Loyalty and respect

Politics in the UK seems to be in flux following the Brexit vote. With the Tories split between remain and leave and Labour too busy squabbling amongst themselves to be effective it ought to be a time for the Liberal Democrats. Yet, so far, although we have seen many individual members of both the Labour and Conservative parties switch to the Lib Dems, only a handful of councillors and no MPs or MEPs have done so. Why is this?

I want to suggest that in the case of the Labour Party there are two factors; loyalty and respect

We often accuse the Labour Party of being tribal. The reality is that loyalty is ingrained in the psyche of Labour Party supporters and even more so in MPs. The worst thing that you can do is be ‘disloyal’. Crossing the floor is unthinkable for almost all Labour MPs and we need to recognise that this is a real factor in preventing people from joining us. When you couple this with the attitude of Labour people to what they perceive as treachery – for example the Lib Dems joining with the Tories in government – you begin to see how difficult it is to get people to come across, even if they share our values to a much higher degree than the values of the Labour Party.

Respect and being respected is also very important in the Labour Party. You respect the leader, even if you fundamentally disagree with him. If someone does something to lose that respect that is almost as bad as disloyalty. This explains why it is so easy for the Labour Party to diss everything that was done by the Lib Dems in government. We lost their respect and can therefore be treated as beneath contempt.

If we are serious about encouraging people who share our views to join us, then we have to enable them to cross the twin obstacle of loyalty and respect. This means toning down our attacks on the Labour Party and talking up the things we have in common. Of course we need to attack the Labour Leadership for their spineless attitude to Brexit, but we do not need to broaden this to a more general attack on the majority of Labour members and MPs. At an individual level we need to offer both MPs and other members good positive reasons to change.

As an aside, perhaps we ought to ask ourselves whether somewhat more loyalty would be an asset to our party as well as the self discipline not to attack each other in public.

* Dr Michael Taylor has been a party member since 1964. He is currently enjoying a round the world trip.

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26 Comments

  • A sensible post.
    I hope it’ll go in to some people.

  • Personally, I think this is the point where the guns have to be turned squarely on the Tories. Getting people to cross the floor is less of an issue than unseating as many Conservatives as possible otherwise what you are going to get is a landslide which will lead to some big problems.

  • Crossing the floor maybe unacceptable to most Labour MP’s, however standing as an independent could be a good ploy.
    This would free them of association with the leadership but still allow them to stand on the values that most Labour voters still cherish.

    The downside of course is that they would need to organise campaign troops to follow them.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Apr '17 - 8:40am

    I believe that one MP has decided to cross the twin obstacles of loyalty and respect.

  • I hear that the admirable Bob Marshall-Andrews (former Labour MP for Rochester) has joined the Lib Dems.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Apr '17 - 9:09am

    I am sorry if I caused undue excitement, My husband has just pointed out that it is a former Labour MP that has switched his allegiance to the Liberal Democrats. It is being treated as such big news in the press, my faulty eyes read what I assumed was written rather than what was actually written.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Apr '17 - 9:11am

    @ David Raw,
    Isn’t he a left wing socialist of the type vilified on here?

  • paul barker 20th Apr '17 - 9:55am

    A very warm welcome to Bob Marshall-Andrews, a trenchant critic of the hollow fakery of “New” Labour. The only “Socialists” that I have seen “vilified” on LDV are the reheated Stalinists & Trots of Momentum/Corbynism.

  • @ Jayne He is my type of radical with a great sense of humour who stood up to Blair over the Iraq war. You can see all of this when he appeared in several editions of ‘Have I got News For You’ (now on You Tube).

    If, as you say, he (and his type !) are actually vilified on this site then there is no hope for this party or for the future of the radical side of British politics. He is part of the radical dissenting tradition and I’m delighted he has joined the party. I wish more would follow.

  • ‘Anyone can rat…’

  • I’ve always thought it wasn’t loyalty/respect, but 100% conviction they are right. Coupled with ‘we care about the poor’. And its syllogism that other parties don’t.
    I like being in a party where it is recognised that everyone is entitled to their own views, even if you strongly disagree with them.
    Sadly, even now some of my Labour-supporting friends don’t get that ‘punishing the Lib Dems’ in the PR referendum and in 2015 was actually doing the Tories a huge favour.

