The challenge in Yorkshire

 

Nationally it might be argued that the General Election was a moderate success for the Liberal Democrats and, maybe, even baby steps towards a revival.  A net increase of 4 seats on 2015 with a marginal decrease in the national share, which could arguably be put down to significant tactical voting, could provide some evidence of this.  However I would argue this masks disastrous performances regionally which should be of massive concern to the national party going forward.

I’d like to focus on my own region, Yorkshire.  Yorkshire contains 51 seats.  Going into the 2017 election you would have thought that the Lib Dems couldn’t do worse than their performance in 2015 where we had been reduced to just 2 Yorkshire MPs (Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam and Greg Mulholland in Leeds North West) and a massively reduced share of the regional vote.  In 2010, the Lib Dems won 3 seats in Yorkshire with near misses in Sheffield Central (less than 200 votes away) and Hull North (less than 650 votes away).  They polled 23% of the vote in Yorkshire and retained every deposit easily.

Fast forward to what many consider the nadir of Liberal Democratic performance in 2015.  It still resulted in 2 MPs and saved deposits in almost half of the seats in Yorkshire and a 7.3% share of the vote.  Surely this was as bad as it could get for the Liberal Democrats in Yorkshire?  Unfortunately not.  On 8th June the Lib Dems lost both seats they held as well as 41 of their 51 deposits. They polled in excess of 10% of the vote in only 4 of the 51 seats in Yorkshire.

In Sheffield Central, a seat Paul Scriven came within a hair’s breadth of winning in 2010, the Lib Dems only just retained their deposit, polling slightly more than 5%.  In Bradford East, a seat the Lib Dems won in 2010, they lost their deposit with 2% of the vote (admittedly the ex-Lib Dem MP stood as an independent – and beat the Lib Dem candidate).  In my own constituency of Penistone and Stocksbridge they dropped from 21% in 2010 to 4% in 2017.

In Yorkshire, Liberal Democrats could well be bracketed with the Monster Raving Loony party in the ‘others’ category of electoral statistics, so far have we plummeted.  81 out of every 100 people who voted Lib Dem in 2010 deserted the party in 2017 and we’ve lost two amazing MPs.  There will be many and varied reasons for this but personally, the image of the Liberal Democrats as a single issue party – the party of Remain in a mainly Leave part of the country – explains much of the decline.  The Lib Dems had a great manifesto but hardly anyone knew about our policies apart from the Liberal Democrats being the ‘Remoaners’ party.

We have the most polarised political spectrum I’ve experienced in my lifetime with a gaping centre ground going begging and until the Liberal Democrats change the record they won’t gain any traction outside the leafier suburbs of our metropolises.  The leadership election should be about how the Liberal Democrats can appeal again to the people of Penistone, Stocksbridge, Sheffield Central, Hull North and Bradford East.  I certainly will vote for the candidate who can offer a direction that can win seats in Yorkshire again.

* Wayne Chadburn is a member of the Liberal Demcorats in Penistone

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43 Comments

  • Sue Sutherland 19th Jun '17 - 12:24pm

    I agree with you wholeheartedly about polarisation. On the one hand we have dictator May and on the other a “victorious” Marxist wing of the Labour Party. I think we should say ” let’s stay in the EU to keep the country wealthy but use that wealth to help the poorest, weakest and the sick.”

  • Yes we face a massive task to recover almost everywhere, but I think we all knew that after 2015. All that happened is that the damage done to us by coalition has further unwound. Trust and much of our party’s future was sacrificed on the altar of “Proving Coalitions can work”. Well it worked for David Cameron.

    However, after 2015 we were irrelevant as far as the media were concerned and Nick left no cards whatsoever for his successor to play. Only random chance and David Cameron’s arrogance gave us Brexit and hard work gave us and an excellent campaign gave us victory in Richmond Park.

    However Theresa May took away the chance of us working it up to 2020 and now we as a nation are totally divided. Nationalist vs all hte others in Scotland and Labour v Conservative in almost all of England.

    As you say, “a gaping centre ground going begging,” but it is precisely that ground that we let Nick march us out of in between 2010 and 2015, and all the public know that.
    Getting back there will be a task of decades, not years. But the Grimond, Penhalygon, Steel, Kennedy generations did it last time, and it is the task of new Liberals to make us relevant to more than a few niche groups of nice people once again.

