LibLink: Dominic Carman – What it’s like to be the most despised man in the town political correctness forgot (and come SIXTH in a by-election)

There’s what you might think is a somewhat over-the-top headline on Dominic Carman’s piece on the Daily Mail website detailing his experience as the Liberal Democrat candidate in last week’s by-election in Barnsley Central, but after having read the piece it seems somewhat less hyperbolic. Barnsley is not natural Liberal Democrat territory – the content of Dominic’s article will demonstrate why. You couldn’t invent a better example of a Labour stronghold if you tried, and the historic and deep hatred of the Conservative party by many in such seats means campaigning there as a Liberal Democrat now is especially tough.

All credit to Dominic, though. The Liberal Democrats have to stand candidates in these seats, and to come out of such a battle maintaining a positive attitude is admirable; not many people would fancy what Dominic experienced as a candidate.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

In towns like Barnsley, where the Lib Dems once harvested votes as a party of protest, they now attract derision as a party of government.

It goes with the territory. The Lib Dems are learning that power brings not only responsibility, but contempt.
Cuts, in a town heavily dependent on public-sector jobs, sharpen both minds and attitudes.

After the first of the leaders’ debates, in April 2010, it was reported that Nick Clegg was nearly as popular as Winston Churchill, with an almost unprecedented approval rating of 72 per cent.
Ten months into the Coalition, Barnsley voters want his head on a plate – and mine too, as the symbol of Clegg in absentia.

The bile flows fast and free. Among the more publishable insults, Clegg is variously described to me as a coward, a traitor, a turncoat, a liar, a hypocrite, Tory scum and Cameron’s lapdog – most comments being spiced with expletives.

Opinion is divided as to what enrages people most.

Some think Clegg ‘despicable’, ‘wicked’ and ‘criminal’ for reneging on the tuition-fees pledge.
One woman rants at me for five minutes, breaking down in tears at the thought of her teenage children ‘being saddled with a lifetime of debt’.

Another volunteers: ‘You should be ashamed to come here and sell your poison to poor people like me.’

For others, it is ‘getting into bed with the Tories’ that is the greatest sin.

You can read the piece in full here.

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71 Comments

  • https://www.libdemvoice.org/dominic-carman-fighting-for-jobs-for-barnsley-2-23244.html

    “What has pleasantly surprised me in Barnsley is the number of voters who are genuinely open-minded about who they will support. They know that Barnsley needs new jobs and new investment. Barnsley needs an ambitious ambassador, someone who can sell what the town and its people have to offer: a low cost base, a skilled work force, and an excellent geographic location.”

    Such a dramatic change in 4 days… I don’t know what to believe, which is the truth?

  • Lorna Spenceley 7th Mar '11 - 5:57pm

    I just hope Dominic Carman realises how incredibly grateful many of us are -and those who aren’t should be – to people like him who raise the Liberal Democrat banner in unpromising by-elections like this one. Dominic, you have my sincere gratitude and admiration for taking on this thankless task.

  • Lorna’s quite right, he must’ve known the rubbish that would come his way. Thank you, Dominic.

  • how about doing something so that the voters don’t despise you? You have 8 weeks or so to avoid annihilation in council, welsh and scottish elections… contempt for voters is unlikely to help.

  • Sadly Dominics description of certain aspects of the local culture, and how socially conservative it is is all too true.

    Dominic is a hero, and @Jim, both are true. I was with Dominic most days of the election campaign, I am local so have wider experience too, but i witnessed most of the examples he gives in his articles.

  • Ed The Snapper 7th Mar '11 - 6:43pm

    If the voters despise a candidate and a party then perhaps it time for the party and the candidate to engage in some self-reflection before dissing the electorate. It reminds me of Berthold Brecht’s ironic (and embarassed?) comments after the failed uprising in 1950’s East Germany that roughly translated as “Perhaps it is time to elec t another population?”.

  • @ G

    “how about doing something so that the voters don’t despise you?”

    Presumably that “something” involves opposing every single reduction in public spending while denying there is a public debt problem and promising like Labour to cut “later and lighter” i.e. “never”. Very popular. Very stupid.

    While cutting public spending may be necessary and unpopular, privatising the NHS on the other hand is both unnecessary and unpopular. We should be using our Spring conference to give Clegg a real rocket and final warning to turn back on that one.

