Are LibDems assured power?


by Leon
27th June, 2006 at 4:20 am    

The Guardian reports:

“Boundary changes will make it much more difficult for Labour to win an overall majority in the next general election, it was reported today. But the Conservatives will still need a swing of 9%-10% to win power outright, making a hung parliament more likely than it has been for many years.

Of 13 new seats created by the Boundary Commission, 10 would have been won by the Conservatives in 2005, compared with two for the Liberal Democrats and just one for Labour, according to research quoted in The Times.”

A hung parliament, as we all know, means a coalition government and only one party is poised to be kingmaker in this situation; the Liberal Democrats. They must be rubbing their hands with glee at prospect of finally being back in power, if only as a deputy to one of the bigger parties!

Why is this critical? Well, the LibDems have a long time aim of introducing Proportional Representation. Any party that wants the LibDems as a junior partner will probably have to swallow that bitter pill. PR of course means coalition government will become the mainstay in UK politics but also diminish the power of the party system.

No party will be able to have a huge majority; none will be able to rush through dodgy legislation or marginalise its own dissident MPs by sheer weight of numbers. In theory this is a real boon for democracy (something we could do with more of in this country but that’s a whole other piece in itself).

What does this mean for us, the ordinary voter? Well, hopefully more power! More influence in the way we’re governed, more accurate representation of our views in Parliament and perhaps more avenues for civic engagement.

There is a lot more to it than that of course (the LibDems might be gutless enough to drop PR as a pathway to power) but we can but hope that new boundaries will mean a more accurate democratic make up in the next Parliament.


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  1. Billy — on 27th June, 2006 at 9:04 am  

    The real question is, if there is a hung parliament will the Lib Dems partner up with Labour or the Tories?

  2. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 10:18 am  

    Proportional Representation and more power to us would be fabulous – a small step along the road to democracy – yeah!

    Though, with a leader like Sir Menzies Campbell…the man looks more like a Tory than the Tories. there’s blair ( looking a bit ragged these days..) and cameron..young and fresh, and in the corner, old Menzies. what the lib dems were thinking when they chose him leader i don’t know. some people suggested that they were fully aware Huhne or Hughes would be more ‘votable’ and old menzies clearly a dinosaur..and that they don’t really want to be in with a chance of actually going somewhere. of course that doesn’t make any sense.

  3. Kismet Hardy — on 27th June, 2006 at 10:52 am  

    I think most people are agnostic about the Lib Dems (you can’t deny they exist but you just don’t believe in them), but I’m convinced they could lead this country, as long as they get their PR right.

    At a time when most voters (and I’m excluding all the political thinkers on this forum) remember Tories as trouble and Labour as the stray dog they rescued and then got mauled by, a party with a bit of panache is bound to win them over.

    Seeing as millions more voted in the X-Factor finals than they did at the General Elections, they should play on the celebrity culture that works so well for America and do a Political Idol type show to pick their new leader (eliminating alcoholics, toilet traders, hemp merchants and kiddie fiddlers in the first round), with Simon Cowell, David Beckham and Carol Vordeman on the judging panel.

    The public choose their leader. The public decide on policies. Howard Jones could sing on the finale of the show. No particular reason, other than I’m having fond memories of Howard Jones today. ‘Look mama, I love you, but you gotta let me live my life’, for instance, is a pronouncement that helps me through the day.

  4. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 11:23 am  

    “but I’m convinced they could lead this country, as long as they get their PR right.”

    Yep agreed.

  5. Sunny — on 27th June, 2006 at 12:13 pm  

    Billy poses a good question. But the other point is if traditional Tory and Labour voters are told in enough numbers that not voting this time may lead to a hung parliament, we may see a rise in voting with the specific aim of avoiding a hung parliament. Or we may see that people who voted LibDem as a protest vote may switch back if the chance of a hung parliament becomes too big. I hope that makes sense.

    Either way, the Libs still have a mountain to climb and I’m not sure if Ming is the man to lead the way.

  6. Kismet Hardy — on 27th June, 2006 at 12:17 pm  

    Minger

    ha ha ha

    ha ha

  7. El Cid — on 27th June, 2006 at 12:53 pm  

    I used to be a fervent advocate of PR when I was younger. Charter 88, Fabian Society — did all that.
    But I don’t buy it anymore. Let’s face it; when the Tories were in a majority in Parl on the back of a minority of votes, it really hurt. But no longer.
    And it’s kinda of dawned on me that it’s more effective if more divisive to have strong government. Confused? I long have been. Either way, PR is overrated as a cause — much like Republicanism, something else I supported as a yoot. I mean who the fuck wants a lying cheating politician as the country’s figurehead? I couldnt give a toss about the monarchy, either way — it’s the best way to be.
    As for the Libs — smart move by Ming to switch on taxes. But still, what are they for? I man they also have their nutloaf nibbling let’s-all-live-in-iron-age-communes loony fringe.
    Which reminds me: I’ve just read in a U.S. paper that a few schools in Wyoming and Washington state have banned ‘tag’ and football from the playgrounds because they are dangerous. I bet the teachers are LibDems.
    And before you give me flak, remember one thing: the Lib Dems are gonna have to win over people like me to get into power.

