How the MPs are lining up

This is, as I understand it, the current state of who’s backing whom:

For Chris:

Tom Brake
Lynne Featherstone
Sandra Gidley
Paul Holmes
Martin Horwood
David Howarth
Susan Kramer
Mark Williams

For Nick:

Danny Alexander
Colin Breed
Jeremy Browne
Malcolm Bruce
Alistair Carmichael
Ed Davey
Tim Farron
Don Foster
Julia Goldsworthy
Nick Harvey
Mike Hancock
Mark Hunter
Paul Keetch
Norman Lamb
David Laws
Michael Moore
Greg Mulholland
Mark Oaten
John Pugh
Willie Rennie
Paul Rowen
Sir Robert Smith
Sarah Teather
Steve Webb
Stephen Williams
Phil Willis

(Do let me know of any errors or omissions, and I’ll update – do provide corroboration, though, please!)

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  • I believe that Annette Brooke is supporting Huhne (I think I saw her name on the facebook group).

  • I thought that at least seven MPs was needed to nominate a candidate for leadership. So who’s the seventh supporter of Huhne?

  • 3 It might be Huhne himself I suppose? Or is that not allowed? But see above.

  • 5 – I understood from what I read elsewhere, that seven MPs other than the candidate were required for the nomination. It would be sad, if Huhne couldn’t even get enough nominations to run for leadership.

  • Bonkalot Jones 24th Oct '07 - 9:39am

    Huhne is drifting out towards 4.0 [3/1 in old money] in the betting…

  • Interesting, when I’m looking at those supporters, Nick seems to be supported by MPs considered to be both on the “Right” and “Left” wing of the parliamentary party, whereas the supporters of Chris are mainly in the “Centre” of the parliamentary party. Does anyone spot any other dividing factor that I missed?

  • Also Mark Williams. This seems to give us the nine talked of in the Telegraph (add Huhne himself, Brooke and Mark Williams to the six given above).

  • I understand Richard Younger-Ross has come out for Nick.

  • The question that needs to be asked is how does this compare to the previous leadership contest? Has Chris increased the number of MPs supporting him? I will also be interested to see how the MEPs split. Only 3 (out of 12) supported Chris last time (his argument was that he came into the race late and most had already declared for Ming). Could be even less than 3 this time though, given that Nick was in Brussels for a term.

  • Peter Bancroft 24th Oct '07 - 11:20am

    Anon @ 8 Nobody credible in the party defines themselves based on whether they’re left or right-wing.

    The MPs will know Clegg and Huhne better than the activists and will know that politically they are definitely both of the same branch of European social-liberal views.

    The dividing lines are still being drawn, but I think that two of the key ones might be “a comfortable ride versus a shock to the system” and “a left-wing radical versus a centrist liberal coalition”.

    I suspect that it’s obvious enough who I mean by each, which hopefully demonstrates that these might be meaningful issues for people to consider voting on.

  • I understand there are at least two others backing Chris taht are not listed here but I don’t think they have gone public yet.

    Given that the supposed advantages of Ming last time was that he gathered over 50% of the MPs and in the end it was his lack of support amongst the MP’s that did it in for him, I would not base too much on how many MP’s Chris and Nick have got.

  • Is it just me or is everyone else getting put to sleep by this mind-numbingly dull beauty-contest…

  • Nah, I’m quite enjoying it – I think either would be a fantastic leader

  • 16 – “a comfortable ride versus a shock to the system” – that is almost exactly the terms of the 1976 Leadership contest, with David Steel offering a safe pair of hands and John Pardoe offering a bumpy ride.

    In 1976 almost all of the ‘radical’ wing of the party backed Pardoe. Whereas now support for Clegg seems more broadly based.

  • 16 – Peter Bancroft, yes, I know. Therefore I was careful to formulate my sentence in a way that nobody could claim that I was saying that this is how they define themselves. I said that they are considered to be (by others) on the “Right” and “Left” wing of the parliamentary party.

