Tag Archives: bagehot

The Economist: ‘Grassroots Lib Dems are much keener on coalition than Tories’

The Economist’s political commentator ‘Bagehot’ this week surveys the attitudes of Lib Dems towards the Coalition at the mid-term point — I particularly like its opening:

THE Somerset village of Chew Magna, with its sleepy pub and Georgian houses, seems an odd setting for prognostications about Britain’s political future. But prognosticate the local Liberal Democrats do. “In 40 years’ time, people will look back and ask: what was all the fuss about being in coalition?” says Dine Romero, a councillor. Her colleagues nod. Multi-party government, they agree, is here to stay. “I like coalition—on principle”, asserts a sprightly 91-year-old.

We all …

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 12 Comments

The state of Britain: cause for some optimistic pessimism

David Rennie has been the pen behind the pseudonymous Bagehot column, which appears weekly in The Economist, since 2010. During that time he has been deservedly recognised as the most acute commentator, bar none, writing on British politics. Not that I’ve always agreed with him, not least his indulgence of hoary old cliches with which to whack the Lib Dems.

He has now transferred to the US to personate another Economist pseudonym, Lexington. However, his final missive is a must-read ‘state of the nation’ take on the Britain …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 9 Comments

“A shitty time to be a liberal”: The Economist’s must-read piece on the Clegg paradox (and 2 reasons why it’s wrong)

There’s a must-read column by The Economist’s Bagehot this week focusing on the Lib Dems’ dilemmas, titled The Clegg paradox. It’s a serious and weighty analysis, which asks some uncomfortable questions of the party’s strategy. Here’s it’s conclusion:

At a recent meeting of the Lib Dem parliamentary party, Tim Farron, an ambitious left-winger and party president, reportedly cheered this anti-Tory success, but bemoaned the fact that unelected peers had led the charge against the NHS reforms and got the credit for it, rather than Lib Dem MPs who need votes. That drew a rebuke from Jeremy Browne, a foreign office

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Why was this Lib Dem conference cheerful? Simple: because it mattered.

The Economist’s pseudonymous political commentator Bagehot devotes his column this week to the Liberal Democrats, analysing the mood of serenity which prevailed at this year’s party conference to the surprise (and chagrin) of the media.

He notes that activists were cheered by the anti-Tory rhetoric that pervaded speeches by Tim Farron, Chris Huhne and Vince Cable, believing this differentiation will in turn demonstrate to the electorate that the party is punching above its weight — that Nick Clegg is, in the words of Tory MP Nadine Dorries, “the boss”.

Many Lib Dems argue that Tory-bashing is good politics, and long overdue. It is true that differentiation does have a strategic aim: persuading voters that the Lib Dems are not powerless puppets in a Tory government. But those same Lib Dems underestimate the emotional temptations to which they are giving way.

The Lib Dems think it unfair that they are hated. They think (rightly) that inconclusive election results and a mood of national crisis made joining the Tories in the coalition last year the responsible thing to do.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

The Saturday Debate: Local government is to the Lib Dems what the unions are to Labour and big business is to the Tories

Here’s your starter for ten in our Saturday slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

I was struck by this recent article by the Economist’s political columnist Bagehot, headlined When progressive actually means misanthropic, reflecting on the Lib Dem conference, and specifically the debate on free schools.

Highlighting that, while the party may have lacked power at Westminster, the Lib Dems have for decades now been a major player in local government, it observes that:

… local government occupies much of the mental space taken up by national politics in the Labour and Conservative parties. … more

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Was 6th October the day it started going awry for the Tories?

The opinion polls are up-and-down day-in-day-out at the moment, making it almost impossible to say with any confidence whether we are firmly in hung parliament territory, or whether the most likely result is still a Tory victory at the coming general election. But one thing is beyond doubt: the last six months has seen a substantial narrowing in the Tories’ opinion poll lead.

In October 2009, the Tories were polling at around 42%, Labour at 28% – a convincing Tory lead of 14%. Last month, the Tories were at 39%, Labour at 31%, a 3% swing from the …

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Top Lib Dem asks: was Ashcroft’s peerage given under false pretences?

Today’s Telegraph reports that Lib Dem peer Lord (Matthew) Oakeshott has called for all documents relating to Tory donor Lord (Michael) Ashcroft’s peerage to be made public to establish whether the Queen conferred the honour under false pretences:

Lord Oakeshott, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, wrote to Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell, urging him to publish all relevant papers as a matter of urgency, to make clear whether the monarch had been misled. … William Hague, the former Conservative leader, said that he discovered only a few months ago that Lord Ashcroft had enjoyed ”non-dom” tax status for the last 10

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