Get Liberalism done

It’s over, finished, done, our membership of the EU has ceased to be. This is very sad for our wonderful team of MEPs and their staff, it’s heart-breaking for those who support the idea of ever closer union, and very worrying for anyone concerned that the uncertainties of the future are going to harm our country, economy and standing in the world.

Dwelling on what might have been has become something of a preoccupation for many Liberal Democrats, myself included. I won’t forget where I believe responsibility lies for our and the nation’s current predicament. Sir Nick Clegg and his advisors were directly answerable for losing so many seats in 2015 that handed Cameron a majority that enabled him to hold the EU referendum.

Brexit gives many of us a chance to close one very disappointing and depressing chapter and to open a new, positive one. It is a golden opportunity for all of us to realign both our purpose and our image. If anyone is in any doubt as to why this is necessary just look at where we were before the 2010 General Election and compare to today.

Alongside the loss of thousands of Councillors and political control over billions of pounds of national, regional and local government spending, losing our place as the third party in the Commons cannot be understated. We have not overcome the loss of House privileges, media coverage and money that came with it, and our ability to do so has been hindered by competition from other parties such as the Greens, Ukip/Brexit, and Independents as well as the Nationalists who became the third party in 2015 and have held on to it.

We have been defined by the coalition years and our opposition to Brexit to the exclusion of all else for far too long. The time has come, to coin a previous slogan – to get Liberalism done.

Getting something done is what political movements that are not content with the status quo do. It was a Conservative Party that promised change at the last election, with our party, the supposed vehicle for radical reform, wanting to keep things as they were against the mood of the nation as expressed in a referendum. Since the referendum we have been seen to blame the voters for the result and to compound this by appearing to want to change what they had voted for at the General Election.

No amount of explaining the basics of democracy and how Governments work could trump public perception that we didn’t care about their vote, the one tiny bit of power millions of people can exercise however they wish.

We need to own up to having misdirected tactical voters in 2010 and failed to reward them with a proportional voting system for 2015. We should accept that we failed to correct the misrepresentation of the EU over five decades and were hopeless in the referendum challenging the emotional arguments for Brexit with our over the top projections of Armageddon the day after the vote. Few campaigned using the political and emotional reasons for an ever-closer union with our nearest neighbours. Namely, Peace, Security and Prosperity.

We used to campaign on the issues that most affect peoples’ lives, so long as they were consistent with the values and principles laid down in our constitution – the preamble to which is a wish list of all we need to get Liberalism done.

Our preamble is a most attractive offer for voters across every nation and region with its aim to spread power, save the planet and create prosperity for all. When did you last put that on a piece of paper and stuff it through a letterbox!

New technologies and platforms of communication have not substituted the need for pieces of paper, they have simply added to the number of ways we can and must communicate our message that must recapture what we stand for beyond membership of the EU.

We are always going to support shared sovereignty organisations consistent with our overriding values, but we need political power and influence to put our beliefs into practice and we gain them by campaigning with individuals and communities on the issues that affect their immediate lives.

The last thing the Party needs now is to become the remain or re-join party. Even our preamble recognises we are about a whole lot more than the EU by not even mentioning Europe until the fifth and final paragraph after presenting a host of other priorities that resonate with the every-day lives of the electorate. We have to re-engage with the voters who have deserted us since the coalition and the referendum if we are to get Liberalism done.

* Adrian Sanders is a Focus deliver in Paignton, Devon, and was the MP for Torbay from 1997 to 2015.

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87 Comments

  • Peter Martin 13th Feb '20 - 10:15am

    No doubt “Get(ting) Liberalism done” would mean the introduction of PR.

    Can I just remind everyone that Ireland has just had an election under PR? The outcome doesn’t look to be at all desirable. LDV seems strangely quiet on the matter. Aren’t you interested in EU countries any longer?

    So, how would it work any better if we had PR? Yes the Lib Dems would win more seats but so would right wing parties like Brexit and possibly the EDL. Is this really what we want?

  • Jenny Barnes 13th Feb '20 - 10:41am

    I would prefer that extreme right wing parties didn’t win seats, but not by denying those who support them their voice. It seems extremely unfair that the SNP win seats with least votes per seat, then Tories, Labour, then LibDem, then a long way after that Greens, Brexit, Monster raving loony party, etc. A voting system where the allocation of seats at least roughly matches the national distribution of votes would give a voice to some of those who have felt voiceless.
    Calculating for 600 seats in 2019 Tories would have won 258, Labour 190, LD 69, snp16,
    Green 17, DUP 5,Sinn Fein 4, Plaid Cymru 3, Alliance 2, SDLP 2.
    Still Tories get most of the seats, but instead of a “stonking” majority, they would need a coalition partner for a majority, and notice that Labour +LD is 259.

  • John Marriott 13th Feb '20 - 10:41am

    @Peter Martin
    Call me an idealist if you want; but that’s what I have wanted ever since I first dipped my toe into the seething maelstrom of what goes for party politics in this country. As the song goes, “You don’t always get what you want”. My problem living in true blue Lincolnshire for the past forty odd years is that I have NEVER come within 20,000 votes of getting what I want. Mind you, I am in a significant minority here. However, over the country as a whole there are still quite a few people who appear to think like me. Put us together and we make quite a force. Spread us out around the country and our voices are rarely heard when decisions are taken.

    Why should you get a government the day after you voted? One of the reasons why the 2010-2015 Coalition struggled, and yet managed to survive a full five years, was because it hurried its negotiations at the start. It’s easy enough to set a % hurdle to prevent the kind of situation we see in Israel’s Knesset. In Germany, unless a candidate is elected directly, a party has to get 5% of the popular vote to get any MPs.

    The problem is that most people like a straight choice. Left or right. Black or white. Remain or Leave. Or so we are led to believe. That’s why the Conservative and Labour Parties are such broad churches and swop haggling between parties after an election by the public at large, as in 2010, to haggling amongst factions in the party caucus, where only party members have a say.

