Is aiming at Coalition shooting at the wrong goal?

 

I couldn’t go to Conference so listened to Tim Farron’s speech on i-player afterwards. What a great speech: full of idealism, commitment and determination. We’re so lucky to have Tim as leader.

But there was one thing that really worried me.  I had already seen reports in the news that morning that Tim was going to talk about getting back into Government again in 2020 – about how going into Coalition had been the right thing to do. Looking at the decimation of the Party and the loss of so many first-class MPs I am still not so sure about that, but leaving the past aside, is Coalition what the Lib Dems should be aiming for now, and more importantly saying what we are aiming for? I would generally say not.

In pre-Coalition days, the Lib Dems’ strongest selling point was always the quality of our MPs – their commitment to their constituents and communities, their hard work – which Tim alluded to – their ‘reasonableness’, but also the principled stand they would take on controversial issues. And this is why we need Lib Dem MPs in the Commons, irrespective of whether they are in Government or not: because they add rigour to debates in the Commons, they speak up for liberalism and freedom and they are not afraid to think outside the box or fight the corner of the disadvantaged or minorities.

We need Lib Dem MPs because they can have influence at Westminster, even without being in Government, by serving on Committees, asking relevant questions in the House and holding the Government to account. They can also have influence locally, for example lobbying on local transport, housing and environment issues. It’s not all about Westminster.

If power comes, all well and good, but that should not be the goal. We need to remind people of the good reasons they voted Lib Dem in the past when we never had any hope of ‘power.’ In fact, we all know now that it was the ‘power-sharing’ – however well-intentioned – which cost us almost everything.

Before Coalition, the Lib Dems were popular precisely because they didn’t compromise on their principles. That’s what it was to be a Lib Dem. Once we went back on that, which Coalition inevitably entails, we lost that trust and respect, however much good we achieved. And it will probably always be the same because the electorate, fairly or unfairly, somehow expects higher standards from the Lib Dems than the other major parties – because we are a value-driven party.

So we need to argue for Lib Dem MPs because they are the most likely to fight their constituents’ corner if they are in trouble, to fight hard to protect local services and the environment and to keep on pushing the Government for answers. In other words, voters need to be persuaded that it’s worth electing Lib Dem MPs even if the Party has no hope of being in Government. Indeed, given the electorate’s uncompromising verdict on us in Coalition, remaining more interested in principles than power may be the only way back.

* Judy Abel has worked in the health field for over 12 years, including at the British Medical Association, for the All-Party Parliamentary Health Group and Asthma UK. She was also the Constituency Office Manager and Senior Caseworker for former Lib Dem MP Sir Simon Hughes from 2012 to 2014. All views are her own.

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57 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Sep '15 - 4:01pm

    I wasn’t happy with Tim suggesting coalition with Jeremy Corbyn. Vince Cable was right on this that it is far too early to be talking about coalition with Labour and Jeremy would need to abandon a lot of his policies that he has spent 30 years championing. More so, Conservatives will take that statement and use it to squeeze the Lib Dem vote, again.

    I wouldn’t be happy with coalition with George Osborne either unless he changed this strange economic policy of tight fiscal policy plus loose monetary policy followed with prioritising short-term cash in foreign policy. It looks like a set of cards ready to crash and Louise Haigh from Labour is in the news today as saying the next crash is closer than the last one unless there is urgent reform.

    Coalition should be on the cards, but subjected to conditions. But not a load of last minute red lines. Proper, reasonable conditions.

  • Matt (Bristol) 28th Sep '15 - 5:11pm

    In principle, I like coaltion.

    But I am seriously sceptical that any meaningful coalition should be on the cards untill we have somewhere around as many MPs as in 2010 (possibly more).

    I can’t realistically see that happening this side of 2025.

    And even if we turned into the Syriza of the ‘radical centre’ shocked ourselves and swept into coalition with a raft of 100 new MPs within 5 years (you csan put oney on it if you’re a gambler), that’s going to be largely made up of new people with minimal parliamentary experience who could potentially lack the credibility to bang heads with the mandarins and the putative partner party to get our way.

    I will be very very afraid if we spend the 2020 campaign and large chunks of the time leading up to it, discussing the possibility of coalition and who we will / won’t do a deal with. It’s poison. Don’t do it.

