How can we be seen as relevant again?

We have to offer people what they need, and I don’t think we are doing that.

The Southport Conference earlier this month, besides passing many useful motions, agreed a Strategy, grandly entitled, ‘Ambitious for our party, ambitious for our country.’ We are good on noble ideas. ‘Create a political and social movement which encourages people to take and use power in their own lives and communities’ – that’s a natural extension of our famous Preamble, ‘We seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community’.

But is anybody heeding us out there, even in the less than half of the population which takes some interest in politics?

Well, let’s be fair. Even in our diminished state, 7% in the national polls, we attract many more voters in Local Government elections. Our councillors are often known as work-horses who eat up local problems. Community Politics is still a big belief for us – ‘we will empower the individual in his or her community’. A current article here by Oliver Craven emphasises the point.

But I’ve come to believe that it is not enough for us to campaign locally to make a big impact. That’s because there’s precious little ‘community’ in our deeply divided country today for us to work with.

This week is what Christians call Holy Week, leading up to Good Friday, but fewer and fewer British people go to church to find a community. In the workplaces, ever fewer people join trade unions as more people take ill-paid non-unionised jobs. So the Conservatives win elections in formerly working-class areas, and Labour penetrates prosperous south-east towns.

Who feels part of a community in Britain today? Not, certainly, working families on the minimum wage who with curtailed benefits can’t afford even the basics and have to resort to Food Banks. Not people forced out of privately-rented homes into emergency accommodation, sometimes ending up living in another city. Not those trying to make ends meet through ill-paid temporary jobs or chancy self-employment.

There’s little sense of community either for sick folk obliged to stay in hospital for want of social care, or stuck caring for family members themselves at home, or for lonely old people sitting on park benches to talk to somebody. There’s no community for the depressed or for the oppressed.

There are good people out there trying to build communities, churches and charities, opening places where people can meet. Hard-working Liberal Democrat councillors back them up as far as straitened finances allow. But they can’t produce communities, which have to grow organically, perhaps when there is an appeal in the local media for special finance for a sick child.

Liberal Democrats have to do much more. We should consider the whole country our community, and demand better for our people.

We must refuse to accept the growing poverty which forces people to accept jobs that don’t pay enough to live on. We need to demand an immediate increase in the National Living Wage and enhanced working-age benefits, highlighting the big new rise in Council Tax as well as the rising cost of food. Then we need to campaign for taxes on wealth rather than income, for land value taxation, for local taxes that take account of people’s earnings, and for a basic citizen’s income to give people security.

We can’t, sadly, fix community. But we can and should fight poverty and gross inequality, and I believe that should be our foremost aim.

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

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Mar '18 - 5:20pm


    As is a feature with your articles, a very compassionate heart with a particularly sensible head.

    I agree.

    We could now be seen as relevant if we realised amidst extremes being moderate is in of itself, radical.

    We should show we are mainstream.

    Labour are not as a party, regardless of their policy ideas.

    The Conservatives are second rate and lousy , but are able to convince they are mainstream, whereas we are more in tune with values.

    One of our oldest and finest communities are feeling put upon, victimised, and are , more than ever. We could and must stand with them as a voice of solidarity and understanding. They are mainstream and need confidence that we are.

  • I hope you don’t mind me saying so, Katharine, but what shines through here is what a kind and decent person you are. Happy Easter.

  • paul barker 29th Mar '18 - 6:24pm

    To answer the question the Headline, we need to find the people who already largely agree with us (there are alot of them surveys suggest) & convince them that we still exist. We should absolutely not be trying to talk to everybody.
    Our problem right now is that we are stuck in a vicious circle, The Media dont talk about us because we are so low in the Polls, Voters dont Vote for us, partly, because they never hear about us in The Media. The May Elections might help us break out of the circle, (no pressure) or we we may have to wait longer. Either way we have to concentrate on the Voters closest to us & think long term.

  • Jayne mansfield 29th Mar '18 - 9:18pm

    I agree with David Raw’s assessment of your personal qualities, Katharine.

    May you have a happy and peaceful Easter.

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Mar '18 - 9:38pm

    It’s good to have disagreement, Paul, as well as the kind words of friends, so thank you also. My point is that we HAVE to show we are mainstream, as Lorenzo puts it, and I believe we must do it by consistent campaigning on the country’s greatest continuing problems, poverty and gross inequality. Our fine words butter no parsnips, as they say. And the Media won’t be writing stories about our dedicated work in the May elections. They surely will do if we show our outrage at the state of affairs this country has come to, and keep on about it, demanding redress. We are the party for the individual, and the individuals need us to speak out. Fine contributors here such as Michael BG detail the facts that the national media do publicise, including the steady rise in child poverty, explain what measures are needed in redress, and ask for us to demand them. Let’s do just that, and make it central to our party’s platform.

  • @ Jayne And you too, Jayne.

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Mar '18 - 10:11pm

    I don’t want a peaceful Easter, Jayne, I want one in which the Liberal Democrats start shouting about the ills of our society which politicians aren’t trying to put right and demanding action! We can’t just be focused on the agreed evils of Brexit which will make things worse, when people need help now.

    And Good Friday has to come before Easter Sunday, of course, and tonight is the night of Jesus’s agony in the garden after the Last Supper. I’ve been to a Maundy Thursday service and sung Malcolm Archer’s lovely anthem, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandment’ . Thank you for the kind words, friends, and I wish you also a very happy Easter Sunday.

  • Katharine thank you for Zn interesting and thoughtful article.

  • Arnold Kiel 30th Mar '18 - 8:38am


    I am continually wondering about the question you ask. Maybe the market for liberal politics has shrunk. People are torn between strongman(woman) attraction and socialism. Both offer relief from self-responsible decision making. The idea that society should be a supportive enabler for self-determined success (and also failure) by equalizing chances, not outcomes, has probably been tainted too much by its deceptive abuse by the right. But for me there is no alternative to sticking to this idea, irrespective of the size of my company, and I would advise against evaluating the relevance of this principle by the size of its followership. A principled person must bear temporary loneliness. We can only hope that people wake up and come back, because not only the fate of liberals and liberal parties is at stake, but the principles of liberal democracy, and with them the basis of western civilization.

    On a more practical note, I wanted to add for a long time that the Cameron/Clegg government was regarded as pragmatic, competent, and highly effecive from abroad. It just happened to have a major and therefore painful repair-job at its hands. The rigour, balance and speed of the corrections it made were the envy of all liberal Germans who wanted to see more profound future-oriented policies from their own government.

    In my mind, a small, necessarily complementary party must always be open to coalitions to be relevant at all. Excluding them is tantamount to saying: don’t waste your vote on us.

  • John Marriott 30th Mar '18 - 9:55am

    I echo David Raw’s sentiments. It’s people like Katharine whose enthusiasm and commitment put moaners like me in their place. As regards the future I tend to agree with Arnold Kiel’s final paragraph. So, Katharine, keep on pushing that stone up the hill. One day it might actually stay there!

