Christine Jardine considers… What next?

Sometimes stepping back for a moment, and not thinking about an issue, can give you a whole new perspective on it.

This is, I believe, one of those moments for the party.

In the brief, frantic, space between the election result and Christmas it sometimes felt as if we were continuing to hurtle at the same uncontrollable pace which had propelled us into the election.

Before any work had been done to work out what had gone wrong there was, it seemed an almost reckless determination to launch ourselves into a new leadership contest.

Too soon, for me, in so many ways.

Yes, I am one of those who has been asked the question.

And no, I haven’t given a definitive answer.

But now, having had time over Christmas to get some perspective I think the answer we should all be yelling from Parliament is: “Not yet.”

Not, at least, until the party has had time to consider how, and whether, we need to change.

And then there is the need to focus on the May elections.

In the less than three years that I have been elected the party has had three leaders: Tim Farron, Vince Cable and Jo Swinson.

Now we are looking for our fourth.

Its less than five months since we all left Bournemouth buoyed by the optimism of the then new leader’s speech in front of an enthusiastic audience which included a still growing group of MPs.

There was widespread belief that the election, whenever it came, would be a pivotal moment in the party’s, and the country’s future.

And so it was. But not in the way we expected.

We have now had three elections in four years which have confounded everyone’s expectations and predictions.

If we do not take the time now to discover exactly why that is, we are likely to simply repeat any mistakes.

Whoever the next leader is, they must not be handicapped from the start by the uncertainty of unresolved issues.

The party must be sure both that this is the person who will have the popular support beyond the membership to gain the confidence of an understandably cynical electorate, and that they have the structure they need to support them.

And it’s crucial that it shouldn’t get in the way of the local elections. That must be our focus: those councillors and candidates who have worked so hard deserve the best, and undivided, support we can give them.

Ed Davey as interim leader has stepped into the breech to work with the President in guiding us through the immediate aftermath and the General Election Review.

They are to be allowed the time and space to focus on that to make sure we go into May with a strong campaign that has learned the lessons 2019 has to offer.

We have four years to rebuild for the next General Election. Let’s use them wisely.

* Christine Jardine is MP for Edinburgh West and spokesperson for Women & Equalities, Scotland and the Cabinet Office, which includes political and constitutional reform.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Wise words.

    Remember the gain in the Dunfirmline by-election in 2006? We didn’t have a leader and were in the middle of a leadership contest.

    If there’s one lesson to reflect on it’s that we can’t be all about the leader, and as a proudly localist party that should come naturally to us.

  • Peter Watson 6th Jan '20 - 1:40pm

    Apologies for the same post in two threads!
    I’m not a member so it’s not my call, but given the small number of MPs I think the party will look pretty rudderless and indecisive if it takes too long to choose one as a new leader. Also, I believe that it will lead to speculation that the party is waiting for a by-election to deliver a suitable leader, undermining the credibility of all of the current potential candidates (particularly Ed Davey).

  • This is all fair enough. The party does need to think about how it needs to change; where the next battleground for our values will be and how to meet that battle.

    My concern, I guess, is that it may take us a while to get there. Maybe a leader is just what we need to lead that process.

    My fear, I suppose is that we might need a leader willing to be at least a little unpopular with the grass roots – willing to deliver some home truths – and that a leadership contest might result in candidates outbidding each other with promises that we don’t have to change.

    So, sure, let’s not rush in to a leadership contest. Let’s see who Labour pick and how that affects the landscape. Let’s work out what questions we are asking ourselves. But let’s not expect to answer them all before we have a new leader.

  • “a little unpopular with the grass roots – willing to deliver some home truths –”.

    Do you mean by adopting a pale blue conservative policy approach and trying for a Coalition to prop up Johnson when he commits one too many mistakes, as he certainly will ? All that went down really well in Sheffield Hallam a year or two ago didn’t it ?

    I’d prefer the new Leader to go off on a six month sabbatical to read some Green, Hobson, Hobhouse, Masterman, Keynes and Beveridge …. together with the UN Rapporteur’s Report on Poverty and Inequality in the UK….. to discover what radical New Liberalism is all about together with a few home truths about what is really going on outside the leafy suburbs in UK 2020.

  • Agree 100%, Christine – the focus till May needs to be on ensuring that we achieve some brilliant local election results, do well in London mayoral election and get Caroline some company on the GLA. A membership election in the summer makes much more sense than a rushed one right away.

  • David, you got me – I meant exactly that. How could I have been so careless as to let my secret plan slip out?

    At least the party won’t have to change at all now. That’s nice.

  • David Becket 6th Jan '20 - 5:06pm

    I am not convinced we will do well in the London Mayor Election. Our remain vote has gone, and there will be a division between ourselves and Rory Stewart. At the moment a November opinion poll puts us at 8%, Stewart at 13%. Time for the party to do some smart thinking. The most important objective must be to get a non Labour/Tory into power.

  • With all due respect to our impressive band of MEPs, the level at which winning has consistently provided a basis for future success at other levels is local government, particularly if the winning is repeated over a sustained period. If winning is married to a Liberal way of doing things and promoting Liberal ways of talking about things so much the better. So the priority is ….

