Author Archives: Tony Greaves

Lord Tony Greaves writes…Where now for the Liberal Democrats? Part 2: What we do about it

Yesterday, I laid out the issues facing the party. Here is my analysis of what we should do about them.

I suggest there are four or five things that should now be priorities for the party as an organisation and a movement. They may look rather different from each other but I suggest that they gel together more than may be immediately obvious. This is not an order of importance – I think they are all equally important.

First, in view of the election result we need to insure against the threat of another General Election in the next 12 months or two years. The very survival of the party requires a presence in the House of Commons. That means making sure that the 12 seats we held will be held again – no more carelessness or complacency. It means a similar level of intensive continuous work and campaigning in the 25 or so seats that are realistic targets for gains in an early poll. And those seats need to build up their local organisation to a level where they do not depend on support from lots of people in the surrounding areas and beyond when the election comes.

Second, from a longer term perspective, we need to rebuild and recreate the party as a campaigning organisation and movement. Campaigning in recent years has been diminished to mean just election campaigning, and a lot of that is now done in an arid “painting by numbers” fashion. The campaigning that gives political activity its interest, its excitement, its achievements, and its fun (and who is going to do it for year after year if it’s not fun?) is campaigning on issues, on projects, on protests, on getting things done. Community politics. It’s something the party almost abandoned during the Coalition. And campaigning of this kind is not just about elections – they are part of it but only a part. It’s much, much more, and genuinely all the year round stuff.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 41 Comments

Lord Tony Greaves writes… Where now for the Liberal Democrats? Part 1: Where we are

The morning after another disastrous General Election for the Liberal Democrats, the party’s press office issued a statement which started with the breath-taking words: “It has been a good night for the Liberal Democrats.”

It went on to say: “We hoped to hold our ground but instead we have increased our number of MPs by 50%. We welcome back big hitters to our ranks in Jo Swinson, Vince Cable and Ed Davey, who all regained their seats with emphatic majorities. We have won stunning victories in Eastbourne, Bath, Edinburgh West, Caithness and Oxford West & Abingdon.”

Well yes, and I cheered every one of them. But we lost five of the nine seats we were defending including four which had been held at the calamitous election in 2015. Many more seats that we recently held or which were strong targets fell back badly so that the number of possible winnable seats has shrunk to levels not seen for decades. We lost 375 deposits and it was clear that the basic Liberal Democrat vote in large parts of the country was still close to zero and that the much-vaunted fight-back in many areas had simply not happened at the Westminster level.

So let’s start again. It was a disastrous night for the Liberal Democrats. The best that can be said is that in an election when the very presence of the party in the House of Commons was in danger, we survived. The increase from eight seats in 2015 to 12 this time is welcome but only gets us back to the position in 1966. The truth is that over much of the country hardly anyone voted for us. The countrywide core vote we had been building up in the first decade of the 2000s has gone and shows no signs of coming back.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 35 Comments

Obituary: John David – an immense presence in the Pendle community

john-davidLifelong Liberal stalwart John David died early on Monday morning. John David was an immense presence in the Pendle community who served as a Liberal and Liberal Democrat member of Pendle Borough Council for 28 years. He was elected in May 1986 for the Fence area until retiring in May 2014 due to ill health. He was Leader of the Council from 2008 to 2010 and Deputy Leader from 2012 to 2014, and served as a highly distinguished Mayor of Pendle in 1992/1993.

A proud Welshman (not least when Wales were on the rugby field) John was a lifelong Liberal. He stood for the Liberals in Bosworth in the 1964 General Election, polling 10652 votes, almost a fifth of the total, in a seat the party had not previously contested. By the 1980s he was living in Pendle in Lancashire, running a business in Burnley, and in the 1986 Council elections Gordon Lishman (then the Pendle PPC) sat in his kitchen until, in Gordon’s words, “John signed the nomination form to get rid of me on the promise that he had no chance of election”. He won and held the seat for 28 years.

Posted in Obituaries | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Tony Greaves writes…Challenging the Tories, Liberal Democrat lords are in the vanguard

We have just seen another week in which the Liberal Democrats in the Lords led the way in challenging the Conservative Government. The high profile issue was votes for 16 and 17 year olds in the European Referendum when no fewer than 91 of our members voted for the amendment, out of a total of 107 – five are still waiting to come in – with none against, an astonishing record turnout of 87%. Labour managed 74% and the Tories 71. (And it didn’t even include me, I was stuck at home in Lancashire feeling poorly and miserable).

