LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: Will Labour moderates seize the moment?

In an article for the Telegraph (which the sub-editors did not headline in a particularly helpful way), Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael called on Labour moderates to work with others who share the aim of securing the UK’s place in the single market and who want to see a successful economy which gives more money to invest in public services.

First of all, he states that the party really is over for Labour:

First, as this summer’s leadership election made clear, they do not even have a Neil Kinnock, let alone a Tony Blair. The Corbyn grip on Labour is stronger than ever, and so the party will continue to look inwards not outwards to voters.

Secondly, Labour then could look to Scotland and the North for both raw numbers and talent. No longer.

So as they view their prospects for 2017, Labour MPs face some unpalatable but necessary decisions. The Fabian estimate of Labour reduced to 150 seats may turn out to be optimistic. Its leader is more interested in ideological purity than winning elections, and, challenged by identity politics in its heartlands, Labour is as far from power as it was under Michael Foot. This time, however, there is no way back. Our first past the post electoral system – long supported by Labour – now threatens to consume them.

Labour, he says, is a “road block” to progress.

He calls on those in the Labour Party who don’t agree with its current direction to work with us:

Will Labour moderates seize the moment?

Liberal Democrats, Greens, the Women’s Equality Party and others who wanted a progressive modern Britain without attaching themselves to any individual party took the first tentative steps in the Richmond Park by-election – and to some effect. Now we need moderate mainstream Labour politicians to do their part, by breaking away completely or working with us informally.

Will they work with Liberal Democrats to maintain the most vital aspects of our relationship with Europe, notably our membership of the single market? Will they recognise that we need a successful economy to give our underfunded schools and hospitals the investment they need? And will they abandon the class-based, divisive politics of yesterday to represent all of Britain?

You can read the whole article here.

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13 Comments

  • paul barker 4th Jan '17 - 12:56pm

    The candidate for Labour “Moderates” in the election for the leadership of Unite (Britains largest Union) is campaigning partly on an Anti-Immigration ticket – that gives some idea of how far Labours Centrist Wing have fallen. They arent simply leaderless, divided & weak; alot of them are no longer “Progressive” in any sense.
    Genuine Labour Moderates/Centrists must be in despair.

  • Peter Martin 4th Jan '17 - 3:32pm

    “……who want to see a successful economy which gives more money to invest in public services.” ??

    A successful economy doesn’t actually provide any money at all! All “real money” originates from the government. If you look at the money in your wallet or purse it is either of Bank of England origin or it’s counterfeit. Or a Scottish bank has issued IOUs denominated in the Westminster currency!

    That’s not to argue that we don’t need a successful economy. We do – to provide the real things that both the public services and the population need. But the constraint isn’t money. It’s resources and real things.

    So instead of asking where the money is going to come from, we need to ask where the resources are going to come from to support public services. There’s plenty of people looking for work so that should be a much easier question to answer.

  • Peter Martin 4th Jan '17 - 3:44pm

    Will they work with Liberal Democrats to maintain the most vital aspects of our relationship with Europe, notably our membership of the single market?

    Possibly, but the Labour Party is in a very difficult position. If they are seen to be too pro-EU they’ll lose much of their formerly core support to UKIP in the Northern working class heartlands which is very much inclined to the Leave side of the debate.

    On the other hand, if they are seen to be anti-EU they lose their “progressive liberal” support in the metropolitan areas.

    So their best hope is for the EU issue to be resolved by the time the next election comes along. In the meantime they’ll have to ride two horses at the same time.

  • Mark Blackburn 4th Jan '17 - 4:41pm

    What is a ‘moderate, mainstream’ Labour politician exactly? I find the suggestion that a Blairite or a Brownite is somehow more liberal than a Corbynista entirely specious.

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Jan '17 - 4:50pm

    How can an article praising Tony Blair appeal to Green Party members? It spends half the article praising centrists and the other praising the left.

    Of course there is such thing as “the centre-left”, but Blair is not part of it and many in the Green Party aren’t either, who let’s not forget are or have been trying to sue the British government over drone strikes against known ISIS terrorists planning attacks against Britain.

    The Women’s Equality Party are a single issue party too.

    We can all move our political positions from time to time but it is possible to target a wide demographic without saying contradictory things. Just find the policies that matter most to each major demographic.

  • @paul barker
    I’ve just lookup up Gerard Coyne’s views on immigration and they seem to be more liberal – and certainly more mildly expressed – than the views which were put forward by Nick Clegg and other senior Lib Dems during the 2010 election campaign (remember how the South East was running out of drinking water?). These things are always relative.

  • Bill le Breton 4th Jan '17 - 7:14pm

    Why are we spending anytime worrying about the state of a Party we need to replace – as indeed it replaced the Liberal Party post WW1?

  • “Why are we spending anytime worrying about the state of a Party we need to replace?”

    Replacing Labour wouldn’t do anything other than making the Lib Dems the biggest party in opposition. The Lib Dems need to demonstrate that the Tory argument doesn’t work if it wishes to make real, positive changes in the UK.

  • Tony Dawson 5th Jan '17 - 8:05am

    Labour ‘moderates’ (sic) stand no chance of effecting anything soon. They are, however, perfectly happy to hide away within their bunkers or (Burnham, Khan, Robotham) go off to high-paid jobs with real power well away from Westminster.

  • David Evershed 5th Jan '17 - 3:59pm

    Lib Dems are as far from Labour on economic policies as they are from Conservatives on social policies.

    We should not align ourselves with other parties but stand out as distinctive if we are to get recognition for liberal viewpoints.

  • That is an article which talks about “progressive” and “moderate” – but not “liberal”. What is Alistair calling for here? Those terms are not synonyms for each other

  • Richard Underhill 7th Jan '17 - 2:17pm

    On “Any Questions?” from Hull Labour MP Alan Johnson said that Liberal Democrats have eight MPs. Actually it is nine. Also relevant is the number of political parties which have gained an MP in the current parliament – one.
    On the Siemens investment in wind farms he said that the deal was signed before the referendum result, otherwise it would be doubtful, despite being for UK use. An associated deal with Siemens for export has been put under review.

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