    Clearly using such terms as “Left” and “Right” is an oversimplification, but the fact is that Lib Dems have wings which are called “Left” and “Right” at least in the media, and I thought it was interesting to notice, that Nick Clegg gathers support from both wings, whereas Huhne’s support seems to come from somewhere in the middle.

    BTW, I see what you mean with “a left-wing radical versus a centrist liberal coalition”, but could you give some more hints which is which in “a comfortable ride versus a shock to the system”? Clegg seems to have more support among the party grandees, but on the other hand it seems he might make more changes to the party than Huhne, which some people might find as stepping out from the comfort zone.

  • Who is Lembit Opik backing? Huhne I hope.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Oct '07 - 12:49pm

    My view is that “easy ride” is Clegg, “shock to the system” is Huhne.

    It would definitely be a shock to the system if the one now clearly identified as the front-runner were not elected.

    But I think policy-wise, Clegg is offering “easy ride” – what he puts as “shock to the system” is actually well-worn policies that have been pushed on us by the Conservative press for decades. Why is it that whenever anyone is proposing something which is “a shock to the system” or “outside the comfort zone” for us – we know what they mean – “become more like the Conservative Party”?

    Sure, in some ways it would work – we become essentially a pro-Europe Conservative Party, same economic policies, but not the Little England mentality. But is this really going to tackle the deep-seated problems that exist in this country? The obvious unhappiness of many of our people, the growing divide between the haves and have-nots, the environmental crises? I think not – it’s easy ride to ignore these, it’s shock to the system to question the way the dominance of politics by the interest of the wealthy contributes to these things becoming worse rather than better. Huhne seems to be doing more of this.

  • Matthew Huntbach, after reading what you had to say I’m convinced that both the Tories and the Labour are praying for Huhne to win.

  • nigelashton 24th Oct '07 - 1:24pm

    Does it matter than Huhne’s majority is 568 and Clegg’s is 8,682?

  • Peter Dunphy 24th Oct '07 - 1:25pm

    Campbell and Kennedy will not endorse anyone. If Sanders is out as a whip so is Burstow. Cable will stay out as acting leader. Hemming is ploughing his own furrow. This means Nick is virtually at the 50% mark.

  • Peter Dunphy 24th Oct '07 - 1:28pm

    and Hughes will stay out as President I would guess

  • Steven Ronald 24th Oct '07 - 1:30pm

    I hope no voters are going to be overly influenced by the large amount of MPs endorsing Clegg – Remember last time when the MPs all tended to go for “Safe Hands” Ming?

  • 29, 30 – Who’s currently the chairman of the parliamentary party? Could imagine that he or she wouldn’t endorse anyone, either.

  • Peter Bancroft 24th Oct '07 - 2:16pm

    Anon @ 21

    I thought the comfortable ride thing was more obvious than the coalition.

    Nick Clegg has declared that he wants to challenge activists and that the party needs to “reassert” things and various other strong verbs. He’s playing agressively to the general public and almost against some of the party’s accepted norms.

    Chris Huhne on the other hand is basically saying that we should continue as now, but just do it better – keep our existing strategies but sell them better, focus on our existing campaign tactics, but work harder.

    Matthew @ 25 Easy accusations of Tory “lite” don’t really cut if you’re wanting to mount an attack on one of the leadership candidates.

    Both candidates are clearly proposing broadly liberal platforms and if you really can’t tell the difference between Clegg’s policies and that of the Conservative party, then I’d venture that it’s you that has a perspective problem.

  • How is anything Huhne is offering “a shock to the system”?

    What utter nonsense.

    Marr: Chris, is there anything which Nick has just said which you disagree with?

    Huhne: No.

