Liberal Democrats unveil high-profile supporters

The degree to which celebrity endorses for a political party really help is often debated. There is the occasional figure who, through their popularity and respect in which they are held, almost certainly does have an impact on people. More generally, it’s the overall pattern which helps show which way the political winds are blowing.

On both scores, it’s good to see the latest set of high-profile people who have come out as voting Liberal Democrat this time:

Floella Benjamin – presenter and children’s rights campaigner: “I am supporting the Liberal Democrats because one of their key pledges is to give all children a fair chance in life. Their ‘pupil premium’ will give extra funding to disadvantaged children to ensure that no child is left behind because of their background or their parents’ bank balance and that’s change I can believe in.”

Professor Richard Dawkins FRS – scientist and author: “I shall vote Lib Dem mostly because scrapping the ludicrous ‘first past the post’ system will turn us into a proper democracy whose benefits will long outlast the next parliament, and also because my local candidate in Oxford is Evan Harris, one of the few MPs in any party who doesn’t pander to ‘faith’.”

Brian Eno – artist and musician: “Parliamentary democracy depends on both a Government and an Opposition – an arrangement intended to subject policies and legislation to critical scrutiny. For many years now, there hasn’t been a real Opposition: the two old parties have agreed on almost all significant issues, and run headlong together into disaster. We need a new voice, somebody to think differently, and the Lib Dems can offer that.”

Colin Firth – actor: “As a once committed Labour voter I, like so many, have been appalled by the abandonment of the values they advocated while in opposition. For me, their conduct on asylum alone is reason enough never to be able to contemplate voting for them again. Those who, like me, have despaired of political alternatives, should take a second look. I believe they could open a space for real dialogue, where values of compassion and tolerance take centre ground.”

Bella Freud – designer: “I support Nick Clegg because his policies are clear, fair and innovative.”

Esther Freud – author (Hideous Kinky, Love Falls): “I am supporting the Liberal Democrats because they were the only party brave enough to vote against the war in Iraq.”

Armando Iannucci – writer/director (The Thick of It, In the Loop): “I’ll be voting Lib Dem this election because they represent the best chance in a lifetime to make lasting and fair change to how the UK is governed.”

Bianca Jagger – human rights, social justice and climate change advocate: “For those of us who firmly believe in human rights, the rule of law, and the protection of the environment, the Liberal Democrats are the only party who can be trusted. They were the only major political party to oppose the war in Iraq, and they are still the only party committed to a full public inquiry into allegations of British complicity in torture. Nick Clegg is the only leader willing to challenge Labour and Conservative commitment to renewing Trident and the use of nuclear power. He has consistently spoken out for our civil liberties and human rights. That is why Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrat party have my full support.”

John Lloyd – writer/producer (Blackadder, QI, Spitting Image): “This is a revolutionary moment. The first time for real change in 100 years.”

Art Malik – actor: “Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have shown that they are the only party with the courage and understanding to tell the truth, stand up for our rights, and reform this unequal political system. By supporting the Lib Dems I hope that we can finally achieve the representative democracy that we all deserve.”

Kate Mosse – author: “I’m voting Lib Dem because of their defence of Civil Liberties, determination to reform the voting system, resolve to put green policies at the heart of mainstream politics, the visibility of women MPs on serious media discussions, their attempts to be honest about tough (and unpopular) subjects and their grown up attitude to Europe.”

Beth Orton – singer/songwriter

Daniel Radcliffe – actor

Some of these names are not surprising (e.g. Floella Benjamin has been doing many events for the party around the country for a little while now), some are the natural extension of what has been previously reported (e.g. Daniel Radcliffe) and some will appeal particularly to particular sections of the public (e.g Richard Dawkins and Bianca Jagger).

All in all it’s a cheery list; these are good, talented people who are voting Liberal Democrat.

