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 AvatarJohn Roffey 24th Feb - 9:48am
    As an ex member – who left because of the Party’s support for Osborne’s ‘austerity measures’ whilst in coalition – it seems to me that...
  • User AvatarManfarang 24th Feb - 9:45am
    On matters expat. Thank you Layla Moran for supporting the Bill to end the fifteen year limit on the overseas vote.
  • User AvatarIan Sanderson (RM3) 24th Feb - 9:33am
    People who hold guns need to be trained, to keep the guns safe and to be continuously of sound mind. If the gun-holder falls short...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 24th Feb - 9:15am
    "Radical, distinctive" I agree with the thrust of the article, in particular the need to "grasp the nettle and do something" and the "need to...
  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 24th Feb - 8:33am
    Russell, the figure that you claim that graduates "benefit by", is clearly vastly exaggerated, or applies only to a small minority of graduates. The reality...
  • User AvatarBarnaby 24th Feb - 7:05am
    " But it’s aimed at starting the ball rolling towards the party finding a handful of policies that can define us as a caring, distinctive...