  • As the party struggles to understand why it was again decimated in the polls, it may help if I hold up a mirror so that you can see what the voters see.

    Boris lied and the Leavers were so stupid that they believed the lies. Most voters did not understand what they were voting for. Those who did know what they were voting for are racists, they voted for fortress Britain in order to keep foreigners out. The country will descend into paralyses, with economic stagnation, poor security, zero standing in the world and no allies apart from Trump who will force chlorinated chicken down their throats.

    In just a few years, the Leavers will be crawling on their hands and knees, begging the EU to accept them back under any terms. It could have been so different. This party was offering a second referendum with the promise that regardless of the result, Remain would be honoured. When that didn’t seem cast iron enough, we promised to revoke A50 if we gained a majority. Unfortunately, we were let down by the undemocratic system of FPTP. Another thing that let us down was the Brexit Party stepping down in many seats.

    As we look to the future, we must hold our nerve and our values. We must reject Brexit and campaign to join a Federal EU at the earliest opportunity. Proportional representation is a must because clearly our democracy and electoral system just does not work. We must try harder to explain our values to the stupid, racist, xenophobic millions who mistakenly voted for that evil Tory. Only then can our Party take its rightful place in government.

  • The phrases and opinions in the above comment were based on and lifted from a great many comments posted on this site in recent days and weeks. I have simply amalgamated them into a sort of composite comment. I have excluded just a few comments that disagree with the thrust of the majority. This survey is subjective but tries to represent typical comments.

  • David Evans 6th Jan '20 - 7:43pm

    Joe when you say ‘My fear, I suppose is that we might need a leader willing to be at least a little unpopular with the grass roots – willing to deliver some home truths,’ what sort of home truths do you have in mind?

    It could be the sort of home truths that begin ‘We failed in the 2010s because we sacrificed our voters in to fit in with coalition and we need to work out how to get them back …’

    Alternatively it could be ones that begin ‘We failed in the 2010s after we sacrificed our voters in to fit in with coalition because we didn’t go far enough in our search for a new set of voters and we need to go further …’

    Resolving this question has to be central to establishing what our future prospects as a parliamentary party will be.

  • Roisin Miller 6th Jan '20 - 9:21pm

    Couldn’t agree more Christine!

    We just reflect on why we’re in this position and ask ourselves some very hard questions. Once we’ve done this, we can then look at who is best to sort the mess and what their proposed strategy is.

  • David,

    They tried

    “We failed in the 2010s after we sacrificed our voters in to fit in with coalition because we didn’t go far enough in our search for a new set of voters and we need to go further …”

    they even convinced themselves that they’d found these unicorn voters and in 2015 they’d have at least 30 MP’s. Turned out those unicorns didn’t exist and won’t exist going forward, the best you’ll get following that policy is a few kind words from people who then vote Tory. That might be acceptable to some but it isn’t really a policy to sustain a political party.

  • Peter,

    Indeed some Brexiteers are racist xenophobes and none to bright either. I know them personally I have people like that in my family, but most are not. The average voter just wants to see an end to Brexit and many voted for that, unfortunately Brexit won’t go away, but will they suddenly turn into rabid remainers, I doubt that they shrug and say “well we are where we are”. In a few short years they’ll either not mention Brexit, tis to embarrassing and in the past or like Iraq claim they always thought it was a bad idea. But what they won’t do is forgive a government for making them poorer, they might not say “I’m voting against the government because Brexit was a disaster”, they might say “tis the sate of the NHS”, “Tis the fact my pension doesn’t cover my needs anymore”, “Tis the lack of good jobs for the young” they will find an excuse and punish the government that made them poorer.

  • I strongly agree with Christine that our leadership election needs to wait till after the council elections. It’s not true to say that we are leader-less in the meantime. Ed Davey is one of the most widely liked and respected people in the whole party and is capable of doing a good job as acting leader.
    We need to reflect and ask ourselves some pretty big questions. If done properly, that will take time. Only when we have done that, and developed a broad vision of the way forward, will we be ready to choose who is best to lead us.

  • Peter inhis excellent comment just held a mirror up to the party. Easy to see why they lost.

  • Andrew Tampion 7th Jan '20 - 5:42am

    Article 18 of the Federal Constitution requires an election to be held if the Leader ceases to be a member of the House of Commons [Article 18.2 (c)] unless a 2/3rds majority of Federal Committee present and voting votes to postpone the election for a maximum of one year [Article 18.2 (i)]. I believe that the Federal Board has met since the recent General Election so perhaps someone with authority can confirm whether such a vote took place and if not whether a timetable for nominations has been published under Article 18.4.
    I have nothing against a short delay until the local elections take place. However the Constitution appoints the Acting Parliamentary Leader as joint Leader if there is a vacancy. If the Acting Parliamentary Leader is a potential candidate for Leader then any delay to the calling of an election could be seen as giving an unfair advantage to the Acting Parliamentary Leader in a Leadership election. So if Ed Davey has not indicated that he does not intend to stand then the election should be as soon as possible after the local elections.

