EXCLUSIVE: LibDem strategy on a hung Parliament left lying around in the House of Lords

I have just made a telephone call here in the House of Lords and lying next to the telephone was the confidential briefing that the LibDems have given to their spokespeople on what to say if they are asked about a hung Parliament.

It starts with a stern admonition:

“The only benefit of a debate about a no-overall-control Parliament is if we use it to get across our key policies.

Entering into speculation about the mechanics of a “hung” or “balanced” parliament will simply see you dragged into further complexity.

And we know that Liberal Democrats cannot cope with complexity.

Apparently, “only if pushed” are LibDem spokespeople supposed to say:

“There will be no deals, understandings or agreements of any kind before peole have voted.  No such conversations have or will take place.”

So what are they hiding?  Why can that only be said, if pushed?

And then they have their mandate line (but still “only if pushed”:

IF voters decide no party deserves an overall majority, then the party with the strongest mandate will have a moral right to be the first to seek to govern on its own or seek alliances with other parties.

So that is a nice, unconvoluted, set of words.

And sorry to be a pedant but each voter is an individual casting their ballot in a single constituency – so voters cannot collectively decide that no party should have an overall majority.

And what constitutes the strongest mandate?  Helpfully there is a little Q & A to explain it:

“Q:  Does the ‘strongest mandate’ mean more seats or votes?

A:  It will be abundantly clear after the election which party has the strongest mandate.  It would be pointless to speculate at this point as to whether that means seats or votes – we are setting out a principle, not a mathematical formula.

Errr pardon?  Would you just run that past me again? 

I thought that the Liberal Democrat principle was that we needed electoral reform so that the precise national balance of votes cast was reflected in the numbers elected to Parliament.  But now – despite our so-called unfair voting system – seats matter just as much as votes.

So like all Liberal Democrat principles, this strongest mandate thingee is eminently flexible and Nick Clegg will be open to the best offer on the day …

They might call that a “principle”; I ‘m not sure that I would.

4 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: LibDem strategy on a hung Parliament left lying around in the House of Lords”

  1. IF there is a Hung parliament:

    Clegg is a conservative opportunist. If Labour doesn’t offer AV he will defo back Chameleon IF he can.

    They’re quite right to cite the complexities of various “hung” parliament scenarios imho. There is likely to be a third party squeeze and the Lib-Dems may well suffer in Scotland and England. labour runs way aheead of the Scot Nats, so Lab may well be able to govern with a few Welsh & Irish Nats plus a few of the 30 or so Lib-Dems, who may well feel Clegg has misled them to catastrophic defeat.

    Clegg will not encourage his people to speculate in this fashion.

    I don’t altogether agree that individual voters may not try to vote for a hung parliament. tactical voting can be employed to this end surely? If it is perceived that a cons MP may lose and Lab has a lead in the poll nationally, then a Lib Demish voter who want a hung parliament may switch to Tory as he otherwise might not.

    This is a mechanism, Rousseau’s concept of The General Will might offer a sort of rationale for a general wish for a Hung parliament.

    I think that they will be a minority, and that more folk will want a clear cut result with a majority for labour for a few years, and others who are as yet undecided will favour the Tories in a like fashion.

    We may see.

  2. They started with a good game but now I am not so sure. Better than what we have however! No2ID, implement Marper, a written constitution…

  3. I did think in 1974, when Heath asked “Who Governs?” and Wislon seemed discredited, that people voted for “None of the above, hang them!”

    It did seem that the results expressed the popular will, rather than merely individual actions. Almost like Destiny, hence my references to Rousseau.

  4. I think and hope a revolution is on the cards, when the monarcy (James) got outta hand… well you know the rest. Hung Parliment indeed. The situation, dishonest and corrupt core will not end peacefully.

    I suppose they do shit like that, (leaving things around for papers, not flushing) a lot, bloody sociopaths enough.

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