    If I were incredibly powerful within the party and not the irritating semi-detached internet-opinionating gnat on the side of it that I actually am, I would either:
    – If I had a strong preference for one party over another, say it, and not do any deal with the other one.
    – Rule out coalition with anyone altogether, unless there was an emergency situation, andleave what an emergency situation was sufficiently vague to allow a little bit of wriggle if really necessary.

    We should be trying to avoid a discussion that pushes Tim Farron into the mould of being ‘another Clegg’ or he shall not get the listening time to be himself.

    So, yes, Judy, I largely agree with you.

  • Are we pressure group? Should we be a pressure group? Unless the Lib Dems get a majority or are the largest Party we will be on the side lines or ‘screwed ‘ by the larger Party ( look at history 1920s/30s & 2010). That is the question……. to compromise (Coalition) or stay on the side lines. A ‘jump’ into Government is unlikely in the near future……

  • David Allen 28th Sep '15 - 5:25pm

    Tim was quite right to suggest that coalition with Corbyn was a possibility, because the alternative – to indicate that it wasn’t or might not be a possibility – would have clearly identified us as permanent members of the political Right. The qualifications by Vince which Eddie quotes above were also entirely valid comments – it is far too early to start thinking about who might form the government of five years ahead, and, we’re sure not going to be campaigning to leave NATO, leave the EU, unite Ireland, or nationalise whatever the unions would like to see nationalised.

    Caracatus says “it is inevitable that the Lib Dems will have to be part of a coalition if they wish to be back in Government”. Well that’s true, but it’s the wrong place to start. Right now, we are generally seen as opportunists, as sell-outs who would do anything to advance our leaders’ own glittering careers in government, and as pale blue Tories. We really are – it is not just Labour activists, or “preamble” Lib Dems like myself, who paint that picture. If you don’t believe me, read the comments online whenever we are mentioned by either the Guardian or Mail Online, and you will see pretty universal derision from both of these very different sources!

    What Judy Abel is talking about is recognising that position, discovering some very necessary humility, and working our way back toward respect. Absolutely right. The only comment I would add is that it will have to be done at national level, and not just by advertising the good things that our dwindling band of local councilllors do. It is not the local level that has wrecked its reputation, so it is not mainly the local level whose job it is to restore it.

    What Tim didn’t get right was his statement that we could work in coalition with the Tories for another five years. That’s like saying you want to build Titanic 2 and go off hunting icebergs to play dodgems with. It implies that we have learnt nothing. It can be rectified only if, over the years, we demonstrate that it is not only Corbyn who will need to make big changes if he/she wants Lib Dem support. Next time, we won’t sell out for a bunch of ministerial jobs and a botched attempt to rejig the voting system in our own favour.

  • Peter Watson 28th Sep '15 - 5:28pm

    And this is why we need Lib Dem MPs in the Commons, irrespective of whether they are in Government or not: because they add rigour to debates in the Commons, they speak up for liberalism and freedom and they are not afraid to think outside the box or fight the corner of the disadvantaged or minorities.

    A good example of this is the Lib Dem Opposition Day motion in 2009 that led to improvements in rights of former Gurkhas to settle in the UK. It seemed a shame though that in the coalition years senior Lib Dems in government appeared quite dismissive of such debate motions.

  • Glenn Andrews 28th Sep '15 - 5:36pm

    I think the minimum requirement for participation in any future coalition should be Proportional Representation for future general elections (and legislated for in first year of parliament)….. in fact so much so that it should be part of a “quadruple lock”

  • David Evans 28th Sep '15 - 5:50pm

    As Judy says “Before Coalition, the Lib Dems were popular precisely because they didn’t compromise on their principles. That’s what it was to be a Lib Dem.” and I agree with her wholeheartedly. However saying “Once we went back on that, which Coalition inevitably entails, we lost that trust and respect,” is simply wrong. Coalition did not inevitably entail going back on principles. Our leaders simply chose to do it. We know that. The public knows that. The one thing that is holding back our recovery is that too many senior figures and their particular followers want to believe it to protect their egos.

    We have to stop trotting out this comfortable delusion for ourselves or we will be stuck at less than 10% for years and years.

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Sep '15 - 6:14pm

    Is there any evidence that the public want proportional representation? If not then it should only be introduced via a referendum.

    I care passionately about democracy. Democracy is about the will of the people, not the will of constitutional anoraks. Otherwise it just looks like a way of swapping one set of safe seats for another.

