Party changes we need now – or it could be “game over”

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Being a Liberal Democrat member since 2014, I have unfortunately seen the complete collapse of the Liberal Democrats in respect of having any real continuous identity.

Our “identity” today is a remembrance of the broken Brexit movement, and, like most voters, it is questionable to say what the Liberal Democrats really stand for apart from bitterness.

Yes, we did do very well in terms of our opposition to Brexit and I, like many others, fought hard for us to Remain. But Brexit itself, as an argument, is finished. And it’s time for the Liberal Democrats to go through a series of real reforms to produce something which our next leader must push.

Our new leader of the party has to be somebody who is strong and who is willing to put through needed, long-lasting reforms. These reforms, whilst many, can be summarised by coming from three different areas – policy, branding and local parties.

The first reform is in policy. This will be the hardest and most difficult, as the Party is based around members deciding our what our policies are. But the new Leader must direct the party to understand that this is a new age. Personally, I believe the party should make electoral and constitutional reform the key,enshrined principles for the party, on which to build everything else. Most people will argue that “the average voter may not care about reform”, in the same way that lots of Liberal Democrats do. However, such an approach allows us to send out a central message.

When people ask what the liberal democrats stand for, we can say: “We stand for reforming democracy”. Borrowing a little from the book of Mr Farage we can make this message simple: “Democracy is broken, and we will fix it”. We need to make this a clear message to anybody who feels that there was something wrong with the UK. We say to them: “well – Democracy is broken, and we will fix it”. The fact that we are not screaming from the roof tops about a over 150-year-old voting system and how it is broken, surprises me. That needs to change now.

The second reform which the party drastically needs is a rebranding. I do not know what kind of rebranding this might be – it could go as far as a complete re-branding or a partial re-branding like a slight change in our name or our logo or our message. Whatever the decision, there needs to be a rebranding. In Europe, Liberal parties, including the European party groups, have all undergone rebranding. In Europe ,they have successfully developed a great message of reforming Europe – which seems to be working well. We need to do the same for Britain: Reform Britain should be our brand. Unfortunately, while the party and several key members of the old guard refuse to allow this to happen, the party will never see widespread success.

Finally, the last reform needed in a party is a complete and thorough investigation into the party’s spread across the country. The party needs to identify which areas, or which local parties, are still essentially functioning as a political force and in which areas we are either completely dead or have very little support whatsoever. This might be unpopular with a lot of parties who are just surviving, but they need to make decisions on these small branches to decide whether some must be absorbed by larger ones or whether there should be a new strategy in order to start making headway again. Part of this support should clearly direct online resources for online local marketing to areas that are not able to produce any kind of real paper trail in their local area.

Unless changes of this kind of magnitude are undertaken by the party, then Liberal Democrats will continue to struggle from election to election and their identity will continue to drift. I don’t believe that, given what we believe in, we are destined to be unpopular. But the fact is that we don’t have a clear message of who we are, what we stand for.

Until we do, we will never convince anybody that we deserve to be trusted.

I am a proud Liberal Democrat, but my faith is now wavering. If Liberal Democrats like me are wavering, it’s time to accept that we need radical change in the party.

* Nicholas Belfitt studied politics and international relations and joined the Lib Dems in 2014. He blogs at Liberal Ramblings.

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66 Comments

  • Mark Kenyon 2nd Jun '20 - 3:27pm

    Liberal Democrats can help the very people that Labour have failed and the Tories are busy quietly shafting.

    Progressive, liberal, social democratic….these aren’t new concepts but they are sorely absent from both Labour and Conservatives. This is what motivates me to go out and knock on doors and convince voters, even if it has to be one repaired pothole at a time.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jun '20 - 3:28pm

    A very good article.

    I agree with nearly every part.

    I advocated these thorough changes before the party became a single issue one. Nobody cared. Brexit ruined the political landscape.

    The reason in my view, apart from charisma, layla moran is the strong contender , she is prepared to duck and dive and adapt and analyse, without knee jerk left right EU< not EU, ping pong political approach.

    I think we need to accept reality. If we are to be a think tank, why is there little attention paid outside of this party, to our policy expertise which we do have?

    If we are a party why do we not make electoral impact that wins seats in parliament?

  • The majority of voters who contributed to the landslide election win for the Conservatives may not be easily persuaded that democracy is broken. Calling for electoral reform doesn’t seem like a new Lib Dem policy to me. I seem to remember that Clegg got a referendum on the matter not long ago – and lost.

    I’m not against the idea, but you seem to claiming it as a new exciting policy. It is not. Many voters rejected reform because they were irritated by the Lib Dems banging on about it. They think that Lib Dems see it as the only chance of gaining power and are therefore happy to deny them that chance.

    The political scene has been fickle and volatile in recent years, swinging from deadlocks to landslides. The two main parties and most of their voters see no advantage in PR and prefer the winner takes all aspect of FPTP.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Jun '20 - 4:49pm

    Nicholas Belfitt | Tue 2nd June 2020 – 3:05 pm
    Can you be constitutional AND radical AND popular on a sufficient scale?
    All at the same time?

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Jun '20 - 5:10pm

    Peter 2nd Jun ’20 – 4:25pm
    ” Clegg got a referendum on the matter not long ago – and lost.”
    No the Alternative Vote is a bad idea, which Paddy Ashdown allegedly supported and Michael Howard had a field day.
    It is necessary to establish in the public mind that our policy is the Single Transferable Vote. What it does is to empower the individual voter. What happened is that Enid Lakeman died. She was only 91. The Electoral Reform Society earns by being a neutral and reliable counter of votes in trade unions and other organisations. Campaigning for reform is sadly only part of what they do.

  • John Littler 2nd Jun '20 - 5:18pm

    Reform should be right up there again, but it the Constitution not enough. We need reform into how companies are run, to put green issues and people issues at their heart.

    There can be multiple bottom lines in companies, which should not just push shareholder interests. This is at the heart off German success where Trade Unions also work to the same goal.

    Government too should push an industrial strategy fit for the times to support people during the massive changes via high tech coming. People expect this and if the LibDems retreat into book learned free marketisms it will look relevant to most business and will not offer the support people will look for. They will instead either go for a new moderate Labour or for a Tory party chucking borrowed money and concessions to the North and Midlands to try to hold the seats they gained.

