We should weep at what is happening to Labour

Whoever wins the Labour leadership battle, it’s going to be a torrid time for Labour. There are already accusations and counter-accusations, threats of a legal challenge, and that’s before we know the result.Perhaps, this will help with the #LibDemFightback. It may well lead to a faster recovery in the polls, another surge of new members, and more by-election victories. But there is a terrible downside.

I remember the last time Labour self-destructed. When that happened, I was horrified. We had a Labour party that was unfit to be the Official Opposition, and a Conservative government that ruled in triumphalism for 18 years. Not everything the Tories did was bad, but some of it was appalling. The Poll Tax was only the most prominent of many policies which harmed the weakest in society, and sometimes the worst policies were small measures that the newspapers never noticed.

I joined the SDP. I don’t regret it for a moment. Someone needed to provide a credible alternative to the Tories, and it certainly wasn’t going to be Labour.

For a moment, it looked like we could achieve the impossible, beat the first-past-the-post system and kick the Tories out of government. But we failed, and those in poverty paid a terrible price.

My worst memories of that time are the 1992 election, when in many seats we seemed about to make a breakthrough. Then the Tory leaflets dropped on our supporters’ doorsteps saying, don’t vote Lib Dem, or you’ll put Neil Kinnock in number 10.

Those leaflets were devastating. Fear of Labour was so great that even some who had put up our posters admitted later to voting Tory.

Something similar happened in May this year. The fear of Prime Minister Ed Miliband, held hostage by the SNP, was enough to deliver a result no one expected: the majority Tory government that rules today.

If Labour self-destruct, as it looks like they’re doing, I won’t be celebrating.

There’s nothing we in the Lib Dems can do to stop it. We just have to carry on with the fightback, campaigning for sensible policies, recruiting more new members, winning more by-elections. And we will need to try to displace them.

But we should be under no illusion. It’s the Tories who should be laughing. We should be weeping.

* George Kendall is chair of the Social Democrat Group, which is being formed to celebrate and develop our social democrat heritage, and to reach out to social democrats beyond the party. He writes in a personal capacity.

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98 Comments

  • Richard Stallard 3rd Sep '15 - 9:17am

    The demise of any opposition is a cause for celebration.
    I’ve got the popcorn out, sitting back and thoroughly enjoying the miseries of a party that has done so much harm to this country!

  • I weep for the fact that we live in an increasingly unequal society with the wealth increasingly in the hands of multibillionaires who don’t give a fig for the less fortunate in our society and who continue to rip off OUR public assets and services. I also weep for the fact that the tabloid press continue to demonise people who oppose them and are owned by unsavoury characters such as Murdoch, Rothermere and Desmond. I also deeply regret how the party I loved and first joined over fifty years ago supped with the Tories for five years and virtually self-destructed as a consequence.

    Yes, “campaign for sensible policies” but can anyone tell me what’s sensible about spending £ 100 billion on replacing Trident.

    As for Mr Stallard – go easy on the popcorn old pal. You’ll be putting funds in the direction of Nick’s newly enobled pal the Director General of the Food and Drink Industry, Sir Thingymebob Popcorn – and you might just need the services of the NHS (a Liberal idea put into practice by a Labour Government).

  • Stephen Howse 3rd Sep '15 - 9:52am

    Like my co-commentators above, I am looking upon this mess with no small measure of schadenfreude after enduring five years of vitriol being heaped on the Liberal Democrats by Labour.

    However, George’s point is sound. We had our biggest breakthrough in 1997, the year of the Blair landslide, and why? Because in Conservative-held seats, voters felt able to vote for us without fear of what Labour would do to the country if they got into power, whereas in 1992 they couldn’t. We need a Labour Opposition that is credible and actually looks like a government-in-waiting, because if we don’t have that we will find it even harder to recapture all of those seats in our South West ‘heartland’ that were lost this year.

  • Matt (Bristol) 3rd Sep '15 - 9:57am

    Totally agree, George Kendall — a weak Opposition, in our system, leads to a lazy and arrogant Government.

    In the same way, I still blame Hague and IDS for their failure to think critically on the Iraq war and ask the intelligent questions in 1999 / 2000 / 2001 that could have made Labour at least blink.

    I should say that I reject the two-party system, and want several strong national parties, not two, but until the system is changed, we need Labour (flawed as they are) to be a watchman for the nation, keeping an eye on the Tories. We (alas) in our weakened state can only prick and provoke and float ideas and hope the bigger blocs pick them up.

  • Richard Stallard 3rd Sep ’15 – 9:17am……………..The demise of any opposition is a cause for celebration.
    I’ve got the popcorn out, sitting back and thoroughly enjoying the miseries of a party that has done so much harm to this country….

    So much harm? Much of what we take for granted NHS, Pensions, Welfare, etc. was introduced by those with beliefs akin to Corbyn’s….The harm was done by those following the Thatcher creed of a ‘light touch’/ self regulating private sector…..
    Will Corbyn succeed as a leader? I don’t know (given how the media is largely owned, as David Raw says, by Murdoch/Rothemere /Desmond); but at least he believes in something.

    What, under Clegg, did we believe?

  • @ Simon Shaw. Sorry, Simon, you don’t get it.

    Have a look at what PFI’s are doing to costs in the National Health Service (introduced by the Blair Government and pursued even by Burnham who is now backtracking).

    Have a look at ex-Health Secretary Alan Milburn’s portfolio of directorships. (Chairman of the European Advisory Board at Bridgepoint Capital, whose activities include financing private health care companies providing servicesto the NHS and member of the Healthcare Advisory Panel at Lloyds Pharmacy.

    Perhaps you can also tell me why an NHS Hospital in Edinburgh was feeding patients on food prepared and transported over three hundred miles from Wales.

    And of course, there’s Iraq. All of that’s why Labour is having an internal catfight over their leadership and why so many decent people are turning to Corbyn.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Sep '15 - 10:26am

    1983 and 1992 rolled into one, necessarily abbreviated. Labour may split, but if it does a merger with us is not an automatic consequence, because it could lead to further splits. On the weekend before polling day in 1992 former MP David Owne was on the front page of the Mail on Sunday saying vote Tory!!! (except in some constituencies).
    Neil Kinnock MP supported the miners’ strike “in his own way, in his own constituency” with TV cameras present. These are different times.

  • I think what is happening in Labour is very healthy. – the party is doubt a ‘re-set’. There is a re-balancing away from the right-wing and that can only be good for the country. We seem as a country to have become very hard and intolerant in recent times and a move back towards the compassionate is a much-needed. Of course Labour is not going to go back to Clause 4 or re nationalisation of “everything” – Corbyn seems much too pragmatic to go down extreme routes. But there is great public support for some form of public ownership of railways. The Lib Dems used to have a policy along those lines. Not sure what your policy is these days.

