Four ways you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

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You can read our guidelines for contributors in full here, but here’s a short excerpt:

Contributions to the blog should be up to c.750 words – though this is advisory, not mandatory – and should be sent to [email protected]. If your post is too long, readership drops off quite sharply so there is a real advantage to brevity.

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The site’s success is down to far more than just The Voice’s team. Readers like yourself are a keep part of our success. If you’re already doing any of these four – many thanks. And if not, why not try one of them this month?

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36 Comments

  • Leekliberal 31st Jan '24 - 7:04pm

    My thanks to those intrepid souls who volunteer their time to allow us to say our bit about our party. I for one, think there is a desperate need to get across to our leadership our frustration with their apparent complacency about our appalling polling figures, the last one I have seen being 8%. We are there because of their unwillingness or more likely inability to give voters any reason to support us. They are leaden-footed in commenting on current issues and that makes us look like the ‘us too’ party. To get a hearing we need to follow our instincts and be the first to say the right liberal thing on contentious issues. There is a risk in being edgy, but more from our silence and delay on issues like Brexit and the genocide occurring in Palestine. We have some great policies on poverty, climate change etc. but they need to be crystalised to meet the soundbite culture of the media. I am an activist in a non-target seat where we will be striving to save our £500 deposit, developing a target ward for the County elections, while helping out at a local target General election seat . As with all those activists who flog away in non-target seats, we need to boost our morale by knowing that our leadership actually remember that we exist. That involves them in articulating ‘the vision thing’ to to sharpen our offer to voters.

  • Graham Jeffs 31st Jan '24 - 7:23pm

    Leekliberal – well said, you are absolutely correct.

  • Katharine Pindar 1st Feb '24 - 12:27am

    Great post, Leekliberal. Yes, many of us want the leadership to drop their complacency on our appalling national voting figures, and speak out on our vision and our distinctive and bold policies – yes, and speak out on contentious issues too. As you say, those of us in non-target seats want the morale-booster as we work of hearing what our leaders say and seeing our national poll rating rise as the voters get to know what we stand for. In target seats too, I’m told, activists feel the need for that backing up of their efforts. I’m now trying to get Social Liberal Forum Council, of which I am a member, to join the push for our leaders to speak out, led by Ed Davey. It’s Election Year, and the country needs to hear the Lib Dem vision and policies NOW!

  • Chris Moore 1st Feb '24 - 6:43am

    The above remarks simply repeat criticisms you’ve been making for many months.

    Yet the drop of a few per cent in our average poll ratings in the last month follows the negative publicity regarding Ed’s time as minister for postal affairs.

    Surprised that none of you mention that. You are totally missing the point.

  • I would welcome a discussion to develop our party’s position on support for the Monarchy and/or Republicanism. The previous Monarch died in September 2022. Despite the fine words in the preamble to our Federal constitution (“We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights. … we reject all prejudice and discrimination …” ), the Party fell instantly into line with the two big parties and went on about how wonderful the person of the Monarch and the institution of the Monarchy were for us all personally. I managed, just, not to lose my breakfast. I remember one article on 22 Sept by Mary Reid that suggested the current constitutional arrangements with the Monarch as Head of State were not without their problems and that changes should be considered. (https://www.libdemvoice.org/the-question-of-monarchy-71482.html). The comments to the article indicated there was support for developing a Party line on the role of the Monarchy that was more in line with the principles in our constitution. Maybe now would be a good time to do that.

  • Nonconformistradical 1st Feb '24 - 9:53am

    @John Leach

    I have republican sympathies but I suggest this isn’t a burning issue with voters at the moment – more urgen things to worry about.

  • Roger Billins 1st Feb '24 - 10:41am

    I agree with Chris Moore that the recent drop in polling is likely to be because of the post office scandal but the drop is from the point where we were at the awful 2019 result. The party is taking a big risk that a target seat strategy means you can win say 30 seats from a position higher than 2015 and 2017 but lower than at any time since the mid 90’s. The morale of our local activists would be hugely increased with a bit more positive visibility and a bounce in the polls.

  • Nonconformistradical 1st Feb '24 - 12:17pm

    “It is time to reopen the members forum”

    Indeed.

