Could Trumpland reach Britain?

We all hope that Donald Trump will not be the next US President; even if he wins the Republican nomination, it’s unlikely that he will win over a majority of states and voters. But his astonishing success so far, in mobilising the embittered, marginalised and nostalgic, all those who feel they have lost out through rapid economic and social change, has lessons for British politics.

The first lesson is that we need to pay much more attention to ‘the bottom third’ of our society: the children of skilled working class and clerical workers whose communities, and self-respect, have been hit by technological transformation. They read of successful financiers and executives in London, earning vast salaries and appearing to pay very little tax, and feel that they have lost out while others have benefited excessively. What used to be called ‘the white working class’ has deserted the Democrats in the USA for right-wing populism – just as in France the children of Communist voters now support Marine le Pen, and in Britain former Labour families have moved to UKIP.

The messages they absorb from right-wing media are often appalling; but many of their grievances are real. Inequality in the USA has widened sharply over the past generation, and Britain has not been far behind. Trump blames foreigners for some of their plight, but he also promises government spending and economic assistance, unlike the Tea Party Republicans who focused on social grievances to distract from economic woes. Failures in education and training in Britain have hit the bottom third hard: cuts in further education while university places have expanded, cumulative cuts in local government budgets that have hit former industrial communities hardest, the long-standing bias in favour of public investment in Greater London, and the equally long-standing failure to promote skilled apprenticeships. Direct recruitment from abroad of nurses, long-distance lorry drivers, skilled construction workers, computer technicians and others (in their tens of thousands per year) demonstrates this failure, and raises the resentment of the native unskilled (and unmotivated) as immigrants are pulled in to fill jobs that they are not qualified for.

The second lesson is that changes in who controls the media have reshaped popular perceptions and public debate. Fox News has played a major role in providing the context within which first Tea Party Republicans and now Donald Trump can command public attention: disregard for evidence and reasoned argument, right-wing prejudice pushing against the limits of acceptable discourse, rubbishing ‘the establishment’, the compromises of national politics, and the constraints of international commitments. In the broadcast media in Britain, the BBC has kept Sky News honest. The Daily Mail and the Sun are Britain’s equivalents to Fox News, hosting deliberately outrageous columnists to tell their readers that the respectable and powerful are betraying them. With commercial interests at stake in competition with the BBC, they also carry consistently negative stories about BBC programmes and personalities that are intended to bias their readers against this ‘voice of the establishment’.

Boris Johnson is the nearest we yet have in British politics to Trump: a similar disregard for accuracy or consistency, a similar mixture of flippancy and outrageous statements. The Brexit campaign taps into a comparable seam in British society, playing to their grievances and nostalgia. So how do we respond? Defending the BBC, as a national public institution, is a no-brainer: reasoned debate, against populist bias. Defending public investment, on education and training, on innovation and infrastructure, is more challenging: we will need to argue the case for some higher taxation, against the Conservative focus on shrinking the state further, and relying on the Chinese and the Gulf states to provide the necessary investment.

The most difficult argument to get across is to defend the compromises and give-and-take of liberal democracy against populist rhetoric. Liberal Democrats have learned bitterly how little credit you get from constructive coalition; opposition, attacks on the governing ‘elite’ (in Washington, Brussels or Westminster), make for easier headlines and throw-away comments. British politics is suffering from a long-term decline in public participation and attention, but with entrenched resistance from both Conservatives and Labour to political reform. So how do we get across that the anti-democratic undertones of nationalist populism can only be pushed back by opening up our over-centralized and executive-dominated political system?

* Lord Wallace of Saltaire is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords.

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35 Comments

  • Tony Greaves 26th Apr '16 - 3:46pm

    I keep meeting such voters in the election this year. There are plenty around. They are people that we ought to have found ways of representing and involving but now we have no means of holding a sensible discussion with them.

    Boris. And then there is Farage of course.

  • Agree entirely with the analysis and Tony Greaves’s comments. The problem is that, like most of the metropolitan elite, many of our activists and elected representatives are cut from a very different cloth and find people such as those described to be an embarrassment at best or a subject for mockery and contempt. Not being stupid, these folk pick up on this antipathy and turn to people who at least claim to understand their concerns, though they may have no answers but who are equally likely to disappoint them.