    Anyway the point is we are getting away from the Tory-lite version of Labour. The Lib Dems seem to be struggling to do the same. I doubt you will succeed. Half of your MPs firmly believe they did nothing wrong in Coalition. That’s not a great way to move forward. Let’s hope you still have at least eight MPs in 2020.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Sep '15 - 10:29am

    Sorry, typo: Owen not Owne

  • paul barker 3rd Sep '15 - 10:35am

    The unspoken assumption behind this article seem to be that nothing fundamental can change – our role is to be Labours conscience & thats all. We are in a very strange situation, at our weakest for at least 26 years but facing our greatest opportunities since the 1930s. Labour are split from top to bottom but so are the Tories. In The Referendum, perhaps as soon as April, Senior Tories will be fighting on both sides.
    The opposition are much stronger in The Lords than during the 1980s, if we fight we can slow The Government down.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Sep '15 - 11:06am

    Richard Stallard 3rd Sep ’15 – 9:17am “The demise of any opposition is a cause for celebration. I’ve got the popcorn out, sitting back and thoroughly enjoying the miseries of a party that has done so much harm to this country!”
    Please see Heston Blumenthal’s feature on Channel 4 about popcorn, fattening, overpriced and tastier when eating in groups.

  • Matt (Bristol) 3rd Sep '15 - 11:07am

    Phyllis – I do not buy the dualist lie that there are only two positions — left and ‘Tory-lite’.

    I also don’t buy themyth that there is only one ‘centre’ and that all centrism is Blairism.

    I do think we got too close to the Tories recently, but that does not mean the solution is to then get too close to Labour.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Sep '15 - 11:10am

    Richard Stallard 3rd Sep ’15 – 9:17am “The demise of any opposition is a cause for celebration. …”
    Please check your history books. The Referendum Party and UKIP were slogging it out in a confined political space. Then the Referendum Party ceased to be a party. Did you belong to either of these?

  • I couldn’t care less they’ve done it to themselves by not doing the heavy lifting instead trashing the lib dems as the lazy option. I shall open champagne when Corbyn is elected.

  • Matt (Bristol) “think we got too close to the Tories recently, but that does not mean the solution is to then get too close to Labour.”

    Now who’s adopting a “duellist ” position?

  • @ Simon Shaw. Sorry to disturb your comfort zone, Simon, but do do a bit of research on PFI to get a proper briefing and some enlightenment..

    No – the Royal in Edinburgh PFI had nothing to do with the SNP – the Labour-Liberal Executive did the deal with Consort PFI. Consort own the lot including the catering. Having a cardboard omelette with well drowned brussel sprouts imported 300 miles up the M6/M74 from Wales was not my idea of heaven as I waited for a transplant in 2011 (brilliantly carried out by a fantastic team of NHS surgeons).

    I was lucky – there was a case when all the power went off during an operation a couple of years ago during Consort maintenance work – and don’t ask how much it costs to change a light bulb..

    What has it to do with multi-billionaires ? Well, one of the biggest so-called infrastructure funds buying the contracts, HICL, has its tax domicile in Guernsey and was specifically set up by HSBC to buy up such contracts. Another, Dalmore Holdings, is run by a team of former bankers and accountants in London with shareholders including a number of Cayman Island investment funds. AMP Capital, an Australian fund manager, is also a major investor in such deals.

    NHS experts have said that, in the case of the hospitals, the profit from selling the contracts could be matched by the amount the companies have made in their annual charges for running the sites.

    Sorry you don’t get it about the fol flocking to support Corbyn. I wish they would flock to us but I understand their problem. Don’t fall for the Daily Mail’ s black propaganda stuff. And we can all sleep safely in our beds knowing Ms Brooks is on the way back with Murdoch.

  • David Allen 3rd Sep '15 - 11:46am

    Labour have made one or two slip-ups over the last 20 years. First they elected a religious maniac to lead them, and he took us into a disastrous illegal war. Then they elected a dour technocrat with no idea what to do with power. Then they elected a geek who naturally lost. Now they will elect Corbyn, who, for all his faults, looks like a better choice than any of the previous three!

    Whether Corbyn will leave Labour in tears depends on how well he can play the game. Instead of coming up with a succession of brave new ideas, he should harry the Tories relentlessly. He should get it over to the public that many Tory policies are doing immense harm, and that the key need is simply to put those policies into reverse. If he can do that, he can hold his party together and turn the tables on the Tories.

  • Richard Stallard 3rd Sep '15 - 11:49am

    @Richard Underhill
    “The Referendum Party and UKIP were slogging it out in a confined political space. Then the Referendum Party ceased to be a party. Did you belong to either of these?”

    I have never ‘belonged to’ (nor been a member of) any political party, and never will be!

  • @ Simon Shaw : A bit more homework for you from the Scotsman : Brilliant medicos – lousy PFI.

    A health board is consulting its lawyers after surgeons had to complete an operation and keep a patient alive by torchlight when contractors unexpectedly shut off their power last month. NHS Lothian disclosed that the unscheduled power cut, midway through an operation at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in late March, shut down all electrical machinery in the theatre for 11 minutes, including breathing machines and heart monitors. It meant surgical staff had to use hand-ventilators to keep the anesthetised patient breathing in complete darkness for 90 seconds and then by torchlight for another nine-and-a-half minutes, while monitoring the patient’s pulse by hand, as surgeons completed the operation without any power.

  • Paul Kennedy 3rd Sep '15 - 12:22pm

    paul barker
    Spot on with: “We are in a very strange situation, at our weakest for at least 26 years but facing our greatest opportunities since the 1930s. Labour are split from top to bottom but so are the Tories.”

  • @ Simon Shaw

    Sorry, Simon. as a former Convenor of Social Work on Scottish Borders Council it was not my business top be misinformed. I’m sure a chap of your computer literate calibre is perfectly capable of doing your own research on the companies listed. Enjoy…..

    Off for lunch now…. hand made, home grown, organic……… certainly will enjoy.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Sep '15 - 12:41pm

    George Kendall

    Something similar happened in May this year. The fear of Prime Minister Ed Miliband, held hostage by the SNP, was enough to deliver a result no one expected: the majority Tory government that rules today.

    Yes, and what a ridiculous line that was.

    Were we, the Liberal Democrats, able to “hold hostage” David Cameron when the Tories did not have a majority? No. We were not able, for example, to force Cameron to implement STV, all we got was the miserable little compromise of a referendum on AV. So what exactly were the SNP going to force Ed Miliband to do that would be so off-putting to most voters? And how exactly were they to do it? Well, the only real way they could do it was to join forces with the major opposition party, which would be the Conservatives. So people voted Conservative to stop the SNP doing what the SNP would need the Conservatives to support to be able to do it. Er …

    Well, people might have believed the SNP could have “held hostage” Ed Miliband, and if they did they would believe that Nick Clegg could have done likewise. So by pushing that line, we hugely damaged ourselves because it enforced the impression that what the Coalition did was all what the Liberal Democrats really wanted in the first place. We could have “held hostage” David Cameron and got something much more like what we seemed to be about in 2010 if we really believed in it, so clearly we didn’t really believe in it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Sep '15 - 12:48pm

    George Kendall

    If Labour self-destruct, as it looks like they’re doing, I won’t be celebrating.

    So why don’t you write up the Tories in the same way?