  • Nom de Plume 30th Mar '18 - 10:37am

    @ Arnold Kiel

    “always be open to coalitions”

    I would suggest a more cautious approach. In a FPTP system, for a small party in a polarized politcal environment it can be political suicide. I a not a fan of kamikaze politics. It has contributed to going from 57 to 8 seats. The “market for liberal politics” will not shrink that rapidly.

  • We have to accept that the eu referendum has altered the political landscape immensely and it will be a while, whatever the outcome for it to stabilise. Our relevance must respect that reality. If we leave then our relevance will depend on how we adapt to the changed climate. Forging links with Europe outside the eu will help as is our internationalism, respect for human rights and the rule of law. There will be plenty to make us relevant and even essential.

  • David Evans 30th Mar '18 - 1:08pm

    I have known Katharine for a good while and I am always immensely impressed with her kindness, drive, vision and optimism. However, as people know I am on the pragmatic wing of the party and when Katharine says “They surely will do if we show our outrage at the state of affairs this country has come to, and keep on about it, demanding redress.” I simply ask the question “Why will they surely do it?”

    The one thing coalition must have taught us all is that the media will surely NOT do anything for us automatically. If after seven years of decline, we still think that “They surely will do …” I fear we will have still not learned from our mistakes and tragically may never change.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Mar '18 - 1:12pm

    I hope you are right in your last sentence, Peter. Yet I wonder if the Referendum has indeed ‘altered the political landscape immensely’, or whether in fact it was part of the polarisation that Arnold pondered, between (I paraphrase) selfish capitalism and socialism, with the ascendancy of the former driving down standards for the mass of the people here until they have protested in this way – in, sadly, choosing the self-harm of Brexit. I believe Liberals must do more than be a ‘supportive enabler for self-determined success’, a very good way, Arnold, of highlighting the current trend of our party, to ’empower individuals in their communities’, which unfortunately scarcely exist. I have indulged in that thinking myself, but now I believe we must put our strong feelings into steadily demanding national action. (Kindly commentators, you have the same strong feelings I believe, and know you have done and are doing what you can.)

    Practically speaking – and it is interesting what Arnold says about how the Coalition was viewed abroad – when the occasion next arises, I think in view of how badly we were burnt we should probably not go beyond a Confidence and Supply arrangement, such as the DUP has now. (And at least those people probably have the power to destroy the deal over Brexit!)

    ( Footnote: Sean, thank you, I was glad to see you had rejoined the LDV company, even though a misguided Brexiteer! I hope your local party will have a rethink.)

  • William Fowler 30th Mar '18 - 1:48pm

    Family, friends and then community, the only place you really find (large) communities of sorts is in social housing estates where they probably still have posters of Gordon Brown on their walls and would view Liberalism with suspicion and they tend to be rather closed minded with scorn, if not violence, poured on those who want to be different to the norm. So not a very good hunting ground for LibDems.

    I would suggest moving some (a lot) of the burden of taxation from people to companies, using some of the money to get rid of things like council tax (LDV on the main residence would lose people’s interest) and possibly NI. That would sure get some nice headlines in the newspapers rather than usual ridicule. Follow that up with removal of all standing charges on energy tariffs and a new, very low rate, for first 100kw/month usage of gas and electric, then the higher rate would be set by the energy companies and would be easy for everyone to compare. This would at least encourage people to use less energy and be seen to give these companies a good kicking in a Greenish sort of way. An example of keeping the free market but sensible govn interference that could be rolled out in other areas to show up both Labour (bankrupt the country by nationalizing everything) and the Tories (no chance, might interfere with our mildly taxed dividends).

  • Bill le Breton 30th Mar '18 - 3:35pm

    Sorry to be a contrarian but I don’t believe that the Clegg’s leadership was pragmatic. It was exceptionally ideological. It was founded on very strong beliefs and values. He made considerable changes to the Party’s policies. Many welcomed these. Many were distraught over them.

    The claim to pragmatism tries to draw a veil over the strength of an ideological position. A person who claims that her opinions are pragmatic is saying in effect that they are right and beyond challenge. They are ideological nonetheless.

    Could it be that the Lib Dem inertia is a public reaction to this sense of the superior knowledge and understanding ? Many people sensed hypocrisy in Nick Clegg – rather as they did with Blair. Perhaps we should listen to the message their reluctance to support is is sending.

    We have apparently a very popular position in regard to EU policy and a second referendum. Some of the 48% who voted remain however find the position difficult because of the democratic argument against it. Again it is not a pragmatic position. It is ideological.

    But that still leaves circa 25% who support ‘Exit of Brexit’ and a second referendum. Yet of these barely a third support us. We need to question hard why this is. If the policy is right there must be something about our character (or how it comes across) that is counter-productive.

  • Steve Trevethan 30th Mar '18 - 4:53pm

    Alas, following the “Coalition Phase” of our Party we have lost our reputation for honesty, independence and a willingness to speak truth to power.
    We are now neither the party of protest nor of power.
    It would benefit our Country, our Party and, possibly the World, if we were to question HMG’s decidedly dodgy statements which are being used to confront Russia rather than investigate.
    A prime witness, the physician in charge of Salisbury A &E, stated, (The Times 14/03/18) “-no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. — No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.”
    How does what HMG and the Main Stream Media want us to believe fit with this direct and immediate information?

  • Nom de Plume 30th Mar '18 - 4:53pm

    @Bill le Breton

    However they phrase it, I think it is important that the party has a pro-EU policy. There are enough nationalists. As the negotiations progress, it will become clearer what the best policy for the Lib Dems is. I personally don’t have a problem with a radical policy at this point. If negotiations go badly it will be the correct policy.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Mar '18 - 5:44pm

    Lib Dem inertia, or inertia in the people who are actually Liberal-minded but aren’t voting for us, Bill le Breton? I think you mean the latter, and raise an interesting question about what may be seen to be wrong with us – a perceived claim to superior knowledge and understanding perhaps. I’m more inclined to blame the polarisation between May’s party and Corbyn’s party which obliged people to take sides last June, and a sense of waiting in the public now for good reasons to vote Liberal Democrat again. I want us to give them good reasons, nationally as well as locally, and I do feel we ourselves suffer from inertia. I’m with William Fowler on this (hi, William, first time ever!) in wanting radical economic proposals from us. We already have some, what we need is a definite platform put forward by our leadership to campaign on, and I think if they are seen patently to be progressive but not Socialist, there should be media coverage even to confound David Evans! (Hi, David! Didn’t know you had all those kind impressions!) But Steve, I think we will make more headway being different on economic matters, as well of course continuing on our pro-EU anti-Brexit path.

  • Bill le Breton 30th Mar '18 - 7:37pm

    Forgive me again Katharine, but examine your statement “Lib Dem inertia, or inertia in the people who are actually Liberal-minded but aren’t voting for us,”.

    Look where are you putting the blame? I am asking us for one moment to imagine that we might be to blame and that a large section of the public are frustrated that we think ‘it is their fault’.

