A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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What happens next?
07/05/2010 19:50:00

The Conservative Party has gained 97 seats, our best result for years*, but we weren't quite able to win an overall majority. So what should happen next?

I think David Cameron was right to make what he called a big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats. The country desperately needs a strong, stable government that can tackle the debt crisis, get Britain working again, fix our broken society and restore faith in our politics. Of course all Conservatives would rather we had a majority Conservative Government but the public haven't given us that. They have however made it clear that they want a change from Labour and they will be looking to both us and the Liberal Democrats to behave responsibly and put the national interest first. There are many areas where we agree and on other issues we are both going to have to compromise. No-one likes compromising but it is better than either of the alternatives - a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition or a minority Conservative Government unable to make some of the changes the country needs.

* These gains were only possible because under David Cameron's leadership the Conservative Party has changed. As a result, unlike in 2005 or 2001, people who wanted change felt able to vote Conservative (between 2005 and 2010, Labour's vote fell by nearly a million while our vote increased by nearly 2 million; between 2005 and 2001, Labour's vote fell by more than a million but our vote increased by only just over 400,000).

Nevertheless, we need to face the fact that there are still many people who have Conservative values and/or support Conservative policies who cannot bring themselves to vote Conservative. Far from being finished, the job of changing perceptions of the Conservative Party - among the bme community, the less well-off, in Scotland for example - has only just started.

I have avoided using the word modernisation because within the Conservative Party that is loaded with connotations. I am certainly not saying that we need to apologise for what we believe in or stop talking about important issues like immigration (I am a strong believer in the "politics of and" as espoused by Conservative Home's Tim Montgomerie). All I am saying is that there are still lots of people who won't consider voting for us despite agreeing with us on many issues and if we have any sense we will seek to do something about it.

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Readers' Comments

On 09/05/2010 09:26:00 Philip Talmage wrote:
I too think DC was right. The LibDems will have lots of egg on their faces if they can't agree to a coalition, especially if they appear to have been intransigent in the negotiations. How could they then maintain that PR is right for the country, given that it is bound to lead to a greater need for coalition government? So DC has a strong hand, which he seems to be playing well.

What's more, the Conservatives also want electoral reform - to address the unfairly large variations in constituency sizes and to deal with the West Lothian Question. (And, I would hope, to make sense of the Lords). I don't believe the public would endorse out-and-out PR based on party lists for the whole country. The LibDems might accept AV (or my preference, Approval Voting) if only as an interim measure - and the Conservatives could benefit from that.

So I'm hoping there will be both a coalition and - eventually - a referendum on electoral reform which will retain single-member constituencies and let the English decide matters that affect only England.

On 10/05/2010 17:33:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
I think consitutional reform is a cross-party issue that should be decided by free votes in the house and then a referendum. Besides which I think logistically it would be impossible to get any legislation through the commons any other way as significant change to the voting system cannot be achieved without several large turkeys voting for Christmas. Maybe it would be better to have a multi-party system rather than two and a half parties which regularly rip themselves to pieces or make themselves totally unelectable for decades via vicious internal splits, feuds and infighting that ultimately leave the elector with very little actual choice at the ballot box. When politicians moan about coalitions you have to wonder what do we elect politicians for if it isn't to debate things? Parliament - the clue is in the name, isn't it? Perhaps a bit more debate and thought would be better than a never-ending-stream of ideologically driven guillotined legislation for the sake of it. Anyway it's your own fault - Mr Cameron said you didn't have all the answers and needed the ideas of other people to run the country? Well, now he has to agree with Nick. Not all coalitions are bad. But our last one was definately a complete catastrophy.

Oh ... Congratulations on becoming an Honourable Gentleman. I did see you on my doorstep though the spyhole but I didn't open the door as my "BME" was having her beauty sleep. IDS hits the nail on the head when he says that as far as many BMEs are concerned they'll never forgive you for the 80s. Same with Scotland. You may have to just have to wait for some older voters to die. Credit for finally having a black, woman MP though...

On 11/05/2010 13:02:00 Jack wrote:
Relating to electoral reform, Alternative Vote is a reasonable deal -- nothing to fear in trying to win majorities in each constituency. (And approval voting seems strange. Giving equal votes to more than one person? If I want a Conservative to win, I am NOT going to also vote for a Liberal Democrat and cancel out my vote.)
On 12/05/2010 07:46:00 Margaret wrote:
Congratulations on being elected.

For reasons that escape me, from reading various, not especially political, Internet forums it is quite clear that a large number of people, who I would think are probably late 20s to early 30s in age, are utterly convinced that 'the Tories' are only for the rich, and are cruel and unfeeling towards 'ordinary' people. The party in Government really needs to show that this is not so.

These people have claimed for some years to support the LDs, so the Conservatives will need to be careful that the LDs do not claim credit for all the nice things that are achieved, and let the Conservatives take the flak for the austerity measures that must surely be taken.

On 13/05/2010 12:05:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
The reason so many young people (under 30) are LD is the LD position on tuition fees. Most of them are too young to remember Thatcher or Major and don't care or understand about Left or Right. Few of them understand either what the Labour Movement was founded for or how, what Liberalism actually means or who Adam Smith was. They just feel that they have an unfair proportion of the tax burden via tuition fees that seems to go up and up and up because politicans see them as a totally ineffective lobby group that can be ignored and walked all over. Make the young people pay for it - they're all out killing their livers and don't worry about the future so they won't notice they're paying more tax than the oldies. The NUS, however, are not as impotent as they may seem and have done a very good job of motivating them to go out and vote.



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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2019       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG