Matthew Parris opines on how Lib Dems can win by wooing Tories

Columnist Matthew Parris has been wandering a bit in recent years, step by step getting further away from the Conservative Party which he once represented as an MP. He was MP for West Derbyshire from 1979 to 1986, leaving politics to pursue a career in journalism. Since then, criticism of the Tories and their pursuit of Brexit have two of the major themes of his columns. Parris left the Tories in 2019, saying he was going to vote Lib Dem.

The week before the North Shropshire by-election, he wrote:

“We’ve got a wrong ’un in Downing Street. Does anyone have the balls to dislodge this impostor, or must cowering Tory outsource their courage to the voters of North Shropshire next week?”

We know what happened in North Shropshire. Today in The Times, Parris turns his attention to the Tiverton and Honiton by-election.

Parris says he headed for Devon on Wednesday “to get a sniff of the by-election breeze in Tiverton & Honiton”. He continued:

“I did sniff the breeze in Honiton, but thought the breeze fickle… West Country towns like this are not “leafy Tory strongholds”, whatever the history of their election results may suggest. No blue rinses, no pearls, few electric gates or long, gravel drives: these are not the home counties. They’re a bit hardbitten: not falling apart but “just about managing”. Honiton, for all its Devon charm, has something of the red wall about it. In this part of England they don’t vote Labour but there is no strong reason why the constituency should not be Lib Dem.

“Foord may triumph, as many commentators are suggesting, and as a former Tory I would certainly be voting for him. But I wouldn’t give him a better than even chance.”

Parris then turns to his thesis that the Lib Dems can only succeed by wooing soft Tories:

“Labour constituencies that may prove vulnerable to the Lib Dems are thin on the ground; and former Tory voters are surely the best fuel for a Lib Dem revival.

“If, as a Liberal Democrat vote-seeker, you want to woo a former Tory voter, your best pitch must be to appear as a nicer and more decent version of the Conservative Party to which the waverer once lent their support. Soft Tory voters are looking for a softer version of their own former party.”

Making the presumption we would prop up a minority Labour administration, he wants us also to be open to propping up a Conservative minority government.

You don’t, of course, get to be a columnist without writing controversial articles that rattle people. But Matthew Parris doesn’t answer one obvious question. If he is so keen on people voting Lib Dem and he wants to help shape our future policy direction, why doesn’t he join us?

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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57 Comments

  • David Evans 18th Jun '22 - 2:40pm

    Matthew Parris was and still is a very interesting politician. Personally I would describe him as a liberal conservative – liberal fundamentally but more right of centre than left on most issues. He clearly decided at one stage he was a conservative liberal. and became a Conservative MP. To me though, he has always been basically a thoroughly decent guy. Not perfect, but then no-one is.

    However, one thing I note is how easy it is for Lib Dems to carefully listen or read something, but still miss a key point because of the way we frame things.

    Thus Andy makes an interesting point – “But Matthew Parris doesn’t answer one obvious question. If he is so keen on people voting Lib Dem and he wants to help shape our future policy direction, why doesn’t he join us?” However, it shows how Andy has not really thought deeply about what Matthew said, possibly because of the flowery old school language Matthew used.

    The answer to your question Andy is “because in all likelihood we haven’t tried to successfully woo him,” and if we don’t try we won’t succeed.

    I hope we do try with him and many others like him.

  • Brad Barrows 18th Jun '22 - 3:25pm

    In essence, what Matthew Parris is suggesting is that the Liberal Democrats need to become ‘Conservative-lite’ to win. If that is the price, it wouldn’t count as winning in my book.

  • Russell Simpson 18th Jun '22 - 3:33pm

    Given that 40% of 2015 tory voters voted Remain, I’d like to see the libdems reach out to them. With Corbyn gone it must be easier wooing them than disgruntled Labour voters

  • I wonder what ‘ol Albert'(Einstein that is) might have to say about this party having another try as ‘Tory-lite? Oh, he has already!

  • George Thomas 18th Jun '22 - 5:01pm

    “He was MP for West Derbyshire from 1979 to 1986…Parris left the Tories in 2019, saying he was going to vote Lib Dem.”