    It is a position of superiority that we give ourselves. John Gray terms this hyper-liberalism and I tend to agree.

    Nom de Plume. “There are enough nationalists”. As if there are just two categories, internationalist (good) and nationalist (bad). I agree that national socialism is very bad, very dangerous and that the C20th was dominated in large part by national socialism. But that dichotomy suggests that there is no place for patriotism and an intolerance of those who feel patriotic.

  • Nom de Plume 30th Mar '18 - 7:55pm

    @Bill le Breton

    Nationalism is always bad. Patriotism is good. Don’t confuse your terms. Nationalism is bad because it defines ‘us’ as good and ‘them’ as evil or bad. It has internal and external expression. The internal aspect is expressed in things like anti-Semitism and the external aspect as various types of wars. It leads to conflict. The various types of international relationship. Sometimes cold and formal (Russia) and sometimes much closer, like the EU.

  • John Roffey 30th Mar '18 - 8:00pm

    Katharine – I liked this article because it reflects many of my own personal concerns. However, I do not think that the Party does give the impression that these issues are of any great importance – focussed so intently as it is on stopping Brexit.

    I know that the assumption is that by not leaving the EU the UK would be better off and therefore more able to help those in need. However, this has to be explained in more simple terms and clearly linked to the measures the Party would take to relieve hardship should this be achieved.

    It does seem that Vince Cable is trying to return the Party to the centre left and therefore concerned with those suffering hardship – but I don’t think that this message is yet clear.

  • Nonconformistradical 30th Mar '18 - 8:09pm

    @Nom de Plume
    “Nationalism is always bad. Patriotism is good.”

    I agree that nationalism is always bad. Patriotism is illogical – when did you choose the country of your birth and hence what is the logical reason for being patriotic about it? Especially if it happens to have a history of dreadful actions..?

  • Nom de Plume 30th Mar '18 - 8:32pm


    Patriotism is the result of being born and brought up in a particular culture. In Britain there is plenty to be proud of and I would expect most people to be patriotic. A history of dreadful actions will be found in books and will only have a marginal influence on most peoples’ sense of identity.

  • “Nationalism is always bad”. I’m afraid it’s a bit more complicated and subtle than that.

    Historically, the nationalist revolutions in Europe in 1848 were a series of republican revolts against European absolutist monarchies – often inspired by what we would now call liberal principles of democracy. Equally, do you think the dissolution of Swedish rule over Norway leading to Norwegian independence from Sweden in 1905 was a bad thing ?

    Equally, Catalonian aspirations to separate from Spain have roots in opposition to Franco’s oppressive Spain… and to the current right wing Spanish Government. The Football Association’s £ 25,000 fine on Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola for wearing a yellow ribbon in support of imprisoned Catalan politicians can hardly be considered a liberal gesture on human rights.

    It’s a complicated old world sometimes and sticking labels on things can sometimes be misleading.

  • Nom de Plume 30th Mar '18 - 8:52pm

    @John Roffey

    Yes, excellent article, especially for Easter.

  • Nom de Plume 30th Mar '18 - 9:06pm

    @David Raw

    The creation of a nation state and defining an existing nation state as superior to all others (perhaps only some of its members) are very different things. The former is related to patriotism and the latter is the sense in which I alway use the term ‘nationalism’. It is responsible for much of the horror of the 20th century. It is unfortunate English does not have separate words for the two phenomena.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Mar '18 - 10:37pm

    Bill le Breton (sorry I couldn’t reply earlier, I’ve been to church again) – Bill, you missed the question mark after ‘Lib Dem inertia, or in the people who are actually Liberal-minded but aren’t voting for us? I think you mean the latter.’ I was assuming that you were referring to the voters, who were perhaps holding back from us because of seeing us as too high and mighty, and as I wrote, I think you made an interesting point there. I was certainly not blaming the voters! I then made the point that I think we Lib Dems are suffering from inertia. Well, confusion worse confounded, but thank you for contributing!

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Mar '18 - 11:11pm

    @ John Roffey – That’s it exactly, thanks, John, our party is not emphasising how much we care about the hardship suffered by many in this country today, offering good solutions and demanding the Government act now. While the two big parties are on manouevres, paralysed by their fear of their own divisions and even more so by fear of the other side, this is our chance to speak out loud and clear about people’s needs and what must be done about them. No wonder really that people won’t plump for us until we become the voice they need. We can certainly say what we hope to do if Brexit is defeated – but we should in my view be insisting on what can and should be done now, this very year, because people’s needs are urgent.

    Frivolous footnote though on the interesting and worthwhile discussion of nationalism and patriotism being conducted above. I have good friends, a Norwegian lady married to a Swedish man, living and bringing up their young family here in West Cumbria. Long live internationalism!

  • Thanks Katharine. Moving soon so hoping to get back to campaigning. I remain a lib dem voter and like many want to see progressive radical policies to get behind.

  • How can we be seen as relevant? By actually having something to say on the issues of the day or by appearing to serve at least some sort of purpose, perhaps?

    The party seems to be stuck in its own little bubble, talking only about the EU (which is clearly hugely important, don’t get me wrong), yet not actually doing so in a particularly engaging way, with the occasional smattering of identity/gender politics stuff here and there. Almost everything else seems to just be passing us by – its particularly pronounced in Wales, where we appear to be saying and doing so little, it truly feels like we might as well not even exist right now to be honest.

  • @ Arnold Kiel

    Thank you for your post of 30th March 8.38am, which I think reveals your political thinking. You wrote, “The idea that society should be a supportive enabler for self-determined success (and also failure) by equalizing chances, not outcomes … But for me there is no alternative to sticking to this idea …”

    Perhaps you are a liberal in the FDP tradition. That is not my sort of liberalism and I don’t think it would be successful electorally in the UK. As liberals we cannot stand idly by when millions of people have restricted choices and freedoms because of economic inequalities. Just giving everyone an equal opportunity at the start of their life is not enough. We not only have to ensure they get multiple opportunities to be the best they can be, but ensure that they have enough economic resources to have the freedom to make choices the average person can make and they don’t face living in poverty as the price of their (in your words) “failure”.

  • John Roffey 31st Mar '18 - 5:03am

    @Katharine Pindar

    “…our party is not emphasising how much we care about the hardship suffered by many in this country today, offering good solutions and demanding the Government act now. While the two big parties are on manouevres, paralysed by their fear of their own divisions and even more so by fear of the other side, this is our chance to speak out loud and clear about people’s needs and what must be done about them. No wonder really that people won’t plump for us until we become the voice they need. We can certainly say what we hope to do if Brexit is defeated – but we should in my view be insisting on what can and should be done now, this very year, because people’s needs are urgent.”

    Katharine – unfortunately focussing so intently on Brexit and its high cost – the Party has boxed itself into a corner to some extent. Virtually any immediate solution to current hardships cost significant sums of money – so demands for action on these has to be accompanied with an explanation on how these will be paid for [along with the cost of Brexit].

