#ProgressiveMajority – the popular vote!

10:35 am - May 7th 2010

by Hobhouse    

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We can’t let the story of a Tory mandate take hold in the tabloids or Sky News.

For every two people who voted Conservative, THREE people voted progressive.

Right now Labour and the Lib Dems together have over 52% of the popular vote. Add in Greens, the Irish SDLP and Alliance and the Progressive Majority has nearer 54% of the vote. That’s without even counting nationalists!

Only 36% of people voted for the Tories. Just two-thirds of the progressive vote.

There is a progressive majority in this country today.

Our collapsing electoral system may have failed to fully reflect it. And that’s a crisis.

But for every two people who voted Tory, three of us voted progressive.

We have more of a mandate than them.

Let’s get building bridges.

UPDATE: A crestfallen Clegg is kicking it forward. This was never going to be easy.

Now it’s up to us to hit refresh, get together and take our country back. #ProgressiveMajority

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Hobhouse comes from a long line of pseudonymous pamphleteers and British progressives. It's better that way. Connect on Twitter: @hobhouse2010
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Reader comments

Sorry. I didn’t see ‘progressive’ on the ballot paper, so I doubt ‘progressive’ has a mandate. You can’t claim a mandate by adding all the people who voted for certain parties who you think have roughly similiar positions together, if they don’t want to work together. After all, for all they might be progressive in some ways, these parties have seperate and often conflicting policies, and also some policies closer to the Conservatives than to other progressive parties. What in fact you are doing is forming a myth of a common front in order to fight the Conservatives. And you are also playing into Conservative hands – they would love nine months of quaralling ‘progressive’ government, as the economy got worse and very little happened (a worse case scenario, but likely with weak and divided leadership) and lovely little bribes to the nationalist parties, before another election, when they’d have a greater financial advantage and be almost uniquely the only genuine alternative. I can see the Conservatives making strides in metropolitan areas in that scenario.

Oh, and your progressive figures forgot to add in the Conservatives, who also claim to be progressive, remember?

2. James from Durham

I don’t want to be a party pooper, but it matters in what direction you want the progress to go. There is only one way back – The Tories – But there are a lot of ways forward.

3. Luis Enrique

If it makes sense to divide politics into “progressive” versus “not progressive” then I suggest the Lib Dems and Labour merge asap to form the progressive party, because they’ve seriously f*cked up splitting the progressive vote.

Failing that, I suggest you think in terms of 3 distinct parties, the Conservatives (much as I don’t like it) having done much the best out of the 3.

If a party whose politics you sympathized with was in the position the Tories are in now, would you really be happy if the other two parties took power?

There’s something remarkably deluded about: “We can’t let the story of a Tory mandate take hold in the tabloids or Sky News”. As Tony would say, Whaddya Gonna Do?

4. Luis Enrique

this individuals opinion on the matter somewhat undermines the OP:

“Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says he sticks to his view that the party with most votes and seats – the Conservatives – should seek to form a government.”

Exactly Luis. The “progressive majority” of added together shares of the votes is meaningless. The Conservatives haven’t won, but are going to govern regardless, possibly with those “progressives” we were just so hoping to win. It’s time to organise opposition, not pretend the results went our way when they didn’t.

I didn’t say we didn’t need to organise it……!

If “progressive” includes tanks progressing through the streets if Basra, then yes, there is a progressive majority – Labour and the Conservatives.

Just keep asking:
Who had a ballot that enabled them to vote for Clegg, Brown or Cameron?

Constitution 101: This is a parliamentary system, not a presidential system. People vote for an MP and party. A party or parties form a government. BTW – there have been two ‘unelected’ (whatever that really means) Tory PMs.

But it is over, Clegg has apparently(???) agreed to support the Tories. I cannot understand how he made that statement without consulting his MPs or party.

9. Cheesy Monkey

So, Clegg’s just said that, in effect, the Tories must attempt to form a government first. By my reckoning, Brown has to resign now – Clegg’s happy for the Tories to put forward a referendum on PR. Which the Tories with press and financial support will probably win. He could had pushed for a coalition with Labour and minor parties on condition that PR is implemented as soon as possible, but now it’s out of his hands.

What a useless cunt.

“progressive” is such a subjective word. The only relationship between the Lib Dems and Labour is around certain left-wing ideals. Lib Dems, at heart, are a libertarian, localist movement – Labour are a centralising, statist one. There is as much separating them as there is uniting them. Many good, proper, classical liberals find the Labour solutions as much anathema as they do Tory ones.

Clegg is saying, consistently, that it’s up to Call Me Dave to prove he can restrain his back benches and create a government in the national interest. Seems reasonable.

The relationship between votes and seats, and the electoral irregularities, have demonstrated the bankruptcy of the system. Ashdown is talking about a Progressive Coalition in Opposition, not one in government; let the Tories get tagged with the economy, the broken political system, the effective disenfranchisement of the 64% of people who voted for someone who wasn’t the Tories, the smear campaign in Oxford West…

Which, like the end voting patterns, is remarkably close to what I was saying before the election was officially called. Ah well.

We have the mandate. Not them.

Of course, the “progressive vote” is an unofficial, ill-defined concept, rendered ludicrous by the fact that it takes in the most sleazy, slimy New Labourites and LibDems who’d outflank Red Tories on the right. For a “framing” exercise like this, you’ll need some bloody big tools and a lusty disregard for precision.

13. WhatNext?!

In other circumstances, New Labour is routinely criticised on this site for being “right-wing”, “neo-con” etc.

