‘Almost certain that Tim Farron will be leader later this year’ – Stephen Tall

Tim Farron Nick Clegg 2010 Photo by Liberal Democrats Alex Folkes Fishnik photography

With his usual uncanny knack and impeccable insight Stephen Tall is bang on the money over on PoliticsHome:

Barring some startling shifting of the plates, it seems almost certain that Tim Farron will be giving the leader’s speech at the party’s Bournemouth conference this autumn. He will, naturally, use the occasion to pay full and handsome tribute to Nick Clegg. But no-one expects him to lead the Lib Dems in the same direction.

Stephen runs through the options as to what will happen after May 7th, gives a run-down of Tim’s strengths and weaknesses, and goes through the runners and riders in a future leadership contest.

You can read the full article here.

Photo from the Liberal Democrats Flickr photostream by Alex Folkes/Fishnik photography

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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93 Comments

  • Martin Land 18th Mar '15 - 9:24am

    Like last time, I will want to vote for Steve Webb. Like last time he will probably not run. Like last time I will be faced with a choice that is no choice at all. As last time I ended up voting for Clegg; bad enough, but I could have ended up voting for Huhne, this time I may well not bother voting at all. The risks are simply too high.

  • Glenn Andrews 18th Mar '15 - 9:34am

    I’d disagree with Mr Tall on point two; 30 seats is nowhere near enough to warrant retaining the same leader – 45 seats is a more rational benchmark, if we have only thirty you can be pretty sure that we’d have won most of those by beating the Tories in Con/LibDem marginals; which pretty much rules out a formal coalition with the Tories (especially if we only have 30 seats) – unless they shock us with an offer of PR and the Home Office, and that isn’t going to happen…. anyway, enough of the speculation . We need to get on with delivering as large a parliamentary party to the new leader as possible….. something over 30 gives Tim, sorry I mean him/her something to build on.

  • Surely, sure, this is not th time for this discussion. Right now surely the task is to fight a good election campaign.

    There will come a time when it is right for Nick to stand down, but surely the decent thing is not to engage with that now.

    Personally I think Nick has done a good job, and has done a brilliant job of handling the brickbats thrown at him by people outside the party. This isn’t the time for people inside the party to join in that.

  • I agree with 90% of what Stephen Tall has written in this piece In PoliticsHome.

    One minor quibble — Swinson ? Really? Not Featherstone?

  • Featherstone is unlikely to keep her seat, which is a real shame. She is definitely leadership material. Unfortunately the area she represents is highly likely to go red.

  • I honestly can’t think of any other choice who could attract new members or voters and shake off the stigma attached to coalition with the Tories and tuition fees. I know some would like to see a woman leader and so would I, but most will be lucky to hold onto their seats and I’m not sure that there is a strong candidate among the current MP’s anyway. I don’t know, but my guess is that Farron is such a certainty that the bookies won’t even take bets on the result.

  • Firstly: Mark Argent is absolutely correct: now is not the time.
    Secondly: Stephen Tall’s analysis is all pretty obvious, though even if any further coalition is very unlikely and impratical, it would be stupid to disavow the possibility of coalition in the run up to the election, after all as a Party we are very much in favour of the principle of coalition governments.
    Thirdly: Bigging up one flawed* candidate is a mistake. Hopefully there will be ample time for alternative candidates to pitch their case. *For me Farron is certainly yet to make his case and I am very queasy at the thought of a leader who has a Blairite religious zeal. I like what I have seen of Jo Swinson, but I would need to see more; ditto two or three others.

  • David Evershed 18th Mar '15 - 10:45am

    After the election, regardless of leader, we need to make clearer that Lib Dems believe in
    – free markets and free trade
    – a free health service
    – individual freedom and
    – help for those who are not capable of helping themselves.

    Given Lib Dem principles we should be winning far more support from one nation Conservatives.

  • David Evershed – I hope you’ve donned your flak jacker; expect incoming 😉

  • Can we please stop talking about this till after the election ?

  • If Tim Farron is going to be the Liberal Democrats’ next leader why wait? Lets have an MP who did not break their tuition fee pledge leading the party through the general election.

  • This may be a mad suggestion in many ways, but I would like to see the Liberal Democrats replace the Conservative Party.

    The Tories are now split over Europe and nationalism, and long term could struggle to reconcile these views, especially with the rise in UKIP. Modern Britain is economically right wing, but socially liberal, and the Liberal Democrats are in perfect position to reflect the majority view of the electorate.

    People felt drawn to Cameron’s Conservatism but still didn’t trust his party as a whole. 5 years on and that is still the same. A newly revamped Liberal Democrat party which stands for free markets, free trade, business, the EU, personal freedoms, personal liberty whilst maintaining a compassionate side could very well be a vote winner over the next 5 years, especially if people are subjected to a UKIP focused split Tory government or a Socialist bloc.

  • Stimpson: Yes it is mad, because at a fundamental level Conservatism and Liberalism are utterly different, they could no more replace each other than sleeping could replace being awake.

    What you are saying is a truism that the main political parties occupy similar ground and that the differences are comparatively marginal; to slightly different degrees the Parties are wedded to capitalism, a big welfare state and individual privacy: This is one of a number of reasons why calls for centrism are misguided: the parties are simply not different enough; it is why Liberal Democrats need to ensure that their message has a distinctively Liberal character.

  • Stimpson

    I think many voters already have difficulty telling the difference between the two parties already, that’s why the LibDems have lost so much support. Look at the voting records of Clegg, Alexander, Lamb, Featherstone, Webb etc – is there any difference between them and the Tory ministers?

  • matt (Bristol) 18th Mar '15 - 11:38am

    Stimpson – er, I respect your right to adhere to the party and that you probably have many points of agreement with myself on several issues (I hope) but I for one would try very hard to stand in the way of what you hope for happening. One of the few things I agree with Nick Clegg on is the (possibly rhetorical) concept of the ‘radical centre’ (I just don’t think the centre is quite where he thinks it is); therefore I would argue pulling right is not a solution to our identity crisis, it is an exacerbation of it.

    Anyway, talking Tim F up now is to invite fiercer and fiercer scrutiny of him and any ‘splits’ as the campaign goes on. STOP IT. it’s counter-productive. We know him and Nick disagree on several matters. We also know that they have agreed to work together. End of.

