Opinion: Let’s put members in the driving seat

“Caron’s test” for emails to Party members is good, but I think we can go further.

The underlying problem, as I’ve written before, is that too many of the emails  seem to be written by marketing professionals who are trying to achieve a specific result – often one that can be measured by funds raised.  The reason it’s a problem is that we aren’t just donors – most of us see ourselves as members of an extended family who need to be reassured, engaged and spoken with directly in ways that relate to our own experience as Party members.

It is interesting that fund-raising charities now spend a good deal of their time and money on chatting with supporters about what they do rather than just doing constant appeals based on need.

A recent piece of US experience seems to me to be useful:

Levitt and Dubner in their most recent book in their “Freakonomics” series quote the example of Brian Mullaney of Smile Train with his “once-and-done” strategy.  That involved asking potential donors to make only one donation with the option of ticking a box to say “do not ask for another donation”. That seems counter-productive: in charities, we have learned that first-time donors rarely give enough to cover the cost of making the contact. It’s only with continued donations that the charity makes a surplus on the relationship.

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments
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Statement from Alistair Carmichael following leak inquiry

Following the Cabinet Office’s conclusions regarding the leaking of a Scotland Office memo to the Daily Telegraph, Alistair Carmichael issued the following statement:

The Cabinet Office has today published the conclusions of its inquiry, after an internal account of the First Minister’s discussions with the French Ambassador was published in the Daily Telegraph on 3rd April.

I had not seen the document before it was published in the Daily Telegraph, however I was aware of its content and agreed that my special adviser should make it public.

I should not have agreed this. It was an error of judgement which I regret.

Posted in News | Tagged | 38 Comments

Lynne Featherstone writes…Why I’m backing Norman Lamb for leader

Norman Lamb Lynne FeatherstoneNot for the first time in the history of the party, the Lib Dems are faced with adversity – after the crushing loss of a huge number of our dedicated and hardworking colleagues. But we are a party of survivors – and it has been incredible to see the surge of support for the party in the last two weeks. Over 13,000 people have signed up to the party since the general election. These new members have joined because they see the need for a liberal voice in our country.

I know what it is like to be the only Lib Dem in the Home Office – with Conservatives as your coalition partners and Theresa May as your Secretary of State. And you want to do liberal things – that are not in the coalition agreement!

What I am saying is that doing liberal things in a coalition government with coalition partners who are more often than not diametrically opposed is a huge challenge. Having got our hands on the levers of power – could we use that power liberally?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 26 Comments

Opinion: We mustn’t be afraid to attack the opposition when they deserve it

Many things are being written about the election we have just been through. I for one think this is great; everyone is engaged and wanting to examine what went wrong, how we can learn, what can we do next time. The key is that we’re all committed to rebuilding and giving it all we have again next time. This is really encouraging, so I wanted to add my own little insight and raise a few more questions for our campaign teams, local and national, to address.

My issue concerns the ever-dreaded ‘negative’ campaigning. It’s something we as Liberal Democrats really struggle with, especially at a local level. One of the biggest frustrations for me in all my campaigning roles I’ve held so far, is that the superb team of local councillors and candidates I’ve always worked with are entirely uncomfortable with praising themselves but even more so with blaming the opposition for things that they absolutely should be blamed for.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Opinion: Miriam Gonzalez Durantez drops a few truth bombs on political parties

I’m currently studying abroad in Salamanca, where, as in the rest of the country, there are municipal elections on 24th May. (Yes, polling day is on a Sunday.) My bedroom floor is covered in a variety of different party propaganda (yes, that is the word they use in Spain for it) that I’ve gathered for academic reasons, obviously.

So, I was really excited to read Miriam’s article in El País recently. It most certainly did not disappoint – if you want a lesson in how to drop truth bombs on political parties, look no further.

Just to give a little bit of context – the Partido Popular is currently governing. It’s got “Working, Making, Growing” posters up around half the city, shouting from the rooftops about its economic success. Miriam notes that although progress has been made, it’s rather odd to be making that a central campaign plank while overall unemployment rests around 20% and youth unemployment around 50%.

She also attacks them for their failure to confront the ‘crisis of values’ facing the Spanish political system, talking of a ‘radical disconnect between the political class and citizens.’ She refers to Chris Huhne briefly, stating that the levels of corruption in the Spanish system could never occur in a country where a politician can go to jail for exchanging points on their driving licence.

