Jeremy Browne to stand down as MP: what Lib Dem bloggers have made of his decision

Jeremy Browne with beard AD LIBJeremy Browne’s decision to stand down as MP for Taunton Deane at the next election surprised many in the party. Ed Fordham wrote a tribute to Jeremy’s long service for the party on LDV here today — and the Lib Dem blogosphere has also had plenty to say. Here’s a selection…

Jeremy Browne MP resigns (Andrew Page)

I last saw Jeremy Browne at Lib Dem conference last week, at the Glee Club – hanging around at the back, obviously detached from proceedings chatting with a couple of friends. This neatly encapsulated Browne’s relationship with the party: present but disengaged; surrounded by passionate liberals whose hymnbooks he refused to share; looking decidedly uncomfortable and ill-at-ease among the party faithful. He looked as lonely a figure as he has often appeared of late – it was hard not to feel for him.

Jeremy Browne to stand down. “Pointless Celebrities” are already on the line…. (Paul Walter)

I wish Jeremy Browne well as he prepares for the next phase in his life. As I have stated before, there is much I admire in his thinking. He has very strong liberal/Liberal roots. He certainly is an original thinker, and has been an excellent MP for Taunton Deane.

In praise of Jeremy Browne (A Very Social Liberal)

Jeremy has put forward a strong argument about what liberalism should be. And, have no doubt: he is a liberal. Whilst he may not grasp my social liberalism at times, and I may not grasp his economic liberalism at others, I’m sure we’d both agree we hail from the same tribe. We both agree that liberalism is important, and we both want to see a general election campaign that is unabashed liberalism. He is one of a few MPs to vocally oppose the party leadership’s current split-the-difference approach. I may disagree with where he’d place the emphasis in the manifesto, but I was glad to have someone as respected as Jeremy trying to get the party to ditch an approach that places us in the squishy middle.

So farewell then Jeremy Browne (Jonathan Calder)

I do wonder what the chair of Taunton Deane Liberal Democrats made of Jeremy Browne’s resignation letter. I suspect Jeremy’s excitement about his own future was the not the chair’s first concern. But I am sorry to see Jeremy stand down and wish him well for the future. The Liberal Democrats need their Whigs as well as their Radicals (as Donnachadh McCarthy used to say), and Jeremy was one of the more interesting figures on the right of the party.

In praise of the retiring Jeremy Browne (Stephen Tall)

I might have ended up disagreeing with Jeremy more than I’d have expected, but I’m sorry he’s going. The Lib Dem parliamentary group will be weaker for his absence. Even those who’ve always felt (righteously, wrongly) that he should have joined the Tories might come to miss him more than they expect: internal debate is how you sharpen your arguments before you try them out on opponents much less sympathetic.

Five point to note about Jeremy Browne’s decision to stand down (Mark Pack)

Jeremy Browne’s comment that in national politics “my race is run” reflects not only his falling out with Nick Clegg (who sacked him as a minister) but also is a conclusion he can only have come to if he also thinks the next leader of the party – who after all may only be a few months away with a post-election contest – won’t be congenial to his views either. This is not the action of someone who thinks an Orange Book coup has taken over the party and changed it.

The significance of Jeremy Browne’s decision to stand down (rough draft) (Gareth Epps)

… Nick Clegg has lost the only real outrider for market fundamentalist policy who carried weight. That flank of the party suddenly looks quite exposed. Moreover, Browne’s parting comments bely a resignation that there is little likelihood of his brand of market fundamentalist Liberalism gaining momentum. I wish him well in whatever he does next, and don’t entirely subscribe to the view that he was in the wrong party.

What Jeremy Browne’s retirement tells us about the Lib Dems (Mark Mills)

He has his fans but also plenty of detractors. I’m emphatically in the latter camp and have previously written a post calling on him to defect. My issue with him was that for all his posturing about being a libertarian or a ‘true liberal’, his thinking was actually pretty straight forwardly centre-right on both economics and matters like immigration.

(If we’ve missed a post, do please link in the comments below…)

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  • Liberal Neil 17th Oct '14 - 8:41am

    I disagree quite strongly with Jeremy on many issues and on his view of the general position of the party, but I’m saddened that so many people seem to turn a political disagreement into personal attacks.

    He may be at the other end of the party politically from me, but I still value his contriution.

    He has always argued his corner strongly, engaged with political debate in a way many never do, and has served his constituents well.

    I’ve known Jeremy since shortly after he joined the party 25 years ago and I wish him well in whatever he does next.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 17th Oct '14 - 12:05pm

    I agree Lib Neil, and hope Jeremy will continue to contribute to Lib Dem thinking – as we ned to remain a broad party and not a small faction in politics.

  • @Liberal Neil Thanks for saying this as it sums up my thoughts exactly. There’s things I disagree with Jeremy on, but as is often the way with these things the differences between the different ‘wings’ of the party are usually much exaggerated. But most of all, since I’ve got to know Jeremy as a person I’ve always liked him. It’s sad that some party members feel it’s OK to personally denigrate and question the motives of someone who has done much for the party over the years, rather than simply debating his views which I imagine he would be happy to do.

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