LibLink: Tim Farron: Labour under Corbyn can’t be decent opposition – so it’s up to me

Tim Farron has been writing in the Independent about how the Liberal Democrats are the only party capable of providing decent opposition to the Conservatives following the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn:

If one child was lifted out of poverty by Blair, that would be a progressive legacy. But what will Corbyn’s legacy be? At this rate, to render Labour so unelectable that successive Tories will be able to play pass the parcel with the keys to Number 10.

Perhaps the Corbynistas can afford such generosity to the Tories, but the people I grew up with in towns such as Preston can’t. Self-righteous, ideological purity doesn’t buy food, pay the rent or provide the training that might lead to a better life.

If Labour won’t provide a decent opposition, the Liberal Democrats will. We are not squeamish about holding power. We have delivered free early years learning, extra money for pupils from poorer backgrounds, universal free school meals for infants, a national apprenticeship scheme and tax cuts for low-paid workers. priority is to give proper funding to schools and hospitals, while joining up the NHS and social care, and we have said we will raise taxes to pay for it if necessary. We are unashamedly pro-European, wanting young people to be free to study, travel and work abroad. While Jeremy Corbyn has hauled up the white flag not just on our membership of the EU but on the single market, we will fight for British jobs, for it will be modestly paid workers who pay the greatest price if Britain is cut adrift from the world’s largest market.

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  • I wonder if Tim was as punchy with Clegg and co during the coalition years…Bedroom Tax etc…Cheap attacks against Corbyn is a bad move.

  • Taking votes from Labour will make Lib Dems either a much bigger party in opposition or the biggest party in opposition. “We are not squeamish about holding power” means presenting a Lib Dem way forward and highlight the policy errors of other parties, rather than cheap media friendly “narratives”.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 25th Sep '16 - 4:43pm

    At the time, Tim Farron made it clear that he was uneasy about the coalition, and he voted against the rise in tuition fees. So it seems rather surprising to find him now speaking as if the coalition was wonderful. Not a very wise tactic, as for many people the main thing that is likely to prevent them from voting Lib Dem, is worry that this might result in another coalition.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland, yes good point. It is certainly stopping me from voting Lib Dem.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Sep '16 - 5:32pm

    Hammer Labour on extremism, anti-semitism, misogyny and some terrorist and dictatorship sympathising. As long as the debate in the news is “are Labour anti-semitic/anti-western,soft on bullying” etc. they can’t do well. The evidence from the referendum shows that as long as there is some credibility then if you are rebutting you are losing.

    Of course, Hammer the Tories too, grammar schools is a good recent topic because it smears Theresa May and unfocused on the big issues facing Britain.

  • Dave Orbison 25th Sep '16 - 6:03pm

    Eddie Sammon- hammer Labour on issues this are not true? Good plan?

    As for misogyny – Corbyn had more women in the Shadow Cabinet than men.

    How many LibDems MPs are women?

    As for LibDem’s record in dealing with sexism what mess did the party get into dealing with accusations against a LibDem Lord? Have you read the lengthy posts on this subject including allegations of assault on women?

    And you think this is a good ground to try and score points? Really?

  • Eddie, in the last year, there has been a huge amount of abuse directed at MPs, I have seen it first hand. Our own MP has suffered from it and received death threats, and terrible misogyny! As has her staff who are really stressed. It’s not made up, I assure you. The people behind Jeremy are not nice people. 🙁

    I’ve never known anything like it to be honest.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Sep '16 - 7:02pm

    @ Phyllis,
    What all the people who are behind Jeremy Corbyn?

    I have no doubt that those who feel threatened have reason to feel as they do. Labour has some extremely good women within its ranks, Lisa Nandy, Stella Creasy just to name two

    What is needed is proof so that these thugs can be apprehended. I am not sure how one keeps those who behave like this out of a party, until wrong doing has been proven.

    I have never heard Corbyn do other than condemn these people, but if you have know otherwise, I would be interested to hear.

    I’ve been on anti- EDL marchers and have had reason to tell off some of the Socialist Worker people to stop behaving like the thugs they claim to oppose, but this is just one or two who join anything where they think they can cause trouble.

