I agree with Nick, I have left too

I have just joined the Liberal Democrats. It has been a long time coming, but I finally did it. The final straw was the brilliant Nick Cohen’s piece in The Spectator titled “Why I’ve finally given up on the left”. I agree with Nick, I too have left; I have found my proper political home.

I used to vote Labour and I voted “Yes” in the AV Referendum in May 2011, I am a pro-European and I always identified as slightly centre-left. Then came 2015: the Conservative majority, the SNP landslide in my native Scotland, and the election of the hard left within the Labour Party.

I have always been a liberal, I realised recently. I have always been willing to listen to the most beyond-the-pale viewpoint out of a sense of tolerance. Freedom of speech is something fundamental and core to liberalism, something with which I have a strong affinity.

However, it was a culmination of factors that drove me to your Liberal Democrat door: the Scottish Referendum; the arrogant SNP; the hard left Labour Party; and a respect for the dignified statesman Nick Clegg, whose resignation speech in May started a process of unravelling my previous views – a process that has ended in membership of this party. I agreed with Nick then.

Both Cohen and Clegg have warned of liberalism under threat as the beguiling influence of nationalism and extremism, of all stripes, sweeps across Europe. The Labour Party has no answer, and the Conservative Party will not stand up for Scotland in the Union, Britain in the EU, the poor and vulnerable and the helpless refugees crying out for humanity.

I apologise if stage fright over my first-ever post on LDV has dimmed expectations of my future contributions, but I give you my word that I will write at greater length in further entries.

I hope that I fit in here and I can contribute to keeping Scotland as part of Britain, keeping Britain in the EU and ensuring that liberal values of decency, tolerance and humanity are not destroyed. I now agree with both Nicks. I was once lost, but now I can truly feel at home as a Liberal Democrat.

Thank you for having me.

You can read Nick Cohen’s piece here.

* Michael Cooke is the writer's pen name. He is an economic and EU policy analyst within local government with a Master's degree in EU Governance. The identity of the author is known to the LDV team.

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103 Comments

  • Michael – firstly, welcome to the party.

    Pleased to say I pretty much agree with everything you swrite, I too thought the Nick Cohen article was excellent. I look forward to your future contributions.

  • Welcome – I hope you have a very long & enjoyable stay.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 23rd Sep '15 - 5:00pm

    Welcome, Michael! I’ll also urge people to read Cohen’s fantastic article.

  • Decency, humanity and tolerance were destroyed 2010 – 2015. Bedroom tax, cuts in legal aid for benefit claimants and the welfare cuts that led to the deaths of sick and disabled people who died within weeks of being found fit for work. Those values? Nobody seems moved by the homeless and poor of this country, they are called scroungers or worse. Nobody offers them a spare room.

  • Welcome Michael. I am “new” also, well, semi-new now… I joined the morning after GE2015. I would say that you absolutely belong here. We have a lot in common, I too have always been a liberal in the same ways you stated, but have only just joined. Enjoy and get involved in local and national events. The Lib Dems are a real fun lot to be around. We don’t always agree on everything, but what we all do agree on, is being liberal. But you’ll have the most informed, interesting and open debates here. Do keep writing.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Sep '15 - 6:53pm

    Indeed: Cohen calls the media who fail to call out leftist silence on Al Qaeda and their like “liberal”. As far as I am concerned, such people are, by definition, NOT liberal: the word, by definition, means someone who opposes oppression wherever it comes from. I define myself as liberal in opposition to such trendy-lefty thinking, so get angry when people wrongly call it “liberal”m

  • I dunno, I’ve had arguments on here pretty much along the lines of Nick Cohen here on LDV. I think endlessly singling out the Left as anti west or pro this that and the other is a bit idle. I think there’s a much more general problem with the way political correctness can cut off debate. Then there’s a problem with the idea that the Left is bad for talking to groups like Hamas, but it’s okay for the right or even the mainstream to fly flags at half-mast for the Saudi Royals and join in on foreign civil wars as long as we pretend that the rebels we are backing aren’t actually religious fruitcakes. No one really has the moral high ground in this wretched affiliations if you ask me.

  • Dave Orbison 23rd Sep '15 - 7:47pm

    @ Anne and Glenn – well said. The Coalition was the architect behind many of the cuts. You LibDEm MP’s know this of course as you signed off to Osborne’s economic plans and deferring the balance of the books till 2018. A plan that Farron reaffirmed in his speech. It is simply disingenuous therefore, to absolve yourselves of all the nasty things the Tories are doing as if you had a clean pair of hands. Look at the derision on Twitter following Farron’s speech ( discounting the LibDem fan club). Failing to apologise for the Coalition – big mistake. Dismissing Corbyn when there is common ground on many issues – another mistake. Reaffirming a commitment to balance the books without a sentence let alone a costed -out policy of how explaining how you would do this, beggars belief. As per one of the posts here on nuclear weapons “Good job Tim didn’t mention it as we are so split (my paraphrase)”. The LibDems are two parties (not necessarily Social Dem and Liberals). Social and economic liberals perhaps. But being all things to all people…. oh here we go again.

  • I am not a member of any political party, however, I believe there are several political parties in Britain that can be described as “Tory”. The Conservative Party is obviously Tory; UKIP and the English Democrats fit comfortably under the Tory-brand umbrella. The Liberal Democrats and the (very conservative) SNP are under that same umbrella, but to the Left of the aformentioned outfits; in truth there was and is little that separates LibDems from Tories. If one is any doubt about this (surely not!) then the record of LibDems’ support for Tory policies in the last Parliament is there for all to see. LibDems apparently dislike NHS privatisation, so why did they support just that three years ago? LibDems believe that railways are best run by the state, as is the situation in countries in continental Europe, so why haven’t these same LibDems pushed for rail re-nationalisation under their last four leaders? LibDems are in favour of the best quality state eduction for all citizens, so why did they so enthusiastically back the Tories re. HE Tuition Fees? ………I could go on all night.

    It seems to me that here is only ONE genuine mainstream non-Tory political party – the Labour Party. And the Labour party is – at long last – seriously proposing to act in a way that is directly opposite to the “conservative” political consensus of the last 35 years. I, for one, an delighted.

    [It is a great pity (and extremely sad for the LibDems) that the views expressed here very unwelcome on this site – an thus will be deleted].

  • Dave Orbison. An excellent post.

  • Stephen Hesketh 23rd Sep '15 - 8:24pm

    William Hobhouse 23rd Sep ’15 – 5:53pm
    ” … the thing that is missing from Nick Cohen’s piece is that liberalism is a [[THE !]] progressive alternative to socialism.”

    Yes, yes, yes!