  • “‘Thatcher was worse than bloody Hitler,’ shouts one man. ‘Cameron and Clegg – I’d like to kill the pair of them,’ volunteers another. ‘Clegg dare not come here, there would be a lynch mob,’ echoes a passer-by.”

    Do the Lib Dems really want the votes of these cretins?

  • R C, I take the point but wasn’t that your pre-election position? The one you got votes on?

    Besides it takes a lot to make a party more unpopular than the tories in that part of the world, the cuts are their policies so why do you think it’s the lib dems bearing the brunt?

  • Depressed Ex 7th Mar '11 - 8:07pm

    Do the Lib Dems really want the votes of these cretins?

    Keep your fingers crossed. If Mr Clegg’s plans work out, the Lib Dems won’t have to rely on the support of these horrible working-class people in the future.

  • ‘Do the Lib Dems really want the votes of these cretins?’

    You been to Barnsley then?

  • As much as I respect Carman for fighting a losing battle, the article does leave a rather bad taste in the mouth. Brutally, he can’t have it both ways. If a party wants to live by the protest vote, it can hardly complain if it dies by the protest vote.

    I would love, dearly love, for a more ‘informed politics,’ but it is not for me or Carman to say what gauges voters should measure candidates by. If they want to kick the government, it is not exactly new to British politics – just new for the Lib Dems. More civility in our society and our politics would be very, very welcome but in opposition, the parties in the Coalition opened the door to this.

    The comment,

    ‘Some think Clegg ‘despicable’, ‘wicked’ and ‘criminal’ for reneging on the tuition-fees pledge.
    One woman rants at me for five minutes, breaking down in tears at the thought of her teenage children ‘being saddled with a lifetime of debt’.’

    is in all honesty not greatly different to what was meted out (fairly and otherwise) to Gordon Brown every day. Carman is to be applauded for going on a loser, but this article looks a bit graceless and his strange lack of empathy is well…..strange for a party that previously bangs the fairness drum.

    Personally, there are very few things that get my bile flowing, not even Iraq – I’d like to think I give all candidates at least a reasonable hearing but comments like Richard – ‘Do the Lib Dems really want the votes of these cretins?’ are a real let-down. Quite frankly, that could be my, ‘socially conservative,’ father you are spitting at. Not to mention such comments suggest that maybe the people in Barnsley have judged quite accurately what some Lib Dems think of them.

    Blaming the voters never works.

  • LabourLiberal 7th Mar '11 - 8:49pm

    Barnsley is a Labour stronghold, of course. But in May last year, the Lib Dems finished a more than respectable second there, and Labour’s vote dropped to its lowest for several decades – and this was before the sitting Labour MP was banged up for two years for fraud. And it’s true, too, that many in Barnsley (as in many other parts of the country) despise the Conservatives with a venom rarely seen in British politics. And yet – the Conservative vote held up far better than the Lib Dem vote did.

    Enough excuses Mr Carman. It’s not your fault you performed so dreadfully – but perform dreadfully you did, undeniably. And it’s the fault of your head-in-the-clouds party leadership. It’ll all be obvious soon enough.

  • “Do the Lib Dems really want the votes of these cretins?”

    presumably you mean the electorate….

    …yes they do.

  • I’m sure the good people of Barnsley will be eternally grateful for such a patronising atricle from a candidate who was pleading for their votes only a few days ago.

  • Norfolk Boy 7th Mar '11 - 10:25pm

    I quite like the sound of the people of Barnsley.

    Not exactly ‘disengaged from politics’ then, are they?

    Passionate, principled and decidedly unforgiving.

    Good on them.

  • Someone had to fly the flag and take the flak. But the problem with selecting a ‘journeyman’ candidate rather than a local is that this type of article gets written. Clegg’s approach to the coalition means that the party is seen as too close to the Tories. Many areas in the UK have yet to fully recover (in a phychological if not economic sense) from the Thatcher years.

    This can turn support into apathy and those who never supported the Lib Dems to the type of outright hatred evidenced in the article. Before discounting them as cretins spare a thought for what could happen if the av vote is won. You may find candidates in areas such as Barnsley chasing those with similar views for second preference votes and insulting them will not be a good start.

  • David Allen 8th Mar '11 - 12:17am

    Just as well we thrashed the Monster Raving Loonies in Barnsley before we called the voters cretins, isn’t it?

    Cheer up, there are lots of “cretins” in Leicester South to go after next….

  • Well it shows that the class system is still very much alive in 21st century Britain.
    There isn’t much hope if the young people can’t break out of this.

