidence of his UAF and Common Purpose credentials.

      • Common Purpose

        We keep an eye on underhand references.
        I suspect this is an oblique reference to the difficult report in the Daily Telegraph questioning his support for the Dishaa Venture.
        Quite properly David Cameron has officially declared in a newly published register of ministerial interests that he is patron of an initiative run by ourselves.

        The Venture aims to build links between India and Britain and was launched in Bangalore by the Cameron in 2010. He addresses participants in its programme every year.

        The Telegraph has tried to link lack of previous reporting with his work on Press regulation.
        On the day we are congratulating the BJP on their deserved victory the Telegraph should know better.

  • Span Ows

    “I don’t blame Clegg, and still regard him as an honest many…”

    But is he honest man? DC blog is excellent and tends to suggest Cleggy isn’t so honest (and pretty stupid)

    • ButcombeMan

      Clegg is VERY stupid but caught in a trap trying to appease the lawless wild west of his party and at the same time look like a party of government. The two things do not fit together.

      Cameron is giving him enough rope to hang himself and Clegg has not spotted it.

      The more of LibDem idiocy the Tories are able to point to, the more LibDem support ebbs away.

      • Wessex Man

        It’s got nothing to do with the Tories that the Lib/dums are being so exposed it’s all down to their own stupidity and UKip pointing out just what they are!

        • rtj1211

          UKIP are now getting the treatment the Press dished out to the Liberal Democrats after 2010. Amazing what a cosy duopoly of Labour and Conservative can get from the Press Barons so long as they spread their legs for them…….

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