Three things the Liberal Democrats must learn from Eastleigh

Liberal Democrats are entitled to a weekend of being incredibly pleased with ourselves. I have never been as proud of this party as I am now. The way we calmly and professionally got on with delivering a brilliant campaign on the ground was astonishingly good. Activists put their lives on hold and dedicated themselves to Eastleigh for three weeks. My eternal regret will be that I never made it there, due to a horrendous Flu and its lingering aftermath. However, Team Scotland and many others across the country phonebanked their hearts out. Yesterday in Edinburgh, we even had to have an overflow room because so many people turned up to get out the vote. One young man, Daniel, even drove the 130 miles from Aberdeen to join us. The way the party bonded in adversity was not dissimilar to Willie Rennie’s shock victory in Dunfermline seven years ago which was set in a backdrop of us having no leader and an uncomfortable tabloid story appearing roughly every half hour. We weren’t in Government, then, though.

The team on the ground who produced the leaflets, got them delivered, made good use of the VIPs’ time, organised the technology and inspired the party to rally round them were second to none. None of them should ever have to pay for a drink at Federal Conference ever again. We all owe them.

Stephen Tall has already written about the overall political ramifications of the result. I want to concentrate on the lessons the party must learn and act upon in the future.

There is no room for complacency

Yes, we won. But we had a significant swing against us that we can’t ignore. We can’t allow ourselves to forget in the warm glow of victory that we have some serious stuff to sort out. When we get things wrong, we don’t have friendly media to help us out of the mire. As we’ve seen the last week, the likes of the Mail, the Murdoch empire and the Telegraph are only too keen to give us a good kicking. We have to demonstrate that we have dealt with all the issues which have been raised about us in the last week. If that means a few boats need to be rocked, then so be it.

The very nature of a general election means we can’t concentrate all our activists on one place with one common goal. It is neither practical nor legal to deliver a leaflet a day in a campaign where the expenses limit is much smaller.  The intensity and brevity of the by-election helped us. We have to work out how to translate the things that worked in Eastleigh to local campaigns and build the capacity to deliver them. That necessitates a serious strategy to attract both members and supporters.

We have to value and build on our local government base

I doubt we would be celebrating this morning if we hadn’t had such a bedrock of a local government base and a long record of delivering for the community. Keith House leads a team of over 40 local councillors who do all the right things. I lost count of the times voters told me great things about their local Liberal Democrat councillor, whose name they always remembered. The party needs to step up to the Eastleigh or the Portsmouth level of activity. We need to throw the kitchen sink at the County Council elections in May and make sure that our local base is enhanced. Our councillors matter and we need to work with them better. I’m encouraged by closer working together between ALDC and the party’s election strategists. We need to do more, though and we need to listen to our councillors when we develop national campaigns. We might not have elections here in Scotland, but I’ll certainly be encouraging people from here to help in Northumberland.

We have to develop a liberal response to the anti-immigration rhetoric of UKIP

It is not a good thing when a party like UKIP does well in any election. Their narrow nationalism makes any self-respecting liberal wince. The only thing we were saying about the UKIP candidate was that she lived in Surrey. We need to do better than that and effectively challenge the rubbish they come out with. Too many voters told me widely inaccurate stuff about how 40 million Romanians and Bulgarians were going to come here and get houses. 40 million? Really?  That’s more than the entire population of both countries put together. We need to arm ourselves with some facts and engage in this debate. I was very happy with the policy we had at the last general election, to give people who had been here for a long time a path to citizenship and I wouldn’t want to see us change it. Even Nick Clegg saying on the radio the other week that we need to look at whether the rules on housing allocation were fair made me slightly uncomfortable. What we need is more affordable housing, not to put people against each other. Nobody else is going to put the liberal case for us. We have to do this effectively and never pander to the sort of rhetoric we hear from UKIP and, regrettably and increasingly, our coalition partners and the official opposition.

The same goes for issues relating to the EU, as well.

Just for a little, while, though, let’s allow ourselves the luxury of a well deserved celebration. Federal Conference a week from today is going to be fun.

* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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50 Comments

  • “The party needs to step up to the Eastleigh or the Portsmouth level of activity. ”

    “Work harder” isn’t an answer though (well it is partly but bear with). It’s also about working smarter. What the party desperately, desperately lacks is a secure forum for exchanging best practice and ideas.

