++Breaking: Lord Oakeshott resigns from the Liberal Democrats

Matthew Oakeshott speaking at Lib Dem conference, Brighton 2007

The Guardian reports that Lord Oakeshott has dramatically resigned from the Liberal Democrats. Here is his resignation statement:

I am today taking leave of absence from the House of Lords and resigning as a member of the Liberal Democrats. I am sure the Party is heading for disaster if it keeps Nick Clegg; and I must not get in the way of the many brave Liberal Democrats fighting for change.

I leave, with a heavy heart, the party I helped to found with such high hopes with Roy Jenkins, Bill Rodgers, Shirley Williams and David Owen at Limehouse in 1981. We then, like most Liberal Democrats now, wanted a radical progressive party, not a “split the difference” Centre Party, with, in Shirley’s memorable words, no roots, no principles and no values. But that is where Nick Clegg has led us.

I am sorry I have so upset and embarrassed my old friend Vince Cable and that we were not able to talk before he issued yesterday’s statement from China. This is the background:

Several months ago a close colleague, concerned about voting intentions in Twickenham, asked me if I would arrange and pay for a poll to show us Vince’s current position and how best to get him re-elected. I was happy to help, and Vince amended and approved the questionnaire, but at his request I excluded a question on voting intentions with a change of leader. Although Vince had excellent ratings, both as a Minister and a local MP, he was slightly behind the Conservatives in this poll, as the full details on the ICM website show. That poll worried me so much that I commissioned four more in different types of constituency all over the country and added back the change of leadership question. The results were in the Guardian yesterday and on the ICM website . Several weeks ago, I told Vince the results of those four polls too.

The combined message of these five professional and reputable ICM constituency polls, Nick Clegg’s dire approval ratings year after year in all national polls, and Thursday’s appalling council and European election results is crystal clear: we must change the leader to give Liberal Democrat M.P.s their best chance to win in 2015. On Thursday I also commissioned one more ICM poll, in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey; the results should also be on the ICM website tonight a

A few stout-hearted M.P.s and peers and hundreds, maybe soon thousands, of candidates, councillors and Lib Dem members all over Britain are now fighting constituency by constituency for a leadership election. I have tried to give them the evidence they need to make the change. I pray that they win, and that the right man, or preferably, woman is now elected to save the Party.

When Charles Kennedy rang to make me a peer, from a panel elected by the party, fourteen years ago he said he wanted me to shake up the Lords. I’ve tried – my bills to ban non-dom peers are now law – but my efforts to expose and end cash for peerages in all parties, including our own, and help get the Lords elected have failed. I am very sorry to leave my many old, close comrades-in-arms on the Liberal Democrat benches all over Britain, and good friends and fellow campaigners across the House. But the unreformed Lords is now a bloated balloon and at 67 it’s time to concentrate on running my business and my charity.

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95 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 28th May '14 - 12:35pm

    If the left is so moral then why doesn’t it challenge men hating articles like this:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/glosswitch/2014/05/only-feminism-can-stop-my-sons-growing-hate-women

    Not taking any lectures about morals from Oakeshott.

  • I think we might be best to postpone sweetness and light to another day, sadly.

  • The only good thing to come out of all this is that he has gone.

  • Eddie Sammon 28th May '14 - 12:42pm

    No roots, no principles and no values, he’s got a cheek. Pious man.

  • i don’t really understand the point of stepping away from the Lords. You can’t just get rid of your peerage. It is perfectly possible to resign the libdem whip and continue to sit there. Perhaps very sharp conversations were had in the Lords group

  • Eddie Sammon 28th May '14 - 12:47pm

    I’ll abandon the anger and wish him all the best, but resigning with a disrespectful words is not the way to do it.

    I’m going back to work. Bye for now.

  • Oakeshott’s behaviour is why so many people despise and distrust politicians. The Liberal Party was largely created by Non Conformist Tradesman and Craftsmen who would have been horrified by Oakeshott’ s devious behaviour. The reason why so many people did business with Quakers was because they trusted them. The modern day media means that devious behaviour is soon revealed. Oakeshott has resigned because he has been caught in duplicitous behaviour , yet shows no contrition: his conceit matches his deviousness and narcissism.

  • He may have wanted to remove Nick to help the party, but the stories that will flow from what he can chosen to make public in this statement will damage the prospects of those candidates regardless of their view on the leadership.

    Unnecessary damage will be done. He could have resigned, said Nick should go and kept it to that but this is a step too far. I respect that many here will agree with him, but he has made a bad situation even worse and frankly I consider a good deal of what he wrote selfish and self-serving.

  • Well, its never good to hear about the loss of one of our members. It does also need to be said that his concerns were valid, even if his plan to implement a backroom switcharound to swap one damaged coalition minister with another was a little naive.

  • Unfortunate it unfolded this way, I disagree with him and the way things have been done in the last few days but I’m rather uncomfortable about the trend of infighting developing.

    It’s less than 12 months away bad losses will result in a less liberal Britain than would otherwise exist, focus on that.

    Blame and recrimination will not help that cause.

  • There’s nothing like killing the chicken to scare the monkeys, as Mao Tse-tung used to say. Now those with less heft in the Party than Oakeshott will be even more intimidated from speaking up, for fear of retaliation, and Nick Clegg can go on blithely in the belief that his only critics are a handful of disgruntled troublemakers. Ah, the serenity of perfection.

  • So Cable *did* know, despite all his protestations yesterday.

  • The LibDem’s are becoming a very small echo chamber, at this rate you will be holding your party conference in a phone box.

  • Thank goodness that Oakeshot has gone at last. He has behaved like a petulant schoolboy for years, mainly interested in getting himself on TV. He will have lost us far more votes than he ever gained! Perhaps we could present him with a plaque in which the definition of loyalty is engraved.

