Building a progressive alliance on the basis of the past, and now looking to the future

Clive Lewis, the Labour MP giving the Beveridge lecture to Liberal Democrats last week, admitted that some of his party believe that ‘labourism’ is the only progressive future. Certainly Lib Dems have to accept that Socialists who believe that Liberals will always defend capitalism against the workers will never accept us as a progressive party, and will consider any alliance as a mere tactical ploy. In a mirror image, there are plenty of Liberals who believe that Labour cannot shake off its Far-Left inheritance and will always aim for state control and management, with the soaking of the rich to enforce greater equality.

Yet if a majority of both our parties can focus on policies of social justice, full employment and moderate redistribution within the new challenge of climate change, we can surely begin to work together in more ways than is already happening in the All-Party Parliamentary Groups.

There is, as Clive Lewis said, a “shared tradition of the social liberal and the socialist”, based on “our common values embedded in our collective institutions… (and) our principled commitment to defend the human rights of all.”

For Liberal Democrats, the Thornhill General Election review instructed us that “we must reconnect with the electorate as a whole. We must give a fresh distinctive vision of a liberal Britain in the 21st century with policies that resonate with – and are relevant to – ordinary people.” Indeed, it must be the first requirement for both parties, to discover and strive to meet the needs of the electorate, among which measures of social justice and provision of jobs with fair pay will surely rank high.

In 1906-16 the Liberal Party was the major party reforming societal institutions to increase social justice, with contributory insurance for workers and the first old-age pensions.

In 1946 -51 it was the Labour Party who led – by following the Liberal thinking provided by the Report William Beveridge wrote during the Second World War. The settlement which addressed the major social evils identified by Beveridge was known as the social contract, about which the UN Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, wrote in his Statement of November 2018, “Key elements of the post-war Beveridge social contract are being overturned.” He was referring to the austerity programme followed by Governments in the last ten years, and the fall into poverty of more than 14 million people in this country.

Liberal Democrats could now lead the way for progressives in the Labour Party by demanding that the social contract be renewed, following both the mood of the country for beneficial change and the absolute need that the modern ills of today which are worsening through the health crisis be tackled now.

The modern social contract to deal with the equivalents of the five giant evils Beveridge demanded be tackled must focus on the relief of poverty, better health and social care, better education and skills training, homes for all, and a return to full employment. This focus for action, campaigning to meet the real needs of our country today, is one on which both Liberals and Socialists can surely agree.

* Michael Berwick-Gooding is a Liberal Democrat member in Basingstoke and has held various party positions at local, regional and English Party level. Katharine Pindar is a long-standing member of the Lib Dems and an activist in the West Cumbrian constituency of Copeland and Workington.

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  • Peter Martin 7th Aug '20 - 4:37pm

    ‘labourism’ ???

    ‘Socialism’, or ‘The Labour Movement’, ‘The labour Party’ or maybe just ‘the Party’. These are the terms used by Labour supporters and members.

    You’d normally only hear ‘labourism’ from our political opponents.

  • I guess that the best way of electing Labour is to vote for the party. Those who vote Lib Dem have rejected Labour. A policy that effectively means vote Lib Dem, get Labour may not be exactly what supporters here are looking for.

    In pacts, partnerships and coalitions, the larger party normally dominates, though the smaller party has a degree of influence. However there is a tendency for the smaller party to be seen to have adopted all the negative characteristics of the larger one.

    Now, where have I seen that before?

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Aug '20 - 5:34pm

    Celebrate diversity, Peter! I wrote down the expression as I heard Clive Lewis use it during his lecture. Perhaps he is a different kind of Labour MP from those you are most familiar with, just as you yourself appear to be a different kind of Socialist from many others, constantly engaging as you do with these Liberal Democrat discussions, to what end we cannot fathom. I hope in this case you will engage with the argument of the article – but perhaps you may be alarmed by our suggestion that Liberal Democrats can take a lead over Labour in showing a progressive way forward now, and are trying diversionary tactics. If so they will not be successful, but successive attempts might just awaken the slight suspicion that you particularly enjoy seeing your own name often repeated in LDV threads.

  • Peter Martin,

    We got the term “Labourism” from Clive Lewis. If you go 9 minutes in ( you should hear him say, “Because if I am prepared to challenge the tribalism known as ‘Labourism’ in my own party (a term I will come back to later on)” … Which he does but I didn’t note where.

  • Katharine Pindar & Michael BG: Further to your replies to Peter Martin, I also clearly recall that Clive Lewis did indeed use the term “Labourism”. He referred to this very much in the sense of a tribal belief, particularly amongst many of his own colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party, that the collective institutions of the Labour Movement are the primary or sole legitimate agents of progressive change – which (quite correctly in my opinion) he contrasted with the more open, pluralist and inclusive culture which is shared by all genuine “progressives” who are to be found amongst supporters of the various non-Conservative U.K. political parties. Sadly, however, Clive’s enlightened approach is probably not typical of many of the Labour activists that some Lib Dem local parties have the misfortune to encounter in their regular campaigning!

  • About Keir Starmer 14 April 2020:
    “His liberal views may not in analysis be fully acceptable to us”. (Source: LDV).

    Have you changed your mind?

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Aug '20 - 10:09pm

    Thank you for your support and useful further explanation of Clive Lewis’s use of the term ‘labourism’ , which was my understanding of it also, Sean. We will hope his enlightened views will find further favour among his colleagues. It is surely in the best interests of progressively-minded politicians to consider how we can all work together, though Clive’s independence of mind will no doubt have brought down criticism of him from some sections of his party.

    Peter, I had not seen your first post when I replied to Peter Martin. so referred to him only by the first name you share with him. I think your views expressed here are rather more absolute than seems warranted. For instance, a smaller party which is united and firm in its intents may perhaps have more influence in certain actions than a larger disunited one. As for your reference to Keir Starmer, I think you will have to tell us where and when the quote occurs.

  • Tristan Ward 7th Aug '20 - 10:26pm

    The original article has got it in one. Liberals are essentially capitalists. The Labour Party believes (incorrectly in my view) that the interests of “the workers” (who are they in this day and age?) are not best served by capitalism.

    Captiam is not “good” as such but it is at least improveable and has some notable successes to its credit as well as failures. I don’t know of any workable alternative. Does anyone else?

  • Peter,

    You don’t say who wrote what was written on the LDV website on 14th April and you don’t provide a link so we can see the context.

    Tristan Ward,

    In Clause iv of the Labour Party Rule Book the Labour Party is described as a ‘democratic socialist party’. And they say they want ‘a dynamic economy’, they support ‘the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition’ and want a ‘thriving private sector’, so they are also capitalists.

  • Peter Martin 8th Aug '20 - 3:21am

    @ Michael BG

    The Clause 4 you are referring to is a relatively recent Blairite introduction. It isn’t quite what the majority of the party would like.

  • Peter Martin 8th Aug '20 - 3:58am

    “Liberals are essentially capitalists” ??

    Some are. Some aren’t. I’m sure there are plenty of Lib Dem voters, without two halfpennies to rub together, who would like to be, but simply don’t have the necessary ££ to qualify.

    No Labour government has ever wanted to nationalise the whole of the economy. Equally no Tory government has wanted to privatise everything. We’ve all got our opinions on where the line should be drawn that doesn’t mean that we necessarily should be in different parties.

    It is quite possible to have co-operation but this really has nothing to do with “Labourism,” whatever that might mean. Whatever is suggested has to make some sort of sense. I can’t see the point of agreeing an electoral pact with the Lib Dems unless Lib Dem voters have Labour as their overwhelming second choice.

    I used to think they did but I’ve changed my mind on that. What’s the point of the Lib Dems standing aside in Tory/Labour marginals if most Lib Dem voters are then going to switch to the Tories?

  • Doug Chisholm 8th Aug '20 - 7:39am

    Labour will never support electoral reform leading to reinforced political diversity. Of course some moderates will always make sincere positive noises. They are outliers not the leadership.

    Labour have never supported reform when they were in government and didn’t exactly put their weight behind the AV referendum.

    When friends ask me why I vote libdem I sometimes say because I don’t like what the tories do and I don’t like what labour doesn’t do.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Aug '20 - 10:18am

    The Labour party has more reason now to support reform of the voting system than before, Doug and Martin – their repeated failure to gain a majority in successive elections. Granted, electoral reform would not automatically be a route to power for them, but Clive Lewis said in his lecture that he believed having PR would be transformative. And in the crisis of democracy he described, in which he said power belonged to the unaccountable, that transformative change was needed.

    I think, though, Martin, our party is far from thinking in terms of coalition with Labour; electoral pacts later, and agreement on campaigns now, are surely what we will be contemplating.

    Doug, I would suggest there are positive reasons to tell your friends about voting Lib Dem – obviously our values and intentions as set out in our Preamble, and in many progressive policies, such as land value taxation and taxing wealth as well as income. I am hopeful we can add a new one, a commitment to social justice through acceptance of the need for a new national social contract. And in that commitment we can surely work with Labour, especially in measures to lift people out of poverty, which should begin with higher rates of welfare provision. Personally I would like both our parties to commit to the abolition of the need for food banks within a very few years.

  • The trouble with party politics is its tribalism. It’s still there from some folk on LDV.

    However, sensible intelligent people know it’s possible to have friendships across the aisle. I well remember a courteous old retired Tory Major encouraging me on as a very young Councillor when I was giving the (‘Independent’ but Tory) Leader of the Council what he called ‘a bit of stick’.

