Extremist moderates, now is the time for us to lead!

This was a title that just grew at the Brighton Conference. Paddy Ashdown started it by remarking at one of the huge Consultation sessions on Vince’s new ideas,“You’re all extremists! Or you wouldn’t be here!” By the end of Conference, extremism had attached itself to the formerly scorned idea that we activists are moderates, adherents of the Centre ground where the majority of the British public live. So, we are happy to admit a connection to the moderate majority, so long as it is known that we are extremists too!

Of course, we are not THAT sort of extremist – a rabid Brexiteer of the Right, or fanatical Corbynite of the Left. But we are pretty extreme in our demands from the leadership, not least to be consulted before ideas leak out to the voters we want to attract. Vince admitted in the Saturday Consultative session to being himself “a bit of a Stalinist”, but added wryly that this party would quickly have seen off Stalin.

There will surely always be a conflict between an open-minded, Liberal and democratic party and its leader, when the leader chooses to put forward radical new ideas in ways that attract the media’s attention but annoy the party faithful. For Vince to start talking about stepping down seemed a crazy distraction at first, given his security compared with that of either May or Corbyn, but it got some publicity, especially as the date remained vague. Then his proposing the extraordinary idea that his successor might not be a Lib Dem MP, or even possibly an MP at all, naturally aroused the media while infuriating the non-consulted party. That Gina Miller had been booked to address the Conference also titillated the media to speculate on a possible connection.

To tie the non-MP possible leader idea in with an expansion of the agreed party strategy to create a wider social and political movement, by proposing to allow registered supporters to share with members in voting for the party leader, was a further radical idea bound to arouse public interest and party questioning.

But it is the proposed supporters scheme that we moderate extremists can get our teeth into now, even while the appropriate consultations go on. The Conference financial appeal is to pay for thousands more adverts on social media in addition to the summer’s huge campaign which included targeted letters, and we may wish to follow up on local Facebook pages.

The real target is, as I see it, to connect with that mass of the British people who actually do have moderate ‘centrist’ ideas and like many of the things Lib Dems stand for, but who felt obliged to vote for one of the two major parties last June because of thinking that there was no other real option. It is to create the realisation that they already belong to the moderate majority, and that the Lib Dems with many thousands of supporters now identifying themselves are best placed to promote a campaigning movement for national renewal.

Because we have so much more to offer people than Exit from Brexit, essential and urgent though that is. We have our policies for the development of jobs and businesses, for raising the standard of living and lowering inequality, for better housing, schools and health and social care, for protecting the environment and promoting development in the regions. We can tell them what was decided at Brighton this very month. Above all perhaps we can emphasise our great principles, to encourage people to take power in their own lives and communities, and give them real hope for the future.

* Katharine Pindar is a long-standing member of the Lib Dems and an activist in the West Cumbrian constituency of Cumberland.

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  • I did not attend the Party Conference, but I have been interested in how it went. I have read all the reports here and in particular, the comments. I have to confess that the most important event in the party diary seems not to have motivated and energized the people who comment here. Some have spent more time discussing previous leaders with nostalgia than the future of the party. Is this a fair assessment?

    Many people are dissatisfied with the lack of media coverage but another ingredient that seems to be lacking is enthusiasm. Even the comments here are meagre in number. At a time when the Conservatives are fatally split and Labour has been hijacked by extremists, the public needs a credible alternative. The obsession with turning the clock back on Brexit is as appetizing as cold, congealed porridge. I warned of this two years ago, but in vain.

    Do party members see an exciting future? If not, what has gone wrong? Am I right in thinking that it is time for a different menu?

  • Mori Poll just out Lib Dems 13% (+3), taken 14th Sept to 18th Sept, over the conference.

  • paul barker 20th Sep '18 - 7:46pm

    An average of the last 10 Polls puts us on 9.7%; take the last 5 only & that becomes 10.7%.
    6 Months ago we were stuck between 6% & 7%.
    Our recovery is real.