  • @Helen

    The validity of analysis is one thing, resigning in a way that does even greater damage is another.

  • It’s too late in the day to talk of a change of leader. Nick has been a busted flush ever since the student fees fiasco. The party’s fortunes can be traced back to that moment. That was when all trust was lost. Fellow members at the time hung on in the hope that the two major coalition policies, namely changing the voting system and reforming the House of Lords, would win back lost ground. Clegg’s fundamental failure to oversee these into law signalled the moment when the bulk of the remaining membership and activist base I know personally walked away. You simply can not campaign as a centre-left party and adopt centre-right policies when in government. The anger felt by the electorate whose votes were used to prop up a reprehensible Tory Party is obvious. They have, we all have, been conned. How Clegg can suggest he had no idea that the coalition would prove unpopular illustrates clearly how removed from the country, the Party and its supporters he is. In hindsight Clegg should have done the decent thing and held out for a better deal from the Tories or walked away completely. Expecting our ‘happy meal’ policies to be recognised amongst the chaos caused by zero hours contracts and savage welfare cuts suggests a problem with vision and strategy. It’s not that people aren’t listening, people simply do not believe a word Clegg says. The final nail in Clegg’s coffin was the ridiculous and utterly naive decision to give UKIP a platform ahead of the Euros and then put on such a poor show. And now the party pays the price. Lord Oakeshott has no choice but to resign over this matter but he goes with the support of many members, ex-members and elected members from the social democratic tradition for highlighting the blindingly obvious to a man and his team who have spectacularly failed to see the wood for the trees for the last 4 years. The next man or woman to lead this once proud party has a mammoth task to pick up the pieces and rebuild what will remain of the Lib Dems after 2015 but it’s simply too late in the day to be locked into a leadership battle that should have occurred as soon as it became obvious everything the Party held dear was being thrown away through Clegg’s inability to fight our corner.

  • Brenda Lana Smith 28th May '14 - 1:38pm

    Well put ((((((( Helen Tedcastle… )))))))

  • Whatever one’s views might be about Oakeshott’s analysis and prescription, he has clearly been underhanded in his plotting to the detriment of us all. He has damaged Nick Clegg and the wider party still further without helping the cause of those who wish to see a change of leader brought about constitutionally. (In his excellent interview in difficult circumstances on ‘The World at One’ a few minutes ago, Ming Campbell said that he had been told that Oakeshott had tried to undermine his leadership which was interesting if not surprising.) The loud manner of his going tells us much about the man which LDV readers will be able to discern for themselves.

  • Jenny Barnes 28th May '14 - 1:39pm

    Eddie “why doesn’t it challenge men hating articles”
    I’ve read it; saw no indication of hatred of men. It does point to a general culture of misogyny – do you disagree that exists? And that women are human beings in their own right, not just whatever men want them to be.

    when one is a member of the privileged group, as you are, resistance from the unprivileged might well feel like an existential threat.

  • Having now read his explanation of how and why the polls were commissioned, I have to say it’s all a lot less sinister than was made out by the various smears, spin and accusations that were flying last night.

    I think we should all think very carefully about what we do – and don’t – know before we start flying off with serious accusations. In particular, I’m thinking of comments made here and elsewhere yesterday, speculating as to the identity of the poll’s commissioner before Oakeshott came forward today. With hindsight, a lot of those remarks are downright libellous, and I feel very sorry for the individuals who’ve been wrongly identified, and have had a lot of anger needlessly vented at them.

    I’ll be sorry to see Lord Oakeshott go. I’ve always seen him as one of our big hitters in the Lords, and the party’s peers will be poorer without his expertise.

  • paul barker 28th May '14 - 1:46pm

    If Lord 0 has any evidence for his claims he should produce it.
    Otherwise can we please forget him & his petition & get back to preparing for next May.

  • Eddie Sammon 28th May '14 - 1:47pm

    Jenny you made me fume with anger with that comment and it is not fair for you to inflict such feelings on me. Don’t tell me how privileged I am when you have no idea about my life or who I am. I love women, but I hate being told I hate them. You can’t criticise men as a whole without criticising me.

    My opinions on this matter are not up for debate and you should reflect on what you said.

  • The million-dollar question:

    Who leaked the poll?

    Oakeshott has admitted to commissioning the poll, and has set out his reasons why. But he hasn’t admitted to leaking the poll to The Guardian. What he does admit is that copies of the poll have been doing the rounds for some weeks. So who leaked the poll?

  • Might have been a bit of a drama queen but he’s got a point. Do you realise how humiliating it would be for your party to lose the seat of their leader at the next election? The Lib Dems would probably never recover from that. A change of leader and a split from a coalition in relatively short order might at least help to avoid a wipeout. It’s a pitty Vince didn’t take the opportunity.

  • “Oakeshott has resigned because he has been caught in duplicitous behaviour , yet shows no contrition: ”

    Perhaps he should release a “Sorry ” Video?

  • @Seth, alongside that, someone benefitted from this, and I want to know whom and how.

  • Rob: Indeed, we haven’t had a party leader lose their seat since Archibald Sinclair in 1945; and that was against the backdrop of 10 years having elapsed since the previous general election, while the constituency machine went broke down, and his holding a Cabinet job as Air Minister had precluded him from nursing his constituency.

  • Eddie S ” it is not fair for you to inflict such feelings on me. ”

    No-one can make you feel that way without your permission. I don’t think what you say is fair to Jennie.

  • Apologies for typo – should have deleted “went” above!

  • David Bertram 28th May '14 - 2:08pm

    Here is a very interesting analysis of the Oakeshott-commissioned research that suggests that the methodology was constructed in an unusual way which just happened to produce the worst possible results.

