A distinctly Liberal viewpoint

Did our Leader Ed Davey in Conference, and can we as members on the doorsteps, explain a distinctly Liberal point of view?

Ed told us we should say that we stand for a fair deal, and are decent politicians who care about you. We perhaps confirmed that at Conference with the passage particularly of the F24 motion, A Fairer, Greener, More Caring Society, which was built on the Themes policy paper.

Liberalism is certainly not populism, but we Lib Dems do incline to believe that a large proportion of the British public share our moderate, centrist views, together with our belief that the State is needed to enable all citizens to have the chance of secure, healthy and fulfilling lives. We don’t believe in the centralised over-powerful State sought by Socialism, nor the small-state attitude of Conservatism.

It is true that the present Conservative government has become unusually identified with state action, especially with economic interventions on a large scale. But they do not have the commitment to individual citizens that Liberals have. That is illustrated I suggest by their lack of concern about the many families who will suffer if, or when, the £20 extra per week of Universal Credit is withdrawn. Their ‘solution’ of people getting more work and better paid jobs ignores both the problem of zero-hours contracts with basic pay being the only work available for many people, and the problem that many people cannot find paid work at all, owing to illness or disability, or caring for children or sick, disabled or elderly family members at home. But the Liberal Democrats are committed to assisting individual people in their communities, as illustrated for example by the good motion just passed, F6, Boosting Small Businesses and jobs in the Post-Pandemic Economy.

The liberalism of Liberal Democrats extends of course beyond concern for the British state. We are internationalists, believers in liberal approaches to problems world-wide, be they the Palestinian/Israeli confrontation, the rise of autocratic regimes in both Africa and Europe, or the repression of individual rights in many Asiatic countries. We are committed to European ideals and culture, but also to the Western alliance in defence.

And we are environmentalists, fervent protagonists of a Green agenda, passing two more motions relating to climate change at this Conference, and adding environmentalism to the Preamble of our Constitution. The distinctive Lib Dem viewpoint is now expressed by the amended F22 motion, What Liberal Democrats Believe, which explains our commitment to Liberty, Equality, Democracy, Community and Human Rights as well as Internationalism and Environmentalism.

Where we differ most among ourselves, it seems to me, is in the extent to which we embrace Social Liberalism in our party. We no longer support the market-orientated neoliberalism of the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition of 2010 to 2015, and we have accepted the policy of Universal Basic Income, now attempting to work out its introduction and its relation to existing welfare policies. But we have made no commitment as yet to embrace radical policies of social justice, such as to abolish poverty altogether in Britain, thus furthering freedom and equality, and enabling the end both of the concept of enforced zero-hours contracts, and the need for ordinary working people to have necessary resorting to food banks.

So, yes, I think there is a distinctly Liberal viewpoint, but in our dislike of conformity we should accept variations of views within the shared vision and outlook.

* Katharine Pindar is a long-standing member of the Lib Dems and an activist in the West Cumbrian constituency of Copeland and Workington.

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85 Comments

  • Indeed, Ed has suggested when asked what we stand for we say, “we stand for a fair deal,” This is not is not a distinctly liberal vision. Fairness is nebulous. Most political parties could state that their policies will make the country fairer, because different groups see different things as fair.

    Perhaps, Ed knows this and that is one of the reasons for talking about fairness rather than what changes we need to make to create a liberal society. Perhaps he doesn’t want to ‘scare the horses’ so to speak, in the blue wall seats.

    It would have be better if Ed had quoted part of some sentences from Policy Paper 143 ‘A Fairer, Greener and More caring Society’. We want to create a society where:

    Every person can have a decent income and a secure home no matter what their background or family circumstances are.
    Everyone’s health and care needs are met … and give them (carers) the support they deserve.
    Everyone can enjoy the benefits of nature.
    People can have real control over the decisions which affect them.
    There is a truly world class education and skills system.
    The UK is a strong and responsible international partner for peace, democracy and prosperity.

  • Thank you for this which is a very good summary of liberal values. In addition to those you mention ie individual freedom, social justice, internationalism and a mixed economy you could also add:

    Localism – we support power being as close to the people as realistically possible.

    Innovation – when faced with a policy issue our solution is based on progress, reason and up to date thinking. Liberals are “early adopters” of new ideas.

  • Peter Martin 24th Sep '21 - 2:28pm

    The Lib Dem constitution says Lib Dems “oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality”

    Really? No more royal family, no more private schools and private healthcare, no more inheritance, no more privileges for the rich? Or maybe we can become equal by all having private schools, nannies, royal titles, BUPA health coverage, and country homes with landscaped gardens designed by Capability Brown. Plus we’d all need our London flats and first class rail fares paid so we can sign in at the House of Lords and pick up our £500 per day attendance allowance.

    Are you sure this has been “fully costed”?

  • Nigel Jones 24th Sep '21 - 2:58pm

    Katherine “It is true that the present Conservative government has become unusually identified with state action, especially with economic interventions on a large scale. But they do not have the commitment to individual citizens that Liberals have”
    Government state intervention has been mostly about supporting big business and developers. I live in a red wall area and the huge sums of money our council have been granted will be spent on buildings, especially in the town centre, but will do very little to narrow the gap between rich and poor, in which our town mirrors the national situation. It’s the Tory trickle down theory and it does not reduce inequality. I avoid, however, using the term Social Liberalism because most people immediately think of socialism and turn away from anything I might say to explain it. These terms are for the politically educated and among voters we need to refer simply to ‘concrete’ ideas and policies and I think elsewhere in your article you articulate many of these very welll much better than Ed did in his talk.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 24th Sep '21 - 4:16pm

    Katharine of necessity, because she is a good and kind person absolutely highlights the real need. It is for values and vision, becoming proposals and policies.

    Our leader and the Labour leader are the second half of the old American quote, we campaign in poetry, we govern in prose. They do not inspire but are decent men.

    Equally, as our colleague Nigel here states, are words and philosophies of much help, as far as our or any party?

    I think since the merger of two parties, one is less prevalent, and thus we hear little of social democracy, much of Liberalism. As the excellent piece above reveals, we reject what is called neo-liberalism. But social Liberalism for too many does not really signify socialism, but social liberalism means to be open minded and supportive of minority rights. Thus the real need is to relate a philosophy to reality. We are for everyone as individuals, and our society as a whole, being able to live well. Not as Peter Martin implies and states here, all equal and the same. I can happily tolerate the rich man in his castle, if he pays more than the poor man at his gate, and the poor man at his gate, is not so poor at all, that he is in poverty in any sense other than compared to the man in the castle! Today real poverty, way beyond relative poverty, is possible and actual.

    We see that people on benefits in a rich country are told to survive on money nobody van survive with. People are treated like dirt thanks to the latter New Labour and coalition and periods of govt since. Under John Major and early Blair, the poorer had far more dignity than since. If Liberalism is relevant it needs to be aware of that.

  • Lorenzo – Sometimes I think that it is always a difficult job being Lib Dem Leader although at the moment being Labour Party Leader is the ultimate thankless task. If we put to one side policies, history etc. it is worth giving a bit of thought to the success (in Labour Party terms) of Mark Drakeford in Wales. Governing in prose is without question what he does. Being in government does help, of course. You have to drop down to Mayoral and City level to find any current Labour Leader with recent comparable experience. He appears to be relatively free of his own UK party’s infighting, which is Starmer’s ball and chain. And he also manages to portray a seriousness that is the polar opposite of the leadership style of Boris Johnson.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 24th Sep '21 - 5:45pm

    Geoff thanks for a valid statement. You are correct on Mr Drakeford re: my quote about the need to govern in prose.

