Lib Dems: The creatives’ party

 

The EU referendum debacle has shown clearly which group of voters we ought to target most: the creative sector. According to the Creative Industries Federation, 96 per cent of its members voted Remain. It’s one of many political battlegrounds where Lib Dems and creatives are on the same side. Creatives habitually call for freedom of expression, freedom of movement, free markets, greater diversity and more support for the self-employed. The Liberal Democrats is the only party to consistently call for those things too, as evidenced by our opposition to the Snoopers’ Charter and support for immigration.

Already, many if not most creatives consider themselves liberal. It’s simply a case of putting a capital “L” at the start of the word and adding “Democrat” after it. Incidentally, the same is probably true of scientists, most of whom also voted for Remain.

There are signs of “class consciousness” emerging: People in the creative sector tend to be highly educated, at least to graduate level, and a Populous Survey from 2014 shows we receive a disproportionately high level of support from people with degrees. In the 2010 election the Liberal Democrats received more endorsements from actors, musicians and other celebrity creatives than the Conservatives, Channel Four found. We lost most of them by the 2015 election, mostly to Labour, but this ought to be seen as a blip, a sense of annoyance with us for getting into a coalition with the Conservatives and failing to abolish student loans, even though we kept other promises, such as raising the income tax threshold, which benefits budding painters, writers and other low earning creatives.

As a constituency goes, the creative sector is not large; only about 2.8 million people work as designers, chefs, publishers, dancers, filmmakers and so on, which is about 6 per cent of the UK’s total electorate, but it’s growing and they are an articulate bunch who punch above their weight in the popular imagination and receive above-average media attention. In other words, when they argue in favour of something other people listen. If they come to see us as representing their interests (which we do), then they may help attract other liberal-minded internationalists, the 20% of voters described by David Howarth and Mark Pack in their report, “The 20% Strategy: Building a core vote for the Liberal Democrats”.

Just as Earth has an inner and outer core, so the Lib Dems have a potential inner core of “creative” voters and outer core of “internationalist” voters. Also, becoming the voice of the creative sector would ensure we become a party of interest as well as a party of values, which would give us greater solidity.

So, just as we put creative industries at the heart of our economic plans in 2015, let’s work closely with the Federation of Creative Industries and similar bodies now to produce a programme of initiatives that will help their members. That way, creatives may more readily associate themselves with us, leading to votes, membership, and even leadership. Our key word ought to be “Freedom”: We offer it and every creative needs it.

* Richard Warren is a journalist who is a member of Richmond Park Liberal Democrats.

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49 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Jul '16 - 3:11pm

    Richard

    This is great and timely. As a fellow creative industry professional , I am in the process of developing a new initiative for our party related to the arts and creative industries, in fact I spoke to Nick Clegg about it at a campaign meeting for Remain in the EU , in Putney ,the week before the referendum.I am in the process of making contact with Baroness Benjamin and Baroness Bonham Carter. I have referred to this venture , it being in the development stage , already, on this site , and LDV are aware of my plans , and a future article about them is to be submitted , when ready , very soon.

    The party has the very philosophy , and of course , creativity ,needed for the arts and creative industries to flourish. Freedom of expression goes hand in hand with fulfilment of potential , the former often not developed because of the lack of the latter ! It is essential that for the arts and creative talents to flourish , that the social Liberalism we believe in , develops a cultural Liberalism many of us not only believe in but live and implement daily , in work and out !

    Richard , we must keep in touch !

  • Tony Dawson 11th Jul '16 - 3:20pm

    As a creative and a scientist, I was very much behind the idea of ‘Remain’ as well as being appalled at the ‘Stronger IN’ campaign. On the morning of the election I was fairly certain that the vote would be lost. If you look at this posting, you might glean at least one non-Corbyn non-Cameron reason why that campaign was probably doomed:

    http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/agencies-anger-failure-stronger-campaign/1400533#

  • Richard Warren 11th Jul '16 - 4:31pm

    Lorenzo Cherrin – thanks! Great that you’ve started an initiative along these lines. Yes, let’s stay in touch. If I can help, let me know.

  • Richard Warren 11th Jul '16 - 4:33pm

    Tony Dawson – Hah! Yes, the Campaign article suggest we ought to listen to the creatives. I agree, and in more ways than one it seems.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Jul '16 - 6:05pm

    Thank you , Richard !

  • I suggest starting a Liberals in Creative group on Linkedin and we can highlight membership advertising to members of that and lookalike creative groups.

