David Laws joins CentreForum as Executive Chairman; Nick Tyrone becomes Executive Director

News reaches the Voice from CentreForum, the liberal think tank:

David Laws speaking at Lib Dem Spring conference, Liverpool 2008CentreForum are pleased to announce that David Laws, former Minister of State for the Cabinet Office as well as Minister of State for Schools, is joining the liberal think tank as Executive Chairman, overseeing a new body of work on education policy. This is part of a move by CentreForum to refocus on the core work of the think tank, which will be education and children’s mental health going forward, although projects will continue to be undertaken in other policy areas in which liberal solutions are called for.

At the same time, Nick Tyrone, who was Associate Director, External Affairs, will now become Executive Director, responsible for the day to day running of CentreForum.

Stephen Lee is resigning as Chief Executive to take up new opportunities in the academic world. Commenting on his departure, Paul Marshall, who is succeeding Duncan Greenland as Chair of the Trustees, said:

“Stephen has made a great contribution to the development of Centreforum and to its impact on public policy in the second half of the Coalition government. We are especially grateful for the pioneering work he has done on mental health issues, which now make up a core part of the Centreforum franchise.”

David Laws said:

“Centreforum has established a formidable reputation as a think tank, not least in the area of education and social mobility. I am delighted to have this opportunity to oversee the work of Centreforum, particularly in its core areas of education and children’s mental health – areas which I have a strong personal commitment to.”

Congratulations to David and to Nick.

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89 Comments

  • So when can we expect to see Laws setting out his centre vision? Everything we’ve seen from him so far suggests he’s a radical economic and social liberal who wants to role back the state.

  • Conor McGovern 13th Jun '15 - 11:14pm

    I would’ve rather David Laws’ contribution to the manifesto had been radically economic and social liberal, than bland managerial centrism.

  • Coner – the job of David Laws in drawing up the manifesto was to put in Lib Dem policies passed at conference. He can’t invent his own and put them in.

  • Another Mark 14th Jun '15 - 3:22am

    Geoffrey: In that case, why did the manifesto include a commitment to keep the Bedroom Tax?

  • I agree with Gareth re signal of direction. But it also shows the power of money. More jobs for middle aged white men (who are also quite right wing)!!

  • Jenny Barnes 14th Jun '15 - 8:35am

    I’m pleased to sse that Laws has joined a suitable right wing think tank going forward on an on going basis.hopefully he will blusky some cracking. Right wing ideas.

  • Mark Blackburn 14th Jun '15 - 8:58am

    Essentially the forces are gathering to fight over the direction of flight of the phoenix as it hopefully rises – will the revisionists who blame our downfall purely on just being in coalition continue and reinvigorate their efforts to drag us to the libertarian centre right, or will the grassroots (more of us, but less money, less power, less influence) get our party back?

  • Noorderling 14th Jun '15 - 9:30am

    IMO, the outcome of the GE was much more a result of the fact that few people knew where the Lib Dems precisely stand for, especially as their campaign failed to make a positive case for the Lib Dem vision. As been shown elsewhere, by Cicero IIRC, the Lib Dem electoral tide receded long before Clegg. The party did not just out of nowhere started losing seats from 2010 onwards. Just look at the opinion polls from 2005 up to 2009 and local election results in that period.
    If the Lib Dems want to have any relevance, they should decide what they believe in and want to do and then stick to it. Don’t first claim you want to replace Labour, and then when Blair rides hight in the polls, say you want to replace the Tories. An equi-distance policy means you let others decide what you’re about.

  • Noorderling 14th Jun ’15 – 9:30am
    “……..the outcome of the GE was much more a result of the fact that few people knew where the Lib Dems precisely stand for, ”

    That may be so. However, everyone in Yeovil knew exactly what David Laws stood for after his role in Coalition and his shifting to the right. Even if he had kept his rightwing stance a secret before 2010 it was crystal clear by May of this year. Hence the way the voters responded to him in the General Election.
    When it came to education the voters of Yeovil had learned enough.

    Unfortunately the impact of his views was felt in the losses throughout the West Country and the UK.

  • Andrew Tennant 14th Jun '15 - 10:58am

    Happy to hear that David will be continuing to use his considerable intellect for the benefit of the party and the CentreForum will be continuing to provide a reasoned policy challenge to the party in the future.

    Perhaps a bit concerned at the suggested CentreForum might be narrowing the scope of their work – fine if education and social mobility are their most pressing priorities, but there are many other problems in this country still looking for a workable solution.

  • For me it is a question of which David Laws. I saw him speak at conference recently on education policy and I thought he was excellent. I admired his pragmatism upon which he made his decisions based on evidence rather than ideology.
    However this is the same person who advocated that the public sector’s share of the economy should be cut to 35%. Why? In my opinion the size of the state should be whatever it needs to be to do it’s job effectively, with well run public services and a welfare state that protects people from poverty and encourages people to find work. Who cares what size the state is? If reducing the size of the state takes priority, then what price would we have to pay for that? This concern relates to my concern which is his links with the IEA which I think is a very dogmatic right wing think tank.

    Even so, I am happy for David Laws to take this position as I think he is interested in ideas and even though I do not always agree with him at least CF will be provoking debate and that is what we need. Over the past 8 years the Liberal Democrats have been ideologically steered by David Laws more than anyone else, and I look forward to finding out how he makes sense of how the Lib Dems handled being in government and the consequences of that as we saw on May 7th.

  • Great news. Hope he will also consider putting his name forward for parliamentary seats in the future.

  • The establishment know how to look after their favoured sons (and daughters).

  • ” However, everyone in Yeovil knew exactly what David Laws stood for after his role in Coalition and his shifting to the right. Even if he had kept his rightwing stance a secret before 2010 it was crystal clear by May of this year. Hence the way the voters responded to him in the General Election.” Why then did good voters of Yeovil re-elect him twice? I also find it very hard to believe that the voters of Sat Ives failed to re-elect Andrew George just because of Laws.

    It’s always easiest to blame certain internal elements for a defeat, so you don’t have to look at the structural defects that really caused it History is littered with examples.

    Looking from across the channel it seems that the Lib Dems suffered from a bout of oppositionism, by embracing causes that seemed popular without really asking itself how they fitted into its vision and how they would be achieved in government. Tuition fees is a good example. It may well have been a good policy (i’m not in a position to judge) but mostly it was a tactical choice to steal student votes away from labour. The party never asked itself if it could be achieved.

    Given that David Laws’ ideas are by some considered to be beyond the Liberal pale, can someone explain why the same people consider very right wing parties like VVD , Open VLD and FDP as ‘ sister parties’.? If I lived in Britain, I would probably vote for your party, but I would never in a million year support Mark Rutte and his party that in so many ways resemble the Tory party.

  • John Tilley

    “[…] everyone in Yeovil knew exactly what David Laws stood for after his role in Coalition and his shifting to the right. Even if he had kept his rightwing stance a secret before 2010 it was crystal clear by May of this year. Hence the way the voters responded to him in the General Election.
    When it came to education the voters of Yeovil had learned enough.”

    Said the former leader of South Somerset District Council, oh wait…

    There is plenty of examining of what went wrong in many parts of the UK for the Lib Dems but sweeping simplistic explanations won’t help.

