Lib Dems could try to out-flank Corbyn from the left? Are you having a laugh? Oh, and quit the anonymous briefings…

I am more than a little irritated by an article in the FT in which three of our eight MPs are quoted. They are all talking about the need for the Liberal Democrats to stick to that centre ground and not try to move to the left of Labour if they elect Jeremy Corbyn.

When on earth was that ever going to happen? How on earth could you outflank Corbyn from the left? He is an old fashioned socialist. He wants to nationalise everything, leave NATO, dispense with any sort of fiscal caution. To go any further left would involve Five Year Plans, hammers, sickles, a whole load of red and a Politburo. That’s not really our usual style, shall we say.  The notion that Tim Farron would actually try and do this is risible, yet we have three of our MPs and perhaps an un-named fourth constructing a straw-man.

One un-named MP is quoted thus:

My concern is that we have a real problem in competing for the same space. There is no way Tim can compete to the left of Labour if Jeremy Corbyn wins.

It’s hardly surprising that further dark utterances ascribed to a “Lib Dem parliamentarian” were given off the record:

Tim will need to recognise that poor turnout and 44 per cent support for Norman means he has no clear mandate to shift dramatically to the left.

Except nobody ever said that Tim had any plan to do so. In fact, his comments to Scottish members on Thursday were very clear about where he saw the Liberal Democrat space:

I am not a great fan of anonymous briefing of the press. It annoyed me on the few occasions when it happened during the Coalition years. Regrettably most of it seemed to come from inside the government. The thing is, there were 20 ministers to choose from and 57 MPs so a briefer had a bit of cover. This is simply not the case any more. Let’s look at our eight. It’s unlikely that Tim or the three MPs who supported him, John Pugh, Mark Williams and Greg Mulholland would have come out with this. Our un-named MP, and perhaps even our un-named “parliamentarian” comes from a fairly small “gang of four” comprising Brake, Carmichael, Clegg and Lamb. The habit of briefing may be  hard one to break, but there are fewer places to hide. Just don’t.

It would be good if our parliamentarians could stick with what actually is happening, not just make stuff up. There are way too few of us now. We have to make sure that our engagement with the media is constructive and actually advances our cause rather than undermines it. Anything less threatens that all important #libdemfightback.

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

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  • *applause*

  • Geoffrey payne 30th Aug '15 - 9:33am

    Those who make these comments should also clarify whether their alternative is more of the same. If it is more of the same they should then explain how they expect to improve on the 8% we got at the last general election. I mean are these guys serious about wanting power (to coin a familiar phrase)?

  • Simon McGrath 30th Aug '15 - 9:37am

    It would indeed be difficult to be more left wing than Corbyn and Tim’s piece in the Mail on Sunday last week was very encouraging as was his saying he does not want to go back to 50% top rate of income tax.

    The problem may be more about rhetoric than substance. What is worrying about him though is when he says thing like that he would have been on the anti austerity rally in June had it not been for the leadership election . It will do us no good for him to be seen with Brand , Lucas, Corbyn etc in their opposition to everything.

  • ……………He is an old fashioned socialist. He wants to nationalise everything, leave NATO, dispense with any sort of fiscal caution. To go any further left would involve Five Year Plans, hammers, sickles, a whole load of red and a Politburo…………

    Oh, dear!

  • Caroline Lucas is one of the very few politicians I respect and trust. It’s unfair to lump her with Russell Brand in my view,

  • ‘Parliamentarian’ rather than ‘MP’ probably refers to somebody in the Lords.
    And of course many of *them* have been good for unhelpful quotes, too, and still seem to be happy to oblige at the slightest provocation.

    (Your point stands in any case)

  • Liberal Neil 30th Aug '15 - 10:40am

    Your basic point is correct. Given that Tim has not said anything even remotely about tacking to the left of Corbyn, quotes implying he might do nothing other than raise unnecessary concern.

    I suspect Maria is right about the other ‘parliamentarian’.

    It is a shame that there are still so many senior figures who are a lot less disciplined than most of the members.

  • Shouldn’t Tim be more worrie d that there is someone that wants to make unattributable quotes about the centre ground? The worry that I have is that Tim prefers to keep `within his comfort zone`. The next election will be fought on the economy – there’s a reason why the Tories won Nuneaton – that is where the majority of people are BY DEFAULT.

    Time has to start becoming unpopular with some people in Liberator and SLF. We know he is terrified of being unpopular yet leaders have to strike out and challenge their base.

    He also needs someone in his team or at Parliament who directly conflicts with him from the other wing of the party. I was told at the election that Tim has `charisma` and `is what the party needs`. Well, I’m still waiting! Where are these tubthumping speeches that `move people from position A to position B`?

    I do hope that Tim didn’t win on a false prospectus.

  • Richard Stallard 30th Aug '15 - 10:43am

    It’s true that the LDs aren’t left of Corbyn when it comes to the things Caron mentions – NATO, unrestricted nationalisation, fiscal discipline etc.

    However, the wish to undermine British sovereignty by pandering to the EU’s every whim, the wish to overwhelm the nation with immigrants (with no regard to their employment suitability or criminal records), and the immediate championing every ‘right on’ green and minority bandwagon that happens along, is pretty well out there!

    In those areas, I have to say, the LDs presently come across as just the happy-flappy, jazz-hands, ‘let’s all have a disco’ side of the same coin.

  • If this is to be believed and is not a press story simply created to stir up trouble, then it just shows that the party establishment is still hurting and continues to be is as naieve and head in the sand as it was from 2012 to 2015.

  • What a daft article. It states:
    “In the aftermath, Tim Farron has replaced Nick Clegg as leader and has urged the party to return to the centre left to win back voters.” – no disagreement there, that’s where the Lib Dems have traditionally been.

    However then “But his colleagues are worried, telling the FT they think there is little mileage in moving on to territory suddenly occupied by Mr Corbyn.” is nonsense, Jeremy Corbyn is not occupying the centre left.

    it’s a pity that one MP and one ‘parliamentarian try to add credibility to this FT article.

  • Daniel Henry 30th Aug '15 - 11:00am

    James, how on earth do you go from “the economy is important” to “Tim must upset the SLF”?

    There seems to be a hidden assumption in there that you’ve won an economic argument that the rest of us aren’t aware of!

  • One thing that is perfectly clear is that the press are perfectly happy to carry on sticking the knife into the Lib Dems whenever they get the chance. We can’t stop them sticking the knife in, but we can stop giving them more chances. In this case the solution is perfectly easy. All it would take is to ask all our eight MPs to sign a letter to the FT stating that they did not brief any journalist on this matter. Of course anyone who refuses …

  • It’s a matter of being Liberal. not ridiculous and counter productive attempts to position the Lib Dems in some imagined middle ground which shifts anyway. The architects of the Orange Book have mostly failed to attract the electorate which is why they nearly all lost their seats. It’s not a matter of being left wing. or right wing or centrist. If you,for instance, believe that renewing trident is a waste of money, then this is because you’ve looked at it and think it costs more than it’s worth. Corbyn and Labour have nothing to do with it. I vote Lib Dem mostly based on policies and out of the belief that Liberal politics are generally progressive. Currently this characterises me as Left wing, but I see myself as a Liberal not as a Left Winger.