  • Peter Watson 23rd Sep '15 - 9:18pm

    I’m sure it is for the best of reasons, but it seems odd to publish a testimonial proclaiming why the author joined the Lib Dems yet use a pseudonym to maintain his/her anonymity as if it were something to be ashamed of.
    I know many use pseudonyms to post in threads but I’m less comfortable about the author of an article being anonymous.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Sep '15 - 9:23pm

    @jedibeeftrix: But do they? Jeremy Corbyn is the sort of left-winger that historically considered a liberal as someone too scared to admit to being a Tory (long before the recent Coalition). Anyway I don’t think being silent on Islamist or left-wing tyranny is that common among the left — when Livingstone honoured the radical Islamist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi he was condemned by a broad array of people on the left of the political spectrum — but unfortunately the current Labour leader is that sort of left-winger, and criticism of him for this is appropriate.

  • Also left-wingers who fail to criticise Islamists are most probably at some level attracted to the prescriptive intolerant ideology of Islamism as it is similar to their own prescriptive intolerant approach to politics. Fundamentally such people are from the illiberal left. They are the same hard leftists who used never to criticise communist tyranny.

  • Tomas Howard-Jones 24th Sep '15 - 12:11am

    I welcome the new member with the pseudonym, but don’t agree with Nick Cohen’s article- which holds his characteristic inaccuracies and partial accounts.
    e.g. For Corbyn to speak at an event that also has islamist speakers, does that REALLY make them Corbyn’s “friends”?
    Does that completely negate whatever cause they were speaking at?

    It’s one thing to carry out military intervention to prevent imminent genocide- like the plight of the Yezidis from ISIS in 2014- but I have a big problem with Nick Cohen’s tendency to slip into implied condoning of violence to attack or remove any state whose values don’t match our current ones (as they probably operate the way Britain did 100 years ago, or even 50 years ago. This is not a liberal value, as such external violence doesn’t let that state grow and mature, but reinforces that only violent strongmen are viable in that culture, rather than encouraging that society to turn towards less authoritarian and violent models.

    And Saudi rule in Saudi Arabia IS far worse than Hamas or Iran. Iran is a rough but complex theocratic state with some limited forms of democracy, and some tolerance of Iranian minority religious groups. Hamas is a muslim brotherhood group who generally see salafists as being too severe in their interpretation of islam, and have a democratic mandate.
    Saudi Arabia has none of this. It has no democratic elements whatsoever within its rule, but is a plutocratic salafist dictatorship gradually mutating Islam around the House of Saud. Prince Charles’ Saudi chums have just turned down appeals to stop the imminent sentence to behead a 21 year old and hang his body publicly until it rots, essentially because he is from a prominent Shia family who many of the Saudi Shia rally around. Ever wonder from where ISIS’ mutated form of islam derives?
    I don’t claim that Nick Cohen condones Saudi Arabian rule, but his spleen is usually on those the western political establishment already holds out in the cold but have some genuine grievances and potential for their societies to gradually become less violent, with proper engagement- but rarely aimed against the Saudi regime with whom the western establishment does a lot of business and gives respectability that validates the regime and its stance on islam to many Sunni muslims across the world.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Sep '15 - 12:23am

    Tomas Howard-Jones makes a good point by saying we can’t condone military overthrow of every state that doesn’t match our current values. I agree too that Nick Cohen seems to lean towards this kind of thinking.

    I know I have been super aggressive over ISIS, but it is because I liken it to stepping into a boxing ring. Once you commit to strike an enemy you better get the job done or you will get hit back.

    Good article by the author. I’ve thrown my rattle out of the pram, but the Lib Dems are still a good party. Good to see others enjoying the debates too.

  • Thomas
    A colleague of mine has just gone to work in Saudi. He was told all the horror stories. He has posted a picture of himself riding a camel on Facebook. Big smile on his face.

  • Manfarang. If your friend was a woman?

  • Dave Orbison
    !970s IMF, public spending cuts (including cuts to unemployment benefit). Large industrial closures.
    There is nothing to indicate it won’t be any different under Labour.

  • Dave Orbison 24th Sep '15 - 8:31am

    Manfarang – re Labour wrong – economic plans of Corbyn have been scrutinised and you tea leaves are less than reliable. You just invent anything you want – that’s your right but you need to differentiate between fact based evidence and fantasy. But since you are on the subject of economics can you explain the LibDems economic policy – specifically how they would eliminate the deficit by 2018 and, unlike the Tories, stave off all cuts in public expenditure and make good all the initiatives listed in Farron’ speech . I am genuinely intrigued to hear what costed out elements the LibDems would advocate – as you have so decisively rejected Corbyn’s approach – please tell me what you would do.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Sep '15 - 10:23am

    DaveN

    If one is any doubt about this (surely not!) then the record of LibDems’ support for Tory policies in the last Parliament is there for all to see.

    That is democracy. Democracy is about representatives coming together and reaching whatever compromise they can agree to. Compromises involve giving up one’s ideals if not enough others share them. Democracy means one accepts the view of the people even if it was not one’s ideal.

    The people of this country elected 307 Tory MPs in 2010 and 57 Liberal Democrat MPs. The Labour Party supports the distortional representation system which gave us that, with its prominent members either saying nothing or enthusiastically pushing the way our current system props up the biggest party (i.e. the Tories in 2010 and 2015) as its best aspect in the 2011 referendum on making at least a minor alteration to it.

    If we accept what you are suggesting here, everyone should refuse to compromise and vote down anything which is not 100% what they want. Well, how are we to have a working government if that happens? If you think it is wrong to accept a compromise, why do you accept a Tory government at all? Why don’t you propose mounting a coup and installing a dictator who stands for 100% of what you want?

    If there was an alternative to what the last government did, it would have to be led by Labour as the second largest party. So did Labour propose those alternatives? No. It just jeered “nah nah nah nah nah” because it knew it had nothing to offer. Labour could have proposed different policies, saying just how it would pay for all those things which were cut, spelling out the higher taxes it would require. Then it could have embarrassed the Liberal Democrats by inviting them to support them. But it didn’t because it couldn’t.

    I agree, though, it was hugely damaging for the Liberal Democrats that Clegg did not make it more clear that the Coalition was a compromise, and it would have been a different sort of compromise if there had been fair representation. And it was damaging for Farron to continue with the Cleggie line that the coalition was super-super wonderful in his conference speech.

  • Matthew Huntbach

    ” it was damaging for Farron to continue with the Cleggie line that the coalition was super-super wonderful in his conference speech.”

    Matthew,

    I think you know that I can argue that I am as big a critic and as long a critic of Nick Clegg’s conduct of the Coalition and the damage he has done to this Party as ever you have been, but I cannot agree with you on this. I do agree with you that Tim could have made some reference to the fact that some pretty bad things were allow to happen by our MPs in the coalition as things which were good which we did achieve but I did not get the feeling that he felt it was ‘super-wonderful’. Tim does, however, try sometimes to stretch a bit, to the boundaries and beyond, the variety and number of opinions he is appealing to and he will come unstuck at some point if he does not moderate this tendency.