    Now, why would that have been, Lord O?

    http://survation.com/so-how-would-changing-leader-work-out-for-the-lib-dems-will-nick-clegg-lose-sheffield-hallam/

  • @Jenny Barnes

    Being a man does not make you privilege relative to being a woman. In fact the majority of female professional activists, politicians, academics, and feminists have led extremely cosseted lives relative to the average man in Britain, and it is often their wish for women to have the privilege of being raised to positions of influence and power within society for no other reason than that they are women.

  • Vern “. It’s not that people aren’t listening, people simply do not believe a word Clegg says. ”

    I agree with this. I don’t think things can get much worse than constantly coming 5th/last.

  • Yeah, It’s all Oakeshott’s fault. Shoot the messenger. Cast out the unbeliever.

  • Charles Rothwell 28th May '14 - 2:16pm

    I personally always enjoyed listening to Oakeshott on ‘Question Time’ etc and think his brain power will be a great loss to the Party. On another tack, however, I think this episode fully confirms what I feel about ditching Clegg at this stage (as opposed to his making a definite announcement (as Blair did before 2005) that he will be making way for a new leader after the 2015 GE) in that it would just totally consume the Party in in-fighting and bickering and lay it open to constant sniping and maneuvering by the media which could set it back decades or, heaven forbid, drive us into oblivion (in the same way as has happened to the FDP in Germany (3% on Sunday!) who failed to move out of their 1980s free market-loving comfort bubble). Clegg’s announcement that he was definitely going after May 2015 would be the clearest sign there could be that the Party will be ‘starting over’, not only in terms of leadership, but also in policy areas (e.g. watching the ‘Newsnight’ report on the ‘Inclusive capitalism’ conference in London made me think this should be prime territory for this party with its history of the Rowntrees etc (and together with radically reforming the top-down, totally illiberal structures of the EU (including the European Parliament by allowing voters to choose individuals as MEPs and not just some faceless party list candidates)) and identifying and communicating with key voting groups as the party begins to regain THE absolutely primary quality missing among millions of the electorate at present: TRUST.

  • “Jack Carr 28th May ’14 – 2:06pm
    @Seth, alongside that, someone benefitted from this, and I want to know whom and how.”

    Would you not rather know why the Party lost 91% of its MEPS and so many good councillors a few days ago?

  • ‘RAT DESERTS SHIP – NO SHOCK.’ Does Milord Oakeshott realise how this plays into the hands of our opponents? Better to take the kicking and then have a leadership contest than vice versa.

  • Jenny Barnes 28th May '14 - 2:26pm

    eddie, rob. I suggest you read this. http://sap.mit.edu/content/pdf/male_privilege.pdf (especially no29.)

    eddie – I’m sorry you got angry. But I did not suggest you hated women.

    Anyway, this is nothing to do with Lord Oakeshott, so I will not comment further.

  • Mike Simpson 28th May '14 - 2:28pm

    Well said Helen Tadcastle :

    ‘Oakeshott’s resignation is one thing, the response of the official party is quite another. Apparently the disaster of last Thursday is ‘disappointing’ and now we have to get on with ‘getting our message across.’ Denial, denial, denial… This is not the way to heal the divisions that are opening up in the party after the polls last week.
    If there is no listening, no humility, no dialogue, it’s ends up with the last few days…

    Mike Simpson, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate against Jeremy Hunt in 2010 (and still a member)

  • Mike Simpson 28th May '14 - 2:30pm

    Sorry – that should have read Helen Tedcastle

  • Most of the aspects of ‘male privilege’ that are on your list out are either the natural result of women bitching about women, the different sexes have different inclinations, or some women not standing up for themselves at work in a relationship. None of that signifies ‘privilege’.

  • Mike Simpson 28th May '14 - 2:44pm

    Vern,

    I agree with most of what you say but I still think we would fare far better if Clegg had the grace to resign the leadership now. I suspect other considerations are at play i.e. the fight for the succession might be bloody as Danny Alexander for example is very closely associated with Clegg’s right wing stance and I doubt he’d agree to Vince stepping in unopposed. Further – would the coalition survive another day if Vince took over?

    To repeat what I said elsewhere earlier this week – Clegg has not been a strong leader or he would have made tuition fees a red line issue in the agreement. His supposed leadership qualities were found to be spectacularly lacking when he personally oversaw the failed attempts at electoral reform – a squandered opportunity of epic proportions. He now appears to want the whole party to go down with him as he steers determinedly towards the rocks. Some might see this as courage. I see it as utterly selfish and frankly a little mad. It’s time to have real courage Nick and step aside, so someone else can take the helm.

  • John Roffey 28th May '14 - 2:48pm

    VC is in a very difficult position – he may well resign too. What is the chances of him and Oakeshott reviving the SDP [which still exists]?

    How many of the left of centre members, Councillors, ex MEPs and threatened MPs would make the switch?

  • 3 things:

    1. I understand that many feel for one reason or another that getting rid of Nick Clegg is not an option. Frankly, I agree. Clegg is only a figurehead of all that is currently wrong with the LibDem Parliamentary party that has enabled the worst sort of Tory ideology and an ever-increasing separation of wealth between the rich and the rest of us. Whatever good LibDem grass-roots want to tout to the the electorate is far outweighed by the ultra-right-wing policies your MPs have blithely approved. Please do not try to convince that this lame homoeopathic attempt at tempering rabid Tory behaviour has been anything but an unmitigated disaster, as it will only lead to more people abandoning your cause.

