It’s a mistake to try to be ‘the party of carers’

Sir Ed Davey has repeatedly said that he wants the Liberal Democrats to be “the party of carers”. This is an admirable goal, drawing from his own lived experience as a carer for his mother as a child, and now for his disabled son.

However putting this front and centre, both in Sir Ed’s conference speech and in numerous media interviews, seems to be a serious strategic mistake.

This is not because the issue isn’t important. Carers are treated appallingly by the state and receive grossly inadequate support, if they get any at all. It is absolutely right to speak up for them and to have policies that help them.

But it is a mistake to make this our main message, because the public don’t vote for parties based on technical policy details. They don’t vote for skills wallets, social care reform policies or coffee cup taxes. Nor do they vote based on stances on carers, political reform or mental health provision.

It’s not that the public don’t think that issues like lifelong learning or reducing disposable coffee cup usage are worthy causes. It’s just that they don’t use such stances as guides on who to vote for. As our party president has pointed out in the past, people vote based on what are known as ‘valence’ issues: essentially, totemic issues which signal the “goodness” or “badness” of a party on key areas.

People judge the message a party sends out about its values on key topics like the NHS, or the economy, or Brexit, and then they assume that the detailed policies must be good or bad on that issue, and on associated issues, based on that initial judgement.

If people look at Labour and get the impression that Labour values the NHS then they’ll decide that Labour must be “good” on health. And that therefore Labour must have good policies not only on the NHS but on all associated issues like carers, mental health and social care as well. And if they get the impression from the Tories that they value a strong economy, then people will make similar assumptions about what Tory policies must be for supporting businesses, building a skilled workforce, and creating jobs.

Unfortunately the Lib Dems, especially those at the top of the party, still don’t seem to have grasped this. Being ‘the party of carers’ is not a wider message. People won’t look at our policy on carers and assume we’re good on the NHS and social justice as a whole. It’s the other way round.

We do need good policies and messages for carers, and on mental health, and on retraining and on reducing landfill waste, but these things must be ancillary to a wider values based offer.

The Lib Dems do best when we champion issues which give a positive impression of our values on a whole host of other issues, and use these to shape our offer as a whole:

Opposition to ID cards signalled that we valued civil liberties as a whole. And our opposition to Brexit told Remainers that we valued a socially liberal society and an outward looking worldview.

But unfortunately, no matter how worthy a policy it is, our stance on carers just isn’t one of these issues, and we run a big risk by making it one of the only things we’re talking about.

Instead Sir Ed Davey and the Lib Dems need to be finding and speaking out about issues that give voters a clear idea of our values and of what we stand for.

One way we might be able to do this is to talk about the importance of valuing unpaid work and about empowering people. That would be a message which could be supported by our policies on basic income and on carers, whilst also being about much more than those policies alone. A message which signifies a value that voters can latch onto, rather than something they will shrug and say “so what?” to.

* George Potter is a councillor in Guildford

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 26th Nov '20 - 5:52pm

    This as usual, one or the other! No wonder the author writes before, against the centre ground! Its possible to be two things at once. Like radical on an issue, moderate on an issue thats different. It’s also good to be for carers and a party full of caring policies, as well as tough on things too.

    I am glad we are a party for carers. We can be more too…

  • Broadly what you say about policy in general is correct, but I don’t see why you are picking on the carers policy. You could pick on pretty much any other policy in the same way.

    But, this, with Ed, is not just a policy. It is personal. And that gives it strength.

  • Steve Trevethan 26th Nov '20 - 7:20pm

    Might it be more efficient and realistic to set every policy within a clear and effective economic context/policy?
    Might doing so indicate that our party is/is becoming a party which is “muscular” as well as “cuddly”/compassionate?

  • Helen Dudden 26th Nov '20 - 7:21pm

    I’ve had disabled issues, most of my life. I was born with a sight problem. My daughter has always been supportive of her mother, so has my granddaughter.
    Being caring, covers a lot of areas. I care, about hungry children and those who need treatment, and sadly have missed out during this virus.
    It helps, to understand the needs of others, when you yourself have been in that space.
    I can see where Ed Davey is coming from, he cared and still does.
    Most days, I’m rewarded with understanding, and that can be such a rewarding experience. But, without those who care about me, and for me, my life would not be so enriched.

