Five New Year’s resolutions for Liberal Democrats – #2

I’m suggesting five New Year’s resolutions that Liberal Democrats should make for 2016. Here’s the second.

Stop fighting each other

This party has been incredibly resilient over the past five difficult years. We’ve mostly chummed along (albeit with heavy hearts) and got on with the job. However, there have been a few flashpoints, mainly online between a few people.  There’s one group of people who broadly think that the Coalition was evil,  and that the party was taken over by pseudo-Tories hiding behind the Orange Book and that everyone who thinks differently should bog off and join the Tories. Heavens, a small subset of those even seem to think that this site is run by a grand coalition of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the illuminati. Then there’s another group of people who seem to think that the left of the party is a bunch of irresponsible hippies who need to grow up, get with the programme and stop being a “party of protest” or bog off and join the Greens or Labour. These groups perpetuate their feuding at every opportunity with some going out of their way to wind others up.  The rest of us are all sick to death of it and it doesn’t get us a single vote. Let’s all put our energies into creating and sharing that very positive vision of a liberal,diverse and pluralistic society.

We champion the individual. That means we should have a huge respect for the sharing of ideas and for reasoned, passionate debate. You wouldn’t think it, sometimes. Let’s show the sort of respect to fellow party members who see things differently. You never know, we might learn something from them.

The other thing is that this party is impossible to factionalise. While I am at heart an old-fashioned tax and spend liberal, my esteemed colleague Nick Thornsby is much more on the economic liberal side. We’ll argue that out, but when it comes to cuts to legal aid, or secret courts, or human rights, he and I will be at the barricades together.

Oh, and let’s remember that feminism is something that we as liberals should all be signed up for so please can we stop treating it like a dirty word?I’ve been impressed by how many young men in the party are happy to talk enthusiastically about gender equality – but I’ve also been very alarmed by a pretty aggressive band of young men who disrespectfully dismiss and demean feminist arguments.

Everyone who signs up to the Preamble to our Constitution has a place in this party. Let’s celebrate our diversity and work together where we can. Being vile to each other helps nobody and puts people off us so, if this applies to you, just stop it.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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55 Comments

  • Well said.

  • What Jennie said

  • Steven Lambert 2nd Jan '16 - 10:27am

    100% agree

  • Sadie Smith 2nd Jan '16 - 10:30am

    Some good in there Caron, but it is our Party too. Telling people to join another Party is silly.
    Coalition was just incredibly badly handled. A lot of people are owed apologies.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 2nd Jan '16 - 10:34am

    Sure, Sadie, we screwed some stuff up badly, but it was a very difficult hand to play. It’s fairly well acknowledged where we went badly wrong, but let’s stop demanding apologies and work together to rebuild our fortunes – which does seem to be working, albeit very very slowly.

  • Paul Reynolds 2nd Jan '16 - 10:45am

    Well said Caron. My deeply felt sense is that we have a lot of hard work to do to reconcile and/or narrow down ideoligical differences. Many of the differences which underlie the kind of divisiveness you refer to are a result of misinterpretations of others’ views and thus unnecessary. But this is no easy task. Fo example, is the opposite of competition, monopoly or cooperation ? What did Keynes and Adam Smith really say about state spending or economic regulation ? What does decentralisation mean for fiscal policy and public service funding ? How important for liberalism is the rule of law and a written constituition for the UK? What exactly is a liberal foreign & defence policy ? We all need to get on a learning curve. Without it, our verve and effectiveness will be curtailed… fatally so in my view.

  • George Boyd 2nd Jan '16 - 10:47am

    “Hear.Hear”.

  • Tony Dawson 2nd Jan '16 - 11:34am

    I think Caron spends too much time on the blogosphere. I do not see Lib Dems attacking each other except at the very margin. Whereas, within both Labour and Tories, organised battle-lines are being marshalled for big internal fights.

  • paul barker 2nd Jan '16 - 11:52am

    Well said. Can I add a reccomendation that anyone who gets depressed about Libdem infighting should visit Labour List, the nearest Labour equivalent to LDV. Read the comment columns & you will see how polite to each other we are in comparison.

