It pays for the Tories to the lean to the right…

Well that’s the conclusion Andrew Grice has come to given the lift the Tories have had in the recent polls. For all the opproprium laid on Michael Ancrum. There is something in the theory, Brown snuck in yesterday by comparing himself to Thatcher (and further differentiating himself from Blair, and by extention Cameron) saying they were both conviction politicians. But could the real significance of the current polling figures may be the slow disintegration of the Lib Dem performance?


  • joeCanuck

    Get the knife in early and twist it!

  • Ginfizz

    The Liberals always flat-line in the mid teens during mid term and pick up during election campaigns. Also remember the nature of the beast. While the Tories and Labour will be fighting a nation-wide campaign, the Liberals would be best advised to focus all of their attention on 70-80 seats where they in theory are in contention with highly localised campaigns. Furthermore, never forget that once you get a Lib Dem in, they are notouriously hard to shift i.e. Sarah Teather in Brent East.

  • D-C

    What is it with the Lib Dems? They have some great policies and great democratic reform proposals but yet they turn out a situation equivalent to that of great product poor salesmen.

  • D-C,

    GF has a point, they are difficult to shift, but they always have to fight for attention in the binary drama between Labour and the Tories. It’s hard to escape the thought that they subsist largely on the ‘plague on both your house’ line, which lets them pick up ‘opposition’ votes of differing colours all over Britain.

  • IJP


    But could the real significance of the current polling figures may be the slow disintegration of the Lib Dem performance?

    At last someone’s noticed!!


    They have some great policies and great democratic reform proposals

    Do they?

    Actually, I’m sure they do. But electoral politics is more about priorities than policies.

    I’m sorry, but the LibDems have failed spectacularly in this regard so far. They talk about “electoral reform” without illustrating why it’s relevant to anyone beyond anoraks. They talk about reducing tax by 4p/pound, which is a blatant U-turn of what were previously “honest tax rises”. They talk about “leaving Iraq to concentrate on Afghanistan”, which is frankly bollix.

    And they continue to allow Mark Oaten out in public while attempting to come across all “holier than thou”…

  • DC

    IJP your overall comments sound like something Alliance would also need to figure out how to get round too.

    And they also have some great policies but bad salesmen save a few core dynamic players of course.

  • DC

    “But electoral politics is more about priorities than policies.”

    The problem is how do you square off priorities and policies of former governments by using the liberal philosophical prism. That in itself is a rigid approach to politics that often require deviation away from a structured approach based on liberal values.

    Iraq is a perfect example, you couldn’t just default to troops-out given the immediate consequences.

    Just a brief knee-jerk thought over application of liberal thought to a diverse problem brought about by a neo-con driven policy.

  • Scotsman

    There is no evidence whatsoever that the Tories can win the next Westminster Election. I’d be looking for a year’s worth of double-digit poll leads for Cameron before I’d start to think he can gain an overall majority.

    The Lib-Dems have shown their lack of appetite for power by failing to cooperate with the SNP at Holyrood. They mistakenly believe that they can win more votes in opposition- it seems they have no faith in the efficacy of their own policies.

    Their bluster is that they cannot support a referendum on Scottish independence- they can’t even negotiate with a party that might suggest it! But they are all for a referendum on a new EU Treaty.

    They are currently a laughing stock, certainly in Scotland (where there are plenty of fools to choose from)

  • IJP


    I didn’t really want to turn this into an Alliance thread, but I’ll draw one parallel where Alliance is, I feel, being more successful than the LibDems.

    The LibDems go on and on about the electoral system, but frankly just sound like a pile of anoraks when they do so.

    Alliance used to go on and on about d’Hondt and designations in a similar fashion. Again, there appeared to be no real relevance to the voter.

    However, now that that d’Hondt/designation system is delivering deadlock on key issues such as academic selection, RPA and stadium location (deadlock which will either not be broken or which will be resolved by unaccountable background dealings), Alliance has an opportunity to present what was formerly an anoraks’ point into one which is fundamentally about good governance on major issues that impact upon our daily lives.

    The same could be said of the transformation of a largely moral argument about sectarianism into a financial (and therefore directly relevant) argument about the direct impact of segregation; whereas again, the LibDems pick issues which seem irrelevant.

    In the end, the LibDems will still get three times Alliance’s vote share! But I see more evidence of Alliance rising to the challenge than the LibDems.

