Farron: Labour make a divided and divisive government look half competent

So, President Obama and his former campaign adviser David Axelrod were chewing the fat about the Labour Party and whether the Democrats could go the same way. Of course, Axelrod knows Labour well, as he was hired to try to get us to love Ed Miliband at the 2015 General Election. That didn’t work out so well.

Axelrod was talking about Labour disintegrating after the defeat, and Obama responded that he didn’t see the Democrats going the same way as Labour after losing the presidency to Donald Trump.

Tim Farron took advantage of the President’s comments to hammer home that it is the Liberal Democrats, not Labour, who provide the competent opposition to the Government. 

When a two term President recognises that Labour has disintegrated it should be a wake-up call. Since the General Election Labour have written the textbook on how to make a divided and divisive government look half competent.

The Conservatives have been through a leadership contest, been forced to ditch their entire economic plan and are now trying to force through a hard Brexit which will wrench Britain out of the single market with only the meaningless phrase of ‘Brexit means Brexit’ as a fig leaf.

And where were Labour? Arguing amongst themselves for months and months on end before carrying on as before.

Labour now embrace Brexit as a ‘great opportunity’ and have failed to challenge this government. The Liberal Democrats are now the only effective opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government, fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.

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108 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Dec '16 - 11:31pm

    Obama’s “grounded in facts and reality” comment seems to have hit a nerve. Many on the far left are grounded in facts and reality, but I think there are misconceptions, such as over-estimations how much higher taxes would raise and how much tax avoidance is going on.

    Unless you move to a low tax country it is very hard to legally avoid lots of tax. A way around this is a US style system where you still owe tax to them unless you give up your passport. The rule is something like that.

  • Reality check, the SNP is the most effective opposition party right now. Tim and co struggle to make any real impact, in part done to the tiny number of M.P.s you have. The one UKIP MP probably has as much impact and air time as the rump of the lib dems do at present.

  • Eddie
    America is one of two countries that requires its citizens living overseas to file a yearly federal tax return. If British expats living in the Gulf states were made to do the same they would all leave. (the charted accountants on Britain’s high streets all do work to reduce their clients tax liabilities)

  • The comments so far seem to be narrowing the debate. Let’s stick to what the article said.
    It may well be right to argue strongly to stay in the single market for economic reasons, but we have to recognise that the UK is not united on that at the moment. Unfortunately, leaving the EU looses our ability to change the way the EU operates and for me that was an integral part of wanting to stay in, since we shall be influenced by the EU even if we leave.

  • Michael Cole 28th Dec '16 - 12:08pm

    For far too long the Labour Party has badly let down the people it claims to represent. It aspires to be the Party of progress, but is in fact the obstacle to progress.

    Long may the process of disintegration continue.

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th Dec '16 - 2:41pm

    @ Michael Cole,
    ‘For far too long the Labour party has let down the people it claims to represent’.

    After 18 years in opposition, Tony Blair won a landslide victory. Blair won three elections in total. The Blairite moderates lost the 2010 election,. so who exactly was responsible for letting the letting down the people down that the Labour party claims to represent, if indeed it did? And how?

    Perhaps the Liberal Democrats have had something to do with letting people down , but are so wrapped up in criticising Labour, they fail to notice what their own MPs voted for.

    It is almost laughable that your old friend Cameron and coalition buddies get a pass whether it be Osborne’s austerity Osbornomics or the mess of the EU referendum, whilst Labour represents the ‘evil empire’. Such a shame that at the last election the voters decided to vote for the organ grinder.

  • Farron summarising the UK Labour party with far greater understanding than Obama’s recent attempts is a pleasing sight. The Labour party usually starts with good intentions and a good understanding about the need for social justice and support, and is capable of stumbling onto good ideas but always seems far quicker than any other party (recent UKIP aside) of tearing into themselves and unwilling to compromise. While doing the latest edition of this they have allowed politics that place limitations on the country to pass and now are confused and trying to play catch up on the current state of affairs.

    The Lib Dems can cherry pick the best labour ideas and appeal to the best of the disenfranchised labour voters without welcoming in those who are so willing to spitefully attack their own side.

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th Dec '16 - 7:05pm

    @DJ,
    Do you think where were no compromises during the Blair years?

    Lorenzo mentioned a former Labour who had switched to the Lib Dems. May I quote a report she gave when she was a Labour prospective Labour candidate for Stafford.

    ‘If you could affect a major policy change what would it be?
    ‘To overturn the Health and Social Care Act. I have friends with disabled children. The damage that has been done to their lives has been immeasurable.

    One could go on, views on Brexit etc.

    I am not sure who most qualifies for the prize of most confused party of confused people.

  • Michael Cole 28th Dec '16 - 7:11pm

    @Jayne Mansfield

    I’m trying to understand exactly what you are saying.

    The Lib Dems entered into coalition with the Conservatives to clear up the legacy of the economic mess left by Labour (perhaps you have forgotten the note left to David Laws by Liam Bryne: “There’s no money left”). We knew that hard and unpopular decisions had to be made and we knew that we would suffer electorally (catastrophically as it turned out).

    Cameron was never our ‘old friend’ and his colleagues were never our ‘buddies’. So it’s palpably unfair and inaccurate to tar us with that brush.

    Labour is in meltdown – and deservedly so.

  • Michael Cole 28th Dec '16 - 7:13pm

    s/b Liam Byrne.

  • @ Michael Cole “The Lib Dems entered into coalition with the Conservatives to clear up the legacy of the economic mess left by Labour”.

    Here we go again, the same old self-justifying mantra repeated ad nauseum by Messrs Clegg, Laws and Alexander who conveniently forgot what Vince Cable had been saying for years.

    The economic mess of 2008 was caused by the American banks and their sub-prime lending activities. It was a failure of the American banking system under a right wing Republican President.The rest was a sequence of ripple effect dominoes. Can we please, at least, have a bit of intellectual honesty about this ?

  • @ Martin, Sorry Martin, but I don’t think Michael Cole does subtle ambiguity. He was simply echoing the Clegg, Laws, Alexander mantra which frankly those of us with a much longer history in the party found more than a tad disingenuous.

    Your case might be more persuasive if you gave Alistair Darling his proper moniker. Happy New Year when it comes.

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th Dec '16 - 10:50pm

    @ Martin,
    Yes Labour would have had similar constraints on spending-but some did rather well out of the Coalition’s restraints and some rather less well,

    Labour is well able to crawl out of ‘ the hole’ as you put it, there is plenty of talent in the Labour party. What needs to be recognised is that there is a desire for left- wing policies.

  • Michael Cole 29th Dec '16 - 4:46am

    David Raw says “Sorry Martin, but I don’t think Michael Cole does subtle ambiguity.”
    You do me an injustice and you don’t know me. Professional experience has taught me to be precise in my choice of words.

    The matter of how much blame Labour should bear up to 2010 is another question altogether. But it seems that some of their supporters are still in denial and hence their facile assumptions and loose reasoning.

    Martin is quite right to point out their subsequent “dishonesty” in opposition. Perhaps he is too polite; I would call it hypocrisy.

  • “Labour now embrace Brexit as a ‘great opportunity’ and have failed to challenge this government…”

    The opposite is true. Labour have successfully forced the government to promise more transparency, and more importantly Labour are concentrating on the most crucial question facing us at the moment: what sort of post-Brexit country we end up with. This means talking about things like how we protect workers’ freedoms and human rights after Brexit. The Lib Dems have effectively chosen to sit out this debate, retreating instead to a fantasy world where either Brexit can be canceled altogether in a second referendum, or we can choose exactly what kind of soft Brexit we have, rather than, as is the reality, ending up with whatever kind of hard Brexit the EU deigns to give us. A malleable Brexit is probably the best we can hope for.

    On this last point, full marks to the campaign group “Leave Means Leave”, who are actually doing what the Lib Dems and others ought to be doing: trying to persuade the other 27 EU states of the mutual benefits of free trade :-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38447743

    This is a far more productive strategy than continually hectoring Theresa May, who has already said she wants free trade, but is powerless to demand it. I hope that in the new year the Lib Dems will wake up to the fact that our Brexit deal will be decided by the EU, not us.