  • Step one: Stand for election to parliament.
    Step two: Did you win? Great!
    Did you lose? Well, write an article for a major newspaper in which you paint the voters that didn’t vote for you as backward yokels and yourself as the failed bringer of enlightenment who was run out of town (presumably with pitchforks).
    Congratulations! Re-selection for another seat and then immediate defeat is almost yours.

    With such a winning formula of insulting the electorate, the lib-dems will soon become undisputed kings of the by-election once more.

  • Richard – “Do the Lib Dems really want the votes of these cretins?”

    Great, Richard – “Lib Dems think you’re cretins” – a handy soundbite to be used in the local elections by Labour, Greens, UKIP, BNP and anyone else hoping to take the place of a Lib Dem councillor. Well done!

  • “It goes with the territory. The Lib Dems are learning that power brings not only responsibility, but contempt.”

    But please……. it needn’t have been like this…. and indeed many people voted for the LIb Dems believing (because they were promised and of course personally pledged that it wasn’t going to be like this)… You could have shown responsibility, opposed the Tories where necessary, drawn lines in the sand more often, kept promises made to the electorate, kept as much as possible to positions held during the election – that way would you would have earned respect – and we can all see what has happened instead.

    My only bewilderment is why you are at all surprised voters are acting in this way. To blame them smacks of downright hypocrisy.

  • I’m not sure whats more worrying, Dominic Carman’s disgraceful comments, or that they’ve been endorsed by the local party

  • ‘Well it shows that the class system is still very much alive in 21st century Britain.
    There isn’t much hope if the young people can’t break out of this.’

    Needn’t make excuses, young people can make their minds up for themselves.

    ‘Do the Lib Dems really want the votes of these cretins?”’

    Roll on April and May, are we the public cretins?

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Mar '11 - 9:53am

    From the original article:

    For others, it is ‘getting into bed with the Tories’ that is the greatest sin.

    Indeed, but this shows how badly the situation has been handled by those leading our party since the coalition was formed. It ought to have been OBVIOUS that this would be the main line of attack used against us, and that Labour would continue it remorselessly until the next general election. Therefore we should have taken every step from the start to deflect it. Instead, those running our party at the top and those advising them have taken every step from the start to make sure this line of attack works.

    It wasn’t us that put the Tories in, it was the electorate, combined with the electoral system which worked as its supporters say it should work – twisting the representation of the largest party up well beyond its share of the vote, and of the third party down. Although it did not quite give the Conservatives a majority, it left a Parliament where a Conservative government was the only viable one. No-one who opposes AV on the grounds “FPTP avoids coalition government” – which includes large sections of the Labour Party – has any moral right to criticise Nick Clegg for getting a poor deal out of the Tories because because by their opposition to electoral reform they are saying whichever party has the most votes should have complete government power and it is good for representation to be twisted to deliver that. It is deeply hypocritical to criticise Clegg for not demanding more in negotiations when your position is that negotiations are such a bad thing that you prefer distortional representation in order that we should rarely be in a position where they are a possibility.

    In order to avoid the obvious line of attack, our line from the start should have been that our coalition position was simply to give the British people what they voted for – by their voting Conservative in more numbers than any other party, and by their voting Labour which supports the principle of distortional representation so that the party with the most votes but far from majority support nevertheless gets absolute power in government. But instead of this, the right-wing spin doctors who surround Clegg have encouraged the line that this coalition is on some sort of ideological principled lines, using the Orwellian tactics we have seen much of recently whereby history is re-written to make out the Liberal Party always supported dog-eat-dog extreme free market money-rules politics.

    We ought to have made absolutely sure we were not seen as equal partners with the Conservatives. We have about one sixth of the number of MPs in the coalition, and are weakened further still by the fact that there isn’t a viable alternative. From this it should have been clear that our ability to achieve much from our role was weak – we can tinker from the edges and that’s it. We should have said that instead of going out of the way to get an equal share of the blame for all the things people won’t like, whether those things are justified out of necessity, or justified because we had to let them go as the Tories want in order to get a little elsewhere.

    Throughout since May 2010 our line to the British people should have been “You have this government because it is what YOU voted for. We are letting it carry on because we are democrats, we accept that the people should get what they voted for, and we are practical, we accept the country needs a government with some degree of stability which can only be achieved if we give some guarantee of support to the only party which, thanks to YOUR votes, is in the position to lead it”.