  • Samuel Griffiths 18th Mar '15 - 12:09pm

    Half the success of Labour and Conservative is that people have an instinct on what they are about. This instinct may not always be true, but it does provide a grounding base for a foundation group of voters and an expectation that makes them reliable and predictable on certain issues. Stabilising the LibDems is the true challenge of the next leader, but it won’t be an easy task. When the Coalition brought austerity to this country, the LibDems took all the flak but the Conservatives didn’t. This is because people expect them to do that, they have an understanding of what a Tory government means. The party needs to form expectations of it’s own, that will then attract voters who believe in those values.

  • Stimpson

    Whilst I agree with your definition of the problem, I don’t think you’ve come to the right solution.

    For simplicity’s sake lets presume there are 3 principle Liberal viewpoints: Social, Economic and Personal

    Currently the Tories are a coalition between liberals in all three cases and Authoritarian/Big Business/Big Staters
    Labour are similar

    The challenge is to coalesce a Liberal position that draws in the liberals from the other two big parties. Historically those liberals have been drawn one way or the other (much like the electorate) to ally with corporatist authoritarians of the right or the left.

    So I would like to see UKIP replace the Tory right, the Greens replace the Labour left, and a modern, forward looking, Liberal, Free Trade, European party of the centre drawing on the moderates of all 3 main parties.

  • Stephen Campbell 18th Mar '15 - 12:27pm

    @Stimpson: ” Modern Britain is economically right wing”

    A new poll from YouGov would beg to differ: https://yougov.co.uk/news/2013/11/04/nationalise-energy-and-rail-companies-say-public/

    A majority of people polled want the NHS to stay in out of private hands. A majority of those polled want the energy companies, Royal Mail and the railway companies to be nationalised.

  • Stephen Campbell 18th Mar '15 - 12:30pm

    Sorry, the link I just posted above is from an older poll (2013).

    The correct link is here: https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/03/12/nationalisation-ideology-beats-pragmatism/

    “In six out of eight major public service areas, the option of running them in whichever sector that can maintain standards comes last, behind nationalisation and privatisation. Most people think the public sector should be the provider of every service apart from utilities and banks. Banks are the only service where nationalisation is the least popular option.”

  • Stephen Campbell – Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

  • matt (Bristol) 18th Mar ’15 – 11:38am
    “……STOP IT. it’s counter-productive. ”

    Matt,
    it is indeed counter productive. What on earth was it all about?

    Who created this split over the last few days? Who briefed against colleagues? Who undermined those candidates who were back in their constituencies working hard? Who had the time to line up their friends in the Tory Media?

    It was crystal clear which side of the party was behind this damaging split.
    There is the old saying that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck — it probably is a duck.
    The same goes for bleating like a lamb.

    It was all about the Lamb and his plotters.

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Mar '15 - 2:58pm

    I don’t think now is the time to be getting into discussions about individuals, which can be very distracting, but I’ll probably end up backing whoever the liberal establishment candidate is.

    That said, if a group try to defenestrate Clegg again immediately after the polls have closed then they will almost certainly increase opposition to whoever they are backing.

  • Nick Collins 18th Mar '15 - 5:48pm

    “Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.”

    They did in Birmingham in May 2010.

  • David Allen 18th Mar '15 - 6:19pm

    So, some people want the Lib Dems to replace the Tories on the right: some want them to repudiate the Tories and move left: some think that they can persuade the whole political spectrum including the Greens and UKIP to rearrange itself in a way that helps us dominate somewhere in the middle.

    If I was (say) a Labourite, and I was reading this, I would think to myself “Blimey! And we think we’ve got problems! Yes, we’ve got divisions between Blairites, Brownites, Millidum, Millidee, Blue Labour, New Labour and Red Labour – but blimey, we do at least all face in something like the same direction! Not like this bunch!”

    Closing time. We need a new party.

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Mar '15 - 8:31pm

    David Evershed18th Mar ’15 – 10:45am

    “After the election, regardless of leader, we need to make clearer that Lib Dems believe in
    – free markets and free trade
    – a free health service
    – individual freedom and
    – help for those who are not capable of helping themselves. ”

    David – do you really believe free markets and free trade should come top of a list of what this party is about? Clearly you do!

    Re your “Given Lib Dem principles we should be winning far more support from one nation Conservatives.”

    Clegg et all have spent several years believing this total fallacy. It was always wrong but is now a demonstrably failed approach. One nation Tories vote Tory.

    Lib Dem members join and voters vote because we predominently have a very different understanding of ‘Lib Dem principles’ than Nick Clegg and yourself. If we agreed with you we too would be Tory voting one nation Tories.

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Mar '15 - 8:35pm

    David – yes, do please form a new party … and give free membership to certain posters here and at the top of OUR party. I am happy to assist in the drawing up of a likely membership list.

    We can start with those who are socially (personal freedom) Liberal but TTIP-supporting economically sub-Thatcherite liberals who probably have quite a lot in common with the likes of George Osborne.

    I too have come to the conclusion that the Liberal Democrats have become too broad a church with the influx of people who appear to wish to be little more than nice Tories. That is not and never has been the philosophy of this or its predecessor parties.

    But seriously (not that the foregoing wasn’t serious), if the equidistant Centrists and anti-state free marketeers do somehow manage to hang on to control of this party later this year, we will be doomed anyway so we may as well decamp to a new i.e. traditional preamble-believing social justice Liberal party. That said, I believe they know it is them, not us, who will be having to make any stay or leave decisions.

  • I don’t see why everyone focuses on the party supposedly facing so many directions. I’m right-wing-ish by lib dem standards, but I may well vote for Tim, who I think would be a sound liberal, and an enthusiastic and likeable leader. We agree on far more than we disagree as a party. All political parties are, by their nature, broad churches.

  • This is not a productive discussion at this time. I realise mumblings are going on behind closed doors too. Whether in public here or behind closed doors our energies should be going into winning seats, not dividing and decapitating the party.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 19th Mar '15 - 8:20am

    I agree that our first task is to support our candidates in the elections. But we are also aware that we have some re-positioning to do – to make our Party clear about its LD values which it will spread up and down the country. These are not opposites or distractions but are the main issues which bring voters together under one banner. And while we are about it let’s make sure we do not define our Party’s values so narrowly that our vote is bound to shrink yet further.

