I’m so glad I don’t have a vote for Labour leader

So, I was watching the 10 o’clock News last night and saw our Stephen Tall flaunting his Labour leadership ballot paper.

As he explains, he wasn’t out to do a Toby Young and vote for Jeremy Corbyn:

I was ambivalent whether I would actually exercise my vote, but decided that, if I did, it wouldn’t be to troll Labour by choosing Jeremy Corbyn: I would vote for the candidate the other parties would least like to face.

Assuming, that is, Labour gave me a vote. After all, the party assures us they have “rigorous due diligence” processes in place to weed out infiltrators from other parties. Having stood for election against Labour a few weeks ago, I half-assumed they’d (quite legitimately) disenfranchise me.

But then yesterday morning I received my online ballot paper…

Stephen decided to register as a supporter to see how their leadership process worked as an interested observer. By rights, any decent verification process would have spotted him and got rid of him. Instead, it seems to be getting rid of long term Labour supporters whose social media profiles were a bit too lefty for them. In fact, it plays into the hands of lefty conspiracy theorists that someone who would, if he’d voted at all, have voted for Liz Kendall, received a ballot and they didn’t.

Labour’s leadership process makes the “omnishambles” budget look like a well-oiled machine. It surely has to be one of the most incompetent elections ever known to man. And it’s not as if they have rushed it or anything. The whole registered supporters idea was naive in the extreme and it was clear within days of it being announced that it would be used in exactly the way it has by some. A fair few of the trouble-makers, the aforementioned Mr Young for a start, made it easy by identifying themselves and stating quite plainly what they were going to do. What we have ended up with is a fairly distasteful, orwellian situation where Labour members are reporting the ideologically impure who are then ejected without any sort of due process. According to the FT, even retweeting Ken Loach is unacceptable behaviour. If the same principle applied in the Liberal Democrats,  I’d be out out on my ear for being nice about new Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale on the telly the other night. Imagine if this happened in a public election. There would be uproar.

Maybe I should have signed up to see if I would have qualified for a ballot. I’d never have used it because it would to me have been wrong to do so. Unlike Stephen, though, I wouldn’t have known who to vote for.

Corbyn would be out, more because he’s an old-fashioned socialist than anything else. Do I want to see millions of our taxes being blown on re-nationalsing everything? No way. Corbyn is, by the way, a perfectly decent human being. I first met him nearly 30 years ago when he came to Aberdeen University to speak in favour of banning Page 3. I disagree with him on many things, but he’s far from the monster the tabloids make him out to be. His language is way too sloppy at times, too. He did actually say that “some of what ISIS had done was appalling”. Pardon me, but I can’t think of anything that they have done that hasn’t made me sick to my stomach. His campaign had to quickly clarify what he actually meant which is much more sensible:

Jeremy Corbyn believes the violent ideology of Isis is a vicious, repugnant force that has to be stopped – where Jeremy Corbyn talks about the need for a political solution and compromise he means not with Isis but against Isis, working across the region and beyond to choke off supplies that help fund and arm them and working with neighbouring states in the region to come to common solutions.

Not only that, but he simply isn’t a leader. There is no way he’d to be able to build a cohesive team even if most of the MPs didn’t hate his guts. There can’t be that many times he’s actually obeyed the whip since 1997. Would the poacher be able to make the transition to gamekeeper?

The Blairite Liz Kendall is the only candidate who seems to be talking about what she wants to do, but she leaves me as cold as Tony Blair did. Cooper and Burnham seem to have learned nothing from their spell in government and it’s hard to see beyond their platitudes what they actually stand for because they are spending all their time talking about Jeremy Corbyn. The spat between them where Cooper said Burnham should withdraw for not being anti-Corbyn enough was unedifying. I also can’t forgive Cooper for her profoundly illiberal positions on civil liberties. I doubt I could bring myself to vote for Andy Burnham either. If Rachel “Labour isn’t the party for people on benefits” Reeves is for him, I must be against him, surely?

Every day during the Liberal Democrat leadership election, there was something that grabbed my attention in a good way. It might have been Norman Lamb’s support for assisted dying or sensible drugs policy. It might have been Tim Farron’s practical ideas for rebuilding the party or for meaningful action to solve our housing crisis. It was a great and inspiring thing to be part of. I’m not sure any Labour member could say the same thing about their contest.

It looks like their contest and aftermath will be more soap-opera than anything else. I can’t see them turning into an effective opposition any time soon. That’s a shame because they because we have a government that needs decent opposition.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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101 Comments

  • Jayne Mansfield 22nd Aug '15 - 1:59pm

    If I intended to join Labour, I would vote for Yvette Cooper. Apart from her foreign affairs and defence voting behaviour, she seems sound on social issues, especially those relating to women.

    I haven’t followed her campaign, nor indeed those of the others, so I may end up with egg on my face for saying this.

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd Aug '15 - 2:09pm

    Good demolition job. I don’t know who is going to win, but I have known for a while that much of the left wing media is out of touch with its own movement and it partly explains why people didn’t see the Corbyn surge coming. It is definitely not just about the movement being “more left” than the media either.

    In the interests of balance: my predictions for Scottish politics have been completely wrong. I didn’t see the SNP surge coming and still don’t really understand it.

  • Samuel Griffiths 22nd Aug '15 - 2:26pm

    Corbyn is a better human being than most in politics, but he can’t win. I am sympathetic to those in Labour who support it’s right-wing simply on the basis of being elected, but then again their candidates are shocking and hopefully go nowhere. It’s a dark time for progressives of any shade – the chips are well and truly stacked.

  • I always thought Liberals were all in favour of increasing public engagement in our political processes, so I’m actually genuinely surprised that every Liberal pundit I’ve read has expressed gloating schadenfreude at the problems with this election, rather than lamenting the fact that a genuine effort to widen participation has been undermined largely by dishonest people who are hostile to Labour.