  • Kathy Erasmus 7th Jan '20 - 7:58am

    I totally agree Christine we have 4 new MPs who need to find their way and we need to make sure we make the right choice as the next election will define our future, at this moment in time this country should be renamed YOB UK, POWERED BY YOBS, ACTING LIKE YOBS. I think Ed Davy should stay as interim leader for at least a year. Lets fight the May elections and start the long hard road back to sanity, Europe and reconciliation and I do believe we are the only party that can do this

  • @ Kathy Erasmus “Yob UK”

    Sorry, Kathy, but you don’t win over the electorate by insulting it. We saw a bit of that with the Brexit T shirt.

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Jan '20 - 9:00am

    David Raw 7th Jan ’20 – 8:24am

    You’re absolutely right. Indeed, it’s eye-opening to compare the apparently supportive comment of Kathy Erasmus with the hostile (but hardly inaccurate) characterisation of this party by Peter at 6th Jan ’20 – 6:34pm.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Jan '20 - 9:36am

    I feel uneasy about the fact that it sounds as if a decision may be made to delay the leadership election until the summer, with the new leader presumably not announced until Autumn Conference, at the earliest. This seems too long for the party to drift on without an elected leader. After all, the Labour party are not postponing their leadership contest until after the May elections, or until the party has had a debate about its future direction.

  • John Roffey 7th Jan '20 - 9:43am

    I haven’t posted on LDV for some time – perhaps as long as two years ago – urging the Party to focus on climate change, which was and still is my primary concern.

    For what it is worth as, I hope, an objective bystander – the Party has the best chance of advancement before the next GE of any party. BJ will continue to promise the impossible and, within a couple of years, will succeed in invoking the electorates ire. Labour will continue to have internal divisions whoever becomes leader and the Greens, who should be the party most likely to make rapid advancement, is fundamentally flawed.

    I think that the Party should be relaxed about developments over the next six months – apart from providing the most rigourous opposition possible – as world events and Brexit are likely to create a period when the Party can exercise very little influence on outcomes. I would also put off any leadership election for this time. ED is a competent leader and more recent events have paled into insignificance any criticism of the Party’s role in the Coalition.

    The Party is an efficient election fighting machine – even with misguided policies. For it to achieve its potential it seems to me that what is required is popular policies. I would suggest, if the climate scientist are anything like accurate in their assessments, climate change must be central to these.

  • Some of our most successful times have been when we have been “leaderless” eg winning Dunfermline by-election in 2006. A magnificent win, and one of the most unexpected. To be honest, our electoral trajectory has been downhill all the way since (excluding our modest recovery over the last few months, which could be put down to what is called “dead cat bounce” in stock market terms, plus the recent impassioned support from the most dedicated Remain supporters). We can all trace who the less successful leaders were, so I need not name names!

  • suzanne fletcher 7th Jan '20 - 9:59am

    I agree with Christine, there is no rush. Time is needed for our new MPs to settle in, and for a team to be built. Also for the review on the election to take place properly, and the work to implement results of it need to be team work across both houses of parliament, various staff, bodies and elected boards within the party.
    It isn’t all about leadership, it needs to be about team building as well. We are certainly not “rudderless” with Ed and Mark working as a team to provide interim leadership.
    the ability to listen, and be in tune with the party, is going to be a key aspect of whoever comes through as leader for the future.

  • Nigel Jones 7th Jan '20 - 11:09am

    I completely agree that we must wait until after the May local elections to start the process of electing a new leader. I have been saying this since before Christmas and am so pleased many others agree. I think Labour are in a different position, because they had no deputy to take over temporarily. A national leadership process now would be a distraction from the important and difficult task of getting more local councillors.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Jan '20 - 11:52am


    Boris lied and the Leavers were so stupid that they believed the lies. Most voters did not understand what they were voting for. Those who did know what they were voting for are racists, they voted for fortress Britain in order to keep foreigners out.

    Dismissing people who voted Leave like this is just what helped Leave maintain support and helped the Conservatives win a big majority.

    A proper explanation of how the EU works and what it does was needed to counteract the sort of thing that Boris Johnson was saying. Many people are unhappy about the way our country has developed, with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, so the idea that this is all down to membership of the EU, and leaving the EU would give control back to our country to reverse all this seemed very attractive.

    Just dismissing such people who voted Leave for this reason by saying they are “stupid” is stupid. We should have actively worked to try to get at least some of them to realise that leaving the EU would not help, and with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister would push our country even further down the route that many who voted Leave though they were voting against. By not doing this, and showing no interest in their concerns, we encouraged huge numbers of people not to vote for us, and greatly helped Boris Johnson win.

    I remember having a discussion with some people the day after the referendum, and getting so annoyed with them at the way they dismissed everyone who voted Leave as “racist”. Dismissing people in this way is just what has wrecked the left in politics, by suggesting that left-wing politics is about being elite and not caring about ordinary working class people.

