Author Archives: Stephen Howse

Tim talks to a room of students – and energises the #LibDemFightback in Newcastle


Students at NUSU Tim Talks

Of all the drops in the Liberal Democrat vote in May, the drop in the 18-24 vote was harshest. From 30% of the total vote of this age group in 2010, our vote collapsed to just 5% in May. Hope springs eternal in Newcastle, though – and we were delighted to welcome our leader, Tim Farron, in hosting a ‘Talk to Tim’ event at the Newcastle University Students’ Union on Monday night.

Tim was in fine form, answering questions from the packed room of well over 100 students on issues ranging from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership to fracking and from the government’s proposed Teaching Excellence Framework for Higher Education to just what, exactly, is the point of the Liberal Democrats.

The questions were reasoned, varied and detailed. If this event was any indication, if we listen to young people and show that we genuinely care about what they have to say, we will win their respect and, in time, win back their support.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 10 Comments

A Corbyn victory means there’s not much chance of a realignment of the left

It was Paddy Ashdown’s dream, and pre-1997 it looked to be tantalisingly within reach, yet with the imminent coronation of Jeremy Corbyn increasingly likely, the realignment of the anti-Conservative Left looks to be further out of reach than ever. Indeed, Corbyn’s happy band of followers have spent months labelling everyone else involved the contest as a ‘red Tory’, particularly Liz Kendall (whose father, let’s not forget, was a Liberal Democrat councillor) and including such known Conservative sympathisers as Harriet Harman and Neil Kinnock.

As Guido Fawkes has demonstrated, the Conservatives’ plan to deal with Corbyn is to paint him as a threat to Britain’s security, both at home (because of his views on economic policy) and abroad (because of his views on foreign policy). We have a real opportunity, if we want to take it, to own the acres of political space between a far-left Corbyn-led Labour Party and a Conservative government which will not be able to resist nudging further to the right (which would in turn put off that party’s own moderate supporters) – a space in which the majority of the British people have made their political home. We may have only eight MPs, but we are about to be gifted a huge opportunity to position ourselves politically between those two extremes and present ourselves as a moderate, sensible party which rejects both Corbyn’s reflexive ‘daddy knows best’ statism and the Conservatives’ love of taking away from those who have least to give.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 76 Comments

Opinion: Never mind ‘One Nation’; let’s bring back National Efficiency

Edwardian school License Some rights reserved by freeparking :-|There is a rule in British politics – non-codified, but always there, like the British constitution – that long-forgotten ideas will at some point come back into fashion. Witness Ed Miliband’s stuttering ‘One Nation’ pitch and the Tories’ tentative return to a hotchpotch of local relief schemes as a means of providing welfare.

There is one such Liberal concept which I believe could be updated and refocused as a thoroughly Liberal alternative to the New Right’s turbocharged capitalism and the New Left’s corporate-bashing fury: …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Opinion: Liberalism – it’s not a set of policies, it’s a state of mind

8-5-10: They didA couple of things have struck me in the wake of the publication of Race Plan, Jeremy Browne’s personal liberal manifesto.

Don’t worry – this isn’t an article about the book itself. We’ve had enough of those over the last few days (as I write this, the top 5 most read articles on LDV are about it!) – I’d wager there have been more angry comments about the book on LibDemVoice than there are people who have actually read the thing.

Rather, this article concerns the nature of Liberalism.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 71 Comments

Opinion: Why aren’t Liberal Democrats complaining loudly about draconian new family immigration rules?

It’s not often that I find myself on the same side of an argument as Sayeeda Warsi. It’s even less often that I find myself on the same side when it comes to marriage equality.

I am thankful, however, that the Baroness was in Cabinet to lead the charge – along with Liberal Democrats – against the Home Secretary’s outrageous plans to impose a draconian income threshold (of up to £40,000) on British citizens who wish to bring their spouses to live with them in this country. The Coalition’s harsh immigration cap is hard enough for a Liberal to stomach without …

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 18 Comments
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  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 19th Dec - 12:56am
    When it comes to strategy and political tactics the temptation is always to "refight the last war." The membership of the Libdems dropped to circa...
  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 18th Dec - 11:43pm
    Peter Martin, yes I do realise that trying to balance the budget is counter-productive. A big part of the problem is the way government does...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 18th Dec - 11:17pm
    @ Mick Taylor, If you vote for a motion of no confidence in the government knowing it is unlikely to pass, ( which it is),...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Dec - 11:06pm
    @ Frankie, “The Euro will fail, trust me I’m an economist” The euro doesn't have to fail. If the US$ can work so can the...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Dec - 10:48pm
    @ JoeB, 'The 2017 Conservative Party manifesto pledged to eliminate the deficit by the “middle of the next decade”' Presumably it means the Govt budget...
  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 18th Dec - 10:44pm
    I wouldn't have expected to be in agreement with Paul and David either, but there you go. Just to finish the bit that fell victim...