Jeremy Browne isn’t going quietly…

Jeremy Browne has used an interview with the Independent to continue his love-in with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. The headline says he called Nick Clegg “insipid” but he didn’t use that word directly about the leader. However, he did say something that will probably find some sympathy across the whole party. I’ve often said that we need to be passionate about who we are and not define ourselves by who we are not so that we’re just pushing ourselves as moderating influence on the other parties. I don’t like it when a speech is memorable for its mention of which body parts we share out. I do like it when we say what we are about.

Browne makes a similar point:

We are defining liberalism as the precise mid‑point between conservatism and socialism. Whatever liberalism is, it is not defined by where the other parties choose to pitch themselves or by measuring the distance between them and splitting it in half.

All we offer is a desire to water down their strong views. We offer an insipid moderation. Whichever party is the biggest one, we will stop them implementing a large number of their ideas. It is entirely negative. It is a deeply conservative position. We have become the most small-‘c’ conservative party.

Where I part company with Browne is his assertion is that this makes us more conservative than the two parties who have resolutely junked political reform whether it be electoral, party funding or to the House of Lords, throughout this Parliament. On devolution, it’s our party which has driven more powers for Scotland and Wales. You don’t find a conservative party creating opportunities for disadvantaged kids in school or transforming the way we deal with mental health.

Browne doesn’t give us credit for what we have achieved in government. He seems to have forgotten the pensions reform, 0.7% aid, ending child detention or the things I talked about above.  Stephen Tall has long argued that the centre ground strategy is the only practical one for the party. I think it’s important to show what we’ve stopped others from doing, but we also need to show what we have brought to the table in terms of our own ideas. We were able to do both very effectively in coalition in Scotland, with a string of radical reforms like free personal care and STV for local government which smashed most of our coalition partner’s traditional fiefdoms. We also ruthlessly showed the electorate the comparison between London Labour and the Labour party in government with us. There is a place for both.

Ironically, he also reckons we should have portrayed ourselves as more of a single unit with the Conservatives, which is hardly carving out an identity for ourselves. He reckons Clegg chose appeasing the party over more effective government.

Claiming the party “lost our nerve”, Mr Browne said: “Nick Clegg made a decision that he was going to look inwards and talk to his party and reassure it, rather than look outwards and talk to the country and appeal to it.”

I’m not sure that going into the election as indistinguishable from the Conservatives would have helped our situation.

Browne also highlighted what he saw as two types of Lib Dem minister:

There are two types of Lib Dem ministers – those who go into their department every morning to make a success of it and the Government; and those who undermine the Secretary of State, are awkward in their department and make the Government less successful in a way they think will reflect better on their party. I am temperamentally and psychologically entirely in the former camp.

I thought being awkward and challenging the establishment was part of being a Liberal Democrat. If, for example, you find that your department is putting out racist “go home” vans which stir up tensions, you’d surely want to put a stop to it, wouldn’t you?

Browne doesn’t seem to accept that this government has been surprisingly functional. We all know about the factionalism that poisoned Labour’s 13 years in government from day one and I don’t exactly remember John Major’s tussles with his “bastards” being a teddy bear’s picnic.

He predicted that the Tories would be the largest party in a hung parliament and that Nick Clegg would be replaced by Tim Farron as leader:

He believed the Lib Dems would reject the chance of a second coalition in another hung parliament, and Mr Clegg would then quit as leader.

“Being leader of a smaller party would feel unfulfilling and there would be a sense that his era had come to a natural conclusion,” he said.

He forecast that Tim Farron, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, would be elected leader and take the party into opposition. But he argued that would not be in the party’s best interests.

A “senior Liberal Democrat source” had this to say about Browne’s comments:

A senior Lib Dem source said Mr Browne’s views were well known and not shared by the vast majority of Lib Dems at any level of the party, who “are proud of the policies we’ve delivered in government and are working hard to get as many Lib Dem MPs get elected so that distinctive Lib Dem policies get delivered next time around”.

He said: “In 2010, 75 per cent of our manifesto policies became government policy. If we pull together, we can achieve the same in 2015 and keep Britain anchored in the liberal centre ground. A liberal voice is needed now in government, perhaps more than ever before.”