  • “…Five Year Plans, hammers, sickles, a whole load of red and a Politburo…………”

    I thought this sort of low-grade abuse of anyone to the left of Joe Otten had died with the death of Daily Express cartoonist “CUMMINGS”.

    (You have to be old enough to remember the 1960s and 1970s to know so am talking about).

    Hammers and sickles ???? For goodness sake!

  • Robert Eggleston 30th Aug '15 - 12:19pm

    I know it is how politics is classified but I do wish we could move on from the linear left, centre, right approach. Being a progressive Liberal isn’t classically centrist nor is it left of Labour and the sooner we can define our position in a different way the better in my very humble opinion

  • If one looks at the actual words ascribed in the FT article to the un-named MP, they are words that John Pugh, Mark Williams or Greg Mulholland might as easily have uttered as any of the four other MPs who Caron specifies. In fact, they would come most naturally from a MP who in the pre-Corbyn era might have liked our party to position itself to the left of Labour, but who now feels that to be too difficult. So, Caron, let us not demonise any of our MPs but move on.

  • This discussion doesn’t seem to be taking a very nuanced view of the situation. Before it appeared that Corbyn was going to win the party under Tim’s leadership was already beginning to appear more radical than Labour, for example by the parliamentary party’s vote on the Welfare Bill, and the fervently to be wished for change at conference to our absurd compromise on Trident. If Corbyn is elected then that differentiation between us and the Labour Party no longer exists and our job becomes that much harder, both because our position will be less distinctive, and because a lot of people who might in the years to come have been attracted to us will go to Labour instead. Of course, what happens after Corbyn is stabbed in the back is another matter.

  • I voted for Norman but I think Tim has done an excellent job in uniting the party and is putting forward a broad platform that provides space for a wide range of views. As others have alluded to, last week’s MoS article and his comments in Scotland show that Tim is leading a Liberal party and not vying to left or right.

    Joe Otten may well be correct about how the approach taken by the journalist in question (anyone who has worked with the media knows how easily this can be done), but at this stage I see no reason why anyone in our elite cadre of MPs or the Lords should not be giving Tim 100% backing on and off the record.

  • paul barker 30th Aug '15 - 1:28pm

    More applause from me. As an ex-Trot I would urge everyone to distinguish between how Corbyn campaigns & what he believes. Right now Corbyn is simply saying what his audience want to hear, he is playing Nice Cop & leaving intimidation to his followers.
    The argument between Left & Right in our Party has very little to do with the struggle within Labour, we are on a different planet to the Labour Left. Labour are either going to spend a lot of time & energy fighting each other to the death or they going to split. Either option open up new risks & opportunities for us.

  • suzanne fletcher 30th Aug '15 - 1:28pm

    If I were Tim I’d give any of his parliamentarians who brief anonymously to the press a huge pile of leaflets to deliver in a black hole and wave them off with a smile. any anon briefing that does have to be done (cannot think this minute why) should be properly through.
    I’m sure ways could be find to track down the culprits.

  • David Evans 30th Aug '15 - 2:00pm

    It really worries me when people like Joe Otten says ‘If the FT asked me “Do you think Tim will/should try to outflank Corbyn on the left?” or “Does Tim have a mandate to move the party to the left?”, I might give the same answers.’

    I would hope the thought “Why is he asking me this question?” would be the first thing that would occur to a seasoned campaigner like Joe. This would be closely followed by the response “I don’t think he is trying to. Do you?” and then moving on to other things. Don’t the party do Handling the Media training for prospective MPs anymore?

  • Tony Hill is right when he says:

    Before it appeared that Corbyn was going to win the party under Tim’s leadership was already beginning to appear more radical than Labour, for example by the parliamentary party’s vote on the Welfare Bill

    The perceived wisdom at the time is that Labour needed to look more realistic in terms of the economy and benefits, whereas we needed to mark out a distinct separation from the Toreis. In fact I think that Harman was marking out a oderate position to give her successor plenty of room to display some radicalism and also to provide the Tories with enough rope to make a mistake.

    It is clear from Tim Farron’s more recent statements that he is aiming to attract the attention of moderates on the left and gradually to defend the actions of Lib Dems in government. Whether this is in anticipation of a Corbyn win, I cannot say. I do not know what the context of the FT article is, but it would not even surprise me if the comments were sanctioned by Tim Farron. Publicity is helpful and it does not do any harm if Tim Farron is portrayed as reigning in a left leaning tendency.

    Nevertheless, unattributed briefings when we only have 8 MPs is not that clever and cannot be done that often.

  • One of the crosses we have to bear is that whenever we appear to be taking a radical/anti-establishment position some people insist on dumping us on a conventional left/right spectrum. An authoritarian/liberal spectrum can help and this was developed by Donald Wade MP half a century ago with “extreme left” and “extreme right” getting to the same place. He did it on a sort of oval! Personally I prefer a cartoon version of the The Three Legs of Man with conservative, socialist and liberal traditions radiating outwards with the feet representing extreme perversions (fascism, communism, anarchism!). Work out where New Labour (or Vague Labour) comes on that model if you can ….

  • There seems to be some conjuring ghosts when it comes to both Corbyn and Farron. Corbyn’s fiscal policy is not “one tick to the Right of Stalin” when Milton Friedman advocated an equivalent of People’s QE and his proposed top-rate of tax is lower than in living memory for many. Nationalising the rail is very popular and is a natural monopoly. Indeed, he’s been careful not to propose nationalising anything that isn’t. And he was right about austerity when Clegg, Alexander and co. were really, really wrong. The idea that Stalin is a mite left of Corbyn is both incredibly offensive (and below the dignity of an LDV writer) and seems like a political class point-scoring rather than someone being both generous of spirit and intellect and with any sense of history.

    And then there is the clarion call for thin gruel, centrism no matter where the centre is at any give time, and self-destructive “sensibleness”. To paraphrase another poster on here: “do some people not realise the last election happened?”

  • Also, considering the almost inevitable stabbing in the front that will befall Corbyn, positioning the party as the popular, and more sane on foreign policy, version of a liberal Labour Party that would work with Corbyn on the many issues where the two parties agree, the Lib Dems would stand to benefit considerably from the Labour fallout when he goes. Most of those Corbyn crowds could be lured over to the Lib Dems over the New Labour betrayal. Indeed, Corbyn could prove more Sergei Kirov than Stalin.

  • @Stevo “Most of those Corbyn crowds could be lured over to the Lib Dems over the New Labour betrayal. ”

    Why would we want to attract the sort of people who vote for Jeremy Corbyn?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 30th Aug '15 - 5:07pm

    @ Adrian: What a brilliant idea!