Assuming that’s still the view, then a thumping victory has been won by the right-wing. The Conservatives alone have done better than Labour in 2005, though it’s clear that they haven’t won sufficient support (basically due to their lack of success in Scotland and Wales).

The electorate has moved towards the Conservatives and the LibDems, and away from Labour. This suggests that most view Labour as a regressive choice.

The tories will never give ground of voting reform. FPTP has served them well over the last 100 years. So what will Clegg do? Will he go into power with them for just for a few scraps off the Cameron table. He would be a fool to do so. The Tories will play the long game. They will try to form a govt and wait. They have all the money and the media support to go to the country again in 12 months. Clegg should not hold his breath for some promise of a referendum in the future.


15. WhatNext?!

Clegg knows that he can’t trust Labour on PR either, particularly given recent history. Tricky ……

16. Luis Enrique

If you are Clegg, and you are “playing the long game”, meaning thinking about electoral success and policy influence in a country that has just voted 36% Con 29% Lab, are you really sure that ganging up with Lab is going to go down well?

I mean, much as on the face of it I’d prefer to be ruled by a Lib/Lab coalition, because that suits my politics, if you’re asking objectively what the right political strategy is for Clegg, I don’t see how all those castigating him for not leaping into Gordon’s arms are so sure that’s the right move, if your objective is “the long game”

The Tory where I work says he wants to see a Lib/Lab coalition because he reckons that will benefit the Conservatives over the medium term (if that happened, how long would it be until another election is called and the Conservatives get their majority?)

Cameron had all the money going into this election. He had 80% of the media giving him the biggest free rides we have ever seen for a politician who told us little of what he was going to do. He fought this election in a recession against a tired and unpopular govt and yet he still could not win an overall majority.

The Tories should not even be talking about deals today. Cameron should have got a working majority of at least 29-30 seats.

When I say Cameron will play the long game he will avoid any major electoral reform, because that will mean that the tories would find it impossible to form a govt without a much bigger share of the vote.

If he can buy Clegg off with some vague promise of a referendum, in the future, Clegg would be a fool to take it. Will Clegg give away the farm just for a few promises?

19. Luis Enrique


that’s a good point – given the context (media support, unpopular incumbent) the Conservatives haven’t done at all well, and so co-operating with them on the basis that they’re popular and here to stay might not be sensible. Hmm.

I think if the Tories reject electoral reform, that’s a pretty good case for not supporting their government. “The British people have expressed their dissatisfaction with the voting system by returning no party with overall control and David Cameron is ignoring them”, etc. If the Lib Dems went straight into coalition with Labour, it would be a naked power-grab with no justification, hence the need to give the Tories the first shot. And if they do assent to a referendum on STV or something similar, then at the next election (to be held sooner rather than later?) the ‘progressive majority’ will have its voice recognised properly.

Also, it seems likely that the Tories might not even be capable of doing any kind of deal with the Lib Dems, in which case putting the ball in their court is certainly good politics as it would force them to confront their internal divisions:


22. Hobhouse

I think we’re going to see a Tory minority government within days.

The question is what happens THEN….

I agreee Robb, but just wonder if Glegg can avoid the lure of power now. I think if the tories won’t change the system them forget it. Clegg should walk away.

All these tories who are demanding that Dave be Prime Minister should remember that he blew it last night. He should have won an overall majority. But he could not.

What is that old saying possession is nine tenths of the law. Cameron will go into a minority govt, and then just sit there and wait. He will get daily support from the media who will try to intimidate the other parties to supporting him. He will have control , and then can go the country again at his choosing and after the public has got used to him as Prime Minister.

25. Mike Killingworth


“Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says he sticks to his view that the party with most votes and seats – the Conservatives – should seek to form a government.”

“Seek to” is not “form”. What Clegg is saying is that he will talk to Cameron first. Of course he will, that’s the best way to get Brown to make a generous offer. After a couple of days he says, as Thorpe did in 1974, “you have given me enough but my Party wants more. And as I am their leader I must follow them. I have kept my promise, but now, in the national interest, I must talk to Brown.”

At this point Cameron could announce that he would force an immediate confidence vote against any Brown/Clegg deal. As the numbers currently stand that would win or lose by no more than two or three votes. It’s that close.

26. Hobhouse

Sally, yes he’ll get a phalanx of media support — I’ve been warning about that — but it’s not true that possession is nine-tenths of the law in Parliament.

If the majority gets its act together, there could be a no confidence vote and a progressive coalition.

That demands a lot of act-together-getting though. Recognition of this as a historic moment, tough-minded refusal of magical thinking about future breakthroughs in an unreformed parliament, and breaking taboos on all sides…

27. Luis Enrique


yes, I missed that subtly.

28. Luis Enrique

I missed this too: “et”

Hobhouse, when I say nine tenths of the law what I mean is Cameron will walk into number 10 as Prime Minister. I would not underestimate the effect of that as a phot opp. The public will see Cameron as Prime Minister, he will act as Prime Minister, and the press will pound away daily.

Of course in reality he will not be able to do anythng because he has not the votes. But the tories are right now planning how they can go back to the people knowing now which marginals they need to knock off to win an out right majority.

30. Mike Killingworth

Cameron says he wants to form a “strong and stable government with broad support” – sounds more like a coalition with the yellows than a minority to me. But of course, that’s only what he wants

I wrote during the third leaders debate that Brown’s smile was like that of Dracula, just after he sits up in his coffin and the Daily Mash have the best take on a potential progressive alliance.

Sources said the business secretary Peter Mandelson will act as matchmaker and has already begun to organise some form of ghoulish wedding ceremony before the stench becomes unbearable.