    It’s pretty obvious that, in a world where not everybody is honest, any kind of “vetting” system is going to be deeply imperfect and prone to fallibility. That’s the price you pay for trying to broaden the franchise in this way. By ignoring this and relishing sticking the knife in instead, you’re helping to discredit the whole idea of increasing public engagement and helping make sure no party will ever try it again. Because unless the Lib Dems and Tories have vast armies of spies with perfect information on everybody in the country, they would not have done a better job of it.

    “it’s hard to see beyond [Cooper and Burnham’s] platitudes what they actually stand for because they are spending all their time talking about Jeremy Corbyn.”

    You mean apart from the time they’ve spent putting forward detailed policies and manifestoes :-

    http://www.yvetteforlabour.co.uk/policy

    http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/themes/558290fc01925b0184000001/attachments/original/1438791117/ANDY_BURNHAM_MANIFESTO.pdf?1438791117

    In comparison, I believe Tim Farron’s manifesto was all of two pages long.

  • Richard Stallard 22nd Aug '15 - 2:52pm

    Socialism has been dying since the mid-seventies. The collapse of the USSR saw it take a vertical line down. Then it enjoyed a counter-trend rally from about ’94-’08 with the start of the financial crisis. It has since resumed its downward spiral.

    To read the papers one would think the country has gone Corbyn-crazy; it hasn’t. Support for Corbyn is merely noise on a declining curve. The next precipitous event for socialism will be the final collapse of the EU, which has already started. You see socialists getting ever more animated about ever more insignificant things in a desperate attempt to remain relevant, a sure sign of death impending.

    Having Corbyn as leader is part of the process in this country of socialism taking a step into its grave.

  • @Richard Stallard
    Capitalism and socialism have both been dead for decades; virtually everybody believes in something in between.

  • Im grateful to Corbyn for pushing an agenda which includes nationalising the railways, which would bring us in line with many other countries that operate a vastly superior service. What is fascinating is how Labour seeks one kind of entryism, the kind that involves businessmen and plenty of money, but runs scared from the other kind that involes fairly large numbers of people who arent waving large cheques.

  • Richard Stallard 22nd Aug '15 - 3:09pm

    @Stuart
    I couldn’t agree more. Which might make one wonder why the LDs don’t pick up more support.

    I think it’s pretty much guaranteed that the Labour Party will lose a lot of support if/when Corbyn gets in. The question is – where will that support go (if anywhere?).

  • Simon McGrath 22nd Aug '15 - 3:42pm

    “Corbyn is, by the way, a perfectly decent human being”

    no he’s not. he’s a man who is happy to call Hamas his friend, to donate money to known holocaust denier, to oppose our intervention in Kosovo, to invite someone who celebrates the death of british troops to the U ( and lie about it) , to claim that the war in the Ukraine has been organised by the US, and to oppose our intenrvention in Kosovo which saved thousands of lives.

    Would you be so charitable to a Tory who did the same thing – i really doubt it.

  • Jenny Barnes 22nd Aug '15 - 4:07pm

    “Capitalism and socialism have both been dead for decades; virtually everybody believes in something in between.”

    How do you believe the economy is organised? It looks exactly like neo-liberal capitalism to me, whatever arrangements for organising the economy I might choose to believe would be preferable.

  • Simon, I do not care about the Labour leadership contest, but just because someone expresses policies that you may find abhorrent does not say whether or not he, as an individual is a decent human being: that is something personal and how you conduct your life and relate to others, especially friends and family.

  • Mark Smulian 22nd Aug '15 - 5:01pm

    According to this, one can vote in the Labour leadership election if in possession of pointy ears, whiskers and a tail!
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/jimwaterson/cats-always-need-better-vetting-procedures#.uxL5QXl6we

  • Richard Stallard 22nd Aug '15 - 5:36pm

    “When it came to voting, Ned had several options: Andy Purr-nham, Yvette Coo-paw, and Mew Labour candidate Liz Kat-ndall were all in contention. However, in common with many of the influx of new supporters, it was the left-wing leadership candidate Jeremy Claw-byn who ultimately received Ned’s vote”.

    Excellent! Votes for cats, that’s what I say. It should be in the LD manifesto.

  • Whats the point to this? The LibDems are getting next to no National coverage and voters in huge parts of the country are forgetting who and what you are. Stick to promoting Tim and leave Labour alone.

  • Adam Robertson 22nd Aug '15 - 5:47pm

    I think the other parties, should just allow Labour members and supporters to vote for who they want. I don’t think there is anything funny at all, what Toby Young and Stephen Tall, are trying to do, by influencing the Labour leadership election and by inferring that Labour has got an entryism problem. I think, we should just allow, the Labour Party, to conduct their Leadership election, in how they want to conduct it. Therefore, I actually agree with Harriet Harman, that there is nothing funny about members from other political parties, trying to affect the Labour Leadership election.

    However, I am aware of attempts from Labour MP’s, in my case, an ex-Labour MP, going around sending letters influencing members not to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. I told my friend, who is a Labour member, that he should vote for who he believes in, but he changed his mind because of this letter. I do think there is an underhand attempt by the establishment and former establishment of the Labour Party, to stop Corbyn from winning. I think, this is just as worse, as infiltration in my opinion. I mean how do these MP’s or ex-MP’s, get all the data (legitimately and morally) to do this?

  • Really Lib Dems? This is what you call ” grown-up politics” is it? I agree with Adam Robertson’s comment above: there is nothing funny about this, it just makes the perpetrators look bad.

    Please stop knocking Labour with such glee – not least because you might need Labour-leaning voters’ support in future and this sort of hand-rubbing glee is not the best way to do that. I actually thought the new Farron-led Lib Dem Party would be better than that.

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Aug '15 - 7:04pm

    Caron Lindsay Stephen Tall Please leave them alone until they have announced their decision.
    Labour have timed it well, with the Daily Politics, the Andrew Marr Show and Question Time all taking a recess with the House of Commons, leaving their friends in the press to comment.