  • Rightsaidfredfan 26th Apr '16 - 4:37pm

    Millions of people are unrepresented by the establishment parties, there is a very cosy consensus between the establishment parties who agree on far more things than they disagree about. Donald Trump is the symptom of that.

    For example, con/lab/lib dem/SNP all agree we should stay in the EU. Only a non establishment party (UKIP) disagree. Therefore if UKIP didn’t exist it would be necessary to invent them.

    I’m hopeful that if Remain win the referendum most of the Out voters all start voting UKIP just like most of the yes supporters in Scotland now vote SNP.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Apr '16 - 4:52pm

    It’s good to attempt to address the concerns of the “white working class”, but this article doesn’t go far enough. Why is this demographic deserting the centre-left?

    Spending more money on public services and social programs isn’t going to be enough. At the end of the day the white working class, especially the men, recognise that much of the left have put “white men” into the privileged bracket and seem to be prioritising middle class women and ethnic minorities instead.

    Here you only criticise the right wing media, whilst the likes of the Guardian and left wing politicians regularly promote the idea that simply being a “white man” makes you privileged and then wonder why working class white men go elsewhere.

    And no: I’m not denying racism or sexism, I’m saying what about classism! We hear little about it.

  • Since when were the children of the skilled working class and clerical staff “the bottom third of society” ?

    Says the son of a skilled worker, who worked in clerical roles.

    I’m bottom third?

  • Wow this is so wide of the mark. The media in the states have been attacking Trump as hard as they can but the attention seeker has been turning it to his advantage. Fox hated Trump and his campaign had been struggling to get on, hence why he he concocted the dispute with the Fox News anchor – to give it a visible face.

    As many others above have pointed out, the parties in the UK sneer at many of the electorate. It comes across, it doesn’t matter how good your policies are. If people know you think very little of them to start, why would they care.

    The BBC issue is a side point, but “defending” is not what the BBC needs, it requires a kick up the backside – it is a vital part of British culture fulfilling a vital role in the media market but totally failing.

  • As for the Boris Farage comparison neither of them will be able to do what trump has. Farage managed the “anti-establishment man of the people” initial impression but couldn’t come up with anything people could connect with after.

    Somehow Trump’s attention seeker attitude, with years of dealing with media that mainly disliked him (with good reason) has set him up for this. I don’t think he will win, but won’t be putting money on it.

    There is no Trump in UK politics, yet. To avoid that horror the other parties (and hopefully the LibDems) will have to do a lot better.

  • Curious that the self appointed spokesmen of the groups William describes are

    a) an old Etonian Bullingdon boy descended from a Turkish immigrant and not known for truth telling either personally or politically……, and

    b) another (a bit more down-market) public schoolboy (Dulwich) who is a former commodity broker in the City.

    It seems all you need to be a spokesman for the so called ‘bottom third’ (ouch !!, William) is a bit of elasticity with the truth and a ‘good’ education.

    Taking the American parallel, a bit of charisma and eloquence goes a long way to produce viable liberal appeal, viz. JFK, Obama and more recently Bernie Sanders. My guess is that the more Boris comes under scrutiny the more he will unravel….. and looking at the local elections, Nige might just mean it when he resigns next time.

    Even if they do, there isa vacuum to fill. It’s time to start developing a robust critique of the lop sided unequal economic basis of modern British Society…. just like Bernie has done in the US. Get stuck in to Philip Green for starters and Rupert Murdoch’s Liverpudlian slander.

  • Bitesize media leads to bitesize politics. The scope of a more nuanced portrayal of events and policy is blown out of the water by a sensation and ratings-seeking media, and even things like Twitter. To say something in 140 characters it has to be simple and therefore comments often tend to be couched in the language of anger or indignation . We’re all guilty up to a point.

    So life is reduced to black and white, to extremes, to sensation. It is such an ambience that the Trumps of this world can take root.

  • I’m afraid this article demonstrates how out of touch this party has become.

    Firstly, it is wrong to refer to the children of the skilled working class as the bottom third of our society. And the implication that they are somehow technologically backward. They are neither. Such attitudes will surely offend, alienate and raise hackles.