  • Nick Collins 14th Jun '15 - 4:17pm

    “Over the past 8 years the Liberal Democrats have been ideologically steered by David Laws more than anyone else”

    Is that something to be proud or?

  • Alex Macfie 14th Jun '15 - 4:18pm

    @Noorderling: I think there are bound to be differences between parties of the same ideological slant from different countries where the political history and culture are different. So no two parties in any of the European groups are exactly the same. Even so, As far as the UK is concerned, the Lib Dems seem to be more in the mainstream of their European party group than the other main parties. UK Labour MEPs quite often have differences with their allies in the S&D group. As for the Tories, it would be major cause for concern if they were similar in outlook to their European sister parties such as the Danish People’s Party, the Dutch SGP (a Christian fundamentalist party that is against women having the vote) and Poland’s Law & Justice Party. The UK Green Party is also a deeper Green than most mainland European parties.

  • Noorderling 14th Jun '15 - 4:54pm

    @Alex MAcfie: The Tory coalition with SGP/ChristenUnie et al is very much ” pour besoin de la cause”, to have enough MEP’s to form a grouping. Their only common factor is their euroskepticism. They don’t claim to be a true political family.

    I’m willing to believe that the Lib Dems are in the mainstream of their European grouping (live f.i. D66), but that must surely mean that VVD is the odd one out: anti-immigration, increasingly eurosceptic, anti environment and pro car, to name but a few of their policy positions. But I transgress, as this more than a little bit outside the scope of this article.

  • Richard Coe 14th Jun '15 - 5:48pm

    I would have thought Mr Laws has already more than proved that he has absolutely no clue about education policy. I’m not sure who pays for these think tanks, but they’re wasting their money.

  • Steve Comer 14th Jun '15 - 6:44pm

    Noorderling: The VVD party seems to have become increasingly right wing in recent years, presumably they attract more ‘economic Liberals’ to their ranks than the Christian Democrats do? VVD has always had a ‘pro business’ oreintation, but has that got more evident in recent years?
    Most English Lib Dems I know who care about these things feel D66 is very close to our politics, and very strong on civil liberties an internationalism. Presumably the increasing strength of D66 in the Netherlands means those who are social Liberal inclined gravitate towrds it rather than VVD?

  • Nick Collins 14th Jun ’15 – 4:17pm
    “Over the past 8 years the Liberal Democrats have been ideologically steered by David Laws more than anyone else”

    Is that something to be proud [of]?

    Yes.

    Next question.

  • @Richard Coe “I would have thought Mr Laws has already more than proved that he has absolutely no clue about education policy. ”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-33109052

    This is a good example of why we need David’s input into education.

    This research completely misses the point – rather than complaining that top firms recruit polished graduates from Russell Group Universities which in practice means the selectively educated (both state and private), they should be looking at why non-selective state schools fail to produce pupils with the necessary social capital to gain entrance to Russell Group Universities.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Jun '15 - 1:27pm

    TCO

    rather than complaining that top firms recruit polished graduates from Russell Group Universities which in practice means the selectively educated (both state and private), they should be looking at why non-selective state schools fail to produce pupils with the necessary social capital to gain entrance to Russell Group Universities.

    Well, here’s the key quote from the article you seem to be dismissing:


    Candidates who show they are “confident”, “poised” and “polished”, who articulate themselves in a certain way, and in the right accent, who have experienced foreign travel and the kind of social situations, such as large dinners, helpful to business, are considered safe bets.

    Ooh, well I never, just why don’t young people from less wealthy backgrounds have the experience of frequent foreign travel, large formal dinners, and the contacts and experience that young people from wealthy backgrounds have? Er, uhm … must be their schools. Yeah …

    As Marie Antoinette* put it when she was told the poor people were rioting because they had no bread to eat “Oh, why can’t they just eat cake?”.

    * Attributed to her, but there is actually no proof she said it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Jun '15 - 1:44pm

    Steve Comer

    Noorderling: The VVD party seems to have become increasingly right wing in recent years, presumably they attract more ‘economic Liberals’ to their ranks than the Christian Democrats do?

    Across most of Europe, the political party situation evolved differently than it did in the UK. In most of Europe, the parties which were the defenders of the aristocracy disappeared, leaving the liberal parties as the parties of the right facing socialist parties on the left. Christian democrat parties came into being as centrist parties, influenced by such things as Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum encyclical.

    In the UK, however, the party of the aristocrats survived and evolved into the Conservative Party. Unlike the rest of Europe where liberal parties tended to be the heirs of anti-clerical movements, the UK Liberal Party was heavily influenced by nonconformist Christianity, giving it a lot of what was in Christian Democracy elsewhere. Plus there were several splits with right-wing elements of the UK Liberal Party moving to the Conservative Party.

    That is why the UK Liberal Party was more left-wing than almost all the continental liberal parties.

  • @Matthew Huntbach “Ooh, well I never, just why don’t young people from less wealthy backgrounds have the experience of frequent foreign travel, large formal dinners, and the contacts and experience that young people from wealthy backgrounds have? Er, uhm … must be their schools. Yeah … ”

    Students attending Russell Group Universities are far more likely to experience the sort of formal events referred to. Large companies recruit from these Universities because, with a limited recruitment budget, they need to ensure they’re more likely to reach students with the level of academic achievement they’re looking for.

    The problem is that non-selective schools are not adequate in preparing their pupils for entrance to Russell Group Universities (once there, they seem to do OK). So that is the issue. The sort of social capital required (and remember, they will be being interviewed largely by sympathetic academics) can easily be taught. Primarily it’s the ambition to apply in the first place (they can’t admit people who’ve not applied – and its astonishing how much inverted snobbery still exists in some schools around RG Universities only being for “posh” people, despite considerable outreach work), and the ability to speak clearly and confidently and articulate an argument. no need to have the “right accent”,.

    I’ve recruited in a large corporate environment. Ultimately its about being able to look someone in the eye, turn up on time and in a presentable fashion, talk knowledgeably about what’s on their CV, and to think on their feet. I’ve also been involved with outreach work where, to their credit, some FE colleges recognise that these skills are lacking in their students and are seeking to improve them.

  • @Matthew Huntbach “As Marie Antoinette* put it when she was told the poor people were rioting because they had no bread to eat “Oh, why can’t they just eat cake?”.
    * Attributed to her, but there is actually no proof she said it.”

    It’s actually a mistranslation. When told the poor were rioting because they had no bread, she was alleged to have said, well why don’t they eat brioche, which is analogous to bread and although naïve is a less inflammatory statement.

  • TCO 15th Jun ’15 – 10:02am ……………..Nick Collins 14th Jun ’15 – 4:17pm…………….“Over the past 8 years the Liberal Democrats have been ideologically steered by David Laws more than anyone else”……………….Is that something to be proud [of]?…………….Yes………….

    Next question……….

    How come, under such guidance, we were/are nearly wiped out locally, Europewise and nationally, as a political force?

  • @expats “How come, under such guidance, we were/are nearly wiped out locally, Europewise and nationally, as a political force?”

    Because people who didn’t like the elected leadership of the party, and its thought leadership, withdrew their support and carped form the sidelines, rather than going out and making the Liberal case across the country. In stark contrast to the previous situation, it might be noted, where more right-leaning party members supported the previous left-leaning electoral platforms.

