Author Archives: MIchael Atkins

We are not a party of the centre

There is a frequent claim on these pages and wider commentary: as a party of the centre or centre-left, with Labour and the Tories pulling away from the centre, the Lib Dems should be polling a good deal better than 5-7%. This failure to transform an advantageous position into wider support is ascribed to a lack of vision, distinctiveness, or messaging etc.

I consider this analysis is flawed, and that the ‘solutions’ that follow are unlikely to improve our situation. My contention is as the article title states – we are not a party of the ‘centre’.

Posted in News | 76 Comments

Are by-elections the best use of activists’ time?

Over the course of November I lost count of the exhortations I received to contribute, either financially or through my time, to the Oldham campaign. But is our current approach to by-elections the best for our party, and, if not, what wider lessons can we draw? This article is written to provoke, to challenge, and to inspire debate; equally, it is not written to insult or degrade the hard work or enthusiasm of activists or candidates with which this party is blessed.

Activists are encouraged to get involved in a by-election for a number of reasons: (i) the excellent qualities of the local candidate; (ii) the opportunity to increase our representation at Westminster; (iii) there is value in 2nd/3rd/… place; (iv) to learn about effective methods of campaigning; (v) to spread our national message; and (vi) it’s fun/sociable/exciting! But we have to realise that we are a seriously resource constrained political party. Resources are financial and people-time: activists, party staff, and political figures (e.g. MPs). I would argue that these are all more seriously limited than at any time since I joined the party in 2005, with the possible exception of activists. Even here, many will have full time commitments, a family, other volunteering work etc. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 20 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarStimpson 24th Jan - 1:31pm
    Voters need to be educated that socialism and nationalism are dangerous philosphies which will plunge them into poverty. Just because they may support the monarchy,...
  • User AvatarGlenn 24th Jan - 1:09pm
    As Richard says there is no parliamentary cross party unity, so a national government of unity is not going to happen. The other problem is...
  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 24th Jan - 1:08pm
    On a related note: Tim Farron on PMQ yesterday. Is he still in politics?
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 24th Jan - 1:06pm
    @ Stimpson, I just wondered if you ever get out and about to talk to ordinary people? You may not like what they say but...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 24th Jan - 12:41pm
    David Raw, I was at a reception a few years back (as treasurer of the Irish Liberal Democrats) where the Irish ambassador was speaking about...
  • User AvatarRichard Church 24th Jan - 11:52am
    Since there is no unity to deliver a people's vote, there can be no government of national unity. If we finally get to the point...