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This entry was posted in General Election.
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43 Comments

  • I thought Colin Firth was some kind of socialist? Aw well. Hasn’t Billy Bragg said he’ll vote Lib Dem too? 🙁

  • Billy Bragg has publicly stated he’s voted LibDem in the last few general elections and intends (and has urged others to) do the same this Thursday.
    (I too am a socialist voting LibDem almost purely as a demand for PR.)

  • While the endorsement of Richard Dawkins will please some sections of the community it will alienate anyone who has a religious belief or who respects the beliefs of others.

    The Roman Catholic community in the United Kingdom, for example, was at one time forbidden from voting or providing education and still greatly values its state schools (which include schools in many poor areas). People who value faith schools will think twice about a party that in effect seems to wish to restrict religious freedom (of course rich people can still send there children to private religious schools, but this is no help to Catholics who are poor). The endorsement of Dawkins has regretfully tipped me against voting Lib Dem (as I had intended to do). I will also be advising others not to vote Lib Dem, Harry Potter notwithstanding.

  • I agree with david. Dawkins’ endorsement will hurt the Lib Dems, not help them, because he is so radically opposed to any kind of religious belief that people will associate the Liberal democrats with that attitude, an attitude which is quite out of step with the general trend of public opinion, which appears to me to be, ‘if you have a faith, that’s fine, as long as it is not forced on others’. Although Nick Clegg is a non-believer he is hardly radically opposed to believers – his wife is Catholic – so he gives the party a moderate face. That will be damaged by Dawkins’ support, in particular because of his explicit comment about politicians ‘pandering to faith’.

  • “(I too am a socialist voting LibDem almost purely as a demand for PR.)”

    I’m a socialist, not voting LibDem because of their anti-trade unionism, and unnecessary cuts in public services in order to fund a middle class tax cut disguised as philanthropy. How do you reckon that voting Lib Dem will get you PR? Cameron has said he won’t go into coalition with the Lib Dems, the Lib Dems aren’t going to be able to squeeze voting reform out of Cameron.

    If Clegg hadn’t have ruled out working with Labour, you could have had voting reform. But in a moment of hubris, he did.

    The only chance for voting reform is if Gordon Brown, as the incumbent, is able to form a government.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 5:29pm

    Mike – you clearly have a problem with reading and comprehension. The Lib Dem leadership has at no point ruled out working with government, purely with Gordon Brown, if his party were to have come third. Personally I don’t care, provided a number of core Lib Dem pledges are kept.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 5:32pm

    David – the Liberal Democrats have a number of Christian candidates, including Roman Catholics. Dawkins is not a candidate and his views must not be taken as representative of the party.

  • You won’t vote for them, because Dawkins is? That makes no sense.

    And is there anywhere where Dawkins (let alone the Lib Dems) has called for making it illegal for people to worship? Criticism is not the same as wanting to ban it – just as people are free to be religious, Dawkins is free to criticism such beliefs.

    His views seem to fit perfectly with “if you have a faith, that’s fine, as long as it is not forced on others” – his criticisms are specifically those areas where he feels it does cause harm for others.

  • “Mike – you clearly have a problem with reading and comprehension. The Lib Dem leadership has at no point ruled out working with government, purely with Gordon Brown, if his party were to have come third. Personally I don’t care, provided a number of core Lib Dem pledges are kept.”

    He’s ruled out working with Gordon Brown, who as the PM has the right to try and form a government first. If the liberals don’t support Gordon Brown, the floor is open for David Cameron.

    I posted this comment earlier, but I think the names I called you have had it disappear under moderation. And you don’t care as long as pledges are kept? Haha. Under this mythical Liberal Democrat majority? When Clegg pledged not to support Brown he showed Cameron that he wouldn’t need to concede anything to the liberals.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 6:11pm

    Mike, it is hard to rather difficuly to follow your stream of consciousness style radiorant, but all that has been said, and is perfectly logical as far as I am concerned, is
    a) if Gordon Brown comes third, he will not be supported by the Liberal Democrats as Prime Minister
    b) a number of core Liberal Democrat pledges must be met if another party wishes to be supported in parliament