    The LibDems need to draw on the SDP tradition and come up with a rival, more individualistic alternative to Labour’s old cart horse, more appealing to small business and contractors

  • I joined the Union of Liberal Students in 1969 and can see a real continuous identity. The Liberal Democrats are not a one issue party and work needs to be done to show that will create a caring, just and prosperous society.

  • Voters like common sense policies. The way for this party to gain influence and partnerships is through providing clever innovative ideas that the public will support and other parties will adopt. Supporting the NHS, mental health and care for the elderly are areas that are already high priority but lack clarity on how to proceed. Lib Dems should consult widely and hold working groups to generate innovative solutions.

    Shaping the post Brexit UK is another opportunity for innovative thinking. Reforming the housing market and rental sector is another challenge. What should our policy with China look like is another challenge. There are many similar needs requiring sensible solutions.

    The party can differentiate itself, gain credibility and respect by making a strong political contribution with innovation and common sense as the core characteristics. This requires hard work and focus but could benefit the party and the country.

    Avoid fanciful climate change policies that are meaningless or just plain wrong. For example, we have more than enough wind power. Two weeks ago we paid out £9.3 million in a single day to get turbines turned off in order to avoid damage to the grid.

  • Julian Tisi 2nd Jun '20 - 5:42pm

    No. We need to start talking to people about the issues that matter to them, not niche interests that matter only to us. Our philosophy – liberal, social democratic, progressive, open, etc. isn’t the problem and isn’t what needs changing. But we need to provide liberal democrat solutions to the problems people care about at all levels – from potholes to our place in the world.

  • Andy Hinton 2nd Jun '20 - 7:33pm

    Rebranding for the sake of rebranding is pointless cargo-cultism. Successful rebrandings are there to herald a genuine shift in how the brand wants to be seen (e.g. Cameron’s tree logo for the Tories to herald his “compassionate conservatism”). Work out what the point of a rebrand is first, then call for it, but “lots of other liberal parties have done one” isn’t a good reason.

    Redefining our core purpose now that Brexit will be moving to the longer grass is an important project, and will be much much easier to square with the member-led policy process of this party if our leadership candidates give us a clear sense of their own direction in the leadership contest, so that they can be assumed to be in tune with the membership on that point if elected leader. If they keep to platitudes in the leadership contest, this becomes much harder.

    The audit of party strength across the country is a worthwhile goal, though I’m not sure about the prescription to absorb small local parties into wider areas. That seems to me like a recipe for black holes to be even more neglected whilst large local parties try to focus on a few promising areas. I much prefer the model of targetting which retains smaller local parties and then persuades them to help support targets when needed, because if motivated and given good advice on how to move forward, this is much more likely to lead to a long term picture of wider strength across the country.

  • Cllr Fran Oborski 2nd Jun '20 - 7:39pm

    We have got to be seen demanding a just and fair society which is inclusive for everyone.
    We have to champion the underprivileged.
    We need to be about Reforming Britain from the bottom up not just top down. We need to be working on the “new normal”; we need to champion Universal Basic Income and a Green Agenda!

  • Is UBI a loony lefty thing? I have never understood the attraction of it and have not found anyone who can explain its advantages.

    At the moment we have a benefits pot which is a large chunk of public spending. If we now chuck money at the everyone, including those who get by without benefits all the way to those who are billionaires then those who actually deserve the support will get a lot less. Ok, that means we have to increase the size of the overall pot because we have started giving away money to those who don’t need it. I can see taxpayers will just love this idea.

    Is that how it works or is there something I don’t understand?

  • Let me deal with the green agenda. Wind turbines have a large carbon footprint, a high maintenance cost and are intermittent. This makes them totally unsuitable as anything other than a minor contributor to the grid. in order to attract investors, there have been large subsidies and contracts that allow lucrative payments even when the turbine is turned off. Add to that, huge connection costs and considerable costly modifications to the grid and turbines become very expensive indeed. Most of them need to be replaced after two decades, making them very expensive – and that is before you start to decide what to do with the carbon blades, steel shell and massive concrete foundations. These costs are rarely mentioned.

    Because the wind often does not blow, we need a fossil fuel back up that CAN be ramped up and down to increase or reduce production as required in order to balance supply and demand. This backup must always be on standby and is usually a gas powered station. This inefficient way of running it costs more than normal.

    The whole thing is madness because it would create a smaller carbon footprint, cause less environmental damage and cost a fraction for the electricity if we just ran the gas power station. Like most aspects of climate change this is never discussed because those involved are busy becoming extremely wealthy at the expense of the consumers and taxpayers. Politicians haven’t got a clue about science or technology and blindly follow the green agenda because they have been spooked by the deliberate alarmism and think votes are at stake. I haven’t mentioned solar power because it is so trivial it doesn’t merit one.

  • Ashley Thompson 2nd Jun '20 - 10:45pm

    I’d really support a rebrand. I regret the obsession of having to have the word Liberal in the name. Rebranding by removing that word would not mean not being driven by liberal values, they’re enshrined in the preamble.

    And simple 3 word phrases to get meanings across instantly to ordinary voters.

  • Came here after getting an email from Mike German inviting (presumably all remaining members in wales) to say, in one sentence, why we are looking to vote LD next May.

    Funnily enough my pals and I have all been debating during lockdown exactly what the party stands for in Wales. It’s odd, unlike with the SNP we don’t tend to occupy the same space as Plaid, so you’d think there’s be space.

    So far, we’ve come up with ‘because I don’t like the Labour AM’ and ‘we ought to try to replace the ghastly Neil Hamilton in the assembly’.

    Anyone any idea what we can send back to Mike?

    Outside of Wales, I agree we must never again abandon electoral reform – but to do this we must admit that the union is broken and needs radical attention. How so? Well we have a hereditary head of state, an appointed and massive upper house, and a lower house elected by an undemocratic system that has also led the whole country so badly. We should never leave unchallenged the idea that Boris Johnson has a crushing majority. 42% of votes cast is not a crushing majority, whatever the crazy Westminster bagatelle throws up. We should not accept this.

    We also need a modern agenda – support genuine small and local businesses, the self employed, start-ups, social enterprise, tackle the debt, find things to do for people displaced by tech, and grasp the green revolution with both hands. They’re not new ideas mind.

    The last thing we need do is look back, especially to the SDP!