    We should not have tied ourselves so tightly to it by insisting we were in it for five years. I think two years to see how it goes and to give the people of this country a taste of the government THEY voted for is enough. At that point it is quite reasonable to ask the people “Well, do you like what you got? Do you now wish you’d chosen something else? Is there something else better available? Would you like a chance to choose it?”. I do not mean necessarily that we should pull out of the coalition and bring down the government in May 2012. I mean we should make it clear that we are listening to the British people and if it is absolutely clear that this is what a clear majority of them would like us to do, that they believe how they voted in May 2010 was a mistake, we will do it.

    Those in our party who gained ministerial posts should not have boasted so much about it, and looked so proud and pompous in their posts. The spin doctors (the chief of whom is, of course, the man who sold this country the Tories in 1979) told us this would make us look good, it would make the voters respect us as a “serious” party. But is hasn’t has it? Instead it has confirmed their fears, the standard line we all get when canvassing – “you’re only in it to get power for yourselves, you will say anything to get our vote”.

    Throughout we should have been pumping out the line that things would have been different had we been the lead party in the government. We should have been showing that we are actively developing policy to that end. We should have made it clear that whenever is government ends we have something new and different to offer, and the way to get it is to vote for us in big enough numbers so that we have the decisive influence rather than the tiny one we have in the present coalition situation. All this would make sure we are not hit as badly as we will be by voters turning against “the government” as if we support 100% of what it was doing and would be doing the same were we in the majority.

    I don’t think what I’ve written above is anything but fairly obvious, what anyone who has experienced difficult balance of power situations in local government would know would be the best way to play things given the May 2010 general election results. I remember thinking all this as I was at the count in my own constituency (freezing cold as LB Greenwich unwisely chose a location that would have been good for a balmy high summer night, but not for a colder-than-average early May night) with our results not coming through until well into daylight, and while I listened through an earpiece (yes I was doggedly observing the papers in the ward where I was a paper candidate) to the results in other places coming through. With the sickening realisation that we would most likely have to form some sort of agreement with the Tories, I thought then “Put them in, pull the rug after two years”. I have not changed my opinion since.

  • Bad losers always engage in bad faith and blame everyone for their loss but themselves. A reasoned, analytical article by Carman reflecting on the reasons for his catastrophic failure and postulating policy changes (and Leadership changes) that might improve the fortunes of other Lib Dem candidates would have been more seemly and appropriate. Instead of which Carman insulted the electorate of Barnsley ((many of whom never voted and most of whom he never met) by characterising them in the most crass and stereotypical terms. A perfect example of the halo effect. At the end of his article he also re-afirmed his commitment to Clegg’s Kamikaze policy direction, so the Liberal Democrats can look forward to even more lost deposits in Northern seats and throughout the country. The people of Barnsley sent Carman a clear message. In the true tradition of bad losers he shot the messenger instead of listening to them.

  • Dominic Carman article perfectly illustrate why the “cretins” in Barnsley were right to ensure that he finished the election in the miserable position he did. His remarks reinforce the attitude of a lot of northern folk that some people from the south east think we in the north are indeed “cretins”. The fact that Carman is a Lib Dem political wannabee makes his stupid article all the more embarrassing for the Lib Dems as a whole.

    People in many towns in the north of Britain have very good historical reasons to despise the Tories. There are areas all over Britain that have never recovered fully from the Thatcher years and suffered as communities with all the social problems that Thatchers policies caused.

    People in Barnsley are not stupid and will have known who Carman was and that he was a “journeyman” candidate. I like to think that a local candidate would have faired better but I very much doubt it.

    At the risk of being branded a “cretin” (I am a northerner myself) I too now view the Lib Dems as problem because you are propping up a right wing Tory administration that is trying to do too much too quickly for which you and they have no mandate. As Carman has found out, voters have very long memories…

  • how interesting, how really interesting, a correspondent on this thread actually calls the electorate of Barnsley cretins?
    Look at how you are viewed
    Your helping the Conservatives wreck the NHS
    Your assisting the Conservatives as they slowly dismantle state education
    Your working with the Conservatives as they smash Local Government and local services
    You have no mandate
    and because the electorate of Barnsley rejected you you call them cretins,
    Well let me tell you this there are an awful lot of cretins just waiting for a certain date in early May.
    yYou could have avoided all this…..rather than be seduced into a coalition you could have sat outside, supplied your votes to policies you agreed with, you would have avoided the tuition disgrace, and you could have halted many of the Tory more loony policies, if you’d done that then by now you would be streets ahead in the polls, but no.
    Your right wing orange book leaders bumped you into a partnership,That most of you are in self denial is obvious you have wrecked your party only to see the Conservatives flourish at your own doing. Who ever would have thought that the once proud Liberal Party could ever be described as Thatcherite, Hey and the electorate are cretins…………roll on May

  • @twollocks as soon as you provide a shred of evidence for any of your ludicrous claims that services are being smashed etc… I might take you seriously.

