Lib Dems “a vital option for the electorate” – Independent

An editorial in yesterday’s Independent will give both heart and motivation to Liberal Democrat troops heading out on to the doorsteps this weekend.

Its acceptance that our fate is sealed for this election will irritate those teams of canvassers in our key seats who are finding a good response on the doorsteps. Those of us who have been around for a while will know that our demise has been predicted at virtually every election.

They demolish Jeremy Browne’s theory that we need to position ourselves on the centre right, highlighting the unprecedented successes of Charles Kennedy’s time as leader.

They identify a clear space for us though as politics becomes increasingly polarised with Labour fighting the Greens on the left and the Tories fighting UKIP on the right:

But now the Conservatives have the looming threat of Ukip to their right, while the Green Party is rising rapidly to Labour’s left. These factors are pulling both parties away from the centre ground.

This should not be seen as necessarily a bad thing, because it gives the voters a real choice, provided neither party drifts so far away from the mainstream as to be no choice at all, as Labour did under Michael Foot. It also opens a clear space for the Lib Dems, in the centre between the main parties, exactly where Mr Clegg and Danny Alexander are now trying to locate it. It is too late now to prevent the party taking a big hit in May, but if they hold their nerve, there is a promising future ahead.

There is and always has been a place for us as a serious party which stands up against untrammelled power in all its forms and protects people from the excesses of both the state and commercial organisations, fighting for individual freedom and the right to live our lives without excessive state interference. There’s room for a party that wants to break down the barriers that people face in their lives, a party that will find ways of giving opportunities to people so that their future is defined by their abilities and efforts, not their backgrounds.  If we aren’t around to take up the liberal cause, nobody else will.

A Parliament without us there in force is not something I want to contemplate because I would fear for our human rights and civil liberties which, once lost, would be both missed and  difficult to retrieve. Both Labour and the Tories, governing alone, would threaten our freedoms in different ways. I’ve always said that I don’t want people to learn how much we brought to this Coalition the hard way, during a time of Tory majority government.


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

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  • David Warren 14th Feb '15 - 12:02pm

    You read my thoughts Caron!

  • Independent 3 – Jeremy Brown 0

  • Mark Littlewood 14th Feb '15 - 12:53pm

    The readership of the Independent is as close to zero as makes no difference.

    This doesn’t mean their analysis is wrong, but it shouldn’t be treated as a remotely influential newspaper. It isn’t.

    If any LibDem is taking “heart and motivation” from this editorial, they are tragically deluded and just don’t begin understand the way the media works in 2015.

    My great aunt Mildred saying “good luck, chuck”…at random….to anyone…is much better ground for” heart and motivation” than an editorial in the Independent.

  • Tony Dawson 14th Feb '15 - 1:21pm

    The readership of Mark Littlewood is as close to zero as makes no difference.

    This doesn’t mean his analysis is always wrong, but it shouldn’t be treated as a remotely influential. 🙂

  • Look, the next government tory or labour, majority or minority, is going to go galloping into the centre ground to maintain support and it’s hard to see how a party with a dramatically diminished number of seats can survive there. If I were the Conservatives or Labour, I’d be trying to tempt Lib Dem MPs into defecting into my ‘big tent’ post election.

    What do you offer to stop this happening?

  • Tony Dawson 14th Feb ’15 – 1:21pm
    “The readership of Mark Littlewood is as close to zero as makes no difference.”

    As a friend of Big Tobacco he has to keep recruiting new readers because 50% of them die from the addiction to cigarettes that he helps promote.

  • Mark Littlewood 14th Feb '15 - 1:45pm


    Playing the man, not the ball,

    Water off a duck’s back to me. Heard it all before.

    But how trivial, unnecessarily nasty and petty.

    If this a reflection of the typical approach and attitude of party activists (I hope/ suspect it isn’t!)…no wonder the party’s poll ratings are at 7% and falling fast. It’s amazing that about 1 in 12 voters still seem willing to vote LibDem in many ways….

  • For a duck, Mr Littlewood’s response above sounds a bit soggy.

  • The Tories cannot go to the centre ground without destroying themselves. They have two object-lessons: the first, the collapse of the Lib Dems after trying to occupy a centre-right position; second, the rise of UKIP. If anything, they will try to be even more right-wing.

    Labour are in a similar position, though the threats to their position are more varied: Greens on the left, nationalists, and even UKIP as well to some extent. However, they cannot solve their problem by being more centrist.

