Chris Rennard writes about the Henley result…

I am enjoying this debate and for the record:

1) I don’t always comment in detail on things read by our opponents – but I do welcome any constructive debate within the party on these issues – especially contributions from those who also work hard in these campaigns.

2) I am not generally “hands on” in the organisation and management of our by-elections these days (unlike when I was Director of Campaigns & Elections 1989-2003 or a member of the team in various by-elections from Edge Hill in 1979 to Greenwich in 1987). But as Chief Executive (in the structure debated and agreed within the party in 2003) I have overall responsibility for all of our election campaigns. I have complete confidence in our campaigns teams led by Hilary Stephenson (Director of Campaigns), campaigns staff and the people I ask to be agent in these campaigns such as Miranda Roberts who was superb in Henley.

3) There is a major misconception on the part of some of the people commenting that the Lib Dem performance is entirely determined by what we do and our national position. This is not so. The results are also determined by the relative national standing of the other parties – and by what they do, who they choose and the tactical situation etc.

People point to our successes in places like Newbury and Christchurch in 1993 or Romsey in 2000 and say why not Henley in 2008? One difference is that the Conservatives are at about 45% in national poll ratings compared to 30% or less then and people are much less conscious of how awful John Major’s Government was. We found it hard in that era to win Labour seats like Barking or Dagenham (our share fell significantly in these by-elections on the same day in 1994 that we won Eastleigh from the Tories). We found it even harder in seats like Dudley West and Wirral South where Labour started a good second to the Tories, we were third and got squeezed.

Our Crewe and Henley results should be seen in this context. They indicate that our support is more robust and our techniques even more effective than they were then.

4) The issue of candidates is of course very important in any campaign. Both Elizabeth Shenton and Stephen Kearney did us proud. But it has been very rare in by-elections since Orpington for us to win without very local candidates. Sarah Teather proved that it can be done (as did Diana Maddock, Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins and Clement Freud).

Of particular note to this and other debates about by-elections generally is that our choice of candidates is not with me or the Leader but with our local members and those who run the candidate approval systems. Our Leader and campaign teams work enthusiatically with the choice that is made for them. In Henley we worked hard to promote Stephen’s local credentials and he moved in as soon as selected.

5) The issue of the amount of paper crops up frequently. I did a lot of canvassing and knocking up over the last couple of days – so I heard the general public reaction to the paper blitz. But I didn’t genuinely feel that anyone was not voting for us because we tried too hard. There were complaints about the amount of paper delivered by both the Conservative and Lib Dem campaigns. But then consider the fact that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats polled 85% of the vote between us.

6) In relation to Henley specifically, only a few people were in a position to monitor how our campaign led to a big increase in our level of support over the period of the campaign. Neither we nor the Conservatives started where the 2005 General Election ended.

The Conservatives are trying to destabilise us by criticising both me and our by-election tactics/performance. I find some of this amusing as one of their most senior by-election team in Crewe confirmed to me on the night that they are simply trying to “copy my text book”. But they don’t really understand it or follow it as well as we can when we really mobilise effectively. They should now publish the private ICM poll that they conducted at the start of the election period. This would prove who “won the campaign” in terms of shifting support. We went up significantly in the campaign and they went down by a equally significant margin.

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110 Comments

  • Binty Uhuru 27th Jun '08 - 6:37pm

    You should try to use less paper. Maybe do more online?

  • “Who won the campaign”

    The Conservatives by over 10,000 votes.

  • I lived in the Romsey area when the Liberal Democrats campaigned and won the seat, as did my parents and 2 sisters. None of them will ever vote again after your tactics there. It was absolutely horrendous; day after day, night after night, of leaflets, canvassing, phone calls etc. What is so sad is the Conservatives seem to have decided ‘if you can’t beat them join them’, and though I can’t blame them, I sincerely hope they don’t use all of your repertoire of nasty campaigning games.

  • Seeing as I’ve commented on everything today and I’ve got time for one more for the road (before I leave to go to the pub), I’d just like to say that I like Chris Rennard and the big pinch of salt he carries in his pocket.

    It is a credit to him that he has become identified as the target for any flak he recieves and it is immensely satisfying to watch, read or listen to the ease with which he neutralises it.

    Of course LibDems would have a perfect record in an ideal world, but this is the real world and long may we be inspired by the challenges it presents.

  • Hywel Morgan 27th Jun '08 - 7:26pm

    “2) I am not generally “hands on” in the organisation and management of our by-elections these days (unlike when I was Director of Campaigns & Elections 1989-2003”

    By my reckoning in that period we won 10/12 of the by-elections we seriously went for (the exceptions being Monmouth and Walton). Since then we’ve won 3/9. Maybe being more hands on is what is needed 🙂

    I’m not totally convinced about the national standings point either – Labour were around 40% at the time of Brent East, the Tories were popular at Ribble Valley. The Barking/Dagenham elections were undoubtedly affected by Alec Kellaway and we got a bit increase in Bradford the same day. In any case they (as well as Dudley etc) aren’t particularly good comparators as our campaigns in Crewe/Henley were much more intensive.

  • Steve Garner 27th Jun '08 - 7:38pm

    Speaking as a Tory I’d say well that’s alright then Chris. Carry on campaigning.

  • Yeah all very well then stop all the ramping and try honesty!! You might begin to understand the real game of politics then

  • I largely agree with Chris. The problem for this campaign is that we did not have a sufficiently persuasive narrative to persuade soft Tories to vote for us. That is a serious problem, but it is not the fault of either the Henley campaign or the by-election team.

    The party needs an anti-Tory narrative) to add to its anti-Labour narrative) if it is to gain against the Tories and there is no sign of one, just as it was impossible to develop a successful anti-Labour narrative in the mid 90s.

    The question we need to address is not about by-election tactics but whether we can switch both our mindset and our resources away from the traditional rural battles against the Tories to take advantage of the potential collapse of Labour in the urban seats.

  • “In Henley we worked hard to promote Stephen’s local credentials and he moved in as soon as selected.”

    Erm… you what?

  • I think the core of the problem is indeed that we don’t have an anti-Tory narrative that we can use to win soft Conservative votes. Without having something we can say “we would do X, but the Tories would do Y” with a degree of effectiveness, we will struggle to break into areas where we don’t have a more effective local narrative available.

    The plus side of this by-election, and of the results of local elections in our held seats, is that where do have that narrative we can hold our ground – and that should mean that we can hold the vast majority of our MPs with Conservative challengers provided that the ground war is fully up to scratch.

    The lack of an anti-Tory narrative, however, will hurt us most when trying to pick up ground from the Tories, especially in next year’s local elections. If we’re to make more than a handful of next gains at the next election, fixing that lacuna has to be a priority!

