Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

my blog
Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Strange bedfellows

It is quite extraordinary that the first past the post system delivered a PR outcome.

Yes – lots of emails against coalition with the Tories. Yes – lots of emails supporting coalition.

I could never have imagined a long week ago in politics – the outcome that has now arrived – coalition with the Tories.

I was very keen on opening up talks with Labour as, like many others, I had a long cherished vision of a realignment of the left of politics and a progressive alliance. Those talks were opened on that request.

Given most people will now have seen the events unfurl – it became clear that Labour either didn’t wish to realign with us or were not capable of doing so – even though Gordon Brown stepped aside to make it possible. To all those who are angry about a coalition with the Conservative – why not email Labour to ask why they didn’t want to offer a viable alternative?

A huge disappointment – leaving on the table the Conservative offer. In policy terms the offer is just about as good as it could be – short of PR! Sadly – that was not achievable with either of the other parties.

But if you believe in PR – then it is about working with other parties. No – not in my wildest dreams (or nightmares) did I ever think this would be the end game. But it is.

There is a spirit of hope and cooperation – and yes – compromise on both sides. To those who hate this outcome – perhaps some comfort in having LibDems in coalition to temper any worst fears.

This is uncharted territory – and all I can say is that if low earners are taken out of income tax, our children in Haringey get fair funding, we move to a sustainable green economy and politics is reformed – then that is a deal worth doing.

And meanwhile, whatever the challenges and dangers we encounter in order to  gain these measures and a stable government to hold the country safe as we pursue recovery – they are challenges that we must meet.

Wed 12 May 2010
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Comments

  1. Hyder Ali Pirwany says:

    Let us all get together for the sake of the country which Labour has destroyed in its thirteen years of misrule.

  2. Edward Fox says:

    I would have favoured a coalition with Labour, but the numbers just weren’t there. Imagine if the desired progressive coalition included the Scottish Nationalists. Whenever a big vote came up, Alex Salmond would pipe up with a demand for a free bicycle for every child in Scotland or something like that & hold the whole process to ransom. His position is Scotland first. The arithmetic of the LD/Labour coalition would have allowed absolutely no wiggle room. What if the far left fell away? Labour’s awkward squad could have held the whole process to ransom too. I think this coalition is the best one could have hoped for: a LD presence means that the Tories won’t be able to indulge their political fantasies, and wage ideological war on the country as they did during the Thatcher period & its aftermath.

  3. Michael (one of a number of people on here called) says:

    Lynne,

    It’s very hard to see how this will pan out. We could end up with a very right-wing agenda driven through with the junior partner of the coalition powerless and castrated. We could end up with a tempering of tory ambition. Either way, it looks to me as though the Lib Dems are going to find it very difficult to come up with a convincing reason to exist when we vote again in 2015. Labour will appear more attractive to the progressive centre-left as they oppose the coming tory knife, and the right will feel that they may as well vote tory.

    It is at least premature for the party to be in such an ecstatic mood. All this without PR even on the table.

    Personally, I am regretting supporting you. There were plenty of Libdems suggesting that tactical anti-tory voting was a good idea. Plenty of progressives who feel betrayed. It wasn’t because of a want of decent Labour talent in this constiutency

    Michael

  4. Brian Powell says:

    I was initially skeptical that a deal could be done with the Tory’s but, having read what they have given up and what they have accepted of Lib-Dem policy, I am very much of the opinion that this can be a really good thing. What this has done I think, is to put the extreme wings of both parties on the outside of things and strengthened the middle ground of politics. It has opened the gateway for a new form of politics, one of working together rather than of just shouting down each other. Long may it continue.

  5. Isabelle says:

    Married couple tax breaks, Equality spokesperson?

    And, on the subject of Equality – 93% male cabinet, 100% white and Theresa May as Minister for Women and Equality?

    I have been able to, and have voted in two general elections, both in your constituency, both for you, and I have to say I feel somewhat betrayed.

    Regardless of what Labour did or did not offer, this deal stinks.

  6. JamieGriff says:

    A sorry defence for a hasty and poorly thought-out move. I was hoping you’d be a bit more independent minded than this. If I could take my vote back I would.
    The deal that Lib Dem leadership has struck with the Tories has bargained away everything but the kitchen sink:

    Electoral reform: A referendum on AV on which the Tories will actively campaign for a NO vote
    Cuts: Will begin this year – a move Vince Cable has previously described as naive
    Trident: Invoice in the post
    Immigration: Capped
    Banking reform: We’ll look into it
    Tax: £10,000 threshold – we’ll get there eventually

    I’m not saying that the Lib Dems could’ve achieved any of this on their own but by entering into a formal agreement it’s all dead for five years (or until the wheels come off by themselves).