    The current position of the Conservative Party is just as much to the extreme right as Jeremy Corbyn is to the extreme left. People like you go on about Labour being so unpopular in the 1980s, but Margaret Thatcher then looks like a moderate pragmatist compared to what the Conservatives are doing now. If you say Jeremy Corbyn as leader would destroy the Labour Party, well hasn’t this already happened with the Conservatives, with the whole moderate wing of the Conservatives, who used to be called the “wets”, now completely extinct. The Conservatives now are run by the equivalent of who Jeremy Corbyn was in the 1980s.

    So, let’s have a bit of balance on this. If we denounce one lot of extremists, let’s do just the same to the other lot.

  • jedibeeftrix 3rd Sep '15 - 1:08pm

    @ john m – “a Written Constitution and all the other changes we needed to make us a 21st century nation”

    Why is written constitution necessary to be considered a ‘modern’ representative democracy?

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Sep '15 - 1:11pm

    James 3rd Sep ’15 – 11:21am ” … open champagne when Corbyn is elected”
    On the Thursday that Mrs Thatcher did her last PMQ we had a party, champagne and smoked salmon, buy it fell rather flat because she had put on a bravura performance, and was still an MP. The Tories dumped her because they thought that they would lose the following general election under her leadership. They were correct to do so. John Major got an overall Tory majority of 21 seats. Reportedly there were suicides in the Labour Party.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Sep '15 - 1:17pm

    Please will some Scots blog about Corbyn’s probable effect on the SNP in the Holtrood elections?

  • jedibeeftrix 3rd Sep '15 - 1:17pm

    @ Phyllis – “I think what is happening in Labour is very healthy. – the party is doubt a ‘re-set’. There is a re-balancing away from the right-wing and that can only be good for the country.”

    If your view is that the country is too right wing your comment only makes any sense if you assume this more left wing labour party will get elected to enact this left wing change, or, at the very least function as a credible loyal opposition for her majesty.

    Is a corbyn led party capable of either of these feats?

  • Not really. To me it looks more like the Labour party might elect the leader their rank and file want whether that makes them less or more electable will be down the situation in a few years time when they will probably facing Osborn not Cameron. Of course a damaging result in the EU referendum could spell trouble for Cameron befor then.
    I’m pretty much with Matthew Huntbach here. We have an extremist government anyway.
    Jedi.
    You can rebalance the thrust of the debate without being in power by challenging the existing consensus. In other words once someone introduces a different set arguments they enter the public sphere. Even if a lot of people are sold on things as they are not everyone is and someone like Corbyn may put a crack in the floodgates gates. Neither of two main parties are actually very popular at the moment. I’m not a Labour voter, but I find watching all the Righties in both parties go into fits of apoplexy because they’ve found out that there is still at the very least a socialistic Left Wing is very amusing and quite healthy for Britain.

  • Labour will not self destruct. They have a membership, ideology, income and resources that will always stand the test of time. I think we can safely assume that in 2020 they will have a lot more MPs than ourselves. The one party that has self destruct is ourselves from 2012 to 2015. We have disappeared in many areas I suggest that we stop worrying about other parties and concentrate solely on ourselves, we need to as we have a very long road to travel before we are again credible in the eyes of the public and the media as a national party.

  • @ Simon Shaw. Apologies for misleading you. Food at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary doesn’t come 300 miles from Wales, I must have been confused at the time.

    In fact it comes from over 400 miles frozen from Trowbridge to Glasgow where it is stored for several weeks before being transported to Edinburgh.

    Source : Report by a group of Edinburgh medical students available on the internet as below :

    Sustainable Food & Medicine at the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh
    sumj.dundee.ac.uk/data/uploads/epub-article/2005-sumj.epub.pdf

    Perhaps now you’ll make yourself a nice fresh omelette for tea and rejoice in the joys of a PFI contract..

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Sep '15 - 5:00pm

    Simon Shaw

    For instance, Matthew, if you ever look at the comments on Conservative Home you will see a lot of posters who (quite seriously) think that Cameron is a dangerous left-winger. What they really mean is that they are even more to the right than Cameron – all politics is relative.

    So personally I would say that, in relation to the views of the UK electorate, Corbyn is a lot more to the extreme left than Cameron is to the extreme right

    And I would personally say that indicates even more the validity of the point I am making. In terms of its membership, the Conservative Party is off-the-wall lunatic far right, but that doesn’t get mentioned in the press – or here in Liberal Democrat Voice. Oh no, we get the message pumped out again and again and again that Corbyn is a dangerous left-winger, as if that’s the only issue of concern.

    This is an indication to me that I no longer live in a true democracy. Rather this country is like one of those many countries in the world where in theory there is democracy and free speech, but in practice domination of the media by the controlling ideology is so strong that it’s just token.

    In terms of the views of the UK electorate, well it’s hard to make out what people’s real views are. With the national press pumping out so much right-wing propaganda, of course people who aren’t that much into politics are going to be pushed somewhat in that direction. However, in my experience most people don’t fit into a straight left-right spectrum, and don’t think everything through logically. So, if you ask them one set of questions (e.g. “do you want low tax?”) you can come to the conclusion people are to the right, if you ask them another (e.g. “do you want high quality state services?”) you can come to the conclusion that people are to the left.

    I do feel, however, that people in this country are fed up with the general direction politics has been going in recent decades, and want a return to the time when there was a more equal society and less domination by big business. We are not in the 1980s when Thatcherism seemed new and exciting and we hadn’t experienced its long term effects. Just maybe now people have seen where it leads to perhaps they are more sympathetic to lines they would have rejected back then. I think your conclusion that most people on this country want it to continue travelling rightwards politically is very, very wrong.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Sep '15 - 5:11pm

    Simon Shaw

    But I may be wrong on that; hopefully Corbyn will win and then we will all find out.

    I’m no great fan of Corbyn. I think a lot of what he says is naive and simplistic. I also think politics in this country drifted rightwards because of people like him – they failed to build a truly popular alternative. Corbyn is typical of his type – he represents a safe seats where the votes just roll in for his party, so he’s never actually had to go out and win votes. He’s clearly benefitting now because people are so fed up with politics as it has been that when the mass media and the political establishment in all parties turned against him, people thought “Oh, he must be good”.

    Of course, we in the Liberal Democrats OUGHT to be building a better left, one which is more workable and really does understand where people are coming from, and doesn’t have the arrogance of the Labour Party. But we aren’t doing that, instead we’re joining in the “nah nah nah nah nah” attacks on Corbyn which seem only to be boosting him.

    I suspect that if Corbyn did win, he’d end up much like Tsipras in Greece – finding out the hard way that there are no easy answers.

  • @Matthew Huntbach “In terms of its membership, the Conservative Party is off-the-wall lunatic far right, but that doesn’t get mentioned in the press – or here in Liberal Democrat Voice. Oh no, we get the message pumped out again and again and again that Corbyn is a dangerous left-winger, as if that’s the only issue of concern.”

    But there is a difference. One party has an extreme membership but a moderate leadership, the other (potentially) has it the other way round. And in both cases the leadership determine what programme is put before the electorate.