  • Dave Orbison 28th Sep '15 - 6:22pm

    Judy I thought this was excellent article. However I would dispute

    “So we need to argue for Lib Dem MPs because they are the most likely to fight their constituents’ corner if they are in trouble, to fight hard to protect local services and the environment and to keep on pushing the Government for answers”

    I think the are other parties (not the Tories who would, with some justification claim the same). I have no doubt too there are some very hard working good Tory constituent MPs, there must be.

    Matt I fully concur with your sentiments. The LibDems would be better served omitted ‘coalition’ from any speech for the next couple of years. But that does not stop coalitions forming around policy. I was very impressed with MacDonnell’s speech today and yes, many will say, you would say that. But check his speech. No mention of the LibDems – no glib, silly jokes and let’s face it the ammunition is there. I thought he offered a clear alternative to the Tories and austerity. Yes a good deal of detail needs to fleshed out. But the approach, the reliance on various experts rather than simply impose a dogma driven knee jerk set of policies was measured. More importantly, I hope, if Farron can resist taking pot shots, perhaps there’s a way of some bridge building and cooperation.

  • Paul Pettinger 28th Sep '15 - 7:12pm

    I very much agree with this article. Lib Dems ended up defining themselves by their opponents and looking like they would do anything for power – precisely the opposite of the popular message that got them into power in the first place. The author is right to draw attention to not obsessing about power – our first goal should be about making Parliament more balanced and representative – only then (after PR) should we focus on the Executive being more balanced (i.e. with us in it).

  • Dave Orbison I listened to the speech too and I thought what a shame that the Lib Dems don’t speak out for the disabled and the poor, or talk about alternative solutions to austerity, or about debate, consensus and not personalising politics – all the thing McConnell talked about so passionately. I thought it was hugely refreshing to have grown men refusing to have puerile point scoring but to discuss things in an adult way. I thought it was a speech Charles Kennedy would have been entirely comfortable with.

    And when McConnell said he really would tackle the pay gap and tax evasion, I believed him. He has the ring of authenticity about him , unlike the very polished posh boys we have for leaders in recent times.

  • Peter Parsons 28th Sep '15 - 7:18pm
  • Conor McGovern 28th Sep '15 - 7:39pm

    The majority of the public don’t know what PR is, do they? I wouldn’t firmly bet on a PR referendum to go either way.

  • The evidence shows that merely entering into government brought about a sharp decline in support that never recovered. Within a few months polls were giving us single figures. The loss of support preceded particular policies that some have casually rather than causely ascribed to the loss of support. Such people are apt to continue to claim that Lib Dems are unable to deal with reality, but actually it is a reality that never existed.

    I cannot tell what Tim Farron’s thinking is, but it would be repeating past mistakes to rely on support from parts of the electorate who would only lend their support provided Lib Dems do not have anything to do with government.

    It is true that their is little real prospect that LIb Dems would have any possibility of involvement in government in the near future, but to rule out the possibility ab initio would be giving up the ghost.

    In Tim Farron’s first interview with Andrew Marr, he would be open to a coalition with either of the main parties, but the price would be Proportional Representation. The message that coalition is available in principle, but that the price would be high is welcome and a message that I hope Tim Farron resolutely adheres to.

  • Matthew Huntbach 28th Sep '15 - 8:18pm

    Eddie Sammon

    I wasn’t happy with Tim suggesting coalition with Jeremy Corbyn. Vince Cable was right on this that it is far too early to be talking about coalition with Labour and Jeremy would need to abandon a lot of his policies that he has spent 30 years championing.

    The argument in 2010 was that the only stable government that could be formed was a coalition with the Conservatives. So it wasn’t a matter of whether we liked them and their policies or not, it was what the electorate and the electoral system delivered.

    That argument is completely undermined if the line is now put that we would never go into a coalition with a Corbyn-led Labour Party. If we want to make clear that the people who attack us over the 2010-2015 coalition on the grounds it shows that really we are just secret Tories are wrong, we need to show that by making it clear that the possibility of us going into a coalition with a Corbyn-led Labour Party is there, regardless of what we think of it, because of course we have a duty to give Britain a stable government if that’s the only one the balance in Parliament allows.

