++ Jeremy Browne to stand down as Lib Dem MP in May 2015

Jeremy Browne, Lib Dem MP for Taunton Deane, has announced he will not be standing again in May 2015. Here’s his tweet, complete with resignation letter:

Here’s Nick Clegg’s response to the news:

‘Jeremy Browne has decided that now is the right time to announce he will not stand at the next election and the Liberal Democrats wish him all the best for the future. The Deputy Prime Minister regrets that he has taken the decision to leave politics as Jeremy has always had strongly held views which he expressed with great skill and conviction. Jeremy has been a tireless constituency MP to the people of Taunton and served in two important ministerial roles in the early part of this government.’

Read more by .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

110 Comments

  • Paul in Wokingham 15th Oct '14 - 1:40pm

    Announced less than 200 days before the election? That’s not a lot of time for the local party to hold a selection and get their new candidate up and running.

  • Paul Pettinger 15th Oct '14 - 1:40pm

    What a spoil sport. At least Michael Portillo has the grace to fight and loose his seat in 1997.

  • Paul Harding 15th Oct '14 - 1:43pm

    I obviously wish him well, but the timing of this is unhelpful to say the least.

  • Peter Chegwyn 15th Oct '14 - 1:51pm

    Agree with Gareth. He should have announced earlier so his local party had more time to promote his successor and hold the seat.

    Still, it could have been worse. He could have joined UKIP or the Conservatives.

    At least the party can now elect a Liberal in Taunton next May.

  • Yeauch. A geniunely interesting thinker, even when I didn’t agree with him.

    But bad form to announce at this stage, and it’ll be champagne in Taunton Conservative Club tonight. Can’t help thinking that standing down with this little notice will hurt his reputation.

    Wish him well though.

  • David Evans 15th Oct '14 - 2:05pm

    Nick’s response reminds me of James Callaghan’s ‘Crisis, What Crisis?’

  • Paul in Wokingham 15th Oct '14 - 2:06pm

    Jeremy Browne has decided that now is the right time to announce he will not stand at the next election

    Does that sounds like the leadership were not expecting this and are a tad annoyed about it?

  • Shoot me down in flames for saying this, but MPs aren’t being paid enough for the responsibility their job carries and lots of them, particularly in the regions of the UK where living costs are highest, must be weighing up the potential joys of working the next five years for £66,000 (I’m not sure if the proposed increase will go ahead next year or not) while facing an increasingly angry and hostile electorate. I should imagine that this is one of the factors that could be prompting so many MPs to step down now. Still, it is very late in the day to be deciding this and maybe he should have spent less time writing neo-liberal tracts and more time thinking about his local party.

  • Whilst some are pleased, I’m sad to see Jeremy stand down. I didn’t agree with all he had to say but two points must be remembered :

    1) He is a long standing (joined as a teenager) and dedicated member of this party, all talk of him being a Tory simply ignores the fact he could have a far easier time in politics if had joined them – but he didn’t because he isn’t one. I dare say, some people’s idea of what a Liberal is should be more liberal. Lest we forget that the Liberal movement was in part formed by free market capitalist thinkers and those who didn’t want a large state.
    2) Ours is a party that should challenege the status quo and received wisdom. As a free thinker, Jeremy Browne was a plus to the party. Why should we not challenge ourselves and our views? For a party that is proud to say we should be free from conformity, he challenged party conformity in the way we seek to do with those outside of Liberalism.

  • Charles Rothwell 15th Oct '14 - 2:50pm

    A little ironic as I have just started reading his book “Why vote Liberal Democrat?” which I ordered from Amazon. I wonder what the answer of a number of his constituents will be, given we are only about half a year away from one of the most crucial General Elections in a generation?

    PS: I agree 100% with “RC”. £66K for an MP to live and work in central London is a complete joke and we could well be en route to the pre-Parliament Act (introduced by a Liberal government) days of MPs living on private means or being sponsored by trade unions etc. The issue was raised on “The Sunday Politics” with the suggestion that there be a substantial boost to MPs’ salaries (certainly in excess of £100K pa) but that the expenses system then be discontinued. The Labour MP (John Mann) was scathing in his sarcasm and opposition, saying his constituents would not hear a word about MPs getting a single penny more. You need to read more John Stuart Mill, Mr Mann, the vox populi is by no means always the voice of reason. If we are to get top-rate MPs (and not just yes men and women who have come up through the party machines), a fitting salary is a sine quo non.

  • Chris Rennard 15th Oct '14 - 2:51pm

    The timing is of course unfortunate. But Jeremy’s contribution to the party should also be recognised, not least in winning Taunton back for us in 2005. He worked for Alan Beith for a long time and who released him to work with me in the 1994 Eastleigh parliamentary by-election. He also served the party very well as Head of Media in Cowley Street until leaving to seek nomination as a PPC. Taunton Lib Dems will of course be very disappointed. Whilst I am a strong supporter of selecting PPCs at the earliest point practical, the Taunton Lib dems should look to lessons from Bath in 1992. When our PPC stood down shortly before that General Election , Don Foster was selected with only nine weeks before polling day. I attended a campaign meeting immediately after Don’s selection to do a presentation on what was required to win a parliamentary by-election campaign in just over two months, and suggested to the members in Bath that that sort of campaign was what they needed to run. Don told the meeting that that was the agreed plan and they went on to win (defeating Chris Patten the Chair of the Conservative Party). So the Taunton Lib Dems need to get on with selecting a strong candidate, keep Jeremy working with them and attempt to fight the seat in the way that we fought all the parliamentary by-election campaigns that Liberal Democrats have won since Eastbourne 1990 to Eastleigh last year.

  • You are kidding arnt you RC?

    They are paid 2.5* the median wage plus generous expenses. They sit for 162 in Westminster
    And hold a number of weekend surgeries over the course of the year.

    MP’s are paid more than enough, If they are not happy with the Salary, then they should clear out and make room for many others who I am sure would be more than happy to have the opportunity.

    You do not need Degree’s and gone to public school to be a good candidate for parliament, indeed I think Westminster would be a far better place if it was represented by more people from ordinary backgrounds who have lived in the real world.

    Anyone can learn on the job and indeed would probably do far better than the halfwits who are currently running the treasury, I.e the chancellor with No economics background and has a degree in Modern History

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Oct '14 - 3:04pm

    matt

    MP’s are paid more than enough, If they are not happy with the Salary, then they should clear out and make room for many others who I am sure would be more than happy to have the opportunity.

    It’s quite a bit more than I earn as a university lecturer, but given the working hours and job uncertainty, actually the pay IS something that would put me off making a serious attempt to become an MP. It would mean I lose my career, and if I then lost my seat I’d be unemployed and unemployable.

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    Why would you be unemployable if you lost your seat at a later election?

    Considering your more or less guaranteed to have the job for 5 years at least. If you lose the seat there is a generous severance allowance.

    And If you had been a good MP who retained their integrity whilst serving in parliament, I would have thought that would be a good thing to have on your CV.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Oct '14 - 3:14pm

    I’ve been very hard on Jeremy Browne recently, because I am in so much disagreement with the way he wants to push the party. But I think he’s done this gracefully and I don’t agree with those attacking him. I see this as a decent recognition that his way is not the way most people in the party want it to go, and the contradiction between his personal views and carrying on as a Liberal Democrat MP is too much. I’m afraid that if I were a voter in Taunton, I would not be able to vote for him, even though (despite my own unhappiness with the party’s direction) I’m very firmly intending to vote Liberal Democrat otherwise at the next general election.