  • “Taking votes from Labour will make Lib Dems either a much bigger party in opposition or the biggest party in opposition.”

    Labour are nowhere near power, therefore it isn’t possible to gain power by overtaking Labour. Farron taking on Corbyn to be the “real opposition” is like two bald men fighting over a comb.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Sep '16 - 8:09pm

    It’s not lying, it’s just repeating well-known criticisms and driving them up the news agenda, rather than repeating them occasionally and maybe being concerned about offending some people on your own side or sounding like a hypocrite – Labour’s problems in most of these areas are bigger than the Lib Dems, so it’s not hypocrisy to criticise them a lot.

  • Corbyn’s right-hand man John McDonnell called Tory, Esther McVey a “stain on humanity” and said “joking” that she should be lynched. Recently he was asked to apologise but refused. Perhaps those thugs Jayne Mansfield mentions are just following the example of their leaders.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Sep '16 - 9:40pm

    @ Malc,
    I wouldn’t defend him or try to make excuses for his words. He should give an unreserved apology for bringing politics into disrepute by using them. I believe that there should be zero tolerance for violent abusive language or behaviour.

    Reading Lisa Nandy’s account of the frightening abuse she has had on the streets, it is difficult to determine who has behaved towards her in this despicable way, would that it could be so, that the person or persons responsible can be properly held to account.

    ‘Huffington Post – ‘Labour’s Lisa Nandy: The genuinely frightening abuse I got this summer reminded me of the far right’.

    In my opinion, we all, irrespective of party, need to be united in our determination to stamp this poison out.

  • Dave Orbison 25th Sep '16 - 10:02pm

    Jayne Mansfield – I totally agree with you. Politics in this country is spiralling into the gutter where insults are traded as if that should by the everyday vocabulary of any politician.

    Demonisation of individuals as opposed to scrutiny of their policies short change the public. It is no good Tim Farron singling out Corbyn whilst at the same time accusing the so called Corbynista’s of resorting to abuse. It is double standards.

    It will antagonise those with whom on some policies there is room for cooperation. As has been said here little will be gained by Labour or LibDems attacking each other, other than to leave the Tories free to do what they want.

    Constructive cooperation is needed and though each can point to historical sore points the future is much more important.

  • And Dave Orbison, insulter par excellence complains about that sort of behaviour!

    Let me say again, Lib Dems cannot easily work with the Labour Party because Labour believe that working together means agreeing with them, not uniting round a common position. They expect the Lib Dems to be Labour Mark2. Anyway, apart from a few issues where I disagree with my party, like unilateral nuclear disarmament, I have little in common with Corbyn’s Labour Party. Their economic policy is frankly lunatic and their approach to civil liberties and democracy is poles apart from mine and my party.

    I speak from personal experience at local government level, where every agreement one makes with Labour can be broken on a whim.I loathe and detest Conservatism and all it stands for, but it has always been the case that if one strikes a deal with the Tories – at a local level on a specific issue – they deliver, Labour do not. They are always looking for a reason to renege or get one over on the Lib Dems.

    There can never be satisfactory arrangement between Labour and the Lib Dems if Labour are never prepared to compromise or accept that they can’t get all they want. So far I have never seen a situation where Labour are willing to do this.

  • Dave Orbison 25th Sep '16 - 11:17pm

    @Mick Taylor – what specific economic policy that has actually been articulated by Corbyn is lunatic?

    What specific civil rights issue has Corbyn articulated that puts you poles apart? I am curious as to whether you are relying on what Corbyn actually has said as opposed to the usual wide sweeping generalised Daily Mail type of stuff.

    Given that you rule out ever working with Labour are you saying the only coalition that the LibDems would ever entertain are with the Tories either under 1st past the post or proportional representation ?

    Not a position that would encourage me to support the LibDems or PR to be honest.

  • Peter Watson 26th Sep '16 - 12:16am

    @Mick Taylor “And Dave Orbison, insulter par excellence complains about that sort of behaviour!”
    I don’t recall Dave Orbison insulting people on LDV (though he seems to be on the receiving end sometimes) and I would hope that those running this site would not allow that sort of behaviour. Can you link to many of his posts that would justify that comment?