  • Steve Griffiths 1st Mar '13 - 1:38pm

    “The intensity and brevity of the by-election helped us. We have to work out how to translate the things that worked in Eastleigh to local campaigns and build the capacity to deliver them. That necessitates a serious strategy to attract both members and supporters”.

    Well yes Caron, as you have indicated, it’s all very well concentrating hundreds of supporters for one by-election (and I have attended a fair few for the Liberals and Liberal Democrats over the years), but when it comes to the local elections and a general election you need many more troops. You have sadly lost too many long standing activists like me, from the left of the party, over recent direction and policies. Like many others, I will not actively campaign, donate or deliver for the current party under the current leadership and direction. Nor have I ‘gone back to Labour’ as several contributors to this site and others have suggested I should do – I never came from Labour in the first place. I joined the Young Liberals in the late 1960s and have never voted or campaigned for any other party.

    So there is a FOURTH lesson to be learned. The party needs to once again to become a ‘broad church’ and BE SEEN to be that ‘broad church’, not just project itself as having either a narrow centrist or neo-economic viewpoint. The former left of the party receives not even a nod from the current leadership. We won’t come back and campaign again until we see those signs, and after all it was us that largely built the local constituency and local council base that is now so quickly evaporating.

    Watching from the wider Liberal Movement beyond the Lib Dems, I warmly congratulate Mike Thornton on his election, but ‘one swallow doesn’t make a summer’. Certainly listening to local councillors when national campaigns are planned might be a start; listening to the whole Liberal Movement would be even better.

  • “Their narrow nationalism makes any self-respecting liberal wince. The only thing we were saying about the UKIP candidate was that she lived in Surrey.”

    Thank you. That bit of humour (unintended, I assume) has lightened my day.

  • The real difficulty is that this sort of tactical Rennardist campaign will gladden the heart between elections, but can never deliver us a GE victory. We need something different if we are ever going to win on a national scale. That we were unable to convert the 2010 surge into useful votes is testament to this.

  • I think we need to take a long hard look at the polling data on Lord Ashcroft’s site to see that this was a disaster averted through massive hard work and that all we can permit ourselves is a momentary sigh of relief.

    In particular, his polls found that only 51% of our 2010 voters voted Lib Dem this time and that was on the back of having a candidate with a strong record in local government that allowed us to detach the debate from national issues. In this particular instance, Labour voters were still willing to lend us their votes, but they may not in 2015.

    The worst aspect was the number of former 2010 Lib Dems his polling found who had gone over to the Tories. That really is disturbing and it is backed up by national polling, where they consistently appear to have taken around one in ten of our 2010 voters. That is a crucial 2-3% we will need back in the fold come 2015.

    The next two years has got to be about delivery in government and very, very focused and determined campaigning locally to put across what we are doing nationally. But we also need to make all the contests where we are in first or second place into “by-elections” where we squeeze either Tory or Labour votes to our advantage.

  • Peter Chegwyn 1st Mar '13 - 2:31pm

    Excellent analysis. I’d echo all that Caron has said and I also agree with Hywel that a secure forum to share best practice and ideas would be helpful.

    Let’s be clear. This by-election was won on the ground thanks largely to years of effective local campaigning by a superb team of councillors in Eastleigh ably led by Keith House.

    It was nearly lost by unhelpful, inept and constantly changing comments by certain MPs on what started as a relatively minor story which was given ‘legs’ by some of our own Leaders who provided far too many ‘helpful’ (sic) comments for the right-wing Tory media to seize on.

    We should be grateful that thousands of postal votes were cast before the storm broke.

    Yes, a good result which gives us all a much-needed boost but there are not many seats like Eastleigh.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 1st Mar '13 - 3:29pm

    @hywel Agree

    @Steve If all the social liberals up and leave, what do you expect to happen? This party is a very broad church on all sorts of issues.

    @Chris I was not ignorant of the point you are making. I decided to place that particular irony in gently rather than with a sledgehammer.

    Good points from everyone else.

    @Rebecca Thanks for that. Shows how easy it is to rebut this stuff. We just have to keep at it. More than one voter in Eastleigh said 40 million to me, so even the original inaccurate assertions get misunderstood and misreported.

  • tonygreaves 1st Mar '13 - 3:49pm

    What is very clear is that we now have to take UKIP seriously (as Chris Davies has been doing for some time) and NOT by trimming our policies towards their position (which is what I think is meang by “triangulation”.

