Farron and Lamb comment on motion to expel Israel from FIFA

Both leadership contenders have been commenting on the motion to expel Israel from FIFA.

Norman Lamb said:

Trying to resolve complex international issues through the politics of a football organisation mired in allegations of corruption smacks of the worst of kind of student politics. It will take us no closer to the dismantling of illegal settlements on occupied land, to the creation of a truly independent, democratic and economically viable Palestinian state on the West Bank or to the removal of Hamas terrorists from their grip on Gaza. Only international negotiation, greater European involvement and economic development of the region can achieve a lasting peace.

Tim Farron told the Jewish Chronicle:

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Vince Cable’s zero hours contract ban now in force

The Liberal Democrats may no longer be in government but laws we made are still being implemented. Earlier this week, Vince Cable’s ban on exclusivity contracts in zero hours contracts came into force.

It was pretty ridiculous that a company could both have no obligation to provide work and to require that their employees didn’t work for anyone else.

The CIPD, the organisation for HR professionals, wrote about the change on their blog;

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Opinion: Lib Dems and the politics of protest

February 15th 2003 - Iraq war demo in LondonThe other week I asked whether the Lib Dems were a party of government or a party of protest.  Many welcome comments were made, including a good one pointing out that a political party can be both: that to reach government it needs to be a vehicle of protest, to identify what’s wrong so that it can offer change.

As I thought about that point, I read Ben Marguiles’ blog on Liberal/Lib Dem electoral performance in relation to other parties.  Whether Lib Dems like it or not, his observations highlight the contingent relationship between the party and the politics of protest.

Marguiles observes that previous analysis shows that when the party system is polarised – i.e. the two main parties diverge from the centre, the Liberals and their successors have done well.  This was the case between 1945 and 2010 when Britain had a two-and-a-half party system.  But where the political party system as a whole is polarised, the Lib Dems suffer.  Marguiles puts this down to the rise of other political parties, like the Greens, SNP and UKIP, which all drew votes away from both the centre and both Labour and the Tories.  The result?  The Lib Dems saw their share of the vote drop.  Marguiles does add a rider to this; that the party’s in government may also have made it vulnerable, but that may be due to insufficient data analysis having been done on that specific topic.

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Opinion: Lib Dems take power in York

York swimming pool successThe last few weeks have been an intense time for all Liberal Democrats not least here in York.

After a gruelling campaign and against the national trend, we made gains in the city’s ‘all up’ local elections increasing our seats from the 8 won in 2011 to 12 this time.

These results were down to the hard work and dedication of our candidates and volunteers, such as Local Party Chair Stephen (now Councillor) Fenton, Print Room Supremo Richard Hill, Citywide Agent Derek Wann, along with countless others.

It was also down to a local party which (as I wrote on this website back in June 2013) was forced into a “period of serious self-reflection” following disappointing losses in the 2011 local elections.

What eventually sprung from this was a very localised campaign. Street-based issues filled our Focus, glossy leaflets and target letters with ‘Stronger Economy, Fairer Society’ perhaps getting less of a mention.

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Introducing…Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine

The Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine exists to fight for the rights of the Palestinian People through the medium of the Liberal Democrat Party. The party’s core values of liberalism, internationalism and support for the indivisibility of human rights and the rule of law make it the natural home in mainstream British politics for those determined to support the Palestinian call for recognition of their own State, for justice and their entitlements under international law.

Prior to 2010 the Party was recognised as the only one of the three main parties that could be relied upon to support Palestinian rights …

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Opinion: Sexual Assault and Fear of Sexual Assault: A Civil Liberties Issue

I recently went to the Lake District for a short break. I was walking alone in a relatively remote area with no one much around and when going through a small campsite a man came out and stared persistently as I went past. The thought went through my mind I wonder if he’s going to follow me. He didn’t, but I sat down some yards on and the thought dawned on me that for virtually my entire life I have had to process the risks of sometimes travelling alone, walking in remote places alone and going home late alone. That’s when I decided to write this article for LDV.

