Clacton and the Lib Dems’ post-2015 wastelands problem

Clacton Pier.The Clacton by-election triggered by Douglas Carswell’s defection from the Tories to Ukip will take place on 9th October – David Cameron’s birthday, but also the day after the Lib Dems’ autumn conference concludes.

That’s not great news for the Lib Dems on two counts. First, it means the media will likely be obsessing more about Clacton than what’s happening in Glasgow (unless, that is, Yes Scotland has won the referendum).

And secondly, the party’s not expecting a great result. There have been two constituency polls conducted to date (Survation and Lord Ashcroft): both have pointed to a sizeable win for Carswell, who will will become Ukip’s first elected MP, and both have shown the Lib Dems likely to lose their deposit, with just 2% of the vote. That would be down from the respectable 15% we scored in May 2010.

If that happens, it would be the 10th deposit the party has lost this parliament. The singing of “Who’ll come a-losing deposits with me…” at Glee Club, the traditional end-of-conference knees-up, may have a certain anticipated poignancy.

Of course, it’s not seats like Clacton that will determine how the Lib Dems do next May: it will be the 75 battleground seats which the party is looking to defend or where it could advance. On one level, then, it can join the ranks of by-elections like Newark and Wythenshawe and Sale East. The party needs to focus its resources, financial and human, where it can win.

But that means that in vast swathes of the country the Lib Dems will, if we’re not careful, disappear from view. At the last election, there were some 300 seats where the Lib Dems finished either first or second. I’d be surprised if we make three-figures this time around. That leaves a lot of barren areas where a handful of Lib Dems will do their best to fight the good fight but without the means to make anything of it.

A big priority for the party, post-2015, will be to re-build in those areas. The alternative would be to accept a retreat into our heartlands and ceding our claim to be a national party.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • Surely we need to seek to rebuild in the non-heartland areas, as well as prioritising enough resources in places where we have a realistic chance in order to continue to be a voice in parliament.

    We’ve suffered — inevitably — because people don’t understand coalition, and so we take the blame for discontent with the government, especially where we have compromised — though compromising to form a coalition was absolutely necessary.

    Looking to 2015 and beyond, I think it likely that there will be UKIP MPs at Westminster, so there may well be conversations about whether we or they are the better potential coalition partner, which might actually galvanise support (I doubt that I am the only person who thinks a Tory-UKIP coalition would be a disaster for Britain).

    The Scottish referendum is bound to have a big impact, whatever the actual decision, and we need to be around in the whole country to engage with its consequences. Personally, I suspect that those consequences are likely to include a challenge to the traditional two-party model of thinking about UK politics.

  • “A big priority for the party, post-2015, will be to re-build in those areas.”
    Perhaps, but why?
    The public perception is that each political party, covers a social position, and has what might be termed ‘a target audience in need of attention’?
    On a featured piece at LabourList : The top 100 UKIP Labour leaning seats, It says : “The ideal seats for Ukip, share key characteristics: they have lots of ‘left behind’, [voters]…..”
    So the serious question I ask, is that if The Liberal Democrat Party, did NOT exist, (post-2015), would there be a need to create it, and *who for*? I’ll make a list of parties and put in a box their perceived *audience in need of attention*
    Ukip [ the unheard, the ‘left behind’ voters ]
    Conservative [ the wealthy, the business class ]
    Labour [ the poor, the vulnerable, the working man/woman ]
    Green [ the environmentalist, the conversationalist ]
    Lib Dems [ ………………………………………………… ]
    Can you fill in that last box, with *your audience in need of attention*, and if you can’t, then where is the imperative to re-build post 2015?

  • Stephen Campbell 4th Sep '14 - 1:09pm

    @Mark Argent: “We’ve suffered — inevitably — because people don’t understand coalition, and so we take the blame for discontent with the government”

    Ahh that old chestnut. Nobody is voting for you because they’re stupid and don’t understand coalition – not because your voters feel you’ve abandoned everything you once stood for in exchange for the illusion of power and tiny bit of window dressing.

