How do we reach out to social democrats beyond the party?

social democrat groupMany Labour members are thinking of resigning. I’m sure we would love them to join us. How can we encourage them without being too pushy?

If you are a social democrat outside the Liberal Democrats, whether in the Labour party or not, if there are ways the Liberal Democrats could make it easier for you to switch to us let us know in the comments below.

Here are a few of my thoughts.

Don’t forget we lost too. Moderate members of the Labour party may have lost the leadership battle for their party, but we’ve lost most of our MPs. Let’s acknowledge these twin disasters for the centre-left, and talk about how we can move forward.

Don’t call them authoritarians. The rule of law is central to Liberal Democracy, so a lot of anarchists call us authoritarians. If you don’t like that, don’t use the term on others. As a party we have a range of opinions on how to balance liberty and security. Social Democrats are the same.

Don’t call them Liberals. If they prefer to be called social democrats, respect that. If they join they’ll soon discover they are also Liberal Democrats.

Don’t tell them to resign. Many in the Labour party will have been members for years. Perhaps their friends and family have always supported Labour. This has happened incredibly fast, and it will take time to decide how to respond. We need to respect that and respect them. At this stage they need to know they’ll be welcome, but also that we understand if they feel they have to stay and fight.

Those are just my thoughts. I’ll be interested to read what others think.

The Social Democrat Group aim to reach out to social democrats beyond the party. If you would like to help, do email us, fill in the form here, or visit our facebook page.

* George Kendall is the acting chair of the Social Democrat Group. He writes in a personal capacity.

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  • paul barker 7th Dec '15 - 11:30am

    One easy thing we can all do is hang out on Labour sites & sometimes comment, making clear that you are a Libdem. I would reccomend Labour List – the rough equivalent of LDV & Labour Uncut, a site for Labour Centrists.

  • George,perhaps you could write a similar piece regarding ‘moderate’ (whatever that means) members of the Conservative party with a view to joining us?

    After all, Corbyn is against, for instance, the ‘austerity measures’ falling on those least able to pay their way: he is against the £Billions for Trident; he is also against the Syrian bombing campaign; He is in favour of public ownership of railways and essential services…
    These values coincide with mine and, I imagine, many other LibDems…..

  • Any MP or Councillor thinking of jumping ship will look at the arithmetic and quickly see that its a non starter. Sadly the Lib Dems have been so deeply damaged after the Election battering that no career minded Labour person will join up.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Dec '15 - 12:28pm

    Corbyn is a supporter of terrorists and Islamists, who takes the knee-jerk anti-British, anti-western, anti-Israel posture. Those values are not shared by any liberal, and should not be shared by anyone in the Lib Dems, and for that reason I would prefer to welcome people from Labour who oppose that tendency in the Labour party.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Dec '15 - 12:30pm

    Andrew Lansley’s successot as MP for South Cambridgeshire made a good maiden speech in October and was interviewed on the Sunday Politics on 6/12/2015.
    Her pluralist views are very acceptable, but have the Tory whips become more moderate? or are they merely being tolerant of a new MP? Former whips Edward Heath and John Major have writen their memoirs. Cynical journalists and MPs of all parties had their commentaries confirmed, in that the task for a back-bench MP on a committee was to toe the party line, whereas Heidi Allen decided to do the job on the timing of tax credit payments. She was right, the Lords forced the Chancellor to think again and G.O. has done so. Heidi Allen told the Sunday Politics that she had not received any comments from the Chancellor. Other Tory MPs had told her that she was right, but they did not want to say so publicy. On TV he admitted to being naive, but another protection is that there are prominent Tory MPs, such as David Davis, who have expressed similar views publicly.
    The issue will come round again with Universal Credit.

