LibLink: Tim Farron – ‘There is only one opposition now – and it’s not Labour’

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Tim Farron raises prospect of a repeat of Labour’s disastrous 1981 split. He pitches for the LibDems to replace Labour as the only credible opposition to the Tories:

With just 20 days before Labour chooses its new leader, many who believe Britain needs a strong Opposition are holding their heads in their hands.

Labour is being driven by Jeremy Corbyn’s agenda. It is a rejection of the pragmatism that made Labour successful under Blair. It is a rerun of the battles of the 1980s.

Whatever the result, the party is heading for years of civil war and irreparable splits. We may be about to witness nothing less than the reformation of the Centre-Left in Britain

Mail on Sunday readers may ask why they should worry about Labour tearing itself apart, or why I, the leader of a rival party, should care. It’s because Britain needs effective and credible opposition.

Our country needs a party to speak up for decent, centre-ground politics, offering hope and change as well as economic credibility.

The Corbyn-style politics of placards and megaphones may generate a lot of noise, but as the miners’ strike and the poll tax riots showed, only one thing keeps governments in check – the prospect of electoral defeat.

So whatever route Labour chooses, I promise that the Lib Dems will offer a serious, responsible alternative to this Government.

You can read the full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd Aug '15 - 10:15am

    Do Mail on Sunday readers worry about Labour tearing itself apart?

    Blair’s success was of it’s time and that time has gone. Why else do you think that the three Blair type candidates are failing to make a splash, Tim?

    Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the centre has not moved to the right and that those of us who would call ourselves left of centre want no more of it. Personally, I want some of the radicalism of Corbyn, although I am wary of him as a leader.

  • Another about turn from the Lib Dems. After years of attacking bland Blairite pragmatism and saying what we need is politicians of principle, Tim Farron now says what Labour really needs is another bland Blairite pragmatist.

    “There is only one opposition now – and it’s not Labour”

    With all Lib Dems MPs able to fit in to a single large car, this is the definition of being in denial.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 23rd Aug '15 - 10:20am

    It’s an interesting choice of outlet for such a pitch. I’m not sure that many like minds would be found in the Mail on Sunday, but it’s certainly a reminder that we are the ones providing the effective opposition to the government and are likely to continue to so for some time.

    I think that there are a fair few people in the Labour Party who share our values and were uncomfortable with the things Labour did on civil liberties. I’m not sure it’s like 1981 though. Then there was real common cause between the SDP and the Liberals on the EEC (as it then was).

    It’s also worth remembering the number of people who went back to Labour following the birth of New Labour, Ms Toynbee being a prime example.

  • I think Corbyn will be a disaster for Labour, but a bit disingenuous to talk up Blair’s pragmatism when Lib Dems have often criticised (and rightly so!!) his government for issues such as Iraq, attacks on civil liberties and their economic policies. What has changed, other than a loony fringe candidate possibly winning off the back of hard left supporters registering to vote for him?

  • Look at the demographics of Corbyn’s support. Under 30, educated, idealistic many facing low skilled, insecure jobs with prospects of no pensions, rocketing rents and a ravaged planet. Warmed over Blairism is not the future. The LD’s need a more radical edge than puffing themselves up as the real opposition-nobody believes it

  • But those young voters will grow up and Corbyn’s message will no longer resonate.

  • Simon McGrath 23rd Aug '15 - 11:02am

    @Caron “It’s an interesting choice of outlet for such a pitch. I’m not sure that many like minds would be found in the Mail on Sunday”

    Mark Pack has a good blog on how the Mail was the second most read paper among 2010 LD voters ..after the Sun.

  • Stephen Campbell 23rd Aug '15 - 11:36am

    @Simon Shaw: “But Tim, you musn’t be nasty about Labour. It’s not allowed.”

    Oh, it’s allowed, and most of us have no love for Labour but think the Lib Dems still expend too much energy attacking Labour when they should be attacking the Tories and opposing their nasty, mammon-worshipping, uncompassionate policies. Sadly, it seems many here on this site are still in “Coalition Mode” and several Lib Dems are still infected with Stockholm Syndrome, seeing Labour as the main enemy instead of the Tories.

    If your party is to win back left-leaning voters such as myself, please get on with OPPOSING this nasty right-wing government instead of being obsessed with Labour, who currently have no power.