Jeremy Browne’s publication of his small-state “Race Plan” vision which he dubbed “authentic liberalism” a few weeks before the European election campaign was hardly a helpful intervention. While he’s leaving parliament behind him, he’s not going quietly or in a manner that’s helpful to the party.

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

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in News.


  • Paul in Wokingham 13th Feb '15 - 10:53am

    [Reposting from elsewhere]
    I agree with Browne’s view that Clegg has reduced the Lib Dems to the party of “insipid moderation” while – like Caron – profoundly disagreeing with his vision of what a “radical” Liberal Democrat party looks like.

    And I also agree with his assessment that the Tories are close to securing a majority: the current deflationary environment looks superficially benign (especially in respect of the collapse in forecourt petrol prices and the return of real wage growth) and we can expect the Tories to campaign on a platform of economic security in an uncertain world.

    But it is staggering that a “senior” MP will – to coin a footballing cliche – “get his retaliation in first” by claiming that the coming electoral meltdown is due to moving away from his vision of remoulding the party as the champion of some strange corporatist libertarianism.

  • “Where I part company with Browne is his assertion is that this makes us more conservative than the two parties who have resolutely junked political reform whether it be electoral, party funding or to the House of Lords, throughout this Parliament”

    Er, so political reform will be on the front page of our manifesto ? Thought not. Neither can we escape the fact that Nick Clegg is the Minister responsible for political reform and he has achieved nothing.

    I think it misunderstands Jeremy to say he thinks “we should have portrayed ourselves as more of a single unit with the Conservatives” what he seems to me to be getting at is claiming that the coalition worked, which is not the same as being the same as the Conservatives. It would be easier to get credit for the economic recovery and tax cuts if the Lib Dems had insisted on the post of Chancellor and blocked some on the worse Tory excesses from bedroom tax to benefit sanctions and benefit cap. At the moment the message seems to be – we went into the coalition in the national interest, we saved the economy but we can barely work with the tories and while we want to claim credit for the good bits, we get really upset when people blame us for the bad bits. No wonder focus groups are saying the Lib Dems have lost their way and their soul.

    To be fair, the coalition was fatally weakend by Nick Clegg’s betrayal on tuition fees and David Cameron’s betrayal on AV.

  • I loathe Clegg, but the way Jeremy has done this just before the general election is just plain wrong and dishonourable.

    I disagree with much of his analysis too – I don’t think Clegg has been inward looking and listening to the party. He’s largely ignored the party but done more than any other cabinet member in living memory to talk to the public, even though they’re usually lining up to tell him how much they can’t stand him!

  • matt (Bristol) 13th Feb '15 - 11:33am

    Does he not understand that it may be he and others who have pushed for a form of liberalism that (arguably) overemphasises the ‘free-market’ as the agency of freedom who have created many of the pressures that lead Nick Clegg and other (willingly or unwillingly) towards the pragmatic triangulation which could be a result of trying to balance or neutralise (or duck) competing arguments about longterm direction within the party??

    (erk, that’s a long sentence).

  • Why should Jeremy Browne go quietly? I think it’s a pretty fair interview – as Caron says, he didn’t actually say Nick was insipid, which is the headline the Independent have used.

    There appear to be two camps developing – and I believe each is only half right. One camp is the pragmatists, championed by Stephen Tall for example. They say that the Lib Dems need to portray themselves as the moderating centralising influence on whoever else is in power. The danger with that approach is that it leaves the public wondering who we are and what we actually stand for. It’s profoundly negative, as Jeremy Browne says. It encourages the view that we don’t stand for anything. The other camp is the radical liberalism camp, championed by Jeremy Browne. The perceived risk of this approach is that it turns off certain voters who might tactically vote for us if we portray ourselves as insipid, fluffy and nothing. There is perhaps a point in this. Maybe only a small constituency want this and not enough to get anyone elected. As a party we’ve clearly plumped for the former, but I think we need to do both.

  • matt (Bristol) 13th Feb '15 - 12:14pm

    Julian, I think you’ll find there are 2 subgoups of ‘radicals’ among those who critique the triangulatory version of centrism – one pushing for more ‘left’ solutions (ie via forms of state regulation and interference in markets), and one for more ‘right’ (ie via deregulation and trust of the markets). Each suspects the other of secretly preferring or angling for coalition with Labour or Tory.

