+++Liberals sweep to power

The Liberal Party has swept to power, winning 184 seats out of 338, an overall majority of 30. The election platform included such policies as

  • Cutting income taxes for the middle-classes while increasing them for the wealthy
  • Running deficits for three years to pay for infrastructure spending
  • Doing more to address environmental concerns over the controversial Keystone oil pipeline
  • Taking more Syrian refugees; pulling out of bombing raids against Islamic State while bolstering training for Iraqi forces
  • Legalising marijuana

This comes after a bad result in 2011 coming third with 34 seats behind the left wing NDP and with the Conservatives winning a majority.

With Cananda having moved into a budget surplus this year, the policy of borrowing to spend on infrastructure seems particularly well-timed. Might there be a lesson here for the UK in 2020?

The NDP didn’t have this policy, and some are arguing that this, and a policy to scrap the purchase of some new jet fighters, placed the Liberals to the left of the NDP. The Guardian live feed at 9.49 sees this argument played out in our Labour Party.

I hope we will hear over the next few days from people on the ground as to how these issues played out. Was “austerity” an issue any longer now that the budget was in surplus? What other lessons are there to learn?

There is more from the BBC on this result here.

Congratulations to #TeamTrudeau from all of us at Liberal Democrat Voice towers.

The thumbnail image advertising this post at the top of our home page is by Canadian Pacific from Flickr CCL.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017 and Doncaster North in December 2019 and is a councillor in Sheffield.

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Andrew Emmerson 20th Oct '15 - 11:14am

    This result has given me a lot of happiness this morning. The plucky underdog Trudeau who until a few weeks ago was still tied with the other two parties.

    Whilst the Liberals are our sister party, they are not strictly liberal in the way we’d understand and have over the years been a big tent party, rather than a liberal one.

    So i’d caution against assuming this is a good sign for us, there are lessons to learn from them, but neither is this an omen either.

  • Paul Pettinger 20th Oct '15 - 11:18am

    But if we were to copy the Canadian Liberals, and take inspiration from their incredible revival, then we would need to reject the strategy of the last five years – we would need to reject equidistance and centrism, and become anti-austerity and anti-Conservative. I don’t think the Party dislikes being as low as it is in the polls enough for this.

  • jedibeeftrix 20th Oct '15 - 11:23am

    “Whilst the Liberals are our sister party, they are not strictly liberal in the way we’d understand and have over the years been a big tent party, rather than a liberal one.”

    Which perhaps explains why they are in power, and the lib-dems are not!

  • Matt (Bristol) 20th Oct '15 - 11:24am

    I am very excited by what Nick Barlow writes on his blog about the Liberals’ commitment to electoral reform (albeit via a committee to look into options).

    I hope this produces results and we can finally point to a large North American democracy with a voting system that recognises plurality and diversity.

    The cynic in me says that they need to move fast and decisively if this is really going to bear fruit, challenger parties who promise big on consittutional reform that might make their future hold on power less tenable can blow bit hot and cold if they secure a larger majority than they thought…

  • Eddie Sammon 20th Oct '15 - 11:25am

    I didn’t want them to win this big. From what I’ve seen Trudeau has been weak on terrorism and is also weak on defence.

    I don’t even know why there are votes in ending combat missions against ISIS, but I don’t mind people wanting to do this, the problem I have is the self-righteousness of saying things like “hope has won over fear” whilst running away from terrorists.

    After the Ottawa attack all he had to say was “those who did it will be punished”, whilst assumingly ignoring those who are plotting attacks who are also criminals.

  • Neil Sandison 20th Oct '15 - 11:53am

    What the Canadian Liberals have demonstrated is that by running a positive campaign not on a conservative agenda with many issues that we would also feel comfortable in promoting you can come from behind ,surprise the pundits and challenge for government .unlike Citizen Corbyn and his peoples protest party there was clear pragmatism underlying their campaign .We should be inviting his campaign team to meet with us ,learn a few lessons and be positive campaigners for change in 2020.

  • Paul Pettinger 20th Oct '15 - 12:14pm

    I agree Simon. The Canadian Liberals are further to the right than the UK Lib Dems are – so if they are winning in opposition to austerity and the Conservatives, what the hell were we doing championing the Conservative policy approach to the Great Recession and giving serious consideration to staying in coalition with them?

  • I don’t really think that you can use the result of the Canadian Liberals as a suggestion that we should move to the left. The Canadian Liberals have a record of sound economic management. They have inherited a budget surplus and they are going to retain it apart from investing in capital projects – something which makes sense anyways and something which makes sense given Canada’s position in their economic cycle.

    I am sure that the people you so strongly disagree with on spending in the UK would have no problem endorsing this position from the Canadian liberals.

  • Matt (Bristol) 20th Oct '15 - 12:27pm

    FWIW, whilst direct UK comparisons to Canadaian politics are always flawed, I think we should look at Justin Trudeau’s Liberals as being very similar to Blair’s Labour in 1997: a party once acustomed to power and being at the centre, not accesing it for some time, making both cosmetic changes and radical policy promises in tandem with a young leader who whilst well able to work the media and be approachable has a slight air of entitlement about their background.