    As for Corbyn being “far-left”, well, about 30 years or so ago his policies would’ve been in the mainstream of the Labour Party. If renationalising the railways and energy companies (which a majority of British people support according to a recent YouGov poll) is “far-left”, then people who label him such must think many EU nations are hotbeds of Bolshevism with their state-run rail and energy companies. This shows just how far rightward our politics have been skewed since 1979.

  • It isn’t really his big stroke nationalisation that is the problem (the LD constitution makes space for the state stepping in if the free market doesn’t work) – it is more of the withdrawing from NATO and printing money to pay for nationalisation that is the problem. And the fact that he’d cheerfully go further and start nationalising industry as well – he’s on record being for de-Blairing Clause IV.

    Nationalisation isn’t really the solution to customer dissatisfaction. Independent train companies should be allowed to provide services if they’re better than what the government provides. The issue is the poor quality of most commuter trains and the cost of travel – both of which need government involvement to fix but do not beget the need for nationalism.

    This is why Corbyn’s stance is disastrous. If your politics are ideological and don’t really take into account reality then you are really just a left-wing version of the Tories – unwilling to accept when you’re wrong or the world has changed around you.

  • On my phone – nationalism should read ‘nationalisation’.

  • “There’s only one opposition now” – and unfortunately at the moment it’s the SNP.

  • “Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Tim Farron raises prospect of a repeat of Labour’s disastrous 1981 split. He pitches for the LibDems to replace Labour as the only credible opposition to the Tories:”

    Might it be an idea to start by criticising the Tories, rather than other opposition parties? Just a thought.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Aug '15 - 12:22pm

    Ray Cobbett 23rd Aug ’15 – 10:41am If you want to persuade It would be polite to call this party by its name, which is Liberal Democrats, or Lib Dems in a headline.

  • Tim Farron, please do not start your leadership by ignoring the opportunity to be statesman rather than merely the leader of a political party. There are good reasons why so many people are flocking to Jeremy Corbyn so why not have a big debate with the nation about some of his ideas such as co-operatives running the railways – this used to be something the Lib Dems believed in? Lib Dems can lead the nation out of the ‘same-old, same old’ arguments and ways of doing things. Please be brave, bold and radical! So far I am not seeing a statesman, just a politician, and we already have loads of those!

  • “Our country needs a party to speak up for decent, centre-ground politics, offering hope and change as well as economic credibility.”

    What hope and change are the Lib Dems offering?? I honestly have no idea. Some examples would be helpful. Any idea, anyone?

  • This is insane. The Lib Dems seem to be hedging their bets on Labour imploding and picking over the scraps. The party is being forgotten in large parts of the country and is in real danger of collapsing itself. Stay away from Labours troubles and try fixing your own.

  • Whilst we can question their motives, I suggest the only opposition party currently represented in Westminster, that has proven its ability to be an effective opposition voice, is the SNP…

    But as we saw in the 80’s and early 90’s under the Conservatives, Labour first went to pieces and then regrouped, firstly an effective opposition and then a successful government party. Subsequently, the Conservatives went through a period of introspection and also regroup into an effective opposition and now government party. What’s changed?

  • @sylvio

    Mainly that’s what we are doing. It is however asking a lot of a party that has spent 5 years being pilloried by Labour not to experience a certain schadenfreude about the tribulations of the Labour Party, who are showing they couldn’t run a whelk stall, never mind the country.

  • paul barker 23rd Aug '15 - 1:26pm

    The paradox of our present situation is that it combines our weakest position for 40 years with our greatest opportunity in the last 80.
    For those who think Labour arent about to split, the 1st moves against Corbyn are being planned for the week before the election result is announced. Of course the plotters are split & pretty vague about how far they want to push things. One of the remarkable aspects of the Corbyn tsunami is the way the entire Labour Left have stood together while the centrists seem to spend as much time attacking each other as they do arguing against Corbyn. Blair destroyed blairism in the same way that Thatcher did for thatcherism- whats left of “sensible” Labour is in meltdown. We can show them that its still possible to combine moderation & clear thinking with passion.