    Personally I think there is another kind of radical centrism that isn’t left-right triangulation – one that is pragmatic economically, prepared to consider models and philosophy emerging from whatever corner of the political spectrum, but challenges the accepted status quo hard on the structures of law, government and democracy built up by left and rigt over the years that restrict the abillity of individuals or communities of individuals to speak to state or commercial power and enact effective change.

    It is possible to hold to this sort of ‘centrism’ and not be very pro-Clegg or terribly ecstatic about the Lib Dems becoming a party that does its thinking via focus groups and measures its worth only in terms of participation in coalitions or ‘holding the balance of power’.

  • Whatever merit there may be in Brownes ideas his intervention now is more about ego, essentially he is telling us how important he is.
    Jeremy Browne = Lembit Opik.

  • Matt(Bristol)

    but challenges the accepted status quo hard on the structures of law, government and democracy built up by left and rigt over the years that restrict the abillity of individuals or communities of individuals to speak to state or commercial power and enact effective change

    The structures of law, government and democracy were built up mostly by the Tories and the Liberals over the centuries and have always been a right wing thing from either of those two parties. Labour has been the force that has challenged these, whether through unionisation, the NHS or devolution and reform of the Lords.

    Even to this day, there is a massive dominance of a public school educated minority that controls British society, whether judges, civil servants or parliamentarians. In fact, only one major UK party has a leader who isn’t from a tiny, unrepresentative educational background, and it’s not the Lib Dems or Tories.

    It’s rewriting of history to posit the Lib Dems as a reforming force.

  • When Jeremy has been attacked by others or were delighted when he said he was standing, I stood up for him. I want a party that debates Liberalism; what it means, how to put it into practice. I want to be in a aprty with both John Tilley and Jeremy – I want argument in the Liberal tent, to keep things vibrant and because they are voices I want to hear.

    But I can barely put into words how anrgy this interview made me. Such a self-serving, selfish thing to do. How on earth is going to be of any help at this point? Any second our MPs etc are not talking about why people should support the party is a wasted one and that they will now have to spend time talking about what Jeremy has said is entirely unnecessary.

    Why on earth could he have a) not said a thing or b) waited till post-election and put it in a book?

    Jeremy has spent years working for this party and has stuck his neck out by voicing his views. For both of these things he deserved thanks and respect, regardless of what we thought of those views.

    With echoes of Howes’ resignation, Jeremy has kicked his teammate’s shins as they go out to the crease whilst he leaves by the backdoor.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 13th Feb '15 - 1:10pm

    I think Jeremy’s two central points are ultimately correct.

    The one big challenge that we had as a party above all others in the early years of this parliament was to convince voters that coalition was preferable to single-party government. That was more important than all the other individual measures.

    Then, after the local election results of 2011, the leadership was strong-armed by some members into hasty and ill-advised “differentiation”. It was done too early, and it was done badly. Since then, the greater the effort at “differentiation” the lower our poll rating has sunk.

    Jeremy is also right that we need to be more unambiguously liberal. Look at how positively Nick Clegg was viewed when he gave the clearest, most liberal response in defence of free speech after the Charlie Hebdo killings . It was the opposite of split-the-difference-ism and was probably the most “cut-through” Clegg has had since the 2010 leaders’ debates.

    I disagree with those that say or imply that Jeremy should “go quietly”. He has strong, interesting and original views that are not being expressed by any other senior figure.

  • David Blake 13th Feb '15 - 1:31pm

    What Browne should really be thinking is ‘does this help Rachel Gilmour’?

  • I agree with much of what you say, Nick, but for Jeremy to give this interview at such a point in an election cycle is disrespectful to those candidates standing for election.

    If there was an absolute need for him to make the comments now then I would accept them, but there isn’t. He is arguing for changes in the last weeks of a parliament. At this stage they are neither helpful or constructive.

  • Nick Thornsby
    The facts don’t seem to fit your theory. The big falls in Lib Dem support happened in 2010 and the Euro campaign in 2014. Lib Dem polling hardly shifted at all between those two points.. Perhaps you need to look closer to home to explain why the Lib Dems are on the brink of an electoral disaster.