    2. I can understand the frustration that many of t he folk on LibDemVoice are expressing about Lord Oakeshott. He does seem to be a divisive character. However, it’s now clear that LibDems are split amongst 2 camps. Camp A: the strategy is correct, it’s just the messages and their delivery that need refining. Camp B: Clegg must go for there to be any hope of diminishing the oncoming electoral onslaught. My advice is that both are too narrow-minded and that they have a common problem: your party is no longer deemed to be liberal. Your liberal brand wasn’t damaged because you went into govt, it’s because your MPs took your founding principles and torched them to light the path for all manner of ill-liberal policies. That’s why those, who once proudly declared their support for the LibDems and their liberal ethos, are leaving in droves. People won’t come back to the LibDems until they see the grass-roots making real progress in getting their party back from the really over-enthusiastic Orange-bookers (pls note adjective use as not all are bad) have been driven back into the shadows.

    3. Oakeshott’s polling was done months before last weeks elections and predicted a LibDem meltdown. Last week without any prompting from Oakeshott there was a LibDem meltdown. Looking back at all the LibDem electoral tests since the 2010 election, the majority of them haven’t played out well. Faced with that kind of empiric evidence one wonders about your leadership’s keep calm and carry on approach.

    The country needs the old decent LibDems back – the once-proud party of the alternative vote.

  • John Roffey. Revived SDP. That’s the best laugh I’ve had all day.

  • Jimble. We e never been the party of the Alternative Vote.

  • David Allen 28th May '14 - 3:05pm

    This reminds me of James Purnell, another politician who like Oakeshott, has clearly been driven to distraction by his party’s failure to recognise its need to change. Purnell, you will recall, dramatically resigned with the aim of persuading David Miliband to do likewise and thus to oust Gordon Brown. It was the right thing for Labour to do, and David Miliband would probably be running the country now if he had had the courage to seize the moment. But he didn’t.

    Clegg, like Brown, has clung to leadership for years. Clegg, like Brown, has relied on inertia, risk aversion and misplaced loyalty to keep his post. Oakeshott tried desperate tactics to bring his party to its senses. His big mistake was to bring Cable into it, but otherwise his instincts were sound. The broader lesson is that this party can recover its self-respect and its position with new leadership, and we still have the capacity to achieve that.

  • John Roffey 28th May '14 - 3:07pm

    @ Tabman

    ‘Revived SDP. That’s the best laugh I’ve had all day.’

    Could you expand. I think there is an acceptance that the place where the Party is today is far from its traditional left of centre positioning. The range is too great to be accommodated by a single party. A split might be the only solution.

  • John Roffey. I’m all for a realignment in British politics and I know I.have more in common.with the liberals in the other parties than some.on the left of.mine, but if you think.the lib dem brand is damaged the sdp brand is far worse.

  • @ Helen Tedcastle 28th May ’14 – 1:21pm

    Interesting points, some of which I actually do agree with. What to your mind should the leadership, bar Nick’s resignation – that simply isn’t going to happen at this stage.

  • Jimble. You seem to conflate “Liberal” with “left wing”. It’s s common mistake, usually made by the

    Labour party.

  • Sarah Ludford 28th May '14 - 3:23pm

    Some rewriting of history going on. Nick Clegg is variously accused of failing to get House of Lords and electoral reform, including personal voting for Euro-candidates (rather than ‘just some faceless party list candidates’ like me). We tried very very hard in 1998 to get ‘open’ Euro-lists – I voted repeatedly in the Lords in favour – but Labour just would not budge. And did Tory opposition and Labour hyprocrisy really have nothing to do with the failures on Lords reform and the AV referendum?

  • Sad to see that it now appears that anyone with a view different to the leader is forced out of the Lib Dems. Time to drop the liberal tag I think.

    The problem continues to be those working for the party and want to continue in their crazy strategy of more of the same. The party has lost what once made it popular: being honest, being trustworthy, and being open to change.

  • John Roffey 28th May '14 - 3:32pm

    @ Tabman

    Surely the SDP never had time to damage its image. My suggestion was made because it might not be possible for VC to stay if he is also branded as ‘plotting against the leader’.

    A revival of the SDP, in the current circumstances, would be one of his and LO’s few options – if they wished to stay in politics – and the left is rather sparsely populated with political parties at the moment!

  • David Allen 28th May '14 - 3:54pm

    The SDP (I was a member) advocated multilateral disarmament – in the years before Gorbachev. The SDP stood against an anti-Europe Labour Party. The SDP said privatisation would be an irrelevant distraction. The SDP favoured an incomes policy, which might indeed have been less bad than the wholesale disempowerment of the employed which Thatcher presided over, but which just seems totally outdated now.

    Whatever one makes of SDP policies, they were for a past generation. Perhaps we need a new party now. But we don’t need a new SDP.

  • Tabman – “Jimble. You seem to conflate “Liberal” with “left wing”. It’s s common mistake, usually made by the Labour party.”

    No, I don’t believe that I am conflating one with the other. However, you’re welcome to address my points and tell me why I am.

  • Mike Barnes 28th May '14 - 4:10pm

    Excellent stuff, you’ve shot the messenger for delivering the wrong message.

    Now all you need to do is shoot the electorate who keep voting the wrong way and not listening to you…

  • Dave Orbison 28th May '14 - 4:12pm

    From the comments above, once more it’s a case of shot the messenger. After a series of disastrous polls the remainder of the Party seem fixated on floating ideas as to what to do next and who should do what without first accurately diagnosing what has gone wrong. Either a Nick Clegg says, things will improve as the economy improves hence justifying your coalition strategy or, irrespective of any economic improvement the LibDems will be wiped out because many, many past LibDem voters feel betrayed irrespective of any economic considerations. It is one or the other.

    As someone who had the misfortune to be taken in by the promises of the LibDems and Nick Clegg I can assure you that no amount of improvement in the economy will persuade me to vote LibDem again. Never. It is irrelevant whether the LibDems lose 20, 30 35 or what ever seats. Who cares? The central point of Lord Oakeshott’s criticism is that the LibDems are seen by many to have ‘sold out’, to have no principles or objective other than saving the careers of as many as MP’s as possible. This is delusional. I believe that The LibDems will be hammered at the next GE no matter what they do. If they focus now on adopting a damage-limitation to get them through to the next GE, they will have missed the point entirely.

