Author Archives: Jon Andrew

Why the Lib Dems should extend an olive branch to Change UK

One of the next big questions the Lib Dems need to answer is what to do about Change UK. After a disastrous result in the European elections, the fledging group are facing an existential crisis. A new party needs early success to fuel its momentum. They got the opposite – 3% of the vote.

Given this, it should come as no surprise that Change want to be friends again, with the interim leader Heidi Allen openly stating that she’d like to see Change and the Lib Dems run as one entity from now on. I understand that for some, the natural impulse might be to tell them to F – off. They wanted to be separate, they tried their best to win votes directly from the Lib Dems. Now they come crawling back to us? No sir. Enjoy electoral oblivion.

It’s a tempting way to think, but it’s an urge we all need to fight. A centre-left Remain alliance would be a good thing for our cause, and a good thing for our country. If MPs want to join the Lib Dems let’s bring them into the fold. And I don’t just mean grudgingly accepting them but viewing them with scorn, I mean knocking on doors in the rain for Gavin Shuker, giving a Cabinet position to Heidi Allen, and getting Chuka in to speak to enthusiastic supporters at the next ‘Lib Dem Pint’.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 60 Comments

The 3 Arguments I wish Remainers would stop making (and I’m a Remainer!)

We may not have got much credit for it in the polls, but the growth of the People’s Vote Campaign is a Lib Dem success story. Our policy broke into the mainstream, caused a march of 700,000 people, and gained supporters from every major Party (other than UKIP, that would be weird.)

The reason for the growing popularity of the People’s Vote is because – I believe – the central argument for it is compelling, and goes something like this:

Britain voted for a departure but not a destination. We now have a much clearer idea of what

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 49 Comments

The Right are more politically correct than the Left

“It’s political correctness gorn mad!” is probably a phrase you would associate more with a gruff, Daily Mail reading, UKIP supporter, than you would with a Guardian reading, quinoa eating, Lib Dem. Political correctness is the stick that progressives get beaten with time and time again by people like Nigel Farage, who like to claim that the left care more about censoring discussion than about common sense politics.

I also get annoyed by people who obsess over what you can and can’t say at the expense of what is actually true, but my argument is that, increasingly in British politics, the right are worse in this regard than the left.

Theresa May’s central argument in the 2017 General Election was that a vote for her was a vote for Britain and that those who opposed her were “talking Britain down.” Supporting the Conservatives and their hard Brexit agenda was almost pitched as a patriotic duty, rather than a matter of political persuasion and opinion.

Posted in News | 14 Comments

What we need from Vince


In terms of our national campaign, the 2017 election was a failure. Yes, we increased our number of MPs, but this was not because of a coherent and appealing overall message, it was because of 12 very hard fought local campaigns, and good strategic pooling of resources into target seats.

The leadership of the Party assumed that the main dividing line among the electorate would be Remainers vs Leavers, and so led with our vehement opposition to Brexit, but this did not resonate. Corbyn’s luke-warm-at-best Remain credentials did not put people off, and this is probably because the public themselves are a lot more luke warm on the issue than we are.

If I had to describe the mood of the country on Brexit right now I would describe it as “meh – let’s wait and see” rather than “let’s overturn the whole damn thing”. Indeed, a YouGov polling report published a few weeks before the election campaign started found that only 21% of the public favoured going against the result of the referendum. Perhaps this will change as the impact of Brexit on our daily lives becomes clearer, but for now, we have been making the wrong pitch.

But what is the right pitch? The most straightforward way for a third party to gain popular support is by painting the main two as the establishment options; too similar, too set in their ways of thinking, and then appealing to people’s frustrations by pitching themselves as the change from the norm. The difficulty here though is that the main two parties are not the same, and Corbyn is hoovering up all the anti-establishment sentiment in a way that we can’t compete with.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 63 Comments

Predictions for 2017: How the Lib Dems can stay one move ahead

Anyone who watched politics, the Premier League or Strictly in 2016 will know that making predictions can seem like a fool’s game. As much as you might think you’ve got the future mapped out, sometimes bizarre things happen and those who thought they were in the know end up with egg on their faces. This is part of life and part of politics. However, the unpredictable nature of 2016 should not mean that we refrain from thinking ahead to what might happen in 2017. If a chess player decided that he or she had no idea what the next ten moves would bring so didn’t bother planning ahead, they would find themselves checkmated pretty quickly. With that in mind, here are my top three political predictions for 2017 and how I think the Liberal Democrats can capitalise on them.

Jeremy Corbyn will still be Labour leader come 2018

There has been plenty of speculation lately, as has been the case since day one of his tenure, about the future of the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The Fabian Society and Unite leader Len McCluskey are the latest to come out with less-than-helpful comments about him. But whatever seeming pressure there is on Corbyn, he has won two leadership elections now, surviving  the most extraordinary internal coup with a bolstered mandate from members. Forcing him out will be a near impossible job for Labour and I can’t see him resigning himself. If he was going to take the humble way out why didn’t he do it when 80% of his MPs turned on him in the no confidence vote? This means that the Liberal Democratss will likely have another year of being the only major UK wide Party united against Brexit. Banging the drum for the 48% who voted Remain, and holding the Government to account over its handling of its EU negotiations should remain our raison d’etre for now. Even if some start to see us as a single issue Party, it doesn’t matter in my view. Growing a small Party into a big one is often done by focusing on a single issue and then expanding from there. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 21 Comments

Recent Comments

  • David LG
    @Nonconformistradical We shouldn't be completely wrighting off seats like this one. If things don't get any better for the Tories it's possible that the anti ...
  • Russell
    Just listened to Friday's the newsagents pc on Rochdale election. All parties got a mention except Liberal Democrats...
  • Nonconformistradical
    "Henfield is outside the Horsham constituency." Indeed - it's in Arundel & South Downs - a no-hoper. We're usually 2nd but a very long way behind the tory....
  • Katharine Pindar
    @ Simon R. I don't know what party you can support, Simon, but I do observe that the Conservatives have made a poor shot of growing the economy, for all their y...
  • Nonconformistradical
    @Graham Jeffs The local authority / constituency boundary problem will be around until there is wholesale reform of our fossilised political system. In some ...