Lib Dem members launch group opposed to the coalition

The Guadian reports:

The first Liberal Democrat group openly opposed to the coalition is to be launched at the party’s spring conference in Gateshead next month with a warning that the coalition has been a political disaster for the party, as well as a denial of its radical roots.

Launching a website on Wednesday, the group Liberal Left said it hoped to become a rallying point for members opposed to the coalition and those who see the party as a centre-left organisation seeking common cause with Labour, Greens and others on the centre left.

One of its founders, Richard Grayson, conceded that the vast majority of the party was committed to the coalition and denied the group would be working to put a motion to conference calling for the Liberal Democrats to withdraw from its partnership with the Conservatives. He said the focus was more on developing policies on the centre left, and creating a space for a coalition with Labour if necessary after a general election.

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

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  • I do not believe that such a group will bring any benefit to the party, and will simply provide the media a new stick to beat us with.

    It is interesting to see that Richard Grayson is quoted as having conceded that the vast majority of the party was committed to the coalition.

    Is that true, or is it that the majority of members recognise that a choice had to be made in 2010; to allow a weak Conservative government to rule and push through as many of is draconian policies as it could before having to call an early general election. In all probability the conservatives would have won that election and then ruled alone for as long as they wished and we would be in the same rut of tory labour politics we have been in for far too long.

    I know very few members who wanted, or want a coalition with the Conservatives, but even fewer that think it would be good to break the coalition now. For the first time in generations Liberal Democrat policies are being put into practise in Government, some unadulterated by conservative ideology, others are being used to tame some of the wilder excesses of the rabid tory right.

    It is without any doubt having a negatve impact on the party just now, and might well right up to the next general election. But it is amazing how the British Public do seem to be capable of seeing more clearly when their minds are focused by a general election. We need to be clear headed too, and ensure that we can move forward into the next general election with good solid Liberal Democrat policies to put before the people. Policies which we know are carrying forward the long tradition of the party. We should be prepared to work with whichever party is best able to assist in putting our policies into effect.

    We absolutely should not be trying to narrow our options and creating narrowly defined factions within this very broad church that is the Liberal Democrats. That way I believe might lead to another 3 generations in the wilderness.

  • paul barker 9th Feb '12 - 2:35pm

    The attempt to put an Anti-coalition Motion could be quite useful if it makes clear how little support it has.

  • LondonLiberal 9th Feb '12 - 2:48pm

    NIck – i believe that we will face another 3 generations in the wilderness after 2015 precisely because we haven’t been seen to tame the Tories anywhere near enough.

    As a member in 2010 i supported the coalition. however, i now do not, as i think i would rather have let the tories win outright and do all the evil they wanted to on their own and also to let them get the blame for it on their own.

    Now, sadly, we are tainted by association, if not downright connivance, with the destruction of the NHS, the ripping up of planning protections, the slow death of council housing, the penalising of the disabled, a sudden, wrongheaded and seemingly devout adherence to monetarist economics and, last but not least, the breaking of our ‘cast iron’ fees pledge and our consequent MASSIVE credibility problem.

    But don’t worry folks, we’ve got two way electricity meters and a tax rise for the poorest. not bad in themselves, but compared to what we’ve given up to get them, it looks increasingly like we’ve been sold a pup.

  • This is very welcome news indeed. We now have a group of prominent Liberal Democrats who are prepared to stand up and point to the Emperor’s state of undress. Propping up the Tory government is bad for the party and terrible for the country. It needs to stop, and it needs to stop yesterday. The more Liberal Democrats with the guts to get up and say so, the better for all of us. Bravo!

    Nick Noble,

    “In all probability the conservatives would have won that election and then ruled alone for as long as they wished and we would be in the same rut of tory labour politics we have been in for far too long.”

    If David Cameron shared your belief, why did he not call that second general election and get that overall majority?

    “The attempt to put an Anti-coalition Motion could be quite useful if it makes clear how little support it has.”

    If this was the 16th century, you might see how little support heliocentricity had.

  • It has a ring of the People’s Front of Judea about it. The polling shows we’ll be lucky to survive with half our MPs at the next election so pulling the party together rather than apart might be a more sensible option for now.

    If this is a suggestion that we should rule out coalition with the Conservatives in the future then it is politically naive-if it’s suggesting that we should pull out of this coalition now, it is simply dangerous. We have to realise that this coalition was the only reasonable option for the party; it remains the biggest opportunity in years. We’ve made a large number of strategic and tactical errors but trying to pull things apart now can’t help. If the Parliamentary arithmetic were the same next time around, this approach would mean what exactly for the party?

    The very robust language of the mission statement seems a bit contrary to Richard Grayson’s comments yesterday on LDV. I really do hope that this will be something that creates constructive debate within the party but I fear that far too many people both within and outside the party won’t perceive it that way.