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Aug '15 - 5:47pm

    @ paul barker,

    ‘As an ex trot’

    What sort of welcome did you get from TCO and others who think like him? It seems that the Liberal Democrats can afford to be pretty choosy about the sort of people that the party attracts.

  • @Suzanne @Adrian @Caron

    There would also need to be long drives (perhaps with steps) with low letterboxes and firm bristles.

  • TCO- because we only have 8 MPs.

  • Simon Shaw- No, not because I say so. Look, I know some people still denying global warming, even those there is a scholarly consensus, but I thought basic economics would be more easily understood. I have proved somewhat naive on that front.

  • ATF,

    I had to go to hospital to have stitches after being bitten by a letterbox once… The only person who was amused was my daughter who was unhappy to be dragged out leafletting…

  • suzanne fletcher 30th Aug '15 - 8:21pm

    @AndrewMcC all you have to do to avoid my proposed punishment is that when you are a Lord or MP (or work in “senior position” for one – don’t brief anonymously 🙂

  • I’m I too simple? The Lib Dem need to follow Liberal principles? Oh …shock horror…….. sometimes our policies will be similar to others …….. Labour, Greens even Tories…………even Ukip ! How we get there and why should be from our Liberal principles. Tim has made a great start and is right that we should pick issues where we stand apart from others where we can. Finding an issue that only Liberals stand can be tricky in a crowed field, but building a profile of our responses can draw together people who are basically liberal ………. that 20 % identified by some already.

  • Simon Shaw
    I think there is a consensus among most generally Keynesian and left-leaning economists that austerity doesn’t “work” in terms of deficit reduction. It is also written on the centre left that Osborne changed his strategy (in an unadvertised way) when it was realised that the 2010 / 11 version of “austerity” wasn’t giving the results he desired.

    When people say “left of…. (fill in the blank)” they have to define what sort of left they mean. I have no doubt there are ways that many Lib Dems are to the left of Corbyn, but that does not mean they are communists (card carrying or otherwise). There has been so much ideology written on “the left” over the years, reflecting various traditions – communist, socialist, liberal, green, anarchist etc etc. It just seems that over the last 20 years or so we have been scared rigid of defining ourselves in any way as “left” (the Berlin Wall effect again?)

    The useful thing about Corbyn’s strong performance is it will most likely have the effect of dragging the overall pitch of UK politics more to the left. It is clear that his politics is attractive to many. Some people may not have noticed, but we all seem to have drifted inexorably to the right over the last 30 years. We badly need a balancing movement to the left, or we shall lose all the gains for ordinary people made in the 20th Century, in addition to being unable to combat climate change, and having nowhere to go without increasing conflict as the century wears on.

  • AndrewMcC

    Haha! Ending up in A&E certainly shows a dedication to the cause.

  • Suzanne,

    Fortunately for everyone my chances of being a Lord or an MP are vanishingly small! But I will keep your advice in mind just in case!

    I was just wondering if this leaflet delivering wasteland is our version of the Gulag? Will the offending “Parliamentarian” be forced to confess his or her sins in an elaborate show trial before being sent off to their punishment?

  • Richard Underhill 30th Aug '15 - 10:44pm

    “Lib Dem parliamentarian” might be a peer, if at Westminster.

  • Jane Ann Liston 30th Aug '15 - 10:52pm

    I was bitten by a silent dog lurking behind a letterbox through which I was delivering a Focus, so also had to go to A&E. That was about a year before I was deselected, so I’m afraid battle-scars received in the course of action count for naught in St Andrews!

  • I don’t get this thing for comparing Corbyn to Stalin. Stalin was a mass murderer responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people in a one party totalitarian state. Corbyn is a pensioner in a jumper and has no plans for gulags or suspending democracy. He’s actually more like one of those earnest northern European Leftists talking about communal heating systems.

  • David Wallace:

    I suppose that if Corbyn put forward a credible plan that would outline how it could all be paid for and how universities would maintain their independence, then Lib Dems could go along with Corbyn’s policy on student fees. I would expect the important point for Lib Dems to be that students should not have to pay anything up front to study at university and that poorer graduates are not saddled with a debt that they have to repay. Nonetheless you are right that tuition fees are an unresolved issue for Lib Dems. However if Corbyn adopts all his spending plans it will result in a dismal own goal in that he would be continually hounded in the media for the massive apparent hole in his budgeting.

    All this is a big IF. However, if Corbyn is elected, I think it would be foolish for the Lib Dem leadership to assume that he would still be leader in 2020, they should plan on the likelihood of a Labour about turn sometime after an EU referendum. Your assumption seems to be based on a premiss that Corbyn’s politics are more a Liberal than anything else, but I very much doubt this, but in-fighting within Labour will clarify just how liberal or illiberal he is.

    You may be right to imply that a Corbyn Labour leadership might cause Tim Farron to stick to the distinctly moderate position that failed us in 2015 and it is up to him and the leadership to make this position more identifiably Liberal. There are a large number of constituencies where Labour has no traction at all and where a Corbyn leadership would only make Labour yet more irrelevant. It is in these regions where a revival in Liberal Democrat fortunes can prosper first. The bigger problem for Liberal Democrats is the message that a vote for Lib Dems might lead to a coalition with Corbyn and SNP. The SNP bogeyman proved effective in 2015 , adding in Corbyn would only augment this factor.

  • David Wallace 30th Aug ’15 – 11:50pm …

    Please don’t confuse the issue with rational ideas. It’s far easier to write…….. ‘He wants to nationalise everything, leave NATO, dispense with any sort of fiscal caution. To go any further left would involve Five Year Plans, hammers, sickles, a whole load of red and a Politburo…than to see that most of what Corbyn says is a lot closer to what we used to believe than ‘Hammers and Sickles’…..
    Sadly, I don’t really know where we, as a party, stand on most major issues…Trident, Education, etc.

  • Katerina Porter 31st Aug '15 - 9:08am

    What is so scary about 50% tax? During the 30 years after the war of unprecedented growth in prosperity and wellbeing for the majority by the creation of welfare states in the Western world income taxes were very high – the marginal rate for most of that time in the US it was 90%, and higher with us. It was 60% for most of the time under Mrs Thatcher.
    The policies of austerity , including cuts in public spending have been declared as mistaken from the beginning by Nobel economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman amongst others, and this has given us apparently the slowest and incomplete recovery from recession since the war.

  • Neil Sandison 31st Aug '15 - 10:11am

    The real problem of the broad left is that it is stuck in a time warp of 1970s solutions to 21st century issues.
    income tax isn’t the problem although some adjustment is needed in the tax bands to stop the edge of cliff scenario as you move between bands. The problem is wealth for the few to the detriment of the many so realistic wealth taxes for example introducing new council tax bands regionally based is a practical solution .Yes the mansion tax can still work if delivered in a viable format. Higher rates of VAT on luxary goods or environmentally damaging products ,reducing VAT on staple items to make them more affordable is another option .I agree with Andy Burnham that social care with an aging population will have to be paid for and you just cant rely on the relatives of the elderly person to stump up all the bill.So the balance needs to be struck between social justice and fair taxation .Sadly on the left that can just boil down to vindictive and punitive taxation that doesn’t sit well in fair minded Great Britain.