  • Dave Orbison 24th Sep '15 - 4:49pm

    Manfarang “!970s IMF, public spending cuts (including cuts to unemployment benefit). Large industrial closures.
    There is nothing to indicate it won’t be any different under Labour.”

    Under the Coalition – cut in UK Credit Rating, collapse of manufacturing industry, cuts in welfare, disabled committing suicide, cuts in legal aid….. your point?

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Sep '15 - 5:06pm

    Tony Dawson

    I think you know that I can argue that I am as big a critic and as long a critic of Nick Clegg’s conduct of the Coalition and the damage he has done to this Party as ever you have been, but I cannot agree with you on this.

    You may not, but this is how it comes across.

    Look at the things that DaveN and Dave Orbison are saying, and Labour Party shadow ministers are saying that sort of thing as well. Whatever compromise position Liberal Democrats voted for during the coalition is now being put forward by these people as what the Liberal Democrats support full stop, what we would have supported had we formed a government alone, what we would support if we ever did come into government.

    This is a nonsense line, as in real life one very often does have to agree to something which is not one’s ideal because one is part of a larger organisation, and that something is what that larger organisation has agreed to, taking into account all its participants. If one always said “No, I will never agree to anything unless it is 100% what I personally want”, nothing would be achieved, because everything would be blocked by someone.

    However, this nonsense line is what people believe about us, apart from Tories who despise us for what we did stop in the coalition. Unless we break out of this, we will never recover. To break out of this we need to make it absolutely clear that what came out of the coalition was not our ideal, it was what you get from a compromise between a lot of Tories and a few LibDems i.e. only a little bit LibDem and much more Tory.

    When Farron sung the praises of the coalition is his speech, he may not have meant it that way, but that is how it comes across because everyone but people who would never support us anyway believes the nonsense line. People hear what they want to hear, and I tell you, most people who have deserted us WILL hear that praise-singing of Farron as “the coalition was super-super wonderful”.

    We HAVE to be able to say “It was compromise, it was not our ideal”. Farron HAS to start doing that NOW. Otherwise, it’s not worth bothering with the party, and I certainly won’t bother with it, because it’s doomed.

  • I agree with Matthew Huntbach.

    Tim should have perhaps have said ” we did a lot of good things in Government such as income tax, pupil premium etc but we also got a lot wrong: we lost trust, we supported the NHS reforms when we did not need to do so, our MPs supported the bedroom tax and secret courts in defiance of Conference etc …” and then built a narrative to explain/apologise/pave the way for the future.

    Instead he airbrushed all of that out by saying, in effect “I agree with Nick”. Very disappointing and suggests that Tim is a lightweight rather than a statesman. Perhaps Paddy was right when he said ” judgement is not his strong suit”.

  • Far too many senior LibDems are happy to peddle Clegg’s line that the electorate are already having buyer’s remorse with regards to their general election rejection of the LibDems. The sheer arrogance of this position is gob-smacking. The party will start to lose many of it’s new supporters who they seem to believe joined because of Clegg’s resignation speech. Did they really join because of that or, perhaps, they joined because Clegg resigned? Just saying.

  • Peter Sigrist 24th Sep '15 - 9:40pm

    Amazing Michael. You just described precisely my own journey here. Welcome, you are a liberal. And you put that very well indeed.

  • Dave Oribson
    There was some reshoring of manufacturing under the Coalition.
    The coalition followed a massive financial crisis which resulted in difficult decisions having to be made.
    Remember that note-there is no money.It was no joke.
    Labour acted in the same way in government, although in the 1970s the crisis was to some extent of
    their own making. As most people know under Labour,things are worse.

  • Mathew Huntbach

    “Look at the things that DaveN and Dave Orbison are saying….” I am simply putting into words opinions that, I believe, are shared by a large section of the British ‘liberal’ electorate. The LibDems in the Coalition showed no sign of being dragged, reluctantly, into Coservative-led decisions that they hated. On the contrary, leading LibDems’ opinions at that time were indistinguishable from Tory ones. British voters saw this and they remember it only too well. An example was the enthusiasm shown, at the very top of the LibDems for the Tory-led NHS “reforms”.. There is no doubt in my mind that the Free-Market leaders of your party were at one with the Tories on many policies. The lethal legacy of this behaviour for LibDems is that millions of voters suspect that, given half a chance, your party would behave in exactly the same way again.

  • Matthew Huntbach.

    My own political position is this; I had a great admiration for the policies of the Liberal Party as it was. I am quite old, and looking back, the British politician that I admired the most was Mr Joe Grimond. I think that the LibDems’ record in Coalition would have been very different if it had’ve been led by some ‘Grimonds’ of this world. I, like many voters, voted LibDem in 2010 in the hope of a ‘New Politics’. I was sorely disappointed. I will add that the LibDems’ current leadership’s policy of (apparently) ‘talking up’ your party’s Coalition performance simply adds insult to injury to those who, like me, voted LibDem in 2010. I would suggest a clean break from the last 5–6 years. Furthermore, and for what it is worth, Nick Cohen’s article (referred to on this site) contains a great deal of truth – enough to make many in the Labour Party think very, very hard.

  • Dave Orbison 25th Sep '15 - 9:34am

    Matthew Huntback – I agree with much of what you say. I think an aggravating feature too is the naked opportunism of attacking Corbyn in the face of a fierce barrage from the Tory Press and dismissing any prospect of co-operation with Corbyn. I honestly cannot think of one single policy which Corbyn has launched or ‘previewed’ where anyone on LDV have found it within themselves to agree. Not one. If I close my eyes, for a moment, I can almost buy into the idea that the LibDems were simply only accepting a pragmatic approach to cooperation with the Tories in the Coalition. I understand what you say. But why can’t this pragmatism extend to Corbyn? Even when Corbyn during a BBC interview last week made crystal clear his pro positon on the EU referendum, Farron misrepresents Corbyn’s position this week.

    The other major obstacle to any LibDem recovery is economic credibility. Corbyn’s anti-austerity alternative has been ridiculed on LDV – though many economists support him. Farron says he supports the Government’s 2018 deficit plan, decries the results of cuts, commits to improving, rather than simply maintaining public services and supports a record house building programme and investment in rail (see elsewhere today on LDV). Once more I invite the anti-Corbynite tendency on LDV, the Orange-bookers or whatever the faction is called, to please explain in detail just how Farron will achieve balance the books whilst simultaneously meeting all of these goals having rejected the alternative advocated by Corbyn. Details please.
    People here may be scornful and dismissive of Corbyn but I think the public ‘get’ what he is offering. It’s a choice. For all those here that jump and down and mock Corbyn’s electoral chances – I say to you that you, nor anyone else, simply have no idea how it will playout. Outside the world of ‘LibDem-ville’ do you have any idea how ridiculous and arrogant the LibDems sound mocking Corbyn when you have been so comprehensively rejected by the public.? The public, already cynical towards the LibDems, will want to see know how you intend to pay for what you propose. So what’s it to be – austerity, anti-austerity or what? Answers on a postcard or better still here?