  • Michael Cole 29th Dec ’16 – 4:46am………The matter of how much blame Labour should bear up to 2010 is another question altogether. But it seems that some of their supporters are still in denial and hence their facile assumptions and loose reasoning……Martin is quite right to point out their subsequent “dishonesty” in opposition. Perhaps he is too polite; I would call it hypocrisy……

    Your choice of the word ‘left’ implies ‘previous possession’ and hence ‘responsibility’…
    As has been pointed out it was a ‘worldwide financial crisis’…

    As for ‘hypocrisy’ let’s try a Chancellor who, in opposition, promised to match ‘Labour’s spending’ and demanded even ‘less regulation on the financial sector’…This was a chancellor who’s every budget forecast failed and who’s long-term strategies were measured in days…This was a chancellor whose policies our Danny Alexander spent much time in the media defending…
    Our party was almost destroyed, as a parliamentary force, by the hypocrisy of our leadership on issues as varied as ‘top-down’ NHS changes, tuition fees, bedroom tax, secret courts, etc…..
    Regarding “Labour now embrace Brexit as a ‘great opportunity’ and have failed to challenge this government.”nothing could be further from the truth…Corbyn was the ONLY politician to be honest over ‘EU membership’; his “7 out of 10” assessment was as far from Clegg’s “no change” in 10 years time as it was from the “£350 million NHS windfall”..In my book ‘70% is a pretty good pass mark on an issue as complex as the EU….
    Jeremy Corbyn’s, ‘You’re not Henry VIII,’ address to Theresa May shows far more understanding of next year’s issues than our ‘faerie wishes’ for a referendum ‘re-run’ or ‘soft Brexit’…

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Dec '16 - 12:46pm

    @ Michael Cole,
    If we keep doing this we won’t find anything to bl–dy disagree disagree on in the bl—dy TV debates’

    Of course when Nick Clegg left his microphone on in 2011m, he dismissed it as ‘banter’, and that ‘one just can’t make a tongue in cheek remark……

    Not being a Liberal Democrat, the foolish remark by Liam Byrne is given all due seriousness.

    What interests me, is that Labour has supposedly let down the people it was supposed to support, but it has been the Blairites, the moderates, who have been in power, the very people you wanted to defect to your party, or was it Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonald who was in talks with Tim Farron?

    What the Liberal Democrats think s the middle ground has moved very much to the right. I would like to hear more from your party about the working class, in work, as well as out of work poverty, the increased difficulties of the disabled etc., the struggle to get a job that has some security that allows people to rent or buy a decent home to raise a family, the provision of a decent health and care service etc., but then, I am not sure that your party was ever about supporting the working class and low income earners. Anyone who finds these issues important is seen as a Labour troll.

  • Arnold Kiel 29th Dec '16 - 3:06pm

    Labour currently have the right instincts with respect to wealth distribution, but have lost all appreciation for wealth creation, which necessarily comes first. Ironically, the current hard Brexit course of the Conservatives is totally at odds with their usually stronger wealth creation credentials. Nobody offers the evidently needed package right now: maximum wealth creation + fair distribution. The natural positioning of Liberal Democrats. The role they played in the coalition was effectively close to that, unfortunately without electoral success. Stick to it, but explain better: bake a bigger cake, don’t eat all of it, but cut more equal slices.

  • Michael Cole 29th Dec '16 - 3:44pm

    @Jayne Mansfield:

    Again, I find it difficult to understand what you are trying to say. Briefly however…

    Labour had 13 years of clear majority government to alleviate the mantra of ills that you list. It is no excuse to now blame their failure on the ‘Blairites’, as if they were not members of your Party.

    On the other hand Lib Dem MPs were outnumbered by more than five to one by Conservatives in coalition. Yes, at times it was difficult to justify government policy. We are now seeing the effects of unfettered Conservative government.

    By the way, many Lib Dems do not see our Party as being in the centre, centre left or whatever. The perception of politics as being about occupying the right, middle ground or left is simplistic, anachronistic and misleading.

  • @ Michael Cole to Jayne Mansfield : ” I find it difficult to understand what you are trying to say”.

    Not too surprised given that that comes from someone who claims to be the master of professional precision at 4.46 am.

    Perhaps an early night might help ?

  • Michael Cole 29th Dec '16 - 5:39pm

    @David Raw:
    I reviewed my emails on returning late from a Xmas party. I would respect you more if you if you refrained from making fatuous comments and made constructive comments.
    An apology from you is in order.

  • Peter Watson 29th Dec '16 - 5:54pm

    @Michael Cole “Yes, at times it was difficult to justify government policy.”
    For many senior Lib Dems (and many less senior ones on this site) “justifying government policy” did not appear difficult and looked more like cheerleading and whole-hearted agreement. All too often Danny Alexander was the public face of Osborne’s economics and Lib Dem MPs fronted other Tory-dominated Coalition policies that alienated many grass-roots Lib Dems. Meanwhile Nick Clegg was an overarching and ever-present reminder of broken promises and the apparent absence of even a cigarette paper between Lib Dem and Tory policies.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Dec '16 - 6:26pm

    David Raw , no need to insult a fellow member with pointless comments , Michael Cole is only being reasonable to colleagues on your and mine , our , favoured site.

    Jayne

    You make so many good comments , it saddens me and baffles me as to why you do , when you clearly have disdain for this party and therefore would make more impact on Labourlist .Or stay here wit a view that the party is , or should be , in the centre and centre left , not the left , but is a party that , cares deeply about poverty and the issues raised , but does so without a one size fits all approach . You are a very caring person , care about those in this party who because we are not far left , or left at all on any issue but are in the moderate and radical space that Liberalism or social democracy is by it’s existence , and how about thus seeing the party as not so confused , but a broad church .

  • @ Lorenzo Cherin Mr Cole is not being reasonable when he,

    a) patronises Jayne by saying he finds it difficult to understand what she is trying to say”..

    b) repeats the old Clegg, Laws, Alexander self justifying mantra, “The Lib Dems entered into coalition with the Conservatives to clear up the legacy of the economic mess left by Labour”.

    The economic mess was caused by the failure of sub prime lending by American banks…….. there is nothing fatuous (to use Mr Cole’s terminology) about that.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Dec '16 - 9:54pm

    @ Lorenzo,
    Lorenzo, I do hold certain sections of the party in disdain. I do so because I remember a party that once deserved the name radical and really did seem to care about working with and for the less fortunate within our communities.

    My politics haven’t changed much since the 60’s, this party has. I continue to read the posts because to my delight there are still some contributions from people whose beliefs and attitudes are those that politicised me in that era, although they are increasingly thin on the ground. These are my heroes because they did most of the the hard lifting as far as ‘progressive’ politics are concerned and I can identify with their values.

    @ David Raw,
    Over the decades, having been called a n… lover, a commie , traitor and many other things that were supposed to make me feel bad, but didn’t, and still don’t , being patronised is not a problem to me. Water off a duck’s back and all that.

    I feel deep concern about the dangers of an upsurge in Right wing movements , and I couldn’t stay silent in the face of this even if I tried.

  • Michael Cole 30th Dec '16 - 2:03pm

    Thanks Lorenzo for defending thoughtful debate.

    @David Raw:
    “The economic mess was caused by the failure of sub prime lending by American banks…….. ” So it was nothing to do with the Labour Party – they just happened to be the government at the time.

    If you really are interested in the history of the coalition I suggest you read the excellent account by David Laws or indeed Nick’s book (which I haven’t read yet).

    Incidentally, I was not patronising Jayne Mansfield – I genuinely found it difficult to understand some of his/her comments.

  • @ Michael Cole “Thoughtful debate” does not include the word “fatuous”.

    As someone who first joined the party in 1961, I share Jayne’s view of how the party has changed since the days of Jo Grimond when it was a genuinely radical party…. and of course Jayne is perfectly capable of letting your thin water wash off her back.

    As to our thoughtful debater, there’s too much vinegar in his syrup when he continually parodies the name of a Liberal Democrat Peer who has done more for the party over the years than he has had hot dinners.

    End of…,…. so don’t bother to reply …….. Happy New Year.

  • Michael Cole 30th Dec '16 - 4:30pm

    @David Raw
    I don’t intend to waste much more time in replying to you but can you please explain what this means ?
    “As to our thoughtful debater, there’s too much vinegar in his syrup when he continually parodies the name of a Liberal Democrat Peer who has done more for the party over the years than he has had hot dinners.”

    I also admired Jo Grimond, but you would do well to look to the future instead of harking back to the past.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Dec '16 - 5:15pm

    What a wonderful summary by Arnold Kiel on December 29 of what Lib Dem policies were ‘effectively close to’ in the Coalition, ‘maximum wealth creation and fair distribution’, which he rightly says we should stick to and explain better: thank you, Arnold. Thank you also Lorenzo for being as ever fair-minded and kind in your comments. I too have felt sad, coming just now to this debate and seeing so many destructive remarks. Expats, there was no ‘hypocrisy’ in our Coalition leaders, and Peter Watson, it is absolutely wrong to suggest they were ‘cheerleaders’ for and in ‘wholehearted agreement with’ the destructive policies of the Conservative leaders there. As Michael Cole says, read David Laws’s book to understand how hard Nick Clegg and other ministers fought, and succeeded, not only in alleviating some of the worst intentions of the majority ministers, but in achieving very much themselves. Jayne M., how can you be unsure ‘that your party was ever about supporting the working class and low income earners’? What about the removal of tax on earnings below £10.500 for a start? – happily claimed now by the Tories as their own policy. And to bring you up to date, we have a sensitive and well-researched policy on social security and welfare matters passed at the last Federal Conference. However, fellow Lib Dems, be aware of some Labour Party revival: I think Jeremy Corbyn may be now suggesting some acceptable policies.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Dec ’16 – 5:15pm……. Expats, there was no ‘hypocrisy’ in our Coalition leaders……

    I’ll let those ‘others’ you’ve taken to task to answer for themselves.