  • Mick Taylor 2nd Jan '16 - 12:09pm

    I agree 100% with Caron. I have come very close to abandoning LDV altogether this year in despair about the bile and bitterness that some people think passes for debate. I am heartily sick of the backbiting and name calling and think the term ‘orange booker’ should be banned as it’s so badly misused.

    Frankly I don’t care if we are less awful than the other parties is this respect. As a Liberal I respect others views even if I disagree with them and I expect all who post on LDV to do the same and to express disagreements politely and respectfully without resorting to rudeness and invective.

  • Bill le Breton 2nd Jan '16 - 12:15pm

    I know of no members who thought that the Coalition was ev*l. I know a handful of people who say or write that there were people/members/activists who thought the Coalition was ev*l.

    Of course they are the same people who watched as the fiasco played out under the leadership and direction of people who squandered the trust of the public and reacted incompetently having done so. If the Liberal Democrat Party survives it will not be thanks to such an attitude of whistling in the wind.

    We need as Paul R writes above to look carefully at policy to see how best it can meet the challenges of life in the 20Teens. But we also need to have a radical approach to the way we relate to and connect with Liberal minded people in this country.

    We can only do that by challenging what we do, how we do it and who does what.

    Apart from a recent excellent article by Alex H – which has now been lost on the second page of OPs, (recent comments hasn’t been working for days) there really has been no debate about such things on this site. That says a lot about its vision or fear of alternative visions.

    Note how I have had to spell ev*l for fear that a word used below the line might be modded which has been used with impunity above the line.

    B le B

  • Hmm. When a party is in the wilderness or perceived by most to be almost in that situation, it inevitably enters a period of soul searching, retrospection and blame. Remember this was the party’s worse result in its entire history, since the 1860’s. There is little one can do about it, it just happens, and this stage remains until something really significant occurs to change the scenario, Torrington in 57 and Rochdale in 72 appear to be classic examples. Caron just let things happen, you cannot change it. Go with the flow!!!

  • Gwyn Williams 2nd Jan '16 - 12:18pm

    I am constantly surprised at how economic liberals are blessed with a social conscience and just how economically literate social liberals can be. This debate reminds me of the post merger rows between the SDP and Liberals. The debate is for the time being secondary to the survival of a Liberal Party in the UK.

  • David Evans 2nd Jan '16 - 1:23pm

    What Bill said. Sadly there are still too many want to portray those who saw the disaster that was happening and tried to get the party to change as the cause of problem, rather than the only viable solution. LDV has too often been used a vehicle to demonise them rather than an outlet to discuss the future of the party. The voters are the ones who decide and they have shown that the strategy of the last seven years has totally failed, but running away from the consequences and simply pretending we just can ignore their views is a recipe for yet more decline. The simple fact is that the majority our 2010 voters no longer trust the party, the national media largely ignore it, and still we think all we have to do is come up with some good policies and things will start to change. Good individuals and local parties can swim against the tide for a while, but eventually they will weaken. We need a vision that involves re-connecting with our voters, and saying sorry is the first thing that is needed. For too many it seems that is the last thing they would ever do.

  • Absolutely agree with Lib Dems remaining a broad church – but within that political broad range there are principles which are the keys to the voters always voting Lib Dem and not being ‘bought’ by other crafty parties. If we depart from principles more than a fraction or are seen to be vacillating – other parties will spot that as quickly as our members do. We must repeat our principles time after time – and in a good way – as our remaining MPs, councillors, members of the HoL, LDV contributors and others are doing.
    As an aside but with possible similar results if electors are asked to vote to keep the BBC as is: I have to laugh at the BBC who don’t see that Lib Dems are a group who really value the Beeb’s promotion of ordinary people but our politicians have been cut in large measure from Beeb appearances. And that cut might inform our members and voters too when the time comes to support the BBC. Why would we support them when they did so much to ignore our principles? These things are inter-woven and the BBC should remember how bad feelings are generated. As we do.
    And we must never forget that the larger parties have media support aplenty, which we do not have, and will trumpet our failures – particularly at elections. The keys for the next vote, at any level, are already being trailed up and down the country. So we must have candidates at every level, stating our principles regularly and interacting with those they intend to join if elected. Sure, there is a very slow increase in support for our party but we all have to do the right things to attract future voters. Our principles are the keys and we must embed them in the public conscience.