    There will have been many policies over the years that meant Parris could vote Tory up until 2019, and basis of these policies won’t always be distasteful, but it also meant he accepted or even supported some pretty foul political choices along the way.

    It would be silly to ignore soft-Tories but people wanting a “nicer, more decent” government would only have been reluctant-Tories. Parris and friends will probably only ever be become reluctant-Lib Dems with most moving back as soon as they the cruel, future-sacrificing policies they favour spoken about with more traditional management speak again, with only some converting in a more lasting way.

    “he wants us also to be open to propping up a Conservative minority government.”

    How did that work out for LD’s under Nick Clegg? How did it work out for the UK as a whole?

  • Tristan Ward 18th Jun '22 - 5:01pm

    It ought not be beyond practical politics to show dissatisfied former Tories that there is ahome for them with us.

    I have always been a Lib Dem, but up to 2015 I would have almost certainly voted Conservative rather than Lbaour if there had been no Lib Dem candidate. Since 2015 I could vote for neither of those options.

  • David Langshaw 18th Jun '22 - 5:40pm

    Political theorists don’t seem to have given the idea much thought, because it’s never been an issue in the past, but should we be considering the break-up of the formerly monolithic Conservative Party? Over the last 150 years or so various Liberal factions peeled off to join the Tories – maybe it’s time for the tide to turn? The Conservative Party doesn’t seem to be interested in business, the Union, international relations, the Crown, the Church, various aspects of the Constitution, etc etc etc. What exactly is it trying to “conserve” these days? Let’s encourage the small-c conservatives to think a bit more deeply about their beliefs, and to see where they resonate with ours. We should be encouraging them to leave the Conservative Party to the UKIPpers, loonies and fruitcakes who have taken it over.

    Perhaps we should be ready to make some surprising new friends?

    (On a petty note, I remember the West Derbyshire by election very well – we were winning, and would have won, but Matthew Parris wrote in the Times that it was a two-horse race between the Tories and Labour! An outright fib of the highest order, which the Tories dutifully reproduced on their final leaflets. They won by 100 votes.)

  • David Evans 18th Jun '22 - 6:09pm

    Brad, what you say is precisely *not* what Matthew Parris is suggesting, but it is a sadly too instinctive response many Lib Dems have. Wooing is not moving yourself to another person’s position, but a process of gradually persuading someone to move towards your position.

    That it is why it is essential that when canvassing and trying to persuade people to vote for us, we concentrate on what they are really saying and try to help them to move a bit closer to our position. Framing the process as a battle of ideas where we are absolutely right and they are totally wrong will only lead to failure on our part, both electorally and as a vibrant philosophy of human advancement.

    We need to learn how to be better just as much as others need to as well.

  • Brad Barrows 18th Jun '22 - 6:56pm

    @David Evans
    If I understand your explanation of wooing, you are describing a deliberate tactic of Liberal Democrats presenting themselves as Tory-lite as a trick to get unhappy Tory voters to vote for a Party that is not what they believe it is? In some ways I would prefer this than the Liberal Democrats actual changing policies so as to become closer to the political position of soft-Tories, but I find neither approach particularly acceptable.

  • Brad Barrows 18th Jun '22 - 6:59pm

    @David Evans
    Sorry – my sincere apologies – I should have said ‘his’ rather than ‘your’ in the first line of my last post. I meant to refer to what Matthew Parris had suggested.

  • Paul Barker 18th Jun '22 - 8:07pm

    Can I go slightly off topic here & talk about the real possibility of a General Election in the Autumn ?
    There are stories that Johnson “Allies” have pencilled in October 27th as the planned date.
    I had already concluded that Johnson would go for a Snap Election if his rebellious Backbenchers looked likely to try again & win this time, He has no interest in being an ordinary MP, for him its PM or nothing.
    However the date suggested puzzled me until I looked up the date of the Labour Conference which ends 4 Weeks & a Day before. It now looks very likely that a motion in favour of Proportional Representation will pass, perhaps with two-thirds of the Vote.