  • George Potter 26th Nov '20 - 7:26pm

    @Joe Otten, I’m picking up on this policy in particular because it is a) one of the major themes that Ed talks about in his speeches and interviews and b) the issue that the party has launched a major national campaign on today including a national petition, and a messaging script and policy briefing sent to all members and local parties today.

    I really think it’s a missed opportunity, and a mistake, to put so much effort behind this issue as a key message, not least when we barely have anything else to say, instead of putting this effort behind a policy that might actually shift voting intentions.

  • Matthew Campbell 26th Nov '20 - 10:24pm

    I work in care (in fact one of the bodies that represents the precise area of care I work in has an ex-LIb Dem MP as its president) and I absolutely think unpaid carers are badly supported and advised, but I think it’s an imbalanced message.

    I also think the view of those living with disabilities and longterm health condition the emphasis gives out is unhelpful without correcting emphasis on programmes for rehabilitation and greater independence.

    It is a hard truth that a lot of dependency, poor health and increased risk of injury or longterm admission to hospital has been created this year by informal carers providing mistargetted care to relatives during lockdown that has caused them to lose their abilities and push the carer themselves to breakdown, when they were unsupported by community rehab services who could help promote a reskilling and reabling approach, as staff were redeployed to help hospital discharge and prevent services being overloaded due to coronavirus.

    The policy emphasis also fails to show that those with care needs and their carers, are being failed by systemic issues across health and social care and local government due to underfunding and failures of planning and leadership.

    Its heartfelt, yes. But it’s not structural reform of local services and communities. It’s symbolic tinkering at the edges via a centralising model of government.

  • neil sandison 26th Nov '20 - 11:29pm

    I think Mathew Campbell has got it about right its not just the carer you need to support but those they are caring for ,Those with long term disabilities or health problems have had a rough deal from this government and their private sector untrained assessors who ignore medical evidence , work off a script and treat those who are struggling as little better than scroungers . its time to redress the balance and give people back their dignity .

  • Peter Martin 27th Nov '20 - 5:02am

    George is essentially correct.

    We do, as a society, have to provide support for carers. But so do we have to make sure the trains run, children are educated, the sick get medical attention, the young are able to find decent living wage jobs etc etc, ie We need to ensure the system works for everyone. Everyone will have a different opinion on which is the most important.

    It’s a mistake to elevate Ed Davey’s personal preference to the level being suggested.

  • Nonconformistradical 27th Nov '20 - 8:29am

    “It’s a mistake to elevate Ed Davey’s personal preference to the level being suggested.”


  • Graham Jeffs 27th Nov '20 - 8:37am

    I agree with George.

    It’s great being a party of ‘carers’ but in terms of resonating with the wider electorate I fear it simply isn’t a substitute for putting over a comprehensive picture of what we are about. It won’t butter no parsnips.

    George sets out well the way in which we seem to have our messaging the wrong way around. People should take on board the points he is making – and act on them.

  • I don’t disagree with the premise of this piece, but I think there is reason to be hopeful beyond the detail.

    I some of Ed’s speeches he has talking about ‘being the party of caring’ – note the difference between that and carers. Obviously for him as a personal issue, carers is important, and at this time, it makes sense to play on that. But I think there is a real opportunity to broaden this into the needed values based discussion.

    Caring is about caring for society, for the environment, but coming at it from that value-led, emotional stance rather than numbers and science (I love the numbers and science, personally, and our policy definitely need to be led by that, but the message doesn’t need to come from there).

    For me there’s something about talking about carers that resonates with ‘no one left behind’ – a truly core Lib Dem value. These are people who do something important and amazing and are forgotten. Standing up for the forgotten is a pretty massive, value-led, item.

    We’ll never get to be ‘the party of the NHS’ – Labour have that sewn up. WE won’t get to be ‘the party of the economy’, even if the Tories have done everything in their power to shred that as their USP. But I think there is possibility in developing this line that will help build the brand.