    As for confidence/supply, I don’t think anyone would like a pure Tory government, which is what we’d get after a general election in October. Confidence/supply has never worked, here or abroad. Coalitions have worked quite well in most of the western world.

  • Most of the electorate in Barnsley didn’t vote. Those on the public sector payroll voted Labour. A small number registered a protest vote.

    The question is, given its history and heritage, why some 2/3 of the electorate chose to ignore Labour. I suspect they realise (correctly) that Labour has nothing to offer them; and given the position in this Parliament, and the economic cycle, are reserving judgement in the others. Especially given there was nothing at stake in this election bar the coronation of another Labour aparatchik.

  • “I thought then “Put them in, pull the rug after two years”. I have not changed my opinion since.”

    Matthew – given the length of time it takes for economic effects to work through the system, that is patently stupid. Either we’re in this for the full term (when we at least have the opportunity to pick up credit for restructuring the economy) or we don’t bother to go in in the first place. To pull out half way through the cycle when the resturcturing has gone through all the pain without any of the gain is barking.

  • @Michael

    “As for confidence/supply, I don’t think anyone would like a pure Tory government, which is what we’d get after a general election in October,”

    Looks like the Lib Dems really are in more trouble than I thought. So much for being an important coalition partner!
    Is this when the right wing of the Lib Dems join the Tory party when finally the penny drops for Clegg, Alexander et all that the Lib Dems are finished as a major force in British politics (if they carry on down the path they have chosen to follow)?

    @twollocks

    “You could have avoided all this…..rather than be seduced into a coalition you could have sat outside, supplied your votes to policies you agreed with, you would have avoided the tuition disgrace, and you could have halted many of the Tory more loony policies, if you’d done that then by now you would be streets ahead in the polls, but no.”

    This was exactly what most of us expected to happen when we voted (floaters) Lib Dem at the GE. I even commented on this site days after the coalition agreement was reached that this is what the Lib Dems should have done. The situation would be very different had your leadership taken this course and your vote would have held up with people like myself continuing to vote Lib Dem. But Clegg didn’t and now we are all seeing the consequences of the decision to form a coalition with the Tories and the almost “neutered” Lib Dem policies.

  • Bhainart – its clear that any move that wasn’t coalition with Labour wouldn’t have satisfied you. So be it.

    For those of us that believe that politics is about working with what the electorate and the system deal you, then a coalition was the only responsible thing to do.

  • Being in government does not bring contempt and hatred – David Cameron is not despised and hated. He’s attacked, but not despised. But the Lib Dems are, because they lied. Politicians always lie, but when the electorate notice, and the lies concern the central preoccupations of the electorate – and more crucially, when that perception of lying assumes the critical mass, and becomes accepted and widespread wisdom – then it is all over for the politician. Nick Clegg is doomed – you know it, we all know it. And yet, you follow into the abyss. Thanks guys, you do the Labour party a service of the greatest magnitude.

  • George – thanks for those informed comments. I think yoiu made a valid point about being able to actually talk and reason with people.

    Far too many will have voted on visceral instincts.

    Howeve,r I can understand why few volunteers came – to Barnsley?

  • @Tabman

    “Bhainart – its clear that any move that wasn’t coalition with Labour wouldn’t have satisfied you. So be it.”

    Where did I say that I wanted Lib Dems to form a coalition with anyone?

    “Far too many will have voted on visceral instincts.”

    People do not like being misled by Clegg and I strongly suggest this is the reason why you got dumped in Barnsley.

