back to article Cameron aims to bring LibDems into government

David Cameron has issued an invitation to the Liberal Democrats to form a stable government with the Conservatives, preferring long-term compromise to trying run a minority administration. If taken up, the "big, open, comprehensive offer" is likely to mean Liberal Democrats would take up cabinet positions, rather than merely …


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  1. Dan 10

    It's a funny system...

    ...when the party that gained the least votes (out of the mainstream contenders) is suddenly in the driving seat to decide whether we end up with a conservative or labour government.

    Only politicians could come up with this one.

    1. Ian Bush

      Yes, It's A Funny System

      Yes it's a funny system when a party that almost 2/3rds of the electorate votes against thinks it has a clear mandate from the people.

      And it's going to be awful. We may have a government that represents at least in some way over half the people who voted. Whatever next?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "Yes it's a funny system when a party that almost 2/3rds of the electorate votes against thinks it has a clear mandate from the people."

        Isnt that almost always the case?

        Although to be fair, I think my voting form was broke because I never got to vote against any candidate. I just had one to vote for.

        Next time, can I have the form that lets me vote against people please?

      2. Jimmy Floyd
        Thumb Down


        No, they didn't vote against the Tories. In the main, they voted for the others. Big difference.

        More to the point, why does a party that won 80% of the votes of Labour gain only 20% of the seats compared to them? I challenge anyone to justify that.

        1. Spanners Silver badge


          I voted against the BNP first and the Conservatives second. I could not bring myself to vote for the clowns who took us into the illegal invasion of Iraq if there was any other decent option so the LibDems got it but it was specifically an anti-Tory vote and I know of others.

        2. Mr Pedantic


          That's because Labour's Boundaries Commission moved the voting boundaries to ensure that they could win certain key seats with less votes. For instance, entire towns were moved from The Wirral to Merseyside, or from Warwickshire to West Midlands. And by moving a boundary a little bit to the North, South, East or West, they could make sure that seat had a majority of labour voters and far fewer Tory or LibDem voters to challenge them.

        3. Raspy32


          "More to the point, why does a party that won 80% of the votes of Labour gain only 20% of the seats compared to them?"

          It's a big downfall of the "first past the post" system for deciding who wins in any given constituency. the Lib Dems gain a lot of "second places" in areas, losing out to the two main parties. So they get a decent share of the vote but don't win that many seats. For the same reason, the Tories actually got a greater percentage of the overall vote than Labour did in 2005, yet were unable to get a majority of seats.

          I'm not a Lib Dem supporter (I'm not really a supporter of anyone), but I kind of agree with their idea for electoral reform. Essentially, make the contituencies much larger, covering say 5 or 6 seats a piece. Then people vote for their chosen party/candidate, and the seats are decided proportionally in that area.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        A truely funny system...

        ...when a party can pick up 23% of the vote, but only get 9% of the seats.

        Go figure.

      4. Eddie Edwards


        If you're going to trot out this "voted against" nonsense, please bear in mind than more than 2/3 of the electorate voted "against" every other party. The party who the least number of people voted "against" was the Conservatives.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Eddie Edwards

          YES! That's exactly the point. No single party has any kind of a mandate.

          Clearly the voters do not want any one party in power - and this has been the case for decades - and yet we're constantly stuck with a one-party government that is governing against the wishes of the majority.

          Time to introduce PR and regular referendums on anything important eg our continuing relationship with Europe.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You could have an even bigger Conservative-Labour alliance, which would render the 3rd party irrelevant.

      It's (obviously) not going to happen, but it is ideology rather than some inherent power of the 3rd party that prevents it.

      For Brown - if he resigns his long term reputation could well be highly regarded. If he clings on his reputation could well be as tarnished as Blair. But without the money.

      1. Adam 10

        Brown? Highly regarded?

        "For Brown - if he resigns his long term reputation could well be highly regarded."... I don't think there is an danger he will ever be highly regarded.

        Brown is even more hated than Thatcher was, the only reason Labour didn't field another candidate is that selecting a new leader so close to a General Election is liable to doom one's party to failure.

        Many regard Thatcher as a good PM, however I've never heard anyone say the same of Brown. In fact I don't think anyone's ever really regarded him as PM...