  • I think Nonconformistradical is right on debating monarchist/republican arguments. Much as I would like to share my cunning plans for phasing out the monarchy, voluntary redundancy etc. it would be a misuse of energy at the moment. Private Eye does a good job on royal matters so we might usefully leave them to it. Mind you I still have fond memories of one of the leaders of the old Communist Party of Great Britain on Any Questions defending the non-abolition of the monarchy on the grounds that a Communist was entitled to a sense of humour…

  • Robin Grayson 2nd Feb '24 - 12:13am

    The National Federation of Subpostmasters was a Trade Union. But in 2013 the Post Office did not recognise the NFSP in collective bargaining. The Trades Union Certification Officer stripped its trade union status, and in 2016 NFSP became a Trade Association.
    Membership is free as It enjoys an annual Post Office grant of £1.5 million a year. The NFSP was criticised in 2021 by Mr Justice Fraser in the Horizon IT scandal: “the NFSP is not remotely independent of the Post Office, nor does it appear to put its members’ interests above its own separate commercial interests.” The NFSP claimed it had been misled by the Post Office.
    Today the NFSP are locked in by the wording in the PO contract attached to the annual £1.5m grant:
    “The NFSP shall support POL and Post Office Operators in the rollout of the Network Transformation programme on both the current financial arrangements for Network Transformation and plan for Network Transformation through to complete conversion of the nonCommunity Branch Network by 2018 and shall work closely with POL to ensure that the objectives and requirements of the Network Transformation programme are effectively and positively communicated to current and future Post Office Operators”.

  • nvelope2003 2nd Feb '24 - 11:46am

    Unfortunately too many Liberal Democrats are more interested in doing a deal with the Conservatives than promoting radical policies .Unless there is a change the party will not prosper in any meaningful way.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Feb '24 - 12:08pm

    nvelope2003: No Lib Dems of any importance are interested in doing any sort of deal with the Tories. What rock have you been under for the past ~8 years?

  • Chris Moore 2nd Feb '24 - 12:58pm

    nvelope3: what on earth are you talking about?
    That is utter nonsense.

  • Kay Kirkham 2nd Feb '24 - 1:22pm

    Tenn years ago there was a nascent AO called Liberal Democrats for a Republic which died out. When the Queen died, I emailed the only contact I had but no reply. Any volunteers?

  • nvelope2003 2nd Feb '24 - 3:47pm

    Alex Macfie, Chris Moore. I have been in the real world. We have one of the most unpopular governments in history with many ordinary voters wanting an end to this shambles unless they belong to the sort who want tax cuts for the rich and cuts in welfare spending for the rest. I have heard former Conservative voters saying they will not vote at the next election but we don’t see many people flocking to the Liberal Democrats since the glorious days of the Coalition partly because some of them remember it very well and I still see people on here implying that the party might go into another coalition. Far from missing the point some of us seem to be only too aware of it.
    I hope that my concerns about the party turn out to be unwarranted but I am not reassured.
    Not sure how many voters are interested in abolishing the monarchy when we have a King who has a history of being concerned about major issues when most elected politicians scorned such matters and even now try to avoid do anything serious about it as it might upset their friends. What percentage of the worlds republics are shining stars of Democracy ?

  • Chris Moore 2nd Feb '24 - 5:24pm

    nvelope2003: the party has explicitly ruled out coalition or any lesser arrangement with the Tories.

    You are factually wrong.

  • Laurence Cox 2nd Feb '24 - 5:31pm

    Sometimes I think that our Party has a death wish when people here go on about wanting a republic; it isn’t going to win votes for us and I’ve never seen it raised in polling as one of the issues that most concern people. We need to remember James Carville’s phrase from Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign “It’s the economy, stupid”. His other two phrases are also worth remembering “Change vs. more of the same” and “Don’t forget health care.”

    All that matters is that the voters are fed up with the Tories and it is up to us to make sure they know where we are the Party that can get the Tory MP out. It doesn’t matter that it is in less than 10% of the Tory-held seats; most seats will swing straight from Tory to Labour and we don’t need to worry about them. We need to major on the Tory failings and don’t say anything that might turn voters off us.

  • nvelope2003 2nd Feb '24 - 6:27pm

    Chris Moore: The problem with ruling out certain actions is that the party broke assurances that were given about fees for students and the current leader of the party was part of the Government at that time. How do you account for the failure of the party to gain any significant increase in support when the Government is so unpopular ?