    Tony Greaves

  • Charles Beaumont 1st Mar '13 - 4:22pm

    Lord Ashcroft’s post-election poll shows clearly that our biggest asset was our candidate and our local profile and our biggest liability our national profile (including, it would seem, the party leader). We all know that Eastleigh is basically the LD’s best local political stronghold in the whole country. So where we need to be thinking very hard is in those places where we have a local MP and don’t have a strong council showing. That is a major vulnerability and if we are to cling onto seats we need to look at that.

  • Steve Griffiths 1st Mar '13 - 6:19pm

    “If all the social liberals up and leave, what do you expect to happen? This party is a very broad church on all sorts of issues”

    Caron, you have no idea how much I want to hear Nick Clegg and David Laws say the last 12 words of that quote. The Social Liberals and those like me who regard themselves as the libertarian left, departed because they felt that the party had already left them and some within the party become intolerant of our views. It was not the way round you were suggesting.

  • I think a fourth lesson is that the Conservatives are going to come under even more intense pressure from their backbenchers and right-wing newspapers to tack to the right and appease their core vote – more anti-EU and immigration rhetoric, even deeper spending cuts, further attacks on “welfare scroungers”. LibDems are going to have to hold the line to ensure they are not dragged into supporting even more right-wing policies than we have seen already.

  • paul barker 1st Mar '13 - 7:31pm

    @Steve Griffiths, there was a section of the party that simply refused to accept our democratic decision to enter coalition, some of those have left but I have seen no evidence that they form a major part of our ex-members. I have seen evidence that ordinary members of all 3 main parties dont like being in government. Labour lost half their members during their period in office, most of them in the early years when the economy was booming & government spending rising.
    The Tories have lost a much bigger proportion of members than either us or Labour & they are a party that think of themselves as the natural government.

  • Mike Thornton deserves our heartiest congratulations. Nonetheless, something that ought to disturb Liberal Democrats is not that they lost vote share — given the Huhne-Rennard one-two punch, that was only to be expected — but that Thornton now represents less than a third of the voters in a constituency which clearly has a right-wing voting majority. The absurdity of this outcome is not, of course, the Liberal Democrats’ fault, but it suggests that three cheers might be one too many.

  • “but that Thornton now represents less than a third of the voters in a constituency which clearly has a right-wing voting majority. ”

    UKIPs vote was three time’s Chris’ s majority in 2005 & the Referendum Party’s vote was nearly 3 times David Chidgey’s majority in 97.

    On Rebecca’s point “Europe” comes well down the list of concerns but jobs & immigration come well up that list (as she says) and “Europe” is blamed for problems with both. I keep hearing this “30% pro Eu” figure bandied around – but its an irrelevant figure. The key figure is how many of those people would consider voting for us – if it is 10/11th on a list than its not an issue with much salience.

  • what hywel said. We need somewhere to discuss ways of working smarter and there are some good ideas I am aware of which urgently need to be passed on; Facebook seems to be the default option and is not good enough.

  • Romanians plus Bulgarians will be five figures. When Poland and the other 9 joined in 2004, they couldn’t go anywhere except Britain and Ireland – other countries let them in later. This time around he positon is reversed, people who wanted to leave are already settled in countries that opened up to them earlier on.

    The issues that will emerge, if the press pick them up, won’t be about raw numbers but with the UK’s perceived open-door benefits policy (which has been the subject of TV programmes in Romania), which will especially relate to the Roma ethnic minority, whose members are on the bottom economically in both countries.

  • @Steve Griffiths
    “some within the party become intolerant of our views”

    That’s just not true.

    LibDems are far from intolerant of views we disagee amongst ourselves over, the fact is we are a democratic party and we take decisions democratically.

    Obviously those who find themselves in the minority and lose a vote will feel less happy, but we’re LibDems, and we all know that feeling – as a party we’ve not won a general election since before most of us were born!

    I could accept it if people who view themselves within a wider liberal movement had given up hope in the party after we’d failed as a LibDem government, but we’re not in a LibDem government, we’re in coalition. So now is the time to show greater determination, not to prove correct the critics jibes of wooliness.

    To stand steadfast, united and resolute during the darkest days of tribulation wins the respect of voters. Eastleigh proved our resolution to act, and the voters rewarded us by keeping their faith in the fantastic team down their who have done so much for us to be proud of.

    We have won a mandate to represent, now we must win a mandate to govern.

  • Steve Griffiths 1st Mar '13 - 10:48pm

    @Oranjepan

    “That’s just not true”

    There are many of us that believe it is . Go and read:

    http://www.liberator.org.uk/article.asp?id=256204226

  • please will left leaning liberals stop calling themselves social liberals! preferably, perhaps all liberals could drop the qualifications and just call themselves Liberals! the party doesn’t need splits, but especially manufactued ones now.