A Downing Street insider said: “Peter has asked a mortician to manipulate the corpse’s face so we can recreate that wonderful smile and then we’re going to plaster some bright red lipstick on it. It’ll make a lovely photograph.


32. Stephen Rouse

I think we have to be fair-minded here.

Little as many of us on this site may like it, the public have said “Yes, but…” to the Conservatives.

They see the Tories as the best option to cut the deficit, but don’t entirely trust them to do so fairly. They’ve therefore put the brakes on to curb the Tory right’s wildest excesses, either through a minority Government or a coalition with the Lib Dems.

Personally, I doubt whether the Tory beast can be tamed in this way. I’m sure right-wing knives are already being sharpened against Cameron over his failure to secure a majority, given everything that was going for him. But he has earned the right to at least try to govern in a moderate, consensual fashion. If he blows it, that’s up to him – and I’m confident the electorate would punish him for it.

33. WhatNext?!

Why, by the way, is it absolutely assumed that Cameron will entirely reject electoral reform?
Had the % shares for Labour and Conservative been reversed, Labour would have won a very clear majority, and would have greatly improved on their performance in 2005.
In that regard at least, Cameron will be feeling hard done-by, and there are bound to be discussions about potential reforms.

An additional and very important point to note is that there is a massive disconnection between England, Wales and Scotland. Cameron has romped home in the former, but barely exists in the latter. You have to ask whether the UK can continue with a unified system. Federal government anybody?

34. Hobhouse

@pagar: Brown is done. Not even Mandelson can resurrect him now.

@WhatNext?! – well, Jonty O-C is ready to offer the Lib Dems Single Transferable Vote today…?! But there aren’t many Red Tories. I reckon Cameron will fall well short of that. It’s not in their DNA, and most of them have contempt for it.

Of course, if they have a genuine conversion on the road to Damascus, then fair play to them! And to us in the elections that follow.

But I bet they don’t.

Clegg’s doing the right thing here in letting the Tories take the lead. They’re the biggest party and they’ve won a huge share of the electorate, so an immediate Lab/Lib power grab would be profoundly anti-democratic.

People might say well, the electoral system blows and indeed it does – it miraculously manages to both suck and blow. The trouble with that assessment is that it doesn’t matter at all in terms of this election. The public have given their opinion under the existing rules, and that’s all that counts.

I’ve no desire to see the Tories take power, but it is what it is, yo. That said, I’m keen to see how a wounded Cameron gets on trying to corral that crowd of howling nutters and headbanging lunatics into a coherent and pliable electoral bloc. It’ll be like Carry On Randroids.

36. Hobhouse

@FlyingRodent: true today, but how true in a month or three?

@StephenRouse: which public are you talking about? A little over a third of the public have said yes to Cameron (some of them with a but). That’s no kind of real mandate. And we haven’t yet been presented with a meaningful alternative.

Right now, it’s Cameron by default.

That could change. But it’ll take work.

37. Cheesy Monkey

PR referendum in exchange for ‘Emergency Budget’ support. Lib Dem support falls because of this, then the Tories announce the referendum alongside a new election – one which the Lib Dems and Labour simply cannot afford. Election and referendum goes to the Tories, and all this within three months.

I really must stop watching the coverage – I’ve been up for 30 hours now…

WhatNext at 33: the reason we’re certain of that is that 92% of polled Tories and four influential groups within the Parliamentary party have all told Cameron that they’ll defenestrate him if he goes anywhere near it.

Clegg’s challenge to Cameron was explicit; you haven’t got a mandate but you’re closest to one, see if you can reign in your party successfully because if you can’t then you will fall. “Govern in the national interest” is the key phrase; he can only do that if he prevents the backbenchers from getting what the want. Is Cameron stronger than his back bench lobby?

Clegg expects to go into opposition to a Tory government with no mandate. That’s also more or less what he said.

People seem to be surprised by this; I guess it’s one of the few occasions that a politician in this election has kept a promise.

39. Watchman


You do realise under the same logic of ‘it’ll take work’ we could institute a government of committed Christians from all parties (if there are enough – which wouldn’t surprise me). Your focus on the rather nebulous idea of progressive (as yet undefined, but presumably therefore a shorthand for liberal left?) as a unifying feature of a government is hardly different from chosing any other commonality between a number of MPs and suggesting that is the basis for government, ignoring the fact that not all MPs agree what being Christian/progressive or whatever means.

Incidentally, you do realise your ‘progressive’ SNP and Plaid Cymru are actually nationalist movements? This is not normally regarded as a prime example of progressive movements.


“I’ve no desire to see the Tories take power, but it is what it is, yo.”

Not quite. Don’t be seduced by the tendentious crap being spouted about the Tories having a mandate, or Labour not having a mandate. The fact is the great British public (in it’s infinite wisdom) hasn’t given ANYONE a clear mandate. A Lab/Lib grab for power wouldn’t be any less democratic than a Tory grab. If the Tories had been THAT convincing, they’d have won an outright majority.

Now all the parties need to man up and stop bemoaning our lack of clarity. The Tories can hardly insist on keeping the creaky system we have now, and then complain that they are hard done by!

Once all the seats are in, if Cameron can form a stable government he can try – but only after Brown either falls on his sword, or gets pushed by his party, or loses a confidence motion.

I’m disappointed the LD’s didn’t manage to break thru – not for any great love of the LD’s, just because it would have fractured the current system more quickly.

As the old Chinese cures says: “May you live in interesting times!”


“Incidentally, you do realise your ‘progressive’ SNP and Plaid Cymru are actually nationalist movements? This is not normally regarded as a prime example of progressive movements.”

