Author Archives: Ben Maitland

New party: An opportunity, an unhelpful distraction or a timely kick up our posterior?

A year ago Emmanuel Macron held is first political rally. 12 months on he sits firmly ensconced in the Elysee Palace and En Marche enjoy a comfortable majority in the Assemble Nationale.The obvious question this demands is whether, at a time when the gulf between the two main parties grows ever wider, there is an opportunity for a new centrist party to make a similar breakthrough here in the UK.

Last week, the team that created the Lib Dem Newbie Facebook group put a poll asking members of the group a simple question: If a new liberal centre party were to emerge as a result of the increasingly polarised state of Labour and the Tories, with the backing of more moderate MPs escaping the madness currently consuming those parties should we join the new party or stick to our guns and keep on focusing on the task of rebuilding the Lib Dems?

This was only ever a hypothetical scenario. That party does not exist yet. It may never emerge and unless it does, and is able to prove itself to be genuinely liberal in its heart and soul, then there is no question of anyone being asked to consider any steps that might negatively affect the Liberal Democrat party. It remains our belief that within the current political landscape the Lib Dems remain the best and most capable vehicle to promote and defend liberalism, to stand up for people’s rights and liberties, to make the case for a decent, fair, open and tolerant society and to wholeheartedly fight to stop the Eurosceptic ideologues delivering a hard Brexit that would be a total disaster for this country and future generations.

Posted in Op-eds | 43 Comments

Opinion: From Daffodil Lament to Dandelion Revolution

In my first blog post, I argued about the need for the party to have a grassroots resurgence in the wake of the General Election, and spread like wild flowers across the country. It has therefore been incredibly encouraging to not only see a surge of new members, but also see this theme picked up by both leadership candidates – most notably in Tim Farron’s article in politics home today suggesting we should set a target of over 100,000 members.

Such bold claims are likely to be met with a degree of cynicism in certain quarters but I would fully agree with Tim that this ambition is not only achievable but entirely right and absolutely necessary…

One advantage, if the word can be used, of hitting an electoral nadir is that a party now has a reasonable idea the size of its die-hard core support. In our case that’s around two and half million – so it’s a question of turning around five per cent of those hardcore voters into members. In terms of why should they become members… I can only speak for myself, but the result on 7th May was a fairly glaring illustration that for anyone who supports the party and cherishes its values, then tacit support is not enough. I suspect there are lots of small L liberals (and small SD social democrats), including those who did not vote Lib Dem this time round, who found the result deeply disturbing and don’t want the party to wither away – many of whom would have been profoundly touched by Nick Clegg’s elegant and compelling resignation speech – something that probably helps explain the recent surge in new members.

Posted in News | 7 Comments

Opinion: The Liberal resurgence – a time to spread like wild flowers

Like many Lib Dem voters, supporters and sympathisers, I spent much of the weekend lurching between disbelief and despondency, and genuinely worried whether the party could or would ever recover. In an effort to cheer myself up I went for a walk in the countryside only to encounter an ironic sea of yellow dandelions. Initially, it felt as if nature itself was mocking me, but in retrospect the vivid spring flowers seem provide a wonderful analogy of what the party needs to achieve if it is going to pick itself up and thrive again.

Traditionally, the Liberal Democrats have punched …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 27 Comments

Recent Comments

  • David Le Grice
    Why the hell do we only get two questions? We got more than half the seats and votes that the Tories got, if they get a whopping six then we should get at least...
  • Peter Davies
    @Paul Yes. Most organised areas do tallying....
  • Peter Davies
    "even in London we have no councillors (and so no councillor tithes) in 19 of the 32 Boroughs" it's not really 'even'. London Boroughs have the highest proporti...
  • Paul Culloty
    Is there much tradition of "tallying" in UK constituencies - generally, when an Irish GE or local election occurs, the boxes in the constituency (each one accou...
  • Ruth Bright
    Are there rules on hugs at polling stations? On "my" polling station in East Hants hugged a nun who taught me 40 years ago, a friend whose daughter's graduat...