  • On polling – it is easy to cherry-pic k and read too much into one poll. But it is encouraging that we look to be beginning to average above the 10% level which may not be great shakes but significantly better than the 7% level at the beginning of this Parliament.

    There are interesting points in the geographical sub-samples in the mori poll – which come with a big health warning as being small sub-samples. But compared to the poll 12 months ago it shows us at 19% in the South – up from 11% a year ago and at 11% in Northern England up from 4% a year ago.

    Sub-samples should be treated with caution but it is particularly useful to be polling better in the South where which is likely to be the most fertile country to pick up council seats/councils and parliamentary seats – particularly from the Tories.



  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Sep '18 - 10:39pm

    Thanks to the excellent and very much valued contribution from our stalwart Katharine.

    I was very troubled by the vote on abortion. I do not believe a party should have a policy on a conscience issue. It is for me , wrong, principle, political, practical, all a mistake.

    I am both radical and a moderate. I favour the second more than first, when faced with extremism. We are today, which is why a feel a calling to call out the extremes even in this party, extreme Liberalism is me, me, me, my views ahead of your principles, and it is a cry that I see or hear or read in politics on that liberal supposed radical actually extreme wing of left liberalism.

    Yet so many who feel in favour of the abortion policy are good, decent, sensible. I respect them but want them to respect those like me and the vast majority of women more than men, apparently, according to research, who favour legal abortion now, but with reduced number of weeks and a more active move to prevent it for gender or Downs Syndrome, the latter two extremist practices in my opinion, appallingly so.

    I yearn to be at the fore of a movement for moderates and want more of it.

  • Slightly off topic but some very good results in this week’s local council by-elections including +24% in Upper Meon Valley which must be a good omen to gain overall control next May of Winchester City Council from the Tories in what is arguably pretty much the most Tory ward on the council. Current composition of the council is Con 23, LD 21, Ind 1. And it also bodes well for the Winchester parliamentary seat which Upper Meon Valley is not in but neighbours.

    Also in different territory +23.5% from a standing start in Limbury ward of Luton Council against Labour.


  • Michael 1,

    Greater London shows a similar trend at 20% – up from 12% a year ago – building on a good set of local election results in London last May.

  • Sean Hyland 21st Sep '18 - 1:06am

    Interesting post as always Katharine. Perhaps it’s better not to get hung up on the moderate, extremist, or even radical label. Can I respectfully suggest the only label to focus on is – liberal.

    I understand and agree with your point that there are many people out in the UK looking for, dare i say, hope. Can the LibDem party provide it? Maybe but it has to focus on its liberal values and beliefs to guide liberal policies that matter to people. Also perhaps it’s important to focus on building back trust in the party. That can only be achieved by the action of individuals and the leadership.

    As to the changes proposed in party structures i think that is a matter for members to debate. If there is one thing guaranteed is that members will have a range of viewpoints and will fight hard for their beliefs and values.

  • Peter Watson 21st Sep '18 - 7:47am

    When looking at the recovery in polling figures it is important to remember that the Lib Dems were in similar territory before the 2017 General Election and then support for the party fell back towards 2015 levels.
    Whatever the reasons were for that, it is important that the party has learnt from it. I think it is too easy to heap the blame on the leader at that time and assume therefore that there is no problem now.

  • John Marriott 21st Sep '18 - 8:29am

    Paul Barker says; “Our recovery is real”. Well, Paul, as someone who still has a soft spot for the Lib Dems and who spent over 40 years of his life supporting the cause, I really would like to think so. We’ve had a bit of sephology from Messrs ‘Michael 1’, ‘Joe B’ and ‘theakes’, who, despite their chosen anonymity, are entitled to their views; but, as they say; “One swallow etc.”.

    If any real ‘recovery’ is to take place it had better start soon. Most pundits in the media have been scratching their heads for a while as to why the open goal offered by the feuding within Conservative and Labour over Brexit and other matters hasn’t been exploited by the recognised ‘Third Party’.