  • Toby Fenwick 2nd Jan '16 - 1:53pm

    Thanks for this, Caron – and an especial thank-you to the LDV team who I personally think do a great job in providing a forum for these debates and too often get no thanks for it.

    For me, some in the party – on both sides – are suffering from the narcissism of small differences; if you agree with the Preamble, then you’re a LibDem. But it is important to read the Preamble and realise how broad it is, and, crucially, that it doesn’t prescribe a method for achieving its goals. It is in determining the method that we can – and should – have a fulsome debate. And suggestions that people should leave are contemptible, and are rightly treated as such.

    Happy 2016, everyone.

  • Problem for any party perceived by most people to be in the wilderness is that there is inevitably a lengthy period of retrospection, denial and dare I use the word, “infighting”. It usually changes when there is a really major positive change, I think of the Torrington and Rochdale by elections of 1957 and 1972, a scenario which always produces greater unity simply because success brings people together. Caron just sit tight, go with the flow and your worries may dissipate.
    Chin up.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Jan '16 - 2:18pm

    Point taken on feminism. I’ve got some feminist principles, but some of the radical views still make me feel uncomfortable. I’ve learned to not debate it much anyway, especially on here, in order to save arguments and not bore people.

  • Paul Kennedy 2nd Jan '16 - 2:59pm

    The reason this may be more of an issue for us than for other parties is that the Tories and even Labour are essentially hierarchical organisations taking orders from above. Personally I think we should celebrate our differences while making sure we play the ball not the person.

  • David Evans 2nd Jan '16 - 3:03pm

    On this occasion I think Theakes is mistaken. Putting it simply, we don’t have the time to sit back and wait for a Torrington or Rochdale to come along. On each of those occasions we were at least looked on with benign bemusement as those nice liberals, let’s give them a try. Now the party is massively mistrusted by many who used to vote for us and the Conservatives have got the will and been given the means to totally undermine our MPs. It worked almost everywhere they tried it in 2015. From now up to 2020 it will be used on our remaining eight.

    We have a choice carry on regardless and die or actually put up a fight. This isn’t the narcissism of small differences, but a battle for survival!

  • Sadie Smith 2nd Jan '16 - 4:15pm

    We will survive. Liberalism does. It matters that we are inclusive.
    I would like to see some talents and ideas used, even if all the Leadership does is ask the people with history of useful ideas.
    Significant byelections are rare but can give a boost. The village I lived in at the time a bit after one of them signed up to form a new Association.. But there is better outcome if some of the spadework has been done. That takes hard work and a dash of inspiration.
    I am only cross when there are false divisions, but we cannot repeat the waste of time/effort/ energy.

  • Neil Sandison 2nd Jan '16 - 4:24pm

    When I first came on LDV it was a really good site to float new ideas and find people interested in moving liberal democracy forward but the it seemed to change and I thought it had been taken over by tory trolls, labour lonely hearts and green gremlins just itching to kick us when we were down .Then the fresh new members came along wanting to add something new to our debates but unfortunately the trolls still persist in their destructive and retrospective blame culture, my message to them is get over it. we the party in the country are moving on .We have important local elections to fight in May a referendum looming on the horizon and the public will want to know what the Liberal Democrats have to say on important issues of the day .

  • Paul Griffiths 2nd Jan '16 - 5:02pm

    100% agree with Caron and 110% agree with Mick Taylor.