  • Bill le Breton 11th Jul '16 - 6:42pm

    Obviously if you rely on three duds as your political campaigning advisers, you will always fail. Especially if you then allow them to bring their unemployed friends along – oh dear! It sounds shambolic. But knowing their track record in 2015, why was that a surprise to anyone.

    Also where was the person willing and able to paint the picture for the PM of what would happen if – as transpired – he and No 10 generally frustrated all blue on blue stuff. And where was the person with the strength to throw the ‘no marks’ out of the ‘w*r room’?

    But I don’t think commercial campaigners are much good at political campaigning either. Which is why the Campaign article’s conclusion – the five lessons – misses THE most important piece of knowledge you need to stand any chance of winning a referendum.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Jul '16 - 10:28pm

    Oh yes, let’s go for trendy middle class types, and jeer at all those oiks we so despise, we don’t need their votes, do we?

    I long for the old Liberal Party which so inspired me, and that was often the voice of the dispossesed. Where has it gone?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Jul '16 - 12:09am

    John Bevan

    An idea for the future perhaps , but please see my response to Richard , as I am already far along the way to developing a network and we do not benefit from duplication , but would welcome co operation

    Bill le Breton

    Have you responded to the wrong article , as your post makes no sense in this context

    Mathew

    Are you responding to Richards article , in which case , cannot fathom what your meaning is ? The arts and creative industries includes as wide a cross section as is in our society , and of any and every class , ethnicity and background , as well as gross inequality and frequent unemployment , real professional commitment ,with often little financial reward , a scenario not far removed , regularly ,from the zero hours contracts we now hear about , and worse , has been the lot of many highly trained, talented and hard working creative industry professionals since time itself !

    The stereotype of middle class luvvie success stories is a terrible one for anyone aware of , or interested in , what the real world of the arts and creative sector is like, and not something a Liberal should make light of , especially not one who professes radicalism , as radical ideas and work are the very core of much artistic work !

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Jul '16 - 6:44am

    Lorenzo Cherin

    The arts and creative industries includes as wide a cross section as is in our society , and of any and every class , ethnicity and background ,

    I’m not saying that everyone in the creative industry comes from a wealthy background (I have very strong personal reasons to know that), but it is very much biased towards people coming from that sort of background. Sure, to a large extent this is because for most people working in this area there is little income and much uncertainty, that’s why it helps to come from a wealthy background, so that one has the support for it.

    My concern is that this is an easy an obvious group to go for, educated and interesting people. But it is a niche area, and one which it seems everyone wants to go for: Corbynite Labour and Greens seems largely oriented to that sort of person as well.

    Meanwhile no-one seems interested in going for the millions of other people who aren’t like that. That’s what we saw in the Referendum: there are millions of people who feel no-one on the political world cares for them or knows about them, and they have been easy picking for the likes of UKIP.

  • Ed Shepherd 12th Jul '16 - 7:39am

    I would have thought that the best way to help “creatives” would be to return to the sysytem which we had in Britain about two generations ago: lifelong education free at the point of delivery or heavily subsidised by the state or local authorities, a school system that was not driven by exam targets, free healthcare at the point of delivery, an unemployment benefits system that did not constantly harass claimants, local television, local radio, local newspapers, local colleges, the OU…. Millions of people were able to develop their potential under such a system. Perversely, many LibDems seem to oppose a return to such a system. They seem to favour an unfettered so-called “free market” which ultimately ends up favouring only the wealthy. Hence why the current “creatives” so often seem to be the offspring of the wealthy and the offspring of the poor are too busy serving coffee or stacking boxes to be able to paint pictures or write a poems.

  • Richard Warren 12th Jul '16 - 9:51am

    Matthew Huntbach
    Yes, we ought to represent the dispossessed as well. It’s not mutually exclusive. And, the list of services listed by Ed Shepherd helps both creatives and the dispossessed. Indeed, they help some dispossessed people to forge careers in the creative professions like he says, so we need to support these too. I don’t see how free education, healthcare, etc, undermines a free market. Indeed, these things help make it possible for freelancers like me to function.

    As to your other point about creative voters being niche. Yes, they are, but they’re also part of the wider internationalist vote we want to attract, the 20%, which is sizeable.

    Finally, yes, there’s a lot of competition for the creative votes, but there is for every group in society now, including those dispossessed voters. We just have to be more persuasive.