  • Richard Underhill 19th Jun '17 - 12:50pm

    Accepting that there is a strong Yorkshire identity (Michael Parkinson driving his pregnant wife across the border to ensure that his son-to-be would be eligible to play cricket for Yorkshire, etcetera) Is there a Yorkshire party? If so when were they founded? and what effect did they have?

  • The hostility to ‘Remoaners’ may change as the pennies on what Brexit means start to drop. A U-turn by us on the EU would look opportunist, wouldn’t gain us a single vote, but would alienate all those who joined the party after June 23 2016.
    More emphasis on the NHS and social care would help. Getting the message across via social media might mean people actually see what we stand for: worked for Labour.

  • 6% and Leaderless, does it get any better?

  • Peter Martin 19th Jun '17 - 1:09pm

    Probably the Lib Dems will have to move away from being an unconditionally pro-EU party at some point. The next time we have an election we’ll probably be out. I do expect that the Govt will hold on for the next couple of years. So the choice then will to be to work at making the UK economy work outside the EU or reapplying for EU membership.

    The latter will mean having to sign up for the euro and not having any special treatment like we had before. So it’s unlikely to be a popular option.

    In the meantime you need to build on being a radical party. So what not do something like promise that you’ll create an economy that works for all with full employment? Remember that phrase? We used to have full employment and we could do again within or without the EU.

  • Eddie Sammon 19th Jun '17 - 1:10pm

    This is the problem with the uber-liberal core vote strategy. It effectively abandons vast swathes of the country. Seat targeting is necessary but I don’t think the national air campaign needs to focus on the minority too. It costs the same to target a wider base when using and appearing on media with a national reach.

  • Christopher Haigh 19th Jun '17 - 1:14pm

    I think the best thing to do here in Yorkshire is to keep a low-key profile for a while, improve the organisation of local parties and county structure, get more young people and social stuff involved in the party structure. Keep working to maintain harmonious communities as best we can and the hope for a more positive community attitude towards us in the medium to longer term.

  • paul holmes 19th Jun '17 - 1:21pm

    Every word of this analysis applies across the E Mids too. The year long focus on opposing the 2016 Referendum decision made us a completely irrelevant single issue Party and drove our supporters away.

  • As an ex-pat Yorkshireman brought up in Batley & Spen close to Huddersfield I feel this keenly.

    Wayne, you’ve forgotten Colne Valley, Richard Wainwright’s old stamping ground. 2010 close second with nearly 30% of the vote (16,000 votes) – 6% in 2015 and now 2,500 votes and 4%. Batley and Spen, 17.4%, to 4%, and now 2.3% – and Huddersfield ? 25% in 2010 down to 2.6% now.

    Three reasons for this self-inflicted disaster

    1. The old nonconformist radical vote died out with my Mum & Dad.
    2. The Coalition. Why vote Liberal instead of Tory when you can vote for the real thing ? and for radicals a feeling of betrayal.
    3. The Liberal Democrats had nothing to say this time other than Brexit.

    As for Corbyn, he actually articulated what many ordinary folk thought and are concerned about after nearly forty years of the right wing neo-liberal economics, run down local government and public services, and rising inequality started under Thatcher.

    Now I’m sorry, Sue, but Corbyn is seen as about as Marxist as Lloyd George was in 1910. The Tory broadsheets have overcooked their venom and people don’t believe it.
    If the Lib Dems don’t get rid of the Coalition albatross and begin to articulate solutions to society’s ills, they’ll be as dead as a Dodo.

  • PS. I really must add as an ex- Batley & Spen lad, Jo Cox spoke for many of us and was in the West Yorkshire radical tradition. Much loved, much missed and still much heart ache for Brendan, Gordon, Jean & Kim and the wee ones.

  • John Hefford 19th Jun '17 - 2:46pm

    To answer Richard Underhill’s question:

    Yes, there is a Yorkshire Party – their main policy is the creation of a Yorkshire Parliament similar in style to the Welsh Assembly / Scottish National Parliament. Also, yes. The Yorkshire Party are winning more votes than the Liberal Democrats in Doncaster.

  • Every election is different. The next will be as different from this one as this one was from the last. Who knows where the Brexit debate will be. It will not take much to bring this government down so if things start to go wrong it will not be hard to get it to the country again. The tragedy is that Brexit may be the catalyst to get things done in this country that should have been done a long time ago. Things that could have averted the Brexit vote in the first place. The real opportunity is that Corbyn has broken the low tax consensus and voter fluidity is high. That gives us much more room to maneuver. The problem with our manifesto was that it had all the right directions but no destinations. Those destinations need to be put in place and could offer an industrial development plan including places like Yorkshire. I don’t think we have any choice on tuition fees. This is a time to be bold or be irrelevant.

