Author Archives: Tony Lloyd

Working through the LabCon trick

We all know that the duopoly of Labour and Conservative parties is awful. We all know that this particular lot are awful. So again, the question arises: why are we, and other parties like the Greens, flat-lining in the polls?

I have a theory about part of the cause and a suggestion for what to do about it. It is that lovely thing, the UK’s dysfunctional electoral system. The system does not just attribute different values to different votes; it also distorts how people cast their votes. Voting for who you most want runs the risk of helping elect whom you least want.  First Past the Post not only accentuates this risk, it is such that the risk is far greater for parties outside the duopoly than for either member of that duopoly.

That puts non-duopoly parties in a fix.

Every time we attack the Conservatives we not only differentiate ourselves from the Conservatives but also Labour from Conservatives, and vice versa. We may offer a benefit to make the risk of voting for us worthwhile, but we also offer the same benefit, against a much lower risk, for voting Conservative/Labour. If we criticise the Conservatives, we bolster the “we must get rid of the Tories” narrative, and the lowest risk way of doing that is to vote Labour. If we attack Corbyn, we feed into the “stop Corbyn” narrative, and the lowest risk way of doing that is to vote Conservative. The duopoly maintains a system so arranged that anytime another party criticises either of the duopoly parties the electorate’s benefit in sticking with that duopoly increases.

It’s a LabCon trick.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 24 Comments

The Big Brexit Squeeze

We all know The Squeeze; when we alert voters to the binary choice forced on them by First Past the Post, asking them to drop their preferred option and settle for us.

The Squeeze runs through Brexit. Theresa May tells the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers that they might loathe her Brexit proposals, but the alternative is Corbyn.  A wider, presumed “Leave,” the audience is told the alternative is “no Brexit at all.”As that would suit me down to the ground, I am told that HARD Brexit awaits if I fail to get behind whichever fantasy proposal is currently touted.

The biggest squeeze of all, though, maybe around the corner. The government nears collapse; a collapse that would leave the UK rudderless, unable to agree on any deal and, so, inexorably be sliding into a calamitous No Deal Brexit. A General Election, under the First Past the Post system that did so much to create the crisis, would not help. FPTP enforces the party blocks, limiting the choice of the electorate which it then further distorts.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 5 Comments

What should our policy on one of the defining issues of the age be?

 

Do not think about whether we should call for another referendum.  A referendum is a mechanism, not a policy. Instead, what should we ask our fellow countrymen and countrywomen to support?

Seventy years ago some of our forebears put forward the policy, in the ashes of our continent, to exchange the conflicts of nations for the cooperation of peoples.

It has been a spectacular success.

What, in those dark times, must have looked like a utopian fantasy has largely come to pass. In seventy years no member state, once admitted to the fold, has engaged in armed conflict with any other member state. Newly democratised Fascist dictatorships have been kept as stable liberal democracies. Newly liberated Communist tyrannies have had their economies and societies utterly transformed. In the continent that gave rise to both Communism and Fascism, and where destructive, terrible, wars were commonplace; that is a magnificent achievement.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 36 Comments

This time we should be firmly pro-Independence

 

At the last conference Alex Cole-Hamilton explained his opposition to Scottish independence by noting that he was a UK citizen, an EU citizen and wanted to remain both.

It is a fine sentiment.

The time, though, is fast arising when he and others may have to decide which is more important. When no amount of campaigning against the decision will prevent the outcome, when the Tory backbenchers melt and when the Labour leadership get behind the Brexiteers, then then people of Scotland are faced with a choice. It is a stark choice, it is a difficult choice and it is a choice, no doubt, that people do not want to make. But it is a choice they will be forced to: “UK or EU”, “both” will not be on the ballot paper.

So which to choose?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 66 Comments

But we are the party of freedom

Martin Roche wrote an eloquent piece, with a follow up,  calling for Liberal Democrats to brand themselves:

The Party of Freedom

Though generally well received some thought the branding conflicted with other values; fairness, equality, and community. Many thought the slogan linked us to the excesses of market ideologues and libertarians.

Are fairness and equality such rivals of freedom? Is someone’s freedom not limited if they lack decent housing or other basic needs? Is their freedom not limited if they cannot access information or lack the education needed to make use of it? Is someone’s freedom not limited if they suffer from discrimination or if they are sufficiently impoverished that they are excluded participating in society?

Of course that person’s freedom is limited. Others do not understand that. We do. That is why we are The Party of Freedom.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 35 Comments

What next for the Liberal Democrats post-referendum?

Harriet Harman, as acting leader of the Labour Party, explained her lack of opposition to the government’s Welfare Bill with the words:

We can’t simply say to the public “you were wrong”

Well I can.

Public, you got it wrong.

You got it disastrously wrong. You’ve endangered the future of our entire continent for the sake of a handful of Brexiteers’ Magic Beans. You’ve swallowed the distortions and lies of the Brexit brigade. You’ve gleefully thrown reason, evidence and reflection out of the window. You’ve allowed that Brexit brigade to press your basest, most pre-civilised, gut-reaction buttons. You’ve allowed yourselves to be fooled. The consequences for you and your fellow Britons will be dire.

But it’s no use getting angry at the electorate. We need to act. The action I propose is that we give the electorate an opportunity to correct its error. We should put at the forefront of our campaigning:

Get Back In.

Let us have Get Back In as the first item in our manifesto. Let us have Get Back In on every piece of election literature, on our membership cards, as the strap line under our logo. Let us replace the, frankly vapid, “working for you” and “winning here” with Get Back In. We need to make it clear that a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for re-joining Europe. Re-joining Europe fully: no opt-outs, no special conditions, in the Euro on day one. Let us Get Back In, fully.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 37 Comments
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