  • A Social Liberal 22nd Aug '15 - 7:16pm

    According to the Independent some of the policies Corbyn has spoken in favour of chime with the views of the public, 60 for instance would like to see the railways taken back into public hands – including 60% of those who professed to be Liberal Democrats.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/the-jeremy-corbyn-policies-that-most-people-actually-agree-with-10407148.html

  • I think Caron’s post, which reflects my own views, was perfectly reasonable and if anything sympathetic to the condition of the Labour party at the moment. Anyone who thinks there is any oneupmanship here is simply being paranoid.

  • Mark Blackburn 22nd Aug '15 - 9:12pm

    Corbyn’s appeal is because he s the only candidate who is actually expressing real values, which the voting public are desperate for after the last few years of bland aphorisms, our 2015 campaign included. The other three haven’t got the message and are still pummelling away with centre ground triangulation which is perceived as cynical and lacking in conviction.

  • 3 days agao Paddy Power actually paid out on the election result, 40 or so backling Corbyn received about £100k in prize money. They said it was so certain it was foolish not to.
    So what is all the present fuss about.

  • Well, we have had at least one leadership election process which I am sure we all would ratber forget, but the Labour muddle is actually quite sad to see. A candidate who only – just – made the ballot at the last minute is the only one who has engaged the selectorate and to be honest the others have failed to make an impact at all. I had has hopes for Liz Kendal, but her message seems maybe a little shallow. I don’t know what Yvette Cooper’s leadership would be, and I can see why tbe odious Sun calls the remainjng candidate ‘Bendy Burnham’!
    If Corbyn wins, it’ll be Labour replicating tbe Tories when their activists chose the unelectable IDS as leader. Unfortunately, Labour tends to be less ruthless with flawed leaders than the Tories, as eg Miliband, and so they might well leave the country to suffet another Tory govt and indulge themselves under Corbyn, rather as they did with Foot in 1983. Alas for me, it was Labour’s then abdication of its responsibility to the wider country at large that set me off as a LP member trying to replace them as the main opposition so as to oust Thatcher.
    Circles go around and around!

  • Simon:

    I do not think that a Corbyn win would be particularly good for us: it will perpetuate unconstructive opposition in Westminster from Labour and SNP that would threaten to drown us out or misrepresent us. Conservatives will replay their SNP card suggesting that votes for Liberal Democrats would let in Corbyn and his supporters.

    True, there would be some advantages for us: Corbyn would pretty much put the Greens to sleep and there would be some movement from Labour to us, but not so many of those who left us in 2010. The best outcome for us would probably be if Corbyn had to resign and be replaced midway through the parliament, but, one or two embarrassing by-elections aside, that kind of thing would be out of our hands for the most part.

  • Except for a couple of times when I supported the LibDems I have always voted Labour. However, I have never seen such a poor selection of candidates for leadership. Cooper and Burnham both appear to have had a personality by-pass and display no leadership skills whatsoever. Liz Kendall comes across as an over excited school girl who hasn’t a clue what’s she’s talking about, and Corbyn is a man who has so much history he has less chance of becoming Prime Minister than his mate Gerry Adams. I can never remember a better example for voting “none of the above”.

    I think Corbyn will win easily – Paddy Power the Bookmaker has already paid out – and would have won easily anyway even under the system that elected Milliband. Labour members have been desperate to move to the left ever since the disappointment of the Blair days. However, before you LibDems start rubbing your hands thinking of all those voters who will desert Labour for the LibDems – think again. Voters in the Labour strongholds in the North of England won’t desert Labour because of Corbyns economic policy, they will leave because of his views on immigration, his history of being friends with the IRA and supporting many terrorist organisations, his anti-monarchy stance, his wanting to scrap Trident etc. In fact many of Corbyns views will be similiar to those on the left of the LibDems so unfortunately many Labour voters looking to get away from Corbyn type policies could well end up in the UKIP camp. At this rate the Tories will be in office for many, many years to come just because they are the best of a very bad bunch.

  • Christopher 23rd Aug '15 - 2:47am

    @Silvio and @Phyllis,

    You have raised the important point that “Liberal Democrat Voice” is straying from its core mission, which is of course to praise the Labour party. From the Iraq war, to Labour’s abolition of the 10p tax rate, to extrajudicial detention for 90 days, Liberal Democrats have always been committed to unconditionally supporting the Labour party and its perfect system of leadership. Lib Dem Voice was created in 2006 as “Our Place to Talk,” specifically to talk about how fabulous Labour is.

  • Liz Kendal, would have been the best candidate for the Lib Dems. Tony Blair mark II. Corbyn has the outsider factor, which is what at least some of those “protest” voters are looking for. Also the Lib Dems tend to pick up votes when Labour tack to the Right rather than the Left.
    Personally, I think there’s too much about the Labour Party and SNP on LDV and not enough about how to address the lack of Lib Dem media profile. We went down this attack the opposition route in the election and it did not the faintest bit of good. I understand that this stuff generates comments, but think that’s just the way the internet works. People like to join in on an argument. However, the number of hits an article gets isn’t really a reflection of much beyond hitting a reaction button in people who like to comment on things.

  • Ed Shepherd 23rd Aug '15 - 7:54am

    “Do I want to see millions of our taxes being blown on re-nationalsing everything? ” [sic]
    Has Jeremy Corbyn said that he wants to renationalise everything? Even if he had, would he be able to get such a policy implemented? And is nationalising things always such a terrible thing? Other European countries seem to run many of their services with an element of state ownership. Railways, postal services, post offices and water supplies seem to be services that always have to be run with an element of monopoly. In which case, it might as well be a public monopoly as a private monopoly. And where is the competition that we were promised when these services were privatised? How much choice of train company do I have? How much choice of bus company, mail delivery or Post Office? Who owns the big energy suppliers? Can I change my water provider if I don’t like my current one? Part of the unexpected support for Jeremy Corbyn seems to have arisen because there was an assumption among political commmentators that privatisation commanded widespread support. Among the population, many feel that they received no benefit from privatisation of public property. This Labour leadership election might yet lead to a thorough debate about the provision of services in society.