    I disagree on Ed and keir. I think they have superb jobs, and only do a good one. i want more. especially from Keir Starmer. He, as a Social democrat, should put the New Zealand model writ large to this country and others, months ago. We would not be in the state we are all in. He is playing catch up. and Ed who i like, ought to do less personal demonisation of a man who many think is not even that right wing. it is corrupt right wing politics that is the ruination of this country. Not a recent clown show ring leader!!

  • Katharine Pindar 24th Sep '21 - 6:51pm

    Thank you for your comments this afternoon, chaps. I would like to reply to everyone, but am pressed for time just now – having to go and sing! Marco, two interesting extra ideas, thanks; you make me think of our essential emphasis on regional policies, to try to level up not the political scene, but the economic realities of the north-south divide in England.
    Peter Martin a fine robust Socialist reply! I guess most of us oppose entrenched privilege, of the private schools and the golden pathway to good jobs in the judiciary or the city or politics for instance, with dislike but no Liberal way to see change. The House of Lords, however, we should and could insist on reducing and electing. As to the stately homes, at least we can enjoy visiting lots of them, but we should strongly object to the buying up of real estate, especially in London, for speculative purposes instead of to provide houses. (I will return to the discussion after choir practice now!)

  • Katharine Pindar 24th Sep '21 - 9:54pm

    Nigel, thank you for the kind words, and your very relevant comment. If the government is indeed pouring funds into the ‘red wall’ towns only for buildings, it will indeed do little to reduce inequality. I take your point about Social Liberalism having little meaning for the general public, but it means a great deal to me. Being a member of the Council of the Social Liberal Forum, I endorse the kind of broader aims to try to create a Liberal society which Michael BG – himself also a member of that council – picks out in his first comment above, and which the public will surely
    appreciate if we can move this uncaring government in those directions.

  • Katharine Pindar 24th Sep '21 - 10:04pm

    ‘Values and visions becoming proposals and policies’ – what a fine summary of our Lib Dem work, Lorenzo! Thank you for all your reflections, developing our discussion.

  • Lorenzo I am loathe to disagree with you but do you not think having a clown as Prime Minister of this country is a very dangerous position to find ourselves in and I wholeheartedly agree with Ed Davey,s attack on him and his government, I know I am biased in this direction but maybe a few chickens are coming home to roost at the moment?

  • Peter Martin 25th Sep '21 - 10:31am

    @ Katharine @ Lorenzo,

    I’m afraid you’ve both slightly missed my point. I’m not saying that we should all be equal. That’s not a politically realisable option but I think we would all agree that there should be less inequality.

    I’m happy to go along with some entrenched privilege and inequality providing it isn’t too excessive. That’s the Lib Dem position too, if I understand it correctly.

    So why have the statement that you “oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality” in your constitution?

  • Katharine Pindar 25th Sep '21 - 12:51pm

    Peter, I think a constitution may state ideals as well as aims, defining the vision of the begetters. Our party constitution is a wonderful document but unwieldy instrument. Conference agreed to include Environmentalism in its famous Preamble, as surely is needed in these times, but it seems to me that the other ideals of What Liberal Democrats Believe should perhaps lead to more rewriting of the long paragraphs beyond the first memorable one. However, it is more important that Conference debated and decided on a good number of very well developed and useful policies last week. For instance, to your taste would be the job guarantee scheme proposed for unemployed workers, with an emphasis on Green jobs.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 25th Sep '21 - 1:29pm

    Peter as Katharine comments, above, a constitution is an ideal, a policy is reality. We have no policies that we base purely on idealism. We base our policies on realism.

    I think the constitution of our party is fine as is. But the policies are what count in a party also.

    As we read in the article, the Liberal Democrats have excellent policies and ought to be approved of and appraised as a result of that.

  • William Wallace 25th Sep '21 - 5:21pm

    Katharine: Do tell us what you are singing at present! I should tell all those who think that Westminster has no redeeming elements that the Parliament Choir is currently rehearsing the Bach B Minor Mass, for a performance in November – not an easy work… In an era of sharpened political polarization, music provides an element thayt brings us together.

  • Katharine Pindar 25th Sep '21 - 6:00pm

    Lorenzo: again you are making a helpful comment, thank you!

    William, well done the Parliament choir! But I am no longer participating in the great Masses, just enjoying many fine anthems with my church choir in Keswick, my latest favourite being Edward Elgar’s O Salutaris. I am glad to think that you yourself are further but refreshingly stretched by a demanding Mass, in the midst of your sterling work in the Lords!

  • Keir Starmer has just written a pamphlet and he too wants a fairer Britain he wrote, “It is a vision of a better, fairer, more secure and prosperous Britain.” He might tell his members to say to the public that they want a fairer country. So how can a voter decide which fairer Britain is the Britain they want?

    Two of Starmer’s ten principles are ‘If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be rewarded fairly’ and ‘The government must play its role in restoring honesty, decency and transparency in public life” This sound like Ed Davey, “If you do your bit, if you play by the rules” and “Liberal Democrats stand for a fair deal, to be delivered by politicians who are decent, and who truly care about you”.

    How close does Ed’s vision for the country agree with my vision for a liberal society? A liberal society where no-one lives in poverty, is held back by health issues, by discrimination, or by the lack of the education or training needed for them to obtain a job right for them, where everyone who wants one has a home of their own, where everyone who wants a job has one, where everyone is free to decide how to live their lives, so long as they don’t cause harm to others, where the government trusts people to make the best choices for themselves, and in which the challenges of climate change are tackled.” Perhaps you can find some similar aims in the speech he gave to Conference last Sunday (https://www.libdemvoice.org/watch-ed-daveys-speech-68655.html). If you do please post them here?

  • Peter Martin 26th Sep '21 - 11:32am

    @ Lorenzo @ Katharine,

    So your constitution is ‘only’ an ideal? A bit like the ten commandments, perhaps? Or the sermon on the mount? So, policies have to be ‘realistic’. Fair enough, but does this mean that your constitution isn’t realistic and that no policies at all in pursuit of your ideal is quite OK?

    I’ve just listened to Keir Starmer insult the intelligence of anyone who was listening by claiming that the proposed rule changes were not designed to prevent another lefty like Jeremy Corbyn from receiving another nomination from the PLP. JC just scraped in under the old rules but apparently the new rules will lead to more potential support for the left from Labour MPs so the increase in the threshold to 20% won’t be any disadvantage, So why change the rules then?

    You can call me a idealist but I would say that politics should be about saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Of course it isn’t and the electorate is only too well aware of that. This is why politicians are rated somewhat lower than second hand car salespeople on the credibility scale.

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Sep '21 - 4:23pm

    Michael BG. Insofar as some of what Keir Starmer says are his principles is similar to what Ed Davey is saying, that bodes well for the future, when we may hope that a majority Labour government supported in some respects by the Liberal Democrats can take over from this rotten Tory government at the next GE. (I think Labour supporting electoral reform has to be a sine qua non for any formal agreement, though.)

    But Michael, as you know I fully share your aims for our party to support the radical vision you set out, and I don’t think Ed Davey has a similar vision. However, it is up to our party members to decide what policies we will support, and the recent Conference made some good steps towards the vision. The several new working groups being set up by the FPC should further advance radical ideas, and I hope we may be permitted to be members of a couple of them.