    Something is wrong and, yes, David Evans, it probably is ‘the Coalition’. But the only way a breakthrough can realistically be made is to have what Lord Ashdown used to call “Fair votes” and that will generally mean coalition government, which, apparently ‘the people’ don’t like (or should that read ‘don’t undestand’?).

    As Katharine said, there is a mass of moderate people out there who must be feeling somewhat disenfranchised at the moment. They have often supported me when I was a councillor; but, had I been offering myself as a PPC, would, and did, politely decline that support.

    England, and I mean, England, is still a deeply ‘conservative’ nation and will probably remain so for generations to come. Perhaps it’s living on an island that makes the majority of its inhabitants so reluctant to rock the boat.

  • Katharine Pindar 21st Sep '18 - 12:00pm

    Our recovery does not depend solely on the leader, of course, colleagues, but I have come round to thinking that his tactics were valuable in arousing the media, and that the Supporters proposal will be a good way forward in making us relevant again in future national elections. It seems a question of psychology: giving many more people a sense of some identity with us, and therefore a greater inclination to vote for us despite the difficulty of the voting system. I hope if we get behind this idea and say to people who usually vote for one of the main parties that they can still become supporters of ours and join in campaigning for the changes we all agree on, this barrier between people supporting us locally but not being prepared to vote for us nationally (which John Marriott points out, and which I was very much aware of in helping Tim Farron’s June campaign!) will reduce considerably.

    Lorenzo, thank you for your kind words, and I understand your problem with the abortion motion acceptance, but I think in the main our party IS united on its principles and values. It is, as Sean Hyland writes, a matter of liberalism, and I do believe, Sean, that the party is indeed focusing on its principles in deciding its policies.

    Thanks to everyone for your comments. Let us hope the improved polling results will stay steady. The debacle in Salzburg might help us!

  • @John Marriott

    um.. clearly we are in a similar position to the early 70s or 1989/90. When we had low poll ratings, Paddy Ashdown was deemed not to have made an impact as leader and people were saying why weren’t we making more headway despite the poll tax etc. We had the relative failure of the Alliance and the difficulties of the merger in our immediate past. Within two years we won the Ribble Valley by-election, made gains in the 92 election and had the sequence of events that led to the 97 General Election.

    If the pundits are asking questions of us then as you point out they are asking questions of Labour falling in the polls despite the Tories’ Brexit troubles and the Tories completely split down the middle with …um their Brexit troubles. But history shows people don’t support us until we are shown to have people supporting us – which is a nice catch-22!

    It is why hard graft is needed – local community politics, winning by-elections, recruiting members, helpers and supporters. But that is not something that the grassroots of our party have shirked from in the past. So I am hopeful.

    And we will not improve much in the polls until we win a parliamentary by-election and grab the media spotlight. In fact if anything I would say that our opinion poll rating and local council election performance is somewhat ahead of where I thought it would be. I thought we would languish around 7-8% until we won a by-election.

  • John Marriott 21st Sep '18 - 4:20pm

    @Michael 1
    Those famous by election victories, starting with Eric Lubbock’s in Orpington in the early 1960s, have, on the whole, proved to be a false dawn. What they were was a protest against the status quo and were made possible by a concentration of effort, money and personnel that cannot be replicated in a general election. Yes, a by election victory may shine the spotlight on a party for a while; but the grim reality of FPTP and the relatively small number of marginal seats means that success is hard to maintain.

    Whether we like it or not, politics in the U.K., as elsewhere around the world, is increasingly a question of personality rather than policies. The Cleggmania of 2010 was surely an example of that. Even then, however, Nick Clegg’s ‘success’ in the Leaders’ Debates merely brought the poisoned chalice of a coalition government, not an outright victory.