  • Dave Orbison 19th Jun '17 - 6:54pm

    Sue Sutherland ‘a “victorious” Marxist Labour Party.

    Really, still? Didn’t we get all this from the Tories and their friends in the media. Didn’t it fail abysmally? Didn’t the negative LibDem campaign result in a lower share of the vote?

    LibDems taking potshots at Corbyn and Labour – calling Corbyn a Marxist may make you feel a bit better but outside of the LibDem faithful, the reality is Corbyn is seen as a credible and decent guy. Ordinary voters are just going to laugh at the LibDems even more if you persist in these sort of silly attacks. Corbyn and Labour are not Marxists. They are advocating Keynesian model of growth and some limited public ownership in a mixed economy. There is nothing Marxist about a mixed economy. The LibDems once supported it. Have LibDems been dragged so far to the right that even this is seen as Marxism?

    With the current crisis in the LibDems between a Lords-led coup and personal attacks on gays such as David Laws and Brian Paddock for exercising their right under the preamble to raise concerns, perhaps first, LibDems may first want to get their house in order.

  • Sue Sutherland 19th Jun '17 - 7:53pm

    LabourMarxists claim they won Sheffield Hallam for the Labour Party.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jun '17 - 7:56pm

    David

    Good to see your comments on Jo Cox, we must keep her memory going, the best of centre left politics, my wife and I went twice the week she was killed, to Westminster,there to put flowers , card and sign the parliamentary condolence book. Must have been amazing atmosphere in her constituency to remember her too. I like the new mp, and an actress too !

  • I canvassed for Richard Wainwright in 1970, and there was a saying then that “Liberals are Tories without their kicking boots on”. Unfortunately too many of our actions in government proved that to be true.

  • Jonathan Pile 19th Jun '17 - 8:39pm

    Wayne , as a Lib Dem in Hemsworth Constituency : I firmly believe that we have to get back to the politics of Charles Kennedy – a mix of moderate decent left of centre politics plus a strong social conscience. Clegg Mania aside, I feel personally that the party has been in decline in general popularity since the Clegg era. The public were happy with our party as a party of opposition, but mentally unprepared for a coalition with the Conservative Party. We need to return to community politics : building support around local communities falling victim to big government, big ideas & big corporations ; we have built a cross party campaign against HS2 which has reached national attention. With Immigration and Leave support in Yorkshire still strong, we need to stand strong against Brexit and Racism, in the knowledge that the tide will turn in the next 2 years. Appeasing illiberal ideas does nothing to strengthen our party, we need to stand by our principles (including Europe) – one of the major reasons our 2010 voters deserted us.

  • I see the Sage of Southport has surfaced from his stygian gloom on the edge of the Mersey to put in his two penn’orth.

    Now then, I have to say that I haven’t much time for a million marchers, but I suppose they’re at least a bit more numerous than half a dozen non elected unaccountable peers on a mission to spread joy in Westmorland..

    All I will say is that this column is about Yorkshire,……….and as Sir Geoffrey might have elegantly put it, “It’s nowt to do with thee”.

  • Dave O: I don’t like personal-attack politics either. Corbyn refraining from giving it back to May put him up in my estimation. But, he wants to requisition private property to house the Grenfell Tower survivors. Outside times of war, that seems a bit left-wing to me.

    Also, you seem to disapprove of a ‘Lords-led coup’. But then seem think had Lord Paddick (it’s an ‘i’) been involved, he should’ve been given a free pass. All I saw criticised was the idea that one minority should dictate to the party at the expense of another – the nature of either being incidental.

  • Dave Orbison 19th Jun '17 - 10:37pm

    Simon – I don’t think the 40% of voters that went with Labour share your Marxist concerns.

    By the way I should note that for the first time ever I totally agreed with your comments which were in relation to Tim Farron’s resignation. A first! I’m not sure which one of us should be more concerned by this. 🙂

    Cassie B: Is Corbyn left wing? Yes, unashamedly so. That does not make him or his ideas Marxist. Putting up people in unused accommodation in an emergency seems a good use of building stock and a humane thing to do.