    There is a real issue of class discrimination, with elite people preferring to work with immigrants rather than British working class people. Also, bringing in immigrants who can take lower pay and live in shared accommodation, rather than giving enough wages to local working class people to be able to have the houses they need to bring up families is a real issue that needs to be tackled. It needs to be done carefully in a way that opposes actual racist thinking, but not doing it and instead just dismissing anyone who has this concern as “racist” just encourages them to become real racists.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Jan '20 - 12:02pm


    Some of our most successful times have been when we have been “leaderless” eg winning Dunfermline by-election in 2006.

    Yes, our best leader ever was Charles Kennedy.

    Why was that? It was actually because of personal issues that we only discovered later. They made him weak, and because of that, unlike almost every other leader, he did not try to dominate the party, and therefore it became seen much more as a party of an active team.

    This served us very well. A big problem our party has always had (and I mean going back to the Liberal Party, not just the Liberal Democrats) is the way its national image tends to be dominated by its leader, so it gets seen as just the personal party of that leader. We need to break out of that, and so we need a leader who does not try to dominate, and who therefore helps our party be seen as one with many skilled people who work together to make it what it is.

  • @John, that you are able to write “The Party is an efficient election fighting machine” with an apparently straight face suggests that you must surely have been out of the country for the past few months?

  • John Roffey 7th Jan '20 - 2:04pm

    @Ian, perhaps I did not emphasis sufficiently the extent of the Party’s misguided policies..

  • @ Matthew Huntbach “Yes, our best leader ever was Charles Kennedy”.

    I share your affection for Charles, Matthew, but regretfully and sadly I have to question whether he would have been suitable to be a Prime Minister given what we know now……. and which some of us knew well before his resignation.

  • suzanne fletcher 7th Jan '20 - 3:04pm

    @Matthew Huntbach. strongly agree that we do not demonise “leave” voters or even tory voters. Also important opportunity to be seen as a party and not whichever leader however wonderful they might be.

  • David Evans 7th Jan '20 - 3:06pm

    David Raw – Indeed what you say has more than a grain of truth in it, but there hasn’t been a Lib Dem/liberal leader since the 1920s who had any chance of being Prime minister. Charles was our best ever leader in terms of the enabling the party to move forward, with paddy second. That is the sort of leader we need.

    Any candidate for leader of the Lib Dems who thinks she/he could become PM really would not be fit to be party leader.

  • Matthew Huntbach – read Peters post again – he was being sarcastic and taking the p out of us, he was not being serious.

  • David Evans – any candidate who does not try to become prime minister and state that this is their aim, will ensure that this party never will be a party of government under their tenure. Its CRUCIAL that any new leader says that their aim is to become prime minister, however likely or unlikely that is, it IS possible, its very, very, very hard under FPTP, but it is still possible. I want a Lib Dem government, I have all my voting life, this wont happen if people like yourself are happy for the party to remain a minor party on the sidelines. Those leaflets saying Jo was “the next prime minister” were a mistake, but it will never be a mistake for a Lib Dem leader to say they are a candidate for prime minister and express their desire to become the prime minister

  • Paul Barker 7th Jan '20 - 5:19pm

    The problem here is that we have 2 “Big Things” coming up – The Local Elections & The Negotiations over Trade with The EU, we cant wait till they are both “Over” before we Elect a New Leader, that might mean spring 2021.
    The Tories have 6 Months to mostly conclude a set of Negotiations that would normally take 10 to 15 Years. They could do it, if they go for a bare minimum deal that gives The EU everything they want & leave everything else for later. That would mean going against all their promises & opting for a “Brexit in name only.”
    All the commentators close to The Tories suggest that they will take the other available course, going for No-Deal Brexit & blaming The EU. The disaster would come at the end of the Year but the direction has to be set by The Summer, at the latest. Do we want to be talking to ourselves in the middle of the Crisis ?
    I suggest having The Leadership Contest as soon as possible.

  • Neil Sandison 7th Jan '20 - 8:20pm

    We are not leaderless at this time We have Ed Davey acting up as parliamentary leader and a new president in Mark Pack representing the membership .We should take the time to assess if a parliamentarian is the only option as a leader , 3 of the political parties at the last general election had leaders outside of the Westminster bubble and despite the snap election new alliances across parties based on single issues reflected a more pluralist form of politics . Whilst still in their political infancy Extinction Rebellion demonstrated on climate change how direction action can and did change the agenda

  • Peter Watson 7th Jan '20 - 9:25pm

    @Neil Sandison “We should take the time to assess if a parliamentarian is the only option as a leader”
    Didn’t the party already do that?

  • John Roffey 9th Jan '20 - 8:22am

    Again, hopefully as an objective bystander – the issue of opportunities does not seem to be being considered.

    The recent past has demonstrated what does not draw support from voters – the key question at the moment, with the Tories having such a large majority, would seem to be – what within the Party’s objectives would attract the support of the electorate.

  • Nonconformistradical 9th Jan '20 - 10:31am

    “Of people posting here, there appears to be more who would rather the Party limited its aims to being primarily a pressure group that is active in local politics. This means relatively disparate policies that are adapted to local factors.”