    Secondly, it is wrong to use the right wing media as an excuse. If there was any strong influencing factor then we would have perennial right wing government. Intelligent people, which includes the working classes and their children, understand and compensate for the bias in their favourite tabloid. Most of the popular press is pro-Brexit but Remain will likely win despite this.

    Thirdly, it would be wrong to misjudge Boris. He is perceived as being without spin, independent in thinking, anti-establishment, honest and genuine in what he says, even if you don’t agree with him, and appeals to those who would, in all other circumstances, would vote Labour or Lib Dem. People like him and the more some try and do him down the more people like him. He has a sense of humour which doesn’t do any harm. He makes you smile. Change the policies and his appeal is what we need.

    I believe so strongly in liberalism but I wonder sometimes if I can believe in a party if this article is representative of its views. It has made me think; I’m still thinking.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Apr '16 - 12:20am

    Some sensible and compassionate stuff from Lord Wallace , not making the impact it could for reasons worth mentioning , alluded to above.

    The bottom third , as Liberals , should not be seen as a block.I am a so called middle class person , University educated, in part at Lord Wallaces Almer Mater ie LSE, with a degree and post graduate bits of paper , a member of a political party with the highest percentage of so called middle class professionals , ie our own, yet , due to circumstances , such as a car accident that nearly killed my wife , disability issues as a result ,and an unfortunate series of let downs subsequently , there have been times when disappointment and relative poverty has been no stranger to me or my loved ones ! Money , may , as the song of Kander and Ebb, the writers of Cabaret,says , make the world go around , but it is no indication of tastes , personal or political !

    The fact , rather than the supposition , if not the fiction, is , individuals have things in common across class or income or socio economic boundaries .

    And , please stop the patronising of decent Sky journalists and the presumption everything the BBC does is good .They are at the top of it as much a part of the so called elite as anyone in society .Because we are staunch first and foremost in our defence in the media of the idea of public broadcasting , does not equate to infantile fan worship whether the output is quality or not , and often , goes hand in hand of a put down of good media professionals in every organisation.The Daily mail , Sun , Express, fine , a fair target , Adam Bolton and Nick Ferrari , and the many like them are not made to be honest because I have been forced to pay Lord Birts salary even when I could not afford rent or food !

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Apr '16 - 12:47am

    George
    As ever you are fair and decent and sensible .I was strong in my comments , no more or less so than our colleague Steven , you allude to . But I sympathise with him , yet welcome your input ,as always .

    The point of what I was saying , and from my own experience , is if I viewed the disappointments and sadnesses of life in a different way , or in a way that made me , more than disappointed , but rather , bitter and twisted , I would be perfectly entitled to and would have some reasons , too , but would still be put in statistics with the elite of the middle class because I have a degree , talk with a middle class voice and am in the creative industries !Disillusion and what goes with it , is as much about character as it is class or anything else .More than anything we are individuals , we do not belong together because a statistician says so!

    For some steel workers , the loss of a job , shall be a personal failure , or seem like it. They would be wrong .After my own awful experiences , alluded to above , to make ends meet I reoriented , professionally and utilised my skills in drama and communicating with people , to deliver sessions in motivational skills , confidence building , and to aspiring sole traders , unemployed and hoping to try , themselves , a new route .Some of those were ex factory workers , many were sruggling artists , performing and visual , all had hope .Hope needs help .That is where our Liberalism should be .

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th Apr '16 - 7:53am

    @ Lorenzo Cherin,
    Your comment , ‘Hope needs help’, is one of the best I have ever encountered, especially when trying to help those who have had so many set-backs they are victims of learned helplessness. These are people who need to know that help is available.

    What a pity I have only just found a way of communicating a very important insight in such a succinct way.

  • Trumpism has thrived due to one particular set of politicians in the US employing old assumptions to get elected. I call it `nodding head` politics. The voter goes on about `God, Guns and Gays` with the politician nodding his or her head banking a whole load of votes assuming values trump (no pun intended!) money. In the end you can’t eat values.

    While GOP senators and congressmen and women were busy stopping Obama and other such idiocies they failed to notice that their own voters were getting poorer and losing out in the race for jobs. This is one thing that Governor Kasich realised in Ohio thus he has maintained popularity.