  • Ruth Bright 15th Oct '14 - 3:38pm

    I wonder what the chances are of a female candidate given the dismal message the party has sent out to women candidates in recent months – or was that just inadvertent?

  • @Ruth Bright

    Given the demographics of PPCs currently selected to replace sitting MPs, quite likely.

  • David Blake 15th Oct '14 - 3:43pm

    Just started his new book. A bit strange that he should have decided to go after writing that.

  • Tsar Nicolas 15th Oct '14 - 3:43pm

    I am glad to see him go. Whatever his previous contributions to the party, as listed by Chris Rennard, he has been instrumental in moving the Liberal Democrats so far to the right that the Party has almost fallen off the edge of the world.

    And his call for joint Tory/Lib Dem candidatures – disgraceful.

  • paul barker 15th Oct '14 - 3:46pm

    I have been interested/involved in Politics for half a century & its never been as exciting as now, seems an odd time to go but I wish him well.
    I very much hope that The Local Party do choose a Woman or BAME candidate.

  • If David Laws was to follow that would be really good news.

    Maybe then those on the left of the party could start to regain some control

  • Charles Rothwell 15th Oct '14 - 4:07pm

    @matt

    I certainly was NOT kidding in saying our (UK) MPs earn too little. Japan, Australia, Italy (???!!!), USA, Canada, Norway, Ireland, Germany, New Zealand….all pay their nationally elected representatives more (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/datablog/2013/jul/11/mps-pay-uk-foreign-compared#data). I has nothing to do with “having gone to private school”, in fact the VERY opposite. A “Leading teacher” in London can earn almost as much as an MP and a headteacher can earn virtually twice as much (http://www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching/about-teaching/salary). I cannot imagine that someone who, as an MP, may have to vote on issues which might determine whether British people will live or die (deployment of armed forces, euthanasia, allocation of health resources etc) plus represent a hugely varied range of constituents should be earning less than a headteacher, difficult, challenging and demanding though such a post undoubtedly is.

  • Simon McGrath 15th Oct '14 - 4:12pm

    @Ruth – what dismal message has the party given to female candidates?

  • Caspian Conran 15th Oct '14 - 4:29pm

    This is very unfortunate. I cant help but think this represents and opportunity missed for the party. I hope someone will take up the baton of his radical liberalism.

  • Ruth Bright 15th Oct '14 - 4:33pm

    Simon – I am referring to the fact that four women sought justice from the party and when the party did not deliver they felt there was no future for them in the Liberal Democrats.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 15th Oct '14 - 4:34pm

    It is a real shame that Jeremy has decided to stand down. I for one wish him all the best.

    It is also a shame that so many who call themselves liberals can be so unwelcoming of healthy debate on policy issues that they resort to personal animus so readily, even in a comments thread such as this. They ought to consider whether they are playing their part in making the Liberal Democrats a welcoming home for liberals of all shades.

    I also feel compelled to say what an extraordinarily ungracious statement that is by Nick Clegg. It is unbecoming for the deputy prime minister and leader of our party.

  • @Charles Rothwell

    “I cannot imagine that someone who, as an MP, may have to vote on issues which might determine whether British people will live or die (deployment of armed forces, euthanasia, allocation of health resources etc) plus represent a hugely varied range of constituents should be earning less than a headteacher, difficult, challenging and demanding though such a post undoubtedly is.”

    With all due respects, when I hear the sort of comments that have come from the welfare minister in the House Lords, Lord Freud, his comments on disabled people
    “there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually…””

    We are supposed to be grateful for these kind of qualities representing us in Westminster?
    This man gets £300 a day just for turning up to the lords, plus his wage paid for being a minister

  • @Charles Rothwell
    ” £66K for an MP to live and work in central London is a complete joke”

    It’s that kind of statement that drives people to vote UKIP. Firstly, MPs do not live in London. It might have escaped your notice but Browne is the MP for Taunton. When he visits London he gets paid all his expenses for doing so. 66k is higher than the earnings of 95% of the population, but that percentile is larger in Taunton where the median salary is considerably below the UK national average. Your statement is completely out of touch with reality.

  • To be honest outside his supposed involvement in hiring a van telling illegal immigrants to go home – I think Clegg sacked him after that – he’s not well known. Very, very few people outside LibDem activists have ever heard of the Orange Book. I doubt he will be missed and the LibDems may have a better chance in Taunton without him.

  • Nick Collins 15th Oct '14 - 5:13pm

    According to the BBC, he is going to “explore a world beyond beyond (sic) politics”. I wish him joy of it. Perhaps he will discover that mythical “centre ground”: somewhere between Dubai and Eldorado.

  • Southport 2001 and Cambridge 2010 show that held sets can be retained with a late change of candidate.

  • I am not particularly sorry to see Jeremy Browne stand down, as he was too far to the right for my liking. However, it the fact that he was a eevul orange booker that made me dislike his ideas, it was (what I saw to be) the triumph of dogma over pragmatism in many of his ideas.
    Mostly though, I am disappointed he has decided to stand down at this late time, with the only reason appearing to be ‘in 2015 I will have been MP for Taunton for 10 years’. Well Jeremy, I could have told you that after 2010!!

  • Bill le Breton 15th Oct '14 - 5:20pm

    Can anyone really disagree with this para written by JB and published in the New Statesman 27th September 2013;

    “That is why it is imperative that we raise education standards for everyone. It is why we have to make work pay and address endemic welfare dependency. Why we have to improve the affordability and efficiency of public services. Why we cannot afford crippling levels of public debt. Why we need to invest in improved infrastructure. Why we have to have competitive levels of personal and business taxation. Why we have to embrace the opportunities of globalisation.”

    Now, we can disagree about the use of the word ‘race’ given that someone who is out in the ocean will need to be able to swim and must have great stamina if they are to survive, and to see it as a race is not necessarily any more helpful, but substantially these are the challenges faced by people in this country – and they are clearly expressed,

    We may also disagree with just how these challenges are best met, but it is always useful to have someone in our team able to define the problem with such clarity.

  • @ Matt
    “Anyone can learn on the job and indeed would probably do far better than the halfwits who are currently running the treasury, I.e the chancellor with No economics background and has a degree in Modern History”

    I’m no fan of the current Chancellor, but he’s got a 2:1 degree in Modern History from Oxford University. Therefore, whatever you might say about his political instincts, intellectually he is likely to be among the top of his year group.

    No Matt, not everyone is capable of “learning on the job” when it comes to complex matters of finance and public policy. It takes a degree of intellect to grasp complicated problems and work on solutions for them. Most of those who have intellectual ability and have been to a good university will have a good chance of earning more than £66,000, sometimes considerably more, without the career risk, scrutiny of personal life etc etc.

    I really do get fed up with this ceaseless and unrelentingly negative attitude towards politicians and I believe it will make it increasingly hard to recruit the next generation of candidates for parliament, particularly in areas like London and the South East where living costs are highest and career opportunities are greatest.

    If people want competent, intelligent and engaging people with a track record in the real world as well to enter politics, there is a price to be paid for that. Yet many people entirely fail to grasp this. The result will be a further lowering of standards in parliament with consequent risks to the health of our democracy.

  • Good luck Jeremy I think 200 days notice is very generous, when I see MPs in tv interviews you must feel very hampered by needing at all times to follow party line

    Fingers crossed you enjoy your new career, I found your TV presence enjoyable.

  • @Nick Thornsby I agree. Strikingly cold.