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LibLink: Catherine Bearder MEP: How can Britain celebrate Magna Carta and contemplate leaving ECHR in the same year?

Catherine Bearder MEP has co-written an article for the New Statesman on the Conservatives’ plans to abolish the Human Rights Act. She said:

Fundamental rights, the rule of law and democratic principles are frequently violated in nearly all EU member states. In some cases, the violations are serious and systematic.  The current Hungarian government is one of the most egregious offenders. In recent years we have seen critical media gagged, the electoral law changed to secure an absolute majority for the governing party, opposition parties weakened and the independence of the judiciary undermined. But there are many other examples across Europe: the anti-gay laws in Lithuania, the deportation of Roma people from France, the inhumane treatment of underage asylum seekers in the Netherlands and the collective disregard shown for the law and civil liberties in many countries’ counter-terrorism policies.

We lose our moral authority if we tolerate torture, secret prisons, abduction, and indefinite detention without fair trials. These ugly blots tarnish Europe’s status as a shining beacon of freedom and human rights in the world. EU governments must be held accountable for these crimes, including and especially those committed in the name of defending democracy.

That is why we need legal instruments to uphold our common values, even if this means that sometimes national authorities are overruled.  EU member states have voluntarily signed up to these supranational laws and conventions for good reason.  It is the essence of democracy that those in power are bound by laws and their powers are limited.  That may sometimes be awkward, but these checks and balances are the vital safeguards which protect us against abuse of power by the state.

These principles are not left or right-wing, nor are they alien to British culture. Quite the opposite: safeguarding citizens’ rights and the rule of law have their roots in that ancient, famous document that we are celebrating this year.

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Opinion: What sort of leadership do the Lib Dems need?

Attention for many Lib Dems is now turning to the leadership election: the relative merits of the two candidates, their personal histories and political preferences.  This reflects the traditional approach to leadership: what is it that makes an individual a ‘great’ man or woman?

Particularly useful for understanding how leaders act is the dichotomy between ‘transformative’ and ‘transactional’ leadership.  Transformational leaders tend to be seen as ‘active’: not only do they have a clear vision, but they also innovate by undertaking political change. In many ways they challenge their followers by acting independently of them; Paddy Ashdown’s abandonment of equidistance in 1992 may have been just such a case. Transactional leadership may be ‘passive’ but this doesn’t mean that it is means standing still. It can be incremental, building steadily on previous changes. Charles Kennedy’s leadership was probably an example of this.

However, leadership doesn’t operate in a vacuum. In political science we pay attention to the wider context or environment that leaders have to work within.  These may be close, like the leader’s ‘followers’ (party membership), or they may be more distant, such as the political order (constitution, composition of government, etc) and wider social and economic forces underpinning it.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 15 Comments

Who Lib Dem Voice members think should be the next leader

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of the General Election results. Some 1065 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

OK, so before we go any further, we all know how dreadful polling has been recently, and I’m also including our results on the Presidential election last year.

Also these numbers are based on a sample of 1,065 out of 57,773 members, before nominations have closed, and any hustings have taken place.

First Preferences

Which of the eight Liberal Democrat MPs would you like to see as the next leader?

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Introducing Liberal 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.
Liberal Reform

Liberal Reform was founded early in the previous parliament as a grassroots group to focus on “four-cornered liberalism (personal, political, social and economic freedom), arguing for modern, dynamic liberalism that draws on our party’s long heritage arguing for broad individual freedom.

Virtually all Liberals believe in “four-cornered liberalism” but we, more than some others in the party, believe that economic freedom — open markets, free trade and proper competition — has to be a key component of modern liberalism. First, because as liberals we believe in freedom in itself as a force for good. And secondly, because economic liberalism has proven itself in recent history as the only reliable way in which societies can generate the resources needed to provide real individual freedom and security to every citizen.

Posted in Lib Dem organisations | Tagged and | 23 Comments

Opinion: Here’s to our fallen comrades

Nearly two weeks have passed since the general election and while much has been analysed in reaction to that fateful day, as the party looks to turn a corner, it is also worth looking back and mentioning all of those good Liberal Democrats now out of office.