    That neither precludes supporting the Conservatives or Labour, nor to does it add up to support for them come what may. For the rest, you are simply indulging in high volume FUD.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 6:16pm

    Mike,

    It is quite possible, to meet your desired Lab/Lib government (I am not saying it is my preference, I am not saying it is not, just that it is one logical possibility):
    1. Gordon Brown, having come third, asks for Lib Dem support, but is denied
    2. HMQE2 asks David Cameron to try to form a government, but he refuses to bend regarding a number of matters that the Liberal Democrats hold as sine qua non
    3. HMQE2 asks Hilary Benn/Alistair Darling/Alan Johnson/David Milliband/Ed Milliband/whoever to form a government. He agrees to LD’s sine qua non and he is given by supply with Liberal Democrat support.

    Is that so difficult, or are you just throwing a party political tantrum?

  • You’re forgetting that Nick Clegg has said that the “party with the largest mandate has the moral right to seek to govern” or words to that effect. With the unionists, Cameron would need- what- ten individual Liberals not to vote against? Or just five to vote for, something like that (going by today’s polls).

    Clegg could have had a coalition with Brown, rather than just supporting him. David Cameron’s second go at forming a government shouldn’t be hard, with 31% or whatever it was of you lot favouring supporting the Tories.

    If you’re trying to pose as more honest than the two old parties, it would be an idea for your leader to tell people exactly what they’re going to do rather than all this scheming. If he’s actually planning to try and vote down Brown and Cameron in order to get Miliband or whoever, then it’s hardly honest and democratic to try and con votes out of people by hinting at supporting Cameron.

    And I don’t desire a Lab/Lib government at all. I want the liberals nowhere near government, ideally.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 7:04pm

    Mike, you may dream on, Labour have frequently proved themselves incompetent, dangerous and dishonest over the last thirteen years, and the electors are going to deliver a damning verdict on them. It may well be that Labour do form part of the next government, alongside the Liberal Democrats, but be assured that if that were to happen, that the Liberal Democrat parliamentary faction would act as a strong moral compass to guide those Labourites without one.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 7:06pm

    Mike, to be honest, this just seems like the usual Labour, “Oh, we love you really, but if you don’t believe that we really mean it this time, we’ll just throw a hissy fit.”, i.e. usual Labour cant.

  • Which way is this moral compass pointing? Left or right? You lot seem to want us to think both, you tell us you’re the replacements for Labour and the heirs of Thatcher and plan for propping up the Tories til they rebuffed you. You promise to spend billions on a tax cut for the middle classes and dress up the 6% of what it costs that goes to the poorest 20% as a great philanthropic gesture taking those people out of tax when the public services you would have to cut to fund it do far more good for those people.

    Liberal Democrats are the snakes of politics. You talk of being progressive and different, yet you plan to pile up even more legal restrictions on trade unions and cut more savagely than you need to. You’re just playing games with the electorate, and I for one will be laughing my head off when all those facebook kids who have got all excited about Clegg since they’ve heard rumours that he wants to legalise weed realise you’re not going to prevent a Tory government from deciding the course of the recovery.

  • “Mike, to be honest, this just seems like the usual Labour, “Oh, we love you really, but if you don’t believe that we really mean it this time, we’ll just throw a hissy fit.”, i.e. usual Labour cant.”

    Believe me, I don’t “love you really” any more than I love the Tories. I’m pointing out how Clegg messed up his chance to actually deliver voting reform by getting too big for his boots.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 7:29pm

    Neither left, nor right, which is simply a political axis whose time has passed, but liberal and democratic, pragmatic in application. For the rest, I certainly have no need to accept morality from the Labour’s pulpit of deception, abuse, greed and corruption. As to your football style tribalism, why don’t you go and join the Tories, they seem to enjoy that sort of stuff, too. Leave the grown ups to do politics, eh?

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 7:30pm

    “voting reform” – ah you mean Labour trying to cement its current gerrymander with AV?

    Reform?