    Many years later I worked closely with both the Tories and the SNP when I was a Convenor of Social Work – without sacrificing any of my radical principles. I went looking for support not a fight.

    But….. facts are facts one of which is that Labour co-operated with the introduction of PR in the Scottish Parliament and Scottish local elections.

    In January this year, the Electoral Reform Society reported Keir Starmer’s backing of electoral reform put democracy at the heart of Labour’s leadership contest. “Labour Party Leadership front runner Sir Keir Starmer this morning announced his support for a constitutional convention and electoral reform to repair Britain’s broken democratic system. Speaking at an event this morning in central London, Starmer declared his support for a constitutional convention and the need for a fairer, proportional voting system”.

    At 6% the Lib Dems have very few levers to pull.

  • David Evans 8th Aug '20 - 11:07am

    Katharine, When you say ‘The Labour party has more reason now to support reform of the voting system than before’ you are missing one important point. Most of the Labour party have no desire to support reform. There only interest in any working arrangement is that Lib Dems work for them, in no way does it involve Labour working for us anywhere – 2019 was just another example of it.

    Until Lib Dems realise that politics is a dog eat dog game, and we have fallen so far we are now the runt of the litter, dreams of a progressive alliance will not save us. We have to turn our back on the self inflicted disasters that led us here, stop pretending there are any short cuts to recovery (the one and only possible hope for that was squandered in 2019) and go back to what made Lib Dems successful in the 80s , 90s and early 2000s – hard work, knocking on doors and showing our local communities that we are relevant to them and what they think is important.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Aug '20 - 11:36am

    I don’t disagree much with what you say here, David Evans, but we should offer more to the voters than door knocking – a party commitment to a fairer Britain, in which the poorest and most disadvantaged are helped, in which health as well as wealth inequality is tackled, and in which everyone is given the chance of some fulfilment for themselves and their families. Please support the Social Contract idea, in which we can lead the Labour Party, and in seeking which we can work with other progressive thinkers.

  • Richard Easter 8th Aug '20 - 12:07pm

    I am a big supporter of any methods we can work on to get the Tories out.

    I have said before that I see nothing in Starmer’s pledges which goes against what most Lib Dem members support, nor do I see them as a smokescreen for something a lot more harder left.

    Equally I cannot see much in Moran’s 9 point list which would offend most Labour supporters (other than perhaps the socially conservative ones, who would also take issue with some of Starmer’s pledges).

    Lewis is right to promote some sort of proper cross party working.

    I will admit I want to see the Lib Dems return to the West Country, and I see no issue with withdrawing Lib Dem candidates in Plymouth, Stroud, Swindon, Truro, Bristol or Exeter, if Labour will withdraw theirs in St Ives, Newquay, Bath, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Frome and so on.

    This will probably never happen, and I’ll be castigated from both Lib Dem and Labour supporters for this heresy, but removing the Tories needs to be the priority.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Aug '20 - 7:08pm

    It’s great to consider how a pact might work in practice, Richard Easter, but I suggest a pre-requisite would be some agreement on policy platforms first. Your post is very typically Lib Dem, if I may say so, in that you feel you can agree with much in both Keir Starmer’s and Layla Moran’s programmes. (I noted also that in the UBI thread you seemed content to think of people sitting idle at home, where I immediately thought that they might be just as likely to be planning crimes, or succumbing to mental illness, as people being oppressed by the benefit system!)

    It seems to me that we Lib Dems need more than one possibly pleasing idea: we need a structure, an overriding theme and vision for the party, as indeed Lady Thornhill asks for in her General Election Review. The proposal for a national Social Contract integrated with a Green New Deal would give our party that theme and vision, in so far as domestic politics are concerned – a determination to see put right the social injustices of our country. Some of them are worsening with the Covid crisis, notably with poverty and unemployment increasing. Some of them are the continuing social ills, such as lack of sufficient technical education for this digital age, lack of integrated health and social care, and lack of sufficient social housing. Michael BG and I propose we should be campaigning for them all, under the theme and purpose of a new national Social Contract, which we will be continuing to propose both to our new leader and to Conference.

    As regards the relevance of this to building a progressive alliance, we could then seek the agreement of Labour progressive thinkers to campaign jointly on the aims we hold in common. It isn’t a difficult thought – many Labour supporters will want to see welfare sanctions abandoned and payments increased, for example, and perhaps be prepared for working together both locally and nationally on job provision and job guarantee schemes. All of us want conscious attention to the needs of combatting climate change in our policies. But we could give a lead, because we would have this overarching plan.

  • Peter Martin and Richard Easter,

    You make a valid point about where those who vote Liberal Democrat will go if there is no Liberal Democrat candidate. We need to accept that Labour candidates are unlikely to stand down for us and it is not always useful for us to stand down for the Labour Party. This is why we talk about an arrangement like in 1997 where candidates didn’t stand down, but the party whose candidate which wasn’t in second place didn’t do all they could to get people to vote for them. Also there were few attacks on each other. This might help those who support for the non-second place party to move to vote for the second place party.

    Doug Chisholm,

    According to a YouGov poll of 10-12 December 2019 76% of Labour Party members support electoral reform ( and Therefore PR might become Labour Party policy before the next general election and be in their manifesto.


    The 2010 Labour Party manifesto ( ) included a commitment to hold a referendum on AV for the House of Commons (page 9:2) and that was all they offered us. It therefore made sense for the Conservative Party to match it. The mistake our negotiators made was to assume that the Labour Party would campaign for AV and the Conservatives would be neutral! The lesson is that a referendum on changing the voting system is not enough, it has to be a commitment to actually change the voting system without a referendum.

  • Peter Martin 9th Aug '20 - 8:53am

    @ Michael BG,

    “Also there were few attacks on each other.”

    Exactly Right!

    Before there can be any real progress on any “progressive alliance” these have to stop. The Labour party itself is a “progressive alliance”. And there are plenty of attacks from one side to the other which does risk tearing it all apart.

    From a left perspective, it looks to me that the right only wants unity when they are in charge. When they aren’t they want to sabotage elections to let the Tories win. The Lib Dems could have concentrated their fire solely on the Tories in 2019 but chose not to. That’s going to need some time to be forgotten. You can’t say that the Labour Party is a bunch of hard leftist, Marxist Leninist, Stalinist or Trotskyite anti-Semites one year and barely eight months later start wanting to be friends.

    The leader might have changed but the party is still made up of the same people.

  • Peter Martin 9th Aug '20 - 9:15am

    @ Michael BG,

    “it has to be a commitment to actually change the voting system without a referendum.”

    I suppose you could make the case that the FPTP system was never adopted by referendum, but is that a good reason for changing to something else without one? You can hope, against hope, for Lib Dem government to do that but it won’t happen under the Tories or Labour.

    I personally supported a change to AV but most Lib Dems wanted full PR under a similar system to the D’Hondt method used in the EU elections and would have voted against AV too. The problem is that hardly anyone understands how that works and if they don’t understand they just won’t vote for it.

    So you will have to accept that we’re stuck with FPTP for the foreseeable future and concentrate on finding policies that people might agree with. That is if you have any ambition at all of winning back your former strongholds in less affluent areas of the country, and escaping the social group A and B upper middle class walled enclave you have created for yourself.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Aug '20 - 10:53am

    A well-worked-out scheme for a national Social Contract was offered as a motion for this autumn’s Conference to the Federal Conference Committee by ourselves, the authors of this article. It was not accepted. We have appealed. If it is not heard at this Conference, we will propose a suitably updated version of it to the next. After reading the comments on the UBI thread, about the motion ‘on principle’ but with no detail accepted for debate this autumn, we are at a loss as to FCC’s thinking. The Social Contract proposal can meet the Thornhill request for a central vision and purpose for our party, attract needed publicity and give our new leader substance to propose joint campaigning with progressives in the Labour Party.

  • @ Peter Martin – In 2019 Labour were led by a hard-left leader who was woefully ill equipped to be Prime Minister even less so than the current incumbent. Therefore an alliance was out of the question.

    The change in leadership is what makes working together whether formally or informally a more realistic possibility.

    Labour have some progressive policies I agree with but at times that party can seem like an “authoritarian alliance” where a dislike of liberalism and individual freedom is what binds left and right together. Hopefully that can change.

  • Peter Martin 9th Aug '20 - 12:21pm

    @ Marco,

    An alliance was out of the question as soon as you started to use terms like ‘hard left’.

    Look, if there was anything in the Labour manifesto that you disagreed with you could have said so. As far as I remember there were no proposals to hand all power to a collection of workers’ soviets. So just what was your main problem? A call for a second referendum on Brexit?

    That was much too far to the left for you?

  • @Peter Martin

    The Lib Dem’s didn’t invent the idea that Corbyn was hard-left it was clear from his policies and track record e.g:

    – Praise for Cuba, Venezuela etc

    -Track record of Euroscepticism, being anti-NATO and opposing almost all Western foreign policy positions, past attendance at terrorist rallies/funerals, claiming Russia might not be responsible for Skripal poisoning etc.

    – Economic policy of mass renationalisations, repeal of union laws to go back to the 70’s, £80bn of public spending magicked from nowhere.

    – Shadow cabinet of fellow travellers like McDonnell, Abbott etc.

    Although he may not have asked for their support he seemed to attract support from far-left activists, anti-Semitic types and conspiracy theorists.

    Hard-left seems a reasonable label.