  • But George, for all of that, when things do not go your way you dont go and insult, and deliberately try to give the impression that this is a whole town problem – Look at Carman’s article – not once does he give the impression, or the insistence that it is a minority – he says ‘diversity is not welcome here’ – its only after being confronted that he tries to play down. –

    Yet, this is a place where Labour have a slimmer majority than people would guess on the town council – a majority of 13 in a 63 member council – thats hardly much compared to the monopoly it gets in terms of General elections . – What Dominc Carman has written is not acceptable – purely because he lost an election – because people had the sheer nerve not to vote for him. What makes it worse is how the local party endorse his comments, – I mean how on e

    A friend of mine, does amateur political thesis’ – and has tried a couple of times to contribute (without success for the LDV) – and he was in the midst of writing another aritcle which he expressed sympathy for him, but when he sees his local area lambasted – it shreds any sympathy – I mean insulting the electorate is a fine way to get votes – endorsing the candidate is a fine way to touch the litmus paper – especially when you’re relocating to Sheffield for the weekend.

  • The Lib Dems have got to engage with us, the electorate, I mean my MP wont speak to me because I’m a student at University – and he was one who voted against the rise – thereby undoing all of his work to maintain a good relationship with students

  • @Richard
    “Do the Lib Dems really want the votes of these cretins?”

    Speaking as a cretin (I must be, I voted Lib Dem) of the Leicester South constituency, can you please help to decide who to vote for in the by-election; Green or Labour?

  • Depressed Ex 8th Mar '11 - 3:44pm

    According to a LD source I was listening to not very long ago – the LDs in Barnsley only worked two wards properly. Won one, did very well in another.

    If you can “win” one ward and “do very well” in another, but end up with only 4% of the votes in the whole constituency, I think you must be operating on different laws of arithmetic from the rest of us.

    But if anyone is criticising the party for not putting up more of a fight, there’s a simple explanation – we didn’t, because you didn’t come.

    So it’s the fault of the party membership now, for not working hard enough? I suppose that’s marginally better than blaming the voters.

  • DEx – how many wards in a constituency? Probably 30. Hence there’s no problem with his arithmetic, only yours.

  • Bhainart – “People do not like being misled by Clegg and I strongly suggest this is the reason why you got dumped in Barnsley.”

    People have been happily mislead by politicians for years – Blair for example, and look at the sitting MP – yet still keep voting for them. What’s the trick that the Labour Party use?

  • “People have been happily mislead by politicians for years – Blair for example, and look at the sitting MP – yet still keep voting for them. What’s the trick that the Labour Party use?”

    It took 6 months for Clegg to sink to the same level of deceit and dishonesty that it took Blair 6 years to achieve. Blair’s a rank amateur in comparison.

  • Steve – “Richard” is a sock-puppet set up so that lots of “outraged” people such as yourself can come on and comment in the fashion you just did.

  • Steve – “It took 6 months for Clegg to sink to the same level of deceit and dishonesty that it took Blair 6 years to achieve. Blair’s a rank amateur in comparison.”

    Now answer the question – what do Labour do that ensures people keep on voting for them?

  • @Tabman
    “What’s the trick that the Labour Party use?”

    They used spin, and did so very effectively. But, and here’s the big issue, they got found out and the public rightly dumped them.

    The resorts to spin surrounding for example the Pupil Premium (great idea as proposed by the LD manifesto), which as implemented by the coalition is not new money, the Tuition fees issue (which has been done to death on here), and the perception of a u-turn on pace of cuts in the public sector (and many more) are all making people feel the Lib Dems are going in the same direction.

    People made the mistake of giving Labour 13 years, helped in part by poor opposition by the Tories. I don’t think they will give the current Government as long and the Tories are becoming very good at making the Lib Dems the whipping boys.

    I still think the coalition was the right move, the approach though has been wrong and the betrayals, real and perceived, will mean some will not vote LD for the foreseeable future. I think a spanking is coming in May but it’s not too late to turn it around for the longer term. However, I don’t yet see any evidence Clegg wants to change tack.

  • Stuart Mitchell 8th Mar '11 - 6:29pm

    Matthew: I think your assessment of the situation is very accurate.

    As I pointed out in my very first post here last May, the Lib Dem approach to the coalition has been wrong from the start. During the days immediately after the election, I think there was a huge degree of good will towards the Lib Dems from anybody to the left of centre. A coalition with the Tories was seen as an inevitability, but I (and I’m sure 99% of non-Tory voters) felt hugely relieved that you guys would be in government, saving us from the excesses of 79-97.

    I’m afraid all that good will went straight out the window the moment Nick and Dave walked out in to the Downing Street rose garden. The subsequent love-in was a colossal miscalculation on the Lib Dems’ part and it will cost you very dear unless there is an injection of realism. I get the feeling that most sensible Lib Dems know that this is true but don’t have a clue what to do about it.