  • have to realise that this coalition was the only reasonable option for the party; it remains the biggest opportunity in years

    As far as I’m hearing on the ground the public equates this wonderful ‘opportunity’ with propping up the Tories in power, which isn’t what they voted for and in the main policy areas isn’t what Lib Dems argued for before the election – and sadly for this once principled party they will take revenge in every posssible way up to and including the next General Election.

    It might not be altogether fair but as someone said to me yesterday – ‘I thought the LIb Dems cared about the health service – why don’t they just put a stop to these proposals by voting against them?’

  • Well yes, it’s only an opportunity in so far as we could be getting it right. My point is we fundamentally haven’t so things need to change; we should use the experience of the last two years to do better for the remaining three, not just give up and say we effectively want to be a party of opposition forever because we can’t get exactly our own way in what is probably the most hostile economic and political climate for decades.

  • Perhaps they see themselves as getting in the lifeboats off the Titanic. Others might see them as a drag waiting to be cut loose.

  • It’s worth remembering that the political goal that they have set themselves – the end of the coalition – is certain to be achieved at some point.

  • David Allen 9th Feb '12 - 10:38pm

    As Sesenco said – Bravo! It is quite vital we rediscover our independence. Good luck Liberal Left, it is a big task you have taken on, but a crucial one!

  • Tracy Connell 10th Feb '12 - 8:29am

    For one thing, coalition with the Tories was the only credible option. The economy needed a majority government. Without that we stood a chance of losing our AAA credit rating, share prices dropping and the markets getting nervous. A Confidence and Supply Agreement would not have lasted. Labour made no effort in coalition talks, except to plot their way into opposition – giving a new leader an easy ride (Balls and Ed Miliband were on the ‘negotiating team’ with their sights clearly on the leadership) and the figures did not add up to a majority with Labour. It would have been suicide for the economy. For further information I’d recommend reading David Laws’ book “22 Days in May”.

    I really do not know what this group hope to achieve. They don’t aim to try to pull us out of this coalition, and if, as I suspect, there is a high chance of a coalition with Labour next time anyway, then their group will be defunct in 2015. They are not adverse to coalitions, only coalitions with the Tories. But what if these means destroying the economy for the sake of petty partisanship? And the fact that Labour have no policies – or are rather engaging in a ‘policy review’ with a bunch of these Lib Dems in order to claim our policies as their own – shows a degree of naivety.

    Of course these members are free to express their views, and the majority of Lib Dems would probably have preferred a coalition with Labour if the numbers had added up and if Labour hadn’t been hell bent on going into opposition. But the fact remains that we are in coalition with the Tories and we must take the opportunity to get as many of our policies through as possible. There, was in fact, no viable lasting alternative to the arrangement and we must make the most of it instead of complaining about it.

  • Tom Smith – Popular Front of Judea, my friend. The People’s Front are splitters!

  • Simon Banks. Posted 10th February 2012 at 11:36 am……….Just tried to post a considered, quite long, comment on this, my only comment today, and got the message: YOU ARE TRYING TO POST TOO FAST, SLOW DOWN! ………..

    As did I. My lost post was incisive, witty and held the answer, not just to the coalition question but to “Life the Universe and Everything”.
    Sadly I’ve forgotten what I wrote so this will have to do.

    …… realise that this coalition was the only reasonable option for the party; it remains the biggest opportunity in years………
    I disagree! After the televised debates, Nick Clegg had ‘street cred’ and his best option was to state loudly that the LibDems would not act like previous opposition parties but would “openly support the minority government in it’s difficult task of economic recovery”. Furthermore, “it would only oppose the government on matters that were directly contrary to to LibDem policy”.

    Such a statement would have left both Tories and Labour in a ‘lose lose’ situation. For Cameron to refuse the offer of such “Grown-up” support would have further diminished his appeal (especially as he was a leader that had failed to win an overall majority over, arguably, the most unpopular government in history).

    Sadly the opportunity was lost and we are where we are. Now, like the ‘Lady from Niger’, we can only ‘ride with a smile’ and hope the outcome will be different.

  • jedibeeftrix……. Posted 10th February 2012 at 1:21 pm……..
    “He said the focus was more on developing policies on the centre left, and creating a space for a coalition with Labour if necessary after a general election.”……Goodbye my friends, this really is no longer the party for you, so i wish you well in your future endeavors……A bit of advice; bear left and don’t stop until you bump into the labour party, if you get as far as the CPofGB then you have overshot the mark….

    Wow! So much for a ‘broad church’. So we should rule out any coalition (except of course with the Tory party) no matter what the outcome of the next GE.
    All I can say is, that if that is the prevailing view, we might as well merge with the Tory party right now.

  • The discipline of the Liberal Democrats in setting out to prove that coalition government actually works has been a wonder to behold – and an absolute essential in carving out any lasting and worthwhile future for a party that has no realistic prospect of gaining an overall majority for decades to come.

    I suppose it ws too much to hope that this thinking would be universal within the party. Let me just say that if the party were to be crazy (or should that be “craven”) enough to accept the recipe of this new body my 50 year membership would come to a shuddering halt.

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