    Such was the weakness of the political edifice that the GOP had presided over all it took was a supreme salesman like Trump to make them believe that he could at least kick the establishment’s ass if not peddle snake oil.

    The problem with the Lib Dems is instead of discussing with voters their current insecurities they tend to assume that they are singing the LIb Dem hymn sheet. And if they are not then they haven’t seen the light. Governing is a grindingly tough job – opposition more so. As an opposition party you have to be where the people currently are to lead them to a brighter future.

    The Lib Dems are morphing into a sort of `elite guardian reading tribe talking to itself safe in the knowledge that no one will contradict it`. It’s becoming a `refugee party`. Barring a few loonies everyone cares about refugees and no one thinks that the Lib Dems don’t care. The problem is that they don’t think we can effectively do anything about them as we never talk about the economy or housing. You can’t have a liberal policy on refugees unless you can persuade people the economy can support them and they can be housed.

    This is where the EU debate comes in. Most people don’t believe that there is an endless supply of jobs to be created and all you have to do is have an open door policy to economic migration and hey presto it’s boom time forever. Our policy of being the automatic `party of IN` is clashing with our policy on refugees. Most people think you can’t have an EU open door policy while simultaneously having a similar one on refugees. It’s not joined up thinking and thus people disregard us electorally.

  • Richard winter 27th Apr '16 - 10:28am

    Interesting that a man from a very privaledged background, sitting in the house of Lords, feels the political establishment, people like him, are out of touch with the bottom third. You couldn’t make it up.
    The answer of course is that the privaledge is self perpetuating while we have an unelected house of Lords, an unelected head of state and an institutional dislike of the homegrown working class whatever their ethnicity.
    Rectifying the chronic shortage of artisan training places would be a start. More importantly would be to modify the approach of the establishment to the idea that all aspire or can benefit from higher academic education. When my heating boiler fails I can not a wit about the fitters ability to use correct punctuation or struggle with quantum physics only they can fix the boiler and are fairly paid.
    I think the whole tone of the article is indicative of why I am struggling when out canvassing to win a Tory held seat to find many who are openly Lib Dem supporters, as the party is seen as out of touch with the assperations of the many and only truly represents upper middle class head in the cloud intellectuals.
    We all know that is not what as a party we aspire to be but describing people as the lower third really shows a degree on insensitivity.

  • William Wallace 27th Apr '16 - 10:59am

    Thanks for diverse comments, which show how much we need to consider more thoughtfully how we appeal to those who feel ‘dispossessed’.
    I’ve done most of my political campaigning in northern cities. The disappearance of heavy industry and the steady employment that went with it, and more recently the collapse of local building societies, have left a chunk of our society bitter and discontented. I’ve seen some excellent apprenticeship schemes that offer training in different skills to children from such families – but there are far too few of these, and companies still find it easier to recruit people already trained from abroad than to spend the money training locals here (many football clubs behave in the same way).

  • William Wallace 27th Apr '16 - 11:08am

    This is a huge social – and therefore political – issue for the future of Britain; which metropolitan elites rarely see, as London becomes increasingly gentrified. I agree that reviving local democracy is part of the answer: people who lives on estates in Leeds where each ward has 15,000 voters can have little contact with their ‘local’ councillor. Better education and training are key; so are efforts to revive local businesses and industry to provide jobs. But I don’t pretend to have most of the answers to this problem.

  • Good article. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have fallen over each other to say “we’re all middle class now”, to sneer at “white van man”, to hold a Rose Garden love-in between two posh public school boys moving into governing alliance, and to prioritise primarily middle-class concerns such as refugees and women in politics ahead of the bread-and-butter issues of the less well-off. And then they wonder why UKIP and the Trumps have come along and taken away all the votes!

    There are many ways to define or name the “bottom third”. To quibble with the way Lord Wallace has defined it is essentially to evade his point.