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Sep '21 - 4:28pm

    Peter Martin. I don’t think it is constructive to discuss this any more, Peter, and to be fair I am taking the same line with one activist in my local Lib Dem party! But it would be good if you as a – disaffected Labour voter? – would tell us what you think of Sir Keir’s pamphlet, which Michael has read but I have not yet got round to myself as yet.

  • @ Peter Martin If anybody is insulting “the intelligence of anyone who was listening”, I’m sorry to say it’s Ms Angela Rayner. Keir Starmer must have to exercise the patience of Job when he watches his Deputy kicking the ball into her own net when Labour should be holding the Tories to account.

    @ Katharine I happen to agree about the limitations of vision (and IMHO charisma for that matter). The current gas storage predicament goes back to 2013 and a decision to reduce storage to 1% by the Department of Energy. Centrica’s Rough Storage facility was closed in the austerity programme. The then Junior Energy Minister Michael Fallon said the decision to allow Rough to close would save the UK £750m over 10 years. I can’t recall whether his then boss said anything. No doubt I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong.

  • Peter Martin 26th Sep '21 - 11:31pm

    Katharine,

    Do you mean Keir Starmers pamphlet “The Road Ahead”? You can read it here if you’ve nothing else better to do.

    https://fabians.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/The-Road-Ahead-KEIR-STARMER_web.pdf

    It’s full of the same old banalities that we’ve always heard from the Labour Right. It could have been written by Tony Blair. On the other hand, I couldn’t say that about the ten point plan that he wrote when he was running for Labour leader.

    Then he promised to put the Green New Deal at the centre of everything. No mention of this in the essay. Then he said he would Nationalise the public utilites. No mention of this either. On Andrew Marr he explicitly said he wouldn’t. There’s no need to explain which is the real Keir Starmer.

    The Andrew Marr interview was a car crash. Incidentally I don’t approve of using words like ‘scum’ about political opponents. It’s highly counterproductive in any case. He sounded somewhat feeble in not condemning it. I wouldn’t support Angela Raynor either.

    My guess is that Andy Burnham will be back in Parliament before too long, as soon as a winnable seat falls vacant, to take over. Not that I’m in total agreement with him but there’s no one else who can mount a serious challenge to the Tories at the moment.

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Sep '21 - 11:34pm

    It’s good that we are not as fractious as the Labour party, David! But I thought Sir Keir made a creditable appearance on the Andrew Marr show today (when I watched my recorded version this evening). I was at one time afraid he would steal the Beveridge-2 Plan idea from us, but I suspect he has too much to cope within his own ranks.

    Did you see the report in today’s Observer, p.10, that a new (to us, anyway) UN Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, called Olivier de Schutter, has denounced the proposed removal of the £20 a week extra on Universal Credit as an “unconscionable” move that breaches international human rights law and is likely to trigger an explosion of poverty? Obviously a worthy successor to Philip Alston, Mr de Schutter – but as Bob Dylan might have sung, “When will they ever learn?”

  • Peter Martin 27th Sep '21 - 7:44am

    @ David Raw,

    I’m not sure if you understand what ‘insulting the intelligence’ of someone means.

    Angela Raynor’s use of the word ‘scum’ isn’t doing that at all – even though it was highly ill advised. But, if she’d claimed she’d been misquoted, and misheard, and had instead referred to Boris Johnson as ‘dumb’, as less severe insult, then she would have been insulting our intelligence.

  • Jayne mansfield 27th Sep '21 - 8:39am

    I rather like Angela Rayners promise to apologise when Boris Johnson apologises for his homophobic and racist comments.

    At least David Cameron had the good grace ( or political nous) to apologise for supporting
    Section 28 when he was attempting to detoxifying the Conservative party.

    Over to you Johnson.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Sep '21 - 9:25am

    Peter Martin. Your thoughts about your Labour party at 11.31 last night are very interesting, and thank you for the reference to Sir Keir’s pamphlet, which I will try to find time to read. Your own thoughts about it, and your assessment of his appearance on Andrew Marr, indicate that you and I do think quite differently, which is interesting, though neither of us has any say in the matter, in the context of the possible informal ‘progressive alliance’ between our two parties which would seem necessary to oust the Tory government at the next GE. I would like to understand your position more. You seem to favour nationalisation of the utilities, for example. Do you go along then with the Corbyn agenda, or have you found a halfway house between Corbynism and Blairism? Would you describe your position as being typical of many or even most Labour voters, in your opinion?

  • I tend to agree with Katharine’s comments about Keir Starmer and I happen to believe he is the Labour Party’s best hope of returning to power……. he certainly ended the day positively.

    As to Mr Martin’s differentiation between ‘insulting the intelligence’ and ‘ill-advised’, I suppose he won’t approve if I suggest that is a more middle class way of putting it.

  • Peter Martin 27th Sep '21 - 10:19am

    @ Katharine,

    The nationalisation of the Utilities does have widespread support. Lib Dems at one time did believe in the mixed economy which isn’t the same thing as the Nationalisation of everything! However, a mixed economy does require some significant sectors of the economy to be in public hands. All this nonsense about “pragmatism” which we hear from Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves isn’t doing the party any good at all. It’s just code for the Labour Party to abandon its principles. That’s only going to demoralise and split the party. There will be no chance of overtaking the Tories.

    If they want to be pragmatic they should consider that there is only one electricity cable, one gas main, and one water pipe entering any of the properties they own. You can’t have anything but a sham competitive system for supplying any of these. The business models of the so-called providers have no substance at all. It’s not at all the same as switching from one supermarket to another to get the best prices. Supermarkets should be in the private sector but not the utilities.

    The snag with waiting for Andy Burnham is that there may not be a by-election in a suitable timescale. It would have to be soon or it could be too late.

  • It may surprise Mr Martin to learn that I agree with him that the utilities (including water and the railways) should be in the public sector…….. indeed, back in the early 1920’s, that differentiation (plus the Asquith/LLG stuff) was one of the undercurrents in the demise of the old Liberal Party.

    Not so sure I agree about Mr Burnham. I would prefer to support Lisa Nandy as Keir Starmer’s ultimate successor on the Labour bed of nails. As to my personal opinion of Johnson and his acolytes (such as Shapps & Gove) I guess it wouldn’t get published on LDV.

  • Jane Mansfield 27th Sep '21 - 10:42am

    @ Peter Martin,
    Now that I have had my wings clipped because I am caring for a disabled husband, I scan through the headlines of most newspapers to check what is happening in the outside world.

    I have concluded that you are quite wrong. What is keeping the Labour Party out of favour and out of power is the interminable internal arguments that suck the oxygen out of the air of the party’s political arguments and hand the other parties and the media a stick to beat it with.

    The party should take a leaf out of the Conservative Party where a ruthless desire for power, a prerequisite for putting any policies into action, means that there is even a willingness to close ranks and support Johnson from those Conservatives who find him detestable, sickening though this may be.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Sep '21 - 10:49am

    Thanks for replying, Peter – so you believe in nationalising the public utilities, and I can see the point of that. But you don’t yet explain how far you agree with the Corbyn manifesto and why you would oppose Keir Starmer, if he sticks to his ten principles and wants wealth taxes. He certainly has written much that I could agree with in the past. Why do you want Andy Burnham instead, when he seems to be in the right job as it is?