  • Stephen Hesketh – “I too have come to the conclusion that the Liberal Democrats have become too broad a church with the influx of people who appear to wish to be little more than nice Tories. That is not and never has been the philosophy of this or its predecessor parties.”

    Utterly and fundamentally wrong and with no appreciation of the Liberal Party’s history and origins. Who were the Free-Trade, market-capitalist party in the nineteenth century? Hint: it wasn’t the Tories.

  • Bill le Breton 19th Mar '15 - 10:00am

    Tabman, that is to completely ignore the New Liberalism movement of 1890s and the defeat of the Imperial Liberals, the prominence given by Campbell Bannerman to Lloyd George, Churchill et al’s social policies, the introduction of pensions and employment exchanges etc., the subsequent Yellow Book and the 1929 manifesto, We Can Defeat Unemployment, inspired by Keynes and finally the Beveridge initiatives.

    You are exactly right in saying that the present Leadership has returned the Party to its historic position but that is the position prior to New Liberalism. And has it worked?

  • Paul Walter, “Well go and start (a new party) then David”.

    I am sure nothing would please Paul Walter more than a half-cock launch at the wrong time of a new party. It would give him and his loyalist backers the best chance of strangling it at birth.

    Right now there are minor tactical differences between people like me and Stephen Hesketh (thanks Stephen!) who see the need for a fresh start, people like John Tilley and Bill le Breton who think it is right to continue backing selected “preamble” Lib Dem candidates whom they believe they can trust, and people like Matthew Huntbach who are “on strike” with the aim of changing the direction of the Lib Dems. Those differences are temporary, but would cause difficulties if a new party were to be launched now.

    “Disloyalty” would be the charge, as if selling out to the Tories was not the supreme disloyalty. Yet it would carry weight. Many “preamble” Lib Dems believe that the Party, if diminished after the Election, can renew itself under Farron. Until they find out the hard way that the party’s financial backers will find ways to stop that happening, a new party will falter. When it does happen, expect the Cleggites to go the way of Sir John Simon’s “National Liberals” in the 1940s.

  • Before I consider supporting Tim Farron’s leadership ambitions I will want to hear from him where his quite strong religeous views fit in with the sort of inclusive liberal society I want our party to create.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Mar '15 - 11:26am

    Tabman, as it happens I have an interest in the Whigs, Free Trade Liberals and Tories and the Radicals who came together to form the Liberal Party and the subsequent emergence of the New Liberalism as mentioned by Bill le Briton … so you are wrong in your base assumption.

    As my sense of humour sometimes gets the better of my posts, I would like to put on record that I would not wish to force anyone out of the party – we must all decide as individual members if the position the party takes collectively is compatable with our own values and views.

    My concerns are rather that others have sought to quietly reposition the party before and during the coalition and crucially without genuine and open debate and this resulting in many traditional preamble-believing members to have felt forced out of our party – and, coincidently the party hierarchy actively seeking to attract those to whom equidistant centrism or unfettered free market capitalism appeals.

    There is a huge difference between Liberalism, Centrism and free market neo-con economic liberalism – just as there is between Liberalism’s historic support for free trade and the ‘Orange Book’ type support for corporate free markets.

    I would like to see the Liberal Democrats to return to the values set out in our Preamble. If fellow individual members subscribe to those values and aims, I have absolutely no issue – whatsoever – with their continuing membership.

    I also believe Tim Farron’s personal qualities will make for a much happier coexistance of the various strands within a party of personal, political, social justice Liberal Democracy.

    On the economic front such a party might be expected to “recognise that the independence of individuals is safeguarded by their personal ownership of property, but that the market alone does not distribute wealth or income fairly. We support the widest possible distribution of wealth … “

  • Gladstone was pretty religious. The problem with Blair’s religion was that it conveniently kept telling him he was right. The way he talked down to his opponents was always worrying. I don’t get that impression with Tim Farron at all. I do have concerns about his judgement, but it’s about time we had a leader who could inspire.

  • That’s fair comment about Gladstone (Simon Banks) but it was also a completely different age where people were much more subservient, especially to the church. Nowadays they are more inclined to lead their lives as they see fit and not at the behest of others. Many have a miserable time trying to shake off the shackles of the religion imposed on them by their parents at a very early age.

    I don’t begrudge anyone their superstitious beliefs, religious or otherwise, so long as they’re within the law and don’t hurt anyone else. The trouble is that religious people often have a problem with some other members of society who don’t fit in with their view of the world and that can be women within, for instance, some strands of Islam or gay people who are currently getting a difficult time, sometimes fatally, in Africa as the result of ‘missionary’ work carried out by American evangelical Christians.

    I am aware that Tim Farron holds strong religious beliefs and I would want to know how that drives his agenda. For instance we have already had the government minister Eric Pickles, another very religious person, trying to force religious prayers onto the agenda of council meetings whether one likes it or not. Again, as a tax payer I resent funding ‘faith’ schools that my children would be excluded from because I don’t have a religious belief or am not prepared to fake one.

    Before religious commentators on this site throw the accusation at me I can say that I am not an atheist. I am a non believer with no interest in earthly religious practices.

  • Bill Le Bretton – as you brought up Keynes, you may remember that his creed was to borrow in a recession, but to run a surplus during the boomtime to pay off government debt to ensure the capacity to borrow when the inevitable cyclical downturn came around again. It was this prudent aspect of Keynes that Brown and Balls conveniently forgot (“No more boom and bust”) and left us with a debt spiralling towards £1.5Tn and the need to spend more on debt interest than we do on Defence.

  • Stephen Hesketh – I’m not sure how support for the preamble is at odds with Social, Personal and Economic Liberalism? It strikes me that all political parties have been too much in thrall to producer interests and its our historic mission to represent diversity in all its forms including the means of production. Monopolies are still monopolies, be they private or state, and we should challenge them wherever they occur.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Mar '15 - 1:03pm

    David Allen19th Mar ’15 – 10:11am.