    Why do the Trumps and the Borises profit from aggressive buffoonery, the deliberate “jocular” use of lies and misrepresentation? I would suggest that in part, they satirise the more po-faced lies and misrepresentations that are made by their “respectable” opponents. The “respectable” parties all claim to oppose widening inequality, and they all govern in a way which allows inequality to widen. The “respectable” parties all prate about humanity while allowing refugees to drown. The Trumps, Borises and Nigels have, of course, no solution to these problems, indeed they want to make things worse. So, they don’t offer a solution. Instead they pose as the naughty boys everyone loves, and seek to make bad behaviour something you can delightedly vote for in the privacy of the ballot box. It’s working.

  • Matt (Bristol) 27th Apr '16 - 12:43pm

    This is by way of a side comment, but I think it’s relevant to some of the discussion about the ‘disposessed’ above…

    There is this horrible aspect to the way the British class system works behind the scenes, whereby people on, say, £30k to £40k per year are encouraged to think of themselves as ‘middle class’ and disassociate themselves in all kinds of ways from self-identifying ‘working class’ people – some of whom could in fact be earning the same amount per year – whilst those who identify as ‘middle class’ are encouraged by a variety of factors including media spin into adopting the agendas and identity of people on £60k and well-upwards whose financial and economic agendas may be contrary to their own best interests.

    This manipulation or self-manipulation of class identity also manifests itself in that often those who towards the lower end of the ‘middle class’ earnings range attract more criticism and resentment for claiming to speak for ‘working class’ people than those who are at the higher end of the pay scale who are adjudged to have the ‘common touch’.

    Another interesting thing is that this manipulation of identity cuts across the ‘establishment’ vs ‘anti-politics’ divide and is as true of David Cameron as it is Nigel Farage. And neither our own party nor Labour are exempt from this sort of thinking.

    Also don’t forget that ‘dispossession’ can take hold in any class or subculture of society, not necesssarily those who are disadvantaged.

    The collapse towards civil war in northern Ireland in the pre-first-world-war era was exacerbated by the sense of ‘dispossession’ felt by the protestant gentry and miltary types who no longer felt themselves to be in control of what was going on with the Liberal government’s moves towards Home Rule (see eg the Curragh mutiny).

    The Ayn-Rand-type rhetorical position of profit=virtue (because it supposedly proves strength of mind and self-resilience … hah!) is an attempt to create a sense of ‘disposession’ in the monied classes of society.

    Many of Thatcher’s grassroots supporters felt a sense of disposession in their desire to return to an idealised England of semi-liberal economics (at a local level, at least) in tandem with restrictive social conservatism.

  • Geoffrey Payne 27th Apr '16 - 12:48pm

    What we are seeing is the breakdown of the traditional model of western democracy. Normally the contest will be between a right of centre Conservative or Christian Democrat party versus a left of centre Socialist or Social Democratic party. In some countries the left of centre alternative would be a liberal party.
    In the past the left has delivered, for example a free at the point of delivery health service and welfare state. The right has been popular in delivering traditional values and tax cuts. But now the old tunes do not inspire voters. Canada voted sensibly in their last general election, but in other countries the new movements treat politics like a joke, based more around personalities who say outrageous things. It is hard to see how we break out of this.
    In the EU referendum the biggest determining factor on whether you support remain is whether you had a university education. This seems to be the new divide in British politics today.

  • Matt (Bristol) 27th Apr '16 - 1:21pm

    Also, as I keep pointing out to various people, if Trump somehow did not exist, there would still be a strong, strident, incoherently right-wing, anti-politics, partisan voice in the Republican contest, criticising the ‘establishment’, appealing to the grassroots feeling of ‘disposession’ … this man is Ted Cruz and he is the man next-most-likely to win the contest.

    Trump is the most notable recent expression of a phenomenom that has been around for a good while now.

  • There are specific area where actually the majority disagree with their governments. Notably immigration. This means that this means that such issues can be exploited. It is utterly pointless talking about the tise of Donald Trump without talking about immigration and terrorism which actually most American at the very least have doubts about. It has nothing to do with abstract disenfranchisement and everything to do with specific issues. Again, it is utterly utterly pointless talking about the appeal of UKIP without talking about Immigration. Over 70%, ie the vast majority, of the British population want lower immigration. In other words it is not down to a disenfranchised white working class or the Left Behinds or any other popular theory being used to “explain” discontent. Those of us who believe in free movement and open borders are actually in the minority and as a pro immigration stance is most associated with the political Left, then it is hardly surprising that the Right is able to exploit this disconnect with progressive idealism and majority tribalism. The blunt reality is that most people everywhere in the world don’t really like mass influxes on new people and are Nationalist rather than Internationalist.

