A positive light on the Labour leadership election

In case anyone hasn’t noticed Labour is in a spot of bother over its leadership election. Jeremy Corbyn looks relatively comfortable in his position as favourite to win and the other candidates seem to be busy bickering over who is best to challenge him for the position of Labour leader.  I’ve seen it thrown around that if Corbyn wins there’ll be a mass migration from Labour, or even that no matter who they elect they’ve got themselves into a flat spin and aren’t likely to recover.

I’ve also seen it thrown around that if that happens we’ll be the ones they’ll likely turn to, partly thanks to our new leader and partly due to the fact we’re seen as being nearest to Labour politically. I’d like to think that this is true; I’ve often thought that a large number of people who identify as Labour voters would happily support us if they were more aware of what we stood for as a party.

Firstly we need to remember that it’s almost certain now that the next general election will be in 2020 instead of the relative uncertainty of the past. Labour is still the second party in the UK parliament, even if their vote collapses like it did in Scotland they’re not going to lose their position in the Commons just yet. Arguably this is the best time for Labour to have this happen, early enough into the new government that it’s not impossible for whoever becomes leader to try and fix things. Five years is a long time, especially in politics, anything could happen and we can’t count on a weakened Labour. 

If we want to attract people from Labour we need to use a campaign of positivity. Labour failed to oppose the Welfare Bill, we need to call them out on that but not bully them for it. Remarks about Labour lacking a spine will come their way anyway. If we decide we want to benefit from this we need to not make them feel defensive, as that will only help rally the party together.

I think that a strategy of the odd reminder they’re making a mess of things but otherwise leaving them to it will not only stop us being seen as a bitter party but will appeal more to Labour voters. If it goes the way people expect, a non-hostile party with a good message will look quite appealing to voters and members of a party that’s tearing itself apart. Sneering will only show us in a bad light,when we are trying to recover our own reputation. If we do that we may well see some improvement during the elections next year to the devolved parliaments.

* Will Wilshere is a member of Watford Liberal Democrats. He blogs here.

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  • Little Jackie Paper 1st Aug '15 - 12:45pm

    ‘Labour failed to oppose the Welfare Bill, we need to call them out on that but not bully them for it.’

    I hate to be the one to ask this, but would out-and-out opposition to the Welfare Bill actually have been popular. And by that I mean in the real world, not a hot-air-and-hashtags internet sense. The election suggested that a relatively serious number of people were not exactly averse to welfare cuts – if not necessarily these particular cuts. It’s not hard to imagine how the media would have portrayed Labour opposition to that Bill.

    After all we have just had five years of everyone (stress, everyone) running around telling me that debts/deficts are a threat to the very national fabric. That surely implies cuts? A new Labour leader is going to have to formulate a response in an environment where the questions around deficit reduction are not going away. Farron will have to do the same in due course.

    Labour certainly have not helped themselves with a very long process to elect the new leader. But whoever emerges is going to have to work in broadly the same political and economic environment that Ed M did. How the LDP manages that will be interesting.

  • One of the problems we have nationally, is that in too many constituencies we are not active and visible. This allows Labour to hoover up all tory opposition.The Greens managed to get some of those votes in areas where they campaigned albeit in a minor way.
    I have always felt that after a General Election PPCs should be tasked in trying to ensure that they leave behind an organisation, no matter how small, who would build our image etc steadily over those five years.If this was done it would increase our polling numbers and promote our development

  • In response to “Little Jackie paper” I would argue that you must not confuse a general view that their are some in our society taking the system to the cleaners but the Welfare Bill is seeking to penalise working families, that will not resonate with society in General

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Aug '15 - 1:02pm

    If Corbyn wins there won’t be a mass migration to the Lib Dems. Senior Labour people wouldn’t accept Tim as their leader and Labour activists will largely follow their leaders.

    Labour might split and the new party could merge with the Lib Dems one day, but Lib Dems under Tim need a clear centre-left position. Ideally centrist, but I don’t think that is going to happen.

    Tim needs to articulate his centre-left position clearly like Nicola Sturgeon. I don’t think he is doing so.

  • The good news is that if Corbyn or who ever wins then it’s because Labour members voted for the leader they wanted. This is their first leadership battle without block votes. I personally, think it would be a mistake for the Lib Dems to offer a place to Blairites. They are as much of a toxic cult as Thatcherites were.

  • @Eddie Salmon
    I agree that we won’t see a centrist breakaway for two reasons:
    1) Blairites are focussed on winning power and a party with 8 seats and baggage from a centre-right coalition won’t be able to build a big enough coalition to even come close to second in terms of seats in the next 20 years. They also largely blame the SDP for the Tories having 18 years of unbroken rule and won’t make the same ‘mistake’ again.
    2) Tim is not the person to appeal to centrist Labour politicians, who will rightly or wrongly see him as being too populist on economics and too socially conservative where it most matters to them – on gay rights. I deliberately don’t use the term LGBT+ because Labour has a record of focussing on LG issues and neglecting BT+ issues .

  • paul barker 1st Aug '15 - 2:44pm

    I agree with this article, we should be love -bombing Labour moderates & Labour Liberals. If you know any Labour supporters – talk to them. We should be going on Labour sites & inviting them to come & join us. The converation among Labour Centrists & Liberals over what to do if Corbyn wins has alreadt gone public, its popped up on Labour List & Labour Uncut for example. We have a valid interest in that conversation, we should be inviting Labour supporters to join us & pointing out how hard it was for The SDP to break through even with Major figures at their helm. Currently Labour moderates dont have any Major figures – Liz Kendall is no Shirley Williams.

  • Will Wilshere 1st Aug '15 - 2:55pm

    To be clear to those commenting I’m not in favour of getting the Blairites along anymore than any of you. I didn’t specify which group I just said there will be thoise as Paul Barker says who are Labour Liberals and general Labour supporters who don’t fit into the Blairite group but also don’t fit with the Corbyn stance. Note that I didn’t mention their MP’s, more their members who perhaps are growing tired of their traditional party. If we had defections from MP’s who fit with our views and aren’t careerist then fantastic, but I’m looking more at their voters and possibly their less dedicated members who may have started to doubt their party.