  • I was someone surprised to hear in England a couple of years ago a young man enthusing about Tony Benn.This young man was about to go up to Oxford and could hardly be called working class.I did that summer pick up a copy of Tony Benn’s abridged diaries at a little garden fair for MS held at an ex-Tory’s house. Clearly Benn sort the leadership of the Labour party and was holding to an ideological postion which he thought would deliver that.
    A young lady in her maiden speech expressed a similar admiration for Benn and the inflexible ideas of socialism.
    Certainly from Benn’s dissenting ancestry there is a radical liberalism that inspired him, the values of which are still relevant to todays world.

  • ……………..More than 40 leading economists, including a former adviser to the Bank of England, have made public their support for Jeremy Corbyn’s policies, dismissing claims that they are extreme, in a major boost to the leftwinger’s campaign to be leader………….

    I’m unfamiliar with almost all of the names but I doubt they are all ‘Leftie Loonies’….

    We seem fixated with Corbyn’s modest renationalisation plans but almost totally unconcerned about Osborn’s promised ongoing ‘privatisations’

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Aug '15 - 3:20pm

    I’m very pleased to see this. Lib Dems will be back in business. The party should also conduct an independent review into the 2015 election. The review of the European elections came across as biased and picking the bits of evidence that it liked the best.

    Writing in the Mail is fine as long as it is not done too often.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 23rd Aug '15 - 3:55pm

    It should be fairly obvious that, in order to oppose the government, you need the primary opposition party (and in terms of numbers, that’s Labour) to be broadly united. If Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader, Labour in Westminster won’t be. Thus, what Tim says is right.

    And whilst I see where you’re coming from, Phyllis, until the dust settles, we won’t know whether a Corbyn-led Labour Party will actually campaign for the sort of policies that he is espousing – do you see many current Shadow Cabinet members willing to do so? We should engage with Labour once it is clear what they are focussed on though, for only by working together can votes be won in either the Commons or the Lords.

    I’ll accept your challenge too. In government, some of the major long-term reforms such as the pupil premium, pension changes and taking poorer people out of the income tax system were, of course, Liberal Democrat ideas. All of them acted to improve the life chances of the less-advantaged. There are plenty more of those in the Liberal Democrat ‘playbook’ and I expect Tim to talk more about them over the coming months – he’s already talked about the need to build more social housing. But the media decide what they publish, and until they see us as relevant, we won’t get much airtime.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Aug '15 - 3:59pm

    Simon Shaw 23rd Aug ’15 – 10:09am Labour’s mess is of their own making. Ed Miliband should apologise to Labour supporters.
    Gordon Brown sewing up the nominations for Labour leader prevented anyone else from even standing.
    In 2015 the decisons of Labour MPs to nominate JC is strange. Is Labour not capable of holding a big debate about values and future at other times and in other ways?
    Harriet Harman did not stand for leader in 2010, if she had done so and won she would have needed to follow her win with an elelction for the deputy leadership.
    If she had lost she might have needed to put the deputy leadership at risk. She did not stand for the Labour leadership in 2015 either, although her period as interim leader has been controversial, including voting with the Tories on welfare.

  • Mark Valladares, thanks but why approach things through the prism and the timescale of what is happening in Westminster? Why not come up with ‘ a big debate’ regardless of whatever Labour or any other party is doing. ‘Privatisation vs nationalisation vs something else’ is topical right now – why not talk about that with the nation? Why not lead the national discourse instead of ‘positioning’. Seriously there is a hunger in the country for something different. Corbyn is providing it in various unsatisfactory ways but really Tim Farron should be leading it and engaging people up and down the country to talk about what sort of society people want – and trust me, it’s not what the sort of society the Tories are shaping.

  • A Social Liberal 23rd Aug '15 - 4:53pm

    Whilst only time will tell if Corbyn will successfully lead Labour to an election victory, I fear that news of the parties electoral demise might be a little premature.

    the Independent has an article in it which demonstrates that some of Corbyns policies resonate with the general public.

  • Mark Valladares ” In government, some of the major long-term reforms such as the pupil premium, pension changes and taking poorer people out of the income tax system were, of course, Liberal Democrat ideas”

    I’m really not trying to rain on your parade but I honestly don’t think any of these are hugely bold, brave or radical. They are not on a par with, say the creation of the NHS. I really Tim has a much bigger and bolder vision for ” hope and change”.

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd Aug '15 - 5:08pm

    I have just read the Mail online article and if one reads the comments at the end, ( if I have read them correctly), it would appear that on the basis of these comments, UKIP is seen as the only effective opposition party.