  • Peter
    I don’t see what William is getting at.
    The reality is that people like Trump are not exploiting the fears of the bottom third of society. They are exploiting majority fears and majority discontent which inevitably means some will vote for them . The 70+% of British people who want lower immigration is a clear majority of the population. In truth the bottom third of the social scale in Britain are far more likely to vote for progressive and left wing parties than any other group! You only have to get an electoral map out to see this. It wasn’t poor working class people who voted UKIP. It was disgruntled people mostly in the rural, coastal and suburban South. Boris Johnson is mayor one of the wealthiest cities in the world with some of the highest property prices in the world. It is simply an absurdity to say any of this has much to do with the bottom third of society. In truth it’s actually involves wilful demographic blindness to insist it does. Not only that, even if you were going on earnings the lower middle classes and skilled working classes are not in the bottom third of earners. They’re actually on average wages and are again the majority of the population. Very few people are high earners, only politicians and journalists think otherwise. Something like 90% of kids are educate in comprehensives whether you rebrand them as academies or not. Privately educated people with salaries rather than wages are a teeny tiny percentage of the population.

  • Talking about class here’s a nugget from Frankie Boyle today, Interesting to recall Hunt’s book which we’re assured I’m told couldn’t possibly be sponsored by TTIP. Strange that the Junior Doctors aren’t getting a mention on LDV ::

    Here’s Frankie’s take :

    “The fact that Hunt co-wrote a book about how to dismantle the NHS makes him feel like a broad stroke in a heavy-handed satire. Even the name Jeremy Hunt is so redolent of upper-class brutality that it feels like he belongs in one of those Martin Amis books where working-class people are called things like Dave Rubbish and Billy Darts (No shade, Martin – I’m just a joke writer: I envy real writers, their metaphors and similes taking off into the imagination sky like big birds or something). Indeed, Jeremy Hunt is so overtly ridiculous that he might be best thought of as a sort of rodeo clown, put there simply there to distract the enraged public.

    I sympathise a little with Hunt – he was born into military aristocracy, a cousin of the Queen, went to Charterhouse, then Oxford, then into PR: trying to get him to understand the life of an overworked student nurse is like trying to get an Amazonian tree frog to understand the plot of Blade Runner. Hunt doesn’t understand the need to pay doctors – he’s part of a ruling class that doesn’t understand that the desire to cut someone open and rearrange their internal organs can come from a desire to help others, and not just because of insanity caused by hereditary syphilis”.

  • This is the same Frankie Boyle who laughs at and makes jokes about disabled children I presume. I’m no fan of Hunt or this Tory government, but anyone on the opposite side of Frankie Boyle can’t be all bad.

  • William Wallace (comment at 10:59 on 27th)

    “I’ve seen some excellent apprenticeship schemes that offer training in different skills to children from such families – but there are far too few of these ..”

    So why have Lib Dems not made this their own? I asked a then very senior person in the party’s policy establishment what was planned in terms of developing policy in this area at least 25 years ago. After some thought he said, “Nothing really”. AFAIK that’s still the case.

    Is t unreasonable of voters to expect politicians to actually do useful things instead of just waving their hands helplessly?

  • Stevan Rose 27th Apr '16 - 9:27pm

    “Maybe, William expressed himself poorly, but I think you’re being a bit unfair.”

    I think not. I am really surprised at the acceptance by many of this use of “bottom third” to describe the children of the skilled working class. Petermartin2001 and Richard Winter have it spot on. People, voters, tend not to respond well to being placed in highly generalised pigeon holes and then patronised. Such terminology and thought really has no place if you ever hope to appeal to the skilled working classes and their offspring. It might even persuade those who still support the party but fall into that category, to walk away. That’s me by the way. If you want to target a class-labelled demographic then I might challenge as in the real world “class” is really complex. But to describe the group as bottom third of society? Really? Most, by a wide margin, are aspirational hard workers, many have degrees, there’s one or two in the Tory cabinet right now. I’m working with a bunch of highly motivated apprentices now from every conceivable background. None are bottom third of anything.