    Hi David, similar to John Tilley and Bill le Breton, I am happy to actively work and donate to fellow preamble Liberal Democrats in this election. The point I personally would tip fully into the ‘new party’ camp is if, following the election, we do not quickly elect a Preamble-believing Liberal Democrat as our leader. Without that, very sadly, I don’t see us surviving as a meaningful political force anyway.

  • Due to illness I have been on the outskirts of the party for several years. On the occasions when I saw him on the telly I thought Tim F was doing all he could to put forward the views of the ordinary members of the party while the other MPs were tied up in the red tape of Coalition. I was very grateful to him for doing that as he seemed to be the only one who was.
    Don’t let’s split into factions because even though many of us are in despair about the outcome of the Election there are a lot of people working very hard to keep as many seats as possible. We came through the split up of the Alliance and the founding of our new party and we can do the same now.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Mar '15 - 1:20pm

    Tabman19th Mar ’15 – 12:50pm

    Logically we should all be economic Liberals just as we should be Liberal in every other sphere.

    The problem I see is the gulf between a Liberalism which seeks to harness the best elements of all human endeavour for the benefit of all, and those economic liberals who have frankly lost the Liberal plot when it comes to recognising the very real problems with private and global corporate monopoly and the dangers their ever-increasing ability to abuse economic and political power poses to a Liberal way of life. Back to the TTIP thread!

  • David, Your black and white analysis is flawed by the fact that most members are not “Cleggites” as your ludicrously over-simplistic nomenclementure has it, but people like me who are loyal to the democratically elected, legitimate leader of the party and don’t want to close the party and start a new one just because they don’t like the leader.

  • Kay Kirkham 19th Mar '15 - 1:40pm

    Robert Hale – Before I consider supporting Tim Farron’s leadership ambitions I will want to hear from him where his quite strong religious views fit in with the sort of inclusive liberal society I want our party to create.

    This is a very valid point about Tim’s potential candidacy. I would need a very clear statement that he values and respects people of all faiths and none, to live their lives as they wish as long as it doesn’t impinge on others before I supported him as a leadership candidate.

  • Stephen Hesketh – here, I think, is the problem: “those economic liberals who have frankly lost the Liberal plot when it comes to recognising the very real problems with private and global corporate monopoly ”

    Anyone who supports monopoly or monopolistic provision behaviour to my mind CANNOT be an Economic Liberal; end of story. True Economic Liberals believe in an efficient market and the use of government power to the minimum to ensure that it operates as efficiently as possible. And that means acting to remove the distorting effect of monopoly or monopolistic behaviour.

  • Paul Pettinger 19th Mar '15 - 1:59pm

    If only there was much more political and religious repression, society was much poorer, only rich men could vote, and our main political opponents represented landed interests and kept wanting to raise taxes to fight imperialistic wars. Given the need to remain relevant to modern society however, how about everyone we stick to a social-liberal platform in the meantime?

  • There can be a good reason for monopolist provision for a limited time eg electricity. Power was provided to isolated areas because profits from highly populated areas were used to do so. The problem with competition is the tendency for providers to compete for the easy profits. Perhaps economic liberals should always be seeking the most effective means of provision end of story.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Mar '15 - 2:13pm

    SIMON BANKS

    Gladstone was pretty religious. The problem with Blair’s religion was that it conveniently kept telling him he was right

    How does that differ from our beliefs in liberalism telling us what is right?

    Blair made a remark on the invasion of Iraq which is often misinterpreted, and wilfully by those who have an ulterior motive. I think he genuinely supposed that overthrowing the dictator would result in a better government arising, and so would be the right thing to do. Just as Nick Clegg believes raising the income tax allowance is the right thing to do. If someone were to say to Nick Clegg “you are an evil man, the consequences of what you are supporting here in terms of cuts to welfare and the NHS are terrible”, I think they would be wrong about the “evil man” part. I think it would be wrong to punish Clegg for being a bad person if he genuinely thought it was the right thing to do, even if actually it wasn’t because actually it wouldn’t have worked out as he thought it would. That is, I accept he didn’t support what he supported because the prime reason was that he wanted to see people suffer due to the NHS lacking funds and welfare support having go be cut even further.

    The fact that Blair said something like “God will be my judge” is just a way of saying he himself felt it was the right thing to do. It’s language someone who has a religious belief might use where someone who doesn’t might say “my conscience is clear” or similar. It’s not, as if often claimed, stating that he had some sort of mystical experience which told him to support what he did, or that he used any sort of irrational thought process. If I were to cite John Stuart Mill in support for what I believed as a liberal was the right thing to do, it would not necessarily mean I was claiming that the ghost if John Stuart Mill was in my head dictating to me what I do.

  • Sue S – and monopolies tend to be sizeable and should be able to levy economies of scale etc etc …. these things are always a balance

  • Bill le Breton 19th Mar '15 - 2:54pm

    Tabman, I am not at all sure what Keynes would have recommended in the present situation.

    With inflation down to 0.3%, I would like to know how concerned he might be with the possibility of us entering a period of deflation. He might well conclude that the pace of fiscal consolidation outlined in yesterday’s budget was reckless.

    Better to wait to see, he may have argued, whether global forces do lead us into deflation or whether this period is short term. I’d suggest that he might think policy in these circumstances should be robust – that is – fiscal policy should err on the side of being more rather than less stimulating.

    Brown (Darling)and Balls and most economists advising them were (still are) New Keynesians and not Keynesians, who died out in August 1982 (as Philip Larking might have written).

    So in 2008/09 such New Keynesians believed cuts in interest rates would do the trick. That they waited until then to start those reductions meant that this was clearly too late and thus (as New Keynesians believed monetary policy was ineffective at the Zero Lower Bound) they advocated large scale fiscal stimulus. Clegg, Alexander, Osborne, Cameron would have done the same. Which is why they voted in support of that at the time and even for Clegg and Alexander in the 2010 March budget.

    Of course Osborne and Cameron parted from this consensus in just before hand whilst Clegg and Alexander remained in the tent with Brown, Darling and Balls until their May 11th Pauline conversion to Osborne and Cameron’s belief in expansionary fiscal contraction, which was ignominiously abandoned 2 years later – at a cost of at least £100 billion of lost output.