  • @Tabman
    “Now answer the question – what do Labour do that ensures people keep on voting for them?”

    No idea. Maybe it’s because they don’t write about how stupid the electorate are for not voting for them? I stopped voting for them a decade ago and I’ve stopped voting Lib Dem now. However, at least Labour have a new leader so there’s a faint glimmer of hope there, whereas the Lib Dems are still tainted with Clegg and are currently propping up a government to the right of Thatcher by punching well below their weight in the coalition.

    Is Carman a “sock-puppet” as well? I can’t think of any other reason he might have written that article, other than to wind people up.

  • @Tabman

    People vote Labour because generally they share out the cake more fairly than the other parties. It’s hardly rocket science.

  • Richard was quoting a man who shouted “Thatcher was worse than bloody Hitler”. While it may have been a bit intemperate of Richard to describe him as a ‘cretin’, the way that so many of our opponents have used the comment in this thread to spin that southerners/Liberal Democrats think that northerners/the people of Barnsley are ‘cretins’ because they didn’t vote for us is utterly ludicrous

  • “There is much to be learned from the people of Barnsley and, despite the insults, it’s valuable experience”.
    I don’t think some of the people commenting above have actually read what Dominic Carman wrote, but what’s surprising about that?

  • @tonyhill
    “While it may have been a bit intemperate of Richard to describe him as a ‘cretin’, the way that so many of our opponents have used the comment in this thread to spin that southerners/Liberal Democrats think that northerners/the people of Barnsley are ‘cretins’ because they didn’t vote for us is utterly ludicrous”

    Not as ludicrous as labelling the entire population of Barnsley as racist, homophobic and prejudiced on the basis that a small percentage of the electorate voted BNP/UKIP and a couple of anecdotes from gay people that have been on the receiving end of abuse. The generalisations Carmen applies to everyone in Barnsley are grossly offensive and ignorant.

  • @Tabman

    Why do you keep on mentioning Labour in your replies to me? I voted Lib Dem at the last GE. How simple do you want me to make comments for you?

    If I thought that all politicians lied all the time, Tabman, then I would probably consider an alternative to voting something along the lines of revolution (not AV) but then I would appear to be less cynical than you. Taking your comment at face value then it’s no wonder the voter can’t be bothered to exercise their right in participating in local elections.

    Anyway, one last time just for you Tabman, I do not support Labour, I voted Lib Dem and now feel misled. I will not vote Labour in local elections or in the next GE. Got it yet ?

  • The article by Mr Carman supported by the party, and responses from some typify just why the Liberal Democrats are in trouble, you have lost so much in less than one year.

    During and shortly after the election many Liberal Democrats supporters were posting on LDV what not to do in coalition, but the party ignored those, even when those supporters explained what would happen as a result they were ignored or ridiculed, now when Liberal Democrats are reaping what they sowed, Liberal Democrats are still ignoring those that voted for you.

    Come May we will see just how much this arrogance has really cost Liberal Democrats, but then it will be too late, Liberal Democrats are facing extinction, they just have not been put on the endangered species list yet.

  • Steve: “Not as ludicrous as labelling the entire population of Barnsley as racist, homophobic and prejudiced…” I read the article again: Dominic Carman says that “diversity and difference are not welcome here”, which is not exactly what you are claiming he said, Steve.

  • @tonyhill
    I beg to differ. Based on the evidence:

    “The message resonates. Barnsley is 98 per cent white. Diversity and difference are not welcome here.

    Local sentiment is summarised by one man who tells me: ‘No one is gay in Barnsley. If they are, they leave.’”

    Making a blanket statement such as “Divesity and difference are not welcome here” is very explicitly expressing an opinion about everyone in the entire constituency. Again, with “Local sentiment is summarised by one man who tells me”, Carman is explicitly saying that the opinion of that one voter, to him, represents the sentiment of the entire locality. How can you justify this man’s words? How can you justify that he’s written this for the Mail? The Mail knew exactly what their readers’ response to the article would be (as evidenced by the comments at the end) – it’s the kind of stuff they love to print precisely because it gets their readers hot and bothered. If Clegg was a serious leader of the Lib Dems, intent on the long-term credibility and integrity of the party, Carman would have been censured for this trashy, vain attempt to pass off responsibility for his party’s failure with the people of Barnsley.

  • Depressed Ex 8th Mar '11 - 8:56pm

    DEx – how many wards in a constituency? Probably 30.