    Which suggests to me that we are not doing enough to promote our values. Our values should not vary from place to place but policies aligned with those values might vary to some extent taking account of local circumstances.

  • David Evans 9th Jan '20 - 12:25pm

    JH, sadly it is people like yourself who would be condemning the party to oblivion by naive dreams of there being a Lib Dem PM *without having done the decades of hard work to earn it*. So far we have had two leaders out of our last three who really believed that they personally could lead us to that massive breakthrough and both of who lost the house in the ensuing election. All in all, I find it astonishing that long standing Lib Dems who say they believe in education and learning, don’t think there is anything for them to learn from that failure.

    If you had listened to the complete hatchet jobs done to Jo in by so many interviewers in the Election Campaign, you would see how such naïve fancies are cruelly and clinically exposed by ruthless forensic questioning by the media, and “I can be Prime Minster” was just one of many open goals we give our opponents. The interview on Women’s hour was probably the worst.

    What is essential is that we rebuild our party from the bottom up, so we actually *can* build and safeguard that fair, free and open society we believe in, and not have another Generation Clegg wannabe who is prepared to sacrifice almost everything by claiming they can bring home that one in a million chance. Putting it simply, if you get your way, it won’t be me but you who will condemn the Lib Dems to remaining a minor party on the sidelines, probably even a party with less than five MPs within ten years. Charles and Paddy helped build it up. Are you really prepared to knock it all down?

    Hubris is a terrible affliction for any senior politician. Liberal Democrats should not pander to such self destructive dreams.

  • What @David Evans carefully omits from his factually incorrect statement “So far we have had two leaders out of our last three who really believed that they personally could lead us to that massive breakthrough and both of who lost the house in the ensuing election.” is the following:

    – in 2010 Clegg got the highest number of votes ever for a Liberal Party (at just under 7 million), and actually got a massive breakthrough of entering government for the first time in 6 decades
    – in 2017 his favourite, Farron, got fewer votes than Clegg in 2015, and was on the receiving end of “complete hatchet jobs done … by so many interviewers in the Election Campaign” where his inability to get his position on Gay Marriage sorted over the preceding 2 years was “cruelly and clinically exposed by ruthless forensic questioning by the media”

  • Joseph Bourke 9th Jan '20 - 12:58pm

    The Canadian is often described as a big tent Liberal party and has extablished itself as the natural party of goverment over many decades.

    During the 2015 election, the Liberal party’s proposed policies included:
    Cut the middle class tax bracket ($45,000–$90,000) from 22% to 20.5% and create a new tax bracket for income above $200,000 taxed at 33%
    Set national targets to lower greenhouse gas emissions through cooperation with provinces, support Keystone XL with a stricter environmental review process, spend $20 billion over 10 years on “greener infrastructure”
    Run 3 years of deficits that will not exceed $10 billion to finance infrastructure projects and balance the budget in 2019.
    Spend $60 billion in new infrastructure spending, including $20 billion in transit infrastructure and quadrupling federal funding for public transit, all over three years/
    Invest $300 million annually to fund a Youth Employment Strategy
    Reduce employment insurance (EI) premiums from $1.88 per $100 to $1.65 per $100.
    Replace the Universal Child Care Benefit with a Canada Child Benefit that would provide $2,500 more to an average family of four/
    Support training efforts in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia; end the bombing mission against ISIS but increase humanitarian aid and training of local ground troops.
    Take in 25,000 Syrian refugees and spend $100 million for refugee processing and settlement
    Negotiate a new health accord with the provinces to guarantee long-term funding, including a national plan for lower prescription drug prices.
    Invest $3 billion over four years to improve home care/
    Set up an all-party committee to pass legislation implementation of physician assisted death/
    Full legalization of marijuana/
    Electoral reform, making 2015 the last election in Canada to be held under first-past-the-post.
    Implementing a non-partisan appointment process for the Senate modeled on that of the Order of Canada, after having removed Liberal senators from the party caucus in 2014.

  • John Roffey 9th Jan '20 - 1:26pm

    David Evans 9th Jan ’20 – 12:25pm

    David, although building and safeguarding a fair, free and open society sounds attractive – it seems to require specific policies to increase party support at elections.

    Which of the Party’s policies would you expect to attract the support of the majority?

  • David Evans 9th Jan '20 - 1:59pm

    TCO – Hello, nice to see you back on LDV again. I hope you had a good break. I have certainly missed you over the last few months. However, sadly you are misinforming yourself about me once again.

    You refer to Nick’s 2010 campaign as a massive breakthrough. However, by being selective with the facts, you have only presented one very limited side to the argument.
    Sure in 2010 we got more votes than in a while, but not as many as the Lib DemSDP Alliance in 1987 got over 7.3 million votes just a year before they formally merged. In addition, as so many supporters of Nick tend to do, you omitted to mention that we lost five seats overall under Nick in 2010, and it was only a fluke of electoral arithmetic that meant we held the balance of power.

    However, let’s be frank, it was the total mess that Nick made in coalition, pretending he was deputy Prime Minister that got us into the mire.