    Ed Shepherd
    I agree with you. We need those things you listed too. As I said in my response to Matthew above, these things are essential for creatives and dispossessed alike. If there are Lib Dems who believe free healthcare etc conflicts with the free market, then they’re wrong. These things actually help make it function better. As a US CEO told me a couple of months back, there are many more freelancers of all kinds in the UK than in the US, because of our free healthcare, etc.

    Just to add that diversity isn’t just about gender and race; it’s also about class.

  • Bill le Breton 12th Jul '16 - 12:14pm

    Lorenzo, I was responding to the link to Campaigner’s piece on the Referendum Campaign and why it is dangerous to imagine that ‘commercial’ and marketing campaigners are the best people to advise us on campaigning. I am sorry if it was a little off topic.

    But I feared that deciding to target ‘creatives’ is a close step to handing over the best way of reaching them in a political context to marketeers. It isn’t.

  • Simon Banks 12th Jul '16 - 8:49pm

    Matthew: people involved in the arts are not all trendy middle-class people. OK, some of them are, but if there’s a bunch of people who tend to share our values, why not go for them? We get a lot of support from university graduates. Should we shy away from them because few of them, after a while, are poor? Where I agree is that we can’t possibly allow ourselves to be LIMITED by this kind of social profiling, especially after hearing the misdirected cry of anger from many working-class people ignored or patronised by Labour.

    Oh, and the term “the Creative Industries” has the terminological Luddite in me asking how much support we have in the Destructive Industries.

  • Matt (Bristol) 12th Jul '16 - 9:13pm

    One major thing a government and/or political party could do for the creative industries (and I speak as a former editor) is address the way they can eat up / exploit well-heeled graduates, expecting them to work for little money to build experience, effectively limiting access into these industries to a certain social class, creating exactly the pewrception of the grouping of trades Matthew H is concerned about.

    Asking why the major players in these industries are – somewhat bafflingly, in the internet age – still disproportionately London-centred, which has knock-ons for regional and class divisions, is another thing we could do.

  • Matt (Bristol) 12th Jul '16 - 9:15pm
  • Richard Warren 13th Jul '16 - 10:51am

    Matt (Bristol)
    Those are really good points. You’re absolutely right. Too many employers want people to work for nothing in exchange for “experience”. Not only are they taking advantage of graduates and other younger people, but this contributes to a deflationary affect on wages across industry, which is bad news for older workers too.

    As to your second point, some creatives are moving outside of the UK to Berlin, because it’s cheaper than London. So, yes, we ought to be encouraging them to stay in the UK.

  • Richard Warren 13th Jul '16 - 10:58am

    Simon Banks
    Yes, we oughtn’t to limit our appeal only to creatives. To call this “social profiling” sounds a bit strong though. I think it’s simply a case of seeing which people in society are most in sync with our own values. Other groups could include the co-operatives movement, some of whose members feel let down by the Labour and Co-op parties in recent years, but that’s a whole other subject.

    And what can I say about the term “creative industries”? That’s the term that’s widely used and understood. Maybe someone ought to create a better term 🙂

  • Matt (Bristol) 13th Jul '16 - 12:23pm

    Richard – thanks.
    However, I would also want to strike a further note of caution – anyone interested in such projects should
    – consider impact in perception terms on the behaviour and voting choices of less articulate, less-mobilised, more vulnerable and more disenchanted sectors of the electorate, who resent the (sometimes illusive) power the ‘creative industries’ seem to hold.
    – look at the ‘cool britannia’ era under Blair, and treat it as a cautionary tale.

  • Peter Watson 13th Jul '16 - 12:45pm

    I share Matthew Huntbach’s concerns, but at the risk of appearing curmudgeonly, my biggest problem with this is the use of “creative” as a noun. That particular mangling of the English language seems to have come from the advertising industry and is not an association I think that Lib Dems should want to emphasise.
    I think the key point of the article is summed up in the sentence, “People in the creative sector tend to be highly educated, at least to graduate level, and a Populous Survey from 2014 shows we receive a disproportionately high level of support from people with degrees.” The rest of the article simply seems to be restating this in different ways and implies that Lib Dems should continue to concentrate on the same demographic that it has pursued for the last 20 years or more, an insular focus on the “people like us” that makes up its parliamentary representatives, and which risks further alienating the parts of the electorate that the Remain campaign chose to ignore or insult.