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Sep '15 - 10:19am

    Phyllis

    I agree with Matthew Huntbach.

    Thank you Phyllis, does that mean you have finally got my point?

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Sep '15 - 10:22am

    Dave Orbison

    If I close my eyes, for a moment, I can almost buy into the idea that the LibDems were simply only accepting a pragmatic approach to cooperation with the Tories in the Coalition. I understand what you say. But why can’t this pragmatism extend to Corbyn?

    I think it should, and I have said that. As have many other members of the party.

  • Dave Orbison
    The post WW2 Labour government was noted for its austerity.It continued war time rationing.
    There was the Lib -Lab pact in the 1970s so no one is ruling out co-operation.
    British politics has become a little Peronist as of late.Don’t forget Argentina became a basket case.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Sep '15 - 4:54pm

    DaveN

    An example was the enthusiasm shown, at the very top of the LibDems for the Tory-led NHS “reforms”..

    I was at the LibDem party conference in Gateshead where this was the dominant issue, and there was just no enthusiasm for these “reforms”. Even the top pushed the line that what it had ended up with had enough concessions after LibDem pressure that we shouldn’t oppose it. The majority of delegates did oppose it, although regrettably a few in the centre were pulled away from full opposition by the leadership line.

    I think this illustrates the issue. People like you, from day 1 of the coalition, painted the Liberal Democrats in the most right-wing way you could, ignoring the breadth of opinion in the party. If your aim was to try and embarrass the party and get it to move back to where it was, it didn’t, it had the opposite effect. If you had given support to us within the party who were standing up against Clegg, instead of writing us all off in the way you do here, I believe we could have achieved so much more.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Sep '15 - 4:59pm

    Manfarang

    The post WW2 Labour government was noted for its austerity.It continued war time rationing.

    Yes, but it was austerity for everyone. That’s a huge difference to what’s called “austerity” now.

  • Peter Watson 25th Sep '15 - 5:40pm

    @Paul Walter “You didn’t see this then? ”
    And sadly the overwhelming response to Mary Reid was very negative and quite nasty.

  • @Peter Watson
    And sadly the overwhelming response to Mary Reid was very negative and quite nasty.
    Actually most of the commenters were supportive. It was just a few very loud and persistent people who were negative and nasty.

  • 1/ To Matthew Huntbach & various other like-minded people:

    I have much admiration for the Liberal policies you espouse and the way in which you would like to see politics conducted. I believe you and I have much in common, but perhaps others like myself have not done enough to make our position better understood.

    When I talk of LibDems, I mean the LibDem leadership , the LibDem Parliamentary party and the LibDems who choose to follow and support their every edict. I do not mean the ordinary supporters of the party who I believe have been blithely ignored. It is those LibDems who I believe have sold your once great party down the river and deprived many like myself of a viable party option that is not Lab or Tory.

  • 2/ To Matthew Huntbach & various other like-minded people:

    I do understand your often repeated reasoning of what a coalition is and what is possible for a smaller party to achieve from within it and accept that it is an honest representation. You have also done a good job of stating where the party failed, but, perhaps, there is one thing that you have failed in doing and that is in accepting the singular view of myself and others who abandoned the LibDems in that we believed they lied and happily colluded with the Tories in bringing forward some of the most savage set of policies I have experienced in my 40+ yrs.

    Though it is possible for both of us to be correct, far too many senior LibDems continue to talk-up the coalition and are happy to peddle Clegg’s line that the electorate are already having buyer’s remorse with regards to their general election rejection of the LibDems. The sheer arrogance of this position is gob-smacking. The party may start to lose many of it’s new supporters who they seem to believe joined because of Clegg’s resignation speech. Did they really join because of that or, perhaps, they joined because Clegg resigned? Just saying.

  • 3/ To Matthew Huntbach & various other like-minded people:

    Worse the party is in danger of turning Lab supporters off even further with it’s enthusiastic joining-in with Tory derision of Corbyn and portrayal of Lab members as “Corbynites”. For the record, I did not vote for Corbyn given his at-the-time wavering around EU membership and poorly-explained People’s QE. Of the former I am now happier that he has accepted what seems to be the majority position of In and of the latter some of the recent explanations are beginning to make sense as an alternative QE to be used if QE is again needed. Regardless of my not voting for him, I accept the democratic tenet of the majority and believe that he has earnt the right to lead and, thus far, I like that he seems to be taking the more measured approach of allowing ideas to be explored without fear of reprisals and to reach a consensus rather than trying to dictate a decision. Those LibDems who choose to laugh at this kind of approach ought to look at how their Parliamentary party seems to have been hijacked by a few at the top whilst the majority of the party are ignored.

    In closing perhaps you might answer a question for me: how can voters like me be brought back to the LibDem cause given our mistrust of a leadership that doesn’t seem to be changing it’s approach? For it’s not I who must persuade the party to change for my vote, but it’s for the party to convince I and others that it’s worthy of our votes?

  • peter tyzack 25th Sep '15 - 6:23pm

    if we are liberals, and believe in free-speech, then why are so many comments here from anonymous people with a pseudonym and a silhouette? Only 7 of us ‘brave’ enough to speak our mind and stand by what we say? Why so nervous everyone?

  • Dave Orbison 25th Sep '15 - 6:48pm

    @Paul Walter “You didn’t see this then? ”

    I echo Peter’s comments. The majority of responses on Mary’s piece were negative and some extremely hostile and impolite. Beyond this ONE example, what else? There are a host of ‘articles’ on LDV that are simply hostile to Corbyn. There are a few articles with anti-Corbyn as the principal target. How many can you say that about re Cameron or Osborne – answer NONE. Then there’s the sneering references to Corbyn in articles such as those on rail and housing articles. Even when Corbyn has come out strongly in favour of needing to address the housing crisis, and it featured in Farron’s speech, rather than talk objectively about co-operation with Corbyn, the author uses negative terms such as the ‘far-left’. It seems the LibDems are obsessed with knocking the guy at every opportunity.

    For goodness sake the LibDems do not have a monopoly of care about social issues no more than any other party. There is nothing, nothing positive in Farron’s speech that indicates a grown-up and open minded approach towards cooperation with Corbyn, in contrast to the Tories. Pejorative references to Corbyn here are the norm. The LibDem leadership are clearly using opportunistic tactics to attack Corbyn and appeal to what is perceived to be the ‘middle ground or centrists’ whatever that means. Count how many times Cameron or Osborne are referred to in a negative way on LDV compared to Corbyn. You cannot seriously suggest it is 50/50. To quote the Speaker: the Orange-bookers have it, the Orange-bookers have it. So ended the chapter on grown-up politics under Farron.