  • Saying horrible things about Corbyn wont work either. Oldham showed that the voters had no problem with him. The Lib Dems sadly got a few per cent and barely any coverage. Attacking Corbyn with such gusto aint gonna work.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Dec '15 - 12:46pm

    George Kendall | Mon 7th December 2015 – 10:47 am We should also remember the Shadow Cabinet that the incoming Labour government had in 1997, consisting of MPs elected in 1992 or earlier. They had been elected by Labour MPs in opposition and mostly got the ministerial posts they had been shadowing. If they were unsuccessful a ruthless Prime Minister forced them out, for instance, the Health Minister Frank Dobson, a London MP, was pressurised into standing for London Mayor, but lost to an Independent, Ken Livingstone.
    After the 2010 general election Labour’s rather special electoral system produced Ed Milliband as leader, in opposition. He wanted to appoint Labour’s Shadow Cabinet and was allowed to do so. The only Labour MP who opposed this publicly was a backbencher called Jeremy Corbyn. Maybe he was a small c conservative in Labour politics, or maybe he thought that Ed Milliband would appoint newer and younger MPs than himself. After the 2015 Labour leadership election JC cannot be said to lack ambition. Therefore will JC use the powers he inherited from Ed Milliband to remake Labour’s Shadow Cabinet? or will he return to what he previously announced he believed and have the Shadow Cabinet elected by Labour MPs while in opposition?

  • Neil Sandison 7th Dec '15 - 1:06pm

    Very good article by George we have had former members and supporters of the Labour party join us in the past ,its been a tough thing for them to do and almost like leaving a religious cult they have required a good deal of support some were very damaged and found our open debate discussions hard hard to cope with ,some required almost detoxification and rehabilitation from the hurt that they had endured at the hands of their former party .But with care a convert can become a very active and useful member of your constituency be open and welcoming explain how we work and be inclusive moving into any new home has to be recognised a stressful process for the participant but worth the effort if we want to see liberal democracy flourish in Great Britain .

  • Matt (Bristol) 7th Dec '15 - 1:08pm

    Silvio, I happen to agree that attacking Corbyn with too much gusto isn’t usually going to work terribly well for us (I think it’ll work for the Tories though), but I don’t think we can say that Oldham proved voters had ‘no problem with him’. Remember that the main attacks on Corbyn going in that campaign were UKIP’s pseudo-patriotic nonsense.

    I think a strong Tory attack line on Corbyn will be run out at any election where the Tories see Labour as a threat, but the risk for us of attacking him (which we well may want / need to do — on certain points) will be being seen as Tory parrots.

  • The coalition between the Tories and the LibDems is just too recent a memory for most Labour members/voters, it will take a long time to attract them. I think many in the Labour party hope Corbyn will last a couple of years at best and then get kicked out for a leader like David Milliband or Hilary Benn. I doubt many – if any – would have any interest in joining the LibDems.

  • Matt, I get your point but the comment above yours from Neil Sandison ccomes across as patronising and a little arrogant. The Lib Dems need to stop the sniggering at Labour criticise yes but mocking is a no no. The party is in a battle for its very survival and winding up Labour supporters who would ‘lend’ their vote is the wrong move.

  • George Kendell talks good sense, excellent post. I as a youth was in Labour , in my forties now , as I have messaged to George , I consider myself a born again Liberal. Actually I have never not been a Liberal . Its defining it ones self . Get people to read President kennedy on this or google or go onto you tube , as ,President Kennedy Liberal Speech. It lets anyone of the centre or centre left into Liberalism. And as another non uk party political example , and therefore one people can see as objectively appreciated , the Democratic Party of Italy , their most recent , main , and it now appears, lasting centre left party , is officially a social democrat party, it is in Progressive Alliance not Liberal International , but contains a Liberal grouping within it linked to Liberal International. Much as George is doing here in reverse if you like . In todays politics more than ever these are compatible philosophies.

  • Joe mentions , social Liberalism , as we rather than the rest of the world would regard it . I think it is Liberalism as a stand alone phrase that is broad enough to be interpreted in different ways. And very misinterpreted . Social Liberalism , should , amongst Liberals , be universally appreciated as what it is. The Kennedy speech , I allude to above is terrific and forgotten . Spread the word .