  • Richard Warren 13th Jul '16 - 1:06pm

    Matt (Bristol) and Peter Watson
    Hi, as I mentioned to Matthew Huntbach, targeting “creative industries” voters doesn’t mean we oughtn’t to speak up for other groups and, indeed, the wider national interest. What’s good for creatives and what’s good for those who’ve been excluded from society can be the same thing: e.g. free healthcare and education, as described in comments above, and freedom of expression and greater diversity, as mentioned in the article. To give the disenfranchised a real voice we need PR of course.

    Peter, as I said to Simon Banks, I’ve used the term “creative”, because that’s widely used and understood. I’m more than happy to use another term that’s equally widely used.

    Matt, yes, “Cool Britannia” is a warning that needs to be heeded, well said. Our commitment oughtn’t be shallow like Blair’s. In any case, the “creative industries” are a growing part of the economy, so we ought to support them if only for that reason.

  • Matt (Bristol) 13th Jul '16 - 1:27pm

    Richard – I think what I’m saying is I recognise that, of course we can try to talk to all the people all the time, but there needs to be some strategic coordination of the language and messaging – and most importantly any promises made or implied.

    To put it in the most blunt terms, you cannot have one group of LibDems going off to chase one trade / demographic, another group one going off to another trade / demographic, with both LibDem groups locked in the assumption that the section of society they are talking to are not aware of the other conversation going on, and won’t in any way take objection to anything that is said in the other conversation.

    When anyone says ‘we are the party for X’ there is a risk that group X will infer from that ‘you will back our wants / aspirations over those of group Y’. This is tricky if you’re also talking to group Y.

    We are – or should be – as a party, clever enough to think our way through that problem, and it’s not meant as a block to your proposal, but as a ‘yes, but…’.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th Jul '16 - 2:25pm

    Many are completely missing the point here!

    Creative professionals are often struggling in very many ways to even work let alone emerge as successful ! For a party of often self employed individuals we should, and have to , realise ,that means partial income streams , mixed ways of making ends meet , and yet absolute professional input and dedication to an art form, a talent , a vocation !

    It is ignorance of the most inverted snob non Liberal type , if people do not see that the musician is often as not , a working class black boy in Brixton , the actor too, and the artist ! Has , in addition , no one seen, Billy Elliot ?!

    What posesses those on here to see only a few ex Etonian stars of the big screen , and not the hundreds and thousands of wanting to be , hard working, yet often, unemployed ,performers , when given the chance to , putting effort in regional theatre, or on the London fringe , or in theatre in education companies on a small scale ?

    Why on earth does someone who seems to know their own , and often left wing, Liberal mind , on economics , not realise that to be talented and pursue it with an ambition to express it , knows no class or ethnic or gender boundary ?!

    I have struggled as a professional in the arts and , yes , creative industry , through the after effects of a car accident that nearly killed my partner , and still she tries to succeed despite injuries , and , again , in the arts and creative field !

    I have , as a result , worked as an adviser to unemployed, aspiring, and indeed, again, struggling , arts and creative individuals trying to come off the dole and making every effort to. From Tooting to Hounslow , re locating to Nottingham , and also involved in Mansfield , I have done this , not in Belgravia !

    If anyone is less a panderer to the upper middle class and more understanding of the Brexiteers, in our movement, than me , I do not know who ?!

    But please quit the stereotypes !

  • Richard Warren 13th Jul '16 - 2:51pm

    Lorenzo – you’re right.

    Matt (Bristol) – I understand what you’re saying. We ought to be able to send out the same message to everyone. As I say, our policies are good for more than one group of voters.

  • Matthew Huntbach 13th Jul '16 - 5:16pm

    Richard Warren

    Yes, we ought to represent the dispossessed as well. It’s not mutually exclusive. And, the list of services listed by Ed Shepherd helps both creatives and the dispossessed. Indeed, they help some dispossessed people to forge careers in the creative professions like he says, so we need to support these too.

    Sure, but the title of the article was “The Creatives’ Party”, suggesting we present an image mainly oriented towards such people. I am concerned that over recent years there has been a building up of an image of our party, which while certainly legitimately “liberal”, appeals directly only to a relatively small proportion of the population, and throws away many of the votes that used to come to us.

    I don’t see how free education, healthcare, etc, undermines a free market.

    They have to be paid for by tax, and enthusiasts for the free market often say that high taxation is a bad thing, and against “liberalism”. When I first joined the Liberal Party, that sort of thing was never said. Back then we thought of the definition of what we stood for as “none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”. The emphasis in the first paragraph of this article is somewhat different.

