Author Archives: Neville Farmer

Strong Parliament is better than strong Government

Kier Starmer’s invitation for Natalie Elphicke to join him on the Labour benches is a dreadful piece of political opportunism. At a time when public trust in politicians is at an all-time low, welcoming an MP who was a member of the ERG and whose views have long placed her to the far right of Ghengis Khan is a staggering shot in the foot. The backlash the following morning runs from the Guardian to the Express. Few see this as the move of a statesman.

So, why has he scored this own goal? He doesn’t need her to improve Labour’s polling, and he will soon discover what a thorn in the flesh she is to any party. But he just couldn’t resist sticking the knife into Rishi Sunak and twisting it a little further. It’s pathetic. Such naiveté is troubling for anyone viewing him as a viable Prime Minister, especially for many Labour MPs and members. It will undoubtedly lose him more votes than it gains.

For the Liberal Democrats and other progressive parties, he has created an opportunity. Many centre-left voters will baulk at the idea of someone with such poor statecraft having an overwhelming majority in Parliament. For decades, the pushback against electoral reform was that proportional representation promised coalitions and ‘weak’ government. But since 2015 we have seen unassailable majority parliaments wielded like wrecking balls by a slew of dreadful Prime Ministers. Boris Johnson alone proved how dangerous unfettered majority government can be in the hands of a maniac.

Of course, the LibDems are still hampered by the residual disdain for coalition that both Labour and the Tories disseminated throughout the electorate. But it is residual and Rishi Sunak’s inept steering of Johnson’s legacy majority is much more in-your-face vote influencer.

The path the LibDems must surely follow now is one of vision, maturity and common sense. Whatever the Jenricks, Bravermans, Andersons, Tices and Farages, or even the Corbyns may think, the majority of British people are centrist – that’s why it’s called the centre. They want change, indeed they may be desperate for it, but they don’t want more ideology forced upon them.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 79 Comments

Your Liberal Britain: What would a Liberal Britain look like?

Your Liberal BritainHow many times have you heard it? “What do the Lib Dems stand for?” I mean, it’s not as though Labour have been socialists for the last 20 years. There is clearly no such thing as one-nation Conservatives, or fiscally responsible Tories, or compassionate Conservatives. Yet the public seems to think they understand the main parties’ positions.

The typical voter thinks it’s the Lib Dems who have no stance, the piggy in the middle that invited the Cameron treatment for five years. Not a party of government, as our failed campaign slogan confirmed last year. Our position as a party is one of the reasons the Your Liberal Britain group was created. So, here’s my two penn’orth.

I joined the party because I believe that government is about nurturing and investing its citizens’ talents, not putting the fear of God into them, not reining them in or nannying them and certainly not spreading anxiety and mistrust.

Fundamental to our system of justice is the presumption of innocence. We are supposed to trust each other. But recent legislation doesn’t reflect that.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 14 Comments

Opinion: Let’s stop pussyfooting over property prices

According to a report published by Shelter this week, if the price of an oven ready chicken had risen as fast as the price of the average house since 1971, it would cost £51.18. House prices simply have to fall if we’re to find any way out of our economic mess and many of those with mortgages are going to have to take a hit. What we need to do is to ensure that the pain is borne by those who can best afford it… and who caused the problem in the first place.

We need to get over our obsession …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 50 Comments

Opinion: Boundary nonsense

Boundary - Some rights reserved by ank0kuOn the face of it, the boundary change proposals were about cutting costs by having less MPs and strengthening democracy by having each MP represent roughly identical numbers of voters. Neither of these claims bear close scrutiny.

Our democracy is not a simple thing – it struggles its way through the conflicting needs of the nation and the individual. It is unrealistic to base our representation on population statistics alone. It’s true that there are a few Parliamentary seats with fairly sparsely populated

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Opinion: What free press?

Stand strong, Nick. Do not cave to Cameron over Leveson because if you do so, you go against your party’s wishes and, according to the polls, those of 86% of Daily Mail readers!

As a journalist, I have long defended the principle of a free press as a vital plank of democracy. The protests of journalists that we are facing the abyss are not unfounded. Yet there is a myth about the British press that is more fantastic than many of the stories it publishes; the myth that we have a “free” press, at all. The sheer quantity of coverage across …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 17 Comments
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