  • “Farron taking on Corbyn to be the “real opposition” is like two bald men fighting over a comb.”

    Well, as a Farron supporter I’m not pleased to admit it, but there is quite a lot of truth in Stuart’s remark. A Comres poll:

    finds that while only 45% of voters say they understand what Labour stands for, the figure for the Lib Dems is even lower – 32%.

    Our problem, I suspect, is that Tim Farron’s centre-left position doesn’t sqaure with Nick Clegg’s centre-right position. We can’t be all things to all men, so we shouldn’t try.

    After Cameron took over from Howard, Howard largely kept quiet. After May took over from Cameron, Cameron has left the field. That’s how a decent leader should behave. Now I know we only have 8 MPs, but all the same, our party would gain from a clearer image and a more coherent political position, if Clegg were to behave as Michael Howard did.

  • Dave Orbison 26th Sep '16 - 4:49am

    Peter Watson – thanks, much appreciated.

  • Dave Orbison,
    “@Mick Taylor – what specific economic policy that has actually been articulated by Corbyn is lunatic?”
    It’s called socialism. Burma was once the richest country in SE Asia but the road to socialism turned it into a country of absolute poverty. I once watched the BBC (Burma Broadcasting Corporation) with some of the Burmese party faithful. I was struck by how similar their mannerism were to British Labour party people.

  • I’d suggest that one of the first places the party needs to make a parliamentary comeback in is the south-west. If Tim thinks he’s going to do that without attracting Corbyn supporters into voting tactically in those constituencies, I’d suggest he re-examine the last election results.

  • Dave Orbison 26th Sep '16 - 7:26am

    Manfarang – thank you for illustrating my point. Rather than provide a specific economic policy articulated by Corbyn you simply, as do one or two on here, simply resort to a little pen portrait of how terrible he must be. The only likely impact the LibDems can have on national policy is to form an official coalition, or more likely an informal alliance with with Labour or the Tories.

    To attack Corbyn for being a socialist achieves nothing other than reinforcing the impression with many that when it counts the LibDems will only work with the Tories. I think that is a bad strategy for the LibDems and undermines the arguments for PR since an inevitable consequence of PR is that alliances on policy (not personality) will occur.

    The current LibDem attacks on Corbyn risks putting the LibDems in a position where they seen to enable a Tory Goverment. Though many on here will deny this, it is nevertheless the perception of voters reflected in the last general election.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '16 - 8:24am

    @ Manfarang
    So you once watched the BBC with some of the Burmese party faithful and found yourself struck by the similarity of mannerisms to those of British Labour party people.

    Holy Smoke. The people who I know and have met who are new Labour Party members are pursuing occupations where they have seen at first hand the consequences of the policies followed by the last Labour government and the Cameron/ Clegg government since 2010.

    They are part of a bottom up phenomenon which some choose to portray as a cult, but in my experience, they are just people with a conscience, people who believe that a renewed and invigorated Labour party will genuinely offer social justice, doctors, teachers NGO workers past and present etc. They, and I clearly need to spend some time in front of a mirror divesting ourselves of some ‘ give away’ mannerisms though that suggest otherwise.

    @ Bolano2,
    If the Labour party is ever to gain power in this country once more, it is imperative that there is a revival in the fortunes of the Liberal Democrat Party in places like the South West. However, some of the comments on here and the diversionary tactics and ‘whataboutery ‘, ( a well honed skill amongst some Liberal democrats), what can one say but Holy Smoke.

  • Seems to me that nit picking about socialism is missing Tim’s point. It is about the fact that poor people suffer under the Tories. It is happening now. Meanwhile Corbyn, who voted regularly against a Blair government which, for all its undeniable shortcomings, actually cared about poverty and inequality is content to leave the Tories to it for the next generation. Google the Blair government’s achievements and contrast it with what we have now.

  • Dave Orbison 26th Sep '16 - 9:47am

    Brian D – have you seen what issues Corbyn voted against? Didn’t Tim Farron vote against his leader re student fees? Can’t we be a bit more analytical?