  • David Allen 3rd Jan '16 - 12:01am

    This is another attempt to rewrite history, falsely masquerading as a claim to sweetness, light and unthinking unity. Two “groups of people” are stereotyped and demonised in this unpleasant article. A third largely mythical group of people, who unfailingly smile benevolently and equally on economic and social liberals alike, are praised to the skies. Ironically, what pretends to be a plea for all to come together is, in fact, a demand that anyone who wants to think for themself should shut up.

    It is also, of course, a roundabout way of arguing tacitly that those who supported the Coalition were right, and that those who warned of the dangers were somehow wrong, even though the consequences are now manifest. Of course this argument has to be presented the way it has been presented here. If it were presented more directly its ludicrousness would be obvious.

  • Would first of all like to say thank you to Caron for this , I do not think our party benefits from people who not only are insulting , they patronise new and often young members .I have once or twice pointed out that, and it seems to happen , a bit more , from older , male and left wing members towards younger so called Cleggies , then that type doing the finger pointing tend to then start accusing and patronising me , yet I am in my forties and can more than handle it !!! The thing is some need to be a bit less thin skinned , but , if people could see that insults directed at people are awful , but not the same in any way as caustic remarks about views .On this site I , of all people ,known to anyone who knows me, as having practically Rennaissance ,Victorian , or if more modern let s allow Edwardian , good manners and respect towards those I talk to or engage with , was criticised by Lord Greaves , who is I would suggest not the best judge of such things , as being insulting , because I had called podemos of Spain more or less ex communist s , even though that s precisely what the leader of that party openly admits to being !!!!!!!!!! Having said that we must stop the tendency to want to start all over again and disown the coalition , as dangerous for us as Labour corbyn supporters complete denegration of all things new labour . We can learn and re build in a friendly open minded spirit .But welcome strong debate .

  • Unsurprisingly, there have been many responses to Caron Lindsay’s initiative. It is very plain that parties that do not have considerable internal harmony do not succeed. It is also the case that a party of any size is going to be an ‘internal coalition’ unless agreement is fiercely imposed. The management of diversity is a big human issue everywhere, not least among us. It applies to ‘Europe’ as it does to us. What matters is that the strands within the diversity are both articulate and gracious, with a big effort going into developing the alloy policies and practice and making it apparent to others. I was not present at the Birmingham Conference which endorsed the 2010 coalition, but some re-visiting of that occasion might be instructive. Were the naysayers browbeaten? Were the enthusiasts intolerant? And what safeguards were put in place to check the progress of the coalition? Was it seriously considered to withdraw from the coalition in 2014 to give us a whole year to re-emphasise our distinctiveness?

  • Well said Caron and Mick Taylor – 100% agree with you both.

  • Bill le Breton 3rd Jan '16 - 10:14am

    In her New Year Resolution #3 Caron writes, “We are still relevant and we are still key players in Scotland, Wales and across the UK”.

    But we are not. To think this is to delude ourselves.

    We have 7 MPs who go unheard in the Commons and in the political commentary. We have one MEP. Our ‘force’ in the Lords is not as influential as it might be, because Labour are not letting us have that influence. And the Government is set to drastically reduce powers there. We have almost no presence in the Cities and large urban councils. We have a diminished councillor base and a far reduced campaigning force of activists.

    Our average poll rating over the last month has been 6.5% – down on our election day performance.

    The prospect for the next five years are not good, with boundary changes likely to remove most if not ALL of our MPs. Short money is being reduced. We are going nowhere. All I see from comments here is complacency. David Allen’s analysis of the ‘argument’ of this piece is spot on.

    We spent the years 2011 to 2015 complacently thinking our fortunes would rise ‘tomorrow’. It didn’t. We are now in the same rut. The same ‘hopes’ expressed. The world is changing at great pace. Each day is making an unreformed Party less and less relevant.

    The solution is not to restrict discussion but to encourage discussion, to invite ideas, to search for new spaces, neglected niches, to be truly innovative in our campaigning and in our policy development, to be Millennials. This is not happening here.

  • Perhaps firstly we might consider being honest…We, as a party, are no BETTER than anyone else; just DIFFERENT..