  • During the leadership election we started hearing a few people talking repeatedly about the danger of the “comfort zone”. They’ve yet to explain what this rather nasty little term means. Is it wrong to concentrate on messages you believe in? Perhaps it means not recognising that hard choices have to be made? Like not being willing to lose the chance of getting the votes of people who are scared of immigrants, say? Yes, leaders and all people involved in politics have to make hard choices – rather more and faster, generally, if they’re in power. But we saw over the last five years how concentrating on awkward issue after awkward issue without a clear political compass could lead to confusing people about what, basically, you stood for. I fear some people are scared of that question and characterise rediscovering a Liberal heart as “comfort zone”.

  • Katerina is right in her point about income tax rates. Monitoring how they have moved over time is a good proxy to measure of how far the political spectrum has moved to the right since the end of the Second World War.

  • Keith Browning 31st Aug '15 - 10:43am

    I think you will find Corbyn is a recreation of the social liberalism epitomised by George Lansbury, from the 1880s till 1935. A pacifist who believed in equal rights for all, and was a major factor in extending the franchise. it was popular formula then and proving the same today.

  • Let’s start with the bleeding obvious. In 2005 Charles Kennedy successfully outflanked Labour from the left, talked about Britain’s “two old conservative parties”, opposed the Iraq war, and picked up support. Will that be possible against Corbyn’s Labour? Of course not, don’t be silly, why is anyone even trying to suggest it?

    Perhaps because it distracts attention from the real choice. Not helpful.

    Corbyn will seek a political honeymoon, and may get one, if he can effectively lay into the Tories and thereby unite his party behind him. The Tories may prefer to keep stumm until 2020 and then calmly pull Corbynism to bits. If Corbyn is smart, he won’t let them do that. He will attack them in ways which force them to answer back, and then we’ll see a nice two-party dogfight. Will we just be ignored spectators?

    Some will be tempted to join with the Tories in criticising Corbyn. That’s a great way for us to make ourselves look invisible and indistinguishable from the Tories, if that’s all we do, or if it’s most of what we do.

    What will be much more constructive and productive will be to welcome many of Corbyn’s ideas, while pointing out the need for caution. The answer to a lot of Corbyn’s big spending plans could be to put a think tank onto the job of costing them and then declaring which we think are affordable and which are not. We could get to 2020 arguing that Corbyn can only be trusted in government if a Lib Dem coalition is there to safeguard financial probity. All along the way, we’ll also be putting forward ideas that look different from both Tory and Labour, and those will therefore get some reasonable Press publicity – which we desperately need to get.

  • Peter Watson 31st Aug '15 - 10:59am

    @David Evans “Monitoring how they have moved over time is a good proxy to measure of how far the political spectrum has moved to the right since the end of the Second World War.”
    I wonder if it is less about moving from left to right and more about moving from community to self or selflessness to selfishness.

    It sometimes seems that more than ever, voters want policies that directly benefit themselves rather than things that are for the greater good, and regardless of principle or left-right positioning. Immigration is supported insofar as it provides cheap or scarce labour, opposed by those who see their own jobs at risk or when it is purely philanthropic. Increased public spending on pensions, the NHS and education is supported by those who believe they will get their money back (and then some). Voters want more affordable housing but only in somebody else’s backyard so their own house values are not reduced. Rules that restrict other people are vital, rules for themselves are illiberal and unnecessary. Benefits they receive are justified, while others who receive benefits are scroungers.

    It all seems a bit depressing.

  • Oh ,please don’t be depressed Peter! Of course some people are the way you describe but for others altruism is a smouldering fire just waiting to be lit by a politician bold enough to show them the way. This may be Corbyn or it may be Tim or perhaps both of them are needed to reverse the years of the Thatcherite consensus. Personally I think that Corbyn is looking backwards and Carol made me laugh by the witty way she described this. Some commentators here can be a tiny bit dour.
    A new politics is needed and this party can provide it with optimism and confidence if given half a chance and I think Tim will give us much more than that. Our policies must derive from our liberalism (and I speak as an ex SDP member) we do not need the failed experiment of socialism to provide us with a reason for supporting those who are in need of help. Left and right are so passé. Let’s have some excitement about a new politics for a new era. We have nothing to lose.

  • After so much Corbyn angst my brain can only go back to letter boxes. In the ward I represent, on the four former council estates the dogs are worse than the letter boxes. Amongst the owner occupiers the reverse applies. My advice is get the free device from Royal Mail (available at Conference) or use a tight fitting, thinnish pair of gardening gloves – in all weathers. People will give you funny looks and ask why – but then in my book no delivery is valid if you haven’t spoken to somebody about something.

  • @Peter Watson
    “I wonder if it is less about moving from left to right and more about moving from community to self or selflessness to selfishness.”

    Totally agreed – The breakdown of communities since the second world war, with all that means in terms of local support, breakdown of family structures and neighbours looking out for and looking after each other, has I belief caused a paradigm shift in attitude.
    The resulting perceived ‘selfishness’ I believe has come about due to the need to ‘survive’ both psychologically in a country of increased personal and social isolation, unaffordable housing, both parents having to work to maintain lifestyles (whole different debate), latch key kids, increased drug abuse, alcoholism, lack of parental support, reduced regard for the privilege of free education as a potential ladder/equaliser, etc etc

    Maybe we need a simple strapline along the idea of “Fairer and Stronger Communities” in order to differentiate ourselves from the other 2 parties and be seen to be trying to repair much of the damage to communities which has led to much of the selfishness we now see.

    I suspect much of Corbyn’s support comes from people who simply see him (rightly or wrongly) to be caring about them!
    Pyschologically, I have a dream, I care about you and what happens to you, I believe we can make a difference, all of us etc, is a very powerful message especially given the paradigm shifts of the last 30 years particularly.

  • @ Jedibeeftrix

    “Morally wrong”? Is it morally right to pay bankers 400 times more than the minimum wage? (or only 200 times more with your “immoral” marginal tax rate, in the extremely unlikely case that such people pay anything like that rate).

    It always amazes me how people with huge incomes, big houses, multiple top rank cars, all kids in private schools etc etc can still find the time to whinge about tax rates!! Do they not look in the mirror and realise “actually I am quite ok and could easily pay more”? It is no coincidence that the better off people get the smaller the proportion of their income they give to charity

    It is greed, nothing more, nothing less…

    The amount we pay the richest in society is so far beyond any reasonable requirement for life. THAT is what is morally wrong! I realise you will make some pragmatic argument about overtaxing the rich and they will go elsewhere, or even the ridiculous one that we need to pay bankers £5million per year or the banks will fail and have to be bailed out by the tax payer (Ha! Ha! Ha! How exactly was THAT moral??). But we should not ignore the extent to which the gap between rich and poor erodes the fabric of society….