  • George Kendall 3rd Sep '15 - 6:15pm

    Thanks to everyone who made comments. Too many to answer you all, but I hope the following covers most of your points:

    @Colin
    You make a good point. The reasons for what has happened may only be clear to historians. And even if we could see the reasons, there are usually many of them, and cannot be described in simple terms. But isn’t it possible that historians will look back at an explanation that Westminister is not loved, is full of mediocrity, etc, and regard that explanation as just as flawed?

    @paul barker
    You’re right, of course. There’s a paradox in my article. We should weep, but we should also fight to displace Labour as the opposition. But I think it’s important that we do lament the damage that this phase in British politics is going to do to many, many vulnerable people.

    @Matt (Bristol)
    I completely agree that there are more than two positions, left and Tory-lite. If LDV are willing to publish, this is a subject I’d like to cover in a future article.

    @Matthew Huntbach
    Two reasons:
    I think it’s unlikely the Tories will split. They are a party, not of ideology, but of defending privilege. They are driven by extremely powerful forces, which will preserve their interests by ensuring the Tory party don’t split.
    And, while the Tories are and will do many things that will harm the weakest in society, they are doing so in a way which, regrettably, will appeal to many centrist voters.

    @Matthew Huntbach
    While I agree that there are many members of the Tory party who are off-the-wall lunatic far right, it would be folly to describe their party in those terms. They are a ruthless and extremely effective political machine.

    @theakes
    You are right. Labour won’t totally self-destruct. It will, I fear, be a repeat of the eighties and nineties, with an enfeebled opposition, and Tory hegemony for perhaps twenty years.
    We had a terrible result in 2015. However, I think we will recover for one key reason: although we lost many valued members over the last five years, we never publicly split, and under Tim, the party is extremely united. I think we also undervalue the skill and expertise of many people within our community, who will be enormously valuable in the slow recovery to come.

  • Little Jackie Paper 3rd Sep '15 - 7:24pm

    George Kendall – On ‘tory-lite.’ This seems to have become a very fashionable turn of phrase for, ‘something I don’t like.’ It is lazy. If you look at the Conservative talkboards then a lot of Conservative seem to take the view that Cameron is tory lite. Even if I were to overlook that, ‘tory-lite,’ seems to be an election-winning platform, I still fail to see the analysis.

    Are we saying that the Conservatives are some sort of cold, slash-and-burners? They just won on a manifesto that talked about intervention in the railways in the form of fare caps, a triple locked pension at a huge cost, substantial free-at-the-point-of use child care and a dubiously funded £8bn for the NHS.

    Thatcher probably would have balked at the so-called Snooper’s Charter.

    Are we saying that somehow, old Labour had policies we’d all love today. Attlee oversaw the UK going nuclear, the partition of India, the maintenance of ID cards post-war and joined the war in Korea. Had the internet been around Attlee would have probably been a hate figure. So what is, ‘tory-lite?’

    Tory lite, to my mind, is the latest form of, ‘change.’ That word gets lobbed around the internet like confetti – just no one ever seems to agree on what sort of change we want. I can have my own view of course. When people say they want change what I think they mean is change from the, ‘open agenda.’ CON, LAB and Coalition all zealously followed and agenda to, ‘open,’ the UK and, to say the least, it threw up winners and losers. Renationalisation could be seen as closed. Withdrawal from NATO/EU would be closed. A more modest immigration total would be a sign of a more closed view. UKIP probably score on taking a closed view – at least on the level of rhetoric.

    Corbyn is not the loony left of the 1980s. If you read his stuff it’s rather more watery than the media let on. But is he just another, ‘open agenda,’ person with a bit of fashionable anti-establishment rhetoric thrown in? Time will tell. He may even be tory lite.

  • Little Jackie Paper 3rd Sep '15 - 7:30pm

    Huntbach – ‘I do feel, however, that people in this country are fed up with the general direction politics has been going in recent decades, and want a return to the time when there was a more equal society and less domination by big business.’

    I agree, but I’d have to ask whether this is symptom or cause. The corporatism that we have in our politics is plain. But is that the product of corporatism in politics per se or the product of the open agenda. Perhaps it’s both of course. Is it possible to get a more equal (socially just?) society in an, ‘open,’ driven politics? I don’t know.

    People may well be fed up, but it’s not enough for us the public at large to glibly demand, ‘change.’ If we feel that open has hurt the interests of too many, what is our alternative. I’m yet to find anything convincing.

  • George Kendall.
    Why would it be a folly to describe the conservatives as an economically far right if that’s what you believe. I think this kind of argument and just calling them ruthless normalises the economic far right and is actual a cop out. there’s loads of people here calling Corbyn far left when his economic views are actually more or more or less mainstream, in line with mainstream economists. but some how the way out experiments of George Osborn and the inept mean spirited incompetence of fellow wackoidal advocate Ian Duncan Smith or the racist pandering antics of David Cameron over the refugee crisis can’t be called far right when they plainly are. It’s this tactic acceptance of the Tories drift rightwards that bothers some of us.

  • George Kendall 3rd Sep '15 - 7:43pm

    @Little Jackie Paper
    Broadly, I agree. I dislike the term ‘tory-lite’ and try not to use it. For similar reasons I don’t like the term neo-liberalism.

    On Corbyn, I’m not sure I do agree. While some of his proposals aren’t extreme – such as renationalising the railways – some, in my opinion, are, and would do a lot of damage to the country. That’s a subject that, LDV willing, I’d like to expand on in another article.

  • Little Jackie Paper 3rd Sep '15 - 8:00pm

    George Kendall – Which policies?

  • I suspect politics goes in cycles. Britain moved leftwards between 1890 and 1945. Since then we have been moving rightwards.

    However during this rightward shift support for both the main parties has been shrinking until neither can command more than 37% of the vote. the real theme of the moment is dissatisfaction with the political system

    Leftward shifts tend to happen during harder economic times when the majority feel poorer. That could be about to happen again, I suspect. At any rate I think the rightward shift has probably run its course

    I think Corbyn will shore up the Labour core vote and we will find it hard to win seats at any level against them. I do not see Labour under him slipping below 30%. On the other hand he will struggle to win over Tory voters, and the press will run scare stories that will make the “SNP threat” look like nothing. As memory of the coalition fades we could get back some Labour tactical votes and win back some Tory seats. And I think that (as is normal when they are in government) we will be able to take seats in local government off the Tories from now on in this parliament. And if the right by-election came up with us second we could win that. The main obstacle in local government will be the Greens, who are feeding in the same trough as us… We will have to out campaign them (and they have more members, lest anyone forgets..)

  • David Pollard 3rd Sep '15 - 8:23pm

    Corbyn is doing well because he answers questions clearly and knows his own mind. Just imagine him up against Cameron at PMs questions;- Plodding Jeremy persisting with asking why the NHS is falling apart, why people declared fit for work are dying, why so much is being spent on Trident when it hasn’t been approved, why the poorest people in our society are taking the whole burden of eliminating the deficit and Cameron coming back with smart, public school answers, never answering the question. And Cameron with an overall majority of 12 with Jeremy taking his troops through the No lobby, again and again and again.
    Compare that with Andy Burnham who says he ‘understands’ why people are supporting Corbyn.
    Then look at Social Media. Corby supporters ‘out-stupid’ the Mail and Telegraph by the hundred – my favourite – ‘Corbyn has weapons of mass destruction’ says Blair; ‘Russian Orthodox to replace C of E’ as established church says Corbyn.