    As for Tim, again you are totally misguided, Charles, Jo (Grimond) and Paddy are my three favourites. However having inherited leadership of a party that was nearly destroyed, whose previous leader had squandered every last card he was given by previous generations of Lib Dems, Tim picked up the one card he was dealt and used it to build the one campaign he could to make us relevant. By reverting to a more effective electoral stance he also enabled the recovery we made in seats, but as you say, Gay marriage was his Achilles heel.

    Vince carried it forward, but sadly, after what had looked like a promising start that card was squandered by Jo (Swinson) in the General election.

    All in all, I consider a fuller and more rounded assessment of the facts substantiates my previous post and puts the ball clearly back in your court.

  • John Roffey 9th Jan '20 - 6:05pm

    Joseph – the question I asked was which of the Party’s policies would appeal to the majority? I was not suggesting that the Party abandoned its ‘building and safeguarding a fair, free and open society’ objective. However where a policy is unpopular and is likely to deter many from supporting the Party – it would seem sensible to scrutinise this thoroughly to make sure that it cannot be abandoned – for it is likely to prevent the primary objective ever being achieved.

  • There seems to be agreement that there is no rush to pick another leader. That seems quite sensible to me. What has surprised me is that there seems to be little interest in understanding what went wrong, whether changes are needed and what these changes should be.

    The Labour Party performed very badly at the election but it seems that Momentum and the Trades Unions are keen to keep the same policies and install a continuity leader, all of which suggests a similar result at the next election. Some suggest that the hard Left considers total control of the Labour Party to be more important than winning elections.

    All of this is a huge opportunity for this party, but there is a parallel paradox. I suspect that LD supporters are reluctant to see any change in the party and realise that they will see little change in the polls. There was a time when there was optimism that the voters would suddenly appreciate the merits of liberalism and embrace the party, but a series of polls has diminished this hope.

    I tried and failed to provoke debate about what went wrong. I certainly do not see any enthusiasm to make changes. This is the forum where anaylsis and debate should take place, you should not leave everything to a new leader. However, I see no indication that there is enthusiasm for change. I find that very disappointing. Expect the same result next time.

  • We need:-
    1. A leader who will be an enabler and a democrat. We don’t need a “cult of personality” or somebody to defer to.
    2. A Party with clear Values, such as Social Justice, Civil Rights, Environmental Protection; and Internationalism. Party policies and themes should follow on from that so that people can better understand what we stand for.

  • John Roffey 9th Jan '20 - 9:02pm

    Joseph Bourke

    The party would be distinguishable from the others [apart from the Green Party – which is fundamentally flawed] if it switched its primary policy to tackling climate change in the UK and via the IPCC. Here it has a policy that is, or soon will be, popular with an ever growing majority.

    There is no doubt that we will leave the EU – this needs to be accepted along with the fact that the party, with 11 MPs, will have little or no influence on what deal eventually is struck. A quiet withdrawal from the debate would seem sensible.

    With increased support, as a result prioritising climate change, there is no reason why a fair, free and open society cannot be built and safeguarded outside of the EU.

  • Innocent Bystander 9th Jan '20 - 9:45pm

    If you just have “Values” and nebulous, sponge brained actual policies you would be more a fringe religion than a serious political movement.
    What are you actually offering (now that Remain is lost)?

  • Joseph Bourke 9th Jan '20 - 10:53pm

    Thee are a number of policy reseach groups that have underaken serious work on Land reform. The IPPR writes
    “The reform of the dysfunctional land market is essential if the UK is to be a more equal, more productive and stable economy. It is also vital to creating a better-functioning housing market that delivers the affordable and quality homes the country needs.

    Land is an essential factor in all economic activity but, if it is not properly managed and regulated, it can play a destabilising role in the housing market and the wider economy. The UK’s dysfunctional land market and soaring land values have helped drive growing wealth inequality, create the conditions for a broken housing market, and are a root cause of an unproductive and unstable economy. Reform of the land market must therefore be focused on reducing the financial speculation that occurs in land and sharing the benefits of increases in land values for the benefit of the public good.”

    Toby Lloyd writing in the Guardian says “the land problem goes much deeper than our housing shortage. It lies right at the heart of many of the economic problems we face today. Financial instability, mounting inequality, debt overhangs and the puzzle of stagnant productivity are all direct results of our failure to properly account for and manage land in the modern economy.”

  • @ John Roffey “[apart from the Green Party – which is fundamentally flawed] “.

    Why do you say that ? I’ve a very great respect for Caroline Lucas and just wish that she was available to lead our lot.

  • John Roffey 10th Jan '20 - 6:03am

    @David Raw 9th Jan ’20 – 11:27pm

    David – if you are not a member of the Lib/Dems at present – I suggest that you join the Greens for a short while to experience a party created in Caroline Lucus’ image. Although she rarely refers to the fact that she is an ecofeminist when addressing parliament – it becomes apparent if you are a member of the party – virtually all of the leading speakers are female. She was “subject to criticism for suggesting the creation of an all-female cabinet as part of a “national unity government”


    When I first joined the party a few years ago I was not aware of her beliefs. However, it was soon after Prof. Peter Wadhams book ‘A Farewell to Ice’ was released. In this he warned of ‘Abrupt Climate Change’ and explained how methane would be released as the permafrost melted through the increased 1°C of global warming already caused since the onset of the Industrial Age. I could not understand, at the time, why the party did not focus entirely on PW’s findings – but I realised later that it was because of her ecofeminist beliefs.