    Let’s stop being hypocrites ….The outrage posted on LDV under “Lynne Featherstone on Labour’s “lies and desperate smears” was missing when Alistair Carmichael was involved in his own scandal….

    Let’s stop making extravagant claims and pledges…The electorate expect (just ask) politicians to break promises..Cameron has broken more many promises than Nick Clegg but Cameron never promised a “Different kind of politics” and “No more broken promises”. Such things come back to haunt you…
    Have we learned?, Perhaps not; after all Tim made great play in setting out five conditions as a benchmark for supporting bombing; they weren’t met, but never mind….

    Perhaps we might try and pick our priorities and be a Political Party rather than a ‘pressure group’…Transgender and Intersex issues are important but, as a party, we seem to be identified solely with such issues…….How many ‘disenfranchised voters’ are there in the UK? How many even know that they are been ‘disenfranchised’? How many would vote LibDem if they were reminded, by us, that they (who are probably those most affected by ‘Austerity’) can register and easily vote?
    However let us be consistent…A year ago Tom Brake seemed to support the proposed Individual Electoral Registration (IER) process saying “The coalition has made it extremely easy to register to vote – it can be done online in a couple of minutes,” and yet in October he went as far as to put down a “rejection motion” of the removal of those who haven’t bothered with “a couple of minutes”….

  • Bill le Breton’s comments are very wise. It would be wise Lib Dems who take them on board and reflect on what he is saying.

  • Paul Barker is correct , Labour internal debate is not debate but internecine warring! Mick Taylor is absolutely correct , also, when he says what he does about the sloppy bandying about of the phrase “orangebooker “! I think if we had more very practical , mainstream policies on issues people really do connect on , we would get somewhere , if aligned with an overarching strategy . The problem is , promotion . and publicity . Being ignored means being noticed . Being noticed means being relevant . It needs us to be something unusual , very mainstream , but very exciting . If we start by thinking centrism is dull , therefore ditch it , we are wrong . Centrism is dull , radical centre is not . We are and should be in the radical centre much of the time . New Labour , long before it s degeneration into power for the sake of little else but power , started out as seen as moderate and relevant , yet generated excitement and had superb marketing . It also for many years was a genuine promotion of Liberal and social democratic ideas . The third way was a stealing of Liberal philosophy wrapped up in a conservative settlemen t. It offended less than it inspired , then reversed that , not by centrist policy , but it s abandonment ! True of our party when it dis connected with the public , and still does at times , during the coalition or since . To be radical is not to be left wing or right wing , but , seemingly a little of both sometimes , and neither more often !!!! For refugees , for indigenous communities !. For mentally ill low level prisoners , against violent thugs , rapists and bullies ! For Europe , yes , for Britain first ! I t is not actually rocket science !

  • Dave Orbison 3rd Jan '16 - 6:49pm

    It’s all very well agreeing to agree not refer to group such as Orange-Bookers, Social Liberals etc but even if this were to happen I think it would be only for a short while. Once Tim eventually gets to roll out some form of manifesto and economic policy the splits will reappear. Choices will have to be made and it seems clear reading contributions on LDV that different factions exist within the party. I doubt whether any more than a handful of the public (excluding LibDems and career policticos) are aware, much less care, about such internal factions. Consequently, the proposed vow of silence is likely to have an insignificant impact on the LibDem fortunes.
    However, that cannot be said for the issue of the Coalition so far as the public is concerned that is not likely to go away soon. This clearly makes the Orange-Bookers smart. But there is no chance whatsoever of the next LibDem election campaign being run without framing the proposed direction of the party in contrast to what was adopted whilst in the Coalition. Simply saying let’s not go there will not cut it.

    Avoiding the subject may make for less depressing reading and less disagreements on LDV but out there in the real world the electorate will want to know exactly where the LibDems stand on issues of policy defined by what they believe in and not how they wish to slag off other political parties.