    Huhne would only be a shock in that many MPs would loath working for him. A fact echoed by his level of support from MEPs last time round. Post-MEP (re)selection, my guess is you wont get many backing Huhne. Liz Lynne was the only one last time, and I would be surprised if there were any more than her.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Oct '07 - 3:32pm

    It’s Clegg’s economic policy which is more like the Conservative Party. I’m quite happy to accept that his policy on other issues, in particular his Home Affairs brief, is anything but.

    If I’m accused of simplicity, then I throw back that accusation at those who are suggesting Huhne is just “continue as now”. One of the things that’s attracted me to Huhne is his support for land value taxation, and if we were to be serious abut that, now that WOULD be a shock to he system.

    I’ve only just started looking at LibDem blogs since the leadership election started, and to be honest, I’m a little shocked at what I’m finding – if it’s typical of the party, it seems to have become a whole lot more right-wing – economically, not in other things – since I was last significantly involved outside local campaigning.

    In particular, I find merely for raising concern about the way Britain is becoming more economically divided, the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, I’m getting dismissed as some old style lefty who shouldn’t really be in the party by Clegg supporters. Well if that’s what you lot are really like, it’s bye-bye Liberal Democrats from me if Clegg wins. I wish I hadn’t bothered with all the work I put in helping to turn Lewisham from a LibDem black hole into an area where we’re now seriously considering winning at Parliamentary level.

  • Why is nobody discount THE Lib Dem election of today – Chairman of the Parliamentary Party!

    Surely this warrants a strand in itself!

    Paul Holmes has stepped down and Lorely Burt, John Thurso and Andrew George will face off for the top job at tonights PPM?

    Who puts money on who? I reckon the Viscount would be in with a good shout. I suspect than none of the three candidates have so far declared in the other leadership contest in order not to prejudice their chances this evening!

  • Matthew Huntbach: “it (Liberal Democrats party) seems to have become a whole lot more right-wing – economically, not in other things”

    In its 1979 manifesto Liberal Party actually proposed lower rates of income tax than the Conservatives, including the top rate, so you could consider it as coming back to the roots. 😉

  • Andrew Duffield 24th Oct '07 - 4:21pm

    [email protected] – Chris is certainly a strong advocate of LVT, but the whole party is also signed up to it now – albeit as a “longer term” aim. That may change to a shorter term goal once house prices crash next year and we wake up to the fact that stability in the housing market necessitates a progressive tax on property wealth – not its complete axing and the total absence of any fair replacement. Madness!

    I have yet to see anything from Clegg on economic policy, but unless he comes up with something radically redistributive that avoids income tax (which doesn’t redistribute anyway!), I’m sticking with the candidate who is likely to advance the most socially, economically and environmentally progressive agenda – Chris.

  • Andrew Duffield 24th Oct '07 - 4:23pm

    @36 I meant!

  • There seems to be an awful lot of Georgists here advocating the LVT. I’m a bit concerned about this, as in the main stream Georgists aren’t taken seriously, though I’m sure they mean well, and advocating LVT migh put Lib Dems definitively in the marginal.

    It might be in any case healthy to see how Milton Friedman answered to the Georgists who approached him:

    “Thank you for your letter of January 20,1979. The reason why I have not allied myself with the “Georgist” movement is very simple. While I share some of its views, I do not share its basic view. The basic fundamental view of the Georgist movement as I understand it is not only that insofar as there be property taxes they be levied on land rather than improvements, it is not only that property taxes at some levels may be preferable to other kinds of taxes, but rather that property taxes should absorb essentially the whole rent of the land, leaving the market value of the land itself essentially zero, and that the revenue from that source should be the sole source for governmental expenditure.

