I always told myself that when the LIb Dems broke through, I would drink champagne.  I promised myself a few glasses on Thursday – if they beat 25% in the exit poll.  It never happened.

Now, they have cabinet posts, likely responsibility for electoral reform, deputy PM, likely four year fixed terms, possible AV at the next election, the Tory manifesto compromised in many ways ….

So.  Do I drink champagne at 6:30 in the morning?  It seems wrong.  Or on the District line on the way to work? Seems illegal.  I just don’t know what to do.

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27 thoughts on “A terrible dilemma

  1. I’d say go for it, except it might set the wrong tone – conspicious consumption (especially since you are live-blogging it) at a time of fiscal austerity meaning savage cuts in public expenditure. How about a Cremant instead?

  2. How about stopping off @ the champagne bar at King’s Cross and sinking a cheeky flute there – that way at least is isn’t illegal, and you still get to toast Vince being in charge of banks – yay – electoral reform – yay – and an increase in the income tax threshold instead of the inheritance tax cut – yayayayay…!

  3. We had champagne in last night, but we didn’t feel particularly like opening it while watching Dave go into Downing Street (still shades of the first debate’s frightened rabbit if you ask me).

    Then Ed Balls came on the screen with “Former Minister” on the caption. Then we opened it.

    (Am reminded, for some reason, of the Noel Coward line: champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends.)

    1. that’s the best laugh I’ve had all day. I’m going to have Balls on my mind when drinking

      1. I know exactly where the tabloid headline writers would like this Labour Leadership election to go.

  4. I wonder if we’re celebrating too soon. The Libs don’t actualy have a Cabinet position yet – apart from the (potentiall powerless) Deputy Leader. The BBC are reporting Chris Huhne won’t be home secretary, so unless someone else gets it from the Libs does that mean Tories hold all top positions?

    1. I think they do have them – but (a) I prefer caffeine in the morning and (b) have 3 X childcare to do at that time and (c) walking past Nick’s house thronged by Press this morning, didn’t want to fall over, burping and shouting Yay Nick! and finally (d) may have to do some telly this afternoon so probably a good thing.

      Will celebrate this evening with Glee.

  5. Champagne? Not for me!
    Admittedly, the (old or new) Labour policies and government were tired and worn out.
    Admittedly, there’s been a bit of new flavour in conservative recipes (e.g. low-carbon economy).
    Admittedly, the Lib Dems’ score was not up to expectations (yet more than one fifth of the votes is no small beer).

    That said, why embarking on a coalition with the Tories?
    I see two reasons, and both are wrong.
    The first is, once again, the tyranny of -short-termist- markets. “They” (who are they) want(ed) a majority government, assuming this could guarantee tougher spending cuts and deficit/debt reduction, which were at least partly due to the folly of the past period, lest some forget. Anyway, the markets got it. How long will it last? The market operators don’t care (I wrote short-termist). I find it weird that someone like Vince Cable, who has written and spoken brilliant words about the crisis, swallows that coalition.
    The second is something often seen in politics, but that I wouldn’t have expected from Nick Clegg. It is about sacrificing strategy and the long term to tactics and the short term (here we go again).
    My bet is that there won’t be any electoral reform any time soon. Because there are other things to do. Because a referendum would be too complicated and tricky. Because people would, in any case of vote, find a coalition so difficult to manage, that they’d rather stick to the current voting system. With, as a consequence, a return to the two-party system in the next election. Etc. It’s a hollow promise from the Tories.
    The other aspect of that sacrifice is the likely disappointment of the radical or progressive liberals and their flight from the party.
    Coming from the grand old tradition of British liberalism (the Lib part) mixed with a modern social democracy (the Dem part), the Lib Dems are (were?) one of the most original and least conservative (and even largely progressive) liberal parties in Europe. They are in for losing that identity and diluting their ideas (I don’t write ideology, because we are liberals) in a centre-right maelstrom.
    I find it wrong and sad.
    What should have been done then? Simple, a minority Conservative government supported from outside when necessary. This has worked without any problem in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries for decades (and under a… proportional system). How long would it last? Probably not that long. But what would have been the outcome for the Lib Dems in the next elections? Probably better than the disaster to be expected in the next ones.
    That has not been the option. So a number of Lib Dems might be waiting for a new “Gang of Four” to emerge. This time not from the Labour as in the early eighties but from the Liberals. What is at stake is to keep the progressive liberal tradition alive (that is, “Liberal means towards progressive ends”) .and to break the mould of the two parties.
    Back to square…

    1. Have to agree with Niklas on the elections. If you think we got squeezed badly this time round, it’s *nothing* to what would have happened if we’d stood aloof and prompted a new election in a few months (which we couldn’t have afforded to fight anyway). Both parties would have been clamouring for a “decisive” result, we’d be “irresponsible” for allowing such instability, all the people who voted Green, UKIP etc would panic and revert to Lab/Con as well as our own voters. My pet theory, based on the fact that our vote-to-seats ratio actually got *less* efficient this time, is that the Cleggmania air war saved us from a far worse showing, and we can never have that element-of-surprise boost again.

      AND we’d have demonstrated that we couldn’t overcome tribal politics to form a coalition. Which would somewhat have undercut our reform message.

  6. @Mike Guillaume: But what would have been the outcome for the Lib Dems in the next elections? Probably better than the disaster to be expected in the next ones.