  • Sounds to me as an outsider that you are saying, as Clegg did, we don’t want you if you don’t agree.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Jan '16 - 11:37pm

    “While I am at heart an old-fashioned tax and spend liberal, my esteemed colleague Nick Thornsby is much more on the economic liberal side.”
    This pretty much encapsulates the problem for Lib Dems. Inevitably passions will run high for people who feel that neither Labour nor Conservatives are a good match for their particular collection of beliefs but who nevertheless disagree with each other quite profoundly over pretty fundamental socio-economic policies.
    The Preamble is a destination rather than a route-map, and there are obviously very different views on how best to get there. Whilst its is good for Lib Dems to stop name-calling each other as lefties or bookers, even a polite discussion on LDV shows diametrically opposed views on privatisation, free markets, grammar schools, Trident, bombing Syria, tuition fees, etc., This article almost reads as a call to hide these differences of opinion and to target anti-Tory / anti-Labour / anti-SNP without making it clear what people would be voting for. Surely instead it is more important to resolve fundamental differences of opinion on important issues and make it clear what Lib Dems stand for that makes them stand out.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 4th Jan '16 - 10:34am

    No, Peter Watson, it’s not about hiding differences of opinion, it’s about expressing them in a civilised and respectful manner. Everyone is capable of doing this. My article makes the point that we will always have a variety of opinions in the party. That’s part of being a liberal – there are many issues you can come to opposite viewpoints on from a liberal perspective. People need to stop demonising those who don’t agree with them. They are our colleagues, after all. We need to treat each other better and have a sense of common purpose.

  • Peter Watson 4th Jan '16 - 11:34am

    @Caron Lindsay “No, Peter Watson, it’s not about hiding differences of opinion, it’s about expressing them in a civilised and respectful manner.”
    Which is a great thing, and on the whole something that seems to be successfully maintained on this site (with one notable exception) which makes it a comfortable place to disagree and think about issues.
    However, on reflection LibDemVoice does feel relatively subdued these days, and not just because of the holiday season. I fear that a number of people who used to post very regularly have given up the fight.

  • David Allen 4th Jan '16 - 11:45am

    Caron,

    “It’s not about hiding differences of opinion, it’s about expressing them in a civilised and respectful manner. …. People need to stop demonising those who don’t agree with them.”

    For an exemplary demonstration of how to stereotype, abuse and demonise people one does not agree with, how about:

    “There’s one group of people who broadly think that the Coalition was evil, and that the party was taken over by pseudo-Tories hiding behind the Orange Book and that everyone who thinks differently should bog off and join the Tories. Heavens, a small subset of those even seem to think that this site is run by a grand coalition of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the illuminati. Then there’s another group of people who seem to think that the left of the party is a bunch of irresponsible hippies who need to grow up, get with the programme and stop being a “party of protest” or bog off and join the Greens or Labour.”

    …from your own article!

    Now, you didn’t actually name anyone in your tirade (you could no doubt rely on people guessing who you might have meant!), so I suppose this just about complies with the letter of your own comments policy. Do you really think it complies with its spirit?

  • nvelope2003 4th Jan '16 - 1:18pm

    Tax and spend ? Surely you mean borrow and spend ?

  • david franks 4th Jan '16 - 5:14pm

    I agree with Sadie. Nothing wrong with coalition but it was very, very badly handled. Top Lib Dems should have listened to the advice coming from people in the party who have experience of working with other parties and at least some of the damage could have been avoided. Now follow Caron’s advice and get on with the future. We have to start from where we are not from where we wish we were.

  • If it’s true that there’s a small minority of people on the left and right of the party who have been causing all the arguments, while the vast majority are the ‘good folk’ calmly quiet in the middle, might one not argue that the dire straits the party currently finds itself in might be somewhat the responsibility of those who sat in the middle, blithely criticising those on either side, but not actually sorting the real problems out? Just a thought.

  • A Social Liberal 4th Jan '16 - 11:58pm

    I am a Social Liberal. I believe in regulating the markets and industries to the point (and only to the point) where they cannot harm vulnerable or different groups. There is a train of thought within the Lib Dems which favours rolling back that regulation, because they think that a)business knows best and b)the owners of the means of production (sorry about the Marxist term, but it identifies the group well) are all caring benign individuals who would do nothing to disadvantage their workers.