    The referendum result surely ought to be a signal to us of how there are huge numbers of people who just don’t find the sort of image being put out by us at all attractive or appealing to them. Many of those are people who once would have turned to us.

  • Matthew Huntbach 13th Jul '16 - 5:54pm

    Lorenzo Cherin

    It is ignorance of the most inverted snob non Liberal type , if people do not see that the musician is often as not , a working class black boy in Brixton , the actor too, and the artist !

    You are calling me ignorant? You haven’t a clue.

    Please look, for example, at the following reference:

    http://www.gold.ac.uk/news/the-creative-industries-and-meritocracy/

    where you can see it says:

    Some 43% of people working in publishing, 28% in music and 26% in design come from a privileged background, compared with 14% of the population as a whole.

    Or try looking at this from the Guardian:
    https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/nov/23/middle-class-people-dominate-arts-survey-finds

    This is really basic stuff, a big issue which anyone who wants to talk seriously about the creative industries should be familiar with.

    By the way, I don’t want to give too much detail, as there’s a privacy issues here, but both my sisters have careers in the creative industries, and my father was a talented artist. See:

    http://huntbach.squarespace.com/

  • Matthew Huntbach 13th Jul '16 - 6:27pm

    When I first joined the Liberal Party, its core vote was poorer people in southern and rural areas. The reason for this is that these people did not see the Conservative Party as their party, because it is the party of the rich, always has been. Yet they did not see the Labour Party as their party either, because it seemed too urban based, too much centred on those who worked in big industries where it was easy to organise trade unions. Also, particularly in the south, Labour seemed to be a party for a certain sort of intellectual type, who might have said they supported working class people, but whose attitude suggested otherwise. This latter view of Labour now seems to have grown and become dominant throughout as heavy industry and the trade union movement have declined.

    The community politics movement established a new bunch of voters for the Liberal Party: people in Labour-dominated areas who felt that Labour had become domineering and undemocratic because they just supposed the vote in those places would always go to them so they needn’t bother going out and trying to win it.

    The sort of wards which would be considered the key wards to target when I first joined the party, and for many years later like the ward I represented for twelve years, now seem to be getting written off as just about the last places we should bother with.

    This is what concerns me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t see people in the creative industries as people whose votes we should seek. But I am concerned that what is being said here is part of that move towards giving our party a very niche image, attractive to a relatively small number of people, but a turn-off to may others because it makes it seem obsessed with issues that those others regard as not really that relevant to their lives. Even though they may be wrong on that, and part of our job is to explain that, we need to attract their attention in the first place to do it.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th Jul '16 - 6:36pm

    Matthew

    I was not referring to you but rather to the tendency I was seeing above and would never do so personally in that way as that is not my way , which is to unify not divide !

    You regularly make insightful contributions even when I disagree with you . Herein you expressed yourself in a way originally that seemed very derogatory to arts and creative people, which you have since added to more reasonably.

    This is not about percentages of privileged but underappreciation of the unemployed !

  • Richard Warren 13th Jul '16 - 6:52pm

    Matthew Huntbach
    You make a very good point about the referendum voters we’re not appealing too, and I see what you’re saying about the headline and first sentence.

    However, I don’t think it’s enough for us to be simply a party of values; we also need to be a party of interest if we are to survive and thrive, and the values/interests of the creative sector appears to dovetail most with the values we espouse. It’s a natural fit.

    But yes, maybe it’s too narrow for a core vote, so possibly we ought to widen our appeal to all self-employed people and not just the creative sector, because they are poorly represented in our political system (and I say this as a self-employed person myself), and who I think now make up 15 per cent of all workers, and whether they’re “middle class” freelance journalists or “working class” glaziers, van drivers, etc, share common problems of financial insecurity, few contractural rights, etc. I’m thinking aloud and would like to hear your thoughts on that…

    I’d also like the Lib Dems to become more supportive of housing co-ops (the most successful form of social housing) and workers’ co-ops, which could go a long way to giving people a sense of control over their lives, and so appeal to some of those who feel let down by the system that you mention. Again this dovetails with supporting the creative sector.

    As for tax, I can’t comment on what other lib dems think, but I support the low tax for low earners and higher tax for high earners approach we’ve taken in recent years. Also, I’d like to see a more efficient tax system where multinationals are taxed on sales at source, so they can’t avoid taxes as they do at the moment under the corporation tax system.