  • George Kendall 3rd Sep '15 - 8:29pm

    @Little Jackie Paper
    I didn’t want this thread to become about Jeremy Corbyn. I wanted to say one simple thing: that a Labour collapse is not something to welcome. You may have noticed that I’ve not mentioned Corbyn once in the article.

    But you’ve asked, so here goes…

    Corbyn’s slogan of an end to austerity is what worries me most. We are out of the depression part of the economic cycle, so using even more stimulus to try to grow the economy is the opposite of Keynesianism, and would, I fear, mean an even bigger deficit problem when we hit the next economic downturn.

    Then there are the specific policies that illustrate what Corbyn might do to end austerity.

    People’s Quantitative Easing is the one that most worries me. I think it would lead higher interest rates demanded for our debt, and higher inflation which would indirectly lead to a great deal of pain as future governments struggle to get it back under control.

    I’m also worried about his belief that increased investment will lead to a reduced deficit. It’s hard to know what this would mean in practice, but combined with his rhetoric, it That sounds like increasing spending to reduce the deficit. Which I will, I believe, increase the deficit.

    His populist position that we can fix the deficit by taxing the extremely rich would, I fear, be counter-productive. There’s been quite a lot of work on how, once taxes rise above a certain level, the government ends up getting less revenue rather than more. And there’s a lot of economists who think we’ve pretty much reached that point.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Sep '15 - 8:30pm

    Little Jackie Paper

    People may well be fed up, but it’s not enough for us the public at large to glibly demand, ‘change.’ If we feel that open has hurt the interests of too many, what is our alternative. I’m yet to find anything convincing.

    The ‘open’ agenda has led to a society in which people feel less open. It has led to things being done a big national or international scale, with control in the hands of a tiny elite. Our services are provided by huge corporations. Our politics are dominated by the marketing men at the top of the parties. And so on. People look back with nostalgia at a time when things were on a more human scale.

    Now I quite agree that it is not as simple as turning the clock back and making everyone happy. I shop at big supermarkets because it’s convenient, there’s the cheapness of the large scale and the big range of options. Like many others, I may sigh at the end of small shops, no more small greengrocers, butchers, fishmongers etc – but how often did I really shop in them? And while there may be nice boutiques selling these things at very high prices to the posh, in the old days when everyone relied on small shops, they weren’t so nice. This is just an example.

    But I think we need to have a rational discussion about this, with realistic alternatives offered, and actual thought about it. We don’t get that in politics now, with it all done through glib salesmen.

    It’s a point I’ve so often made – people “demand” something, but when it comes to it are unwilling to accept the necessary balancing factors. I’ve almost driven myself mad trying to make this point at the “nah nah nah nah nah”s who jeer at us over tuition fees, yet don’t seem to want to answer the question “OK, so how would you pay for it otherwise AND get the people to support that alternative?”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Sep '15 - 8:35pm

    Little Jackie Paper

    Corbyn is not the loony left of the 1980s. If you read his stuff it’s rather more watery than the media let on. But is he just another, ‘open agenda,’ person with a bit of fashionable anti-establishment rhetoric thrown in? Time will tell. He may even be tory lite.

    Agreed. If he were REALLY hard left, he wouldn’t be talking about paying for things by “people’s quantitative easing”. He’d be talking about massive property taxes, milking the millions currently tied up in housing.

    The thing with the so-called “loony left” is that actually they weren’t that left. No, they were obsessed with various small token issues, and went on and on and on about them, and wound people up about them, while doing not very much about the more central bread-and-butter financial equality issues which a true left would concentrate on.

  • Little Jackie Paper 3rd Sep '15 - 8:39pm

    AndrewMcC – It is worth pointing out that Liz Kendall supported AV and I believe that she has talked about changing FPTP. She has also talked about a seriously reformed House of Lords and federalism. (http://www.thenews.coop/96680/news/general/leader-candidate-hustings-labour-role-co-operatives/)

    As far as I am aware (and I am very happy to be corrected) she has gone much further than any of the other candidates on constitutional reform.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Sep '15 - 8:42pm

    George Kendall

    There’s been quite a lot of work on how, once taxes rise above a certain level, the government ends up getting less revenue rather than more. And there’s a lot of economists who think we’ve pretty much reached that point.

    How can this be when taxes have been cut not raised? Income tax was higher in the past, as were various forms of property tax. And are the economists who say this entirely neutral, or are they paid by people who have a vested interest in that conclusion being reached?

    Anyway, isn’t it funny how the people who jump at any suggestion like this and say “See, the experts have proved it?” tend to be the same people who take a completely different approach to climate change, pooh-poohing academic work on it if they can find any sort of potential loophole or a way of suggesting the scientists doing the research have a personal bis?

  • Simon,

    I think the clue is in the trend from eleven times as many to 7 times as many..

    When I say feeding in the same trough I mean community politics. National policies are really not very important in local elections – people vote for the candidate and for a general feeling that “Lib Dems do a good job” which can spread from one ward to the next. We have shown repeatedly that we can win ANY seat in a local election with enough sustained effort. The Greens can do the same, and do in many places. Up to now in most places they have only campaigned in a handful of seats, but with the doubling of their vote and membership I expect more from now on.

    If we and the Greens both fight hard in a seat neither of us will win. If it starts happening, then informal arrangements may be desirable in the many places where neither of us have the resources to fight every seat.

  • Little Jackie Paper 3rd Sep '15 - 8:44pm

    George Kendall – You are right, this is not about one person. I would however point out that, as far as I can tell, people’s QE is described as, ‘an option.’ See page 6 https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/jeremyforlabour/pages/70/attachments/original/1437556345/TheEconomyIn2020_JeremyCorbyn-220715.pdf?1437556345

    It’s not clear to me what the difference is between, ‘option,’ and, ‘policy.’ But I would suggest looking through this document – it’s not quite as clear cut as the media coverage would have you believe.

  • LJP
    I think the one thing we can be pretty sure of is that Liz Kendall will not be the Labour leader in the foreseeable future! She has been by far the worst performer in the contest… AV is dead as well – there has been a referendum on it and it will not come back.

    Burnham was the only candidate who said anything about proportionality (and that very vague), which is a bit depressing… If only Robin Cook had ever become Prime Minister!

  • Little Jackie Paper 3rd Sep '15 - 8:56pm

    Huntbach – ‘The ‘open’ agenda has led to a society in which people feel less open. It has led to things being done a big national or international scale, with control in the hands of a tiny elite.’

    Broadly I’d agree. If you are granny with a bubble-priced house to sell to a French banker then open is a sunshine and sangria retirement. If you are a multinational banker working for a multinational, then open is wonderful. If you are a no-fees qualified doctor in Romania and have friends who can help you move and settle and find a locum agency in the UK then this is all wonderful.