  • Ref your lack of anti-Tory narrative; does this mean that you are going to stop slandering your opponents?

  • Justin Hinchcliffe 27th Jun '08 - 10:22pm

    “The issue of candidates is of course very important in any campaign. Both Elizabeth Shenton and Stephen Kearney did us proud. But it has been very rare in by-elections since Orpington for us to win without very local candidates. Sarah Teather proved that it can be done…”

    I seem to recall that Teather was touted as a “local campaigner”. Stephen Kearney only moved into Henley after being selected. Despite this, you persisted in calling him local. By doing this you insulted the intelligence of Henley voters.

    Yes, I am biased, but you should be asking yourselves if you would have done any better with your original and very local candidate, if you had not been so personal and negative and whether your national approach to parliamentary by-elections (treating them as council elections) needs reviewing.

    PS. I assume Kearney is heading back to Plymouth now? (-:

  • Gutted about the result after all the work we put in. Chris is right however we have to pick up and move on… But I have serious a doubts if our ‘stratergy’ is right.

  • I’m not sure its apprpriate for me to call you “Chris” as we’ve never met, but Lord Rennard sounds a bit formal … Nevertheless, I think it reflects well on you that you’ve come on here to offer your opinion.

    I would like to pick up your point 5), referenced to the campaign literature.

    Some comentators have made the point that in the days of recycling and endless leaflets, all of hgh quality, from pizzas to double glazing, they wonder about the impact. I suppose you won’t necessarilly comment on here but it would be interesting to understand why this is deemed necessary.

  • Bill Quango mp wrote:
    “You need to find a good USP and find it soon.
    The country needs serious politics”

    Written without a hint of irony, apparently …

  • Now that Mr Kearney, his houseboat, and his wig, are all scuttling back off down the Thames for the long sail back to Plymouth, comes the “It weren’t my fault!” excuses.

    The fact is Chris, you got lazy. You thought the good old days of Tory hopeless by-election campaigning (and Gawd didn’t they give some laughs?) would carry on forever. Now the Tories have got street-savvy, but you think the gold patch of easy pickings remain. All it would need was a few leaflets slagging off the Tory outsider (or, if they were a local councillor, “unpopular decision maker”).

    It doesn’t now, and we need to move on. Rennard is stuck in his 80s oppositionalist time warp and shows no understanding of what it might require for Liberals to get their message across against that.

  • Hywel Morgan 28th Jun '08 - 12:43am

    “Does anyone know if the Tories’ ICM poll has to be published at some point? I may be wrong, but thought there was some code of conduct meaning that all polls get put in the public domain eventually.”

    I might have it wrong but I think that only applies if some of it is published – ie you can’t commission a poll and only publish the bits you like but you can do something and keep it completely private.

    It was an issue on PB.com earlier this year over a poll Ken commissioned about the congestion charge but I can’t find the relevant thread

  • After reading the illuminating account of Chris Rennard and all the comments, I’m thinking that maybe something should be done with the candidate approval system. I’m sure that Stephen Kearney was an excellent candidate as such, but maybe he would have been even more excellent standing in an election in Plymouth or the surrounding area, where his locality couldn’t have been called into question.

    It seems that there wasn’t anything particularly wrong about the existing, local candidate except perhaps in some amount her age, which was considered too high by some. But if I have understood correctly, the local members didn’t even have a chance to reselect her, because she wasn’t shortlisted. I agree that it’s a good thing that a candidate is automatically deselected in the event of a by-election, but could he or she get automatically shortlisted (at least if there isn’t any serious flaw about him or her), and thus get a chance to be reselected by the local members, if they think that he or she is up to the task to stand in a by-election? Or if that isn’t possible, could there at least be some kind of recommendation that in the event of a by-election the existing candidate should be shortlisted?

  • Peter Chapman 28th Jun '08 - 7:50am

    To me winning elections is about selling.Selling ideas that the customer (ie the voter) is interested in.We are still selling the ideas that had priority importance before the credit crunch.We haven’t reassessed our customers needs particularly at Parliamentary level and adjusted our product to the new situation.Its not the volume of leaflets that is the problem (although we have always to be seen as more active or now that the Tories are active ,as active) but what we say.It is obvious that a leaflet that said “are you angry and want to kick Brown and the Government” had a better response than “Make your mind up time, and isn’t that Tory a miserable old Toad”

  • So David Davis is fighting solely on the 42 day issue? Not according to his website

    Manifesto By David Davis

    What I Stand For

    * British fundamental freedoms – including liberty, free speech and trial by jury.
    * British justice – firm but fair.
    * Protecting personal privacy from unjustified intrusions by the state.

    What I Stand Against

    * Draconian terrorism laws that make us less – not more – safe.
    * The database state – careless officials losing our personal information.
    * A surveillance society – council snoopers spying on local residents.
    * ‘Thought crimes’ and political correctness stifling free speech and peaceful protest.

    10 Policies to Protect British Freedom

    1.Reverse 42 days pre-charge detention – a ‘PR coup for Al-Qaeda’.
    2.Scrap ID cards – put the £19 billion savings towards a Border Police Force and other security measures.
    3.Immediate reversal of the ban on free speech outside Parliament.
    4.Protect the right to trial by jury.
    5.Stop neighbourhood spies using powers that should rest with the police and MI5.
    6.Use intercept evidence to prosecute terrorists – but restrict bugging by local councils.
    7.Replace 1 million innocent citizens on the DNA database with the serious criminals left off.
    8.Make CCTV more effective (80% is unusable) – strengthen punishments for privacy abuse.
    9.Slash the 266 separate powers the state has to force its way into the home.
    10.Launch an independent inquiry into the government’s serial database failures.

    Yours faithfully,

  • A good comparison is with Bromley.

    Bob Neill, Conservative: 11,621
    (-11.11% from 2005)
    Ben Abbotts, Liberal Democrat: 10,988
    (+17.52%)
    Nigel Farage, UKIP: 2,347
    (+4.88%)
    Rachel Reeves, Labour: 1,925
    (-15.57%)
    Ann Garrett, Green: 811
    (-0.39%)

    Bromley was exceptional as the worse result for a principle opposition party in a seat they held for years.

    So the the prospects weren’t good for Henley.

    On top of that the Conservatives had learnt the lessons of the 3 jobs bob fiasco of Bromley and the imported candidate (Romsey etc) while the Lib Dems thought a chap from Plymouth was a good idea. The party needs to learn that the “best” candidate is not always the “right” candidate.

    While the Lib Dems will do better in their held seats, clearly the former Labour vote is not switching to the Lib Dems is substantial numbers, or not enough to compensate for loss of former Lib Dem voters to the Conservatives.
    which means a lot of these seats are a really risk were an election held tommorrow.