    To restore credibility they need to leave the Coalition, ditch Nick Clegg, apologise for the betrayals of policy rather than make excuses and redefine themselves as a campaigning party with a real soul and conviction. the GE2015 is lost – the question for the LibDems is do they actually have a future? At the current rate the stark answer is provided by the polls. I wish the LibDems succeed in turning things round and offer more choice than a two party system but only if that is a real and sincere choice. To those that remain, by all means rubbish my opinions, close your eyes and ears to what is happening. I grew up close to Liverpool where not so long ago they had 48 councillors – now just 3. Or are the voters there just to stupid in your opinion to have a valid view of the current LibDems. The LibDems, once the repository, for the protest vote, are losing out to UKIP and the Greens. Increasingly seen as irrelevant and untrustworthy, navel gazing debates as to the future of Nick Clegg are so wide of the mark- that would be just one small step

  • What an unpleasant first few posts. On top of the way Cable viciously turned to attack one of his own supporters. And Clegg’s equally vicious public attacks. I think its an extremely shabby treatment of someone who it would appear only had what he thought were the best interests of the party at heart. Small wonder he has left.

  • Jimble. The tone of your post suggests that any alternative to monolithic state provision is “rabidly right wing”. I’m instinctively uncomfortable with this and believe that producer interests both state and private need to be challenged and broken up. That, to me, is what being liberal is about, together with trusting people to make their own decisions rather than telling them what’s best for them.

  • John Roffey. I have just two words for you: David Owen.

  • John Roffey 28th May '14 - 4:28pm

    @ David Allen

    I think the SDP would be entitled to a new manifesto after some 30 years

    @Tabman – Nick Clegg [David Owen has never showed any signs of wanting to return to politics]

    I don’t know if a different party name would be better than SDP – but a split must be on the cards if the differences between right and left cannot be honestly resolved.

  • Tabman “Jimble. The tone of your post suggests that any alternative to monolithic state provision is “rabidly right wing”….

    Er no, you’ve decided that’s what I mean. Let me make it simpler for you:

    1. Do you think the electorate are angry with Nick Clegg, angry with the party and the policies it’s voted through, both or none – in which case, please elucidate as to why the LibDem voter turnout is consistently getting worse.

    2. Is all well in the LibDem camp or is there a battle between carry on as normal vs sack the leader? Will doing either rescue the LibDem vote?

    3. What has been the LibDem’s electoral record since 2010 , what does it indicate and what do they need to do about it?

  • @DavidD 28th May ’14 – 3:28pm

    “Sad to see that it now appears that anyone with a view different to the leader is forced out of the Lib Dems. Time to drop the liberal tag I think”.

    He wasn’t forced, he did something stupid that even Vince turned against once he had made the polling public and then left in a way to inflict the most amount of damage as possible,

  • Jimble. The LDs have become a middle class left wing party without the working class and the unions whose members obtain most of their income from the public sector and/or NGOS/QUANGOS. The days when the Liberals were Non-Conformist craftsmen who believe in liberty, living modestly within their means, marriage, a small competent transparent government free of patronage, cronyism and corruption are long gone: however if we returned to these beliefs we could probably obtain a large number of votes.

    The conceit of left wing white collar middle class metropolitan public sector/NGO/QUANGO employees who believe they are morally and intellectually superior of those people with whom they disagree and have a right to tell people what to think, feel, say and do; is probably why so many voted for UKIP. Just because one works for an organisation which does not make a profit does not make one morally superior to one who does! Someone who calls themselves a human rights activist is not morally superior to a plumber: in fact they are useless whereas the latter is useful.

  • So much of the comment in this thread (and many others in LDV) is from Labour supporters (it seems a fair assumption to describe Jimble for example in this way) who bewail the Lib Dems for not being a cleaned -up version of the Labour Party and who certainly do not want the current coalition to succeed in any way. For those of us who want the coalition to have a large measure of success, some of whom have criticisms to make of Nick Clegg, the time to seek a fresh leader is certainly not now. The period of coalition with the Conservatives with all its good and bad points ( I for one consider the good as outweighing the bad) belongs to and will always be associated with Nick Clegg’s leadership. He must and we must see this through and then consider the situation after the next election in all its facets. Anyone who thinks we can sack the Deputy Prime Minister and carry on with the coalition as if nothing had happened is in cloud cuckoo land and to me it is now absolutely essential that for the first time in recorded British history a peacetime coalition is proved to be a viable way of governing this country for a full term. During the next year, even if the coalition survives, there is no way any new Lib Dem leader could achieve meaningful change in government policy in a Lib Dem direction. The electorate would regard our attempting to curry favour by chucking Clegg overboard very negatively and would not reward us at the ballot box in any way.

  • davidjfox28th May ’14 – 1:16pm……..Thank goodness that Oakeshot has gone at last. He has behaved like a petulant schoolboy for years, mainly interested in getting himself on TV. He will have lost us far more votes than he ever gained! Perhaps we could present him with a plaque in which the definition of loyalty is engraved…..

    If losing far more votes than one gains is a reason for resigning then.????…As for loyalty? His first loyalty should be to the members, both candidates and footsoldiers, who have seen their efforts, in election after election, come to naught….The chorus of ‘thank goodness he’s gone’, to a man who has served the party well for years and believed he was acting in the party’s best interests is shameful…

    It looks like Clegg will remain leader However, I cannot believe that anyone, since the ‘Grand old Duke of York’, has led his troops so badly….