  • Steve Comer 3rd May '10 - 7:30pm

    Mike, like may old Labour types just doesn’t undrstand us does he?

    Many Lib Dems like me were delighted at the scale of the Tory defeat in 1997. We knew the Tories would probably be out of power for at least 10 years. We also knew we stood to gain seats during a period of Labour government for the first time ever, (In contrast to 1929, 1970, and 1979).

    There was an opportunity to move on the constitution, yet 13 years later we still have an unelected House of Lords, and First Pasty the Post (of which the Alternative Votes is merely a variant).. Blair could have won a referendum on the Euro in 1998/9, Lib Dems were on Board as were Ken Clarke and Heseltine. But ‘Britain in europe’ was allowed to whither, and Gordon Brown insisted on the ludicrous ‘5 economic tests’ which were just a reaosn for him to say no whenever he wanted..

    Yes we have the Scottish palriament and the

  • Steve Comer 3rd May '10 - 7:34pm

    ……(sorry computer chopped off my last sentence)

    …………………..Welsh Assembly, but fundamentally the corrupt system has been left for the Tories to use. Lets just hope the people do deny Cameron the overall majority.

    (Sory anout the typo ‘First Pasty the Post’ – I think it was because I’d just looked at the website for the ‘Cornish Democrat’ candidate standing against Andrew George!)

  • Stop parroting that nonsense. Are you ignorant enough to think that if a person dislikes the Liberal Democrats policies of effectively outlawing strike action and savage cuts for the poor in order to fund a tax cut for the middle, it is because of tribalism?

    I don’t support Labour policies because I’m going to vote Labour, I’m going to vote Labour because I support Labour policies. I dislike the Liberal Democrat policies not because I dislike the Liberal Demcrats, rather I dislike the Liberal Democrats because their policies will send us back to the 19th century.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 8:28pm

    a) electoral reform? Labour has steadfastly opposed it and now proposes AV, which would strengthen Labour’s current gerrymander and make it extremely difficult for the Conservatives to achieve fair representation. Democratic? Hardly.
    b) savage cuts for the poor? Nowhere to be found in the Lib Dem manifesto, nor ever mentioned at any conference, or by any Lib Dem parliamentary candidate. Simply untrue.
    c) tax cuts for the middle classes? True, but also for those on salaries between £6k and £10k, amongst the poorest and most dependent. To be paid for by the richest members of society. A radical redistribution that Labour has never attempted, and now only carp at. Directly addresses welfare dependency by making work pay, raises income levels amongst the poorest in society and gives the economy a stimulus that Labour’s VAT cut couldn’t effect. Labour’s answer? More benefits, more paper pushing and an increase in the insanity of paying for benefits by taxing those who receive them.
    d) Outlawing strike action? What, like really?

    I think your socialist ideals would best be served by voting for the party that genuinely and radically promotes fairness. That is the Liberal Democrats.

  • Nick Clegg has himself called for “savage” cuts. And he’s followed it through with promises to cut public services more savagely than Labour. The poorest rely on public services disproportionately.

    Their tax cuts for the poor only gives the poorest 20% of society 6% of the entire cost. This is alongside those savage cuts that will hit the poor the hardest, that could be avoided. This isn’t a sensible policy, this is about being able to say on TV “we’ll take the poor out of tax”, when to do so they’re taking far more from the poor in public services than what the poor will get in disposable income.

    And I said “effectively” outlawing strikes- in that the Liberal Democrats in 2005 supported the policy of giving the government a veto over strike action. Strikes are all-but outlawed now, yet Cable last month said this-

    “Dimbleby: Very briefly, that goes back to governments tolerating or not tolerating. You’re saying in essential public services which you presumably described as being… you would, YOU, if you were elected would consider outlawing industrial action in those industries?

    Cable: Well, you could certainly consider curbing them.

    Dimbleby: Curbing them? You mean making them more difficult?

    Cable: Yes. Indeed, and there are legislative implications that has to be thought through.