  • Joe Otten – Perhaps the Social Democrats in Labour accept the reality that they need to be a very broad church to gather enough support to beat the Tories. Without power you don’t get much done.

  • I’m not sure why social democrats would want to join up with liberalism, when it’s in obvious decline? In fact there is nowhere on the planet where liberalism is in the ascendancy. And there is a good reason for that.
    I think there is a clear correlation between the discovery and usage of hydrocarbons and the rise of liberalism [and social democracy]. Before fossil fuels, life was brutish and anything but,.. liberal. Fossil fuel gave humanity the ‘gift’, of a century and a half of ‘plenty’. The very welcome ideas of sharing, of greater equality, and liberalism were much easier to achieve [politically], when there are plenty of resources to go around. But as global resources dwindle, and moreover, due to growing population, *resources per capita* decrease, liberalism will slowly get ditched accordingly.
    I feel that history will see the birth and death of liberalism, as a temporary ‘gift’, that lived during the ‘abundance window’, afforded to us by150 years of hydrocarbon. Probably not what you want to hear, but there is evidence all around if you’re willing to look.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Dec '15 - 4:16pm

    indigo 7th Dec ’15 – 3:01pm Sunshine remains plentiful. humans may have too much of it, but machines can cope. There is scope for North African solar to be connected to western european markets by interconnectors through Spain. Ed Davey pointed out that we would need co-operation from france, so, ask them nicely.
    malc 7th Dec ’15 – 1:37pm These things can take a while and, of course, Oldham as an indicator is only relevant to seats strongly held by Labour.
    Those trying to get to Jeremy Corbyn may try to use his brother, as happened to John Major, but the brother might be wise to avoid publicity. “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt”.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Dec ’15 – 12:28pm……………………Corbyn is a supporter of terrorists and Islamists, who takes the knee-jerk anti-British, anti-western, anti-Israel posture. Those values are not shared by any liberal, and should not be shared by anyone in the Lib Dems, and for that reason I would prefer to welcome people from Labour who oppose that tendency in the Labour party………………………

    Well, a very Daily Mail description of Corbyn….Has he NO shared values with LibDems?…

    BTW…If we are looking for all new members to be pro-British, pro-Israel, etc. I think we’d best look at UKIP/BNP, after all, I’m sure that’s their ‘territory’….

  • David Evershed 7th Dec '15 - 5:28pm

    Many ex SDP and moderate Labour are not economically liberal and their entry into the Lib Dems would create a problem.

    Lib Dems are economically liberal as well as socially liberal.

    Those who are only socially liberal should remain socialists and not try to infiltrate and convert the Lib Dem party to socialism.

  • Carl Gardner 7th Dec ’15 – 4:48pm………………If we are looking for all new members to be pro-British, pro-Israel, etc. I think we’d best look at UKIP/BNP, after all, I’m sure that’s their ‘territory’…………This is the sort of bonkers, disgraceful comment I expect to see on a Stop the War or Momentum website. If many LibDems think support for Israel is in itself racist (which the reference to the BNP surely implies) then that’s another reason not to support you. You have of course had problems with Jenny Tonge and David Ward…………..As for the suggestion that being pro-British is racist, it’s hard to know what to say, frankly……………

    What is disgraceful is you ignoring the first part of my post and taking me to task for my throwaway comment…

    I was responding to a comment that Corbyn is only for “terrorists and Islamists, who takes the knee-jerk anti-British, anti-western, anti-Israel posture”…..
    There. are degrees of ‘terrorists’ (after all Mandela was a terrorist to the same Tories who ‘fawned at his funeral’) There are limits to being pro-Israel, pro-British, pro-Western….Gaza, extraordinary rendition, Iraq, etc. are examples of why simplistic remarks like Alex Macfee’s need to be challenged…..