    This is a very interesting discussion and, at a time when the tectonic plates are shifting so much in politics, very much worth having. Have a good evening.

  • Richard Warren 13th Jul '16 - 7:09pm

    Lorenzo and Matthew

    Have just read the comments about class. The creative sector supports diversity and so do the Lib Dems. Diversity includes class. Rather than condemn the creative sector for having lots of middle class people in it, let’s help it embrace more people from other backgrounds, so it can become bigger and more successful in future.

  • Matthew Huntbach 13th Jul '16 - 9:27pm

    Richard Warren

    Rather than condemn the creative sector for having lots of middle class people in it, let’s help it embrace more people from other backgrounds, so it can become bigger and more successful in future.

    I am not condemning the creative sector for having lots of middle class people in it, but I am noting it is a fact. Rather than ignore this fact, or pretend it doesn’t exist or not even realise it does exist, we need to be asking why it exists and what can be done to lessen it.

    For me one of the big problem with Liberals, which is obvious from this debate, is that they tend to take the position “We don’t believe in class division, so we will ignore it”, which is rather like saying “We don’t believe in racism, so we will pretend it does not exist”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 13th Jul '16 - 9:35pm

    Richard Warren

    We ought to widen our appeal to all self-employed people and not just the creative sector, because they are poorly represented in our political system (and I say this as a self-employed person myself), and who I think now make up 15 per cent of all workers, and whether they’re “middle class” freelance journalists or “working class” glaziers, van drivers, etc, share common problems of financial insecurity, few contractural rights, etc. I’m thinking aloud and would like to hear your thoughts on that…

    Why was my father able to experiment with being an artist?

    Because we had the security of living in a council house. That gave us the freedom that is now denied to most as it’s now almost impossible for ordinary people to get a council house allocation.

    Think about it …

  • Richard Warren 13th Jul '16 - 10:01pm

    Matthew Huntbach
    So yes, we need more council houses, and this benefits not just creatives but the wider society. As I’ve said earlier and say again now, these things aren’t mutually exclusive.

    As for the middle class bit, as I said before and say again now, we need to work for greater diversity in class as well as in other ways like gender and race. Again this is good for the creative sector as well as wider society.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Jul '16 - 8:14am

    Richard Warren

    So yes, we need more council houses

    But that’s not something you said at first. Rather you put it as “Creatives habitually call for freedom of expression, freedom of movement, free markets, greater diversity and more support for the self-employed”. So you didn’t see it as a priority, and people for whom things like this are a priority would read what you wrote and think “Not a party that understands me and my needs”. Indeed, you have written about “free markets” and “freedom of movement”, and and the council housing system run down using the argument that it was contrary to this sort of thing.

    You can’t just say “we need more council houses” without saying how we would get them. You might say “we need free access to art schools, so end tuition fees”. The problem is that things like this and much else require money, and money requires taxes, and there’s a big well-funded movement saying that liberalism ought to be opposed to high taxes. And opposed to council housing as well on the grounds that it’s a government controlled things and liberalism ought to be about reducing the size of the state. This view of liberalism now dominates. It seems to be what new recruits to the party think it is all about. Your initial line seemed to be going along with that.

  • Richard Warren 14th Jul '16 - 9:50am

    Matthew Huntbach

    Caroline Pidgeon’s proposal for a mayoral house-building company that would partly fund council house building is one great idea suggested for London. If we can raise a fairer share of tax from multi-nationals, as mentioned earlier, that would also raise funds. Maybe you have your own suggestions?

    I haven’t given a list of priorities, but a list of examples, and done so with referendum issues in the back of my mind. Articles can only be 500 words long, so to give an exhaustive list would be impractical, and to detail funding plans on individual examples would not be practical either. These things can be and have been discussed in the comments section.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Jul '16 - 11:17am

    Richard Warren

    Yes, we cannot give an exhaustive list either here, or in what we put out to voters. That’s my point from the beginning, it’s about what we choose to prioritise. Recently it seems to me that the Liberal Democrats have chosen to push an image, which while showing concern for important issues of liberalism, does not directly appeal to most voters.

    By the very nature of the creative sector, it consists of people who are vocal and skilled at pushing their views forward, and as a consequence one may overestimate the extent to which those concerns have a more general immediate appeal. Also, as I have said, with referenced evidence, it is becoming more and more dominated by people from a privileged background, who may not therefore realise the extent to which those who do not have that sort of background really are “enslaved by poverty”. Even if the creative sector people themselves are struggling financially, they are likely to have parents who are not.