  • Some previously Liberal Democrat voters voted Labour or Green or SNP in 2015 but a lot more voted Conservative and many voted UKIP. Just have a look at the individual results in seats where Liberal Democrats had done well for many years.

    The Greens seem to be maintaining their 4% share in the opinion polls despite losing some of their left wing supporters to Corbyn’s Labour Party but UKIP appears to have collapsed in the most recent polls while the Conservativs have gained from that. The Liberal Democrats will strugggle to do well against a party that has nearly 50% support. Dr Taylor is right that we should play down attacks on Labour and concentrate them on the Conservatives’ plans to wreck the economy.

    No doubt talks with the EU cannot proceed until after the German elections in September but all the signs seem to indicate difficulties so I guess Mrs May has time to go campaigning in such favourable electoral circumstances and before the Liberal Democrat revival really takes off. Maybe an effective election campaign will provide an opportunity to speed things up if there are not too many gaffes. Those Conservative expenses claims could damage them.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Apr '17 - 11:30am

    @ David Raw,
    You said it.

    Radical dissenting types? Liberal Democrat Party? Well, there’s a juxtaposition!

    I wish Bob Marshall – Andrews well. I have admired many of the political positions that he has taken, including the one you mention.

  • Sue Sutherland 20th Apr '17 - 1:52pm

    Jayne, if you want the Tories to win big time you’re going the right way about it.

  • David Evershed 20th Apr '17 - 3:23pm

    Liberal Democrats are not aligned with either the Labour or Conservative party.

    It is a lazy assumption that we are Labour Lite. Lib Dems are pro free markets and pro free trade like the Conservatives but also pro social support for the vulnerable and needy like the Labour party.

    We should always present ourselves as equi-distant from Labour and Conservative – even when we are in coalition with either, as we often have been at local level.

    We should expect converts equally from both Labour and Conservative ranks.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Apr '17 - 4:16pm

    @ Sue Sutherland,
    I don’t want the tories to win big time, but the idea that they might do so, will not influence the way that I will vote.

    I shall be voting for the candidate who most reflects my values, and a party with policies that I most believe will put these into action. This is the reason why I am reading Liberal Democrat Voice, ConservativeHome, Labourlist and the like. It is why I am looking at voting records of MPs despite the strain that it is putting on my eyes.

    May I point out that although the Liberal Democrat’s have only 9 MPs, two abstained when the vote on Article 50 took place. I admire their independence, (although of course I would because I agree with their reasoning). Were they helping the tories big time?

    I disagree with Bob Marshal Andrews on his reported view that Labour should not have stood a candidate in the Richmond by-election. I do not believe that in a democracy one should attempt to gain political advantage by limiting the choice open to the electorate.

    When I vote it will be for something positive, a particular set of values and the policies that flow from them, not something negative like ‘stopping another party whose values and policies I disagree with’.

  • Jayne, I think you’d get my vote if you stood as a radical dissenter candidate.

  • Simon Banks 20th Apr '17 - 4:46pm

    I doubt if this approach will work. I am in favour of broad co-operation on the left (of right), but my experience of Labour is that precisely because of their state of mind and culture, they see Liberals who take up some of the same causes as evident fakes. There can be only one true path and one true party of the people. They hate us most when we appear closest to them. So the coalition was a godsend.

    Individual Labour members of course may think differently; but they won’t leave Labour for us unless we show them why Labour is not the right place for them to be.

    In this election, though, our main target has to be the Conservative government.

  • Would there be scope in Calder Valley (where both Mick, Jennie and I are from) to make a bold offer to the Labour candidate (AIUI not selected yet) that the Lib Dems would stand down if they endorsed a few key policies (Anti-Brexit and pro-PR). Given that an ex-Tory Cllr is standing as an independent (and has – lets say – a bit of anti-Craig Whitaker baggage) the scope to beat him is a possibility.