  • matt (Bristol) 13th Feb '15 - 2:20pm

    G, ‘reform’ is one thing, ‘democratic reform’ is another.

    How were Blair’s reforms of the Lords or (for eg) the post of Lord Chancellor democratic and not autocratic?

    On the matter of history, the last major successful piece of purely Liberal constitutional reform I can think of is the Parliament Act of 1911. Please explain how it is possible to consider this as a ‘right wing’ or ‘undemocratic’ action (nb these are not the same thing)?

  • Eddie Sammon 13th Feb '15 - 2:35pm

    I resent what Jeremy is trying to do. We should not be shrinking the state for the sake of it and attracting those with an aggressive stance on foreign policy to the party.

    He would deserve to be spoken about more politely, but when you are experienced and attack people publicly you better have a strong argument, which he doesn’t have and even the Indy’s editorial says he is wrong.

  • paul barker 13th Feb ’15 – 12:21pm
    “..,,,,, his intervention now is more about ego, essentially he is telling us how important he is.
    Jeremy Browne = Lembit Opik.”

    Once again I agree with paul barker.

  • ATF 13th Feb ’15 – 12:43pm
    “..,,,,. I want to be in a party with both John Tilley and Jeremy – I want argument in the Liberal tent, to keep things vibrant and because they are voices I want to hear.”

    I too want to be in a party with ATF. 🙂

  • I want to be in a party that still exists after 7 May. If we spend all out time listening to people like Jeremy Browne, it won’t.

  • Roger Heape 13th Feb '15 - 5:14pm

    It is true that we have in Government moderated the Tories.However this does not mean we need a moderate,bland and boring manifesto .I have seen almost no TV coverage of our five manifesto priorities!
    There is a strong case for a manifesto being bold and visionary- or are we too frightened after the tuition fees episode to promise anything?
    There is still time to present the contents of our manifesto in a more visionary way by linking them to some of the big issues of the day.Here are three examples.
    The most tangible evidence of lack of fairness is the increasing levels of inequality.we should have the facts marshaled on this and then show how our policies would help reduce inequality.for those on lower incomes lees tax because of the £12,500 tax for threshold the move to a living wage.For those who are richer increased taxes on capital gains,reducing tax dodging both for private individuals and large corporations, and additional council tax bands to make that tax less regressive.
    The second big issue is the high price of housing and the lack of affordable homes.On the supply side we should enabling industrial production of housing to bring down housing costs and building a millions new homes plus freeing from old airport sites from MOD for large scale development .
    The final example is the devolution issue.The time is ripe for a bold proposal rather than tinkering.I must be honest to say that I haven,the foggiest what our current policy is.So lets sort it out ,go back to our radical roots and call for home rule for Scotland Wales Northern Ireland and of course England too.

  • “I thought being awkward and challenging the establishment was part of being a Liberal Democrat”

    Indeed, Caron.

    Nick Thornsby: you don’t answer Caron’s entirely fair question from the body of the article? How would wedding ourselves closer to the tories make us more distinctively liberal? The criticisms I hear from the public day in and day out are that we wedded ourselves too MUCH to the tories, and the mistake was the Rose Garden, and what differentiation as has occurred is too little, too late.

  • David Allen 13th Feb '15 - 5:35pm

    If Clegg offers “insipid moderation”, what does Cameron offer? As a publicist, Cameron offers insipid reassurance – hug-a-husky when the national mood is green, long-term-economic-plan when the national mood is apprehensive, genial Etonian self-confident British leadership with a projection of solidity and common sense. (Plus, of course, bulldogs like Osborne, Gove and IDS in attendance to bite anyone who comes too close.) As a leader, Cameron offers something quite different. He has quietly presided over the systematic dismantling of the welfare state and the creation of Britain as a haven for rich tax-avoiders. The image of insipid reassurance has acted as a cloak for this radical Conservative transformation.

    Clegg, like Cameron, has wholeheartedly supported this take-over by the money men, while also sheltering behind a cloak of insipid moderation. Browne, by contrast, wants to adopt radical neo-Thatcherism as his watchword, and shout about it from the housetops.

    If I had to choose between these options, I’d prefer Browne’s. At least he’s honest. But I don’t, the nation doesn’t, and the nation won’t.