    I do not share those two views. I believe that it makes far too strict a differentiation between land and other sources of productive services. In Ricardo’s words, the original and indestructible qualities of the land do not by any means account for all of the current rent from land; land can be produced, its qualities can be improved, all through investment for which there is no incentive if the whole of the yield from improving the productivity of land or from producing the land were to go to the government. On the other side of the issue, there are many other resources, of which human labor is one of the most important, which are, to put it in technical economic jargon, in inelastic supply so that a tax on the return from such services is unlikely to affect the amount of such services made available for market use. The most obvious examples are such items as the skill of Muhammad Ali or of a Frank Sinatra. These are natural resources, too, and they are limited in supply and derive their value from their scarcity. But here, too, I believe that incentive effects would complicate any attempt to have anything approaching a 100 percent tax on the site value of such skills, to use George’s terms.

    I realize that in almost all other respects the views of the Georgists and of my own are very much the same. I am more than glad to join with them in common objectives, but I could not ally myself with the Georgist movement in any sense which suggested that I agreed with its fundamental premises.

    Sincerely yours,
    Milton Friedman”

  • @25 “Little England mentality”

    I will remind all readers – though I should not have to – that “little Englander” was originally a term used abusively by Tories, who wanted to invade, suppress and, if necessary, kill ‘johnny foreigner’ in the interests of Empire, against Liberals who had the outlandish notion that perhaps we shouldn’t be doing such things.

    In its original use Little Englanders were Liberals, and the goodies. Odd that it seems to be reversing its meaning (rather like stakeholder).

    But then, English is an odd language!

  • Sanders, Burstow +Willott out as whips.

    Vince, Simon, Ming and Charlie out.

    I hear that Lembit will also not declare.

    That leaves 55 MPs, minus chris and Nick = 53. So far 26 declared for Clegg = A smidgeon off of 50% and Chris with 8.

    This means there are 19 MPs who have yet to declare who we can expect to do so.

    These include some notable people including shadow cabinet members.

    As someone who so far is failing to make up my mind, I will probably just wait until David Heath declares and follow his lead.

  • Has Jo Swinson already declared?

  • Elizabeth Patterson 24th Oct '07 - 7:35pm

    Regular posters seem to be in quite a twist about how our MPs vote.
    Surely they should think for themselves and not follow the flock.
    My own view is that while our MPs are very good at presenting LD policies they are not very good at the leader business.
    First they dumped Charles in the most damaging way possible, then tried to engineer a coronation; when that failed they, along with Paddy and Shirley W, pushed the membership into electing Ming; they did not anticipate Ming’s negative public perception.
    The leader we need is the one who appeals most to the general public, not the MPs with their internal alliances.

  • Elizabeth Patterson, I think that in this case the person who appeals most to the general public is the same as the one with the MPs internal alliances.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Oct '07 - 10:20pm

    [email protected] says “pro-market, which is neither a left nor right wing position in my view—markets are a neutral tool that reflect the choices of the consumer”. I accept that “left” and “right” as political terms are gross simplifications, and have different meanings at different times and places. I guess most of us have thought of various schemes for multi-dimensional politics to replace the simple left-right spectrum. Also, I accept that the competition between Clegg and Huhne is tending to cause an over-emphasis on fairly small differences. Nevertheless, all the commentary on Clegg suggests he wants to take us in a way which is more accepting of market solutions, and when he says he wants to take us “out of our comfort zone” he means he’s going to take us so far that way that some of us will feel uncomfortable about it.

    If anything “left” means wanting to spread power or critical of the current establishment, while “right” means wanting to concentrate power and accepting of the current establishment. And that’s why being pro free market can be left-wing in the 19th century and right-wing in the 21st century. In the 19th century, the free market was mainly small traders up against the power of the aristocracy, the church. But now it’s huge corporations who ARE the main powers.

    I don’t reject the free market entirely, far from it – freedom to trade is central to liberalism. But I am suspicious of those who seem so obsessed by this aspect of liberalism at the expense of others, and those who insist that real liberalism is uncritical support of extreme free market ideas, as if we were still in the 19th century. I think in fact some of the failings of the move to the free market started by Mrs Thatcher are now becoming more apparent, which is why I am saddened at so many in our party (Clegg included?) who seem unable to see that, and instead want to move the party more in that direction.

