A new kind of politics

I would like to thank everyone who voted for me in the election, and for increasing the Lib Dem majority in Manchester Withington to 1894. Nationally the election results were disappointing in so far as having increased our vote, and securing 1 million more votes, the unfair electoral system conspired to reduce our number of MPs to 57.

Nevertheless the result here in Withington, and our local election results across the constituency, were a real vote of confidence in the hard work and commitment of our hardworking local team. As well as winning the Parliamentary seat we held all 5 Council seats that we were defending, and we won a second seat from Labour in Chorlton, where Victor Chamberlain was elected with an enormous 3349 votes, a majority of 368. We also came very close to winning in Old Moat ward, where Rob Mackle polled 2216 and missed out by 315 votes.

What was clear from the General Election is that no party “won” the election. The Labour vote dropped to 29%, but the Conservatives failed to get an overall majority and only polled 37% of the votes cast. The electorate decided that there should be no overall majority, and so it up to the political parties to come to an agreement to work together for the good of the country. I wanted the voters to choose a Liberal Democrat Government, but that was not to be. However the electorate also made it clear that they did not want a majority Labour or Tory Government either.

A number of people have contacted me raising concern that we have entered into a coalition with the Tories. Others have contacted me to argue that we should not have had any discussions with the Labour Party because they lost the election. Personally I think that it was absolutely right to have discussions with both parties to bring about the best for the country. What was clear, however, was that Labour were not interested in any kind of left of centre progressive coalition, which could also have included the Welsh and Scottish Nationalists, the Alliance Party MP from Northern Ireland, and the Green MP from Brighton. The people who were involved in their negotiating team seemed more interested in the outcome of  the Labour leadership election, rather than what was best for the country. Labour have been very happy to go into opposition, rather than be part of any Government tackling the economic crisis. On Tuesday evening in the Members’ Dining Room, when David Cameron was standing outside number 10, the loudest cheer was from the Labour MPs, not the Tories.

By ruling out any coalition the Labour Party guaranteed that the Conservatives would be in Government.  As such there were only 2 options – a Tory minority Government putting forward a Tory agenda, or a coalition Government where the Lib Dems could help to shape the direction of the Government and ensure a progressive agenda for Britain . So there was really no choice. Whatever misgivings I, and others, may have about a coalition with the Tories, we must ensure that it works for the benefit of the country. Already we have secured commitments for a number of progressive policies.

During the election Labour said that restoring the link between pensions and earnings was unaffordable. The Lib Dem Tory coalition has already committed to restoring this link. We have also secured a commitment to raise the threshold before people pay income tax up to £10,000 to take some of the lowest paid out of paying tax.

And we have secured a commitment to increase funding for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, which will mean extra money for all schools in the Constituency.

At the same time we are bringing forward plans to bring about political change – reform of the House of Lords, the chance to sack corrupt MPs, and a vote on electoral reform to introduce a more proportional voting system, and to put an end to the Prime Minister calling an election at the time of his or her choosing.

We are also reinstating civil liberties – scrapping ID cards, ending the detention of children, no more fingerprinting of children in schools without parental consent. And finally we will be tackling the banks and tackling the climate change – taxing bank bonuses and bringing about a greener economy, including cancelling the third runway at Heathrow.

8 responses to “A new kind of politics

  1. What is your position (and by extension, the coaliation’s position) on the Digital Electronics Bill that was forced through parliament in the last week of the labour government?

    Will it be part of the repeal bill so that the whole complex issue can have the proper time devoted to it in order to retain the good and fix the bad parts of the bill?

  2. I think the coalition with the Conservatives was the best choice that could be made under the circumstances. I hope that you don’t suffer electorally for making the best choice for the country, I’m sure “confidence and supply” would have been an easier choice but this way the Lib Dems have influence and the country has decisive government.

    I’m also interested to hear if you have any plans RE: the digital economy bill though.

  3. Nick Clegg mentioned soon after the Digital Economy Act came into being that the Liberal Democrats would seek its repeal.