  • Mark Blackburn 26th Sep '16 - 10:25am

    My fear here is that we’re falling into the trap of negative campaigning, which the voting public, and particularly those we want to appeal to, are fed up with. By all means take this opportunity to reach out to liberal minded Labour voters who are not hard-line left (not the Blairites) but let’s do so with positive messages about our liberal values and our ability to be an effective and credible opposition.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '16 - 10:33am

    @ BrianD,
    I watched Tim Farron’s speech at conference on Sky News ( before they switched to President Obama). It was a rousing speech , and I agree with him that Labour did some credit worthy things.

    However, when I look at the balance sheet, weigh up what the Labour Party achieved in office and balance it against the suffering and ongoing disasters attributed to the Iraq war, I cannot forgive him or those who voted with him. This is not hindsight, it is the outcome that those of us who opposed the war sadly expected it to be.

    Similarly the coalition government’s Syria intervention. The human tragedy that has followed , and I believe has been consequent upon these actions is just unbearable.

  • Dave Orbison,

    People like Manfarang, with their snide attacks, almost make me take your side. Corbyn is not like a Burmese general, or Stalin, or Genghis Khan, or some other distant leader who is non-white and can therefore safely be abused.

    However – it’s not a question of whether it was Corbyn or Blair who got it right on the many occasions on which they disagreed. It’s that Blair got together an act which enabled him to run the country, in many ways quite well. Corbyn will never run the country, and abdicating to the Tories is wrong, however many detailed good ideas one might have!

  • What that comres poll does say is that people do not know (or are not sure) what the Lib Dems stand for. This is better than what the public think the other parties stand for.
    What the Liberal Democrats need to do stand by principles and to make contact with the public (as they have always done). The first test is the parliamentaery by-election in Witney – you know this could actually be winnable for the Lib Dems. Having a by-election victory (or near victory) will be the rebuilding and return to spotlight the party needs. The mainstream media is not going to help LDs at all until the liberal democrats have rebuilt its base.
    This will also apply to Corbyn-Labour which over 70% of its membership/supporters is are new members. Corbyn should have started a new party with his 300,000 members (the labour party had less that 200,000) but you know it is very hard for a new party to make ground in Britain’s electoral system given experience of SDP and even UKIP.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '16 - 10:49am

    @ BryanD,
    Apologies. I should have written the Coalition intervention in Libya, although I also believed that our intervention in Syria was also a recipe for disaster.

  • Peter Watson 26th Sep '16 - 11:42am

    @Mark Blackburn “My fear here is that we’re falling into the trap of negative campaigning, which the voting public, and particularly those we want to appeal to, are fed up with.”
    Hear, hear.
    Or is it “+1” these days?

  • Peter Watson 26th Sep '16 - 11:44am

    @David Allen “People like …, with their snide attacks, almost make me take your side.”
    Hear, hear here as well.

  • Peter Watson 26th Sep '16 - 11:46am

    @Ernest 26th Sep ’16 – 10:37am
    I agree with you as well!

  • Someone called May is supposedly running the country and not doing much of a job…Yet three of the first five threads are about Corbyn (and anti-Corbyn articles/comments far outweigh those focussing on the government)…..
    Still, I suppose it’s far easier to join ‘mob rule’ than be constructive…

  • Dave Orbison 26th Sep '16 - 3:42pm

    @ Dave Allen – thanks I appreciate your comments.

    I share pretty much Jayne Mansfield’s views. Of course I accept Blair’s Govt did lots of good things but there is a list of things I did not agree with. Iraq was the red line for me. In the end I felt Blair then Brown were hanging on in Goverment for Government’s sake with little clear direction.

    I was drawn to the LibDem’s position and in 2010 I swallowed the ‘only costed’ manifesto line touted by ‘honest’ Nick Clegg.

    I hesitate to mention this but I think Simon Shaw asked the other day who said the LibDems were left of centre in 2010? Apologies Simon if this was not you.

    But ironically I think the answer is Tony Blair. I think he said in the last couple of years that the problems for the LibDems were they promised a left of centre manifesto but delivered a right wing one.

    My real point though in posting and questioning Tim Farron’s attacks on Corbyn are in line with Expats. The Tories are the Government. Why not try and hold them to account? Preoccupation with Corbyn will serve no strategic purpose other than gain a few MPs at Labour’s expense. Then what?