    To say that the free market is just neutral is nonsense – it’s not neutral for the reason that some players in the market have enormously more wealth and hence enormously more power in it than others. This has become more so since the 19th century since more automation, with computers of thought as well as of muscle with machines, means the value of a human being purely as a human being is less than it was then. At some times I’ve toyed with the position that the free market would be fine so long as everyone started off equal in it i.e. no inheritance – but I think we know that calling for a massive increase in inheritance tax is a no-goer (though, interestingly, a few otherwise very right wing people in economic terms go for that one).

    One of the biggest failures in the market in the UK now is housing. Yet it’s something we hardly talk about. Why isn’t the sheer misery of those who cannot get suitable housing, or are pushed to extremes in their working life to pay for it, a major issue? Sure, there was a lot wrong with the old council housing model, but it did provide a safety net. The liberty gained by having secure and affordable housing is enormous. So why is this not a major issue? Because poor people who can’t afford housing don’t count? Are we preaching a liberalism of the wealthy where only those with substantial dollops of cash to become big players in the market count?

    This is the sort of thing I’d like to see someone who is REALLY going to take us out of the comfort zone talk about. Yet it seems there’s so much we can’t talk about like this because “we might lose votes in the Tory marginals we need to win” – and I guess the poor tend not to vote, so who cares about them?

  • Peter Bancroft 24th Oct '07 - 10:49pm

    I’m not sure it’s possible to call house prices a market failure. 300,000 new houses are needed every year, only 100,000 are built because the state won’t allow any more. Year on year house prices go up. Surely we don’t believe that’s a coincidence?

    “Right-wing” is obviously an insult to someone who defines themselves as being against anything to do with individual versus collective choice, but I think that it’s very difficult to be a thinking liberal unless you accept that sometimes “left wing” thoughts are useful (in strengthening state structures where necessary) and sometimes “right-wing” thoughts are necessary (in cutting back union bargaining power or in reforming public services, for example).

    If you look at Clegg’s proposals in particular one of the most “right wing” was the proposal for school vouchers, when all he’s proposing is we spend a lot more money on children from the lowest educational background. If that’s right-wing, then maybe I’m right-wing too!

    We should talk instead about what level of determination we have to deal with social ills and what changes we’re willing to tolerate in order to make society a better place. Whether it’s “right-wing” or “left-wing” is surely not the point.

  • Matthew Huntbach, I found an appropriate quote for food for thought from my quote file:

    Those fighting for free enterprise and free competition do not defend the interests of those rich today. They want a free hand left to unknown men who will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow… – Ludwig von Mises

    Maybe many limitations to the free market don’t actually hurt that much those, who already are rich, but those, who are ready to work hard to become rich.

  • Yasmin Zalzala 24th Oct '07 - 11:22pm

    Is Mark Oaten an MP?

  • As Matthew says, housing is a mess, and is increasingly seen as so. But as Peter says, the problem is not the market, but the failure of the planning system. He suggests 300k houses would be sufficient, but Reading econometric model suggests at least 500k. If we don’t allow them to be built, affordability will worsen for those who are not in social housing or lucky enough to inherit. We have a choice, and I hope that one of the ways in which Nick is prepared to step outside the comfort zone is to support more housebuilding, particularly in areas of high demand.

    As MatGB says, “is whether we favour a high safety net and hand up or whether we let people whither on the vine if they make bad choices”. I am economically liberal, but I certainly support such a safety net.

    I don’t care whether that leads people to call me left-wing or right-wing, I only care if people call me liberal.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Oct '07 - 9:46am

    I wonder if you people who are advocating building hundreds of thousands of new houses have ever sat on a Planning Committee when even some modest housebuilding proposal on some little scrap of green land is proposed – and heard the angered shouting that is aimed at the members by the public present if they give it the go-ahead? Let alone faced up to the howls of opposition that come when large scale building on a substantial piece of green countryside is proposed.