    That’s the optimistic view – lets see how it plays out 🙂

  • Kay Kirkham 27th Nov '20 - 9:35am

    When Ed first put this policy out there I thought it was important but too limited and specific to have general appeal . I still think that but when I became a carer I immediately realised that it applied to me and reacted emotionally to it. To put it another way, it should be part of a range of policies and campaigns but its appeal is limited.

  • A number of niggling and grudging responses to George Potter’s excellent exhortation!
    What about a clear endorsement? George — well said indeed!

  • Colin Bradbury 27th Nov '20 - 11:29am

    Good article. The thing that matters above anything else is changing people’s minds and voting intentions. If we’re not in a position to influence policy by having as many MPs, local councillors etc. as possible, we’re just a talking shop.

    That does NOT mean saying whatever it takes to win elections. It does mean picking from among the core policies in our armoury, framing and putting them across in a way that will resonate and make people vote for us. Otherwise, what are we here for?

    I’m afraid that worthy as it is, the relentless focus on being a Party of Carers doesn’t meet that criteria.

  • James Belchamber 27th Nov '20 - 11:36am

    I’ve read this recent push on carers as more of a branding exercise for Ed himself, to get him more well-known in the wider public. Seen in this light, it makes a lot of sense. Further, it _does_ signal to people that we care about the vulnerable and “left behind” in society (and people _do_ vote based on this – though maybe not as many as we’d like).

    I would agree that going into 2024 this would be a bad tent-pole policy – but we have no reason to think that this is what will be on the headline of our manifesto. It’s a campaign, with a clear goal, that is achievable – let them get on with it.

  • Helen Dudden 27th Nov '20 - 12:06pm

    Colin Bradbury. I agree with your comments. Personally, I feel never to be afraid, of often standing alone on disability and a need to make lives better. Being in a wheelchair, is not a reason or excuse not to.
    I’m so grateful to my daughter for her kindness towards me, remembering she is human too. Treating her with respect and not forgetting, she is my daughter.

  • I’d be amazed if talking about caring on its own is enough for political success, but as no-one is saying we should, the question is rather – is this a good pick for one of a handful of things to repeatedly go on about?

    It’s worth putting this in the context of the causes previous party leaders have taken up successfully, with political benefits that have followed for the party.

    For example, when Paddy Ashdown took up the cause of British passports for Hong Kong residents, it was a very niche issue . Think of any concerns about whether or not caring is too niche and multiply them up many times.

    Yet is also worked, because (a) it was something distinctive, (b) it spoke to a wider set of values (internationalism and human rights), (c) it was something that could get media coverage.

    Caring seems to me to hit all of those – especially as the campaign launch yesterday even got positive coverage in both The Sun and The Independent, showing a good breadth of media potential to reach voters.

    Point (b) is the most important in many ways – what we talk about in detail has to reflect a wider message. In this case, reflecting a wider message about understanding the huge strains many people are under day to day and having a compassionate response is a pretty good one.

  • Sue Sutherland 27th Nov '20 - 2:37pm

    Thank you Mark Pack for putting Ed’s campaign into context for us. I agree that it’s a good way of helping people to understand Ed as well as standing up for a group of people who do not receive the support they need.
    I think Chloris has used an excellent slogan for the party – ‘no one left behind’ . This over arching aim means improving all public services including those that the majority rely on. Education ( how Covid has affected provision and how pupils and students in general can be enabled to catch up as well as special provision for deprived areas) the NHS (re-establishing a service stretched to its limits by Covid) the economy ( how to make sure of a thriving economy and how it’s benefits can be shared with all).
    During the pandemic many more people have extended a practical caring attitude towards others and they should also receive praise for their kindness.

  • Julian heather 27th Nov '20 - 6:45pm

    Well said, Charis and Mark Pack. You’ve called it exactly right, as why this is a good campaign for Lib Dems. It does indeed reflect our values, supporting and championing those in society who are left behind, and excluded. It’s one of the reasons I instinctively supported the Liberal Party, even as a 12 year old schoolboy, watching the coverage of the 1966 General Election, as I backed the underdog, and got it, that so did the Liberals.