  • Geoffrey Payne 20th Oct '15 - 12:35pm

    Justin Trudeau is agnostic on TPP, as he says that the agreement was made in secret and he has not had a chance to see what is in it. Of course in theory international trade agreements are a good thing, but there are companies lobbying for deregulation that includes a watering down of environmental standard, labour rights and consumer protection. So it is right to be sceptical without being dismissive.

  • @Simon,

    I think Simon is bang on the only similarity between the 2 parties is the word Liberal to copy them and ditch the last 5 years of work would just turn the Lib Dems into a Corbyn lookalike party.

  • Paul Pettinger 20th Oct '15 - 12:53pm

    But Peter, I think we should have spent much more on infrastructure and primarily through borrowing (https://www.libdemvoice.org/we-need-to-stand-up-for-liberal-democrat-distinctiveness-on-economy-44074.html), as the Canadian Liberals are proposing. In contrast, capital spending in the UK is set to continue to decline during this Parliament.

  • John Minard 20th Oct '15 - 1:07pm

    Any Liberal party that can win power will inevitably be a big tent party but I don’t think anyone can say they are not Liberal in the sense of other parties of that name such as in Australia.

  • Surely you have to admit there were a few differences between the financial position of the countries and of the capital markets comparing 2010 UK to 2015 Canada? I mean, they’re almost two extremes – how can that not have a bearing on spending plans?

  • Neil Sandison 20th Oct '15 - 1:09pm

    Sorry folks but didn’t our MPs the gang of 8 just vote against the Fiscal Charter on the basis that it did not encourage investment in infrastructure at a time of low interest rates .How does that differ from the Canadian position ?

  • Paul Pettinger 20th Oct '15 - 1:28pm

    Peter – I don’t think we were at any serious risk of default. The UK and Greece are a poor comparison. Greece doesn’t control its own monetary policy. It also had difficulty simply collecting tax. The years of low interest rates are a sign of a distressed economy rather than a flourishing one. They also provide a good basis for the state to borrow to invest for the future, boosting growth and ensuring the UK finds it easier to meet financial obligations.

    Will – you seem to be falling into the trap of defining Lib Dem economic policy by whatever is the position of other parties, an approach that has served us so poorly. I don’t know what current Labour economic policy is, and I am not sure many do. Ours should be based on solid analysis and Liberal economics. Otherwise what’s the point?

  • David Evans 20th Oct '15 - 1:50pm

    Will, When you say “ditch the last 5 years of work” do you mean “ditch the last five years of undermining the broad church approach successfully adopted by the Lib Dems over the last 30 years and continue with a strategy that has almost destroyed us?”

  • David Evans 20th Oct '15 - 1:53pm

    Should say ” … or continue with a strategy that has almost destroyed us ?”

  • Am delighted that the Grits won this election. There is no point trying to position them on the UK’s (also flawed) notion of left, right or centre. They are a progressive liberal party, and the most successful in the world. The’left of centre’ NDP split from the Liberals and has become sometimes a rather embittered former partner. As always, when progressives split the conservative minority prospers. and because of that Canada has had a period of divisive government. Good to see the end of Harper, and Canada returning to something we would all like to live under. The Grits have very little in common with the Australian ‘liberal’ party and it seems to me to be belittling a great progressive triumph to suggest that they have.

  • This was an election the NDP threw away. They had it all, right up to early to mid September, 35 – 40% in the polls, but economically they were not radical enough, sounding a bit like the then ruling party, and when the Niqab issue was brought up by Lynton Crosby who was advising the Conservatives, they adopted a worthy liberal type moral stance which perhaps unfairly reduced significantly their Quebec base from the last election. In several polls 60% of those asked said thay would be “apoplectic” if “Harper got back”, there was a majority mood for change and once the Liberals were seen as the main challenger, particularly in Ontario, the anti Harper Conservative vote moved to the Liberals. The swing from the NDP was prodigous in the last few days. In a way it was like a national by election!
    Is Trudeau on the phone to Obama now, explaining who Canadian bombing raids on ISIS will stop. Presumably they will. Does this have an impact for us and the coming debate. If Canada pulls out why should we replace them? It is a fascinating question.

  • Matt (Bristol) 20th Oct '15 - 2:50pm

    I am deeply sad, but am intrigued that journnalists have not picked up on Justin Trudeau’s over referencing of ancient (Canadian) Liberal Party history with his phrase ‘sunny ways’ borrowed from Sir Wilfrid Laurier…


  • Mr. Harper’s anti-niqab gambit had some initial success, there are clear indications it was not a winning strategy.

  • Eddie Sammon 20th Oct '15 - 4:48pm

    Thanks Ian, I think overall he is better than Stephen Harper, but I can’t help feeling uneasy about adulation of him.

    I thought Tim Montgomerie summed up Harper’s problems very well in CapX: he said he was a “borecon”, similar to Tony Abbott and some other typical centre-right conservatives banging on about the economy and playing down climate change. The best thing I can see coming from this is that hopefully it will be the political end of these borecons.