  • RC

    Some of what you say makes sense, but there is no shortage of educated people applying to be MP’s. In any other walk of life – Doctors, Teachers, Nurse’s, Policemen etc – when you are flooded with applicants for a particular career the wages get dropped.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 15th Oct '14 - 5:38pm

    @ matt,

    Just for the record, Lord Freud does not receive a ministerial salary.

  • Tony Greaves 15th Oct '14 - 5:57pm

    This is a real mystery. To announce his resignation now makes no sense at all unless there is something in his personal life (for which we will all have sympathy) or some other more attractive offer in the fairly near future (for which we may not).

    Of course it may have something to do with the way he was sacked as a Minister. No doubt it will all come out in due course. Meanwhile Taunton Deane LDs have the chance to select a candidate more in the mainstream of modern Liberalism. Let us hope that they do so.

    Tony Greaves

  • Eddie Sammon 15th Oct '14 - 5:58pm

    First of all I think personal best wishes should be sent to Jeremy. I’m disappointed to see others not doing so. On some issues Jeremy is a welcome siren voice and I don’t mean on neo-liberalism.

    I was hoping we could “convert him”, as Farron was talking about, rather than see him go. There is no perfect ideology within politics and all have areas that I agree and disagree with.

    However, if he was failing to convert to more mainstream views then I think it is best for him to leave. This is not personal, just practical. He obviously agreed that the Lib Dems are not the best place for him after 2015.

    Having said that, I am surprised he is leaving politics entirely. We should continue debating ideology and welcome all those who are willing to be fairly loyal, despite disagreements.

    Best wishes

  • Eddie Sammon 15th Oct '14 - 6:21pm

    By the way, I don’t agree Nick Clegg’s statement was cold, what was he meant to do, grovel to him? He gave his best wishes and said he regrets he is leaving politics.

  • Simon McGrath 15th Oct '14 - 6:47pm

    @Ruth – I haven’t seen the Webster report so can’t really comment on the issue. I assume you havent either so I am not sure how you can make such a definitive statement. It would be great if the Party would publish it as we could then all have an informed view.

  • Stephen Hesketh 15th Oct '14 - 6:49pm

    @Nick Thornsby 15th Oct ’14 – 4:34pm
    “It is also a shame that so many who call themselves liberals can be so unwelcoming of healthy debate on policy issues that they resort to personal animus so readily, even in a comments thread such as this. They ought to consider whether they are playing their part in making the Liberal Democrats a welcoming home for liberals of all shades.”

    Nick, I think those of us on the radical wing of the party might have been more open to genuine discussion had a relatively small number of people such as Jeremy Browne not been working so enthusiastically to reposition the party on the economic, pro-‘free’ market right and to add insult to injury by painting us as being non-authentic non-mainstream Liberals. And most of this without democratic consultation and the agreement of the party.

    My problem is not with the Liberal Democrats being the natural home for (large L) Liberals of all shades but in finding that a small number of people have our home up for sale with a view to moving it to the other side of town.

  • Nick Thornsby 15th Oct ’14 – 4:34pm
    “…… an extraordinarily ungracious statement that is by Nick Clegg. It is unbecoming for the deputy prime minister and leader of our party.”

    Yes indeed. Yet another thing handled badly by Clegg.

  • Helen Tedcastle 15th Oct '14 - 7:13pm

    Good luck to Jeremy Browne. Now he will have even more time to write books on his version of ‘authentic liberalism,’ without having to answer to the electorate on how he spent his time as an MP and Minister in the Home Office.

  • It would appear that this decision has come about very quickly. Within the last fortnight.

    The New Statesman carried this from an interview they did with Jeremy Browne a couple of weeks ago —
    Browne believes there are “three broad options for the party”. The first is to “slump back into being a protest party” (“the comfort zone of tweeting about student sit-ins”); the second is to adopt a “continuity, steady-as-she-goes approach”; the third is to embrace “360-degree liberalism” and to be “the liberal voice in the liberal age”. Of the first two, Browne says, “I can think of candidates for both of those.” When I suggest that he has Tim Farron, the party’s left-leaning president, and Danny Alexander, the moderate Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in mind, he tells me, “Now you’re being mischievous,” which, I note, is not a denial.

    Will he ensure that the party is offered a third way? “I don’t have massive personal ambitions. It’s a big sacrifice being the leader of a political party.” But he adds: “It’s essential that that choice is one that the party has. It’s actually essential that it’s one that the party adopts but it can’t adopt it if it doesn’t have [the choice].”

    He adds: “Now, if someone else can do that better than me, that’s great.” And if they can’t? “We’ll see,” he replies in his low baritone. At this stage, it would be imprudent for him to say anything else. But if no one else answers the call, this liberal prophet will surely take the chance to preach to the unconverted.

  • Nick Collins 15th Oct '14 - 8:01pm

    “360 degree liberalism”: i.e. going round in circles – or imitating a dog chasing its own tail?

  • Ruth Bright 15th Oct '14 - 8:19pm

    Simon – Clegg (Cathy Newman interview) and Swinson (Jane Garvey interview) both gave the impression that the women had been let down and that the person in question would not be taking a role in the General Election.

    Despite the Morrissey report the party is also failing to make progress on many other equalities’ issues relating to female candidates.

  • Stevan Rose 15th Oct '14 - 8:28pm

    Of course there are lots of people who would stand as an MP but £66k is on a par with a middle ranking civil servant and less than many GPs and head teachers get. If you want the best of the best then you must pay a competitive salary to attract the right calibre of candidate. But halve the numbers in the Commons and stop the migration of those the voters have rejected to the Lords with its very generous allowance system. Pay double but cut the overall cost and attract higher calibre people.

  • Eddie Sammon 15th Oct '14 - 8:32pm

    The £66,000 figure for an MP shouldn’t be quoted. They have one of the best pension schemes around and it’s not fair to leave this out. A £30,000 inflation proof pension costs around £1,000,000 and it makes me angry when the left targets millionaires but leaves out public sector pensions.

    Just injecting some facts.

  • ” Pay double but cut the overall cost and attract higher calibre people.”

    I really despair sometimes, Higher Calibre of people?

    A large chunk of them have come from working in the city, Bankers, Investors who helped crash the economy.

    A Large chunk of them have their sticky fingers in so many pies, i.e Those that fought for the NHS reforms who have financial interests in private companies who will profit from the privatization.

    Those that whilst working within the rules at the time, exploited loop holes in order to flip homes and claim expenses on furniture and repairs.

    These people really of high calibre? I guess we have different ideals on what makes someone of high calibre.

    The expenses system is extremely generous.

    I am sure there are many people in this country earning below an MP’s wage on say £35k would love the added perks that MP’s get, like Travel expenses, 2nd home allowances, Food expenses, etc. Many of them work long hours and still have to commute hours to get to and from work.

  • Re MPs pay.
    Just because you pay more doesn’t mean you get the best. How do you measure a good MP against a not so good one. What is the right calibre of candidate? Since the general public seems to be turned off by professional politicians wouldn’t it actually be better to attract a more representative set of candidates anyway rather from an imagined set of elites.. The job of an MP is to represent the people who vote for them. after all.
    It strikes me that the party machines want “high calibre” candidates but voters just want people to the things they elected them to do whether that suites the cause of a particular political party or not.

  • Stevan Rose 15th Oct ’14 – 8:28pm
    “£66k is on a par with a middle ranking civil servant ..”

    Stevan, on the day that civil servants went on strike because their income has been driven down by 20% over the last four years it is important to get the facts right.

    Not sure what you mean by “middle ranking” but a traditional way to explain what civil servants earn is to use the miitary equivalent. To earn £66,000 you would need to be in a post that was the equivalent of those army ranks higher than colonel.