    The problem is that the demand for housing will NEVER be fulfilled. There will always be people who demand a second or third home, a big mansion in the countryside, a central city flat. We just don’t have enough land to give everyone what they ideally want. To suggest we can just build more and people will be satisifed and there will be no more demand is economic illiteracy, typical of what I’d expect from the free-market maniacs.

    The big question is if we build more how do we ensure it goes to those who are in real need, rather than to those who just want extra space they don’t have a real need for? And how do we ensure it isn’t just snapped up as an investment by those who have no need for it all, but know that holding onto it is a better way of keeping their money safe and rising than anything else?

    Well, I can say this for sure – if Nick Clegg really were to advocate building over the Green Belt, we can say bye-bye to a heck of lot of votes in the sort of Tory marginal we’re told we have to adopt the right image to win. On the other hand, the sort of solution I’d like to look at to this – involving such things as LVT – are also going to be very hard to sell.

  • Dave Radcliffe 25th Oct '07 - 9:50am

    Nearly all of the MEPs are currently barred from coming out for their favoured leadership candidate because the Euro selection rules have been interpreted by the SRO to mean that endorsing a leadership candidate breaks the no-endorsement rule (the rule that is in our selection rules for everything bar the leadership election!)
    So we wont find out until after 10 Nov who the current flock of MEPs are backing.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Oct '07 - 9:51am

    [email protected]

    “Those fighting for free enterprise and free competition do not defend the interests of those rich today. They want a free hand left to unknown men who will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow… – Ludwig von Mises”

    Crap, complete and utter crap. Just look at the Tory attack on inheritance tax to see how utter crap this is and what utter hypocrites most of those who claim to be “for free enterprise” are when it comes to defending the wealth they already have.

  • Matthew: The whole point of LD planning proposals is to turn NIMBYs into IMBYs by capturing the rise in land values for the community. You can read them in full on the centreforum website, or google Leunig and housing to find various summaries. In essence it is a way of capitalising LVT up front. Community land auctions would mean lower housing costs (which helps the poor) and lower taxes locally (which also helps the poor).

    People have accused me of many things over the years, but economic illiteracy is not the easiest one to make stick.

  • Matthew Huntbach, intresting. You first blame free markets for the housing shortage. Then, when some people point out, that the problem is that the markets aren’t allowed to build enough new houses, you say the demand for housing will never be fulfilled, and shouldn’t, because it would mean building on green areas. Finally you begin to name-calling people with whom you disagree with “free-market maniacs”, and what they are saying as “crap, complete and utter crap”.

    You don’t seem to be able to discuss in a civilised manner, so I can’t be really sorry if you say “bye-bye Liberal Democrats” like you threated in 36.

  • Maybe it is true what they say after all, that Lib Dems are like granola. When you take away all the fruits and all the nuts, all you have left are flakes.

  • For those who call for the relaxation of planning controls (a handful of free market zealots and their puppeteers in the construction industry), I ask the following question: where are all these new houses to be built? On the top of Box Hill? In the Mole Gap? On Brockham Green? Or in a field or back garden near you?

    There is in fact plenty of available land suitable for development, most of it in places few people want to live, and much of it developers don’t want to touch, because developers generally only want to build either up-market homes for the well-off or gerry-built flats for the buy-to-let market. The last thing they care about is housing the poor, something they will never do willingly (and they will cry persecution if forced to). The truth is, Nicholas Van Hoogstraten is more of a philanthropist when it comes to housing the poor than any leading housebuilder.

    Free market economics is about the rich getting richer and the poor knowing their place. Any attempt to dress it up in pseudo-intellectual clothing, or as some kind of old-fashioned liberalism, is fraudulent. It is the means by which elites exploit and abuse the rest of us.

    Full marks to Matthew Huntbach for his inervention. Just in time, in fact. As the party is about to be railroaded by the media into electing a leader with a marked enthusiasm for right-wing economics (and a blank record on most other subjects).