The election of 2015 will leave its mark in history for being the election of political scalps. Countless big names lost their jobs while the press looked on in disbelief as three leaders resigned all within a couple of hours of one another (and one even reinstated himself!). However we must also reflect on the loss of a large number of Liberal Democrats and their backroom teams whom the country will sourly miss. From Charles Kennedy in the North of Scotland to David Laws in the South West, Britain has lost many a servant to liberalism and the remaining eight MPs must shout louder than ever to have their voice heard.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Some thoughts on the art of the apology

It is undoubtedly a good thing that Richard Brett, the Chair of the English Candidates Committee has sent out an apology to candidates for the very poor tone of the email they received on Monday. But did it pass muster?

Initial reports suggest that it is not being particularly well-received by candidates. You know how in an email you have to hook people in that first sentence? I’m not sure that this quite cuts it:

I am aware that the e-mail sent out on Monday upset some of you with its tone and I am very sorry if this was the case for you.

It doesn’t exactly say “I’m sorry you were upset”, but it’s a bit stilted. Sometimes it’s best to just say something like: “We got this wrong, and we are very sorry. We will learn for the future.”

Commendably, though, it explicitly stated what we knew already that the wording had absolutely nothing to do with the member of staff who sent it out, but had been agreed between Richard and his vice-chair Margaret Joachim. It’s good to see that personal acceptance of responsibility.

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

Opinion: #libdempint shows new members are proud of our record in coalition

On Monday night, four friends and I (all new members) hosted #libdempint, an informal event for fellow newbies in London. The original plan was to meet up together and share a drink or two. We thought we might get a couple of random strangers come along and make pleasant but slightly awkward political conversation with us. Instead, we had 100 fellow newcomers attend, three official speakers (Rob Blackie, Elaine Bagshaw and Tom Brake MP), and a couple of pretty interesting gatecrashers – a couple of lovely fellows called Tim Farron and Nick Clegg.

Needless to say, we hadn’t really expected any of this. Interest in what we’d set up has been phenomenal – national media have been interested but more importantly our follow up event next week is already fully booked, and so we’re putting on a third in the coming weeks.

All of this speaks to the very real sense of (perhaps renewed) energy that abounds in the party at the moment, as thousands of new members continue to sign up.

But among the hundreds of email conversations the five of us have had with some of these newbies over the last 10 days, as well as the face-to-face discussions we all had on Monday night, something else has become clear to us: a common thread woven through the motives of many of these people signing up to support the Liberal Democrat party.

That thread is a palpable determination to not let the last five years be brushed under the carpet.  Many of the people I spoke to on Monday night expressed this with no little passion. There seems to be both a fear that the party may react by recoiling from its time in government, and a consensus that to do so would not only be a waste, it would send a signal that the party believes it made a mistake going into coalition. We didn’t. We made a difference. We must always – always – be proud of that.

Posted in Op-eds | 34 Comments

Opinion: Fighting to win you back

The Liberal Democrats and the public have been going through a messy divorce. Things haven’t been right for some time and there is no shying away from it.

Perhaps the problems started when we were unfaithful and began a fleeting affair with the Tories? And when the lies began, including over how to fund the children’s university education, it was clear that there had been a breakdown in trust which we were always going to struggle to repair (things are always more complex when kids are involved).

I know we didn’t pay you enough attention, preferring to spend time on the things that mattered to us likes Lords Reform and the AV referendum. Instead we should have tried to love the things that you were passionate about like making sure there were jobs for everyone, lowering the cost of living, putting food on the table and improving healthcare and schooling. They should have mattered to us, because they mattered to you. We should have taken you to the ballet, even though we loath it!

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

LoveProudly: An interview with Stephen Donnan about the fight for Marriage Equality in Ireland (North and South)

Tomorrow Ireland votes on whether to allow equal marriage. I recently interviewed Stephen Donnan who is one of the founders of LoveProudly , a grassroots group dedicated to marriage equality across all of Ireland. He is also a former Chair of the LGBT group in the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

Mathew: Stephen, tell us a bit about this new initiative.

Stephen: Well, basically, Mathew loveproudly was set up by myself and a number of other activists from Belfast, Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland to facilitate and support the calls for Equal Marriage in both Northern Ireland and in the Republic.

We want to promote and campaign for Marriage Equality and highlight the existing inequalities in the law in both jurisdictions, but in a positive and constructive way.