    Although this does help the case for not leaving the EU – it also tends to create a circular argument that is likely to keep the focus on Brexit – not on relieving hardships. The government will argue that leaving the EU is the democratic will of the people which the Lib/Dems want to deny – the Party then argues that they did not realise what they were voting for – and off we go again! This merry-go-round is likely to continue for at least another year – and probably a lot longer.

    It seems to me that if the Party is to focus on today’s hardships and what should be done about them now – it must significantly reduce or even end its focus on Brexit. In truth nothing would be lost if this were the case – as the Party is not central to the attempts either to get parliament to block Brexit or for there to be a second referendum – they would go on regardless of its involvement. 

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 31st Mar '18 - 8:11am

    Katharine, thank you for this article, and I am sorry that I am late to comment on it.
    As others have mentioned, this is a wonderful message for Easter. Good Friday symbolises all the suffering and injustice in the world. Easter reminds us that there is hope even in the most desperate situation.
    Our party has always cared about ending poverty and inequality. It is there in the preamble to the constitution – our aim to create a world in which no-one will be “enslaved by poverty”.
    But sadly, during the coalition, the party often appeared to support polices that made poverty and inequality worse. When Tim Farron became leader, it seemed at first that under his leadership the party would prioritise social justice again. But unfortunately, after the referendum result, the party seemed to lose its way again, talking almost exclusively about the EU, and saying very little about social justice. Often the poorest sections of society were mentioned only in the context of saying, patronisingly, that they didn’t know what they were voting for when they voted Leave, and that therefore their vote should be ignored. The party focused its campaigning efforts on parts of the country that had voted Remain, which tended to be wealthier areas, and seemed to give up on areas which had voted to Leave – which tended to be poorer areas. This did not give the impression that the party cared much about inequality and social justice.
    The reason why Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, is currently so popular, is because people do care very much about the issues you mention in your article, and they see Labour as the only party that cares about these issues.

  • Arnold Kiel 31st Mar '18 - 8:50am

    Michael BG,

    what you propose sounds good, but the UK lacks the economic substance to meaningfully reduce inequality and poverty. I don’t need to recap Brexit, on which we and most other contributors to Katharine’s article fundamentally agree, but it is worth pointing out the highly complementary nature of the UK’s business model, i.e. its dependence on foreign capital, management, goods, and labor.

    The rich control this country via the press, the Tories, and the high fluidity of their assets. They are primarily in the business of getting richer, and deploy all their money, brain, and influence for that purpose. They don’t like poverty, but they will not compromise their main objective: becoming richer. The gang currently running Brexit (and, as an aside, the country) have no intention to do any of the things you wish for. Corbyn will fail, because the wealth he wants to tap is faster and smarter than his legislation.

    This is our dilemma: to make life better for the poor, the UK must remain attractive to the rich. We are indeed different liberals; if I shared your beliefs, I would be a (deluded) Labour member.

  • Bill le Breton 31st Mar '18 - 9:17am

    Oh Katharine, what a muddle. No I think the party *is* inert. We appear very sure of ourselves and in the face of such poor connection with people, this seems a worry, especially when the times demand us to get our act together.

    I spoke to someone on the Federal Board the other day. I sensed despair and a feeling that ‘social media made everything so difficult’. Perhaps we are rabbits frozen in the headlights clinging to our certainties.

    N de P, I am pleased to see a space for patriotism and you defend it well. I was more worried that those who put ‘internationalism’ on a pillar have not found space for the very human feelings towards the culture in which their minds have developed.

    Catharine, in another article (above) Sal Brinton says we must protect the NHS against privatisation but when trying to persuade people of our good faith on this campaign she will come against the point you make that we spent the years 2007 to 2015 (and perhaps beyond) putting the NHS in privatisation and harms way.

    Never forget that for seven years our leader held these views:

  • Nonconformistradical 31st Mar '18 - 9:54am

    @Nom de Plume

    “The creation of a nation state and defining an existing nation state as superior to all others (perhaps only some of its members) are very different things. ”

    But defining the British state as superior is what has been going on for hundreds of years!

    Britain became ‘great’ if you want to call it that by exploiting and expropriating wealth from others.

    Britain shows utter unwillingness to learn from the successes and mistakes of others.

    It exhibits an assumption of its divine right to win at sports and can’t understand when it (or perhaps England in particular) loses a football match to a country with a population less than the size of many English counties. That sort of patriotism is the ‘my country right or wrong’ kind – which stinks.

    As has been pointed out in another ongoing thread – we have a government which reserves the right to spy on us –

    If you think that is something to be proud about I most certainly don’t.

    Do you think the level of inequality in our country and the number of people sleeping on our streets is something to be proud about? I most certainly don’t.

    I did read something a few weeks ago which made me proud of some Brits. Apparently during WW2 when American troops started coming here some white Americans tried to import their colour bar here. From time to time fights between white and black American troops occurred on British streets and sometimes Brits took the part of the black troops and waded in on their side against a practice which was – and still is to some extent – a total disgrace to the American nation. Well done say I. Those Brits did the country proud. But that is about some individual British people, not the country. Not least because we have plenty of racists of our own.

  • Peter Watson 31st Mar '18 - 10:30am

    @Bill le Breton “If the policy is right there must be something about our character (or how it comes across) that is counter-productive.”
    My sense, however vague, is that the party these days comes across as “nice europhile tories”. The target seems to be middle-class metropolitan/suburban liberal-minded Remainers who would never dream of voting for Corbyn’s Labour but who might vote against a Tory candidate for a more palatable alternative. Hopefully, Cable might be making progress in changing that perception when discussing non-Brexit issues.

    The only radical policy I can recall in recent years is the legalisation of cannabis, and Lib Dem spokespeople seemed embarrassed when talking about it in the 2017 General Election campaign and don’t seem to have mentioned it much since. Otherwise the party seems to pursue a very conservative approach, opposing radical change to the status quo, whether from the left or the right, and avoiding positions that might frighten any horses (or middle-class voters).

  • Dinesh Dhamija 31st Mar '18 - 10:37am

    A very thought provoking article, judging by the response. My thoughts are as follows:
    1 We should not refer to a 2nd referendum, but a vote by the people on the DEAL. A 2nd referendum polls badly.
    2 Coalition and Nick Clegg…We did a great job, with enacting our policies, but a terrible job marketing them, in the 2015 general election. The Tories were allowed to take as their own, the tax cut and apprentice policies, among other things.
    3 We ran out of money, essentially, 2 weeks before the election.

    People forget, and need to be reminded.

  • Non de Plume
    I disagree that Nationalism is always bad. It’s actually the bedrock of most of the world’s democratic systems. The Nation state is also the reason you have things like welfare, a National Health Service. rail, roads, and general infrastructure. Internationalism is not all good ether. Totalitarianism of various forms often has an internationalist world view and in recent years international interference in the ME has not been positive. Patriotism to me is more about blind allegiance and is also problematic because it stems from the same root as patriarchy. WWI and Empire were very big on Patriotism, as was the USSR, whilst the break up of empire is very connected to nationalism and the right to self determination within agreed borders. When you think about it wars tend to be started through a lack of respect for national borders and expansionist ambitions rather than through the belief in national self-determination. It’s struggles for independence v an over arching belief in superiority. Patriotism is basically the philosophy of Daddy knows best.