    The perception that a vote for LibDems is a vote for a Tory Government persists. Tim Farron’s focus on Corbyn simply reinforces that view.

  • David Allen 26th Sep '16 - 4:38pm

    Dave Orbison – I think Tim can be excused for focusing on Labour just right now, for the obvious reason that the Lib Dems can profit from Labour’s disarray. But you’ll note that Tim has also had a good go at May for her greadful grammar schools plans and her evasive dithering over Brexit. Quite unlike Clegg who never ever really attacked the Tories. We have changed.

    Ironically though, a Lib Dem revival could be in Labour’s long term interest. I think the main long term result of the SDP upsurge was that Labour replaced an unelectable leader (Foot) with a nearly-electable leader (Kinnock) and then by electable leaders (Smith mark 1, then Blair).

    But it took 15 barren years, and of course Blairism turned out to be a pretty mixed blessing. I’m tempted to conclude that it would have been better then, and it will be better now, if instead of prompting Labour to recover, we can finally bury the corpse of nineteenth-century Labourism, and replace it with viable competition to the Tories.

  • Dave Orbison
    No I didn’t said Mr. Corbyn was a terrible man. What I did say that in Burma socialism reduced that country to absolute poverty, something I witnessed. The members of the Socialist Program Party I saw had some of the (British) Labour people mannerism (old Labour as there was no new Labour at that time). There was even an English language newspaper called the Guardian published in Burma, plenty of Vimto too.

  • Jayne Mansfield
    Absolute poverty means having nothing. Rangoon had streets with sewage running down them from the broken drains, buildings unrepaired since the time of independence and housing with no rubbish in the yards- the people were so poor nothing was thrown away.
    It was not surprising an uprising took place in 1988- the people could no longer stand being ground down.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '16 - 6:29pm

    @ Manfarang,
    I need no lessons in absolute poverty. My first stint abroad was working as a volunteer at the Hospice for the Dying Destitute and then in the slums of Calcutta, I can still smell the open sewers that ran through them.

    When pictures of disaster areas appear on TV, the smell is the thing that is missing.

    Although not interested in the politics, just getting on with my job, the communist states of West Bengal and Kerala seemed the best run for the poor and least corrupt, of the states I worked in in India.

  • Jayne
    “BJP workers have sacrificed their lives for the cause of democracy. Violence is not the right road to democracy. Ahuti must be discussed at the national level. People in the rest of the country should know what is happening in Kerala,” Modi said. A five-member national committee that toured the state to study the issue prior to the conclave, had squarely blamed the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) for the violence that claimed more than 200 lives in the northern district of Kannur alone in the last two decades.”

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th Sep '16 - 8:35am

    @ Manfarang,
    I was not interested in the politics. I don’t want to get into the politics. It was not possible though to be unaware of the land rights issues in tribal areas in India, and in, for example, Kerala, the Coca Cola dispute.

    The one thing that I understood very clearly, is that you don’t try to impose your own culture and politics on people if you want to be accepted and of help to them. You are a guest and you give the help that you are asked for, no more or less.

    If anyone was changed by my experiences, it was me.

  • Manfarang,

    If you’re going to tar Corbyn with the misdeeds of Burmese generals, you might as well tar Obama with the misdeeds of Pinochet’s torturers. It’s a tenuous connnection, but yours is a non-existent connection!

  • David Allen
    Socialism was embraced by many Burmese not just its Generals. In many countries after WW2 especially those that became independent people believed socialism was the way forward. Ceylon is a case in point. The first manifesto of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party declared that its aims were the achievement of complete national independence, the nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Sri Lanka remained poor.

  • Jayne
    And you may find out the politics of a particular country are not what they seem to outsiders.

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th Sep '16 - 5:42pm

    @ Manfarang,
    As I say, I am not interested in the politics.

    The data on Health and education in Kerala is available to outsiders. There is plenty of information on the internet for those who are interested.

  • Jayne
    The Arab Times had a page in Malayalam. I knew a lot of people from Kerala when I lived in the Middle East. It says something about the government of where you come from when your only option is to go overseas to work.

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