    Please do keep up this mindset that it’s everyone else’s fault except the fault of your party. I know it’s a comfort for you lot and absolves you of any guilt or soul searching. Because as long as this party continues to blame the voters and sees them as ignorant or stupid more votes will go to other parties such as the one I now belong to, the Greens (and I say this as someone who voted Lib Dem in all national, local and European elections since 2001).

  • Gary Scott for Clacton.

  • Julian Tisi 4th Sep '14 - 1:26pm

    Just a thought….

    Given the polls in Clacton (we’re on, what 2%?), why don’t we openly say “this isn’t a strong area for us. As ever, we’re going to work hard and try to capture as many votes as we can, but as we’re not the main challengers in this election we expect our vote to be squeezed”.

    One – it would be the truth,
    Two – it would manage the message that our vote share in Clacton is unlikely to be our vote share elsewhere
    Three – it would soften the blow of the likely outcome in Clacton.
    Four – the downside of this (our vote being squeezed because we’ve already said we don’t expect to do well) is surely very small. We’re polling very low and we must be down to the few who support us for principled reasons, who are not going to be put off by such an admission.

  • “We’ve suffered — inevitably — because people don’t understand coalition”

    Unless “coalition” is a euphemism for selling out, I think you’ve misunderstood voter rejection. Clegg led the parliamentary party towards Tory positions on issues dear to the hearts of Lib Dems – civil liberties, education, healthcare, etc. Compromise is important, but we said one thing in an election campaign, voted for another in power and did very little to recognise that this was a problem, even though we had years of warnings ahead.

    Millions will never vote for the party again as long as he’s leader – it’s that simple. He’s inspired me to try not voting Lib Dem for the first time in my life (plus I didn’t rate the local PPC, so that made it easier). ❓

  • Greens love conservation, as well as conversation?

  • paul barker 4th Sep '14 - 2:46pm

    The cosy, 2 Party consensus has been in slow decline for 6 decades. That decline was always likely to become a collapse at some point & that collapse was always likely to open up Political space to Extremists & Authoritarians as well as Centrists & Liberals. As Liberals we should recognise that UKIP represent a legitimate point of view, the Polar Opposite to ours, one that until now has been buried in The Conservative Consensus.
    If UKIP win in Clacton that will help open up splits in both Tories & Labour & that will be good for us in the long run.

  • Jenny Barnes 4th Sep '14 - 4:27pm

    Why even contest the seat? it’s almost certainly a lost deposit. It’s really stupid to fight battles you know you’ll lose.

  • Richard Dean 4th Sep '14 - 4:44pm

    Battles aren’t isolated events, so it’s not stupid to fight a battle you know you’ll lose. You can wound the opponent in one battle, making the next battle easier to win. And an attractive campaign in Clacton 2014 can affect opinion elsewhere, so the memory of it can affect a vote in Southend 2015.

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Sep '14 - 5:25pm

    Jennie makes a good point that excessive targeting creates the wastelands in the first place. I have thought this in the past.

    However, Stephen is also right that the party cannot just accept a retreat into its homelands.

    After the European elections the party cannot afford another slip up and I am worried that the party is heading into another one with a manifesto that doesn’t add up.

  • 2% ouch!

    The Lib Dems really have taken some of the most unpopular positions haven’t they? Especially positions that would have popular with their voters. Where do you think the Lib Dem vote has gone too? Who benefits?

  • @Jenny Barnes “Why even contest the seat? it’s almost certainly a lost deposit. It’s really stupid to fight battles you know you’ll lose.” becoming a laughing stock with 2% of the vote and wasting money in the process is not as bad an idea as it seems. If the Lib Dems don’t stand there then the message will be heard as, we give up on this area, we’re not interested in even trying to represent you people. Do that in enough places and you will never be a national party again.

    The people is the Lib Dems have done things that have upset their voter base, the social democrats and young people who used to vote lib dem. Where have they gone to?

  • Paul in Wokingham 4th Sep '14 - 8:00pm

    Wasteland? Well, April might prove the cruellest month for canvassers but it is May that will test the party most.