  • The Labourparty membership is just struggling to get back to its core values,like them or not, Corbyn is a socialist and that is what the Labour party was created to be. It was those who attempted to change the party and use its strengths and history to create New Labour, a party well away from the founding fathers aspirations. Quite frankly the membership of the Labour party should look carefully at what any potential leader will bring. Corben and the Socialist way, Cooper and Burnham , be anything as long as we get elected and Ms Kendall who imagines that the tories have got it about right but wishes they were a bit nicer.
    Corbyn is the only choice if their party means anything otherwise a new party will have to be formed and allow the old blairites to follow a path to oblivion.

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd Aug '15 - 8:57am

    Personally, I would be more than happy to see EastCoast Rail back in public hands.

  • By knocking Labour so much, you are not making yourselves more electable, you are simply ensuring that the Tories say in power even longer.

    One of Tim Farron’s new graphics for the Lib Dems said ” your failure is not our success” or words to that effect. I took it to mean a return to “grown-up politics” which is what attracted me to your Party in the first place. It seems those were just empty words after all. Schoolboy pranks such as registering for another party simply to catch them out and then gleefully tell tales about them is not edifying in the slightest. It simply marks you out as being just like the other parties. Pity.

  • Glenn “Personally, I think there’s too much about the Labour Party and SNP on LDV and not enough about how to address the lack of Lib Dem media profile. ”

    Personally, I think there’s too much about the Labour Party and SNP on LDV and not enough about the Tories.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Aug '15 - 9:29am

    @Christopher “You have raised the important point that “Liberal Democrat Voice” is straying from its core mission,”
    I think part of the problem is (and has been over the last few years) that LibDemVoice’s core mission appears to be criticism of opponents of the Conservative party.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Aug '15 - 9:30am

    @Phyllis “Personally, I think there’s too much about the Labour Party and SNP on LDV and not enough about the Tories.”
    Snap! Second time in a week I’ve posted simultaneously in agreement with you.

  • malc:

    “Voters in the Labour strongholds in the North of England … will leave because of …his history of being friends with the IRA and supporting many terrorist organisations”

    Lib Dems and their ancestral parties are not known for being friends with the IRA or any other terrorists, apart from a brief flirtation with Sinn Fein by the Young Liberals in the 1970s/1980s (and it’s not clear that this was a widely supported stance among the YLs even then). Lib Dems have formal links with the non-sectarian Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. Proper liberals have no truck with the knee-jerk anti-British, anti-Western positions taken by trendy lefties such as Corbyn.

  • My point being that Lib Dems can easily pick up votes from liberal-minded Labour voters who don’t like loony lefty posturing of the type that Corbyn is known for.

  • @Peter Watson
    “I think part of the problem is (and has been over the last few years) that LibDemVoice’s core mission appears to be criticism of opponents of the Conservative party.”

    That’s certainly been my perception over the five years I’ve been reading LDV. There is quantifiable evidence to back this suspicion up – just count the number of anti-Tory and anti-Labour articles in the months running up to the election (and even in the months since).

    Simon Shaw imagines there may be “opportunities” for the Lib Dems if Labour choose an unelectable leader, but in reality the two parties will end up like two bald men fighting over a comb (as Borges might have put it). The only party with a big opportunity here is the Tories.

  • Simon Shaw “……it’s the Labour Party who are doing the most to help the Tories to stay in power even longer by (very likely) electing Jeremy Corbyn as their Leader.

    Why aren’t YOU knocking them for that?

    Ok I do not normally engage with your comments but I’ll bite this time. The new rules brought in by Ed Miliband to gather new supporters for the Labour Party had good intentions but were fatally flawed because they have led to infiltration and the sort of silliness exhibited by people with nothing better to do trying to sabotage the process by joining the Labour Party ‘ for a lark’. So that was a really bad move.

    As for electing Jeremy Corbyn, he is taking part in a democratic process and we have to respect that process, no matter what the outcome, so no I cannot knock people for voting the ‘wrong’ way. The divisions in the Labour Party have been simmering for decades and now it is coming to a head. It’s political history in the making. Serious people of all political persuasions should be engaging with this by having ‘ a big discussion’ with the nation about the merits of say privatisation versus nationalistion versus co-operative ownership. There has to be a better way to run things – Lib Dems, the party of radical ideas, neither on the left or the right, should be leading this ‘ big discussion’.

  • My problem with this article and many if the comments is that Lib Dems are once again busy looking at their feet and kicking others when they are down, rather than looking at the stars, coming up with big, bold, ideas which energise the nation. Or at least, elevating the tone in politics so that big bold ideas can come through.

  • I had the opportunity to vote through my Union, but as a LD member, chose not to, and I suspect that the level of entry ism (currently 0.5%) will turn out to be quite small.
    Having said that, as a lifelong Liberal, I WOULD have voted for Corbyn; what media & politicalcommentators call loony left, many of us would view as sensible and pragmatic.

    Even handed between Israel and Palestine? Yes

    Re nationalization of the railways? Successful running of failed franchises proves this can be done, and could be phased as franchises fail or end, so zero cost

    Trident is a fig leaf – it’s not independent, it’s not a deterrent, we just pay the U.S. large amounts to maintain this “vanity” project

    No student fees ? Now whose idea was that first time around??

    Corbyn won’t ever get sympathetic media coverage (hence the non Dom owned Mails attacks), but there are many of his positions that chime with non Orange Book Lib Dems, and if we could just tease out his likely views on PR, many issues on which we could make common cause.