When I was at university there was a serial rapist on the loose in Bristol so we were told to ‘be careful’’ Friends at a better university down the road had to deal with a similar scenario. Every once in a while, and certainly too often, we hear of a woman who has disappeared after leaving a nightclub, a scenario that usually ends in tragedy. Those of us old enough may remember the fate of Rachel Nickell some years ago, innocently jogging on Wimbledon Common in broad daylight. This situation represents a basic infringement of women’s human rights. Women are used to making risk assessments all the time, about where it’s safe to go, particularly late at night, by what mode of transport and in what clothes, but why should we have to?

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SPONSORED: Gatwick’s plan is simpler, cheaper, faster and quieter

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At Gatwick, we believe the economic benefits of airport expansion must be balanced with the impact on the environment. Only Gatwick can offer the new runway the UK needs but at a fraction of the environmental cost of other options.

Air quality is a critical issue in the debate over where the UK’s next runway should be built – indeed, it has been a major factor in the vehement opposition to previous attempts by Heathrow to expand. The issue has now become fundamental to the choice that lies ahead. It is an issue that cannot be ignored.

The area around Heathrow currently breaches legal air quality limits and it defies common sense that a third runway – with hundreds of thousands of extra car journeys that it would bring – is the solution to the problem.  Air quality has been a showstopper for Heathrow before and it is now clear that it will be again.

In contrast, Gatwick has never breached legal air quality limits and its location means it can guarantee that it never will. This decision is about the economy and the environment.

Gatwick’s plan is simpler, cheaper, faster and quieter – above all it can actually happen.

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Video: Norman Lamb’s pitch for leader

Norman Lamb has released a video talking about why he wants to be leader.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: The best argument for the Liberal Democrats? A Tory Queen’s Speech

Over at the Huffington Post, leadership hopeful Tim Farron has been writing about the Queen’s Speech and why it shows that a strong liberal voice is needed.

On Europe, the referendum on our membership of the EU is an issue already threatening to turn into a parody. Cameron has just barred two groups from voting – 16 and 17-year olds, who engaged fantastically with the Scottish referendum; and most EU citizens resident in the UK, who can already vote in local government elections. Probably two of the groups most likely to vote to stay in the EU! There is also the fact that Britain will take over the rotating EU presidency in July 2017. That Britain could be in charge of the EU while simultaneously campaigning to leave it is a just a bizarre scenario. Will we see the referendum brought forward? Regardless, this is going to plunge many businesses into huge uncertainty and put many of their investment plans on hold.

Closer to home, we see the Snooper’s Charter back on the agenda. This is going to make internet service providers collect and store vast amounts of data – such as what websites you’ve been on, who you’ve been emailing, when, from where – and make this data available to government on request. Big Brother is well and truly here. Tories often complain that the Liberal Democrats blocked them from implementing the Snooper’s Charter – and I’m dead proud that we did. The one question we must all ask Theresa May, and Tory MPs who will support her Snooper’s Charter, is: how do you protect our freedoms by destroying them?

We also see more ‘tough talk’ from David Cameron on immigration. Wages of some illegal migrants will fall under the scope of the Proceeds of Crime Act and will be confiscated. This could hit the genuinely vulnerable and exploited migrant worker who earns £23.60 after doing a 60-hour shift. If this makes no sense to you, it doesn’t make sense to me either. This is, yet again, the politics of gimmickry and division.

He ends with an invitation:

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Video: Elaine Bagshaw’s pitch to be Mayor of Tower Hamlets: Decent social housing, opportunities for young people and ending corruption

In just two weeks’ time, voters in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets will choose a new mayor after the previous incumbent’s ignominious removal from office. 

Our candidate is Elaine Bagshaw, former chair of Liberal Youth and one of the leading lights of this year’s Team 2015.

She explains in just 45 seconds what her priorities would be if she were Mayor.