    Obviously, if you are the one seeing your job zeroed and outsourced to Latvia and seeing large influxes putting pressure on services then open really isn’t doing you too many favours. Open is something done to you, not for you. In years to come the real divide in our politics may well be those who do well out of open and those that do not. To the extent that UKIP are about ‘closed,’ (and I’m not sure what extent that is) they are a sign of things to come.

    My suspicion is that, ‘the Party of IN,’ came across as, ‘open on steroids.’

    Inevitably the problem is easier to state than is the solution. But I am yet to have anyone convincingly explain to me quite how the concentrations of corporate power we see are something liberals can be relaxed about. Too often I hear the glib phrase, ‘the politics of fear,’ with almost no cognisance taken of whether those fears are well-founded. Neither Corbyn nor any of the other candidates seem to be taking on these arguments.

    ‘No, they were obsessed with various small token issues, and went on and on and on about them, and wound people up about them, while doing not very much about the more central bread-and-butter financial equality issues which a true left would concentrate on.’

    Quite. See how easily Corbyn got himself tangled up in the thing about women-only train carriages. It didn’t seem much, but I suspect that episode was a sign of things to come.

  • Richard Stallard is like one of those “Independents” who are nominated by the Tory agent…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_column

  • Little Jackie Paper 3rd Sep '15 - 9:01pm

    AndrewMcC – Kendall won’t win, but just out of interest have you actually followed her, or just the media coverage around her? Maybe I had low expectations but I’ve been rather surprised by quite how compelling she’s been.

    Robin Cook is another one who never had to face the talkboards.

  • LJP,

    I only had the stomach to watch one Labour debate, and that was quite early on, but Liz was very unimpressive in that… Maybe she has got better!

  • George Kendall 3rd Sep '15 - 9:15pm

    @Little Jackie Paper
    It’s true that Jeremy Corbyn has been a lot vaguer about his proposals than the press make out. But then the press don’t do nuance.
    My worry with Corbyn is less about the fine print of documents such as the one you linked to, but his rhetoric. Having fought on a platform of ending austerity, he is going to be obliged to try to end austerity. But if he also wants to cut the deficit, those cuts have to come from somewhere. And so I look to the options he describes for a clue as to what Corbyn would do in practice. And those clues worry me a lot.

    @Matthew Huntbach
    The taxes on the rich have recently been cut slightly. But reversing them wouldn’t begin to pay for what Jeremy Corbyn wants, so he’d have to raise them beyond that.
    I think there probably is room for modest increases in taxes for those earning between about 40k and 150k, but they’ll only raise relatively small amounts. And our deficit is still large amounts.
    Also, I hope you’re not suggesting that I’m a climate change denier. I’ve agreed with your contributions to this forum more often than you might realise. It might be best not to make assumptions about those you are debating with.

  • Little Jackie Paper 3rd Sep '15 - 9:22pm

    AndrewMcC – I suspect Kendall has not gone down well in part because she’s not the candidate of the zeitgeist. I can’t say I agree with parts of what she says. But the fact that I don’t agree 100% doesn’t mean I don’t find it compelling. I may well be wrong, but I believe she would go down pretty well with voters, just not the ones that write on politics talkboards. Cameron gets a rough time on the internet, but he’s just come through an election. Moot anyway as she won’t win. But don’t just take the media’s word for how impressive or otherwise any of the candidates are.

    George Kendall – Sure. This has Cleggmania Mk2 written all over it.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Sep '15 - 9:32pm

    Please will folks distinguish ‘dual’ which can be fun in twosomes, from ‘duel’ which is fighting with weapons and seconds.

  • “Perhaps, this will help with the #LibDemFightback. It may well lead to a faster recovery in the polls”

    In actual fact, the most recent polls show the Lib Dems down to 6 or 7% – a big drop even on the unimaginably catastrophic result of May – with Labour apparently bumping along on much the same share as they were at the time of the election.

    So both Labour’s self-destruction and the Lib Dems’ fightback are, as yet, strictly events of the imagination – neither of them have happened yet, and there is no guarantee either of them ever will happen, despite the wishful thinking I see on here most days.

  • Richard Stallard 3rd Sep '15 - 10:54pm

    @Andrew McC
    “Richard Stallard is like one of those “Independents” who are nominated by the Tory agent…”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_column

    How exciting – I never been described as fifth column before!
    Fascist, racist and xenophobic, certainly (I take them as compliments), but not fifth column. Bit too sneaky for me.

  • Stephen Donnelly 3rd Sep '15 - 11:33pm

    There is always some danger when all the cards get thrown into the air – and the election of Corbyn would be such an occasion. My hope is that it will lead to a realisation within Labour that multiparty politics is here to stay, and a realisation amongst Liberals that campaigning is not an end in itself.

  • Stuart, Simon,

    If you want something more positive the latest Scottish poll has us up 2% in both constituency and list sections… I would not put much weight on these 2% ups and downs though. We are up 4% in local by-elections since May.

    http://vote-2012.proboards.com/thread/5942/liberal-democrat-election-performance-2015

    https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3622/SNP-increase-lead-in-the-run-up-to-2016-Holyrood-election.aspx

    There is a double by-election in Aberdeenshire coming up in a seat where we came third in the 1st prefs last time (and got a councillor elected in the STV system). That will be an interesting barometer, especially looking at where the second preferences go

  • Ah Richard,

    I carefully did not call you 5th column! Just one of those accidental juxtapositions!

    Of course, you might think that, but I could not possibly comment!

  • The thing that annoys me about consensus politics is that you have literally millions of people saying they want change, everything sucks, don’t trust the political elite and variations there of. Then the minute there’s a challenge to the consensus more or less the same people are saying change is dangerous, unrealistic, nothing can be changed and attempts to change or even too challenge anything will in fact reinforce the power of those in power. This ain;’t the 80s, the generation coming up aren’t your grandparents and you can present values and arguments. The Lib Dems are in a position where they can be radical on everything from recreational drugs to electoral reform and energy to sacred cows like the monarchy but instead it’s “mustn’t grumble, mustn’t look at the focus groups, must play the game. We’re down to 8 seats we might as well take chances and throw stuff out there. Personally, I’m much more concerned about the wingnuts in government than who Jeremy Corbyn shared a platform with in the olden times.

  • Dave Orbison 4th Sep '15 - 5:56am

    Oh dear sorry to add a sour note to all of the glee but I rather think the suggestion Labour will fall apart is a bit premature. If Fallon had attracted the numbers to his Leadership bid I would have expected much rejoicing here. As for the ‘days of the SDP’ other than years of Thatcher what did that actually achieve in terms of Government policy?

    I had hoped that Corbyn’s election would have given parties pause for thought. Certainly Caroline Lucas of the Greens and Nicola Sturgeon have shown themselves capable of going beyond party tribalism and recognized that this may provide an opportunity to work together on securing policy implementation where there is common ground.

    Surely that would be a much more effective goal than standing on the telephone kiosk hoping and praying for Labour’s demise whilst , dare I say, missing the bigger picture, as to all the harm this Government in inflicting on the poor, young, disabled no to mention the wretched refusal to help out in a humanitarian crisis.