  • Dave Orbison 25th Sep '15 - 6:49pm

    Mary – I counted them – roughly 3 to 2 against

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Sep '15 - 7:24pm

    peter tyzack 25th Sep ’15 – 6:23pm
    “if we are liberals, and believe in free-speech, then why are so many comments here from anonymous people with a pseudonym and a silhouette? Only 7 of us ‘brave’ enough to speak our mind and stand by what we say? Why so nervous everyone?”

    Totally agree Peter. We should, as the policy states, ‘be who we say we are’. Regarding photographs though, not everyone is as photogenic as you Peter. I am however clearly recognisable in my Twitter account image 😉

    LDV editors and team members contributing under the generic name ‘The Voice’ doesn’t exactly help matters!

  • Er, not sure why people who think of themselves as Liberals would insist on others naming themselves and providing a selfie before considering their posts worthy of comment or thought. However, I would happily do so, but apparently I believe you have to be a registered member to be able to join the libdemvoice forum which then allows one to log into this public site.

    If I’m wrong in this, then please provide me with instructions in how to register.

    Ta.

  • You have to admit, Lib Dems, that Dave Orbison makes some very valid points.

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Sep '15 - 9:51pm

    Dave Orbison 25th Sep ’15 – 6:49pm
    Mary – I counted them – roughly 3 to 2 against.

    Dave, out of interest, was that people or posts?

  • Matthew Huntbach.

    You are totally wrong in suggesting that I “from day 1 of the coalition……. painted the Liberal Democrats in the most right-wing way [that I] could…….”. I repeat, what you are suggesting, re. my attitude to the LibDems when they first entered the Coalition, could not be further from the truth. Immediately following the 2010 GE my goodwill and trust were very much with Clegg and, in particular, Cable. I’m afraid it was the Fees thing that brought me down to earth – as it was for thousands of other voters. After that the LibDem performance was, for me, a slow and painful-to-watch car crash. As for the Health “reforms”, my impatience with the LidDems’ behaviour changed from exasperation to anger. I, and thousands upon thousands of voters were not remotely interested in the antics or internal politics of the Liberal Democrat Party at this or that Party Conference. What mattered to voters was what they witnessed day-to-day in the Coalition’s policies. The verdict of those very same voters on the LibDems earlier this year was harsh, entirely predictable and completely justified. The electoral disaster that befell the LibDems this year was entirely the fault of the Liberal Democrat Party – from top to bottom. No blame – none at all – can apportioned elsewhere.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Sep '15 - 11:21pm

    Jimble

    When I talk of LibDems, I mean the LibDem leadership , the LibDem Parliamentary party and the LibDems who choose to follow and support their every edict.

    This ignores, for example, the high number of Liberal Democrat MPs who did not support the coalition line on tuition fees, just as you’ve ignored the many Liberal Democrats here who have taken a more balanced approach to Corbyn. You insult those of us who are more to the left in the Liberal Democrats and who have been unhappy with Clegg’s leadership by denying our existence, and you weaken our attempts to bring the party back to where it was by giving the impression that it doesn’t matter what we do, you’ll still respond by jeering “nah nah nah nah nah” at us.

    So, thanks to people like you, the right-wingers in the party are saying “The votes we used to get have been lost forever, and you are wasting your time trying to get them back. Instead, the party needs to continue its shift to the right and try to get some new voters that way”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Sep '15 - 11:32pm

    DaveN

    Immediately following the 2010 GE my goodwill and trust were very much with Clegg and, in particular, Cable.

    Well you were wrong, and that was not the position I took. From day 1 I warned that by exaggerating what was possible in a Coalition dominated by the Tories and by making out that the Liberal Democrats had almost equal say in it, Clegg and co were doing huge damage to the party.

    I’m afraid it was the Fees thing that brought me down to earth – as it was for thousands of other voters. After that the LibDem performance was, for me, a slow and painful-to-watch car crash.

    I was always down to earth in the first place. To me it was very obvious that there was absolutely no way the Tories would agree to the tax rises necessary to give full state subsidy to universities. Therefore I could very much see that rather than try and push the issue, it was better to minimise the damage by making sure the loans were generous and universally available, and insisting on write-offs so generous that it is predicted it will mean more state subsidy to universities than we had before.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Sep '15 - 11:45pm

    Jimble

    Though it is possible for both of us to be correct, far too many senior LibDems continue to talk-up the coalition and are happy to peddle Clegg’s line that the electorate are already having buyer’s remorse with regards to their general election rejection of the LibDems.

    Sorry, but to me it very much IS the case that thanks to “nah nah nah nah nah”s like you, the Tories have won seats from the Liberal Democrats, and the result is a government even worse than what we had before.

    I was very much taken, for example, by an interview with Ed Davey in the Guardian where he described his constant fight with the Tories to get greener energy policies. Perhaps particularly as he was one of those LibDem MPs who seemed on the surface to have slipped into being a Tory-lite, so it was something of an insight to see just just what a struggle he had with the Tories, and now in his absence what he fought for and won will be lost.

  • Dave Orbison 25th Sep '15 - 11:54pm

    Stephen. It was based on responses. Several people both sides of the debate made more than one contribution. I excluded my own, Mary’s and those that made points that were not directed at Corbyn. I make no claims to accuracy as I did it with time limitations. However, I would say that aside from Mary’s excellent article the overwhelming articles on here that refer to Corbyn are anti. I make just two observations – a) I see no reason why the LibDems should prejudge Corbyn’s Labour Party on a policy issue without first considering the detail of what is proposed and b) the scorn heaped upon Corbyn appears to be based on his economic proposals. I have yet to see or hear what the LibDems purpose when Farron simultaneously commits to the Tory goal of deficit elimination by 2018 and Farron’s commitment to be fairer, improve services and make major infrastructure investments in housing and transport. Corbyn is attacked as being economically incredible, so what are the LibDems proposals?

  • Richard Underhill 26th Sep '15 - 8:04am

    Paul Walter 26th Sep ’15 – 6:14am
    We have lost several economic spokesmen.
    Is there a link to the speech by the leader of D66?
    The conference gave her a standing ovation, large rooms were full to overflowing, D66 members will campaign with us.

  • Dave Orbison 26th Sep '15 - 8:32am

    Paul: Are you complaining that I post too much? Would you be happier if I posted something you found more agreeable? Is dissent not tolerated? Do I think that the majority of LDV contributions and the position of the LibDem Leadership is anti-Corbyn? Yes. [See quotes below.] In the interests of balance I have looked for the positive comments from Farron re Corbyn. There are none. Yet the leader of the Greens and SNP had no problem welcoming Corbyn’s election and they talked, in positives terms, about the possibilities of co-operation with him on key policies. The most common reason for dismissing Corbyn by LibDem Leadership and LDV relates to Corbyn’s anti-austerity approach which has been comprehensively dismissed [see quotes below].
    As economic credibility is key to any party seeking office I make no apology for once again asking those who dismiss Corbyn’s approach, to spell out exactly what the LibDems approach is and how it will ensure that Farron’s commitments to eliminate the budget by 2018, exclude the cuts made by ‘nasty’ Tories are currently making, enable the LibDems to improve public services and pay a record house building/rail infrastructure programme. You are right I have asked this now 5 or 6 times on LDV? It seems a reasonable question and I would have thought those pouring scorn on Corbyn’s approach, are doing so safe in the knowledge they have a better plan. So once again I invite them to step forward, to put this to bed – what is the LibDem Economic Policy is? What are the details? You must have one surely?