  • “The one big challenge that we had as a party above all others in the early years of this parliament was to convince voters that coalition was preferable to single-party government. ”

    Whoa just a second. When did it become a thing that coalitions were PREFERABLE? I would like a Lib Dem single party government elected with the overwhelming support of the electorate which can implement a radical programme of political and social reform*. Coalitions are necessary, and with a proportionate voting system and “more than two party multi party” democracy probably always likely, but I’m not sure they should be the preferred outcome.

    A key objective was to show that coalitions worked – but that is not the same.

    (*I also want long luxuriant hair and the rugged good looks of the young Richard Burton. I am slowly starting to accept I can’t have everything…. 🙂

    I think Nick should reply as Atlee did to Harold Laski 🙂

  • Hywel: good point.
    And you’re better looking than Richard Burton was anyway.

  • Helen Tedcastle 13th Feb '15 - 8:28pm

    Bitterness is not a good trait in a soon to be ex-politician.

  • Another example of the elected party ‘grandees’ feeling themselves to be rather grander than they should?
    I have some sympathy with some of what was said, the party has a miminal identity at the moment, and virtually little point in many parts, but why say and do this now?
    Long, long since overdue that the members took their party back!

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Feb '15 - 2:37am

    I like the way Jeremy calls himself a “loving, critical” friend of the party, it sets a better tone, but he needs to be careful with what editors might use his interviews for, such as front page attacks.


  • In the editorial The Independent highlights these key facts. —

    “….Lib Dems seem to treat Mr Kennedy like an embarrassing uncle, but it should not be forgotten that under his leadership they achieved their greatest electoral success, accumulating 63 MPs. 

    That tally runs counter to Mr Browne’s thesis that the Lib Dems can do well only by staying close to the Conservatives. “

  • Bill Le Breton 14th Feb '15 - 8:15am

    @ John Tilly, quite.

  • Stephen Hesketh 14th Feb '15 - 8:34am

    @David Allen.

    Setting aside any support for the more honest Browne, I agree.

    I also agree with your calling neo-Thatcherism just that. Liberals of all people should avoid the misappropriation and use of ‘neo-liberal’.

  • Stephen Hesketh 14th Feb '15 - 8:48am

    JohnTilley 14th Feb ’15 – 7:12am

    I also agree. Those who wished to ‘reclaim liberalism’ – presumably from the more successful Kennedy and ordinary membership – have proved beyond reasonable doubt that ‘trickle across’ from the Tory left is about as likely to occur as ‘trickle down’ from the tax-protected Super Rich.

    Clegg and Browne are both wrong and have, in their different ways, both been a disaster for our party.

  • Richard Sangster 14th Feb '15 - 9:35am

    On the Conservative – Liberal Spectrum, I thought it was the Labour Party who were the small ‘c’ conservative party.

  • I do occasionally look at the Twitter column on the right hand side of this screen which tells me what Caron, Stehen Tall and Nick Thornsby and another LDV luminaries are Twittering.
    Nick Thornsby seems to be saying that the only thing wrong with the Coaition was that we as Liberal Democrats were not Coalitionist enough.
    Perhaps he might leave Twitter for a moment or two and explain here in this thread how he can beieve such a thing?
    His only earlier contribution in this thread yesterday included –
    “…Nick Thornsby 13th Feb ’15 – 1:10pm
    ………..after the local election results of 2011, the leadership was strong-armed by some members into hasty and ill-advised “differentiation”. It was done too early, and it was done badly.
    Since then, the greater the effort at “differentiation” the lower our poll rating has sunk.”

    So Nick Thornsby thinks that if The Rose Garden image had perpetuated for five years we would now be in clover.

    Does he have access to “private polling” that shows that he is right?

    All the polls I can remember seem to have said exactly the opposite of what he believes to be true.

  • Bill le Breton 14th Feb '15 - 12:38pm

    I always thought the Reeves strategy of no differentiation to begin with and growing differentiation as the Parliament progressed was the greatest folly.

    I like the way Browne has used the world ‘distinction’ or ‘distinctiveness’. But you have to be able to express that distinctiveness in contrast to both your opponents outside of a Coalition and with your partners inside Coalition. You have to operate transparently so that people see your negotiations. So that they know your opening position, your battering, and therefore what is yours and what is ‘theirs’ in the outcome.