    If Labour under Corbyn had a hope of being elected locally (bloody unlikely) I’d vote for them

  • Corbyn was Even handed between Israel and Palestine? Really? From my perspective it looks like he takes knee-jerk anti-Israel positions, and he has expressed sympathy for Hamas and Hezbollah. There is wrongdoing on both sides, but Corbyn and his trendy-lefty accolytes are determined to make out that Israel is the sole villain.
    As a non-OB Lib Dem, I find a lot of his positions deeply troubling. These include his support for Latin American left-wing dictators, and his past support for Sinn Fein/IRA. The claim (which worryingly I have even found to be made by Lib Dems) that he was an early advocate for peace talks with Sinn Fein/IRA is historical revisionism. He was expressing solidarity with them. Sinn Fein/IRA at that time was not interested in peace on anything other than its own terms. It had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards (half) supporting peace and democracy. It was completely inappropriate to treat its spokespeople as if they should be entitled to a place at the main negotiating table when the IRA was going around bombing mainland Britain.

  • @Redndead
    “I had the opportunity to vote through my Union, but as a LD member, chose not to”

    Just to clarify, union members who were not Labour members had to pay a few pounds to register as a supporter. This opportunity was open to non-union members as well (hence how people like Stephen Tall could register, dishonestly, as supporters).

    @Alex Macfie
    “Corbyn and his trendy-lefty accolytes are determined to make out that Israel is the sole villain”

    I share your disgust at that, but if LDV is anything to go by, many Liberals share Corbyn’s views.

  • We should welcome a socialist labour party. It will draw the boundaries of the political parties into how they should be and were established giving a more defined choice for the electoral voter in the next elections. UK Democracy will be more the stronger for having a conservative party that looks after the rich, big business and do not like innovation or progress on matters such as the environment and housing, a Labour party that would like the state to run everything including re nationalisation of the railways and energy sector at a cost to the public purse and a Liberal party that would like to give power to the individual, making sure no one is left behind, protecting the most vulnerable and developing our economy for the betterment of everyone in relation to technology, the environment, mental health, small businesses, and housing.

  • Simon Shaw, this is why I do not engage with you.

  • Simon:

    You do tie others in knots so elegantly. As you say:

    Even if Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t win, but only comes a close second, the fact that such a large number of Labour Party members are willing to vote for someone so extreme and so unsuited for leadership is something that Lib Dems should be pointing out at every possible opportunity.

    For us, I think this (Corbyn a close second) would be the best outcome. The nearest equivalent to Corbyn as leader of the main opposition party is when Duncan Smith led the Tories. Are there lessons for us to learn from this episode? We were the third party then which made life easier. If Corbyn wins we should be prepared to see him step down a couple of years before the next general election.

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd Aug '15 - 3:06pm

    I like a little flutter sometimes.

    I am more prepared to bet on a bloodbath and a split into factionalism and a boost for UKIP amongst tory party supporters over the EU referendum.

  • Jayne Mansfield yes I agree. Once the Referendum approaches, there will be an end to this honeymoon period in the Tory Party.

    I also agree with you about the East Coast rail line.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Aug ’15 – 9:30am
    “@Phyllis “Personally, I think there’s too much about the Labour Party and SNP on LDV and not enough about the Tories.”
    Snap! Second time in a week I’ve posted simultaneously in agreement with you.”

    Hehe, Peter, you are obviously a man of sound judgement. 😉

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Aug '15 - 5:18pm

    Caron Lindsay | Sat 22nd August 2015 – 1:25 pm According to the FT”
    The FT is behind a paywall.

  • Martin 23rd Aug ’15 – 1:48pm
    “Simon:

    You do tie others in knots so elegantly. ”

    Hardly. Unless you think that comparing Jeremy Corbyn to Hitler or his supporters to racists thugs is in any way “elegant” .

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Aug '15 - 5:40pm

    bob sayer 23rd Aug ’15 – 8:56am The clue is in the name. The Labour Party exists to represent the interests of labour. Have a look at any trade union and the thing that is most likely to energise the members is pay.
    It does not follow that those who focus on advancing those interests also wish to advance socialism, some do, some do not. Socialism is an economic and political theory, but what many people want is practical result/s, soon.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Aug '15 - 5:48pm

    Simon Shaw 23rd Aug ’15 – 12:32pm “Adolf Hitler (for a time at least) took part in the democratic process,”
    No, he had a band of thugs on the streets called the SA, which he disbanded when he formed the SS.
    The Weimar Republic was too weak to do much about it.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Aug '15 - 5:58pm

    The above does not comment on the possibility that the Labour leadership contest will result in a string of court cases. Their former Lord Chancellor has withdrawn from backing one of the candidates to focus on helping his party in this way. Frankly the problem should have been prevented and will be difficult to cure. Our difference with Labour is that we are a democratic party who have had a leadership elelction and they are in a mess. We should leave them alone to try to sort it out and get on with pour business. As it happens we have a borough council by-election in Southborough North. There is no Labour candidate, no Green candidate and UKIP have told a local newspaper that they do not expect to win.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Aug '15 - 5:59pm

    Sorry, typo. We should leave them alone to try to sort it out and get on with our business.

  • @Dean Crofts
    “…a Labour party that would like the state to run everything including re nationalisation of the railways and energy sector at a cost to the public purse”

    Well quite. Why on earth would the British people want to pay low fares to use profitable state-owned rail companies, as happens on the continent? Don’t the French and Germans realise what they’re missing out on?

    Likewise, why would the British people want to own a highly profitable state energy company like EDF? It’s obviously so much better for EDF to make large profits from UK consumers and return the money to their French taxpayer-owners.

    On this issue at least, Corbyn’s “loony left” ideas actually seem eminently sensible. See :-

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2893049/UK-fares-subsidise-rail-travellers-Germany-France-Netherlands.html

    http://weownit.org.uk/evidence/railways

  • SIMON BANKS 23rd Aug '15 - 9:14pm

    The registered supporters idea is basically good, but it shouldn’t have been introduced just before a leadership election. When it was, trouble should have been anticipated. I presume whatever people had to fill in didn’t include them being asked to assent to the statement “I declare that I am not a member of any other political party”.