I’d say the progressive credentials of the SNP and Plaid are a good deal more convincing than those of New Labour. Both parties have a nationalist focus, yes – but I think you’d be hard put to convince most people that the “nationalist = retrogressive” assertion is anything other than a travesty in the case of both the parties mentioned.

35 “They’re the biggest party and they’ve won a huge share of the electorate”

Er 36% is a huge share? I think not. Largest party yes, but huge share no.

43. Cheesy Monkey

Farage third in Buckingham. Does that constitute two crashes in 24 hours?

The way it works in Scotland is that the biggest party gets a crack at government, even if it only has a tiny minority. If they can’t pass any legislation, the other parties can form a coalition. Hence, the SNP have had to suck up to all the other parties because the Scottish Government only has one more MSP than Labour. I doubt Cameron will be able to pull off the same trick.

I’m not saying anything about mandates, though. The problem is that any Lib/Lab coalition brushing aside Cameron is going to look absolutely terrible to the public. Remember all the boo-hoo about Brown being “unelected”? Multiply that by a hundred, because it’s going to hand all those blubberers about tyrannical Scottish rule a massive stick to beat the left.

Letting Cameron have the first bash is just good politics from Clegg. Like I say, let’s see how Cameron gets on with his wingnuts.

From left foot forward…….

Is civil war breaking out in the Conservative party?

As the Conservative party prepares for its leaders statement at 2.30pm, the recriminations are already taking place with the grassroots pushing back on the Notting Hill set.

About an hour ago, Spectator editor, Fraser Nelson, told the BBC:

“There is not very much happiness among Conservative ranks … the campaign seems to have reduced Tory support rather than increased it and the party is looking very weak now”.

Conservative Home editor, Tim Montgomerie, said, “The grassroots wanted a very different campaign from the Tory leadership and the Tory leadership told us all they knew what they were doing”.

The Cameroons have certainly been guilty of hubris. Last night, Politics Home reported that the Conservatives were “confident of overall majority”:

The risk is that once Cameron gets into No. 10, he can call the next election whenever he likes. He might put forward a conciliatory first Queen’s Speech, but the second one in a year’s time will probably be much harsher, and he will be daring the other parties – especially the Lib Dems – to vote it down. If they do, he’ll call an election and will be able to paint the others as obstructing the business of government. Careful framing would be needed to avoid that.

Rob that is exactly my point.

The tories have no intention of changing the voting system. They ae only concerned with how to get an overall majority. If that means waiting for 6 months or 12 motnhs so be it.

Clegg feels it right to give the tories first chance, but he needs to be sure he is not handing all the cards to the tories.

Where the hell is Sunny? asleep?

The future of Britain is being decided and there are no threads about it.

49. Watchman


It’s not as if he’s likely to have been up all night or anything? Let the man rest – at the moment nothing is being decided; that was done yesterday by the voting. Now they’re just arranging the seats – it’s called democracy.

Not sure if a thread on here is going to change the furture of Britain anyway – if it is, might have to start posting with more care!

LSE’s analysis is interesting:

– Cameron minority government: expect a new election in October 2010 or May 2011.

– Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition – should last at least two years, because constitutional change takes time. Gordon Brown has offered legislation to create fixed four-year terms, which might imply a government that last until 2014.

– Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition – without PR being included, it’s hard to see this lasting longer than May 2011.

This will work to Cameron’s advantage since all the parties are broke. Only one of the parties can raise sufficient campaign money in a short period of time, so they’ll get a clear majority.

Fair enough 49

But it looks like Clegg may be about to give away the farm……from next left

” as I contemplated the possibility of the Lib Dems allowing the Tories to pass legislation by agreeing to abstain on it.

Perhaps the most important Lib Dem political tactic in recent times – one they have turned into an art form in the last decade – is that of preserving deniability. Among other things, it stops candidates being accountable for unpopular actions. We’ve seen it in many forms over the years – a steadfast refusal of Lib Dem HQ to call out local candidates running against the party line, for example. It has even led to the Libs turning down perfectly viable opportunities to enter possible coalitions in Scotland and Wales. Whilst the commentating classes think the Lib Dems a driven by the possibility of commanding power, in practice they may often prefer to stay at some distance from power in order to avoid being pinned down.

Now we hear being discussed a version of this tactic writ large. It is that the Lib Dems would cooperate with the Conservatives in the implementation of their policies, but would do so through tactical abstentions. This would simultaneously allow them to extract concessions from the Conservatives, while denying responsibility for any unpopular outcomes.”

Just heard Cameron, looks like a deal has been done with lib dems.

Cleggs given away the farrm, I bet.

54. Watchman


Although I am less upset than you by the idea of a Conservative government (I suspect cartoon tasmanian devils and David Banner when someone makes him angry may also be less upset…), I think that is a fair warning. After all, isn’t not committing to a position exactly what the Liberal Democrats did with the Lisbon Treaty referendum vote?

55. James from Durham

Sally – that’s called being careful not to take on responsibility without getting real power as well. The Tories do want to shaft the LDs. The Lds need to avoid being at their mercy. They need to be in a position to vote down the Tories at the moment suitable for them. Everyone will be waiting to be in a position of advantage when they can blow the whistle!

It is as I fear it would be.

The Conservative leader said that he was making an “open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats,” and spoke of a “confidence and supply arrangement.”

A key aspect of these talks would be to “give assurance” on certain policy areas, he added.

“It is right and reasonable to acknowledge there are policy differences between us,” Mr Cameron said.”I do not believe any government should give more powers to the European Union,” he continued, highlighting a potential are of dispute between the two parties.