  • TCO
    Thank you for the link to the BBC Report on Social Mobility which included this —
    “…David Johnston, chief executive of The Social Mobility Foundation, said the report showed there was “still a pervasive attitude in some of our professions that all the best people can be found in a very small segment of the country’s population”.”

    Anyone brought up in similar circumstances to Matthew Huntbach and me probably knew this already without the need for David Johnson or anyone else to point it out to us.

    This might also explain why some people are a little sceptical of people such as David Laws declaring their commitment to social mobility when so much of what they have actually said and done in politics, across a range of policy areas, has actively worked against people from poorer backgrounds.

    BTW — Does anyone else see the amusing side? This is being discussed under an article which describes a new job for David Laws (who did not grow up in a council house and definitely had the “right” sort of education ). 🙂
    I guess Centre Forum did not want to “search through a lot of mud” before finding a rough diamond.

  • David Evans 15th Jun '15 - 3:18pm

    TCO – That’s right – The voters saw hordes of Lib Dems withdrawing their support and carping from the sidelines and decided not to vote for us. Especially those voters who had seen a leader front up a Party Political Broadcast on “An end to Broken Promises.” and then deliberately break one. Yes! People pay massive attention to all the activists in a party and totally ignore the party leader who is on television more days than not. Yes!! The party’s last campaign was the epitome of failure and all those comments about how well Nick’s Million Door Challenge was going were lies! Yes!!!

    NOT.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Jun '15 - 3:54pm

    TCO

    The problem is that non-selective schools are not adequate in preparing their pupils for entrance to Russell Group Universities (once there, they seem to do OK). So that is the issue. The sort of social capital required (and remember, they will be being interviewed largely by sympathetic academics) can easily be taught.

    No. The report you mention is referring primarily to experience, not things that can be taught. I myself never left this country (apart from one school trip where my parents really had to scrape to pay for it) until I was in my 30s, because when I was young there was no way my parents could not afford it – just twice in our lives as children were we able to afford a holiday away, and in both cases that meant a week on a British caravan site. So how could I talk knowledgeably about experience of other countries, which is one of the factors mentioned? And how could I talk knowledgeably about professional life when my parents had worked as unskilled labourers all their lives and we didn’t have much contact with people higher up the social scale? And what about my accent? I grew up in southern England where you are judged as soon as you open your mouth. I was well read, sure, as a kid I spent my life in libraries, but I spoke with the accent of the people I grew up among, and had many, many experiences in life of being considered as lacking in skills and ability due to that. A lot of this is unconscious, but it’s the same with skin colour and non-European names, you may not be able to prove you were discriminated against, but after experiencing it enough times, you know you are. And that includes, very much I think, the one time I put myself forward to become an approved Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate as was turned down on the grounds that I was “poor at communication”.

    I teach at a Russell Group university, by the way. When you say “non-selective schools are not adequate in preparing their pupils for entrance to Russell Group Universities” because the vast majority of our students, particularly in my subject, come from non-selective schools. I do think there are problems, such as a tendency to make poor choices of A-level subject, and also class-based discrimination in the schools themselves. However, to suggest that it is impossible to go from an ordinary non-selective school to a Russell Group university is wrong.

    I also do put quite a bit of effort into trying to teach my students aspects of presentation and discipline, telling them that it’s so important for future progression. But it certainly ISN’T easy. I get a lot of complaints from students on the lines “Dr Huntbach is too strict”, “Dr Huntbach is meant to teach us how to program, but he marks us down for things like spelling mistakes, which we think he should not do” and so on.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Jun '15 - 3:58pm

    Me

    because when I was young there was no way my parents could not afford it

    Er, seem to have put in an extra “not” there, should be “no way my parents could afford it”.

  • TCO 15th Jun ’15 – 2:20pm………@expats “How come, under such guidance, we were/are nearly wiped out locally, Europewise and nationally, as a political force?”…..Because people who didn’t like the elected leadership of the party, and its thought leadership, withdrew their support and carped form the sidelines, rather than going out and making the Liberal case across the country. In stark contrast to the previous situation, it might be noted, where more right-leaning party members supported the previous left-leaning electoral platforms……..

    I love reading your posts….. far more ‘Alice in Wonderland than ‘1984’…..The thought of all those voters coming on LDV and reading these anti-Clegg/Laws posts is the ‘stuff of dreams’ …I don’t remember seeing a single national interview where such stuff was discussed although I do remember Mr. Clegg telling us that our ‘leftie’ votes were only ‘loaned’. Mine was certainly loaned on a ‘long term basis’ as I first voted Lib in 1966…

  • The “let them eat cake” quote (in the context, “cake” is close enough to brioche not to quibble about it) was written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 1760s (when Maria Antonia von Habsburg was a little girl in Vienna) as the words of an anonymous grande princesse said to have been recalled in the 1730s (when she had not even been born).

    Probably nobody ever actually said it, and it was just a bit of Rousseau’s wit, epitomising what he thought were the attitudes of some aristocrats.

  • The captain of the RMS Titanic can escape all responsibility if he blames the ship’s lookout for having warned about the iceberg; obviously the warning simply lowered crew morale, thereby sinking the ship.

  • Matthew Huntbach

    “it’s the same with skin colour and non-European names”

    It’s not quite as simple as that any more. This story is covered on the FT and there is significant discussion of accents, and there is some view that the ‘wrong accent’ does mark people down but there is no ‘right accent’ (foreign accents are no barrier). The same is often true of other factors, if the CV says Eton then Oxbridge there will be no negative impression, all the right queues will be there.

    I don’t have time to go in to detail but there are specific factors in the industries selected as well. A lot of restrictive practices in place (lack of market forces).

  • @Matthew Huntbach. With respect, foreign travel was far less prevalent when you were growing up than it is today, when in the era of the cheap flight far more is possible and the younger generation travel further, more often, and more cheaply, than my generation, and definitely yours, did.

    You’re also conflating too different things. The employers in the report are seeking graduates and recruit largely from Russell Group Universities. The issue is that proportionately fewer non-selective pupils get into these Universities, largely for reasons such as poor A-Level choice, lack of ambition, bad advice etc. I think they get a sympathetic ear when they apply, but not enough of them do. And they are severely under-equipped in the basic polish that the independent, selective state, and the very best non-selective (ie those in affluent areas) schools give to their pupils.

    This is why I am a passionate supporter of selective education. if you have selective schools roughly equating to the University population then the bright but currently poorly-served pupils get pulled up by the environment in which they are placed – rather than pushed down, as they are currently.

  • @David-1 indeed if we’re going to continue this Titanic analogy, in our case some of the more militant members of the crew had a meeting and mandated that the ship should steer towards icebergs. When the Captain and senior officers told the crew that this probably wasn’t a sensible policy, they were told that they had to obey the will of the crew and carry on regardless.

  • @Matthew Huntbach “I also do put quite a bit of effort into trying to teach my students aspects of presentation and discipline, telling them that it’s so important for future progression. But it certainly ISN’T easy. I get a lot of complaints from students on the lines “Dr Huntbach is too strict”, “Dr Huntbach is meant to teach us how to program, but he marks us down for things like spelling mistakes, which we think he should not do” and so on.”

    You make a really good point here Matthew.