    It is not the quantity of the paper, or the quality, it is the message that seems to be lacking.

  • Richard Weatherill 28th Jun '08 - 10:42am

    “Straws” and “clutching” spring to mind. You were roundly defeated.

  • Spanny Thomas 28th Jun '08 - 10:50am

    There is certainly the bottom of a barrel being scraped.

    Rennard may claim victories but we were well and truly shafted in both by-elections and p1ss poor candidates did not help.

  • I’m afraid Chris that the world has changed and we need to change with it. Denial is not an option. You or Hilary need to talk to experienced campaigners outside of your staff and get an ‘outsider’ critique from within the party.

    Too much groupthink, I’m afraid.

  • Spanny Thomas :

    “piss poor” candidates ????

    Don’t know Mr Kearney, but in relation to C&N and Elizabeth Shenton I’d ask Spanny Thomas the following:

    so, were you part of the shortlisting (I was); were you present at the hustings meeting (I was); did you sit in on some of the meetings where the candidate, agent and team discussed the campaign (I did); did you accompany the candidate on walkabouts/ schoolgate sessions (I did); did you have the opportunity to gauge the impact she made with voters (I did) ?

    So, Spanny, what’s your qualification to use such unpleasant language?

  • A bloody awful result – this apologuy from Rennard is pretty grim – just accept the fact that ordinary decent people in Henly saw through the usual nasty Lib Dem double speak.

  • It’s 20 years since the Lib Dems were formed yet what little narrative there is remains largely incoherent (eg democracy is important except in relation to the EU; Lib Dems stand for individual freedom but in power we would invent lots of rules to ‘help’ people get their lives right!).

    What have successive leaders been doing all these years?

    Chris Rennard has been a marvellously effective guerilla campaigner, giving Labour and the Tories a bloody nose whenever there’s been an opportunity. Council groups have done wonders where they’ve got their act together. But none of this makes a narrative for a national party.

    Yet we desperatly need a new direction for the UK. The Country is near bankrupt, the oil price is soaring out of control (another near doubling is expected by Gazprom!), education has been utterly devalued (eg last week the BBC was reporting that degrees are being awarded to foreign students with wholly inadequate English) and so on.

    The public would love to hear from a Party with a sensible plan to lead us out of the terrible, dangerous mess we’re in. Yet most of the political establishment (including Lib Dems) carry on as ‘normal’ – happily arguing about whether income tax policy should be up or down 1p or whether ‘Liberal’ might perhaps be a better name for the Party than ‘Liberal Democrat’ and so on.

    Great! Anyone want to help rearrange the deckchairs?

  • Well, I did notice *several* people on the doorstep who would probably/certainly have voted LD were it not for our campaign. INCLUDING people who had regularly voted LD in the past.

    I pray that the post mortem will be forensic- I was there as a volunteer for nearly a fortnight in total and it was distressing to consider how much better we could have done if, in my own unexperienced opinion, we’d have canvassed and targetted more and delivered a whole lot less?

  • Spanny Thomas 28th Jun '08 - 4:15pm

    Thanks Crewegwyn, we owe the likes of you our thrashing in the C&N by election.

    Had you picked a good candidate we could have got more votes and had a platform for Henley but as long as you are happy that is okay.

  • Great.

    That’s the headline for the next Focus sorted: “We lost the election, but won the campaign (if only those pesky Tories would admit it and publish their secret poll)”

  • David Legrand 28th Jun '08 - 4:34pm

    Chris, if the Tory ICM poll suggested their lead was even stronger than the
    actual result, we must have known, from our own analysis, that
    the seat was unwinnable, and the best headlines we could hope for were what
    we got, i.e. to be ignored.

    Why then was a decision taken to fight the seat with a full by-election
    team, at great cost, and pull volunteers in from areas fighting winnable
    Council by-elections, ramping up the ‘winning-here’ rhetoric as we went.

    I agree with you that the campaign team and Hilary deserve nothing but
    praise for their execution of the defence of this position. But who took the
    decision to put them there in the first place?

    That’s the key issue with the Henley by-election. Your thoughts?

  • Spanny Thomas,

    I note you do not attempt to justify your comment re our candidate in C&N.

    So who should we have chosen? Spanny Thomas?

  • Alex – I think your comments are spot on. I’m sure the result would have been a lot worse for us had we not run the campaign we did.

    Anon2 – a fair point about canvassing vs. leafleting – but one of the problems in the last week was that there was more help during the day when delivring is more productive, and less in the evenings when canvassing is more productive. On the day there were a lot more Tories than Lib Dems doing knocking up.

    It is noticeable that when the tories stepped up a gear from the last weekend they did so by a) delivering lots more leaflets and b) knocking on a lot more doors.

  • henkey consitiuent 28th Jun '08 - 6:32pm

    Your campaign was truly useless. Don’t try to convince yourselves otherwise. The amount of paper, the (almost) unattributed fake magazine, the phone calls, with illegal failure to identify, the starting with a smear, the dropped-in candidate, the concentration on local nimby issues to the exclusion of all mention of anything national at all. The omission of whatever the hell your party stands for. The ridiculous claim that you were neck and neck with the tories. Oh, and fake meetings and events that we always heard about after the fact Was it calculated to annoy me? Well, it did. The tories weren’t that clever either, but they didn’t need to be. Labour sent me nothing, I didn’t even get the name of their man.

  • Conservative Home has also linked, which may or may not explain the comments from Henkey (sic) constituent.

  • Spanny Thomas 28th Jun '08 - 6:59pm

    Crewegwyn, don’t put it onto me. You have a responsibility to our party. [PERSONAL ABUSE MODERATED]. We should have done so much better in C&N than we did and all this hand wringing and apologies is pathetic.

  • Spanny Thomas

    I was unsure whether you had come on here to:

    a) engage in sensible discussion of the issue,

    OR

    b) to display that you are an uncouth yob.

    You have failed in the former; others will reach their own view on the latter.

    The fact that your most recent posting has been moderated because of “personal abuse”, and that you chose to refer to Cllr Elizabeth Shenton [do you even know her?] as “piss poor” says more about you than it does about her, me or our great party.

  • Agree 100% with Alex. The Tory lies of the last couple of days were effective, as they usually are. They put many Lib Dem supporters off from voting at all.

    American-style smear tactics win once again!

  • Neil- I assumed that about the day/evening thing, but it seemed we were just going for the maximum leaflet production we could, without any set number being considered the optimum.

    Even if canvassing in the day might have been pretty ineffective, it couldn’t have hurt to try, and cut back on the literature by 30%… ?

    An example of delivery over canvassing would have been when MPs were sent out delivering/folding… surely they should have been pushed out to engage with the public in whatever way possible?