    However, may I draw your attention to the Cambridge Dictionary definition of ‘Hypocrisy’..
    “in which someone pretends to believe something that they do not really believe, or that is the opposite of what they do or say at another time”…

    I don’t believe any further clarification is needed..

  • Peter Watson 30th Dec '16 - 6:58pm

    @Katharine Pindar “it is absolutely wrong to suggest they were ‘cheerleaders’ for and in ‘wholehearted agreement with’ the destructive policies of the Conservative leaders there”
    Then why did they defend them so actively in the media and in Parliamentary debate and then vote for them? Surely even the defence of collective cabinet responsibility or government stability is inadequate if they believed that policies were, as you say, “destructive”, and neither excuse applies to the Lib Dems who wrote positively about many coalition policies on this website. Whether Lib Dems as candidates before the election or as MPs in coalition were publicly defending policies with which they privately disagreed, expats’ definition of hypocrisy seems equally apt.
    Perhaps “cheerleader” is a bit strong, perhaps not. Can you point to examples of Clegg, Laws, and other senior Lib Dems acknowledging the compromises made and the still “destructive” nature of the resulting policies when it would have mattered during the Coalition years rather than when the opportunity came to sell books afterwards?
    The legacy of this is confusion which makes it difficult to define what Lib Dems now stand for when it comes to details and specific policies rather than motherhood and apple pie statements about the preamble. Very sadly, Tim Farron has done nothing to fill the vacuum left by the party’s behaviour in Coalition and he leads what now appears to be the most conservative and least radical party in British politics, opposing change and not offering positive alternatives.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Dec '16 - 9:24pm

    Michael Cole

    Thank you for your comments . I can always see the difference over several interactions between rude and confused and you seemed only the second of these above !

    David Raw has also got a nerve because he thrives on sarcasm . That ‘ fine . I thrive on satire .A certain Lord Greaves is often so noticably rude on here that he was banned from the site . He happens to have a lot of old friends for the genuinely good work this bascially good man has done . But he is one of the most dismissive and often patronising , to any , especially younger and more centre or once in a blue moon , centre right leaning , classical oriented Liberals. Although I am in the centre of our party , my not being on the left of it , and my getting on with and encouraging of , younger classical or social Liberals with various ideas , and my view that Nick Clegg is not Nicoteen or some such cartoon villain , but a good Liberal , means , I rarely let a mean comment from his Lordship go without my own attempt at either defence of the younger person , criticism of the Lord himself , or a send up of the whole scenario.

    As the comments , as ever , much appreciated from the marvellously decent Katharine Pindar , show , I am not without my own friends on this site , and as I actually rather like some of Mr Raws views even if he cannot abide mine because I am , admitedly well to the right of Karl Marx , much to much for some older Liberal men of that era, I accept the way things are !

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Dec '16 - 10:47pm

    @ Michael Cole,
    You made the claim, ‘For far too long the Labour party has badly let down the people it claims to represent……..’

    May ask
    1. In what way the Labour party let down the people it claimed to represent in the 18
    years that it was in power?
    2. In what way it was an obstacle to progress?

    I was not a Labour Party supporter whilst the party was in power, but I appreciate tat they were a progressive party and did many good things.

    I admire many of the politicians who describe themselves as Blairites for their achievements, ( I am prepared to give a list if you wish), but clearly I did not express myself clearly. My question is, why were and are, the Liberal Democrats so keen to attract politicians from a party that according to you had MPs who were hypocritical failures? Is your party that desperate?

    As far as your comment , ‘ Long may the process of disintegration continue’, I don’t think I have ever read a comment of such unalloyed spite about a political party with such a proud history.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Dec '16 - 10:58pm

    Expats and Peter Watson, I stand by my comments, and though I would rather survey the future now, I have been defending our Ministers in the Coalition since I wrote my leaflet more than a year ago, and (with the excellent provision of the Laws book since then) am not about to give up on that. No, it was not hypocrisy. Nick Clegg and his team were between a rock and a hard place, not believing that tuition fees could be abolished, but confronted with the Conference decision. In Government Nick voted as he thought was right, not following the Conference directive, and he has since apologised for breaking his promise. Personally I think he should have abstained in the vote. On the wider front, as I understand it, he and his team thought they had to make this Coalition work, because of the dire state of the economy, especially the enormous Deficit, and go along with unpleasant decisions with that purpose. I think it was a triumph that in these difficult and unprecedented circumstances they did keep the show on the road for the five years, mitigated the fierceness of Tory callousness, and obliged the majority ministers to accept many good things such as the Pupil Premium and many free school meals etc. (see David Laws’s appendix for the full list). We all wish they could have done more, for instance opposed the ‘bedroom tax’ earlier, and I wish they could have paid more attention to the wishes of the party in the country. But it seems to me they did valiantly in the circumstances, and history will judge it so.

    Lorenzo, thank heavens for you! I’ve been writing for LDV for thirteen months now, and I don’t think I could have engaged so much with it, with all those anonymous names of commentators where you know nothing about the people behind them, if you hadn’t started asking people about themselves, as well as being encouraging and moderate and reasonable, and so giving the site a humanity it would otherwise have lacked for me. Best wishes for a happy New Year and a good 2017.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 31st Dec '16 - 3:07am

    Katharine

    I am only sometimes at a loss for words , in common with someone I admired a lot as a youngster in the formative years of my youth in politics , Neil Kinnock , I can subscribe to the maxim , how could I put it , why use one word when ten would do ! But I have had to pause and take in what I have just read. Your kind , beautiful comments are very important to me, as are your contributions to this site . Thank you , and Happy New year , Liberal friend .

  • I hope the LibDem Voice continues to attract comments from Labour Party supporters and those who support UKIP (where are the Tories, by the way? There used to be a few) , and that those of us who are Liberal Democrat members, from whatever ideological position in the Party, will be willing to engage and debate with them, and indeed learn from them. Politics does not have to be red in tooth and claw in every context and we need to heal the schisms that have opened up in our society this year. We don’t have to compromise our own views, but treating other arguments with respect is more likely to change minds than being dismissive of them.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Dec ’16 – 10:58pm……………..Expats and Peter Watson, I stand by my comments….. But it seems to me they did valiantly in the circumstances, and history will judge it so………

    And I by mine…IMO, what should have been a great opportunity for a LibDem revival was turned into a spectacle of the ‘organ grinder and his monkey’…

    History will judge our leaders performance in coalition by results…

    2010..57 MPs…11 MEPs….Rating (May 2010) 23%…..Umpteen Councillors…
    2015..8 MPs… 1 MEP…Rating (May 2015) 8%…..Many hundreds less….

    I, too, prefer to look to the future..However, as long as some LibDems persist in rewriting the past, we will learn nothing…

    BTW, I have read umpteen books by politicians; “Mea Culpa” is not a major subject in any!

    I won’t change your opinion; nor you, mine Let us just agree to disagree….

  • Peter Watson 31st Dec '16 - 11:24am

    @Katharine Pindar “obliged the majority ministers to accept many good things such as the Pupil Premium and many free school meals”
    A pupil premium was in the Conservative and Labour manifestos in 2010. It has been claimed that only the Lib Dems would provide extra funding for it but it is not clear that this was the case.
    Universal free school meals was in nobody’s manifesto, trials of it by Labour were opposed by Lib Dems, the evidence showed there were better ways to spend the money on education, and its surprise announcement by Nick Clegg appeared to be a gift from the Tories in return for allowing them a tax allowance for married couples, the cost of which could also have been better spent.
    On tuition fees, I do believe that Nick Clegg deserves the accusations of hypocrisy which sadly then damaged the way that Lib Dems were perceived in every policy area, not least electoral reform. if not Nick Clegg and his team, then who was responsible for ensuring all Lib Dem candidates in the 2010 election campaign made a big deal about publicly signing the NUS pledge: specific personal promises over and above any manifesto policy agreed by conference on scrapping unfair tuition fees? Why abandon the promise to vote against raising tuition fees within days after the election (and before Lord Browne’s review) when negotiating the coalition agreement, and why go beyond the provision for abstention in that agreement by voting for an increase in tuition fees? And did Clegg really apologise for breaking the promise or just for making it?
    The legacies of the Coalition years include a Lib Dem party with no clear sense of direction and a majority Tory Government with no useful Opposition south of the border. And overall, Brexit apart, in 2016 Britain under a Tory government does not feel different to Britain under a Tory-dominated Coalition government.

