Social Liberal Forum on the Lab-Lib talks


10:30 pm - May 10th 2010

by James Graham    


      Share on Tumblr

Events are moving quickly. Gordon Brown’s resignation and the opening of formal talks with the Labour Party have reignited the possibility of a progressive alliance.

The fact that talks with the Conservatives have failed to come up with agreement at this stage suggests that this possibility has run its course.

The Social Liberal Forum Executive respect Nick Clegg’s commitment to talk to the party with the greatest mandate first and have suspended our judgement on what such negotiations might result in.

But the party has always been clear that this by no means was to offer them a blank cheque or even that a deal would necesarily result from these talks.

It is now apparent that David Cameron is not prepared to deliver a genuinely proportional voting system, nor offer a progressive agenda that Liberal Democrat members and voters rallied behind the party to secure. With Gordon Brown gone, so has the key barrier to a better alternative.

With this in mind, we strongly endorse the opening of talks with Labour. A progressive coalition, possibly involving the Green Party, Alliance Party, SDLP, Plaid Cymru and the SNP would command a majority mandate from the public. 52% of the public voted for either the Liberal Democrats or Labour, almost 56% if the votes of all progressive parties in Parliament are combined.

There is a progressive majority of opinion in this country and despite the deficiencies of our broken political system, our government should ideally reflect that.

Nonetheless we are realistic that such an alliance would be precarious. For it to work, legislation for fixed term parliaments, increased caps on election spending and caps on party donations must be prioritised. Extending fiscal autonomy to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales would be crucial.

All progressive parties, including Labour, are committed to some form of electoral reform, but a commitment to a referendum on a proportional voting system must remain a deal breaker. To ensure a real change to our broken political system, Nick Clegg must be prepared to walk away and allow a Conservative minority government to go ahead if Labour refuse to allow the British people a say in how they elect their parliament. Needless to say, we also feel that the ‘red lines‘ spelt out by the Social Liberal Forum Executive this weekend still apply.

As with our statement over the weekend, which garnered the support of more than 30 parliamentary candidates, local party chairs and party members, please email us on admin@socialliberal.net to let us know if you agree with the sentiment of this statement, including what position, if any, you hold within the party. We really do value your input.

——-
From social liberal forum

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
James is an occasional contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He blogs at: Quaequam Blog!
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: News

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


FYI, the red lines referred to in this statement can be read in the previous statement we sent out over the weekend: http://socialliberal.net/2010/05/08/social-liberal-forum-calls-for-a-government-of-national-unity/

52% of the public voted for either the Liberal Democrats or Labour,

No, they didn’t. FFS, this isn’t difficult.

All progressive parties, including Labour, are committed to some form of electoral reform,

Labour is so committed it has taken them 13 years since coming to power in ’97 and their losses last week to get around to it. I do hope the LibDems refuse to be strung along.

So do I, but the Tories aren’t even offering to string us along and the growth of the Take Back Parliament campaign suggests there is now a national movement for fair votes now that neither party can afford to ignore.

@ukliberty

29% + 23% = 52% surely? What’s the problem there?

I have to say that I am a bit worried about the stability of any Labour coalition, and their ability to provide the votes for movement on electoral reform, but the Tory offer isn’t really good enough. The Lib Dems do not think AV is acceptable, and the Tories know this.

Thomas,

@ukliberty

29% + 23% = 52% surely? What’s the problem there?

The claim was that,

“52% of the public voted for either the Liberal Democrats or Labour, almost 56% if the votes of all progressive parties in Parliament are combined.”

public != electorate != turnout.

turnout = 65.1% electorate

52% of the turnout voted LibDem or Labour, so only a third of the electorate voted LibDem or Labour (just over a quarter voted Conservative).

I apologise for the unwarranted FFS but I keep seeing that argument (some% voted for ‘this’) and it’s a bit irritating even when the numbers and terms are accurate. I don’t see anything wrong with parties negotiating as the main parties are doing. I don’t think people need to invent what the voter really thought when he put his cross on the ballot and what particular range of policies or concepts (e.g. “centre-left” or “progressive”) he was voting for. It’s not only an unnecessary claim, it’s unreasonable (you can’t read minds) and easy to counter, too: e.g. two thirds of the electorate didn’t vote Labour or LibDem. That’s aside from whether ‘progressive’ has any meaning and the LibDems who voted against Labour.