    The vast majority of civil servants do not earn anything like as much as £66,000.

    I am going on memory but I think it is true to say that more than 50% of civil servants earn a great deal less than £30,000.

  • @Matt

    Agreed. Heaven forfend we should expect our MPs to be anything but pale imitations of city folk. What a catastrophe if we were to seek out candidates motivated primarily by a desire for the public good. I wonder how frequently Nelson Mandella put the cause on hold to check how much he could have been earning as a banker.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Oct '14 - 10:14pm

    matt

    @Matthew Huntbach

    Why would you be unemployable if you lost your seat at a later election?

    Computer Science is not a subject you can get back into if you have been absent from it for five years. To carry on with an academic career you need a continuous stream of publications. Five years absence means you are out, permanently.

    Considering your more or less guaranteed to have the job for 5 years at least. If you lose the seat there is a generous severance allowance.

    No, that would not compensate for the permanent loss of my career.

    And If you had been a good MP who retained their integrity whilst serving in parliament, I would have thought that would be a good thing to have on your CV.

    Well, the 12 years I spent as a councillor, half of them as Leader of the Opposition, didn’t do me any good on my CV. Maybe there are nice fat cat jobs an ex-MP with views like those of Jeremy Browne can walk into. I rather suspect my political views would rule me out of such jobs. Plus I’m neither posh nor pushy, which essentially rules me out of most jobs – including even getting past being approved as a potential LibDem PPC.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Oct '14 - 10:20pm

    Nick Thornsby

    It is also a shame that so many who call themselves liberals can be so unwelcoming of healthy debate on policy issues that they resort to personal animus so readily, even in a comments thread such as this.

    What healthy debate? There is none. The right winger are funded lavishly to push their views, and there seems to be an open door to them to get them published in the media. See in how many places Jeremy Browne, Mark Littlewood, and the like turn up. But the left wing of the liberal party has no-one to fund its views being put forward, and is never given any space in the media.

  • Tsar Nicolas 15th Oct '14 - 10:22pm

    Firefighters were told a few years back that they couldn’t have the rise they asked for because there were too many applicants for their jobs.

    However, despite there being four, five, six or more applicants for every job in the House of Commons, we are told the laws of supply and demand don’t apply here! One rule for the plebs, one for the governing class.

  • Stephen Donnelly 15th Oct '14 - 11:03pm

    Jeremy was a source of new liberal ideas, which some in the party seemed to find disconcerting. That is a pity.

  • Stephen Campbell 15th Oct '14 - 11:05pm

    @Stevan Rose:
    “If you want the best of the best then you must pay a competitive salary to attract the right calibre of candidate. ”
    “Pay double but cut the overall cost and attract higher calibre people.”

    And therein is the problem. Your definition of a “higher calibre of candidate” is very different from mine. My idea of a good MP is one who went into politics out of a desite to make peoples’ lives better. I don’t want slick, expensively dressed, media-friendly identikit politicians who are seeking a “competitive salary”. We used to elect true working-class MPs up here in the north that would only take an average worker’s wage who went into politics only to represent their communities. I know intelligent, community-minded people who work 60-hour weeks for just over £20k a year who would think they’d died and gone to heaven to suddenly be making £60k+ a year. I want MPs whose connections are to their communities and the people who elect them, rather than corporate interests, lobbyists, and their consultancy jobs on the side. I want politicians with passion, who will give two fingers to the PR men and fight tooth and nail for what they, their party and their voters believe in.

    We obviously have different ideas on what makes a good MP. You think they should all be paid more. Your definition of what constitutes “the best” differs from mine. I think anyone who truly went into politics to make a difference would not care too much about “only” being paid £66k. One can, after all, live very comfortably on that in London and even more so up here in the North. In my view, which I am aware makes me sound like a dinosaur, someone who has a desire to represent their community and that community’s interests in Parliament first and foremost (with monetary concerns coming a bit further down the list) makes a better MP than one who sees it as a career, a stepping stone, or a “competitive salary”.

    But like I said, I’m self-aware enough to know I’m a dinosaur and that the ad men have won.

  • I see people are trying to second guess my definition of high calibre. The clue was in my post. Head teachers, GPs, and the like. not City folk who do politics part time whilst still chairing companies. I am specifically not describing gravy train City types as high calibre.

    By middle ranking civil servant I mean Grade 6 for those who know what that means. Often deputy head of a reasonable sized section of a Government Department. Somewhere like the Home Office might have a 150 or so of them. I don’t want the leaders of my country, making the laws, being akin in earning power to a deputy head of a section of a Government Department. I want them to be the best the country has to offer, experts in education, medicine, economics, manufacturing, and so on.

    A report yesterday in The Standard said people in London must earn more than £100k to afford a mortgage big enough to buy a house. First time buyers pay an average of over £400k for a home. To rent a 2 bed home in the former Athletes Village in Stratford costs £500 a week. Pay peanuts, get monkeys.

  • By the way I’m also less tham keen on the career politician who becomes an MP on the back of being a researcher, ministerial adviser, NUS President, or lobbyist. But if that’s what you want then I would agree they are not worth £66k. Halving the numbers should ensure the cream rises to the top provided we reward them properly for a full time job.

  • Browne has a real, coherent political agenda. He has recognised that almost nobody in the Party shares his beliefs. He has given up. That is understandable.

    Social liberals should recognise that they are equally powerless following the Clegg Coup, which has driven half of them away, andhas thus reduced them from a dominant 70% to an impotent 40% of the membership. Perhaps they should all now give up and walk away, too.

  • @matt – It seems you think you can do better than the current crop of MP’s and not complain about the hours and pay; I suggest you hot foot it down to Taunton Deane and present yourself as a potential candidate – carpe diem!

  • Simon Shaw 15th Oct ’14 – 11:59pm
    I would love you to explain how anybody’s income has been “driven down” by an average of 5.4% a year for each of the last 4 years

    Simon Shaw – I am happy to answer your question. The source is the PCS.
    See below for link.
    I should add that whilst I was a civil servant for forty years, I left the union in 1981 when it capitulated to the then Thatcher government. But as a non member for the last thirty years, I can say that the civil service unions are usually meticulous in getting their facts right especially in a pay dispute.
    I retired three years ago but I know from former colleagues that the pay freeze started two years before the last General Election has remained in place. I also know that changes in pensions payments has driven down their take-home pay. I don’t think any of this information is disputed by anybody, but as you are not a civil servant there is no reason why you should have any knowledge of the subject. I hope this answers your question.

    The PCS said that since 2010, taking into account pay cuts, the increase in monthly pension contributions and inflation, many civil servants have suffered a 20% cut in their incomes.
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/up-250000-civil-servants-go-4316979#ixzz3GHg2CjRk
    Follow us: @DailyMirror on Twitter | DailyMirror on Facebook

  • Stephen Campbell 15th Oct ’14 – 11:05pm
    “… We used to elect true working-class MPs up here in the north that would only take an average worker’s wage who went into politics only to represent their communities. I know intelligent, community-minded people who work 60-hour weeks for just over £20k a year who would think they’d died and gone to heaven to suddenly be making £60k+ a year. ”

    Stephen, in these words you have perfectly expressed a view that I hold.
    Unfortunately, over the last thirty years politics has become a “career”. The so-called expenses scandal just before the last General Election, which was whipped up by the rightwing press, did not really enlighten the pubic about MPs salaries. It created heat but not much light. But what it did reveal was a state of mind amongst MPs of virtually all parties that they had a right to an income (either in salary or expenses or “in kind”) that would put them on a par with the sharp suted lobbyists who roam freely around Westminster lle the Masters of the Universe. Jeremy Browne before he became an MP worked for just such a bunch of shap suited lobbyists.