  • George Potter 28th Sep '15 - 9:12pm

    There are only two circumstances I can see where entering a coalition government would be worth it for the party: in exchange for STV or if we were the largest party in the coalition.

  • Mark Wright,

    I think any possibility of a coalition with a Corbyn-led Labour Party presupposes that you are incorrect in your suppositions about the British electorate!

    Either Corbyn is as unpopular as you say and Labour will get insufficient MPs to form a coalition government with anyone, or it may turn out he is not and we could do a deal with him in certain circumstances that currently look improbable…

    BTW Corbyn seems to me to be the very opposite of a “demagogue” “a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.” I think the use of the word “allies” also comes straight out of the Daily Mail songbook.. “Associated” would be an accurate word. Perhaps even “sympathised”

  • @ Dave Orbison. I do take your point. I was maybe being a bit too generous to Lib Dem MPs! but I was thinking of people like Paul Burstow who took up the cause of care of the elderly and Norman Lamb who has championed the cause of mental health, which other MPs and parties were not really prepared to take on.

    @Paul. Thanks for your comments. Yes we need to just focus on getting our MP numbers up – that is really all that matters at this stage not thinking ahead or talking about another Coalition. We also need to completely understand and accept how things went quite so disastrously wrong. I suppose we do, but, if so, talking about going into Coalition again so soon seems a bit risky to say the least.

  • @ Matt. I agree. I wrote this article precisely because I fear that if we talk too much about the possibility of Coalition in the run up to the next election – starting now- it could be very bad for the Lib Dems. We need to go back to the strategy that has won us seats in the past.

  • There was absolutely nothing wrong with going into a coalition government if those who were involved in the process had understood the limits to what was necessary in order for there to be a coalition. This involved essentially a minimalist programme of agreed measures. Unfortunately, our leadership ploughed deeply into a behaviour pattern whereby they appeared to the public 90-plus percent of the time to be in a single party government -they even pushed through stuff like the NHS changes which were not part of the agreed coalition programme at all. A proper robust attitude to coalition would permit potential coalition with either other main party without compromising principles.

  • Coalition will work for the Liberal Democrats if they are the dominant party (or, at least, a dominant party) in the coalition. Otherwise, no; the results will be either promising more than can be delivered or getting blamed for the faults of the other partner(s); or, as in the most recent coalition, both.

  • Dave Orbison 29th Sep '15 - 8:13am

    Mark Wright – “But you also need to accept that for most people in the country, having a leader who has expressed sympathy for terrorists who tried to kill our own citizens puts Corbyn much further beyond the pale”
    I presume you are familiar with the ‘repeat a lie and it becomes the truth’? Also I expect, and hope you agree with “The degree of a nation’s civilization can be seen in the way it treats its prisoners”.
    The simple facts re Corbyn on this are:
    a) He invited 2 women timed-served prisoners to the House of Commons to discuss prison conditions.
    b) He has made no secret of his personal belief (he is entitled to have them) in a united Ireland. But he supports self-determination and thus it’s a matter for the people of Ireland and NI.
    c) He has lobbied Sinn Fein consistently to support peace initiatives in NI (as elsewhere).
    I have seen no evidence whatsoever of him sympathising with those trying to kill anyone. Do you have any factual basis to your point? In my view in any conflict where there is armed struggle there is always a political process. Anyone, anywhere, on any side who steps forward re any conflict in order to encourage peace, not killing, deserves our support and thanks.

  • Alex Macfie 29th Sep '15 - 8:59am

    No Dave Orbison, he has not “lobbied Sinn Fein”, he gave its spokespeople uncritical hospitality while its military wing was bombing mainland Britain. If he did not sympathise with them, he had a funny way of showing it.

  • Jayne Mansfield “but I think an apology for what the party in coalition enabled, might be more effective than any talk of possible future coalition. It might make re-building the party a little easier.”

    Yes you are absolutely right. However Tim indicated very clearly in his Leader’s Speech at the Conference last week that he had no intention of doing so. That does not bode well for the Party.

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th Sep '15 - 10:05am

    Cllr Mark Wright

    But you also need to accept that for most people in the country, having a leader who has expressed sympathy for terrorists who tried to kill our own citizens puts Corbyn much further beyond the pale than Cameron ever will be

    As has already been said, if it was a case of most people in the country thinking this way, the scenario I outlined of there being a similar situation to that of 2010, but with Labour the party which would lead the only possible stable government, would not arise.