  • Paul Murray 3rd Jun '20 - 8:45am

    I’ve been a member since 1983. I saw the direct debit for my membership renewal on my bank statement a couple of days ago – £70 – and for just a moment I wondered if maybe I should cancel it. Because at the moment it is hard to see what the party is for. It does, I’m afraid, feel like reports of the death of the Liberal Democrats have not been greatly exaggerated. But then I thought that if a week is a long time in politics then 4 years is a geological era where the tectonic plates can shift. Hope springs eternal…

  • @JohnMc. Well said. I’m with you on the small business agenda but problem for government is that they don’t see the small business sector as having a sufficient impact on employment and GDP growth in the short term.
    @Paul Murray. I suspect you are not alone, just hanging in there and hoping something turns up. Got to say, unless the Thornhill report has a real galvanising effect, it’s not looking good.

  • Daniel Walker 3rd Jun '20 - 9:15am

    @Peter “Wind turbines have a large carbon footprint, a high maintenance cost and are intermittent.

    The lifetime carbon footprint “payback period” for a wind turbine is between 3 and 14 months¹, including maintenance costs. The energy payback period averages 6.8 months for onshore and 7.8 for offshore¹.

    You are correct that it is intermittent, but energy storage is massively improving—single-house batteries are already feasible, if still expensive. Overall cost-per-megawatt for onshore wind is comparable with gas².

    Most of them need to be replaced after two decades
    Yes, but the payback period as mentioned above is measured in months.

    and that is before you start to decide what to do with the carbon blades, steel shell and massive concrete foundations. These costs are rarely mentioned.

    You recycle them, Peter, those costs are included; steel is readily recyclable, and you put another turbine up on the foundation; wind turbines already have a recycling rate of 85-90%, but the blades are trickier, granted, although apparently that is improving.

    Because the wind often does not blow, we need a fossil fuel back up that CAN be ramped up and down to increase or reduce production as required in order to balance supply and demand.

    You need back-up, it doesn’t need to be fossil-fuel (even gas stations can use biomethane from sewage, food, and agricultural waste). The UK grid has had “Electric Mountain” in Wales for years to store excess energy (still a problem for fossil-fuel generation, because of the ramp-up and ramp-down times) and the 100MW Minety battery storage project in Wiltshire is due to enter service later this year.

    In any case, each MWh you generate from renewables is a MWh you don’t need to generate from fossil fuels, which saves you the CO₂ emissions, and other environmental issues of such generation.

    Wind power isn’t perfect, nothing is, but it’s nowhere near as bad as you make it.

    1. Renewable Energy, v108, pp72-84. 2017, fig.11
    2. BEIS, ELECTRICITY GENERATION COSTS, 2016

  • Paul Fisher 3rd Jun '20 - 10:52am

    This is a good article which I fully support. The problem is evidenced by the comments above which is akin to herding cats. Success is embodied in leadership and vision; a leader that espouses the vision and a vison that is supported by a clear plan and policies which resonate with the electorate. The botched leadership election represents just one facet of a Party in need of radical reform. The unwillingness to contemplate the unthinkable is a death knell. Progressive policies can win elections. We need to step up and point up the overt fascism free ranging across our society and posit positive and constructive solutions which tackle this scourge head on. Stop amplifying the minorities and pointing up difference dressed as diversity. Embody equality, openess and tolerance .. it’s all in the Constitution ….

  • Julian Ingram 3rd Jun '20 - 11:03am

    A rebrand or brand refresh comes after you have defined what the brand wants to communicate in terms of values. Not before.
    What is urgent is that we can communicate what we believe in in simple easy to understand messages. Messages that relate to everyday issues and concerns of millions of people. When we have that cracked we can look at the brand image.

  • There seems to be a lot more sense in the comments than in the piece itself.

    A rebrand seems like the last thing that’s needed right now. All it does is show voters that the party is more concerned with itself than anything they care about.

    People care about having a secure job, a safe environment and decent public services. They don’t care about electoral reform, UBI, or any other gimmicks, however important they might be. They’ll vote for whoever they think is likely to give them the most of the things they want. They’re not likely to vote for a party that isn’t even talking about them.

  • Barry Lofty 3rd Jun '20 - 12:20pm

    If the Liberal Democrats cannot get their message out there to the British electorate in the midst of this truly awful government then we might as well give up, but I believe we can, at least I can hope that someone emerges in the very near future who can lead this party to greater achievements, the country needs the Lib Dems more than ever at this time!!

  • Douglas beckley 3rd Jun '20 - 12:56pm

    Daniel Walker:

    The lifetime carbon footprint “payback period” for a wind turbine is between 3 and 14 months¹, including maintenance costs.

    That’s simply not true. I’ve worked in the composites industry for some time and have experience of Wind Turbine manufacture and repair for some years. In my area it’s a specialised industry but that Company – Siemens – always faces tight competition from other manufactured Turbine blades. For example, this company which manufactures in disparate locations as far apart as the UK, Denmark and the Far East – https://www.mhivestasoffshore.com/ (by all means write to their publicity departments) – is acknowledged to manufacture one of the most powerful and efficient blades in the industry.

    Their blades are guaranteed for twenty-five years. Their respective manufacture Carbon footprint for each blade manufactured is not months but eighteen years. That’s their declared quote. As I say, I have no objection you might contact them direct. They are one of a deal of Companies which manufacture and there are specialised support and maintenance services which provide ongoing support to blade farms.

    Take if from someone with direct hands-on experience. ‘3 to 14 months’ is not only not true, but not even in a credible ballpark figure the industry itself as is would recognise.

  • Peter Hirst 3rd Jun '20 - 1:20pm

    The leadership contest provides an excellent online medium to see how the candidates differ and vote accordingly. Going against the grain, perhaps we should give more authority to our elected leader to put their personal stance on our Party. Given that we have a weak identity, this would help to foster a stronger one as long as we collectively agree to it. This should be tied with a constitutional route to rethink who we want in a couple of years.

  • Nick Belfitt 3rd Jun '20 - 1:27pm

    I have read through a lot of the comments and I keep seeing the same old thing I have seen since 2015.

    It’s the same arguments some Lib Dems have to any change, “oh we shouldn’t rebrand to we know what our values are” or “People don’t care about Reform or UBI, they care about jobs, social services blah blah”. If this was true then why haven’t we returned to a good number off seats yet? We have been parroting these messages for years now and we are no where.

    Yes we should re-brand, and no we don’t need to “know our values” we already know that. Yes we should put forward policies that actually make changes.

    Look at Brexit people don’t get enthused or vote for little changes in social service, they vote for big issues where they think the most change comes from.

    And just to say all because an issue isn’t big in peoples minds doesn’t mean it can’t be made into one.