    Re The peers. To clarify I understand and would share the outrage of members if any small ‘elite’ took it upon themselves to tell Farron to go. Just as I objected to the PLP trying to bully Corbyn.

    Re Brian Paddick – my observation on reading LDV is that there is a lot of vitriol aimed at him and that his explanation has been almost completely dismissed. This seems a bit one sided.

    By your reference to two minorities I assume you are referring to LGBT and Christians? If so, then you really are missing the point. As a gay man I am perfectly relaxed about people following Christianity. I don’t go about trying to denounce them or prevent them practicing their faith. But some, not all Christians DO make it their business to publicly condemn as sinners etc people from the LGBT community. Some Christian politicians use their faith to justify abstaining on votes re LGBT rights or to vote against. So of course I’m not OK with that. This is precisely David Laws point – I don’t want to be tolerated but accepted by virtue of my sexuality.

    It is insulting to be told I should accept someone with a particular interpretation of a faith has the right to attack me in anyway whatsoever.

  • Philip Knowles 20th Jun '17 - 8:26am

    In Richmond (Yorks) we came third and kept our deposit but lost votes (some to the Yorkshire Party and some to the Greens). Labour had more people at the count than our whole team and that’s part of the problem.
    We’ve doubled our membership but still only have a limited number of active volunteers so we can’t cover the ground in the way that Labour can. We’re changing our focus to more online content and getting involved in local (non-political) activities to raise our profile. That’s enabling us to make progress and build to our District elections in 2019.
    Of greater concern is the lack of coherent support and information from HQ. We didn’t get the manifesto until 2 weeks after the Unaddressed Mailing had to be delivered to the Royal Mail.
    We have decide we need to be different. The quality of the templates were poor and did not help us to address local issues so we went our own way. We produced a professional looking set of leaflets and postcards which created engagement with voters in a way that we’ve never experienced – emails and offers of support. Our Facebook campaign engaged with 30,000 voters and had almost 1,000 likes and reposts. We are going to continue with social media as our main focus because leafleting is expensive in time and money and gets us limited results. Leaflets are going to be ‘newsy’ rather than political to get people to actually read them.

  • Dave O, I think you’re the one missing the point. I’ve not seen anyone saying others have the right to ‘attack’ you. ‘Attack’ seems to be your word for ‘disagree with’. (Couldn’t give a bean about your or anyone else’s sexuality, btw). But this was supposed to be a thread about Yorkshire, so I’ll leave it at that.

  • “Our Facebook campaign engaged with 30,000 voters”

    Is that anything other than a meaningless statistic produced by Facebook to make it look like spending money with them is cost effective. If I ran a campaign that genuinely engaged with 30,000 voters I wouldn’t expect to finish third and on under 6%

  • Dave Orbison 20th Jun '17 - 9:30am

    Cassie B – the failure of some in the LibDems to appreciate how, in your words,[LGBT] ‘a minority’ may feel when their leader struggles with whether or not they are sinners, and puts both their rights and the views of one interpretation of a faith on some sort of scale of moral equivalence, is really insightful. No wonder on the doorstep the support for LibDems went down.

    If you don’t appreciate this even when people like Laws and Paddick ring alarm bells, then the LibDems really have lost their way.

  • Dave Orbison 20th Jun '17 - 10:20am

    Cassie B – this thread is about Yorkshire. Indeed. I have two gay friends, certainly not Tories who were potentially LibDem voters. They both voted Labour in part disconcerted as to the drift to respecting Christianity and putting that on sort of moral equivalence with LGBT rights.

    Perhaps you may wish to dismiss this too as in the Coalition days students were patronisingly told that the LibDems pledge on fees was just that and not binding.

    By all means dismiss the warning signs and disaffection with the party. But don’t expect to be taken seriously any day soon.

  • Jayne, You may wish to state that the centre ground has *for decades* but only if you believe that Tony Blair, John Smith, and Neil Kinnock were somehow middle ground.

  • Jonathon Pile ” but mentally unprepared for a coalition with the Conservative Party”

    Or perhaps we were ” mentally unprepared ” for a huge promise to be broken by a party which promised ” an end to broken promises” ?

    I had no problem with Lib Dems going into Coalition at all, I was quite relieved that you guys would be there to hold the Tories back, but the manner in which the Coalituon was executed (broken pledge, NhS reforms, secret courts, rabid austerity, etc) is what killed off the party for many of us. Rose Garden was a big mistake. In contrast see how the DUP conduct themselves, arms length, business like.