    There are two explanations for why this did not happen in the first three years, and they are not exclusive. 1. The leadership supported most if not all of the major decisions and so what we saw happen was what actually wanted. They supported a rise in tuition fees, they supported the accelerated deficit consolidation because they believed it would lead to economic expansion. They supported the Bedroom Tax as a vital part of housing policy (freeing up stock) and control of welfare expenditure. Etc. I think this is the case.

    2) They did not want to be open with the Party and its support base because they did not think that they could win party or public backing and so were keen to keep matters from the ‘children’.

    Our dire position is down to political folly over policy, governance and campaigning. It is not the fault of some late decision to indulge in differentiation. Though I am sure that Marshall and Laws and their employees will try to explain the failure of their strategy in this way.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Feb '15 - 5:01pm

    The problem with Jeremy Browne is that there is no such thing now as a party which stands for “conservatism”. The core principle of the Conservative Party, what drives them, what leads its main funder to give it money is what Jeremy Browne calls “liberalism”. True conservatism would mean the core principle would be keeping things the same, not changing them, avoiding anything which might alter how society works. The Conservative Party hasn’t stood for this for decades, and has thrown out the last little strands of it that it used to keep in dusty corners in recent years. Browne now passionately believes that the biggest threat to freedom is anything done by the state, and so the more we take away state power and hand it to big business instead, the more free society will be. We have been governed by governments who have thought that way for 35 years now. It is orthodoxy, it is what you can find written down as how things should be in most of the places where influential thought goes on. Browne thinks that saying “me too” to this orthodoxy, and just wanting it in an even more extreme form than anyone else is to offer something radically new. It isn’t.

    If you want to offer something radically new, you need to question this orthodoxy, ask whether it REALLY gives the freedom to everyone that it claims to do so. This is precisely what Browne isn’t doing.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Feb '15 - 5:04pm

    Julian Tisi

    The other camp is the radical liberalism camp, championed by Jeremy Browne.

    I am from an age when “radical liberalism” very much DIDN’T mean the sort of thing that Browne stands for.

  • SIMON BANKS 14th Feb '15 - 6:09pm

    In the early days of coalition, Nick Clegg did not sufficiently talk to the party or even show an understanding of what the party might accept or get angry about. The NHS Reform Bill was a classic example. If he had put thius right, we would have asserted a more distinctive identity. He should indeed have spoken “outwards” more about our distinctive identity and not been fooled by the rose garden love-in – but if he’d tried to get over a message to the whole country that was even less near to the hearts of the party activists than the present pallid moderation, he’d have had serious problems. One thing that can be said for most spin doctors is that they realise the party leader spinning a line no-one else in the party will spin is ineffective.

  • Robin Martlew 19th Feb '15 - 10:23am

    In my bookL iberalism (from the Grimmond era, was about individualism and that leads to ‘difference’, toleraion’, and’cooperarion’, I don’t believe we are thinking that way any more. Middle of the road is a simple giving up of independent and radical thinking. It is OK I suspect for those whose main aim is ‘power now.

    Quite frankly, accepting the present form of capitalism, or socialism for that matter, takes us nowhere. We need towrk out how we can devise a system that is genuinely fair and allows people to express themselves as idividuals. Our attudes no longer satisfy those aspirtions. Of course nor do the thoughs of any other party so I remain where I am
    despairing, but still moderately actively here!

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • theakes
    Excellent question yesterday from Christine Jardine over the VAT on Private Schools and the negative effect it appears to be having in Edinburgh and within the ...
  • Paul Barker
    Thanks for a very useful article. Something like a quarter of 2024 conservative Voters are likely to die before the next General Election - that shift on its ...
  • David Le Grice
    Why the hell do we only get two questions? We got more than half the seats and votes that the Tories got, if they get a whopping six then we should get at least...
  • Peter Davies
    @Paul Yes. Most organised areas do tallying....
  • Peter Davies
    "even in London we have no councillors (and so no councillor tithes) in 19 of the 32 Boroughs" it's not really 'even'. London Boroughs have the highest proporti...