    In return: Nick gets to hold Dave’s hand at press conferences and gets a go on PMQs when Cameron’s chumming with his Euro ‘nutters’. Vince gets to hold the calculator at the Treasury while Gideon and Co ignore him.

    You rushed into this, succumbing to the pressure of the Tory press to make a decision as quickly as possible. There was no deadline. This was just terrible negotiating.
    I’m equally disgusted with Labour tribalists for scuppering any potential Lib-Lab coalition but at least their negotiating team have the excuse of never being in a strong bargaining position.
    The Lib Dems were holding all the chips and they p****d them up the wall.

  7. JC says:

    I voted for you Lynne and am very happy with this outcome. I wanted Labour out – and it is laughable when people still consider Labour a ‘left wing’ party. They are a centre-right party who have an appalling record on many things. Lord Owen has made clear the common areas that both the Tories and Lib Dems share, and I am optimistic that both Dave/Nick can actually achieve some positive consensus politics, and if you and your party can implement many policies and change in some areas during the next few years – that is a great achievement. My hope is that this will squeeze out and eliminate the Labour party as a serious party forever!

  8. Lesley Ramm says:

    It was a difficult one. I can’t say i liked the idea of co operating with Labour even if it had been possible. Like many other LDs i am a disillusioned ex Labour voter (caused by Blair’s destruction of Socialism in favour of New Labour). and Brown would not have worked with LDs anyway. Labour with no leader will be tied up for weeks with infighting. I really didn’t think a LD/Tory coalition was on or desirable (Loss of credibility, drowned by more numerous Tories etc). But what was the alternative – refuse to play? what then – LDs would have been viewed as a Party unwilling or unable to co operate for the greater good. as it is this is probably as good as it could be and Cameron and Tories (on TV at least) seemed genuine in wishes for coalition. Clegg was almost on a no win situation and had to make a choice that was good for LDs and country. Now we can only wait and see. No ideal but neither would not joining have been. as for miffed Labour supporters Tweeting their bile – grow up.

  9. Lesley Ramm says:

    I am also fed up with being asked how i feel about voting for Lynne and getting a Tory govt. we would have had a Tory govt. anyway. i would not have voted Labour or Tory. i voted for the candidate who had been an excelelnt MP in Hornsey for 5 years and for the 3 LD councillors who have workd hard for residents. my one vote does not determine the govt. Labour would do better to review their own performance over 13 years rather than lash out at others. as for masses of haringey LDs joining Labour since election – yeah, right.

  10. A good deal for who?

    It shows hor Right Wing the Tories were if this is called bargaining.

    What we have is a new Centre Right and Right Wing government.

    All the policies they agreed on was no skin of their bones plus of course they would tap into our Economics team since we trump them badly.

    The Tories have come out brilliantly with this deal and us because we’re so desperate for any bit of power are lapping it up, like some sycophantic school crush.

    Clegg went on and on and on about how he didn’t want to deal with Labour or Gordon Brown.

    Labour said no to save some dignity instead of grovelling to a man who had already decided he would be part of the Tory govt.

    Win win I guess.

  11. BenC says:

    This is a very light-weight defence for what is a pretty momentous decision. It’s flippant to say this came about because of Labour. I don’t think that deal was ever seriously on the cards from either a Lib or Lab perspective – the numbers didn’t work. Nick Clegg did not have to do this – he chose to, that speaks volumes and he will have to live with the consequences. It sticks in the throat to see Clegg joking with Cameron like a pair of long lost friends (this is a man who wrote Michael Howard’s right of right of centre manifesto let’s not forget!). I’ve no time for this guff about this deal being in the national interest as if Clegg and Cameron have somehow risen, saint-like above the mire. This has been a scrabble for power (not that there is anything wrong with politicians doing this, it’s a messy business – just don’t believe that this deal is somehow an apolitical work of divine purity which should be welcomed by a relieved and grateful populace!).

    Agree with lots of what JamieGriff says. Clegg was at his best arguing against a cap on immigration, so what do we get – a cap on immigration! Cable ridiculed immediate budget cuts, so what do we get – immediate budget cuts! Laws was scathing about Tory plans for free schools, so what do we get – an open door for free schools! Even the 10% tax (which incidentally only works for the poorest when combined with tax credits) comes at some unspecified point in the future.

    As well as falling a long way short, this also raises the great unanswered questions about what you will support in order to see a 10% tax rate at some point before we next host the World Cup (maybe). Europe, welfare, criminal justice, education (free schools) will all be big sticking points I think. Oh, yeah, and fox-hunting.