He also spoke of immigration policy, and argued that the country’s defences should be kept strong. The Liberal Democrats are opposed to renewing Trident and have suggested holding an amnesty for immigrants, policies which Cameron attacked during the recent televised leaders’ debates.

However on the subject of political reform Mr Cameron spoke of a committee inquiry, indicating an area where a compromise could be reachedwith the Liberal Democrats.

Ultimately Cameron said he was hoping for an “open and trusting partnership.”

However he also said that “It is reasonable to expect that the bulk of the policies in our manifesto should be implemented,”

Well if Clegg buys that he is a fool.

If I was Clegg, I’d laugh Cameron’s pisspoor attempt off – an inquiry into electoral reform is insulting. I’d expect the Lib Dem membership to go bananas if Clegg accepts Cameron’s bullshit offer. Surely the Lib Dems will let the Tories dangle with a minority government?

Weird, Cam has shown his hand very early. Not playing hard to get at all.

I think he’s on very thin ice with his own party on this, and I didn’t hear anything that Brown couldn’t offer but better.

Clegg should be looking to play Labour like a Steinway . He listens to what the tories offer, and then can wait for Labour to offer better. Brown to stand down, and real electoral reform. He won’t get it from the tories because the bulk of their party will never give Clegg a change in the system. If Cameron even tried to do a deal (which he won’t ) the tory party will move against him.

But will Clegg sell out too cheaply?

60. James from Durham

Has it occurred to anyone that this is a bit like not having a government at the mmoment. And do you know, the sun rose this morning and it was quite nice. The trains ran on time and everything has worked perfectly well. The politicians had better not delay too long getting a government in place. We miight find we can do without one!

61. Richard W

It is reasonable for the Tories to argue that under our present system they have a mandate to govern. However, their manifesto has been comprehensively rejected by the British people so they have no mandate to implement their manifesto. One could call it a mandate to govern but no mandate to rule. If the LD’s help them to implement their manifesto without a cast iron guarantee on a PR referendum they will pay a heavy price in being seen as Tory lite.

62. Mike Killingworth

Cammo clearly very nervous about his own party activists. Hence a long preamble addressed to them and a final plea that the Conservative Party “always acts in the national interest”. Clearly his preferred solution is a coalition with the Lib Dems on his terms. As others have said, Clegg may or may not give away the farm. Actually I doubt his party will let him. See my earlier posts [25] and [30].

Tory activists assume that they can govern in minority and win big at a second election in six months to a year. They might but frankly only the fat pocketbook of their supporters is on their side (and, arguably, Labour’s ability to make a pig’s ear of its leadership election). They don’t have any uniquely attractive policies (unlike, say, RTB and privatization stagging in Thatcher’s day), & they will have to take economic measures which will cost them support (which is why Cammo wants a coalition if he can get it).

My own guess is that Cammo will concede a PR referendum, because the electorate will vote it down (and if it looks risky he can put in a turnout threshhold as Labour did on a Scottish Parliament in 1978-9). He has a strong hand unless his party is daft enough to turn on him (and, hey, this is the Tory party)…

The ball is very much in Labours hand now. They can offer Clegg a lot more, but will they? Will they move against Brown and ID cards and all that crap?

Do they really want to face another election in 6- 8 months time with a well funded tory party and a media that will say labour and Liberal have caused all the trouble by not helping call me Dave. A lot of voters may decide to just stay at home pissed off by the lot of them..

Big decisions for Labour now, will they blow it as they usually do? I think the tories fancy another election in a few months. They only would need a few more seats to win it.

Labour, the time is now.

64. WhatNext?!

And how is the rest of the Labour party feeling about this?

1) Had they not been stuck with Brown their position would almost certainly be stronger.

2) Labour is very much the main beneficiary of FPTP, and so electoral reform will hit them hardest. A large number of their MPs would be out of a job under a reformed system. That’s a big price to pay for allowing Brown to clutch at the last straw (and let’s not pretend that he’s looking after anyone’s interests but his own).

WhatNext: re beneficiaries from FPTP, Labour and the Tories both benefit. Current benefit tilts towards whichever of those two has been in most recently and therefore changed the boundaries/constituency numbers most recently. Thatcher did it in the 80s, Labour did it in the 2000s. That institutionalised corruption is what maintains ‘strong’ but minority (vote) governments in power for such long periods.

They both do it, Labour just did it more recently. And both major parties benefit hugely, or the Tories wouldn’t have nearly half the seats off of one third of the votes when the LDs have nearly a quarter of the votes and less than a tenth of the seats.


“A large number of their MPs would be out of a job under a reformed system”

Fair enough. If they got 29% of the MP’s it would be pushing 200 MP’s – and they might get a higher % in an election held under PR. The other thing to bear in mind of course would be that if the Tories got 36% of MP’s as per their share of the vote, it would only give them 234 MP’s. (yeah, I know it’s not that simple…but reform would impact ALL the parties, yes?)

But Cameron has said he wants to cut the amount of mps by about 100. So that would make it even more difficult for Labour to win.

68. WhatNext?!

Which is why I said Labour are the “main” beneficiaries. The Tories also benefit, but not by as much, and this is not a new situation caused by Labour having been in power.
A brief glance at constituency sizes from 1979, and votes / seats ratios for both Labour and Conservative clearly give the lie to that.
For example, seat sizes are much smaller outside England.

Don’t forget, the Conservatives have done much better than Labour did in 2005, without anything like the success.

Nb: 29% would have given Labour 189 seats.

69. WhatNext?!

@67, why would cutting the number of MPs make it harder for Labour to win?