    Thanks, David, for contributing again! But I must stop responding here for the time being.

  • Peter Martin 27th Sep '21 - 11:01am

    @ David Raw,

    “he (Keir Starmer) is the Labour Party’s best hope of returning to power..”

    Take a look at the opinion polls. Labour is back down to 32% with the Tories 7% points ahead. This is at the same time as the government is going through a difficult period. They need to be 7% ahead at this position in the electoral cycle.

    The Labour party isn’t going to win by tacking to the right. If the centre ground is so attractive why aren’t Lib Dems doing better? They are much better going for those who are too cynical to vote for anyone. The turn out at the Hartlepool by-election was 42.7% which was down from 59.2% in 2017.

    Labour won in 2017 with 22k votes. They lost in 2021 with 8.5k votes. Those 13.5k lost votes didn’t largely go to the Tories. Their vote in 2021 was only up by just over one thousand. This is almost certainly the result of the collapse in the Brexit/Reform Party vote.

    Labour won’t win by trying to be “Tory lite”. They will do much better by going after the disillusioned non-voters. The only hope is to get the crowds at Glastonbury chanting the Labour leader’s name and the did with JC. There’s no chance of that with Starmer.

  • Nonconformistradical 27th Sep '21 - 11:15am

    @Jane Mansfield
    “The party should take a leaf out of the Conservative Party where a ruthless desire for power, a prerequisite for putting any policies into action, means that there is even a willingness to close ranks and support Johnson from those Conservatives who find him detestable, sickening though this may be.”

    If it’s sickening for the tories to do this (and I agree that’s what they do) why would it be acceptable for any other party to do it?

  • @ Peter Martin “Labour won’t win by trying to be “Tory lite”.”

    I agree with that bit………, and neither will the Lib Dems……. though which party can claim that particular lack of distinction depends on the viewpoint and opinion of the observer.

  • Peter Martin 27th Sep '21 - 11:32am

    @ Katharine,

    Possibly I have answered your question in my last comment to David Raw. The only hope for the Labour Party is to enthuse its working class and young person base and take it from there. Jeremy Corbyn strated to show how that could be done in 2017 but it’s not particularly about Jeremy Corbyn or any one individual. There needs to be a team of people who are all giving the same message and who aren’t being sabotaged in their efforts by the party’s Blairite wing.

    “why you would oppose Keir Starmer, if he sticks to his ten principles and wants wealth taxes.”

    He’s already make it clear that he won’t. They weren’t even ‘principles’ to start with. He was cynically saying what he needed to say to get elected but once he was…… And yet he somehow has people claiming he’s an honest person.

    Good question about Andy Burnham. I’m not sure of the answer myself but he’d easily win a leadership contest with Keir Starmer if he were an MP.

  • Douglas Chisholm 27th Sep '21 - 11:46am

    Unfortunately I dont think our leadership make any attempt to promote an intellectual case for liberalism – individual freedom and generosity in an age of extremes. We meekly accept that the two major parties no longer represent class war and then try and compete on the same centre ground of fairness and moderation. Given such a limited appeal I amazed we are even at 5% in the polls.

  • Jayne mansfield 27th Sep '21 - 11:48am

    @ Nonconformistradical.
    1. Because Keir Starmer is not Johnson and it is a winning strategy.

    2. One can huff and puff all one likes but without power one cannot offer change to all those who have suffered under this Conservative Government. One cannot right wrongs. One cannot restore international relationships and regain respect as a country.

    My own view, is that there is a certain unfeeling arrogance in some who think it more important to win an argument, than win a war that would help those currently least able to help themselves.

    Andy Burnham is not even an MP. How many humiliating food bank visits, how many tears will be shed because a parent can’t afford new shoes for their child’s new term, how many people, old and young, will have to choose between food and heating before he even becomes an MP let alone a leadership challenge?

    I hope that answers your question nonconformistradical.

  • Just on The Polls, The Tory lead has been steadily coming down since June & is now averaging between 3% & 4%. The most recent polling is now 4 days old & so isn’t affected by the latest crisis, that may show up later.

  • Peter Martin 27th Sep '21 - 12:45pm

    @ Paul Barker,

    You’re cherry picking.

    In other words you’re choosing a time when the Tory lead was at its recent highest, ie June, and simply saying that it’s not as high as it was then.

    If you were trying to make a different point you’d choose a time when the Tory lead was smaller, like the start of the year, and then say it is higher now than it was then.

    But whichever way you spin it, it’s not looking too good.

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

  • Peter Martin 27th Sep '21 - 1:33pm

    @ Martin,

    “These are votes more easily lost (particularly if the outcome is successful for us) than gained. “

    I don’t understand what this means. At the last election we had a turnout of 67.3 %, or approximately (per hundred of the electorate):
    30 people voting Tory, 21 voting Labour, 8 voting Lib Dem, 3 voting SNP, 5 voting for someone else, and 33 people not voting at all.

    If you speak to the non-voters you’ll likely hear the comment “they are all the same”. This also means that they are all the same in a way they dislike otherwise they would find at least one to vote for. So they aren’t more likely to vote Labour if Labour makes themselves ‘Tory Lite’. Labour might pick up some Tory voters by moving to the right but they will also lose many of their previous voters to the “they are all the same” camp.

    This is the main reason the mainstream UK parties have lost support in Scotland. The electors perceive them to be “all the same”. At least no-one can say that of the SNP.

    If we go back to the 1964 election which Labour won narrowly, we saw a turnout of 77%. So a falling turn out does favour the Tories. Labour can only increase the turn out by showing clearly that they aren’t at all the same.

    From a democratic perspective, and regardless of what voting system we adopt, we need all parties to be clearly different so that no-one can reasonably say “they are all the same”.

  • Paul Barker 27th Sep '21 - 1:54pm

    On The Polls again –
    The Tory lead at the last Election was 12%, that went up to around 20% (The Brexit bounce) faded away to virtually nothing & then rose again to around 10% (The Covid bounce) which in turn faded to 3% or 4% last week.
    The next Election is at least 2 Years away but even on the present figures the result would probably be a “Hung” Parliament in which Labour has a number of potential voting allies & The Tories none.

  • Peter Martin’s enthusiasm for Andy Burnham to replace Keir Starmer is a tad surprising given the latest opinion polls on Leader approval conducted by Opinion on 16–17 Sep.
    Keir Starmer comes out at minus 6%, Ed Davey at minus 10% and Boris Johnson at minus 13%…….. and this, despite a Tory dominated media.

    If Mr Martin really wanted to get rid of this awful Tory Government he’d stop being picky. He’d reflect on Mark 3.25 and Matthew 12.25 : “A house divided against itself, that house cannot stand”. Thomas Hobbes said something similar in ‘Leviathan’ in 1651, as did Thomas Paine in ‘Common Sense’ in 1776 – and, of course, Abraham Lincoln in 1858. Pity Squiffy and LLG didn’t remember that back in 1916……., and Clegg & Chums back in 2010.

    PS Excellent radical speech by Rachel Reeves today (a far better qualified successor than the garrulous Mayor of Manchester).

