Farron: Corbyn’s relaunch shows that Lib Dems are the real voice of opposition

I have to say I do feel for my friends in the Labour Party – those people whose views on many of the issues of the day are not wildly dissimilar to mine. They stuck with Labour through Iraq and the erosion of civil liberties despite feeling uncomfortable with both of these things. And now they are faced with a leadership delivering them at the feet of Theresa May and her Brexiteers.

When you have devoted a huge amount of your life to working for a political party, you have a huge amount of your social and emotional ties wrapped up in it too. It’s not easy to walk away from.

I understand those ties because I feel them for this party, an organisation to which I have devoted more than two thirds of my life.

I wouldn’t ask or expect my friends to leave Labour – although I think most of them could be quite happy in the Liberal Democrats – because that has to be a personal decision for them. I’d welcome them if they did decide to join us and I will certainly find ways to work with them on the issues where we agree, most notably in opposing the Tory/Labour hegemony on Brexit.

This is the biggest thing that this country has done in my lifetime. The shock waves will be felt for generations. The vote was knife-edge close, so the government should have to prove itself at every step of the way by being scrutinised within an inch of its life – ultimately by the people of this country being asked to ratify the Brexit deal or not. Yet the Labour Party under Corbyn has capitulated and given the Tories free rein.

So I won’t be asking my friends in Labour directly to join us. They can make their own minds up about where their future lies. But I do extend an invitation to all those people out there who vote Labour, or who maybe have never been involved in party politics before but who are deeply uneasy about what they see unfolding before them.

Tim Farron this afternoon recorded a short video in which he outlined the two reasons why Corbyn’s relaunch is bad news. Firstly, the obvious Brexit one, but secondly and as importantly, having a Trump on the left is not a good thing. Populism is bad news wherever it comes from.

He also sent an email to Lib Dem members entitled “We’ve got to talk about Jeremy” saying:

We’ve known for a while that Jeremy Corbyn has never had his heart in fighting to protect Britain’s place in Europe.

But in a speech today, he went even further. Under his leadership, Labour will write the Conservatives a blank cheque on Brexit.

He’s abandoned the single market, he’s abandoned freedom of movement and he’s abandoned pro-European Labour voters.

After today, there’s only one home left for them – the Liberal Democrats. That’s why, I want to extend a hand to Labour voters, who like us – and unlike Jeremy Corbyn, want to see an open, tolerant and united Britain.

Will you help me extend that hand, by asking them to join the real opposition today?

We have an incredible opportunity to build our party and bring in the thousands of progressive Labour voters who share our values, but we need to ask them to join the Liberal Democrats and help lead the real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government.

Alistair Carmichael took apart Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal on pay as only he can.

If the salary cap is just the first idea from the new Trump style Jeremy Corbyn then 2017 may have some much-needed levity. You wonder what is coming next. Building a wall would be the obvious one. Most likely it would be built around to rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party.”

In one regard Corbyn is like Trump – they share an utter disregard for how things actually work, whether it is the rest of the world or other people’s money. He is letting down the millions of ordinary people who need a progressive force that is serious about stopping the Conservative Government. That is when the joke stops being funny.

While the Labour Party want to take lessons from the most divisive political figure in the world, Liberal Democrats will continue to champion an open, tolerant and united society. We can only hope that he doesn’t start to ape Trump’s use of Twitter.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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18 Comments

  • Good comments by Tim – and Alistair is right on the maximum wage.

    I had hoped when Corbyn first surfaced before becoming Leader in 2015 that he would bring fresh challenging ideas, like Bernie Sanders ……but he’s like a bell that chimes with a crack in it.

    The maximum wage is daft and unworkable – as he has been told by his own economic adviser – and an economist I respect – David Blanchflower. It’s back to front – he should be looking at increasiung the minimum wage but with progressive taxation at the top end if he’s looking for some redistribution towards a fairer society.

  • Posy Kestion 10th Jan '17 - 6:51pm

    Where can Mr Trump’s suggestion of a salary cap be found?

  • Would all be welcome? What about those with far left views?