    Despite all the hard work of local parties, without someone at the top, who is capable of reaching the parts other politicians cannot reach and, even more importantly, a voting system that reflects more accurately political opinion, that breakthrough will remain a dream.

  • paul holmes 21st Sep '18 - 5:23pm

    John, ‘Cleggmania’ brought 23% of the vote and 57 MP’s in 2010 compared to Charles Kennedy’s 22% of the vote and 62 MP’s in 2005.

    The fact we could enter Coalition in 2010 with fewer MP’s than in 2005 was down to the random arithmetical vagaries of the FPTP system not to so called ‘Cleggmania’.

  • John Marriott 21st Sep '18 - 5:44pm

    @Paul Holmes
    I am aware of the slight reduction in seats between 2005 and 2010. I seem to recall that, prior to the Leaders’ Debates, some ‘experts’ were predicting a lot more losses for the Lib Dems. There is no doubt that Clegg made an impact (“I agree with Nick”), probably because it was the first time he had received national media exposure of that kind.

  • @John Marriott

    You make some valid points.

    But you ask why our opinion polling rating is around 9% and not higher and the answer is that it is unlikely to go higher until we win a parliamentary by-election.

    According to Mark Pack’s pollbase spreadsheet of opinion poll ratings https://www.markpack.org.uk/opinion-polls/
    Lib Dem opinion poll rating
    2nd March 1991 9% (and around 10% in previous polls)
    10th March 1991 19% (and averaging around 15% in subsequent polls)
    Ribble Valley by-election win 7th March 1991

    1992 election Lib Dems got 18.3%

    Liberal poll rating
    22nd October 1972 8.5% (and not above 10% in previous polls)
    12th November 1972 15%
    15th January 1973: 20.6% (and averaging 20% in subsequent polls

    Rochdale by-election win 26th October 1972
    Sutton and Cheam by-election win 7th December 1972

    Feb 74 election: Liberals got 19.8%

    Of course a parliamentary by-election win is not a SUFFICIENT condition but it is probably a NECESSARY one – other things have to be met as well.

    To win most parliamentary seats, you need (at least) three conditions:

    1. The highest possible opinion poll rating nationally
    2. A very, very strong local organisation and record of winning locally. Often massively underestimated by local parties. But Labour and the Tories often have strong local party machines and will throw bricks at us.
    3. A good national strategy. Arguably perhaps the Lib Dems have been less good at getting this right. Probably the best was 1997.

  • Katharine Pindar 21st Sep '18 - 6:51pm

    @ Michael 1 and John Marriott. Yes we need the traditional hard work in local parties, and preferably a by-election win, and a future dynamic leader. But what we need immediately is to start getting the moderate masses relating to us again, and it seems to me that the Supporters scheme together with the People’s Vote campaign is the way forward this autumn.

  • Mick Taylor 21st Sep '18 - 9:40pm

    David Raw. If the public were to show signs of amnesia about the coalition, I’m sure you’d be sure to remind them.

  • @Katherine Pindar

    Good points. And good points in your original article. I certainly class myself as a extremist moderate. There is much I am angry about in Britain today and am involved (a bit) in politics to change. There is a child born today that will not make it to university not because they are not intelligent enough but because of the attainment gap between the more disadvantaged and the better off. Poverty – people dying 10 years early, cancer sufferers who die in this country but not others. We need to get angry! Communicate that anger to the electorate and get out and organise and recruit. I am not sure that we are communicating that anger and ambition for our country to the electorate – a little bland and managerial including in the latest PPB.

    We are not in the “centre” as Vince made clear in his Q&A at conference – not least because that defines us in relation to the others. Remain is not a “split the difference” position.

    @David Raw

    Good points. We need to paint with a broader brush on policy – backed by detailed policies. On a leader – a good leader of course. I think it is not clear exactly what they need – they can be younger or older to look across the pond – Reagan, Bernie Sanders, Trump have all succeeded. They can be charismatic or nerdy – young or old but they need to be genuine (or able to fake it for long enough!) and have something to say to the electorate.