I think the consensus is that the Tories will try to “equalise” the number of voters in fewer, larger constituencies which will almost inevitably mean they will be more rural and/or suburban, at the expense of metropolitan. That would tend to favour the Tories rather than Labour…. tho you could argue Labour have benefitted from the many smaller, “city” seats for too long.

Some system eh?

71. WhatNext?!


Well, it would be pretty silly if the current unfair distribution wasn’t addressed when the seats were re-drawn.

However, the act of reducing the number of seats would not be a dis-benefit for Labour on its own.

In theory though, it would make it harder for the LibDems (given that if there was a seat for each individual, they would get 23% of them, wheras if there was only one seat they’d get none).

What is very interesting here is the dilemna Clegg faces between doing the best thing for his party and doing the democractic thing.

The best thing for his party seems to me to accept the labour offer and get PR. The correct democratic thing – as much as I hate to say it – is to recognise that the conservatives have the democratic right to be in government as the majority partner in a coalition, and the offer cameron has made is in my view fair and reflects the electoral mandate. The only thing is, dealing with the conservatives will mean the lib dems won’t ever be able to benefit from anti-tory voting again, and I suspect this could lose them a lot of support.

labour + Liberal = 315 (not a majority)

Conservative + Liberal = 363 (majority + DUP)

Now who has the mandate?


Labour, Liberal, SNP, Plaid, SDLP?

75. Matt Munro

For every two people who voted Conservative, THREE people voted progressive.

If you call new labour “progressive” and make up an imaginary “progressive party” then yes. I’d be interested to hear your definition of progressive BTW.

The facts, based on the numbers, are that the tories got a higher % of the vote than Blair did in 97. If you take out the scottish vote and the various boundary fiddles from labour then the tories would have had a clear majority.
Agree that the victory isn’t decsive, but the clear message from the electorate is that they do not want Brown and his cronies in government any longer, and if they try to hang on through some constitutional fiddle, I predict civil unrest.

If the Lib Dems go into coalition with the Tories it will be the last time they coalesce with anyone – their support (ie, progressive voters) will melt away, even, if as seems unlikely, they get PR.

After all, this is a kind of PR situation, no?

I only hope they’ve made the offer to the Tories knowing they’ll have to refuse – ie, Cameron will never give them PR. They can then go to Labour and, for the price of coalition, ask for Brown’s head.

A solid, lasting Progressive government Lab-Lib-Green-Nats is perfectly possible, and let’s face it, it is the kind of PR arrangement most progressives envisage anyway.

The majority voted against Cameron and would presumably be happy.

77. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Whats next
Why are you terrified of reform ?
As a Labour supporter I think the system is tilted towards Labour but many of us in the party still think the system is unfair.
Why are you Tories scared of proper change of a system tht breeds contempt for the electorate by both Labour and Tory ?.
Personally I would like to see a tory / lib dem coalition.
Bring in PR and then collapse.
Unfortuantely I think it will be the other way round.

78. Matt Munro

@ 77 “Why are you Tories scared of proper change of a system tht breeds contempt for the electorate by both Labour and Tory ?”

I’m not a tory and I’m not against reform, it looks like being the only way to deliver majorities in the age of “conviction-free” politics. My only caveat would be it must include the removal of the right for Scottish and Welsh MPs to vote on English matters.

The downsides of PR are the breaking of the (increasingly weak) link between MPs and their constituencies. which I happen to think is important, and the potential for various nutters/fringe groups (SWP, Respect, Greens etc) to sit in parliment.

A solid, lasting Progressive government Lab-Lib-Green-Nats is perfectly possible, and let’s face it, it is the kind of PR arrangement most progressives envisage anyway.

I entirely agreed with your prediction up until this point. Mine on the other thread continues

As international economic pressure increases, the new government will last less than a year and will go before electoral reform can be enacted. The Tories will win the next election by a landslide and will be in power for a generation as both the other parties fragment.

Much more plausible I’m afraid. If Mendelson is as smart as he’s supposed to be, he’d see this coming, listen to what Mervyn King had to say, and hand the poisoned chalice of government in 2010 to Cameron.

Did Mendelson not write music?

81. WhatNext?!

I didn’t know I was terrified of reform, and I’ve already stated that the Conservatives have not got a mandate.
I’m merely pointing out some of the flaws in some of the arguments being made (which are tending to be rather partisan).

82. Matt Munro

@ 79 “A solid, lasting Progressive government Lab-Lib-Green-Nats is perfectly possible, and let’s face it, it is the kind of PR arrangement most progressives envisage anyway.”

Yep, with the IMF on speed dial. “Hello, I’d like to borrow another quadrillion pounds please”. Third world here we come.

83. Luis Enrique

I haven’t got to the bottom of the maths/method but this post by the Undercover Economist about voting power in hung parliaments looks absolutely fascinating


(preview: it says that despite only having 8% of the seats Lib Dem’s share of effective voting power is actually more or less equal to their share of the popular vote)

Fuck the IMF

The Argentinian’s said no to Washington and it’s IMF Trojan horse.

85. Matt Munro

@84 Yep and look what happened !!!!

@79 I agree, but think the same applies to the Tories – Cameron will blame the failings of any Tory admin on the Lib Dems and go to the people before any referendum can come through/ the results put to legislation (or perhaps even call a general election on it).

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER will Cameron allow voting reform to pass – it will end Tory hegemony and he knows it. Whatever he says. And I am sure he will say anything – it will be Tony and Paddy writ large and see the definitive end of the Lib Dems who will be utterly unelectable and discredited.