  • @Peter Watson
    Agree with pretty much everything you say, especially in relation to Nick Clegg, the other MP’s and tuition fee’s
    The bit where I do differ is
    ” Brexit apart, in 2016 Britain under a Tory government does not feel different to Britain under a Tory-dominated Coalition government.”
    I think the Disabled and those on welfare would tend to disagree.
    Since we have had a majority Tory Government, some cuts to welfare have been cancelled and no further cuts to the welfare budget would take place in this parliament.
    Changes are being made to disability assessments are being made so that those with “chronic disabilities” will not be constantly retested {A small step admittedly, much further wider reforms are needed, but its still more reforms than the Liberal Democrats achieved in coalition}
    I am in no way saying that the Tories are becoming friendly to those on welfare, that would be absurd
    There are still a lot of unpleasant things happening.
    But one thing has been clear, without the Liberal Democrats to use a shields and as justification for cuts. The whole tone and language used now in comparison has calmed considerably from Government.

  • Jayne Mansfield 31st Dec '16 - 12:12pm

    @ Katharine Pindar,
    Peter Watson has answered for me.

    The own feelings are that the Liberal Democrat’s played in coalition was to help David Cameron with his attempts to detoxify the party. and make it seem more centrist than it actually was. Any concessions that the Liberal Democrats claimed, were ones that he and his government were only too happy to accede to with this aim in mind.

    What is more, having been part of the coalition and talked up it’s achievements, it also seemed also be the case during the electioneering for the 2015 election, which is why I could no longer vote for your party. I was right to do so, as the Tories good, Labour bad continues. One only has to read posts such as that by Arnold Kiel to see the echo of Nick Clegg’s view that the Conservatives had a brain, Labour party a heart.

    The arguments in the Labour Party have been searing, but I see this as a sad but unavoidable phase as the party examines and tries to define its function and relevance in the 21st Century.

    Cameron, the bolter, has now been judged by a group of academics as one of the worst PMs in modern history, and in my opinion, anyone who thinks that any party apart from the UKIP could make the current government look half -competent has taken leave of their senses.

  • Michael Cole 31st Dec '16 - 2:57pm

    Jayne, I will try to answer your points briefly:

    “@ Michael Cole,
    You made the claim, ‘For far too long the Labour party has badly let down the people it claims to represent……..’
    May [I] ask
    1. In what way the Labour party let down the people it claimed to represent in the 18
    years that it was in power?”
    The 13 (not 18) years of Labour government did nothing to improve the lot of the majority of people. In fact the gap widened between rich and poor. So-called
    ‘prosperity’ was largely based on inflated house prices, as Vince Cable has pointed out. It is incompetent and dishonest government to throw money at problems and then blame external factors when the money runs out. In all fairness, Tim Farron has recognised that in the early stages of the Blair administration the funding for NHS and Education was increased. But thereafter it was a litany of failure. Labour also bottled out of electoral and HoL reform (see below).

    “2. In what way it was an obstacle to progress?”
    Labour has been the obstacle to progress since well before 1997. It has been old-fashioned and reactionary for all of my adult life (and now Jeremy Corbyn has made it more so). Institutional TUC support for Labour is, in present times, profoundly unhealthy and undemocratic; political allegiance should be a matter solely for the individual. These considerations led me to join the Liberal Party in 1977. Under the FPTP electoral system Labour is blocking the path of effective opposition.

    ‘ Long may the process of disintegration continue’
    I stand by my statement. It is not a question of ‘spite’; it is a rejection of Labour’s spurious claim to have a monopoly of care and compassion.

  • Jayne Mansfield 31st Dec '16 - 3:27pm

    @ Michael Cole,
    Thank you for your courtesy in responding.

    It is party time so I can’t respond fully at the moment, but where you got the idea that the Labour Party has claimed to have a monopoly of care and compassion , I don’t know. That would be manifestly untrue. I have born and bred Conservative friends who are a model of both. I love them dearly even though I believe them to be misguided ( the only euphemism that I can think of that wouldn’t be blocked), in their choice of political party.

    My children would have loved a headmaster like David Raw. In modern parlance, they would really ‘get him’.

  • Peter Watson 31st Dec '16 - 3:47pm

    @Michael Cole “Labour also bottled out of electoral and HoL reform”
    But they did at least manage to remove hereditary peers from the House of Lords, devolve power to Wales and Scotland (and hold referendums on devolution to the north of England), introduce a directly elected Mayor of London, deliver more proportional voting systems in EU elections and devolved governments, …
    Not great, but better than the Coalition’s record despite electoral reform being part of the Lib Dems’ raison d’être and some measures being in the Tories’ 2010 manifesto (confusingly, the Lib Dem leadership seemed to flip-flop over boundary changes).

  • Peter Watson 31st Dec '16 - 3:55pm

    @Michael Cole “It is incompetent and dishonest government to throw money at problems and then blame external factors when the money runs out.”
    But in Opposition, I remember the Conservatives and the Lib Dems promising to throw just as much money at those problems, matching Labour’s spending plans. If I’d got the Lib Dem government I voted for in 2005 I’m not sure that things would have been any better 3 years later, and would a Clegg/Cable response to the global crisis have been an improvement on that of Brown/Darling?

  • Thanks for that, Jayne. That’s very sweet of you.

    I did, and still do, care, but successive Tory Ministers have taken a lot of the joy out of education – as did Blair and Adonis with their Academies and PFI’s. We’ve replaced integrity and passion with commercialism.

    Enjoy the party – and happy Hogmanay.

  • Michael Cole 31st Dec '16 - 6:57pm

    @Jayne
    “… but where you got the idea that the Labour Party has claimed to have a monopoly of care and compassion , I don’t know. That would be manifestly untrue.”
    Labour politicians claim it continually. Have you read ‘Animal Farm’ ? If so, you will understand what I mean.
    Happy New Year

  • paul barker 31st Dec '16 - 7:09pm

    There seems very little understanding generally of what Labour has done, put simply, they have abandoned mainstream Politics to become a Party of Protest & (for some) Revolution. They want to have fun & arent very interested in the boring details. They know perfectly well that there will be a lot fewer Labour MPs after The Next Election & they arent bothered.
    When I say Labour I mean the members/followers, most of The PLP are apalled by the new course but there is nothing they can do about it.
    In his own & his members terms, Corbyn is a succsessful Leader & any criticism is just more proof of his succsess.
    Labour voters dont take much interest in Politics & are only just beginning to notice Labours new direction, many of them will come to us in the next 3 years.

  • paul barker

    “Labour voters dont take much interest in Politics & are only just beginning to notice Labours new direction, many of them will come to us in the next 3 years.”

    That is probably one of the most ridiculous condescending things I have heard in a long time, it kind of fits with the attitudes that brexiters where generally uneducated and did not know what they were voting for.

    I would suggest that a majority of labour Voters are taking a huge interest in what is going on in politics and in the labour party and the majority of labour supporters are appalled at the influx of hard left and militant activists that have flooded the party of late. Yes labour are in a lot of trouble and it is going to take Corbyn losing a General election before the party can get rid of him and it will probably take many many years for Labour to turn things around under a new leadership.
    But if you think for one moment that labour voters are going to awaken and rush to the Liberal Democrats, then I am afraid you will be sorely disappointed.
    These so called Labour voters who don’t pay much attention in your words, sure as heck were not asleep during the coalition years and missed what you guys got up to in Government.

  • @ Michael Cole

    Curious to note that you joined the Liberal Party in 1977……. just in time for the Lib-Lab pact. That must have come as a great trial to your sense of well being and equilibrium.

    And yes, I read Animal Farm as a set book at ‘O’ Level and well remember my form master – a wonderful guy who had fled Nazi Germany and introduced me to the Guardian – saying it referred to Stalinist Russia and not the Attlee Government.

  • Jayne
    Generally Labour institutionalises class divisions (as do the Tories). It seems there are those who want to keep people in the UK poor so they will vote Labour. God forbid some people might have aspirations.
    I remember in the 1960s many becoming disillusioned with the Labour government, including Ed Miliband’s father. I find it strange we are having all the same old arguments again all these years later.

  • Manfarang 1st Jan ’17 – 3:54am…………Generally Labour institutionalises class divisions (as do the Tories). It seems there are those who want to keep people in the UK poor so they will vote Labour. God forbid some people might have aspirations……..

    If these sort of comments are a foretaste of 2017 then god help us…

    Most of the rights/aspirations we take for granted in 2017 were only made possible by Labour governments..
    One doesn’t have to go back to the post-war years to see the difference between Tory/Labour priorities…I have recently become a great grandfather so I’ll take one item..
    Under Thatcher, from 1985, workplace-subsidised nurseries were deemed a taxable benefit, adding £700 to £1,000 to women’s tax bills. In 1987, the universal maternity grant was removed. State-paid maternity allowance was restricted, pregnancy was deemed grounds for dismissal, etc…. Contrast that with the Blair/Brown years…

    BTW before someone tells me of the 2010 enhancements; that was an EU ruling NOT a coalition initiative…

  • Michael Cole 1st Jan '17 - 10:18am

    @David Raw
    My post was addressed to Jayne but if you must intercede can you please do so without the use of cheap sarcasm.