  • Geoff Cutting 1st Aug '15 - 2:59pm

    You are delusional if you think any Labour member or supporter will forgive you for propping up the Tories for the last five years.

  • A Social Liberal 1st Aug '15 - 3:02pm

    LJP said

    “I hate to be the one to ask this, but would out-and-out opposition to the Welfare Bill actually have been popular. And by that I mean in the real world, not a hot-air-and-hashtags internet sense. ”

    So tell me Jackie, should we support or oppose acts because it is the right thing to do, or because we want to appeal to the majority of people? What price principal, and exactly when should we sell it out?

  • Simon Arnold 1st Aug '15 - 3:20pm

    I can’t see anything ‘positive’ regarding labour, their leadership contenders or anything they have ever done or will do. How can a Liberal, want anything to do with an authoritarian, big state party? since 1945 and Attlee, we have been dragged backwards, 50 years behind rest of Europe. Labour will increase the State, increase Taxation, increase spending and increase a Public sector to a size beyond what is reasonable. Corbyn, wants to Re-Nationalise, the whole of industry. That will mean strikes, unemployment, decay of the economy. It worries me to think that any Liberal, could ever see Labour, other than, an illiberal, authoritarian destroyer of UK and, the individual. How can a Liberal be happy with that? Anymore than we can be happy, with Conservatives, as they are now, authoritarian, while claiming to be ‘Free Market Liberals’.

  • John Tilley 1st Aug '15 - 3:35pm

    Will Willshire, the opening couple of sentences of your article made me for that I was going to read another piece about Labour falling to pieces and “moderates” joining the Liberal Democrats. In fact what you ended up writing was better than that.
    The suggestion that is repeated all over the Tory Media (including the BBC) is as you say —
    “…that if Corbyn wins there’ll be a mass migration from Labour.”.
    This is clearly nonsense.
    For the first time ever the Labour Party is going through a leadership election in which every member has a vote of equal value. If Corbyn wins it will be because the majority of members of the Labour Party want him to be their leader. The “mass” of the members of the Labour Party will be delighted that for the first time they have elected the person they want as leader not the person that the media or a small clique at the top of the party has imposed on them.

    Liberal Democrats should welcome the step forward within the Labour Party to a situation where they pick their leader democratically. Of course if it is a very narrow victory for one candidate that might result in the sort of problems that our party has experienced in the not too distant past. But the principle ofpoliticalnparties being democratic is one which we should applaud.

    Your article goes on to being positive towards Labour members and Labour voters. That has to be the correct strategy.

    We must not be sneering or dismissive or start talking about Blairites or “moderates” joining us.
    The idea that Ms Kendall is a “moderate” is laughable: She is not even a “moderate” conservative, she is a rather extreme one, saying that she agrees with the Osborne attack on the poor and she has been trying to shift Labour to support such things. No wonder she is the favourite candidate of the media. Why would we want such a person to on us?
    There are lots of people who in the past have supported Labour who would sign up to the principles in the Preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution — those are the people we should be attracting to join or support us.

  • John Tilley 1st Aug '15 - 3:38pm

    Simon Arnold — your suggestion that – “Corbyn, wants to Re-Nationalise, the whole of industry” is as far as I can make out completely untrue.
    Why do you want to pretend that he has said something that he has not?

  • Will Wilshere 1st Aug '15 - 3:58pm

    I’m afraid you’re missing my point Simon. I’m saying that there’ll be people who supported Labour for whatever reason without realising what a flawed party they are. I’m saying the positive could be this will help to drive out those who stuck with the party throughout troubles beleiving it to be the best party out there. By seeing how contasted it is and how foolish they are as well as how poor all the leader candidates are the Liberals of Labour may actually start thinking about other parties and we should show ourselves to be the party for them.
    Bullying them will only make them defencive, which as I say will rally people to the party instead of moving from it. Bullying them will make the Liberals of Labour want to change their party, not come to that “mean” other Liberal party.

  • Simon Arnold 1st Aug '15 - 4:21pm

    Will, we need to keep the Labour mindset as faraway from us as possible. Plus all the crazy left wing nonsense they will bring. Should we welcome Right wing Tories, or Nationlist SNP, to the party? Liberals need to stand firm, state our case, let others decide if they agree. I don’t think we should waterdown what we are, or bendover backwards to accomodate the very people that may have put Ed, into power. I get what you are saying, but I feel, it’s like accepting second best and shows we are desperate. We can be a small fire under a mountain, that will eventually crack. Corbyn, is a trot, the one thing about trots, to admire is their slow ongoing idea of a ‘revolution’ that never stops. Liberals need the same sort of approach as that, sprinkle far, wide and thinly, then wait.

  • My impression is that there is a greater chance of a split in the Labour Party if Corbyn does not win.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Aug '15 - 4:55pm

    We need to win seats from the Tories, because they have them.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Aug '15 - 5:08pm

    We should recruit from people who voted for us.

  • Will Wishere is quite right. We should refrain from doing to Labour what they spent the last five years doing to us, not just out of decency but also because it simply doesn’t work. Attacking a party might very well drive its supporters away, but will it bring them in to the attacker, or merely scatter them to other alternatives? Leave them to it. Speak out against them where our ideas and theirs clash, but trust that the voters will notice that party crashing and burning without us gleefully pointing it out to them.

    As for splits in the Labour Party, I wouldn’t worry about them. Martin has a point about it being more likely to split if one of the assorted not-Corbyn candidates should eventually win, and a leftist breakaway would not exactly be massively keen on working with us. Likewise, the Blairites have had more fights with us over the civil liberties and militarism issues than they’ve had from anyone else, so we’re probably not top of their list either. In any case, we should apply the rule that the UKIP defectors have set as the precedent – any defectors should re-win their constituencies in a by-election. That should ensure that any unlikely defectors heading towards us do so out of a desire to pursue liberalism in a more appropriate vehicle rather than out of any kind of entryism or opportunism.