  • But yes, I would tax wealth more than income. Inheritance tax, capital gains tax, taxes on speculative trading, land value, mansion tax, share options etc

  • Except that pragmatically, wealth taxes seem to be hard to collect…

  • I have had a genuine request for an explanation of what “Hammers and sickles” is all about. People who are under the age of 35 mostly have no recollection of the flag of the Soviet Union. So it was a reasonable question.

    The Russian flag replaced the previous red flag with a small yellow hammer and sickle in the top left corner a generation ago.
    No country now has a flag with either a hammer or a sickle. The Angolan flag might bring back memories for those suffering from flag nostalgia.
    So the reference to “Hammer and sickle” is presumeably aimed at people who are 40 or over and remember what it was like to pretend that the Labour Party were only one step away from imposing direct rule from Moskow. If you are over 100 years ol you might remember the Zinoviev Letter, it is the same sort of mentality. Interesting how it has returned to UK political discourse recently.

    Anyone wanting to know more should watch an episodic Dr Sheldon Cooper’s ‘Fun with Flags’ which is broadcast live from The California Institute of Technology.

  • I think the bigger question around the “fruits of ones labour” tax argument is are they really the fruits of ones labour in the first place or are they rather the fruits of lots of people’s labour. If you are not passing on enough of your profits to pay your workforce properly then you are depriving them of the fruits of their labour and for that matter exactly what labour is involved in inherited wealth. High earnings are not indicative of hard work, but of exclusivity and often the exploitation of low earners.

  • David,
    The point about Corbyn is that it does not really matter that his actual policies are mostly the same as many policies we would like… The Tory press will brand him as a dangerous Marxist who supports terrorists who attack Britain. Hence he will find it very hard to get beyond the 30% Labour core vote. Even when our policies were actually to the left of Labour during the Blair years most people still thought we were to the right of them. We have a very different approach to government to Labour, and to be honest it is on things like women-only shortlists where we should be careful to stay different from their top-down approach, (just as I was very disappointed to see us behave just like the Tories with our cash for honours when it came to the dissolution honours).

    In my view we should position ourselves like we have for most of the last 50 years, as a left of centre party, more pragmatic and less authoritarian than the Labour party, less enslaved by “political correctness” but fundamentally opposed to the Tories. And prepared to fight Labour in their one-party states…. It is very true that coalition has damaged this position considerably and we should not aspire to regain our previous vote share of 20% + in this parliament. But we can make some big strides in that direction if we are consistent from now on.

    For now I think we need to focus our energies on local government. That will ensure we do not go away. And the local by-election results since May show very clearly that not only are people across the political spectrum still prepared to vote for us, but that the “2 horse race” is very far from dead. Our vote is actually up by about 4% on average in those elections since the last time they were fought (see ). I expect that to get better…

    Here is an example:

    Grove, Kingston (2015 by; 2014)

    LD 59.9% (+27.8; +26.4)
    Con 26.1% (-5.7; -4.8)
    Lab 8.5% (-8.3; -14.0)
    Grn 3.3% (-5.7; -9.7)
    UKIP 2.2% (-2.5; +2.2)

    Read more:

  • Andrew McC:

    Wise words, with some realistic positivism thrown in.

  • John,

    The hammer and sickle is designed to show that not only is Corbyn basically Stalin re-incarnated, but ridiculously old-fashioned to boot…

    I am just waiting for him to be called a “surrender monkey” (possibly cheese-eating)

  • AndrewMcC 31st Aug ’15 – 1:20pm……………… The point about Corbyn is that it does not really matter that his actual policies are mostly the same as many policies we would like… The Tory press will brand him as a dangerous Marxist who supports terrorists who attack Britain….

    Not just the Tory press; on here he’s usually portrayed as a ‘tick’ away from the Politburo…

  • Simon Hebditch 31st Aug '15 - 2:21pm

    It is certainly true that trying to find a more left wing position than Jeremy Corbyn is a silly notion. But there is still a need to work with others to build opposition to the Tories and their future programmes. We have five years of opposition and even if we do well in 2020 we will only grow in the Commons to say 20 seats! We need to rebuild credibility with both the electorate and activists and to concentrate on opposition outside the Westminster bubble. We will, therefore, have to create alliances with the Greens, Labour, the SNP and a range of extra parliamentary campaigning organisations.

  • “Anyone wanting to know more should watch an episodic Dr Sheldon Cooper’s ‘Fun with Flags’ which is broadcast live from The California Institute of Technology.”

    Love it! And love Dr Sheldon Cooper 🙂

  • Matthew Huntbach 31st Aug '15 - 3:00pm

    It depends what you mean by “left”. If one sees the left-right spectrum primarily as about wanting to change things v. wanting to keep things the same, then on constitutional reform we surely ARE to the left of Corbyn.

    And since when did paying for things by state borrowing large amounts of money (which seems to be at the centre of what Corbyn wants) become the hallmark of “left”? Surely a true leftist would just want to take the money straight from the rich.

  • Matthew Huntbach 31st Aug '15 - 3:04pm

    Caron Lindsay

    He wants to nationalise everything


  • Matthew,

    Unfortunately the right want to change things as well….

  • David Allen 31st Aug '15 - 3:22pm

    Andrew McC, I’m not sure if I’m the “David” you are responding to, but I don’t think my position (that we should be prepared to offer qualified support for Corbyn, alongside caution / criticism as and when he oversteps what is feasible or reasonable) is a milion miles away from yours.

    You want us to be “left of centre” and “fundamentally different from the Tories”, as well as “being prepared to fight Labour”. (And so do I.) But we have a mountain to climb before we can re-establish ourselves as “fundamentally different from the Tories”. Apart from tokenistic protestations, we have scarcely challenged the Tories about anything for five years. We still seem worryingly unwilling to do so now Coalition has ended. Opposition to the Welfare Bill might have been seen as one bright spot, had not the DUP demonstrated how non-radical that stance really was, by adopting it too! If we want to be “fundamentally different from the Tories”, we won’t manage that if we echo every slur the Tory Press throws at Corbyn.

  • @ Simon Hebditch

    And local government! Don’t forget that! I will be relieved if we still have 8 MPs in 2020, given the potentially devastating effects of the boundary changes (I think there is still a lot of complacency about this…. for example I read there was a town council by-election in Ilkley last week, which we did not fight… if the 2013 proposals are adopted, Ilkley will be part of one of two seats that will emerge from the wreckage of Leeds NW. Sheffield Hallam will be similarly carved up, with our best ward removed and a Barnsley ward where we have not put up a candidate in living memory added!).

    However I will be disappointed if we do not have a lot more local councillors by 2020….