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Oct '07 - 11:32am

    Tim – your solution fails to grasp my point that demand will never be satisfied and what are we going to do about the imbalance in wealth which means new build on the green belt is likely to be snapped up for second homes, or kept empty for investment rather than go to those who actually need it.

    Plus, I really think you do not underatand the antipathy that exists to new building on green land, even on scrappy suburban sites. As I said, have you ever been a councillor on a Planning Committee trying to grant planning permission in the face of angry residents?

    Angus – thanks. I’m not totally anti free market, just a bit concerned that the leading candidate for leader is a bit too gung-ho about it, and does not say enough to suggest he recognises where it falls down.

    Everyone – I’m shocked that my concerns about the free market, which used to be shared by the bulk of the Liberal Party, and were there as serious concerns at least from the time of Lloyd George, now appear to be viewed by many who associate themselves with this party as some sort of unacceptable left-wing lunacy. If this is really what the party has become, I’d rather not be associated with it. Sad, after 30 years of active membership.

  • Lloyd George? Well, personally I prefer Gladstone and Campbell-Bannerman, anyway.

  • Peter Dunphy 25th Oct '07 - 1:35pm

    48. A fair point – I am backing Nick but if I was running his campaign I would actually keep quiet about the support from the parliamentary party… I am supporting him despite some of these endorsements, not on account of them !

    55. I understand that the ‘no endorsements by MEPs’ rule may be about to be ditched.

  • Peter Bancroft 25th Oct '07 - 2:01pm

    Matthew, can you not see the starling irony that you are at once accusing the market of always defending priviledge, whilst at the same time saying that the housing market cannot be liberalised because those with houses will complain too much?

    The nature of politics is that those with something will always defend it more actively than those without are able to lobby for something. Politically, those with artificially inflated house values are always going to be stronger than the 200,000 homeless.

    The thing is, in 10 years unless something is done, the homeless number could easily rise past the 1 million mark, with the lowest 5% of society by education, background and income of course going to suffer the most. Traditionally it’s been a role of liberal parties to fight for those unable to fight for themselves, and I’d hope that we’d again do it here.

    Tim Leunig’s auction proposal is quite a clever way of getting around some of the planning problems, you should really give it a read. As I can see, it only has two flaws for us:
    – The first is that it’s really a practical proposal. It’s something for a governing party to do, but isn’t so useful for an opposition party like ourselves (although maybe Labour will take it up one day?)
    – The second isn’t Tim’s fault. Whoever in Cowley St wrote the PR when it became party policy either didn’t understand it or thought that it would appeal to voters to suggest that we were proposing some kind of Chavez-like illegal land-grab by the state.

    Look, liberal parties around the world are and have always found creative ways to break up established priviledge and to give access to much broader groups of society to things like education and of course wealth.

    Look at our Progressive Democrat friends in Ireland. Half of the cab drivers hate them, as they took on and broke the taxi cartel which allowed licenced drivers to charge obscene fees to customers. The other half are new drivers who were allowed access to the market after the liberalisation by the PDs and they’re extremely greatful for being given the chance to build their own businesses by hard work and offering an attractive service to the population.

    Whether a solution is market-based or not doesn’t really matter. We should be a lot more interested in whether a reform challenges established interests and whether it increases people’s freedom and choice.

    Anyways, I’d suggest another look at Clegg’s policy proposals – they’re not especially free-market orientated in the first place, so I’m not sure why there’s this need to charge in threatening that you’ll stop being a Lib Dem and attacking one of the candidates.

  • Ian Roebuck 25th Oct '07 - 2:30pm

    62 – Matthew

    Don’t let Anonymous wind you up. There are many more members in the party and supporters outside who share concerns over the free market than support its excesses.

    I also think that our consistent argument that the level of debt (and particularly relating to housing) is starting to resonate with a wider spectrum of society who had previously bought into the idea that it was smart economics to finance your whole future on borrowing.