We don’t want to indulge in the campaign of fear and division; that isn’t what loveproudly is about and we want to follow in the example set by MarriageEquality and Equal Marriage NI.

MH: It sounds great, Stephen, so is this a cross-party campaign?

SD: It’s strictly independent of endorsing or being endorsed by any one political party.

I am not doing this within the confines of a political party, however we have had input and support from various political representatives across the spectrum and across the border.

MH: So what campaigning have you done and will you be doing?

SD: Our first aim was to get the message out about who we are and what we are aiming to achieve and I think we did that successfully when we launched on Valentine’s Day.

Our next step is formulating a plan with the two campaigns.

There is a Marriage Equality referendum in the Republic of Ireland on May 22nd and while we are optimistic we are still very far from an assured Yes vote.

We will be canvassing with the YesEquality campaign in the south and getting the word out on why a Yes vote is so crucial.

MH: How’s it looking in the Republic…and what influence has Equal Marriage having become law in England, Scotland and Wales had on people there?

SD: It is clear that we are living in changed times.

The recognition of same sex marriage in the rest of the UK, and in places as unimaginable as Slovenia and North Carolina, has had a massive impact on the debate here.

If Ireland and NI want to be seen as part of Europe, part of a diverse future where same-sex couples can celebrate their relationships freely and safely, then there’s nothing to lose from a Yes vote in the referendum.

Polls are showing that it will pass but that could lead to complacency and that would be fatal for us.

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Opinion: Conservative health policies are short on detail

What have the Conservatives said on health so far? Their manifesto makes big promises – but is vague on detail.

NHS England’s Five Year Forward View called for £8 billion more annually by 2020 (alongside £22 billion efficiency savings) to maintain NHS standards.

Liberal Democrats were the first to sign up to this – and we set out clearly how to fund it. The Conservatives matched this – but give no details on funding this other than the ‘recovering economy’.

Lamb also called for a (much-needed!) cross-party Review of NHS & Social Care funding.

David Cameron yesterday proposed 7-day hospital services and 7-day extended hours GP access, offering 5,000 extra GP’s.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 5 Comments

What Lib Dem Voice members think about Nick Clegg stepping down as leader

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of the General Election results. Some 1065 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Was Nick Clegg right in standing down on Friday?

Posted in LDV Members poll | Tagged | 63 Comments

Tim Farron talks to Pink News about his record on LGBT issues, disestablishing the Church of England and the Lib Dems’ “massive embarrassment”

Tim Farron has given an extensive interview to Pink News in which he directly addresses his voting record on LGBT issues and announces some key policy initiatives he wants to take forward.

His three ideas are:

One, when it comes to the equal marriage legislation, I think we really missed a trick on trans issues. On the spousal veto, I think it’s an appalling thing that one person is allowed to block another person’s freedom. We should be making that a priority.

Secondly, it strikes me as deeply troubling is that there was no regulation of psychotherapists in the UK for quack conversion therapy.

Thirdly, we’ve got to end the gay blood ban, which is a disgrace. My pledge to you is that my first opposition day bill will be getting rid of the gay blood ban. All of these things need to be based on the science, not on prejudice.

One issue which has been widely discussed in recent days on social media is the fact that he voted against the motion to give time and money to the Same Sex Marriage Bill, although he never actually opposed the Bill itself, voting in favour at second reading and abstaining at third reading.

He says it’s because he was unhappy that there was insufficient time to fully scrutinise several aspects of it:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 71 Comments

Norman Lamb praised by Guardian for his work as care minister

There’s praise in the Guardian for Norman Lamb’s work on mental health and for his efforts on social care. They assess him as a good but not a great minister – although they then go on to make pretty clear that the things he couldn’t deliver were because they were blocked by the Tories. Norman’s judgement on what needed to be done seems to have been pretty much exemplary:

First, on mental health:

Once in post, Lamb threw himself into the role with gusto. He combined a heavy Westminster workload – not least ensuring passage of the watershed Care Act – with a remorseless programme of visits to observe care practice and engage with professionals, carers and people who use services. He always seemed accessible: approached by strangers on the train from his North Norfolk constituency to London, he would happily set aside his papers and chat.

Ray James, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, says: “Norman combined insight and integrity to help ensure a landmark piece of social care legislation was delivered with people across the sector. The time he took to listen to those working at the frontline was always invaluable and appreciated. He can look back knowing that he made a difference.”

