With the help of the 38 Degrees website, I sent this letter to 30+ “senior Lib Dems”. The subject line I chose was; Labour and LibDems have 52% of the vote & 315 seats in Parliament . I wrote:
I was surprised to find when I did Votematch on the Telegraph website that I actually supported more LibDem policies than I did Labour – though my highest match was Green. I’ve always thought of myself as a Labour voter who votes Green in my Scottish Parliament list vote.
In my constituency, the Lib Dem candidate (I gave their name) was the only one who stood a chance of beating Labour.
I wanted a Hung Parliament – exactly the situation we’re now in – because I wanted the LibDems to have the power to tell Labour, that the next five years of left-wing/liberal government depend on Labour agreeing to change the First Past the Post system of election.
There’s been a list vote and a region vote in Scotland and the result has been ten years of progressive leftwing liberal rule: unquestionably good for our country within the United Kingdon. It’s been tried, it’s worked, and we need it to happen in the UK.
It will not happen if the LibDem ally with the Tory party. I’m hearing on the news as I type that Nick Clegg will meet with David Cameron tonight and talk to his MPs tomorrow. (This was Friday.)
I tell you now, what I told the LibDem candidate earlier today: Labour said before the election that a vote for the LibDems was the same as a vote for the Tories. If Nick Clegg proves Labour correct by allying with David Cameron and giving us another right-wing government, taking us back to Tory Britain even though over half the electorate voted against that, I will never vote LibDem again. And that, in the First Past the Post system that David Cameron will keep in place in order to keep the Tories in power, will matter: I will advocate to any shaky or uncertain voter that if they want to keep the Tories out, they must vote Labour: under no circumstances must they risk voting crypto-Tory by voting LibDem.
Nick Clegg’s talk of respecting the will of the electorate, is meaningless if he is prepared to disregard the will of a 52% majority in order to get himself and his cronies seats in the Cabinet of a Conservative government.
I’ve had one proper reply.
Dr Julian Huppert MP‘s reply (sent with the subject line “personal opinions on the Lib Dem position”):
Thank you for your email. My apologies that I will not be able to reply to all of you individually – I have had thousands of emails on this topic. I would also be grateful if you did not reply to this email, unless you are one of my constituents, as I simply will not be able to read them. I hope you understand!
This election has given us a very awkward outcome. Despite the fact that the Lib Dems got a million more votes than last time, we got fewer seats and a very disproportionate share. This is a very complicated time to try to work out what to do next.
I am a passionate believer in political reform. I have been a member of the ERS for many years, and was an active supporter of POWER2010 as well. I earnestly hope that we can deliver political reform.
However, the Tories have traditionally been unsupportive of political reform, and while Labour have had a last-minute conversion to the cause, it is still unpopular with many in their party.
Nick Clegg is sticking to the promise he made to talk first to the party with the strongest mandate. I do not know the current state of those negotiations, so I cannot say how far they go. To be acceptable, they would have to include a very large component of Lib Dem principles and values – we stand for more than just PR. We will see tomorrow how far they have gone.
The alternative would be a deal with Labour and smaller parties – a Lib/Lab deal alone does not have sufficient votes in parliament, even though it does in terms of votes. Nick Clegg has already met with Gordon Brown, but I am personally skeptical as to whether it could work to deliver electoral reform – the numbers are slim, and I am not sure that Labour, under Brown or anyone else, could actually deliver the votes needed to deliver reform.
We will have to see what negotiations and discussions bring. I earnestly hope that we can achieve political reform, but if neither other party is able and prepared to work with us on it, then we will not be able to. We will in any event continue to argue for Lib Dem values and ideas, whatever the final outcome.
I would also add that I consider it important for the national interest to get the right outcome, not the fastest outcome possible.
Can I also suggest that those of you with Labour or Conservative MPs contact them urgently, as they are the largest stumbling block to a fairer system.