    A big problem in politics is that most people have no idea of budgeting. So they simultaneously want things from government that cost a lot of money, but not to pay the taxes necessary to raise that money. Politicians make that worse when they separate out the two things, talking about providing services but not linking that to paying for them. We came a cropper on tuition fees over that, because people just did not get the point that if you want no tuition fees, you have to pay for it through tax, and you can’t do that if you have a Tory-dominated government who are just not going to agree to the sort of tax needed for it.

    Personally I think a good way to pay for a lot of these things is much higher inheritance tax. But I find trendy creative sorts with wealthy parents go strangely silent when one suggests that.

    It would be nice if there was an easy way to tax big global business much more. But don’t wave hands and suggest it’s easy-peasy, until you have a concrete way that works to do it. As we know, they always seem to find loopholes to avoid it, or just threaten to move abroad.

  • Peter Watson 14th Jul '16 - 12:46pm

    @Richard Warren “The creative sector supports diversity and so do the Lib Dems.”
    But unfortunately, and ironically, the Lib Dems seems to be the party least capable of delivering or demonstrating diversity. Just this week the Tories have given us a second female PM, the first openly gay cabinet minister, the first education minister who went to a comprehensive school, and a Brexit minister from a very humble background. Whether in terms of gender, sexuality, race, social class, disability, religion, etc., despite many fine words, Lib Dems are not leaders when it comes to diversity.

  • Richard Warren 14th Jul '16 - 4:33pm

    Matthew Huntbach
    Well, no form of tax is immune to avoidance, and that includes IHT. I think the Miliband and Osborne families managed to skirt round paying some or all of that.

    Peter Watson
    Yes, more could be done and is being done. There’s a commitment to improving diversity.

    https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/politics/news/72786/liberal-democrats-agree-all-women-shortlists

  • Peter Watson 14th Jul '16 - 5:43pm

    @Richard Warren “There’s a commitment to improving diversity.”
    There was plenty of heated discussion about all women shortlists on this site at the time. The Tories have managed to find two female party leaders without what might be considered such an illiberal undemocratic measure. Also, all-women shortlists look likely to swap middle-class white men for middle-class white women, so it is a very narrow approach to improving diversity. None of it looks very creative … 😉

  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Jul '16 - 10:55pm

    Richard and Mathew et al

    Yes the creative sector might well have the sort of numbers of so called middle class alluded to , but actually , a lot of that data is based on education , not income . I am highly educated and have spent a lot of my working and not working life thus far as poor as a church mouse as have many of my educated friends and colleagues !

    Read my post above about my own experience and trajectory . We are a party that recognises the individuality of each of us . To recognise and accept that class and race are relevant is not to say that income is always determined by any of it !

    I believe I am right to also say that we have strong target and interest groups for lawyers in our party , and engineers and scientists .Compared with these groups , especially the legal profession , even obsessive analysis or great concern , regarding the statistics on the demographics of those in the creative industries , pales into insignificance , or rather , reveals where the really upper middle class professions are !

  • Peter Watson 15th Jul '16 - 1:07am

    @Lorenzo Cherin “the creative sector might well have the sort of numbers of so called middle class alluded to , but actually , a lot of that data is based on education”
    I agree and that is a point I was trying to make earlier: that the essence of this article is more about the correlation between a university education and voting Remain which was highlighted throughout the referendum campaign (though usually to depict Brexiters as ignorant blue collar racists). Inevitably this is associated with other correlations e.g. being middle-class, being a Lib Dem, etc.
    Whilst the “creative industry” might suffer under Brexit, much like other industries might, I am not convinced that there is a direct connection between creativity and Brexit/Bremain or between creativity and any particular political party (much as I would like to believe that the Tories lack soul!).

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Jul '16 - 10:58am

    Peter Watson

    I agree and that is a point I was trying to make earlier: that the essence of this article is more about the correlation between a university education and voting Remain which was highlighted throughout the referendum campaign (though usually to depict Brexiters as ignorant blue collar racists).

    Indeed. Social class is not just about wealth, it is also about education, though of course there is a correlation between these.

    My concerns over this issue were well illustrated by a meeting I attended yesterday at the university where I work, which was organised by my trade union (the UCU, the union for lecturers and associated workers), and was about what to do following the Brexit vote.