  • Peter Martin,

    I am not an expert on STV systems, but D’Hondt is not supported by the Liberal Democrats and has never to my knowledge ever been supported by our party. This is because it is a list system and we don’t support list systems. It was supported by Labour; we would say because it keeps most of the power with the parties who put their list in order and the voters have no influence on this. We want a system which gives more power to the voters and they vote for individuals not parties and they choose which order candidates of the same party are elected. According to Wikipedia the Gregory method is used in Northern Ireland. This seems like a good system. Most Trade Unions use STV for some of their elections and they might use the Gregory method. I don’t even know if the Liberal Democrats use the Gregory system.

    As 76% of Labour members support PR then it seems to me that it is possible that PR will end up one day in the Labour Party’s manifesto without a referendum? There were no referendums on the voting systems used for the European or devolved assembly elections.

    It is not possible to stop individual members attacking the other party and it isn’t realistic to even hope these individual attacks will stop. However, party spokespeople and general election campaigns should not include attacks on the other party and this should include no referring to the hard-left or neo-liberals being in control.

  • “It is possible that PR will end up one day in the Labour Party’s manifesto without a referendum?”.

    As a matter of fact it could have been in the Liberal Party’s to do list when the 1911 Parliament Act was passed under Asquith…… and when the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed under Lloyd George. But it wasn’t – even though it was in the original latter bill.

  • Peter Martin 9th Aug '20 - 8:22pm

    @ Marco,

    Are you sure there isn’t a cunning Leaver/Tory double agent deep in the heart of the Lib Dems and controlling Lib Dem election stategy? He, or she, would have been wanting to grossly distort Jeremy Corbyn’s political viewpoint to scare as many voters as possible into voting Tory and so putting paid to any hopes remaining in the EU.

    Just a thought.

    PS Maybe Jeremy Corbyn passed on his magic trick to Rishi Sunak? Rishi then obviously thought he could do a fair bit better than a mere £80 billion.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Aug '20 - 8:35pm

    Ah, we have missed a few tricks over the years seemingly, David, and so little brother Labour has become a Big brother now. But that Liberal Government of 1905-15 was still a wonderfully progressive one, and showed the way, nurturing Beveridge from the start, to the great achievements of the Welfare State and NHS. We need to commit to nurture them now.

    No more neoliberalism, I suppose Keynesianism is the order of the day again. As for our Big brother, as our Lib Dem president in West Cumbria remarked recently, their leader needs to get his house in order before any pacts can be contemplated. Hopefully progressive plans could be useful for Sir Keir to follow up, and we should offer them to him when sorted fully ourselves. For the next Labour government to enact a Lib Dem programme would be very appropriate, wouldn’t it?

  • Marco,

    If you look at the parties’ costing documents for the 2019 general election you will find that neither party were going to increase revenue for capital spending (including re-nationalisation for the Labour Party). The Labour Party set out how they would find their £82.9 billion of extra day-to-day revenue, but we only had £49.52 billion of direct revenue increasing policies and said that a better economic performance under us would produce an extra £14.3 billion a year in government revenue by 2024/25. I hope that in the future we can talk of an extra £10 billion each year of extra government revenue because of the way we will run the economy.

  • Nonconformistradical 10th Aug '20 - 8:25am

    Quoting from one of the letters:
    “The present turmoil shows, more than ever, that Labour is two parties unhappily coexisting under the same roof (Where the battle lines are being drawn over leaked Labour report, 7 August). Surely the time has come when it is in everyone’s best interests for the party to split?”

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Aug '20 - 10:36am

    It’s unlikely that Labour will split, Nonconformistradical, for the same reason that the Conservatives didn’t split when Boris Johnson was getting rid of his Chancellor and other important party figures – the instinct for self-preservation. These unwieldy coalitions will continue to limp along, at least until voting reform invites some realignment, because politicians want to be in, or where possible running, the country’s government.

    The public knows about and probably expects big internal conflicts within the biggest parties. I suppose the doubt about trusting Labour to run the economy probably arises from remembering that their Manifesto seemed to many people both extravagant and unrealistic, and perhaps also from suspecting that the Corbynite forces could frustrate revised thinking – the dread ‘revisionism’. Besides, so far Chancellor Sunak has kept many jobs and businesses just alive, as a Labour chancellor would have wished to do.

    However, the public does care about the quality of our Prime Minister, and since Boris Johnson is clearly not up to the job and Keir Starmer appears competent, the party led by the latter is likely to win reconsideration. From our own point of view, hopefully this Labour leader will turn out to be one to whom our own leader can relate well, as Paddy Ashdown did with Tony Blair.

  • Peter Martin 10th Aug '20 - 11:03am

    “….. and since Boris Johnson is clearly not up to the job”

    The same thing was said about Ronald Reagan but he went down as one of the more successful Presidents. Some of the things he tried did work but for the wrong reasons! So I’d say he was lucky. He was also astute enough to know that he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, and therefore he needed to surround himself with the right people.

    Boris Johnson may not have chosen well with Dominic Cummings but he won’t be the only one he’ll rely on. Rishi Sunak looks to be a much better choice and looks to be very sharp. BJ can get lots wrong but that doesn’t include the economy. If RS can help him get that right he’ll be OK!

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Aug '20 - 3:55pm

    Already there are clear signs that this government is reverting to type in its decision-making, ensuring that the poorest continue to be neglected while the wealthiest sail comfortably on. It’s good that Tim Farron MP and members here are taking up the demerits of the new planning proposals, chief among which I should think is the proposal to raise the exemption from providing social housing from development of more than ten units to more than 40, leading to a headline in Friday’s Times, ‘Fear of big cut in affordable property’. We know we don’t want the proposed faster growth of house-building to benefit mainly middle-income and richer people.

    And how about the decision for the NHS to pull out of the deal which allowed it to take over 92% of private hospital capacity in March at cost price? That will surely limit efforts to clear the huge backlog of patients awaiting care, but it is also likely to benefit patients who can afford private care because much more of the private-hospital capacity will be available to them. The NHS ‘can’t afford to continue the deal’, we are told, and it has already begun the release hospitals in London and other cities from it.
    But the extra capacity could have brought down waiting lists. As usual under this government priorities are wrong.

    Adopting the Social Contract proposal would give us the campaigning thrust to oppose all such impediments to social justice with clear guidelines.

  • John Littler 10th Aug '20 - 6:26pm

    The differences between LibDems and most Labour people are often in emphasis. Both support a public, free NHS, better policing and public transport and better free state schools, the expansion of Green energy, affordable housing and insulation, plus some income re-distributions.

    Of course they don’t agree everything as they are separate parties, but there are a huge swathe of issues to agree on and work around, even they were on opposite sides re Labour’s iD database and criminalising the homeless

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Aug '20 - 8:18pm

    Interestingly,, John Littler, your comment – thank you – with which I feel much sympathy, would be regarded as rather contentious by one of our very senior activists here in West Cumbria. He has just sent me an email in which he wrote of “deep and fundamental differences about the two parties’ core values”. He recalls the founding of the Labour party as “a radical force to counter capitalist and anti-social extremism at a time when the Liberal party had become deeply compromised”, and continues, “The Labour party was, like all left-wing/socialist parties, deeply authoritarian, and to a high degree remains so.” He says that “at the heart of the differences between our two parties lies our attitude to freedom for individuals and communities.”

    Perhaps not surprisingly, my colleague then goes on to say that he has always regarded the Tory party “as having values, especially in regard to personal freedom and choice, as closer to our own position.” I see what he means there, and I guess Matthew Parris would agree with that, but my own view is that the Tory philosophy in defending capitalism to the hilt is wrong, and that their present leadership is – but if I use that word I shall be moderated, so I leave it to other members to supply their own! I continue to believe, of course, that it is elements of the Labour party we should look to to form progressive movements with us, though individual Tories excluded by Boris Johnson may perhaps come along too.

  • Polly Toynbee, writing yesterday in the Guardian, ( has pointed out “Labour and the Liberal Democrats sink or swim together in current politics”. She quotes Rob Ford a political scientist who states fear of Corbyn put off potential Liberal Democrat voting for us. (This is why I point out that attacking Corbyn often did not help us). Rob Ford points out that Keir Starmer doesn’t frighten off voters; that our success in 1997 helped Blair; and that Labour are starting further back than in 1997, “so the Lib Dems will be more important”. She also writes, “Neal Lawson of Compass reminds Labour how vital it is for both parties to direct their electoral energies away from seats the other can best win”.


    You pointed out the views of a very senior party member. His views might reflect the views of many in the party during the 1930s, 40s and early 50s who still were more anti-socialist than anti-Tory. The party after 1918 was very anti-socialist, a reason for Lloyd George being in coalition with the Conservatives after the First World War. I think we should continue with the tradition of the Liberal Party, which since 1859 saw the Conservative Party as their opponents. Liberalism is opposed to Conservatism. And as Clive Lewis stated in his lecture the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party share many values and a shared common tradition.

  • @ Michael BG It might have been all so very different if …………

    The Liberal mine owners and shopkeepers of Lanarkshire had adopted a former miner, one James Keir Hardie, as the Liberal Candidate for a parliamentary by-election in 1888.

    Instead they adopted a 28 year old public school educated Barrister son of Reverend Sir James Erasmus Philipps, 12th Baronet, Vicar of Warminster and Prebendary of Salisbury.

    Six years later the Liberal shopkeepers, merchants and shipping magnates of Southampton performed a similar feat with one Ramsay Macdonald. Instead they eventually selected a Director of the Union-Castle line.