    It also felt like we were just treating the Henley constituency as if it were Bromley, without taking into account the likelihood that locals were more likley to resent the almost anonymous newspapers, excessive mailing etc.

    Obviously we need to adopt the strategies (and sadly, negativity) that entrench Labour and the Tories as the most popular parties, but we can’t afford to be seen as excessively negative and/or annoying and having a nasty tag attached to us…

  • imho the tory negative stuff worked better than usual for several reasons:
    1. They are the establishment party in henley and their literature is taken seriously by a segment of the electorate
    2. we did not rebut (at least in print) any of their statements about the lib dems, which tends to lead people to the conclusion that the allegations are true
    3. being ahead in the national polls also gives tory statements more credibility
    I would have liked to see more open approach from us, factual statements to set record straight, dealing with their lies using a bit of humour – most people don’t take elections anywhere near as seriously as we do!
    Surprised nobody has mentioned the very short campaign period, shortest ever at 3 weeks? Remember also that Cons stopped their local party from having their shortlist of choice and imposed a choice of 3 local councillors, followed by the attempt to deceive everyone via local media that the byelection would be in October. They broke their own rules on candidate selection and had to put a huge effort into the campaign just to end up with less actual votes than in 2005!
    90% of what we did was right, we can and should debate the other 10%, but it’s minor stuff.

  • “but Stephen moved to Aston Rowant in the heart of the constituency the day after selection and has lived there since. He was on the electoral roll and voted on Thursday and has signed a 12 month tenancy. Claiming that he did not live in the constituency at all is a lie (and it worked).”

    All seemingly written with the manic triumphant glint in the eye of someone laying down five aces.
    The public aren’t Westminster where technically being within the rules seems to excuse any excess you could name.
    “Well Officer I was driving at 45 mph in a 30 zone but it was against the rotation of the earth. This is 190,000mph so actually my speed was negative.”

    You got the same answer from the voters as you would have from the traffic cop.
    And rightly so.

    Many comments here, and as you are linked you get an outsiders view.

    Don’t be so defensive. People clearly feel your National message is confused, inconsistent, opportunist, expensive and probably going to have the words Green, Europe, Environment, Local or all of those words, in the title.

    Find a focus for 2009/10 or you will be the third party still, jointly held with Labour.

  • henley constituent 29th Jun '08 - 1:06am

    I’m telling you how the campaign looked as a recipient of all that stuff, and you can’t hoist it in. The tory magazine had tory logos on every page (if it’s the one I think you mean) but even if it too was anonymous, how does that make yours right? Was the unattributed phone call claiming to be a survey actually legal? If not, explain.
    What item of your literature said what the party stands for, it was stuck in local issues, or in fact non-issues as these are not what local people worry about?

    How do you imagine the ‘I live in Aston Rowant’ thing went down? For those who know, only rich people live there. Toffs, if you will.

    The campaign was no good, it didn’t increase your vote, and blaming it on the tories for going negative may be a consolation, but you are only fooling yourselves. (I didn’t see the negative tory stuff you talk about, although I don’t say it didn’t exist.) Also, I’m not a tory shill. didn’t come here from conservative home, don’t frequent party sites. Didn’t vote for them either.

  • Come on Mark, I’m a Lib Dem volunteer and was there a lot, and the tabloids for instance mentioned only in tiny small print who it came from. “No worse than the Tories” is not good enough for us.

    And I was surprised we mentioned a relatively tiny amount on national policy (I stand corrected if I’m wrong).

    Also, was Nick’s speech about taking 4p off the standard tax rate an ideal rather than a commitment? If the latter, why not mention that?

  • When I questioned this before, I was assured that the imitation magazine format wasn’t intended to deceive, only to interest people enough that they’d pick it up and look at it.

    But to do that, you don’t need to hide the party name in a tiny imprint (actually, I’m not clear from the information above whether the party name was given even there). Even if you don’t want it on the cover, it can’t stop people picking it up and reading it if it’s on the inside pages!

    It was intended to deceive, wasn’t it?

  • henley constituent 29th Jun '08 - 1:34pm

    I got no 8 page full colour mag from anybody but the LDs, and the id was in tiny tiny print. Yes, it does mention the party name. Does it please the LD party to measure itself by the way the tories conduct themselves? Does the idea of the tories ‘going negative’ in the last couple of days excuse the fact that the very first item of Libdem stuff I got was a smear against Howell (whether justifed or not is irrelevant)? I must assume that not everybody in the constituency gets every piece of literature, but I will say that of what I did get the LD was the worst. The ‘illegal’ phone call was from them too. A reasonable reaction would not be to deny the truthful reaction of a non-committed voter, but to plan to do better in future, because from my POV what you are doing now is turning people off. And I suspect your own polling and doorstepping confirms that.

  • Henley constituent, I agree with some of what you say, but not this
    “the very first item of Libdem stuff I got was a smear against Howell (whether justifed or not is irrelevant)?”

    Of course whether it was justified or not was relevant- and it was!

    What was illegal about the phone call?

  • henley constituent 29th Jun '08 - 2:10pm

    I’m told, and I have not confirmed it, that to make a phone call purporting to be a survey while not identifying yourself as representing a candidate is against the law. Maybe it’s more complicated and nuanced than that, I don’t know.

    This is what I mean about relevance. If the guy is bent it is of course ok to mention it, but that is by definition going negative. But you didn’t prove (or claim) any misbehaviour per se, just a potential conflict of interest. You can’t do it the next day after calling for a clean campaign, then say the tories went negative in the last couple of days. But it’s all a part of a general practice of dissembling. Representing your man as local when he isn’t is another.

    It’s my personal opinion that this sort of behaviour is endemic in LD campaigns and very possibly counter-productive. I do know it got right up my nose, and I was a potential voter.

    As a party you need a new position in the light of the collapse of Labour. Until that happens the Henley story is likely to be repeated, that is you’ll get a core vote but nobody else is going to think you are relevant. There was no mention of national policies or principles in any of the literature. this was not a county council election.

  • I don’t know why the focus was *exclusively* local either; presumably decision makers felt that in a natural Tory constituency we would just have to fight a local ground war. But I would have thought a careful selection of national policies, targetted, would have been useful?

    However, I would defend the property developer links- that he had not even declared it previously makes it a very reasonable point to make.