  • Denis – “So much of the comment in this thread (and many others in LDV) is from Labour supporters (it seems a fair assumption to describe Jimble for example in this way) who bewail the Lib Dems for not being a cleaned -up version of the Labour Party and who certainly do not want the current coalition to succeed in any way. ”

    At the last election I was closer to voting LibDem as they were more closely aligned to my political views. However, where I live was a 2 horse contest between Labour and the Tories. Will I be voting Labour again – yes in all likelhood, but this time without any regrets about not being able to vote LibDem, because the LibDem party as I once knew it doesn’t seem to exist. I have a number of friends who did vote LibDem last time and they’re nowhere near as polite and calm when it come to expressing their feelings about the party.

    As for my not wanting the coalition to succeed – what do you base that upon? I have never said a coalition was the wrong thing to do, in fact, I believe it was needed in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 election. Also, “a peacetime coalition”? I, and I suspect many others, don’t care a whit about it being during peacetime or not – the experience has not been a good one. That’s what matters.

    Finally, I don’t care whether you get rid of Nick Clegg or not. It really doesn’t matter to me. I don’t give my vote to a leader of any party. I cast my vote for the party most closely aligned to the things I believe and trust in.

    Rather than cast aspersions about people you believe not to be as LibDem as you, might it not be better to address the points raised and work out how your going to convince them to give you their vote. Perhaps you’d like to start with me and address my points as I have yours?

    Ta.

  • I’ve had a very busy day at the office today and so I’ve only been partially aware of today’s breaking news. Whilst I’m not a fan of Lord Oakeshott I have to agree with his assessment of Nick Clegg’s current position. Did anyone else see the interview with Seth Thevoz on BBC News today, too? I can’t see how Nick Clegg can redeem himself to the Electorate. I’m afraid the public will quickly consign Nick Clegg to the same bottom drawer as other (even less popular) party leaders (you know who they are).

    For me, questions about Nick Clegg’s tenure as Leader began with his lacklustre performance in debates with Nigel Farage. I was horrified that he couldn’t connect with the audience on the issues at the centre of the debate and gave no clear statement about how the LibDem Party would address them. On his specialist subject (the EU) Nick preached to the choir and seemed to dismiss any suggestion that the ship might be headed for an iceberg.

    The LibDem Party needs to act quickly, select a new Leader and regain public confidence to avoid further losses.

  • Denis,
    I agree to an extent. There are a lot of comments that condemn the entire party and turn into rants about betrayal. Personally, I did not think the coalition was going to work out well for the Lib Dems. And it’s pretty safe to say it hasn’t. I don’t think this is because the Lib Dems betrayed the electorate. Junior partners in this kind of arrangement can only do so much. I do think tactical mistakes were made and that some of those come down to poor leadership.
    My view is that Nick Clegg is plainly a liability

  • Julian Critchley 28th May '14 - 8:01pm

    So basically, Clegg and his Orange Book policies have lost most of the Party’s voters, most of its councillors, all but one of its MEPs, and next year, all but a tiny handful of its MPs. He claims that doing more of the same will somehow save the day, with no evidence at all.

    Oakeshott isn’t responsible for losing any of those voters, MEPs or councillors. He argues, though, that given the utter disaster which has befallen the party since its adoption of the Orange Book, the rational thing to do would be to do adopt a different platform, with a leader less clearly identified with right-wing policies. He commissioned a survey which provides evidence to back up his claims.

    Yet it’s Oakeshott who has to go. Not because he’s responsible for the catastrophic loss of support (Clegg and the Orange Bookers are). Not because his argument is wrong (the voters have spoken). Not because he has no evidence for his claims (he does, whereas Clegg doesn’t). He has to go because Clegg and his echo chamber of Orange Book supporters left in this Titanic of a party think that the way he gathered evidence and offered a different view was a bit underhand.

    This is becoming less a political party, and more some sort of political suicide cult.

  • Denis “So much of the comment in this thread (and many others in LDV) is from Labour supporters”

    How do you know which posters are Labour supporters. Very few members have the logo next to their names even though they have been members for decades.

  • Denis “I for one consider the good as outweighing the bad”

    Sadly most of the voting public disagrees with you.

  • Julian Critchley. So all those people running small businesses and are self employed should not vote LDs ? The collapse of the Liberals in the 1920s was largely due to the loss of manufacturers and those running small businesses.

  • John Roffey 28th May '14 - 8:41pm

    ‘This is becoming less a political party, and more some sort of political suicide cult.’

    Well there is no doubt that Clegg does continually focus on his heroic martyrdom [in sacrificing so many of his supporters] – so it would fit the general genre.

  • Sarah Ludford ” And did Tory opposition and Labour hyprocrisy really have nothing to do with the failures on Lords reform and the AV referendum?”

    It’s just the same old politics. No sign of ‘a new kind of politics at all, anywhere.

  • Eddie Sammon 28th May '14 - 9:09pm

    Hi Jenny, sorry if I sounded intimidating, I went into a mini depression after my comment because I don’t like to sound intimidating, especially not to women. I suppose it is a fine line between expression and intimidation. I am also fully aware that anger is a result of my own thinking, which I reflect on after emotions get high.

    I brought up the topic because I wanted to knock him off from his moral high-ground and that was the first thing I could think of, from my perspective anyway. Best wishes.

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th May '14 - 9:14pm

    @Vern “Nick has been a busted flush ever since the student fees fiasco. The party’s fortunes can be traced back to that moment. That was when all trust was lost. Fellow members at the time hung on in the hope that the two major coalition policies, namely changing the voting system and reforming the House of Lords, would win back lost ground. Clegg’s fundamental failure to oversee these into law signalled the moment when the bulk of the remaining membership and activist base I know personally walked away. You simply can not campaign as a centre-left party and adopt centre-right policies when in government. The anger felt by the electorate whose votes were used to prop up a reprehensible Tory Party is obvious. They have, we all have, been conned. ”

    Agree but don’t think it was only Nick Clegg whose fate was sealed by that dreadful decision. The Tories must have partied for a month on the strength of that. If only we had a potential leader who stuck by his pledge … Hold on a minute, what’s the name of that chap who represents Westmoreland and Lonsdale?