    The problem is that by the time it gets to you in Universities, the “bad habits”, which are endemic in schools, are too ingrained.

    That kind of rigour needs to be coached in from the earliest age and its not.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Jun '15 - 7:19pm

    TCO

    The issue is that proportionately fewer non-selective pupils get into these Universities, largely for reasons such as poor A-Level choice, lack of ambition, bad advice etc. I think they get a sympathetic ear when they apply, but not enough of them do.

    Yes, that is an issue. But it is NOT the issue in the report you cite, and you are therefore wrong to deny what is in that report to try and pretend it says something else.

  • TCO 15th Jun ’15 – 5:05pm
    “…And they are severely under-equipped in the basic polish that the independent, selective state, and the very best non-selective (ie those in affluent areas) schools give to their pupils.”

    I am impressed — I didn’t realise that any schools taught Polish.

    Not that it matters beause most of the Polish people I know speak perfectly good English as did their grandparents’ generation when flying planes in the Battle of Britain. That was of course before foreign travel became widespread.

  • @John Tilley “I am impressed — I didn’t realise that any schools taught Polish.
    Not that it matters beause most of the Polish people I know speak perfectly good English as did their grandparents’ generation when flying planes in the Battle of Britain. That was of course before foreign travel became widespread.”

    It seems you didn’t pay enough attention to the capitalisation lessons at your Grammar School, John – even I with my limited comprehensive “education” know the difference between polish and Polish 😉

    Their grand-parents’ generation were, of course, stitched up by realpolitik and a group in thrall to that genial despot Josef Stalin. They weren’t even allowed to participate in the Victory Parade.

    However, it does give me the opportunity to celebrate their language skills with this little clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1pplBZu0oU

    “Repeat please!”

  • @John Tilley ” Does anyone else see the amusing side? This is being discussed under an article which describes a new job for David Laws (who did not grow up in a council house and definitely had the “right” sort of education ).”

    Well I don’t know about Matthew, because he has never said, but although you grew up in a council house you had the opportunity for an excellent state-provided selective academic education, in a Grammar School. So you too had the “right sort of education”; an opportunity denied to my generation outside of those in a few areas.

  • @David Evans I never had you down as a Beavis and Butthead fan 😉

    As you know we lost a significant chunk of support immediately on joining the coalition. What we needed then was our supporters and activists to get behind the decision and go out and both reassure these voters and inform them that this had always been our position, to seek to govern through coalition and especially in the dire situation the country was in at the time.

    Unfortunately that didn’t happen.

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Jun '15 - 10:07am

    TCO

    Well I don’t know about Matthew, because he has never said, but although you grew up in a council house you had the opportunity for an excellent state-provided selective academic education, in a Grammar School. So you too had the “right sort of education”; an opportunity denied to my generation outside of those in a few areas.

    Well, I passed the 11-plus, so I could have gone to grammar school, Not that I knew it was the 11-plus when I took it, we were just sat down in primary school and given some work to do, and it turned out that’s what it was as the letter offering a place in the local grammar school came on that basis. But I chose to go to a comprehensive school instead. Yes, my parents left it to me to choose.

    Now, the local grammar school was in the middle of a posh estate, and the local secondary moderns were in the poorer parts. I think that made it pretty clear where you were supposed to go. However, I was a Catholic at a Catholic primary school, and the local Catholic secondary modern and grammar schools were just in the process of merging to become a comprehensive, and that’s where I chose to go. Well, I got top grade A-levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry, which you, TCO, seem to be suggesting would be impossible in my situation.

    You are talking nonsense because I was for many years the admission tutor for the university department where I am a lecturer, and in that time I saw thousands of applicants and what subjects they took and what grades they got. The idea that it is impossible for pupils in comprehensive schools to get top grades in the most valued subjects, that this is “denied” to your generation outside a few areas is wrong. I saw literally hundreds of applicants from comprehensive schools with good A-levels in the right subjects in my time, and our applicants were mostly from London and mostly not the posher parts of London.

    Now, there was and is a big problem of too many from that background choosing sixth form subjects that were less useful and being poorly guided. I was forever telling schools that for any pupil who wanted to do a Computer Science degree, they needed to do Maths A-level and avoid A-level ICT. However, it would be wrong to say that no-one in those schools ever did A-level Maths. And wrong to say that no-one ever got grade As.

  • @Matthew Huntbach “However, I was a Catholic at a Catholic primary school, and the local Catholic secondary modern and grammar schools were just in the process of merging to become a comprehensive, and that’s where I chose to go. Well, I got top grade A-levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry, which you, TCO, seem to be suggesting would be impossible in my situation.”

    I think what that suggests is that the Grammar School institutional memory was still fresh when you attended the school.

    “You are talking nonsense because I was for many years the admission tutor for the university department where I am a lecturer, and in that time I saw thousands of applicants and what subjects they took and what grades they got. The idea that it is impossible for pupils in comprehensive schools to get top grades in the most valued subjects, that this is “denied” to your generation outside a few areas is wrong. I saw literally hundreds of applicants from comprehensive schools with good A-levels in the right subjects in my time, and our applicants were mostly from London and mostly not the posher parts of London. ”

    That’s not what I was suggesting. I never said it was impossible to get top grades at a comprehensive – I got them at one – but that a Grammar School education was denied to mine and subsequent generations. That’s a different thing entirely. The differences being:

    – I was very lucky to get top grades, and only because the school just about managed to retain a sixth form, so the class sizes were tiny (less than 10)
    – the opportunity to study some of the more minority subjects (eg Latin and Greek) isn’t there
    – the ethos of comprehensive schools is against excellence and its pursuit, thereby disadvantaging its pupils against those who come from schools where this is the case
    – there is a lack of positive reinforcement against the anti-intellectual and anti-education culture prevalent in so much of our society
    – there is a lack of focus on the sort of soft skills, such as smartness, articulation, presentation etc that selective schools engender

    Its this sort of social capital that Comprehensives fail at so comprehensively, and that is the main reason why its pupils suffer by comparison.

  • @Matthew Huntbach – to reinforce my previous comment. I’m not saying, and never have said, that it’s not possible to get top grades at a comprehensive. The problem is that achievement is not guaranteed given input talent, and there is a huge lack in the other areas, such as curriculum and soft skills, as outlined above.

    So I think that pupils from ordinary backgrounds suffer by not having the sort of education available that selective schooling provides.

  • @Matthew Huntbach “But I chose to go to a comprehensive school instead. Yes, my parents left it to me to choose.”

    And why did you choose to go to the comprehensive?

  • TCO 15th Jun ’15 – 5:07pm……………….. indeed if we’re going to continue this Titanic analogy, in our case some of the more militant members of the crew had a meeting and mandated that the ship should steer towards icebergs. When the Captain and senior officers told the crew that this probably wasn’t a sensible policy, they were told that they had to obey the will of the crew and carry on regardless……………..

    Except that it was the exact opposite of what happened….There is no hope for the future so long as sucha complete rewriting of history has any credence within the party….

  • @Matthew Huntbach “But I chose to go to a comprehensive school instead. ”

    And that’s also my point. You were able to choose not to go. I wasn’t given the option, either as a pupil or as a parent.