    In 2013 the EU was on even in the top 10 issues UK people had, and yet 3 years later we leave.

    We need to learn from Brexit and use that power they used to Reform in the UK,

    If stay this boring “pot-hole” course. We will be dead.

  • Christopher Love 3rd Jun '20 - 2:27pm

    1) How much longer do Cons. & Labour continue the Class War? Is that really what’s best for the UK? Freedom from inequality (of opportunity) is central to LibDem
    2) Brexit is gone, Pro or anti-EU are here to stay.
    3) Global warming

    I voted Tory for many years, and only recently saw the light, that they are never going to fix these things. Neither are Labour for the most part, there is just too much inertia from the Unions.

    So I completely disagree about our continuous identity. The messaging of our identity is a whole other thing – what was/is wrong with Demand Better>

  • Sue Sutherland 3rd Jun '20 - 2:59pm

    Strangely, I don’t feel pessimistic at the moment. I agree the last election was very destructive and during the pandemic no one is taking much notice of us, despite our MPs taking action and sending out press releases. However, we have been here before, when Paddy Ashdown became leader and then Margaret Thatcher decided to introduce the Poll Tax. People were appalled and we had a platform to work from.
    I think we have an even better opportunity now. If we are resolute we can reform ourselves while the pandemic forces the Tories and Labour into fighting each other over how this is being dealt with. We can implement the Thornhill report, restructure the party as a campaigning machine and deliver a post Covid vision of society and policies to achieve that vision. We need a leader who sees that we need to reform the party but I’m not sure that rebranding is the key unless we can turn the bird of Liberty into a Phoenix.
    The experience of lockdown has been an exercise in applying Mill’s harm principle to all our daily lives and the majority of the population has understood this and has proved willing to change their behaviour. This is the opportunity to show how a Liberal society works with the idea of community values extended to our national community. We have to choose a Leader who can express this and who has the energy and commitment to reform our party to make it ready for this opportunity.
    There are a lot of new members with energy to give to the party. Let’s use them. We have a group of ex MEPs let’s use them. Let’s use anyone with something to give.
    Finally, I would really love it if the party would do some research into the 6% or so of the population who say they would vote for us. Let’s use that information to help our campaigning and our policy making so we can get our message across.

  • Daniel Walker 3rd Jun '20 - 4:04pm

    @Douglas Beckley “Their blades are guaranteed for twenty-five years. Their respective manufacture Carbon footprint for each blade manufactured is not months but eighteen years. That’s their declared quote

    I do not pretend to be an expert in this area (I trained as a physicist). However, you refer to the blades, which I did mention are hard to recycle (although this in improving), not the whole device. The carbon footprint measures I mentioned are from the article in the journal Renewable Energy that I had as reference 1, but I grant that it is paywalled. Here’s an open access one³

    All turbines under 500 kW required 2% or more of their lifetime to offset their production emissions. When the turbines were larger than 500 kW, the carbon payback period was 1.4% or lower. The 3.4 MW turbine only required 0.88% of its 20 year lifespan to offset its emissions.

    which is lower than the figures I quoted, as is the 4 months quoted in MHI Vesta’s 2019 Sustainability Report.

    3. Smoucha et al., J Fundam Renewable Energy Appl 2016, 6:4

  • Douglas beckley 3rd Jun '20 - 4:41pm

    Daniel Walker – then the link to which you are directing people is incomplete and misleading. No I’m not suggesting you are intentionally misleading people, but to remove the blades from the equation is pretty much cherry-picking. Rather like quoting one massaged figure from MHI without taking into account the carbon footprint of other parts of the manufacture processes, including the disposal of hazardous liquid resin waste – just one example of a much wider equation. And this was for a blade with a reputation for efficiency. Whole-life footprint for a less efficient blade of similar size would exceed eighteen years. Without blades there is no Wind Turbine. Just a useless tower. Like talking about cars but excluding wheels or engines.

    There are dozens of different sizes of blades for different uses. Blade sizes translate to effective diameter of the full circle a Turbine describes. Hence individual manufactured blades are usually identified by the ultimate diameter circle of which they form part. Offshore the UK, there is a preference for the larger blades – smaller blades are commonplace and are used within wind farms inland and offshore internationally. At present, the plan is for UK turbine blades to be reduced to rubble at the end of their 25 year guarantee to be used for road-building aggregate. UK users prefer larger blades since the locations at which they are employed are sufficiently distant from shipping lanes and the fewest number of towers need to be constructed.,

    But an eighteen year carbon footprint (for that one specific blade manufacture) is not a sensible figure to overlook in terms of carbon footprint efficiency.

    I have no particular agenda here – this is just my job and other for this purpose, I would not have contributed to this thread. I’m not a party-political activist. It took me a few seconds to render a fairly large hole in the figures, mainly because they’re too simplistic and quite incomplete. To prevent a researcher doing that via an experienced and aggressive questioner in a live TV interview, the research your party leader needs to possess in preparation is going to have to be exponentially more comprehensive.

  • Daniel Walker 3rd Jun '20 - 6:17pm

    @Douglas Beckley “Daniel Walker – then the link to which you are directing people is incomplete and misleading.

    Douglas, the Renewable Energy (Kaldellis & Apostolou, 2017) article is a peer-reviewed literature review article from a major scientific publisher, not an article in the Express. They didn’t “remove the blades from the equation”, they counted them along with the rest of it. To do otherwise would indeed be dishonest – to be fair, the turbines they studied may not have had carbon-fibre reinforced blades.

    I have found another Open Access article, from the Institute of Physics(Liu & Barlow. 2018)⁴. If you look at Table 7 on the PDF, it gives the CO₂ footprint per blade (turbines usually have two or three) Carbon-fibre reinforced ones are higher, probably for the reasons you describe, but even assuming a three-blade turbine with the largest footprint per blade from the 16 models in that table (model 56.4-3.6 at 82.1 tonnes per blade) the emissions for the blades would be 244 tonnes. Combined-cycle Natural Gas power produces 490 grams CO₂equivalent per kWh⁵, which is (of course) 490 kg/MWh. 244 tonnes would therefore take ~498 MWh of wind generation to offset. That blade is rated to 3.6MW, so that’s 138h of full-capacity output from the turbine. Assuming an average output of 25%⁶, that’s a payback of 23 days – obviously that’s excluding the tower and the foundation, but is consistent with the payback time of several months overall I was suggesting, and nowhere near 18 years.

