Author Archives: Katharine Pindar

Heart of England, reject the Tories now

Perhaps we should have known. The Witney constituency is West Oxfordshire, a quiet, beautiful farming area of fields dotted with golden-stone villages and small towns. It is an area for hunting, real ale and country dancing. Among the little towns is Chipping Norton. And Chipping Norton became identified with a ‘set’, including David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks – and you remember then about the News of the World and the phone-hacking scandal.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 17 Comments

In this age of anxiety, can Liberal Democrats meet the national needs?

People are reaching out. The more politically active join Labour or the Liberal Democrats. Many others worry quietly, and more of them than usual seek out personal counselling. The holidays and the pause in political activity may offer some relief, but the anxieties persist. In fact it’s a worse time than before, because the months of campaigning for the Referendum and the weeks of political upheaval were exciting and arousing. Now is the time of waiting and worrying.

It’s been a year of no genuine government. It climaxed in a campaign which in its incoherence and noisy assertiveness showed up British politicians in a very poor light. The campaign ended in vast uncertainty about what happens next. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the most powerful men in the country, suddenly lost power. The Government regrouped with an assertion of right to rule, but without legitimacy. The main Opposition fell apart and seems fatally split.

Posted in Op-eds | 22 Comments

Liberal Democrats must seize the moment

Both the main parties are currently paralysed as political forces by their leadership battles. The Government is leaderless, the country at a standstill politically. This is our moment to assert our right to be heard as former and future political leaders, and force our presence on the airwaves and on social media. Moreover if the right-wing press will not accept our voice, this is surely the moment to invest in national advertising.

The week of the Chilcot report is the time to remind the country that it was the Liberal Democrats who opposed the attack on Iraq, along with a great mass of the public whose voices were also ignored. We should now claim again to represent the majority of the public, not by ignoring the result of the Referendum, but by acknowledging the many doubts that were felt by people voting either way, and pledging to try to meet the needs that were  ignored by their self-obsessed leaders.

While the politicians of the two main parties fight for supremacy, we, the united Liberal Democrats, must fight for the people. With a growing recession, we must fight to protect the poorest, demanding government measures to alleviate probable rising food costs, and extra rises if necessary in the Living Wage. We should demand investment for growth, so that jobs can be created that are not just short-term or on zero-hours contracts, and social security reform to stop penalising those least able to protect themselves. We must insist on more funds for the NHS, more integration of health and social care – and also a welcome and thanks to the immigrant doctors and nurses and care workers. We should demand more social housing and some re-introduction of rent controls. We must develop economic policies which highlight the scandal of excessive pay rises for top executives, challenge the power of sophisticated predators linking hedge funds with top Tories, and promote greater equality through taxation.

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

Not waving, nearly drowned dead

So there we are. The deep splits in the Conservative Party and the Labour Party have foreshadowed the division of the British voting public now into two nearly equal halves. There will be plenty of analysis of who the Brexiters are and why they won, but one thing seems clear. The Leave voters rejected the supposed authority figures, the elites of politics and business and finance, all the leaders to whom our forebears looked up. It seemed to be in that respect a genuine revolt of the masses.

An almighty wave, worthy of a Japanese painter, has crashed our own tiny ship on a stony shore, called Britain outside the EU. But mighty galleons have crashed with us, some never to float again. We should have more buoyancy than them, and Tim has certainly showed it since the result.

Still, as we painfully pick our way over the pebbles, we need to think about why there is this apparent rebellion of the masses against the elites. It seems that people felt powerless and wanted a sense of control. One way we could respond to that is by fighting again for proportional representation, which will make all elections in England and Wales meaningful, restoring democracy without having referendums.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 5 Comments

Liberal Democrats need to oppose this government with more passion and rage

Thank heaven we have had no major crises while our Government is weak and split. The lordly predecessors of the present set must have turned in their graves when Cabinet responsibility was temporarily abandoned, in defiance of historic practice. The ghosts should then have howled when leading Tories began to spit insults at each other and denounce the supposed lies of their colleagues.

Yet we are stuck with this Tory Government, in or out of the EU. This collection of sophisticated predators, who systematically promote the interests of their own kind and seek the further enrichment of the moneyed classes despite the deep inequalities in Britain, know how to survive.