    Alex Macfie: No Lib Dems of any importance ? Sounds rather elitist. Perhaps the leadership regards anyone who does not agree with statements by the leadership as of no importance whatever they think and that could explain the failure to gain more support from the voters ? There is a serious problem but no one wants to deal with it unless the leader fails to get re- elected.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Feb '24 - 9:46am

    nvelope2003: The Lib Dems went into the 2017 GE ruling out any sort of post-election arrangement with either of the two big parties. We then stuck to that pledge after Theresa May unexpectedly lost her majority. It is difficult to imagine how a coalition or even confidence & supply arrangement with the Tories could have worked then, given the major ideological gulf that had opened up between the two parties since 2015, especially over Brexit.

    There was some criticism at the time from individual Lib Dems of our decision to stay in opposition; see this article for instance.
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/the-consequences-of-ruling-out-postelection-deals-56061.html
    However, I don’t think the Lib Dems who post here are necessarily representative of the wider party membership. Most of the party seemed to be onside with the no-deals position, and our public spokespeople certainly were. Speculation that we might be about to do a deal with the Tories mainly came from media apparatchiks of our opponents.

    The people who still hold the 2010–2015 Coalition against us are mainly Corbynistas and Labour tribalists, not disaffected ex-Tories. The Tories can hardly attack us over the Coalition when their party was also part of it (for this reason I seriously doubt the Tory media machine can sustain its attacks on Ed over the PO scandal in the long run). And as a Kingston resident I think Ed is safe in Kingston & Surbiton.

  • @ Alex Macfie “However, I don’t think the Lib Dems who post here are necessarily representative of the wider party membership”. Do you include yourself in that category, Alex ?

    You also say, “The people who still hold the 2010–2015 Coalition against us are mainly Corbynistas and Labour tribalists, not disaffected ex-Tories”.

    Really ? As someone who first joined what I took to be a radical progressive Liberal Party believing in Keynesian economics and Beveridge welfare way back in 1961 (with, incidentally. dynamic charismatic leadership), I’d be interested to know how current party membership numbers compare to 2010.

    There is no long term future in depending on temporarily disaffected Tories in the prosperous Home Counties, Alex. They usually return to the nest in due course.

  • @Laurence Cox I don’t have a death wish. I am not asking that we come out campaigning on the issue unless and until it does become a salient issue for voters. But it would be nice to have a debate on how we square our presumed support for the Monarchy with our stated values. When Feudal #1 died and promoted Feudal #2 to Head of State without so much as a “does anyone mind?”, the Party produced the same obsequious outpourings that the other parties produced which, personally, I found not only offensive but completely incompatible with our stated values. Some clarity rather that “strategic ambiguity” would be nice.

  • I’m sure the LDV twitter account would automatically tweet all articles. That doesn’t happen any more, and it seems only a minority of articles are advertised that way – some multiple times, which means I’ve missed a lot of articles, or come across them long after any interesting discussion is over. I assume there’s a technical reason for this, but it would be worth investigating a fix, and in the meantime encouraging the person in charge of the LDV twitter to be more even-handed in their promotion would help.

    I’m pretty agnostic on the monarchy, but do find people who are very pro or anti-monarchy tedious, and from a political point of view, it suggests to me that they are detached from what’s actually important. More importantly, it lets people off the hook when it comes to the much more pressing need for electoral reform of the House of Commons. A debate on the monarchy feels very much as irrelevant as hoping the Titanic crew manning the lifeboats would take some time out to debate on the proverbial rearranging of deckchairs.

    If we were to truly debate what it means for everyone to have the same rights, it would leave most people in the UK, including LD members, red faced as we make excuses for our foreign holidays, using cars, and needless tech as people in developing countries face climate change induced drought, famine and war. As a political party we have to pick our battles.

  • Ruth Bright 4th Feb '24 - 12:01pm

    @ David Raw, personal question – did you join the party as a teenager? I joined in 1985 at 18 and am still limping on!

    I no longer think the specifics of the coalition matter too much. It is the lack of recruitment in that era which is the problem. A half generation of students and teenagers didn’t join in the 2010s in order to develop into candidates in the future.

  • @ Ruth Bright No problem, Ruth. Yes, 18, in West Yorkshire (Brighouse & Spen). Worked at LPO in Victoria Street, and with Donald Wade & Richard Wainwright. Later, Vice-Chair, National League of Young Liberals (George Kiloh was Chair). UCL for four years in the late 1960’s.

    Nostalgic ? Maybe, but we had some great times and nobody doubted our radicalism, especially J.J. Thorpe.