    The Tory vote share hardly changed between 2017 and 2019 and yet the Tories, on around 42% of the popular vote, got a 40 seat majority last time. Long live FPTP?

  • Jenny Barnes 13th Feb '20 - 10:41am

    ps and that’s why the tories will never agree to PR.

  • Peter Martin 13th Feb '20 - 10:53am

    @ Jenny Barnes,

    Firstly, there’s no way the SNP would agree to have their share of Scottish votes diluted by votes in the UK as a whole. This is presumably how you calculate they’d go down from 48 seats to 16.

    Secondly, you are assuming that everyone would vote the same way under PR. You must know from your own experience that this is unlikely to be the case. You’ll no doubt have been told by many voters that they’d like to vote Lib Dem but are going to vote Labour or Tory to keep the other out! It’s not just Lib Dems who think that way. There are plenty on the far right who think along the same lines.

  • The Irish election is a great example of how real democracy works, far more people will have representation in their government than will ever be achieved in our FPTP electoral system, it might take little more time to sort out the mechanism of government but so be it! I also have never been represented in Parliament by my chosen candidate even though living in three different constituencies, so therefore many, many years of wasted votes!

  • John Marriott 13th Feb '20 - 11:26am

    @Peter Martin
    Let me put it simply. Of course, the Lib Dems, polling in the mid teens on a good day, would never become the majority party under any system you could devise, and rightly so. However, all I would expect, as someone who wishes to vote neither Tory or Labour, would be for the representation of the party for which I actually voted to be proportionate to the number of seats it got in Parliament.

    Under most forms of PR, the 2019 GE result would have again produced a Hung Parliament, with the Tories with 77 fewer seats, Labour 10 more, the Greens on 12 and the Lib Dems on 70 seats. Now that’s what I call fair.

  • In order to get Liberalism done, Adrian, it would help if those in parliament actually knew what Liberalism was. For the last fourteen years I’m not sure that those calling the shots did.

    I’m afraid Jenny Barnes is wrong to imply the SNP is ‘a far right’ party and she miscalculates by over half how many seats they would currently get under a PR system. Look up the Holyrood numbers ( elected under PR) to get a more accurate number.

  • Libdems have been blamed for brexit elsewhere ( clearly ridiculous) but to see an ex mp doing it really is taking the biscuit

  • I doubt if anyone in our country would wish to repeat the recent experience of governmental and parliamentary paralyses where the different factions blocked each other for what seemed like eternity without ever having the power to move forward.

    It looks as though Ireland is entering that situation.

  • Peter
    Given only one person is necessary , you’re wrong. I had more hope mid October than I have now

  • “Paralysis” is preferable to moving “forward” — in the wrong direction.

  • Daniel Walker 13th Feb '20 - 1:28pm

    @David Raw “I’m afraid Jenny Barnes is wrong to imply the SNP is ‘a far right’ party

    I don’t wish to put words into Jenny’s mouth, David, but I don’t think she did imply that; It didn’t even cross my mind that she might have until I read your post!

    @Peter Martin “Firstly, there’s no way the SNP would agree to have their share of Scottish votes diluted by votes in the UK as a whole. This is presumably how you calculate they’d go down from 48 seats to 16.

    Of course they wouldn’t be keen, but that would be why the LibDems chosen system is STV; presumably there would be several Scottish multi-member seats under such a system. (Similarly, other regional parties, e.g. the Yorkshire Party or Mebyon Kernow would have a much better chance) It is very much to the SNP’s credit that they are still in favour of PR when they are currently one of the main beneficiaries. (I assume they have grasped the importance of the word “currently” in that sentence, and/or they understand the importance of a system a) being fair; and b) being seen to be fair)

    Anyway, I thought you didn’t like FPTP, although I can’t recall you suggesting what your favoured system was, only that you preferred AV to FPTP. I would (genuinely) be interested in your response.

  • Daniel Walker 13th Feb '20 - 1:32pm

    @me “other regional parties”

    of course that should read “other regional or constituent country parties” 🙂

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th Feb '20 - 2:18pm

    Adrian and David seem correct in saying we should move on from EU obsession.

    How come Liberalism from our leaders and some of you, does not cover or allow for decriminalising non payment of draconian style tv licence?

    If we had a Liberal and democratic set of ideas we could get Liberalism not done, but popular, as it stands, it is getting done in by daft notions of very old ideas of socialism with a liberal knee jerk.

  • You appear to be set on destroying the BBC, Lorenzo.

    What is your alternative to the licence fee, and would you be happy to see public service broadcasting in the pockets of vested interests and media biullionaires…..with mindless advertisements every few minutes ?

  • Brian Ellis 13th Feb '20 - 2:52pm

    Adrian has this spot on. The demise in our number of MPs has to be traced back to 2010.
    “Sir Nick Clegg and his advisors were directly answerable for losing so many seats in 2015 that handed Cameron a majority”…
    Our task now is to remember what Liberalism is and then campaign in our communities to bring about it’s revival. What is Liberalism ? Well Alan Paton who was a founder member of the South African Liberal Party, described it thus:-
    ” It is the enshrinement of those ideal and beliefs and attitudes that are truly inseparable from human life. They are a tolerance of others an attempt to understand otherness, a championship of the rights of others; They are a reverence of the rule of law, a high ideal of the worth and dignity of humanity, a love of liberty and a repugnance for authoritarianism and finally a belief in equality of opportunity and equality before the law”. We live in a time when the populism of the right is on the rise, when the attitudes of greed and intolerance hold sway. Our task is to reverse this rise and put the values of Liberalism to the fore.

  • Innocent Bystander 13th Feb '20 - 3:36pm

    David,
    The BBC can continue, advertising free, as a subscription service as are several of the subscription services for which I already pay.
    Then you get everything you want, as now. You lose nothing at all. It would still be run by the same people. How can you complain if it’s unchanged?
    We all get a choice, that’s all.
    Why do you want to force your taste onto Lorenzo, me and millions of others?
    Is it a power thing?