  • Graham Evans 31st Aug '15 - 3:34pm

    @Simon Hebditch Coalition building needs parties willing to co-operate, but it’s not obvious to me at the present time why the Greena, Labour or the SNP would wish to co-operate with us. Most Labour politicians still perceive us as the enemy, useful for stealing some Tory votes which Labour could never win, but otherwise either despised or seem as irrelevant in the big two party struggle. It was only under the leadership of Blair and Ashdown in 1997 that the two parties seemed to share a common interest in ousting the Tories. The SNP are now so much in the ascendency in Scotland that they do not need to build alliances with anyone. Indeed Gordon Brown is right is suggesting that English nationalism fermented by Cameron is driving Scotland towards breaking with the Union. (The only way I can see the SNP co-operating with LDs is if the Scottish LDs were to follow the example of the Scottish Green and support Independence) As for the Greens, I am sure that many of them would be happy to form an alliance with Labour under Corbyn, but as was demonstrated in Brighton, they themselves are split between the melons and the mangoes, and it was only Caroline Lucas’s undoubted charisma and abilities (notwithstanding her strongly socialist political attitudes) which held the party together. It took several elections defeats for Labour to turn to a leader like Blair who was able appeal to voters across a wide political spectrum, but who also recognised that a broad coalition of anti-Tory parties was in everyone’s interests. Whether ten years in opposition for Labour will be enough for them to again recognise that co-operation with other parties is also in their own interests is still be be seen.

  • expats;
    yes, I notice that many Lib Dem tweeters including Tim Farron have had a go at Corbyn for daring to suggest that extra-judicial murder is not the best way for a democracy to deal with its enemies, however heinous. Only to find that Paddy Ashdown embarrassingly said much the same thing….Now they are saying that what Paddy said is “completely different” because he did not describe it as a “tragedy”

    Well having read what people actually said I have to say that this is an occasion where Paddy got it right and Tim has got it wrong…. Corbyn did not say that the death of Bin-Laden was a tragedy, but the means by which it was accomplished. He never expressed any support for Bin-Laden.

  • Graham,
    The Scottish Liberal Democrats would display common sense if they at least became agnostic on Scottish independence. Then some of the Liberal-minded voters who left for the SNP might return.. However I fear that most non-Unionists left the Scottish party, and the remainder nailed their colours too firmly to the mast in the referendum campaign

    Our constitution says “We believe that sovereignty rests with the people and that authority in a democracy derives from the people. We therefore acknowledge their right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and commit ourselves to the promotion of a democratic federal framework within which as much power as feasible is exercised by the nations and regions of the United Kingdom.”

    So we favour federalism, but if people want independence, that is their right and they should not be criticised for it. In fact to me it seems that “as much power as feasible” could well mean independence…

  • David Allen 31st Aug '15 - 4:10pm

    Graham Evans, “Coalition building needs parties willing to co-operate, but it’s not obvious to me at the present time why the Greens, Labour or the SNP would wish to co-operate with us.”

    Well, you put a number of reasonable arguments in favour of that statement, but, does that mean the Lib Dems should remain joined at the hip to their erstwhile Coalition partners? I sincerely hope not!

    Labour, whether under Corbyn or indeed under Cooperburnham, will enthuse a 30% core vote and alienate (Corbyn) or bore rigid (Cooperburnham) the remaining 70%. They will come to recognise that allies are crucial. Miliband believed in a 35% strategy, and I don’t think Labour are likely to make the same mistake again.

    They will look at our 8 MPs, and wonder whether we are worth the time of day. But if we persist in giving a running commentary on Corbynism, and on what we could support and what we would make sure did not happen in a coalition government, then we shall gradually rise in the polls, because we shall have given people concrete reasons for voting for us. As we rise in the polls, Labour will begin to realise that they do need us.

  • Peter Chambers 31st Aug '15 - 4:21pm

    @Geoff Reid

    If you wish a more modern model that tracks authoritarianism as well as an economic ‘right/left’ axis,
    try the Political Compass site. They have a view on how UK parties appeared in 2010 and 2015.

    The 2010 page has an interesting diagram lower down tracking party appearance over time. The 2015 page asserts – ‘the Lib Dems are now widely — and correctly — viewed as a party of few fixed principles, and their vote this time may haemorrhage more to the Greens than to Labour’. Well, that needs fixing.

    You can take their quiz for a bit of fun. Mine said I would fit right in with the Kennedy-era Liberal Democrats, which seems plausible. You could try the quiz while imagining you are anyone you like.

    A single point leaps out from the 2015 graph is that the large party positions – if that is what they modelled – are in the authoritarian right quadrant, with the exception of the SNP who are just in the authoritarian left quadrant.

    Your mileage may vary.

  • Jedi

    I was not making any assumptions about your income, just responding to the idea that tax is “immoral”. Sorry if I implied otherwise.

    I am a higher rate tax payer (although not by much). I notice my take home pay, and it is enough for me, even though being in the public sector it has fallen dramatically in real terms since 2008. My marginal rate is just 10% higher than yours, given the reduction in National Insurance by 10%.

    The reality is (according to some!) that when all taxes are taken into account the poor pay a higher proportion of their income in tax than the rich A household in the top 10% actually only pays 35% of its total income in tax, compared with 45% in the bottom 10%. Much of this is because of council tax… also no doubt because of the very high tax rates on some things consumed more or less equally by rich and poor, like alcohol and petrol.

    Of course the top 10% are not all very rich . It is not very clear exactly what the top 10% in the equality trust survey means but it probably includes households with <£100k per year. I doubt if the top 1% are paying more tax that those on £100k however…

  • John Tilley 31st Aug '15 - 4:41pm

    Phyllis 31st Aug ’15 – 2:57pm
    “Love it! And love Dr Sheldon Cooper ”

    Oh I am pleased that somebody got the joke. I was worried that the learned readers of LDV might not understand.
    Sheldon Cooper is one of the most imaginative characters of the early 21st Century and his Texan born-again Christian mother is also fantastic.

  • AndrewMcC ….

    Agreed! What Corbyn actually said was, …..“no attempt whatsoever that I can see to arrest him and put him on trial, to go through that process”. He went on: “This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy.
    “The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died. Torture has come back on to the world stage, been canonised virtually into law by Guantánamo and Bagram.
    “Can’t we learn some lessons from this? Are we just going to sink deeper and deeper?”

    Somehow that has been twisted into “Corbyn the terrorist apologist”

  • Peter,

    I have taken that test twice (a few years apart) and both times I came out almost coincident with Gandhi! In what seemed quite a lonely quadrant! It did not seem very hard to get there though, if you don’t trust Big Business to look after you…

    Gandhi plots pretty much where the Greens are on the charts you link BTW, but the political compass people have evidently not read the Green manifesto or they would have them very much in the authoritarian half! They changed a lot between 2010 and 2015, and are a good deal more authoritarian than us….