    Anyway, if you think as you do, should you not be up in arms at those terrorists now playing a prominent part in the government of one of the countries of the UK?

    However, what you and others need to realise is that there was just the same disgust at the idea of working with the Tories among a significant proportion of our supporters. When the impression was allowed to grow (if not actually pushed, by silence on the leadership’s part when others put it that way) that the coalition was an ideological coming together rather than a necessity due to the Parliamentary balance, we lost their support, perhaps forever.

    Some directing strategy at the top of our party seemed not to care about this, or even rejoiced in it, saying that there was some big new bunch of voters just waiting to come our way when we made it clear that we were now this new party centred around free market economics and a dog-eat-dog attitude to humanity with only those aspects of what we used to be about kept which did not conflict with that.

    I think if we are to recover we need to break away more forcefully from those people. Making it more clear that the coalition was a miserable little compromise rather than a super-duper wonderful thing would help with that. Miserable little compromises are sometimes necessary if that is all that can be done, and things would be even worse without the compromise.

  • Matt (Bristol) 29th Sep '15 - 10:24am

    Jayne M,

    I have to say I voted LibDem in 2010 – not as a member at that stage – knowing coalition with the Tories was a possibility (becuase I had read it speculated of in various papers) but hoping it wouldn’t happen because of the legacy of working with Labour in the past semi-constructively and because of the Tories’ arrogance in the past suggesting to me that they wouldn’t be able to do a deal with the LibDems.

    I can’t say I wasn’t warned.

    Maybe that is why although I was distrustful of the Tories, their agenda and their arrogance I did not outright reject our party’s actions in the 2010-2013 period even though I was sceptical and sometimes quite distressed by it (which some of my early posts on here from that time probably show).

    Also, I have always instinctively distrusted the often ill-thought-out rhetorical hatred of the Tories in my generation (first election in which I voted: 1997) as too often being overblown content-free guff from people who reacted against the ‘nasty’ party without having any idea of the issues under discussion, and felt ‘never say never’ (particularly with regard to the Ken Clarkes of this world, who alas, lost control of their party in that period).

    I have to say, I find some of the anti-Corbyn rhetoric in the same vein as the sillier student politics of the 90s (even though some of what he says is quite close to silly student politics itself). Wait and see. Strange times make strange bed-fellows. It’s interesting to watch Corbyn and McDonnell ‘growing up fast’ as late-blooming nascent political leaders. Don’t think they’ll make it, but maybe a Tony-Benn-esque ‘everyone’s fantasy Grandad’ memoirs-and-book-signing tour awaits in 20 years’ time…

  • Neil Sandison 29th Sep '15 - 10:38am

    First things first Tim .Lets get a 100 MPs so that we are not a minority party bolstering either one of the larger old parties and then we overtake and replace them as either the official opposition or the Government of the day. The party at large I think is not interested in being junior coalition partners ever again .We have recognised there is a yawning space for a modern Social Liberal Party lets not be distracted by early coalition but learn from our mistakes not repeat them.

  • Although I think we should have a discussion about whether we should enter into another coalition in the future, I can’t see how it will do anything but harm us by announcing our intention either way, especially when we don’t know who we would be entering into coalition with, how much power we would have or what compromises to our manifesto (which are inevitable) that we would have to make,

    In addition, if Labour or the Conservatives form a majority government in the next election then it doesn’t matter what Tim thinks about us entering a coalition. Also, though I’m hopeful the situation will change, we now have only eight MPs – the same as the DUP and far less than the SNP. What makes us think that anyone will even ask us to join them in coalition?

    The discussion of us entering coalition again seems to me to be superficial and arrogant and I think that’s how the electorate will see us if we keep banging on about it. We should be focusing on re-engaging with voters we’ve lost, not harping on about the very thing that drove them away,

  • @Neil Sanderson “.We have recognised there is a yawning space for a modern Social Liberal Party”

    We have recognised that there is a yawning space for a modern Liberal Party; why do you have to qualify it with “Social”? That just sets up divisions and makes the tent smaller. Or was that your intention?

  • @Jayne Mansfield, @Phyllis “Yes you are absolutely right. However Tim indicated very clearly in his Leader’s Speech at the Conference last week that he had no intention of doing so. That does not bode well for the Party.”