    You provided an 18 year figure from, apparently, MHI Vesta’s publicity dept. I couldn’t find said figure; but their own sustainability report disagrees it in any case.

    4. Liu & Barlow, The environmental impact of wind turbine blades
    5. IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Annex II
    6 Hughes, The Performance of Wind Farms in the United Kingdom and
    Denmark
    , 2012, Table 1 (note that offshore has a much higher load factor) https://www.ref.org.uk/attachments/article/280/ref.hughes.19.12.12.pdf

  • Daniel Walker 3rd Jun '20 - 6:32pm

    “IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Annex II”

    Annex III, my apologies!

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Jun '20 - 7:01pm

    John Littler

    The LibDems need to draw on the SDP tradition and come up with a rival, more individualistic alternative to Labour’s old cart horse, more appealing to small business and contractors.

    Comments like this suggest that what is believed now about the Liberal Party and the SDP is the precise opposite of what was actually the case when the two parties merged. The idea that what the Liberal Party stood for then was what is now called “neoliberalism is completely untrue. I say this as someone who was a member of the Liberal Party then, and voted against merger because I felt the SDP was too much in favour of what we then called “Thatcherism” but now gets called “neoliberalism”.

  • @Daniel – Levelised costs do not contain the cost of running a back up system.

    With respect, you paint a rosy picture about generating from food waste and the like but these are negligible in a national grid context, so too are battery storage systems.

    Some of your factual claims are astonishing but this is probably not the right post in which to debate the recycling of wind turbines, except to say that in the US they put the blades in landfill. I would just make the general point that the scientific literature is littered with peer reviewed papers that are not reproducible and not worth the paper on which they are printed.

    That is true for a number of important fields including medicine, where 50% are worthless. Climate science related papers are much worse, since the subject is politicised and ideological in nature. Finding papers that are free of cherry picked data is a real challenge.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Jun '20 - 10:03pm

    The central issue with our party is that Labour pushed the idea that all of us members were in happy supporters of everything that the 2010-15 Coalition did. They did that in order to damage us in all those places where we were the main alternative to the Conservatives – and that is what most of the seats where we had MPs were. Well, Labour succeeded, but it didn’t win them much, it just turned much of the country where we were serious challengers back into safe Conservative places. So, Labour in effect helped boost the Tories.

    And so did the leaders of our party. Because they did NOTHING to stop the damage that Labour was causing to us. So that helped most people to think that Labour were indeed telling the truth.

    We needed to make clear that it was due to the disproportional electoral system that Labour supports but we oppose that the Coalition that was formed in 2010 was the only stable government possible, and that thanks to the disproportional representation we were only a small part of it, so could have only a little say in what that government did. I.e. it was a mostly Conservative government, and we were not in a position to make the Conservatives drop all they stand for and pick up instead what we would really what if we were the major government party.

    Instead of explaining this, and making it clear that a government with many more Liberal Democrats would be very different, this issue was hardly mentioned at all in the 20165, 2017 or 2019 general election. So, now we are seen by most people as the party of right-wing economics – the opposite of what we really stand for when we describe ourselves in our constitution as standing for “None shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”.

    Please note, during the merger it was the Liberal Party negotiators who insisted that these words be put there to explain what we are about, and to make it clear that we oppose what was then called “Thatcherism” and is now called “neoliberalism”.

  • James Fowler 3rd Jun '20 - 10:57pm

    ‘Changes we need now or it could be game over’. Calm down. This rambling cluster of non-conformists would have disappeared long ago in the 1950s if mere coherence and slick advertising was the yardstick of survival. Here’s my view about what’s going on.

    The most salient fact about the Party presently is that it is still deeply traumatised by being in government. The experience intellectually and morally vapourised its entire modus operandi and most of its raison d’etre built up over 40 years. Exposure to it terrified droves of members and voters right out of the Party. In terms of policy, electing Tim Farron after 2015 showed the Party’s deep seated to loyalty to non-conformist radicalism over establishment classical liberalism and when that was rendered otiose by genuine article – Jeremy Corbyn – we’ve opted for the safe pairs of moderate hands represented by former government ministers.

    Europe was a indeed a lifeline but the political energy generated was via the delayed negative project of opposing Brexit rather than positively proposing the EU. I agree that political reform is really important and we should always own it, but building a major campaign on it as a positive program is fantastical. Johnson and Farage’s long-term and successful project draws on deep emotional reservoirs of nationalist feeling stirred up by Blair’s previous constant mantra of embracing change. Government at the moment is about best embodying the guardianship of deeply traditional ‘British’ (English!) values.

    Personally, I think we can steal a chunk of that via a move to a classical liberal Party run by experienced moderates. Perhaps we should be re-brand ourselves as Whigs 😉 There was just a moment last autumn when I wondered if really large numbers of moderate Tories thrown out by Johnson might join us en-mass and create something quite politically important. More seriously, classical liberalism remains an intellectually coherent and a fairly vacant piece of political real estate.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Jun '20 - 11:37pm

    @ James Fowler

    Well, there we are – you are agreeing to what many who used to vote for us and now don’t vote for us, and others who in the past might have considered us but now never would – that we are the party of right-wing economics, the true heirs of the pre-2016 Conservatives.

    Meanwhile, the Conservatives are seen by many as the party of the left. Yes, because they supported Brexit and said that would return control to us. That is, they are seen as opposing the way the country is run by and for wealthy international business type, and wanting to return it to being run by democratic government.

    However, while poor people see it this way, wealthy people still see the Conservatives as the party of the right and us as opponents of that. So, the Conservatives benefit as everyone sees them as the party that supports what they want, while we lose because everyone sees as the party that opposes what they want.

    And the Labour Party is seen by ordinary people as the party of the centre. Jeremy Corbyn is not seen as particularly left wing by ordinary people, because he doesn’t actually say that much about helping poor people become more wealthy. He seems to be more interested in overseas issue. Indeed, being supportive of immigration which is seen by wealthy people as an aspect of the left, is seen by poor people as an aspect of right-wing politics i.e. supporting a more unequal society and doing down poor people by inviting overseas workers because they are happy to work for low pay.

  • James Fowler 4th Jun '20 - 8:42am

    @ Matthew – interesting points, thank you.

  • Matt (Bristol) 4th Jun '20 - 9:01am

    Matthew Huntbach / James Fowler

    The idea of moving into the gap left by the Tories (which isn’t imho a straight right/left issue) is problematised further by the fact there are two kinds of dissident Tory (neither of which managed to organise well enough in the previous crisis to actually split the party):

    – moderate social conservatives with a ‘one nation’ agenda – disparaging nationalism and unilateralism, in their own way valuing community and democracy, focusing on a pragmatic, incrementalist approach to government, but nervous about too much change all at once.