    Still 18 in my head – though you can reverse those numbers a new hip and a transplant later. Agree with your final para, though some of the policy outcomes were really dreadful (see the UN Rapporteur Report on poverty in the UK)

  • Chris Moore 4th Feb '24 - 1:34pm

    nvelope 2003: the Party has explicitly ruled out any form of the arrangement post-election with the Tories. It couldn’t be clearer.

    Nor would there be any conceivable ideological basis for such an arrangement.

    You are simply factually wrong.

  • @ Ruth Bright , I mentioned party membership numbers as a sign of the party’s health.

    According to Mark Pack’s website, there has been a continuing drop in Lib Dem membership numbers from 126,724 in 2019 to 73,544 in 2021 under the current regime. I have yet to see figures for 2022 or 2023

    Liberal Democrat Party Membership numbers.

    2019 126,724
    2020 117,924 minus 8,800 ((at time of Leadership contest)
    2020 98,247 minus 28,477
    2021 73,544 minus 24,703

    I don’t have the numbers for ‘derelict’ constituencies, but I believe it to be substantial.

  • Peter Watson 4th Feb '24 - 11:41pm

    @David Raw “I have yet to see figures for 2022 or 2023”
    Currently, the front-page of the party’s website (https://www.libdems.org.uk/) states, “More than 90,000 people are Liberal Democrat members.”

  • David Evans 5th Feb '24 - 9:56am

    Of course Peter, we all know how many times people have commented here on how out of date so much of our website is.

    The copy of our annual accounts on the Electoral Commission Website tells us we had 97,473 “members and supporters” at 31 December 2022. Up 2,787 from 2021. Of course supporters are not members and don’t have to pay anything, so may be part of the “members and supporters” total for a very long time.

  • David Evans 5th Feb '24 - 10:07am

    However, based on the announcement of our Presidential Election result in 2022 and its turnout, the membership was under 65,000 once again.

  • Hardly surprising, to boost membership we need something to set the imagination alight.
    Usually based around the leadership!!!! Oh for a Joe Grimmond.

  • Katharine Pindar 5th Feb '24 - 3:43pm

    He was actually Jo Grimond, Theakes. I heard him speak at Conference as a young Liberal in 1962, and have been a Liberal/Liberal Democrat ever since. But the general opinion among us seems to be that Paddy Ashdown was also an inspiring leader. And now we have some inspiring policies, such as Guaranteed Basic Income as an approach to getting rid of poverty – there are still 14 million people living in poverty in this country, just as there were in November 2018 when the visiting UN Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Prof. Philip Alston, reported that that fact seemed shocking in a country as wealthy as ours. (I was glad to see the Scots Lib Dems mentioning that in their important Report from their Just Economy Commission, published last September – David (Raw) I hope you have read that fine report also.)

  • I also joined in 1962, because of him, with or without an “E”. He had charisma, drive seemingly everything a Leader should have. Now?

  • Mick Taylor 5th Feb '24 - 4:17pm

    Let’s make it crystal clear to nvelope 2003 and anyone else. The one thing Ed Davey has been crystal clear about is no coalition with the Tories under any circumstances. He repeats constantly that we have to get the Tories out. There are some very naive people on various threads who think a coalition with Labour would be a good idea if they fail to get a majority. Those of us with rather longer memories know that Labour can’t be trusted to keep to any agreement they make as our one modern attempt to do a deal with them in 1977 (the so-called LibLab pact) saw us sold down the river.
    So this Lib Dem will not support any coalition at all with anyone unless it includes PR. In fact until we get PR ANY coalition of any sort will see the same disaster befall us as happened in 2015. So my mantra is No PR no deal. And by that I mean PR enacted BEFORE any deal, so an Act on the statute book for PR in all elections before we give support to any government.

  • Alex Macfie 5th Feb '24 - 5:17pm

    @David Raw: I am a Lib Dem who posts on LDV, so clearly I’m in that category. But it’s impossible to say any individual is “representative” of the party — you know what the late Simon Titley said about the “average voter”.
    As a party we need to focus on gaining seats at the next GE (otherwise there might not be a “long term” for us at all), and it just so happens that nearly all of our realistic target seats are Tory-facing. However, we win against the Tories by being a credible opposition to them, not by trying to imitate them. Indeed when we tried to be too much like the (Cameron-era) Tories many of our potential voters decided they might as well vote for the bigger party, which is one of the reasons we did so badly in 2015.

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