    What should he be apologising for? That the electoral system of this country and the votes of the electors created a situation in which there was only one viable option?

  • You probably do not want to hear this but you can either go for and enter into coalition and be perceived (rightly or wrongly) as having abandoned many of your principles, or you can stick to your principles and remain a very small minority party under the first past the post system that is not going to change any time soon. This is British democracy at work. Not my idea of democracy.

  • Mark Wright

    Do you know for certain the role Corbyn and McDonnell played in the peace process? I’m just wondering as I heard McDonnell on Question Time and I think it’s pretty certain that others laid the foundation for Major / Blair. I also think it’s likely that ‘go-betweens’ had to be ‘friends’ of both parties.

    Does anyone know for sure? I am genuinely interested.

  • Conor Clarke 29th Sep '15 - 11:35am

    This whole discussion is shockingly premature.

    Recognise that we were knocked on our arse and focus on what we have to do to build ourselves back up.

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th Sep '15 - 11:37am

    Cllr Mark Wright

    @Matthew – PS I find the proposition that some Lib Dems on the very left of the party consider working with David Cameron and working with the political wing of an active terrorist organisation to be equally morally distasteful, to be sharply indicative of how very misguided the morality of the hard left is.

    During the time when the IRA were active in terrorism, and Sinn Fein was their mouthpiece, I was an active contributor to the newsgroup soc.culture.irish, where I regularly condemned the IRA and the naive people who supported them. For that I was often termed a “British imperialist”, though actually were I living in Norther Ireland I’d have voted SDLP. I have made my own position clear before, as a Catholic I regard anyone who supported the IRA’s completely unjustifiable terrorism (in no way did it meet the requirements for a “just war” as laid down by the Catholic Church) as guilty of what is termed “mortal sin”, and I include in that anyone who voted for Sinn Fein at that time and has not repented for doing so. Oh, and when I was a councillor, the IRA bomb in Canary Wharf killed one of my constituents.

    So I need no lecturing from you on the evils of Sinn Fein.

    You have completely missed my point, and actually I was talking more about voters than members of the party.

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th Sep '15 - 11:50am

    Steve

    You probably do not want to hear this but you can either go for and enter into coalition and be perceived (rightly or wrongly) as having abandoned many of your principles,

    It’s a point I’ve made myself many times in defence of the coalition, which is why I would appreciate that defence not being undermined by right-wingers in the party exaggerating what was achieved in the coalition, using it as an excuse to push the party permanently their way, and showing no understanding of those made unhappy by it, indeed cheering them off.

    If we are to have a multi-party system, then, yes, the attitude that one should block everything that is not 100% in accordance with one’s own views is unsustainable, it leaves the country ungovernable, and is likely to result in a small party being condemned as selfish and damaging, preferring to see the country wrecked than make a compromise, and all for policies only it cares about.

    That is why I believe those who jeer “nah nah nah nah nah” at the Liberal Democrats for joining the coalition, and accuse them of abandoning their principles for having come to compromise positions which roughly reflect the balance of the two parties (in seats, not votes) have it wrong. We need to make it more clear that what is supported in a coalition is not necessarily one’s ideal, and that the more Liberal Democrat MPs there are, the more a coalition involving the Liberal Democrats will reflect Liberal Democrat values – something that Clegg and others at the top of the party (including its Presidents at that time) signally failed to do as they over-sung the coalition.

  • David Allen 29th Sep '15 - 1:03pm

    Paul Walter,

    “Congratulations on being a “preamble Lib Dem”. How does one become a “preamble Lib Dem”? Is there some sort of initiation procedure?”

    I’m used to being told that it is evil of me to call an Orange Booker an Orange Booker. I now find that it’s supposedly evil of me to find words to define my own position. Clever stuff. Close down your opponent’s capability to use language, and you have successfully stolen a political victory. That’s why nobody in the US can get away with calling themselves a liberal, because the word has been efectively demonised over there. That’s why nobody in the UK can get away with calling themselves a socialist, because that word has been effectively demonised over here.

    Except that the politics of Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Lynton Crosby, echoed by the Cleggism-Will-Never-Die militant memorialists, has itself become discredited. One thing unites Farron and Corbyn – They are both decent human beings, and it shows. People won’t vote for twisters and gamesmen any more. Stop demeaning yourself playing word games.