    I am appalled to read that over a third of all present MPs moonlight in the “buy to let” property market. Is it an wonder that House of Oommons debates on providing rented social housing for those in need are informed by something other than the public good?

    The big scandal is that so many MPs treat their time in the Commons as a part time activity. There are lawyers who are MPs but who think nothing of carrying on with their legal work.
    There are MPs who are also “company directors” — that wonderful description that manages to combine vagueness about actual role with a touch of golf club snobbery.
    There are MPs with very lucrative deals with the Murdoch (and other) media; is it any wonder that the debates on the media are informed by something other than the public good.

    The most honest MP I can remember in modern times was Dave Nellist from Coventry who published the details of his income and what he did with it. Because he was a member of The Militant Tendency he did not get a fair hearing in the Labour Party, let alone the rightwing press. But whilst I would disagree with much of what he believed in, I could recognise an honest man with principles. Many years after ceasing to be an MP he is still plugging away at politics in the TUSC party. I saw him on the Daily Politics recently. He was not wearing a sharp suit.

  • Caracatus 16th Oct ’14 – 7:16am
    “….sacked from being a minister for what seems like no reason but to give some else a go …”

    Caracatus, you seem to ignore the possibility that he was sacked because he was just not up to the job of being a minister.

    I cannot pretend to know what was in Clegg’s mind when he sacked Browne. Who could? But I do know that in both the ministerial posts that Jeremy Browne occupied there was good cause for criticism of his failure to get a grip. There were frequent media reports at the time – I am not revealing any state secrets here.

    It is a little remarked on fact that there is a huge difference between being a lobbyist or an MP and being an effective minister. In a larger party, in a majority government, people like Jeremy Browne might have struggled hard to become a parliamentary bag-carrier to someone much more able. The same is true of a number of the Liberal Democrats who have held ministerial posts over the last four years.

    There is by way of contrast a shining example of an effective Liberal Democrat minister – who took a Liberal Democrat policy and single-mindedly worked through and made it law, and a popular law. Lynne Featherstone, perhaps because she is a woman is much under-rated, but she has that achievement to her name. But who can remember anything positive that Jeremy Browne did in either department where he was lucky enough to be called minister?

    Of course it would be terribly unfair if I or anyone else was to suggest that his first ministerial post in the Foreign Office was in any way connected with what his Daddy did for a living, — so Iwill not do that. But I will say that having a deep brown voice and attending a posh school do not automatically qualify anyone to be a minster.

  • Unlike most (all?) of the commentators on here I’m saddened by his choice to leave – because he is my MP! I’m not a party member or any sort of political activist, but I’ve always voted Lib Dem although having just missed the chance to not vote for Thatcher in ’79 by 2 months I voted SDP twice here (in ’83 and ’87) and Jeremy has been, for me, the ‘best’ Lib Dem we’ve had in Taunton so far.

    I hope that whoever they put up as a candidate will succeed in the same way as Jeremy has – I have a suspicion that the traditional Lib Dem voter in areas like this, will continue to vote Lib Dem and the Tory vote will be split by the kippers, which will lead to us returning a Lib Dem anyway and the same may well happen in similar Labour-Lib dem constituencies.

    I hope so anyway – I don’t really want a ‘return’ to two-party politics and really hope that I will see proportional representation introduced in my lifetime….

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 16th Oct '14 - 8:03am

    @ Stevan Rose,

    I’m a recently promoted Higher Executive Officer in a major Government Department, senior to 75% of its staff in terms of grade, which makes me a middle-ranking civil servant, I would suggest.

    I earn a touch shy of £30,000 per annum. Perhaps you need to meet a few civil servants before making assertions as to what average civil servants earn.

    Oh, and by the way, I earn less than I did in 2007/08 (in actual terms) even with a promotion, and pay 3% more into my pension fund than I did then. So, whilst I disagree with PCS on virtually everything, their numbers are broadly accurate on this occasion.

  • @Roland.

    “@matt – It seems you think you can do better than the current crop of MP’s and not complain about the hours and pay; I suggest you hot foot it down to Taunton Deane and present yourself as a potential candidate – carpe diem!”

    If I did not suffer from debilitating mental disorders then maybe I would, but rest assured it would not be as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats 😉

  • Mark Valladares 16th Oct ’14 – 8:03am
    “I’m a recently promoted Higher Executive Officer in a major Government Department, senior to 75% of its staff …”

    Mark, I was hoping you might enter this discussion with some of the facts of what civil servants really earn.

    So many people have swallowed the media myths about civil service salaries and pensions. I often read the most exotic comments in LDV from people who don’t have a clue about the reality of civil service pay and conditions.

    Having retired three years ago I keep having to answer sometimes entirely innocent questions from friends about why I am not spending my time travelling around the world on my fantastic civil service pension. When I point out that my pension after 40 years is about the average national wage the seem stunned.
    My final grade was a bit higher than your’s and I am one of those lucky ones who benefit from a final salary pension and I am most definitely NOT complaining. But twenty something thousand pounds a year does not put me in the jet set world of some who make comments in LDV.

    I have to laugh at my contemporaries who worked in the private sector or who set up their own companies. They have spent the last forty years grumbling about how much better they would have done if they had worked in the public sector. They do this grumbling whilst climbing out of their Mercedes on the way to the airport to fly to one of their holiday homes in the sun.

  • Simon Shaw
    You see, to want to make a point from the position of complete ignorance.
    I suggest you read Mark Valladares’ comment in which he says —“….I earn less than I did in 2007/08 (in actual terms) even with a promotion, and pay 3% more into my pension fund than I did then. So, whilst I disagree with PCS on virtually everything, their numbers are broadly accurate on this occasion.”
    Mark is a civil servant he knows what he is talking about.

  • The figures given by Caracatus do not reflect the constituency figures for Lord Ashcroft’s Poll. When asked how they would vote *in their constituency*, the figures were:

    Cons 34%
    Lib Dem 30%
    UKIP 15%
    Labour 14%
    Green 6%

    While that’s a big 19% slump in our vote, its still very winnable, if we are able to squeeze Greens and Labour back down and bring back some Tories.

    To my mind, his move may partly be due to the fact that his ideas (which I personally do not rate as being original, coherent or attractive) are likely to fall on increasingly stony ground in the party as it makes its progressive nature clear. The attempt to remould the party as a promoter of neo-liberal, anti-state thinking has failed and he has decided to move on.

  • @George Potter

    And a very good MP I believe you would make.

    Being a member of parliament should be about ones desire to civic duty.

    All these arguments about paying peanuts and getting monkeys is deeply offensive.

    Many people up and down the country, work longer hours, have to commute for hours to get to and from work.

    They manage this on less money and expenses enjoyed by an MP.

    I am not advocating a pay cut, but I certainly do not believe the job warrants higher pay and expenses

  • At conference, I bought Jeremy’s book ‘Why vote Liberal Democrat’ and was pleased at the clarity of what a Liberal really is. I also found myself agreeing with more of it than I expected. The only area I must disagree is the extent to which I think we need the state (more local than central) to give a helping hand to those less well-off; to rely on opportunity and the Education system alone is not enough.

  • Helen Tedcastle 16th Oct '14 - 12:37pm

    @ Stevan Rose: ‘ Of course there are lots of people who would stand as an MP but £66k is on a par with a middle ranking civil servant and less than many GPs and head teachers get. If you want the best of the best then you must pay a competitive salary to attract the right calibre of candidate.’