    Luckily the electorate do move on – Labour after the winter of discontent, the Tories after sleaze. You and I view the coalition differently – I would have done much differently if deputy PM (!) but I do view it as a reasonable attempt in difficult circumstances with no money left. Clearly there was a section of the electorate that didn’t like it. I think it will take ten years for us to fully move on from it if you look at the experience of other parties. I think it will also take an abolition of clause 4 moment – for me free university tuition fees.

  • John Marriott 21st Sep '18 - 10:02pm

    @Michael 1
    You are obviously someone who has done a lot of research on Liberalism. So can you tell me why most Liberal Parties or the equivalent in Europe (the FDP in Germany, for example) are lucky to have support in double figures at any time? I think the Liberals in Sweden recently got around 5%. You will notice that I haven’t included the Liberals in Canada or Australia as the former is a very different animal and the latter is hardly liberal by our definition, which could also apply to the ‘Liberal Democrats’ in Russia or Japan.

    Perhaps the performance of the Liberal Party under Jeremy Thorpe and David Steel in the 1970s and 1980s and the Lib Dems under Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy more recently was more a reflection of the kind of polarisation in our politics, caused possibly by FPTP, which is hard to find elsewhere and which may have led some to assume that this will continue.

    If we ever do get PR for our General Elections we will inevitably get multi party democracy with support for the various parties similar to that in countries that have a fairer voting system.

  • Katharine Pindar 22nd Sep '18 - 12:31am

    Surely, John, the zeitgeist is not actually in liberalism (sorry, Sean) but social democracy: powerful all these years till now in Sweden, powerful in Spain and Portugal, strong in France till the leaders apparently messed it up, and supportive in Germany? In Britain it translates to social liberalism, which is strong in our party and has been backed by leaders who include Tim Farron and Vince himself.

    I am wary of liberal parties in Europe, for all I understand they are our allies in ALDE, and believe that social-democratic-liberalism is our assured path to the defeat of populism and future greater success here in Britain as in Europe. It fosters the anger that Michael 1 wants us to show, and the progressive moves David Raw demands, and is happily further advanced by some of the policies we passed last weekend.

  • @John Marriott

    I am not exactly sure of the point you are making.

    The two parties that are members of ALDE in the Netherlands do well – D66 and VVD. VVD is currently the largest party and has regularly got 20%+ and is currently the biggest party in Parliament and D66 has regularly got around 10%. VVD and D66 form part of the governing coalition. The PSD in Portugal according to Wikipedia was a member of Liberal International when it won the most seats and formed the government between 1985 and 1995 – although it subsequently moved to the right. The FDP got 15% in the 2017 German Bundestag election. The Liberals in Canada are a member of Liberal International.

    Generally in countries as you say with PR, parties generally get fewer votes as people can vote for other parties as a credible home for their vote – so as you say actually 10%-20% is a credible result when the leading party/ies may be getting around 30%.
    Of course as you say the Lib Dems have regularly got around the 20% mark but never got more than 10% of MPs. But of course that has come when at the beginning of the post-war era when Tories and Labour got 90% between them. And the difficulties of FPTP and the “wasted vote” argument has counted significantly against us.

    Clearly the split in western democracies has been on a left/right axis since universal franchise. It is not clear that this will necessarily continue – with environmental parties for example showing a long-term trend upwards.

    So yes under FPTP people have to plump for the party closest to the views – and we haven’t had an electorally viable communist party or a far right party so those people will mostly be choosing Labour or Conservative so inflating their share viz a multi-party PR system but the system has proved difficult for us as well.

  • Peter Martin 22nd Sep '18 - 8:39am

    @ Katharine,

    I think you’re on the right track with your comment about social democracy and liberalism. The word ‘Liberal’ can mean different things in different parts of the world as John Marriott points out. It’s a pity (or maybe it was indicative of the prevailing mood at the time?) that the word ‘Social’ was dropped from the title of the party when the Social Democrats and Liberals merged.