I believe the argument for a more proportional voting system than FPTP is strong in itself, it doesn’t need unsubstantiated claims made about last week’s results.

6. Own G.O.A.L.

Government Of All The Losers.

Just what the country needs.

7. Strategist

@5 “public != electorate != turnout”.

Unnecessarily pedantic. And also wrong, as it happens.

52% of the people who voted, voted Lab or LibDem, we can have no idea what the people who didn’t vote want, and that’s why we don’t give any weight to their (unknown) views in a democracy.

And the electorate does not equal the public. There are vast swathes of the public unregistered, many of whom are still hiding out trying to avoid the poll tax like Japanese snipers unaware that the war is over. There are many others who simply live in the private rental sector and have to keep moving around and lose their vote that way.

8. Strategist

@6 “Government Of All The Losers. Just what the country needs.”

100% agreed. If that’s what it takes to kill Murdoch/Ashcroft/Dacre/the Barclay Brothers from apoplexy, that’s what we need.

9. Change Needed

@7
‘And the electorate does not equal the public’ …..Agreed. And that is what UKLiberty (5) said. He said ‘public != electorate != turnout’. He is damn right.
If the losers get into bed together, it will look to the rest of the world as though our political system is completely ridiculous….and I’d be inclined to agree with the rest of the world.

10. WhatNext!?

The point is that 36 + 23 (Con-Lib) = 59%, which beats 52%.

The 52% who voted Lib-Lab were not voting for one of two shades of “progressive”.

If you are going to be anal, WhatNext, 36+29 (Con-Lab) = 65%.

36+29+23 = 88% (Con-Lab-Lib: the Grand Coalition/National Unity government).

Do you see how ridiculous your number games are?

Accept the fact that 56% of people voted for parties to the left of the Conservatives, BNP etc. If those parties of the left formed a coalition, it would have a majority of seats and of votes, unlike the Conservatives.

I know you’re upset UKIP and the BNP didn’t win any seats and thus are unable to keep the Tories in power. But no one party won the election. That means two or more parties will have to enter a coalition. The Libs are centre left. So are Labour. Makes much more sense.

12. astateofdenmark

The SNP don’t want to be in your little coalition. They want to sit on the sidelines and ‘offer support’. Why?

Every time there is a vote in the house, Labour and LDs will have to go see their masters in the SNP and ask them their price. Second reading of the Obscure Business of the Week Act? Yes, we’ll have some money thanks. Oh and a friend of mine needs a job, any quangos going?

Lovely, see you tomorrow for next vote. Ch-ching.

Clearly you didn’t read the line about fiscal autonomy for Scotland, Wales and NI being a priority.

14. Luis Enrique

yes but 65% of voters voted either for the Conservatives or Labour, ergo we should have a Con-Lab coalition!

[ergo this arithmetic is silly]

Strategist,

@5 “public != electorate != turnout”.

Unnecessarily pedantic. And also wrong, as it happens. …

And the electorate does not equal the public.

Er… do you know what “!=” means?

@15

You are being unnecessarily pedantic… I think most people would agree that it’s fair enough in this context to discount those who didn’t vote, and that in this context the shorthand was understandable and acceptable.

Those who either didn’t vote because they couldn’t be bothered, or because they took a deliberate decision not to vote can’t complain about the outcome. Those who tried to vote and couldn’t due to incompetence at polling stations have more of a case.

12

Welcome to the brave new world of coalition politics! No wonder the Tory Taliban and the New Labour Mafia are all having a melt down.

The SNP will of course act in their own best interests, and those of the constituency they serve. If they make overweening demands in return for support, then it is open to the Lab/LD coalition to turn them down.

Paddy Ashdown was probably right today when he said that it isn’t actually necessary to have a rainbow coalition including ALL the minor parties: they are not likely to cause a Lab/LD minority governement to fall: the SNP have memories of what happened in 1979 after all!