    Paddy Ashdown is saying “Well done the Greens for reaching out for sensible seat arrangements, where these can be done. Labour and Lib Dems shld respond positively”

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Apr '17 - 10:07pm

    Michael Taylor

    Of course we need to attack the Labour Leadership for their spineless attitude to Brexit, but we do not need to broaden this to a more general attack on the majority of Labour members and MPs.

    Sorry, but everything you write here is precisely why I would want to attack the Labour Party. Their inability to accept true democracy, with their belief that they should have the monopoly of the left, and therefore any challengers to them should be mercilessly destroyed, even if that benefits the Tories, is to me disgusting.

    I say this as someone who is right now finding it hard to be enthusiastic for the Liberal Democrats, since the party just seems to have shifted so far to the economic right in recent years that it is just not the party it was when I joined it, and in some ways now stands for what I joined it to oppose. Even so, I just could not shift to the Labour Party, because of all you write about its monopolistic attitude.

  • Actually no, Hywel. This is because it doesn’t matter a toss what the Labour candidate believes personally, s/he couldn’t deliver it in a Corbyn-run Labour Party heading for the Brexit door alongside the Tories.
    We must stand as we’re the only party offering a pro EU/ anti Brexit stance and lots of people in Calder Valley want to support that.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Apr '17 - 10:16pm

    Michael Taylor

    When you couple this with the attitude of Labour people to what they perceive as treachery – for example the Lib Dems joining with the Tories in government

    Whereas the Labour Party’s position is to prop up the Tories more directly by supporting an electoral system that gives them many more seats than their share of the vote. If they say – and they do – that it is better to give many more seats to the party that has the most votes so it always has a majority, surely the Liberal Democrats just supporting the Conservatives would be doing precisely what Labour says should be done – all power to the biggest party even if it has way under half the votes.

    The reality is that thanks to distortions of the electoral system that Labour supports and we do not, there was only one viable government that could be formed in 2010. The distortion and the fact that there was no other viable government greatly limited the power of the Liberal Democrats to influence it. Labour’s dismissal of us whatever we did made it worse. We would have been able to do much more if Labour had come out in support of us when we did stand up against the Tories. But no, Labour just wanted to see us destroyed, so we could end up with what we have now – a permanent Tory government with a permanent useless Labour opposition.

  • Matthew
    I don’t necessarily disagree with much of what you say. There are however some in the Labour Party, including some of its MPs that we would welcome in our party. [There are equally not a small number who we would not]. My post was stressing the need to assist those that want to in coming across.
    Incidentally, whatever your doubts about the economics, surely more Lib Dem MPs would be better than so many Tory and Labour MPs. Also SLF members are fighting seats we can win so the economic approach may well be different in the future.
    I very much hope you will be campaigning to ensure more Lib Dem MPs and elected!

  • These figures are wonderful but looking at yesterdays local election polling I am now fearful that the Conservatives will sweep the local elections in two weeks time and what looked like a very good day for us may be nothing short of decidely poor.

  • Theakes is right to be fearful, but I suspect that he is being a bit too fearful on the basis of too little evidence.

    The big risk on 4th May is that the impending General Election will pull out additional Tory voters who do not normally bother to vote in local elections. That is what happened in 1987, and it cost us a lot of seats.

    Is this what happened in Kenton East yesterday? If it was, then we would expected a higher than usual turnout.

    In fact, the turnout in Kenton East yesterday was 36.7%, compared with 45% in 2014.

    (A complicating factor: most of the candidates yesterday and in 2014 were members of the East African Asian community.)

    Now let us look at Roxbourne (also in Harrow). At the by-election last month, the turnout was 26%, whereas in 2014 it was 40%.

    Does this tell us how much, if any, additional Tory turnout there was yesterday in Kenton East? No, not really.

  • Mick – that’s a valid position but it will almost certainly lead to Craig Whitaker getting re-elected. And I don’t see how that approach is putting:

    “This means toning down our attacks on the Labour Party and talking up the things we have in common. Of course we need to attack the Labour Leadership for their spineless attitude to Brexit, but we do not need to broaden this to a more general attack on the majority of Labour members and MPs. At an individual level we need to offer both MPs and other members good positive reasons to change.”

    into practice.

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