  • Peter Andrews 7th Dec '15 - 6:00pm

    indigo 7th Dec ’15 – 3:01pm
    “In fact there is nowhere on the planet where liberalism is in the ascendancy. ”

    Except that the Liberal Party just won a general election in Canada

  • George Kendall 7th Dec ’15 – 6:16pm……………………@expats………………I did write an piece on those lines a while ago here: You’re welcome to share it via facebook and twitter, or borrow some of my arguments if you’re going to write a similar pitch for moderate Tories to join us……………….But perhaps that’s not what your comment was really trying to say…

    GK, Thanks for that, If I had read it, I’ve forgotten;after all it was more than four years ago….My point was, that to keep repeating the ‘Daily Mail’ views of Corbyn is not the whole picture…As you predicted, an unfettered Tory party are still using ‘austerity’ to force through idealogical attacks on public services….Your Nov 2011 thread would resonate, even more, in today’s UK…

  • Little Jackie Paper 7th Dec '15 - 7:12pm

    With respect Mr Kendall, aren’t you just fishing in the same old pools?

    What about those of us who are not and have never been in any political party? The self-professed politically engaged do seem to have picked up a habit of forgetting us or just dismissing us.

    Why not try talking to us too – we may not agree – but we aren’t all dumb!

  • As one or two have said above, they have found out they have been Liberals all along. IMO we must all argue and explain Liberalism to everyone . A set of bold Liberal Principles & Policies would be a start, as it seems to me the Lib Dems become blander the more successful (in the past) they are…….. or is it just me?

  • Alex Macfie 7th Dec '15 - 7:48pm

    I think some people here have wilfully misinterpreted my position. I was specifically attacking the knee-jerk attitude of trendy lefties like Corbyn that the West/Britain/Israel is always wrong, regardless of the circumstances, not saying that they were always right. expats: please tell me you’re joking when you say that the BNP are pro-Israel. Its ideology is anti-semitic, a sentiment it shares with radical Islamists (of course, the BNP also shares with Islamists a hatred of free and civil society: the Paris attacks are exactly the sort of thing a far-right terrorist would have done) . To the extent that it is “pro-British”, the Britain it seeks to create is not one that I could ever live in, and anyway BNP types would have preferred the Nazis to have won WW2 (and so would Islamists and some pro-Palestine extremists). I support the right of Israel to exist, but this does NOT mean that I support everything that the government of Israel does; in fact I oppose the present Israeli government and if I were Israeli I would support the opposition bloc, which includes a liberal party.
    My point was to highlight how the trendy lefties currently in charge of Labour tend to be useful idiots of radical Islamists and other anti-British extremists. And I thought maybe there is some mileage in portraying the Lib Dems as a radical but RESPONSIBLE left-liberal opposition to the Tories. But it seems that this position is too open to deliberate misinterpretation by anyone who wants to portray opposition to infantile trendy-leftism as a far-right position.

  • Carl , well done on anti racist criticism . On law and order do not agree with the stereotype. Iam a Liberal Democrat absolutely motivated by looking out for the underdog. Protection of the victim is married for me with staunch belief in the rule of law . Power , excercised by a bully , is a Liberal enemy . Victimless crimes are one thing . Crimes by the wicked against the vulnerable should infuriate any true Liberal . If not they do not belong in a mainstream party.

  • Dave Orbison 7th Dec '15 - 8:32pm

    Alex Macfie “Corbyn is a supporter of terrorists and Islamists”. What utter nonsense. He is critic of Israeli Govt policy and I support his comments. All I long for is peace in the Middle East – that does not make me a terrorist sympathiser.

    As for ‘trendy’ lefties – oh my goodness what is this supposed to mean? Aren’t their trendy LibDems and even Tories? Are you judging them by their hairstyle or if they live in Hampstead etc etc. Can we just go back to grown up politics and debates over policy?