  • Katharine Pindar 11th Aug '20 - 8:40pm

    It’s interesting to wonder where most Lib Dems fit in the freedom vs. equality debate. Clive Lewis, the Labour MP who gave the recent Beveridge lecture for the Social Liberal Forum, believes both must be pursued, as do you and I, Michael. Yet, “Liberalism is opposed to Conservatism”, you write, but is not Liberalism opposed to Socialism too? You I think believe strongly in freedom, as I do – we believe for instance that people living in poverty can’t be truly free – yet my senior colleague would say that that should make us more inclined towards the Conservatives than Labour, which we obviously are not.

    Perhaps as you suggest there could be a tendency among older Liberals to be more anti-Socialist than anti-Tory? My colleague is in his eighties. But where did the vehement anti-Corbynism come from which seemed to be felt by many Lib Dems last year? I thought it counter-productive,

    At any rate, Polly Toynbee, in the striking Guardian piece which you so usefully reference thinks the two parties “must sink or swim together”, so hopefully the paper will continue to be (at last) interested in us again. I don’t agree though that the two parties “must turn their backs on each other” for the moment, when there is so much urgent work to be set on foot by progressive thinkers.

  • @ Michael BG ” The party after 1918 was very anti-socialist,………….

    Not that surprising given nearly forty one time radical Liberal MP’s joined the Labour Party for various reasons after WW1…. including Richard Burdon Haldane, (former Liberal Minister of War and Lord Chancellor and H.H. Asquith’d Best Man when he married Margot). Several were in Ramsay Macdonald’s first Cabinet in 1923 (1) (2).

    (1) Catherine Ann Cline, Recruits to the Labour Party 1914-31 (Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, New York, 1963)

    (2) Kenneth D. Brown (ed), Essays in Anti-Labour History, Responses to the Rise of Labour in Britain, (Macmillan Press, London, 1974)

  • David Raw,

    I don’t think the decision to continue with the Coalition government in 1918 was taken because of Liberal MPs joining the Labour Party. It seems that the liberals joined the Labour Party after the 1918 general election when it was clear the Liberal Party was in a poor state. According to Wikipedia, Richard Haldane continued to be a Liberal after 1918 not moving to the Labour Party until 1920. Do you know how many of the 41 stood for the Labour Party in the 1918 general election?


    Liberalism and Socialism are different so in that sense they are in competition. Social Liberals and Socialists often see the same problems in society, have a shared tradition but sometimes come up with different solutions. Sometimes they agree on the solutions. I don’t see any shared thinking between Conservativism and Liberalism. They have different views of society, power, conformity, equality, and human nature. There is no shared tradition. Liberalism and Conservatism oppose each other and normally can only work together in a national crisis such as a war. Conservatives have a different view of freedom and choice than Liberals. I would argue a narrower view. Both the Conservative Party and Labour Party have a strong streak of authoritarianism.

  • Peter Martin 12th Aug '20 - 5:17am

    @ Michael BG,

    “Liberalism and Conservatism oppose each other”

    You’d have to go back to the 19th Century to understand how. Then there was a clash between the rising power and ambition of the new capitalist class (Liberal) with the old aristocratic landowning class (Tory). The Liberal demand for the common ownership of land is an echo of that struggle. But it has largely been resolved, partly through intermarriage, through the course of the 20th century. Factions of Liberal Nationals, or National Liberals, broke away to join the Tories at various times.

    The National Liberal Party was far more successful than the Liberal Party in the 50’s and typically picked up around 20 seats in General Elections. The Liberal Party only survived by making pacts at local level with the Tories to win 5 out of their 6 seats in 1951. It lasted until 1968 when it was dissolved and merged with the Tory Party. The last well known National Liberal was probably Michael Heseltine.

    “Both the Conservative Party and Labour Party have a strong streak of authoritarianism.”

    We keep hearing about this but I don’t see any examples of what is being complained about.

  • Katharine Pindar 12th Aug '20 - 9:24am

    We have a job to do more serious than many realise, according to my senior colleague. He writes that both main parties are “now inherently authoritarian in approach, insensitive to many of the wider political and philosophical issues which we have engaged with healthily in the past, and intent on driving through uncompromising agendas, in many cases at the long-term cost of our society. ” He says that the Tory leadership has been much more authoritarian since the 1980s, “and under Johnson this is being carried forward to an alarming degree. I view some of the recent initiatives of the Johnson government, to do with reform of the legal system and fundamental changes to planning law, as deeply dangerous, going against the long-standing values of fairness, localism, decentralisation and wide consultations which we of the three main parties are the only ones still to endorse.”

    He thinks it will not be easy to find ways of working with Labour “given their fundamental stance”, but we have to do this because of the dangers of the present government’s “simple, strong, short-term populist measures promoted by our biased media”.

    If we accept my colleague’s view, our task is more than seeking to share progressive ideas and mount shared campaigns, it must be to lead. He believes we are “the only party making the case consistently for freedom, fairness and trust”. We have much to ask, therefore, of our forthcoming leadership: to step up to the task.

  • Peter Martin 13th Aug '20 - 6:13am

    ” freedom, fairness and trust”

    But what does this actually mean?

    The concept of freedom will mean different things to different people. To the left, it means freedom from poverty and exploitation. To the right, it means freedom from taxation and government regulation. The freedom for the owners of property and capital to do what they like. No more bans in smoking in pubs. That’s a question for the owners. No more bans on racial discrimination. That’s matter for employers.

    And who is going to say they don’t believe in fairness and trust?

    If you aspire “to lead” you really need to be clear about where you want to go.

  • Daniel Walker 13th Aug '20 - 8:41am

    @Peter Martin “The concept of freedom will mean different things to different people.

    Yes. We’re pretty clear, in the Lib Dems, that “no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity” and that we are guided, philosophically, by Mill & Taylor’s Harm Principle. (and LT Hobhouse’s social liberalism, in my case)

    The freedom to cause harm to others is quite clearly excluded from that, though – this is the “your right to swing your fist ends at my nose” limitation. Where liberals, and in particular Social Liberals, differ from Libertarians is that we regard things like universal healthcare or education as enhancing liberty (freedom from illness, freedom from ignorance) rather than constraining it (we must pay involuntary taxes to support said education/healthcare, or they don’t work)

    And who is going to say they don’t believe in fairness and trust?

    “too much fairness may well be counterproductive”, LibDemVoice, 13th Feb ’20 – 3:42pm. You, for one, apparently!

  • Peter Martin,

    After 1948 the National Liberal Party had merged at constituency level with the Conservative Party. The use of the name National Liberal or Liberal National had little to do with being a member of a separate party or where there were Liberal National MPs left in 1948 or a strong Liberal National constituency association. Heseltine stood as the National Liberal and Conservative candidate in 1959 and as a Conservative in 1964 and 1966 (when he was elected to Parliament) and after. Ian Gilmour was elected as the Conservative and National Liberal candidate in 1962 but stood as the Conservative candidate in 1964 for the same seat!

    Authoritarianism can be seen as giving power to a centralised state and removing it from individuals a Labour Party example was identity card, where the freedom for people to go about their business is reduced because at any time the state can demand to see their identity card. Nationalisation the way it is carried out in Britain can be seen as authoritarian as an industry is controlled by the state rather than the people. Under a Labour government between 1997 and 2010 the powers of local government were reduced and these power given to central government, this is authoritarian. I also see the Cabinet system and elected mayors as authoritarian as both take power away from a larger group to give it to a smaller group (the Cabinet) or one person (elected mayor). The Labour government reduced teacher freedom by declaring teachers had to spend more time teaching literacy and numeracy. Removing some schools from local authority control to direct control from central government, e.g. academies (2000). The changes to the benefit system especially the sanctions regime I see as authoritarian as they reduce the freedom of the individual.

  • Peter Martin,

    More example of Labour authoritarianism are the extension of police powers during the Labour government with such measures as control orders, police were given powers to intercept, collect, store and share private information, police given greater powers to stop and search, police given the power to hold a suspected terrorist for 28 days without charge, Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) only needed civil burden of proof – ‘Balance of probabilities’ rather than ‘guilty beyond a reasonable doubt’, Parenting Orders, Series Crime Prevention Orders (SCPO), which can limit where a person can live, work and travel, police given the power to disperse smaller groups (of 20), ending the right to strike for prison officers, increased rights for bailiffs to enter a person’s home and restrain people, and the power given to the Home Secretary to remove a person’s citizenship, (

    I would see a compulsory Job Guarantee scheme as authoritarian.

  • Peter Martin 13th Aug '20 - 10:25am

    @ Michael BG,

    So you’re saying that anyone logging into your on-line National Savings account (State Run) to make a withdrawal can say they are called Michael BG? There’s no verification of identity allowed? Anyone can rock up at polling booth and vote Tory in your name? Again no verification allowed?

    And we can sell, say, the Royal Mail, formerly Govt owned, to supposedly private investors even though they may well be proxy owners for the Govts of Saudi Arabia or Singapore? This increases all our freedom?

    OK. That seems a strange view but at least your making it clear what you mean by freedom.

    @ Daniel,

    Its good that you remembered something I said. We all do agree, though, that the PR system of the Weimar Republic isn’t really practical. Even though it was as fair a voting system as anyone as as yet devised.


    You are making valid points about changes to the legal system. They haven’t been imposed on society by some inate authoritarianism on the part of the Labour Party though. There is no longer any requirement of “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”. The new phrase is “Guilty if Sure” You can argue this means the same but the way it’s spun in court is to make it mean more like the “balance of probabilities”.

