Obama Clegg Effect:
I am genuinely excited that they could win this election outright! After the 6 pack of whoop-ass Clegg doled out on Cameron and Brown in the first debate, the press is talking about it as a possibility. A new, enigmatic leader, a plausible protest vote against the expenses lunacy, Iraq and slapstick politics. Dissatisfaction with Labour hasn't transferred to great enthusiasm for the Tories, leaving an apathetic balance where neither has much chance of an overall majority.
Last week, 'swingometers' were recalibrated for a third direction and colour, with news presenters talking of a 16% swing necessary for an overall Lib Dem majority. But that's nonsense talk!: With only 60% of the electorate voting in the last two elections, a couple million *extra* votes would make up the necessary difference. The extra 10% turnout that voted in New Labour, in 1997, would be sufficient. However, the BBC are now showing Lib Dems in second position, 3% behind the Tories, and the recent Yougov/Sun poll states that if people believe a Lib Dem government is possible, not only do we get a Lib Dem Prime Minister, the 49% popular vote would yield the biggest majority seen for decades.
2. Victory next time through electoral reform in a hung parliament:
If the popular vote goes the way the opinion poles currently show (split fairly equally 3 ways) the Lib Dems will still trail far behind on seats, due to the 'First Past the Post' voting system for Mps. (Their support is about the same right across the country, where as Lab/Con policies produce a strong bipolar City/Country split; a Tweedle Dumb vs Tweedle Disingenuous act that has kept sensible parties out of 65 years.) This guardian article thinks a 3 way tie would spell the end for 'FPTP'.
No overall majority means there would need to be a coalition government or some other agreement between Lib Dems and the dominant party. They given they are the only party able to co-operate). Both Scotland and Northern Ireland had 'Hung Parliaments', last term, which have worked out fine. Number one on the Lib Dem policy list is political reform, something Gordon Brown is now pledging, presumably with the expectation of needing Lib Dem support.
3. Out of Context Outcome:
If Lib Dems win the popular vote by a significant amount, but still trail (in 3rd place) on seats, there could be a huge public outcry from all directions. Something unprecedented could happen. Electoral reform followed by an immediate election re-run would be expecting too much, but something dramatic. Alternatively if the conservatives win the most seats and then fail to come to an agreement with the Lib Dems (they've said they won't do a deal, due to insurmountable differences), then parliament may have to be dissolved.
[Section B] They are the best party:
4. The cleanest party:
It's MPs were least damned by the expenses debacle.
They tried to make the house of lords fully elected years ago.
Nick Clegg co-founded the Campaign for EU Parliamentary Reform, including expenses, transparency and accountability.
They receive no massive donations from dodgy business millionaires (just that £2M from a con-man on the run, back in 2005, which is their biggest receipt by a factor of 10).
Their MPs take parliament seriously, sticking to business despite the Labservative rabble making pantomime audience noises at them.
5 The only democratic party:
All Lib Dem policy is determined by the whole party, unlike Labour and the Tories who dictate it from the top.
This mechanism saved the Lib Dems from making the same blunder as the other two parties over the Digital Economy Bill: Lib Dem policy on this issue was brought swiftly into line with reality during a 40 minute debating slot at a recent party conference, with a unanimous vote against supporting the bill. Lib Dem leaders then stood up during the bill's reading to officially oppose it. The ruling parties call this a U-turn, implying weakness of dictatorial control, but it's actually an inspiring example of common sense prevailing through democracy.
6. Contemporary politics is already liberal:
Tories have had to step towards the 'middle' (prioritising the NHS, etc) to even get a look in. Labour took an even bigger step in the opposite direction when they became “New” (giving bankers the keys to the country, etc). Why not dispense with the remaining legacy of inappropriate policies they both harbour?
Labour still have a tendency towards big, inefficient governance (more NHS managers than nurses, etc). Conservatives would reduce this wastage, but still quietly support disproportionate financial breaks for the wealthy. Liberal Democrats are the perfect compromise, employing the best of each, in an honest, common sense approach. For example, Clegg led (and pushed through in record time) the EU legislation for "local loop unbundling" of telecoms operators, successfully using free market forces to benefit consumers.