  • Peter Martin 13th Feb '20 - 3:42pm

    @Daniel

    Yes I’d prefer a slightly fairer voting system in the form of AV but too much fairness may well be counterproductive!

    It would displease everyone who disliked indecisive govt. It also allows fringe parties to hold the balance of power which I wouldn’t consider to be fair to the wider electorate

  • Steve Magner 13th Feb '20 - 3:46pm

    It is all very well for people like Adrian Sanders to blame Nick Clegg and his close advisers for what has happened to the party. Unless my memory is wrong Adrian was a member of the parliamentary party in 2010 who not only signed up to the coalition in the first place but unbelievably allowed legislation like the Health and Social Act to pass even though it wasn’t in the Coalition Agreement.

  • “Sir Nick Clegg and his advisors were directly answerable for losing so many seats in 2015…”

    Quite so! But what I’ve never understood is how he/they got away with it. Why wasn’t there a palace coup to defenestrate him before he did any more damage?

    In any better run party – which the Conservatives most certainly are despite their policies – he would have been unceremoniously dumped very quickly.

    Is it a matter of the party’s culture, or of its constitution or something else or a combination of these? Whatever the answer, it’s important to understand the reasons as a basis for moving forward.

    Perhaps Adrian Sanders (or others) can elucidate.

  • David Becket 13th Feb '20 - 4:26pm

    @Gordon

    As one who became increasingly distressed by the actions of Clegg I was amazed that the MPs did not put a stop to it. For at least two years they behaved like lemmings, and look what happens to lemmings.

  • Barry Lofty 13th Feb '20 - 5:04pm

    If we cannot stop blaming the Coalition for all the woes of the party how can we expect the electorate to move on???

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th Feb '20 - 5:29pm

    David

    In not any post do I say I want to be rid of a public bro BBC adcasting channel. You might have read my views, in which instance you must have seen what I support and speak and advocate in favour of.

    I want to fund a channel, network, what you might call it, BBC or not, through tax from a new Broadcasting council, like the ArtsCouncil, but without the top down elitism, more like the Crafts Council or British Council.

    Every great cultural body has their funds from the DCMS, nothing special re broadcasting means it should impose a lot of threats onto the poor.

    You care about poverty, well many can’t afford the licence fee!

    You are inconsistent. The adverts are no more pointless than most of the output on the BBC. That much belongs on a commercial channel, frees the public money to fund great programmes.

    Until I was a young man, as a boy, I grew up with the likes of Jacob Brunowski on the BBC.

    Where is his equal now?

  • The self inflicted damage done to the Liberal Democrat Party pales into insignificance compared to the damage done to those who had the misfortune to be on the receiving end of the decisions it made between 2010-15.

    The number of children growing up in poverty in working households has risen by 800,000 since 2010. Child poverty in working families rose to 2.9 million in 2018 – an increase of 38% since the start of the decade.

    The Trussell Trust, the largest food bank network in the UK, handed out around 41,000 food packs in 2009/10 compared to 1.2 million in 2016/17.

    What’s left now of the Liberal Democrats ought to focus less on self pity and narrow self interest and instead give due consideration to finding solutions to relieve the mess it helped to create to create. Anything else impresses no-one.

  • Paul Barker 13th Feb '20 - 7:43pm

    One thing we have to do is stop this pathetic Scapegoating. The Coalition was a dreadful mistake but it wasnt just Clegg or his “Team”, I backed the Coalition too, so did almost everyone else at the start. Has everyone forgotten the Special Conference with its 95% + support for the Coalition or the regular LDV Surveys which continued to show Majority support for the Coalition almost all the way to The Election.
    Those who opposed The Coalition from the start can say that they told us so but WE didnt listen.
    The Coalition was a collective mistake which we should all take responsibility for.

  • This article and some comments incorrectly imply that the Lib Dem local goverment demise started post 2010. It started well before then. For example where I live Somerset County Council had been Lib Dem majority controlled for over 20years, until the 2009 elections when the Tories took control. On this very same day in 2009 over in Devon the Lib Dems lost over half their seats, losing control of the country council to the Tories. Cannot blame coalition for the bad results in 2009!!

  • @ Mike Read In other words, a small rock fall became a full blooded avalanche after 2010.

    There’s a major difference between a rumbling tummy and you know what.

  • Paul Murray 13th Feb '20 - 9:46pm

    I’m not sure that “Get Liberalism Done” makes much sense. It is a continuous work in progress. Maybe you should try “Make Britain Liberal Again” instead?

  • Paul Barker, I’m afraid your post is another example of avoiding mentioning inconvenient truths in order to to avoid apportioning the blame when it clearly lies with our leaders.

    The simple fact is that the Special Conference was held on Sunday 16 May, four days *AFTER* David Cameron was announced as PM of the coalition government and he and Nick Clegg engaged in the Rose garden love in. Nick did not stop this happening but instead put the party Special Conference, in a position where it would have been political suicide to vote against coalition.

    Pretending it was in some way the fault of the party membership and we should all take responsibility is a total travesty of the facts.

  • Agree with David Evans about the timescale ……. and I repeat, naval gazing and self pity is pointless from such as Paul Barker et al. It was self inflicted and Lib Dem Westminster politician ‘casualties’ were well rewarded with severance payments, peerages, knighthoods, ‘British Empire’ gongs…… and in some cases lucrative overseas postings in California and China.

    The real casualties of the Coalition were the recipients in the sharp end of the cuts and restructuring of welfare benefits….several million of them….. from childhood to old age including the many who were suffering in-work poverty. To deny this is like Nelson putting a telescope to his wrong eye and saying ‘I see no ships’.