    As for ‘Animal Farm’, you do not appear to have grasped its wider relevance.

  • Michael Cole 1st Jan '17 - 10:30am

    @expats:

    Manfarang is quite right to point out that:
    “Generally Labour institutionalises class divisions (as do the Tories). It seems there are those who want to keep people in the UK poor so they will vote Labour. God forbid some people might have aspirations.”

    Labour politicians frequently refer to ‘our people’.

  • Michael Cole 1st Jan ’17 – 10:30am…[email protected]:…………Labour politicians frequently refer to ‘our people’….

    Rather a strange remark on a site that describes itself as, “Our place to talk”

  • Expats
    Blair? Isn’t he the one Labour supporters of today call a Tory?
    Labour it seems is incapable of reforming itself. I don’t want an action replay of the 1970s and early 80s.

  • @ Michael Cole Given your obvious antipathy to all things Labour, there’s nothing sarcastic in asking why you joined the Liberal Party at the same time Steel and Co entered the Lib-Lab pact in 1977.

    If we only ever consider Coalition with the Tories we’re faced with the prospect of a none progressive government for the rest of our natural……. which will probably lead to the break up of the Union. Do you really want that ?

    Anybody who can get their heads out of the Lib Dem laager and actually watch H of C debates knows there are plenty of good folk with radical well informed positions on the opposition back benches in all parties.

    On the issue of the 2008 meltdown (on which we first disagreed) anybody who can get their heads out of the Lib Dem laager knows it started with the Animal Farm banking pigs in the USA and spread like swine fever throughout the industrial west. The then Labour Government was caught up in the deluge like everybody else. The Osborne/Laws/Alexander austerity budget only made it worse.

  • Jayne Mansfield 1st Jan '17 - 11:20am

    @ Michael Cole,
    What a pity that Vince Cable was not made Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

    I found the ideas of Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair and economic philosophy flawed ( although as a non-economist,. It took a former young liberal, Peter Hain to suggest that the rich should pay more in contributions to society..I couldn’t give reasons at the time),

    However, I don’t take the word of Iain Duncan Smith seriously. New Labour did spend more money on welfare and public services and the people who most need and use these are the most vulnerable in society. I would also ask you to check what happened to child and pensioner poverty during the 13 years of New Labour . (3 and 8 look very similar on a keyboard don’t they?

    If anyone was determined to tackle the ‘poverty of aspiration’ it was New Labour but Blair and Mandelson and those in awe of them because they were electorally successful, failed to understand that wealth inequality , whether the rich pay their taxs of otherwise also leads to inequality of opportunity.

    There were of course other good things that New Labour introduced, and I would have liked to have seen Ed Balls’ plan to roll out the free school meals programme put into action.

    Yes, I have read Animal Farm but am unsure of its relevance. Have you read a Christmas Carol

    @ Manfarang,
    We are having the same old arguments again because New Labour failed to take into account the importance of class and the solidarity it engendered to improve the lot of working people. The trade unions were one such mechanism where the working class could fight for themselves to could improve their lot and not rely on a bunch of people who had no idea, no idea at all about their life and experiences.

    Politics has become an intellectual exercise dominated by clever clogs. My new years resolution is to rediscover anger.

  • Jayne
    I was a member of the TGWU and once met Jack Jones. He was a nice man.
    Pity the Unions didn’t stick to the Social Contract. Instead helping to pave the way to Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher of course got a lot of support among the skilled workers.

  • Manfarang 1st Jan ’17 – 11:11am……Expats, Blair? Isn’t he the one Labour supporters of today call a Tory?….Labour it seems is incapable of reforming itself. I don’t want an action replay of the 1970s and early 80s….

    I usually find that trite ‘one liners’ are a sign of ‘No argument’…My 9.44 point on ‘Maternity’ issues obviously passed you by…
    As for your 1970s/1980s…. that is history (40+ years is another time; another world). I’m far more worried about the ex ‘Coalition (good) Tories’ who are currently in power…

    There seems to be a revival of interest in Orwell…His 1984 scenario seems far more apt than his ‘Animal Farm’… Everything through ‘Brexit’ doublespeak to LibDem rewriting of the coalition years….

  • Jayne
    I also knew some Fabians years ago. They lived in big houses and did professional and managerial jobs. Now who was in touch with the masses, me or them?

  • expats
    Yes I don’t want benefits. I am sure the young of today want worhwhile jobs as I did.

  • Orwell
    The prophet as they call him in Burma. The Burmese Road to Socialism to led to absolute poverty.
    And I have not only had a cup of tea in a Burmese tea shop, a pint at the Red Lion, and stayed at the Beech Hill estate. So there.

  • Jayne Mansfield 1st Jan '17 - 12:04pm

    @ Manfarang,
    I have no clue who you are so how can I answer your question?

  • Manfarang 1st Jan ’17 – 11:43am….expats,Yes I don’t want benefits. I am sure the young of today want worhwhile jobs as I did….

    Almost everyone wants ‘worthwhile jobs’…However, ‘worthwhile’ should also be about pay; sadly, most recipients of the benefits ( you don’t want) are already working… Our, erstwhile, coalition ‘friends’ seem far more interested in ‘demonising’ them than making a ‘worthwhile job’ worthwhile…

  • expats
    Boost to apprenticeship numbers doesn’t sound like demonizing. Of course the value of education needs to have greater cultural significance in England. More needs to be done so young people are prepared for hi-tech jobs.

  • Jayne
    Someone who met Jack Jones.

  • Manfarang 1st Jan ’17 – 12:46pm.expats, Boost to apprenticeship numbers doesn’t sound like demonizing. Of course the value of education needs to have greater cultural significance in England. More needs to be done so young people are prepared for hi-tech jobs.

    OR…. More than 350,000 of more than 850,000 apprentices are now over 25 with more than 50,000 over 50..Hundreds of thousands of people aged 25 or over are entering apprentice schemes – which can pay as little as £2.73 an hour – prompting fears the schemes have become a subsidised “numbers game”. The proportion of those over 25 has more than doubled – it was 19% of all apprentices in 2009/10, it now stands at 42%.
    Figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) show that more than 350,000 of the UK’s 851,000 apprentices were over 25, with more than 50,000 aged over 50….
    The statistics have stoked concerns that apprenticeships are losing their focus on young people entering the workforce, instead becoming a way for businesses to get government subsidies for work training which would already be undertaken.

  • expats
    That’s why the schools need to prepare people to become multi-skilled. The days of people leaving school without qualifications and going into unskilled jobs are over.

  • Manfarang 1st Jan ’17 – 2:03pm……expats,That’s why the schools need to prepare people to become multi-skilled. The days of people leaving school without qualifications and going into unskilled jobs are over…..

    If memory serves, under Labour (1997-2010) those going into further education trebled to over 350,000.. Not a bad achievement for a party determined to “keep people poor, unskilled and Labour voters”, eh?

  • Katharine Pindar 1st Jan '17 - 7:22pm

    @ Peter Watson – hi, while I was enjoying New Year’s Eve without LDV (how could I!) this debate has moved on, so I don’t think it is worthwhile now for me to go on defending the Lib Dem ministers of the Coalition here. I will concede this: since I was not an activist during those years, I didn’t feel the degree of grief and anger that councillors and their teams must naturally have felt as they saw their own good work disregarded. But I was reading Nick Clegg’s own account of the tuition fees disaster yesterday, and (as so often) I feel there was genuine difficulty there, and anyway that a good man failing does not make him an ogre. Read David Laws’ Appendix, as I said, for a full list of the achievements of our ministers in Coalition.
    On political reform, I understood that the Labour Party and the Conservatives between them blocked the chance of the much-needed reform of FPTP, which we still desperately need, as with further change and cutting back of the House of Lords, and I hope that the good people in all parties will come to agree on moves forward there.

    Peter, it seems that both you and Jayne are centre-left people, ex-Lib Dems, now disillusioned and turning to Labour? Passing by the debate above on the merits of the late Labour Government (but by the way the Coalition greatly expanded apprenticeships), it does seem that that party is now fatally divided, so I would urge you both to turn your energies and your anger to driving the Liberal Democrats forward in the right (sorry, centre-left of course!) direction. My beloved party, now at last united, needs you both.

  • Jayne Mansfield 1st Jan '17 - 8:59pm

    @ Manfarang,
    I am unable to access MI5 files so your comment is of no help. At the meeting did you smile to camera?

    @ Catherine,
    I enjoy reading your posts and I admire your passion and commitment to your beliefs and values.

    We do have a divergence of opinion on some things, some quite major, such as the response to the vote to leave the EU. Much as I wish things had turned out differently, I now believe that one must respect the majority view in the referendum and start to fight for a Brexit that helps to unite those like ourselves who wished to remain and those who wish to leave. That doesn’t mean that my earlier congratulations to you for taking an opposite view and fighting for it with great passion was hypocritical, I do find your willingness to stand up for your beliefs admirable and I am not entirely happy with the position I have reluctantly reached..