    Then we have the principle of the abolition of double jeopardy. That went through with support from all parties. So, now, if the police don’t like a not guilty verdict, which they usually don’t, there’s no problem. They can plant a sample of DNA in an evidence bag and have it reversed.

    There’s been no opposition to that change from any political party.

    P.S. The Job Guarantee isn’t compulsory. It’s just there for those who want a job.

  • Katharine Pindar 13th Aug '20 - 10:58am

    Our personal freedoms have been much reduced during the Covid19 crisis, and under an authoritarian government as the present one is proving to be, Lib Dems will be alert to see how far they will be restored and ready to demand better. As Michael’s post seems to confirm, we should have to be equally apprehensive under a Labour government. The Liberal Democrats are being shown, as my colleague maintained, to be the true upholders of individual freedom. The task of progressing ‘freedom, fairness and trust’ is one for our whole party, as fellow members will understand, not just for our leader.

    Daniel Walker, thank you for your very pertinent comment, especially for pointing out some of the wider expectations of freedom which social Liberal Democrats have. Indeed, freedom from ignorance, freedom from illness, and one may add, freedom from joblessness, rank with freedom from poverty, as part of the concept of the much-needed national social contract which we want our party to adopt wholeheartedly. This phase of our discussion reminds us that, as we cannot expect the Labour party in general to have the same values, while we can seek to make common cause with like thinkers among their members, we should not consider Keir Starmer’s leadership as forging any growing identity between their party and ours.

  • @ Michael BG “I don’t think the decision to continue with the Coalition government in 1918 was taken because of Liberal MPs joining the Labour Party”. I didn’t suggest it was, Michael.

    The Coalition continued because Lloyd George decided (with his Tory allies) that in the aftermath of the Armistice he could win an election on a wave of patriotism, and spurious claims he was, ‘The Man that Won the War’, ‘Hang the Kaiser’, ‘Build Homes Fit for Heroes’ and dish the Liberals who’d supported Asquith in the Maurice Debate. When the Tories had no more use for him in 1922 they dropped him.

    Several Liberal M.P.’s joined the Labour Party in and after WW1 because the Liberal Party stopped being ‘liberal’ …… DORA, Conscription, Jingoism (by LLG) and many domestic issues), combined with the fact they no longer regarded the Liberal Party as fit for purpose.

    The more radical ones (Trevelyan, Ponsonby, Morel etc.,) resented the knee-jerk ‘anti-socialism’ infecting large numbers of middle class Liberals (often the ones running the local associations), especially in the 1924 Election. I’m sure some Basingstoke Liberals expected to find a Red under their Bed when the Libs lost the seat.

    You also say, “Nationalisation the way it is carried out in Britain can be seen as authoritarian as an industry is controlled by the state rather than the people.”

    A look at coal mining after WW1 would see authoritarianism was the prerogative of the Coal Owners (Londonderrys, Edens, Vane Tempest Stewarts etc.,) who, after LLG returned the mines to them in 1921 cut miners wages by up to 49%. On ‘Black Friday’, 1921, my Mum (age five) saw her home’s windows smashed by troops sent in by Lloyd George after Granddad went on strike. Authoritarian ?

  • Katharine Pindar 13th Aug '20 - 3:08pm

    Considering more recent history, I have been wondering what can cause groups to break away from the Labour party. After reading the Obituary of the great Anthony Lester, who did so much for human rights and equality legislation in the ’70s and ’80s, and who left the Labour Party to join the new Social Democratic Party in 1981 and later became a Liberal Democrat peer nominated by Paddy Ashdown, I have been refreshing my memory of the formation of the SDP. According to Wikipedia the Gang of Four, Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers and David Owen, broke with Labour in 1981 because of that party’s decision to support Unilateral Nuclear Disarmament and to leave the EEC, and because of infiltration at constituency level by the left-wing Militant Tendency.

    What might cause progressive centrists in the Labour party to leave that party and join us today? I suppose we should consult the members of the late Change UK such as Chukka Ummunah (whose name I have now forgotten how to spell). Not that Labour can afford to lose people, having a mountain to climb to win the next General Election, but in order to grow into the sizable party we deserve to become, Liberal Democrats need to win new adherents from both major parties as well as from others and from none.

  • @ Katharine If the Labour Party has a mountain to climb, Katharine, then the Lib Dems need a rocket to get to the moon……. which is not to say they are mutually exclusive destinations in the future. If I lived in Workington I suspect I know which would be the more attainable journey.

    That the Gang of four wished to retain what Jo Grimond once labelled ‘the so called Independent Nuclear Deterrent’ was to my mind no great blessing…indeed the new Lib Dem Party has struggled with the issue ever since and replacing Trident is estimated to cost well over £ 200 billion…… which in my view would be better spent on reducing poverty.

    The SDP top down version of democracy was not always welcome to most Liberals
    (though it was to David Steel) in what was a much more radical Liberal Party back in 1981….. a party which I am sure would never have voted for the Welfare, Bedroom Tax and DLA cuts of 2013.

    It would be interesting to get Michael Meadowcroft’s and Tony Greaves’ take on this.

  • Paul Holmes 13th Aug '20 - 4:59pm

    David -and yet it was those who most emphatically identified themselves as Liberals, rather than Social Liberals or Liberal Democrats, who enthusiastically led the charge in the Coalition. Nick Clegg, David Laws, Danny Alexander.

  • @ Paul Holmes Fair comment, Paul…… except the three you mention weren’t around in 1981. Nick Clegg was still in short trousers at Westminster School.

    They were all Oxbridge Johnny Come Latelys who recognised a career opportunity when the Lib Dems began to win seats in the 1990’s. Their knowledge of radical Liberalism probably got as far as Gladstone’s candle ends… but fell short of the Hobson/Masterman ‘New Liberals’.

    As for you, Paul, I apologise. There were indeed some honourable exceptions in the SDP.

  • Katharine Pindar 13th Aug '20 - 8:33pm

    We have had our progressive phases and our fallings-back, I suppose, David. Anyway, whatever the phase, we don’t all agree with each other all of the time; I, a constant CND member, also wanted to do away with the so-called Independent Deterrent, and as a radical-minded Liberal I welcomed the fact of Shirley Williams joining us, but not for very long David Owens.

    I regard the last year as one of our falling-back periods, as you know, with a Welfare spokesperson who never endorsed the radical Alston report, and the disaster of our temporary leader’s over-confidence, the setting aside of the call for another referendum in favour of Revoke and the misguided General Election campaign.

    But, take heart, we have good new people who have joined who may revive us, such as the new Director of the Social Liberal Forum Ian Kearns, and I hope we can welcome others not yet with us, doubtful of us with some justification, to help shake us up and ensure this will be a progressive phase. Where are you, Heidi Allen, for one? And a valued member temporarily silenced, Sam Gyumah, let us hear you again at Conference please!

  • Peter Martin 14th Aug '20 - 8:45am

    @ MB Gooding,

    You made some valid points about changes to the legal system which I largely agree with. Except, it’s not realistic to use these as an example of Labour Party authoritarianism. They reflect a shift, and not for the better IMO, in the values of society as a whole.

    Now, anyone can be charged of a crime in the Crown Court, be found innocent and then be charged again for the same offence for the same crime in the future. Even if they aren’t they will almost certainly be denied expenses. If they are subject to a miscarriage of justice they will likely be denied compensation on the grounds of not “being innocent enough”.

    The Lib Dems are just as responsible for the current sad state of affairs as the Labour and Tory Parties. Lib Dem MPs largely supported them. You could be campaigning against them instead of saying nothing.

  • Peter Martin,

    We don’t have identity cards and it is illegal for anyone to try to log into an internet bank account of someone else. I hate the idea that a person has to provide proof of their identity to vote. Voter fraud at polling stations is rare, so there is no need for people to have to prove who they are.

    I don’t understand why you think I supported the privatisation of the Royal Mail, just because I criticise how nationalised industries were run in the past.

    Job Guarantee schemes are often presented as being compulsory or include the loss of benefits if a person decides repeatedly not to join a scheme.

    Governments should not pass laws just because the public want them. The Labour Party embraced a more authoritarian criminal justice system. Liberals should protect people from the rule of the majority and should pass laws based on their philosophy. This is why it was wrong for any Liberal Democrat to have supported the Coalition’s cuts in legal aid.

    I think anyone who is imprisoned wrongly should be compensated for their loss of capital and income and I don’t understand why the judges decided in Barry George’s case not to allow him to appeal.

  • David Raw,

    I understand that some Liberal MP’s had issues with the government during the First World War. I don’t know the names of any who joined the Labour Party during the war. I do remember that the Labour Party was split over the war, with Ramsay McDonald resigning as leader and being replaced with Arthur Henderson.

    Trevelyan and Ponsonby were members of the Union of Democratic Control but didn’t stand for the Labour Party in 1918. I couldn’t see Morel as a Liberal MP.

    Nick Clegg and David Laws were both educated at fee-paying schools and I think would have been Conservatives accept that the Conservatives had a policy they couldn’t agree with. With Clegg it was their position on the EU and with Laws it was their position on section 28. It seems they rejected the idea that the Liberal Democrats are a social liberal party and wanted it to be an economic liberal party like many in the rest of Europe. From reading David Laws book ’22 days in May’ it seems he strongly disliked our activists, from the polices he supported it seems he didn’t understand which groups in society supported us the most and so in government he pursued policies which alienated these groups. (I wonder if we could change our PPC approval process so only people who support the liberalism of the party as it was before the move to the right after 1997 are approved.)