    I fear you might be drifting off track again though with your comment about an “assured path to the defeat of populism”.

    What is populism? It is, IMO, a general recognition in society that something is wrong and that radical solutions and changes are needed. We can have change in different directions. We can have a populism of the left and also a populism of the right. Populism doesn’t have to mean that the proposed radicalism is politically incorrect, won’t work and is something to be avoided on the basis that the “masses” can’t possibly know what’s good for them.

    So the task (which may not be that easy?) for the Lib Dems is to create their own populism, rather than defeat it generally.

  • John Marriott 22nd Sep '18 - 10:11am

    @Michael 1
    What I’m on about – and I appreciate that I am speaking in generalisations – is that, in countries that have a voting system that is more sensitive to political opinion than is our own, those parties that have the word ‘Liberal’ in their title and are genuinely liberal in their outlook, usually end up with a small percentage of the popular vote. HOWEVER, they do end up with the proportion of seats to which their share of the votes entitles them. So, under PR, a 600 member ‘reformed’ House of Commons would deliver, based on a current opinion poll rating for the party of around 7%, about 42 Lib Dem MPs. I could live with that.

    You obviously know more about Liberal parties in Europe than I do; but I would remind you that, in Germany, what the British media tend to refer to as the “pro business FDP” has on at least one occasion failed to overcome the 5% hurdle for parliamentary representation. Indeed, I think I am correct in saying that all its current MPs are there thanks to the Regional Lists and that none have been elected directly.

    As I keep saying, we can call ourselves what we like and continue to try to define what ‘liberalism’ means, whether combined with ‘social democracy’ or other forms of non socialist idealism. What most people would seem to want, besides an end in one way or another to Brexit, is some common sense. We can “Demand better”, if you prefer that slogan. As for me, I just say to people; “It doesn’t have to be like this”.

  • Katharine, no need to apologise as I see the point you are making. I consider myself more of a social liberal in my beliefs and values and would like to see a platform built on these values.

    It would be nice to see a move forward that has the same impact as the New Liberalism of Green,Hobhouse,Haldane etc or the Community Politics of the 70’s etc. I would like to see the kind of policies that focus on the needs of individuals and communities etc. I have seen some of this in recent policy decisions etc but as you have also said before it here a clear communication strategy as well.

  • Katharine Pindar 22nd Sep '18 - 11:08am

    “The task is for the Lib Dems to create their own populism.” Lovely idea, Peter, and the concept can indeed have a positive meaning. But in our day, unfortunately, populist movements tend to be led in practice by unscrupulous elites pf the far Right or the far Left, unwittingly and inappropriately thus being used by them. We have, as with Brexit, patiently to try to explain that the real ills ordinary people complain of are not to be fixed by crude methods, such as – of course – leaving the EU (or turning away rescue boats of migrants from italian shores). Social democrats must put forward powerful programmes of reform which actually can relieve the people’s ills, and undermine the falsely-led populists’ largely useless supposed remedies.

  • Katharine Pindar 22nd Sep '18 - 11:16am

    Sean, only saw your useful comment after writing my last, thank you. Yes, we need a clear communications strategy as you say, and that isn’t easy. We have some of the policies, but shaping the means of getting them over is still the hard bit, which social media advertising and the Supporters scheme are now attempting.

  • @John Marriott

    Clearly we are under-represented with FPTP. There is the argument that you outline though it is possible that we would get fewer votes under PR (but not necessarily) – but that would translate into more MPs. And of course coalitions and hung/balanced parliaments tend to be a feature of PR systems as it is difficult for one party to get over 50% of the vote.

    I am enthusiastic for PR – it was one of the reasons that I joined the Lib Dems. But we need to be careful.