    And over the years, we have championed the underdog and the neglected – the excluded Kenyan and Ugandan Asians, “homosexual” men lacking any legal rights for so many years, asylum seekers then and now, the Hong Kong residents denied passports, who Mark quite rightly reminds us of, and more recently our forthright championing as a Party, of the rights of trans people .

    And it’s great to see Lib Dems at all levels of the Party championing the other left–behind groups in society, especially #TheExcluded – three million of whom are not covered by the Chancellor’s COVID support packages. Likewise our MPs, Peers, Council group leaders, councillors and ordinary members have campaigned to help those leaseholders – affecting up to perhaps 3 million people – who have been caught up in the #EndOurCladdingScandal. The unpaid carers have also been left behind.

    Charis sums it up so well, by saying: “For me there’s something about talking about carers that resonates with ‘no one left behind’ – a truly core Lib Dem value. These are people who do something important and amazing and are forgotten. Standing up for the forgotten is a pretty massive, value-led, item.”

    I have no problem about being the Party of “caring”. But perhaps that’s just too touchy-feely for some Liberal Democrats !

  • Sue Sutherland 27th Nov '20 - 6:47pm

    Apologies to Charis.

  • It’s not a mistake. The raison d’etre of liberals is to stand up for the most vulnerable people in society. The caring agenda links in with the mental health and addiction agenda as caring isn’t just for physical disability.

    I would broaden the definition of the caring society to include supporting the socially excluded. The right and many parts of the left eg Blue Labour would be uncomfortable with such an agenda but it is natural social liberal territory.

  • Reading this and the comments after the event as it were, I wonder if Ed Davey (and the LibDems) can take a few tips from Joe Biden, who used his personal experiences to good effect. I doubt anyone in the US thinks he will be soft, but they have a good idea of where he is coming from, what drives him and what he aspires to achieve.

  • Brian Ellis 27th Nov '20 - 7:29pm

    Sometimes we seek to find a problem about an issues raised by our party leaders, we have done this to often than is good for us. My observations on this issue are.
    1. When Ed has raised this in PMQs he has put BOJO on the back foot. (plus point)
    2. When I have shared posts on this topic onto my FB page the comments I have got are favourable and not negative. Many comments from those whose political allegiance is not always Lib Dem. ( plus point)
    3. We have to start making sure we have values that folk can identify the party with. One of those should be we are a caring party. This is doing that job. ( plus point).
    4. It was once said, ” A week is a long time in Politics”. That is still true and we need to use those weeks in a productive manner. Ed is doing this. ( plus point)
    5. Of course we need more than this the down side is the time it will take to build on the message when our media presence is so limited. ( minus point).

    I do recall one leader calling for a ” More Compassionate, More Tolerant a More Caring society”. Decades on this still has a good deal to commend itself, not just to society at large, but also within the party. Give Ed the chance to build before condemning.

  • David Garlick 27th Nov '20 - 8:52pm

    The Campaign for a better deal for Carers is a great one that is much needed.
    It is guided by personal experience which gives, as already been said, great strength. If it were to be the only policy then it would be a mistake. As a mark of respect for those who ‘care’ it is fantastic’ and sets our values in a superb place. Don’t knock it (usual suspects at it as usual) appluad it and ask for more like it on the subject you feel most passionate about. Well done Ed Davey.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Nov '20 - 10:11pm

    Yes. I agree it is a good policy for Ed to lead us in campaigning for. The Liberals/Lib Dems have always been the party that cared about individuals, unlike the Conservatives and unlike Labour. This is right for Ed, as has been said, and right for these times, when there is so much sadness. and I believe much more caring for others’ sadness and difficulties than is usual among the general population..

    Looking ahead, I think this will need to be subsumed in our broader Liberal policy of caring for individual people. That broader policy also as you know involves empowering others, treating them with respect as fellow citizens, listening to their wishes and just lending them a helping hand to personal freedom and fulfilment. That’s where the Beveridge mantle should be taken up, the plan as Sir William wanted in the 1940s, to give people financial security and health security, plus educational opportunities and homes and jobs, but also to ask some responsibility from them to contribute, and to give them opportunity for them to better themselves if they wish.