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LibLink: Tom Brake – The Human Rights Act

Over at the party website, Tom Brake has been writing about the importance of the Human Rights Act. The Tories may have apparently watered down planned action to repeal it but they are absolutely desperate to do so. The last thing we should be doing is letting up our campaign to convince the public about the need for the protections the ECHR and Human Rights Act provide.

He outlines some of the people who have been helped by the HRA.

Take for example, 90-year-olds Richard and Beryl Driscoll. They lived together for more than 65 years until, in 2006, he was moved into a residential care home.

He could not walk unaided and she was blind. She relied on her husband as her eyes and he relied on her for his mobility.

They wanted to remain together but the council said it wasn’t possible to accommodate them in the same nursing home.

But thanks to a campaign that argued their treatment breached their human rights – specifically their right to a family life – the council were forced to back down and they were reunited.

It’s difficult to believe that, without the protection afforded to them by the HRA, there would have been a happy ending.

The same is true in Europe too. Up until 2004, it was possible for two gay men to be prosecuted for having sex if one was aged 16 or 17, even though it was legal for heterosexual couples.

This blatant unfairness was only removed as a result of an ECHR ruling, one the right to a private life, a clause that causes heartless Tories such distress.

And, in 2002, a male-to-female transsexual – asked Strasbourg to determine whether there had been a violation of her right to respect and family life.

Why? Because Britain did not legally recognise her changed gender and did not let her marry. Her victory was a huge step forward in the battle for trans-equality in this country.

Our current human rights legislation has also blocked blanket interception of private messages by the state, protected our right to a fair trial and prevented indiscriminate police stop-and-search.

You can read the whole article here.

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Opinion: Should Liberal Democrats accept defeat and join the two main parties?

Yesterday in The Times (£), Daniel Finkelstein, former SDP member turned Tory, writes that it’s all over for the Liberal Democrats. The best thing, he says, for those who wish to advance liberal ideas is to join whichever of the Tories and Labour they feel most comfortable with.

I would be lying if similar thoughts hadn’t crossed my mind, particularly after the 2015 general election. It’s heart breaking to see the party you support make steady progress throughout your adult life, culminating in entry into government in 2010, only to be seemingly pushed back to square one. Do we need to wait another 20 years to get back into government? Is that even a realistic objective anymore?

With the UK’s punishing electoral system working to maintain the two party status quo, does it make sense to be on the inside of that system, working for change, rather than pushed to the margins?

I think Finkelstein’s argument only really holds for those inside the Westminster elite. Yes, I can understand that if you’re an ambitious Liberal Democrat MP who has lost their job, you might now be wishing you’d jumped to one of the big two parties, where you might still be in government and looking to implement your ideas. But the argument isn’t really valid for anyone else.

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MSPs reject Assisted Suicide Bill – read two compelling speeches from Lib Dems McArthur and McInnes

I was sad that Holyrood rejected the Assisted Suicide Bill yesterday, but I was heartened by the fact that support for such a measure is growing and I think the debate will continue.

It was also good to see that it was conducted in such a respectful and sensitive fashion.

I thought you might like to see the two speeches our MSPs made, one on each side of the argument from Alison McInnes and Liam McArthur. Both were brilliant, thoughtful and liberal. If I had been persuadable, Alison’s speech might have done it.

Alison McInnes:

I come to this debate as a liberal and

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Introducing Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform

New members have been asking about Lib Dem organisations that they can join.  You are welcome to submit similar items on behalf of other organisations.

Giving the individual voter greater choice and voice – devolving democratic power to the individual and away from institutions – is integral to making the UK a truly liberal and democratic country.

So I’m urging new – and existing – party members to join Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform (LDER) and help us campaign to make this essential change a reality.

Take a look at our historic Parliament, supposedly the model for others to follow. Of its two houses, the Lords is totally appointed and expressly undemocratic.

The Commons is elected in a way, which distorts the democratic will of the people; and freezes millions out of any say in the result. For many people in ‘safe’ seats, voting is an exercise in futility.

Posted in Lib Dem organisations | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Just when we thought we didn’t have to worry about David Ward’s tweets any more…

Delightful!