  • paul barker 1st Aug '15 - 5:48pm

    To amend Richard Underhill slightly – “We should recruit.”
    Most people who join Labour do son because they are on “The Left” & Labour are bigger than us & have been for 80 years, its not deep. Labour cover a huge range of ideologies, from members who would fit perfectly well in UKIP to others who wouldnt look out of place in The Socialist Workers Party. The only things they have in common is a hatred of “Tories” & a sentimental attachment to The “Working Class”, both those ideas mixed in with a mess of prejudices about race, class, gender & region.
    Labour members can be lovely, caring people & thugs, sometimes both. We need to get over any lingering feelings of superiority & prejudices based on old battles. We should accept anyone who comes to us, in fact we should be actively trying to recruit those who voted for us, against us & even those who didnt vote.

  • Neil Sandison 1st Aug '15 - 6:38pm

    There will be both disenchanted Labour , Conservative and Green voters who may feel their party have moved to a position where they feel personally uncomfortable .We need to offer a progressive alternative that is looking forward with a clear message of understandable values and fresh new ideas. Activists in parties are usually the last people to make ” the leap of faith” to move to another party unless they have already been considering for some time. We can only hope that they do not bring any of their old baggage their former party with them but from experience that is not always the case. Negative campaigning does not work for the Liberal Democrats so we shouldn’t waste our time in that direction .(unlike the conservatives ).lets keep the door open but the admission fee is being a liberal democrat.

  • Simon Arnold 1st Aug '15 - 7:52pm

    John Tilley – Here you go; from REUTERS http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/07/26/uk-britain-politics-labour-idUKKCN0Q00F720150726 Surprise contender to lead Labour – Renationalise swaths of economy

    Economy/Industry. Either way a disaster for The United Kingdom, I don’t ever want people to live through 1970s and the labour mess via the Robber Barons, that ran the unions., in this century.

  • Little Jackie Paper 1st Aug '15 - 8:26pm

    A Social Liberal –

    ‘So tell me Jackie, should we support or oppose acts because it is the right thing to do, or because we want to appeal to the majority of people?’

    That, of course, is your value judgment to make. Only do you want to win power or be a pressure group? Labour (presumably) are thinking the former. You want to oppose on principle – good for you. Only politics is not there to pander to your prejudices or legislate for your whims. The wider public mood is not necessarily always going to be with you. Like everyone else the LDP will have to live with a political environment conditioned by an imperative of deficit/debt reduction and fiscal consolidation. The only question for the here and now is how to manage that.

    ‘What price principal, and exactly when should we sell it out?’

    This is military-grade internet hot air.

  • I really thought we had got beyond labelling people “Trots”. Trotskists don’t believe in democratic pluralism… Corbyn does… He is a socialist..

  • mark fairclough 1st Aug '15 - 10:10pm

    A libdem supporter who came not from Labour but the Tory left I guess I,m not wanted

  • John Tilley 2nd Aug '15 - 9:04am

    Simon Arnold 1st Aug ’15 – 7:52pm
    “…. – Here you go; from REUTERS

    Simon Arnold, I followed your link and read the Reuters article which is based on a TV interview.
    Contrary to what you earlier claim in your first comment it does NOT say – “Corbyn, wants to Re-Nationalise, the whole of industry” .

    Reuters actually reports that Corbyn is — ” in favour of the railways, postal service and power utilities being returned to public ownership.

    He explains this on the grounds that any decent Liberal Democrat and even some members of The Conservatives could agree with. He thinks that —
    “If we are investing in infrastructure then we the public should get the benefit of it.” British taxpayers had invested “billions” in the railway network over the years so it was right it be put back in public hands, he said, and the energy market was “a false market” which should be reorganised to become a “publicly run service.”
    He also singled out the nuclear, water supply and telecommunications industries for criticism.”

    So Corbyn holds views similar to those expressed by many Liberal Democrats here in LDV as well as Liberal MPs, MEPs, Councillors etc etc. over the last 100 or more years.

    Gladstone was an advocate of the railways and the post office being in public ownership.
    Are you saying that Gladstone was a Marxist Trade Union Robber Baron as well?

  • Stephen Campbell 2nd Aug '15 - 10:21am

    @Simon Arnold: “Economy/Industry. Either way a disaster for The United Kingdom, I don’t ever want people to live through 1970s and the labour mess via the Robber Barons, that ran the unions., in this century.”

    Well, the British Public would disagree with you, seeing as how a majority of voters want the power companies and railways to be renationalised (and wanted Royal Mail, which you lot sold off at a loss) to stay in public hands:


    I’d rather the country be run by Unions and their members than run by the multinational corporations (today’s Robber Barons) who are accountable to nobody, hide billions of pounds in unpaid tax offshore, have access to politicians which we voters could only dream of, often commit human rights abuses and care only about profit.

    But the idea that Parliament and voters should have more power than global corporations is an old-fashioned idea, I know…

  • Stephen Cambell,
    I love the post office but Mr Postman doesn’t bring me any letters these days (or Liberal magazines)
    Times change, my copy of The Inquirer is in PDF form now.
    When Woolworths closed every one said what fond memories they had of it but no one shopped there anymore.
    We loved steam trains but there was a lot wrong with British Rail so the answer isn’t just to return to it.
    Speaking as a former TGWU member, while the unions have a formal democratic structure, in practice it can be easily subverted once it is controlled by a Labour (or sometimes a Communist) clique. The most common complaint I have heard from trade union members is the union doesn’t seem to do much for its members.
    There are always local enterprises consumers can turn to.

  • Mark this is all pie in the sky stuff that LDV posters like to indulge in from time to time and mustn’t be taken too seriously. I live in Bath where we persuaded many Labour voters to vote tactically over many years but as soon as we went into Coalition they hated us. It’s totally emotional and part of their tribal identity even though some local authorities have experienced Tory +Labour administrations.
    If such a collapse of the Labour Party were to happen as things stand at the moment we’d be swallowed up by them if a large number decided to join the Lib Dems which they won’t .
    Of course you are welcome if you know you belong with us and believe in the preamble to the Constitution. There are as many different thinkers as there are members in the Lib Dems, not all of us (many of us?) can put our hands on our hearts and say I believe in all of our policies .