    Hilarious.

    This is the kind of comment that tends to confirm my suspicion that many of those who shout the loudest here have never done any real campaigning for the party in their lives. They are “virtual activists.”

  • “The message resonates…” and what follows is referring to the previous paragraph about the Yorkshire born UKIP and BNP candidates and what they were campaigning on. Given that the combined UKIP and BNP vote was, as someone pointed out above, 46% higher than the combined Coalition vote then, yes, the message resonates. That doesn’t imply that everyone in Barnsley is racist, homophobic and bigoted. Elsewhere Dominic Carman says “Barnsley folk – mostly cordial, reticent and keen to keep their own counsel …”

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Mar '11 - 12:10am

    Tabman

    Matthew – given the length of time it takes for economic effects to work through the system, that is patently stupid. Either we’re in this for the full term (when we at least have the opportunity to pick up credit for restructuring the economy) or we don’t bother to go in in the first place. To pull out half way through the cycle when the resturcturing has gone through all the pain without any of the gain is barking

    Tabman, that is based on the notion that the extreme right-wing Tory policies this government is pursuing will work so well that in five years time most people will be cheering it on and wanting more of it. Well, if I’d thought that way I’d have campaigned for the bloody Tories in May, wouldn’t I?

    What I wrote is based on the firm belief that our country is going to the dogs thanks to the Tory policies all governments have pursued since 1979. Because the last lot of Tories were so disastrous and people have been led to believe “got to vote for the other lot if you don’t want the lot that’s in” (thanks in part to FPTP), we have ended up with a government which purifies and distill in an even more potent form the poison that has infected our country since 1979.

    You think what the current government is doing is “restructuring”? I think it’s quacks administering more of the medicine that’s already poisoned us. Actually, I don’t think it’s even right to call them “Tories”, since at heart real Tories love this country and think in terms other than just money and dog-eat-dog grasping for it. What we have is a government of people who are selling us out to the international finance elite, to new rulers who care nothing for this country except to suck it dry and decamp. And you call this “restructuring”? I feel like I suppose an African in the 19th century would feel as his tribal leaders sold out to the imperialists for a few glass beads and the Bible, all the while saying this was necessary for more prosperity and inevitable as it’s how the world is going, and anwyay THEY’RE doing nicely out of it – here’s a few more slaves for you to trade bwana.

    Look at the OBSCENE amounts the top Barclays people are taking. Why? For one reason – because they can. They control the money flow and hence our lives, more so than the tribal leaders we call “government”.

    So what I’m saying is that after two years you think we’re on the right path – ARGUE for it. If you sincerely believe it, why be afraid of an election? But Tabman, if you think Tory politics work, please do so from within that party. I think two years is enough to show people we’re on a disastrously wrong path.

  • Well this the most depressing blog I have read yet on this website, for a former activist like myself. In the wake of the Barnsley result bloggers are now insulting the electorate of the constituency, as well as being being patronising to the constituency in the opening lines of the discussion subject.

    In past years activists like myself (30 years +) would have piled into a constituency for a by-election and met the electors with the verve of a radical party of reform, that believed in itself. They didn’t go to Barnsley because they have been turned off by the leadership, that has taken the party to a place it did not want to go and had not got the soul for. Without ground troops you will not win anything – just wait for May. There will be a few die-hards who can still stomach Orange Book Liberal Democracy, but that won’t be enough to fight more than a few wards in any constitunecy.

    You reaped what you sowed Nick and the others.

  • Reading that article it’s fairly clear that Dominic Carman holds the people of Barnsley in contempt, no wonder he lost. Clearly Carman is bitter about having done so poorly, but denigrating an area you wished to represent by portraying its residents as neanderthals in the national press doesn’t do much to dispel the opinion that he was the wrong man (not to mention wrong party) for the job.

  • “Richard – ‘Do the Lib Dems really want the votes of these cretins?’ are a real let-down. Quite frankly, that could be my, ‘socially conservative,’ father you are spitting at.”

    I have nothing against those who are socially conservative (especially having come from such a background myself) and my comment was not aimed at such people. It is aimed at the sort of people who have psychotic feelings towards Nick Clegg or think that Margaret Thatcher is worse than Hitler. The fact that such people make up the electorate doesn’t mean what they say isn’t wrong and shouldn’t be mocked.

  • Then Richard, why did you endorse someone who did just that – and throw your own quips into the bargain

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