Lib Dems willing to shelve PR

If you asked people what the Lib Dems stood for, most would probably draw a blank. But for the minority who take an interest in these things, the Lib Dems are the party of proportional representation.

Paddy Ashdown is even said to have persuaded Tony Blair to back the idea as a pre-condition to coalition in secret talks leading up to the 1997 general election. It's about the nearest thing the Liberals have to a raison d'etre.

And so, it was widely understood that PR in local government would be a key demand in any coalition talks involving the Lib Dems after the Welsh Assembly election, as was the case in Scotland.

Yesterday, however, the Western Mail reported that, "the party's Assembly leader Mike German said all the party's manifesto commitments would be up for discussion in any negotiations that may follow May's election," leading to accusations on opposition blogs that the Lib Dems had "sold out".

He said: "There are no markers as to which (policy) is more important than any others. Anybody who thinks they can talk to us must talk to us about our whole programme, which includes that issue (local elections). What matters is the full programme."

Given that no coalition partner would ever agree to implementing the whole Lib Dem programme, it does indeed suggest that certain policies can be weeded out. For the Lib Dems, PR is no longer special.

Over the years, the Lib Dems have taken more than a few hits from the political flip-flop charge. But on PR they were always clear. And for good reason too - it plays well with voters of most persuasions.

Until this week, the Welsh electorate knew what they'd get from a Lib Dem coalition. Not anymore.

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posted by Blamerbell @ 3:03 pm,


At 5:03 pm, Blogger Peter Black said...

I think that the point is that we have other policies as well which are also important. PR for local Government is still important to us and will form a major part of any negotiations.

At 7:43 pm, Blogger Blamerbell said...

"a major part" maybe, but not a 'demand'.

Do you accept that you've changed your tune somewhat?

At 11:20 am, Blogger Peter Black said...

No, not really. If you watch the interview where Mike made the commitment what he said was that we will put in place a raft of policies on which we will negotiate any partnership agreement. FoAt that moment however the only policy we have that we can say for certain will be in the manifesto is PR in local government and that this will feature highly in any negotiations. That has not changed.

At 12:10 pm, Blogger Blamerbell said...

"That has not changed."

Perhaps, but you've given your opponents an opportunity to stir up some confusion on the subject.

If we're having to clarify the position *here*, what chance for voters?


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