    I also feel alienated from your party because I do not believe in some mythical static centre ground. Indeed, I consider the idea of a radical centre a contradiction in terms. So much of what is considered the centre seems to me to be a vapid and vacuous argument for the status quo, and attempts to maintain it leads to contradictory policies. I prefer vigorous argument between the left and right based on deeply rooted ideological beliefs and values, where the centre ground is a moveable feast.

    I am in no doubt from reading our posts that we have much we can agree on, but we currently differ on how best to achieve broadly similar aims.

    I wish you and all you care for, a very happy and healthy 2017.

  • Jayne Mansfield 1st Jan '17 - 9:00pm

    Oops
    @ Katharine Pindar
    ( sorry)

  • Katharine Pindar 1st Jan '17 - 11:56pm

    Jayne, thank you for your courteous reply and kind comments and good wishes. I also value your moderate reasonableness, and am only sorry that it is, at least temporarily, lost to my party. We must agree to disagree on the Lib Dem wish for a second referendum on the terms negotiated, but we both want terms that are acceptable to the majority of the population. whether Leavers or Remainers.

    But how did the idea of ‘a static centre ground’ occur to you? I think I am actually quoting Nick Clegg, though I can’t just locate it, in saying that the Liberal Democrats are always a party seeking reform. He didn’t, we don’t, want the status quo. We aim to be radical ~ the friend of my Liberal youth, at Uni and ever since, kept saying that ‘ We are a radical party!’ – and we sought it and still seek it. At least let me give you one quote from Clegg, from his book Politics, which really distinguishes us from your party (whichever half of your party you adhere to) : (p.16) (We have) ‘a simple belief that power should be dispersed and held to account; and that the individual flourishes when she or he is empowered to make the most of their own lives.’ QED?

    May you also have a happy and healthy 2017.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jan '17 - 2:07am

    As it is that time of the year for cheer , lots of good comments , many sarcastic, and so , I shall add the satirical.

    I too have met Jack Jones. One of the finest popular singers of all time , a nice man , and the singer of the best Christmas album other than the late great Bing Crosby !

    Happy New Year one and all !

  • Jayne
    Try the Stasi. Actually the HVA.

  • jedibeeftrix 2nd Jan '17 - 5:19am

    @ Jayne – “I prefer vigorous argument between the left and right based on deeply rooted ideological beliefs and values, where the centre ground is a moveable feast.”

    Hell, yes!

    @ Katharine – “But how did the idea of ‘a static centre ground’ occur to you? I think I am actually quoting Nick Clegg, though I can’t just locate it, in saying that the Liberal Democrats are always a party seeking reform.”

    Do you appreciate that sometimes it does not seem like that? Sometimes, it can seem like a convoluted and tortured method to keep things exactly the same.

  • Jayne Mansfield 2nd Jan '17 - 8:10am

    @ Manfarang,
    I was often the object of disapproval from certain Health Visitors because I felt able to judge the well being of my children without turning up to sessions where they would be prodded and weighed like supermarket vegetables, but to refer to the Health Visitors. Association as the Stasi is really going too far.

    Now I am in trouble!

  • expats
    When you next go to a bookshop you will be no doubt be served by someone who graduated from that group. Engineering, science, and technology are the needed disciplines.

  • Jayne
    Your health visitors weren’t from the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, MfS.
    As I said it was the HVA operating very successfully beyond the DDR borders.
    It does seem Jack Jones supplemented his income from Eastern bloc sources, the rascal.

  • Manfarang 2nd Jan ’17 – 8:25am….expats, When you next go to a bookshop you will be no doubt be served by someone who graduated from that group. Engineering, science, and technology are the needed disciplines…..

    What a blinkered view!…Going to University is a priceless experience – and it’s not all about the job at the end…,
    University is about development, finding our who you are, what kind of people you want to be with and what you want to do. It’s also about being able to try out a vast range of activities, often with state of the art kit and world-class experts to inspire and guide. It’s an unparalleled opportunity to be with like minded people and receive guidance from academics and professionals whose main interest is to help young people become the best individuals they can be.
    It’s about developing an inquiring mindset; about learning not to accept what we are told, but to find out the facts for ourselves. It’s about how to research unfamiliar subjects and form an educated opinion – understanding the hegemony of politicians and media and being able to see through the bias and spin.
    And, of course, it’s about gaining transferable skills for employment and becoming an individual who will also learn how to update those skills and stay relevant throughout their working lives….

    It is no coincidence that those in further education voted en-masse (<90%) to remain and around 60% of graduates voted to remain…

  • Jayne Mansfield 2nd Jan '17 - 10:07am

    @ Katharine Pindar,
    Fine words I grant you, but in what way are people to be empowered?

    I am sorry to keep harking on, but your MPs voted for policies that disempowered individuals. They at best stayed quiet whilst a Tory government continued its wicked characterisation of those least able to fend for themselves as feckless and poor because they had some moral flaw, rather than the fact that they were people had never had the help they needed to change their lives.

    The Liberal Democrats make much of the idea of balance, but I now believe that the party’s idea of balance is not mine. One can argue for ideas like freedom, openness, tolerance until the cows come home, but they are words with so many interpretations they are rendered meaningless unless one gives a clear definition of what the party means by them. What is clear from reading posts on here, is that even members of the party are not clear.

    Some of the above terms are interpreted in ways that are selfish and self-serving. I want every person to be whatever they want to be, but not at the expense of other. Liberal Democrats ( and I say this knowing that you will disagree) seem to believe that harm is something that is direct and that indirect harm is not something of great importance. ( e.g issues like the objectification of women).

    In short, I believe that in many respects, our society has become too individualistic and lost the ability and will to limit individual wants in service of the greater good. I put much of the blame for this on liberal philosophy.

    I don’t belong to any wing of the Labour Party. I abhor the way the media and others have personalised the battle of ideas that is currently taking place within the party. It trivialises what I believe is a real desire for social justice which I do believe all members agree on. Maybe I will be disillusioned.

    @ Manfarang,
    I apologise, I was being giddy.

  • expats
    Too many I’m afraid are unable to get worthwhile jobs after they graduate. Life is not much fun for the unemployed or underemployed for that matter. “Graduate over-qualification appears to be a particular problem for the UK. The mismatch between the number of university leavers and the jobs appropriate to their skills has left the UK with more than half of its graduates in non-graduate jobs, one of the highest rates in Europe, according to research commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).”

  • Jayne
    The job centres were pretty useless. When they were set up they should have put the private employment agencies out of business being as they were in prime high street sites with no user charges. I walked past one place where the rude an offensive staff once operated from. Today it is a Fish and Chip shop. I believe the job centre plus today is only a place to sign on for benefits now. The job search is done by the claimants themselves on a computer.

  • Manfarang 2nd Jan ’17 – 10:17am…expats,Too many I’m afraid are unable to get worthwhile jobs after they graduate….

    Again, what are ‘worthwhile’ jobs? Are these worthwhile?
    35% of bank and post office clerks have degrees, 10 times the percentage in 1979.
    43.9% of police officers entering the force at the rank of sergeant or below have a university qualification, up from 2% in 1979.
    41% of new jobs in property, housing and estate management are graduates, compared with 3.6% in 1979.
    The number of newly-employed teaching assistants with a degree has increased from 5.6% to 36.9% since 1979.

    When I went to university (early 1960s) less than 10% of school leavers entered higher education…The most important lessons I learned were confidence, the ability to listen as well as speak, to think for myself, to accept nothing at face value and to reason ‘outside the box’. My qualifications got me the interview; the rest got me the job and helped me be good at it…
    I’d suggest that a ‘well rounded’, well educated, population is a major plus in itself…

    I’ll let the subject go now; although I’m sure we’ll cross swords again as our beliefs are so different…Meanwhile, have a ‘worthwhile’ 2017…Regards to all on LDV…

  • Manfarang , I’ve re-read my last paragraph and my ‘worthwhile’ remark appears a liitle churlish…It was not meant to be anything more than a lighthearted play on words..The best wishes were sincerely meant..Again, regards

  • Peter Watson 2nd Jan '17 - 5:59pm

    @Katharine Pindar “Peter, it seems that both you and Jayne are centre-left people, ex-Lib Dems, now disillusioned and turning to Labour?”
    I can’t speak for Jayne but that is a fair description (though I keep coming to this site to avoid turning to Labour!). I gave up membership of the Lib Dems (previously Liberal) party many years ago but continued to vote for it at every level (apart from a tactical Labour vote in 1997). I discovered this site after the disappointment of the first few months of Coalition made me think the party was much more right wing (and much less competent) than I had believed.
    Since then I can’t stop coming back here, and there have been many individual contributors on this site with whom I agree and long-serving Lib Dems often express a sense of extreme disappointment (or even betrayal) with which I can identify. There is obviously a pretty deep divide between the left and the right of the party that i had not appreciated and which makes it a bit of minefield when referring to Lib Dems in a post as if they were a homogeneous group. Overall though, I still cannot discern a direction or core set of policies for the party. I think that there is a shared desire to make the world a better place, consistent with the preamble, but the split between economic and social liberalism means there is profound disagreement on how best to achieve this. I’m still waiting to see which side ‘wins’ and sets the direction for the Lib Dems but the EU referendum seems to have delayed this, allowing the party to be busy, outraged and (relatively) unified on a single-issue, without actually setting out a vision and route-map for the future.