    I am astonished by Mark Pack’s findings given what I have just read.

  • Jayne Mansfield yes I read those too but didn’t like to draw attention to them here as they are so brutal towards the Lib Dems :/

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd Aug '15 - 6:34pm

    I have just read an article on Guardian online to take the taste of the Daily Mail out of my mouth.

    It seems that Jeremy Corbyn is proposing a grant to help aspiring MPs from working class backgrounds to help them cover campaign funds and increase diversity within the party. This is something that I feel should be welcomed.

    In the same article, Yvette Cooper sets out her plans for tackling climate change. Like Caron I am glad that it is not I, that will be making a choice, but I have to say, those who do will possible for the first time be spoilt for choice. I support what she proposes too.

    I find the opportunistic approach taken by some quite distasteful, but perhaps that is politics and all parties are the same. Depressing thought.

  • Jayne Mansfield I too have been impressed with Yvette Cooper and I also find much of Jetemy Corbyn’s views perfectly reasonable and refreshing.

  • Well done to this site for censoring comments that they do not agree with even if the comments are not offensive well done Lib Dems smacks of Big Brother very liberal indeed.

  • David Allen 23rd Aug '15 - 7:48pm

    Well – Tim has revived the term “centre-left”, which Clegg would never have brought himself to utter. Tim has also described Blair as “pragmatic” and “successful”, and these are statements of fact rather than a ringing endorsement. I’ll give two-and-three-quarter cheers for all of that.

    At some point, it will be important for Tim to talk about what Corbyn gets right, as well as what Corbyn gets wrong. Yes, Corbyn’s figures don’t (or don’t yet) add up, old-style union labourism isn’t the answer, and if he becomes Labour’s leader, Corbyn will have to shy away from dubious allies. However, he may be able to overcome some of these faults, with help from people like Burnham.

    More importantly, Corbyn also gets a heck of a lot right. The 2008 crash was caused by misbehaving financiers all around the world, and the suggestion that a marginal government overspend in one country should be blamed is utterly ludicrous. The 2016 crash may yet be caused by further finacial shenanigans and exacerbated by misconceived and excessive “austerity” nostrums. Corbyn offers hope. We won’t win votes away from him if we have nothing to offer but a wet blanket.

  • Little Jackie Paper 23rd Aug '15 - 7:58pm

    Mark Valladares – ‘until the dust settles, we won’t know whether a Corbyn-led Labour Party will actually campaign for the sort of policies that he is espousing – do you see many current Shadow Cabinet members willing to do so?’

    I do think it is worth adding there that it’s not totally clear what he is actually saying. It is worth taking a slightly closer look beyond the media and internet froth. See for example –

    Large parts of this, to me, could be from any party’s thinking. It’s not exactly Marx. Moreover, look for example at page 6 of the link where it appears that certain things are described as, ‘options.’ I’m not really sure what an option means or exactly how it differs from a policy. But it all sounds a bit more watery than the press seem to have reported.

    Corbyn has talked about some sort of nationalisation, but Burnham has done likewise on railways. But it’s not totally radical in the implementation if you look deeper. In fact under the Coalition one of the franchises was briefly in public hands as I recall so it’s not totally alien. The Conservative Manifesto talked about fare caps, which is not exactly consistent with full-blooded privatisation.

    If anything the word not in the link – Europe – is the more interesting.

    Nuclear weapons will be another issue, but I think at the very least people across the political spectrum would be willing to discuss the issue at is in 2015. They may not agree with Corbyn – but at least the discussion is not a huge departure.

    Now, of course, Corbyn the man as distinct from the policy does have a certain amount of baggage – voters will have to make a value judgement on that, as with any candidate. But the point I make here is that for all the media froth Corbyn’s radicalism isn’t, at least to my way thinking, not quite all it’s cracked up to be and as such I wouldn’t bank on the Labour split, at least for the moment.

    For the record, if I had a vote in that contest – which I don’t – I’d vote Burnham.

  • Lib Dems wipeout in Scotland by th SNP tsunami so Lib Dems let’s try and feed on the scraps from a disunited Labour Party not very inspiring if you ask me. How about Tim putting the kybosh on Nick Cleggs nominations for 10 ex MPs to be sent into the undemocratic unelected House of Lords even funnier though is that half of the nominees aren’t even women.