    When Stephen talks of “heartlands” he presumably means that random set of places around the country in which generations of Liberal activists have established a strong local government presence that has enabled them to go on to win the parliamentary election. That is not a heartland in any conventional sense: it is a disparate set of constituencies that we hold through contingent circumstance. Those seats that we retain will be held through the hard work of those same activists and by the reputation of the sitting MP.

    Lord Ashcroft recently said that national polls provide the mood music while it is what happens in the marginals that really matters. Well the mood music is awful. But I have confidence in our activists, if not in our leadership.

  • Stephen Donnelly 4th Sep '14 - 10:29pm

    The party appears to be set on the tactics required to fight the next election, but does not have a strategy that would see it reclaim a long term role in British politics. The thinking seems to begin and end with the idea that we can hang on to a few tens of seats at the next election, and then possibly have some minor moderating influence in the government beyond. What happens next ? What is the party for in the medium and long term? Without answers to that questions we will return being a vehicle for personality MPs.

  • David Evans 5th Sep '14 - 2:40am

    The only bit of Stephen’s post I disagree with is the last sentence. I just don’t associate the word personality with either Nick or Danny. Dull but worthy is the best I can come up with.

  • Bill le Breton 5th Sep '14 - 7:40am

    An extraordinary post with extraordinary comments, all of which should have taken place after May 2011. Everything we know now was known then. The conclusion and the required action were obvious. No action then. No action after May 2012. No action after May 2013. No action this May/June.

  • Antony Hook
    Like you, I also stood in 2001 and 2005. However, our vote was already at a much higher level than in Dover, and were in “a good second”, so we squeezed it up a little in 2001, and a couple of decimal points in 2005. I think the major effect was people resuming tactical voting after the initial Blair / nuLab surge dying away. I know, however, that some people here voted Lib Dem both because of Charles’s personal popularity and, in 2005 because of our anti Iraq war stance. I would agree that we have done well over the years from our various leaders’ personal popularity, but unfortunately that has not been so since Charles’s departure. I don’t want to rake over old coals here, but I will say that Ming, although regarded as very statesmanlike, found it difficult to look “in touch” as party leader. Nick Clegg’s effect electorally has been negative since he took over, and this well predated any coalition. The only time when this effect was reversed was in the well-known Cleggmania couple of weeks, which was already well in reverse by the time of the election. The effect has magnified our fall in the polls ever since. So, if we could use a “personality effect” to generate votes next year, I am wondering how you think that could happen?

  • Jennie, what you write is a powerful critique of “R*nnardism”, and is an argument I am very familiar with, and indeed have made many times before. It is ironic that when the man’s fall from grace is upon us, that his ideas are being so strongly pushed!

  • Bill le Breton 5th Sep '14 - 8:32am

    Look! There are some elections in which we have to target ruthlessly and there are some very very rare ones when targeting should be just slightly looser. The 2015 election is not one of the latter.

    The damage to general vote share is done. Was done within a couple of months of the 2010 election and that which needed to be done to reverse this was not done when it needed to be done.

    There are and will be vast numbers of black holes. But to sacrifice ANY of held seats unnecesarily would be negligent. Resources are now more mobile, with scope for virtual campaigning inconceivable 20 years ago. And those mobile resouces need to be focused on 12 seats where they can make a difference. You will not be told where these are, but you should either volunteer your mobility to HQ or choose the MP or MPs who you most admire and get in touch with their campaigns.

    There is an extraordinary amount of mystic surrounding C.R.. Much of that mystique he cultivated deliberately to proctect himself. But that has not helped the Party. He only put into practice campaigning techniques that he learnt at an early age from Trevor Jones. There are probably two dozen campaigners within the party today who are as good at winning elections as he. They would all say the same as I say about what needs to be done in this election. Some of them are actually MPs.

    It is a tragedy that with the possible exception of Ed Davey none of them are key movers and shakers in Government or at the centre of the Party. The key players and those they employed are not campaigners. They either inheritied seats or built upon the shoulders of many campaigners who had created very strong council groups. Richmond and Kingston come to mind. They employed policy wonks to their and our great cost.