    I find the fact that the Political Compass has us drifting not only to the right but more authoritarian over the years pretty depressing, to be honest, although I think that is largely because of the political prejudices of the people who run the site

  • Trying to position or align the party on the moderate Left or the Right can only produce the same dismal results we have experienced since the coalition. We live in a liberal age that combines the social liberal views of the Left (secular, internationalist, concerned about the environment, relaxed about lifestyle choices and family structures) and the classical liberal views of the Right (in favour of balanced budgets, low taxation, conditional welfare, personal responsibility, individual choice and entrepreneurship) without seeing any contradiction between the two.

    Today’s youth are on the whole better educated and more technologically adept then the post-war generation.Neither the conservatism of the Tory party or the collectivism of the Labour party can meet their needs and aspirations.. This generation are instinctive liberals. They just need a liberal party that clearly and consistently espouses what they instinctively believe to be the right path to vote for.

  • @JoeBourke “Today’s youth are on the whole better educated and more technologically adept then the post-war generation.Neither the conservatism of the Tory party or the collectivism of the Labour party can meet their needs and aspirations.”

    The young are the key eh?

    Well, around 50% of young voters did used to vote Lib Dem meaning the Lib Dems used to be as popular among the young as the SNP are in Scotland. But then look what the party did with that. So, how do you plan on winning them back when Corbyn is offering free education and is serious about dealing with the housing crisis? A victory for Jeremy Corbyn could be the final nail for the Lib Dems.

  • David Allen 31st Aug '15 - 5:38pm

    Joe Bourke,

    “We live in a liberal age that combines the social liberal views of the Left (secular, internationalist, concerned about the environment, relaxed about lifestyle choices and family structures) and the classical liberal views of the Right (in favour of balanced budgets, low taxation, conditional welfare, personal responsibility, individual choice and entrepreneurship) without seeing any contradiction between the two.”

    It sounds like we have achieved Utopia! However, the planet is going remoreselessly down the pan, the incidence of warfare is increasing, displaced refugees and migrants are posing insoluble problems, youth unemployment is rife in many parts of the world, and social inequality is increasing inexorably. Does “This generation … just need a liberal party that clearly and consistently espouses what they instinctively believe to be the right path”? Or is this generation just floundering, and grasping for hope wherever they think they might find it – Corbyn, Sturgeon, Brand, maybe even Farage? Because, at least Corbyn, Sturgeon and all are clear on one thing – that we have very much not achieved Utopia!

  • Helen Tedcastle 31st Aug '15 - 5:44pm

    Joe Bourke

    ‘ This generation are instinctive liberals. They just need a liberal party that clearly and consistently espouses what they instinctively believe to be the right path to vote for.

    Not sure I would agree. This generation – at least from my experience – seem rather libertarian-consumerist/individualist-right, rather than Liberal.

    Also, I agree with other on here that have attacked the left-right binary assumptions of the article, We’re way past that in British politics these days.

  • Peter Chambers 31st Aug '15 - 6:28pm


    Your point about Green authoritarianism is well taken. Taking the political compass at face value the UK Greens should be on the economic Left, as planners (of a smaller economy). Tactically the Greens should shape their PR to appeal to localist, grass roots, liberal people – who they could peel off from the Liberal Democrats and Labour. However Green thought is quite wide, from Deep Greens to weekend re-cyclers. There can be quite doctrinaire elements in there. For instance your right of free movement might be frowned on. Arming bears might be a no-no.

    This is why I said that the site probably entered data based on the presentation of the parties around each GE.
    That would be so much easier than researching a manifesto and working out a policy position. For instance the BNP should appear more economic Left according to the site’s own theory.

    The 2-axis thing is just another model. Remember “all models are wrong but some are useful”.

  • jedibeeftrix 31st Aug '15 - 6:39pm

    @ AndrewMcC – “The reality is (according to some!) that when all taxes are taken into account the poor pay a higher proportion of their income in tax than the rich A household in the top 10% actually only pays 35% of its total income in tax, compared with 45% in the bottom 10%.”

    Then again, to tell this story only through the medium of taxation is to miss half the tale, the ONS was quite clear that when the effects of [both] taxation [and] benefits are taken into consideration all quintiles of the income scale lose roughly 1/3 of that income to the exchequer. This I am content with (if not the labyrinthine complexity of Gordon’s rats nest of benefits).

    More generally – I am not a lib-dem, merely an interested bystander.

  • Katerina Porter 31st Aug '15 - 6:45pm

    Governments need revenue therefor tax has to be raised. Some people say their children are privately educated so why should they contribute to state education but everyone benefits from a better educated public .The authors of the Spirit Level which used UN statistics found that the more equal the society the greater life expectancy at all levels. According to a Demos report of last summer the benefit of public investment is simply not taken into account in calculating GDP. For instance in the US $185 billion per annum is spent on surface transport with a public benefit of $800 billion, but that is not recognised as a public benefit. The first 20 years after the US Clean Air Act came into force it cost $500 billion in compliance but the benefit, health for instance, was $22 trillion. We need the military but if the Foreign Office does not have the personnel (and it has had a 30% cut already ) we will not so well avoid a war. A French Treasury official advised a British colleague against VAT before it came in in 1973 as a bad tax which the French only used because at that time income tax was difficult to collect in France. We did have purchase tax on luxury goods. And as for National Insurance costs that rich people have, so does anyone in work where they are nowhere near income tax levels. Some European countries have high rates of tax but say that for what they get it is worth it.

  • @ David Allen

    No, it was David Wallace I was replying to when he said “no hope for the Lib Dems if Corbyn wins”. I agree with you that we should avoid joining in the general demonisation of Corbyn and instead respond to what he actually says and does like intelligent people…

    My comment was just that Corbyn WILL get demonised and many people will believe that. Some of them might vote for us.

    I agree with you as well that hard times may well lie ahead…

  • David Allen,

    A rough translation of the Greek phrase Utopia has the meaning – ‘no such place’.

    The English colony of Georgia was planned as a utopian society, in the eighteenth century, with an integrated physical, economic, and social design. It was conceived as a safe haven for Debtors where there would be no slavery or consumption of alcohol. At the heart of the plan for Georgia was a concept of “agrarian equality” in which land was allocated equally and additional land acquisition through purchase or inheritance was prohibited;

    There ideals were short-lived. Within two decades of its founding, Georgia had become much like the rest of the American South. Slavery, liquor, and land acquisition were introduced and the indigenous native American Indians drive off their lands.

    We may not think of the UK today as a Utopia., but for all our those refugees, migrants and unemployed youth overseas you speak of, it still offers a whole lot better prospects then what they have now.

    The Liberal Democrats don’t need to indulge in utopian socialism – even Karl Mark dismissed the idea of an economy where there is no inflation, and perfect social and financial equality. I think what is needed is the pragmatism required to cope with the major challenges of the 21st century – climate change, globalisation, extremes of poverty/inequality and international terrorism.

  • Caron : “He wants to nationalise everything”. Please let’s stick to the facts.

    He wants to nationalise the railways – as do 68% of the electorate according to NOP (including the majority of Lib Dems) – and also the big six utility companies. That’s it.

    By all means criticise him but don’t be an echo to the Daily Mail, the Express and the Murdoch press.