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Jun '15 - 4:01pm

    TCO, I don’t see that ANY of the things you set out as differences between comprehensive schools and grammar schools are intrinsic to comprehensive schools. For example, if you merged a grammar school with a secondary modern school to make a comprehensive, why would it suddenly stop teaching Latin? Why would it suddenly develop an ethos against excellence? I think you are just echoing prejudices. I see absolutely no reason why it should be an intrinsic aspect of a comprehensive school that it should not be concerned over anti-intellectual and anti-education culture. I see absolutely no reason why it should be an intrinsic aspect of a comprehensive school that it should have no concern over soft skills.

    Also, you say nothing about secondary modern schools, which is where most children will end up going if grammar schools were re-introduced as the standard. Isn’t it just as necessary (if not more so) that children who don’t come in the top 20% of academic performers should get a good education in soft skills? Isn’t it just as necessary (if not more so) that children who don’t come in the top 20% of academic performers should be educated in a way that counters anti-intellectual and anti-education culture?

    What you seem to be saying, as most “bring back grammar schools” people seem to be saying, is that we should lavish attention on special schools which educate a small proportion of the population and not bother much with the rest. I don’t see at all that that tackles the big educational problems in our society because the big educational problems aren’t with the top performers. They’re with those lower down. So writing off those lower down as not worth bothering with, is just about the last thing we should be doing.

    I understand and very much agree with your concern about anti-intellectual culture, lack of training in soft skills and so on. I just don’t see that the solution to this is the one you propose of only bothering with these things for a minority of children by doing it in special schools set up just for them.

  • @Matthew Huntbach “I don’t see that ANY of the things you set out as differences between comprehensive schools and grammar schools are intrinsic to comprehensive schools.”

    Yet, in practice, that is exactly what has happened. Comprehensive schools do not compete with selective schools, and given the 40 year experiment, one has to conclude they cannot and never will.

    “What you seem to be saying, as most “bring back grammar schools” people seem to be saying, is that we should lavish attention on special schools which educate a small proportion of the population and not bother much with the rest.”

    No – I’m NOT saying that. This canard is always trotted out by the anti-selection lobby and it’s just not true.

    What I’m saying is this. Selectively-educated pupils have a massive advantage when it comes to securing the best University places and jobs in this country when compared to their comprehensive-educated peers. Now, either you can accept that (as you seem to) on the basis of some spurious “equality” – which is no equality at all – or you can seek to do something about it.

    It’s incumbent on us as a society to equip our brightest children to compete with independent schools, otherwise we permit the continued retrenchment of privilege. That’s not a situation I’m prepared to accept. We already have schools that select on musical, sporting, design, arts and IT ability, yet we can’t have schools that select on academic ability. Why not?

    Germany has no problem in selecting by academic ability and does not abandon the remainder of its pupils, so there’s no reason why we should either.

    Yet if we were to go down this route we would be providing our most able pupils with the tools to compete on a level playing field with their privately-educated peers.

    This is a good and Liberal thing to do.

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Jun '15 - 8:42pm

    TCO

    Selectively-educated pupils have a massive advantage when it comes to securing the best University places and jobs in this country when compared to their comprehensive-educated peers. Now, either you can accept that (as you seem to)

    No, I don’t accept it. I think you are saying what you are saying our of a mixture of nostalgia and prejudice. On the whole I don’t think bright kids who go to comprehensives are at the massive disadvantage which you claim. Like many who say this sort of thing, you look at a few poor performing comprehensives with particularly difficult inputs and assume that all comprehensives are like that and it is a necessary part of being a comprehensive that it must be like that.

    There is an easy scientific experiment that can be used to show if you are correct or I am. There are parts of the country where the selective system was maintained, quite big parts – two of them are the London Borough of Sutton and the administrative county of Kent. So, if you are correct, our top universities would be stuffed with kids from Sutton and Kent. Well, are they? During my time as admissions tutor I handled thousands of UCAS applications, and I never noticed anything very different coming from Sutton or Kent.

  • @Matthew Huntbach I’m not sure your admission anecdotes count as a scientific experiment 😉

    If we want our less well off pupils to challenge the independent school hegemony we need to provide them with the institutions to do that.

  • Nick Collins 18th Jun '15 - 11:17am

    @ TCO 15 Jun 10.07

    That would be the pride which came before the fall, I presume.

  • A Social LIberal 18th Jun '15 - 10:44pm

    TCO

    I have often spoken of the eniquity of grammar schools. Here in Skipton we are lucky? enough to have two. Guess how many boys go to Ermystedds (our boys only grammar) from the catchment area – 28%. Want to know how many are from poor backgrounds – 1.7%. The percentage of Skipton Girls High School is similar at 2.9%

    Given your argument that grammar schools draw up bright children from poor backgrounds are you saying that only 28% of Cravens children are bright, that less than 3% of children from poor families are clever enough to attend?

  • nvelope2003 19th Jun '15 - 3:55pm

    John Tilley: I know Yeovil quite well. The Liberal Democrats dropped 22.57 %, the Conservatives rose by 9.57 %, UKIP by 9.31%, Labour by 1.89% and the Greens by 3.85%. Similar changes can be observed throughout the West Country. In other words, just in case you missed it, the Liberal Democrats lost votes mostly to the Conservatives and UKIP, not to Labour or the Greens. Laws was popular in Yeovil and his defeat was a surprise to many people but apparently the voters wanted a very right wing Conservative MP. They did not want either a Labour one (7.12 %) or a Green (3.85%) I suspect that they did not like the way the Liberal Democrat coalition partners seemed disloyal to the Government they were part of and solid down to earth people do not care for that. At least Laws only lost by 5,313 votes, not by the 20,268 that the leftish Liberal Democrat candidate who replaced David Heath MP in Somerton and Frome. No I could not believe it either.

    To be fair Tessa Munt did better than expected in Wells though even there most of the gains were by UKIP and the Conservatives. Taunton Deane and Weston super Mare were disasters with big gains by the Conservatives and UKIP but reasonable showing by Labour and the Greens. Only in Bath did the Greens and Labour do well but that might be expected. It is rather trendy. I expect UKIP is far too common for them.

  • @ a Social Liberal

    I don’t want to get into the merits or otherwise of a grammar school system vs a comprehensive system, but since there are only 6 non fee-paying grammar schools in the whole of Yorkshire, it is obvious that those few schools will have far higher entry requirements, will take far more children from outside the local area, and far fewer children from poor backgrounds than in a full grammar school system, so I suggest you present figures from Kent or Trafford if you want them to have any bearing on the argument…

  • Sad that Laws squandered what Paddy had built up.

    The voters of Yeovil obviously gave their verdict on Orange Bookism and questioned how he can reconcile his private attitude to what M.P.’s expenses are for and his public attitude to reducing reducing state spending to 35% of GDP.

    Maybe a proper radical Liberal committed to tackling inequality and protecting public services can restore things next time.

  • @A Social Liberal – I’ve responded on this point to you before. When you only have one (or two) in a large area they become super-grammars because the competition is so fierce.

    This problem disappears if you have sufficient grammar schools for 33% of the population as there was (mostly) prior to the mid 1970s

  • @David Raw I suggest you read nvelope2003’s post. The lib dem voters of Yeovil who went elsewhere went right not left, so your suggestion that ” The voters of Yeovil obviously gave their verdict on Orange Bookism” and ” a proper radical Liberal committed to tackling inequality and protecting public services can restore things next time” don’t stand up to scrutiny.