  8. Kismet Hardy — on 27th June, 2006 at 12:59 pm  

    You don’t think David Cameron is likely to win because he’s handsome, young and down with the kids? Worked for Tony Blair. Worked for Shane from X-Factor. All to do with PR

  9. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:04 pm  

    Yep, and it if that won’t do it – their claims to draft a ‘British’ Bill of Rights (and scrapping the Human Rights Act) may do it – or their claim they’ll scrap the plans for ID cards if they’re voted in.

  10. justforfun — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:06 pm  

    Why is PR a route to more power for the people?

    Is there a link or is it just wishful thinking?

    I don’t agree with Tony Benn’s politics however I always listen to him when it actually comes to protecting our democracy. When there is a Party List of candidates, as in PR, then politians just become yes men to their parties and not to their electorate.

    How about this for an idea – politians should stay more in their constituancies ( tagged if necessary) and if they spend too much time in Westminister then, they loose allowances ( appeal to their greed). Voting could be done electronically where required. When in their constituancies, we can harangue them and they can get on with representing the people that voted them in.

    Justforfun

  11. Robert — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:11 pm  

    Have a look at Scotland. Up here, you vote for a local MSP on a first-past-the-post basis, and a regional MSP selected on a PR basis from a party list. The effect of this has been a Lab-Lib coalition, and representation for minority parties such as the Greens and the Scottish Socialists.

    As an aside, a PR system could allow the BNP’s vote to translate into a parliamentary seat (statistics anyone?), and more for the the likes of Respect. So the effect might be more polarising figures in parliament (though perhaps not in government).

    At present, the Scottish Parliament is controlled by New Labour, and Jack McConnel toes the Blair line. Should a Con-Lib coalition take its place, then you’ll see a lot more banter between Westminster and Holyrood, and this electoral system will be tested properly.

  12. Robert — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:12 pm  

    I couldnt give a toss about the monarchy, either way

    Tut-tut. You gotta have an opinion, dude.

  13. justforfun — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:17 pm  

    Robert – thanks for the info on Scotland. How are the Party list MSPs held to account? Could you generalise about the two types of candidate or is it well mixed up in terms of talent and who gets the Government posts. I am thinking along the lines that perhaps the Party list candidates are more insulated from the electorate and perhaps are made up of the party leaders and their supporters or am I being cynical?

    Justforfun

  14. Kismet Hardy — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:21 pm  

    “I couldnt give a toss about the monarchy, either way

    Tut-tut. You gotta have an opinion, dude.”

    Well, this is the ‘neither left nor right but somewhere over the rainbow’ Lib Dems we’re talking about here…

  15. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:48 pm  

    we can only be cynical about the current system of political parties. then again, they do seem to do things better up in scotland.

  16. Rakhee — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:49 pm  

    +> El Cid “PR is overrated as a cause”

    Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. Plus I’m not sure that it is overrated. The thing about PR that people don’t understand is that it isn’t just about promoting a product or styling an image. It’s also about protecting and managing a brand, company, person or indeed a politician’s reputation. There is an element here of ‘spin’ I know, but there’s a reason why so many companies now use it and see it’s importance.

    David Cameron is very well PR’d, I agree, and I’m intrigued to see the real substance behind this man and how he is under intense pressure. But I’m certainly not going to knock him for using PR as a way to rebuild the Tories image. It’s about time people realised the power of PR and as we can see with Cameron, it really can work.

  17. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:54 pm  

    Anyway the bottom line is that the problem is once you’ve voted someone into office they’re a virtual dictator till the next lot of elections come around. it’s like hiring someone to do a job and then having them boss you around instead of the other way. hardly the ‘people’ in power is it – politicians have no accountability till election time – then its just promises and oh we’re off again. Ridiculous, – and we’re supposed to be ‘stakeholders’ and we don’t even get to have a board to tell off the power-mongers.

  18. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:55 pm  

    ‘element’ of spin – erm no i think there’s more than an element. “but there’s a reason why so many companies now use it” – yep – it’s called bullshitting – certainly in the case of corporates.

  19. Sunny — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:57 pm  

    Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay.

    Heh, he’s talking about Proportional Representation Rakhee, not Public Relations.

  20. Rakhee — on 27th June, 2006 at 2:03 pm  

    *Rakhee goes bright red*
    Sorry El Cid. My mistake.

    Stand by my point though.

    Sonia – wake up. Spin exists but corporates can’t get away with outright lies and certainly cannot make unfounded claims.

  21. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 2:04 pm  

    Oh please Rakhee you wake up – where have you been? Corporates can’t get away with outright lies – they do.