  • Matt (Bristol) 29th Sep '15 - 1:23pm

    For those who like their nuance and appreciate the breadth and diversity in the party, it may be interesting to note that when above, I state that I voted LibDem in 2010, I voted for Mark Wright. And I did so again in 2015. And I would again if her stands again…

  • Julian Tisi 29th Sep '15 - 1:26pm

    @ Phyllis

    You may find the following article helpful. Simple quote “Corbyn and McDonnell had nothing to do with the peace process. Not a single person involved in the negotiations that led to the Belfast agreement has come forward to support McDonnell’s assertion that he played an active role. ”
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/debateni/jeremy-corbyn-and-john-mcdonnells-pious-homilies-to-the-peace-process-will-not-wash-they-wanted-the-ira-to-win-31550428.html

  • Richard Underhill 29th Sep '15 - 3:19pm

    Paddy Ashdown said that we needed to negotiate with both Tories and Labour in 2010 in order to get the best deal.
    Tim Farron is obviously right to say that we need to be in government to get things done., as many others in several parties, in different times and in in different circumstances have done.
    Despite the media obsession with Labour under Corbyn and son, we should also note politrly what Green Leader Natalie Bennet and Green MP (former MEP) Caroline Lucas have been saying about how to get a different electoral system.

  • paul barker 29th Sep '15 - 3:26pm

    If we look at the polling evidence, the problem with The Coalition was not that we were blamed for things, it was that were not seen as important. We were invisible to voters outside our core vote, not seen as a significant part of The Government, not in Opposition & thus not there at all. That was the problem & it would presumably be the same with either Labour or Tories.
    The lesson is that we refuse any coalition where we dont get The PM, in effect we would need to be the largest block of MPs. On the face of it that position looks a long way off but we really know very little yet. The next 2 years could see defections or splits from both Tories & Labour but its too soon to guess the scale. We seem to be doing better in Local byelections but we dont know if that will transfer to results next May. We dont even know if The UK will survive, we need to be open to possibilities & make as much noise as we can.

  • @Jayne and Phyllis – I tend to agree with your comments. On a PR course some time ago the one thing I remember the tutor saying was companies and organisations have to apologise if you they get something badly wrong; it’s the only way to get back the trust. I actually believe that much of what we did in Coalition was good, apart form the obvious clangers we all know about, but if the electorate had thought so too we wouldn’t have taken the battering we did.

    We have to start from where we are not where we deserve to be.

    @Conor. Quite agree which was sort of the point of the article. I just worry if we get our tone wrong we could do real damage to our prospects especially when Corbyn is saying some interesting things .

  • @Paul Walter I, too, am a proud “preamble” Lib Dem, where the State allows the Market to operate freely where possible.

  • SIMON BANKS 30th Sep '15 - 3:46pm

    The media reports have rather distorted what Tim has been saying because they have a coalition sensor and any talk about co-operation with other forces become coalition. I haven’t seen text of every interview or article from Tim, but I did hear his two speeches at Bournemouth. It seems to me what he’s saying is along these lines:

    (1): It was not wrong to go into coalition with the Tories in 2010. He might want to say “but we mishandled our involvement in the coalition”, but this is not the time to say that. He needs to unite the party.

    (2): Because the coalition turned out badly for us, we should not rule out future coalitions. For reasons that have already been given, I agree.

    (3): We currently have a right-wing, chauvinistic, anti-poor-people, anti-green government. We should be willing to co-operate with other forces in and out of Parliament against this. That doesn’t necessarily mean coalition.

    The media and some people in other parties will try to pin him down on whether he would join forces with the Tories or Labour after another election. He can afford at this stage to dead-bat these questions. At least it means they think we might again be a force which could turn things one way or another.

    The point is well-made that we shouldn’t be AIMING at coalition. We should be aiming at getting more MPs, winning more council seats and councils, forcing our way back into general political discourse and then seeing what happens, which might be another no-overall-control situation.

  • It really is a slur to say Corbyn is a sympathiser of terrorists ……….. Smacks of the mindless ranting of the Mail, Sun, Express etc. does the fact that Thatcher and Willie Whitelaw had secret talks with the IRA make them friends of the terrorists?

  • @Simon Banks. Your last paragraph sums up what I was trying to say very well!

  • @David Raw read the article that Julian Tisi links to above; then re-examine your opinion.

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