  • @ Peter Watson Peter you have hit the nail on the head.

    I joined the party in 1961, was employed by it in my youth, have been elected as a Councillor for five times, led a Liberal council group (twice), held Cabinet office for Social Work, and got a good second place parliamentary vote for it in the 1980’s. I have worn out shoes for it – and as with a favourite football team – it’s difficult emotionally to turn one’s back on it.

    My views, until recent years, would have been regarded as mainstream Liberal. BUT – the party HAS changed under a certain NC.

    Unless people realise that the state as well as the individual has a role in policy it will be
    irrelevant to the needs of society. I think Tim gets that……. and skilfully is edging back towards that………………. but what you and Jayne says is fair comment.

    Unless these truths are recognised it will have no purpose despite the odd flurry. To mix a few metaphors, the marshallow centre will butter no parsnips if the abuses of power in modern society are not challenged.

  • Katharine Pindar 2nd Jan '17 - 7:27pm

    @ Jayne Mansfield. Jayne, my obvious question is, in what way are people to be empowered by YOUR party, and what can you contribute to that? As Tim Farron has said, the Labour Party is not providing the opposition it should to the ills of this Government. Of course I agree that the Conservative majority in the Coalition unfortunately wreaked much harm, as even Iain Duncan Smith, one of the perpetrators, eventually saw, but I believe our ministers did not accept but tried to prevent harm, and did prevent worse still.
    No, Lib Dems don’t accept a soggy centre ground and nor do they stand still. They do understand indirect harm, as you may see for instance in their emphasis on rights for LGTBQ people, and election of minority-ethnic people and more women on to their Federal Board this winter.
    Peter Watson, I honestly don’t think the deep divides that you have noticed are any longer of importance to my party, as witness for instance Tim Farron and Nick Clegg working well in concert. And if you had been able to attend the last Federal Conference as I did, you would have seen much hard work had gone on to develop policies in keeping with our core values, and much more hard work went on then to discuss and pass them. For example, on homelessness, on security issues, on tackling corruption and corporate crime, on economic development, investment in health and social care, equipping people better through education, promoting thriving communities, making social security and welfare fairer, kinder and more workable, investing in the Green economy, collaborative research and keeping Erasmus, and yet more. These were none of them back-of-an-envelope policies, but ones researched, thought about and carefully prepared for many months before the debates at Brighton, which themselves were estimable events. I am proud of my party: we deserve to be able to contribute to UK Governance, and the country and the rest of the EU do absolutely need us.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Jan '17 - 10:59pm

    @Katharine Pindar “And if you had been able to attend the last Federal Conference as I did, you would have seen much hard work had gone on to develop policies in keeping with our core values”
    I would be very grateful for a link to this: a quick look at the party website did not give me an obvious route to the party’s policies.
    In your earlier post (30th Dec ’16 – 10:58pm) you mention that, “In Government Nick voted as he thought was right, not following the Conference directive” so how much confidence should I have that the party would stick with policy agreed at conference. Similarly, I recall discussions on this site about (Scottish) Lib Dem policy on fracking being reversed by Willie Rennie before or in spite of a conference vote, and a conference reversing policy on fracking less than a year after the general election (which is okay – but confusing – when in Opposition, but what if the Party is in Government?). All this leave me unclear about how binding, stable and consistent are policies agreed at conference (does it depend on who turns up to a particular event?).

  • Peter Watson 2nd Jan '17 - 11:11pm

    @jedibeeftrix “Sometimes, it can seem like a convoluted and tortured method to keep things exactly the same.”
    There is a lot of truth in that, which is why Lib Dems can appear to be the most conservative and least radical of parties.
    As an example, on grammar schools, party policy appears to be opposed to increasing the number of grammar schools and opposed to scrapping the current ones, which looks like a sacrifice of consistency and principle for conservatism.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Jan '17 - 12:47am

    Katharine is as so frequently , correct. Too much emphasis on the past and disagreement or division, rather than the present and future and agreement and unity.

    The fact is there is a lot of nonsense talked about the so called economic Liberals vs the so called social Liberals. There is no war . Merely , and thankfully , lots of different views on many and various topics . I do not want to be a member of a party of yes men and women or a music group where everyone sings not from the same hymn sheet , but one note !

    I want harmony . That is not dissonance . But it is many different sounds and melody !

  • Katharine Pindar 3rd Jan '17 - 12:56am

    Peter, you do ask some good questions! I also had trouble finding policy on the website at first, and resorted to phoning or emailing head office, when I wanted to propose one myself. I can’t, I’m sorry to say, give you a link to the policies I mentioned, because I am not great on technology and obtained them all in hard copy: I was reading from the Autumn Conference Agenda, and see that the title page offers further information via http://www.libdemconference; or perhaps you could email Christian Moon, Head of Policy at libdems.org.uk to ask for the link: I hope that may work.
    As to the point you raised about whether Conference policy can be ignored, I think it generally can’t be, since we are as we claim the most democratic of the national parties. Being in the Coalition presented totally new dilemmas: were our ministers to back a policy they now found to be quite impractical? They shouldn’t have signed the pledge in the first place, and they shouldn’t have voted as some of them did (not Tim Farron) to accept rises in tuition fees, they should have abstained. But the outcry from the party and the albatross that Nick Clegg found he had to carry ever after show that Conference policy SHOULD be followed by the leadership.
    Finally, about jedibee’s comment to me, which I didn’t respond to because there was so much to catch up on in my replies, and because I just don’t recognise that we ‘keep things exactly the same’, though I have to accept from you both that you have thought so. But what I really want to know myself, please, jedibee, is a bit about you (m, f, both for example) and what your extraordinary pseudonym may mean: if you are not actually in M15, please tell if you read this!

  • Daniel Walker 3rd Jan '17 - 6:52am

    @Katharine Pindar, @Peter Watson Passed motions at Conference can be found from http://www.libdems.org.uk/conference_papers
    e.g. Autumn 2016 passed papers: http://www.libdems.org.uk/conference-autumn-16-motions

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 3rd Jan '17 - 8:51am

    Katharine Pindar, I think there does need to be more clarification on whether or not Lib Dem MPs are bound by policy decisions passed by conference. As members, we are told that we make party policy. But the tuition fees incident shows that we have no guarantee that MPs will respect conference decisions.
    We must, of course, recognise and respect that some MPs will fell unable to support some Conference decisions, for reasons of conscience. This is likely to apply especially with issues like abortion, assisted dying, and nuclear weapons.
    But there was no indication that Nick Clegg and others had any “conscientious objection” to the tuition fees policy. If they had, they would not have signed the pledge in the first place. So they surely had no right to disregard party policy in this way. If they wished to change party policy, they should have put forward a motion for the issue at Conference asking for another vote.

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd Jan '17 - 9:23am

    @ Katharine Pindar,
    We have entered into a really meaningful discussion just at the point when I am preparing to leave the country for a few months

    Briefly, I looked back at the social advances advances made since my parents were born at the turn of the 20th century and concluded that I owe the Labour Party.

    My passion is health and education. If we cannot in this rich society provide everyone with excellent health care and the best available education. For me, the right of every individual to these is paramount.I am appalled at what the Liberal Democrats have supported, allowed and enabled and one can’t move on because the chaos remains.

    Prior to the H and S Care Act, the NHS had the highest satisfaction ratings ever. I also agreed with Andy Burnham’s proposals for elderly care. Speak to any health professional now and you will understand how the service has been pushed to breaking point , surviving only on the good will and the stress -levels of the practitioner, or speak to someone who has seen the service they once enjoyed deteriorate. Yet, there are billions being used just to finance the operation of a market in health care rather than care itself.

    The Health and Social Care Act not only sought to privatise our NHS for ideological reasons, it tried to remove responsibility for the NHS from the Government. The NHS should never be taken out of politics whilst it is a publicly funded service, the tax payer has a right to hold to account Government and the Minister who is in charge of the Department.

    More young people were going to university and it always gave me such pleasure to see parents of young people on my own children’s graduation day and discover that their child was first generation university educated, as I was. Although there are vocational university courses, I have never believed that attending university was just about getting a job, important though that is, but a right to an enriching experience.

    There are other issues such as poverty, housing etc., but the two above are my passion because health and education are often pre-requisites to freeing oneself from disadvantage. We have moved forward enormously during my life-time on so many important issues, and I thank the Labour Party for that.