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Opinion: Goodbye Salisbury Convention, hello UK constitutional convention

This Government is illegitimate.  We should resist it by all legal means possible.

Apparently, according to Sir Malcolm Bruce, all politicians lie at some point.  I don’t accept this is a good thing, but we should not have been surprised when the Prime Minister came out with this little gem on the day of the Queen’s Speech:

“We have a mandate from the British people.”

No Dave, you do not.

The idea of an electoral mandate is a simple one which I teach my A level Politics students.  You win a majority in the House of Commons, you claim the people have backed you, you get on with the job.

This is not democracy though.  Democracy, which I have also teach my students, means “people power.”  The idea fails for David Cameron on two levels:

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In Full: Lord Jim Wallace responds to the Queen’s Speech

Jim Wallace, Liberal Democrat Leader in the Lords, responded to the Queen’s Speech with a gentle and highly noble jibe at Danny Finkelstein and was pretty robust in saying that if the Tories, elected on barely a third of the vote, tried to push through reactionary legislation, the Lords had every right to scrutinise it robustly.  Here is his speech in full:

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In full: Nick Clegg responds to the Queen’s Speech

The Liberal Democrats worked hard to ensure that the coalition government’s agenda had a clear thread of liberalism running through it – from the priority we gave to mental health and the green agenda, to creating the pupil premium and protecting our civil liberties.

So it is dispiriting – if pretty unsurprising – to see how quickly, instead of building on those achievements, the new Conservative Government is turning its back on that liberal stance.

The human rights we hold dear, our right to privacy in an online age, our future as an open-minded, outward-looking country, are all hanging in the balance again because of the measures announced today.

It is clear, too, that the previous Government’s commitment to fairness is also weakened.

There was little in today’s speech to help the poorest and the most vulnerable; not enough to improve social care; and no plan to build the Garden cities and 300,000 new homes a year our young people need for the future.

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Rennie and Mark Williams and Kirsty Williams react to “unbridled Conservatism” of Queen’s Speech

Scottish and Welsh Liberal Democrat leaders Willie Rennie and Kirsty Williams have reacted to this morning’s Queen’s Speech.

Willie Rennie was unimpressed by the government’s legislative programme. He accused the Conservatives of threatening the economy and punishing the poor.

The UK Government’s programme is unbridled conservatism in action.

The Conservative agenda will undermine our rights, threaten our recovery and punish the poor and vulnerable.

Today’s Queen’s speech demonstrates the need for a liberal voice at the heart of British politics.

The Tories are continuing their campaign of fear with plans for a Snooper’s Charter, threats to our human rights and an attack on benefits.

Policies such as increasing the tax threshold and a focus on childcare and improving mental health services simply wouldn’t be on the agenda without the Liberal Democrats.

It shows why you need the Liberal Democrats to stand up for civil liberties. We will continue to fight for a stronger economy and a fairer society, which creates opportunity for all.

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We need to be impatient to end the scourge of rough sleeping

Rough sleeper by BlodeuweddThere occasionally comes a time when it is important to state an aspiration. To rise above the detail and say what a particular situation should be, then work out a roadmap to get there. To do so risks criticism for being simplistic and naïve – but so be it.

That is where I find myself with people who are sleeping rough, including in tents.

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Opinion: We need votes at 16 for the EU referendum

I’ve recently become increasingly aware of some of the comments passed by the Tories and UKIP regarding the minimum voting age on the upcoming EU Referendum, which seems likely to be set at 18. They’re quite worrying to say the least.

John Redwood, Conservative MP for Wokingham, accused 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds of not being interested in voting and critics of trying to hijack the referendum by suggesting that they should receive suffrage, whilst numerous UKIP politicians have argued that we have been close to “brainwashed” through the education system by the Liberal Democrats in particular.

Speaking as a young person, I feel that these comments are hugely belittling and insulting. I would have hoped that the active participation of young people in last year’s debate in the run-up to the Scottish Referendum would have proved that we are more than capable of fairly assessing political situations and choosing for ourselves what will be best for our own future.