    – the remnant of the ‘modernising’ pro-European post-Thatcherites — ‘liberal’ in some senses of the word, pro-business, pro-free trade, pro-freedom of individual behaviour, seeing the EU as a way to promote those agendas, not overly community-focused, not overly interested in grassroots democracy. London-centric.

    If either of these groups founded their own party, they could unsettle Boris. But could the Lib Dems convincingly absorb or imitate these people, without serious internal dissonance and risking collapsing what fragile coherence there is already? I’m not convinced.

  • @James Fowler – Excellent insight. I often feel that this party regards the responsibility, accountability and realism imposed by being in government as an unwelcome distraction. It is much more satisfying and rewarding to construct a portfolio based on liberal values within a bubble populated by a congregation of like minded enthusiasts.

    You are right about the Conservatives too. Bringing back control is music to the ears of a large majority because it covers a wide spectrum of interests. What is not to like?

    The world order is changing too. Relying on everything from low cost goods to high tech expertise from China is no longer a long term option. US foreign and trade policies are unpredictable. The EU demand to retain control is hardening attitudes here and may precipitate a no deal exit. Hong Kong may lose its influence as a major financial centre as its leading experts flee to the UK.

    It remains to be seen whether Johnson and his team flounder in this turbulent environment or whether they can use agility and flexibility to take advantage. There is a changing world out there but this party is still mourning its taste of power a decade ago.

  • Peter Martin 4th Jun '20 - 10:07am

    @ Matthew Huntbach,

    ” Indeed, being supportive of immigration which is seen by wealthy people as an aspect of the left, is seen by poor people as an aspect of right-wing politics i.e. supporting a more unequal society and doing down poor people by inviting overseas workers because they are happy to work for low pay.”

    There is exactly the same situation in the USA. For example, the wealthy farmers in California and Texas want a copious supply of undocumented immigrant labour who’ll undercut the wages of USA citizens. They’ll say USA citizens won’t do the work. What they really mean is that they won’t do the work on the same ultra low wages.

    The obvious solution from a left perspective is to ensure that the Trade Unions are sufficiently effective to ensure that this doesn’t happen. In other words, if we have workers from overseas they are paid union rates and are given the same conditions as everyone else.

    I’m not sure why you have a problem with this. But if you have a better, more LibDemmish solution, please let’s hear it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Jun '20 - 11:49am

    @ Peter Martin

    I joined the Liberal Party 40 years ago, seeing it as the best opposition to the Conservative Party which dominated where I live. So, if it really is the case, as some seem to be saying here, that the Liberal Democrats are going to be turned into what is essentially the Conservative Party as it used to be, I will leave the party – and let me tell you, right-wingers who think “liberal” means giving all power to wealthy business people through “free market” economics – as someone who was once very active in the Liberal Party that most definitely was NOT about that, I will NOT leave quietly.

    Now, Peter, about the trade unions, well that is one of the reasons why I preferred the Liberal Party. Back then the trade unions were much stronger, but the Labour Party seemed only interested in working class people who were in jobs where there were strong trade unions. In the south of England where I lived, trade unions were much less strong, because we didn’t have the big industries where effective trade unions could be organised. Of course, what has happened since then is that the whole of the country has become like that, which is why many working class people across the country now don’t see the Labour Party as particularly their party. Indeed, the dropping of the power of trade unions means the Labour Party now gets seen as a party of intellectual elite types, as to some extent it always did in the south.

    The other issue was that the Labour Party seemed happy for the area where I lived to have almost all its MPs Conservative, in return for other parts of the country having almost all their MPs Labour. So we poor people in the south had no-one who really represented us. People thought – and do to this day in places dominated by the Conservatives – that everyone where we lived was wealthy. However, in some ways the poor in these places are even more enslaved by poverty, for example because of the high house prices. Local poor people get pushed away and replaced by immigrants who are willing to live in crowded shared accommodation.

  • Peter Martin 4th Jun '20 - 12:26pm

    @ Matthew,

    I agree that the Labour Party has lost touch with the working class generally. Maybe not quite as badly as the Lib Dems but still it’s bad enough.

    I don’t think anyone in the Labour Party thinks the people of the South are all wealthy! I was a student in Reading so I saw enough to know that wasn’t the case. The Labour Party has had some success in places like Reading, Portsmouth, and Southampton over the years. There have been, and still are, pockets of support in the South but getting anywhere near a breakthough outside these pockets has been problematic.

    Which is a pity because Trade Unionism and the Labour movement started, arguably, in Tolpuddle. It’s probably in a safe Tory constituency now. But whatever the difficulties there’s been no collusion with the Tories. There is really no justificaton for your statement:

    “….the Labour Party seemed happy for the area where I lived to have almost all its MPs Conservative, in return for other parts of the country having almost all their MPs Labour.”

    Having said that you won’t, for obvious reasons, find the Labour Party putting a lot of effort into safe Tory Hampshire seats. But neither was much effort put into what should be the safe Labour seats in the North and Scotland. And that’s another problem. Many have turned out not to be quite so safe after all.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Jun '20 - 1:13pm

    Peter Martin

    There is really no justificaton for your statement:

    Yes there is – the Labour Party does not support proportional representation. And yes it does that because it prefers an electoral system that gives it loads of safe seats in some places, which inevitably means loads of safe Conservative seats in other places.

    The electoral system we have, as supported by Labour, means the only people who get true representatives are those who have the majority opinion where they live.

    As it happens, the constituency where I grew up is Hove. Then considered a safe Conservative seat, and so supposed that it was place mainly inhabited by wealthy people. But now it seems to be the safest Labour seat in south-east England outside London …

    However, it’s still the case that there is a massive disrepresentation of the people in south-east England. It is still almost all Conservative, with those who are not Conservative supporters having very few to speak out for them.

    So, if there is one thing that has kept me in the Liberal Democrats, it’s that the Liberal Democrats are still the party of proportional representation and Labour is not.

    I am also a strong supporter of multi-party politics, not politics which results in a two-party system and government by one party. As such, I did think it was hypocritical not to agree to the one coalition that was possible to be formed in 2010. However, I think the Liberal Democrats needed to make it clear that it was joined for this reason rather than that we preferred the Conservatives, and make it clear we would have only a minor say in it, so what it did is very far from what we would do if we were the dominant party in a government.