  12. This is an interesting take on this whole debacle..

    The comparisons between Chile and Britain, now entering a Centre Right wing government after a decade and a bit of left wing beliefs..

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/justin-vogler/chile-and-britain-centre-left-defeats-political-futures?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+opendemocracy+%28openDemocracy%29

  13. JohnM says:

    three steps to PR.

    1/ show that coalition can work – as that is the typical outcome from PR
    2/ do everything we can to promote and campaign in the country for STV and support the campaign for Fair Votes.
    3/ build that public pressure to have the referendum changed to multiple-choice or even a write-in for STV.

  14. David says:

    I have always voted for the LibDems because of their positive record on Gay Rights but with Theresa May now as Home Secretary and her lamentable record on Gay Rights, I sincerely hope that LibDems sitting in the Chamber of the House of Commons will be able to modify here bigoted views on this subject.

  15. Helen says:

    You imply you had no choice – but you did. (You also blame Labour but I guess that’s a hard habit to break). I don’t understand this hunger for power at any cost. If it wasn’t honourable for Labour to try to stay in power because they came second in the election how is it honourable for Nick Clegg to take the post of deputy PM when his party came third?

  16. What the nay sayers appear to have overlooked is that the Liberal Democrats have the option of opting out of the coalition if they find themselves being asked to justify policies with which they cannot agree.

    And it might well be that if the Tories decide to go crazy, then the so called ‘progressive alliance’ – though I question how progressive it would really be – might form at some point later in the parliament. And given that governments now have a fixed term it will no longer be possible for the Tories to get out of such a situation simply by calling an election.

    Supposedly people want a new kind of politics, that has been delivered and the knee jerk reaction is demand a return to the status quo.

  17. Fred Carver says:

    The change in the number of MPs needed to dissolve parliament concerns me. In effect we’ve lowered the number of MPs you need to form a stable government to 294 – in other words we’ve given the Tories an outright majority. Now I’m not saying this is likely but what if we pass this law and then the Tories renege on everything else in the deal, sack all our cabinet members and throw us out of government on our heel? What recourse would we have? Having effectively given away our position as custodians of the balance of power and having signed an effective Tory majority into law we would be entirely superfluous to requirements – there would be nothing to stop this. And whilst what I describe is a worst case scenario, on a much more pragmatic level, having signed away our major bargaining chip – the only thing the Tories actually need us for – how can we hope to influence them or get them to listen to us?

  18. Louise Ford says:

    I feel betrayed by Clegg. I will never vote LibDem again as long as I live. Sorry, Lynne.

  19. Tony says:

    No Haringey resident who voted Liberal Democrat in the recent council election could sanely (or reasonably) harbour a preference for any form of Lib-Lab government or pact.

    The managerial and democratic failings of the current Haringey local government mirror pretty exactly those of the Labour government. The latter tolerated a slack regime that we have been constantly reminded by the LD team is one of the worst anywhere. It’s been hard to disagree.

    It’s important to acknowledge the huge changes and moderating influence that Clegg already seems to be having. An intolerant, repressive and know-all Labour Government has finally thrown in the gloves. To seriously favour an alliance with that party that has singlehandedly created the mess we’re in??? At the very least Gordon Brown should have noticed (and regulated) the UK banks just a little. At best, he should have prevented their hubris. Look at Australia. The less sensible Lib Dem policies have been ditched. The more objectionable Tory policies are also now being scrapped.

    Given the intellectual bankuptcy of New Labour, this is the best outcome available. People should be willing to suspend their antagonism and work with the Tories who have done the least to create the sorry state were in in terms of domestic and foreign policy.

    With a Lab Lib alliance nothing would have changed.

  20. GC says:

    Well, there you go. As soon as LDP get some power, they try to raise taxes on those they presume are the wealthy. I’m talking about hiking CGT, which will hit people with second homes and landlords like myself, who’ve worked damn hard to pay for those homes and follow tedious regulations in letting to earn money on them rather than depend on state handouts. I don’t know why one should bother to try to get ahead and make any money in this country, since all the Left wants to do is take it away from you in the name of so-called “fairness.” Better to quit work and get myself preggers so I can get myself a subsidised house and benefits from the Robin Hood State.

  21. Edward says:

    William Hauge and Iain Duncan Smith now hold high ranking cabinet positions. This is a CONSERVATIVE government which Lynne is now part of, and I feel this will have long term repercussions for both her, and the Lib Dems. The local Lib Dem support has surged in the last 10 years at the expense of Labour in the area, people believing that the liberals were now the true progressive force. They did not think they would be electing Eric Pickles, Theresa May and George Osborne. This will end very badly, and Lynne needs to do better than this blog in what will be a huge PR exercise in the area. I have spoken to many locals and there is huge hostility to this coalition.