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Sep '21 - 7:23pm

    Jayne Mansfield is correct (welcome back Jayne, though sorry about the reason) to point out that we need power to right wrongs, and to be picking potential winners isn’t the way to spend our time in the build-up. Neither, Douglas Chisholm, is taking a soap box to proclaim we stand for freedom and generosity; I would suggest, it isn’t the way to win votes. But I don’t want us to be centrist and cautious, I want us to be radical, state that we are the heirs of Lloyd George and William Beveridge, and that we are producing and will produce the policies that will carry out our ideals, of which the very first should be to end poverty in this rich country of ours.

    Peter Martin, I feel you are being evasive about your attitudes to Labour positioning, not openly backing Corbynism, can’t stand Blairism, think Starmer is now right-wing. I can’t tell what your Labour ideals are, or why you should support Andy Burnham. But hey, we are used to Labour evasiveness, look how they were over Brexit, while we were firm and strong.

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th Sep '21 - 8:16pm

    @ Katharine Pindar,
    Traditional political allegiances are a thing of the past.. But make no mistake, if I lived in your area I would vote for you.

  • Peter Martin 27th Sep '21 - 8:27pm

    @ Katharine

    I can’t remember anyone calling me evasive before. Being too opinionated maybe. 😊

    I’m happy to give you my take on anything you like. I just don’t see why it has to involve what Jeremy Corbyn may or may not have thought.

    As regards Blair and Starmer I don’t mind what their opinions are providing they are consistent. Its the obvious duplicity to win the leadership that is causing a feeling that anyone would be better than Starmer right now.

  • Peter Martin 27th Sep '21 - 8:48pm

    @ David,

    I must admit to having a tendency towards understatement at times so when I say something like “Not that I’m in total agreement with (Andy Burnham}” I’m actually expressing a lack of enthusiasm. I’d have expected you might have picked up on that for yourself. But there ain’t anyone else at the moment!

    The Labour Right need have no doubts about the support that Keir Starmer, Rachel Reeves and co will receive from Labour’s more leftish membership. We are happy to return the favour and support them in the same way they supported Jeremy Corbyn and his team over the last two elections.

  • @ Jayne Mansfield And so would I, Jayne.

    What my Durham miner trade unionist Granddad (Peter Martin, please note) would call ‘A canny lass’……… and she’s a canny good singer too.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Sep '21 - 9:37pm

    Well, Sir Keir is rather under the cosh just now, isn’t he, Peter? I’m sorry that you think he is duplicitous, I wouldn’t know about that. But yes, you ARE rather loath to state your own stance in your party! There was a Manifesto. radical and expensive, which suggested much more than the unexceptional (probably) nationalisation of the Utilities, which I wonder if you supported. However, let it go!

    Jayne, what a kind comment! thank you very much. I am not standing, having been a counsellor rather than a councillor, but will hope to see Michael elected again one day in Basingstoke.

  • Peter Martin 27th Sep '21 - 10:01pm

    @ Katharine,

    The big problem with the last Labour manifesto wasn’t the extent of any Nationalisation. We can argue about the extent of that and I don’t believe it makes that much difference to the economy whether or not the Govt holds a significant shareholding in a viable industry like the Royal Mail. But if the Govt has to subsidise an industry, as we are seeing now with the Utilities, and we’ve seen for a while with the Railways, it may as well own them. If you or I buy some shares it doesn’t makes us any better or worse off. It’s the same for Govt so doesn’t cost anything. It’s just an asset swap the same as for you and I.

    The problem was a commitment to hold a second referendum which would have been a disaster with a choice between Remain and pretend Leave. The Leave side would have boycotted and there could well have been civil strife as a consequence..

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Sep '21 - 9:38am

    The big problem for Labour was surely the divisions among them on Brexit or Remain, not thinking of the possible problems with the ‘second’ referendum proposal. And where people aren’t sure of the right answer but one is demanded of them, they will stay ambiguous, and then be called dishonest by the committed, as I see is now what Keir Starmer is being called. Have you made your own mind up on whether your party should be supporting a £15 rather than a £10 minimum wage?

    (Many thanks, David and best wishes! I am back to Keswick Choral practice tonight.)

  • Jayne ```Mansfield 28th Sep '21 - 10:22am

    @ Peter Martin,
    There are rumblings that Johnson might call an election next year, Surely the party should get fighting ready, the fight being directed at the Conservative Party.

    It must be impossible to firm up policies long before an election because one does not know what the state of the country will be in at that time. But working on the assumption that Johnson will call an election, shouldn’t the party be concentrating on the unpicking the mess that this government has made, taking each policy they have introduced , for example the fuel they have thrown on the price of homes so far out of the reach of young people and key workers now, that they have given up any hope of ever owning one. The need for an increased in the minimum wage, especially not those people will be expected to pay increased National Insurance from their wage packets.

    Policies, any costed policies by the excellent Rachel Reeves that make i practical improvements to the lives of those who have suffered most would be welcomed if they were properly explained.

    I think that people would also be open to a robust argument as to why we need to be in the single market too,.as the cost the country of Brexit is becoming or has become a reality..

    There is a whole army of those of us who will vote tactically to get this appalling Government out, but the internal arguments must stop. Keir Starmer is the best hope the party has., he needs the full undivided backing of the party. Self indulgent divisions that allow this gross government back into power will not be forgiven,

  • Peter Martin 28th Sep '21 - 10:50am

    I’m not saying that Keir Starmer was dishonest over the second referendum. Just that it was a reckless policy which would likely plunged the country in close to a civil war had it been implemented. Jeremy Corbyn has to accept his share of responsibility too. It was a stupid choice. So although i might agree with him on some issues I don’t agree with him on Labour’s past Brexit policy. I agree with Ed Davey on some issues too but that doesn’t make me a “Daveyite”.

    If the party had negotiated the kind of sham leave deal that no-one would have supported, and the only other choice had been remain, I dread to think what might have happened. I knew anyway that we’d no chance with that policy. People I’ve known who’ve been lifelong Labour supporters said they weren’t going to vote Labour in 2019. Primarily because of the Brexit stance.

    I agree with people like Ken Loach on Keir Starmer. He pretended to be much further to the left than he was in order to get elected. He promised to work to heal the factional differences but he’s instead made them much worse. He seems intent on kicking out the activists.

    Regardless of what we might think about nationalisation, how can it be other than dishonest to say, before he was elected :”‘Public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water; end outsourcing in our NHS, local government and justice system.” and then say the opposite just a year later, and after he was elected?

    https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/politics/ken-loach-accuses-starmer-of-treachery-and-dishonesty-for-wanting-to-get-rid-of-the-labour-left-292293/

  • Peter Martin 28th Sep '21 - 1:25pm

    @ Katharine,

    I didn’t answer your question on the £15 minimum wage. I would put it up to £12 then another £1 per year after that and back off if it were shown to be causing any problem. This would be for adults over the age of say 21.

    But Keir Starmer supports a £15 per hour wage straightway! Does this mean he’s more left wing than me? Here he is on a picket line in 2019 to prove it!

    https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/politics/picture-of-starmer-campaigning-for-15-an-hour-wage-hike-goes-viral-following-mcdonald-resignation-292508/

    PS. Pls ignore that. Apparently that was then and this is now. He’s since changed his mind.

    @ Jayne Mansfield,

    ” {Keir Starmer} needs the full undivided backing of the party. Self indulgent divisions that allow this gross government back into power will not be forgiven….”

    You’d be welcome to join the Labour Party to help unite it. Not an easy task at the moment. The people who are now calling for maximum unity are the same ones who were working behind the scenes to ensure that Labour didn’t win in 2017. There was only 2% in it. What could have been the result if everyone had been pushing in the same direction?