    Two-tier membership may be a coming idea. We’ll presumably soon find how many people who joined the party during the coalition and failed to respond to welcomes and invitations from local parties to do things like attend a meeting to select a parliamentary candidate will enjoy getting massive lists of candidates for party committees with statements from each candidate.

    The use of Labour’s vetting process to ban people who are genuine supporters but suspected of being off-message is profoundly anti-democratic but it’s in line with Labour’s element of totalitarianism: 100% with us or you’re an enemy and there’s one right line.

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Aug '15 - 9:15pm

    Caron Lindsay

    Labour’s leadership process makes the “omnishambles” budget look like a well-oiled machine. It surely has to be one of the most incompetent elections ever known to man. And it’s not as if they have rushed it or anything. The whole registered supporters idea was naive in the extreme and it was clear within days of it being announced that it would be used in exactly the way it has by some.

    Until recently we were forever being told by media commentators that the way to revive interest in democracy was to have primary systems. It’s been one of the most common themes for decades: that political parties are elitist and run by out-of-touch activists, so they should be opened up by allowing any supporter of the party to choose who will be its candidate. Even in Liberal Democrat Voice there were quite often people advocating this sort of thing.

    I myself have always argued against it, as it seems to me to be anti-democratic, in effect taking away from a group of people who have come together with a common aim the right to decide for themselves what that aim is, and to protect it by being able to stop people taking over their organisation and changing those aims. But I often found I was the only one making that point, and others attacked me as not really a democrat for being against primaries.

    Well, here we have in effect a primary for Labour leader, just the sort of thing media commentators have been urging and … oh, well it’s not giving the sort of result they like, so suddenly they’ve forgotten how much they liked the idea and how they wanted to push it on us.

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Aug '15 - 9:23pm

    Caron Lindsay

    Corbyn would be out, more because he’s an old-fashioned socialist than anything else. Do I want to see millions of our taxes being blown on re-nationalising everything? No way.

    Much of the debate on this seems to be assuming a style of political party where The Leader makes all the policies. So it is assumed that if Corbyn is elected, he will be able to dictate Labour Party policy. This is another sign that in this country we have reached the point where we just assume the Leninist model of politics. But we are Liberals, we are against that sort of thing, … aren’t we?

    In a liberal model of politics, policies are made through the party’s democratic mechanism. The leader is spokesperson for them, yes, but certainly does not have the right to dictate the party’s policies. A good leader should be willing to turn away from his or her preferences if the party is not in agreement with them, and speak out for what the party does agree.

    Ok, so Corbyn and the Labour Party are not Liberals, so they won’t act in this way, unlike, oh er, um ….

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Aug '15 - 9:34pm

    Matthew Huntbach 23rd Aug ’15 – 9:23pm
    There is a motion on the conference agenda on this issue. Will you be at conference to vote on it?

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Aug '15 - 9:35pm

    So, whether or not a Labour government decides to spend huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on re-nationalisation should not depend entirely on whether Corbyn is leader. Actually, I think Corbyn has been vague on this as on many other things. He has suggested a wish to reverse the privatisations which have happened, but has he said that he would want to see it all done immediately? And has he spelt out that he would use large amounts of taxes to do it? I don’t think so.

    I am sure Corbyn is well aware that if he were to impose massive tax roses to do this, his support would soon ebb away, and if he were to make cuts elsewhere to pay for nationalisation ditto.

    My feeling is that if a Corbyn-led government ever were to come about, he’d find himself very much like Alexis Tsipras in Greece. Full of well-meant intentions, yes, but finding that actually there aren’t magic answers, and if you really do push it down the way you hinted at first, the difficulties will become obvious.

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Aug '15 - 9:37pm

    Richard Underhill

    Matthew Huntbach 23rd Aug ’15 – 9:23pm
    There is a motion on the conference agenda on this issue. Will you be at conference to vote on it?

    No.

    I am not a delegate. As I dropped out of active campaigning for the party a couple of years ago, I felt it would not be right even to put myself forward to be a delegate. In any case, I work as a university lecturer, and the conference is almost always on the first week of term which I simply cannot take off as leave.

  • Little Jackie Paper 23rd Aug '15 - 11:20pm

    Roger Roberts – ‘If Labour elects Jeremy Corbyn it could well be reclaiming its Socialist soul ; the Conservatives without Lib Dem restraints appear to be increasingly right-wing.’

    Really? The Conservative manifesto included a triple locked pension, £8bn (dubiously funded) for the NHS and rail fare price freezes. The budget included a minimum wage rise and talked about incentives for higher pay. Not exactly the full-blooded lurch to the right the internet keeps telling me about.

    I just think that there has been too much hyperbole bandied about recently and a lack of precision. Outside of the internet there is more going on here than, ‘the right,’ and, ‘socialist.’

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Aug '15 - 7:41am

    Simon Shaw

    Even if Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t win, but only comes a close second, the fact that such a large number of Labour Party members are willing to vote for someone so extreme and so unsuited for leadership is something that Lib Dems should be pointing out at every possible opportunity

    That would be somewhat foolish given that we were five years in coalition with a party most of whose members and leading figures are just as extreme, but to the right rather than to the left.

    Well, it’s a matter of judgement, but what the Conservatives stand for now would have been regarded as just as extreme as what Corbyn proposes had it been talked about in the 1980s or earlier. I was very sorry to see the readiness of people to be fooled by a few token dropping of old-style small-c conservative things, and by what turned out to be pretty meaningless talk on “big society”, into thinking that Cameron’s Conservatives were somehow moderate. When elements of the media put it that way, well, obviously they were just repeating the propaganda. But I was quite shocked by how many Liberal Democrats just accepted it.