  • Regardless of the arguments about tuition fees, one of our number in Bradford suggested that the perception of untrustworthiness would take a couple of decades to wipe out. In Bradford East we lost a seat in 2011 and spent the coalition years defending the others, reversing the 2011 loss in 2015. Once again we control the Area Committee. It’s hard graft in this Labour-facing parliamentary constituency but if we can start building from target council wards as people who actually believe in serious local government – with fair votes and fairer tax-raising powers we can achieve a sustainable “fightback”, but it will take time.

  • In Yorkshire we had nothing to say because we will not look at a decaying social fabric rising inequality and, as free traders, the negative fallout from globalisation, and answer the simple question: “So what would you do about it then?” Instead we theorise endlessly about the purity of 19C liberalism and the right for people to believe what they believe. But what do WE believe? If we are not to become a metropolitan, intellectual rump, we need to get our act together with policies advanced to build a better britain. We are losing voters to Labour because Labour possesses passion and shows it cares. Whether the policies will actually work – and it is a sound bet that they wouldnt – is a detail that people don;t want to be bothered with.

  • And that is not to say we didn’t have a good, evidence-based manifesto, because by and large we did. But it needs to come together into a coherent vision.

  • Good lad, Vince, White Rose to the rescue.

    Now is the winter of our discontent
    Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
    And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
    In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
    Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
    Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
    Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,

    I’ve missed out the bit about treacherous peers – though he’ll need to watch his back more carefully than Richard 111 did. .

  • Wayne Chadburn – Thanks for this sober assessment of the challenge ahead. Ditching rose tinted glasses may reveal a dreadful picture but it’s the first step to recovery and rebuilding.

    I’ve long thought we were hanging on only by successfully exploiting the tactical voting opportunities created by the FPTP system – if you were in second place last time you can do well provided that the other parties remain awful making it a choice of the least-bad alternative to the incumbent. My impression is that for many years least half, and probably rather more than half, of our support has come from the ‘none-of-the-above’ vote with much campaigning effort directed explicitly at keeping it on side.

    For many/most Lib Dems it’s an article of faith that if only we could get STV everything would come good but the evidence doesn’t support this. Where proportional voting systems have been introduced – Scotland and Euro-elections – the result is that parties with a clear message – independence and Brexit respectively – have successfully used it to take control of the agenda and win through even if their core messages are largely snake oil. The Lib Dems have had no answer to the rise of PR-enabled parties.

    Now Corbyn has also proposed a real alternative to the Tory vs. Tory-lite of recent years. I seriously doubt that it will work in practice but, for the moment it has energised many. Momentum’s Facebook videos got 23 million views in the last week alone – that’s an average of over 35,000 per constituency.

    For me the conclusion is clear; Lib Dems now have no alternative except to rediscover what liberalism means in the 21st century (hint: it’s not reheated 19th century liberalism). And that’s a problem – we don’t have any party mechanisms to do that, certainly not the byzantine official policy-making process that is more of an exercise in groupthink that anything else.

  • @ David Hopps
    “In Yorkshire we had nothing to say because we will not look at a decaying social fabric rising inequality…. “So what would you do about it then?” Instead we theorise endlessly about the purity of 19C liberalism and the right for people to believe what they believe. But what do WE believe?”

    Ay up from God’s own country!
    Actually not strictly true as I live in the East Midlands now. However, having spent the first 27 years of my life there, I trust David Raw will be happy for me to contribute, especially since I was born and raised just over the hill from him! 🙂

    Thing is Yorkshire people generally are generally pretty straight talking.
    They call a spade and spade, don’t suffer fools gladly and are quite capable of seeing through anyone who gives them the impression they ‘take them for fools”
    Most Yorkshire folk I know aren’t much interested in glass ceilings (the breaking of or otherwise) except maybe the ones on their conservatories.
    They simply want people to understand that their communities have suffered greatly at the hands of globalisation and the Lib Dems just don’t seem to be listening.
    If a man in green tights riding through the glens with his merry men comes along robbing from the rich to give to the poor, than they actually quite like that, coz it shows someone seems to understand the destruction that happened to them during Thatcherism.