    It was because this was not done, not during the Coalition, nor straight after, nor after that, that our party has lost most of where it used to win seats, and seems to have little chance of coming back. I do hope, however, that we can get a new Leader who really will do what is necessary and should have been done years ago to revive our party after the Coalition.

  • James Fowler 4th Jun '20 - 1:42pm

    @ Matthew Huntbach. Thank you again for your comments. May I ask, what do you see the purpose of the Lib Dems? You are clearly anti-Conservative, but Labour presents you some problems too in terms of its northern industrial bias and its innate conservativism on issues like constitutional reform – which was much more evident in its fabric 40 years ago – but definitely lingers on. This understandably made/makes the Liberals/LDs a fair choice, but I wonder about the positive reasons for doing so and also where the logic of disliking the red/blue options leads in terms of coalitions? Are the Lib Dems a purely oppositionalist project in your view?

  • Peter Martin 4th Jun '20 - 2:37pm

    @ Matthew,

    Most Lib Dems want PR simply to get more MPs which is fair enough! You’re in favour of PR because you say you are in favour of multi-party government? After the experience of coalition too ! 🙂

    I see the argument but there is a danger that right wing populist party led by someone like Farage would sweep into power. If UKIP and the BP can do it in the Euro elections……

    I would say that is the majority view in the Labour Party too and it’s nothing to do with wanting to give the Tories a free hand in any part of the UK. We’d like the good citizens of Hove to vote Labour. Why wouldn’t we? But it’s a democracy, albeit an imperfect one, and they’re entitled to vote Tory if want to.

  • Douglas beckley 4th Jun '20 - 2:43pm

    Daniel Walker – you can splurge all the links you like. Be my guest. You believe them because you want to believe them. They’re massaged, because they have to be.

    I work in the industry. I build the damn things. I already know what the accurate picture is. That’s the figures my own company releases – intra-industry knowledge – and discusses for its own purposes. Believe all you like – I’m well aware you don’t want to believe me. You need to believe what suits you for your own politics. As I say, I have no agenda.

    The figures you have decided to believe are – in aspects of public awareness – falsified. Other than for political knockabout, they’re meaningless. Your problem, not mine.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Jun '20 - 2:56pm

    @ James Fowler

    My central belief is that we should have a truly representative Parliament, and that Parliament should be where government policies are developed. That is very different from the socialist model of Labour, where policies are developed by a party, there is a single party government, and so Parliament itself has just a nominal role.

    That is why I have said if we are expected to accept “neoliberalism” meaning what it is used for, would Labour be happy for the word “neosocialism” to be used for something that was a development from socialism? That is, the development of that idea of party strength and power that took place not just in those countries that became Communist countries, but also those who called themselves “National Socialists” in Germany in the 1930s?

    No, I don’t see the Liberal Democrats as being purely opposition. That is why I accepted the 2010 Coalition. I would prefer a coalition with Labour, but I could see that in 2010 the coalition with the Conservatives was the only stable government that could be formed. But we needed to make clear that just because we were a small part of it did not make it our ideal, and if we had a bigger share of MPs a government involving us wold be very different. Our party has been badly damaged by not doing this, and this allowing the belief to grow that the 2010-15 government is close to what a Liberal Democrat government would be like.

    I’ve remained a member of the Liberal Democrats hoping this is not the case, but I am concerned that we really are now being pushed in a way that is intended to make us the 21st century version of the Thatcherite Conservative Party.

    I used to be very happy with the policies of the party, although I’ve aways been a bit to the left of it. I very much support what it is stated we should be about in our constitution where we say what we are about is “None shall been enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”. That is very different from what is described as “neoliberalism” which seems to think that freedom is given by the only thing the government does being to defend ownership. In reality, all that does is give more freedom to the rich, while slaving everyone else in the opposite of what we are supposed to be about.

  • Peter Martin 4th Jun '20 - 2:56pm

    “….. it’s time to accept that we need radical change in the party.”

    If the Lib Dems are looking for a new angle, how about acknowledging that capitalism doesn’t function independently of Govt? It is, and has always been, a partnership. The government issues the currency and we, workers and capitalists alike, use that currency to as a means of exchange and store of value.

    Capitalism can’t exist independently of Govt. When the system is in deep crisis, as it was in 2008 , and is now in 2020, capitalism can only survive if the Govt pursues the policies necessary to ensure its survival. If capitalism needs bailing out then Govt bails it out. The big problem in the EU is that they don’t have a government to run their currency. They then wonder why the ECB has to frequently exceed its statutory limitations. It has to try to make the best of a bad job.

    It is only by using the power of the currency issuer that Govts can bail out capitalism when it needs it. This doesn’t mean that the Govt has either to nationalise everything or privatise everything. These are really secondary issues which other parties think matter much more than they do.

  • Peter Martin 4th Jun '20 - 3:24pm

    @ Douglas Beckley,

    “I build the damn things” ie Wind turbines.

    Ok. I don’t know enough about their carbon footprints to comment, but my concern is that they represent “greenwash”. The idea is that Govt has to be seen to be doing something to solve the climate change problem even though it isn’t really. When the wind blows we can read about how Denmark can be self sufficient in home produced wind energy. But what about when it doesn’t? Yes, in theory, Denmark could switch over to battery power – if it existed in sufficent quantity which of course it doesn’t. So it switches over to fossil fueled power or nuclear fueled power.

    And sadly that’s the choice for at least 80% of our power requirements. The renewables can be 20%, at the most. I don’t believe any country of any size is anywhere near this. Maybe it could be possible for a low density population like Iceland if they had lots of hydro and geothermal power. It’s not possible for us in the UK. So why waste time fretting about the 20% when its the 80% that really matters?

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2009/mar/18/nasa-climate-change-james-hansen

  • Peter Watson 4th Jun '20 - 3:42pm

    I would agree that “it’s time for the Liberal Democrats to go through a series of real reforms to produce something which our next leader must push”, but I think it would be a mistake to “make electoral and constitutional reform the key,enshrined principles for the party, on which to build everything else”.

    Firstly, it just looks self-serving: “vote for us so we can change the system to make it easier to vote for us”!

    More importantly, I think it is putting the cart before the horse. Lib Dems need to be clearer about communicating what they offer that is radically different from the other main parties. First persuade people to vote for the party because of its policies for social and economic reform, and then argue for the electoral reform needed to deliver those policies.