    We need to see how this Corbyn thing pans out, but I think it, along with the success of the SNP, indicates there is a general disillusionment with the shift of politics to the right started by the Thatcher government and continued by Blair, and a wish to pull it back to what would have been regarded as “centre” not that long ago. So I think screaming out “extremist” at the person who’s become the figurehead of that wish would not go down well, and would fix in people’s minds the idea (which we ought to be trying to escape from) that we’re just another part of the right-wing establishment. I am not saying we should not criticise him, there is plenty of valid criticism of him, just be a bit measured in our tone.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Aug '15 - 7:53am

    Little Jackie Paper

    The Conservative manifesto included a triple locked pension, £8bn (dubiously funded) for the NHS and rail fare price freezes.

    In terms of service provision, £8bn for the NHS is a cut. The rise in need for the NHS due to the growing lifespan means something like that or more is needed just to keep it on and even basis.

    The triple-locked pension applies to all people of pensionable age, rich or poor. So it is not a wealth-shifting thing. We live in a society where high house prices and inheritance means there is a big bias anyway to older people, at least those older people who own homes and had parents who owned homes. If one wished to be more egalitarian, one would tackle that, with triple-locked pensions balanced by such things as higher inheritance tax.

    Rail fare price freezes do come on top of rail fares here being extraordinarily high compared to most other countries. Plus rail tends to be used by wealthier people. For example, in London people who work in low paid jobs in central London tend to come into work by bus, not rail, even though it may take three or four times as long, due to the cost.

  • @Simon McGrath 22nd Aug ’15 – 3:42pm
    ‘“Corbyn is, by the way, a perfectly decent human being” >>>no he’s not. he’s a man who is happy to call Hamas his friend, to donate money to known holocaust denier, ‘

    When you say “known Holocaust denier”, you imply that Corbyn had known his views on the Holocaust when he made the alleged donation. Is that right? What evidence do you have for that?

    Or are you saying “he donated money to a project of a constituent, but who later turned out to be a Holocaust denier as now known”? The two are very different.

    I made many donations to local causes, or causes of my constituents. I did not grill them on their political beliefs before doing so. It is called “good faith”.

    I ask the question because when you accuse someone of sympathy with Holocaust deniers you have to be careful . Your parroting the allegations of Louise Mensch and the daily Mail is not very impressive.

  • While it is not our job to interfere in the internal grief of another party,, we should recognise Jeremy Corbyn, whatever his future, as a decent bloke who most Lib Dems could have a decent argument with on a variety of subjects while agreeing with him on sundry other topics. It would be helpful if Conference was not saturated with tabloid-type half-baked slogans about him. Should anybody be listening, it will do us no good.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Aug '15 - 10:41am

    Matthew Huntbach 23rd Aug ’15 – 9:37pm
    Please consider coming to conference for one or more days, influencing fringe meetings, etc.

  • Neil Sandison 24th Aug '15 - 10:42am

    At the moment there is a void in British politics where the Labour party used to be .Rather than waste our time on commenting on the commentators views about Jeremy Corbyn .We should be promoting our own progressive agenda and filling that void with some urgency. Lets tell the public that they need a party committed to liberty ,freedom, social justice and community well being .Lets tell the public that a return to the politics of the 1970s now increasingly being put forward by labour party contenders is a road of no return . Unless we give their voters some hope then as we saw at the last election they will increasingly turn to UKIP and other fellow right wing travellers .lets not gloat about labour lets replace them with a better option.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Aug '15 - 10:49am

    Matthew Huntbach 23rd Aug ’15 – 9:35pm What JC can afford to pay for and when are crucial to the two elections hsi ios standing for, 2015 in the Labour Party, etc, and 2020 in the general election. i have not been studying his proposals yet, but Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had a proposal to take back railway franchises as they expired, although the benefits of single ownership could be maximised when the process is complete.
    We had a Minister in Transport who knows a lot about railways, please will Norman Bakerjoin the conversation.

  • I very much agree with Matthew Huntbach . We have had decades of dominance by The Economic Right. Apart from brief periods when they’ve crashed economies with their incompetence and crackpot ideas there has been too much willingness to describe challenges to that dominance as extremist. This only ever shifts the so-called centre ground further in their favour.

  • Ed Shepherd 24th Aug '15 - 6:03pm

    Jeremy Corbyn wanting to take Britain back to the 1970s might be part of his appeal to many people. In the 1970s, there were fewer “McJobs”, graduate underemployment was rare, many workers were in permanent work with pension schemes, strong trade unions, they had council houses available and a single earner could hope to own his or her own home.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Aug '15 - 2:39pm

    @ John Marriott,
    I can’t think of a more dangerous time to lighten up, John. This is a time for the utmost seriousness.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Aug '15 - 6:59pm

    @ John Marriott,
    I’m 70 John.

    Of course, in your day, Marilyn Monroe was considered to embody the perfect female form, whereas by today’s values she would be considered ‘fat’.

  • Jayne Mansfield’
    John Marriot is younger than any of the Beatles and about the same age as Pete Townsend, Mick Jagger and Jane Birkin. In his day people were skinnier than they are now. He was barely out of his teens when Marilyn Monroe died. If you watch films from 60 and 70s the actors and actresses were thin and the clothes would barely fit a modern British youngster.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Aug '15 - 11:05pm

    @ Glen,
    Although Twiggy represented a new waif like look for models in the sixties, the body shape for film stars such as Marilyn Monroe and other up to and including the 70’s was the voluptuous hourglass.

    I remember the 70’s well. I would argue that it was a decade when ordinary families were better off than they had ever been.We bought our first home. Young people could afford homes then. We were not paying off student loans. Working class families took foreign holidays . A builders son became a tory Prime Minister.

    In 2013, This is money did some number crunching,

    In 1971 the average house price was £5,862 pounds.
    Price in 2013- £247, 000
    How much should they cost (using inflation figures from the1971) £67,483

    In 1971 The average wage was £2,000. In 2013 it was £26,000.
    Where they should be (using inflation figures since 1971)? – £24,000
    Where they would be following house price inflation ? – £87,720pa

    I feel that I have every reason to believe that the West’s relationship with Russia and the growth and spread of religious extremism makes this an extremely dangerous time.

