Nick Clegg’s straw man: 87% straw

I’ve commented before about Nick Clegg’s love of attacking unnamed Lib Dems who don’t want to be in government, such as when I wrote about his speech to the party’s local government conference:

The early part of Nick Clegg’s speech was baffling. He took a swing at people in the party who think the party should not be a party of government and are desperate for the party to reach the more relaxed waters of opposition after the 2015 general election. I’d be all for him taking a swing at such people, if it were not for one crucial point.

There are almost none of them in the party.

It’s notable how very flat this part of the speech fell in the hall – and no surprise, given that people’s reaction on this and other occasions to hearing Nick take the fight to a nearly wholly imaginary enemy is one of bafflement, boredom or irritation. That’s bad enough, but to lead with it in a speech? Poor choice indeed.

The latest Lib Dem Voice survey of party members (and unlike those similar surveys carried out by LabourList and ConHome, this is a survey that is restricted only to party members, not website visitors), has looked at this questions. The full results and Stephen’s analysis are well worth a look, but one point I’ll bring out here:

Only 13% picked an option involving “Liberal Democrats in opposition” for their preferred outcome after 2015.

So that straw man of Nick Clegg’s? It’s 87% straw. As it was when Lib Dem Voice asked a similar question a year ago.

There’s a different debate about the merits of confidence and supply versus coalition, but the overall message is clear and consistent: Liberal Democrat activists don’t want their party just to be sat in opposition in Westminster. If the party doesn’t win an overall majority on its own, they want the party to be making deals that give it influence over what happens in government.


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