  • @Katharine Pindar 29th Mar ’18 – 9:38pm
    ‘must do it by consistent campaigning’
    Do you mean consistent as in ‘persistence’ or consistent as in ‘uniform and well defined’? It is an important distinction. I think we do quite well in terms of the former but very badly in terms of the latter.

  • Katharine Pindar 31st Mar '18 - 11:15am

    ‘As liberals we cannot stand idly by when millions of people have restricted choices and freedoms because of economic inequalities. Just giving everyone an equal opportunity at the start of their life is not enough. We not only have to ensure they get multiple opportunities to be the best they can be, but ensure they have enough economic resources.’ Thus Michael BG I believe rightly sums up above our Liberal Democrat thinking.

    However, John Roffey writes, while demanding less focus on Brexit: ‘Virtually any immediate solution to current hardships costs significant sums of money – so demands for action on these have to be accompanied with an explanation of how these will be paid for (along with the cost of Brexit).’ I don’t think this is a problem, John. We have the policies costed in our manifesto, and we have the follow-up policies ably set out in LDV by Michael BG, Joe Bourke and others, which we generally support, which would alleviate poverty in this country and stop its worsening, and which they show can be paid for.

    But there are two problems of implementation which I believe are interlinked. The first is that we are not setting out what our short-term and longer-term economic solutions should be clearly and coherently, which should be done by our leadership between our conferences, so that we can campaign on them. The second is that we are not getting the media coverage which would help convince the voters that we have more to offer than Exit from Brexit. The problems are interlinked because if we make our message clear and compelling enough, set out by Vince and repeated by other leading figures and repeated again, it will be reported in the media. I think therefore that all of us need to be demanding that our leadership does lead us in this (I have sent a tweet to Vince as a feeble start), and use the opportunity of the May elections to amplify the message and the party’s demands.
    (Thank you, James and Catherine and BlB, for also prompting us towards this.)

  • The party is still absolutely relevant, which is why I joined it. Some people say it shouldn’t be a one-trick pony, but if that trick is the most important one to get right, it’s not a bad type of pony to be. With Jeremy Corbyn nailing his Eurosceptic colours ever more firmly to the mast, we offer the only sane way forward. Exit from Brexit though catchy is not perhaps the best slogan because it is about leaving, as Brexit is. The Party for Europe would be better.

  • Should have read Nom de Plume. Sorry for the typo.

  • @Katharine Pindar

    “‘Virtually any immediate solution to current hardships costs significant sums of money – so demands for action on these have to be accompanied with an explanation of how these will be paid for (along with the cost of Brexit).’ I don’t think this is a problem, John. We have the policies costed in our manifesto, and we have the follow-up policies ably set out in LDV by Michael BG, Joe Bourke and others, which we generally support, which would alleviate poverty in this country and stop its worsening, and which they show can be paid for.”

    I am a returning member Katharine – so I am trying to catch up on what has happened in the last 5 years. I did look at the pArty’s website prior to making my post – but I did not see the costing to which you refer [unless a Land Tax is introduced raising a considerable sum].

    I would be grateful if you – or anyone – could directing me to these costings.

  • “could direct” – not “could directing”

  • John Roffey 31st Mar '18 - 1:45pm

    Katharine – I have just read ‘Taking back control of our money? A reality check, part 1’ by Arnold Kiel and comments.

    Arnold, Micheal BG and others do cover the important features of this debate – however, I am afraid that this debate does reinforce my concerns about the Party’s focus on Brexit blocking the Party’s ability to demand action on the hardships facing so many people in the UK today.

    As a result – I think I must stick by my conclusion that the only way that the Party can focus on these issues with any hope of success – is for it to withdraw from the Brexit argument as far as it is able.

  • Katharine Pindar 31st Mar '18 - 2:55pm

    Maddening to listen to the Any Questions debate on Radio 4 just now (having been in church at 8 pm last night) and hear a panellist, Mark Littlewood – apparently once a Lib Dem! – say, on the question of whether there should be a new centrist party, that such a party must not ‘split the difference’ between Labour and the Tories, but be based around ideas, and offer a more liberal agenda on what this country needs – without mentioning US! I can’t have been alone in shouting at the radio just then! One clever Lib Dem did get through with a tweet saying we were the party needed which the presenter mentioned. But in Any Answers, the question got left to a few seconds at the end, and the two people who spoke didn’t mention the Lib Dems. I didn’t succeed in getting through by phone or email, and sent a tweet as I expect other members were doing too, in vain.

    Could it be made any clearer that our policy platform isn’t heard and isn’t seen? Vince was on Any Questions last week, Tim is on next week, and in between we should get Vince to point out that we ARE the centrist party that the country needs, with the POLICIES that are needed, and demand implementation!

    Yes, a peg is necessary for Vince and the Press Office to launch off. And there is one. In the national news a Government increase to the National Living Wage was mentioned. And a body which I didn’t catch the name of said that it wasn’t enough, families will be £1800 short, 5.5 million people will remain impoverished. Maybe one of us got all the details and can repeat them here – and they need repeating to Vince, with an urgent message that he uses them right away to launch a new attack on poverty in this country. Please everyone, contact him and our Home Office spokesperson Stephen Lloyd, and whoever our Economics spokesperson is to demand this.

  • I agree with Peter Watson – we do seem to be fairly conservative and bland more often than not, to be honest. We announced our radical drugs policy, but generally all of our front line politicians seemed to be too scared to talk about it – certainly not with any real passion. On that note, when Fabric nightclub in London was being closed in 2016, our sole London Assembly Member flat out refused to speak out against the decision or make any sort of point on drugs based on the party’s own actual policy – a huge wasted opportunity and deeply disappointing.

    Also, just to demonstrate my point from my earlier message – Cardiff this evening will be host to a massive sporting event, the Anthony Joshua vs Joshua Parker boxing match.

    Yet, Arriva Trains Wales has decided to schedule planned engineering works for this weekend, so the last trains to many parts of the both Wales and the rest of the UK leave Cardiff BEFORE the fight even starts. Just another example of poor decision making from a fairly inept railway company. At the same time, the Labour run Cardiff Council on the stroke of midnight ends its taxi marshalling service (a service to help revellers get home safely after a night out), which will have a huge impact on people trying to get out of Cardiff after the event. Meanwhile, hotel prices have shot up by hundreds of pounds all over Cardiff to capitalise on the demand.

    Plenty of stuff there for the party to say something about, or at least even acknowledge the impact on people – yet the Welsh Lib Dem twitter page doesn’t mention it, and the Cardiff Lib Dem twitter page doesn’t appear to have even been updated since November 2017; there’s nothing on either website and I’m not aware of any emails that have gone out to anyone. We apparently have spokespeople on various policy issues affecting Wales, but I really couldn’t tell you what purpose they actually serve – and I can no longer even remember who our transport spokesperson is, they’ve done so little. Is it any wonder we’re irrelevant?