    Unless you dream that Labour will do badly self-destruct that you will be able to fill the void and form a Government all by yourselves. Really? SDP, “Return to your constituencies and prepare for Government”. Surely we can do a little better than that. A realignment of the left, or if you prefer the left of Conservative rule is far more important than this petty stuff. Come on Lib Dems I urge you to step up to the plate and see the bigger picture and play your part. You can do better than this surely.

  • There was a lot of nastiness and arrogance from Labour during the coalition, so if that nastiness and arrogance turns on itself in the days to come, I won’t be weeping.

  • @Simon Shaw
    Note the word “polls” rather than “poll”. If you look at the table on the top right of your link, you’ll see that most of the recent ones are exactly as I describe. Even the one you quote has Labour within a couple of percent of its general election result.

  • tony dawson 4th Sep '15 - 7:49am

    @Simon Shaw

    “I would have said that it was more a case of the Greens feeding in the same trough as Corbyn. ”

    Not so at local elections, Simon. Although there may be a little bit of carry-over, the successful Green candidates in local elections (of whom there are not too many yet) tend to pitch the same kind of localism as Lib Dem candidates – as well as fighting on local environmental issues which we also do quite a lot of – with barely a ‘nod’ to the nationals issues.

  • “You can do better than this surely.”

    I have been saying this to Lib Dems for years on here but so far the good folks on here seem incapable of seeing the big picture, except for a few good people. And don’t expect any criticism of Tories.

  • Paul in Wokingham 4th Sep '15 - 8:52am

    “How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
    – “The Sun Also Rises”, Ernest Hemingway.

  • For many years the Tory party have achieved/retained power by demonising the opposition; from Thatcher’s “Labour isn’t working” to Cameron’s “SDP will run England”….. The media give the electorate ‘Bread and Circuses’ ( It is no coincidence that the most Tory of newspaper, the ‘Sun’, is the most popular amongst those who lose most from a Tory government….The disabled have become ‘scroungers’, desperate refugees are ‘cockroaches’, etc…

    The vast majority of the public have no idea what happens at PMQ’s other than media headlines which tend to be heavily biased towards the glib ‘non-answers’ offered week after week by Cameron…
    .Corbyn is the only Labour candidate who has any belief in a ‘different way’….Will he make any impact? I don’t know but the other candidates certainly won’t……

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Sep '15 - 11:37am

    David Orbison

    Surely that would be a much more effective goal than standing on the telephone kiosk hoping and praying for Labour’s demise

    I am not praying for Labour’s demise. I disagree with Corbyn on many things, but I welcome the way his success has re-opened political debate and dragged politics back from the rightward drift that Thatcher/Blair/Cameron/Clegg all engaged in. And I think actually many Liberal Democrats take the same position.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Sep '15 - 11:49am

    George Kendall

    But reversing them wouldn’t begin to pay for what Jeremy Corbyn wants, so he’d have to raise them beyond that.
    I think there probably is room for modest increases in taxes for those earning between about 40k and 150k, but they’ll only raise relatively small amounts.

    Yes, and I agree with you on that. Much of what Corbyn has been saying is just hand-waving. It may sound very nice, but there’s no deep analysis as to whether all the money it requires can easily be raised, and like the Tories from the opposite direction the underlying defence is “Oh, my policies will work so well to boost the economy that you needn’t worry your head about that”.

    Corbyn is quite obviously over-reliant on the idea of boosting the economy by government borrowing or “printing money” as it is called. Yes, there IS a place for this in economics, but it can be over-done. We can look at Greece now to see one way over-doing it goes, the other of course is big inflation which Greece could not use because of the Euro. Actually I think there is a case now for some inflation to get us out of the housing mess, as it did in the 1970s (a similar house price boom was resolved by house prices staying the same and the price of everything else going up). But it’s really difficult to stop this from going too far, and very tempting to let it carry on rather than introduce actual tax rises to pay for things.

    You talk about people earning 40k to 150k salary, but what about all those getting the equivalent of 10 years or so salary due to inheriting a house and selling it? Why tax those who work to get the money with a far lower non-taxed allowance than those who get it just by sitting back and choosing the right parents? And the Tories really want to abolish inheritance tax altogether, which, as I’ve said, tells us what they really are: the non-workers’ party.

  • @Matthew Huntbach ” I disagree with Corbyn on many things, but I welcome the way his success has re-opened political debate and dragged politics back from the rightward drift that Thatcher/Blair/Cameron/Clegg all engaged in. And I think actually many Liberal Democrats take the same position.”

    I think there is a need for a clear statist party on the left, and let’s hope Corbyn moves Labour to that position. That will open up the space in the centre for a Liberal Party that would be comfortable for the likes of Umuna and Kendall.

  • Simon Thorley 4th Sep '15 - 2:33pm

    @TCO

    Kendall is by no means a liberal – nor are the vast majority of the right wing of the Labour party, as far as I’m concerned. We need to be very careful in welcoming any MPs or Labour members seeking to join our party if Corbyn wins. A coincidence of (some) economic views does nothing to remove the vast gulf between us on civil liberties and the role of the state.

  • @Simon Thorley “Kendall is by no means a liberal ”

    That may or may not be the case, but judging by what she purports to believe in, she sounds like one:

    “Writing with Lisa Nandy in Finding Our Voice: Making the 21st century state, she and Nandy stated that Labour must “champion the power of human beings to shape their own lives” and oppose “the tyranny of the bureaucratic state and an unrestrained free market”. They called upon Labour to reclaim liberty “as a defining ideal of left of centre politics”. The liberty they championed, through devolving power to the town hall and to the individual (recall David Miliband’s “double devolution”) and giving people the power to shape their public services and communities, is distinctly republican in nature.”

    This article, perhaps because of where it comes from, uses the term “republicanism” but it looks like Liberalism to me.

    http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2015/05/14/what-does-liz-kendall-believe/

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '15 - 5:56pm

    AndrewMcC 4th Sep ’15 – 12:37am Did you mean Richard Stallard? 3rd Sep ’15 – 10:54pm
    If so, please spell it out to avoid confusion.

  • George Kendall 4th Sep '15 - 7:24pm

    @Little Jackie Piper
    I think you’re right. Corbyn is the candidate of the zeitgeist of a small angry minority, but he has little in common with the zeitgeist of the UK population as a whole. If he becomes leader, he’ll be extremely popular with that small minority. But it’ll mean Tory hegemony for maybe 20 years.

    @Stuart
    You are right that our polls haven’t yet recovered. They may recover faster as a result of what is happening to Labour, I believe they would recover anyway. The parts of the LibDem fightback for which there is clear evidence is the large number of new members, and the significant improvement in local council by-elections.
    In my opinion, our current low poll rating is to be expected – with the loss of so many MPs, the media are mostly ignoring us. We’ll only see an improvement when that changes. It’s hard to predict when that’ll be, it may be longer than we are expecting, or it might be quite soon. We’ll see.

    As for Labour’s self-destruction being wishful thinking, maybe it would be worth re-reading my article. It’s not to be wished for at all.

