Vince’s fantasy politics

THERE’S nothing the Liberals love better than to pretend playing kingmaker in the run-up to general elections.

James Forsyth over at The Spectator Coffee House has picked up on comments by Vince Cable to the effect that the Liberals will only do a deal with the “moral victor” at the election; and interestingly he defines “moral victory” not as winning the highest number of votes, but winning the largest number of seats in the Commons.

Isn’t that an odd definition from a leading Liberal? I would have thought that their blind, religious devotion to proportional representation would have obliged them  to count votes before seats.

I hasten to add that I’m not anticipating a hung parliament (nor a Tory victory, before you ask). But if we have the disaster of a hung parliament inflicted upon us, frankly I don’t mind if any MP of whichever party wishes subsequently to vote to implement a Labour manifesto. However, if the Liberals reckon they can persuade either the Tories or Labour to concede the scrapping of first-past-the-post, they have another think coming.

Whatever the result of the next election, I’m certain there will still be a clear majority in support of the current electoral system. And very few of us would consider sacrificing it for the very dubious privilege of making the Liberals a permanent partner in a coalition government for the rest of time.

So Vince and his pals should perhaps spend a little less time looking through the ministerial Toyota Prius catalogue and more time campaigning to hold on to the seats they already have.



Filed under LibDems, Parliament, Politics

11 responses to “Vince’s fantasy politics

  1. Brian Hall

    “I’m certain there will still be a clear majority in support of the current electoral system.”

    Last election, using simple logic, 67.6% voted Labour and Tory, supposing these are all in favour of first past the post. Also include the fact that there is a turnout of 61.3%, and assume non-voters are not in support of the current electoral system and you have a net support in the electoral system of 41.46%….

    Not exactly what I would call a majority; 3,734,208 short in fact.

    You should also understand that first past the post is like a poison to the Liberal mindset, it implicitly implies that some peoples opinions are more equal than others. Indeed, as is the idea of teaming up against the will of the public.

  2. Loki

    Tom – wasn’t it your former leader (he whose name must not be spoken) who offered the Liberal Democrats (not the Liberals) a pre-election pact before the 1997 election?
    You may not be anticipating a hung Parliament or a Tory majority, but the polls certainly point in that direction at present.
    Vince is quite right to say that his party should not prop up a party whom the electorate have effectively rejected, if Labour were to go from a position of 60ish majority to second largest party, do you really think that the Liberal Democrats should, would or could keep you in Government? Whatever electoral system you support or advocate, we all know the current system has an inherent inbuilt labour bias, so if you still fail to be the largest party given that fact, you should be prepared to face the electoral consequences.

  3. Michael

    Is there any principle behind your desire to retain FPTP?

  4. Johnny Norfolk

    Yes I think Labour and the Lib/Dems will suffer at the next election. Mr Cameron does not come over as the strongest leader the Tories have had, but he will win an outright majority.
    Just remember Tom when you have a go at Mr Cameron it is you that is in power not him.
    You have messed up big time and you have no chance at the next election. You would do better to explain yourselves and say sorry to us all for for the mess you have made.

  5. Hate to say it, but I don’t have much invested in the outcome of the London elections.
    Sure, MP’s are important, and I will be voting for our local SNP candidate who may yet topple the Once-Reverend-though-possibly-not-anymore-because-“we-don’t-do-god” David Cairns, but aside from that, and maybe if I’ve time some balloon blowing and pamphlet giving I’m not too worried. We might (and I do so hope the latest poll trends continue) win over 20 MP’s, which’d be fantastic, but I see the outcome of the London election as a fairly safe win for the Tory’s. No idea on if they’ll go green with respect to their Scottish MP’s and have them share a bike ala Dave to mountain bike down from Edinburgh…you can fit 2 on a bike that far I presume…

    But they’re gonna win it. I know it. You know it. Mr. Salmond knows it, even Gordon knows it. From hereon in it’s more a case of damage limitation…

    No, the real fight isn’t the London elections, or the sodomy of the Lib Dems trying to get their PR (for what it’s worth I think PR is a good idea, even limited PR ala Holyrood, but anon)…

    It’s the referendum (if it goes ahead and Labour don’t bottle out of their pledge) next year, against the backdrop of further calamity at the hands of you lot, and the sebsequent election in 2011 that all eyes must now turn.

    Think I’ll be going on about this for some time; it’s probably the most important issue facing Scotland in 301 years, so a brief statement by a Scottish MP on why the electorate have no say and why they they should trust the Calman Calamity is in order I think……
    Apparently so do these 4,000,000 or so other people. They’re called “The People”. They may well decide you’re out of a job in the next wee while Tom.

  6. richard

    Personally, my fear is that Labour will offer the Libs whatever they ask for (including PR) in an attempt to avoid losing power after the election.

  7. Terry

    “Personally, my fear is that Labour will offer the Libs whatever they ask for (including PR) in an attempt to avoid losing power after the election.”

    The Lib/Dems would have to have very short memories (or be incredibly naive) if they fell for that trick again.

  8. Thomas

    One wonders why an MP has nothing better to do than attack a leading Liberal Democrat, who is widely seen as authoritative, and using the wrong party name in the process.

    “Whatever the result of the next election, I’m certain there will still be a clear majority in support of the current electoral system.” – perhaps you would care to look at the ‘State of the Nation’ poll from 2006 ( On Page 2, as you can see, there is a clear majority of people – sixty per cent – who support a proportional system of election. Only 12% of people disagree. Perhaps you should do a bit of research before making sweeping statements.

  9. Perhaps I should clarify: when I said there would be a clear majority after the next election in support of first-past-the-post, I meant there would be a clear majority of MPs in support of FPTP.

    But that shouldn’t concern you – after all, if Vince believes seats rather than votes are what is important…

  10. Thomas

    He has to work in the system. You know that as well as I do. Cameron could theoretically get a plurality of votes without getting a plurality of seats, as the Labour vote falls across seats already Tory-held.

    However, our system is FPTP, and is therefore based upon the number of seats held – as all systems are. Whether proportional or majoritarian, we would expect HM to ask the leader with at least a plurality of seats in the Commons. That goes for STV (which is still a constituency system) and List, as well as FPTP

  11. richard

    @ Thomas;

    The fieldwork on the “State of the Nation” poll is distinctly sloppy. Assuming the questions were asked as written they asked whether people agree or disagree with the statement;
    “This country should adopt a new voting
    system that would give parties seats in
    Parliament in proportion to their share of

    Of course people were going to agree, that’s what people do when you ask them positive / leading questions…

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