Letter: Lib Dem fortunes

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Anthony Wright (letter, 25 January) asserts that whatever your opinion of William Hague, the Conservatives will win more seats at the next election.

Oh really? Most people's opinions of William Hague vary from low to very low. Almost uniquely for an opposition leader, as we approach the mid- term of a four-year parliament, Hague leads a party even less popular than it was at the general election when it suffered its worst result ever. Three Conservative Euro MPs have recently left the party and Tory splits on Europe will continue to keep them, in Mr Wright's phrase, "a shambles".

The Liberal Democrats are set to win further seats from the Conservatives in marginal seats where Labour has shown that they really cannot win even with their best ever result. On the other hand, the Liberal Democrats have shown the potential to build on local government success and win Labour seats in places like Liverpool, and Sheffield.

As for Paddy Ashdown supposedly abandoning principle in the pursuit of power, here is a politician who could have been a senior Cabinet minister for either Labour or the Conservatives but who instead stuck to his principles and helped to create a new style of politics.

If we dismiss the prospect of Liberal Democrats winning a majority of seats in Parliament and take the lesson of history that hung parliaments by themselves do not give enough leverage for electoral reform, then we are left with the possibility that if electoral reform is to come, it will be as a result of increased co-operation between parties. In achieving that co-operation Paddy has helped the Lib Dems.

T DOMMETT

Crookham Village, Hampshire

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