  22. JohnM says:

    2 steps to PR.

    1/ show that coalition can work as that is the typical outcome of PR
    2/ campaign hard from within and without for the referendum to incorporate multiple choice including STV – a momentum that would embarrass the government to refute.

    Additionally we need to discuss ways to maintain and importantly display and project our distinctiveness as a party. It’s important, as minor partner we risk becoming smothered by the coalition we seek to maintain. How best?

  23. H says:

    I too wish I could withdraw my vote. I have never voted Tory in my life and feel betrayed and ashamed to have inadvertently backed them. For me it is the end of my flirtation with the Lib Dems, whose ideology I have defended and investigated even as I previously voted Labour. Never again – you have been opportunist and short-sighted, you cannot be trusted to be true, and you have sold yourselves and your supporters short! (How soon before the cabinet shuffle, how soon before the agreed policies in the Tory’s desperate scramble for power get out-voted?)

    My vote was cast because you personally appeared to be doing a good job and are reportedly a straight and clean politician – certainly you have done a good job of publicising your local triumphs on our behalf! I am a (marginally) disillusioned Labour voter who thought that a shake up would be good, especially when so many have been caught with their nose in the trough; I believe in democracy and thought that a bigger more influencial third party with decent social values could moderate the political ping pong between braying self-serving ‘left’ and ‘right’. Meanwhile the press had successfully pilloried Gordon Brown so that a Labour success with him at the helm seemed doomed to fail anyway. I still believe all this, and being generous recognise that the Lib Dems were in a difficult situation where they were being pressurised ‘for the good of the country’ to hurry up and back a horse…
    What a pity that the shiny Clegg Factor could not last beyond the TV debates -the voters lost their nerve and their verve for change… or just thought the policies too thin and the inexperience of government too risky? The whole picture would have been so different of course if the anticipated gains had happened. Once again though in the history of recent Liberal elections, the percentage support did not translate into seats – another lamentable fact.

    I try and see all sides, it is indeed all ‘extraordinary’ and fascinating, but where this result actually leaves me is just plain angry and very disappointed. I therefore challenge you as my newly-elected MP to truly try and moderate and influence and undermine and hopefully ultimately reject your Tory bedfellows – you owe us that!

  24. Nick says:

    To anyone who doesn’t think that the Libdems will be railroaded once the honeymoon period has ended, or that Clegg won’t be severely compromised once re-shuffles begin and his MP’s get the old ‘sideline’ or are ousted in favour of Dave’s shiney mates. WAKE UP!
    And to Lynne’s comments… I didn’t vote for some rosey pragmatism, but someone who was a person of principle! Your piece at the top of this page is the worst case of the weakest hand wringing I’ve come across and a complete about turn.
    Labour were never going to do a deal, they knew the game was up and had to reorganise- don’t be naive! Clegg’s strongest position was to fill this vacuum as THE leading, powerful voice in opposition and forcing an election in 8 months, where I’m sure the Tories and Osbourne in particular would be exposed in full (Osbourne couldn’t have been kept hidden for a full year!).
    Then the cards would fall differently, and I’m sure, with a larger number of Libdem seats, from which to wield real influence.
    What’s also been hugely exposed is just how out of touch the LibDem Fed Exec is, if there was no opposition to this (as reported) yet half your voters show obvious distaste.

  25. Sue Davis says:

    Very depressing. So what are seating arrangements going to be in the Commons. Of course Nick will be sitting next to Dave and Vince will be sitting next to George and Chris and Danny will be somewhere in that mix. The only person they really want I guess would be Danny because they will have a Scot as Sec. for Scotland.
    Where do the rest of you sit? All mixed together or will all those not with tory jobs have to sit at the end of the rows away from the chosen?
    I actually hope the LDs can influence the policy of this new” progressive govt.” Will be interested and sad to see the LDs explain away their voting for policies they wouldn’t have touched a few weeks ago.
    I know Nick was between a rock and a hard place but he seems too easy with this. He needs to watch his back. I do wish you well and will be listening to what you say as my MP in this parliamentary system.

  26. Kemlyn says:

    Agree with Fred Carver, the really worrying thing is the 55% needed for vote of no confidence, effectively giving the Tories their majority. I hope this will be debated vigorously in Parliament. It is anti-democratic.

    Voted Lib Dem and got Ant & Dec? Strange days indeed.