  • Little Jackie Paper 23rd Aug '15 - 8:01pm

    Correction –

    ‘But the point I make here is that for all the media froth Corbyn’s radicalism isn’t, at least to my way thinking, NOT quite all it’s cracked up to be and as such I wouldn’t bank on the Labour split, at least for the moment.’

    Remove the NOT. Edit function?

  • “Whilst only time will tell if Corbyn will successfully lead Labour to an election victory”

    The question must be which election? I suspect that people here may be too focused on the next Westminster election in 2020. Which given the Fixed Term Parliament Act, raises the question as to whether a leader elected now really needs to be the leader in the run up to 2020. I suggest not, in fact Jeremy Corbyn could be an ideal leader for the next couple of years, certainly his standing has gained significant media coverage and the debates he is likely to provoke I suspect will also gain media coverage. Hence a real concern must be if Jeremy gets elected, whether Tim Farron (and his team) are up to the task of diverting the media spotlight…

    However, I suspect the real barometer of how acceptable the various party leaders and their policies are will be the annual local elections.

  • Phyllis and jayne Mansfield, do not be fooled by Yvette Cooper. It was under her that the draconian WCA was introduced. She thought it right that if you could lift an empty cardboard box with your stumps then you are fit for work along with other nastiness. The WCA was invented by Cooper and Peter Hain before her but her version was much worse. She never mentions that!

  • Little Jackie Paper 23rd Aug '15 - 11:38pm

    Roland – there is also the EU referendum. How Corbyn handles that one will be very interesting. Certainly at a distance Labour voters look really rather important to the outcome of that referendum.

    See – and

    Obviously a leader can only, ‘dictate,’ policy to a certain extent but if Cameron campaigns for a YES the prospect of a Corbyn/Cameron coming together is far from theoretical.

    More generally Corbyn’s stance on immigration is not clear from what I can see of his campaign on the internet and I will be rather interested to see how his views on immigration come through into a platform should he become leader. Admittedly the other candidates don’t seem to be saying a great deal on immigration either.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 24th Aug '15 - 3:42am


    You may not think them bold or radical, but trust me, as a long-term bureaucrat, they are. They are all policies which redistribute from rich to poor, and will have a long term impact on deep-rooted problems that affect millions. Take auto-enrolment into workplace pensions, for example. The people most likely to be picked up by these new schemes are the very people least likely to save towards their retirement previously. They’ll be better off as a result when they retire and will be likely to have a higher income then, whilst also reducing the cost of state support – something that goes unclaimed by too many at present.

    Nowadays, anything that is intended to have an effect over decades is seemingly too complex for government and, indeed, the public. We seem to require instant results when real change takes time. Perhaps we therefore get the politics, and the politicians, we deserve.


    With respect, the SNP has a right not to nominate to the Lords, but calling on a party significantly underrepresented in the Commons to give up its balancing over representation in the Lords, when the best chance of stopping the Tories is in the Lords hardly seems like a smart move. Of course, you’d rather have the Conservatives unfettered in Westminster – makes winning a future independence referendum so much easier, I suppose.

  • Jayne Mansfield 24th Aug '15 - 8:48am

    @ Anne,
    Thank you for pointing that out. I checked and you are absolutely correct. I am glad that I don’t have to vote for any of them. Jeremy Corbyn has some policy ideas I agree with, but his words about ISIS raised warning bells.

  • “You may not think them bold or radical, but trust me, as a long-term bureaucrat, they are.” Mark Valladares

    Much like David Steel’s House of Lords Reform Bill: a very short, simple and highly targeted bill. ..

    I think we, like many politicians want to see big dramatic change – hence why we’ve seen many politicians backing vanity projects instead of much smaller incremental projects. Forgetting just how powerful Kaizen principles, as practised by many enterprises, can be.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Aug '15 - 10:19am

    Phyllis 23rd Aug ’15 – 4:56pm Income tax allegedly discourages people from earning, so cutting it sdhould be popular with a wide variety of people, contrary to what David Cameron said in the TV debates in 2010.
    Paying for the tax reduction by savings on Trident would have been radical, but the Tories would not allow it in the previous parliament and presumably not in this parliament either, which means they will need to find funds elsewhere.
    We should be careful not to say that “radical” means left wing. Mrs Thatcher was a right wing radical and wanted to destroy a political consensus that the Tory ministers she called “wets” wanted to preserve or change moderately. In the process she transferred several public sector monopolies into private sector monopolies, inadequately regulated. The softly spoken John Major continued the process, at great expense to the public purse.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Aug '15 - 10:27am continuous improvement.
    Wikipedia misuses the word ‘continuous’ not distinguishing it from ‘continual’.
    We should be looking for improvements all the time, and achieving them often in practice.
    Maybe the Labour Party will disprove this, with continuous leadership elections.
    Chairman Mao was in favour of permanent revolution, except for his own position.