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-leak-report-corbyn-election-whatsapp-antisemitism-tories-yougov-poll-a9462456.html

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th Sep '21 - 2:59pm

    @Peter Martin,
    Are you working for the Conservative Party?

    It sounds as if some heads need knocking together, (metaphorically speaking may I add).

    If the lesson that ‘A house divided is a house that falls’ hasn’t sunk in yet, perhaps I should reconsider casting a tactical vote for Labour at the next election, because in this constituency, it is the only chance of ridding us of the sitting Tory , and hopefully the current bunch of charlatans.

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th Sep '21 - 3:20pm

    @ David Raw,
    Apologies. I had forgotten you had mentioned the King David Version of the Bible, Matthew 12:25.

    Division certainly gave us the current version of the Conservative Party-

    ‘A Kingdom divided amongst itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.’.

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Sep '21 - 6:22pm

    To get the Tories out Opposition parties must be united? They never can be entirely, in view of the breadth of belief and opinion members hold. Surely the first aim instead must be to pursue policies which the voters need, to give them the basics of good life – security, freedom, some sense of self-empowerment. sufficient income, a decent home, good prospects for their children, jobs which fulfill their talents and mean something to them, and so on. The policies proposed have to accord with the principles and ideals of the party, as they do in the Liberal Democrats’ policy platform. So long as they do, it seems to me that changes of emphasis and tactics should be allowable; but a leader should be honest with his party to explain any changed thinking.

    End of sermon! I wonder if anyone is thinking whether the refugees who have made their way to this country this year at great personal cost and peril have useful skills that could supply our shortfalls in labour, in hospitality and transport, for example? And surely asylum-seekers should be allowed, though under conditions, to take work? I suppose many illegal immigrants disappear into the black economy where they will be easily exploited, but they might be useful and happy too with a liberal attitude towards them.

  • Jayne mansfield 28th Sep '21 - 7:50pm

    @Katharine Pindar,
    Not opposition parties Katharine, the Labour Party.

    It seems that some just want to continue with the same old internal battles that have lost them recent elections, in preference to reaching outwards to the electorate and making an offer that the electorate want. I firmly believe that these are job security, a home, a decent education for their children, safety and freedom from fear if they become ill or need social care. The basics of a dignified existence.

    Unfortunately, the current Labour Party fail to grasp the wisdom of Nelson Mandela’s quote. ‘I never lose. I either win or learn”.

    It seems that little learning has taken place.

  • Peter Martin 28th Sep '21 - 8:38pm

    @ Jayne Mansfield,

    Are you going to suggest Ken Loach is also working for the Tories?

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/28/democracy-keir-starmer-labour-left-ken-loach

  • Jayne mansfield 28th Sep '21 - 11:29pm

    @Peter Martin .
    No. He is an excellent and principled film maker. But Peter, those who want to change the conditions of life for the sort of characters he portrays need to exercise discipline and first achieve the power to make change.

    Let us take the latest example of kicking the ball into your own net- the minimum wage and statutory sick pay. A rise has been promised , but until the next election when the state of the economy is known, (possibly next year), Keir Starmer has rowed back on the amount until he and the shadow chancellor know the state of the economy. The warnings about major shocks are not good. It is prudent not to make promises unless one is sure they are affordable. Has the promised minimum rise featured prominently in the media? No. It has been drowned out by flouncing politicians and criticism of the leader.

    Unbelievably, polling shows that the Conservatives are still more trusted on the economy. This perception has to change.

    If there may be an election next year, do you really think it sensible to undermine your leader at this stage, do the opposition’s work for them and smooth their route back into power?

    Katharine has the patience of Job. I really do have nothing more to say on the subject.

  • @ Peter Martin

    “The problem was a commitment to hold a second referendum”

    I disagree as between 2017-2019 Labour lost the support of as many remain as leave voters. The votes they lost to Lib Dem + SNP + not voting were more than the votes they lost to the Tories. (Ref: Electoral Calculus)

    Even for leave voters, Brexit was not the only reason for Corbyn’s unpopularity. His track record on defence and security issues were major factor

    Your comments about “civil unrest” are completely ridiculous.

  • Peter Martin 29th Sep '21 - 4:59am

    @ Jayne,

    If there may be an election next year, do you really think it sensible to undermine your your own party at this stage, do the opposition’s work for them and smooth their route back into power?

    Kicking out principled members of the party like Ken Loach is doing just that. Of course it’s not just Ken himself. It’s thousands of others, much less well known, who also agree with Ken and have dared openly say so.

    Of course we do want the Tories out but we don’t want to replace them with a Stalinist party which is kept in line with threats and intimidation. It won’t stop if Starmer and his cronies do end up in number ten. He’ll simply have more power to intimidate a greater number.

    As a Lib Dem you ought to understand that.

  • Peter Martin 29th Sep '21 - 9:46am

    @ Marco,

    I notice you’re assuming that voter dissatisfaction with Labour’s de-facto Remain policy was only indicated by a switch to the Tories, whereas an abstention was indicative of a desire for an openly pro Remain policy. Do you have a evidence for this or are you simply hoping that no-one will notice this sleight of hand?

    Generally speaking life long Labour voters don’t suddenly switch to the Tories. A few might if they feel strongly enough about any particular issue . More might vote for one of the minor parties, including Brexit/Reform, but they are more likely to simply stay at home on election day.

    In 2017, Jeremy Corbyn, with the same perceived faults as he had two years later, won 40% of the vote for Labour. The policies of that election should have continued which included the acceptance of the Brexit poll.

    You’re making a big assumption that we will never see in the UK what we might see in other countries when conflicts arise between government and the governed. The British people are above all that etc etc. You’re probably right insofar as there is an extreme reluctance to step outside the democratic process but if government itself does that then who knows what will happen? The democratic process worked in this instance because those who advocated pulling such a stunt, which a reversal of Brexit would have been, were soundly rejected.

    It doesn’t matter that you think differently. There would have been many making the argument that if Government weren’t respecting the democratic process then they would have to resort to other means.

  • Jayne mansfield 29th Sep '21 - 10:37am

    @ Peter Martin,
    I am not a Lib Dem. I am now a floating voter.

    Old allegiances are gone. That is particularly true of the Labour Party. People like myself now look at all parties and sometimes regrettably under the current voting system, find ourselves having to vote tactically rather than our real party of choice.

    When I last voted for an MEP under that system,, I voted Magid Magid, not only because he represented the Green Party but also because he is terrific.

    If things are are bad as you say, don’t you think it better if your party splits into two parties since the differences seem so wide? There comes a point where a resolution of differences cannot be found, and and acceptance of the divorce option is only way forward?

    Will allowing another Tory victory with Johnson at the helm, sit comfortably with you , knowing that behind the comedic bluster there is an empty vessel of lies and spin who cares for know one but his own popularity and advancement, certainly not for the very people both you and people like Katharine and others on here, want to see receiving social justice?

  • If Mr Martin’s favourite Andy Burnham is so wonderful, why did he only come fourth in the Leadership election which elected Ed Miliband in 2010 ?

  • Peter Martin 29th Sep '21 - 1:13pm

    @ Jayne,

    “If things are are bad as you say, don’t you think it better if your party splits into two parties since the differences seem so wide?”

