Liberator 408 is out

This issue we’ve done something a bit different by running extended pieces by Layla Moran and Michael Meadowcroft on Lib Dem strategy. Layla argues for a progressive alliance with Labour and the Greens, while Michael calls for the party to make itself matter again across the widest area possible. See which (if either) you think is right.

Liberator 408 also includes:


Far from seeking a ‘progressive alliance’ Liberal Democrats should “pummel the life out of Labour”, says Jonathan Hunt


La République en Marche came from nowhere to send Emmanuel Macron to the French presidency in 2017. Can he do it again, asks Marianne Magnin?


Myanmar has seen random shootings, organ harvesting and the suppression of all dissent by the military since its coup in February. This report draws on eye-witness sources in the country.


Canada’s Indian residential school scandal saw children beaten, abused and even killed. The country and the Vatican must face up to their inglorious past says Rebecca Tinsley.


Two decades on from a war that horrified the outside world, how is Kosovo doing in establishing a working state? Ian Bancroft reports.

Plus commentary, Radical Bulletin, letters and reviews. Lord Bonkers is on holiday.

Download it here (click on Liberator 408).

Read more by .
This entry was posted in Lib Dem organisations and News.


  • John Littler 9th Aug '21 - 3:52pm

    “pummel the life out of Labour”, says Jonathan Hunt

    So we allow this nationalistic authoritarian government to continue to pull apart the country and what remains of the constitution until we are fake democracy with an unregulated privatised health service and a one party state?

    Lets have either an overt or a behind the scenes Progressive Alliance and get this nasty lot out.

  • John Bicknell 10th Aug '21 - 9:48am

    One can hardly disagree with Layla’s assessment of the tactical necessity for a non-aggression pact with Labour at the next GE; my concern would be that she implies that the sole function of the Lib Dems is as an anti-Conservative force. If the party has no greater ambitions than that, it should give up the pretence of being an independent political group, and become an affiliate body of the Labour Party.
    Michael M makes some valid points about the failure of the Lib Dems in recent times to justify their purpose, and also about the reduction of the party to fringe party status (at a Westminster level) in much of the country. I’m less convinced by his argument that the party should abandon targeting in favour of improving its status in these electoral wastelands. Going from, say, 5% to 10% in such seats, at the expense of winning target seats, seems a poor exchange.
    Jonathan H’s article seems to have been written 15 years too late; there was a time when the idea of the Lib Dems replacing Labour did not seem too far fetched, but at the present mere survival seems the more realistic objective.

  • The decision to go for a couple of longer pieces is well justified and hopefully will help to earth the arguments about “progressive alliances”. However, whatever view we take, I assume that most will recognise that what the Tories fear more than anything else (without really admitting it) is proportional representation. There are elements inside Labour who fear it too but may not see it as political enemy number one. Once you start talking about concerted efforts “to get rid of the Tories” you cannot avoid strategic thinking about something which ceased to be a purely Liberal obsession long ago. In spite of nigh on six decades of fighting the more reactionary forces of Labour I claim no understanding of why the Labour Party cannot work this out for itself!

  • “she implies that the sole function of the Lib Dems is as an anti-Conservative force. If the party has no greater ambitions than that, it should give up the pretence of being an independent political group, and become an affiliate body of the Labour Party.”

    I disagree because on the continent it is the norm for parties to indicate in advance who they would work with after the election. For example in Denmark where there are 10 parties with seats in parliament (due to PR), 5 are part of the centre-left bloc (including the social liberal party) and 5 are part of the centre-right bloc.

    I agree with Layla’s nuanced article. I have always thought that Lib Dems who harbour ambitions of replacing Labour as the main left-wing party are a bit deluded.

  • All parties have their “opposition” & their “competition”. Obviously in Tory facing seats – Greens and Labour are our competition. And one way to deal with them is for them to stand down. And that happened in a limited number of seats with the Greens in 2019. So far Labour have said that they won’t stand down in seats for us and I would be very, very, very surprised (!) if they did at the next General Election.

    It is therefore down to us then to say to the electorate in seats where we are second (or first) that we *can* win and Labour can’t (and indeed the Greens can’t). And at the present rate of progress – it will take the Greens 100 years to win their *first* parliamentary seat off the Tories. Climate change can’t wait that long!

    I think Layla overstates in her article how much of an alliance there was in 1997 between Labour and us – especially from what Chris Rennard said in a previous thread. It is fairly obvious that if you are the Labour party you are not going to spend virtually any resource in a seat where you are poor third – certainly not from the national party and it is unlikely that such a local labour party will have much resource – progressive alliance or no progressive alliance.

    We also need to back our local campaigners in Labour cities. Richard Kemp and his colleagues have done valiant work in Liverpool and this is repeated in many Labour “one party states” across the country. And many councils are run so very, very badly by Labour and often have lazy Labour MPs – these communities need so much better and we can offer it to them.

    Michael Meadowcroft is right to say that we need a strong national bold message. I don’t believe that bland and trying not to upset people in the hope they will vote locally if you don’t upset them it will hack it. Watch Lynton Crosby on youtube on how he trumped our hard work in seats like Yeovil with his national message in 2015.

    I don’t think though that he has the right message. I am passionate for a “holistic education, federalism and (to a lesser extent) LVT” but they are as likely to be talking about these down the Dog and Duck as to how conduct an STV election – i.e. not!

    And virtually all political punditry is c*** including mine – because it starts the wrong way round. It needs to start with the voters and to recognise there is a great diversity among them and guess what not all of them share your/our take on the world.

  • John Bicknell 11th Aug '21 - 9:45am

    Marco: If we had PR in UK elections it would make sense for the Labour and Conservative Parties to split apart, and the voters would have a nuanced choice between a variety of political groups, some broadly on the left, some broadly on the right. However, we do not, and under FPTP, there is a tendency for two monolithic parties to dominate. Any other party has to justify its existence; the nationalists in Scotland and Wales have a specific cause, the Greens have a distinctive position, but what, really, is the point of the Lib Dems? If asked, party representatives repeat ‘well, we’re best placed to beat the Conservatives in a number of seats.’ That’s just a tactical position, not a reason for existence.

  • Jason Conner 11th Aug '21 - 6:39pm

    I agree with much of what Michael 1 says. If you live in a labour dominated local authority as I do, everything is centralised and the council panders to upper middle class voters, the road closures issue is a case in point. That’s let all the traffic pass by social housing but not up the roads of the wealthy with their houses worth £1 million. People need an alternative and I would be delighted to see a few lib dem councillors re-elected whose recent campaigns have centred on more consultation with local communities before centralised top-heavy decisions are imposed – labour’s way of doing things. As for the labour MP, I just could not comment.

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