  27. [...] hate on us for ending up with the Conservatives, she suggests in tonight’s assessment, titled Strange Bedfellows: I could never have imagined a long week ago in politics – the outcome that has now arrived [...]

  28. During the election I said vote LibDem get LibDem. This is a coalition government – not a Tory government.. As it is – I remain a LibDem and as such will continue to stand up and fight for local people as their MP but also, now, will be able to implement the key Liberal Democrat manifesto pledges on which I got elected.

    To be able to take those on low earnings out of tax, deliver fair funding to our local schools (who under Labour have had years of unfair funding with our children, in a borough with huge challenges, got £1300 less per head than children in Camden, Islington and Hackney), deliver a stable environment in which a green sustainable economy will be the way forward, protect frontline public services and deliver some degree of political and voting reform – that seems to me a fair delivery for vote LibDem get LibDem.

  29. Nick says:

    Lynne, if you think you “will be able to implement the key liberal democrat manifesto pledges on which I got elected”, you’re living on fantasy island or you still believe in fairies.
    Taking low earners out of tax is to be ‘phased in’, delivering a green sustainable economy will soon be on the back burner as the costs come to the fore,
    …and protecting frontline services? What a joke!
    As happened under the Tories throughout the 1980′s, public services will soon be butchered- you’ve already agreed to speed up ‘efficiencies’ to the tune of £6bn in this fiscal year!
    The channel 5 reporter who yesterday reminded Cameron that he’d once called Clegg ‘his favourite joke’, probably demonstrates the way ahead.
    At best, the LibDems will receive ‘poodle’ status.
    Richard Osley reminds us of the headline you campaigned under and the reality of which is now…Vote Libdem, get Cameron, (and lose public services.)

  30. Mark Whitehead says:

    Nice try, Lynne, but I’m afraid you’ve been sold down the river by your leader. At best the Lib Dems will become an irrelevance as the Tories put their policies into action, at worst you will be drawn into the draconian cuts being planned and end up with a whole lot of blood on your hands. And those “cherished” Lib Dem policies? Just a few geegaws tossed down by Cameron and his pals from the top table.
    I’m afraid there are quite a few people around here who are very angry about what Clegg has done in exchange for a spurious taste of power.
    You are respected as a hard-working constituency MP, Lynne. It seems to me you have two choices. You can go along with this farce and toe the party line, or you can speak out against it, and vote against it when necessary. Which will it be?

  31. BenC says:

    I think this deal gets worse and worse the more you look at it. Lansley has just called for savings in the NHS so the commitment to NHS funding lasted all of 24 hours….only one woman in a policy job in the cabinet….that woman is Theresa May who has conistently abstained on issues of gay rights….55% of MPs needed to dissolve parliament is profoundly undemocratic and unworkable (50% +1 would stop all legislation but not be able to force an election – so what exactly would the government do?).

    Of the points Lynne is saying will happen:

    1. the 10% tax is not going to happen in this budget or the next,
    2. the pupil premium if it is based purely on existing budgets and funding individual pupils will divert money away from poor areas (i.e. parts of Haringey) to the new government’s rural seats. Also, you and the Tories have never committed to protecting schools funding. Any free schools should someone in this constituency have the time, knowledge and expertise to set one up will also divert money away from existing schools.
    3. a stable economy – well, we’ll see!
    4. protecting frontline public services – that wasn’t even a pledge by you before the election, so how on earth this will happen now under a Tory-led government I have no idea
    5. voting reform – a referendum on AV to be campaigned against by your new coalition partners. Not much to shout about.

    BUT – this is not just about what the Lib Dems will get (which doesn’t look like much when checked with a fine tooth-comb) it’s about what the Lib Dems will be supporting in the days and weeks ahead. Particularly if you get a Minister’s job Lynne – which you must given there are only 57 Lib Dem MPs.

    I just have a horrible feeling Clegg has been entranced by Cameron’s nonsene and his ego has got the better of him. He looks hubristic already.

  32. Oh dear, I do feel sorry for you Lynne. You are a decent, hard working MP, who has worked your socks off to get elected for the Liberal Democrats.

    Yet now you are being attacked for not be Labour-lite. All these people saying you have betrayed them and that they will never vote for again appear to have overlooked that it is not 1983, Cameron is not Thatcher, that somehow the Labour party has been a progressive government and that any deal with Labour was never going to work given the nature of the bullying culture within the Labour party.