    @Glenn
    Aren’t you worried that the past behaviour of Corbyn will mean those ‘wingnuts’ could be running the country unchallenged for maybe 20 years?

    @Dave Orbison
    If my article wasn’t clear, my apologies. But when I said we should weep, I meant it. There is nothing to be gleeful about, faced with the likelihood of 20 years of Tory government.

    @Phyllis
    You said “And don’t expect any criticism of Tories”
    In my article I said: “Not everything the Tories did was bad, but some of it was appalling. The Poll Tax was only the most prominent of many policies which harmed the weakest in society, and sometimes the worst policies were small measures that the newspapers never noticed.” I meant that as criticism of the Tories.
    When I said of them they are a “party, not of ideology, but of defending privilege”, I meant that as criticism.

  • George Kendall 4th Sep '15 - 7:24pm

    @expats
    I don’t know if the other Labour candidates would make an impact, but I don’t think they’d repeat the disaster of 1983. Even if Labour has an uninspiring leader, the Tories might mess up, in which case an uninspiring Labour leader would still be a threat. I fear, with Corbyn, Labour will self-destruct, and the Tories will rule unchallenged for many years while Labour recover.

    @Simon Thorley
    You said: “Kendall is by no means a liberal”
    Maybe, I don’t know her well enough. But don’t forget, our party was formed by both Liberals and Social Democrats. The preamble to our constitution mentions community as often as liberal. Liberalism is an important part of the party, but just because someone may not appear to be a liberal, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t fit right into the Liberal Democrats. And if we are to form a large enough electoral coalition, in order win seats and be able to make an impact in this country, we need to be a broad church.

  • George Kendall 4th Sep '15 - 8:08pm

    Just to clarify, as far as I know, Liz Kendall is not a relation!

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '15 - 9:24pm

    George Kendall 4th Sep ’15 – 7:24pm i am not suggesting that Tim Farron should do this, but when it became known that Paddy Ashdown had an affair with secretary we went up in the polls, unexpectedly. Maybe we misjudge the society we live in. Maybe we should be less certain about future events.
    Imagine an electron circling around the nucleaus of an atom and explain how you measure where it is.

  • George Kendall

    Thanks for coming back and responding, I rate people who do that very highly.

    I wasn’t actually referring to your article when I made my comment. I was referring more to LDV in general where you will find several articles criticising/mocking Labour/SDP at any one time and hardly any criticising or indeed saying very much at all about the Tories. It’s a very clear, demonstrable and unashamed bias on the part of the editorial team.

  • George Kendall.
    Not really. I think Corbyn offers a more credible challenge than the other labour candidates. To me this government is basically a continuation of New Labour and at least Corbyn opens the debate up. To me the more the consensus sits on a middle ground defined by the right then the more right-wing the consensus becomes. It’s not like Labour won the last two elections either. So I don’t see how Corbyn is the worst option for them. I also don’t think the way to fight the economic right is to constantly fight on an agenda they define because essentially you end saying the same things. What I wonder is why all these people who want a more moderate version of right-wing economics don’t just join the Conservatives and alter them instead . I don’t think the Conservatives are innately evil. I think they have bad policies and they were bad policies when Blair espoused them in a different party.

  • George Kendall 6th Sep '15 - 12:25am

    @Glenn
    Thank you for your reply. Obviously, you and I have different views on this. I know this thread is becoming a little old, but I hope you have a chance to read this reply anyway,

    I don’t doubt that you are sincere. But I honestly believe that the policies Jeremy Corbyn is offering ignore the harsh reality of the situation the UK is in.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t do more to protect the weakest and reduce poverty. But I believe pretending these uncomfortable realities don’t exist is dishonest, and will mean we do not take the action we need if we are to protect the weakest and reduce poverty.

    I’m less angry with Jeremy Corbyn, because although I think he’s wrong, I think he’s sincere. I am more angry with the economic commentators who he looks to for advice, because surely they must know that they are being economical with the truth.

    They argue that austerity is not necessary because Keynes shows we can get out of a deficit by spending more, stimulating demand, and the increased size of the economy will generate taxes that will reduce the deficit.

    That seems to me a complete misrepresentation of Keynes. Keynes argued that deficit spending made sense during the depression phase of the economic cycle, but it should then be matched by budget surpluses after. As we are now out of the depression phase, it’s very disappointing to hear supposed followers of Keynes advocating the opposite of Keynesianism.

    Have a read of: http://independentreport.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/john-maynard-keynes-was-right-and-not.html

  • George Kendall 6th Sep '15 - 12:25am

    I sometimes wonder if Keynes were alive today, he would be dismissed by these people as a rightwing neoliberal.

    I’ve read articles from these economic commentators who claim that a deficit is not a problem because we are not part of the Eurozone, so the deficit can easily be resolved by printing money.

    If they then went into detail about how they could then avoid inflation, and all the serious damage that can cause, I’d have some respect for them. But they mostly ignore that problem.

    And even if printing money meant we could inflate our debt away, as we’re still running a substantial deficit, we’d still have to borrow more money each year. And if the people we wanted to borrow from thought we’d try to short-change them by inflating ourselves out of future debt, they’d demand a very high interest rate. (And, besides, our index-linked debt would go up with inflation anyway)

    The only way to free ourselves from these lenders would be to not run a deficit. We also have the problem that around 35% of the national debt is owed to overseas governments and investors.

    UK governments have limited freedom. Our country’s prosperity is heavily dependent on international trade. In order to continue to fund a substantial welfare state, we have to live within the constraints that the globalised economy put on us. If we try to pretend those constraints don’t exist, we’ll just repeat the trauma of the seventies, when the IMF forced us to make cuts in public services anyway.

    I know that what I’m describing is dismissed by followers of Corbyn as rightwing. But, honestly, I believe the only way to prevent increased poverty is to face up to these uncomfortable issues.

  • George Kendall’
    I read your response and thank you. It was very interesting.
    Just to be clear I am not a Labour voter. I am a liberal. I was mostly arguing that Corbyn may actually be Labour’s best chance of a credible leader in terms of attracting support and that at least he would open up the debate. in a way that is healthier than the current consensus. I do not agree with him on everything and I won’t be voting Labour who ever it elects. Where I do agree is that some things are natural monopolies because there is no scope for anything resembling competition and in such cases they may as well be owned by the government because there is no independent infra structure. I think franchising water etc. is crony capitalism at its worst.
    Actually my views are much more in line with Stigitz than Corbyn and think that Gordon Browne got it wrong in 2008 . I also think that this Government is still intent on propping up flat lining markets such as housing when the efforts to do so are counter productive. I think that we are making youngsters and vulnerable people pay for the bad investments of people who should rightly lose their shirts and who could have bee more cheaply supported by being offered unemployment benefit and a council flat than billions in QE. Fundamentally I believe that the insolvent banks should have been allowed to fail and that it is immoral to guarantee the lifestyle and income of bad businessmen . Hope this clears my position up a little. Unlike Corbyn, I am a capitalist, but one that believes the govern can protect the vulnerable but does not reward the failures of people who did a very poor job.

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