  • @ George Kendall
    “As Peter points out, the Liberal victory in Canada doesn’t seem to fit with your hypothesis. Or are you arguing that Liberalism can only survive in a resource-rich country?”
    No. I’m arguing that liberalism can only exist in a *per capita* resource rich planet. And given that the per capita world population is increasing exponentially, but planetary resources are conversely, decreasing annually, then it follows that liberalism is the gift of a 150 year hydrocarbon *indulgence* that humanity will reflect upon fondly as it disappears from our sight, as more and more population numbers clamour for less and less, available global resources. I can’t dress this up for you,..It won’t be pretty.
    And,.. let’s see just how liberal those Liberal Canadians turn out to be? After all, were there not, self proclaimed Social Democrats in Germany, 75 years ago? So please let’s not get fooled by the name over the door.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Dec '15 - 10:04pm

    Dave Orbison: No, Corbyn is not just a ” critic of Israeli Govt policy”, he approaches everything from the point ofr view that Israel is always the party at fault, regardless of the facts of the situation. At bottom I think he prefers Israel to have a right-wing government as it does now, as this encourages further Palestinian extremism which will hopefully produce the outcome that he prefers , namely the elimination of the state of Israel. The last thing he and his acolytes want is a peaceful solution brokered by people who genuinely want compromise and elimination of extremists. I want peace in the Middle East, and this means approaching the issue from a neutral perspective that accepts that there is fault on both sides, and that the main obstacle to peace is extremism on both sides. Not the one-sided attitude of the Corbynistas.

    I refer to “trendy lefties” not because they are especially fashionable, but because it is (or anyway was) a commonplace phrase used to describe the infantile posturing characteristic of Corbyn’s sort of left-winger, where positions are taken mostly from the point of view of whether they seem right-on, rather than out of any genuine political analysis. Hence, for instance, the knee-jerk anti-British posturing, and pointless acts like declaring a council a “nuclear-free zone”.

  • George, did you see my comments at 2 . 06, thought they might be of interest. Would really l i ke to have people unfamiliar with that jfk speech , hear that. Are you welcoming members who are two thirds Liberal, one third , social democrat? Would be keen to liase , George .

  • P. S. Do share feedback how the social democrat group is going down with our members .

  • Dave Orbison 7th Dec '15 - 10:46pm

    Alex Macfie rather than fantasise about the position you wish to ascribe to Corbyn wouldn’t it be more sensible and rational to focus on specific polices that he currently advocates rather than fictional demons. In his speech re Syria he condemened antiSemitism as well as other hate crimes. I can’t see how your personal attacks do anything to make the LibDems more attractive. But if you think parroting The Sun is reasonable that’s up to you. Personally I think it deminishes any argument you may have assuming you have one beyond your obvious loathing for this politician. K

  • paul barker 7th Dec '15 - 10:54pm

    On the fundamental question of why Labour MPs should want to defect to us, the first thing to grasp is that Momentum want them out, that is part of the plan. They are in no hurry because the boundary changes are going to mean all MPs coming up for reselection anyway, probably around 2018, perfect timing for the Left as alot of moderate/centrist members will have drifted away by then & the Party machine will be under Left control. Corbyn can afford to be “nice” because Momentum will be doing the dirty work.
    Centrist Labour MPs could form another Party, an SDP2, but that means starting from scratch with no oorganisation, no members & little money. It makes more sense to join us. Theres an added advantage that defection is something individual MPs can do; forming a new party requires getting a whole bunch to agree, something Labour centrists have been pretty bad at doing.
    For the great majority of Labour MPs who arent Marxists its a choice of jumping ship or waiting to walk the plank.

  • The reason its such a good explanation in my view is his adding if to it , meaning , if one defines it thus , he s a Liberal. A little as many here or in your new group, with self description.Preamble as yardstick , also very impressive.