  • Surely a ‘social liberal; is someone who is ok with gay marriage, etc?
    If you believe in a strong welfare state, that makes you a ‘social democrat’.
    An economic liberal doesn’t see the need for the state to control everything, but unless they are in the wrong party, accepts it needs to control some things and set standards and regulations.

    So if you are liberal in some aspects and a social democrat in others, you are… a Liberal Democrat.
    No need for factions or internal splits or labels. Just make your voice count as part of the party consensus.

    You don’t reform a party or bring it round to your way of thinking by leaving it!

  • Martin Pierce 2nd Mar '13 - 8:50am

    Excellent analysis, Caron. This is why it matters that our local government base has been devastated. The exception (Eastleigh) may unfortunately prove the rule in 2015. You always get the impression from Nick and co in the Westminster bubble after each drubbing that it’s a little unfortunate but won’t really affect what happens at a General Election. Hopefully after Thursday they will wake up and realise it matters very much. To them, personally.

  • Dave Simpson 2nd Mar '13 - 9:34am

    @Peter; @Hywyel The Party already has a secure private conferencing syatem available to it – which includes a topic to exchange ideas on campaigning:- Cix
    But for some reason it is frowned upon by TPTB

  • Peter Chewyn and Charles Beaumont are spot on. Despite the occupants of the Westminster bubble it was won by a great campaign and by the hordes of our members who came to Eastleigh. I am indulging in the luxury of being proud of my party.

  • Charles Corser 2nd Mar '13 - 10:18am

    I agree with Caron’s views on the excellent candidate and local council.
    However it is disheartening that the views of longstanding Liberal Democrats are not being heard and their loyalty being strained. Like me, I am sure many people are just hanging in there waiting for someone to speak out strongly against the health and welfare policies of the coalition.

  • Steve Griffiths,
    the fact that many people believe something does not make it true.

    To call others intolerant is to be intolerant of them, so the person who wrote that Liberator article would be well advised to look at their own behaviour.

    While I obviously agree with his conclusion that it is important to stand up for shared party values, now more than ever, I wholly disagree with his critique that the party has experienced a coup by ‘right-wingers’.

    He calls for greater coherence and argues for greater unity, organisation and ruthlessness – all the while simultaneously decrying these characteristics as those aspects of being ‘right-wing’ which he wishes to oppose. So, according to his own definitions, he is actually half-right himself, or, better said, ‘only’ half-right.

    If people want coherence, then they themselves must be coherent.

  • Geoffrey> The point however is that to define social liberalism as supporting gay rights and not a strong welfare state is not historically accurate and in my opinion is therefore wrong.

    The point is that labels. like Alice in Wonderland, have a habit of meaning what you want them to mean.
    ‘liberal’ in the USA is a term of abuse used by Republicans for those they perceive as Communists.
    ‘liberal’ in Australia is the centre-right party.

    Defining yourself by some narrow faction and a label that means one thing to one person and something else to another doesn’t achieve a lot, IMHO.

  • Liberal Neil 2nd Mar '13 - 3:50pm

    john mc & Cassie – the term ‘Social Liberal’ describes the form of liberalism that developed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, initially as ‘new liberalism’ by Mill, developed by TH Green and Hobhouse amongst others and informed the establishment of early pillars of the welfare state by Lloyd-George and was later developed by Keynes and Beveridge. It is also sometimes called ‘modern liberalism’.

    In simple terms it is based on the idea that state intervention in social, welfare and cultural life was a necessary part of liberalism because individuals couldn’t be truly free without it. This distinguished it from the more laissez-faire approach of ‘classical liberalism’.

    ‘Social liberalism’ does not mean the same as ‘being liberal on social issues’, although most social liberals are liberal on social issues. Many classical liberals and neoliberals are also liberal on social issues but are not social liberals.

    So when I or others describe ourselves as ‘social liberals’ we are not suggesting that others are authoritarian on social issues, but describing the broader approach to liberalism that we believe in.

    This isn’t ‘defining yourself by some narrow faction’, it is an accurate description of someone’s political philosophy, and a long-standing definition of the approach of most liberals of the last century. Within the Liberal Democrats there is a range of types of liberalism, and that’s fine by me, political parties are broad churches, but we shouldn’t pretend that we all see our liberalism in exactly the same way.