    And please don’t ask me to discuss the stock market following recent events up to and including today.

  • Jayne Mamsfield’
    Leading actors of the of the 1960s to 70s. Julie Christie, Terrence Stamp, Goldie Hawn, Faye Dunaway, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood etc. They were thin.. Leading pop stars of the 60s the stones, Bowie etc , Joni Mitchel, Skinny as rakes. Monroe was actually a star in the 40s to mid 50s. People have got much bulkier and actually the biggest stars now both male and female Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Channing Tatum etc. are a little closer to the 50s look than the 60s or 70s. If I watch a 60s or 70s film or clip, one of the first things that strikes me is that everyone is much slimmer, even the character actors. I watch a lot of films and actually before the 40s actors and actresses were again thinner, Myrna Loy, Ginger Rogers, Astaire, etc. I grew up in the 1980s and I’ve noticed people getting bigger since then. I’m not saying this is good or bad,, merely making an observation based on what I see The other thing, I’ve noticed is that is the media still talks about older people as if they are the same set of people they were in the 1980s, my grandparents generation, actually pre rock and roll and pretty much pre television. , but the fact is the first generations of rappers are now in there 50s, Punk Rockers now in their 60s and Hippies in their 70s .

  • John Tilley 26th Aug '15 - 7:49am

    Paul Walter makes a good point about the reality of average body weight/shape in the 1950s.
    A good guide to how ordinary people looked through the decades is photographs of crowd scenes.

    A series of photos of football fans through the decades shows how obesity was clearly not a widespread problem in the 1940s.
    By the 1970s there were examples (not many) of seriously overweight fans.
    By the beginning of The Premier League around 20 years ago people were asking “who ate all the pies?”

    In 2015 for a non UK perspective look at the TV reports of crowds of refugees walking across Greece and Macedonia to escape from the war in Syria. Not a lot of obesity evident there.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Aug '15 - 9:04am

    @ John Marriott,
    Thank you John for apologising for using my ‘famous’ name to make a point. I have in the past explained that my Name Jayne got mentioned why I use the nickname that I had to endure whilst growing up.

    I think that your comment about ‘going off on one’ just about sums up the woman problem you have in the Liberal .Democrats. I was simply responding just trying to introduce a ‘little light relief’. myself. AS part of a WEA we actually looked at the changing shape of women including glamour stars of the era. Its also a pity that given you last post, ‘going off one’ is something that only applies to people like myself.

    At least we agree that there is not much more to say about Mr Corbyn. I have been saying that for days.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Aug '15 - 9:22am

    As for unusual times people work. Yes people do work at unusual hours. I am often emptying and filling my my kiln at all times of day and night, whilst waiting, because of the time difference, for an opportunity to communicate with friends/ colleagues abroad. Retirement means that one can sleep whenever one wants to and it is wonderful.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Aug '15 - 9:37am

    @ paul,
    Although this discussion veered into one about the body shape of certain glamour models and then became wider, the issue of weight and particularly that of girls is a really serious one. Perhaps since ‘Fat is a Feminist Issue’ and therefore political there should be a whole article devoted to it.

    I don’t know how one could incorporate the favoured subject of Jeremy Corbyn into it. Yond Corbyn has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous,perhaps?

  • John Tilley 26th Aug '15 - 9:40am

    Simon McGrath often asks questions in LDV.

    It would be polite and informative if he could reply to Evan Harris’s question in this thread —

    Evan Harris 24th Aug ’15 – 10:29am
    @Simon McGrath 22nd Aug ’15 – 3:42pm
    ‘“Corbyn is, by the way, a perfectly decent human being” >>>no he’s not. he’s a man who is happy to call Hamas his friend, to donate money to known holocaust denier, ‘

    When you say “known Holocaust denier”, you imply that Corbyn had known his views on the Holocaust when he made the alleged donation. Is that right? What evidence do you have for that?

    Or are you saying “he donated money to a project of a constituent, but who later turned out to be a Holocaust denier as now known”? The two are very different.

    I made many donations to local causes, or causes of my constituents. I did not grill them on their political beliefs before doing so. It is called “good faith”.

    I ask the question because when you accuse someone of sympathy with Holocaust deniers you have to be careful . Your parroting the allegations of Louise Mensch and the daily Mail is not very impressive.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Aug '15 - 10:29am

    @ Paul,
    Would that he were fatter. But I fear him not.

  • Jayne Mansfield

    Of course before the Industrial Revolution, people didn’t sleep for eight hours a night, they had two or three short sleeps, they would frequently get up in the night for a few hours and work, cook, have a meal, see neighbours, etc and then go back to sleep. So you’re just getting back to the natural state.

  • @Jayne Mansfield
    “Of course, in your day, Marilyn Monroe was considered to embody the perfect female form, whereas by today’s values she would be considered ‘fat’.”

    This is a myth put about by the body image lobby (for what purpose I’m not quite sure), and is the opposite of the truth.

    Marilyn’s waist, at 22 inches, was almost 16 inches smaller than the average American woman today. If she were around today, she’d be much more likely to be criticised for being too skinny than too fat.

    As for Audrey Hepburn… people would literally be campaigning to get her banned if she were alive today. It’s interesting to observe that the computer-generated Audrey currently appearing in a chocolate advert is noticeably heavier than the real thing ever was.

  • @Phyllis “The new rules brought in by Ed Miliband to gather new supporters for the Labour Party had good intentions but were fatally flawed

    That’s Labour all over …

  • TCO

    Sadly I find it hard to disagree with you on this. Heck that’s the second time in one day!

    I do despair at Labour’s ability to mess things up and do things which make one scream ” why Labour, WHY ????” However they are the only opposition party left standing in England at the moment so we must hope they get over this at some point.

    {goes off to lie in darkened room}

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