    The increasing number of people in later working life who got their first step on the housing ladder in their 20s and 30s but can see no prospect of their own children doing the same will be a more significant voting block who will be prepared to support constraints on the free market and on developers to provide “affordable” housing.

    In any event, over 45 years’ active membership I have only had one party leader whom I didn’t consider suspect under right-wing influence (and that was probably because I was too young and naive), but all actually turned out to be pretty reliable at challenging the cosy consensus of the establishment.

    So don’t give up

  • 65 – Peter Bancroft: “The first is that it’s really a practical proposal. It’s something for a governing party to do, but isn’t so useful for an opposition party like ourselves (although maybe Labour will take it up one day?)”

    – Don’ worry, if it seems to be a popular policy, the Tories will quickly copy it from the Lib Dems, and Labour from Tories. I just hope they won’t make too much copying errors, as they probably won’t understand what it is all about, anyway.

  • “Very few argue for a “pure” market within the party, but I think many that object to ‘markets’…”

    “Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.” – Milton Friedman

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Oct '07 - 10:46am


    “can you not see the starling irony that you are at once accusing the market of always defending priviledge, whilst at the same time saying that the housing market cannot be liberalised because those with houses will complain too much?”

    No, I am not accusing the market of always defending privilege. What I am saying is that it gives a lot more choice and hence liberty to those who have money. If today’s Liberal Democrats are largely happy with that and don’t see it ever as a problem, well, that’s that.

    The market in housing is efficient in ranking houses according to their desirability. It works well in this, it means the sort of houses that get built are the sort of houses people like. Council housing failed badly because it didn’t have this market discipline, and badly designed housing that people didn’t like got built to satisfy the egoes of architects and councillors.

    Where the market in housing fails is in satifying needs. Now, it seems to me that some right-wing champions of what they call “liberty” don’t see this as a problem, to them “liberty” is freedom to spend money and not be subject to state laws, if your liberty is severely restricted because you have nowhere secure to live, well, tough luck poor scum, that’s not the sort of liberty that interests us. I would hope no Liberal Democrat would think like that, but seeing the lack of appreciation of my point here, now I’m not so sure.

    Tim Leunig has had chance to answer my points but has not done so. As I said, I’m sceptical about the suggestion that we can just build our way our of the housing problem, because demand will never be satisfied, and how can we make sure new build goes to those who need it rather than to those who don’t but are wealthy and are demanding more? It’s a bit like the road-building argument that building more roads doesn’t solve traffic problems, it just causes more people to drive more.

    In any case, Tim’s solution is just a sophisticated way of saying “let’s build over the green belt”. I appreciate there isn’t an easy answer to the housing problem, if building on the green belt is politically difficult, so would be any measure to make more equitable distribution of the housing we have.

    I also have looked carefully at Clegg’s speeches and policy proposals, but sorry, I remain deeply unimpressed. I still don’t see what it is about him that people are so enthusiastic about. So much of what he says is just vacuous feel-good waffle. Well, maybe it’s presented well and sounds and looks good when heard live. Since it is so vacuous, one has to look carefully to see what he really means, and he’s dropped enough little hints to mean it’s just boring and well-worn “more free market” stuff. Also, I have to judge him by the sort of people that are backing him – the massive enthusiasm for him in the right-wing press for instance. Why’s this? Don’t tell me it’s not to their own good because they don’t want a successful LibDem leader stealing Tory votes – they never endorsed left-wing Labour contedners for leadership under those lines, they endorsed Tory Plan B.

    I’ve already said that I don’t see a massive difference between Huhne and Clegg, but from what I’ve seen from Huhne, he has said more than Clegg to reassure me that he has some understanding of the concerns I have over gung-ho free marketeering, and also his writings seem to be deeper and more well thought out. But I don’t want to come out and say “I’m for Huhne” because any support I give him is more because I haven’t been impressed by Clegg than anything else.

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