    It is an enthusiasm that is shared as priority by only a very, very, very (!) small percentage of the population – health, education, housing, Europe, – virtually everything else comes before it. There is a valid argument that these things would be improved by PR because there would be better decisions taken. But it is unfortunately an argument that has too many stages for people to buy in to. They want more money for the NHS today!

    Secondly to get PR events have shown that you need to win under FPTP first! Basically Tories and Labour will fight tooth and nail against it because FPTP is in their tribal interests.

    We need to raise our national opinion poll rating. But above all concentrate that vote in wining FPTP parliamentary seats which was a failure of the Liberal party in the ’70s and the Alliance in the ’80s. The contrast is between 1974 when we got 19% of the vote and 14 seats and 1997 with 17% of the vote and 46 seats.

  • paul barker 22nd Sep '18 - 4:57pm

    An average of the last 10 Polls gives us 10.1%, almost back to where we were before The Snap Election was called.
    There are no guarantees of course but we are making progress.

  • Peter Martin 23rd Sep '18 - 7:52am

    @ Katharine,

    The Oxford Dictionary defines Populism as:

    “A political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups.”

    So the question is do the Lib Dems want to side with ‘established elite groups’ or ‘ordinary people’ ?

    Of course ordinary people can get it wrong just like anyone else. But they can get it right too. The demand for Federally funded health care in the USA is populist in origin. The ‘established elites’ over there would use the same word as you’ve used ie ‘crude’ – because it doesn’t come from them! So I would say Lib Dems have to take each idea, populist or otherwise, on its merits. Ultimately democracy has to be just as much about populism as anything the far left or far right have to offer.

    If you can bring yourself to invite non-members like Gina Miller to address your conference, could I suggest you consider Stephanie Kelton for next year. She’s neither of the far left nor the far right. She’s an American Democrat essentially who wants to make capitalism work for everyone rather than the 1% or the elites. If you want a Lib Dem populism, in a true positive sense, she’s be a good person to consult!

    The Huff Post says she’s got the biggest idea in Washington!


  • Peter Hirst 23rd Sep '18 - 5:22pm

    The truth is if it has not already been noted in this blog, that in today’s politics it is the actions of a radical to be a moderate. Politics has been changed into the battle of the two extremes. Brave are those who will stand up for moderation, caution and evidence based policy.

  • Katharine Pindar 24th Sep '18 - 9:08am

    Moderation and caution, Peter Hirst, is surely not a slogan which will draw public attention to our party’s evidence-based policies. I think it will be good if we compare our newly developing policies, such as that for a Citizens Wealth Fund, with related ideas being put forward at the Labour Conference.

    Thank you, Peter Martin, for the interesting idea for a speaker next year. We have a lot of living and working as a party to do meantime!

  • Peter Martin 25th Sep '18 - 3:34pm

    I seem to be reading the phrase “evidence-based policies” more frequently. The implication is that the Lib Dems alone have them. Can anyone give me some examples of these?

    Example not related to Brexit would be good too!

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Sep '18 - 6:02pm

    Hi, Peter, just seen your request for ‘evidence-based policies’. I think that’s pretty easy for Lib Dems to answer. How about the motion F26, Taxing Land, Not Investment, passed at the Brighton Conference? It followed a report on Replacing the Broken Business Rates System. Or the motion I took especial interest in, F28, Good Jobs, Better Businesses, Stronger Communities… which arose from Policy Paper 133, which I wrote about here in a piece on September 3, and which I had seen some working towards as long ago as March 2017. That’s the thing about most of our substantial policies, you see, Peter: they arise from long investigations by working groups, including extensive consultations. I doubt if Labour has anything comparably thorough and democratic.

  • Simon Banks 2nd Dec '18 - 4:10pm

    Fine, but what about people who – like me – have quite extreme views on some things that are in line with basic Liberalism? If we define ourselves by moderation, we alienate those who are nowhere near the centre on civil liberties, climate change, homelessness, mental health services or liberating local government.

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