    Back to today: Hitting deflation with the Bank’s policy rate still at 0 .5% would require exceptional monetary initiatives (in my opinion). And others would be calling for a reversal of the fiscal policy announced yesterday.

    Why might increasing the rate of deficit consolidation in 2015/19 over the 2010/15 period by 150% be risky?

    New Keynesians would say because we haven’t repaired the torn down walls yet, let alone put the roof back on.

    I’d say because I have no confidence in the Government ensuring that the Bank of England offsets such significant fiscal tightening when everyone will be on its back asking when it is going to raise rates.

    Anyway: surpluses are very dangerous things – which is why they are so rare and so fleeting when they do arrive. Check it out.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Mar '15 - 3:12pm

    Tabman19th Mar ’15 – 1:51pm

    Stephen Hesketh – here, I think, is the problem: [[those economic liberals who have frankly lost the Liberal plot when it comes to recognising the very real problems with private and global corporate monopoly]]

    “Anyone who supports monopoly or monopolistic provision behaviour to my mind CANNOT be an Economic Liberal; end of story. True Economic Liberals believe in an efficient market and the use of government power to the minimum to ensure that it operates as efficiently as possible. And that means acting to remove the distorting effect of monopoly or monopolistic behaviour.”

    Tabman – Liberal Democracy must also ensure that it (economic activity) is not an end in itself and that the proceeds of such activity are shared as widely and fairly as possible. The state has a very real role to play in this.

    I have less than zero interest in giving further rights and powers to the rich and powerful be they individuals, ruling elites or corporations.

    From where I sit, all too often the economics of economic liberalism (as witnessed on LDV let alone in the all too real world) is indistinguishable from Thatcherite conservativism.

  • David Evershed 19th Mar '15 - 3:30pm

    Stephen Hesketh 19 Mar 3.12pm

    Clearly a socialist interlopper on LDV.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Mar '15 - 3:46pm

    David Evershed19th Mar ’15 – 3:30pm

    Very amusing David … I’m far too radical to be a socialist. I am simply a mainstream traditional preamble-believing social justice Liberal 🙂

  • Stephen Hesketh – again, I think we agree and we differ. Consolidation of rights and powers is not Liberal. Forced redistribution of wealth and state monopoly is not Liberal.

    Lessening conformity; increasing diversity and opportunity – that’s Liberal.

  • Bill le Breton 19th Mar ’15 – 10:00am
    “…., that is to completely ignore the New Liberalism movement of 1890s and the defeat of the Imperial Liberals, ”

    You are quite right Bill.  But you do not go far enough.  The forerunners of late 19th Century Liberals can be traced back through  to the English Civil War.   

    Isaac Foot the Liberal MP used to assess his political contemporaries by which side he considered they would have been on in The English Civil War.   

    The present leadership of our party would not have been at home with the Diggers, the Levellers or the Putney debaters of the Army.

    For younger readers —   Isaac Foot was born on 23rd February 1880. 

    Educated at Hoe Grammar School he worked as a solicitor in Plymouth. A member of the Liberal Party, Foot served on the Plymouth City Council and served as lord mayor (1920-21).

    After being defeated in Plymouth in November 1919 by Nancy Astor, Foot was elected to represent Bodmin in the House of Commons in February 1922. 

    He lost his seat in October 1924 but won again in the 1929 General Election. He held the seat until November 1935.

    Foot, served as Vice President of the Methodist Conference (1937-38).

    He was as President of the Liberal Party (1947).

    Isaac Foot died on 13th December 1960.

    He was also the father of Michael Foot,

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Mar '15 - 6:14pm

    Tabman 19th Mar ’15 – 3:51pm
    “… again, I think we agree and we differ … Lessening conformity; increasing diversity and opportunity – that’s Liberal.”
    Agreed.

    “Forced redistribution of wealth and state monopoly is not Liberal. ”

    On the contrary – the redistribution of wealth (along with power and opportunity) are amongst the key things we stand for. “Forced” When have the rich and powerful ever given these benefits up freely?

    As for state monopoly, sometimes it is actually the most Liberal and logical of the options available – but as with all monopolies proper care and oversight must be part of a very deliberate system of management to minimise the potential abuses in such situations.

  • Philip Thomas 19th Mar '15 - 6:41pm

    Well, I guess its good to combine such a wide variety of different views. I’m feeling almost centrist between the suggestion (other comments page) that the armed forces be handed over to multinationals and the idea that forcible redistribution of wealth is a core Liberal goal (and not merely an incidental consequence of policies aimed at other goals).

    I haven’t made my mind up on the next leadership election yet. I don’t even know the full field of candidates.

  • Sincerely hope this comes to pass!

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Mar '15 - 8:20pm

    Oh dear not this discussion again. Here goes …

    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. … Upholding these values of individual and SOCIAL JUSTICE, we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and OPPOSE ALL FORMS OF ENTRENCHED PRIVILEGE AND INEQUALITY. …We want to see democracy, participation and the co-operative principle in industry and commerce within a competitive environment in which THE STATE allows the market to operate freely BUT INTERVENES WHERE NECESSARY. … We will work for a sense of PARTNERSHIP AND COMMUNITY in all areas of life. We recognise that the independence of individuals is safeguarded by their personal ownership of property, BUT THAT THE MARKET ALONE DOES NOT DISTRIBUTE WEALTH OR INCOME FAIRLY. WE SUPPORT THE WIDEST POSSIBLE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH and promote the rights of all citizens to social provision and cultural activity.

    Do please understand you have joined the UK’s party of Liberal Democracy in which social justice and economic redistribution are important elements!!!

    If you can find a way of transferring wealth and power from the rich and powerful to the majority – and by a means that some non-egalitarian can not describe as being ‘forced’ – I would love to hear it.

    You would have thought I was suggesting a police state – I am simply talking about those lucky enough to be rich to pay a legal, fair and proportionate amount of their income in taxes – you know, like the rest of us do.

  • @Stephen Hesketh

    Fascinating.

    I’ve never read the Preamble before but this has prompted me to do so. As someone who’s only ever voted Lib Dem before, I’ve done so because it seemed to me obvious and instinctive that these values were what the party was about. Now that I find myself unlikely to vote this time again for the party, it’s precisely because the actions of its leadership seem to me so in contradiction to those values I had previously assumed were its bedrock.