    Today both candidates for leader went to fee-paying schools and one is happy to call himself an economic liberal but both it seems still believe that austerity was the correct policy in 2010.

  • Katharine Pindar 14th Aug '20 - 11:24am

    What should Liberal Democrats expect of our leaders? It seems a pertinent question to ask as the hustings go on. As I wrote in a piece here three years ago (July 26 2017 to be exact), members are sovereign in our party, and are consulted on overall party strategy at Conference. But the party leader is expected somehow to embody the image of the party. and will be identified with it by the Media.

    How much should he or she listen to the members? They are certainly hearing from us in the hustings, and we learn their views and intentions now. But once elected, do they have to continue to listen to the members, and if so, how?

    Three years ago I wrote, “We surely expect each new leader to offer a strong new focus which will both inspire the party activists and gain the attention of the public”. I think that is still the case, and both our candidates are clear today on what their focus will be. I suppose Conference next month is unlikely to pass any motions with which the new leader will disagree, and will give him or her the licence genuinely to lead. I hope, though, that the leader will remain responsive to as broad a range of opinions of members as possible, and seek a democratic continuing mandate.

  • @ Michael B-G. Morel was prospective Liberal candidate for Birkenhead when war broke out.

    Most of the Liberal M.P.’s concerned (between twenty and up to fifty on different issues) – plus some Peers (e.g. Courtney) and some prominent Liberal Activists such as Bertrand Russell – can be found in Marvin Swartz, ‘The Union of Democratic Control in British Politics During the First World War’, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1971).

    There is much correspondence between all of them (and with grassroots Libs) in the Trevelyan Papers at Newcastle University band the UDC records at Hull University. Morel’s papers are in the LSE library.

    Trevelyan stood as ‘Independent Labour’ in Elland in 1918, formally joined the Labour Party in 1919, and elected for Newcastle Central in 1922. Ponsonby was rejected by his executive in Stirling Burghs in 1915. He stood as ‘Independent Democrat’ in the new seat of Dunfermline Burghs in 1918 (supported by Ramsay Mac). He too formally joined Labour in 1919 and elected for Sheffield Brightside in 1922. The UDC was a conduit from Liberal to Labour.

    LLG’s treatment of Henderson contributed to events in 1918 (‘Uncle Arthur’ was a former Liberal Agent for the Pease family in Co. Durham). Asquith’s former Chief Whip Jack Pease’s papers are in Nuffield College and illustrate the Quaker problems in WW1.

    Turning to recent times, I agree about Laws and Clegg. Maybe one day someone will explain why they were accepted by the party hierarchy so readily and inherited established safe seats. As to the present… conundrum of a choice between fragile flakiness and orange tranquility verging on somnabulism.

  • Peter Martin 14th Aug '20 - 1:19pm

    @ MichaelBG @ MB Gooding

    We can all disagree about where the line should be drawn between Govt and the Private Sector. It’s a not a big issue. It’s not a measure of authoritarianism. It shouldn’t stop us co-operating on what we do agree on. There needs to be that cooperation before moving to anything that can be termed an alliance.

    It’s all very well saying that “Governments should not pass laws just because the public want them.” However if we look at the basis for the arguments for the abolition of Double Jeopardy it is quite clear that they turn on the failure of the criminal justice system to secure convictions in the Stephen Lawrence case.

    It wasn’t “the public” who wanted a change in the law to be able to have a second try. The calls came mainly from the progressive liberal sector of society including Liberal Democrats because of the racist motivations involved. It’s usually a mistake to change the law on the basis of one case. Now, I’m not saying it’s a good thing that any murderer should go unpunished but its even worse that innocent people should be convicted erroneously.

    Changing the double jeopardy law has allowed the police to do exactly that when they feel the courts have got it wrong previously. Look, maybe I’ve just missed Lib Dem spokespersons saying the same thing. If I have please show me where.

  • Katharine Pindar 14th Aug '20 - 2:30pm

    Perhaps we need a Union of Democratic Control now, David (Raw) – as a pressure group to ensure that our leader remains responsive to majority expectations of the membership. Then, if seen to be effective, it might expedite the movement of Labour party sympathisers to the Liberal Democrats. Which would be a happy reversal!

  • Well, I hope whosoever is Leader is more responsive than Edinburgh West was on the Alston Report. As Squiffy would say, “Wait and See”. You might be waiting a long time.

  • Peter Martin 15th Aug '20 - 9:38am

    @ Sean Hagan @ Katharine,

    You might well think that Clive Lewis has “an enlightened approach” but would it be more or less enlightened if were to defect to the Lib Dems?

    The Labour Party has always believed that unity is strength. So even when some MPs don’t make any secret that they are more aligned philosophically and ideologically with a different party we are loathe to throw them out. That’s never, to my knowledge, recently happened when they’ve moved too far to the right but it has happened in cases when they’ve been too far to the left.

    This desire for unity can easily be caricatured as “Labourism”. Clive Lewis may well decry the term in a speech to Lib Dems but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t make use of it to improve his own electoral prospects. In this respect he has shown much more sense than Chuka Umunna.

  • David Raw,

    Thank you for confirming that Morel was not an MP in 1918 and was not elected as one during the Liberal Government of 1905-15. You have also confirmed that the other two you named did not stand as Labour Party candidates in 1918.

    Wikipedia states that Henderson resigned from Lloyd George’s cabinet in 1917 on a policy issue with regard to the war. The Labour Party continued to support the war-time coalition government. When the Labour Party stopped supporting it, I think in late 1918, a few Labour Party MPs continued to do so such as George Barnes.

    Wikipedia states that the Union of Democratic Control had financial support from the Quakers. I have just re-read the book ‘Merger the inside story’ by Tony Greaves and Rachael Pitchford, where it seems that the majority of the Liberal Party supported merger even if it meant that Liberal Quakers wouldn’t join the new party because of support of NATO in the preamble.

    The party hierarchy does not carry out PPC approvals, it is carried out by ordinary members in England at the regional level. I don’t think the process includes any testing on their view of what liberalism is, but only includes testing on what current party policy is. I don’t know if they are asked to list which policies they don’t agree with. This is often asked at selection hustings.

  • Katharine,

    Three years ago I commented on your article, “It is not the leader’s role to make policy up on the hoof. It is the role of the Federal Policy Committee to make interim policy [see Article 10.1 (d)] and it has to be reported on and a motion agreed at the next Federal Conference for it to continue as party policy”. I haven’t changed my mind. I also wrote, “One of our selling points for new members is that the membership makes policy at conference”. I still think we say this.

    The leader should not decide anything. The leader is a member of some party committees, and so has a large say in some matters. But I question their role as chair of the Federal Policy Committee. Before September 2016 the leader was not automatically the chair. The chair strangely was elected by the MPs from amongst the Parliamentarians on the committee.

    Peter Martin,

    I didn’t include the divide between the private and public sectors as a way of determining authoritarianism. I raised the issue of how the public sector is managed and run. I meant is it run centrally or is it locally, is it run by ministers or by the workers?

    I don’t know what position we took on the Criminal Justice Act 2003 which included the change to the double jeopardy rules. This change was recommended in the 2001 Auld Report. I couldn’t find any reference to changing this new law back in our 2005 manifesto. Our Policy Paper 51 – ‘Justice and the Community’ seems supportive, saying we think the right for the prosecution to appeal acquittals should be very limited, and only allowable where there is new evidence not available at the original trial, and a re-trial would only be allowed if the Court of Appeal approves it, which might be the current law. I have not checked to see if any amendments were passed at conference changing this position in 2002 or if any conference motions changed this position between 2002 and 2005.

  • Peter Martin 15th Aug '20 - 10:58am

    @ Michael BG,

    Of course the new CJA does include the proviso for “new evidence” and the approval of the Court of Appeal. But how is this any protection for an acquitted and genuinely innocent person?

    This is how it “works” in practice.

  • Peter Martin 15th Aug '20 - 11:16am

    @ Michael BG,

    ” I raised the issue of how the public sector is managed and run. I meant is it run centrally or is it locally, is it run by ministers or by the workers?”

    Nationalisation isn’t the same thing as ‘workers control’. There has to be a recognition that industry doesn’t solely exist for the workers’ benefit. For example, with the Railways, the workers are one stakeholder, the travelling public is the second, the owners are another, and the government is involved too regardless if they are also the owners. These aren’t necessarily in order of priority.

    So there will inevitably be a mix of central control and local devolution. It makes sense for the Merseyside commuter network to be administered in Liverpool, but trains running into London from Liverpool have to be administered centrally. As London is the major transport hub this will probably be the best location.

  • @ Michael BG Caution in using Wikipedia as a reliable historical source.

    It’s true money was donated to the UDC from some Quakers e.g. the Fry, Cadbury and Rowntree families, but a greater part in the early years came from Trevelyan himself …. by 1917 the UDC had over 100 active branches all raising funds throughout the UK.

    As for being Liberal and later Labour, Morel, was adopted as the prospective Liberal candidate for Birkenhead in October, 1912 and as late as August, 1916 he didn’t regard the Labour Party ‘as a viable political force’.(Morel Papers, LSE). He joined the I.L.P. on 7 April, 1918 in Bradford after his release from prison on a trumped up charge inspired by Lloyd George through Basil Thomson and MI5.

    Trevelyan converted to Labour before the 1918 election (notes, Trevelyan papers) , “If elected I must and shall join the Ind. Labour Party in the H. of C.” (March, 1918).

    Ponsonby, letter to Trevelyan 28/11/18, “If I am returned there can be no doubt that I shall join the I.L.P.”.