  • Richard Stallard 24th Aug '15 - 10:38am

    “What we need is PR and more PR!”

    Of both types – Proportional Representation AND Public Relations.

    The first is a long, long way off (if ever) and the latter ain’t going to happen because the press now largely ignore the LDs. Just how many column inches has “Timmy Time” made lately?

  • There are opposing themes running through this debate. Should the Lib Dems cling to the broadly centrist approach of the Clegg era or return to the distinctly left of centre, or progressive, stance that used to characterise its policies?
    If the former line is taken, ignoring the awakened and growing public appetite for a reversal of the dismal and damaging direction in which the country under this government is headed, the future for the party is bleak indeed: any attempt to steer a course between Blairism and Tory ideology being doomed to failure. Triangulation inspires few voters. Or activists.

  • Mark Valladares, when pressed by Phyllis to justify the claim that Lib Dem policies on the pupil premium, pension changes and taking poorer people out of the income tax system are bold, radical and far-reaching, has selected auto-enrolment in pension schemes as exemplifying “a long term impact on deep-rooted problems”. That seems to me about right.

    Tax changes can easily be reversed by future governments, and usually are. The pupil premium might likewise be discarded and in any case can only be seen as one element of the overall balance of funding, which has also seen money spent on setting up free schools in affluent areas. The pension reforms, on the other hand, involve system restructuring and will therefore have more lasting effects. Auto-enrolment will be beneficial. I suspect the “take your pension pot and buy a Lamborghini” reform, unfortunately, will prove to be a disastrous legacy which the Lib Dems will want to disclaim responsibility for!

  • David Allen 24th Aug '15 - 1:02pm

    John McDonnell, quoted in the Guardian, said:

    “Let’s also make it absolutely clear to any speculators in the City looking to make a fast buck at the taxpayers’ expense that if any of these assets are sold by Osborne under their value, a future Corbyn-led Labour government will reserve the right to bring them back into public ownership with either no compensation or with any undervaluation deducted from any compensation for renationalisation.”

    What does this mean? It seems to be talking about future asset sales by Osborne, so at least it’s not retrospective, but even so – Suppose. let’s say, Gordon Brown bought shares in the Ezeedosh Bank at £10 apiece in order to bail it out, and those shares are now trading at £6 apiece because that’s how the market now values them. It’s a moot point whether Osborne should sell off the government shareholding at all, but if he wants to do so, he won’t achieve a price of £10, and he wouldn’t necessarily be crazy to let the shares go for around £6 and accept the loss.

    Now, what is Corbyn threatening to do? Is it to forcibly buy back the shares for £6, even if the market value has by then drifted up to £9? Or, if Osborne has priced the shares at £5.50 in order to get a quck sale, will Corbyn just knock off the 50p discount and enforce a purchase price of £8.50 when the market value is £9? Or, does Corbyn actually threaten to forcibly reacquire Ezeedosh shares sold by Osborne for £0?

    Corbyn should clarify. Perhaps Tim should press him to do so. In my view, my option 2 is reasonably justifiable, but option 1 is not, and option 3 would be lalaland.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 24th Aug '15 - 3:43pm

    @ David Allen,

    You are, of course, right, in that tax changes can be relatively easily undone, although given how popular the increase in the personal allowance has been, and the increasing acceptance of the notion that those on the minimum wage shouldn’t fall within the charge to income tax, I don’t see it being attacked lightly. And it is, on reflection, pretty radical that a notion which had passed under the radar of both Labour and the Conservatives is now mainstream. I’d like to see Liberal Democrat attention focus on National Insurance Contributions now, as suggested by Tony Greaves not so long ago, so as to make the minimum wage a take home figure, rather than a gross one.

    And the pupil premium, ensuring that money is targeted directly towards those in need of extra support, has a potential long-term impact if left alone. So, again, I agree with you. But, in a democracy, you have to hope that your changes achieve widespread support so that they can be left to have the desired effect.