  • nvelope2003 19th Jun ’15 – 3:55pm ………………… The Liberal Democrats dropped 22.57 %, . Laws was popular in Yeovil and his defeat was a surprise to many people but apparently the voters wanted a very right wing Conservative……………..

    Very popular, yet his vote fell by almost a quarter ???

    My interpretation, of the result is that, “If you offer people a choice between “the real thing” and “a close copy” they will, almost always, go for the real thing…..

  • John Tilley 20th Jun '15 - 8:19am

    nvelope2003 19th Jun ’15 – 3:55pm

    I also know a little bit about the constituencies of Somerton and Frome , Taunton and also Yeovil. But nobody needs to be an expert to read the facts of the results and learn for the future.

    Your comparison of the result in Yeovil with the result in Somerton and Frome is open to challenge. Perhaps you would like to remind people reading this precisely how many weeks before the general election our candidate in Somerton and Frome had to repair the damage done before he was selected?

    Compare that to the MP for Yeovil who had 14 years to establish himself, following on from the many increasingly successful years that Paddy Ashdown had been Yeovil MP.

    The majority in Somerton and Frome had always been thin and many people thought that David Heath had worked something of a miracle to “hang on” in earlier general elections, his first majority being only 130 and his 2010 majority being 1,817. The Yeovil majority in 2010 had been over 13,000.

    Yeovil was the only seat of the three where the much talked about ‘incumbency factor’ was in play but as sitting MP David Laws did poorly, to say the least. What happened in Yeovil was not the same as what happened everywhere else in the West Country.

    Your reference to the Labour and Green votes in Yeovil is entirely misleading. Both increased their vote (there had been no Green candidate in 2010). The combined Labour/Green vote in Yeovil this year was just short of 10,000.
    This in a seat where the Tory got in with a majority of 5,313 — you do not need to be a psephological genius to do the arithmetic.

    As for this being a surprise – if you look back through LDV you will find some very well informed comments from someone who goes by the name of ‘Bolano’, who lives in Yeovil.
    He saw this result coming a long time ago and like some others warned about what was coming.

    Some people chose to ignore the warnings and the facts and carry on repeating that “the emperor has fantastic clothes”.

  • Expats:
    However we look at it, results in the South West (and elsewhere in England) make uncomfortable reading for those who feel that we were not sufficiently anti Tory.

    On a cursory reading the election produced a clearly dominant right wing swing in England (Conservatives + UKIP), which suggests that we should not reject out of hand those who warned that the ‘differentiation strategy’ might only serve to deny ourselves credit for the achievements of the coalition. It is very difficult to sustain an argument that we should be turning leftwards and disavowing, even apologising for the coalition.

    Liberal values and principles tend to be tacitly acknowledged, but often explicitly disparaged. Nonetheless, I still think that we should be looking to how we can project our Liberal values and principles and try not to be too mesmerised by the left right shoe horn.

  • @expats and @Martin there were probably some complex movements in and out of not voting in addition

  • Martin

    You seem to base your conclusion on the rather shallow assumption that if the Tories won in some seats in South West London and some people voted UKIP then the only future for the Liberal Democrats is to become more right wing.
    You may be able to “sustain” that argument to your own personal satisfaction but the history of the Liberal Democrats in general elections points in another direction. Being a slightly nicer Conservative than the Conservatives may have helped in Hallam and Norfolk but nowhere else.

    What the general election proved was that if Conservatives in England concentrate on seats held by Liberal Democrats having duped them into believing that Conservatives were their new best friends, they will destroy the Liberal Democrats. That is as true in South West London as anywhere else in the UK.

    If your theory held water, how do you explain the fact that in England the Labour Party took seats off the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats?.

  • David Howarth 20th Jun '15 - 11:07am

    @Martin
    We need to go beyond “cursory” readings.
    Wave 5 of the British Election Study is just out, the final pre-election wave. From that we have a small but useable sample of 383 voters in LD held seats in the South West (with the Tories second). If we compare how these voters voted in 2010 (based on what they said in 2010) with how they were saying they would vote just before this year’s election, the pattern is that, in net terms, we lost 17% of our 2010 vote to Labour, 9% each to the Conservatives and UKIP and 8% to the Greens.
    But three other important movements seem to have happened.
    *More than a quarter of the voters who did not vote in 2010 were saying that they were going to vote Conservative in 2015.
    *The Conservative gains from us and from not voting were offset, though not completely, by Conservative losses to UKIP.
    *The ‘Don’t know’ rate among 2010 Lib Dems was far higher than that for other parties ( 6% of our 2010 vote), which, experience shows, often translates into a high abstention rate.
    We’ll have to wait for the post-election data to see how this panned out, but, at least on this basis, we lost in the South West because our vote scattered to the winds, though more to the left than to the right, and because the Tories voters turned out more than 2010 and Lib Dem voters turned out less.

  • David Howarth 20th Jun '15 - 11:32am

    @me
    I should mention that ‘net losses’ means the number of voters lost to a party minus the number gained from them. In terms of absolute losses, the figure for the Tories is nearer to that for Labour, but we also managed to win a few voters from the Tories to offet the losses, whereas we didn’t from Labour.

  • nvelope2003 20th Jun '15 - 1:14pm

    John Tilley: The actual votes cast for each party have to be viewed in terms of being a proportion of the total votes cast otherwise realistic comparisons would be impossible or meaningless.

    There had been a campaign of vilification of Laws in the letters column of the Western Gazette by both Labour and Conservative supporters although to be fair he had brought it on himself by the way he handled his expenses claims and that cannot have helped his chances of winning. Whenever I met people there they always spoke well of him but even the most moderate supporters of the Conservatives and Labour Parties really hated him, like they hated Paddy Ashdown.

    David Heath was popular in Somerton and Frome and David Rendel was very well received wherever he went but most people did not vote for him. To be honest I think many people just wanted the Conservatives to finish the job of cutting the deficit and they saw the Liberal Democrats as a hindrance to that. Now the Conservatives will have no one to blame but themselves for any mistakes and that seems to be how many voters like it. If recent local council by election results are anything to go by we should be glad we are out of the Government and perhaps the losses at the General Election are the price that had to be paid for achieving that. Just imagine what would have happened if we had retained ten of the seats lost to the Conservatives and Clegg had maintained the coalition with even less input into the Government! If only the Conservatives had achieved their majority at the expense of another party ! – ah well.

    As regards North Norfolk this had been a Liberal seat since 1885 until Noel-Buxton went over to Labour when it became a Labour seat (except for 1931 and 1935) until 1970 so there is a strong anti Tory tradition there.

    In the Mole Valley by elections on 18th June the great increase in the Liberal Democrat vote was accompanied by a collapse in the UKIP vote. It would be interesting to know what the connection there was.

    You seem to assume that anyone who considers that because the voters may have appeared to have switched from Liberal to Conservative or UKIP rather than to Labour or the Greens means that they think the Liberal Democrats should move to the right. This is not so in my case. To describe something does not mean that one agrees with it anymore than to say it rained almost every day of a holiday means you liked it that way.

  • John Tilley:
    Is “South West London” Freudian slip? There is some sort of life beyond the Great Wen. Also you exhibit signs of paranoia about motivations, forgetting that in most of the South West of England we are in opposition to the Tories.