  • David Evans 14th Feb '20 - 2:39am

    Mike Read, Indeed the Lib Dem local government demise started before 2010. It began in 2006, just after the coup to replace Charles Kennedy as party leader came to fruition, and we lost 300 councillors. It got even worse in 2009 when Nick Clegg was leader and we lost nearly 400 more. Even in 2010 we lost another 140. Then in 2011 we lost 840 and the rot had fully set in.

    The problem is that none of our leading figures put their head above the parapet and said “This has got to stop.” Instead all we had was leader’s speeches telling us how worthwhile it all was and offering sympathy to the fallen.

    Now we all know the consequences of deifying leaders and subscribing to the personality cult of the beloved leader. But for people to admit they got it totally wrong is almost impossible for many around at the time, and changing how the party behaves is even further away now than it was then, because repeating the same mantra for 10 years really does become a habit it is very hard to kick.

    But if we are to move on and progress, we have to start with ourselves.

  • David Raw, sorry I am just not seeing millions of kids dressed in rags, begging for food and sleeping on street corners, the number of people in absolute poverty has actually decreased. Those in relative poverty can increase or decrease depending on how you fiddle the figures to suit your political stance. Basic foodstuff and clothes have never been cheaper whilst the largesse of the welfare state continues to suck money out of frontline services.

  • Jenny Barnes 14th Feb '20 - 9:11am

    For the avoidance of doubt I do not think, and did not mean to imply, that the SNP is a far-right party. Far from it.

    As to “agreeing to the dilution of votes” – Westminster elections are for a UK wide parliament, not one for just Scotland. Their choice not to stand outside Scotland: I’d vote for them!

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 14th Feb '20 - 9:25am

    Can I thank Lib Dem Voice for publishing my thoughts and for being lenient with the length that was above the 500 words limit. Can I also thank all those who took the trouble to comment. What was published was my precis of a 2000-word piece I had written that in full covered a couple of the questions raised in the comments. What I hadn’t expected was to open a debate on PR and I’d like to knock that one on the head straight away before addressing separately some of the other comments. @Peter Martin, our Party has taken a hammering these past few years for having the word Democrat in our title. Take away electoral reform and we may as well as change our name again. Fearing a more democratic system will elect people we don’t like is not very democratic (or Liberal), and with just 11 MPs, FPTP is not a very effective voting system to defend if your aim is to prevent people we don’t like from being elected. I thought @John Marriott addressed most comprehensively why we should continue to favour PR.

  • Julian Tisi 14th Feb '20 - 9:36am

    “We need to own up to having misdirected tactical voters in 2010 and failed to reward them with a proportional voting system for 2015. We should accept that we failed to correct the misrepresentation of the EU over five decades and were hopeless in the referendum challenging the emotional arguments for Brexit with our over the top projections of Armageddon the day after the vote.”

    This is yet another “Let’s blame ourselves and the coalition for our plight” article. It’s depressing to see it written by such an excellent former MP. I have highlighted the above section as I believe it is utterly absurd. It’s essentially apologising for not being all-powerful. Somehow as the junior partner in a coalition we were supposed to get our way all the time and if we did not we betrayed our values. To take the first example here, PR, we clearly pushed as hard as we realistically could and achieved the most we realistically could have, in gaining a referendum on AV (on the first day of coalition, so I hear). To blame us for not managing to gain PR is pushing it somewhat. As for the second charge – failing to “correct the misrepresentation of the EU over five decades” are we really claiming that the Lib Dems failed to do their bit? That somehow this small party could win over the establishment parties and all the press and somehow bring everyone round to us? And we should blame ourselves for failing to achieve this? Come on!

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 14th Feb '20 - 9:58am

    @David Raw I think you are being very unfair and inaccurate in your view that those in Parliament don’t know what Liberalism is. There may have been one or two colleagues I served with over the years who made some questionable statements and illiberal policy choices, but in general we were a force for Liberal ideas and policies operating within an environment that was decidedly not Liberal where we were often opposed 10 to 1 by other politicians and frustrated by the rules they had made. The failure wasn’t knowing what Liberalism is but leadership during the coalition over what was (or wasn’t) in the programme for government, how it was implemented and communicated, and the absence of an exit strategy. Add in the modus-operandi at the top of the Coalitiion, and the failure to recognise for the Liberal Democrats that the time was up after the locals and before the Euros in 2014.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 14th Feb '20 - 10:01am

    @Russell We could blame the lies and cheating of the leave campaign. We could blame Corbyn for not getting on board the remain campaign and show a united leadership front. We could blame, and I made reference to it, the poor remain campaign, led as it was by someone Clegg appointed to run our 2015 General Election campaign. We could blame Cameron for his timing of the referendum. But none of these change the fact that had we hung on to just 7 of our seats in 2015 Cameron would not have had a majority to hold a referendum. The difference between 12 percent in the national opinion polls and 8 percent might not have saved my seat, but it could have kept at least 10 other Liberal Democrat colleagues in Parliament and having gone from 23 per cent at the 2010 election and then bumbled along at 12 percent from 2011 to 2014 the time was right for Clegg to stand down, he didn’t, he took on Farage in an ill-advised TV debate and the polls fell 4 points and with it more seats of good Liberal Democrats and the jobs of their excellent staff.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 14th Feb '20 - 10:17am

    @Steve Magner Sometimes it pays to do a little research before making sweeping statements such as “Unless my memory is wrong Adrian was a member of the parliamentary party in 2010 who not only signed up to the coalition in the first place but unbelievably allowed legislation like the Health and Social Act to pass even though it wasn’t in the Coalition Agreement.” You are correct in that I was a member of the Parliamentary Party in 2010, entering my fourth Parliament having nearly doubled my majority when most of my colleagues saw theirs fall under our new Leader’s first General Election. I was one of three, some say four, MPs who did not vote for the coalition programme for government. Hansard records that like the majority of Liberal Democrat MPs I did not vote for tuition fees, I was going to abstain as per the coalition agreement but the Leader decided to abandon our opt out and issue a three line whip for us all to back them, so I voted against, as I did against the Health & Social Care Act you mention. On many of the more contentious pieces of legislation Liberal Democrats are attacked on it was often the case that not all our MPs voted for them and not all members of the Opposition voted against.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 14th Feb '20 - 10:38am