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Baroness Susan Kramer writes…Why I’m backing Elaine Bagshaw for Tower Hamlets Mayor

Susan Kramer with Elaine Bagshaw and teamLike most of you I don’t “do miserable” and I’ve been itching to start the fight back.  Local Government has always been Lib Dem territory because we believe in communities and remain aghast at how badly so many are served by their local governments.  So when I got a chance to support Elaine Bagshaw in launching her campaign for Mayor of Tower Hamlets I jumped at it.  Of all the places that need effective local Government focussed on people, listening to people and functioning with integrity, Tower Hamlets must be near the top of the list.  As Elaine says, it’s a largely deprived community in the shadow of the extra-ordinary wealth of the City of London.

Elaine has lived in the area for years so she knows Tower Hamlets’ issues like the back of her hand.  But what I also love is that Elaine is part of the new generation who will now take over our party.  I don’t mean just new as in young, though that is true of many, but also the flood of new members of all ages who are joining with such a sense of purpose and with a vision of the future.  Old warhorses like me can provide the back-up but one silver lining of a bad defeat is that a natural passing of the baton takes place.  And goodness those folk did turn out at Elaine’s launch, at least 50 of them, all ready to spend the day on the doorsteps.

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Norman Lamb MP writes: I want us to lead the way in Parliament to allow assisted dying

For many years, I opposed attempts to legalise assisted dying.  I had concerns, shared by many, that the risk to the most vulnerable individuals outweighed the benefits.  Equally, I respect those with deeply held religious concerns.
 
But my views have been challenged in recent years. As an MP and in my role in the last Parliament as a health minister, I have spoken to many terminally ill patients, and the families of those who suffered slow deaths in great pain.
 
So many of them were convinced, when someone is suffering intolerably, and when they are reaching the end of their life, they should be allowed to end their suffering with dignity, and with the support of those closest to them.
 
These testimonies have forced me to think again. Would I want the right to decide for myself, when faced with terminal illness, when I wished to die? And would I want it for loved ones? The answer is unequivocally, yes. 
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Introducing ALDES

ALDES logo

New members have been asking about Lib Dem organisations that they can join.  You are welcome to submit similar items on behalf of other organisations.

Most politicians make positive noises about supporting science and engineering in the UK but, as far as we know, the Liberal Democrats are the only party that mentions it in their constitution. Paragraph 3 reads:

“We will promote scientific research and innovation and will harness technological change to human advantage.”

The Association of Liberal Democrat Engineers and Scientists (Aldes) is the group for party members who wish to debate, learn and campaign on policy matters in this area. We were founded over 20 years ago in 1991 and have contributed to the party since in numerous ways:

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Opinion: Issues for the promised party governance review

Before the election we were promised a review of how the party operates, and if the Federal Executive is doing its job properly then we should be hearing at some point in June how each of us can contribute to that process.  Here is a little bit of my input as to where we can go from here.

Firstly we need to commission the development of a registered voting system for the Conference app that can be used for all internal elections.  The BBC and ITV have managed to develop such apps for voting in their competitions and shows and registering the vote to an individual shouldn’t be that difficult.

Secondly, all committees should be elected on the basis of one member one vote.  The idea that vested interests such as parliamentarians, councillors or specified organisations can have places reserved at the top tables in a party that prides itself on every member having the same say is nonsense.  Our elected representatives should be answerable to the party that secured their election, not stacking its committees to make it answerable to them.
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The Liberal Democrat Voice Queen’s Speech

Liberal Democrats are unlikely to find anything that makes them happy in today’s Queen’s Speech. In fact, many of the measures to be announced will make us cringe with horror.

We thought we’d ask people to contribute their ideas for a Bill they would introduce with a sentence to explain why if they wanted. Do add your own in the comments.

The Leadership candidates

Tim Farron:

I would like a new Great Reform Act – voting reform for  the House of Commons, the House of Lords and local government.