    But we are where we are. We need to keep as many MPs as possible NOT (necessarily) because of what they can do in post election negotiations but because where once we used the councillor base to win MPs in future we have to use MPs to work with local activists across the country (however many remain) to rebuild the Party post 2015. The more MPs who survive the easier that will be. Especially if they themselves are campaigners.

    If you have never run a successful election campaign, go and help someone who has and can. My recommendation is Adrian Sanders – phone his office. NOW.

  • Bill le Breton in a few lines sums up the failure of leadership in the party and their repeated failure to accept that their Westminster Bubble Centre Party approach was never going to work.

    Stephen Tall in his original post says —
    ” …And secondly, the party’s not expecting a great result.

    … Lib Dems likely to lose their deposit, with just 2% of the vote.

    … the 10th deposit the party has lost this parliament. ”

    Stephen does not say that the buck stops with Nick Clegg, but what other conclusion is there?

    Who is capable of rebuilding the party after May 2015? Certainly not Clegg and co the architects of its destruction. You do not ask demolition workers to use their wrecking ball to rebuild your house.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Sep '14 - 9:06am

    I am considering how we did it in Lewisham. We had councillors in just one ward which we won in a somewhat freaky by-election, sneaking to the top on an almost even three way split. But with councillors we had a voice in the borough which we would not have had if we had no councillors (and we have no councillors there now). Targetting was cautious – on this ward and one or two others, which did mean tiny shares of the vote elsewhere. However, once we won one more ward (helped by a defection from Labour) we were able to expand, and suddenly it all fell our way (and was all destroyed in May).

    The point is that targetting has to be used to win seats, given our current electoral system. But having those seats needs to be used to help create a borough-wide image, and a nation-wide image when applied to Parliamentary elections. I used being a councillor, which was done through targetting, to make sure the party got coverage in the local press, people got used to seeing us mentioned, saw (I hope) that we were decent people who seemed to be on their side. This meant that when we were able to expand where we were doing ground work, we could very easily push up our vote.

    The key is that the borough/national image gained by having councillors/MPs and the media coverage that gives must be in line with the image pushed through the targetting work. The leader must listen to and work with those doing the targetting work. The leader must not regard himself as superior to the plebs doing the targetting work, and go about saying things and doing things which contradict and damage what they are doing. He must not put about the impression that now he has reached this borough/national leadership position, things have changed, and the party is now more about this sort of fancy leadership stuff than about the grass roots appeal. The leader needs to remember that it is the targetting work that got him where he is. If those doing the targetting work tell him “You are getting it wrong, you are damaging our case”, he should step down. Or, “he or she should step down”, because of course I am talking just in general terms, not about anyone in particular.

  • Matthew Huntbach is right in what he says about “the leader”.

    Which is why Clegg who has never understood these things must go. His failure and the failure of his clique to understand how they got to where they are has been the sad story of the last 8 years.

    Whoever replaces him after next May needs to learn the Huntbach lessons set out above.

    I suppose I should cheer up as there are probably only 280 days of Clegg’s leadership left.

  • “I suppose I should cheer up as there are probably only 280 days of Clegg’s leadership left”.

    Well I for one hope not!

  • Bill Le Breton
    I haven’t the slightest doubt that targeting helps in cases where only limited campaigning resources are available, which is almost always the case with Lib Dems, and will, especially, be the case in 2015. I also know, and acknowledge that CR learnt his ideas from Trevor Jones, but it was, of course, he who brought those techniques to full fruition through byelections in the early and mid 90s, following up with the great expansion and triumph at the 1997 General. And I do agree with you in terms of supporting Adrian Sanders.

    But there are downsides to excessive targeting, and it is those I have tried to emphasise in the past – as I said recently, it is important that people make unfashionable cases, otherwise people forget the downsides of the fashionable things they are saying. This is as important, if not more, IMO, in politics as in other areas of life.

  • Simon McGrath 5th Sep '14 - 10:25am

    @John Tilley “I suppose I should cheer up as there are probably only 280 days of Clegg’s leadership left.”

    Or to put it another way only 280 days of LDs in Goverment, helping to build a more Liberal society.