    In the circle where I work, it is very hard to find anyone who voted “Leave”, or at least who admits to it. This creates a complacency, a feeling that everyone is like us, and so campaigning tactics that end up just talking to ourselves. But in other circles it is the other way round. At the meeting I came across too much of a wish just to denounce everyone who voted “Leave” as motivated by racism, and not to understand or even be willing to understand why so many people who feel frustrated and uncared for in this country voted “Leave” because they somehow thought it was a protest against the educated and wealthy elite who run the country and don’t care for them.

    Of course I am not saying we should not work to get votes from people working in the creative sector, but I was concerned that the tone of the original article was what I have seen so much of: sticking to a “comfort zone”, working with people who are “our sort of people”, who are educated and vocal and so their concerns and ways of thinking are well known.

    We need also to work for people who are not so vocal, whose concerns are therefore not so well understood. If we don’t, if we dismiss them contemptuously perhaps in part because not being vocal they tend to lash out and say things that don’t fit in with our etiquette, we leave those people vulnerable to be taken over and persuaded to move in another direction by others who try to get their support. That is just what happened in the referendum.

  • Matthew is absolutely right. The problem too many don’t face up to is that faced with the same facts, a lot of people can’t understand why anyone could validly come to an opposite conclusion on Europe. But it comes down to judgement and the importance of different matters to different people. If I am a young person, living in a cosmopolitan city like London with lots of friends from all over the world, and working in a business with lots of international clients, I will have one view on the free movement of labour because it clearly benefits me. If on the other hand, I am someone who has seen already low wages in my community stay stagnant for a decade as foreign workers have come into the area, my judgement will be very different.

    As Liberals who believe no-one should be enslaved by conformity, we should understand that much more easily than others.

  • Richard Warren 15th Jul '16 - 1:36pm

    I’m not saying we ought to only attract creative sector voters. I’m saying they’re likely to receive the Lib Dem message more readily than many other voters, because their views and our views are largely in sync, and it would be a missed opportunity for us not to work on this.

    I now wish I’d titled the piece something along the lines of “Lib Dems: a party that can appeal to the creative sector…” , because I realise the original headline (and I’m lousy at writing headlines) sounded to some readers like I’m suggesting we become an exclusive club for them, which I’m not.

    As for diversity, if there’s a better plan for improving it within the party than what’s being pursued at the moment, then it would be good to hear it, bearing in mind it’s partly out of our hands anyway and in the hands of the electorate.

    As for immigration. Yes, definitely, not all Brexit voters worried about immigration were racist. I know a couple of people like that myself who felt their wages were kept low and rents high by the presence of EU workers. However, as a former economic migrant myself I don’t think immigrants are the problem, rather that immigration is a symptom of a problem, which is the fluctuating economic cycle: people follow jobs, and right now, we’ve got the jobs. When neighbouring economies improve we’ll find immigration will drop and it may even be the case that Britons will go abroad to find work, especially if our economy is in a downward cycle, as happened in the 1990s when I went overseas.

    Can I just add that although this article and comments experience has felt like a baptism of fire (it’s my first piece on Lib Dem Voice) I’ve found the constructive criticism useful, and it’ll inform my opinions on this subject in future.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Jul '16 - 1:55pm

    Excellent attitude , Richard

    The issues got conflated, in the tone of the article less than in the reactions.

    Much of the substance in the comments is sensible

    However as with Tim currently , knee jerk responses never work as well as a measured approach

    For those of us in the arts and creative industries it is necessary to have both passionate feeling and constructive knowledge , expressed.

    Much as it should be for anyone interested in politics.

  • Richard Warren 15th Jul '16 - 5:32pm

    Thanks Lorenzo. Much appreciated.

    Do keep me up to speed on your own initiative.

    Have a great weekend!

  • Peter Watson 15th Jul '16 - 8:32pm

    @Richard Warren “this article and comments experience has felt like a baptism of fire”
    I think your article raised some excellent and very important points, just not necessarily the ones you intended! 😉

  • Richard Underhill 17th Jul '16 - 5:04pm

    See also “The New European” page 17, advertising.
    http://www.theneweuropean.co.uk

  • Richard Underhill 17th Jul '16 - 7:32pm

    We should not forget or exclude candidates who are currently working at the Commission, the European Parliament, etcetera, or were MEPs before 2014. They may be well informed and becoming available.

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