    Plus I do have to say that I am particularly amused by the commenters who are having a go about Gay Rights, and slagging off Theresa May and her voting record on the issue. Urrrrrrr a brief glance at They Work For You, the Pink Paper and any number of political blogs will show that Gordon Brown was always ‘elsewhere’ whenever these matters were voted on. So for him to declare it an achievement of his government is a tad hypocritical. Not to mention Peter Hitchens latest ravings in the Mail where he condemns the Tories for not campaigning against Gay Rights and blames this for not winning the election outright. Which whatever else it says, does kind of suggest that the Tories have laid the ghost of Dame Jill Knight to rest.

    I guess the only thing that Lynne can do is to stick to her guns, carry on fighting – hope that the the new government doesn’t engage in the same chicanery as Labour did with regard to the Baby Peter case – and like the rest of us hope that this does mark a change in the political culture and bring about a form of government that is non-sectarian and for the good of the nation.

    btw… well done Lynne for winning regaining your seat, since I notice this is something that appears to have been overlooked in this comments section amid all the spleen venting.

  33. Adam says:

    Lynne

    The people of Wood Green and Hornsey didnt vote for you so that you could put up a pretence that a cynical grab for power at any cost was in the public interest.

    When you shortly become part of public sector pay cuts, job cuts and social security cuts I am afraid that you will pay the price at the next election. You may have forgotten that greedy bankers caused all this but the people who are about to pay the price for it will not. You may be able to ignore the fact that you have aligned with an anti European party that has joined up with people whose views verge on fascist in the European arena. But the multi-colour multi-cultural people of Wood Green and Hornsey will not.

    You have been an excellent constituency MP. I hope you enjoy the remainder of your term. I hope also that you would stick to your principles during debate in the House of Commons. I am not holding my breath.

  34. Edward says:

    Lynne is an absolutely brilliant MP, but I feel that she is giving us politician’s answers here! We did not vote Lib Dem to get

    CAPPED immigration – an unworkable system as 80% are from the EU

    A flawed trident policy

    Savage, instant cuts to public services, increasing the chances of a ‘double dip’ recession

    A 38 year old chancellor who is ridiculed by both city and business

    Any benefits by fairer income tax will be offset by rises in VAT which effect everyone.

    Neither Clegg or Cameron have a madate to do this – this is not cleaning up politics.

  35. Michael says:

    Lynne,

    I did vote Libdem to get Libdem. What is so concerning is that the coalition will be primarily Conservative drowning out the Libdem voice and that you will be compromised by collective responsibility for Tory policy.

    Let’s consider exactly how liberal and democratic the coalition is looking. For instance, the commitment to civil liberties is very welcome after Labour but can it really make sense progressively to pursue it without a social justice agenda?

    Even worse though, the 55% confidence vote level is something that under other arrangements you should be campaigning hard against. This effectively cold-shoulders the electorate who voted in such a way that the Conservatives could be voted down by parliament relatively easily. It is their beloved FPTP that has delivered this. To side-step it with legislation looks like very murky politics indeed and shows a disturbing but not altogether surprising lack of respect for the Commons from the Tories. It could keep the Libdems out of power for good, but you are not speaking out against it even as it neuters you.

    Why should we think that voting Libdem has got us Libdem?

    I take your point that you personally will still be fighting for the constituency and that you will stay close to your principles. Regardless, what we have is what we have for the moment. You have the benefit of the doubt for the time-being and I wish you every success but I can’t see much hope for you come the next election. You are being stitched-up.

    Michael

  36. JamieGriff says:

    @transfattyacid

    I didn’t vote Lib Dem for Labour-lite but I did vote Lib Dem because I agreed with most of what I thought the key points in their election campaign. In particular these were:
    1. Delaying cuts in public spending to reduce the risk of double-dip recession, huge rises in unemployment and high inflation; closing tax loopholes, breaking up the banks and raising the threshold for income tax to £10,000
    2. Electoral reform in the direction of a more proportional system
    3. Including Trident in the defence spending review

    Not only will none of these things now happen, Lib Dem support for the Tories will actually facilitate the introduction of immediate cuts to public spending, job losses and further recession. It will facilitate a AV sop to the electoral reform agenda while rigging parliament even further in the direction of an elite cabal by changing the rules on dissolution of parliament and increasing the power of the Lords.

    I never saw the Lib Dems participating in moves like these and I was following the election pretty closely.

  37. henry says:

    Lynne,
    LibDems should’ve stayed in opposition to a minority tory government.
    Thanks to FPTP I will judge you on your record and how you vote on the main issues and how you stick to the party line when they back awful tory policies. However, a PR system where you vote for a party rather than a person and I couldn’t possibly vote for you anymore.

  38. [...] vote on the tories. My MP has tried to defend her position (this is a massive anti tory area) here Makes for revealing reading – ‘denial’ is the new progressive __________________ Tom Hicks has [...]