  • Dave Orbison 26th Sep '15 - 8:33am

    Paul the quotes to which I refer and rely upon are:

    Recent quotes –
    Tim Faron “Everything has changed because of Corbyn – it’s an opportunity –“ and from Farron’s speech…
    “I observe today, interesting developments in the Labour party, who seem to be suffering a collective bout of nostalgia for those times [1980’s economic chaos]…..but I am not nostalgic for those Labour economic policies…So if Labour aren’t interested in standing up to the Tories and providing a credible opposition that’s their funeral….The need for a credible opposition has never been more obvious. And make no mistake, Labour has left the playing field, which means that only we can provide it….”
    Willie Rennie “Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership signals a return to the damaging see saw politics of the past. With a Conservative Party in Government screeching further to the right and a Labour opposition returning to the extreme left wing politics of the 1970’s, Britain needs a serious, responsible alternative now more than ever.”
    Sal Brinton “As Labour abdicates its responsibilities, the Liberal Democrats will offer the serious, responsible, and economically-literate alternative this country badly needs.”

  • Richard Underhill 26th Sep '15 - 9:19am

    Dave Orbison 26th Sep ’15 – 8:32am Green Leader asked JC to campaign for PR. Maybe she wants electoral pact/s (as happened in Northern Ireland in May 2015). His reply, if any, will be interesting.

  • Matthew Huntbach
    So on my 1st post you choose to engage with one sentence and claim that I’m ignoring and insulting many Liberal Democrats who I’ve actually said I’m not. You then follow up by blaming people like me for the pronouncements and actions of the right-wingers in your party. Er, wow. Not sure how you could have extrapolated all that from my 1st post, but you believe what you believe.

    On my 2nd post you seem to be blaming people like me again for the loss of LibDem seats to the Tories and for the Tory govt we now have. So nothing to do with LibDem actions in govt then? Just the fault of people like me.

    Lastly, you didn’t answer the only question I asked, which was how can voters like me be brought back to the LibDem cause, but from your attitude it seems clear that you’re not interested in voters like me.

    Good luck.

  • Jimble yes you’ve summed up Matthew’s strange position very well. He thinks people from other parties speaking up for him would have spurred the Lib Dem leadership to change their ways. I suspect the opposite would have been true “why should we listen to our enemies?” would have been the response.

  • David Orbison,
    It seems you are not prepared to follow Mr Corbyn when it comes to vegetarianism and being teetotal so why do expect others to follow him.

  • Paul Walter “. ….I’m like all the Lib Dems, Labour-hating Tories in disguise.”

    Oh dear and we were getting on so well. I have never said the above about you Paul so I’m puzzled as to why you mention me in your post?? It’s true that on LDV there is a huge amount of material knocking Corbyn and passing up opprportunities to criticise the Tories but I have never personalised it. In any case it’s good you have made your personal position clear because otherwise it would not be obvious.

  • Dave Orbison 26th Sep '15 - 2:25pm

    Paul: “Dave to Paul: Are you complaining that I post too much?” No. You’ll get an automated “flood warning” if you do. I am giving my view on your posts. I think I am allowed to do that, aren’t I?”
    Paul indeed you are and isn’t it great to be in a democracy and to have Blogs such as LDV where people can discuss differences of opinion openly. However, in fairness I don’t think I posted anything attacking you. So I was a bit taken aback by your posts:
    “But Dave, you are a bit like the SAS entering a building: You throw in the stun guns and smoke canisters – for you this is carpet bombing the site on numerous threads saying that we are always sneering at Corbyn…. And but you say “Well when I came in with the stun guns and smoke canisters I proved, simply by repeating it five million times on three million threads, that you DO disagree with his economics.”
    I do not have the advantage you have in being able to post lengthy or many articles and so I respond as best I can and within the rules of the site. I must confess to being tempted to call out names in one or two posts of those who I wish would respond to my point, rest assured you were not one I had in mind. I decided that would be wrong as they have every right to ignore me if they wish, in which case I should respect that. Thank you for the link to the manifesto. There is much in it a fully support, in fact almost all of it. There, I said it. I didn’t find it hard to do. But that does not stop me saying but I ALSO agree with much, if not all that Corbyn says. Link to his Economic Policy Statement is:
    http://www.jeremyforlabour.com/policy
    Having read both documents, it seems there is a good deal of common ground, an awful lot. Hence, my disappointment that the Leadership of the LibDems (as per the quotes I posted earlier) could not find it in their hearts to admit this. Instead, they chose to make silly, cheap laugh, opportunistic shots portraying Corbyn’s policies as a throwback to the 1970’s. They are not. I would invite others here to read them. Now that is my opinion and I’m entitled to it, don’t you agree?

  • paul barker 26th Sep '15 - 4:58pm

    Welcome Michael, I too am ex-Labour but my journey was a far longer one, all the way from Communism. I came from a similar place to Corbyn – the generation enthused by May 68. From what I have seen I would guess that Corbyn hasnt moved at all. That doesnt mean we cant work with Labour on issues where we agree.

  • Peter Watson 26th Sep '15 - 6:44pm

    @Paul Walter “I totally agree with Mary Reid’s post. But I didn’t write a supportive comment under her post so I can’t agree with her.”
    This is an interesting point. People often complain that discussions on LDV become polarised and perhaps that is inevitable since we are more likely to be inspired to express our outrage or disagreement than we are to say, “hear, hear”. I am not sure that a “like” button is the best way to do it, but perhaps we should all try to post at least one “That’s a great idea …” for every few times we leap in with a “How dare you ..”.

  • David Allen 26th Sep '15 - 7:47pm

    Sal Brinton “I hate the left-right spectrum, because most liberals operate on a liberal-authoritarian spectrum”

    Yes, and most flat-earthers operate on a flatearth – sphericalearth spectrum. Nobody else pays any attention to what the flatearthers say. Precious few people will pay liberals any respect either, unless they acknowledge that left versus right matters!

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Sep '15 - 11:20pm

    Phyllis

    Jimble yes you’ve summed up Matthew’s strange position very well. He thinks people from other parties speaking up for him would have spurred the Lib Dem leadership to change their ways. I suspect the opposite would have been true “why should we listen to our enemies?” would have been the response.