  • @ Geoffrey Payne

    “Then there is the question of whether we should be following George Osborne’s schedule for budget deficit reduction, which is killing growth and make budget deficit reduction harder as a result.”

    No, it really isn’t. You have to look at what else is going on in the UK economy, particularly external factors like oil prices and exports to find reasons why the economy isn’t growing. Deficit reduction is only a small part of a very much larger story. It is totally wrong to attribute the overall performance of the UK economy to deficit reduction.

  • Julian Critchley 2nd Mar '13 - 7:39pm

    Hmm. MY last comment seems to have been moderated out. Can’t think why, as I wasn’t insulting anyone (except generic Tories, which is fair enough).

    Anyway, in response to RC, the gist was that it isn’t convincing for either Government party to now claim that somehow the deficit reduction policy isn’t to blame for the current economic woes. The same parties have made an absolute fetish of deficit reduction since 2010, using it to justify every policy from tuition fees, through cuts in disabled support, to the attack on public sector pay and pensions. Having successfully smashed confidence and depressed demand, resulting in our triple dip depression, it’s a bit rich for people to turn round and suggest that somehow the deficit reduction isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things, and other factors have as much or mroe influence. If that’s the case, then what on earth was the point of causing all the misery which has been caused by policies pursued in the name of deficit reduction ?

  • >‘Social liberalism’ does not mean the same as ‘being liberal on social issues’,

    Defining yourself as this kind of liberal or that kind is meaningless if you have to give others a history lesson to explain what it means and to distinguish that you are adhering to the 19thC definition not a 21stC one. Etc.

    And the “we are the only people who care about the poor and the rest of you are heartless —–s” if you don’t believe that the way to solve poverty is to throw money we haven’t got at it” sounds very much like Labour to me.

    Raising the starting point at which people pay tax means people can escape the poverty trap of being better off on benefits than working.
    To face up to UKIP, it might be worth looking at why they are all ‘coming over here and taking our jobs’ when our own unemployed could be doing them. I suspect that poverty trap is a big part of it.

    Taking the rich heavily sounds attractive. But are there enough of them to make a vast difference? Will they find loopholes or ways to stash it somewhere it can’t be touched? Will it disincentivize the entrepreneurs we need to create jobs? (Not all rich people are bankers). And it doesn’t seem to be working too well for France.

  • Ian Patterson 2nd Mar '13 - 9:25pm

    i hope that the party does not draw ‘wrong’ conclusion from eastleigh. we had a near political death scenario here. we cannot concentrate resources at ‘eastleigh’ levels at GE, as the membership/actvist base is no longer there. we were once nearly 100,000 strong in the day. until we stop political somersalting on a routine daily basis, the public will not take us seriously. bedroom/pasty/jewerally taxes anybody!

  • David Allen 2nd Mar '13 - 11:45pm

    I must admit I had expected worse. I had expected this edgy victory to provoke a mass blooming of rose-tinted spectacles. On the whole they have been pleasingly absent. Excluding, of course our dear leader’s ineffable phrase of genius “We didn’t win in Eastleigh “in spite” of our record. We won because of our record.”

    Nevertheless, it does seem to have emboldened the bogus proof brigade.

    Cassie thinks she has proved Geoffrey Payne wrong on the basis of how words are defined. Since Geoffrey calls himself a social liberal, and Cassie since believes that the label describes a political viewpoint restricted to social issues such as gay marriage, therefore Geoffrey is not entitled to argue against cutting benefits below starvation level. Nice one!

    Jedibeeftrix prefers a mathematical bogus proof. Since it is an axiom that tax rates shall not rise above 38% of GDP, and since we have a deficit, therefore it is proven that there is no validity in arguing against cutting benefits below starvation level. (Even if we have just reduced the top rate of income tax.) Nice one!

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Mar '13 - 12:16am

    Tony Greaves

    What is very clear is that we now have to take UKIP seriously (as Chris Davies has been doing for some time) and NOT by trimming our policies towards their position.

    Yes, we ought to be pointing out that UKIP’s economic policy is to the right of the Conservatives’, so making pretty sure anyone who is contemplating voting UKIP as some sort of protest about “the cuts” needs to think again. A situation where we are losing huge numbers of votes on the grounds “they’ve become just like the Conservatives” and the main beneficiaries are a party which has all the worst aspects of the Conservatives doesn’t make logical sense. We ought to be pointing out that the sort of “independence” from the EU that UKIP advocates is mainly independence against attempts to control the power of big money to grind us all down. UKIP doesn’t like the way the EU brings nation states together to stand up against the way big money plays one off against the other. But you never hear UKIP complaining about UK independence being damaged by our privatised infrastructure companies being bought up by foreign owners, or about foreign money flooding into London buying up property and forcing house prices beyond the reach of Londoners.