  22. Kismet Hardy — on 27th June, 2006 at 2:05 pm  

    Other possible PRs that the Lib Dems could benefit from:

    Press Release (to tell people what they actually do)

    Portable Radio (to get with the times, like)

    Pueto Rico (um, Pueto Rican men in toilets for the adventurous married Lib Deb)

    i know. I’ve bored myself too

  23. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 2:08 pm  

    an example -: BP bitumen has this to say : ( very amusing this is)

    ” We care about our customers

    No accidents, no harm to people, no damage to the environment”

    heh heh, a very good laugh that. Outright lies or not? Pretty obvious really.
    http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=3050284&contentId=3050364

  24. Sunny — on 27th June, 2006 at 2:10 pm  

    and certainly cannot make unfounded claims

    hahaha! Ok please stop pushing the boundaries of PR speak. There was a report in the Guardian this week about how pharmaceutical companies spread lies using the internet and pressure groups, about their products. In fact George Monbiot does a good job of uncovering corporate lies, specially in the pharma and genetically modified sector.

  25. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 2:11 pm  

    perhaps you should check out what Halliburton has to say in their ‘Sustainable Devt.’ page rakhee – another very good giggle.

  26. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 2:12 pm  

    Anyway rakhee i didn’t mean to be ‘rude’ so pls don’t take it personally but your comment ‘wake up’ was really rather funny.

  27. Rakhee — on 27th June, 2006 at 2:30 pm  

    Not taken personally at all Sonia ;-) I didn’t mean to be rude either.

    I’m not naive to what companies do and your BP link is a classic example in a very tricky comms area involving CSR. I know full well what companies have done and try to get away with today in terms of ‘spin’ – but they’re certainly not getting away with it as much as they used to and it’s not going to be long before they can’t do it at all.

    PR has a bad rep which can be unreasonably harsh sometimes. It’s getting a bit frustrating listening to people bitch about it when actually, it can do a lot of good in communicating messages and helping to raise awareness of a certain issue with a very powerful impact.

    Am at work but will def come back with some specific egs.

  28. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 3:12 pm  

    thanks rakhee. i don’t have any issue with PR inherently – after all there are plenty of organizations out there and activists who’re pretty good at PR and its certainly absolutely essential to get messages ‘out there’ otherwise no-one finds about all the valuable work. and with regards to CSR although a lot of companies do take the piss still at least they realize they have some responsibility – which is a good step if nothing else! Also it’s a good way to get money off corporates though that’s a difficult one depending on who you’re dealing with and with regards to compromise etc. That’s an issue all charities have to deal with at some stage and it’s pretty difficult.

  29. Mike Armstrong — on 27th June, 2006 at 7:06 pm  

    In most of Croydon, far from winning seets, the LibDems are now being challenged for third place by the Green Party. If PR comes in for Parliament the Green Party will be a significant force in parliamentary politics.

  30. Sunny — on 27th June, 2006 at 11:57 pm  

    I agree that the Greens could end up having a far bigger impact than the BNP and given Germany’s record I think that may be a good thing (though I don’t agree with the way Green PArty policies are formulated).

  31. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 12:21 am  

    Good for the Green Party – I voted for them.

  32. Sunny — on 28th June, 2006 at 12:34 am  
  33. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 12:58 am  

    Ahem indeed. I can’t see any problems. Void’s interpretation is pretty unconventional and in my opinion – is focusing on how it fits into the current system of organization.

  34. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 1:02 am  

    as far as i can see, the only problem with the greens are they aren’t unconventional enough in as much as they still think in the confines of a nation-state. talking about borders isn’t something that impresses me, but i can see they wouldn’t go around saying they would abolish the nation-state if they wanted to! :-) And of course at the end of the day i’m an anarchist. but hey, compared to the other political parties out there. And check out the animal rights – wonderful! Fluffy bunnies all over the countryside…

  35. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 1:03 am  

    Typo – i meant void is pretty conventional..duh silly me

  36. Sunny — on 28th June, 2006 at 1:03 am  

    Maybe, but if you want to change the world, it’s far better to think about evolution rather than revolution, because the latter is primarily the work of power hungry nutters who end up killing people, etc etc. Despite your end intentions. Hence I’m always cynical of people who cannot fit their thinking into current situations and then forge a path to get to their goal, rather than working backwards.

  37. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 9:53 am  

    Sure, existing as a political party in itself is evolutionary rather than revolutionary though.

  38. Arif — on 28th June, 2006 at 11:26 am  

    The Manifesto for a Sustainable Society is an evolving document itself, which is, I believe, altered at every conference. It sets out principles and aspirations, giving a sense of the kind of values that would guide a typical Green Party political decision.

    The election manifestos are different documents which cost out a particular programme as best as a small democratic part can.

    Maybe every party should try to have a general manifesto which gives a sense of guiding ideology just like the Green party does. It seems a really good thing that the manifesto is criticised for what it contains, as it means it is meaningful enough that people can know where they stand in relation to Green Party ideals.

    I think that the Green Party and Lib Dems also complement one another. The Lib Dems are roughly the party you would join if you are a Green but willing to compromise a great deal in order to be electable, under the doctrine that there is no point in principles if you can’t put them into practice. But, in their own way, the Green Party keeps those principles alive, debating them regardless of mass media perceptions. Remember, they were set up before blogs gave us easy ways to sound off and explore unpopular ideas with like-minded people.

  39. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 12:20 pm  

    good points arif.

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