        1. MattWPBS

          Don't think it will be good enough.

          Remember that Blair offered an inquiry on electoral reform, and nothing came of it. Once bitten, twice shy. Think it's going to be "referendum on reform or no deal".

          For anyone who suggests that LabLib would not be legitimate:

          ConLib coalition - 59.1% of the vote.

          LabLib coalition - 52.1% of the vote.

          Con - 36.1%, Lab - 29.1%, Lib - 23%.

          If the Tories can't come to middle ground with the Lib Dems, and Labour can, then that coalition has the more legitimacy than a minority government in my mind.

        2. Ian Bush

          Oh how the memories fade

          Thatcher was a disaster. The laissez-faire economic policy introduced under her has lead us to where we are today. Labout tinkered, and in a good number of ways improved things (e.g. the minimum wage, independence of the Bank of England, 3rd world debt relief), but for whatever reason felt they could not regulate where regulation has been clearly appropriate for many years (the city and the banks). Ultimately we still have an economy based upon "supply sided" aka "trickle-down" ideas where the poor get shafted more and more as each day passes, despite an apparently "communist" government (as it was described in the comments on this article). 3,000,000 unemployed anybody?

          Mr Brown as PM has had his problems, that is undeniably true, and I didn't vote for his party. However I worry much more about the coming problems for large sections of our society now the "I'm alright Jack" party is probably back in at least part of the coming government.

        3. dave 54

          Adam 10

          Is that your age, or your IQ? I'd beleive either. See many riots on the streets against Brown, and Brown's policies? No? Undertaken any studies to gain a measure of his popularity, compared to Thatcher? Thought not.

          I'm no fan of the man, or a voter for his party, but to claim that he's universally-hated, and that you know of no-one who approves of his premiership, is laughably retarded. He was PM because the party chose him as its leader - all above board. Move along, nothing to see (or whine about) here.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

            Brown *appointed* Prime Minister. *Never* elected

            Which is *another* point people might like to keep in mind.

            He retains No10 as his address *solely* because the *rules* say the incumbent holds the right *wheather* or not they have an overall majority.

            It would seem that this is a nice example of the law of unintended consequences. What is meant to improve continuity and stability has the *opposite* effect.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Brown is even more hated than Thatcher was....

          If you're North of Watford Gap or outside England, even Blair isn't as hated as Thatcher by those old enough to remember.

          Brown is just widely held in contempt, perhaps tinged with a little pity.

      2. copsewood


        Well from our (the LibDem) point of view the 2 main parties do have more in common with each other than either has with us. But it seems very unlikely they will be able to do a deal with each other for historical reasons and because they don't like to admit how much they have in common with each other to their supporters because this invalidates all the bogeymen arguments of the past (When they have claimed a LibDem vote was really a vote for the bogeyman because it lets the bogeyman in).

        However, the needs of the voters have to take priority over the interests of parties, so I guess someone will have to hold their noses to enable government to occur, and I really can't see Brown desperately hanging onto power doing his own party any good by not resigning, or it doing us any good by accepting promises of electoral reform from Brown which he no longer has any ability to deliver.

        I'd also much rather have a minority Conservative administration having to moderate their policies by making these more acceptable to the majority of voters who didn't vote for them than by Cameron doing a dodgy deal with the Ulster Unionist parties resulting in Northern Ireland abandoning the peace process.

      3. Al 6


        There have been Conservative-Labour alliances to keep the Lib Dems out at council level.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What the LibDems want

      It allows them a much greater power than their share of votes gives them - which is why they want PR as it gives more power to the smaller parties and you wonder why the complain about the current system

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "which is why they want PR as it gives more power to the smaller parties"

        Maybe I missed something, but from the current results: Conservatives got 36% of the vote, but have 47% of the seats, Labour got 29% of the vote and have 40% of the seats and the Lib Dems got 23% of the vote, but only get 9% of the seats.

        I think it would be fairer to say they want PR because it leads to a more representative distribution of power, the top three parties *should* have had 234, 188 and 143 seats.

        It's just as bad at the other end of the scale, the DUP had 0.6% of the vote, but get 1.2% of the seats (8), wheras the SNP got 1.7%, but have 1% of the seats (6) - how can a fair system allow the party with 1/3 of the votes of another party end up with more seats?

