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
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSimon Pike 18th Aug - 8:50am
    On the whole, I like it. It is short (i.e. can be large enough to be visible in photos) and conveys our values. I see...
  • User AvatarHumphrey Hawksley 18th Aug - 8:34am
    It is great there is finally a 'bumper sticker' mission statement. My reservation is that 'demand' underpins an activist role and not the decision-making role...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 18th Aug - 8:30am
    For ‘EU sceptic’ read ‘EU pragmatist’. It does help to reread your stuff.
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Aug - 8:28am
    @ Innocent Bystander, "I would have thought that an English person who emigrated to Australia and took Australian citizenship would have the courtesy to support...
  • User AvatarChris Lewcock 18th Aug - 8:21am
    Policies first. Slogans second. Please.
  • User AvatarGeoff English 18th Aug - 8:10am
    Talking of August by-elections and turnouts - the turnout in the Port Talbot by-election , where we failed to field a candidate but the Conservatives...