  • paul barker 2nd Aug '15 - 1:18pm

    Another historical note, Trots dont believe in always telling the truth, especially not when talking to The “Enemy.” You get a much better idea of what Corbyn is about from listening to his supporters, for them social democrats are a “Virus” to be expunged.

    On whether the Labour split is serious or not, the fact is that Corbyn has the backing of about 1 in 8 Labour MPs, more than 40% of the members, most of the Union voters & the Leaderships of all the major Affiliated Unions, that looks like a split to me.

  • Manfarang,

    Letter trade is falling, butparcel trade is expanding. Thousands and thousands of micro-businesses across the Uk depend on the Royal mail, which in the past has provided a very economical service for small volumes of mail (ie. people who post <20 items per day.)

    When "competition" was brought into the postal market the private contractors charged high (impossible) prices for small volumes and went after the big retailers like Amazon, Marks and Spencers, Next etc. The rates for these people undercut the Royal Mail, which has to maintain a universal service delivering to the Outer Isles for the same price as delivering to London. To add insult to injury, the Royal Mail were forced to open up their expensive network to the private suppliers, who could cherry pick the economic routes and force the PO to deliver the expensive places for a relatively cheap price.

    As soon as privatisation was mooted, the prices started going up. Now it costs over £4 to send a 500g tracked parcel, which Hermes delivers for £2.80. Hermes charge an extra £2 for the Scottish Highlands. Royal Mail should be able to have a similar pricing strategy, but are not allowed to… Alternatively, they should be able to deliver less frequently to remote places. Or if the government want a universal service they should subsidise it, treating the mail as a service not a monopoly. As far as I can see the government is still subsidising the Post Office, but not Royal Mail… perhaps I am wrong?

    Of course Hermes achieve their prices by using self-employed deliverers on zero-hour contracts…..

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Aug '15 - 1:29pm

    Andrew 2nd Aug ’15 – 1:18pm ” Hermes achieve their prices by using self-employed deliverers on zero-hour contracts ..”
    Hermes also use off-licences, thereby having different opening hours.

  • Manfrang,
    It’s odd because I still receive bills, new credit cards, parcels election material, ballot papers, and all manner of things through the post. The Royal Mail was in profit, but that bit was sold off and to this the public purse was forced to pay for the bits that made a “loss”, Personally, I’d rather postmen got paid properly than have yet more shareholders driving wages and pensions down to deliver a worse service. and still be propped up by public money. The logic of privatizing in cases like water and rail was even more ridiculous because you can’t switch supplier. Also Leicestershire has higher average utility cost across the board because of low investment and low storage capacity.

  • Simon Arnold……… Are you really a Liberal Democrat, or are you a wind up merchant with strong Thatcherite tendencies and an obsession for Hayek economics ? All this shrink the state stuff and reds under the beds has nothing to do with modern social liberalism….. and for the record, the Attlee Government along with the peacetime Asquith Government were the two outstanding ministries of the 20th century opening up opportunity for the less privileged and more security to millions. When the Party strayed from this path post 2010 we got punished.

    Certainly ever since 1906 proper Liberals have believed the State had an enabling role in a mixed economy. I for one would welcome the return the railways and the post office to the public sector (as would the vast majority(68%) of the public). I also think the major energy firms are rip off merchants and that Trident is an expensive dangerous folly.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Aug '15 - 1:45pm

    ‘Instant run-off elections’ is a clearer term for what is happening in the Labour Party now,
    The system for the election of one person is better and quicker than the two week delay (with usually lower turnout) of the French Presidential elections, or the country-wide tour of the Tory party’s Cameron-Davis contest.

  • Obviously, we Lib Dems are not in a position to return to more public ownership by ourselves but maybe Labour is. The problem of that is – When? and how long after 2010? It’s one thing for J Corbyn to have a shopping list but another to work out – How? If the Tories are giving away billions to the rich in society [tax cuts etc] how would we get back to more ownership by the State, the public, from the meagre pot left when Tories are finally deposed as they will have pocketed the whole State into private ownership? Which is their aim of course. Imagine everything owned by a few thousand billionaires – and no way back for citizens to share the profits of their own work because the owners say “No”.

    Of course, the left and right of our political parties could cook up a perfect perpetual storm – continually counter-acting each other, when in government, [as in the past] until the cupboard is completely bare!

    But Lib Dems and others believe the country *needs* a ‘concerned middle’ to provide a different stability. A stability of public-private ownership in balance. The question is – can we work with others to make this ‘middle ground’ without being somehow ‘centrist’ ? without a great unifying theme? How do you make the public-private balance a unifying theme?

    Unless Lib Dems can find the alchemy to raise the basis of our own constitution into a long-term campaign [doubtful], a long-term anchor of idealism etc in a changing world, retaining huge numbers of core voters- we have to combine with other centrists in a way which becomes a permanent ‘great coalition’ pushing out the extremists from government because the popular vote is Stability itself and Sharing for Citizens and not only for billionaires.

  • Correction – after 2020

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Aug '15 - 3:53pm

    Dr David Hill 2nd Aug ’15 – 3:10pm Are you a medical doctor or a PHD?
    Jeremy Corbyn is a London MP and his constituency affects his politics.
    Tim Farron is not a London MP and his constituency affects his politics.
    Corbyn is active in CND, Farron does not want to abolish all nuclear weapons.
    Farron actively believes in his religion. Corbyn “supports freedom of religion”.
    There are many other differences.

  • Katerina Porter 2nd Aug '15 - 4:48pm

    “Welfare” is a misuse of language. The biggest item in the welfare budget is state pensions and everybody pays National
    Insurance towards this.

  • Simon Arnold 2nd Aug '15 - 4:56pm

    John Tilley.