    Steve Webb may well end up being defined by his Lambourghini line, although we do believe in giving people freedom to make their own decisions, and the basic state pension that Steve also introduced means that everyone should have a backstop level of income, regardless of the decisions they make with their pension pots.

  • Ed Shepherd 24th Aug '15 - 5:55pm

    I wouldn’t be so sure that auto-enrolment will benefit everyone. It’s impossible to be sure how the underlying investments of those pensions will perform, charges will be incurred and adverse tax changes to pensions might take place in the future. The auto-enrolment pension pots are at the mercy of inflation, legislation and the markets. They should not be confused with the defined benefit pension schemes that many of the current generation of pensioners have benefitted from. Many basic rate taxpayers might be better off using whatever they can save for house deposits, short term savings perhaps under an ISA wrapper and for insurance rather than tying savings up in pension pots for decades.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 24th Aug '15 - 9:13pm

    @ Ed,

    But remember, virtually none of the people who are auto enrolled will already have any pension provision, and the amount they contribute will be more than matched by the employer. In that sense, performance won’t matter as much as the fact that there will be a pot of money at all.

    And, of course, most of these people would also have minimal savings – one look at household financial resilience statistics should be enough to chill the blood of thoughtful legislators.

  • Peter Watson 24th Aug '15 - 10:02pm

    Sadly, and despite the title of this article, Lib Dems appear far more concerned with attacking a shambolic Labour party that has no clear idea about what will be its policies in six months (some might even be agreeable to Lib Dems) than it is in opposing a Tory party whose policies and direction of travel are painfully clear.

  • Peter Watson 25th Aug '15 - 11:25am

    @Simon Shaw “This is, after all, an article about the “shambolic Labour party” I find the idea that you can’t be opposed to both the Labour and Conservative Parties a strange one.”
    The point of the article is a claim that Lib Dems are the only opposition to the Tories, but the party appears to be preoccupied with everybody but the government, a tendency which was more understandable in coalition.
    To slip in a Monty Python reference, here on LDV Lib Dems remind me of the People’s Front of Judea, more concerned with criticising the Judean People’s Front and the Campaign for a Free Galilee than opposing the Roman occupiers.

  • David Allen 25th Aug '15 - 1:38pm

    Peter Watson is right. People are looking for an effective alternative to the Tories. They didn’t believe Ed Miliband had got an effective act together, and they don’t think that Burnhamcooperkendallharman are looking any better, with their abstention on welfare and swithering on austerity. That’s why they are prepared to make a big (disastrous?) leap, and support the one guy who offers a real sense of hope. For the moment, lots of people are prepared to overlook Corbyn’s flaws.

    We can only guess what will happen when Corbyn wins the leadership. Perhaps his party will split in anger. Perhaps Corbyn will take control, but gradually lose favour as some of his more dubious policies come to the fore. Or perhaps Corbyn will show unexpected flexibility (for a parallel, look at Tzipras) and soar in public esteem as he shows an ability to temper radicalism with pragmatism.

    Irrespective of which scenario plays out for Labour, we won’t be significant players ourselves unless we can put the cringe well behind us and start showing that we truly oppose the Tories. Merely offering to trim back their worst faults – our boast in Coalition – simply can’t be enough any longer.

  • Peter Watson 25th Aug '15 - 6:15pm

    @Simon Shaw “It is barely three months since the Lib Dems were in the Coalition Government”
    I think that is almost the elephant in the room when it comes to the apparent reluctance of Lib Dems to attack the Conservative government with the same enthusiasm as they attack Labour and the SNP. Much of what this government is doing and saying appears to be a continuation or a logical extension of what Lib Dems supported, enabled, or quietly allowed in Coalition, and did not seriously challenge in the election campaign. Perhaps many Lib Dems fear looking hypocritical if they oppose this government more vigorously, or perhaps many Lib Dems do not oppose it much at all. We see a party jumping to side with the Conservatives and the Tory press in its criticism of a potential Corbyn led Labour party, apparently wishing and campaigning for a more centrist Labour leader that will squeeze the Liberal Democrats into an increasingly small and irrelevant centre-right gap.

  • In an attempt to redress the balance on LDV and give a little bit of attention to what David Cameron has been up to lately…

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