One difference that Lamb undoubtedly made, or at least helped in no small part to make, was the greatly enhanced profile of mental health. Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, describes him as “a fantastic advocate” who was clearly passionate about the cause. “As minister, he was involved in a number of key drives to improve mental health services, from the crisis care concordat to the introduction of the first waiting times and access standards for mental health.”

Posted in News | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Opinion: Could we have a #libdemfightback conference, please?

On 16 May 2010, 10 days after the general election, the Lib Dems organised a special conference to debate the Coalition Agreement. It was put together in four days.

As Duncan Brack, then Chair of the Federal Conference Committee put it “In holding this special conference we are demonstrating again that we are a democratic party which listens to and trusts its members.”  It also gave the impression of a party which is nimble enough to react swiftly to major developments.

On the morning after the general election on 7 May 2015, I woke up to the sad news that we no longer had a Lib Dem MP, the Parliamentary party had been decimated to just 8 and Nick Clegg was announcing his resignation. The perspective that the Conservatives had been given enough MPs to inflict their darkest, illiberal whims on the country for the next five years was even worse.

On Facebook, Mark Pack posted the news that the new Lib Dem leader will be elected by July. Yes, I thought, we do need a new leader to fight this situation urgently.

Posted in News | 12 Comments

Opinion: Now is the time for social liberals to organise, and quickly

A member for 13 years, this is only the fifth time (out of five) that I have been a candidate and lost; it’s only the ninth set of elections that I have been involved with, all of which have been characterised by losses.  I realise that I am only a beginner compared to many folk in this wonderful political family of ours.

In our part of the world, there are elections (of some form or other) almost every year.  And I admit, particularly after the results became clear last Thursday, to have started to flag a bit.

But as the days have gone by since polling day, I have gradually begun to take heart.

Much has been made of the encouraging numbers of people that are joining the party.  The era of everything being the Lib Dems’ fault is now well and truly over.  As a result of Nick’s gracious resignation, we have the opportunity of a leadership election in which we can, as a party, make an important decision about the future.

Posted in Leadership Election and Op-eds | Tagged and | 46 Comments

Opinion: The Human Rights Act – undemocratic and illiberal

COE-Logo-Quadri

Liberals (with a small “L”) believe that society should not be governed by immutable dogma. New laws can be created when required and old laws changed or removed. Immutable revelation only applies to religion.

Not everyone believes that laws should be subject to the uncertainty of the democratic process. For decades the Soviet Union relied on the absolute principles of Marx and Lenin. Some religions provide God-given legal codes. But for liberals, laws are the work of humans and must be subject to democratic change.

It is therefore strange that the Liberal Democratics support the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which cannot be amended or corrected by our democratic process, or indeed any democratic process. Changes to its existing provisions must be unanimously agreed by members of the Council of Europe (which despite its name is completely independent of the EU): its 47 member states include countries as diverse as Russia, Turkey and Monaco.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 60 Comments

Opinion: What does Nick do next?

Given our new position in parliament with eight MPs, we’ll be handing out multiple portfolios to whoever can possibly take them – and I suspect, Lords, AMs and MSPs as well, where necessary. This is by no means a bad thing. We have fantastic members in all parliamentary institutions, and the devolved ones in particular could do with being taken more seriously. The only issue being they cannot then hold their respective ministers to account. The main question that strikes me now though is with a more or less inevitable EU referendum and being the most unapologetically pro-EU party – who takes the EU portfolio?

It has been suggested that Nick could lead the ‘In’ campaign in such a referendum, I assume doing a similar job as Alistair Darling did for Better Together. On paper, I can’t imagine anyone more qualified despite the fact I don’t think any such unified campaign being a good idea. For the purposes of this article however, I’ll work with the idea. For the merits that are pointed out in the above article;

Throughout his time in government he was an enormous asset to Cameron in international diplomacy, especially – but not exclusively – with Europe. Foreign policy was never Cameron’s forte, either as leader of the Opposition or during his first term as PM. “Abroad” was where Cameron made most of his misjudgements – all by himself.