  39. Sarah Monaghan says:

    Lynne, I am very disappointed with the LibDems. And as their equality spokesperson, I would be very interested to hear what you thought about the woman who is now the “equalities” spokesperson in your government.

    Theresa May’s “equalities” record – In 1998 she voted against equalising the age of consent. In 2001 and 2002 she voted against gay couples jointly adopting children. In 2004, like much of the Conservative frontbench, Mrs May did vote in favour of civil partnerships. But in the same year, Mrs May didn’t attend parliament for any of the four votes that led to the Gender Recognition Act.

    For me, this is very worrying. I would hope it would be for you too, with your excellent record on equalities.

  40. @JamieGriff

    1) I was under the impression that that moves are underway to break up the banks, and to introduce the £10,000 tax break. The double dip recession is just soemthing that we will have to wait and see about. Though I do wonder about why you are worried about inflation, since inflation has been high for months – ok not officially, but then officially we live in a land of milk and honey – but when I look at food costs, utility bills, housing costs etc, it does strike me that inflation has been rising in double digits. As for unemployment, I am guessing that you are talking from a southern perspective because a quick trawl of the net will show that in parts of the north – and I suspect some parts of the south – unemployment is running at 10%, and has been for months. But I guess some people need a UB40 song to tell them the turth.

    2) According to reports today reform of the house of Lords will be on a PR system. So I don’t really see your point. As far as I was aware Rome wasn’t built in a day, and this is a move in the direction you want.

    3) Scrapping Trident was an issue that I suspect Nick Clegg wishes he had never brought up. He made an off the cuff remark in the first leaders debate – as an excample of where spending cuts could be made – and then was forced to run with it.

    Personally I think there should be cuts in public spending. We are currently spending more on the railways than when they were nationalised, and yet the people running them are all private companies paying dividends to shareholders. Then there is PFI. The cost of government computer contracts. The list goes on. All of these areas could do with trimming – cuts if you like – and you can add to the current round of non-jobs to keep the economy moving.

    A good example is laying cobble stones in Bradford city centre… yeah it looks nice…. and no doubt the contractors were able to keep people employed…. but if you are in a wheelchair or pushing pram then you end up with vibration white finger. I’m sure there are examples all around the country. The problem is that in Bradford it is made all the more glaring because the ‘regeneration scheme’ has collapsed leaving a massive hole in the ground where a shopping centre is supposed to be and boarded up houses in what is supposed to be the ‘urban village’.

    But never mind, because the regeneration money is being well spent – in Cheshire or London or wherever the contractors are based.

    Though the really key point you make is ‘I didn’t vote for…’ which ignores the basic truth of democracy. It isn’t like going into Tesco and buying what you want. It is a collective decision, based on the differing views of millions of people. Perhaps it is a flaw of the system that in truth very few people actually get what they vote for, but the truth is that people have to accept the will of the collective – and sadly because of the way in which political class has developed with unpaid internships and falling party memberships forcing parties to rely on rich donors and thus vested interests, that also has the side effect of leading to government by cabal.

    The luxury you have from this election is that you can come here and shout at Lynne Featherstone because you feel let down by her personally. Which makes it all the more curious that you favour PR…. especially since the election result has produced some kind of PR system, and certainly the type of government that would be expected under PR in a three party system.

    Incidentally I hardly see how it is undemocratic to change the percentage needed to push through a no confidence vote. Five years is a long time in political terms. Deaths, retirements, scandals could all bring about by-elections and it is perfectly sensible given the formation of a coalition government that the parties introduce some kind of lock to prevent opportunism, or a ‘cabal’ of maverick MPs threatening the long term stability of the government on a whim. The arithmatic was different, but imagine the current set up at the time of the Maestricht vote. Is it really so undemocratic for the will of the people to thwarted by John Redwood, Bill Cash and the HRT woman whose name escapes me at the moment.

    But then as this is a democracy you are free to disagree.

  41. Adam says:

    I’m glad we can disagree transfatty. Another way of looking at a lock in to stop a government from falling is called a dictatorship. Why stop at 55% when you can go for 95%? Anyone for PR Lynne?

  42. Brian Powell says:

    It really fascinates me how so many people are willing to condenm the coalition without giving it a fair chance to see how it works out. The negotiating team did rather better than I thought that they would be able to, in getting Lib-Dem principles accepted. Remembering that it is a coalition and each side has to give up some things to get others I say well done. Lynne just you keep working away as you have done for your constituency and forget these childish idiots trying to slag you off. This is the new politics that would never have worked under a coalition with Labour, for they are untrustworthy, as they have proved many many times in the last 13 years. If Cameron’s party proves to be the same, at least the LiIb-Dems can say they gave it a try and could come out of it with heads held high.