    As a Liberal Democrat member, I am horrified that any Liberal, Liertarian or Conservative, would want to nationalise as much as he does. If, like me, you were born in middle of 1960s, then you will know that Labour and their crazy ideas didn’t work. A Car industry, turned to dust, why? because Unions destroyed it, because they striked. Royal Mail (GPO ) in the 1970s along with Leyland were always striking. Docks in London, closed due to strikes, using containers was cheaper. Motorcycle industry. Well, everything you can think of has either collapsed , moved to Asia or been, thankfully sold. Compare VW in Germany (West) since 1945 to BMC since Attlee; which one is still going strong? VW, not BMC, Leyland etc.

    Do you remember the ‘three day week’ ‘winter of discontent’ or, the continuous powercuts, because Miners were on strike? The Left, as Corbyn, see it and wants it, is all of the above, an action replay of 1970-1979 and up until Thatcher smashed the unions, that are iliberal, that destoyed families – turning Brother against Father.

    The unions view of the UK is if you don’t ‘Pick It’ it will heal and form a ‘scab’ . Scab, is a vile word.

    If, the Power, Energy and Communications, along with Steel, etc had still been in the hands of Tony Benn, we’d be like a stoneage community, no investment, unsafe, wooden trains, that crumble on impact, lights out, no heating.

    If, as you say you really want that. Then that is a disgraceful admission to make. I would also point out that LDV isn’t the Party. As I keep saying, any true Liberal wants a very tiny, itsy bitsy, state and full power for the Individual.

    For example,if, I was a Lorry driver, suffering from Calais, I would be calling for a strike. If, the industry of business, I worked in or for, was nationalised, I would be calling for a strike.

    No Union, State, Dr, Teacher, or any other individual collective, should reign over anyone else. It is illiberal. Less law, but better laws.

    If you cannot grasp that, then i’m either in the wrong party, or maybe somebody else is?

  • John Tilley 2nd Aug '15 - 5:16pm

    Simon Arnold
    I was born in the 1950s and remember (possibly better than you) all the events that you dress up in the language of Daily Mail headlines. If as you say you were born in the mid 1960s you would have been in primary school at the time of the three-day week.
    I am also aware of the contents of every Liberal Party general election manifesto since the second world war.
    Therefore I know that the ultra- Conservative/ Libertarian free-market dogma that you seem to believe will not be found in any of them.
    I suggest you start with the Liberal Manifesto of 1945 and work through to the formation of the Liberal Democrats.
    This may make you feel that you are the only person who is correct and that every Liberal candidate and every Liberal MP over the last seventy years did not understand Liberalism as well as you do.

  • Stephen Campbell 2nd Aug '15 - 5:22pm

    @Simon Arnold: “If, the Power, Energy and Communications, along with Steel, etc had still been in the hands of Tony Benn, we’d be like a stoneage community, no investment, unsafe, wooden trains, that crumble on impact, lights out, no heating. ”

    Ahh, that must be why countries like France and Germany suffer from stone-age conditions with their nationalised power and rail networks. We’d better stop giving public money to nationalised French and Chinese power companies ASAP, otherwise we’ll be back to the stone age.

    “No Union, State, Dr, Teacher, or any other individual collective, should reign over anyone else. ”

    You mean collectives such as the global corporations who control our governments, engage in anti-competitive practices, dehumanise us all by turning us into commodities, have disdain for democracy and commit environmental and human rights abuses?

    ” As I keep saying, any true Liberal wants a very tiny, itsy bitsy, state and full power for the Individual. ”

    I think you’re thinking of libertarianism (or Ayn Rand’s wacky, anti-human Objectivism). But thanks for being the sole arbiter of what is and is not a “true Liberal”. I’m sure good Liberals such as Mr. Tilley who has been in this party for decades now sees the error of his ways.

  • John Tilley 2nd Aug '15 - 5:28pm

    Simon Arnold

    Just to help you here is an extract from the Liberal Manifesto 1945
    “….where public ownership is more economic, Liberals will demand it without hesitation. Where there is no further expansion or useful competition in an industry or where an industry or group of industries has become a private monopoly, Liberals say it should be come a public utility. Liberals believe in the need for both private enterprise and large-scale organisation under government control, and their tests for deciding which form is necessary are the service of the public, the efficiency of production and the well-being of those concerned in the industry in question.


    Railways, with the large part of road transport controlled by them, are clearly in effect a monopoly, and should be treated as a Public Utility on a national plan. Electric power should also be reorganised as a public utility.”

    You can find this and all the others since 1945 at this jolly helpful website –


    You will notice that not one single Liberal or Liberal Democrat Manifesto offers the small-state Libertarianism that you want.

    (not even the one written by David Laws).

  • Simon Arnold 2nd Aug '15 - 5:54pm

    David Raw, I am a Liberal Democrat member, in Scotland.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Aug '15 - 6:03pm

    John Tilley 2nd Aug ’15 – 5:28pm. The 1945 Liberal Party manifesto is interesting but the Liberal Democrats started with a clean sheet on policy, which was democratic for the combined continuing membership, but caused a delay of several months at a time when the merged party was low in the opinion polls.

  • Simon Arnold 2nd Aug '15 - 6:08pm

    To everyone else. I think Tim Farron, sums up perfectly, where we are at as a party. On state and, on Liberal values. I don’t think this forum represents all Liberals. The probelm, with 1960s and 1970s, excuse me, but it was horrrific. Thank God, it is all but a memory. I hope for future generations, nobody has to suffer such dogma, ever again. It didn’t work. Because it failed. France and Germany, have a different mindset. In Britian, people similar to Benn, Corbyn and Foot, see a romantic vision of 1917, milk and honey. France and Germany, even Russia, saw, then rejected it . Tell, those in Berlin, how successful it was. Ask them, why they demolished the Berlin wall. You cannot mix Liberty with, the ideology of Labour Nationalism, because Liberty, will always suffer. Small state, should only step in when, absoloutely in dire need to do so. I’m a worried that, we are helping labour ideology on here, when we should be helping Liberal ideology. To protect Liberty. To protect, the poor, sick and elderly. To defend this country., when it need it. I don’t think we should champion politicians, that shake hands and rub shoulders, with nasty people, like so many of his mindset. I was a Labour member, Green member and SSP , SNP, before joining Liberal Democrats. I am very pleased I did. Long may Liberalism and Liberty, shine through a haze of dangerous socialist fog.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Aug '15 - 6:10pm

    Tory Michael Heseltine used to quote Labour’s Tony Benn. Benn said that the Tory government (1970 – 1974) had nationalised Rolls-Royce. Heseltine had to admit this was true.
    The reason was that RR was a defence contractor, but the costs of the RB211 aero-engine had ballooned.
    The luxury car maker was privatised as Rolls Royce Motors and eventually became part of the Volkswagen-Audi group. The brand name was sold to BMW for £50 million, to the frustration of the VW directors.