    Rubbish. My position is very simple. I have been very critical of the Liberal Democrat leadership, whose exaggeration of their influence in the coalition, and under Clegg use of the coalition to push the party rightwards, have, I believe been very damaging to the party. However, I have also been very critical of those who claim the Liberal Democrats had no influence whatsoever in the coalition, or who suppose there was some easy other way that could have been taken that would have been far more effective in pushing Liberal Democrat policies.

    I have taken a position in between these two, and for my pains have been attacked by both sides, each accusing me of being a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of the other.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Sep '15 - 11:25pm

    Jimble

    Lastly, you didn’t answer the only question I asked, which was how can voters like me be brought back to the LibDem cause, but from your attitude it seems clear that you’re not interested in voters like me.

    Sorry, how can I know since I am not you?

    However, why do you say that I am “not interested” in voters like you when I myself am a voter like you?

    See what I mean? What you say here suggests I am an unthinking supporter of Nick Clegg and co, who wants to push the Liberal Democrats to the right and isn’t bothered about losing those to the left who used to be LibDem supporters. Well that shows you are just jeering “nah nah nah nah nah” without bothering to pay attention to what I am saying as that is the EXACT OPPOSITE of my actual position – I have probably written more in Liberal Democrat Voice attacking Clegg and the damage he has done to the party than any other person. But because I don’t 100% agree with your line, you ignore all that.

  • Matthew,

    You may not appreciate this, but….

    When it’s about political vision, about the analysis of how political policies impact on people’s lives, about what matters in politics and about why it matters – your voice is very often the clearest and most insightful of any of the contributors to this website.

    When it’s about people, about who got it right and who got it wrong, about past history, about knowing how to work with those who largely agree with you and concentrating fire on the real enemies – I am afraid I frequently find your contributions lamentable.

    Let’s just start by picking this one: https://www.libdemvoice.org/lef-47629.html#comment-379527 ” “Phyllis, does this mean you have finally got my point?” You are oblivious to the fact that nobody could know which of your many points you might have been thinking of, when you made this rather impolite response. You have also sought to repel someone who simply wrote that she agreed with something you said – hardly a good way to make friends and build alliances!

    The reason why I’m bothering to make these comments is not because I don’t respect your views – it’s because I do very much respect your views. It’s a great shame that you dissipate the impact you could be making, by taking up pointless arguments with people like Phyllis and Jimble who actually have quite similar views to your own. Instead of trying to prove that every tiny political decision you made over the last thirty years was the right one, and that everybody else got all these decisions wrong, why not try helping to build up and strengthen a broad “coalition” of the centre-left?

    Mark Wright (amongst others) lumps us all together as “the usual suspects”. He is thereby attempting to pretend that the dominant tradition of centre-left politics within this Party is actually just represented by a few mavericks. Mavericks who fail to absorb the unspeakable enlightenment of the great Orange Book, the great quantity of hedge fund money it represents, and the golden opportunity we have to achieve fame and fortune by helping the political Right.

    That’s the attitude we need to fight against. To do that, we need to be united, to concentrate on the big picture, and to minimse the minor differences which may arise between ourselves.

  • Matthew Huntbach – “What you say here suggests I am an unthinking supporter of Nick Clegg and co”.

    Really? My original post applauded you for not being that and for being honest about what coalition was about .

    I’m not your enemy.

  • David Allen:

    most flat-earthers operate on a flat earth – spherical earth spectrum. Nobody else pays any attention to what the flatearthers say. Precious few people will pay liberals any respect either

    You equate Liberalism with ‘flat-earthers’? – I suppose it is helpful that you admit where you are coming from. Might I suggest that you are not well placed to claim that Lib Dems or Liberals ‘just don’t get it’.

    Incidentally, on your “flat earth – spherical earth spectrum”, what is your in between position?

  • Flat Earthers
    Well the thinking of the Liberals Beveridge and Keynes is still getting attention .

  • Paul Barker
    “the generation enthused by May 68”
    All this talk of “Peoples” QE brings back memories of the American foreign aid program of the early 1960s. There was lots of “free” money in Laos. A lot of it didn’t result in any permanent infrastructure but ended up in peoples pockets and was spent on consumer durables. Today the only physical reminders that remain of all that money in Laos are a few buildings.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Sep '15 - 4:55pm

    Jimble

    Matthew Huntbach – “What you say here suggests I am an unthinking supporter of Nick Clegg and co”.

    Really? My original post applauded you for not being that and for being honest about what coalition was about .

    Yes, and then you ended up by writing:

    Lastly, you didn’t answer the only question I asked, which was how can voters like me be brought back to the LibDem cause, but from your attitude it seems clear that you’re not interested in voters like me

    Now this is quite clearly accusing me of being some right-wing fan of Clegg who applauds the way the party moved or was made to appear to move under his leadership. You switched to that point in response to me trying to say was that I thought you are being a bit one-sided in what you say. It is not the case, for example, that all Liberal Democrat MPs were enthusiastic supporters of everything the coalition did, as you suggested. The attitude that you are pushing, that all Liberal Democrat MPs were indistinguishably bad people who were just secret Tories who pretended otherwise to fool the voters has resulted in the defeat by the Tories of very decent MPs who were far removed from the caricature you have pushed, such as Adrian Saunders in Torbay and Norman Baker in Lewes. I was very sorry to see that happen, and I wish people like you had been more careful in your attacks so they would have been saved.

  • – Matthew Huntbach – Twist my words however you like, I’m done trying to explain myself to you. I agree with David Allen’s assessment above (27th Sep ’15 – 12:06am).

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Sep '15 - 8:01pm

    Jimble

    – Matthew Huntbach – Twist my words however you like, I’m done trying to explain myself to you. I agree with David Allen’s assessment above (27th Sep ’15 – 12:06am).

    Well, I’m sorry you feel like that, but it seems you are just not willing to listen to what I was trying to say. All I was trying to say was you seem to want to paint the Liberal Democrats as if all active members were keen supporters of the most right-wing positions in the party, and to ignore the diversity of opinion in the party and the unhappiness about what was happening in the coalition and how the leadership was handling that existed among many members. When I pointed out that actually this line was unfair, and not very helpful to those of us who are trying to pull the party back to were it was, you just accused me of not being interested in people like yourself i.e. former supporters of the Liberal Democrats who have dropped out in disgust over the coalition. But nothing could be further from the truth, Jimble. So why do you accuse me of being something which is the opposite of what I am?

    I do think the party has been damaged by a lot of unfair attacks, which have taken an unrealistic position on what was obtainable from the situation the 2010 general election left us, and have made completely incorrect assumptions about the motivations of those of us who accepted the best we could do was to try and make more moderate what was always going to be an essentially Conservative government. If I genuinely felt that the Liberal Democrats standing firm and refusing to co-operate, and so another general election gets called would have resulted in the populace saying “Good on you, LibDems”, and increasing our vote, I would never have argued the case for the coalition.