  • Eddie Sammon 28th May '14 - 9:25pm

    By the way, media reports that Cable has been dragged into this should be squashed. He hasn’t really done anything wrong and is a good minister.

  • Charlie. Interesting points. I don’t think the liberals were ever a party OF the working class; prior to the extension of the franchise the property qualification excluded them, and since they’ve always vote either Labour or conservative, and now UKIP, with no.inclination to support us. The future has to lie in broadening our appeal to.all sections of the middle class.

  • Sorry to see Lord Oakshott go. One of the people trying to get the Lib Dems back to being a radical party rather than a party of centrist mulch. He’s been treated very shabbily. Will someone else have the nerve to hand Clegg a bottle of whisky and a revolver and ask him to do the decent thing?

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th May '14 - 12:04am

    Martin

    For me, questions about Nick Clegg’s tenure as Leader began with his lacklustre performance in debates with Nigel Farage. I was horrified that he couldn’t connect with the audience on the issues at the centre of the debate and gave no clear statement about how the LibDem Party would address them

    Nick Clegg struck me as a poor performer from the start. During the leadership election I, more than anyone else, used Liberal Democrat Voice to urge members NOT to vote for him. He always struck me as superficial, and lacking the background of coming up from the ranks in the party that would be needed for a really successful leader. As I said at the time, he seemed to me like a public schoolboy who had been picked to play the part of “Liberal Democrat leader” in the school’s mock election. Sure, he has diligently read up what a Liberal Democrat leader should do, but not realised that most of what he’s read up is from media sources who always get our party wrong, and always view it in these Westminster bubble terms which is not really where our party’s strength is (or was).

    Yes, the coalition was always going to be difficult for the party. However, all I’m reading from a lot of attackers outside is suppositions that somehow the Liberal Democrats with their 57 MPs could have made all 300+ Conservative MPs jump to the Liberal Democrat tune, and it was a “betrayal” that the ensuing government was not 100% Liberal Democrat in policy. That is nonsense – what about the betrayal the Tories would feel? Go into Tory discussion sites and you find a very different view of the coalition – they seem to think the Liberal Democrats are having an influence far above their numbers. On balance, though the result is not very nice at all for those of us on the left of the party, I think it is about what could be expected.

    The problem all along to me is the way the leadership has played the coalition has made all the inevitable problems it was going to bring to us worse. It is like Clegg looked at the problems of being a junior partner in a coalition, how it would build a misunderstanding that our opponents would build on, especially in this country where we are not used to coalitions and thought “Ah, how can I make this worse? What can I do to bolster support for these unfair attacks we are going to get? How can I make sure the Liberal Democrats come across as just the party our opponents will paint us as?”.

    I am sorry that it appears impossible to have a rational discussion on who is the best person to lead the party and whether we should make changes. To me, attempts to stifle discussion on this in the party are like attempts to stifle discussion on who would make the best leader of the country in politics generally on the grounds that this is damaging to the country and we must instead all rally round the leader we have. Well, sorry, if we as a party can’t have discussions on whether our current leader is the best one, can’t have campaigns calling for a change, can’t have members organising their own opinion polls to see how a change wold go down in the electorate, we had better take the word “Democrat” out of our party’s name.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 29th May '14 - 12:22am

    @ Matthew,

    Well… Yes, I guess that having Chris Huhne as our leader might have been a safer option… That was, I recall, the choice on offer.

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th May '14 - 12:44am

    @Mark

    Yes, but there is one big factor you have ignored here. The big backing that Clegg got from the media, mostly the right-wing press, but also the liberal elitist Guardian, served to put off other potential contenders. I think if there had been more scepticism about Clegg when he was first being pushed as “obviously the next leader” we might have had other choices coming forward. Huhne shares many of the problems that Clegg has, I wasn’t happy with him either. We really do need a leader who has “come up through the ranks”. It is a great shame that there was no-one like that on offer last time round.

  • Tabman. The largest growth in employment will be self-employment. The Liberal Party was a mixture of Whig Lords and Non- Conformist craftsmen who distrusted bloated, incompetent, corrupt and crony government and had a passion for liberty. I would suggest the attitudes of many 18 C to 1920 s Whigs and Liberals would appeal to a broad mass of people. Historically, the British have preferred an ounce of practice to a pound of theory. Empiricism is about obtaining and examining data ;when people see data being concealed for PC reasons , then they are angry.people still say ” I did not fight the war for this!”. Examples would be Saville, Cyril Smith, Islington Boys homes and Pakistani Men grooming large white working class girls in some northern towns.

    People of all classes fought for democracy and government free of incompetence, corruption and cronyism. Much white collar middle class employment, especially in above average salary positions in government, state sector , NGOs, charities , BBC, etc, etc is cronyism and a major reason why so many vote for UKIP. As Sutherland of the Observer said” G Brown’s economic policy was basically to increase public sector in the regions outside of London”. The collapse of the Co-op Bank is due to cronyism- appointing people for reasons other than competence..

    Government off the people, for the people and by the people: not just left wing middle class white collar arts graduates employed in the public sector in clerical and managerial roles. If the left wing middle class so enjoy the public sector why cannot they be street sweepers or tradesmen and do something useful? There are often long waits for repairs to council homes.

  • “By the way, media reports that Cable has been dragged into this should be squashed.”

    What do you mean by that? Oakeshott says Cable knew about the polls – including the one in Clegg’s constituency – but Cable says he didn’t. It’s one man’s word against another’s. “These reports should be squashed” seems a very strange comment to make.