    What is the ‘right’ calibre of candidate? Is it someone who serves their constituents first and looks to their own salary second; or is it someone who regards themselves as ‘high calibre’ (they went to the right school and university – and they worked as an Intern thanks to Daddy knowing the right people) and who feels they ‘deserve’ a ‘competitive’ salary? After all, with their connections, they could get a job in the City …

  • matt (Bristol) 16th Oct '14 - 12:51pm

    Stevan Rose – what the h*ll are you doing holding those opinions and being part of a party that puts ‘opportunity for all’ on its literature and manifesto? I thought we were trying to get out of the stereotype that our party was a middle-class clique?

  • Stephen Campbell 16th Oct '14 - 1:20pm

    @Stevan Rose: “I see people are trying to second guess my definition of high calibre. The clue was in my post. Head teachers, GPs, and the like. ”

    Just because someone is a head teacher, or doctor, or lawyer does not make them automatically “high calibre” and a good candidate for an MP. There are millions of people who work ordinary desk or admin jobs who care deeply about their community who would make better MPs than a lot of the ones we already have. From what you’re saying, you’d prefer your MPs to come from a small, self-selecting circle of middle-class professionals. Which, incidentally, is what our politicians look like by and large these days. Yes, we did used to have MPs who once worked down the mines or in factories, but no more. Many middle-class professionals are indeed often divorced from how many people on lower incomes live their lives. I’d prefer to have MPs who have known what it is like to have to choose between heating and food in the winter than someone whose idea of being poor is having to buy a £10 bottle of wine rather than a £15 bottle.

    “Pay peanuts, get monkeys.”

    I actually find this statement offensive and many people on wages you would deem “peanuts” would do as well. Believe it or not, everybody is not primarily motivated by money, ambition to be “at the top” or a desire to acquire the latest “stuff”. There are people who actually prefer to work for lower wages in jobs where they can make a difference, rather than working in a high-salaried corporate totalitarian environment where you have to step on others to advance. One of my mates is a very intelligent man who reads philosophy in his spare time. He’s a builder, though, which would probably make him unsuitable to being an MP in your eyes. No, I’d prefer MPs to be people like myself and people I know who are motivated more by a desire to do good than to get a high salary (and, yes, £66k a year IS a high salary). You say someone in London needs to be on £100k to afford a house and everything else. Someone forgot to tell this to millions of Londonders who manage to do it for much less. In fact, if the cost of housing is a barrier to becoming an MP, why not built them decent studio or one bedroom flats for them to live in? I’d do the job for £30k and I’d be perfectly happy in a studio flat when in London and happy to travel by train in standard class with real people.

    After all, some of the highest paid people in our nation (bankers) were the ones who helped crash the world economy. Some of the most brazen corruption comes right from those at the top who already have enough money to last them several lifetimes.

    @George Potter: “I might very well like to be an MP someday. And, to be honest, if the opportunity ever does arise, then I’d be happy to do the job for no more than my living costs and expenses incurred were covered.
    Representing a community in parliament is a privilege – I’m not saying the pay of MPs should be cut and that they don’t work hard but they’re certainly not underpaid compared to, for example, local councillors or the vast majority of the population. After all, even if you’re an MP who works a hundred hours a week you’ll still be getting a higher hourly wage than the majority of your constituents.”

    Exactly the point I’ve been trying to make. I’m not voting Lib Dem these days, but if you were standing for election as an MP in my constituency, based on of the selfless good work you did for the disabled in the face of coalition cuts, I’d vote for you in a heartbeat. Personally, I think anyone who is motivated to go into politics for the pay and the perks is not suited to politics. Politicians should only be there to represent their communities, make a difference and stand up for what they and their party believe in. We have far too many careerist politicians who demand a higher wage as it is.

  • Stephen Campbell 16th Oct '14 - 1:28pm

    @John Tilley: I am appalled to read that over a third of all present MPs moonlight in the “buy to let” property market. Is it an wonder that House of Oommons debates on providing rented social housing for those in need are informed by something other than the public good?”

    I appalled as this, too, John. How can being able to vote on housing policy when 1/3 of our MPs are buy-to-let landlords not be a conflict of interest? I’d go so far as to say if one is an MP, they should be banned from holding any other outside jobs during their time as an MP. Maybe I’m biased because I make do with less than £25k a year, but someone who struggles on and thinks £66k a year is “peanuts” truly needs a sharp reality check.

  • Julian Critchley 16th Oct '14 - 1:35pm

    @Stephen Campbell

    That is an excellent post. I’m often appalled at how so many of our political classes express the view that a person’s worth, integrity and intelligence is measured only by their pay packet, and that only those who greedily seek greater self-enrichment are made of “the right stuff”. Quite the reverse, in my view.

    I was heartened to read this on the website of my old party, but then I read the bit at the end which said you, like me, were no longer a LibDem supporter. I guess that tells its own story.

  • Stevan Rose 16th Oct ’14 – 12:05am
    By middle ranking civil servant I mean Grade 6 for those who know what that means.

    Stevan, I know exactly what Grade 6 means,possibly better than you do.

    The second thing I now know is that you clearly do not understand the meaning of the word “middle”.

    Did you read Mark Valladares’ comment? He is in a grade which is several grades below Grade 6 but above 75% of people in his Department. If you do not think he does a high calibre job you do not know what you are talking about.

    Comparisons with GPs can be highly misleading. There was a huge pay hike about ten years ago by a particular Labour Secretary of State who did not have a clue what he was doing which put most GPs on six figure salaries, many GPs now no longer need to work more than three days a week, and by so doing still earn more than an MP and twice as much as a Higher Executive Officer in the civil service who are working full time. Does that make those GPs necessarily high calibre? Or does it make them very lucky? Are they higher calibre than their practice nurse who will do much of the work of the GPs surgery on a small fraction of the GP salary!

    I think you have stepped into a minefield. I think you have done so unwittingly and do not realise that some of the things that you are saying are actually quite offensive. I assume that someone must be paying you peanuts.

  • Stephen Campbell 16th Oct ’14 – 1:28pm
    Julian Critchley 16th Oct ’14 – 1:35pm

    I agree with you both.
    The LIberal Democrats cannot afford to lose people like you.
    I look forward to a time when you will feel comfortable again in this party, once we have got rid of a few more of the “empty suits” like Jeremy Browne. Hopefully that will not be too long now.

  • Completely off track, but if someone could explain to me why someone is a careerist in becoming an MP for £66k but isn’t one for becoming an Head Teacher or a GP and earning twice that. I’d honestly like to know, so perhaps someone could help me understand?

    Surely being an MP, GP or Head Teacher are all public service and vocational roles? MPs are fewer in number, paid less and -makes the laws and are accountable for both schools and the NHS – is there any logic behind this?

  • Simon Shaw
    You are in a hole, stop digging.

  • Stephen Campbell 16th Oct '14 - 3:34pm

    @ATF: “Surely being an MP, GP or Head Teacher are all public service and vocational roles? MPs are fewer in number, paid less and -makes the laws and are accountable for both schools and the NHS – is there any logic behind this?”