  • David wilkinson 5th Sep '14 - 10:29am

    I think John Tilley is wrong about 280 days of Clegg remaining, even when the number of MP’s are reduced by 50% next year he will accept no responsibility as he has done for the loss of 30+% of the membership, 50% of the councillors and 90% of the MEP’s and poll ratings of single figures. He is sadly in a land of his own make believe and after the 2015 disaster will still cling on to what little power he has left.

  • David Allen 5th Sep '14 - 11:59am

    The public have not turned against Nick because of his ignorance of how to run a targeted election campaign. They have turned against him because he broke their trust, because he said one thing and did another, and because he does not listen.

    Nevertheless there is a connection between the public distrust and the party activist distrust. Nick does not listen to the Party properly either.

    Like Blair, Clegg was an insurgent leader, who took the leadership in order to overthrow past history. Blair had the grace to act openly, win fairly, and make his party leadership victory legitimate. Clegg’s so-called “coup” by contrast was a secretive affair, a campaign fought with deceptive blandness. His leadership never really recovered from this, although like Blair he gained pragmatic supporters who flocked to his cause once it was seen to be winning power and influence. Those fair-weather supporters will abandon Clegg once power has been lost.

    Because Clegg won the leadership by coup, he could not lead by consensus. Instead he led by forming a dominant faction which sought and achieved alliance with the Conservatives. He could not afford to give credence, breathing space, or influence to the opposite faction. Indeed, his weakness was such that he had to drive its members away with “no room for refugees from Labour” remarks.

    Clegg felt safer in a smaller and weaker party dominated by his own faction. He surrounded himself with young people beholden to himself for their professional advancement. He kept at a distance those with experience who could have taught him useful lessons, because those were the people with established reputations who might have had the clout to turn against him.

    That’s why Clegg has developed a tin ear – on how the public see him, on how “The Party of In” would be viewed, on how to organise an effective election campaign, on what space there is in politics for a semi-liberal conservative party with principles closely matching Cameron’s, and on why real Liberal Democrats want something better.

    It wasn’t, incidentally, a tin ear he was born with. Read Clegg’s dispatches to the Guardian as a young Brussels MEP over a decade ago, and you wil find openness, a questioning mind, and a willingness to engage. It is subsequent events and his role in them which have coarsened and hardened Clegg. Like Gordon Brown, Clegg is now too rigid, partisan, and distrusted to lead effectively.

  • Tony Dawson 5th Sep '14 - 12:32pm

    “it’s not seats like Clacton that will determine how the Lib Dems do next May: it will be the 75 battleground seats ”

    Correction, It will be the TWENTY FIVE battleground seats. There will be a dozen we shall hold come hell or high water and the other 600 are pretty irrelevant in terms of parliamentary seats.

    But I am more interested in Stephen’s contention that we should concentrate, as a Party, on rebuilding from the black, grey and purple holes post-2015. With what shall we build it,dear Stephen, dear Stephen? The castles we built on sand will have been flushed out of the hourglass. There will be virtually no ‘Short Money’. No government office money for Party workers. No small army of parliamentary and EU researchers, No MEP money. Those of us who remember building the Party up from nothing in the 70s and 80s understand what a battle it becomes to even win a single council seat and that is WITHOUT the albatross of a parliamentary leadership and national executive in total denial about the past five years and their own role in it. How many of the new members (there are indeed a few) know of the attitudes or skills necessary in such a situation?

    As Bill le Breton has said above, the issues were all there in 2011 and 2012. Our Party chose, then, to do nothing about them. Chickens come home to roost – even headless chickens do so.

    John Tilley, above, wryly comments that there are only probably only 280 days of Nick Clegg’s ‘leadership’ left. While I appreciate the attractions and distractions of high office, I am still waiting for the FIRST day of anything vaguely like ‘leadership’ of the Party – good, bad or indifferent. You could say the something about strategy. When any general tries to describe pathetic siege tactics as a ‘strategy’ then it is time for a set of scissors to be quickly-applied to the epaulets.