    How on earth did these people get to be in charge?

  • Stephen Hesketh 20th Mar '15 - 7:19pm

    @Bolano 20th Mar ’15 – 6:16pm

    Bolano – I have the preamble framed on my home office wall and read it whenever I begin to have doubts about where this party has been led. Indeed, it was an earlier version of these words which finally caused me to take the plunge and join the old Liberal Party.

    Unless you live in Sheffield Hallam or in the constituency of a member of the Liberal Democrats neo-Con economic tendency, not voting Lib Dem this time round is not going to help – as I am sure you, in reality, appreciate. Please do find out more about your local candidate – he or she may be a traditional mainstream preamble supporter!

    The majority of Liberal Democrat members self indicate as social/social justice Liberals. It would be a great shame to miss the opportunity to vote for one of them.

    Should you wish to have a greater influence on the future direction of the party, the minimum £5 subscription will give you a vote in the forthcoming leadership election.

    Yours Liberally, Stephen

  • I think most party members and most MPs believe in these values, and we will return to them after the general election whoever the new leader of the party is. And in case anyone is wondering, this preamble is very similar to that of the Liberal party before it.

  • @Stephen Hesketh

    Thank you.

    Sadly, my local MP is David Laws.

    At the last election my choices were split between Gordon Brown’s man; David Laws; a Tory who tried to derail Laws for not being a sufficiently family man; UKIP; and the BNP. I was rather like a vegetarian forced into a Steak-and-Kidney-Pie-Judging-Competition: although I’d hoped Laws was soya.

    This time there’s no BNP and instead a Green candidate. Labour’s vote here is traditionally small so I suspect the Greens will pick up a lot from Laws, who will also lose votes to UKIP, and to Labour, and to the Tories (a softer candidate this time, I suspect). The result will be either Laws or Tory, and frankly, I struggle to motivate myself over the difference. Laws, despite the numbers, will lose to the Tories.

  • Stephen Hesketh 20th Mar '15 - 8:48pm

    Bolano 20th Mar ’15 – 8:37pm

    ‘Rock and hard place’ springs to mind!

  • Philip Thomas 20th Mar '15 - 9:49pm

    I agree with the preamble and that forcible redistribution of wealth is a necessary means to the ends set out in it: I just don’t think it is one of the ends. A small difference, perhaps.

  • Stephen Hesketh 20th Mar '15 - 10:24pm

    Good evening Philip, could you help me out and expand on, “I just don’t think it is one of the ends.”?

    It has been a long week for this ‘alarm clock’ Briton and his ‘hard working family’ 🙂

  • Philip Thomas 20th Mar '15 - 10:50pm

    I don’t think that we are aiming for forcible redistribution of wealth.

    We want a more fair and equal society and in order to do that we have to tax and spend, and we tax rich people because they have money and we spend money on poor people because they don’t have money, and that means money is being forcibly redistributed from rich people to poor people.

    That is subtly different from “We want to take money from the rich by force and give it to the poor, and that means we will have a more fair and equal society.”

  • Philip Thomas 20th Mar '15 - 10:58pm

    To be more practical: if your aim was forcible redistribution of wealh, you could just confiscate rich people’s assets and give them to poor people. But this wouldn’t create a more fair and equal society (the poor people would now have the rich people’s assets, so they would be rich and the erstwhile rich poor: and the resulting economic uncertainty would lead to less wealth on a national level).
    In order to create a more fair and equal society, you do things like use tax revenues to spend money on universal education- which gives everyone a chance at equality of opportunity but particularly benefits poor people who can’t afford private school fees.

  • Stephen Hesketh 21st Mar '15 - 8:33am

    Philip, you quote “We want to take money from the rich by force and give it to the poor, and that means we will have a more fair and equal society.”

    These are not my words or views.

    I would suggest that somewhere along the line you have misinterpreted one of my comments. I am not suggesting anything other than a Radical Liberal approach to the growing inequalities in human societies at home and abroad and to the unsustainable and ever increasing wealth of the super rich – which as you know we are all financing.

    We must get over the problem of seeing the rich getting richer at the expense of the many as being freely given economic progress and good while my suggestion that this should be halted and reversed is the forcible redistribution of wealth and bad.

  • Philip Thomas 21st Mar '15 - 8:56am

    Fair enough. I am a moderate, not a radical. I think the preamble can be read in a moderate spirit as well as in a radical spirit.

  • Stephen Hesketh 21st Mar '15 - 9:17am

    Philip Thomas 21st Mar ’15 – 8:56am

    I am sure you and I could have hours of fun discussing words such as Libertarian, Moderate and Radical!

    The frightening thing about our modern day society and the agenda that has been created is that my mainstream Liberal Democrat views may not be perceived as being moderate!

    Touching on Tim’s religious beliefs which I believe someone may have raised in this or another thread, although I am not a theist of any kind, I do believe I am my brothers and sisters keeper and that had my ancestors not wandered out of Africa towards the end of the last ice age, I too could all to easily be in a situation of seeing my children drink dirty water. So much of life boils down to simple chance. The truth is that rich seldom deserve or have truly earned more than the poor.

  • Philip Thomas 21st Mar '15 - 9:29am

    There are many nuances of meaning, yes. I am a theist: Cardinal Basil Hume once said “Every human life has meaning: no human being is redundant”. The poor are as human as the rich: they have human dignity and human rights. They should be empowered to make full use of them.

  • Matthew Huntbach: How does that differ from our beliefs in liberalism telling us what is right? as a response to Gladstone was pretty religious. The problem with Blair’s religion was that it conveniently kept telling him he was right

    You refer to JS Mill. Mill was very clear on the philosophical foundations of Liberalism. Following on the utilitarianism of his father and Jeremy Bentham with their ‘greatest happiness’ principle, the younger Mill puts the emphasis on avoidance of harm. A main thesis of ‘On Liberty’ is that people have total liberty where there is no harm to others and that this provides a basis for the principle of free expression. Philosophically then the emphasis is on outcomes not on the supposed intentions of an unaccountable deity, evidently this does not resolve all problems because ‘good ‘ appears to be redefined, though the objection that something that is harmless might also be ‘bad’ as rather hard to sustain (outside religious zeal of course).