    @Gordon and @ David Becket There was an attempt by John Pugh, supported by myself and others to force the issue in 2014 after the local elections, but apart from public statements by John and I there was little support from colleagues. We were undermined by Lord Oakeshott’s polling revelations that separately from what we were attempting to do united a number of colleagues against what was seen as a coup attempt to replace Clegg with Oakeshott’s friend Vince Cable.
    One of so many ironies in all this was the polling Oakeshott undertook was spot on in predicting defeat in the seats he polled with the exception of one, Clegg’s, into which enormous resources were poured as a consequence of Oakeshott’s poll warning.
    Also, do not underestimate the loyalty of all members of the Parliamentary group to the Party. Some were under pressure to go Independent or Green and the fact no one split off despite all that was going on says something about the family we all belong to.

  • A plea to Sir Nick Clegg – please come back. The choice between the hard left Labour Nandwagon or the Raabid right is no choice at all.

    Open markets, open borders, yes to the EU, yes to the Euro, yes to business, yes to equality, yes to freedom, yes to liberalism and yes to globalisation.

  • @ Frank West “Sorry I am just not seeing millions of kids dressed in rags, begging for food and sleeping on street corners, the number of people in absolute poverty has actually decreased”.

    Of course the most visible excesses of Dickensian poverty are not particularly visible, Mr West….. and of course natural human pride means much of this is not visible – though your comment on a Lib Dem site is breathtakingly myopic. Maybe as Chair of Trustees of a Foodbank, I have a clearer view of it than you do.

    Given your Victorian stance I suggest a good old course of Self-improvement reading ?

    Try googling this :

    “End of Year Stats – The Trussell Trustwww.trusselltrust.org › news-and-blog › latest-stats ›

    Or this : CPAG |cpag.org.uk children live in poverty in the UK. 47%. of children living in lone-parent families are in poverty. 70%. of children growing up in poverty live in working families.

    or this :

    Statement on Visit to the United Kingdom, by … – OHCHRwww.ohchr.org › documents › issues › poverty PDF 16 Nov 2018 – Statement on Visit to the United Kingdom, by Professor Philip Alston, United … https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/how-could-brexit-affect-poverty-uk.

  • @ Adrian Sanders Happy to accept your word on that, Adrian, though I still have my doubts about Messrs. Clegg, Alexander and Laws in terms of their commitment to social liberalism.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 14th Feb '20 - 10:47am

    @Barry Lofty Leaving the EU is the perfect opportunity to move on from blaming the coalition as I wrote, and what is laid out in the preamble to our constitution rather than focusing on rejoining the EU is the most positive way forward to regain the trust of the electorate.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 14th Feb '20 - 10:54am

    @Paul Baker, “The Coalition was a collective mistake which we should all take responsibility for.” Absolutely, I’ve taken responsibility, and want to move on, hence my desire to draw a line now we are out of the EU. I’m just not sure everyone who needs to has as yet.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 14th Feb '20 - 11:02am

    @Mike Read You are correct about those results, but they were more a local reaction against long-term Lib Dem control in the 12th year of a Labour Government when a swing back to the Tories would have been expected. The big losses came under the coalition in places irrespective of whether we were in control or opposition.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 14th Feb '20 - 11:04am

    @Paul Murray You are of course right it makes little sense, but everyone needs a click bait title nowadays. Not entirely convinced Britain has ever been Liberal in order to make it so again.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 14th Feb '20 - 11:07am

    @David Evans “The problem is that none of our leading figures put their head above the parapet and said “This has got to stop.” Instead all we had was leader’s speeches telling us how worthwhile it all was and offering sympathy to the fallen.” See my earlier answer to @Gordon and @ David Becket

  • Local results yesterday were appalling. We are out of touch and left behind in the Outback. I am unable to see a way back. The Greens will relegate us to fourth place soon.We do not seem to learn believing that the golden field awaits us. It simply does not.
    I would cut our losses now, close the party down and reform under a different name, structure & style etc.

  • @ Adrian – I accept totally your point, I remember your and John’s comments at the time which were a valiant attempt to turn the party away form a total disaster. Lord Oakshott’s involvement did muddy the waters, but I seem to remember Vince was in China at the time and sadly (and according to rumour deliberately) uncontactable.

    After that I believe others who were supposed to be supporting you and John, found it easier to make excuses than save the party, and those who always continued to supported Nick whatever he did regrouped and prevented us taking the last chance we had.

    Hopefully one day the full story will be told.

  • Innocent Bystander 14th Feb '20 - 12:55pm

    I have said before that PR would mean the end of the LibDems. John Marriot’s view that the party would get 70 seats, is, I am afraid, hubris.
    I might vote for the Christian Democrats, or the Constitutional Reform Party, or the English Democrats or one of the others who will emerge to eat your lunch.
    They might actually have concrete proposals instead of the endless repetition of values, the preamble, the social contract and all things nebulous.
    The main theme of LibDemVoice now is “What should we do next?”

  • Peter Watson 14th Feb '20 - 1:47pm

    @Innocent Bystander The main theme of LibDemVoice now is “What should we do next?”
    Very much so.
    At the moment the party appears to lack clear leadership and direction, and none looks likely until after the summer.

  • David Becket 14th Feb '20 - 1:51pm

    @theakes
    Somebody in the top of this party needs to pick up on the terrible local election results. These can only lead to a loss of seats at the locals and coming well behind Rory Stewart in the London Mayor elections.

    We are the invisible party, partly because we have not worked out where we are going following our dreadful general election result.

    We may publish Press Releases, but nobody takes them up.

    However there is a lot going on, and much of it is dangerous, and we need to have a platform.