  • I will not comment on the campaign as I am not familiar with the literature which went out. Clearly we may need to modify our tactics, but we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. At the moment the tide is with the Tories and I suspect that whatever line was taken during the campaign there would have been little difference. For the longer term I think we must draw attention to the Tories voting record in Parliament as against what they wish to convey as their public image. The Tories are like an old fashion store who have employed a new manager, Dave, who has put on a new shop front and dressed the windows, but inside the stock is still the same as it was. Can Dave change the stock and retain his old customers? Will he keep the same stock and hope the public are mugs enough to enter the store? This remains to be seen but it could be that the Tories are at their high water mark. Are they really popular or is it the electorate are tired of Labour. I believe that the Tories and Labour are two of a kind. We are the only party who will make any difference. It may be a dangerous game, but the only thing in politics more unpopular than Labour with the electorate right now is the our system of government at Westminster, with abuse of expenses, deals over party funding, governments riding rough-shod over a weak and ineffectual parliament, etc. A party with a coherent programme to reform our manner of government root and branch would appeal to many. The Tories and Labour would never propose or support this. This is an area where we can be seen to be distinctive and place the Tories and Labour in the dock together.

  • henley constituent 29th Jun '08 - 4:58pm

    If you want to look more honest and honourable than the other two, that’s a laudable ambition. All the more reason to get away from dodgy-looking tactics at a local level.

    First step, are you ABSOLUTELY sure there are no skeletons in the cupboard? Do you understand that just meeting the letter of the law is not enough? How will the party perform when commons expenses and allowances are up for debate. It might look better if MPs were to get no perks that ordinary people cannot get in a similar position. Snouts in the trough (all parties) do not appeal to the general public right now.

  • Tory Boy on behalf of BIG DAVE ! 29th Jun '08 - 9:54pm

    In a nutshell, Henley exposes a significant tactical error which requires an admission of responsibility. The prevailing wind is conservative and the decision to spend six figures on a contest where our fate was sealed the day the election was called, is highly questionable.

    Political Campaigning has to match common sense with ambition but derive it’s purpose from REALITY. Our future and sustainability electorally cannot be based on historical gut instinct or self created statistical imperfections. Accurate local analysis including resources, existing infrastructure, current party funding, the national standing of the party and the tenacity of the candidate are vital to any prospective campaign. It is for activists a disheartening and soul destroying experience to work out of loyalty for a cause that really has no real purpose.

    There is an unpleasant fact which deep down many find hard to consider, the techniques of twenty five years ago may have relevance to a contest that has similar characteristics but in 2008 they are sadly no better than your favorite shoes that can’t be repaired.

  • Chris, its an impressive list of “excuses” and most if not all do not hold up. If on that basis anyone for whatever reason could go on and on doing a job without any comeback.
    That you wash your hands al la Ponchos Pilot does not make you any less culpable for the mistakes.
    The fact is the leader of the party should lead, that’s Nick, a CE is not needed. Nick would devolve and delegate from himself but he and not a CE should have overall control. After all it is he who is elected and it is he that will ultimately carry the can if in 2010 we get a kicking.
    The fact that you are a paid employee with centralising powers and an unknown remit. We as members are powerless to vent our frustrations democrat as we would an elected member of our party through the ballot box.
    This unaccountability is dubious at best and unhealthy at worst.
    The frustration shown on this and many other forums and through many more conversations is directly linked to this.
    If we do well you take credit, if we don’t you list excuses. Brown has tried the same trick with the economy and the polls tell you what people think.
    However he will be gone come 2010, for the long term good of the party maybe he should not be the only one that moves on.

  • In reply to Henley Constituent, the Tories made the following statements, which are all incorrect, in their very first leaflet delivered June 5th:
    1. the lib dems have dropped their original byelection candidate Sue Cooper
    2. Sue was the Lib Dem general election candidate in 2005
    3. there was a deselection process that the media described as chaotic
    4. the Lib Dems want to add a new local tax on top of the council tax
    5. The Lib Dems want to construct thousands of new buildings on the green spaces of South Oxon
    My point was that none of these, let’s call them inaccuracies, were exposed by our campaign and in my view they should have been.

  • There is a little too much game playing going on on this thread.

    I don’t think it is at all likely that we are happy to be jibed into exposing any weaknesses we have, especially on a forum accessible to the public for the purposes of providing our opponents with cheap propaganda without rules of fair play being adhered to. By which I mean even in victory it should be possible for the winners of any individual contest to behave with good grace and do as they would be done by.

    I accept that the LibDem campaign wasn’t perfect in all regards and we need to work to improve our methods – in the interests of the our party, our politics and particularly for the good of the public.

    That is an honest answer, but it is not the full answer because it is to ask an inappropriate question to want exhaustive details in this place.

    Can we expect as much magnaminity from the Conservative contributors?

  • I said on the Glasgow East thread that I thought it was probably the most ridiculous thing ever posted on LDV.

    I was wrong. Big Mak’s post is the new winner. He is the only person in the party (if indeed he is) to think that Chris Rennard is a bad thing.

    The other parties would kill for a Chris Rennard – in fact there are rumours they’ve tried to head hunt him in the past. You only have to look at the Tory campaign in Crewe – available on the web at the UK by-elections site – to see how the Tories stole everything they do at by-elections from his approach.

    Some of us remember the days when getting above 10% was an achievement in by-elections – it wasn’t that long ago. The fact that the Tories with a massive opinion poll lead and throwing massive resources at it couldn’t improve on their 2005 result in Henley suggests our campaign was actually pretty good.

    No-one suggests we can’t improve on it or introduce new techniques, but there are some people massively over reacting to a result that while dissappointing is no way the disater that the Tories are ludicrously claiming it to be.

  • David Morton 30th Jun '08 - 8:14am

    Given that the national opinion poll averages have the tories + 12 and us – 5 on the last General Election I’m bemused by the existenial angst on this thread aout campaign tactics. If you apply those changes to the 2005 majority (27%) you get a massive 44% hypothetical majority which would need a Christchurch style swing to overturn. By giving it both barrells of the By Election machine we have canceled out the last two years gains by the tories. This isn’t a bad achievement but were we ever going to do any more ?

    Then we come to the candidate? I’ll be diplomatic. If we had selected a local resident of 20 years and sitting Councillor and the Tories had replaced there sitting female PPC with a candidate from Plymouth who moved into the seat after he was selected what would we have said ? the Mark packs of this world would have literaly exploded with self rightousness. There would not have been one single focus leaflet which didn’t mentio the fact.

    I’m no remotely bothered by the Henley result. In the circumstances it might even be considerd good.

    What horrifies me is that anone thought it would be otherwise and we have blown £100k on it. I say £100k because that I the legal limit which I assume we spent. But what did we spend i the long period before it was formally called but we knew it was happening ? what happens if you tot up the cost of paid staffs time? Whats happens if you could add up every volunteers travel costs and inciental expenditure. Or what, dear god, would happen if you priced up a notional hourly rate for every hour of activists time?

    It would be a Million Pound campaign. And for a seat which has elected a non Tory once in the last centuary, 11 years into a LABOUR government.

    What bothers me is that it has taken this result to get some people to see the blindingly obvious. The soft Tory vote isn’t soft anymore. he brand wether it deserves it or not is decontaminated. After 11 years people are voting on the record of this government not the last one. Every industrail democracy has a large centre right party and they don’t come more deeply rooted than the Tories.