  • Just on the extremely rare off-chance that the ‘un-named parliamentarian’ is reading this, I would just ask the question: If a reporter from the FT is talking to you and asking you questions, do you think they are motivated by a desire to help the Liberal Democrats? Please – Ask yourself that question every time you are talking to any journalist.

  • David Wallace, the Party has no clear or credible policy on HE funding any more so I suspect that your option 3 describes what is currently happening to the Lib Dems.

    “C) Say nothing, have no message and slowly slip into total irrelevance.”

  • David Allen 1st Sep '15 - 12:30am

    Hi Joe, I am torn between conflicting impulses – to applaud your stylish academic overview, or to slag it off as an elegant diversion. Could I go 50/50 on that, please?

    You acknowledge the need for pragmatism. I would add emergency planning, urgency, recognition that our planet is in danger, recognition that we need the kind of radical rethinking which people like Corbyn are struggling toward but have not yet truly reached.

    Liberal principles help, don’t get me wrong: for example, they rightly tell us that although we need radical action, we won’t get a good result by espousing a millenarian ideology. However, liberalism has to mean more than armchair philosophising alone. That’s why I advocate engaging critically with Corbynism, not just knocking it a la Osborne, and not just acting as if it will go away if we act superior and avert our gaze.

  • Well, Farron has just lost any chance of me voting Lib Dem in 2020. His disgraceful attack on Corbyn for his defence of the rule of law is a red line that has been crossed.

  • Jayne mansfield 1st Sep '15 - 9:19am

    @ Peter Watson @ SueS,
    Sorry SueS, I am with Peter Watson on this. It is profoundly depressing and explains why so many people who rightly or wrongly, are investing Jeremy Corbyn with all their hopes for change and a better way of living.

    I read so many posts on here that assert the right of the individual , with seemingly no acknowledgement that this supremacy of individualism fails to acknowledge that it is careless of the individual rights of others, the army of people who are expected to service this selfish assertion of individual rights.

  • @David Allen “the incidence of warfare is increasing”

    The generation in their late 80s and early 90s may beg to differ on that one.

  • TCO 30th Aug ’15 – 4:38pm
    “@Stevo “Most of those Corbyn crowds could be lured over to the Lib Dems over the New Labour betrayal. ”
    Why would we want to attract the sort of people who vote for Jeremy Corbyn?”
    Stevo 30th Aug ’15 – 7:33pm “TCO- because we only have 8 MPs.”

    But Stevo, those people support an unavowedly left-wing leadership candidate. I’m not left wing; I don’t want the party to be left-wing and neither do, I believe, a majority of it’s members.

    So if we want to attract left-wing supporters we would have to become a left-wing party, and that’s not a Liberal party.

    So, I repeat the question – why would we want to attract the sort of people who vote for Corbyn?

  • TCO 1st Sep ’15 – 11:37am …………………..So, I repeat the question – why would we want to attract the sort of people who vote for Corbyn?………..

    Perhaps, because we are a ‘broad church’ and most of what Corbyn believes is within our remit…or even because trying to attract the ‘sort of people who vote for Cameron’, was such a failure…..

  • I strongly suspect that the “parliamentarian” is a peer, not an MP (otherwise the FT would have said “MP”). I also strongly suspect that the story was not the result of briefings at all. I think that the MPs and “parliamentarian” answered loaded questions from a journalist and weren’t careful enough with their answers. A question like “do you think that Tim Farron should/will take the party left of Jeremy Corbyn?”

  • @TCO,

    Perhaps it would help if you listed the Corbyn policies you specifically disagree with? (taken from his own writings, not the Daily mail editorial page!). Then you can compare that list with a similar list of Cameron policies you specifically disagree with… (or agree with). Then at least there would be a basis for discussion rather than “why would we want that; he is left wing”

  • Phyllis,

    You are quite right. The Party definitely needs a policy on HE funding, but when I tried to ask that question at a Leadership hustings it did not get asked (because I was the only person who asked, so presumably most people have not realised this is a big issue or have their heads in the sand…)

  • @ Steve. huge mistake by Farron The rule of law is liberal – the rule of assassination is not – sorry Tim but it sounds like cheap populism – and I voted for Farron

  • David Allen,

    my view on Corbyn is that he may well be good for the Labour party and good for British politics and British democracy generally.

    One of the oft cited reasons for increasing political apathy/low turnouts etc., is that all parties seem much of a muchness to large swathes of the general public.

    Having a labour leader who actually believes in socialism may return Labour to its distinctive roots and a clear offering to the electorate. A Thatcherite conservative party, led by Cameron and Osborne, that seeks to manage the affairs of the country much as Mrs. Thatcher managed her household budget is similarly a distinctive, if flawed, conservative position.

    On Corbyn’s specific utterings, I believe they have intellectual merit and present a serious alternative economic and foreign policy approach that will. with good reason, appeal to many.

    The challenge for the Liberal Democrats is to present evidenced based policy that seeks to address what Keynes described as the political problem of mankind – ” to combine three things: Economic Efficiency, Social Justice and Individual Liberty.” By challenging Conservative dogma head-on we can simultaneously present a radical alternative to the authoritarian collectivism of socialism.

    Social Liberalism and European style Social Democracy are close bed fellows. That is where I believe we should be pitching our offering to this new generation of instinctive Liberals .

  • @AndrewMc “Perhaps it would help if you listed the Corbyn policies you specifically disagree with? (taken from his own writings, not the Daily mail editorial page!). ”

    If you’ll provide a suitable list I’ll happily comply. But my impression is that Corbyn has been quite careful not to commit himself too specifically to anything.

  • @expats “most of what Corbyn believes is within our remit”

    I can think of plenty that he believes in that falls without our remit.

  • David Faggiani 1st Sep '15 - 4:45pm

    Come on, people, just 9 more days to go. Let’s not go mad trying to posture and position ourselves before the dust has settled on this Labour Summer. A bit more patience, then we can all get calibrated.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Sep '15 - 10:09am

    David Allen: I do not see how criticising a hard-left Labour leader would “make ourselves look invisible and indistinguishable from the Tories”. The fact is that liberalism is completely different from Corbyn’s brand of infantile leftism.
    It’s like saying that criticising the Tories makes us look indisinguishable from communists.

  • Matt (Bristol) 2nd Sep '15 - 12:29pm

    What David Faggiani just said.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Sep '15 - 1:48pm

    Jane Ann Liston 30th Aug ’15 – 10:52pm “I was bitten by a silent dog lurking behind a letterbox through which I was delivering a Focus, so also had to go to A&E. ”
    Hope you are well now.
    I was bitten by a silent dog lurking behind a letterbox through which I was delivering a Focus, so also had to go to A&E at Borders hospital during the referendum. free parking, prompt treatment, even a good-looking doctor.

  • There is a scholarly consensus against austerity. The idea of comparing Britain to European countries risks a large omitted variable bias…. THE EURO!

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