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Aug '20 - 12:54am

    Staying separate from the historical and the judicial debates going on just now in this thread, I am pondering on idealism vs. reality in points being made. You may well claim again as you did three years ago, Michael, that ” It is not the leader’s role to make policy up on the hoof. It is the role of the Federal Policy Committee to make interim policy… and it has to be reported on and agreed at the next Federal Conference … the leader should not decide anything.” I am not certain that the membership in general would agree that this should have to happen, since there are some waiting for a leader to transform the party, but in any case it patently did not happen last year. The policies of ‘Jo for PM’ and the linked Revoke policy were agreed on on high (ordinary members are still kept in the dark as to who was backing the leader), and the debate at Bournemouth on the Revoke policy was managed and the sense given that Conference should give the new leader this virtual vote of confidence, which you and I and a minority did vainly resist.

    As for your statement, Peter Martin, that “the Labour party has always believed that unity is strength”, and that with dissenters, “we are loathe to throw them out”, I looked again at that with incredulity. From the Militant Tendency to Momentum, the Far Left groupings of your party have appeared very keen to get Labour MPs who don’t agree with them deselected, and Momentum were reportedly challenging some of them right up until the GE was called.

  • Peter Martin 16th Aug '20 - 6:02am

    @ Katharine,

    Two points:

    1) Throwing out members isn’t the same thing as deselection. They may not hold any public elected office.

    2) The membership peaked at over 600,000. Incidentally, you’ll be pleased to know that is falling under Sir Forensic. So there was always someone in the Labour Party who was in favour of deselecting a certain MP. That’s the workings of party democracy. If members prefer a different candidate they are free to say so. But when did it happen?

    I can’t think of a single MP who was actually deselected under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Maybe you can help me out. There probably should have been a few!

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Aug '20 - 10:14am

    Peter Martin. Immediately after posting about your Labour party not noticeably acting on a belief that unity is strength, I happened upon a piece Stephen Bush, political editor of the New Statesman, wrote in The Times last week under the headline, ‘Labour leaders are never free from civil war’. He recorded that the most frequent complaint he heard about ‘people at the top of the party under Jeremy Corbyn’ was that ‘they were not real Labour’!

    I’m sure defenestration is as likely to occur in your party as in the Tories, demonstrated I suppose in the removal of Hard Left people from the National Executive and central office jobs under your new leader, now that their time of ascendancy has passed. But I don’t think Liberal Democrats tend to feel loathing for fellow members they disagree with or dislike, or call them not real Lib Dems. I think we can view diverse views with tolerance, and even enjoyment. Soft Labour folk, you are safe with us!

  • Peter Martin 16th Aug '20 - 10:47am

    @ Katharine,

    We don’t exist in isolation in walled enclaves. We all do have friends and family, all of whom have diverse political views, so there’s really no question of loathing for anyone with whom we might disagree politically. At least that how I feel about it. The Brexit issue showed, however, that not everyone feels the same way. I do have a tendency to resort to some ‘industrial language’ when accused of being a closet Tory or worse and some relationships were somewhat strained afterwards.

    All the well known defectors, starting with the Gang of Four and into the latest batch last year only joined the Labour Party for career reasons. I’d make an exception for Shirley Williams. She was the only one who was, at least at one time, real Labour. Presumably you must agree too. Why would you want “real Labour” people in your ranks?

    There are still lots like them who have had the good sense not to defect. It’s hardly surprising that they do create resentment in the party. That resentment wouldn’t exist if they’d been like, say, Paddy Ashdown and joined up with you guys in the first place.

  • David Raw,

    I do understand that it is possible for a Wikipedia article to be inaccurate, but I have found few inaccuracies in their history articles. The Wikipedia article does point out that by 1917 there were “more than a hundred local branches across Britain and Ireland, and 10,000 individual members; it also had affiliations from organisations which represented 650,000 more”. Just because an organisation has a large membership this does not mean that it would not still get lots of its income from donations from a few wealthy people. Our party I think still gets most of its income, at least, for a general election from a few wealthy donors.

    I had read on Wikipedia that Morel had been adopted as the prospective Liberal candidate for Birkenhead before the First World War.

  • Peter Martin,

    You often quote the Labour Party’s old clause four. It stated with, “To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry …” And this could have meant that the workers have control and keep all of any profits, because for the profits to go anywhere but into the workers’ pockets would mean that they wouldn’t be receiving the full fruits of their work. The rest of clause seems to open the way for authoritarian central control approach, which was the approach taken by the Labour Party in the twentieth century.

    Where there is a natural monopoly a case can be made for public ownership without total worker control. So in that sense the interest of other parties rather than just the workers should be taken into consideration. This would be why in the past parents elected some of the governors of state schools. With trains it would mean those using the trains would elected some of the board of directors. With GP surgeries it would mean patients electing some of the people who govern how the GP surgery is run.

    I don’t know how the de-selection policy works in the Labour Party. Wikipedia state, “In September 2018, (Chris) Leslie lost a vote of no confidence brought by his Constituency Labour Party and became the fourth Labour MP to have such a motion passed against him”. Joan Ryan, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith also had no confidence votes passed against them. I think there is at least another Labour MP to find to add to this list.


    It always surprises me how liberals can accept the idea that a powerful leader is a good thing when it goes against liberalism. In the same way we don’t want to see a powerful Prime Minister we should not want to see a powerful party leader. It is time we run the party in the way we would like to run the country.

  • @ Peter Martin ” I’d make an exception for Shirley Williams. She was the only one who was, at least at one time, real Labour”. Not so certain about that, Peter.

    The reason I’ve lingered on historical aspects in this thread is because I’ve tried to argue for the genealogical common roots of the Liberal and Labour Parties. As my hero Jo Cox once said, “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”.

    That is a point I believe Katharine has been trying to explore.

    Shirley Williams’ family roots were traditional Liberal in Derbyshire, but her mother (Vera Brittain) became a socialist and supporter of the emerging Labour Party because of her profound life experiences in the First World War….. as did so many of those mentioned in my conversations with Michael BG above.

    On a much smaller scale this divide has been echoed in the Lib Dem Party in recent years as a result of the Clegg/Orange legacy. The modern party is where it is because of that division…… and in politics things never stand still.

    Unlike you, I happen to respect Sir Forensic – he would make a much better UK PM than the present empty vessel.

    The tragedy of modern British politics is the splintering of the radical progressive side early in the last century compared to the tribal clannishness of the Tory Party who stick together whatever because they always put power over ideas. Those of us still on the radical wing of politics are still searching and hoping to live to see better things.

  • @ Michael BG ” Just because an organisation has a large membership this does not mean that it would not still get lots of its income from donations from a few wealthy people”.

    Of course, and Charlie Trevelyan helped fund Arthur Ponsonby (£ 5,000) in his Scottish campaign. But the ‘few wealthy people’ need to be treated with caution. Hence the unpopularity of LLG’s millions during the 1920’s…… and today some things don’t sit well together :

    e.g. “Make a donation to Stirling and Clackmannanshire Liberal Democrats. Why we need your help. The Liberal Democrats rely on small donations from individuals like you. We’ve never had the big business or trade union cash the other parties can count on, especially at a local level”.

    24 Jun 2020 “Scottish Lib Dems took £16k from tax haven lawyer.The Scottish Lib Dems said: “All donations are received in line with Electoral Commission guidance.”
    The Scottish Daily Record.

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Aug ’20 – 10:14am……………..But I don’t think Liberal Democrats tend to feel loathing for fellow members they disagree with or dislike, or call them not real Lib Dems. I think we can view diverse views with tolerance, and even enjoyment. Soft Labour folk, you are safe with us!……………………………

    Really? On occasion I (and others) have been told, on LDV, that I, and my views, are not welcome and I should go elsewhere (in my case Labour). During the coalition years this was a regular ‘thing’; the worse this party’s performance the more ‘dissenters’, like myself, were accused of disloyalty..
    Even today any cooperation with ‘soft Labour’ is regulary disparaged on LDV..

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Aug '20 - 2:59pm

    expats in my opinion you are not correct, Katharine makes a point here. I like many here, vary on issues. I disagreed with you utterly on the levels of extremism in Labour, often wondered why you, ex Lib Dem, did not, as someone more left wing than some here, join the Labour party. I never felt dislike for you, in fact. I like you and on some things agree with you regularly, especially on Corona issues recently. I know that is the way in our party, but in the Labour party there is actually, hatred. The far left hate moderates, Tories, liberals. The New Labour right, not Blair but way right of him, hate the far left, liberals if Liberal Democrats, anyone not on side. Benn, or to Blair, worked, because neither was or is other than a decent civilised person, but their followers, left and right of those men, no! A glance at facebook, let alone research or experience, reveals a party way to wide, much too divided. I have never seen hate in the Liberal Democrats, merely irritation, and dislike of attitudes. This site is a easy listening vs heavy metal, to Labour ones!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Aug '20 - 3:02pm

    And the proof is that David Raw, myself, and Katharine, can agree to disagree often here and do! And are friendly with it too!

  • David Evans 16th Aug '20 - 3:39pm

    Lorenzo, I am afraid it is you who is incorrect. Just because you personally never felt dislike for expats, doesn’t mean other Lib Dems didn’t dislike him, as I am sure you understand. Suppressing other’s opinion so that others cannot see it when one does not like that opinion is just one example of dislike, of course it can also be referred to euphemistically as editorial license,

    At a personal level, I remember pointing out to a fellow Lib Dem that turning a book around so that the title page was not visible on the bookstall at party conference was not really liberal – well let’s just say his opinion of the author who he had never met was lower than dislike, and his opinion of me was close to absolute disdain.