7. They are the safest bet to avoid a future Orwellian dystopia:
With government mysteriously bending to the will of the record industry, and dodgy implementation of counter-terrorism laws, this is a serious issue. Lib Dem's raison d'etre is personal rights and freedoms, from sexuality to data protection. As an MP, Clegg has personally campaigned against ID cards and excessive counter-terrorism legislation, and defended the Human Rights Act. Lib Dems champion a “fairness” that is practically anarchic compared to the other's.
8. They are the best qualified:
If the stereotypical Labour MP is an idiot glad-hand, and the Conservative is a self interested, trust fund baby, career MP, then the Lib Dem guy is the one who's actually experienced the real world and knows how thing's work; Vince Cable is the only potential Chancellor with formal training and appropriate experience. He won the Chancellors debate on Channel 4, recanting how he warned the government of the unsustainability of our economic 'growth' during the bubble, and finally having his policies used during the crash.
9. Electoral and political reform has been at their core since formation in 1988:
Proportional representation – so house or lords membership reflects national support.
Elected House of Lords – a process started by the Parliament Act of 1911, under a Liberal government. A New Labour manifesto promise that didn't come to fruition.
Presumed abolition of the First Past the Post (safe seat) system - encouraging multi-party politics by removing the need for negative voting.
10. They will fix the Digital Economy Act:
Not only did they oppose it, Clegg has gone on record saying it was unfairly biased towards big corporations and “badly needs to be repealed”.
Opposing coal fired power without maximum carbon capture, refusing any new Nuclear power (it would coast a ludicrous amount and not come online for another 10 years), opting instead for northern shipyards recommissioned for building off-shore wind turbines, home owners getting higher rates from micro generation, feed-in tariffs, a national smart grid and international super-grid connection. Basically, all the good parts of the Obama stimulus package.
40% clean energy by 2020, 100% by 2050. If there's going to be a 'Green Bubble', it's best to get on it as early as possible.
12. They won't force us into the Euro:
Some might be scared they would rush us blithely into the Euro, based on previous pro-European policy. However, while they're still the most pro-Europe party, and still vow to get deeply involved in EU politics (for the benefit of the UK and the world), they acknowledge it is currently unsuitable to join their currency. They will campaign for EU reforms and hold a referendum if and when conditions are right for monetary union.
13. Robin Hood:
They're talking about taxing the banks to make back their bail outs and such. The closest to a "Robin Hood tax" that I've heard of; if anyone were to level the score here, it would be them.
14. Anti-war, anti nuclear warheads:
The sole justification for the Trident (nuclear warhead delivery) system, is that it gives the best odds of Mutually Assured Destruction (the scary stalemate that kept the Cold War cold). There is no longer that climate of animosity between America and the USSR (which ceased to existed decades ago). Continuing to hold on to nuclear weapons is perpetuating an expensive and insanely dangerous Mexican stand-off: holding a gun to the head of every person on the planet. Stockpiles are slowly being reduced through treaties anyway, why don't we (as a country) take the lead for once and scrap a significant part of our arsenal. As suggested by retired NATO commanders: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7859046.stm
Brown, or maybe even Cameron, might bring up the threat of rogue nations developing/stealing warheads of their own. It's a real, genuinely terrifying, possibility, but one that our own nukes can do nothing to deter: mutually assured destruction is hardly something 'Al-Qaeda' would be expected to shy away from.
North Korea too is unlikely to respond rationally to the threat of MAD, given they are under despotic rule (that's if they even have nukes). Conventional weapons and tactics would be the only way to humanly disarm a country like this (i.e. without massacring it's helpless populous). Spending on anti-ICBM platforms would be far more justifiable (no longer a destabilising factor) if Western countries had fewer/no nukes.Ditching a load of nukes would also set an example for countries like Iran, who rightly say the NATO countries are hypocritical. The threat of invading Iran is counter-productive to the reform movement there; carrots instead of sticks please.
An interesting note is that Clegg was originally more pro-Trident: it was a major point of contention during his 2007 battle against Chris Huhne for leadership of the party. However, since the recession he has changed his tune, making his line that Trident is plain unaffordable sound all the more genuine.
On the other hand, Clegg is pro “liberal interventionism”, so he might have advocated getting involved in Iraq for humanitarian reasons alone, not for oil resources backed up by fictional WMD claims. Very much my opinion when I was approached by knee-jerk, anti war petition wielding students back in 2004.
[Section D] You already support the Liberal Democrats!:
15. Add your good reason here:...