People who voted Lib Dem did not vote ‘progressive’ – they voted Lib Dem. I didn’t vote ‘progressive’, I voted Labour. This nonsense is a unifying abstraction that you are trying, very unsuccessfully, to impose on actual flesh and blood voters.

P.S. The notion that Lab could form a coalition of the willing ‘progressives’ with nationalists puts the unreality of what some of you are saying here into sharp focus.

88. WhatNext?!

Exactly right. New Labour can’t be “progressive” and “neo-con” at the same time, depending on the issue being addressed.

The electorate have simply stated that they don’t want Labour anymore (their performance was a disaster don’t forget), whilst there remained a sufficiently large anti-Tory vote to stop Cameron gaining a majority. This seems to have come out in the strengthening % figures for turn-out, and Labour share of the vote (a stop Cameron surge in other words).

Cameron and (to a lesser extent) Clegg are on the up, Brown the reverse. There’s no suggestion that the electorate is looking for a Lib-Lab pact.


Fuck the IMF

I don’t think you quite understand how this sex thing with the IMF works.

They pay to fuck you.

90. A Pedant

A great many Lib Dem voters, for example the large swathe of orange in the SW peninsula would never consider voting Labour. Anyone paying attention to results last night will have seen a great deal of seats where the race is Lib-Tory.

To lump the Lib Dems with the Labour party as progressive is to ignore the vast non-urban support base of the party, who voted Liberal, and then Lib Dem even before Clegg looked good on the telly.

Er nothing happened, and I am getting sick of your pro tory drivel dressed up as non partial policy statements.

You make numerous pro tory statements on here, and then deny that you are a tory. Get off the fence and admit it.

92. WhatNext?!

Drivel? Which bits?

Nothing progressive about Clegg ..which is why hes talking to the Tories …

Tory warnings of hung parl will lead to financial chaos fail to materialise:

Who would have thought?

@89: “I don’t think you quite understand how this sex thing with the IMF works.”

Whatever its imperfections, the IMF is an international institution created by the Bretton Woods Conference of 1944. It represented an attempt to create a regime of pegged (but adjustable) exchange rates because of a prevailing consensus at the time, to which Keynes subscribed, that stable exchange rates were more conducive to restoring and promoting international trade than freely fluctuating exchange rates.

The IMF credit facilities created were to support countries with recurring balance of payments problems so their governments could avoid resort to precipitate draconian corrective measures which would rebound on their trading partners thereby exercising a disfused depressing effect on economic activity.

While there are those who regard the fiscal disciplines imposed by the IMF as a condition of granting credit facilities as unnecessay interference in internal policy prerogatives, there are others who believe that the recognised availability of IMF credit facilities tends to relax the market disciplines on governments for maintaining good management of their economies. In other words, the IMF tends to create a moral hazard for governments.

The international regime of pegged but adjustable exchange rates collapsed in the early 1970s when the Dollar and then Sterling were set to float. The (notorious) European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) was created within the European Community in order to constrain the flexibility of exchange rates because EC governments inclined to believe that flexible exchange rates are undesirable. In due course, Britain joined the ERM in October 1990, which led to the disaster of September 1992 when the then (Conservative) government was obliged to withdraw Sterling from the ERM in response to continuing speculation in the markets against Sterling set at the ERM exchange rate. The immediate outcome of withdrawing Sterling lead to its immediate depreciation by over 20%.


‘fuck the IMF’

Hey, we agree on something!

“Hey, we agree on something!”

What, if anything, would you want to put in place of the IMF?

98. Charlie 2

90. A pedant. Good point , many LDs run small businesses/self employed and live in rural areas. I would suggest some of the complexity of this election is not just based upon wealth/class but also between those who live in rural areas, suburban and work in the private sector and those middle class living witin cities and employed by the government. There is now a considerable difference in outlook between working class people, especially those employed in private business who come from a traditional Labour voting backbround and middle class white collar voters employed by the government.

Labour needs to work out how it can emotionally reconnect with the working class working in the wealth creating private sector. What is worrying is that in certain seats the BNP polled more than the Green Party.

Labour needs to learn why there has been large swings to the Tories in certain areas. If middle class labour members continue to push progressive policies they may even lose even more of the traditional working class vote.

“What, if anything, would you want to put in place of the IMF?”

A very large gallows?

That’s my flippant answer. I would replace it with nothing.

Try this brief on the international turmoil created by the Asian currency crisis of 1997-8

I suspect that if the IMF didn’t exist many country governments would want to create some institution rather like it to monitor global economic trends, to advise and to be around with a safety net for hard case countries.

In the case of Greece, several high-powered commentators have already expressed the view that even with the IMF + Eurozone bail out, Greece will default on its international debts sooner or later. If so, we will have an opportunity to observe what default does to the borrowing costs of the Greek government and companies along with the knock-on effects on the Greek economy.

Btw reports in the news suggest that the current managing director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, will seek the nomination of the socialist party in France to run against Sarkozy at the next presidential election in France.

The Greek government is leading its people into captivity. I agree with Max Keiser.


The Greek people are the victims of foolish governments and vanity.

It was foolish and vain of the Greek government to apply to join to the Eurozone in 2001 and foolish of the Eurozone governments to agree to the application when Greece manifestly didn’t meet the eligibility guidelines in the Maastricht Treaty of 1993. But when the Euro was launched for EU monetary union at the end of 1999 only one country did – Luxembourg.

Britain also met the eligibility criteria in 1999 but for failing a requirement that Sterling had been part of the ERM for the previous two years. With so many Eurozone countries having been signed up regardless, it would have looked insulting to have turned down the application by Greece.