    Back to the issue…

  • IJP


    I think your points about the Scottish Tories plus the point that the Scottish LibDems were still unable to beat them back up my point about the LibDems in general.

    It’s deeply troubling.

  • DC

    “resolved by unaccountable background dealings”

    Reconciliation of two opposing factions may well prove to be necessary in order to accommodate the centre-ground more so than a willing or expectation of dead-lock. There may well be background dealings but in the end all policy will be put to and agreed, even before Alliance’s eyes.

    Ultimately, it may well be better for a work-in to happen but a work-in that yields poor results, allowing for the Northern Ireland assembly to bed-down so that attacks on policy can be made, and justifiable so, if the delivery is of sub-standard creating the opportunity for a real-politik attack. But policy should be made over contentious issues thus leading for scrutiny, rather ducking out through deadlock.

    If Alliance had an open strategy to agitate for reform they would go into one-camp and mix up or withhold votes to determine further consideration of centrist views. If the centre was bigger ideally you would split into two and discharge as necessary; but, it’s strategy and Alliance seem to keen to stand by its liberal core values over centisms true alignment to diminish the political value of Unionism and Nationalism.

  • inuit_g

    “However, now that that d’Hondt/designation system is delivering deadlock on key issues such as academic selection, RPA and stadium location…”

    You can hardly blame the ‘all-party’ D’Hondt system for that though Ian – you’re pretty much blaming the institution of power-sharing itself.

    To take two hypothetical examples:

    i) If NI had power-sharing but not d’Hondt – i.e. the largest party from each community power-shares – you would still have the potential for deadlock you outlined above.

    ii) If NI did away with power-sharing as well as d’Hondt – well, then we’d be back to majority rule with all its faults and its lamentable 50 year record. Even as a unionist I would be totally opposed to majority rule (at least until such time as party politics moves beyond the unionist-nationalist thing towards a more normal left-right system)

    Even if someone like Norman Tebbit became Prime Minister and offered unionism majority-rule back I would strongly reject that because NI’s future cannot be built on just one side, it needs the active participation of both sides.

    So what’s your alternative?

    Imho, We need something that could protect cross-community governance for as long as its needed and not amount to the majority community lording it over the minority.

    I don’t think we need this ‘all-party’ government for anything other than a short while. I would prefer to move to a system where the majority Unionist party shares with the majority Nationalist party – with the minority parties forming the opposition and potential alternative.

    I’m wary of the accusation that power-sharing “institutionalises sectarianism” simply because, for many nationalists, power-sharing guarantees they will have an equal and proportionate voice to unionists in governing this place.

    Equally, if unionists were ever to be the majority, it would protect our rights in the same way.

    I agree the present system is certainly less than perfect, and if you’ve got ideas for squaring the circle, more than happy to discuss!

  • IJP


    On the contrary, we do not have power-sharing. We have power-dividing.

    D’Hondt enforces the mandatory coalition-cum-sectarian carve-up at Executive level, just as designations to at Assembly level. Both must go.

    The replacement? Actual power-sharing.

  • IJP

    So what’s your alternative?

    Qualified majority voting with voluntary coalitions. As I’ve always said.

    Agenda for Democracy 2004 for more.

  • DC

    QMV is a good call but when those with their feet in the door can settle down nicely with designations how do you expect to construct an argument over the failings of the system if it is actually working or at least seen to be suitably working for its constituents.

    I don’t believe power-sharing will collapse over vetoes instead it will likely move on a good deal more slowly.

    I know you don’t take to discussing things at length, but forgive me for saying this, for Alliance not to issue a workable strategy to promote change away from voting blocs is a bit conservative. Always better working from the inside than out as oft quoted. Get in the system mix it up.

    Alliance is often stated as progressive then it needs to progress new thinking and be flexible with political manoeuvres that help show the ‘no-real-need’ approach of ‘us n them’.

  • IJP


    Such a strategy was issued in 2004!

    It’s called Agenda for Democracy. I referred to it above.

    Please keep up!

  • DC

    That document is about Alliance’s proposals in 2004 for the review of the agreement.

    Alliance proposes many changes and rightly so but unlike a switch they can’t just propose and then expect an immediate bending of the knee to such ideas.

    The document was for 2004, it’s now 2007 and the changes haven’t been implemented; all I was considering was strategic thinking in an attempt to highlight the reasons to change over systems. What better way to do that than to go-bloc but not bloc-vote with the rest of the cronies on issues that could adversely affect centrist vision.

    In terms of keeping up, you may be in the wrong lane.