    So we should be taking UKIP seriously be exposing them for what they are – a sort of ultra-Conservative Party which fools many people into voting for it who would never vote for the actual Conservative Party by using this “UK independence” tag. In that way we ought to be able to win back voters we have lost to them, but they keep the voters the Tories have lost to them, hence splitting the Tory vote to our benefit.

  • re: ‘current economic woes’

    can somebody please tell me what would represent a good economic situation?

    Growth figures for the past quarter were adjusted up to 0.2% by the ONS, while employment levels continue to hit record peaks – compared to many of our competitors the coalition should be credited with stabilising the economy and avoiding further declines.

    That’s not to say long-term prospects are rosy, enough has been done to ensure the stability found will translate into growth levels above historic trend, or that anyone enjoys cutting spending on benefits which many people have become dependent upon, but nor is it to say all is doom.

    So please would people start giving some details on what they would mean by a healthy economy – 9% growth? 20% spending? 1% unemployment? 5% inflation?

    I personally am concerned about the effects of low interest rates which punish saving and deter lending, but encourage borrowing. Labour got this wrong and it cannot last much longer even while we engage a policy of partial reflation.

  • David Allen > Cassie since believes that the label describes a political viewpoint restricted to social issues such as gay marriage,

    You missed my point it would seem. My point was calling yourself by a label doesn’t achieve much if other people assume – – or can assume – you mean something quite different by it.
    Like someone saying they are a football fan and you assume soccer but then find out they mean Aussie rules. Not a great analogy, but it’ll do for now.

    >Since … Cassie since believes that the label describes a political viewpoint restricted to social issues such as gay marriage, therefore Geoffrey is not entitled to argue against cutting benefits below starvation level. Nice one!

    How the thump did you come to that conclusion?
    Where did I say he wasn’t ENTITLED to argue whatever?
    Geoffrey is entitled to his opinions on anything and everything and free to argue what he likes.

    Language like ‘starvation levels’ does echo my point about the “but no one else cares” moral high ground.

  • David Allen 4th Mar '13 - 1:17pm

    Jedibeeftrix, we certainly cannot blithely ignore all the financial constraints that have arisen from the post-bubble collapse in tax receipts. However, that does not equate to a mathematical or logical proof that there is no alternative to Osbornomics and that our room for manoeuvre is zero. You do like to argue as if everything you say is a self-evident truth, but it ain’t. It’s just one guy’s opinion, that’s all!

  • David Allen 4th Mar '13 - 1:22pm

    Cassie, you had a go at Geoffrey Payne’s views on benefits, and the first argument you put forward was that he was (in your view) using the wrong political label to describe himself. If that wasn’t an attempt to tie your opponent up in linguistic knots, what was it?

  • David Allen >Cassie, you had a go at Geoffrey Payne’s views on benefits, and the first argument you put forward was that he was (in your view) using the wrong political label to describe himself. If that wasn’t an attempt to tie your opponent up in linguistic knots, what was it?

    I addressed two different issues in one post, is all.
    I don’t see how saying “labels are unhelpful if they are open to different interpretations’ is ‘linguistic knots’. Quite the opposite.

    To me, one of the great things about the Lib Dems is you can have 50 in a room and have 50 different views.
    One of the rubbish things about Labour and the Conservatives is they are divided internally by factions, sometimes seeming to be more at war with other parts of their own party than with their outright opponents.

    Calling yourself ‘a social liberal’ (however you define that), or derogatory remarks about ‘orange bookers’ seems to me a very negative and divisive way of approaching differences of opinion.

    I also dislike the phrases ‘Con Dem government’ and ‘Liarbore’ for similar reasons: they are both sneering and imply a sense of superiority by the user.

    And I didn’t “have a go” at his views. I aired an alternative viewpoint. Or am I not “entitled” to do that?

  • David Le Poidevin 6th Mar '13 - 11:47am

    Steve Griffiths speaks of Social Liberals leaving the party because of its current leadership. However I would wish to point out that others of us have found staying in the party less easy in recent years because of a shift to the left in the party, particularly at Conference. The party I joined in the 1970’s was a centre party and that is where we are best placed.
    Social and Economic Liberals belong together in balance.

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