    I left the party shortly after to start my own blog highlighting the findings.

    A Farewell to Ice –

    i rejoined the party about a month before the 2019 GE rather from desperation as it seemed totally irrational that they were not focusing entirely on climate change after Greta Thunberg school strike movement and Extinction Rebellion had such an impact in the Spring. I did criticise the party’s priorities on their forum when I rejoined which were 1] Brexit 2] Climate Change and 3] Social Changes that were set out in their 140 page manifesto [echos of Gerald Kaufman’s the longest suicide note in history].

    Climate Change was the focus of the party’s electioneering during the last few weeks – but it was too late for them to make the kind of gains that might have been the case had not CL’s ecofeminism stood in the way. They did increase their vote by 1.1% – but this could have easily been by 10% + given the concern GT & XR had stirred up by then.

  • John Roffey 10th Jan '20 - 8:06am

    Martin 9th Jan ’20 – 11:39pm

    Martin – as far as Brexit is concerned I am afraid I do view the estimated costs of Brexit as ‘project fear’ – all of the estimates to date, I believe, have been greatly overstated. However, should their be a cost and given the warnings – it is not unreasonable for these to be absorbed for the outcome of the EU Referendum to be implemented. It is a significant step to be taken for the nation and the majority of Opposition MPs [excluding the SNP] did support the bill.

    What seems to be lacking generally by politicians is an understanding that measures to prevent climate change cannot be delayed as is often the case with manifesto commitments. Climate scientists calculations have determined that there is less than a decade to reduce CO2 emissions to zero – if the target of 1.5°C above preindustrial levels are to be met. Although the increase in emission has slowed they are still increasing – this has created an impossible to achieve reduction program. It is worth looking at Extinction Rebellion Climate Emergency website at this point.


    You will see that the achievements of the IPCC fall well short of what is required to contain temperatures within the 1.5°C target – based on government policies [rather than promises] we are heading for an increase of 3.2°C increase by the end of the century which is well on the way to reaching a tipping point when temperatures just keep rising and most life forms on the planet become extinct [obviously including humankind].

    You question my use of the word ‘popular’. If memory serves, it was early last year that concern was being expressed for the climate scientists who, when they were away from their work were showing clear signs of extreme anxiety because governments were not heeding the results of their work – however, once they returned and became aborbed in their work again the anxiety disappeared. This indicated that once they returned to doing what was needed to be done they felt at ease again.

    Whereas I have no data to confirm this to be the case – it does seem likely to me that the high level of mental illness amongst the young is related to the fact that those whose lives are most likely to be directly effected by climate change are aware of the dangers. However, they feel they can do nothing to prevent the defined outcome – even if the illness manifests itself in other fears.

  • John Roffey 10th Jan '20 - 5:14pm

    Joseph Bourke

    My surname is Roffey btw – not Roffrey.

    Yes I am aware of the frustrations of the young wishing to get on the property ladder – my youngest daughter is one of them. Nevertheless, her anxiety along with that of many others in the same situation cannot be exclusively attributed to this issue.

    Only those who have been subjected to extensive psychoanalysis or practiced deep meditation over a long period are likely to come to know their deepest fears – most never do.

    See “Man and His Symbols’ by Carl Jung

  • Joseph Bourke 11th Jan '20 - 1:03am


    I don’t think a campaign to put extensive psychoanalysis or deep meditation on the NHS would attract much support from struggling voters.
    As the IPPR notes in it report, Land reforms are vital to creating a better-functioning housing market that delivers the affordable and quality homes the country needs.Real measures focused on Land values can
    Addressing climate change involves massive changes in the way we live and unprecedented international cooperation. The substantial costs involved cannot be borne by the most vulnerable in society. The measures required to address climate change can only be delivered by a government that is trusted to ensure that those least able to adapt to the changes are not left destitute as a consequence of the changes.

  • John Roffey 11th Jan '20 - 8:01am


    I think you are probably aware that I was not proposing that psychoanalysis or meditation is provided by the NHS – I was simply pointing out that it is often difficult to know what is actually troubling someone who has mental health problems.

    It is the reason why the rapidly increasing mental health problem [7 million are now taking antidepressants] is neglected by the NHS – it is usually an expensive condition to treat if talking therapies are applied rather than simply prescribing tranquillisers or antidepressants. These can be addictive leaving patients with a long-term problem and a large bill for the NHS.

    I do not dispute that land reform is a way to provide affordable homes. However, I do dispute that measures to combat climate change can be dependent on the impact on the most vulnerable – although I would, of course, support measures to alleviate their difficulties.

    I would, once again, draw your attention to the Extinction Rebellion Climate Emergency website page.