    Yes I do think that. Not just me but it has been a growing feeling in the Labour Party for some time. The question is should it be the right or the left who leaves to form a new party. If you read the article by Ken Loach I linked to earlier, he seems to be suggesting that it should be the left. I wouldn’t agree with Ken on this. It should be up to the members to decide and this is likely to mean the right should be the ones to go.

    But right wing breakaways from the Labour Party have never amounted to much. What has happened to Chuka Umunna and Lucianna Berger BTW? So I would expect the right to fight to the last to make sure it isn’t them. But we’ll have to see who wins on this one.

    @ David,

    I think you must be confusing me with someone else who does think Andy Burnham is wonderful. But he’s probably the best chance of avoiding the kind of split that Jayne and I have been discussing.

    Keir Starmer is claiming that ‘winning’ elections is more important than party unity, but It’s not a choice of one or the other. Labour won’t win divided as those who are offering Biblical quotations are suggesting.

    Except ‘Houses being divided’ was Lincolns quote. The Biblical quote is ‘Kingdoms’. The UK has always been divided in one way or another but has found enough unity when it has mattered to avoid ruination.

  • Malcolm Todd 29th Sep '21 - 1:48pm

    Peter Martin 29th Sep ’21 – 1:13pm

    “But right wing breakaways from the Labour Party have never amounted to much.”

    True, but they’ve done better than left-wing breakaways. Who remembers Scargill’s Socialist Labour now? Or Jim Sillars’ “Scottish Labour”? Of course, “Respect” was only ever a vehicle for George Galloway’s ego, but it certainly claimed to be a left-wing inheritor of Labour values… In comparison with all of those, the SDP was a runaway success.

    But you know that, of course, which is why you’re hoping the Right will run away from the fight and leave the Labour Party brand (aka money, organisation and lingering voter loyalty) to you and Ken Loach! Perhaps it would be a better party for that; but why would the people who are currently winning give up?

  • jayne mansfield 29th Sep '21 - 1:54pm

    @ Peter Martin,
    Ken Loach has been associated with the Socialist Workers Party and Ma Marxist Party in the past. I think also he was also a believe, although not so interested as to check, a supporter of George Galloway’ s Respect, so for once I agree with you it will be the left an easy assumption.. That is his choice. and should be respected.

    I have just listened to Keir Starmer’s speech and I was genuinely moved to tears. I shall be voting Labour at the next election anyway as it is the best chance of removing the current Tory incumbent out, but as Sir Keir explained himself and what he wants for this country, probably now because it is what I want too.

    Keep chipping away at your own party’s chance of success, and the values that underpin your leader and his plan for the country if you wish. The party best placed to get this truly awful government out. Thankfully, those of my friends who were and still are, Corbynites ( middle class and university educated Natch!) , are not so silly.

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Sep '21 - 2:05pm

    Jayne, please don’t vote for Labour at the next GE if the Lib Dems are second in your constituency and the best placed to oust a Tory incumbent. There is an 80-seat majority to overturn, remember.

    I also have listened to Keir Starmer’s speech, and I thought it pretty terrific. Did he win you over, Peter Martin?

    I think his vision for his party matches ours in concern for low-paid workers, especially in the NHS, and we can lead him in concern for carers. Perhaps he will lead us in his approach to crime and justice. But though he is an internationalist as we are, we will have to continue to lead on Britain’s relationship to Europe, which he didn’t mention.

  • @ Peter Martin

    The “democratic process” in the UK is that we are a Parliamentary democracy ie we elect MPs to decide things on our behalf. Referendums are not part of the process and are not legally binding. There is no requirement to hold them.

    It is true that Labour lost by a narrower margin in 2017 – after the Tories ran one of their worst ever campaigns (whereas the Cummings led campaign in 2019 ruthlessly exploited Corbyn’s weaknesses). This was also before the penny dropped with many Remain voters that Corbyn is a life long Eurosceptic.

    By the way – Blair never “united” Labour he merely sidelined the Unions, scrapped Clause 4 and delivered 3 victories.

  • Andrew Melmoth 29th Sep '21 - 2:22pm

    The Brexiteers never gave a stuff about democracy. 40% of leave voters wanted to remain in the Single Market.

    Leave won by offering an all-things-to-all-men fantasy Brexit against the flawed reality of EU membership. Many long term eurosceptics wanted to put forward a plan for Brexit (in the same way the SNP, to their credit, published a 900 page white paper before the referendum for Scottish independence). This was vetoed by Cummings because his polling had shown that if you defined Brexit then every model you proposed was beaten by Remain.

    After winning they set about redefining the meaning of the vote. Suddenly the Norway option was BRINO, advocates of SM memberships were traitors. This isn’t democracy. It is gaming the system to force the views of a minority to prevail. The only truly democratic options following 2016 were either a) adopting the Norway model as the option with the broadest support or fallback to b) Remain as the option which represented the plurality.

    Personally I never supported a second referendum because I didn’t think it would resolve the issue. But the idea that the holding of a democratic vote is a reasonable pretext for civil war is just ridiculous. When things came to the crunch in 2019 Labour had no good options. They faced a fundamental split in their coalition. If they had supported the Tory Brexit the result would have been a PASOK style wipeout. If you doubt that then you’ve learned nothing from the experience of Scottish Labour following 2014.

    And in the end what have you achieved? Wrecked livelihoods, immense stress to millions of families, a degraded, toxic politics and a deeply divided, dysfunctional country that will most likely split. And the icing on the cake? Conversion of Cameron’s wafer-thin majority into a decade or two of Tory rule and awarding the Right their most cherished strategic objective.

    If there had been a civil war and our cities had been encircled by battalions of brexity pensioners I don’t think we’d have much to fear if you had been one of their generals.

  • Peter Martin 29th Sep ’21 – 4:59am
    @ Jayne,….Of course we do want the Tories out but we don’t want to replace them with a Stalinist party which is kept in line with threats and intimidation. It won’t stop if Starmer and his cronies do end up in number ten…….

    Starmer; a ‘Stalinist’ OMG! Sadly, the Labour party has gone back to the Kinnock years of Right vs Left..I was impressed with Starmer’s speech but, as the BBC ‘grabbed’ a Corbyn supporter for the first comment on the speech, I’m sure that any and all divisions will be the media focus from now on..

    Like Jayne I’m now a floater but I’ve become less and less enamoured with this party over the last few years (as my LDV posts will confirm)..I am seriously considering joining the ‘Green Party’ and, although they aren’t perfect, I can throw myself wholeheartedly behind some of their major policies..

    Yours.. Undecided of Suffolk

  • Like Jayne, I too watched Keir Starmer’s speech. Although a tad too long, I was generally impressed with it and can see him as a very credible Labour Prime Minister….. although he may have difficulties in Scotland. His record on human rights ought to encourage social liberals.

    I’m afraid Peter Martin has the convenient memory and verbal dexterity of a Q.C. If Peter is suggesting Abe Lincoln had no biblical knowledge when he made his 1858 speech, then he is on very shaky historical ground…. And, anybody with a decent education and legal knowledge in the America of 1858 would have known his Tom Paine and Thomas Hobbes. He wasn’t the last US President to plagiarise somebody else’s phraseology.

    Ken Loach is a masterful film maker……. As the former chair of a food bank I greatly admire the gritty realism of his work, but again on grounds of realism, it’s vital we get rid of this Johnson ‘government’ ASAP.