        Generally Labour and the Conservatives have the most to lose if the system changes, but we're in an interesting situation now, Labour (or GB at any rate) seem to want to cling onto power by any means necessary, so they're possibly ready to deal. Selling their future for a short-term gain? Surely not! (Don't mention the gold reserves; I did it once, but I think I got away with it.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Anonymous Coward - Eh?

          I agree.

          Gordon Brown would sell his mother to continue as PM.

          Nick Clegg should take full advantage and offer to keep him in office on the condition that PR is the first thing that gets voted through in the new parliament.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. John G Imrie

        Lib dems share of the vote

        was 20.1% ish.

        Which if they got the same number of seats as their share shuld have given them around 148 instead of the 57 they got

    4. Anonymous Coward


      it's banana republic and very sad!

    5. Graham Marsden

      It's a funny system...

      ... which means that a party that gets almost a quarter of the votes gets less than ten percent of the seats in Parliamen!

      Only politicians with a vested interest in staying in power despite getting less than 40% of the votes could justify keeping such a system.

  2. NogginTheNog

    Not quite

    It wouldn't be a purely 'conservative' or 'labour' government though, it would be one flavoured with lib-dem acceptable policy, and possibly even ministers. It's called coalition.

  3. Valerion


    If we end up with Proportional Representation this is exactly what we'll have forever.

    1. Chad H.
      Thumb Down

      Heven Forbid

      Heaven forbid we actually move to a system where you can't claim a "Mandate" because only 60% of the Uk population voted against your party.

    2. Richard 81


      Then maybe we might have a government that attempts to form a consensus with other parties, rather than just getting into power and using its whips to ensure a majority from just its own MPs.

    3. Spanners Silver badge


      Politicians will have to start talking to each other and persuading them of the benefits of their ideas. This will replace the "we have a thumping majority so shut up peasant" we have had until now.

      We might get less stupid laws - don't bet on that. We will get less laws. It will take them longer to get them agreed.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Two guys neither of whom has headed the country


    One who hasn't with one-who-has-and-look-what-a-mess-he-made-of-it

    it was a vote for change!

  5. Steven Jones

    @Dan 10

    OK - I challenge you to come up with any system which doesn't give the possibility of the third place party being able to be king makers. Just about the only way you can avoid that is to have a system which effectively forces a decision one way or another. That's effectively what happens with presidential electoral systems where there can, be only one winner, either direct (as in France) or via electoral college (as in the US). However, the US system doesn't always reflect the popular vote (George Bush junior got into power on his first term with fewer popular votes than his democratic opponent). Any indirectly appointed presidential system could be vulnerable to this.

    Ultimately only one person can win. I suppose it is possible to come up with a parliamentary system which guaranteed the largest party always got more than 50% of the seats but that would be highly distorting. If there were 10 parties with roughly similar levels of votes the winner takes all approach would surely be unnacceptable.

    Note that many presidential systems are balanced with parliamentary or other representational systems which can constrain the power of the president.

  6. The Original Ash
    Thumb Up

    Holy crap!

    That stub in the middle read like the most awesome thing I've ever heard during this election!

    - Investigate electoral reform

    - Scrapping ID cards

    - Reversing Brown's NI rise

    - Fixing school funding (the sector I work in)

    - Keeping nuclear power (Clegg wanted less nuclear power, as well as Trident scrapped)

    - A party which might actually be able to run the country in power (Let's be honest; Lib Dem should be *influential*, not over-ruling).

    I hope they accept the offer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @The Original Ash

      The LibDems would be *insane* to accept *any* offer from either the Conservatives or the other right-wing party, New Labour, that didn't guarantee, written in blood, PR or *at least* a binding referendum on PR.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Dan 10

    Why? If you take a simplistic view of a line with Labour at one end, the Tories at the other and the LibDems in the middle, then it's pretty obvious that the party in the middle is going to have a major say.

    If the Tories had got a few tens more seats, then it would have been the Northern Ireland MPs propping them up - with even a small number of votes but with an ideology close to the Tories.

    Why is this a funny system? Seems perfectly logical to me... and it's not often I say that about politicians!