  • Daniel Walker 4th Jun '20 - 4:07pm

    @Douglas beckley “you can splurge all the links you like. Be my guest. You believe them because you want to believe them.

    There is undoubtedly some truth in that, because I am not a perfectly rational being. I would be happy to read a link you provide to back-up your 18 year figure, and then we will discuss further; I don’t really see any purpose in continuing this discussion until you do, though.

  • @ Peter Martin – Your thinking is correct. I find it enormously frustrating that political leaders of all parties are living in some fantasy land when it comes to climate change and energy. Leaving aside the big questions – whether reducing emissions makes any difference to climate change and whether climate change is a threat – we do not have a viable replacement for fossil fuels. The problem is intermittency. Supply and demand must always balance to avoid blackouts and damage to the grid.

    Forget batteries, they are a long way from being of any use. Forget hydrogen, it is too inefficient. Fossil fuels beat everything else we know about by a very long way. That is why 100% renewable energy is not possible. On a windless night it could easily it could easily be 0% so 100% fossil fuel back up is essential.

    Why are so many people unable to grasp this simple fact?

  • Richard Underhill 4th Jun '20 - 6:34pm

    Peter Martin 4th Jun ’20 – 3:24pm
    @ Douglas Beckley,
    Scandinavia is rich in water-based environmental power, so there should be more power lines to the England and Scotland to use it, then connect it to the national grid.
    Also co-operate with Spain, Portugal and north African countries to use solar power.

  • Peter Martin 4th Jun '20 - 6:41pm

    @ Peter,

    Just because switching to 20% renewables, incidentally an ultra optimistic target, isn’t going to change anything very much, it doesn’t follow that Climate Change isn’t real and isn’t a huge problem.

    Dr James Hansen, mentioned in the link I posted earlier, is a well respected NASA climate scientist. He’s no contrarian on the question of climate change and he does also make the same case. The renewables will have only minor applicatons and won’t be enough to make a difference.

    He’s come to the conclusion that nuclear fission power is the only option we have until such time as nuclear fusion power becomes a reality and can take its place. There’s no point in saying it isn’t safe. We have to make it safe. The figures, even including the effects of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, aren’t anywhere near so bad a many imagine. We are much safer living next to a nuclear power station than a coal fired one.

  • Peter Martin 4th Jun '20 - 7:44pm

    @ Joe B,

    The article does acknowledge that the conditions were especially favourable for renewable power earlier this year. But there is no getting away from its unreliability. Germany has invested heavily in solar technology which is fine providing they can switch over to French nuclear power when the sun goes down.

    And its not all about electricity generation as we use it now. In the future we’ll have electric vehicles which will be mainly recharged overnight and you can’t do that with solar power.

    So there has to be a place for nuclear too. James Hansen makes some startling claims for its safety in this article which I know won’t convince everyone. But we should go through all the arguments rationally.

    https://4thgeneration.energy/dr-james-hansen-nuclear-power-has-contributed-more-to-reducing-mortality-than-any-other-energy-source/

  • Daniel Walker 4th Jun '20 - 8:14pm

    @Peter Martin “Just because switching to 20% renewables, incidentally an ultra optimistic target

    The UK is on around 18% wind and solar already, so I don’t think 20% constitutes “ultra optimistic”, Peter¹. I do agree that nuclear is probably necessary.

    1 https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/data-portal/electricity-generation-mix-quarter-and-fuel-source-gb

  • Joseph, yes, Germany has invested heavily in renewable energy because the Greens have considerable political influence. This has resulted in increasing energy costs and Germany now has the highest electricity prices in Europe. As a consequence, the famous German competitiveness is now in decline and last year, Germany entered recession. This is being aggravated by the self inflicted lack of confidence in the traditional diesel and petrol car markets.

    The running down of German nuclear in an irrational response to the Fukushima crisis has left Germany with no reliable baseload energy, just unreliable renewables. This has forced the country to rely on huge imports of Russian gas and French electricity. The latter will disappear when the French start using electric vehicles.

    All of this is a major problem for German industry and for those who struggle to prevent the grid from collapsing altogether. The answer is obvious. Germany has been quietly building new coal fired power stations.

    The latest, Uniper’s Datteln 4, a 1,050 megawatt coal fired station costing 1.5 billion euros started producing on 31 May, just a few days ago.

  • I agree entirely with those who say that the future will, or at least should, be some combination of renewables and nuclear. But sometimes the politics gets ahead of the science. Sound familiar ??

  • Peter Martin 5th Jun '20 - 5:52am

    @ Daniel,

    I probably should have made it clearer that ‘power’ doesn’t just include electricity generation although that is big factor. We’ll probably have to switch back to electricity rather than burn gas for heating purposes at some stage – unless we want to see a widespread increase in the use of fracking techniques to get the stuff out of the ground. That usage of course will be mainly required in winter when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind may not blow.

    So we do need other non CO2 emitting sources of energy and nuclear does seem to be an option which can’t be ignored. It’s good we do agree on that but there’s still a lot of opposition. The slogan “Atomkraft Nein Danke” illustrates we’re good at saying what we don’t want but not so good at saying what we do.

  • Nonconformistradical 5th Jun '20 - 8:00am

    “We’ll probably have to switch back to electricity rather than burn gas for heating purposes…”

    Or maybe even construct our dwellings so as to minimise the need for heating them in the first place?

  • neil sandison 6th Jun '20 - 10:40am

    Reforming ,renewing ,and re-engaging with all parts of our society should underline our message . There is a growing movement for radical and progressive change at street level ,its how we capture that mood and reflect it in a refreshed Liberal Democrat Party .We have made some real howlers in the past fallen into bear traps of our own making . Old faces from the coalition years will not inspire any renewal new faces pushing the climate emergency agenda will help have you read Greenpeace agenda for recovery for example some good and sustainable ideas there worth adopting ,support for the circular economy to replace the current broken economic system .More of a say for local communities through citizen panels and yes we keep pushing electoral reform FPTP is not necessary at a local; government level and will enhance and improve scrutiny of local executives and could help to ensure they are really held to account.

  • Peter Martin 6th Jun '20 - 11:02am

    @ Joe B @ Peter

    “Germany is a country actively tackling climate change……….” ???

    Opening new coal fired power stations doesn’t look like a good way of going about it!

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-uniper-coal-datteln/unipers-datteln-coal-plant-set-for-may-30-start-up-idUKKBN2322CR

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