    We could start with our rubbish web site and turn it into Lib Dem News. Throw out hoards waving Stop Brexit placards, Vince canvassing, Jo speaking and articles on how well we did and turn it into a news site with articles on the days events from our spokespersons. We need to a bit careful on the wording of the articles, Daisy’s statement that we will not allow the government to undermine the rule of law is unrealistic. We can fight it, but we do not have the power to prevent it.

    An accruate up to date on line Lib Dem news, making our position clear with no flights of fancy would be a good start.
    If we are not going to do it let us close the web site down, it is an embarrassment.

  • Teresa Wilson 14th Feb '20 - 2:04pm

    What a strange article. The Lib Dems gained far more in terms of vote share than any other party in December, so we must have done something right. FPTP did for us, not being pro-EU.

    I agree we shouldn’t turn into the pub bore over EU membership, but we should keep our European credentials to the fore, not least because that’s where the future lies.

  • Nonconformistradical 14th Feb '20 - 2:20pm

    @Stimpson
    “A plea to Sir Nick Clegg – please come back.”
    He has made his bed – taking Zuckerberg’s dollar

  • Stimpson

    “A plea to Sir Nick Clegg – please come back.”

    Clegg was deputy PM in the most right winged government in my memory. Can anyone remember a government that attacked the needy as much as they did?

  • Peter Watson 14th Feb '20 - 3:15pm

    @Teresa Wilson “The Lib Dems gained far more in terms of vote share than any other party in December, so we must have done something right.”
    I think the concern is that the “something right” was an unequivocal anti-Brexit position for 3.5 years which still failed to deliver a massive portion of the 48% who voted Remain in 2016 and which, in order to attempt to retain that support, now needs to be replaced or updated with … what exactly?!

  • Sue Sutherland 14th Feb '20 - 3:24pm

    I’ve come rather late to this discussion but, for me, the decline of our party started before Coalition and dates from the time when the parliamentary party decided to ditch Charles Kennedy as leader. We know now that Charles’ problem with alcohol was interfering too much with his leadership responsibilities but most people didn’t realise that at the time. Charles was a popular and well known leader who appealed to the general public and removing him looked like the worst form of treachery to many. It seemed to be the first sign of the ruthlessness that emerged in Coalition and meant we could no longer claim to be the nice party.

  • Martin

    “Malc:
    Have you been asleep? There appears to be a gap in your memory”

    Where? Thatchers government never attacked people on welfare like the coalition government, even May’s was better. I say again “can anyone remember a government that attacked the needy as much as the Tory/Lib Dem coalition?

  • Brexit gives us a chance to stop pandering to soft Tories, and to weed out conservative and libertarian grifters (who have popped up like mushrooms here since Vince became leader in 2018) in this page.

  • Do people here really think that voters refuse to vote for the party because of the coalition? Labour completely blew it at the recent election, leaving an open goal, but this party still lost seats. It was nothing to do with the coalition.

    This party, for various reasons, is disliked by many voters or is regarded as irrelevant. That is what you should be worried about.

  • nvelope2003 14th Feb '20 - 4:54pm

    The party seems dead. New ideas either do not exist or do not appeal to the public. At some point the Coalition will seem ancient history but if the party had a distinctive programme which was markedly diffferent from that of the other parties and had wide popular appeal then it would in time regain support although at the moment Boris Johnson is the hero of the hour and it might take time for his policies to unravel. Spending billions on a high speed railway to the North will not gain many votes as most people just want to use their cars and few people live near a mainline station and have a destination near one too. Most of the small percentage of journeys made by rail are relatively short commuter trips made on lines which were built 200 years ago for steam trains and coal trucks. These are the line which need to be upgraded.
    Telling people they should use trains instead of planes for very long journeys is unlikely to be succesful. Even going from London to Zurich by High Speed train takes about 8 hours against 2 hours by plane and everyone knows the rich and powerful are not going to do that. There is even a plan for a rail route to North America via Siberia and a bridge across the Bering strait though probably for freight. In any case land transport creates vast amounts of pollution.

  • Peter Hirst 14th Feb '20 - 6:17pm

    The challenge is to achieve our domestic agenda within the context of Brexit. Do we want to abandon our internationalism? The two must go hand in hand. Cultural links will persist and hopefully we will regain our place on the world stage.

  • I do not detect much enthusiasm for identifying or agreeing on what went wrong. Was it the coalition, or the Brexit Party, getting rid of poor Charles, or was it Clegg? Perhaps it was Revoke or maybe Jo herself. Then, again, it could be the absence of proportional representation.

    The desires for the future are less well defined, with rather wishy-washy ambitions which mainly translate to “Let’s get back to what we used to do when things were better, if we can remember when that was.”

    I’m being deliberately provocative but the party is going nowhere until these issues become crystal clear and agreed by everyone. What did we do wrong? How must we change? What is the plan?

    Here is a clue. Everyone here is obsessed about how they personally perceive Lib Dem values and cannot conceive of them not being universally admired. This is why everything else is being blamed when the voters don’t vote for you. It appears that none of you care about how the voters perceive Lib Dem Values. You just assume that your values are brilliant and agonise about why you always do badly.

    You need to break out of this. I know that this comment could make me extremely unpopular. Please tell me if you strongly disagree.

  • I see Clegg has become the Blair of the Lib Dems. The most successful leader ever and yet the membership would rather snipe about his money and his relationship with Mark Zuckerberg. Exactly the same as Labour do with Blair – complaining about his wealth and relationship with the Saudis or whoever.

  • @Peter. i agree entirely with your observations. We all know what true liberalism is…..it’s what we, personally, happen to believe, and anyone who doesn’t agree is obviously a closet Tory or even worse, an Orange Booker. Clegg is evil because he parlayed his political position into a high paying job, as if no politician had ever done that before.
    And rarely do we ask the people who support and vote for our party what they make of all this.
    My personal experience, which I concede is purely anecdotal and has limited scientific value, is that many party members are just slight to the left of centre on social issues, but may be fractionally right of centre on economics. In addition, many who support us in local elections are one nation Tories who lend us their vote, but return to the Conservatives when it comes to the serious stuff of a general election, and yet we talk of these people and their values with undiluted disdain.