    Like many, I was very sceptical of the coalition at first, until I read the coalition agreement which is basically 80% Lib Dem policy. This is a vital opportunity for the Lib Dems to demonstrate to the country that they can do a good job once in government.

    Good luck John, I hope you like the view from the opposite side!

  4. Please explain how you can look voters in the eye when your election literature stated that the “Tories can’t get in here”, but as soon as the opportunity for political power was dangled before your party, your party snuggled up to the Tories like a litter of poodles snuggling up to their mother.

    Please explain at what point you decided to support the coalition agreement. Was it immediately it was clear that no party had a clear majority, or was it well before that, or was it after the negotiations began?

    • ‘snuggled up to the Tories like a litter of poodles snuggling up to their mother. ‘

      Post of the day, Disgruntled!

      I’m not sure whether Tory Boy will answer any of these points, but we can always hope.

      We can also wonder if he will answer the following:

      On June 22, when George Osborne announces his £6 billion of cuts, and therefore increases the risk of a huge increase in unemployment, particularly in the public sector – and huge ricochets into the private sector, particularly retail, when these people are no longer spending – will Mr Leech be sitting on the government benches, waving his order paper and roaring support as Gideon ‘commends this budget to the house’?

      Also, did Mr Leech’s student supporters mishear him when he said ‘no to tuition fees’? It appears he may have been saying ‘no limit to tuition fees’…

      Also, what is the point of ‘securing an agreement to abstain’ on issues such as Trident? This merely ensures that Conservative motions on such matters receive an even bigger majority than if the Liberal Democrats had voted with their supposed principles as expressed in their manifesto.

      Finally, will Mr Leech be supporting the 55% ‘super majority’ to dissolve Parliament? Because if this cosy coalition collapses, it will enable Cameron to continue as Prime Minister, losing confidence vote after confidence vote, with the support of 47% of the House. ‘Well, he won’t be able to introduce legislation in that case’ may be the answer… but then a) what a way to run a country and b) there are plenty of measures a PM can take without the need for agreement of Parliament, I know this because the LibDems were always banging on about Blair doing this in his last term. But at least Blair had a majority.

      “As such there were only 2 options – a Tory minority Government putting forward a Tory agenda, or a coalition Government where the Lib Dems could help to shape the direction of the Government and ensure a progressive agenda for Britain”
      I see a third option… George Osborne pursuing a City of London-led agenda, with that nice dancing Vince Cable providing the window dressing and kidding people that this government ‘really isn’t that bad’.
      Until we see riots in our inner cities again when people can’t even afford to buy food after Gideon has put 20% VAT on it.
      Honestly, do you seriously think Cameron is doing anything other than using the LibDem Party?
      ‘Conservatives can’t win here’.
      They can and they have. We should all be afraid.

    • Well the Tories didn’t get in here did they? The libdems are now in government and influencing things. You’d have preferred a Tory minority government or a shakey Labour coalition with no majority?

  5. No more news from Tory Boy today? Ah well, to fill the void for all his avid readers, let’s have a look at what Michael Crick is blogging about today…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/michaelcrick/2010/05/post.html

    “Strong rumours reach me that the Liberal Democrats are trying to keep receiving Short money. That’s the taxpayers money which opposition parties – yes, OPPOSITION parties – get from the state to help balance the fact that the governing party has the distinct advantage of being in office, with special advisers, and so on. And now, of course, the Lib Dems are a governing party, so shouldn’t be entitled to Short money.

    Short money was introduced by the Labour Leader of the House Ted Short in the mid-1970s to help opposition parties operate properly. The money was worth £1.75 million to the Lib Dems last year. That compares with their total party budget of around £5 million. So the Liberal Democrats will be in big trouble without that funding.

    The sums are calculated on a formula based on the number of seats obtained at the last election and the number of votes.

    If the Lib Dems are indeed trying to keep up the Short payments it will look very odd in this era of ‘new politics’ and financial stringency.

    Coming on top of the row over the proposed 55 per cent rule, the Lib Dems will inevitably be accused, having now obtained some power, of trying to rig the system in their own favour. “

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