  • Simon Arnold 2nd Aug '15 - 6:37pm

    Heseltine, like so many of Tories and, the Governemnt we have now are a problem. his LDDC, that was an experiment in moving a lot of people out, and, a lot of people in., from outside the area. Then there was, the Westland Affair. I think the Tories died twice in 1970 and, again, when Major, became PM. it has been a disaster ever since.

    Can you think of any British car industry, or cars that still exists, without being sold off or completely rebuilt? because they were not treated against rust, and leaked.

    Meanwhile at BMW, VW or whatever they call themselves, been going since 1945, in some form or another.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Aug '15 - 6:50pm

    Heseltine is still influential in devolution , according to Tory MP Greg Clark.

  • nvelope2003 2nd Aug '15 - 9:13pm

    Network Rail has been in the public sector since October 2002 and was formally nationalised on 1st September 2014, though I am not sure why a form of transport used for 6% of journeys should be run by the state. When Gladstone was alive the railways were the public transport system and carried vast quantities of freight and the Post Office was the only national means of communication. Neither of these things are true now although both systems have specialised uses. Until the train services s were handed to private operators the number of passenger journeys was in decline but now it has doubled and is back to what it was when trains were previously privately run before 1948, although the network is only half what it was then. I doubt that it is a coincidence and it would be tempting fortune to change things backwards to the “Golden Age” of British rail.

    We must move with the time as I am sure Gladstone would have done though I doubt if he envisaged motor transport and emails. He did change from being a Tory to being a Liberal when he saw which way the wind was blowing though.

  • Simon Arnold 2nd Aug '15 - 10:07pm

    Look what a mess the Post Office and Network Rail, became under ownership of, the state. On Labour’s watch.

    I use the Post Office and Royal Mail, frequently. I haven’t been on a bus or train, since 2003. That means, I only pay for the service as, and when I use it. BUT! when, I don’t, it doesn’t cost me a penny, now it has been sold off.

    Going back to some earlier comments, I read.

    I prefer not to have Unions, State, Public Sector or Corporations, control Government, or, any Governemnt control me.

  • It was the removal of rigid Treasury control over the finances of the railway that really helped the increase in passengers. Demand hasn’t been ruthlessly priced off, capacity has expanded on several lines and cheaper fare offers have mushroomed, albeit at the cost of severely bending the industry credit card.

    With Network Rail now in full Treasury control and the TOCs now being mostly just delivery (and revenue collection) units for the DfT, bringing the whole thing back into full public ownership would be relatively easy for any Government that is minded to. Which is precisely why the Conservatives are shortly going to make that more difficult.

    As a party we have to get our head around that the post Thatcher “savings” have now been squeezed out the former nationalised institutions as well as currently publicly owned organisations and in some there is little more to be gained. So how do we finance them in future when money is tight? Is it going to be more cost effective for GB PLC to fund them via direct public ownership or via private companies? There is a real economic debate to be had here, away from the ideological one.

  • Andy,

    I never understood why it was economically impossible for publicly owned companies to borrow money to invest in necessary improvements, but perfectly OK for private companies operating within the same market to do so… If private companies could get a return on their investment why not public ones?

    The Water Companies are a classic case. In public ownership they were not allowed to increase prices and were not allowed to borrow money and there were leaks everywhere… They are privatised, the tax payer gets a short term windfall but then pays far more for water ever after. Meanwhile the privatised companies make a lot of money for shareholders… Which bit of this was actually impossible in State ownership? It was a stupid interpretation of monetarist economics that prevented investment in potentially profitable state-owned enterprises and said that the sensible thing to do with assets was to sell them off and give the proceeds away in tax cuts. We should have run the state-owned enterprises as proper companies, giving good profits to the taxpayer instead of to shareholders, especially ones like water that have no competitive reason whatsoever to be privatised

  • Simon,

    I never found the Post Office a “mess” BTW… But in an industry that performs a service to business and people, that business making a loss (by keeping prices low) can be seen as the equivalent of a tax cut. No-one ever tried working out the real value of such companies

  • Simon Arnold 2nd Aug '15 - 11:00pm

    Indeed. I would sell it all off, end all subsidy and let the free market, decide who survives via market forces. Then, Taxation can be lowered or abolished. The nationalised industry were never actually owned by ‘Us’ individuals, we actually, owned nothing at all, it was , the state that controlled it. Tony Benn, never asked me about what he should do.

    Same as the idea NHS is ‘free’. It never has been, and guess what? we never actually owned that either. Why? because ownership means, not just ‘We paid tax’ ‘so we own it’. If you own something, you can control it. But we can’t control any industry or economy, unless we own it. The obvious answer, from , the person at the back; shouts, it were the Unions, that controlled it. True! but it wasn’t Me, my Mother or Grandfather, that controlled or owned anything. We were at the Mercy, of an elite State and Unions, that were rich and powerful, they kept us in the dark, and cold. They sent some of us, to war.

    So, if we remove Industry from control of the state, we no longer have to fund it, the Unions no longer abuse the state, for their own gain, hijacking the power supply or, the resources we use, to create, the energy that we use.