  43. @adam

    A coalition is so far a dictatorship as to make you look silly.

    Next you’ll be saying that the abandonment of ID cards is the first step on the road to a police state.

  44. Tim says:

    Betrayed by Lynne Featherstone

    Feeling tricked into voting for right-wing values and policies.
    LibDem MPs should feel tricked as well.

    I listened intently for the news about the “no-tax” for under 10,000 pound workers….to help some of my low paid friends.
    I thought this was an important innitiative to help the poor, and encourage those that want to work, back to work, especially when it makes no sense coming off benefits and being worse off!
    It said it all that the Torys managed to convinced Nick Clegg to agree to put this as a “future” deal!
    If Lynne thinks that this is some sort of committment from the Tories, then think on…..can someone please tell me when Conservative Policies have ever lookead after the low paid?

    Tut tut Lynne!

  45. BenC says:

    Brian Powell – no need for insults. People are genuinely concerned about these issues. On an forum on a site such as this it is quite right that people are able to express their differing views without being called ‘childish’ or an ‘idiot’ – that’s a tad unliberal and touch undemocratic. I for one think nearly all the posts have been thoughtful and often hearfelt – just because you disagree with them doesn’t mean you need to lower the tone.

  46. Adam says:

    Dear transfatty

    I wonder what you would have said if a minority labour party had got together with other parties and then changed the percentage of votes needed to no confidence it on its first day?

    And I agree with Brian. There is no need to be insulting. My views are not silly simply because they aren’t the same as yours.

  47. Nick says:

    To Brian Powell- with respect, you’ve totally missed the point.
    I don’t think giving a differing opinion to yours should be deemed as ‘shouting’ at Lynne Featherstone, nor does it make anybody ‘a childish idiot’ for holding an opinion. Many of us voted for LR for a wide range of reasons (as clearly exhibited on here), and a huge number have been left extremely disappointed.
    Some of us wanted a radical influence to make a REAL difference instead of just bumbling along, happy to concede the big issues so easily and have our bellies tickled with the chump change along the way.
    For me, the desire to so readily sign up to this shows a lack of dignity, a lack of respect for a great number of constituents across the country and a thirst for power.
    By being the key figure in opposition, Clegg would have held all the cards.

    You state how untrustworthy labour were (and do you really think they had the appetite for a deal?- no way), aluding to the fact that the Tories aren’t or won’t be! Cameron wrote Howard’s manifesto!
    And so far as their track record on transparency whilst in Government, read your history mate.

  48. Dear Adam

    It doesn’t matter what I would have said because it didn’t happen.

    And to be correct, I didn’t say your views ARE silly, I said if you think a coalition is the same as a dictatorship then it makes you LOOK silly… principally because of your rhetorical flourish suggesting that the sensible (imo) 55% was equivilent to 95%.

    Hence my scornful analogy about ID cards and the police state.

    If you believe 55% is dictatorship, there is no need for you to use hyperbole to add further ridicule to a proposal with which you disagree.

  49. BenC says:

    Transfatty – would you agree the move to 55% is quite a significant change though? It is, on the face of it, a bizarre thing for a proudly democratic party to do. If the Tories had done this or Labour for that matter I think they would rightly have been criticised for it. What other reason can it have been introduced for, other than to keep this coalition in and to resist the will of a majority in the house who may vote against the government? The 50% + 1 principle is a hugely important check on power and this has been done away with in the first days (minutes!) of a liberal democrat/tory government. I never dreamt this would happen and am deeply concerned. It makes me wonder where on earth this coalition is heading.

    As I said, earlier it’s also completely unworkable. It would take 50% + 1 to vote against legislation and to stop government business. But this new rule would mean the government remains in place even though it would be in a state of paralysis and unable to actually govern. Imagine that situation – this would deliver anything but the stable government Clegg and Cameron have talked about. It would be a shambles.

  50. Adam says:

    You are very quiet Lynne.

    This forum has thrown up a lot of interesting conversations but the bottom line is that the great majority of contributions have been firmly against the scurrilous backroom deal that Nick Clegg has entered into. You believe in open politics Lynne- tell us now whether you voted to join in a government with the Tories or not.

    Either way you will have accomplished one big thing. It is very likely that we will revert to two party politics in a major way and that your party will fall back to its core vote- which as you surely know is virtually nothing.

    It will be irony indeed that your vote is going to be so low that it will not matter what system of voting there is in force next time around.

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