  • Glad that we are shot of Matthew Oakeshott – one of the least effective candidates ever to contest the Cambridge seat, who to my knowledge was never elected to public office, but who has specialised in telling those who have been elected how to run things. And his tone has always been snide and sneering. Better off without him.

  • @ Matthew H

    “he seemed to me like a public schoolboy who had been picked to play the part of “Liberal Democrat leader” in the school’s mock election.”

    Bravo, one of the most insightful comments I have read on this site. You have exactly summed him up, he is shallow, he lacks authenticity, the electorate (after an inexplicable to me) period of “mania” saw, see right through that.

    To what he is in essence, an ambitious politician who has no fixed principles, no convictions, and will just do what it takes to achieve personal power, fame and prestige. He believes in nothing except himself and will tell any lie to protect his position, it is all about him.

    The irony is that that is alien to Liberal Democracy. It always used to be that people of principle chose your party out of principle in the full realisation that it would probably not lead to high office. The Tories and Labour were the party of the unprincipled careerists.

  • Peter Watson 29th May '14 - 12:23pm

    @Simon Boyd “Glad that we are shot of Matthew Oakeshott”
    .. who, even at a time when many voters and supporters have abandoned the Lib Dems, was prepared to invest tens of thousands of pounds of his own money in doing what he thought, rightly or wrongly, was in the best interests of the party.

  • Following on from my last comment, something else occurred to me.

    Farage was the very worst antagonist he could have picked for those seminal debates. Like Clegg he is a Public Schoolboy, and it may well be that after this current stage of mania he will suffer the same fate as Clegg, and plummet in public esteem. But apart from that they couldn’t be more distinct.

    Clegg is the better educated, more intelligent I would argue, and infinitely more experienced in government. But Farage was almost designed to highlight Clegg’s flaws. Like him or not, and few on here have a positive view obviously, he self evidently has convictions. And says it how he thinks it is. That earns grudging respect if not regard.

    The two in immediate contradistinction, in debate, proved fatal to Clegg.

  • Peter Watson 29th May '14 - 1:50pm

    @simon “The two in immediate contradistinction, in debate, proved fatal to Clegg.”
    I’m not convinced that the debates had much effect on the results for the party. Being overtly “the party of IN” provides a good excuse for terrible electoral performance, allowing responsibility to be shifted away from Clegg and the blame to be put on a principle that the membership broadly supports, though I don’t know if it was embraced for such a cynical reason.
    Before the debates I was worried that such a prominent association with Clegg might damage the pro-European cause, so in that sense I am relieved that the debates might have had little impact.

  • Matthew Huntbach 30th May '14 - 7:39am

    simon

    Farage was the very worst antagonist he could have picked for those seminal debates. Like Clegg he is a Public Schoolboy, and it may well be that after this current stage of mania he will suffer the same fate as Clegg, and plummet in public esteem. But apart from that they couldn’t be more distinct.

    Clegg not only let it be pushed into a social conservatives v. social liberals debate, he pushed it that way. Which was bound to be fatal. If he had any sense and if those who were advising him had any sense (I am told the person who I think under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should replace Clegg as leader played the part of Farage in the mock debates, similar surname in first three letters), they would have warned him not to do that. It’s playing to Farage’s suit.

    We ignore at our peril the power of nostalgia in times of uncertainty, the wish to get back to a time when people felt more free because life felt more certain, they knew how things worked, they could plan ahead because tomorrow would be much like today. A lot of it is golden age nonsense, or just what when we get older we are bound to think about when we we younger, but some of it is quite justified – many people HAVE suffered from the big growth in inequality, and other issues which mean life for them is not as good as it was years ago or as it was for their parents. For example, my parents may have been poor, but they were allocated a council house which gave them the freedom to bring up a family, the same people today would never be given that freedom in that way.

    Farage plays on that because there’s a gap in the market for a true Conservative Party, that is, one whose main idea is to stop change and to try and push it back. The party that goes under that name has long abandoned that sort of thinking, and any traces of it that are left always have second place to free market mania, which is a big anti-conservative force, and to defence of the super-wealthy, who these days have taken over the notion of “progress” and labelled it as theirs, a tactic the socialists used in the past.

    But though Farage has managed to build up this social conservative image, aided and abetted not just by his supporters in the press but also by those who think they are opposing him, he has NOTHING to offer those who want that sort of thing. Pulling out of the EU will NOT turn the clock back, it will not reverse all the social destruction caused by Thatcher and all subsequent governments which have continued her policies. Farage throws out a few random small-c conservative suggestions from time to time, but nothing substantial, and underneath he’s a deeper Thatcherite than all the other political leaders anyway. UKIP’s policies, such as they have any at all, would worsen the very things that cause people to vote UKIP. Clegg should have challenged this, but he couldn’t because he’s far too right-wing economically himself.

    Clegg should have exposed the contradiction in the Farage image, but instead he let them be and helped build them up further. To me, Farage is so hollow that it really ought not to be too difficult to knock him down. Was he challenged on what his MEPs are doing? If the EU is the terrible dominating force they claim, are those MEPs out there working hard at all this EU regulation they claim is being churned out, scrutinising it, exposing it, calling for it to be cut back? If the EU is all they claim it is, they have a BIG job to do. So how are they getting on doing it? Was it really not possible to turn the debate that way?

    It required some political sense to see why Farage is getting the support he is getting, and to work out how best to challenge it in a way that would open the eyes of his supporters rather than just confirm their prejudices. But Clegg just showed no such sense. Here again is the point – the issue is not just the coalition, it’s everything else about Clegg. He just lacks competency in everything he does, unless what he really wants to do is destroy the Liberal Democrats. If that’s his real aim, I salute him – he’s doing the best job anyone could have done at that.

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