    To me it is simple – anyone can become an MP. If I paid a deposit, stood as an independent and by some miracle ousted my Labour MP here in this safe seat I would then be an MP. Becoming a doctor, lawyer or head teacher usually requires several years of study in university, then several more years of on the job practice. I see those as careers. Politics, to me, is something one goes into when they want to represent their community or believe very strongly in a cause or what their party stands for. Yet we have hundreds of MPs who don’t seem to know what principles are. They slavishly toe the party line and hold back on what they really think out of fear that they won’t advance enough to be a minister or secretary of state. Becoming one of those, like becoming an MP, should be an honour and a privilege bestowed upon them by the electorate, not a career. I’d prefer it if we had more shopkeepers and office workers as MPs rather than the identikit Oxbridge-educated politicians who all have degrees in PPE and have never known a day of hardship in their lives. I think the Chartists had the right idea when they demanded yearly elections to Parliament. But as I’ve said – I’m a dinosaur from a time when our society was more meritocratic and we had many MPs who never set a foot in a corporate boardroom, let alone gone to Oxford or Cambridge. That said, I’m not against people who have done these things becoming politicians. I just think it would be nice to see a lot more MPs with experience of real life, real hardship and who act and talk like everyday people rather than the lot we have now who are by and large unrepresentative of the electorate and talk in PR soundbites without any real passion.

    Politics should be open and available to all. Not just the highly educated and already wealthy middle classes.

  • Stephen Campbell 16th Oct '14 - 3:39pm

    @Julian Critchley: “That is an excellent post. I’m often appalled at how so many of our political classes express the view that a person’s worth, integrity and intelligence is measured only by their pay packet, and that only those who greedily seek greater self-enrichment are made of “the right stuff”. Quite the reverse, in my view. ”

    Thank you, that is very kind of you to say you agree 🙂
    And I’m with you 100% about people’s worth being judged by the size of their salary. It’s not just many members of the political class that judge people like this though. I could easily take on a soulless corporate job where I could make at least £10k more a year, but I’m happier doing the job I do where I make a difference to disadvantaged peoples’ lives. People I meet often look as me as if I am mad when I tell them I knowingly stay in a job that pays less but is of enormous benefit to me and others.

  • @Stephen Campbell

    “Politics, to me, is something one goes into when they want to represent their community or believe very strongly in a cause”

    I believe you could say the same for both health and education, was certainly the case with my mother.

    A fair point re: the point that anyone can become an MP, but just as I’d want a qualified GP I’d also want someone able to understand the issues that an MP has to decide upon. This does not necessarily mean qualifications or a University education, but – like training to be an GP – surely it takes time and study to understand foreign policy, banking, trade deals, the welfare system.

    Surely part of the problem is not only that we have MPs that haven’t experienced the day to day lives of their consituents, but also that we have MPs regulating banks who have no idea how they operate?

    I’m certainly not saying you are wrong to want the qualities you seek in an MP, but just that feel there needs to be a recognition that to be an effective MP does require a great deal of training and work. Both of these, to my mind, are vital. Shouldn’t the person that governs the laws underwhich teachers operate and education system is managed be as trained as them? The labour movement, to give credit where it is due, understood this and hence the creation of the union-funded colleges that provided an excellent education for those from humble origins. Nye Bevan is a case in point.

    As someone who has a degree in one of the Ps, I certainly agree with you thoughts re: PPE 🙂

  • Julian Tisi 16th Oct '14 - 4:13pm

    @ Stephen Campbell “To me it is simple – anyone can become an MP. If I paid a deposit, stood as an independent and by some miracle ousted my Labour MP here in this safe seat I would then be an MP”

    I think I can see the main flaw in your logic. How exactly are you going to make that miracle happen?! Not in a month of Sundays would it happen. Unless you join the Conservative party and become pretty rich, work your way up their greasy pole and get selected for a safe seat or the Labour party, join a Union / Cooperative, work your way up their greasy pole and get selected for a safe seat, then your route into becoming an MP is going to be a very hard one. Vince Cable apparently took 5 attempts before he won Twickenham. For most of us who are political candidates it’s a life we wouldn’t wish on anyone. The sacrifices made are huge and the rewards modest and extremely uncertain. Back in 2010, one candidate was held up as a paragon of virtue – exactly how it should be done – his name was Martin Tod (or “SuperTod” as some called him) and he stood in Winchester. In a way he did everything right – gave up his job a good year and a half before the expected election date (then Brown bottled the early election and as a result he had longer without any income than expected). He worked 6-7 days a week on Winchester and came so very very close to winning. But ultimately he didn’t win. All that effort and money for nothing. Thankfully he was in a position financially where he could apparently afford to give up his job. Most of us are not. This is one side of being an MP that’s much overlooked – becoming one. It’s thankless, hard work, very costly and unpaid. Most people, once they find out what’s actually involved, run a mile.

    So I can understand your frustrations at the way politicians appear – and in fact I agree with your conclusion – that politics should be open and available to all, not just the highly educated and already wealthy middle classes. But there are reasons why it’s that way – the corrupt electoral system, which makes the result in many constituencies a foregone conclusion and gives us safe seats for some, also it makes it hard for third or fourth party candidates to break through (unless they give up their job, their life, etc). The system of party funding, where politics is turning into an American “follow the money” race (if you don’t have money, you’re going to find it hard to compete). There are lots of other reasons but I’d start with those – and our party has consistently stood up for reform of both.

  • Julian Tisi 16th Oct '14 - 4:20pm

    … and another thing, on Jeremy Browne, and I’m very surprised that no-one’s mentioned it yet.

    JB has recently become a father. As someone about the same age as him who too has recently become a father for the first time and like him at a relatively late age, my own personal experience is that it gives you a completely different perspective. Also it tends to take up a lot of time. But overall, what a lovely and worthwhile experience!

    Anyway, I digress… I suspect that one reason why JB might now be thinking of standing down is that he wants – in the words of the overused cliche – want to spend more time with his family. Wouldn’t even surprise me if it’s the main reason.

  • Matthew Huntbach 16th Oct '14 - 4:28pm

    Stephen Donnelly

    Jeremy was a source of new liberal ideas, which some in the party seemed to find disconcerting. That is a pity.

    What new ideas? He just seemed to be spouting out the same tired old ideas that have become political orthodoxy in recent decades. Maybe they were new when they came with the label “Thatcherism”. Taking the economic aspects of Thatcherism, and adding only those social aspects of liberalism which do not conflict with them does not strike me as very much “new”.

    The real big and interesting question in politics today is why this free market orthodoxy has not delivered the freedom it promised. Those who go on and on about extreme free market economics as if it is the “new” answer to everything and who think that being radical is trying to squeeze out the last tiny bit of opposition to it are rather like the tired of socialists of the 1960s who still thought the USSR was “revolutionary” and offered a model of a better society we should copy. No, it’s been tried, it didn’t do what it promised, and if your attitude to it is that all it needs is a bit more tweaking, or pushing it to even further extremes, you are of no use.

    This is not to say there are no liberal aspects in the free market and so nothing positive we can say about it, just as the failure of USSR-style communism doesn’t mean we can rule out even the mildest form of social democracy as “tried but failed”. However, the sort of approach we really need is politicians who are wise enough to be able to see what goes wrong in practice with their favoured ideas, and so are able to apply them with caution to avoid that. I don’t see any of this sort of self-criticism in the free market fanatics who are still trying to push their ideas as if they are something shiny and brand new.