  • Dave Orbison 8th Dec '15 - 5:06am

    Paul Barker – you state that Momentum are behind some grand plan to deselect Labour MPs. As a Momentum supporter I wish to correct you. Your narrative fits with that from the Press and sadly some Labour MP’s intent on rocking the boat but it is not the case. Momentum is about encouraging those who support the Labour Party in taking a different direction and offering an alternative to the Tories. Momentum supports increased party democracy and members having a direct say in policy. A minority of Labour MPs don’t like this. Momentum would prefer for those MPs to take stock, accept the mandate that Jeremy Corbyn has been given and his intention to increase members involvement in policy formulation. If MPs come round then all well and good. If they believe the future is to continually undermine the leader and refuse to accept the democratic will of the party then where that leads is between then and their constituency party. Those MPs have choices and there is no grand plan to get rid of xyz. But if they cannot accept democracy within the party I’m not sure why they would want to stay so surely the issue of deselection is a mute one.

  • There is surely a need for some conversation at the least among those who, if nothing else, are anti-Tory and worried sick by what George Osborn and NHS Hunt are up to, never mind Ian Duncan Smith. Without Liberal democrats holding them back, they are taking the country severely to the right, and not even sensibly. The idea of George Osborn as Prime Minister in May 2020 is very worrying, and there are only a few short years to head it off.

  • A few thoughts:

    Tim Farron is the ideal leader for trying to tempt both MPs and supporters to switch to us

    Everything Tristram Hunt said yesterday was music to my liberal ears – he’d be welcome for one

    And yes we should target moderate Tories too; there are some (my criteria: not crazy about Europe; don’t despise the poor!)

  • Peter Watson 8th Dec '15 - 8:28am

    Given the terrible level of representation, membership and public support for Lib Dems since 2010, this is not inviting Labour MPs and members to join, it is asking them to take over.

  • Dave Orbison 8th Dec '15 - 8:49am

    Despite the plea in this article those Labour MPs likely (if any) to defect are absolutely authoritarian., pro-Trident and were against Corbyn attacking the Welfare Cap and Tax Credits. I wish Tim every success in persuading them to join the LibDems. But with their egos and arrogance they will expect to run the Party and tell members which policies you will adopt. If that’s what you want then good luck.

  • These “Come to the mission” threads keep popping up…..Strange how these ‘moderates’ that should/must join are the same people that, between 2010-15, we didn’t have a good word to say about (and vice-versa)….

    I’m sure that with 8 MPs we offer a great opportunity to all the Labour malcontents we keep hearing about, should they choose to ‘defect’, a future LibDem party would be run by the likes of Cooper, Burnham and Kendall…..As for Tristram Hunt; yesterday’s speech was all about reducing inequality; strange that, while Corbyn voted against the Tory Welfare bill, Hunt, together with all the other leadership contenders, bravely abstained..

    Be careful what you wish for…

  • Tom Snowdon 8th Dec '15 - 9:19am

    Good post from George Kendall. We need to be ready to welcome in any like-minded members from Labour as their internal war develops. One way to do that is to ensure that people are reminded that part of our political heritage is Social Democratic, not just Liberal.

  • Richard Underhill 8th Dec '15 - 11:23am

    Nick 8th Dec ’15 – 10:14am ‘Paul Barker: “Centrist Labour MPs could form another Party, an SDP2, ‘
    Not SDP2 please, that was the title applied to Dr. Owen’s splinter by the Radical Quarterly.
    It might be better to keep out of the alphabet soup entirely, so as to avoid being confused with the SDLP, etc.

  • Richard Underhill 8th Dec '15 - 11:30am

    Tom Snowdon 8th Dec ’15 – 9:19am One former member of the SDP was a former Tory MP. Some of the others joined the Conservatives, inluding the MP for Tunbridge Wells and a columnist in The Times who is now a Tory peer.
    We should credit their achievements: the former is now the Cabinet Minister for local government, has loosened the planning system and will decide on fracking: the latter writes well on football with the help of statisticians.