    I disagree. The next elections would have been held in a matter of months or a year. By that time Labour would have tarred us as Tory lapdogs (regardless of the truth – so long as we voted for one Tory proposal they would say that) and the Tories would brand us as an obstacle to decisive government. Thus we would have been squeezed from two sides (including a newly elected and popular Labour leader). That would have been the ultimate two-party election.

    Now we have fixed term parliaments and the next election scheduled for May 2015. By that time some people might appreciate the pupil premium, fairer taxes and the other concessions we have wrung out of the Conservatives.

  7. Parties are coalitions, especially in an X voting system. Often it is the extreme members of those coalitions who have undue influence owing to their fanaticism. Cameron has liberated himself from his rightwing faction.

    The ten point programme he set out on his personal website during the Conservative Leadership contest was radical and Liberal. Blake’s Disraeli should be read or re-read. Civil Servants, journalists and activists in all Parties would do well order it now. It is a fascinating story of how an ‘original’ captured the Tory Party, forced through reform (as Deputy Prime Minister to Derby as I remember), decentralised and introduced far reaching (for the time) social reforms.

    Cameron’s Friday evening speech was the speech that Blair drafted but did not deliver on the Friday following his landslide ’97 victory. (Blair’s plan up until the Wednseday before polling day was to name four or five Labour members of his cabinet at 12 noon and to give Ashdown four hours to consider joining a coalition government. Blair begged off using the size of the majority as an excuse.) In that moment he ‘jibbed’ – perhaps thinking that he had enough of his ‘own’ people in the Commons to free himself from his left-wing.

    But by failing to introduce Liberal people into his Government he condemned that administration to its instinctive preference for command and control, his own deference to the Establishment ethos and Labour’s distrust of people to be left to act in their own best interests.

    We drank our champagne last Friday night, having heard Cameron’s invitation. Last night (in honour of MacMillan) I took some malt whiskey and a Trollope to bed).

  8. Also, we would have achieved much less in terms of policy concessions by negotiating ad hoc with a fully Tory minority government, so we would have much less to show our voters and members in terms of concrete achievements.

    And whatever happens with the AV referendum, we now have the promise of PR (presumably STV) for an elected upper house of Parliament. This is a truly momentous constitutional reform, and would mean that any further attempts to restrict civil liberties under any government (as well as most other legislation) would have to pass the upper house on its merits because there would be no overall majority.

    I see our coalition as a Finnish solution: recognise that there are areas of disagreement but work together in organised forms anyway. (And as a Swede I should add that the Social Democratic minority governments only worked because the other left-wing parties and some of the centre-right were rather in awe of the Social Democrats. Now the Left and Green parties have forced the Social Democrats to promise them a coalition if they win the September 2010 election, so I doubt we will see many more minority governments in Sweden.)

  9. Of course you should drink champagne! This election really was historic! I don’t like the Tories, but I find that my cynicism has melted, maybe it’s wishful thinking and naivety but I genuinely feel excited. We have a whole new generation in charge after all those years with the Boomers running things. As the Independent predicted last week (http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/jonathan-pontell-cleggs-rise-is-the-sound-of-generation-jones-clearing-its-throat-1961191.html) “the torch has been passed” from the Boomers to Generation Jones. Cameron, Clegg, and a big chunk of the new Cabinet and Parliament are all GenJonesers, I don’t think there could have been an alliance if Boomers were still running the parties and it will be interesting to see how this generational change affects things.

  10. At the risk of sounding old and tired and not into this new politics, I’d note

    a) what we are hearing is exactly the same as everyone said in 1997 and I suspect it will be as new and radical
    b) there are lots of reasons to believe the Conservatie Party is not about to embrace ‘new politics’, but the most obvious to mention for this forum is that when it thought the Liberal Democrats were about to take off they called in the national newspaper editors and briefed that Nick Clegg held Nazi views.

    That’s not ‘new politics’ (well it is rather New Party, but you get what I mean)

  11. Has the adversarial style of politics been done away with? Are the winds of political compromise blowing in now? I wonder if Obama’s rhetoric of compromise is seeing its’ dawn in British politics.

    1. Hi Jane

      But the year 2009-10 and the Republican version of ‘compromise’ on healthcare does not suggest that it always works that easily on that side of the Atlantic

      1. I agree that the Republicans have insisted on an adversarial position and the Healthcare Bill did not fly the flat for compromise politics but I still think that there is a chance that ‘Compromise Politics’ could work. I

  12. @James “The Tories will eat the LDs for breakfast.”

    Seven weeks ago, no one saw any of this coming. Have people suddenly grown a third all-seeing eye in their foreheads? I guess no one thought Labour would be so authoritarian and regressive and incompetent in government.

    Word of advice to the wise: wait and see. Judge later. Or, if you want to play the whole “we know exactly what will happen now, mwa ha ha” game, I see your “breakfast” and raise you by a “the last time the Tories got into no 10, Labour took 18 years to get back in again.”

    What’s that you say? “It’s different this time” ? Yes, that’s right – circumstances change and there’s no telling how the Lib Dems will fare. And I just took a dump in your breakfast.

  13. The cap on immigration is going to happen, according to the Times… how economically damagaging and unjust! Deeply disappointed (once a cap is here, I bet it will stay)

    1. Though we might just be about to learn how meaningless, unenforcable and occasionally pointlessly brutal it will be. Perhaps we need to see its ghastliness to stop the good ole’ british Public supporting it. I agree with left Outside. Get the t shirt

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