    Why support the current Labour party in is sad, divided state? I dread a future without a Labour Party. I no longer trust any other party not to erode the advances made by the Labour movement.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Jan '17 - 11:06am

    @Daniel Walker & Katharine Pindar
    Thanks for the links and info about policy and conference motions.
    I’ll dig a little deeper, but sadly, given my concern that it is difficult to identify a coherent and clear Lib Dem vision, this apparent opacity over specific policies and how they hang together is not very reassuring. Perhaps a New Year’s Resolution for the party could be to make it easier to find this stuff!

  • Peter Watson 3rd Jan '17 - 12:22pm

    “Perhaps a New Year’s Resolution for the party could be to make it easier to find this stuff”
    Picking grammar schools as an example (since I mentioned it above), Wikipedia tells me, “The Liberal Democrats would not open any new grammar schools but would not close existing grammars.”
    Grammar schools and academic selection don’t seem to be mentioned in the 2001, 2005, 2010 or 2015 manifestos, but in 1997, “Liberal Democrats are opposed to selection, but believe that decisions on this should be made by local communities through their local Councils and not by politicians at Westminster.”
    Searching on the Lib Dem website appears to be broken, returning only some greyed out advertising, but searching the site externally tells me that the Autumn 2016 Conference “Calls on the government to abandon the selection by ability and social separation of young people, into different schools.”

    So what is Lib Dem policy on grammar schools?
    The 1997 policy suggests that Lib Dems would reluctantly allow parents the freedom to introduce selective schools but that is contradicted by the party’s reaction before the autumn 2016 conference to Tory plans to encourage an expansion of academic selection. Was there an earlier conference motion that changed that policy which did not make it into a manifesto? What would be the significance of such a policy? Is it necessary to search backwards through various conference motions, wherever they are archived, to determine the current position in any given policy area? Does the 2016 conference motion represent a new policy to close existing grammar schools, or is it a step towards such a policy, or is it only re-expressing a distaste for academic selection? Is it Lib Dem policy to maintain the status quo, allowing some parents the choice to keep grammar schools while depriving others of the choice of accessing them?

    I don’t want to derail this thread with a debate about grammar schools, I am just confused that the party’s approach to policy making is driven less by principle and more by avoiding the loss of votes in target seats. If this is repeated across other policy areas it is little wonder that voters could be confused and disappointed.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Jan '17 - 3:29pm

    Jayne

    Sorry but your comments on the Health and social care policies do not go to the nub of things and are typical in their analysis .

    Satisfaction was high because some reforms under New Labour had worked and worked well. And because much more money had been put in. When Frank Dobson came in as Health Secretary , spending on the NHS was stuck , reform was non existent .

    The best and worst reforms followed some time later. Choice , different providers of care , not administration , worked and were necessary. PFI for buildings was a disaster of more debt piling up.

    The years that saw different Health secretaries built on these developments , some good policies some bad . But money increasingly put in.

    The Health and social care act was not a disaster . It was the subsequent lack of investment that has skewed the view against the act , no success can arise from underinvestment .

    More than anything , we lack integration of all provision, public and private, and abysmal levels of investment, both public and private .

    Until we get away from the public is good , private is bad nonsense , we get no where .

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd Jan '17 - 4:12pm

    @ Lorenzo,
    PFI was introduced by John Major in the 1990’s . It was indeed expanded by the Blair Government , but despite criticisms by George Osborne of Labour’s flawed policy , he introduced a re-branded PF! ( PFI 2 in 2011)..

    There is no reason to believe that, just as Cameron and Osborne promising to match Labour spending for pound for pound if they were voted into power, they would not have followed the same pattern of using PFI to fund capital projects in the same way that Labour had. Cameron did of course describe himself as ‘heir to Blair’.

    In my opinion, the GP contract was however, an appalling mistake.

    I would though, ask you to remember what hospitals were like prior to Labour coming to power in 1997 and the improvement in the environment for patient care when they left office.

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd Jan '17 - 5:10pm

    @ Lorenzo,
    PFI was introduced by John Major in the 1990’s . It was indeed expanded by the Blair Government , but despite criticisms by George Osborne of Labour’s flawed policy , he introduced a re-branded PFI ( PFI 2 in 2011)..

    There is no reason to believe that, just as Cameron and Osborne promising to match Labour spending for pound for pound if they were voted into power, they would not have followed the same pattern of using PFI to fund capital projects in the same way that Labour had. Cameron did of course describe himself as ‘heir to Blair’.

    In my opinion, the GP contract was however, an appalling mistake.

    I would though, ask you to remember what state hospitals were in prior to Labour coming to power in 1997 and the improvement in the environment for patient care when they left office.

    I don’t analyse and condemn the ‘damaging’ NHS and Social Care Act, I leave that to bodies like the Kings Fund.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Jan '17 - 1:43am

    Hello, everyone. Daniel Walker, thank you very much for providing the correct info on linking to Conference papers – I’m sorry I did misread the Conference booklet on the link, which indeed as you say has to have libdems.org.uk in it. Peter Watson, I can’t get excited about the Grammar School business, because it just seems to me that the party is against new ones, and the principle behind the idea of new ones, but would not demand the destruction of the existing ones. Surely anyway there has to be room for honest disagreement in the party which believes in freedom. So, Catherine, we believe in the primacy of Conference policy, but what if, in Government, Nick Clegg and Vince Cable became convinced that students would have to pay to keep the universities going, and what is virtually a graduate tax for those who do well in their careers would be the best way forward? They might have felt that, if Conference was before them then, they could have convinced fellow Lib Dems to change their minds. I don’t think we can be so absolute about complex decisions. (PS to you – I was sad not to be able to contribute a comment on your excellent article on animal welfare, being prevented by computer problems at that time.)
    Jayne, I think Lorenzo has replied very well to you, and that you underestimate both the good effects our Ministers had in the Coalition (please read David Laws’ book) and the good work on policy development that party members and HQ people and parliamentarians are preparing all the time. David Laws himself did excellent work in the Education Department during the Coalition, and now Norman Lamb’s Beveridge study group of experts will be backing up our sensible policies on joined-up health and social care. I hope you have a good time in your few months out of the country, wherever you are going – I would wish myself to be in France or Germany or Italy, except I should miss my Liberal Democrats! Come back and join us later.

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th Jan '17 - 9:43am

    @ Katharine Pindar,
    Thank you for your good wishes.

  • Peter Watson 4th Jan '17 - 11:24am

    @Katharine Pindar “I can’t get excited about the Grammar School business …”
    My concern in this thread is not grammar schools per se (I’ve debated that in a few other threads!) but the fact that I cannot identify exactly what is Lib Dem policy on an important topic (indeed, one over which Lib Dems are happy to attack the Government). It also concerns me that if there is a policy, it does not seem to be based on any consistent application of liberal or democratic principles.
    If this apparently ill-defined “all things to all people” approach were representative of Lib Dem policy making in other areas then I would struggle to see the purpose of Lib Dems as anything other than a conservative force in British politics, channelling outrage and opposition to change but without offering a positive, consistent, considered, detailed, principled, radical alternative. Lib Dems should be more than a “none of the above” option on a ballot paper.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Jan '17 - 12:19pm

    Peter. this party really does offer a ‘positive, consistent, considered, detailed and principled alternative’. Yes, I did realise you were focusing on a wider issue, and that saying there has to be room for disagreement didn’t answer you. But last night I was rereading (and still am) a background document on which debate F16, The Opportunity to Succeed, the Power to Change (Policy Review), held at the Brighton Conference, was based. I had looked it out again because I had cited bits of the F16 wordage to you in a not very satisfactory way. The background document was Policy Consultation Paper 125, which actually was published in March 2016 and brought to the Spring 2016 conference (and so took a bit of finding, it does help me to have hard copies, but I expect you can still read it on line), as part of ‘Agenda 2020’. I hope you can access it, because this is a thoughtful and impressive document which meets the criteria you cited; and the F16 debate last September endorsed it.

    Jayne, one last word, please, I read this morning in yesterday’s Guardian (sorry!) of Norman Lamb accusing Jeremy Hunt of doing little to make good his pledge to hire more junior doctors, necessary because the promise to have a seven-day NHS without extra doctors is likely to endanger care during the week, as doctors working weekends take days off during the week. A member of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, Dr Nadia Masood, is reported as saying she shared Lamb’s fears about weekday care and that it was already suffering. So here we have a good example of Lib Dem constructive involvement in NHS issues, as I know is also the case in my local Copeland constituency.
    Please don’t dwell on previous Labour support for the NHS, but join us in today’s fight.
    Best wishes meantime.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Jan '17 - 1:03pm

    Excellent comments from Katharine , and Jayne is ever welcome , but remember the motives are what drive us , outcomes are a failure sometimes but we all, even as we do not always agree , mean well and have desire to improve things.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 4th Jan '17 - 4:00pm

    Katharine, thank you for your kind remarks about my article on animal welfare. Hope your computer problems are sorted out now 🙂

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