    In all of this, we have to be alert to what our enemies will say – How will you pay for all that? – and be ready with our Keynesian answers on economic policy and taxation.

  • Peter Martin 28th Nov '20 - 2:21pm

    “In all of this, we have to be alert to what our enemies will say – How will you pay for all that?”

    Yes. And you do have to have a better answer than “putting a penny on the standard rate of income tax”.

    As Richard Murphy says:

    “The assumption is that government lives in a zero-sum and financially constrained world where if they are to propose some new action then something else has to be foregone to pay for it, or a specific new tax has to be found to fund the project. The trouble is that most politicians share the journalists view: they also think that they are constrained. We end up in a world of impoverished ideas, and impoverished people.”

  • Christopher Love 29th Nov '20 - 9:44am

    Are issues like the NHS and The economy really totemic? Or are they what ppl want first, as they are considered the most important? Why fix unpaid carers, if the NHS is bust?
    So you can have any 10 values, but you can act effectively only on 2 or 3…

  • George Potter 29th Nov '20 - 12:26pm

    @Mark Pack

    I think you miss a key difference between this policy and the passports for Hong Kongers issue.

    When Ashdown was championing that issue, Hong Kong was a live, national political issue, regularly in the news because of the impending handover to China. His policy gave us something distinctive and unique to say on a topical issue, which also demonstrated our broader values.

    Unfortunately, and rightly or wrongly, support for carers is not a topical or national issue which commands regular media attention, and never has been.

    If it was one of those issues then I imagine we’d have faced much tougher questioning by now about how Ed can square his current stance with the cuts to support for carers which he voted for in coalition…

  • Paul Barker 29th Nov '20 - 4:22pm

    Can I remind everyone that we are Polling in the range 5-9%, ie about 7%. Thats been the case since The Spring, since Covid became THE News & Elections were cancelled. Local Elections are our lifeblood & we are really missing them.
    Please Remember that its not much more than a Year since we were hitting 20%, on the back of succesful performances in the Local & European Elections.

  • Galen Milne 29th Nov '20 - 7:12pm

    I agree with Ed. Caring about carers is well overdue. Many are doing it out of family loyalty that binds hearts and minds. Most people have elderly at some stage in their lives. The author might need caring for at some point, so let’s get behind this policy initiative and should we care.

  • Matt (Bristol) 30th Nov '20 - 11:09am

    If the Party can articulate policies on this issue that show up its distinctives — ie devolving power and finances through a reformed and democratic local government, giving people choice and control, responding to existing ‘best practice’ on an evidential basis, not adding unnecessary ‘red tape’, addressing the underlying causes of issues. All well and good.

    If it ends up with national tax rebate for carers or similar (ie a ‘trick with money’ at centralised level in Whitehall, akin to those we saw in the Gordon Brown years) it will fail in this regard. That’s the equivalent of Ashdown proposing not a blanket offer of passports to Hong Kong citizens but a short-term ‘guest worker’ scheme. Symbolic but futile. It’s not enough to say something, it has to be the right thing.

    But carers are being badly served — as with mental health which the party has also tried to champion in the past — because they have always been undervalued in a system that is now failing left, right and centre. Rebalancing an institutional failing going back years, on its own, will take a lot of work to do little, because it’s trying to change the driving position on a car going downhill with no brakes and a burntout engine.

  • David Evershed 30th Nov '20 - 12:01pm

    Social care is the overwhelming local issue as it accounts for over 50% of local government spending and is increasing as a percentage with the increase in the numbers of the elderly.

    If this is publicised more then the Lib Dem stance on care and carers will illustrate Lib Dem values.

  • James Fowler 30th Nov '20 - 1:49pm

    The care campaign has not impressed me much. A few thoughts – which basically all amount to the same point about distinctiveness and issue ownership:

    1. Care = The NHS. The NHS = Labour.

    2. ‘We are the caring party’. As opposed to whom? Is anyone campaigning as the uncaring party?