    1. Spanners Silver badge

      No Longer

      Once, our spectrum went Labour - Liberal - Conservative, but under Madelson, Labour has moved to the right in many ways leaving us with no major left-of-centre party.

      If you have doubts of that, just look at some of the policies we have seen recently

      Christmas bonuses for bankers


      Trident Replacement

      28 days without being charged - they wanted longer

      and lots more I'm sure!

      I suspect that insiders saw it coming long ago but when they got rid of Clause 4 that really showed that they had changed.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "It allows them a much greater power than their share of votes gives them "

    Really? because I would have thought that quarter of the vote would give you quarter of the power, rather than a third of the vote giving all of the power, which is the current system.

    They can take their "all party committee of inquiry on political and electoral reform" And shove it, as far as I'm concerned.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Rather curious...

    ... that a party which advocates proportional representation should wind up casting the deciding 'vote' which determines whether Gordon Brown, or David Cameron forms the next Government.

    1. Richard 81


      Since they can't get into power any other way, because none of the old guard would ever be driven to implementing PR on their own... well, they've just take what opportunities they get.

  10. Uk_Gadget

    Hands Up All......

    ....That voted Labour(ed).....


    1. Richard 81

      Well spotted

      Well spotted, Labour's colour is red. Although it's the US Republican party's colour too, so what do you suppose that means?

      Silly boy.

      Also, OPEN YOUR EYES, you've used far more punctuation marks than necessary.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Look north of the border

      We should really let Scotland secede. 41 of labour seats are from there vs only 1 conservative a few libdems and 6 SNP. That is besides our visually impaired friend (I am not going to quote Clrakson here) being from there.

      That is also probably the sole reason why Brown and co has been so vehement on keeping Scottish MPs legible to vote on English affairs and other subjects not of their concern.

      They have their bank, their money, their NHS, their (different) legal system. Why are they part of this country? Money, bank + legal are standard criteria of statehood. Let's finish this. Next election I am voting only for a party which has in their manifesto a "Let Scotland Go".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Because if that happend

        Torys would be in power and the NHS would have an overload of stroke victims as the haters keal over.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        separate NHS

        Yes, and I think they could use some more cash for their Web presence.

        Try comparing (England and Wales) against (obvious) for finding a GP.

  11. Ash 5

    Electoral system is broken

    Lib Dems got 23% of the vote but only 7% of the seats.

    That's a disgrace and they are right to be demanding electoral reform.

    1. BitBotherer
      Thumb Up


      Yes and why have a referendum on the issue we didn't need one re. the EU. Clegg should demand it as his price.

  12. Graham Marsden

    all party committee of inquiry on political and electoral reform"

    In other words, let's kick it into the long grass with a committee which will be loaded with members who will argue and dither and prevaricate and do their damndest to ensure that it never gets *anywhere*...

    If that's the best that Cameron can come up with, he doesn't deserve to govern.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They've already had one

      Blair promised an inquiry into electoral reform before the 1997 election (when he thought he might need the LibDems to secure a Commons majority). Roy Jenkins ran an extremely thorough inquiry and settled on Alternative Vote Plus.

      Essentially there would be five-hundred constituencies where voters ranked candidates. If no one got an outright majority on first preference votes, then there would be a recount with the less popular candidates dropping out one by one (least popular first) with their alternate votes being redistributed amongst the remaining candidates until one goes over 50%.

      On top of that, there would be county level seats where voters ranked parties. The representatives would be chosen from a list like that used in the European election.

      AV+ is a pretty good system it keeps a link with constituencies and it would achieve a much better representation of people's wishes.

      Blair went cold on it when he had his landslide.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Thumb Up

        @Mike RIchards

        <Description of PR system selected by Jenkins Commission>

        Excellent point. Cameron's offer of a commission is *redundant*. the choice is already been made. What it needs is *implementation*.

        The devtail in PR was *always* the detail. Anyone with a background knowledge of control systems would see 1st past the post as a system with strong *positive* feedback. It's a Bang Bang machine, like your central heating thermostat in a limit cycle.

        Does that sound to *anyone* like a system which would give *any* kind of policy stability longer than the life of a parliament *except* at the mercy of senior civil servants.


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