    I do not want politicians that appeal to ‘God’: it is an appeal to bypass accountability. As Plato explains in Euthyphro, a claim that God is the source of morality is essentially amoral and renders concepts of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as arbitrary. An appeal to Mill is an appeal to his arguments not his ghost, but the corresponding arguments are missing when the appeal is to a deity. Farron’s religion on his sleeve is his least endearing feature.

  • Neil Sandison 21st Mar '15 - 11:45am

    Regardless of the outcome of the election no leader has that post for life .It would be healthy for the internal democracy of the party after more than 10 years in office to either endorce the current leader or pick a new one if the party in the country feel it is appropiate to do so.

  • Stephen Hesketh 21st Mar '15 - 2:33pm

    Martin 21st Mar ’15 – 10:11am

    There I must agree Martin.

    Faith, its teachings and observance should be a private matter.

    Those of faith seeking to impose the values and teachings of their particular religion on both followers of other faiths and on non-believers should never have been acceptable but it is ever less so in an increasingly secular society.

    Secularism protects both believers and non-believers.

  • Stephen Hesketh 21st Mar '15 - 2:37pm

    Neil Sandison 21st Mar ’15 – 11:45am
    “Regardless of the outcome of the election no leader has that post for life. It would be healthy for the internal democracy of the party after more than 10 years in office to either endorse the current leader or pick a new one if the party in the country feel it is appropriate to do so.”

    Neil, few truer words posted on LDV than the above!

  • Philip Thomas 21st Mar '15 - 2:42pm

    “After more than 10 years in Office” appears to be a suggestion that Nick Clegg step down in December 2017.
    I think some people were hoping for a leadership election a little earlier!

  • Philip Thomas 21st Mar '15 - 2:52pm

    @Stephen Hesketh
    As a matter of free speech, I believe those who have particular beliefs (whether religious or secular) are entitled to state those beliefs publicly and act in accordance with those beliefs in public (provided those actions do not breach existing law). Not to allow them to do so would be persecution. My belief that every human life matters and that poor people have the same human rights as rich people is, yes, partly a result of my religious faith. But I do not see that as a reason for not proclaiming it or acting on it.

  • Stephen Hesketh 21st Mar '15 - 9:19pm

    Philip Thomas 21st Mar ’15 – 2:42pm
    “After more than 10 years in Office” appears to be a suggestion that Nick Clegg step down in December 2017.
    I think some people were hoping for a leadership election a little earlier!”

    I hope my agreeing with Neil Sandison’s post is not a huge gaff on my part … I was thinking more like noon on 8 May 2015.

  • Stephen Hesketh 21st Mar '15 - 9:59pm

    Philip Thomas 21st Mar ’15 – 2:52pm
    “@Stephen Hesketh As a matter of free speech, I believe those who have particular beliefs (whether religious or secular) are entitled to state those beliefs publicly and act in accordance with those beliefs in public”

    Philip, just as I may have misread Neil Sandison’s post, you absolutely have misread mine. I have no issue at all in anyone holding any faith they wish.

    My words were: “Faith, its teachings and observance should be a private matter” (though ‘personal’ would probably have been a better word).
    “Those of faith seeking to impose the values and teachings of their particular religion on both followers of other faiths and on non-believers should never have been acceptable but it is ever less so in an increasingly secular society.
    Secularism protects both believers and non-believers.”

    My issue is not therefore with faith but the imposition of values such as opposition to equal marriage or the right to an assisted death on those who choose to follow an alternative or no faith at all.

    My ethos would be ‘Live and let live in peaceful and tolerant coexistence.’

    To respond specifically, I would contend that believers and non-believers alike should have equal rights to freedom of speech and religious expression and the freedom to follow their own personal beliefs and practices – as long as they do not interfere with the freedoms of others.

    I hope that is more understandable.

  • Philip Thomas 21st Mar '15 - 10:19pm

    @Stephen Hesketh
    Thanks for clarifying. Imposition of values is tricky. Society imposes values on people every day, through schools, through the criminal justice system, through the civil courts, through employment, etc etc. Many of those values are linked (at least in origin) to religious beliefs. I absolutely think that human rights are a value which needs to be imposed on those who would violate them…

    To be fair you did say “values such as…” and I would agree that imposing an assisted death on someone who doesn’t want to die is wrong.

  • Philip Thomas 21st Mar '15 - 10:41pm

    On the other hand, if you meant “it is wrong to impose a view that assisted death is wrong” by, for example, stopping people killing someone (which, on more careful reading of what you wrote, appears a more likely meaning) then I am less certain. After all, stopping people killing other people, intrusive imposition of tedious moral law though it may be, is generally considered a good idea.

  • Malcolm Todd 21st Mar '15 - 11:48pm

    “stopping people killing other people, intrusive imposition of tedious moral law though it may be, is generally considered a good idea”

    Only because the assumption is that the person being killed doesn’t want it. Stopping people killing people who really want to be killed but can’t do it for themselves is quite a different matter and seeking to elide that difference is rather sneaky.

  • Philip Thomas 22nd Mar '15 - 7:53am

    Who can tell what any of us really want? Adducing evidence that the victim wanted to be killed (and, e.g. it was a happy coincidence that the murderer happened to be in the vicinity with a sawn-off shotgun) is generally not a recognised defence under the law.

  • Helen Tedcastle 22nd Mar '15 - 11:08am

    @ Robert Hale

    The idea that Gladstone was subservient to the church and weighed down by his own religious beliefs such that he could not make wise judgements, is an incredulous view.

    The number of straw men in your comment are too many to deal with but suffice to observe that one of the most superstitious countries in the world is China – an officially communist-materialist state. Religious worship has been suppressed, churches forced to close or go underground and priests/nuns harassed. Superstition thrives where religion is oppressed.

    ‘ The trouble is that religious people often have a problem with some other members of society who don’t fit in with their view of the world’

    Oh dear. This is such a sweeping, illiberal statement, by conflating all religious people into a crude stereotype of intolerant theocrats who despise otherness. The problem is that those who make those kind of comments tend to hold pretty intolerant views themselves and think others hold the same intolerant views.