    We have had in the last year the failure to xperience tird party ueeze in Ealing and Sedgefield, stratopheric poll leads, 45% in the council elections, the London mayorality and Crewe.

    It shouldn’t have taken henley for us to ealise that the tories are back and its ex labour areas that are where the votes are at the moment.

    The problem is so much of the party’s military -industral complex is invested in rural/semi rural fights with the tories that some people can’t see that in these areas its time for defence not offence.

    Its a pity we haven’t used two leadership lections in two years to have this strategic debate.

  • Tory Boy on behalf of BIG DAVE ! 30th Jun '08 - 9:03am

    The Big Mak appears to have touched a nerve and the postings in the main are encouraging a re think of strategy, tactics and people. Perhaps its time to be brave! One party, two leadership contests and now a resurgent Tory Party on course for government, the term “Squeezed, with only the pips remaining” comes to mind.

    The fact that frustrated voices within the party air their grievances on an internet forum is perhaps indicative of a party failing to capture the mood of its troops. A disaster in the making and a party in denial. The Mak is one of many, BIG DAVE loves it !!

    Sir Alan’s boardroom is open for business…but i dare say the top brass are such yellow bellies they are too scared to go in there to justify their purpose !!

    Let”s face it Lembit went there and became LEMSIP !

  • Dan you are and always will be an ass. The type of person that looks back, dwells on the past, says “oh look we are much better of then in X year (who decides the cut off?) and wants to shut people up who disagree with sentences like “Big Mak is the ONLY person in the party that wants rid of Rennard”
    Really Dan?
    Ok let’s ask Stephen to run a poll and let’s see, I know that you and those in Cowley Street will make sure that Rennard wins but lets really open up the debate.
    You you also not read many other sites at least debating his position, or do you have Arsene Wengers selective sight?
    I had lunch with a number of influential people yesterday and not ONE wanted him to stay.
    Now you can believe this or not, they unlike me have reasons to stay anonymous at the moment. However Dan if you really think I am the only one in the party (and yes I am a member of 20 years mate) then you are either stupid, delusional or can’t think straight because it’s me who posted.
    Get a grip, get real and instead of navel gazing speak to more than your narrow circle of self thinking people.

    If others want Rennard after the last year (and 2005 GE which was in critical terms a disaster, we should have bee 80/90 seats +) and with the changing face of elections for 2010 then go for it. No one man is bigger than the party, even Rennard.
    People like you Dan will destroy the party not me. The Tories love people like you, your inward & narrow focus, backward looking and would probably argue the Titanic is not sinking as your feet got wet.

    Let’s see what happens, but I will bet you know we will struggle to win another marginal bye-election in the future without a radical change in tactics.

  • Bik Mak is right. He is not the only member who wants to get rid of Chris Rennard. There are at least five others.

    If we look at Chris’s record, it is clear that it is second to none. It is one of flair, brilliance and outstanding success. From Edge Hill right the way through to 2005.

    Where the Party has boobed electorally, Chris has generally been absent. The disastrous 1992 GE campaign was the handiwork of “Diz” Wilson, a disagreeable, egomaniacal bully who declined to listen to anyone and refused to apply targeting.

    The Party owes more to Chris than to all the leaders stacked on top of each other.

    That is not to say that Chris is always right, or that new thinking is never needed. What is not in any doubt at all, however, is that Chris is the Party’s greatest asset.

    Having said that, Big Mak does have a point when he criticises the Lib Dems in Liverpool for having insufficient interest in winning Parliamentary seats.

  • Sesenco, be flippant no problem with that .If you think its only 5 people within the party you are deluded as Dan. Just because people as spineless not to say it doesn’t mean they don’t think it.

    Let’s get something straight this is not a personal attack, this is not Chris because he is Chris. It could be anyone in that same position, the fact it’s happens to be Chris is not the point.

    Yes I as many others appreciate what he has done, I disagree that he has done more than all our leaders before hand, if you take unabridged to what I am saying about Rennard then you have just insulted a great many people yourself with that sentence.

    However how long can someone “dine out” on past successes. Sir Matt Busby was an exceptional manager but his time came and went, his club owed more to him then any manger up to Ferguson.
    Do you stick with someone even if their results fade because of what they have done historically. If this is the case why would anyone who did their job well (after all that’s what you are paid for, he doesn’t do it for his health!) ever be moved on, can anyone just bring up the line” but what about what I did for you back in 1994?” and except an indefinite stay.

    You and Dan are confusing, cold, hard nosed practicalities about a need for different thinking and direction with being unappreciative for Chris….or maybe your doing that on purpose, bringing base emotion to something which needs to be looked at subjectively.

    All I will say is if we can ditch leaders like a pair of 10p sugarless why is it that anyone else should be an untouchable and above question?
    Rennard was good, he did some great things and helped (with others, please enough of this he did it on his own crap) get us to where we are today.
    Does that mean his tactics; thoughts and direction are above accountability and maybe an external audit?
    Great for those reading the forum to see that we are living up to our democrat part of our name only when it suits.

    As for Liverpool??????

  • Big Mak:

    Two questions:

    (1) What do you allege that Chris Rennard has done, or not done, that merits his dismissal?

    (2) How could the job be done better?

    As I see it, Chris Rennard has been pursuing exactly the right strategy in the circumstances. He is concentrating resources (i) on existing seats that we hold and (ii) those seats we don’t currently hold where we stand a chance of winning in 2010. Neither of which categories includes Crewe & Nantwich and Henley, of course. And the results thus far have borne considerable fruit. Look at the May elections, if you don’t believe me. There is still much more that needs to be done, but Chris is on the right track.

    When assessing performance, look at performance indicators. C&N and Henley were never even remotely target seats, so we shouldn’t judge Chris against them.

  • OK, so Chris Rennard needs to show some fleet of foot, try a drop of the shoulder and a bit of a shimmy.

    The Glasgow East by-election will provide exactly the right sort of opportunity for the party to give him and the team to do just that.

    It is a fight in an urban heartland of Labour’s core post-industrial vote where they recieved 60% last time round. We are a close third behind the SNP and some way ahead of the Tories. It seems almost impossible for any party to challenge for victory, but targeting a clear second place and making sure they Tories go backwards is highly realistic.

    We have struggled in Scotland recently and it would be a big morale boost for Holyrood and the European elections to put up a strong showing there and be able to say we are resurgent. Clegg also needs to prove as good as his word that it is us who is the major challenger across the board by not ceding this opportunity to our nationalist friends.

    Let’s get ready for kick-off.