  • My experience of not targeting goes like this – one week before an election an individual or group in a ward where no work has taken place for years suddenly want a leaflet, believing they can come from 6th place to win overnight. They then print a badly written and artworked leaflet . They then drag people from winnable wards to deliver this tripe and use them on polling day to go round polling stations. Their “mad” leaflet is then used on opposition leaflets in our winnable wards in polling week to mock us. We still finish sixth but our vote goes up from 4.5% to 4.8% , but this is a triumph despite us losing several councillors by less than 20 votes who would have still been councillors had the extra people not being pulled away into this madness.

    Most campaigners are happy to support wards where work to build an infrastructure and campaigning is going on all year round even if we are at a low base. Unfortunately when I hear arguments about abandoning targeting it sounds more like we don’t want to get into a community and do the “pothole politics” that builds a campaigning infrastructure that gets people elected.

  • I think JohnTilley is wrong about the 280 days too – I make it 245! 35 weeks, or only 170 working days. I think on election night we should hire a big yellow boat and have a party on it, whilst it slowly sinks; would give the press a great visual metaphor. 🙂

    The assessments here by Tilley, Allen, Briton and Huntbach seem bang on the money. 245 days until we learn if, as some have argued, it’s better to do nothing in the face of adversity, or whether change and adaption is the key to survival, as Darwin would have it. It’s a shame it had to cost this country a decade of liberalism to find this out!

  • Peter Watson 5th Sep '14 - 1:25pm

    @ChrisB “I think JohnTilley is wrong about the 280 days too – I make it 245!”
    Or …
    Regardless of the size of the parliamentary Lib Dems after the election, they might still be able to form a coalition in government with either Labour or Conservatives. They might even have a choice of coalitions that was not available in 2010. They couldn’t easily change leader before or during those negotiations, it would be difficult to do so after, and a displaced Clegg would still be there, perhaps a very prominent figure in a much reduced group of MPs. Furthermore, what is the most likely political complexion of any remaining parliamentarians? The party appears to have chosen to keep Clegg as the leader up to 2015, and he might stay there for quite some time beyond next May.

  • I reckon Clegg will be gone post election. My guess is that above 40MP’s he’s probably safe. 35-40 He would probably hang on. 30-35 It’s very dicey for Clegg below 30 he’s gone and since I can’t see us getting anywhere close to 30 MPs at the election I think he’s probably toast.

  • David Allen 5th Sep '14 - 4:03pm

    Peter Watson, spot on.

    Clegg’s supporters hint that Clegg should stay into 2015 to self-sacrificingly take the hit for the team, and thus help a new leader to make a brand new start thereafter. The most deluded people around are those who give credence to this mendacious piece of propaganda.

    Clegg wants to stay leader until 2020 or beyond, and cement the alliance with the Conservatives. That is also what he and his friends have been entrusted to do by his financial supporters. So “Don’t worry, I’ll go soon after 2015” really means “Don’t throw me out now, just give me an inch. (Then I’ll take an ell!)”

    Leading a rump party of 25-odd after 2015 will suit Clegg just fine. The scale of the defeat will knock the stuffing out of his potential opponents, who will also have been demoralised after an election campaign spent defending what the Tory Coalition has done. Cameron, if he survives will find a way to keep the Cleggies on board, as a counterweight to UKIP and its fellow travellers. (Boris wouldn’t do that: but, after Miliband predictably implodes and the Tories therefore come in first in 2015, Cameron will have no trouble keeping Boris at bay.)

    So there we have it. Either we get rid of Clegg as leader now, or else we let him lead this party into permanent commitment to the political Right. Or else we turf him out of Sheffield Hallam in 2015.

  • Simon Banks 5th Sep '14 - 4:39pm

    I suspect John Dunn may not understand this reply, but I can fill in the box. LIBERTY. That’s what kept the Liberal Party going through the mid-twentieth century when to most people it was a joke. That’s a reasonable one word summary (with a few more words, one could add fairness, equality, diversity) that characterises the attitudes of about a third of the electorate and did characterise the Liberal Democrat vote before we lost it somewhere. Please note that this is not a definition in terms of social class or interest groups, but in terms of beliefs and values. But then you could say that of UKIP too.