  • Phil Aisthorpe 8th Dec '15 - 11:47am

    If my experience as someone who has recently made the switch from Labour to LibDem is at all typical then I can tell you that this is not an easy thing to do. In my case I left Labour before even considering joining the LibDems. It was only when I was out in the cold that I began to look for a new home.

    For me, Labour was truly awful under Ed Miliband (that’s when I gave up my party membership) and became truly intolerable under Mr Corbyn (that’s when I vowed to never vote Labour again). However, if there hadn’t been a change in LibDem leadership I wouldn’t have joined. For me it was anathema for any liberal social democratic party to align themselves with the Tories and I can well imagine that there are many from the left who will never forgive this ‘collaboration’.

    I have been a party member for about 10 weeks now and I’ve found internal communication pretty hard going. For example I only realised that there was a Social Democratic Group after seeing this post and tweeting party members sometimes feels a bit like standing at the roadside and shouting at the traffic.

  • Simon Banks 8th Dec '15 - 12:00pm

    I can absolutely agree with George about not making Social Democrats who have joined us uncomfortable by calling them “Liberals”. As he says, they will find in time that (or if) they’re Liberal Democrats and may even find they’re Liberals. I can’t agree that all parties have a mix of views on how to balance liberty and security, so there’s really no difference between Liberals and Social Democrats on this. A commitment to liberty is at the heart of Liberalism. It’s much less central to Social Democracy. Same with driving power down to the lowest level possible – essentially Liberal, optionally Social Democrat. From this I conclude that some people who can be described as Social Democrats are natural allies of Liberals and some aren’t.

    From a Social Democrat perspective of course, the same can be said of Liberals.

  • Phil – welcome to the party! The Social Democratic group has only just been set up, but there are several other Facebook groups that you might like to join as well, such as LibDem Forum and Alliance of Liberal Democrats. There is also the Social Liberal Forum at, which might resonate with you.

  • Matt (Bristol) 8th Dec '15 - 12:32pm

    I agree with what Simon Banks says about their being degrees of agreement with differing traditions. I spent a happy half hour at a family party over the weekend agreeing with a Conservative councillor and their partner on the phoney nature of the current devolution to local authorities, the iniquities of the benefits cap, the housing association right-to-buy, the artificial nature of the current 2-party system … and then I broached Europe and foreign policy and gave up in the face of statements about the ‘fourth reich’ and the need to attack others before they attacked us.

    As a devoutionist democrat, there was much in me that could speak to the community-minded localist in him. But outside his own community, he had a Little-Englander approach to the wider world, and his apparently multilateral, bipartisan approach did not have any extent of trust towards those who were not already or aspiring to be British citizens.

    I can see how there are often similar issues of discord with those on the left for Liberal Democrats (sometimes the exact opposite to my discussion at the party).

    But I had always understood that the formaiton of the party was a merger between social democrats and liberals to forge a common mutually intelligible politics, not an absorption by liberals of those social democrats they found acceptable.

    The fact of the party’s formation by merger, to me, suggested that the party gave up the ambition to be either a party for all liberals or for all social democrats, but to create a new, conjoined political language (of which ‘social liberalism’ would be a very good descriptor if anyone else used the term the way we do).

    Obviously I was not there at the time, and subsequent events suggest that many liberals in the party did not feel constrained to only seek out liberals who could find common ground with social democrats (also that as has been attested, many social democrats wanted to push further right than many liberals at the time were comfortable).

    But I do feel that some in the party would like us to shout ‘Liberal’ and whisper ‘democrat’.

  • Richard Underhill 8th Dec '15 - 6:09pm

    Matt (Bristol) 8th Dec ’15 – 12:32pm We should use the minimum number of names for clarity and branding. Liberal Democrat says who we are. Lib Dem was conceded by David Steel in an interview with The Independent, during Paddy Ashdown’s leadership, as OK for headlines. That is more than enough.

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