  • Ok let’s get this straight as well, I am not saying Chris needs to be dismissed and that’s that. Rather the role of CE needs to be looked at again, to have two power bases, Chris & Nick as leader seems mad. Nick is leader, he then decides who does what, how money is spend, etc….of course he can’t do it himself so he devolves/delegates these. However HE is in overall control, and HE is that 100% accountable for anything good or bad.

    What I am saying is that Rennard steps away from the campaign and tactics front, times and challenges have moved on but we have not. We are still fighting guerrilla style elections even though the enemy and territory has changed.

    Your second point of, who can do a better job? Is a cop out. You can’t work on the basis unless you have a ready made replacement waiting in the wings you don’t change someone. How many jobs does that happen when someone just walks in the next day?
    As it happens I and others have a couple of people in mind, but I am sure the party would get many applications, except it would not be the job as it stands currently.

    Yes I agree hold and then push in seats that we are second and are winnable for 2010, however will this happen or will we just doing the holding operation and get caught out?
    My problem (and others) is that be it C&N, Henley or Glasgow coming up we ramp ourselves up executively to the point where some believe we can genuinely win.
    Yes it can help moral, yes it can keep the troops busy and yes it can give us some media coverage.
    However when we then don’t win, or even get a sniff, moral goes down, the troops are deflated and the media(even the Guardian & Indy) have a field day with us.

    As for May again you and others have only one eye open, on the holds and some successes. You ignore(at our peril) that London was an absolute disaster and that our share went down even though Labour are massively unpopular.

    We can go round for hours debating if the locals were good or not and if we should have wasted thousands or it not more on two seats that are not even targets.
    The media want to give Labour a kicking, and if we enter their sights with the type of nonsense in C&N/Henley they will gladly have a pop at us.

    Let’s be clever, lets save some money and let’s not just think what worked in 97 will work in 08, otherwise Nick will be leading a very small rump of a parliamentary party and that’s something no one who truly cares for the party wants.

  • Oranjepan, how much money and time is that seat worth? After so many bye-elections do we have the funds and will?
    Seems like a fight between Labour and SNP and we do a minimum to keep our vote and maybe pick up a little.
    An all out would effort be mad would it not??

  • “The Glasgow East by-election will provide exactly the right sort of opportunity for the party to give him and the team to do just that.”

    I’m really lost as to why anyone would think Glasgow East should be anything other than a token effort for us, largely left to the Scottish Liberal Democrats to fight on a shoestring budget. Here’s why…

    The Liberal Democrat vote in Scotland has halved since the last General Election while the SNP are enjoying their largest and most sustained period of popularity in their history. They were in second place in Glasgow East 2005 and highly likely to be doing better than that in respect of votes today.

    In the 2007 Glasgow City Council elections the SNP made 18 gains to take their total to 22 (Labour have 45). We and the Conservatives have 5 seats each.

    There is no serious Liberal Democrat infrastructure here, no serious potential for fund-raising given the narrative is all with the SNP, and not much chance of motivating activists outside the north and Scotland to travel there short of a three-line whip for candidates, MPs and their researchers. That volunteer effort in turn carries a huge opportunity cost in respect of time wasted that could be spent on fighting winnable target seats and associated local contests. Building up false hopes also carries an opportunity cost when it really matter. The Scottish Media further is unlikely to start taking much additional interest in us simply because Nick Clegg and the Shadow Cabinet turn up.

    We will most likely be scrapping with the Conservatives for third place, and avoiding the headlines rather than making them.

    Retaining third has some value, we don’t want to lose our deposit but that value in respect of campaign funds is worth what? £10k, £20k? I find it hard to believe it is worth the £100k spent in the last two by-elections.

    The lesson from Henley and C&N surely is that we don’t have an issue with our campaign tactics. The campaign teams did very well and demonstrated once again that with a lot of hard work and finance we can hold our vote up against national trends.

    We do though appear to have an issue with targeting in respect of choosing how hard to fight by-elections and setting expectations. It currently seems we fight every national by-election equally hard whether or not it’s a good prospect. That approach stands in marked contrast to our more nuanced and effective targeting strategy (pioneered by Lord Rennard), used for General Elections.

    I hope we don’t have to chuck another £100k at a hopeless prospect to test whether it is that element of our decision making that needs to change, rather than hoping against hope that it is simply a matter of finding the right leaflet design or candidate born in the local village maternity hospital.

  • I was trying to draw your attention to the other thread where there is a vigorous discussion along similar lines.

    I fully oppose allowing ourselves to develop a negative agenda and looking back with regret at the missed opportunities to what IS possible.

    The by-election machinery needs to find ways to adapt to different circumstances and challenge the team to be creative within appropriate means – it doesn’t need to make wholesale changes or become stuck in a repetitive mechanical cycle with no variation.

    Having been to several by-elections now it seems the lustre of the campaign can fade unless we can push the individuality of the candidate in some original and captivating way which highlights his/her relevance – though I admit inspiration can’t be forced, it is still independent of cost factors.

  • After the last General Election the overwhelming sense among Conservatives was that there were two strategies they had to choose between – either (a) ‘one more heave’, or (b) reinvent themselves and come up with some fresh thinking. Virtually without exception they agreed that the latter was the only sensible plan despite the fact that, as Conservatives, being radical is not exactly their raison d’etre.

    Conversly the Lib Dems in the same position didn’t even have a debate; a ‘one more heave’ strategy was adopted by default. My own very modest attempts to stir up some debate were greeted with blank incomprehension.

    The Conservatives answer was, of course, to choose Cameron, a PR man whose strategy has, unsurprisingly, been to rebrand the Conservatives (which he has clearly done very effectively) but, equally unsurprisingly, there is remarkably little new thinking under the surface gloss. Yet even this modest change is only half welcomed by the grass roots that I know. Sure, they welcome increased poll support, but do so while holding their noses against the whiff of Cameronism.

    That Lib Dems are only now beginning to think that ‘one more heave’ is no longer an adequate strategy is a tragedy for the Party and the Nation. Many of the UK’s problems can be traced back to the fact that there has been such a lightweight contender in the Liberal corner for so many decades.

    As for Chris Rennard, I have (as I have said before) the highest regard for his passion, his expertise and his skill as an election-fighter. But, his talents clearly do not stretch to developing a liberal narrative or making policy; that is a job for the Party leadership. Yet without a coherent narrative the best we have is an effective guerilla commander who can stage brilliant ambushes (aka by-elections) but never win the war because wars are won by first capturing and then holding ground.

    For me the important question is for Nick Clegg. Does he have the vision and ability to lead the Lib Dems to think ‘outside the box’, to rediscover their heritage and develop a narrative for this century or will he go down in history as a PR man who wasn’t as good as the Tories’ PR man?