    I could not agree more with the posts stressing the need to rebuild where we are not strong. Why? A moment’s thought should answer that. People move into strong seats from weak – and after all, Clacton is near to Colchester. People are affected by what they see around them – for example, in going from a Liberal Democrat stronghold into areas where we don’t appear to exist. Targeting requires activists to exist in non-target areas, or there’s no-one to move. Strong seats have mostly been built up from weak ones and we can expect that for one reason or another some strong seats will decline. National campaigns need people ORGANISED IN LOCAL PARTIES on the ground. Oh, and everywhere needs Liberalism and a handful of vigorous councillors can make a big difference.

    Got views on this, fellow Liberal Democrat? Then come down to Clacton. We’re up for the fight and all is ready to go from Saturday. Oh, and we now also have a simultaneous county council by-election in Brightlingsea (mostly outside the Clacton constituency but some inside) where we were a close second last time to UKIP. The resigning UKIP candidate (the guy who was displaced for Clacton by Carswell) has endorsed our candidate!

  • @ Simon Banks re LIBERTY. I agree but one of the biggest problems the Lib Dems have is that there are two interpretations of this which are polar opposites.

    On the one hand there are those who think LIBERTY should be for people and understand that this must involve a decent income, housing etc. as well as the political power to defenestrate politicians when they prove inept or worse.

    On the other hand there are those who think that LIBERTY should be for capital (which is to say the owners of capital). This faction sees decent pay as an avoidable cost, housing as an opportunity for profiteering rent extraction and political liberty as potentially dangerous to their continued control.

    Most of us are in the former group as is a clear majority in the country but the Tories and a few in this party (collectively ‘neoliberals’) are in the latter camp. A house divided and all that …

  • jedibeeftrix 5th Sep '14 - 7:17pm

    lol, i think you’ll find more than a few who cross cut your neat little definitions:

    “those who think LIBERTY should be for people and understand that this must involve a decent income, housing etc. [and] who think that LIBERTY should be for capital (which is to say the owners of capital)” – state corporatism

    “This faction sees decent pay as an avoidable cost, housing as an opportunity for profiteering rent extraction and political liberty as potentially dangerous to their continued control, [and] the political power to defenestrate politicians when they prove inept or worse.” – anarcho capitalists

    i’m not sure your neat divide reflects a perfect bifurcated electorate, and so adds little to political theory.
    if you want a better starting point you should look here:

  • “Or to put it another way only 280 days of LDs in Goverment, helping to build a more Liberal society.”

    Has this happened?

    And more interestingly – has it happened more than it did in the 97-01 Labour government (without Lib Dems in Government)?

  • ChrisB
    It would be nice to think that Clegg would go on the night ofthe election. ( is that 245days?).
    I am not that optimistic.

  • Simon McGrath 5th Sep ’14 – 10:25am
    Or to put it another way only 280 days of LDs in Goverment, helping to build a more Liberal society.

    Interested that you make no specific mention of the Bedroom Tax here. I seem to remember you were an enthusiastic supporter of this LD action in Government. Or is this not the day to mention that to you?

  • Well, I’m still hopeful for the night after election night. I don’t think any leader could lose a substantial chunk of their parliamentary party and stay in position; let alone the members, councillors and MEPs lost under his tenure.

    Those that foresee a future where Clegg stays past that date see the worst outcome of all. If it becomes apparent that he intends to hang on the only thing left for ex-LibDems would be to start a new party.

  • David Evans 8th Sep '14 - 12:58pm

    Chris, the worst outcome of all would be if “ex-Lib Dems start a new party.” Some did, and the Liberals are a good bunch of people, but they are going nowhere. What we need is for those ex Lib Dems who believe in its values to rejoin the party, fight back and make sure they vote to get Nick removed as soon as possible.

  • Nigel Quinton 10th Sep '14 - 6:33pm

    Too late, too late. Clegg’s inept strategy once in government has destroyed this party. I received an email update from the LD History Group this morning, and could not help but wonder whether the party would be making any more history beyond next May. Sadly, I see it disappearing.

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