There are few people better qualified on foreign policy and in particular Europe than Clegg. I’m hesitant to mention Tony Blair, setting aside one major caveat, perhaps a close rivalry. For obvious reasons, Blair doesn’t even make the short list for such a hypothetical position.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 31 Comments

Opinion: The right is winning on Facebook and votes, but the left on Twitter

facebook and twitterI have been thinking why it seems that right wing parties are more toxic than left wing parties. Is this true? Or is it simply my prejudices? Is there anything in the “shy Tory” phenomenon?

It does seem that popular culture is more left leaning, but I thought some numbers would help us understand society better and also help Liberal Democrats decide who to vote for in the upcoming leadership election.

For this analysis I have used the Facebook likes, Twitter followers and 2015 General Election votes for the following parties: Conservatives, UKIP, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Liberal Democrats, Labour, the SNP, The Green Party of England and Wales, the Scottish Green Party and Plaid Cymru. I didn’t use Sinn Fein because they campaign throughout the whole of Ireland and I didn’t use any other parties that I deemed to be “minor”.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 22 Comments

Video: Young activists say thanks to Nick Clegg

The production values aren’t maybe the slickest, but that doesn’t matter.  This heartfelt video made by young activists shows what Nick’s leadership has meant to them. Some people have agreed with Nick more than others over the years, but there is no doubt that there is much to thank him for.

Enjoy.

Posted in News | Tagged | 4 Comments

Rennie: Scottish Liberal Democrats are listening

It’s 4 years since Willie Rennie became Scottish Liberal Democrat leader this week. He was elected in the wake of a crushing electoral defeat and he celebrates this anniversary in the wake of another one. That is despite him regularly being credited with landing some real blows on the SNP administration at Holyrood with not even 5% of MSPs. Let’s just look at some of the accolades he and his small team have received.

Within weeks of him becoming leader the journalists were full of praise:

A doughty campaigner, with an unpatronising down-to-earth style, Mr Rennie may grow into an impressive leader, building a level of credibility… The Herald

Amid what was… a general air of gloom, there was one bright spark.  This was the performance of Willie Rennie, the new leader of the much depleted Liberal Democrats, whose brief sojourn in the Commons seems to have at least taught him how to frame decent questions, on this occasion about Mr MacAskill’s outrageous behaviour.”  Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph (not a known fan of the Liberal Democrats, to put it mildly)

“The former Scottish Lib Dem chief executive has made a decent start and showed he wasn’t afraid to throw a punch”  Andrew Whitaker, Scotsman

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Opinion: Thinking on a delusion

On the morning after the General Election, feeling rather shell-shocked by the results, I turned on the radio and caught John Dowland’s lute song In darkness let me dwell. The music captured the feeling of the moment, but context was more thought-provoking: a Radio 4 programme The glass delusion, exploring a seventeenth-century phenomenon of people thinking they were turning into glass.

The link to Dowland was because melancholia was seen as a disease of the imagination. That flowering of melancholic music and the glass delusion were reflections of what was going on in society at the time.

Delusions are manufactured symptoms which make life bearable: they beg the question of what someone with a delusion is escaping from. Freud’s influential essay Mourning and Melancholia suggests that the two look very similar, but in mourning there is a clear sense of what has been lost, but in melancholia it is something unknown, or unacknowledged, so melancholia is more generalised.

This leaves me thinking about the election. We face some big issues: globalisation, climate change, the European Union, and the potential breakup of the UK. These were barely mentioned. Even talk of the NHS focused on money and fantasies of threats, ducking the real issues of increased life expectancy and fear of death.

Posted in Op-eds | 22 Comments

What Lib Dem Voice members would like to see our defeated MPs do now

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of the General Election results. Some 1065 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Of the former MPs which stood for election, but failed to regain their seats we asked if you would like to see them Enter the House of Lords; Run for Mayor of London; Start work on 2020; Go on I’m a Celebrity or have no answer.
There was only one choice per MP, and I regret not asking about the Scottish Parliament / Welsh Assembly.

Below are the selected highlights:

Posted in LDV Members poll | Tagged | 9 Comments

Introducing LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

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

The Liberals were the first party to support gay rights in a general election manifesto. The Lib Dems opposed Section 28 from the start, were the first to call for legal gender recognition for trans people, literally wrote the law on civil partnerships and were the first major party to support same-sex marriage, which was pushed through in Government by Lynne Featherstone as Equalities minister.