    If you run a business, you create turnover, after tax, that is called profit. The idea, that you can run the Nationalised industry, NHS or Public services at a profit or loss, when it doesn’t produce anything, other than turnover. That is paid for by ‘Us’ The People.

    No serious business, would operate, the way, the state runs the economy, because they would go bust, very quickly.

    Money in your pocket and, a choice where it goes, ensures only the best services survive. If, the NHS was a business, it wouldn’t survive very long, due to cost, poor quality, and customers walking away.

    Finance via something other than Subsidy, Nationalisation and Taxation, for me, is the way forward. with a direct democracy approach. This would mean, a minsiter wouldn’t be able to do anything without permission of those, that they are meant to serve.

    I come from a very poor background, I have watched since I was very small, all the nonsense in this country. I feel, I have a valid point of view.

  • nvelope2003 3rd Aug '15 - 12:59pm

    Andy Wylie:
    There might be a case for state ownership of the London Commuter network as commuters do not have much choice but it should not have escaped your attention, but obviously has, that the London Underground has been plagued by strikes over the last few years as British Rail was when it was entirely state operated, but is not now. These strikes can be incredibly distressing for already stressed commuters but maybe you do not care.

  • Ed Shepherd 3rd Aug '15 - 6:08pm

    Just to put it into perspective about the allegedly “horrific” 1960’s and 1970’s. Since the 1980’s we have experienced high unemployment and high underployment. The 1990’s saw the rise of a labour market based on temprorary contracts, short-term contracts, no pension schemes, no recognition of trade unions, low-wages, expensive education and McJobs that go nowhere. I think people in the 1960’s and 1970’s enjoyed far better working lives than the people of the 1990’s and 2000’s. I still wonder how on earth the young people of the modern age will ever be able to afford to stop working unless they have been one of the few lucky enough to get a well-paid, secure job.

  • Simon Arnold 3rd Aug '15 - 7:18pm

    Richard Underhill,

    Get behind Tim Farron. Corbyn is dangerous and, will destroy this country. I suggest we have two problems. 1. The election that happened earlier, this year. 2. SNP and their Nationalism, we need to fight it, in 2016 elections up here in Scotland. Supporting labour, will only cause Liberals problems.

    How can you support any other party, when they are illiberal, nationalist and want to rip the economy and, the UK to pieces? I don’t realistically see how any Lib Dem, can be in this party, while cheering on Corbyn and Labour.

  • Simon Arnold 3rd Aug '15 - 7:20pm

    Ed Shepherd, indeed! how will they?

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '15 - 8:17pm

    Richard Underhill 1st Aug ’15 – 4:55pm We need to win seats from the Tories, because they have them.
    Richard Underhill 1st Aug ’15 – 5:08pm We should recruit from people who voted for us.
    Simon Arnold 3rd Aug ’15 – 7:18pm Tim Farron came to Tunbridge Wells when he was President for a successful event.
    We will invite him again. I went to the rally in Islington to hear him speak and blogged about it on LDV.
    I welcome the upcoming debate on Trident, long overdue and agree with what he said on the Today Programme.
    I agree that we must rebuild the party from the bottom up, We have a borough council by-elecion in Tunbridge Wells at the moment and would welcome deliverers and canvassers.
    I disagree with what our Tory MP has been saying today, he is a loyalist, so it may be just the governments party line.
    As for Jeremy Corbyn, I have not been following the debate very much, but if he wins he will be in opposition to Tories.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '15 - 8:23pm

    On another thread I said “Partially this is about process. If members go out on the doorsteps recruiting the activity will bring results.”

    “Tim Farron does talk about immigration. He is in favour of compassion.”

  • Simon Arnold 3rd Aug '15 - 8:46pm

    The need to destroy Labour has always been a top priority, especially now. I disagree with the Tory Government, that doesn’t mean we should be thinking…… How does it go? ‘The enemy, of my enemy, is my friend’ . Well, that is,and, has always been a totally disgraceful way of doing politics or anything. We either have clear and precise values, or we don’t.

    The enemy, is always the enemy.

  • Simon,

    I am afraid you really do sound just like a Tory, and not one from the left wing of the Tories either!

  • Simon Arnold 3rd Aug '15 - 9:20pm


    I am afraid, you sound just like a Labour, and not one from the Liberal wing of the Labour either!

    The Lib Dems, are a mixed bag, or should we all agree with you, and run with ‘lets support Corbyn’? I wouldn’t mind if Tories were actually real Conservatives. Hitchens, sums them up very well.

    I have been reading Proudhon, less nonsense than that other chaps, manifesto.

    I don’t know what me sounding like anything has to do with anything? it doesn’t sound very Liberal, pointing out and shouting Tory! I am a Lib Dem, memeber in Scotland.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '15 - 9:27pm

    Simon Arnold 3rd Aug ’15 – 9:20pm
    An anarchist? Marxist? or is there another Proudhon?

  • Simon Arnold 3rd Aug '15 - 9:51pm

    There’s only one Proudhon. I have the Anthology Property is Theft! I also have the Manifesto, from the other chap, called Marx. Both, are heavy reading. Marx, is nonsense. I like to read a lot of different ideas. I was reading a sample of Alan Sykes The Rise and Fall of British Liberalism 1776-1998 . It seemed to contradict a lot of what I was told, over the weekend, here. Seems they believed in Natural Laws, Gladstone, was a Libertarian, with populist liberalsim., under him all that seemed to have changed.

    I tend to believe in the best of, the worst ideologies, and it doesn’t look good at all, wherever you look.

    I have read a lot of the Bible and Plato. If that’s alright with Richard Underhill?

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '15 - 10:20pm

    I like to read widely, but had not previously heard of Proudhon.

  • Simon Arnold 3rd Aug '15 - 10:46pm

    As, I said, Richard. It is a very thick book. I’m no expert on Proudhon, but you can dip into it. He writes letters to Marx. In some areas, he reached alot of ideas before Marx did., before Marx. He wasn’t about the mindless, violent Anarchy, we see today. More Libertarianism., it seems. If you add all the ideologies togethers, it’s alot to get your head around. Just when you think, you agree with something, then suddenly it has gone, and, something else comes along. Lib Dems, seem to really cover a lot of different ideas, that in some part, we can all get along with.