    3. ‘We are the party of carers’. Which carers exactly? If we say that’s everybody to some extent why not just call ourselves a one nation Party? If we just mean people in the care industry why have singled these people out? Why not call ourselves the party of Amazon deliverers or the party of IT support helpdesks? (I’m just picking some other sets of really useful and numerous people at random).

    4. There are the disabled but this is really about identifying ourselves with helping the old. Culturally and financially the Conservatives are already camped out on this.

    5. At heart: Why is this a liberal issue?

  • Matt (Bristol) 30th Nov '20 - 2:47pm

    James, there is a very narrow and hypothetical path which could be trod whereby social care = local government = Lib Dem values.

    But the policy offer you would need to make that narrative would need to be very clearly about governance of the social care sector as well as delivery and since the (misnomer) Health and Social Care Act of the Grayling era and its botched chair-shuffling, I’m not sure how much lib dem enthusiasm there is for root and branch restructuring.

    But the woes of the social care and social services sector can be seen in the question ‘who is the responsible body?’ to which (and this is just in England) the answer is, the department of health and social care, the department of communities and local government, the department of education, local councils themselves, not to mention those bodies carrying on outsourced work for multiple bodies (eg Virgin Care),
    also some work alongside the NHS being done via CCGs, hospital trusts and mental health trusts.

    This is before you bring in that vexed issue for many informal carers, benefits, which brings the Department for Work and Pensions into the mix.

    The Paddy Ashdown passports-for-Hong Kong idea stood out because it was a decisive proposal that went beyond what anyone else was discussing that aimed to bring clarity to a mess.

    Any Lib Dems want to follow that pathway here? Just saying ‘we like people who are carers for their family because Ed and his wife are carer for their son who is vulnerable with a long term health condition’ is nice enough (although self-mythologizing is not my favourite habit of politicians) but doesn’t cut it, for me.

  • @ James Fowler

    It is a liberal issue because it is about supporting individuals rather than institutions and it is about supporting people who may be socially excluded. Caring is not just about physical disability it is relevant to mental health and addiction too which are core liberal issues that other parties shy away from.

    You say that caring and the NHS is a “Labour issue” (but don’t say why exactly) then you say it is about elderly people and you say the Conservatives are “camped out on” so you are contradicting yourself.

    Another way of looking at the carers issue is that we can win votes from both sides – from Labour by re-establishing the LDs as more compassionate than them whilst winning over older voters from the Conservatives.

  • I don’t think we should underestimate the investment the Labour Party makes in being seen as the party of the NHS in terms of the amount of time they spend talking about it. It is every third word out of their mouths at times. It is an expensive illusion to maintain. And it is an illusion. They have had no ideas for improving the NHS since Blair. They were the last party to cut the NHS in real terms in March 2010 and haven’t consistently had the policy at general elections since then of spending more on the NHS than other parties.

    Nonetheless it is strategy that works for them. Without it, many more people would be asking “but what does the Labour Party stand for?” With us perhaps Proportional Representation used to play that role and was widely mocked. Brexit maybe was in 2019, but was weakened by Labour supporting a referendum. Clearly the carers policy is not this issue for us and isn’t meant to be, and criticism that it isn’t this issue for us is missing the point.

    So the question to take out of this debate is should we have a signature issue that we invest in to the extent of spending most of our limited airtime talking about it, and if so, what should it be? And can we make it immune to Labour or the Tories stealing it with a slight compromise?

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Nov '20 - 10:28pm

    We can make this a ‘signature issue’, Joe if we see it as part of the new national social contract which we should be demanding, since it is needed especially now, post-Covid and with the Brexit problems looming. The social contract, which the UN Rapporteur Philip Alston told us exactly two years ago had been broken, IS about government caring for individuals in their communities, and treating everyone as equal citizens, equally deserving of the goods of life. Caring that they have enough money to live in freedom from want, that they have good health and social care, that they can get jobs which fulfil their talents, homes of their own if they want them, and education and training for their children sufficient for the needs of a digital age and climate change. Respecting them enough also to want to empower them, give them a share of power, trusting their responsibility and readiness also to look out for each other.