    Dimbleby: Is it the policy of the Liberal Democrats, if you were to have a position in government, to say we should toughen industrial relations law in order to make it more difficult for these unions, rail, air, whatever it might be, to take strike actions?

    Cable: Well, if we’re talking about essential public services like the railway system then we should be looking at it, certainly.”

    But, like a LibDem, he hasn’t said what he means by that- all we know is that the LibDems intend to throw more legal barriers between a democratic ballot in a trade union and a strike. Strikes are effectively outlawed now with the way that you have to have the same people eligible to vote at the date the strike commences, there’s not much further Cable can go to break the unions.

    We know whose side the liberals are on. Private businesses should be allowed to run “essential public services” for profit but workers aren’t allowed to have a say in how these “essential public services” are run. I didn’t want a third way between Old Labour and the Tories, I certainly don’t want a new third way between the Tories and New Labour, just as I will not want the next third way between the Lib Dems and the Tories after this goes belly up.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 9:05pm

    Mike,

    There will be cuts under Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat governments. That is a fact. Labour and Conservative have gone out of their way to avoid specifying them. The Liberal Democrats have, in contrast, specified their budgetary proposals in detail; there is simply no line item, “slash services that the poorest depend on”. Even the parliamentary Labour party have not come out with that misrepresentation, although they certainly would have, if there was the remotest shred of evidence that it was true. So therefore you have either just made that up, or you have copied someone else who invented it. FUD.

    There is no proposal in the Liberal Democrat manifesto to support you assertions regarding curbs on strike action. Is there? No? Therefore it will not happen under a Liberal Democratic government.

    Liberal Democrat might present a third way, but it is not “between” Labour and the Conservatives. It is instead liberal and democratic, neither in pall to big business, nor to organised labour, but with a view to allowing people greater freedom in their lives, freedom to govern themselves at as local as level as possible, freedom from undue interference by the state, freedom from poverty and ignorance. Liberal democracy is also internationalist, unlike either Labour or Conservative. In other words, a optimistic and sustainable political philosophy for present and future times, unlike a corporatist past belonging to Labour or to a yearning for a mythical past from the Conservatives.

  • Cable has said that he will- is he lying? Clegg has trumpeted his admiration for Thatcher. It was voted through the party with a significant majority in 2005. I do not want these people in a position to do it.

    I know full well that there will be cuts under any government. The Liberal Democrats will cut more than they need to. We know that any government will have no choice but to cut deeper than Margaret Thatcher- the poor will suffer under any government, but less so under Labour. The Liberal Democrats have not outlined all of the cuts that they would have to put through. All we know is that they are committed to cutting more than Labour.

  • Graham Martin-Royle 3rd May '10 - 9:34pm

    There has been a lot of comment in various papers and on the box about the fact that labour (of the 3 main parties)could get the smallest share of the popular vote and still end up with the most seats. I am amazed……amazed it has taken so long for so many people to realise that our so called democratic system isn’t!
    A labour voter in Kensington will waste their vote as there is no chance of labour taking the seat. Likewise a tory in Sunderland is equally deprived of a chance of getting the candidate they want. In fact, most constituencies are extremely safe and have no bearing on the outcome of a general election. Why are the voters in Northern Ireland (still a part of the U.K.) deprived of the choice of voting for any of the 3 main parties?
    The whole system is rotten to the core, it is unrepresentative and undemocratic. It needs ripping out and starting again. The tories won’t do that, they like the system just the way it is as they expect to benefit from it. Labour have had the past 13 years to change it if they felt it was wrong, they didn’t so it must be assumed that they also like it. The only party that stands for real change, after 65 years of the same old politics, is the libdems

  • It is astonishing to realise that some of britain’s most prostigious individuals support the same party as I.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 10:32pm

    Mike,

    If I read the quote you give, I see no statement that Vince Cable would do anything other than “look at it”. It would have to pass conference: hasn’t, unless you know better? Liberal DEMOCRATS means the membership decides. In the manifesto? No? Okay, then, usual hysterical fud, shrill leftists screeching nonsense down the public lughole for decades, reinforcing their own prejudices but convincincing no one else.