    I do think that you need to consider more seriously the argument that we ended up in effect trashing such achievements as we did make. My feeling is that too many of us, amongst whom I do include you, swallowed Labour’s narrative, particularly as directed against us far too readily.

    David Howarth:
    Interesting data to mull over, even though the data base is not really sufficient.. I wrote “cursory” deliberately, understanding that we have to look beyond, however the unhappy fact remains that in England overall Conservatives + UKIP add up to over 50%. In order to move on, we do need a clearer understanding of what was happening – what drove voters further to the right?

    In part, I think we fell victim to a miscalculation by Labour. Their hyperbolic characterisation of the coalition as “the most right-wing government in living memory” only served to give an impression to many that they were rather flaky left wing adventurists. As the election approached, the prospect of Labour in government became less and less appealing. It is not really an answer to how we should proceed, but I do think that there will be many seats that will be hard for us to regain if Labour do not improve their credibility.

  • nvelope2003:

    Just imagine what would have happened if we had retained ten of the seats lost to the Conservatives and Clegg had maintained the coalition with even less input into the Government!

    Thanks for that silver lining!

    My guess is that Clegg would not have even attempted that and in any case he would surely have been rebuffed by the Party, but who knows what alternative nightmare was avoided?

  • David Howarth 20th Jun '15 - 1:50pm

    @Martin
    It’s worth remembering that in terms of economic as opposed to social attitudes UKIP voters are not ‘right wing’. On questions such as whether the government should redistribute incomes, the median UKIP voter is centre or centre left. Even more strikingly, a higher percentage of UKIP voters ‘strongly agree’ with government action to redistribute incomes than Liberal Democrat voters. Overall on economic issues, Labour, UKIP, Lib Dem and Green voters are all pretty much in the same place – Greens being more to the left than the others and Labour being slightly to the left of Lib Dems, but in each case the median voter is centre-left. It’s only Tory voters who are on average centre-right.

  • Martin 20th Jun ’15 – 1:23pm ……………………..I do think that you need to consider more seriously the argument that we ended up in effect trashing such achievements as we did make. My feeling is that too many of us, amongst whom I do include you, swallowed Labour’s narrative, particularly as directed against us far too readily………………….

    Martin, it wasn’t ‘us’ and it wasn’t ‘Labour’…..It was the way that our leadership behaved (the enthusiastic acceptance of the NHS reorganisation, tuition fees, bedroom tax, etc. ) The LDV assertion that “75% of coalition policies are LibDem” , etc., merely confirmed to the electorate that there was no real difference between us and the Tories……

    What was demoralising was that the polls, Local/European elections over 5 years told us that our performance in the coalition was not defining us as a separate party and as a LibDem strategy it was ‘just plain wrong’ ….

    At the end of the day, who can blame the electorate for deciding they’d prefer the ‘organ grinder’ ……

  • John Tilley 20th Jun '15 - 2:22pm

    Martin 20th Jun ’15 – 1:23pm
    “swallowed Labour’s narrative”

    You are a well informed person. I am puzzled that you accuse me of having “swallowed Labour’s narrative”.

    I oppose new nuclear, oppose replacement of Trident, opposed all six of Tony Blair’s wars, oppose the Labour Party line on Palestine, opposed their Unionist Labour Party stance in the Scotland Referendum.
    I generally oppose all those economic policies where Labour has sold its soul to International corporate interests.
    I am appalled by the failure of the Labour Party to do anything about housing during 13 years in government and by virtually everything that people like Jack Straw and John Reid and David Blunket say when reminiscing about their time at The Home Office.
    I find the Labour position on immigration amd asylum seekers reprehensible.

    I could make this list even longer but I am sure you get the point.
    Which bit of the Labour narrative are you saying I have swallowed?

  • John Tilley 20th Jun '15 - 2:31pm

    nvelope2003 20th Jun ’15 – 1:14pm

    Fair enough – I accept what you say about rainy days.
    I am still not sure that you are describing the storm clouds accurately for the reasons that David Howarth provides.

    As David points out with reference to the BES —
    ‘Overall on economic issues, Labour, UKIP, Lib Dem and Green voters are all pretty much in the same place – ‘

    There is maybe a lesson for the future in that?

    Maybe Paddy Ashdown and Caroline Lucas have noticed as well.

  • David Howarth:
    I am not so sure that your left/right data is not clutching at straws, which put the left/right categorisation into question. So why do they vote for UKIP? Before judging political direction, perhaps self interest has to be accounted for. Maybe, for example, UKIPers favour a 50p tax rate for the highest earners; this might be classed as economically left wing, but is it useful to class as left wing favouring others to pay more? More to the point, it is the matters that concern our Liberal outlook that are of use to us. I really do doubt that we should put much effort into attracting those who switched from Lib Dem to UKIP back again.

    I do not understand your reference to the median average. I hope you are wrong as it implies that even without UKIP supporters the Tories are around 50%.

    Expats:
    When you come out with stuff like “the enthusiastic acceptance of the NHS reorganisation, tuition fees, bedroom tax, etc.” you write yourself out of being taken seriously and moreover, only reinforce my original strictures.

  • David Howarth 20th Jun '15 - 3:26pm

    Interestingly, across the country as a whole the voters we lost directly to UKIP were economically to the left not only of other UKIP voters but also of our voters as well.
    The problem, of course, with trying to unify the non-Tory vote is that our voters (and Greens) are miles apart from UKIP voters on other issues, especially on immigration. Moreover, Labour’s electorate contains a very big chunk of voters who are not at all liberal, again especially on immigration (which explains Labour’s findamental strategic difficulty – it has to try to be both the Lib Dems and UKIP).
    In addition, as other commenters here have pointed out, it’s not just issues and values that determine votes. Trust and competence also matter – on which neither ourselves nor Labour have been doing very well recently.

  • David Howarth 20th Jun '15 - 3:50pm

    @Martin
    It is not clutching at straws to point out that conventional ideas of left and right confuse two completely different things: economic attitudes (pro or anti redistribution, pro or anti privatisation and so on) and social attitudes (pro or anti immigration, human rights, diversity and so on). If we are to understand what is happening in British politics it is hopeless to join the two together and to declare that ‘more than 50% of the electorate is right wing’. The British electorate as a whole is not ‘right wing’ in the first sense – if anything it is left wing – but it is ‘right wing’ in the second sense.
    As a liberal party, our main defining characteristic is in terms of the second set of issues – which is why we shouldn’t try to chase votes lost because of immigration and similar issues. But it is a mistake to think, as you seem to do, that we predominantly lost votes to our ‘right’ in the first sense. We didn’t. We predominantly lost votes to our ‘left’ on those issues.

  • David Howarth 20th Jun '15 - 3:59pm

    @Martin
    On your other comment, on median voters, I completely fail to understand what you mean. How can knowing about where UKIP’s median voter sits on a left-right scale have any implications for what proportion of the electorate is Tory?

  • 20th Jun ’15 – 3:15pm…………………. Expats: When you come out with stuff like “the enthusiastic acceptance of the NHS reorganisation, tuition fees, bedroom tax, etc.” you write yourself out of being taken seriously and moreover, only reinforce my original strictures……..