Where was Iain Duncan Smith’s consciousness of his Government’s preferring tax cuts for the wealthy when poor and disabled people, hit by his benefit cuts, were struggling to survive? Those were the days when David Cameron’s response to Nick Clegg’s attempts to adjust the balance of taxation in favour of the poor was ‘But our donors wouldn’t like it’, and the reply to requests for more public housing was ‘It would only create more Labour voters’. Yet, only this year did Duncan Smith apparently find his conscience and notice that the parrot-cry of ‘We are all in this together’ was false.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 44 Comments

Let’s express the passionate commitment of our united party

‘Divided parties don’t win elections.’ Those were the words of newly-elected London mayor Sadiq Khan, recorded in Saturday’s Guardian (14.05), asking his Labour Party for unity. Of course, if true the saying should equally apply to today’s Conservative Party, with its bitter infighting even at Cabinet level. Liberal Democrats can offer a saying arguably more telling – ‘A small party can help a divided major party form a governing coalition.’ A year after the Coalition Government ended, the road to 2020 may lie wide open.

We are a small party now, but we are not a minor party. Unlike other small parties we have many hundreds of councillors in England, with 45 more elected this month as our Fightback kicks in, and we have a voice and an impact beyond our eight MPs and our cohorts in the House of Lords. Liberalism has a proud history of almost 170 years of progressive service to the British people, reaching its latest peak with five years of shared power within the Coalition.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 5 Comments

Fear and loathing at the coalface: how to combat it

Taking charge of the Stay in the EU campaign, David Cameron was accused of using the politics of fear: claiming Britain will have greater security staying in, while leaving would expose us to unknown hazards. It’s ironic, though, that his actions caused an astonishing split even in his own Cabinet. Are the British people expected to feel safe and secure while seeing our Government and the ruling Party split from top to bottom? How much effective business can such a Government enact in the next fraught few months?

Meantime our own Party has had its share of turmoil and trauma in the past five years. Internally, the comprehensive 2015 Election Review from the Campaigns and Communications Committee shows that a fatal dislocation arose between our Party in Government and the Party in the country. Externally, strong negative emotions against us were simultaneously roused in the British public. Anger among many that we joined with the Tories in the Coalition at all became disgust and even hatred when our Government Ministers broke the Manifesto pledge on abolishing tuition fees, and went on to back austerity measures to reduce the Deficit. As the Review reminds us, our Poll ratings dropped like a stone, our activists departed and our councillors fell from power. While the Lib Dem Ministers achieved much good and prevented some harm, there was little recognition of this in the country.

During the build-up to the Election, the Review points out the inadequate ‘messaging’ from our Centre: ‘Stronger economy, fairer society’ was a slogan not distinctive for us. Then came ‘Look right, look left, then cross’. This though more specific was surely worse, for it suggested the truth that we were willing to enter another coalition with either Tories or Labour. That could be seen as opportunistic and unprincipled, the Lib Dems out for a bit more power and ministerial salaries. Cue renewed hatred from sections of the public, especially if we looked likely to ‘let in’ a candidate from the Party they most detested.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 74 Comments

It’s our legacy – let’s proclaim it

290715 1

We must not let the Tories define our legacy, as they did for Labour when that government fell. We were a force for good in the Coalition government, ensuring fairer and better policies for all. But we are not being given the credit for it by the public. Our standing in the polls is still less than 10%, and in Oldham West we didn’t save our deposit. Despite the valiant efforts of Tim and his team, eight months after the General Election we are not getting heard. Political discussion and comment in the media mostly ignores us. What to do?

Let’s look at how we got to this position. ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men…’ and so there is. We swept into Coalition as a tide of discontent, and alarm at the economic situation swept Labour away. Action followed by reaction is the general rule of political history. Last year we were left like so much flotsam and jetsam on the beach.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 58 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoeB 18th Aug - 1:30am
    David Raw, "Jesse Collings MP could have helped there" - we could do with men of his commitment right now to maintain the rights his...
  • User AvatarInnocent Bystander 18th Aug - 12:24am
    How about ? "LibDems - often battered - never bettered".
  • User AvatarDavid-1 18th Aug - 12:07am
    If you really must have slogans, start by stating *fully* what we stand for and then work on boiling it down to its essence. Then...
  • User AvatarMichael Cole 17th Aug - 10:28pm
    Perhaps we should consider"We Demand Better". One short word longer but more difficult to turn against us and more in tune with the spirit of...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 17th Aug - 9:25pm
    @paul barker Apologies - I had a vague recollection that you computed a rolling average as I think you have mentioned it before but you...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 17th Aug - 9:15pm
    On the dairy theme: I can't believe it's not better! Watch out there's a Vince about! --- From the supermarkets: Every Lib Dem helps! Live...