    The key point is to recognise is that global warming cannot be reversed – and the longer it is left to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuels to zero – the higher the temperates and more extreme climate that will be experienced by today’s young. Based on government policies [rather than promises] we are heading for an increase of 3.2°C by the end of the century – which is well on the way to reaching a tipping point when temperatures just keep rising and most life forms on the planet become extinct [obviously including humankind].

    It is true that the climate emergency requires a global response However, if a developed and highly populated nation such as the UK can demonstrate that the use of fossil fuels can be eliminated by, or close to, 2030 – it puts significant pressure on other nations that have fewer obstacles to do the same.

  • James Fowler 11th Jan '20 - 10:07am

    I very much agree with Christine and others who are calling for little pause and reflection before the leadership contest. My reasons are (1) Sadly, we’re not that important. Britain is not waiting with baited breath for the next LD leader. That’s regrettable, but it does allow us space to think – let’s use it. (2) Let’s also see what Labour does. Remember how Tim Farron’s USP (radical non-conformity) was immediately gazumped by the completely unexpected arrival of Jeremy Corbyn. (3) Let Boris enjoy his honeymoon. He’ll be pretty much untouchable for at least a year or two (shades of Blair) and carping too loudly about Brexit will make us sound like bad losers. This means thinking forward passed the actual process of leaving the EU and quietly looking to position ourselves advantageously in what we think that new world might look like. So let’s save the ammunition and give Bozza plenty to rope to show how lazy, sloppy, promiscuous, incompetent and arrogant he is – which shouldn’t be too difficult.

  • @ John
    I am amazed that anyone believes the hysterical claptrap that emanates from ER. Their policy is to terrify children by telling them that they will be dead in 10-15 years.

    The planet has warmed by one degree in the last 150 years which is when the precursor to the current HadCrut temperature record was started. The 300 year long Little Ice Age ended about two decades before that. Most of that one degree warming can be attributed to warming up from the LIA but no one knows the contribution from CO2 emissions.

    It is inevitable that the temperature record shows a warming trend given when it started.

    By the way, no serious scientists believes in climate warming tipping points. Descending into another ice age is a different matter and the next one is overdue.

  • Peter,

    Leaving aside at the moment XR’s predictions – are you denying that man made climate change is taking place and that the combined efforts of the majority of the planet’s nations, acting through the IPCC, are wrong to participate in their attempt to reduce CO2 emissions?

    If so are you saying that the scientists contributing to ‘Climate Change: The Facts’ are also wrong?

  • Peter

    I suspect that XR got its ‘tipping point’ from the scientist mentioned in this NASA article.

    Is it too late to prevent climate change?

    Have you discussed your views with the group who produced the party’s climate change proposals in its manifesto?

  • I’m not denying that man made climate change is taking place. The IPCC is right in some of its work and draws absurd conclusions in others. It uses inexperienced people to review thousands of papers, many of dubious value.

    Some attempts to reduce CO2 emissions are worthwhile, others are stupid. All but the serious producers are wasting their time, spending trillions to achieve negligible changes.

    I do not watch the endless BBC stuff on climate change. I stick to reliable sources of information.

    The NASA article is out of date even though the small print claims it was updated this year. Nobody expects a 6 degree rise these days.

  • Joseph Bourke 11th Jan '20 - 1:23pm


    mental health care is and has been a key feature of Libdem policy. I think there are two urgent priorities that need to be addressed with respect to the mental health problems of younger people. Fist is early intervention as issues are identified in an effort to prevent the development of psychosis . The second is the control and regulation of cannabis to reduce the availability of high strength stains like Skunk off the streets,
    Support services for adults suffering mental health issues need to include adequate housing and welfare provision.
    I was a PPC in 2017. The election hustings were loudly interrupted by a very distressed gentleman who had been discharged from a mental health that week and was sleeping rough while waiting six weeks to get any Universal credit payments. Weather conditions were a concern for him but not climate change just whether the rain would hold off during the night.

  • John Roffey 11th Jan '20 - 1:38pm


    You are of course entitled to your opinion – which is increasingly that of a minority. However, since this is a Lib/Dem forum and the party clearly views climate change as a significant problem – based on its manifesto commitments – I hope you will understand why I intend to disregard your viewpoint.

  • John Roffey 11th Jan '20 - 5:22pm


    I think your comment applies to policies on homelessness and drug usage rather than climate change.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Ruth Bright
    I liked what Daisy Cooper did about the D-Day/Rishi controversy. Reading from her Grandpa's war diary was high risk because it is so easy to sound mawkish - but...
  • Jenny Barnes
    "Every member will have had many communications by now asking them to prioritise their efforts in a specific seat." No, I haven't had any, let alone many....
  • nvelope2003
    Whatever the reason for the move to the right in some states maybe the British have seen where this leads and will reverse the trend here. One can but hope....
  • expats
    The Conservative manifesto launch was far more like the funeral for an unpopular corpse than a christening... Little about past achievements much on 'future sna...
  • Alex Macfie
    @Simon R: Comments like these are populist right-wing tropes: "The liberal left has become a shill for a failed EU establishment…" ...