And then Sue Miller (my good friend Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer) moved an amendment to give the vote to all UK citizens living in the EU – and why not, it’s their future as much as or even more than ours? But Labour more or less abstained (four in favour, 37 against – these no doubt being mainly the anti-EU little Englanders in their ranks) and the amendment went down by 214 to 116. There were 84 LD votes in favour and again none against. Yet another principled Liberal charge while Labour sat on the sidelines!

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Obituary: Dennis Wrigley

Dennis Wrigley, who died earlier this week, was an inspirational pioneer in the rejuvenation of the Young Liberals and the Liberal Party in the Manchester region and the North West during the 1950s and 1960s.

Dennis came to national prominence in the High Peak by-election in 1961, in the year before Orpington. A combination of the rising national Liberal vote, a lot of outside help including Manchester students and YLs, and Dennis’s personal charisma and campaigning energy produced a Liberal vote of 30.5%, narrowly third but up by more than 10% from the General election in 1959. He contested the seat at the following three General Elections, polling well but never as well as at the by-election.

In 1964 the Labour candidate was the subsequent Liberal Democrat peer and Lords Chief Whip John Roper. The story that both of them told is (from Dennis) “Of course I was able to preach in every chapel in the constituency” with the riposte from John “Yes but I drank in every pub!” Unfortunately neither won that year.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Lord Tony Greaves writes…Raising awareness of Lyme Disease. Do you know how to deal with tick bites?

Ticks courtesy of Lyme Disease Action 1Lyme disease is something rather nasty that you can get from being bittenby a tick. Both Lyme and ticks have had quite a good press of late (or perhaps a bad one) due to a number of “celebrities” getting infected –people such as John Caudwell (founder of Phones 4U) and Bella Hadid, daughter of Yolanda Foster – with long articles in the Mail, Evening Standard and on the BBC website.

Not so well promoted, but I hope important, was a short debate I secured and led on Lyme Disease and other tick-related infections in the House ofLords last week. This was, it seems, the first ever debate in Parliament onthis matter. This is perhaps not surprising since Lyme Disease was onlynamed in 1975 (after a small town in Connecticut where it was first studied). So what is this all about and should we all worry about it?

Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis, is an infectious disease transmitted tohumans and other animals by bites from ticks, which are small arthropodsrelated to spiders, and I can tell you from a close encounter with quite a big one last June that they are pretty nasty things. Infected ticks transmit the Borreliosis bacterium when they suck your blood, and they are found throughout the UK. They live on vegetation, particularly damp areas of vegetation such as bracken and in woodland. They are found throughout the countryside but they also appear more and more in towns – in parks and in suburban gardens for instance – and they are increasing in number.

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

Lord Tony Greaves writes…Crisis on the streets of Lancashire

When the new lot all arrive we’ll have 112 Liberal Democrat peers and we need to use them. For some of us that means local as well as national stuff since some of us are still actively campaigning in our local areas! So when changes to the police funding formula were announced that mean one of the best forces in the country risks being “annihilated”, in the word of the commissioner, it was time to put down a topical question in the Lords.

The Lancashire police force is “outstanding”. That’s the conclusion of the review of police force efficiency by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. It’s one of the most cost effective police forces in the country at only 49p per head, it’s made savings of £74m since 2010, yet it will be hammered by further cuts up to £161m. Police officers will drop from 3,611 in 2010 to 1,699 in 2020 and the PCSOs (community support officers) will disappear. Chief Constable Steve Finnigan says these cuts would severely limit the capabilities of Lancashire Constabulary which by 2020 will only be able to provide an emergency- service, responding to 999 calls and a few priorities.

The potential impacts include closing all enquiry desks and the loss of specialist support units, mounted officers, dog units and road policing units, and dramatic cuts to departments that deal with serious and complex crime. In addition the county-wide network of neighbourhood policing teams – community beat officers and community support officers – will be swept away.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 37 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 19th Oct - 8:47pm
    Thank you, Lorenzo, for as so often offering positive affirmation once again. I'm not familiar with the ways of the Italian party you mention, but...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 19th Oct - 8:23pm
    Very well tried, Antony. We could not see the text of the evidently wrecking amendment, but the complacency of the Conservative side in a county...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 19th Oct - 8:01pm
    Paul I have felt ,the element of musicality in his cadence, and vibrato in his voice, is like a cross between a classical actor or...
  • User AvatarLibDemer 19th Oct - 7:30pm
    Thank you for the tip. Will try to watch tonight.
  • User AvatarLibDemer 19th Oct - 7:28pm
    I have enjoyed this series of articles. Thank you so much !! My youngest child is American by birth. The States is a country I...
  • User AvatarMichael Kilpatrick 19th Oct - 7:25pm
    Why is the text on the Anthony Kook website a rather awful pale grey colour on a white background rather than a clear and legible...