  • @ Chris Cory Just out of curiosity, how long ago did you join the party, Mr Cory ?

  • “The most successful leader ever ?” If you mean inheriting a healthy legacy and blowing it away in rapid quick time, then,yes.

  • John Marriott 15th Feb '20 - 9:29am

    You know, I reckon that most Liberal Democrats prefer to sit on the sidelines and bemoan their lot. Give them the chance actually to shape events, even if this required a degree of compromise on their part and they would run a mile.

    Kennedy and Ashdown are sadly no longer with us. The coalition government happened (remember “I agree with Nick”?). ‘Revoke’ was a political suicide note some of us refused to sign. Clegg is coining it in California. Danny is coining it in China(?). Jo is looking after her family (hopefully) and Lloyd George died in 1945. Get over it!

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 15th Feb '20 - 12:01pm

    @Frank West and @ Julian Tisi – My responses were halted abruptly yesterday having exceeded a limit on the number of contributions I was not aware of. I am guessing the way round this will be to combine responses in fewer contributions, so here goes:

    @Frank West That is not my experience of a school breakfast club or when helping my community food bank. It was certainly not that of my office when dealing with the welfare changes during the coalition years. These have, according to the people we used to work with, got even worse under the Tories without us. Our preamble talks about creating a Liberal Society where NONE are enslaved by poverty. We have a long way to go.

    @julian Tisi We didn’t push for PR at all. The Tories offered us AV in a referendum and we said thanks. In previous elections our line on election night was in the event of no overall majority: “Don’t pick up the phone unless you are prepared to give us PR.” I caught an interesting interview with Alan Beith MP some years ago who said on the coalition question that we would make a PR bill in the Queens Speech a condition of our support. No referendum, no AV, but PR in a bill in the Queens Speech. We will never know just how desperate the other parties are to get hold of red boxes until we stand firm for something fundamental to our beliefs and name.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 15th Feb '20 - 12:03pm

    @stimpson @Innocent bystander @peter wilson

    @stimpson “A plea to Sir Nick Clegg – please come back. The choice between the hard left Labour Nandwagon or the Raabid right is no choice at all. Open markets, open borders, yes to the EU, yes to the Euro, yes to business, yes to equality, yes to freedom, yes to liberalism and yes to globalisation.” And sadly no to more than a handful of MPs and a few councillors. We need bums on seats in decision making chambers to effect the changes we wish to see and we get there by campaigning on the issues that matter to people, not just those that matter to us.

    @Innocent bystander – PR would allow you to vote CD, or CRP or ED or for any other fringe party. So long as you gave your final preference to the Liberal Democrats it would count after the votes you cast for smaller parties were transferred. PR might mean the end of a Liberal Democrat majority Government dream, but in exchange we get the more realistic possibility of influencing Government decisions and the ability to enact some of our policies that stem, or should stem, directly from our values.

    @peter Wilson The preamble to our constitution offers us an opportunity to reappraise ourselves of what this movement of ours is all about and to start thinking and acting. We don’t have to wait for a leader to be elected.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 15th Feb '20 - 12:05pm

    @ David Becket @Sue Sutherland

    @David Becket I agree, we need an up to date on-line version of Liberal Democrat News with regular columnists, by-election diary and result listings and reports, features on people in both Parliaments and local government, news from ALDC, Party HQ and the Leaders’ office, Liberal Youth and other SAOs, Committee reports, and room for readers’ reactions. Host it behind a paywall at a nominal sum of £10 a year towards the editor’s and website costs. Promote via new memberships and renewals as well as big sales push at regional, national and federal conferences.

    @Sue Sutherland I didn’t see it at the time but can now see that there were some people who were not acting in Charles’ best health interests for him to stand down, but in their desire to move the party to the right. They were not at all happy with the election of Ming as his successor and some allege his leadership was undermined by person or persons within the employ of the party at the time.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 15th Feb '20 - 12:08pm

    @Peter Our success as a third, now fourth Party in winning seats depends on our ability to attract tactical voters. It was the tactical vote that deserted us in 2015 because we went into coalition with the Tories having asked people to vote for us in order to defeat them. That is why there are still many voters who will still refuse to vote for us until we are able to restore their trust. There are many other reasons but to deny the coalition had something to do with it doesn’t help move us on.

    I disagree with your second post because it too is based on a falsehood. Our values are spelt out in our constitution. You cannot perceive them any differently from how they are. You might prioritise them differently, but that’s not what you posted. The key is how we translate those values into policy and we actually did this in coalition, not that anyone noticed because we failed to tell the story behind our approach.

    For example, our values that none are enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity, were at the heart of what we brought to the coalition. While we couldn’t enact our whole manifesto in coalition and sadly supported measures we now regret, we did follow our beliefs. To tackle poverty and mitigate against the Tories austerity programme, we took the lowest paid out of tax altogether. To counter the cut to school budgets we introduced the pupil premium to help the poorest and potentially most disadvantaged. And, what better way to address conformity than to allow people to marry whom they are in love with regardless of gender.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 15th Feb '20 - 12:10pm

    @nvelope @Chris Cory and @John Marriott

    @nvelope The Party is not dead and even I as a humble focus deliverer can see major policy gaps only the Liberal Democrats can fill. My suggestion would be two-fold. First, to make the eradication of poverty our primary campaign and with-it economic policies to support business and wealth creation to pay for the improvements in education. health, social care and welfare that will be needed to achieve it. Second to be the Party of reform, of our democracy – PR, unelected Lords, Party finance, election spending, written constitution, bill of rights, separation of powers etc.
    Radical reforming Liberalism. Could be fun couldn’t it?