  • I was a Liberal activist, (council candidate and agent) from the late 60’s to the time of the merger, and a LibDem voter (activity restricted due to work pressures) after the merger and heart-broken after 2015. But on reflectind way I came to the conclusion that the period of the Coalition must in many respects be one of the most illiberal periods of Government we’ve had. I didn’t campaign all those years to see Legal Aid savagely cut, for policies like the bedroom tax, cuts to childrens services and …… I could go on.

    So I didn’t vote LD in 2017 and I really wonder whether I will do so again.

  • Hah ha. FFS strikes.
    ‘But on reflectind way I came to the conclusion’

    ‘But on reflection I came’


  • Neil Sandison 1st Apr '18 - 1:17pm

    Good article Katherine we are a liberal party shouldnt the aim be to liberate our fellow citizens from poverty,ignorance and conformity just as a starter ? most of the recent debate nationally and internationally has been about the lack of equality and fairness .the ignorance of so many people in the labour party regarding what is and is not a racist comment.The horrors of nationalism and protectionism are re-emerging who really cares where a passport is printed but again both left and right jumped on the bandwagon.Accepting economic decline just to fit in with Patrick Minford and the Brexit Zealots who are using WTO to isolate GB from the rest of Europe .Liberalism needs to become radical again moderate centralism not going to cut it when we are fighting for hearts and minds .

  • Katharine Pindar 1st Apr '18 - 4:59pm

    ‘Liberalism needs to become radical again’ – you are so right, Neil. Economic decline is indeed likely to worsen after Brexit, and we continue to fight to remain in the great community of Europe for that reason and for so many others, for our security and our standing in the world and to help as much as we can with the displaced victims of war. But meantime let us be radical in fighting poverty in this country.

    Looking through the Manifesto, I want more than the policies in the economic section, though aiming to reverse some of the ‘unfair and unjustified Conservative tax cuts’, including their cuts to Corporation and Capital Gains Tax, is one good policy, as is ‘Establish an independent review to consult on how to set a genuine living wage across all sectors.’ However, I want us to agree Wealth instead of Income taxes, Land Value Capture and local taxes based on income not property, and the security of Citizens’ Basic Income – all the radical proposals discussed here in LDV, and hopefully to be developed and agreed at our next national Conference.

    We do already have outstanding policies on welfare reform. But now we need to demand immediate action as people’s lives worsen: notably a more generous rise in National Living Wage, increases in Working Age Benefits, and Universal Credit being adapted to take account of the irregular income of many self-employed people. I’ve written to Vince and I hope others will do the same. We ought to be known as the party that fights for social justice for ordinary people, and we do deserve to be, even though we must do better.

    Miall, stick with us. Look at the many excellent policies to improve people’s lives we’ve passed and developed at every Conference, which you can find on the party Website. I think if you’ve been reading LDV for a while you must know the care and concern we feel for people who aren’t being given a fair deal under this Government, and can’t expect too much from the distracted and divided Labour Party.

  • @ Arnold Kiel

    As you say you are a liberal, then you should not accept that the “rich control this country”. It is the role of liberals to fight entrenched power and that especially includes the power of the rich. As liberals did with the entrenched power of the landed-gentry.

    I note you attack me by implying I am not a liberal and should be in the Labour Party.

    @ Dinesh Dhamija

    When was it made public that we run out of money 2 weeks before polling day in 2015?

    The problem with our policies which were implemented is that they were very easy for the Conservatives to claim as their own. We had lost our Social Liberal edge; we had opposed Blair often “from the left” but moved away from this after 2005.

    @ John Roffey

    Our latest manifesto can be downloaded from It has a few policies to assist in the fight against poverty – increasing benefits at least by the rate of inflation, reversing lots of Conservative benefit cuts, scraping the bedroom tax and increasing Local Housing Allowance in line with local average rents. But not abolishing the Benefit Cap which is party policy and was agreed in 2016 or making a genuine living wage enforceable in law via the National Living Wage. The party rejected Negative Income Tax after the benefits working group rejected Universal Basic Income in 2016. Katharine is referring to articles on LDV which set out the case for Land Value Taxation and Universal Basic Income and my articles on doing something about poverty (not yet party policy, but we can hope they will be before the next general election).

    Vince Cable last September made a speech to the Resolution Foundation on Inequality but while he talks of progressive taxation as being the liberal way, he reject rates higher than 60%. He points out that in 1975 65% of national income was distributed as wages but thinks 54% is fine. He points out that the Gini coefficient, the standard measure of income inequality was only 28% in 1978 and seems to think that the current around 37% is fine. We states we were once “one of the more egalitarian developed countries” but he doesn’t seem to have the ambition to return to this position.

  • John Roffey 1st Apr '18 - 7:42pm

    @Michael BG

    Thanks for helping me to fill in the holes in what has happened to the Party over the last 5 years Michael. I will go through the information and links you have provided carefully.

    As you may have gathered – my interest in the Party is that it returns the UK to “one of the more egalitarian developed countries”. It may not be the case – but there does seem to be a glaring omission of measures to combat climate change – something that can turn what would usually be considered obvious liberal measures on their heads.

    I am sure that this will be answered by what you have provided.

  • @ Katharine With Neil, you agree that ‘Liberalism needs to become radical again’ – a\nd I agree with you. When I first joined the Liberal Party co-partnership and co-ownership were radical planks in the party’s programme and philosophy…. based on the principle of our then slogan of “People Matter”.

    In a world of globalisation, hedge funds and remote far away ‘absolute business monarchs’ such as Trump, Ashley &Green – we need to resurrect this policy. The most well known in the UK is the John Lewis Partnership which includes Waitrose. They are the leaders in quality and good employee relationships.

    John Speeden Lewis began the principle of profit sharing in the 1920’s and before his death in 1955 gave away the business to his employees. Here’s what they say about themselves on their website :

    “As a Partnership we are a democracy – open, fair and transparent. Our profits are shared, our Partners have a voice and there is a true sense of pride in belonging to something so unique and highly regarded. We build relationships with our customers, suppliers and each other based on honesty, respect and encouragement.”

    – Let’s campaign on all this again…. it’s even more relevant now than it was in the 1950’s.

  • nvelope2003 1st Apr '18 - 8:06pm

    Even John Lewis is not doing so well now, sadly. Is Britain finished ?

  • Yes, retail everywhere is down, but they are still making a profit and paid a 5% bonus to all staff in March.