  • It’s fine being the voice of opposition, and using an opportunity to knock the Labour leader, but let’s hear the voice of constructive suggestions from Tim and Nick (when the appropriate time comes). As a Remainer, I would have much preferred us to sort out our (very real) difficulties with the EU while remaining members. But we have moved on, and Brexit has been voted for, so any constructive suggestions will seemingly have to work out a trade-off between immigration control and free trade, unless we can ‘debrexit’ ( which seems unlikely). I think Conservatives and Labour recognise this and they know that working out the polygon which comes acceptably nearest to squaring the circle is very very difficult problem. Meanwhile we just seem to lament Brexit and not say what polygon we want — just oppose, oppose, oppose. Let’s keep our powder dry until some positive proposals are out forward by the government, as they will have to be sooner or later. No time to be holier than thou!

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Jan '17 - 7:20pm

    Corbyn has had a bad day today. I went to bed last night thinking “bashing the super rich and bashing mass immigration, Corbyn could possibly become Prime Minister with that” and then he goes on TV today and seems to backtrack on his approximately 12 hour old migration policy.

    On the wage cap: I’ve supported a very generous wealth cap for a few years now. We can’t just sit back and call it market forces when people accrue 10s of billions of £, Rockerfeller wealth levels.

    So yes, support supply and demand, risk, innovation and hard work, but the party needs to be against “Rockerfeller wealth”, which I think partly led to the breakup of his oil monopolies a long time ago.

  • Corbyn was a rebel all his life, he doesn’t know how to do “leader”. The activists who came out the woodwork to support him are, well, activists, not all your every day voters.

    Today, he was under immense pressure to condemn free movement in order not to disagree with the majority of Labour voters. He was not convincing.

    He clearly dreamt up the salary cap live on air. Again, not a convincing tactic.

    He spent most of his broadcast opportunity reciting his position on the exploited workers, etc. Whatever the rights and wrongs of his policies, it was boring.

  • I despair at the state of the Labour Party, being a floating voter who “used” to identify more with Labour, I just can not give them my vote ever again whilst Corbyn and McDonnel are running the show and whilst it is being dragged to the far left.

    I’m confused as to this articles tone though. I did not see Corbyns interviews today as being decisive on Brexit or Immigration. In fact I thought he was contradicting himself something chronic, He is trying to sit on the fence whilst attempting to give the appearance on an actual direction. It came across as very muddled to me.

    His flip flopping on capping wages to then changing to introducing pay ratio’s shows the lack of clarity and the dangers of making policy up on the hoof. I am all for closing the gap between the rich and poor but this needs to be addressed with realistic and practical measures. It certainly should not be announced on the hop and made up as you go along throughout the day. It showed him up for all his incompetence and showed just how un-electable Labour are at the moment.

    These are difficult times politically for people like me who are passionate leavers but will not ever identify with Conservatives and vote for a Conservative Government.

    My differences with Liberal Democrats over the EU and Immigration are also poles apart and therefore mean I would not vote for this party either, at least until the Brexit issue has been resolved and we have left the EU

    These are not easy times for people who identify themselves to be Centre Left and a Brexiter, as no political party is occupied anywhere near that ground

  • jedibeeftrix 10th Jan '17 - 10:22pm

    According to my facebook feed, there are many newly distraught remainers.
    The same people who’ve spent the last eighteen months flooding my feed with their earnest Corbynista entreaties.
    The recently betrayed have even started posting links to LDV, which has never happened before.
    I don’t know how many of these people there are countrywide, because I live in an extremely pro-remain county and my circle of friends is very academic, but these people do exist (even if they do seem a little fickle).
    The future’s bright, it may even be orange.