  • Alex Macfie 20th Oct '15 - 5:46pm

    Just to be clear about the Australian “Liberal” Party, it is not and does not pretend to be a “small-L liberal” party. To an Australian, “small-L liberalism” and the politics of their Liberal Party are distinct concepts.

  • This makes me hopeful for Corbyn in 2020.

  • Ideologically the Liberal Party of Canada is much closer to the UK Lib Dems than to the Tories or any other UK party. Radical yet pragmatic and coherent (this is where comparisons with Corbyn fall), the Canadian Liberals show how we should be fighting elections.
    Someone further up the thread wrote , “The lib dems are nothing like the Canadian liberals,” but all political parties are shaped by their national political landscape, meaning that no two parties are exactly alike even if they regard themselves as sister parties.
    As to what “liberal” means, there is a difference between use as a proper ideological label and as a term of abuse. And sometimes it really is just a party name, with no pretence at following any sort of liberalism (e.g. Australian Liberal Party, and Japanese and Russian Liberal Democratic Parties).

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Oct '15 - 1:09am

    Yep, Trudeau is pulling out of Iraq, even though the mission is legal. He supports local soldiers, which is fine, but why is he calling us selfish for risking our necks by taking a more aggressive approach?

    He winds me up, I don’t even know if I could have voted for him.

  • Phyllis
    Why? In 2020 Mr Corbyn will not be seeking relection having stepped down from the Labour ieadership in 2018.

  • Dave Orbison 21st Oct '15 - 8:54am

    Manfarang – yes but you omitted to say that the Tories lost a No Confidence motion at the end of 2017 and Corbyn was swept to power on the 17 th March 2018. Oh wait I’m sorry I should have the 19th March 2018……..

  • @John Marriott

    I think it was more the honesty rather than the pragmatism that did the trick.

    Liberal policies are obviously popular in Canada but they’re just as popular here too.

    What percentage of British people do you think would agree with those polices here? I’d say at least 40%

    If you said that the UK needed to take its fair share of refugees, that cannabis should be fully legalised, that the voting system needed to be changed to a proportional one (with a non partisan committee deciding which), that neither left or right were always wrong on economic matters and we needed to be pragmatic about these things and that airstrikes were not the solution in Syria I think at least 40% of the British people could see themselves putting a cross in hath at box.

    Now what percentage of British people would vote lib dem if the liberal democrats offered that? I’d say less than 10% the reasons why should be obvious, the lib dems aren’t trusted. Not that the lib dems would have the courage to offer that anyway, they’re far to risk adverse. I read on this site that the MSPs are scared to propose putting a penny on income tax in Scotland to increase funding for the NHS. They’ll no doubt fight the next scottish elections on encumbrancy and a vote for anyone but us is a vote for the SNP rubbish and get all but wiped out in Holyrood.

  • David Wallace 20th Oct ’15 – 10:34pm
    “@phyllis: if you’re hopeful of corbyn in 2020 I think you’re going to be very disappointed. Jeremy corbyn is on the far left….”

    I don’t see any evidence that he is on the far left now. The things he espouses are also supported by many Lib Dems. And he has started off well by winning a Tory marginal ward.


  • Matt (Bristol) 22nd Oct '15 - 1:28pm

    Colin, it is not impossible that you could be simultaneously right and wrong, i.e we are in a great polarising phase of politics and Corbyn is part of that, but he still can’t win.

  • Simon Thorley 22nd Oct '15 - 1:40pm

    Perhaps we should drop Democrats from our name as a first step towards emulating their success?

  • Dave Orbison
    No that was Cameron who lost the challenge to his leadership and he was replaced.

  • Phyllis
    Mr Corbyn has changed his dress sense but not his politics.
    Those with beards and sandals Liberals may have been.
    However there is a big difference between a well run state enterprise and a nationalised monopoly.

  • David Wallace andManfarang

    I still see no evidence that Corbyn is “far left” nowadays. Many of his policies were thIngs Lib Dems believed in before the Orange Book Infiltration. The renationalisation of railways is supported by the majority of the public; many Lib Dems support scrapping Trident. Of course he is a socialist as opposed to capitalist but have the Lib Dems moved so far to the right that “socialist’ is now automaticly synonymous with “far left”?

  • Nick Collins 28th Oct '15 - 5:45pm

    Phyllis, Isn’t it fascinating to hear the constant cries that Corbyn is on the “far left” without those who utter them ever providing any evidence or even defining what they mean by “far left”? When such people are asked to provide such evidence or definition they do not do so, but repeat the cry more loudly and more stridently.Apparently, they consider that repetition and noise are substitutes for evidence.

    Sadly such substitutes for reasoned debate, the weapons of choice of the Tory Party and their allies in the tabloid press, will probably succeed so that it becomes “an established fact” that Corbyn is “dangerously left wing” and therefore unelectable. And it’s very sad to see the remnants of the LibDems adopting the same tactics

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