    Hardly…. Despite the coalition agreement promising “stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS that have got in the way of patient care”,[Nick Clegg signed up to the ‘original’ Lansley proposal and was told by Shirley Williams, at the 2011 conference, that she did not want to damage Mr Clegg or the coalition. But she insisted the deputy prime minister was allowing the health service to be put at risk…..

    Tuition fees/Bedroom Tax…(done to death here)..

    Secret Courts…In March 2013, Clegg asked Lib Dem MPs and peers to vote with the Tories in support of the Justice and Security Act….

  • David Howarth:
    The median is the middle position by definition: 50% either way; if only Conservative voters are to the right then that is 50% of the population.. You could muddy the waters by having a broad middle (centre) but then it is not really right to be referring to a median.

    I do not really accept that there is such a “completely different” distinction between economic and social. For UK Liberals the two have always been closely intertwined, with the Liberal reference being upon the limitations to and responsibilities of the power of the state.

    It is none the less quite interesting if there is evidence that UKIP voters are not in line with the free market purists of the UKIP leadership (I hope that is not your reference for economically liberal!). It is what I expect if a party indulges in opportunistic populism such as scapegoating of immigrants. – Not all that helpful to us though.

    John Tilley: do read the complete sentence (yes, I could have put in a helpful extra comma ) – I am referring to the narrative of the last five years , “particularly as directed against us”. My warning is that the Party will not start to sort itself out if it allows the Labour Party to act as a backseat driver. There is a fairly dominant hostile narrative that is largely Labour generated that we have to resist and in order to make sure we set our own Liberal agenda.

  • David Howarth 20th Jun '15 - 6:17pm

    @Martin
    Oh dear. To say that the median Conservative voter is on the centre right means that half their voters are to the left of that and half to right of that. That is a completely different thing from saying that all Conservatives are on the right or that all right wing voters are Conservative. The Conservatives have quite a few voters in the centre and a small number on the left, just as the other parties have voters in the centre and some on the right.
    I don’t understand why you think that a left-right scale can’t have a median if is has a centre caegory. For example asking people to say whether they strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree or strongly disagree with a statement gives a five point scale, with the third category being the centre, The median is derived by lining up the categories in order of degree of agreement and asking which category the middle voter falls in.
    On your ‘not accepting’ that economic and social attitudes are different, and then telling me about liberalism, you are confusing the state of the world and your own political views. In the world as it really is, there are quite a lot of people who combine ‘left-wing’ economic views with ‘right-wing’ (authoritarian) social views – in fact in the British electorate it is the single most commonly held combination of views. Similarly there are people who combine ‘right-wing’ economic views and ‘left-wing’ (liberal) social attitudes – although in fact in Britain today there are very few such people (around 5%).
    It is in fact the case that the UKIP leadership’s economic libertarianism is not shared by its voters. It’s basically immigration that drives the UKIP vote, plus perhaps disillusion with politics in general. As the campaign went on, I think I noticed UKIP moving left on economic issues, especially in terms of anti-big business rhetoric. That was presumably because they had worked out who their potential voters were.

  • David Raw

    “Sad that Laws squandered what Paddy had built up.”

    John Tilley

    “I also know a little bit about the constituencies of Somerton and Frome , Taunton and also Yeovil. But nobody needs to be an expert to read the facts of the results and learn for the future. […]
    Compare that to the MP for Yeovil who had 14 years to establish himself, following on from the many increasingly successful years that Paddy Ashdown had been Yeovil MP. […]
    The Yeovil majority in 2010 had been over 13,000.”

    Well lets just check the results:
    ’97 (Ashdown) – 48.7%
    ’01 (Laws) – 44.2%
    ’05 (Laws) – 51.4%
    ’10 (Laws) – 55.7% – (that 13,000 majority)
    ’15 (Laws) – 33.1%

    There were serious problems in the 2015 election, both nationally and locally. As TOC noted the move in Yeovil was a move right, some votes were lost to Labour and the Greens but also votes were lost to the Conservatives.

    An assessment of what happened in 2015 needs to be serious, not just people distracted by their own confirmation bias. Citing one person who lives in the constituency as evidence of knowing exactly what would have turned things around is not really all that useful.

    I hope the LibDem party does an effective review of what went wrong, but I think a few too many people on here are over confident of their own insights in to the behaviour of over 80,000 people.

    One thing that is often forgotten is that there is no such thing a s a safe LibDem seat, this idea seems to pass people by in most discussions any assessment of strategy need to accept this fact. Have a read of:
    http://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2015/06/the-computers-that-crashed-and-the-campaign-that-didnt-the-story-of-the-tory-stealth-operation-that-outwitted-labour.html
    “Liberal Democrat supporters were more amenable to voting Tory than others realised” You have to accept that many LibDem voters are thinking voters not tribal voters and thinking voters are possible to persuade this is a challenge but it should keep the minds focused at the top of the party, something I am not sure it did in recent years.

  • I would also say that to compare Somerton and Frome with held seats and blame the candidate for the result is unfair. The circumstances of the selection were less than ideal (even the first candidate was selected too late in my opinion). Too many sweeping generalisations are mode in all of these assessments.

    It is easy to over react and generalise in both victory and defeat, doing either is not helpful. Before I bore people with links I would just point out an FT opinion piece to remind people that nothing is certain.
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bbdb5806-0dc5-11e5-aa7b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3dmP37Xpq
    “To err is human. To overcorrect is just stupid. […]
    On May 6, the eve of the election, the present system made a Conservative majority “impossible”. Our underestimation of the Tories should have taught us to doubt and hedge. If anything, it has made us even more dementedly certain in the opposite direction.”

  • Psi,
    I have no idea how our targeting operation worked, but that conservative home article tells us a lot of things that worked for the Tories and shows that target letters were very sophisticated.

    So hopefully someone in the right place is reading and absorbing it…

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Jul '15 - 4:24pm

    Nick Tyrone is wrong to say that Mrs Thatcher defended the Falklands. She did the opposite.
    Former naval person Jim Callaghan found enough money to keep the “Endeavour” sailing around the area. Please see his memoirs for details.
    After the general election the ship was subjected to Tory government cuts. The military junta in Argentina thought that the UK’s Tory government was not bothered about defending this unprofitable group of islands.
    That same government paid heavily in lives, risk and money.
    There was an important distinction between people and land. The Argentinians wanted the land. Oil had not yet been found. They were willing to let the people go, if they wanted to.
    The PM took the view that this was naked aggression which should not be allowed on principle. She sent a fleet across the oceans without adequate air cover, against the advice of her Defence Minister.
    The UK wanted help in sattelite surveillance from the USA.
    President Reagan was ambivalent. He wanted to be friends with both countries. He also wanted to be on TV dining at Buckingham Palace, which was unprecedented, but was arranged.
    The Queen had a son serving in the navy in the area and mentioned this in her speech.
    Mrs Thatcher wanting to be off camera, put her face in her soup bowl, which, fortunately, contained no soup.
    An ancient Argentine military ship equipped with modern rocketry was sunk by a torpedo from a British submarine. The orders had come from the top. After the war a Royal Navy ship entered a UK port flagged with the Jolly Roger, the Skull and Crossbones. HMS Conqueror had done so because during World War I using submarines was thought to be ungentlemanly cheating.

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