  • I’m not a Corbyn fan by any means but at least 80% of his speech today is good. And I say this from a privileged position, clearly not shared by Tim Farron, of actually having read it :-

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/jeremy-corbyns-brexit-speech-full-9597300

    At least he’s trying to do what I really want opposition politicians to be doing right now: he’s talking about all the crucial rights, freedoms and protections (for example worker’s rights) that it’s crucially important we hold on to when we come out of the EU. This is so much more important than clinging on to the fantasy that Brexit can be stopped, or the even greater fantasy that we can have the soft Brexit of our choosing.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Jan '17 - 11:53pm

    David Raw

    I agree with your posting totally

    Eddie

    The late Governor Nelson Rockerfeller was one of the last of the truly decent Republicans , a terrific philanthropist , moderate and progressive Governor of New York, not a very good example of the horrors of wealth

    Matt

    Why do you not then back our party ?

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Jan '17 - 12:05am

    Hi Lorenzo, I’m talking about John Davison Rockefeller, sorry I didn’t have his full name at hand. Not his descendants. I mentioned him because he is known as the richest person in modern history.

  • Conor McGovern 11th Jan '17 - 2:15am

    Eddie Sammon’s bang on with what he calls ‘Rockerfeller wealth’. I would rather we closed tax loopholes and levied taxes on wealth and land value. Jeremy Corbyn fails to specify many details of the wage cap but I guess virtue signalling is part of the point. I’m glad inequality is being pushed back on the agenda by Corbyn- I’d much prefer to see Tim raising a Liberal counter-proposal such as LVT, not just knock down, to be honest.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Jan '17 - 3:37am

    Eddie

    I understand , that’s a good response. The thing is , we have , in all countries , a corruption of responsibility . The most radical thing we , as a Liberal oriented society could do , as Liberals people each of us , and as a Liberal party , is put the emphasis on responsibility.

    Blair , a Liberal in some aspects , was good at this on personal responsibility .He called it the respect agenda. He was good on government responsibility . He improved funding for public services. He was not good on corporate responsibility. Laissez-faire light touch , happy with filthy rich etc., time to put all three in place ourselves !

    We are in a ludicrous scenario when billionaires are now peoples champions if they run a vulgar , mendacious , sleazy election campaign. Or old style socialists with literally no grasp, or maybe experience ,of basic economics or consequences of policy announcements , are champions of tax policies , no one can believe in !

    Tim is correct on one thing . Only the Liberal Democrats are a proper party now. But we must not be unanimous , we must have debate and discussion and be a think tank not a fan club for the EU like Momentum is for Corbyn.

  • Having just seen the response to Tims measured words on Social Media, I despair of the left in British politics. Those who write are clearly nasty, vicious and intolerant of anyone who do not share their support for Corbyn and cannot bring themselves to believe there is any need to discuss or develop ideas. What the master says ,shall be done

  • Jeremy Corbyn seems not to know how to lead positively with a practical vision nor how to critically oppose government. Tim is clear and has the ability to convey simple messages to people, but he and the party must work hard and fast on positive practicable alternatives to the status quo. We are not starting from scratch; we can build on some of our existing policy work; that within the party, avoiding the mistakes of the coalition.
    We need to be realistic about Brexit and focus on people’s feelings about being economically left behind by the EU and Globalisation and their feelings (justified in some ways) that immigration has become excessive. People rightly need to feel our nation has control over economic forces and immigration and what about making more noise on Norman Lamb’s suggestions for a better funded Social Care and Health system.

  • Just a correction to the above. I do not mean we can control global and EU economic forces on our own, but we can do more about their effects on our people.

  • John Mitchell 11th Jan '17 - 4:02pm

    I agree with Jeremy Corbyn in a sense and in our own party I would agree with Vince Cable. From a security standpoint alone I do have serious questions in allowing freedom of movement to continue within the European Union. Wasn’t one of the suspects in one of the French attacks ultimately located in Rome? There needs to be more stringent checks, much more stringent, if freedom of movement within the EU realistically has a future.

    As for our obsession with the single market I really don’t get it. Similarly, the Scottish National Party also have this ailment. Staying within the single market is all about big business primarily and that’s who our politics caters for. When wage growth in the UK is only ahead of Greece since the financial crash (when we are within the single market and the EU) I really don’t see it as a surprise that the centre within politics is falling away in the current circumstances.

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