    @Chris Cory There is nothing new about your anecdotal experience. The party membership has always been left of centre and it is reassuring if your experience is recent that it remains so. Whom we attract to vote for us is different in different elections as you have observed. The key to success as demonstrated throughout the late 80’s up to 2010 was our ability in target seats to get people to vote for us in General Elections as well. That is what we have to recapture and it will be a long hard slog.

    @John Marriott You may be mixing with the wrong members if you think most Liberal Democrats prefer to sit on the sidelines and bemoan their lot. There are hundreds of members with hands on experience in local and assembly government as well as Parliament. It may be getting rusty but it is there and testimony to the fact Liberals and Liberal Democrats do not shy away from power and tough decisions. Sadly, our hopefully temporary, time-out does lead to too much navel gazing, but I see the tragedy of our leaving the EU as our opportunity to draw a line and get back to winning ways.

  • Barry Lofty 15th Feb '20 - 1:21pm

    Adrian Mark Sanders: Thanks for your comprehensive replies to the many points raised on this post, I was particularly interested in your inside knowledge of the Coalition years.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders – and by the way, we are not going to win over Millennial/Gen Z votes, who grew up in aftermath of the Great Recession, by pitching a centre-right “economic liberal” platform to them. In fact, we will be destroyed again. Never talk about deregulation to those people.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 15th Feb '20 - 3:22pm

    @Thomas While I have no idea who or what a Millennial/Gen Z vote is, I do not recall seeing anything in the preamble to our constitution that mentions deregulation. The eradication of poverty yes, economic liberalism – if you mean Hayekian libertarianism – no.

  • Adrian – “@Thomas While I have no idea who or what a Millennial/Gen Z vote is, I do not recall seeing anything in the preamble to our constitution that mentions deregulation. The eradication of poverty yes, economic liberalism – if you mean Hayekian libertarianism – no.” – I am talking about the under-35-year-old votes. We are not going to win those votes by pitching the centre-right/Hayekian-lite Orange Book platform. Jo Swinson failed partly because of her association with the Clegg era.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders – and I think a little “economic patriotism” will resonate well with the electorate in aftermath of Brexit. The Tories are occupied with cultural/political nationalism and “taking back control” rhetoric, but with their globalist aim of chasing after FTAs in economics, they clearly fail to embrace “economic patriotism”. Embracing “economic patriotism” and combine it with social-liberal mixed economy can distinguish us from both Corbynite socialism and Tory Thatcherite economics. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about full-blown Trumpian economic nationalism.

  • Katharine Pindar 17th Feb '20 - 1:49am

    Adrian, it’s been good to read through your patient replies to the numerous comments, many of them negative, on your thread, and finally to see your own prescription of what we should be focusing on (February 15), ‘making the eradication of poverty our primary campaign’. Absolutely. As I read through (having been preoccupied on other threads till this weekend), I was thinking that, however dim our part y’s prospects are in the immediate future, the worst prospects of the next few months are those of the poorest and most disadvantaged people among our fellow citizens, under this unprincipled Tory government and with Brexit looming. I’m still haunted by the recent TV programme on hardships endured by people on Universal Credit, where what struck me most was the unfreedom, hopeless lack of sufficient income, and hapless sense of being locked into a relentless system of the people featured.

    Please, Adrian, read and endorse the call for a new national social contract set forth in two recent threads, the later one authored by myself and Michael BG, reference
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/a-new-social-contract-putting-flesh-on-the-bones-63391.html. It is a strong and purposeful proposal covering updated versions of Beveridge’s five giant evils, the first of them the poverty endured by perhaps 14 million of our fellow citizens today, which can give us a new national focus within our existing principles, and in many respects translate down to local Focuses too.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 17th Feb '20 - 9:45am

    @Thomas I don’t think we are in any disagreement although I would be interested in an expanse of what economic patriotism really means. I’m certainly signed up to a social-liberal mixed economy and resisting all attempts to move to some mythical vacuum voters are waiting to be filled on the centre right.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 17th Feb '20 - 11:41am

    @Katherine Pindar I did spot the contribution and agreed with it. I don’t have a problem with the term social contract but can understand why others do and campaign wise it could present a challenge. We need to find a new way of describing it in Liberal terms. Something around common agreement that prosperity is created by all and should be enjoyed by all. But as you can tell I don’t have the form of words, or the answer, but I think we should work on it.

  • John Littler 23rd Feb '20 - 5:43pm

    Getting PR voting would be worth having people like UKIP get into Parliament. Only in one year 2015 did the tories and other right wing parties get a small majority, due to Labour supporters shifting to UKIP. In every other modern election, the centre + left has had a majority if added up. Of course the centre could go to the right, but 2010-15 has now been seen and was like getting too close to the sun and did not work for anyone except the Tories.

    The Tories are too toxic, too duplicitous and too strong to be in coalition with any time soon and influence them sufficiently to make a mark, even if some positive policies did come out of it, virtually in secret. It seems nobody even made a list of them?

    Keeping UKIP largely out of parliament did not prevent the brexit disaster because of the mere threat of them getting to Parliament, acted upon by Cameron. If they had a fair representation in Parliament, more prominent than the EU Parliament, voters would have been able to see what a rag bag shower they were and across Europe populists have generally not been good at getting re-elected.

    Philosophically, if people support these populists in large enough numbers then they should be in Parliament and have their views countered. They should not be kept out just by a ridiculously unfair and slanted electoral system.

    Because of their fear of extremists taking hold and their history, Germany has a 5% threshold to get into Parliament, but this does seem unfair to parties like the Greens or their Liberals who once fell to 4.8%. Also, the 5% threshold did not keep he rather nasty AFD out, who are on about 10%. It would be possible to design a system which allowed independents within large multi member STV constituencies, but discouraged extreme right wing fringe parties who go beyond populism that might gather 2% across the country.

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