  • Peter Martin 29th Sep '21 - 4:08pm

    I’m sure, Jayne, there will be some on the left who will be in tears too, but probably for different reasons!

    If you’re all so keen on a Starmer run Labour Party why don’t you join up and help him run it?

    I suspect because, deep down, you have the same opinion as myself. You know you don’t belong in the Labour Party, which is fair enough. You also know that neither Starmer, nor Blair, nor Rachel Reeves nor many other names we could include also really belong in the Labour Party too. They all want the party to become more of a centre party. But there is already a perfectly good centre party, a.k.a. the LibDems.

    We all know how it works. Many young politicians look at the electoral opportunities offered by the more leftist Labour Party in comparison to the centrist Lib Dems and decide they are far and away the better option. In other words they know they likely won’t get elected as Lib Dems! They therefore pretend to be much more left orientated than they actually are, for just as long as takes to get elected or in Starmer’s case to win the leadership, then they can openly try to move the party to the right.

    But the Labour party didn’t displace the Lib Dems by occupying the centre ground. It doesn’t make sense for two different parties to be making the same pitch for the same voters. You should want all centrist politicians to be in the same centrist party with you too! If you think the centre ground is really where the votes are you wouldn’t want the Labour Party encroaching on your patch.

    I certainly don’t.

  • Barry Lofty 29th Sep '21 - 4:20pm

    If I am correct a majority of contributors on this post wish to see the defeat of the Johnson government, as I do, and a credible Labour leader will go a long way to achieving this end, but might I also suggest that a strong Liberal Democrat presence in Parliament will be vital in getting that result and it is to be hoped that people will vote accordingly.

  • Jayne mansfield 29th Sep '21 - 4:38pm

    @ Peter Martin,
    I am now a sole carer for an extremely clinically vulnerable husband Peter. I would not be able to spare the time to help run any party.

    I said earlier that I saw no point in continuing our argument, and then relented, but I must now take a Stalinist approach and kick myself out of this party.

  • Peter Martin 29th Sep '21 - 5:53pm

    Andrew Melmoth,

    “40% of leave voters wanted to remain in the Single Market.”

    Says who? You are sure about this and it wasn’t 39.45% ? 40% sounds like a nice round but made-up number. What we do know is that 52% voted Leave. You will have a point if you are saying that many voters, on both sides, weren’t clear what the Single Market actually meant and were unaware of the difference between that and a Free Trade Area or a Customs Union.

    Most Leavers were happy enough to be able to trade freely with other countries in the EU and many would have mistakenly thought the ‘single market’ meant a Free Trade Area without realizing that there were lots of other strings attached also.

  • jayne mansfield 29th Sep '21 - 8:30pm

    @ Katharine Pindar,
    This is a Conservative constituency and on past numbers of votes Labour is the only party to come close to overturning the sitting MPs vote. This has always been the case. I hope that Keir Starmer’s speech today will help boost the number of Labour votes to get him out.

    If I lived in a constituency where there was a sitting Liberal Democrat or the party would ,with tactical voting, topple a Tory MP, of course I would vote for that candidate to get the Conservative out.

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Sep '21 - 8:35pm

    expats. I would seriously recommend you have a look at the motions passed at the recent Lib Dem conference: see https://www.libdems.org.uk/conference-motions, before you check out any other party. This was a hard-working and valuable conference, one of the best I remember, with a productive output that we members will want to share with our local parties (as I shall do tomorrow evening) and out then to the voters.

    With Johnson’s eighty-seat majority to cut down, we need the Labour party to win many seats as well as ourselves, and it is good to see that under Keir Starmer’s leadership his party looks likely to follow some of the same aims as we have for the betterment of British citizens, beginning hopefully with saving more from increased poverty this winter, and seeing carers and NHS workers paid better and with reinforced numbers. There isn’t time for party infighting, there is too much work to be done.

    Our own party leaders as LDV readers will have seen have hit the ground running, with Federal Policy Committee about to set up three more working groups on such subjects as financing social care and child education. I don’t know how it is with the Labour party, but I doubt if they have the same patient hardworking approach to policy development, with so many of our policies being developed from intensive group study and consultations, producing background reports before they are offered to conference for members to consider and decide on. I am proud of our party’s committed and dedicated hard work.

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Sep '21 - 8:43pm

    Thanks, Jayne, that is very reasonable. I wish you would tell us some time of your own expertise and working experience, I suppose involving some confidentiality and work abroad, but perhaps you are now retired from that. It is good to have your voice again, but very best wishes with your arduous new home life.

  • Peter Martin,

    My conclusion when I finished reading Keir Starmer’s “The Road Ahead” was that it isn’t radical and could be signed up to by Liberal Democrats.

    I think it is disappointing that Keir Starmer seems to be rejecting some of his 10 points to get elected as leader. I think it was John McDonnell who said on Newsnight last night that Starmer will be attacked by the Conservatives for breaking his commitments to Labour Party members – if he can’t keep his promises to the Labour Party why would he keep his promises to the electorate in a general election? They can say this every time Labour attack Boris Johnson for not keeping his word and breaking his manifesto promises.

    Katharine,

    I didn’t know governments had “an obligation to protect its citizens’ rights to an adequate standard of living” (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/sep/16/unconscionable-universal-credit-cut-breaks-human-rights-law-says-un-envoy). And that “the UK government must adequately justify “retrogressive measures” by carrying out a formal impact assessment showing the decision to be compelling, reasonable and proportionate.”

  • David Murray 30th Sep '21 - 8:30pm

    If Peter Martin is convinced that Keir Starmer is duplicitous, how do we know that his speech to the Labour Party Conference reflected his own sincere beliefs, and was not put together by his advisers/speech writers to appeal to his audience and media presence. After all, it was billed beforehand as a ‘do or die’ effort for him to retain his leadership!

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Sep '21 - 9:19pm

    @ David Murray. We can’t know, obviously, David, but Sir Keir certainly seemed to me to be speaking sincerely to his conference. He could honestly have decided that some of his ten pre-election pledges would have to be dropped, so as to prepare his party for government within perhaps only a couple of years before the next GE.. There is also the well-known statement to the effect of, “If the circumstances change my view changes accordingly.” The important thing, surely, is that the policies stay within the party’s values and principles.

    It’s good that the Labour party is as vehement as we are about the impending financial disaster for many working people, as well as those unable to work, of the ending of the Universal Credit £20 a week extra, together with the rising fuel bills and higher taxation. Thank you, Michael, for posting the link showing the UN Rapporteur’s correctness in denouncing the cruel cutback.

  • Peter Hirst 2nd Oct '21 - 4:16pm

    Fundamental to our values is a belief in the freedom of the individual in as far as it does not interfere with other’s freedoms. Freedom of the media, free speech, freedom to travel and live your life as you wish distinguishes us from the other parties. In a world where just getting by is becoming challenging these freedoms are more important than ever.

  • Katharine Pindar 2nd Oct '21 - 6:21pm

    @ Peter Hirst. True, Peter, that individual freedom is one of our highest values. You remember the Preamble’s first paragraph: “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.” Neither of the big parties could claim that magnificent statement of Liberalism, though the Conservatives will also claim to value freedom greatly, if not fairness or openness. But I think in our party we need to stress always that people living in poverty cannot have the freedom to choose their way of life as we can, or indeed equality to lead it in the way they want. We put it strongly – “no-one shall be enslaved by poverty”, and I have heard our Leader agree that fighting poverty must indeed be our first objective.

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