It’s clear that as a party we’ve always been there for LGBT+ people, and we always will. Liberalism is inherently opposed to conformity, and our party is constitutionally supportive of people regardless of gender orsexuality. However, there is room for an organisation which proactively advances the cause of equality and liberation.

LGBT+ Lib Dems, like its predecessor organisations, exists to promote the needs of LGBT+ people. We have ensured that the Lib Dems have been ahead of professional organisations such as Stonewall. As a recognised party body we submit policy straight to the Conference floor. We help the Lib Dems get the details right to make the best difference to LGBT+ peoples’ lives.

Posted in Lib Dem organisations and Op-eds | Tagged | 5 Comments

How not to motivate your exhausted, defeated candidates…

Let’s be honest, every single person who stood for the Liberal Democrats at the last election is a superstar. It would have been all to easy for people to decide to sit this one out because it was unlikely that we were ever going to make much in the way of progress outside our held seats. As it turned out, despite all the effort that wonderful teams on the ground put in, our parliamentary ranks were much depleted.

Yes, we will fight back, but we are all still really feeling it. Ed’s poignant piece On Being Beaten outlined the far-reaching effects of a bruising electoral defeat. At this time the Liberal Democrat family needs to be pulling together and looking after each other.

Sadly, looking after each other is something we haven’t been so good at in the past. We’ve tended to leave people who have put everything into their campaigns to lick their own wounds when they’ve lost, without showing enough appreciation and gratitude.

I thought we’d done better this time. Our peers, who were also campaign superstars, campaigning up and down the country, spent the weekend after the election phoning and thanking every candidate. I know how much that meant to my two.

It really looked like we had learned something. Another good thing about this election was that there were no inappropriate campaign emails to devastated members, candidates and activists. That is, until yesterday.

After every election, candidates are always asked to give feedback on the campaign and local parties are asked to give a report on their candidates. So far, so routine. Except yesterday’s “invitation” to participate was written in a most unappealing and demotivating manner, threatening people that if they didn’t complete the process (with one deadline being next Monday), they’d be dumped from the approved list. Here’s an excerpt:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 64 Comments

Opinion: “Britain isn’t a democracy – we can’t possibly say that!” Yes we can!

When I was at secondary school in the early 1970s, my history teacher was a man with a passion for his subject who always encouraged critical discussion. So while he taught us enthusiastically about British “democracy”, he was indulgent towards me when I challenged his assertion following the February 1974 election: the one where the Tories came top with 11.9 million votes (297 seats), Labour “won” with 11.6 million votes (301 seats) and the Liberals’ six million votes delivered 14 members of the House of Commons.

The reality is that the outcome of every election before and since 1974 has been unfair to a greater or lesser extent. Labour got more than nine times as many seats as the Liberal-SDP Alliance in 1983 with just 2% more of the vote. Tony Blair had a comfortable overall majority with 35.2% in 2005 while David Cameron fell well short five years later with 36.1%.

The 2015 election is more striking than most. The SNP got 95% of Scotland’s seats on just under half the vote. Each SNP MP represents roughly 25,000 voters while almost 3.9 million ballots were cast to get Douglas Carswell into Parliament. 51 of the 55 seats in South-West England are Conservative and Labour is the only other party with representation in that region.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 35 Comments
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  • User AvatarStephen Hesketh 23rd May - 8:09am
    Interesting background socio-political analysis from Guy immediately followed by Bill le Breton's excellent comments and (Gareth Epps) links. I will be visiting/revisiting these over the...
  • User AvatarHelen Dudden 23rd May - 7:51am
    A country with history. Things are not easy there at present, again, not an article. I comment on Brussels 11a and the Hague Convention it...
  • User AvatarTCO 23rd May - 7:22am
    @Alex Macfie yes I'm well aware of the Liberal Revival starting in local government. But basing any hopes of national revival on that track is...
  • User AvatarTCO 23rd May - 6:56am
    @Mark Argent that's a very perceptive analysis. There's a seductive line of thought that wishes to "takes us back to the days of Kennedy" when,...
  • User AvatarDavid-1 23rd May - 1:44am
    What truly bothers me is that we have part of the UK government essentially spying on the Scottish government (via the French!), and everyone seems...
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    Roland: "It’s a oath of allegiance not some aspirational mumbo jumbo." No, it is. That's exactly what it is. The problem is that you don't...
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