    You will never find that sort of attitude in the other main parties. It is the Liberal heritage, which William Beveridge spelled out in 1942 for the subsequent Labour government to carry through, and we should proclaim it again now and demand a Beveridge.2 Plan be worked out to end the continuing social injustices of this country. Local government and regional rebalancing will be clear parts of that Plan – not least in Sheffield, where so much good work is done by you councillors as in many other parts of England, but we do need now I believe to have this national Plan.

  • Helen Dudden 1st Dec '20 - 12:44pm

    During the Covid close down, many, have gone without the care that keeps them in a stable condition. In the long term, I think this will be a problem that will not go away.
    I know there can be issue’s with housing providers, on the subject of Power Wheelchairs and their use. Health and Safety, I understand that law and regulations are not in place, but some providers choose to add.
    After the situation with Covid has relaxed, it could be useful in my opinion, to sort out the real issues with the NHS.

  • Peter Martin 1st Dec '20 - 2:10pm

    “we……. demand a Beveridge 2” ???

    I’ve made the point before that Beveridge’s views weren’t what many in the present day Lib Dems would wish them to have been.

    But, I can’t claim any original comment in this respect. One of your own, Mark Pack, wrote pretty much the same thing as long ago as 2011:

    “Though he is often thought of as the father of the modern welfare state in this country, William Beveridge in fact had other views on the matter”

  • James Fowler 2nd Dec '20 - 9:00am

    @Marco. Do I really have to explain why Labour ‘own’ the NHS? 😉 You make a good point about my apparent contradiction NHS = Labour / Old people = Conservatives.

    I think the distinction runs like this: Labour and the NHS as an institution are inseparable, and of course many old people rely on the NHS. At the same time though, the Conservatives have won the culture war for the old (Brexit) and are seen as the guardians of their financial interests (Triple lock/Keep your own home). Between these two colossal mills, I’m just not sure where the LDs fit.

  • Antony Watts 7th Dec '20 - 11:50am

    Couple of simple things.

    1 Lib Dems support the EU. So let’s support their viision of the future Green and Digital

    2 We have come to accept credit cards (who know all about you and are often acceptable as ID), we have come to accept and treasure driving licences (which are almost universally accepted as ID (they have a photo!). So why not have a proper ID card that can do everything for us, including ID on social media.

  • Peter Martin 9th Dec '20 - 3:12am

    @ Katharine Pindar,

    ” The Liberals/Lib Dems have always been the party that cared about individuals, ……unlike Labour.”

    This is so obviously untrue that it’s hard to know where to start. There’s nearly always a need for collective action to maximise the benefits for the individuals within that collective. There’s really no contradiction.

    Lib Dems recognise that as much as anyone else. Why else would they be so pro the EU, which is nothing but a set of collective rules claimed to benefit all the individuals that are governed by it? However, whether it achieves that is a matter of some debate!

    The Lib Dem Party itself is a collective endevour. Again, whether it achieves its aims is also…………

  • Peter Martin 9th Dec '20 - 3:41am

    @ James Fowler,

    “………the Conservatives have won the culture war for the old (Brexit)”

    The first assumption here is that “old” are a reactionary bunch of Empire Loyalists. However, simple arthimetic should indicate otherwise. They’d have to have grown up in the inter-war period to have any sense of what the British Empire meant at the time. They’d have to be at least 90. There aren’t many of those left alive.

    Someone born in 1945 would be 75 now. That’s pretty old, isn’t it? They (We?) have lived through the dismantling of Empire and it really means nothing except in a historical context. The postwar generation has been one of the most reformist ever. I was going to say revolutionary but maybe that’s putting it too strongly. The society we have now has been created by this generation. The same ones who stood up against the establishment, on issues such as Vietnam, Apartheid, Sexual Freedom, Racial discrimination etc in the 60s and 70s. It may not be perfect but there have been many changes for the better in the post war period.

    OK so we aren’t quite as pro the EU as you’d like! Is that such an issue?

  • It’s all about freedom isn’t it?

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