    I can only assume that media images of Islamic extremism and other political actors have caused this. We have to challenge these stereotypes and not confuse extremism or intransigence in some with those whose values are shaped by their faith and go into politics to make a difference to people’s lives for the good of their communities.

    @ Kay Kirkham and Robert Hale: There is a proud tradition of activity by people of faith in the history of the Liberal Party and now the Liberal Democrats. In fact a number of our leaders have been members of faith communities. It will be to our detriment if we forget this, especially at this time.

  • Philip Thomas 22nd Mar '15 - 11:17am

    Personally I don’t see why objecting to something on moral grounds is worse than objecting to it on other grounds. Still less do I think that an objection on secular moral grounds is somehow superior to an objection on religious moral grounds. I do not think that assisted dying should be criminalised, but I don’t seek to shut down the views of those who think it should be criminalised because they have religious beliefs.

  • Helen Tedcastle 22nd Mar '15 - 12:41pm

    Stephen Hesketh

    ‘ My ethos would be ‘Live and let live in peaceful and tolerant coexistence.’’

    Agree with that. However, I would take issue with this:

    ‘ My issue is not therefore with faith but the imposition of values such as opposition to equal marriage or the right to an assisted death on those who choose to follow an alternative or no faith at all.’

    Why is someone informed by the values of their faith as well as their political views and opposed to something like assisted suicide on a variety of grounds (ethical, social for example), warned not to ‘impose’ their values on others; whereas those whose values are informed by their non-religious views and political views are not guilty of wanting to impose their views on others?

    Secondly, if you do think that life is a case of live and let live, why do you want to privatise religious faith and effectively banish it from the public square? In a society such as the UK, is it not important to hear from people of different backgrounds, views and beliefs, not seek to banish them and act as if we all think in the same way? Is it not natural that those who go into parliament bring to bear on decision-making their values and principles? This is true of ex-MPs like Evan Harris to MPs like Tim Farron. Neither are or should be afraid of airing their views in public.

    We should expect nothing less in a liberal party.

  • Stephen Hesketh 22nd Mar '15 - 8:39pm

    Hi Helen

    I have only just seen your comment. I will respond tomorrow.

    Stephen

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Mar '15 - 8:32pm

    Hello again Helen

    As I Liberal I firmly believe that people of faith have the right to follow their faith and live their lives according to the teachings of their faith – and so choose for example not to have a termination, not to marry someone of the same sex or not to have the option of an assisted death at the end of their life.

    Similarly, and by virtue of the very same Liberal values, I firmly believe that other people have the identical right to make the opposite choices.

    To me the key is permitting empowered adults do what they wish providing such activities are not harmful to others. An issue I struggle with in this area is people of faith appearing to believe they have a morally superior position and so have the right to block the personal rights and alternative moral choices of others.

    Although you and I both have very similar views regarding our political Liberalism, neither of us would even consider suggesting that everyone must live their lives according to our shared and highly moral view of politics – it would be nice but it isn’t going to happen – partly because not everyone is a Liberal or even believes in social justice but because, in a democracy, everyone has a right to choose.

    We absolutely should talk about our different perspectives, experiences and conclusions regarding the human condition and through this hopefully find an understanding of each others positions – but in a secular and multi-faith liberal democracy religiously-derived values must not be seen to automatically trump those with a non-religious basis.

    I get a strong feeling that religious people often feel under threat from what they appear to sense is an ongoing rolling back of faith-based values so that each and every step must be resisted at all costs. On the other hand, from an equally deeply held non-religious point of view, it appears to be an age-old, long, slow slog for people to be able to live their own lives according to their own humanist or other values.

    It is a double edged sword. This is why I am a secularist and I believe we must live and let live in peaceful and tolerant coexistence.

  • Philip Thomas 24th Mar '15 - 8:56pm

    @Stephen Hesketh. Of course- the position is identical whether one has faith or not. You are opposed to people interfering with assisted dying not because they do so out of faith (which may or may not be true) but because they are (in your view) interfering with someone’s liberty.

    I am opposed to the criminalisation of assisted dying for much the same reasons as I oppose the criminalisation of adultery- law and order has better things to spend its time on than policing immorality. But I also oppose the criminalisation of people preventing assisted dying (unless they breach other laws by doing so), for much the same reason that I oppose the criminalisation of people preventing adultery (unless they breach other laws by doing so)- law and order has better thing to spend its time on than policing moral vigilantism.

  • Helen Tedcastle 28th Mar '15 - 1:18pm

    Hi Stephen, just caught up with your comment in response to me!

    I agree with your comments on liberalism and as we do agree on a number of issues it shows that the party is still a broad-based despite the knocks of recent years.

    ‘To me the key is permitting empowered adults do what they wish providing such activities are not harmful to others.’

    Agree but perhaps the difference between us is that I do not regard legalising a doctor to help end the life of a person by a lethal dose of barbiturates, an empowering act. I think that what appears to be a triumph of the autonomous will for a few will lead to unintended consequences, such as the suicides of those who fear being a burden or who are simply tired of life. This to me is a sign of an uncaring society. This is why I agree with Norman Lamb’s strong push to improve mental health services. This should be rolled out to the terminally ill, who are prone to depression.

    I don’t agree that religious viewpoints aired in public are always carrying a morally superior tone. I agree that this can occasionally happen but no more than the voices of some prominent secular-humanists who grace our left-leaning newspapers on a weekly basis or appear on Sunday morning ‘issues’ programmes. I find the general air of mockery and lack of knowledge about religious faith from some of these commentators quite irritating. Equally I find religious fundamentalists irritating because they do not represent most religious people but they get a lot of air time.

    ‘ I get a strong feeling that religious people often feel under threat from what they appear to sense is an ongoing rolling back of faith-based values so that each and every step must be resisted at all costs’

    If one takes the view that disagreement with some issues is a sign of being ‘under threat’ then I guess any dissent from secular-humanist positions is such a sign. I don’t however. I don’t regard secular-humanism as ‘neutral’ but a particular position and stance, which I think at its heart is deeply intolerant.

    As you said, in a party like ours, we have to live and let live or at least agree to disagree.

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