    Oh dear, Mr. Envelope, I’m afraid you remind me of Mona Lott in the ITMA programme of my childhood who famously said, “It’s being so cheerful as keeps me going”. It would be refreshing occasionally if you told us what you believed in.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Apr '18 - 12:52am

    @Martin “would be true if you make the presumption that anything to the right of Corbyn and McDonal is Tory”
    It’s not just the strong anti-Corbyn position (but slavishly following the Mail/Telegraph/Murdoch agenda does not make Lib Dems look any less Tory!).
    Before 2010 it was natural for Lib Dems to oppose a Labour government (which was very much to the right of Corbyn), but they were definitely not aligned with the Conservatives and had a distinct identity (which built upon being very different from Labour while opposing a longstanding Conservative government).
    Then, for five years, Lib Dems presented themselves as hand in glove with their partners in an overwhelmingly Conservative Coalition and very much against the Labour Party (which was still to the right of Corbyn).
    And even after Coalition, Lib Dem attacks on Labour as it moved leftwards have appeared far stronger than criticism of the Conservatives, despite the latter being in power and having delivered the referendum and consequent fallout that so vexes Lib Dems.
    So for a long time now, Lib Dems have looked far more anti-Labour than anti-Tory, more to the political right than the left, and have done nothing to dispel the impression that Cameron and Clegg were cut from the same cloth. Consequently, Lib Dems come across as Cameron-style “hug a hoody” Conservatives trying to position themselves as a home for Tory Remainers.
    If this is a false impression, then focusing overwhelmingly on Brexit only makes it worse as it does not allow the space for other issues to be discussed and presented in a way that would make the party’s true character apparent.

  • Katharine Pindar 2nd Apr '18 - 1:15am

    Further to your interest in measures to combat the effects of climate change, John Roffey, our 2017 Manifesto to which Michael BG has helpfully provided a link, together with much useful information, you will find radical measures proposed under Section 5, Keep our Country Green. Deploring Conservative cuts in support for renewable energy and home insulation, their selling off of the Green Investment Bank and failure to control air pollution, the section goes on to propose five ‘green’ laws: a Green Transport Act, a Zero-Carbon Britain Act, a Nature Act, a Green Buildings Act and a Zero-Waste Act ‘to incorporate existing EU environmental protection, maintain product standards such as for energy efficiency, and establish a framework for continual improvement.’ The party in the Coalition and since has been strong on environmental measures.

    However, I am myself not impressed by Section 4, Build an Economy that Works for You, from which I quoted a couple of proposals, and I think there is much work to be done in this field. Michael BG mostly mentions some of our excellent welfare policies, and they can be found in Section 6, Support Families and Communities, which also proposes that 13000 children can be taken out of poverty in two-parent families by letting both parents earn before their Universal Credit is cut, in addition to reversing cuts to the Family Element. See Sections 6.2 and 6.3 in particular, detailing many measures. However, on taxation I am more impressed by Vince’s speech to the Resolution Foundation for which Michael also provides the link, and hope that his ideas will be taken up in party policy.

    David, thank you for reminding us of co-partnership and co-ownership, which we should surely be in favour of backing. John Littler, it will be good if we can indeed develop a broad economic and industrial strategy, and if you could personally perhaps separate out the strands and prioritise what you think we should be promoting. From a layperson’s viewpoint, I read rather despairingly about the hostile takeover of GKN by Melrose, and wonder what can be done to alleviate the excesses of capitalism, when shareholders’ interests seem always to override those of the workers and the public?

  • John Roffey 2nd Apr '18 - 1:12pm

    Katharine & Michael – I do accept that the Party’s manifesto has been fully costed – I had read various parts previously, but not the right parts!

    I also accept that these costings, by necessity, have been produced based on nothing too startling happens during the period which it covers. There are two issues that do concern me however – although they are unlikely to impact during this time.

    1] It does seem that the IPCC’s hopes of limiting Global Warming to 2°C above pre industrial levels are losing credibility because of Trump’s actions since becoming President. Although there is no certainty that 2° will be enough to prevent temperatures spiralling out of control – anything beyond this almost certainly will. The problem that then arises [apart from erratic seasons] is that this is likely to cause major crop failures [as we have already seen]. This will put huge premiums on what surplus food is available from UK’s usual, or any other, suppliers. Is this an issue that needs to be prepared for given that the UK only produces 50%[?] of its food requirements?

    2] The loss of jobs as a result of AI/Robotics.

  • Neil Sandison 2nd Apr '18 - 2:03pm

    John Roffey i think your comments on climate change deserve an article in their own right there is a gap in both the governments policy and our own regarding energy generation for example the government is pressing for more homes to be built but not saying where the energy is going to come from apart from fracking and nuclear . It wants us to use electric cars by 2040 eventually but our coal fired power stations due for decommissioning have had to have their life extended and gas has to be imported .Little has been done to provide a new pylons or cabling to move energy from decentralised renewable energy sources and we are burying potential fuels from waste into landfill sites which could be converted into low carbon climate fuels since China and India no longer wants our heavily contaminated recyclables.More research needs to be done on large scale anaerobic digestion using sewage and organic waste products to break our dependence on imported gas or fracking be it here or from our neighbours .

  • John Roffey 2nd Apr '18 - 3:13pm

    You are right of course Neil – I read an article recently where the ‘Frackers’ case was put forward to fill this gap – along with pointing out the financial benefits to the economy through being totally self sufficient in energy for many years to come [sorry can’t find it at the moment]. However, my purpose of highlighting this article was for this part:

    “RAN [Rainforest Action Network] spokeswoman, Alison Kirsch, accused banks such as JPMorgan Chase of “moving backwards in lockstep with their wrongheaded political leaders”.

    “If we are to have any chance of halting catastrophic climate change, there must be an end of expansion and complete phase-out of these dangerous energy sources,” she said. “Banks need to be accountable and implement policies guarding against extreme fossil fuel funding.”

    I am afraid that recent history does not provide any hope that this warning will be heeded. If this is the case and we must accept the fact that there will be massive food shortage globally because changing weather patterns – and the UK can only feed half of its population at the moment with little likelihood of any significant improvement – should the Party support measures to keep the population to a minimum?

    I really am not equipped to write an article on energy generation – it is not a subject that I have focussed on to any degree. It is clear from your post that you have [certainly far more than I] – do you have time to write an article on the issue along the lines you suggest?

  • Katharine Pindar 2nd Apr '18 - 6:32pm

    The increasing danger of global warming not being met with sufficient cutback in fossil fuel production should indeed be heeded, John and Neil, but it is beyond the scope of this thread to discuss, since I have been focusing on the party’s need to lead on fighting poverty and inequality. Yes, it is a subject calling for further debate among us, but since the chief offenders appear to be American, Canadian and EU bankers, it is unfortunately difficult to see what effect we can have; unless indeed Mr Trudeau’s Government can be approached from this sister party to ask for less support of the Royal Bank of Canada’s backing of tar sands exploitation! This general subject is perhaps one where all the main parties should be collaborating, and the Lib Dems might take a lead on this, given their own radical proposals and the related work Ed Davey and Vince did as ministers in the Coalition.

    But getting back to the main topic here, if members agree that fighting poverty and inequality should be the main focus for the party this year apart from opposing Brexit, we should all be asking Vince to lead us on it. Whether the party policy is yet fully developed in the radical directions discussed on LDV and mentioned again above is not an obstacle: Sir Vince is entitled to lead us in directions of his choice, and with voter indifference to us and the May local elections coming up fast it is surely vital that he does.