    If I wish to identify (as a group) those who believe differently to me and to a great many other Lib Dems, and given that they prefer their reading matter in a different colour to myself, what is wrong with identifying them using the reading material they espouse.

    Given my nom de plume, I have no problem with being called a social liberal – indeed, call me a preambler if a term is needed to further identify my political thinking. Since their politics has been championed by the Orange Book it must surely follow that the easiest way to call attention to those politics is to call a spade a spade.

  • A Social Liberal 5th Jan '16 - 12:01am

    Oh – and for the record, I have several times been called on to leave this party and grace the Labour Party and have read quite a few instances where my colleagues have received the same request. And guess what – it wasn’t the left that was demanding we leave.

  • Paul Griffiths 5th Jan '16 - 11:06am

    @A Social Liberal

    You have identified two groups of Lib Dems.

    A. Those who generally approve of the policies outlined in The Orange Book.

    B. Those who “think that a) business knows best and b) the owners of the means of production … are all caring benign individuals who would do nothing to disadvantage their workers”.

    Not only are those two groups not identical, I strongly suspect that B is an empty set.

  • Leekliberal 5th Jan '16 - 2:09pm

    While the General Election disaster is all too apparent the reasons for it are less clear. My hunch is that but for the fear factor of a Miliband/SNP majority pushing rightish English Lib Dem voters into the Tory column we would have retained around 25 seats and the prospects would not now seem so bleak.

  • A Social Liberal 5th Jan '16 - 8:00pm

    Paul

    Do the free market economic liberals not believe this?

  • Stephen Hesketh 5th Jan '16 - 8:45pm

    Our membership cards carry the preamble sentence, “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.”

    As individual Liberal Democrats we all have our own driving passions but are united in our belief in the need for a free and open society having the fundamental values of liberty and community. What divides us, I believe, is the extent to which we believe in genuine equality of outcome and so fairness.

    Those who sought to ‘reclaim liberalism’ or to redefine our party by elevating their own pet policy area to the status of a core value have, in practical terms, sought to sideline the equality of the preamble and replace it with the less radical and more economically benign ‘equality of opportunity’.

    As a social justice Liberal Democrat, I believe in the ideal of a fundamentally more equal society based on the liberal belief that all individuals are of equal worth and that income is clearly one of those areas in which the much lauded free market does not produce fair, liberal or community-supporting outcomes.

    Until we heal this fundamental difference in our aims and values, I can’t see that the party will return to the happier coexistence we formerly enjoyed.

  • Stephen Hesketh 6th Jan '16 - 7:34am

    @George Kendall

    Whatever we call ourselves, I am suggesting it is our belief in equality of outcome vs equality of opportunity and our belief in the ability of so-called free markets to produce outcomes which benefit the mass of ordinary citizens as individuals and society as a whole which lies at the very heart of Liberal Democrat (dis)unity.

  • Sadly having been out door knocking before Christmas for our all up council elections next May, it is clear that voters have not forgiven us for the coalition. I think we did many good things but tuition fees mess at the start made it incredibly are to get our voice heard.

    Our limited hopes here for May is to hold on. Many of our existing well known councillors are retiring which will make it harder but it may cheer Caron up to know that all our new candidates in target wards are all women.

    With a few exceptions I find the debate on LDV to be robust but not malevolent. I occasionally look at Labour List to cheer me up – the vitriol on there is something to see.

    We have to rebuild from the bottom up and recognise it will be hard. We did not have a record before and few people hated us. We have to be true to our principles but recognise the world moves on. Policies and ideas need to move on as well but based on our ideals.

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    no worries, here it is https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/619781...
  • Jenny Barnes
    Could we also promote the new Petition calling for an immediate Election ? link please...
  • Joe Bourke
    The ONS does actually attempt to measure wellbeing ...