    Worth a read if you can find a copy, at a larger bookstore, online. Iain McKay AK Press.

  • nvelope2003 5th Aug '15 - 9:10pm

    Andrew: Network Rail is allowed to borrow money and has accumulated a vast debt. Maybe that is why the nationalised industries were not allowed to borrow although BR also had a big debt which had to be written off – that means added to the National Debt. The problem with nationalised industries was that they did not spend the money very wisely as their thinking seemed to be years behind the times. BR built massive marshalling yards, some of which were never used because the wagon load traffic they were designed for went over to more efficient road haulage. The people who work in private companies seem to have a bit more nous about what the customer wants.

  • nvelope2003

    Private companies like RBS you mean? ??

    I think it really is the biggest myth that private companies automatically know what they are doing and public ones automatically do not!

    I think I can guarantee that if British Gas or BT had been left in public ownership they would have made plenty of money! After all Saudi Aramco do.

    The big difference is that private companies are happy and able to act in ruthless and arbitrary ways that hurt many people, if they are allowed to get away with it and if it makes their shareholders money… Public companies tend to be constrained by a desire to act in the general interest. That can make them quite inefficient, but not necessarily detrimental to society. A company, whether public or private, which employs people and is stable and does not make a loss is successful in my book, but that is not how the market judges them.

  • Simon,

    I am a believer in mutualism, like Proudhon (and Corbyn also claims to like it, as I recall. Perhaps that is one place where you could agree with him 🙂 ).

    Anarchism has not generally been successful though… At the start of the Spanish Civil war the anarchists were burning money, which was a bit of a problem when they found they needed to buy weapons!

  • Simon Arnold 6th Aug '15 - 4:27pm

    Andrew, Proudhon, wasn’t promoting, the violent, anarchism we have seen in this, or, the last century.

    It was others, that realised violence could reach that goal, but even they realised that Lenin, was starving the people, when they had stacks of food decaying, in storage. Libertarianism is probably what Proudhon, was about, rather than violence. But, as I said, it is complex.

    Orwell, wrote a book about Spanish Civil War, it is a good read. The importance is that Anarchist are not Fascist or Communist. Problem with Corbyn, being the ideology that he follows, is of ongoing revolution, they will say anything to reach their goal. They cannot be trusted at all, once Corbyn, is in power you will seee his real Illiberal agenda.

    Mutualism, isn’t, the Co-op Group model, they are 100% labour, you buy, their food, labour gets fatter.

  • nvelope2003 7th Aug '15 - 5:35pm

    Andrew : I do not mean RBS. When those wicked private railway companies and coal mines were nationalised in the 1940s they employed 750,000 and 1,000,000 people respectively but because of mismanagement and the failure to operate in a commercial way to provide efficient and reliable services that people were willing to pay for their customers drifted away to – well to private transport and many railway services were closed or required large subsidies to maintain them for a while until there was no customer base, except for the London and SE Commuter network and a few long distance services.

    Not all the banks collapsed – Lloyds was ruined by being forced to take on HBOS, Barclays and HSBC did not collapse. It is said that railways were nationalised because the LNER was in financial difficulties and because the Labour Government refused to pay compensation for war damage as it would have raised the share price.

  • nvelope2003 7th Aug '15 - 5:39pm

    The finacial difficulties of the LNER were nothing to what happened to British Rail – the same BR that many people want restored. I guess the British, unlike the Americans, love failure and BR epitomises the failure of a once great British invention – a sort of Arthur Daley syndrome maybe ? The lovable failure – it is not for me.

  • nvelope,

    I am not arguing that public companies were necessarily efficient, just pointing out that by far the biggest losses to the taxpayer in the Uk that I am aware of have been banks that we have had to rescue…

    There is an opinion that banks like Barclays got a big public subsidy too… http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/feb/15/bank-barclays-taxpayer-subsidy

    And of course it is very bad news for many SME’s when a larger company goes bankrupt…

    The subsidy to big companies at the expense of small ones that many people did not notice was the scrappage scheme. Look around your area – how many MOT garages have gone under?

  • nvelope2003 7th Aug '15 - 9:45pm

    Well in an ideal world I would ban all subsidies but sometimes it is necessary to maintain an industry or service for a transitional period until suitable alternatives have been put in place. I am not sure that maintaining subsidies for 60 years as in the case of the railways would really qualify as a transitional period but like many otherwise rational people I like trains but unlike most people I do not think they would all disappear if subsidies began to be phased out even now. According to information I have seen 2 of the biggest franchises are actually profitable even when all costs for track and signalling etc have been factored in. Some are said to be profitable by those who favour nationalisation because they pay a premium to the Treasury but in some cases that premium does not cover the track and signalling costs paid directly to Network Rail by the Treasury. I understand that the original system whereby the franchisee paid all those track costs direct to Network Rail is the be reinstated so this should clarify the issue.

    Of course the banks could have been allowed to go bankrupt which is the way free enterprise deals with failure and this was apparently carried out in Iceland but the Government here got cold feet. Now if a shopping chain or even a bank goes down, though many people get hurt, other banks and shops will pick up the trade. So if a railway company goes down no doubt another company will take on the assets but not the liabilities and the trains will continue to run. This happened with the East Coast Railway but the trains are still running. I once travelled on a bus whose owners had just gone bankrupt but next day another firm was running the service.

  • Simon Arnold 10th Aug '15 - 1:06am

    Watching the SKY (Sunday) Paper review, reminds me that the UK could become like the Co-op Group. We know what a disaster that was. I stopped shopping there, I was so outraged. Thankfully, Co-op Bank, is in better hands, with the last 20% up for grabs, according to a report last week. Corbyn, doesn’t want real Mutualism, he wants a Co-op, that will be a disaster, if in Labours hand. Mrs Balls, is just as big a disaster. Burnham, is a joke. The only hope is, the one they all dislike, but she could join us.

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