  • John Roffey 3rd Apr '18 - 2:16am

    Some time has gone by since your last post Katharine – it does not seem, at the moment. that this thread is going to continue now that Judy Abel’s article has been posted – it already has 41 comments. Let’s hope that is not so.

    I appreciate that you wanted support for the proposal that ‘fighting poverty and inequality should be the main focus for the party this year apart from opposing Brexit’. However, I do not think support has been provided for the latter – this is one of the points raised by JA’s article.

    During the time that I spent trying to catch up with what had happened to the Party whilst I had been away – via your and Michael BG’s posts, VC’s speech and the 2017 Manifesto – in the back of my mind I was hoping to find something that might provide some real punch to capture the voter’s attention – ‘Land Value Taxation’ seemed the obvious candidate. This is a radical policy and likely to be invaluable to counter the very real threat that the UK, along with many nations, are facing from the ever growing power of the banks and global corporations.

    It certainly appears that it was these bodies that Osborne’s austerity measures were primarily intended to benefit – not those of the UK. This suspicion is greatly reinforced if you check the frequency of GO’s attendance of the Bilderberg Group’s meetings.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 3rd Apr '18 - 8:25am

    Katharine, you are absolutely right to say that we must focus on ending poverty and inequality. But to be seen as “relevant again”, we need to show that we have some specific policies on this, which are unique to our party.
    Labour is currently perceived as the party that cares about the poorest sections of society. We need to have policies to end poverty and inequality which are distinct from, and better than, Labour’s.
    I do feel that the party should be brave enough to have a policy of Universal Basic Income. This policy could be our “Unique Selling Point” in the next general election. But we should do this not because it might be a vote winner, but because it is the right and liberal thing to do. This policy seems the only way of ensuring that no-one is “enslaved by poverty”.

  • Neil Sandison 3rd Apr '18 - 10:47am

    Katherine Pindar Fair point Katherine but having an affordable home and heating and lighting it will affect those who are most disadvantaged should rent and mortgage levels be beyond reasonable levels due to high regional housing inflation or fuel be so expensive be because of the need for very expensive environmental protections or import tariffs to a non EU country like GB post 2020 it will be those on the lowest incomes who suffer most from housing and fuel poverty.

  • Katharine Pindar 3rd Apr '18 - 1:05pm

    @ John Roffey. You pinpoint Land Value Taxation as the policy we should promote to capture voters’ attention. In the penultimate paragraph of my article, it is one of the aims I mention which I suggest will contribute to the foremost aim I propose, to fight poverty and gross inequality in this country. It may well be a main means of taxing wealth, and can be part of an overhaul of taxation policy including council tax which is much needed.
    You are right to say it would be a striking policy to open up, and it has long been a goal of many Liberal Democrats, as can be seen in the work of ALTER, the very active members’ group with the name standing for Action for Land Taxation and Economic Reform. I think their aims should be central to our Liberal Democrat economic policy.

    However it cannot be the only or immediate goal that we publicise. As my penultimate paragraph says, we need first to specify our immediate goals which have the objective of tackling the country’s growing poverty. To recap, I wrote

    “We need to demand an immediate increase in the National Living Wage (note, the Government’s latest increase is not nearly sufficient) and enhanced working-age benefits, highlighting the big new rise in Council Tax as well as the rising cost of food. Then we need to campaign for taxes on wealth rather than income, for land value taxation, for local taxes that take account of people’s earnings, and for a basic citizen’s income to give people security.”

    I commend the whole project to everyone with the object of fighting poverty and inequality, both for the country’s sake and for our own relevance. Thank you for your attentive and thoughtful comments, John, which have carried the theme forward.

  • Katharine Pindar 3rd Apr '18 - 1:25pm

    @ Catherine Jane Crosland. Thank you, Catherine, for that helpful and pertinent comment. You will see in my reply to John Roffey above that I did indeed include a ‘basic citizen’s income’ in my list of desirable policies for us. Whether UBI and LVT are unique to us I don’t know, but they should in my view certainly be included in our drive to tackle poverty and inequality and be endorsed fully at the next Conference. But they are not short-term measures, they need to be brought in gradually. I think we must campaign NOW for implementation of our welfare reforms across the whole range of benefits, and for a genuinely sufficient National Living Wage. As you say, we must demand these reforms because the country needs them. But we also need to become known as THE party which cares about and campaigns for individuals to have sufficient means to live on (without recourse to food banks), and as Neil Sandison rightly adds, to pay for their homes and their home bills.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Apr '18 - 2:06pm


    Our support for the poorest must be as part of a support for all vulnerable.

    Sir V is not radical in as much as to agree to that policy. I would, and do, it , with other radical ideas could be what we need, but we must on other things be radical centre, not left wing top down, or soft hearted in areas we could be far more in tune with people.

    Examples, free prisoners who are non violent offenders, allow for increases in sentences and full time work, as , wait for it, punishment of violent offenders. Democratise justice, have victims involved in sentences and juries in every jury trial involved too. Impact on vulnerable, they know society is on the side of the victim.

    Abolish the TV licence, split the BBC into real public service, paid by Culture department grant, and commercial service, by adverts or subscription. Impact on vulnerable, no prison or other evil invasion of civil liberties for non licence payers.

  • Katharine Pindar 3rd Apr '18 - 7:28pm

    ” If Britain is to become a more equal society we must tax wealth effectively” said Sir Vince in his September speech to the Resolution Foundation deploring the gross and growing economic inequality in Britain today. ” Britain has no tax on property values as such, and council tax serves as a very unsatisfactory substitute”, he pointed out later, in a measured and academic speech. We should urge him to lead us in not only deploring the gross inequality which is combined with totally unacceptable poverty levels, but in committing us to work for measures like Land Value Taxation to tackle it.

    The country needs us to take a lead on this. Our council candidates next month need us to demand measures which will help and which are radical and different enough to attract media attention. Sadly, our numerous useful policies on health and social care, on education, housing and sustainable environment will continue to be insufficient for breakthrough. Voters do know that we want to remain in Europe. Let us show them our firm commitment to work for better lives for all, whether we are in or out of the EU.

  • Katharine Pindar 3rd Apr '18 - 11:09pm

    PS. There is a saying applicable to members of my beloved party with which Newbies may not be familiar. It is, ‘ You can drag Liberal Democrats to the water but you can’t make them drink!’
    ( Come to think of it, though, lots of lakes around where I live, I might push one or two in!)

  • nvelope2003 7th Apr '18 - 8:54pm

    David Raw: The apparent hopelessness of the party’s electoral prospects has certainly produced a flowering in unrealistic policies with little or no electoral appeal.

    As regards the idea that the church has ever diminishing appeal I would like to say that I went on Good Friday in pouring rain and the place was packed with extra chairs having to be brought in so there is something to be hopeful about.

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    @Fiona - "Do we really think that poorer people aren’t allowed nice things, like chocolate biscuits" A packet of McVities Chocolate Digestives costs...