  • Helen Tedcastle 16th Oct '14 - 5:01pm

    @ Julian Tisi – Any politician who claims they are throwing away their hard-won political career to ‘spend more time with their family,’ normally pops up a few months later as head of a think tank or as ‘something in the city…’

  • Thank goodness for Matthew Huntbach and his comment —
    “….What new ideas? He just seemed to be spouting out the same tired old ideas that have become political orthodoxy in recent decades. Maybe they were new when they came with the label “Thatcherism”. Taking the economic aspects of Thatcherism, and adding only those social aspects of liberalism which do not conflict with them does not strike me as very much “new”…”

    There would appear to be a concerted effort in a later thread in LDV to paint Jeremy Browne as some sort of heroic figure and Liberal (albeit right wing maverick) thinker. Warming up Thatcherism is not thinking and it is not Liberalism.

  • Yes indeed, Helen Tedcastle. something in The City or a few years later their devotion to their family is forgotten and they are back in the political limelight again, in a different party.

  • Ruth Bright 16th Oct '14 - 5:18pm

    George Potter you would make a great MP – make sure you defy Louise Mensch and wear a Christmas jumper when you make your maiden speech!

  • Stephen Campbell 16th Oct '14 - 5:36pm

    @ATF: “Surely part of the problem is not only that we have MPs that haven’t experienced the day to day lives of their consituents, but also that we have MPs regulating banks who have no idea how they operate? ”

    I think we agree that we’d both like to see more politicians from all walks of life, with MPs who are experienced in certain areas being on select committees responsible for, say, investigating the best way to regulate banks. I don’t mind bankers, for example, going into politics (so long as they weren’t responsible for some of the recent financial scandals!). It just seems, to me, that so many of today’s politicians come from a narrow group with limited life experience. At least a GP, say, will encounter people from all walks of life every day unlike some of those PPE graduates whose only job was bag-carrying for an MP. Yes, I do want my politicians to be intelligent and some to be very knowledgeable in certain areas (especially Ministers), but I also want them to sound and act like the rest of us and to know what it is like to struggle and deal with hardship. My philosophy-reading builder friend I mentioned above would make a great MP – he has a social conscience and knows a lot about the building trade. But with the way the three main parties operate these days, he’d have little to no chance of ever being selected.

    @Julian Tisi: “But there are reasons why it’s that way – the corrupt electoral system, which makes the result in many constituencies a foregone conclusion and gives us safe seats for some, also it makes it hard for third or fourth party candidates to break through (unless they give up their job, their life, etc). The system of party funding, where politics is turning into an American “follow the money” race (if you don’t have money, you’re going to find it hard to compete). There are lots of other reasons but I’d start with those – and our party has consistently stood up for reform of both.”

    I do agree with almost all of this. Which is why I support full Proportional Representation and getting American-style Big Money out of politics. Obviously, I have no problem with individuals donating money to political parties. The Tories have the rich, Labour have the unions, for example (though I think there’s a difference between big donations from individuals and tons of small donations from average union members, but that’s for a different thread!). Personally I’d like to see further restrictions on multinationals and big business influencing politics and an end to the way all three main parties seem driven by focus groups and PR rather than convictions and strongly held beliefs. And, of course, as if it needs to be said again: radical electoral reform (I did vote in favour of AV by the way, but it certainly didn’t go far enough).

  • “Perhaps you need to meet a few civil servants before making assertions as to what average civil servants earn.”

    Mark, if you read my post you’ll know I did not refer to the average wage of a civil servant. I specifically mentioned the G6 grade, which is below what is deemed an SCS (Senior Civil Service) grade and by definition middle ranking. I know exactly what they earn. Over a long and varied career I have worked for 6 different Government Departments starting at age 16. I too was once a newly promoted HEO but 25 years ago and I would have deemed myself one of the worker grades. I was a PCS member. I also know I could not afford to rejoin and accept a pay cut and lose my preserved pension benefits. I could not afford to buy a flat or house in London on a G6 wage as The Standard two days ago confirmed. So you leave the politics to those with a private income or second job. Or you pay what it takes to get the best people in all professions to consider applying to the electorate for the jobs.

    There are those who clamour for power and would do the job for peanuts. That doesn’t make them the best people to do the job. I would rather trust the person who has to be persuaded to take up power and is well rewarded for their full time attention than the one who jumps at it. We have 650 people currently who jumped at power and only a tiny minority are actually trusted by the public.

  • @John Tilley

    Glad we both know what a G6 is. If you know more than I do then you will know a G6 is not SCS and therefore must be middle ranking. If you study the results of Departmental staff surveys you will know, possibly better than I do, possibly not, that perceptions of what is middle and senior depend on Department due to differences in grade mix and the grade of the respondent. G6 and G7 grades almost always self-classify as middle ranking as they know they have less power and influence than many further down the chain think they do. I posted before Mark said he was an HEO so how could I possibly have read that before I posted. I didn’t suggest Mark, or other HEOs, are not of high calibre, generally they are. For what it’s worth, I do know civil servants have had major effective pay cuts as a result of huge pension contribution rises coupled with a freeze on basic rates.

  • Stevan Rose 17th Oct ’14 – 12:40am

    Stevan, your last comment to me was helpful. Thank you for responding and setting out why you refer to G7 as middle ranking. It is logical to see it in those terms, ie by including the SCS in your reckoning.
    The point you make about different departments is also a fair one, things are much less uniform across Whitehall than they were in the 1970s when I started.

    But perhaps you might agree that middle ranking management. Is well below G6 in the reality of the work of 98% of civil servants?

    Perhaps you would also acknowledge that the SCS. (what the Taboids would call “mandarins”) are not really “management grades”?
    The SCS grades in terms of numbers are not much more than a single cherry on the top of a large cake.
    Most members of the SCS are not involved in “management”, especially now that so much work has been outsourced to agencies. Indeed some would be offended by the suggestion that they were “mere management”. They did not spend all that time in Oxbridge and the Fast Stream to end up as “management”. 🙂

    Your final point that. “…civil servants have had major pay cuts as a result of huge pension contribution rises coupled with a freeze on basic rates.” is one we both agree on, as does Mark Valladares.
    The fact that Simon Shaw does it “believe” this , tells us something about how the media myths surrounding civil service pay can mislead people who know no better.

  • Gremlin in my last comment — It should have read —
    “…The fact that Simon Shaw does. NOT “believe” this , tells us something about how the media myths surrounding civil service pay can mislead people who know no better

  • Simon Shaw
    You don’t believe the the civil servants’ published figures.
    You don’t believe Mark Valladares.
    You don’t believe Stevan Rose.
    You don’t believe me.

    I would be happy to engage in a discussion of your views if they differ from mine.
    But you have not offered a different view based on any alternative souce of information, you just seem to be insisting that despite the facts everyone else is wrong because you must bright.

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.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

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 ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJack Nicholls 20th Aug - 10:28pm
    Sorry, hometown reference 🙂
  • User AvatarTCO 20th Aug - 10:08pm
    @Geoffrey Dron. Mr Raw is atypical of party members. Dig out the NaCl. You are welcome and generally won't be patronised like that. He also...
  • User AvatarTCO 20th Aug - 10:03pm
    @Geoffrey From Absolutely. I think many now get it but there are a few who don't. Absolutely agree on Corbyn. The EU issue is so...
  • User Avatarmatt 20th Aug - 9:36pm
    @Yeovil Yokel No it is not a silly question at all. In your first response you said "But let’s say a Lib Dem government was...
  • User AvatarMiranda 20th Aug - 9:33pm
    Rhiannon has also worked for The Ramblers Association and for Save the Children. She’s a fantastic choice!
  • User AvatarNonconformistradical 20th Aug - 9:31pm
    "if we succeed in destroying civilisation through greed and overdependence on complex technology, how will our descendants see us? And what will our descendants be...
Sat 24th Aug 2019
Thu 29th Aug 2019
Mon 9th Sep 2019