  • Gordon wrote; ‘But, his (Rennard’s)talents clearly do not stretch to developing a liberal narrative or making policy’

    Indeed – it’s why we have a Director of Policy ans Strategy…

  • Gordon I agree with you, we work on the “one more push” premises that is now looking dated.
    It is up to Nick to lead, and for others to “make it happen” at ground level.
    Nick promised to be radical and different, let’s hope that comes soon.

    However if those delivering his vision are not willing or unable to change then it does not matter what Nick does.
    Under those circumstances the “blockage” needs to be delta with otherwise everything gets backed up and leaves a nasty smell.

    I am not saying that’s whets happening, but why people here are so opposed to new thinking is bewildering as Gordon points out. Are we less radical and forward thinking than the Tories, are we so comfortable that we no longer look to innovate and change.

    If so this is certainly no longer the party I joined, it is in affect a Tory/Labour holding pen for the disenchanted and nothing more.

  • Big Mak, I’m sorry you choose to use that form of description, but as I suggest above you can’t always force these things, and sometimes a bit of patience and thought doesn’t go amiss.

    Let’s have some constructive criticism and less doom and gloom.

  • David Morton 30th Jun '08 - 3:08pm

    Just to lighten the mood a little. I have just add Chris Rennard as a Friend on Facebook. You know, “be the change you want to see in the world” and all that….. I’ll get my coat.

  • Oranjpan, not doom or gloom at all just trying to inject some realism without being called evry name under the sum by some above(not yourself)
    Fot a liberal party we seem very comfortable with pot shots at people who may question the establishment…is that not part of our remit?

  • Sure it is, but just like we can be ruthlessly competitive (in a friendly way) when it comes to our leadership, it can be hard for the uninitiated not to be balked by the tone of some of it. Which can sometimes defeat half the purpose.

  • Dane, you’d get further with your ideas if you decided to stop waging a one-man war against us and start helping us fight our common enemies.

    I know what I stand for, as I’m sure almost all of us here do. What’s important is that we know how to combine our efforts to best effect to crescendo on the thematic style of our first citizen (sometimes I wonder about the title ‘leader’, but that’s convention for you).

  • Big Mak,

    Actually, I’m an optimist and I am totally confident that Party members (and indeed the wider country and liberal dissenters like Dane) would be only too happy to respond to a positive lead that ‘felt’ right – i.e resonated with liberal values even if it came up with policy specifics that seems initially strange and unfamiliar.

  • Dane, there is no need to get shirty because I find it hard to listen to your continual negative griping in an adequately grave manner to hold your abeyance.

    But considering your last comment I’d ask you to take your own advice to weigh up your own opinion again: it’s ridiculous to think parties ‘wage war against… opinion’ because politics is about representing viewpoints and using the process to evolve ideas progressively, not trying to dictate to those who disagree in order to gain superiority (which is only ever temporary) – are you sure the whole range of products of the process of European integration is really something we *don’t* want? And is it something that should be unrepresented even though currently a handful more oppose it than support it? 46% of the Irish vote disagreed with your position, which isn’t insignificant and shouldn’t be neglected from consideration.

    Maybe you should look at your own attempts to hijack and tyrannise every discussion with your absolutist anti-EU obsession (this thread is about the respons of the LibDem CE to the Henley by-election if you hadn’t noticed).

    Maybe that’s why you find it so difficult to grasp the ‘democratic’ part of true liberalism and why you are prepared to cut your nose off to spite your face.

    Something which also explains the reasoning behind why the illiberal hegemony of D’Estaings, Browns, Merkels, Sarkozys, Burlusconis and Barrosos is so hesitant about promoting a full debate on the subject of European integration – they have backed themselves into a corner where they would be voting for their own extinction by decisively winning the pro-European argument and paving the way for a properly liberal and democratic future.

    The battle between the EU Commission and the EU Parliament is one that mirrors our own story of the struggle for precedence between the Houses of Lords and Commons: the complaints are the same, the terms of debate are the same and the result will be the same.

    And our consistency will enable us to endure until we prove coherence prevails, again.

  • Hywel Morgan 1st Jul '08 - 12:36pm

    “Do the LibDems receive any financial or other assistance directly or indirectly from the EU….

    If they did, would the rest of us know about it?”

    Go and look at the accounts with the Electoral Commission and the Henley expense returns where this information has to be declared. Then let us know whether you have anything to support your bizarre conspiracy theories.

  • Dane, please!

    It’s funny that the broad LibDem church is called fanatical by an obsessive elitist – take your blinkers off!

    And it’s totally boring to to listen to your sleight-of-hands as a form of justification for your digressions – try addressing the subject!

    Whatever the subject you wish to talk about here you’ll find there are plenty of threads to do so, though you may need to do some revision in order to catch up with the state of current debate.

  • henley constituent 1st Jul '08 - 1:52pm

    Ok, while not wishing to intrude, why are the principles,aims and policies of the party not included in by-election literature. Do you think everybody knows? We don’t. If they are omitted by design, why is that?

    On what was included, do you think ‘we won’t allow anything to be built’ and ‘we’ll help your kids to get housed’ can be both included without a reference to how they can be reconciled?

  • Dane,

    So as I understand it you are proposing that, instead of following in the footsteps of the Labour and Conservative parties and public opinion, in rasising inheritance tax thresholds. The Lib Dems would lower them to £90,000.

    A flat rate tax of 10% will raise far more than than 40% (not that you provide any figures) presumably because while the richest will still avoid it, everyone else will start paying it.

    Everyone “British” will recive £10,000 on there 25th Birthday. This will be well recieved by everyone 26 yaars old and over.

    The under 25’s however will be transformed into stakeholding capitalists enterpreneurs and not think oh, that’s nice I’ll go on holiday, buy a new car, pay off some of my student loan/overdraft, put down a despoit on renting a flat.

    Meanwhile to further cement their voter appeal, the Lib Dems should take full responsibility for every flaw in the EU on the very sensible basis that although it has been a succession of Labour and Conservative Ministers responsible for negotiating things like the CAP the Lib Dems are Europhiles and therefore guilty.

    There are alternatives to optimism, for example pessisim. I would have to be very pessismistic to join the continuing (sic) Liberal Party.

  • Dane – for someone who isn’t a member of the party, you spend an awful lot of time here.

    We now all know you’re a Eurosceptic member of Continuity Liberals.

    Point taken etc.

    Now, can we get back to the real debate?

  • Hywel Morgan 1st Jul '08 - 8:44pm

    “I was asking about finance for the LibDems as a whole, rather than for the Henley By-election in particular. Does the party get any support from the EU financially or in other ways, either directly or indirectly?”

    Well my point still stands – it’s all declared in the accounts posted on the Electoral Commission website. Go and find some evidence.

    I doubt you will be the last person to spell my name wrong 🙂

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