Galen10,

You are being unnecessarily pedantic… I think most people would agree that it’s fair enough in this context to discount those who didn’t vote, and that in this context the shorthand was understandable and acceptable.

My point is that the statement in the OP does not need the numbers game. It is only two sentences in the statement and even if they were accurate they could easily be countered as I suggested earlier. The statement seems fine without them.

Those who either didn’t vote because they couldn’t be bothered, or because they took a deliberate decision not to vote can’t complain about the outcome.

One of the reasons why people don’t vote is because they feel their vote doesn’t count. This is support for a more fair voting system than FPTP, which I think is what people want? But you say those people “can’t complain about the outcome”…

The numbers game smacks of prioritising keeping the Tories out and Labour in over a fair voting system. I’m not accusing the Social Liberal Forum of such a motivation but I’m inclined to believe some conspirators have it.

Luis Enrique:

yes but 65% of voters voted either for the Conservatives or Labour, ergo we should have a Con-Lab coalition!

[ergo this arithmetic is silly]

It’s called ‘framing the narrative’…which isn’t the same as ‘having a majority in the House of Commons’.

20. WhatNext?!

@11
“If you are going to be anal, WhatNext, 36+29 (Con-Lab) = 65%.
36+29+23 = 88% (Con-Lab-Lib: the Grand Coalition/National Unity government).
Do you see how ridiculous your number games are?”

Exactly my point really. I’m disputing the persistent claim that a majority voted for a “progressive alliance”. They didn’t.

20

I don’t think most people are saying that there was a conscious “choice” to vote for some progressive alliance: New Labour after all has few claims to being a progressive force in most areas of policy.

It is sophistry to try and claim however that there isn’t (at present) a larger centre-left grouping than that on the centre-right. People voted for parties, or individuals, or tactically, or on a whim… but the fact remains that the parties of the right are in the minority. Even if you can’t automatically equate all of those who voted Labour, LD, Green etc as left of centre, it’s fairly clear there is a “natural” centre left majority.

That’s what terrifies the Tories about PR, as well as the anti-PR Labour types: no more cosy flipping of power. Tough!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. irene rukerebuka

    RT @libcon Social Liberal Forum statement on Lab-Lib talks http://bit.ly/cVtSfV

  2. stiffinho

    RT @libcon: Social Liberal Forum statement on Lab-Lib talks http://bit.ly/cVtSfV

  3. Kim Lofthouse

    RT @libcon: Social Liberal Forum statement on Lab-Lib talks http://bit.ly/cVtSfV

  4. Andrew Barnes

    RT @libcon: Social Liberal Forum statement on Lab-Lib talks http://bit.ly/9QwDog

  5. David Ritter

    RT @libcon: Social Liberal Forum statement on Lab-Lib talks http://bit.ly/cVtSfV

  6. Liberal Conspiracy

    Social Liberal Forum statement on Lab-Lib talks http://bit.ly/cVtSfV

  7. Stuart Thompson

    RT @libcon: Social Liberal Forum statement on Lab-Lib talks http://bit.ly/9QwDog

  8. anthony rigby

    RT @libcon: Social Liberal Forum statement on Lab-Lib talks http://bit.ly/cVtSfV

  9. Tweets that mention Social Liberal Forum statement on Lab-Lib talks -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liberal Conspiracy, stiffinho, Andrew Barnes, anthony rigby, Stuart Thompson and others. Stuart Thompson said: RT @libcon: Social Liberal Forum statement on Lab-Lib talks http://bit.ly/9QwDog […]

  10. Lee Cadwallader

    RT @libcon Social Liberal Forum statement on Lab-Lib talks http://bit.ly/cVtSfV … Some sensible justification for the 'rainbow coalition'

  11. RupertRead

    Social Liberal Forum statement on 'rainbow alliance' http://bit.ly/cVtSfV << Social Liberals back broad #progressivemajority govt 🙂

  12. Welsh Ramblings

    Social Liberal Forum statement reproduced here http://stwnsh.com/nl





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.