    You may find the Liberal Democrat manifesto here: http://network.libdems.org.uk/manifesto2010/libdem_manifesto_2010.pdf . I wish you much pleasure in reading it. You will find therein that the only mention of trades unions is with respect to the policy of capping political donations at a maximum of £10,000, to remove the undue influence of big business and trades unions on political parties. Perhaps this is what has upset you so much?

    With best regards,
    Paul McKeown.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 10:41pm

    “Oranjepan”? Ben jij een Nederlander, een Antilleaan, anders hoe kwam jij bij zo een Nederlands klinkend naam?

  • “While the endorsement of Richard Dawkins will please some sections of the community it will alienate anyone who has a religious belief or who respects the beliefs of others” – David

    I have to disagree. I think the majority in this country have no care for religion; many of whom criticise religion with far more disdain than Dawkins ever would. Also, from my experience at least, many dislike god in politics too. If anything, I think the parties will do more damage pushing god belief (alienating many) in politics.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 11:22pm

    Sean,

    I think that most people would prefer tolerance, both within politics and within religion. It would certainly be damaging if the wholly incorrect perception were created that Liberal Democrats were dismissive towards religious belief or abusive towards those of faith. Opposing misguided and damaging beliefs held by some as part of their systems of belief does not mean that one should oppose belief, of itself. Many Liberal Democrats have religious beliefs, a number of prominent Christian LD parliamentary candidates have already been noted on this blog post, similar lists of Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh Liberal Democrats prominent in public and political life could also be made, undoubtedly with the addition of adherents of yet other faiths, no faith and uncertain faith. I do not believe that any on this thread have advocated pushing religion as part of Liberal Democracy, merely that one should be tolerant of belief, except where it damages others. Liberal Democracy is, above all, tolerant.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd May '10 - 11:25pm

    Oranjepan,

    Lagoons, slave huts, holidays?

    I think I must be missing something…

    … Google, ah I see you have a blog

    … oranjepan/orange man

    … all is now clear, thanks!

  • @Paul McKeown- the measure to give the government a block over strike action was passed in conference in 2005 by a large margin. Like I said, I don’t want those people in a position to do anything of the sort, especially when Cable reiterated his desire to curb union action only last month in no uncertain terms.

    @Oranjepan- I know Liberal Democrats who are only voting Liberal under the assumption that they will end up propping up Labour. They should be honest about which party they would support, if any, and what the conditions would be. That’s if they are actually a uniquely honest party, of course, and not just letting people disillusioned with both other parties see what they want to see in them.

    I mean, just read this- http://blog.itv.com/news/tombradby/?p=347

    He’ll prop up the Tories without PR, which more than proves my original point. Still voting Lib Dem as a demand for PR?

  • Terry Gilbert 5th May '10 - 1:44pm

    Dawkins endorsement will have only marginal effect. The British Social Attitudes Survey 2010 showed that only 7% of people now call themselves ‘very religious’. Among those who have thought about it, many more accept evolutionary theory and evidence based scientific theory rather than religious doctrine as the best explanation for the mysteries of the universe. Among those who have not thought about it, Dawkins views are unlikely to sway their vote. And it is difficult to argue against his central thesis above; that voting Lib Dem is the most likely way to bring about a more representative democracy.

  • I am not sure voting Lib Dem will produce a more representative democracy.

    In 1974, the Libs asked for a change in the voting system and did not get it

  • Paul McKeown 6th May '10 - 3:04pm

    >>>In 1974, the Libs asked for a change in the voting system and did not get it

    From a much smaller percentage of the electorate (11.8%) and far fewer seats (14).

    The case is much stronger with, say 26% and 85 seats. It will, after the general election after this one, become almost irrefutable, with say 30% and 120 seats. It will happen eventually, perhaps now, but certainly within another parliament or two.

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