The fact is that the whole EU monetary union project was premature and botched at the start, which is why Gordon Brown was so wise to announce in June 2003 that Britain would not be joining.

103. Luis Enrique

Here is some outstanding analysis of the situation in Greece

Eichengreen advocates default, and says the Greek government can’t be expected to cut too much, because the Greek people can’t be expected to tolerate it

Luis – Thanks for that link. Prof Barry Eichengreen is always worth reading.

105. GetReal

Labour may claim they are ‘progressive’, but they certainly arnt liberal and never have been, not economically nor socially. They are statists and centrists, completely opposing philosophies to both the libdems and the conservatives.

Trouble is most libdem supporters dont realise that.

“Trouble is most libdem supporters dont realise that.”

As I recall, LidDem supporters were especially enthusiastic about Britain signing up to join the Eurozone asap.

Curiously, even Delors in an interview with The Times in 2004 said that we were wise to not to join the Eurozone:

“JACQUES DELORS, the former President of the European Commission, fuelled the controversy over the euro yesterday by admitting that Britain was justified in opting out of the single currency because its launch was flawed.

“In a remarkably frank interview with The Times, the one-time bogeyman of Eurosceptics also predicted that Britain would stay out for years, not least because Gordon Brown was so ‘passionate about his contempt for Europe’.

“In another startling admission, the veteran French leftwinger said that the European Union was in a ‘state of latent crisis’ because of weak leadership. He blamed member state leaders, including President Chirac of France, for putting national interests before the common good. . .

“But his most surprising comments were on the euro. He lamented that EU leaders had failed to heed his warning that monetary union must be matched with close co-ordination of economic policies, and argued that the euro was consequently less attractive than it could have been.”

107. David Jones

This is just nonsense. You can’t assume that anyone voting against Labour and for Lib Dem in any particular constituency with a Labour / Lib-Dem in 1st and 2nd wouldn’t have preferred the Tories if they knew their vote would have been counted in this way.

The question of a ‘progressive’ consensus wasn’t put to the people at this poll.

Besides, there’s a far larger anti-Labour consensus.

108. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Labour may claim they are ‘progressive’, but they certainly arnt liberal and never have been, not economically nor socially. They are statists and centrists, completely opposing philosophies to both the libdems and the conservatives.

If I remember in the eighties, if there was one PM that centralised power it was your Thatcher Get real.
She bankrupted local authorities and introduced centralised education by introducing OFSTED and the national curriculum.
AS for anti liberal
What about shoot to kill, arresting trades unionists at motorway service stations, putting pressure on the BBC to turn around footage from the Miners strike, dodgy deals such as the Malaysian dam deal.

Hmm mutual dislike of another party is not the best basis for forming a national government, hardly progressive.

“We both don’t like you, so we are going to form a bigger bunch to beat you up!”

Call me pedantic but surely a majority government should be formed along the lines of who is best suited to deal with the immediate crisis? Not because someone declared that because they weren’t a conservative they must therefore be “progressive”?

You can’t just go around cobbling together non conservative MP’s and declaring them a progressive majority?

Hey! I see in the news that the IMF is contributing the equivalent of 250 Euros to the Eurozone package to stop the Greek crisis from affecting other debt ridden countries in the Eurozone:

The reported outcome: “Global stock markets surged, with London 5% up at midday, and the euro recovering after last week’s tumble.”

Good for the IMF.

111. Galen10


“You can’t just go around cobbling together non conservative MP’s and declaring them a progressive majority?”

Do you really think the unholy union of the Tories and LD’s is less convincing? I’m sure there must be some progressive people in the Tory party…. they just hide it well, despite Dave’s best efforts to neuter the crazies on the Thatcherite right.

Anyone who sees themselves as politically progressive can see the flaws in a Con/LD coalition. Even in England, the number voting Labour and LD exceeds the number voting Tory.

If New Labour had any integrity it would have offered up Brown as a sacrifice pronto. All the pathetic posturing about who has a mandate, and the Tory press baying about a government of the losers shouldn’t blind us to the main event: electoral reform.

@111: ” they just hide it well, despite Dave’s best efforts to neuter the crazies on the Thatcherite right.”

IMO you’re wrong about the “crazies” being on the “Thatcherite right”. Try this:

“A Cabinet post for Iain Duncan Smith is part of the price the Conservative Right is demanding for compromises needed to secure a deal with the LibDems.”

Compared with IDS, Mrs T was a raving Europhile. It tends to get overlooked that it was a Thatcher government which pressed for and got the Single European Act of 1985 and a Thatcher government which took us into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in October 1990.

113. Galen10


Point taken..at least up to a point 😉

I’d argue that Thatcher herself was a good deal closer to the europhobe “bastards” so hated by Major than it was to the mainstream.

As has been observed elsewhere the Tory right is just as capable as the Labour left of being “more royal than the queen”, and deluding themselves that the only reason they didn’t win was not being ideologically pure enough.

If Cameron really is in hock to the Tory “bitter-enders” so much that he lets nonentities like IDS into his cabinet, it will just go to show that the LD’s should avoid them like the plague.

114. winston k moss

read all comments posted and it seems to me we should have all taken note of how the av system(alternative vote) works so many voted tactically like myself and ended up with a party 2/3rds of the population did not vote for.i’m concerned that when this new party named by myself CAMDEM(all)NATION PARTY,implodes we will sadly be left with LABOUR and CONNEDSERVADIVS,including the fringe parties ie GREENS,UKIP etc.the LIB DEMS treated so many new voters with contempt.showed complete disregard for electorate which will come back to bite them in the next election.sorry but thats how i see it.aka 9xzulug

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