    However, I think HUGE damage was done, not just by the small number of right-wingers in the party who did like the coalition for ideological reasons, but also by the much larger number who felt the best way to move forward was to exaggerate what the Liberal Democrats had done and were able to do in the coalition. That includes Tim Farron, who enthusiastically pushed that disastrous line “75% of our policies implemented”. All that has just encouraged the unfair attacks people like you make, and made them seem more credible.

    I just wish, wish, wish, wish, wish Jimble that people like you could see that an understand what I am saying, rather than jump to these false conclusions.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Sep '15 - 8:04pm

    David Allen

    Let’s just start by picking this one: https://www.libdemvoice.org/lef-47629.html#comment-379527 ” “Phyllis, does this mean you have finally got my point?” You are oblivious to the fact that nobody could know which of your many points you might have been thinking of, when you made this rather impolite response

    I think it is very clear from the context, which is the point in the message I had posted previously that Phyllis said she agreed with. I really did feel “Hoorah, hoorah, hoorah, now just perhaps at last she has understood what I’ve been saying for five years”.

  • Dave Orbison 27th Sep '15 - 9:18pm

    Paul – thanks and fair comment

  • Matthew Huntbach I agreed with you that Tim Farron’s speech to Conference should have made it clear that the Lib Dem leadership handled their role in Coalition badly. I also agree with you that the Lib Dems should have walked away from the Coalition in preference to supporting the NHS reforms. I think Tim should make it clear that he understands the many ways in which the Lib Dem leadership got things wrong in Coalition, as well as getting some things right. To do any less is to disrespect the lost voters. That is not a good basis on which to win those voters back. That’s a bit different to “trashing the Coalition” and it’s important to understand the difference.

    On the other issue on which you regularly harangue me, namely tuition fees,I have always * understood* your points – they are not difficult to follow – I simply disagree with you. That is unlikely to change and I see no value in continuing to rerun the same arguments. We shall never persuade each other. However, you have a right to your opinion as I have a right to mine.

    David Allen, as always you are the voice of reason – measured, fair and articulate. Thank you for your contributions, on this and other threads. You are quite correct – I scratched my head when I read Matthew’s comment wondering what Matthew thought he had convinced me of, but decided not to use up one of my ‘ rationed’ comments engaging in what usually turns out to be a futile war of words but I am glad to have had the opportunity to explain.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Sep '15 - 12:05am

    Phyllis 27th Sep ’15 – 10:14pm NO, Nick Clegg’s speech covered the coalition. Tim Farron is about the present and the future.

  • Matthew Huntbach 28th Sep '15 - 12:11am

    Phyllis

    I scratched my head when I read Matthew’s comment wondering what Matthew thought he had convinced me of

    In the past you have given the impression that you are one of those who believes the LibDems just “rolled over and joined the Tories”, not acknowledging that they could have only a small effect in the coalition, and supposing that if they wanted they could have achieved a great deal more. Your message to which David Allen refers suggested that you did accept they were not in a position to achieve everything they would want if they were in complete power, so that it was a matter of sacrificing some desires in order to get concessions on others.

    That’s all.

    Most of the attacks on the Liberal Democrats continue to be on the unrealistic assumption that they could have achieved whatever they liked, therefore any compromise they agreed to with the Tories was not really a compromise but because secretly it was what they wanted in the first place. Of course, it did not help that Nick Clegg pushed out that same unrealistic assumption about the SNP in the 2015 election, another illustration of why he was dubbed “calamity Clegg”.

    My position on tuition fees is that although it’s a sad compromise on our ideal of university education free of direct charge, if one looks at it objectively in terms of actual money passing hands it’s a better compromise that it first appears. So I can see why some LibDem MPs might have accepted it as the best compromise under the circumstances, and I don’t think they should be labelled as irredeemably bad people for doing so. That’s all.

  • Richard Underhill if you fail to understand the past, you have no future.

  • Phyllis
    There is increasing support for PR
    With PR the outcome is likely to be coalitions.

  • Matthew Huntbach 28th Sep '15 - 2:42pm

    Phyllis

    Richard Underhill if you fail to understand the past, you have no future

    Indeed, and what do we learn from the past that is particularly relevant to the issues being discussd here?

    One is that small parties (in terms of MPs) which go into coalition with larger parties are almost always damaged by it, particularly when there is no history of them being involved in coalitions. The reason is that there is generally an exaggerated expectation about what they can achieve, which is brought down by the reality that when they agree with the larger party, they will get no credit for their contribution, and when they disagree they will find they can’t get the larger party to shift its position and they are condemned for “breaking their promises”. In reality, small parties can only swing the balance within the larger party or get through minor measures which aren’t in conflict with what the large party wants.

    Another is that if a party wins with a tiny majority or no majority and forms a minority government, it can generally do well by calling another general election on the basis “give us a good majority so we can govern properly”. Another is that if a small party performs below expectations in a general election, it is generally on the way down and will not do better in the next general election.

    Much of the criticism of the Liberal Democrats over the coalition has been on the basis that they could have achieved far more either within the coalition or by refusing to join it. That is why, though I very much dislike what the coalition did, I think many of the criticisms of the Liberal Democrats over it were unfair.

  • Matthew Huntbach 28th Sep '15 - 3:05pm

    Me

    Much of the criticism of the Liberal Democrats over the coalition has been on the basis that they could have achieved far more either within the coalition or by refusing to join it. That is why, though I very much dislike what the coalition did, I think many of the criticisms of the Liberal Democrats over it were unfair.

    However, the situation was made much worse by a leadership which played into the hands of the critics by exaggerating what it had achieved or thought it could achieve in the coalition. The number of Liberal Democrats who really did think of the Coalition as an ideological coming-together of free-market fanatics was small, but that sort swarm around in the Westminster Bubble, and the elitist press report the Liberal Democrats from that perspective. The Guardian newspaper in particular always behaves disgracefully on this issue, because though it puts itself across as a paper which would be naturally sympathetic to the left-wing of the Liberal Democrats, it always exhibits an extreme bias to the right-wing of the Liberal Democrats in its coverage.

    Also a large number of “follow-my-leader” centrists in the Liberal Democrats, who although not naturally right-wing were too easily persuaded to dismiss those who expressed concern over where the leadership was taking us as “rebels”. I think if those of us who were prepared to stand up against Clegg were able to point to outside support for our position, we could have achieved more. Instead, we were weakened when we turned round and looked for it and all we got was “nah nah nah nah nah” attacks, based on unrealistic assumptions about what could have been achieved under the circumstances, or on a deliberate wish to see us destroyed as a party.

  • “Mr McDonnell insists Marxist theories have become mainstream thinking”
    Well we do live in interesting times.

  • Richard Sealy 29th Sep '15 - 9:06pm

    Glad to have you on board! Labour under Corbyn are doomed. We may be down to 8 Westminster MP’s but us LibDems are the ONLY opposition to Cameron’s Tories.

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