    Trump and Boris have different approaches entirely. Trump deliberately provokes, probes how far he can go, carefully rehearsed and stage-managed. Boris says whatever comes into his head at the time, and cannot even manage his hairstyle but then Trump’s shows signs of independent living too. What they have in common, what people like, is that neither are party hacks, repeating party lines carefully crafted by spin doctors. Neither worries about political correctness. Neither really cares what people think of them. Independent thinkers. We had the late Charles Kennedy and his appeal was similar and look where he took the party. Paddy too. The appeal of these people crosses class boundaries but maybe it only works when you are seen as against the establishment not part of it. Forget class appeal; it will never work.

  • I don’t know how useful any of this is, But to me the mistake is put all of this stuff down to class and the media stirring things up. In truth there is a disconnect between what the political class believes and pursues and what most people actually seem to want. All that’s happened is that things that were never popular, but were tolerated, in the pre-2008 boom years have bubbled to the surface as entrenched discontent. If you take money out of peoples pockets, make housing too expensive and seem more concerned about international politics than domestic politics then you can’t really expect everyone to be that enthusiastic. The answer to this is to make people better off, to stop snooping and to have governments more responsive to the electorate.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Apr '16 - 12:15am

    Jayne

    Thank you for your lovely comments , very appreciated .Having often been hopeful in difficult circumstances , am always grateful for those moments to be enhanced and for any of us then , in similar situations ,to be helped with something constructive able to result . Social liberalism and social democracy , if they are ever to mean something to anyone , and they have and do and ever should , must build on these ideas .

    George
    Under every social democrat jacket, is a liberal shirt , and under any liberal coat , is a social democrat jacket .You are a credit to our party , as is your party of origin and its tradition.

    David and malc
    Frankie Boyle is a disgrace, he divides , he belittles , despite my mothers maiden name being Boyle , I have more in common with the aristocrats and royals he makes fun of in your quote , and more fellowship with them , as at least decent human beings .Anyone , like him and Trump, who has mocked the disabled , must be criticised in no uncertain terms.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Apr '16 - 12:17am

    P.S.
    Lord Wallace

    Your responses , like your whole approach , speak volumes for your own , true , Liberal values , much valued.

  • I think we have worse to fear than Trump (President Cruz anyone?) and still am enjoying Trump causing the appalling GOP to eat itself. Nor can all that Trump is espousing be called ‘right wing’ – one of the reasons that the GOP hate him is that he supports medicare, whereas Cruz and co would do away with it.

    I do regret the use of ‘bottom third’ and regret even more the description applied to the supposed composition of that term. Trump can say he loves the ‘poorly educated’ and get away with it – are LDs really going to campaign to save the bottom third from their prejudices ?!

  • Paul in Wokingham 28th Apr '16 - 4:50pm

    It’s well known that Cruz is deeply unpopular within the GOP. But it’s still a surprise and a delight to see former Speaker John Boehner use such er… unparliamentary language to describe him while at Stanford University yesterday: http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/former-speaker-boehner-calls-cruz-lucifer-flesh-n564081

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    Matt, I am actually feeling sad for you now, coping as you are with your stressful and worrying home situation but also being so distressed...
  • User AvatarJames Bliss 7th Apr - 8:39pm
    I totally agree with Tom and his article. As a party we all too often fall into supporting totally illiberal policies, like the sugar levy...
  • User Avatarexpats 7th Apr - 7:24pm
    With Johnson incapacitated Raab has shown that he has all the qualifications to replace him. When asked who would 'carry the can' if the government...
  • User AvatarLee Allane 7th Apr - 7:20pm
    The Liberal Democrat Leadership has been conspicuous by it's absence throughout the entire coronavirus crisis. They should have been screaming from the rooftops at Johnson's...
  • User AvatarMary Reid 7th Apr - 7:18pm
    Richard Underhill: I imagine the Bruch is just as popular today.
  • User Avatarmatt 7th Apr - 6:55pm
    I dislike the idea of a sugar tax because it does tend to hit the poorest harder, however, I would like to see legislation that...
Mon 27th Apr 2020