  • Peter Martin 16th Aug '20 - 4:32pm

    @ Michael BG,

    A vote of no confidence means pretty much that. It doesn’t have to lead to an automatic deselection. Jeremy Corbyn himself was subjected in 2016 to a vote of no-confidence by the PLP which he lost by 172-40. He didn’t quit. He fought his corner which is what the individuals you mention should have done also.

  • Peter Martin 16th Aug '20 - 4:56pm

    @ Micheal BG,

    The phrase “… for the workers……the full fruits of their labour” is fully inclusive of everyone who is able to make a contribution to society. For some workers, such as nurses, teachers, social workers, and even civil servants, the direct fruits of their labour are directly to someone else’s benefit. There no intention that they should be excluded from their share of total production.

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Aug '20 - 5:51pm

    Lorenzo, thank you for joining in, and I do agree with what you write above. I think the point is, expats and David Evans, that although we may disagree with each other fervently (as happened to Lib Dems who supported Brexit) and express that with some vigour, we don’t generally hate and loathe each other as it does appear some Labour people do.

    It sounds as if you have felt hurt yourself, expats, and it’s indeed hard to be disliked, disparaged or told you are being disloyal, so I hope a general wish to be kinder to each other which seems to be around in the populace now because of the widespread suffering from the Virus may be taken up in our party dealings by Lib Dems too.

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Aug '20 - 6:31pm

    David Raw. Your lament is so telling, David: “The tragedy of modern British politics is the splintering of the radical progressive side early in the last century compared to the tribal clannishness of the Tory Party who stick together whatever because they always put power over ideas.” I share your lament in my heart. Seeking out the history with Michael in our attempt to link the progressive thinking of the Liberal Government of 1905- 15 to the present need we see for progressive thinking to be focused in our Social Contract proposal, I learnt about the deep divides of the time with a few sad ‘If only’ thoughts.

    But, not to dwell too much on the past, the logical conclusion of such thinking is that our party and the Labour party should merge, and I don’t want that. With electoral reform, we can hope that our party would naturally absorb more of the progressive thinking of left-of-centre activists, and become bigger and more effective than Labour. But meantime we actually need to emphasise our separateness even while working together for progressive ends, and the above discussion of the authoritarian nature of the Labour party is helpful in making that distinction. We can’t afford to be seen as Labour-lite, David, even as we were seen in 2010-15 as Tory-lite. We must show that we are distinctively Liberal.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Aug ’20 – 2:59pm….

    I don’t know if you have told me to go elsewhere; others have.. Personal like/dislike does not enter into It; no-one on here knows me personally and like/dislike should only happpen with something far wider than a political difference..(Katharine, I’m too old and ugly to take personal hurt from strangers; it just strengthened my belief that this part was/is going in the wrong direction).
    As for my politics; I consider them to be the views of the Liberal party I knew over half a century ago. I found most of what was done in coalition distasteful and illiberal; they unfairly affected those worst off in society and spawned the cult of those, like Johnson, Gove, Grayling, etc., who offered simplistic, populist answers to complex issues..IMO it paved the way to Brexit and the fragmentation of the NHS and education; the results of which are all around us.
    Regarding ‘easy listening’; a party with that attitude achieves nothing.

    Oh, what would I give for the ‘Rock and Punk’ of a Beveridge/Atlee attitude.

  • Peter Martin 16th Aug '20 - 9:41pm

    It’s not much use looking back to what might have been if events had turned out differently in the early part of the 20th century.

    We have to start where we are now with the left and centre left pretty much unelectable in the UK. It’s happened over the course of several elections so it’s clearly not just a matter of replacing Jeremy Corbyn with Keir Starmer . The same thing has happened in Europe too. Once powerful parties have lost too much support to be relevant any longer. Some, like the French Socialists, barely exist at all.

    So, why has this happened? What mistakes have been made? What can be done to reconnect with what used to be core support?

  • Peter Martin,

    What about Bill Rodgers; wasn’t he “real Labour”? He was general secretary of the Fabian Society 1953-60 and was succeeded by Shirley Williams. He attended the same high school as John Lennon. Wikipedia gives no information on his parents. It seems that Shirley Williams’ parents were middle class who could afford to send her to Minnesota for three years during the Second World War.

    If an MP losses a vote of confidence by their Constituency Labour Party, I think it would be unlikely that they would be able to get more than the 2/3 support from the local branches needed to stop their being a selection process (see page 32 ). I expect the reason we didn’t hear about de-selections was the procedure has changed and with early general elections the trigger ballots had not been held.

    I think your interpretation of the phrase “full fruits” is strange. If the profits from a company go to shareholders or the government how can this be the workers receiving the full fruits of their work?


    I agree with Expats and David Evans, while we don’t have organised groups opposing each other, we do have some members wishing other members were not members of the party because of their political views and suggesting they would be happier in another political party.

  • @ Peter Martin. “We have to start where we are now with the left and centre left pretty much un-electable in the UK”.

    No, Sir, not in Scotland. Much as it may pain one or two folk on here including you, Scotland has a centre left government supported when needed by a Green Party…… a Government elected under PR, with PR in local Government, voting at 16, no un-elected second chamber full of cronies and donors….and with a government opposed to austerity and nuclear weapons.

    Again though it will pain you, Peter, with a prospect of rejoining the EU (in accordance with its electors wishes) in not too many years time…….

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Aug '20 - 1:02am

    David Evans

    I was referring to expats not experiencing on here levels of hate as in the labour party. Your experience of worse attitudes in the party are yours, and I feel those are worth you
    letting me know of, though they are not mine, here or in the wider party.




    I think this site easy listening, not the party, and am pleased, as a generation younger than you, I inherited the taste in music of that of previous years, parents or before, I like to hear melody and love to appreciate harmony!

  • Peter Martin 17th Aug '20 - 7:09am

    @ Michael BG,

    Its an interesting point about “full fruits”. The application of taxation will affect what that means. An industry which is making consumer goods will, as now, be creating a surplus which is subject to such taxes as VAT and corporation tax. A change of ownership won’t affect that. Other sectors, such as health and education, won’t be. So, it will be taxation, as now, which will be used as a means of sharing out the available production in an equitable way.

    In other words, the path to socialism does not stop surplus production and expropriation except by capital.

    Incidentally, Joe B’s Land Value tax is just as much an appropriation as nationalisation without compensation. So there is only a difference of degree between the Lib Dems, who support a LVT, and the most hard of hard left. They want to take it all away in one go without compensation. LVT supporters want to remove it gradually without compensation.

    @ David Raw,

    The Scottish Nationalists are a coalition of left and right. If Scotland does achieve independence they will split and we’ll have to see just who comes out on top. Rejoining the EU will mean they’ll be handing over their hard won sovereignty to Brussels. Or the Germans who are even more partial to economic austerity than the English Tories. Good Luck with that! But I can’t see it working out too well.

    There seems to be a quaint widespread notion that “independence” will mean Scotland sharing the pound with London but being a part of the EU on pretty much the old UK terms. I don’t think so! Some rethinking will be needed.

  • @ Peter Martin It may surprise you, Peter, given what one often hears so often from south of the Border, but one doesn’t have to be a Scottish Nationalist to support Home Rule.

    Despite the party line of the somewhat conservative Scottish Lib Dem establishment, many more Lib Dems support home rule than they are prepared to admit. Indeed there was a time in Liberal history when the vast majority of Scottish Liberal M.P.’s supported it….. when the vast majority of Scottish M.P.’s were Liberals.

    Home Rule also has the support of the Scottish Greens (some of whom used to be Liberals before the pro Trump lobby in the North East made life too difficult)…. and my friends in the Labour Party tell me there is more support for it there than is often admitted.

    If you want to stew in the juice of a first past the post Tory government with an un-elected second chamber filled with titled place men and women that’s up to you. You might even get a quaintly titled C.B.E. and no doubt you’ll continue with your Little Englander Imperialist conservatism.

  • Peter Martin 17th Aug '20 - 10:17am

    @ David Raw,

    It would be good if we could cut out the Little Englander vs Little Scotlander Stuff.

    Look, I’m not Scottish even though I do have some Scottish ancestry. I believe a Harry Martin migrated south in the late 19th century. So I don’t have a say in the matter of Scottish independence. It has to be that rather than ‘Home Rule’. That’s a nebulous term. You’ve already got that.

    Soon it will be make-your-mind-up time. To join, rather than rejoin, the EU you’ll have to be fully independent, with your own currency, which you’ll have to administer in way which is acceptable to the PTB in the EU. If that’s what you want then go for it.

  • Peter Martin,

    The New Statesmen article that you provided the link to, suggests that the reasons the left are not in government in the EU countries is because they have become “bastion(s) of urban, middle-class intellectuals” (“champagne socialists”), disconnected from what the “people are thinking about and what it is that they want” and fiscals rules and the euro have limited the freedom of national governments to have Keynesian economic policies. For us on the left in Britain we need to recognise that now we are outside the EU we don’t even have to pretend to be trying to comply with their fiscal rules and that we should not create any fiscal rules of our own plus recognising that if we pursue Keynesian economics the value of the pound might fall and we should not be too bothered by this. I believe we should look at history which you have set out in some of your posts that even if the pound falls to parity with the dollar or the euro it is quite likely to return to above parity over time.

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