Norman Lamb:

Assisted Dying Bill

Once and for all we should confront the messy compromise that every year denies terminally ill patients, suffering great pain, the right to choose the way they end their life – in dignity and with the support of their loved ones – without travelling to another country.

Suzanne Fletcher

My Government will treat those seeking sanctuary in our country as asylum seekers with dignity, respect and justice.

As a start to this we will this year :

put an end to the disgraceful waste of lives and waste of money in indefinitely detaining people for immigration purposes.

Will further allow those seeking sanctuary in the UK who have been here for more than 6 months to work, allowing them to retain their dignity as well as save the taxpayer money.

Will replace the degrading Azure Card with cash payments giving asylum seekers the freedom to buy essentials for living at the cheapest price.

Duncan Stott

Garden Cities and Urban Extensions Bill – To tackle the housing crisis, we to identify the best sites for a major new housebuilding programme and provide new mechanisms to release this land for sustainable, affordable development.

Andy Myles

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Nick Clegg to respond to Queen’s Speech on behalf of the Liberal Democrats

Outgoing leader Nick Clegg will lead for the party in responding to the Queen’s Speech. This must feel quite strange for him. It’s the first Queen’s Speech in 5 years that he hasn’t had a hand in shaping. All the Tory policies he kicked into touch will be in there bringing every decent liberal out in hives.

Even if they do end up delaying the repeal of the Human Rights Act, there are bound to be all manner of civil liberties infringements, future welfare reform and ineffective housing plans to deal with.

Nick says:

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Last chance to convince MSPs on Assisted Suicide Bill

From the Facebook page of my friend Anne, reproduced with her permission:

My mother was riddled with cancer, according to the Coroner, when she planned her successful suicide in 1972 at the age of 54. She waited for her first grandchild to be safely born, chose a day my brother and doctor wife were visiting so that my father wouldn’t find her, left notes around the house re unfinished business (including knitting for her grandson), went to a spare bedroom and took sleeping tablets writing a note as she fell asleep. It was the only way she could make sure the family didn’t watch her die a slow and painful death.

Under the new legislation, she could have met her grandson and we could have said our goodbyes. I have waited over forty years for this – please don’t make me wait any more.

Tomorrow the Scottish Parliament debates the Assisted Suicide Bill. This Bill would give terminally ill people the right to receive assistance in ending their lives within a very tightly regulated procedure as set out (from the My Life, My Death, My Choice” website) below:

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Opinion: Towards a Strategic Narrative

What good luck to experience an event which illustrates the complete futility of a course of behaviour. Could our party be more lucky? Yet many still ascribe the defeat to the SNP , the media, whatever; despite the decline happening across the period of this parliament.

Our defeat is due to the lack of a strategic narrative The regular voter prefers a party with a clear programme which they stick to. They have been offered a party which explains its position only in relation to other parties and with unconnected policies diluted by the compromises of coalition. …

Posted in Op-eds | 28 Comments

Opinion: Left or right? Which way lies the Future of the Liberal Democrats?

This is my first article for Lib Dem Voice – I’ve often been on the site,  and finally decided I’d try and write for it!

It was a night of tragedies for the Liberal Democrats.

Sitting in my student accommodation, I was watching my first election being old enough to vote, with horror. Vince Cable, Charles Kennedy, Danny Alexander – bastions of British liberalism fell, one by one. As I’m sure we’re all aware, the party lost over 85% of its representation in parliament, having just eight seats midday on the 8th May. Nick Clegg’s resignation speech later that day really resonated with me – the flame of liberalism in this country was still flickering, but far dimmer than it was 24 hours earlier.

The party now stands on the precipice – without the right leadership, and policies, we risk being cast into the oblivion of obscurity along with the other minor parties. Elections within majoritarian systems such as the UK cannot be fought from the centre-ground – the First Past the Post voting system does not allow such parties to thrive, aside from being the recipient of protest votes.

This is why, we must, ironically do as we told the voters during the campaign – look left, look right. The party must shift one way or the other – doing nothing is out of the question. It must find an identity.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 44 Comments
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