    A conversation with me Mam and Dad might go something like this:
    “But Mike ya never see your lot round here anymore and when they’re on T’elly, they’re allus goin on bout stuff that doesn’t matter to us – people want jobs, a future for their kids.
    If you lot ada had debt’s o 27grand, how many o ya woulda gone to uni – eh?
    Folks just wanna do a fair days work for a fair days pay, spend time wi there family and mates and have a future for their kids. I don’t see your lot saying owt about that.
    It’s all bout Europe, but we don’t live in Europe do wi – we live here!
    So, your lot just need to stop being so mardy and get tha sens sorted out.
    Wanna know why folks round here are so narked of, coz your not listening to us.
    You all need ta stop faffin around wi stuff that only matters down south”

    Yes I know, but that’s a real conversation.
    Reyt – of to grab summat t’eat. Think “our lass” as just made us a chippy butty.

  • PS: Maybe A Yorkshire man leading the party for a while wouldn’t be such a bad thing!

  • I am at a real low point with the party. To save the party – Vince Cable leader, Jo Swinson deputy!

  • Jonathan Pile 20th Jun '17 - 3:27pm

    @Phyllis Or perhaps we were ” mentally unprepared ” for a huge promise to be broken by a party which promised ” an end to broken promises” ?

    I had no problem with Lib Dems going into Coalition at all, I was quite relieved that you guys would be there to hold the Tories back, but the manner in which the Coalituon was executed (broken pledge, NhS reforms, secret courts, rabid austerity, etc) is what killed off the party for many of us. Rose Garden was a big mistake. In contrast see how the DUP conduct themselves, arms length, business like.

    AGREE 100%

  • @ Mike S. Na’ then, Mikey, sitha. No objection to thi’ comments sunshine, so speak up, lad, thi’ talks sense. Like you, an ex-pat – but in Scotland – where the we feel much in common with Scottish ways and values. Still get to see my sister – and Headingley.

    Completely agree with your comments about globalisation (I would add austerity and the destruction of local government and rising inequality….. indeed I feel them deeply and with some anger). I’ll never forget Richard Wainwright crushing a pro capital punishment Tory with, “It isn’t Christian”…… something some our our Peers should reflect on…… As a Yorkie I’ve always found titles pretentious and Clegg’s use of them excessive.

    Your Mum & Dad echo what mine used to do. Good honest Methodist folk of mining stock. Great Uncle George and Auntie Liza got me in the Band of Hope as a little Blue Ribboner. Dad, having somehow survived WW2 had an eternal love for all things Huddersfield Town (much joy now – lovely to see the Jo’s family involved there). The Brighouse & Rastrick band, ‘Hail Smiling Morn’ always stirs the blood.

    I hope Vince does it for this parliament. He’s one of us and he won’t mince words or suffer fools.

  • Dave O, final words. I am sorry if you took offence at my use of ‘minority’ when none was intended. I only got into this discussion with you because you made sweeping remarks – and insinuations – I thought unfair and at odd with the facts. The fact you are now twisting my words from what I meant AND claiming that as some kind of insight into the whole party is a good example. I haven’t tried to claim any ‘insight’ into you from your comments, so please don’t claim to know anything about me from mine.

  • Helen Tedcastle 23rd Jun '17 - 2:21pm

    Dave Orbison.
    To quote:
    1. “LibDems taking potshots at Corbyn and Labour – calling Corbyn a Marxist may make you feel a bit better but outside of the LibDem faithful, the reality is Corbyn is seen as a credible and decent guy”

    So you are a Labour supporter, a fan of Corbyn. maybe a Labour Party member. Now we know and will read your comments on LDV through those lenses.

    2. ” But some, not all Christians DO make it their business to publicly condemn as sinners etc people from the LGBT community. Some Christian politicians use their faith to justify abstaining on votes re LGBT rights or to vote against.”

    Who? When? Where? Any actual evidence that Lib Dem MPs who happen to be Christian do this?

    3. ” I have two gay friends… They both voted Labour in part disconcerted as to the drift to respecting Christianity and putting that on sort of moral equivalence with LGBT rights.”

    I genuinely do not understand this point. Christianity is a religion. The LGBT civil rights lobby is a lobby and campaign for civil rights. They are two different things.

    When Liberal Democrats talk about human rights and civil rights we talk about respecting, and seeking to balance, all rights, including the right to hold and profess a religion and religious identity, and the right to freedom of conscience. These are sound liberal principles.

    Unfortunately, the hard left has a history of not respecting all rights but of bleating endlessly about sectional interests. Corbyn may be a nice bloke but the hard left behind him are not so nice, not as tolerant and not as communitarian.

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