    The Lib Dems are not a threat to anybody. If the Lib Dems are courted this May, it will be due to accidents of electoral maths, and not because the Lib Dems have chosen an enviable position on which to stand. From any perspective, the centre ground occupied now by the Liberal Democrats is a shell-pitted no-man’s land.

  • Stephen Campbell 14th Feb '15 - 5:28pm

    @Mark Littlewood: “If this a reflection of the typical approach and attitude of party activists (I hope/ suspect it isn’t!)…no wonder the party’s poll ratings are at 7% and falling fast. It’s amazing that about 1 in 12 voters still seem willing to vote LibDem in many ways….”

    Or maybe, just maybe, your party is languishing at 7% in the polls because of right-wing entryists such as yourself who, much like Militant Labour in the 1980s, have hijacked a once proud and principled party and turned it into yet another right-wing Thatcherite party. The Tories, Labour and UKIP are all Thatcherite parties, so god knows why anyone would think there’s room for yet another one in British politics. And if you really want an extreme Libertarian party, there’s always UKIP.

    “But how trivial, unnecessarily nasty and petty.”

    Well, someone who is part of the death (tobacco) lobby would say that. Personally, I find someone who sticks up for Big Tobacco and their profits to be a bit petty as, in doing so, you trivialise all the deaths said “industry” has caused.

  • Helen Tedcastle 14th Feb '15 - 5:49pm

    I am in agreement with those comments on here which criticise the response of Mark Littlewood. Positioning ourselves on the right of British politics, already crowded with the Tory Party and UKIP, would be catastrophic. Both Jeremy Browne and Mark Littlewood are wrong. We have made some moves to differentiate ourselves from the Tories and quite right too.

    This party is instinctively at the left of centre. When we did occupy that ground under Kennedy, we were at our most successful and united. Let’s get back to our natural ground.

  • Thought the interview with the Independant editor yesterday on The Daily Politics was very good, feet firmly on the ground, talking realistically, no day dreaming about the General Election it will be bad but looking into the future better.
    That is it, we should start to recover in say 3 years but only if in opposition.

  • David Allen 15th Feb '15 - 1:02pm

    “Water off a duck’s back”.

    Clearly that is how all the rich tax dodgers and lobbyists would like to see this election. “Teflon Man” is a phrase used since Reagan’s time to describe an offender who gets away with it. Indeed, it is in a sense quite fair to mention SavileJ in the same breath. There seems to be something in the human psyche which can create a blind spot to repetitively appalling behaviour. It’s almost as if you can get disgraced by scandal if you are caught committing one serious crime – but if the news gets around that you have probably been getting away with serious crimes for years, then you will continue to get away with them. After all, if the serious crimes were really as serious as they look, surely someone else would have got them stopped by now, wouldn’t they?

    That’s how Cameron’s dodgers have survived. The black and white ball is Cameron’s boast that they have survived. In plain sight. Just like SavileJ, in fact.

    With the phone hackers, it was Milly Dowler who put an end to the Teflon. The hackers could hurt any number of politicians, actors and celebrities, but when they hurt the bereaved parents of a murdered teenager, public revulsion belatedly kicked in, and something (though not enough) did actually have to change.

    Cameron, with his acolytes within and beyond the Tory party, needs and deserves his Milly Dowler moment.

  • Mark
    The readership of the print edition of the Independent maybe falling but many read its website.
    Shanghai maybe a great city but it has few lessons to teach when it comes to British politics.

  • Chris Burden 15th Feb '15 - 10:49pm

    I thought the whole point of the Lib Dems is that we are NOT of the ‘Left/Right/Centre’?!
    Our policies and principles should perhaps dip down and touch, here and there, on the axis of the Conventional View of politics, but it isn’t what we are about. Is it? I didn’t join the LDs to be a mild Tory, an Insipid Labour supporter, a muddle in the middle.
    I joined to think the unthinkable, way off the Conventional View. Protect individual liberties but don’t stray into Individualism. The State is the Citizen’s Ally not a menace. A constitutional convention. Regional government. Accountable transport authorities so alternatives to the private car are so good, no one drives. Car clubs everywhere so that there is always a car when NEEDED but no incentive to drive otherwise and no hassle to insure and maintain one’s own vehicle . . . .

  • Jayne Mansfield 16th Feb '15 - 9:08am

    @ Chris Burden,
    Careful! You may have just provided the young bucks at Liberal democrat HQ with a new slogan:-

    Hey Diddle Diddle,
    We’re the muddle in the middle.

  • In the centre between the big parties? In the centre on what, for what?

  • “..The State is the Citizen’s Ally not a menace..”

    Well put, Chris Burden.

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