    Johnson could base the Tory campaign on the Plot between Our Party & Labour to “Stitch Up” the Voting system thus Freezing out The Tories for ever. The Referendum on AV would be dragged up, falsely but perhaps convincingly. You can imagine the Tory slogans – 4 Weeks to save our Democracy etc. Probably there would be talk of a Plot to Rejoin The EU as well.
    Of course Labour Conference doesn’t decide Labour policy but most Voters probably assume it does. All the chatter about Hung Parliaments & Progressive Alliances has set up the idea of an Undemocratic, Remainer “Plot” quite nicely.
    I was assuming that Labour would win any Snap Election with a small majority but now I am not so sure.
    How would we counter Tory arguments ?

  • Peter Watson 18th Jun '22 - 8:40pm

    @Brad Barrows “If that is the price [the Liberal Democrats need to become ‘Conservative-lite’ to win], it wouldn’t count as winning in my book”
    Sadly, I think that ship has already sailed. For the last couple of years the party has presented itself as a conservative Conservative-lite, providing a comfortable home for soft Tories, which is either a great shame or a great con-trick. I don’t see anything to reassure me that it’s the latter. 🙁

    @David Evans “Wooing is not moving yourself to another person’s position, but a process of gradually persuading someone to move towards your position.”
    To win Chesham & Amersham, the party moved a long away from its position on HS2 to woo Tory voters, and I don’t get the impression that Blue Wall by-election campaigning has much to with the radical or progressive ideas that are often discussed on these pages.

  • Chris Moore 19th Jun '22 - 7:37am

    Rassemblement National may continue its tiptoes away from the extremes. It’s trying to present itself as in the Gaullist tradition.

    Meanwhile, the UK government is going in the opposite direction.

  • Perhaps Mr. Parris, and a few others on here, might reflect that Labour came second in T&H.. Presenting this party as ‘light-blue’ will ensure that you won’t get their vote and, even if they just ‘stay at home’, we won’t win..

    This party was almost destroyed by a section that thought the Tories were our natural partners. It propped up the weakest PM in my lifetime and enabled the inevitable rise of the ERG and Johnson..

  • Chris Moore 19th Jun '22 - 7:51am

    Btw. One or two posters on here seem to think there’s something disreputable about winning over Tory voters.

    Much better to stick with our blessed core of 11% of true liberals.

    Of course, many winnable “Tory voters” were once LD voters. Ditto for “Labour voters”.

    We don’t need to dilute our liberal/social democratic beliefs to win over voters, but we do have to be relevant and interested in people’s everyday issues.

    Focusing our campaign on our pet internal obsessions – LVT, UBI, PR, REJOIN – will get us nowhere.

  • Nonconformistradical 19th Jun '22 - 8:07am

    “Perhaps Mr. Parris, and a few others on here, might reflect that Labour came second in T&H”

    As they did in North Shropshire in 2019

  • Brad Barrows 19th Jun '22 - 8:53am

    @Chris Moore
    I want Tories to be attracted to vote Liberal Democrat but I want them to do so because they are persuaded that Liberal Democrat ideas are right rather than because the Liberal Democrats choose to become Tory-lite so as to make it easier to gain the votes of soft Tories who are looking for another Tory-like party.

  • Russell Simpson 19th Jun '22 - 8:57am

    @expats
    Most seats winnable for the libdems are held by the tories and in those seats most tory voters won’t vote Labour. Who was 2nd in 2019 is irrelevant. If libdems are going to tack it should be right rather than left if they want any significant Westminster representation.

  • Nonconformistradical 19th Jun '22 - 9:04am

    @Brad Barrows
    “I want Tories to be attracted to vote Liberal Democrat but I want them to do so because they are persuaded that Liberal Democrat ideas are right….”

    I thought that was what David Evans was saying – “That it is why it is essential that when canvassing and trying to persuade people to vote for us, we concentrate on what they are really saying and try to help them to move a bit closer to our position.”

  • Peter Watson 19th Jun '22 - 10:18am

    @Chris Moore
    “many winnable “Tory voters” were once LD voters. Ditto for “Labour voters”.
    But by 2015, appearing Tory-lite had put off Labour voters (hence Paris’ observation that “Labour constituencies that may prove vulnerable to the Lib Dems are thin on the ground” – this was not always the case) and Tory voters had an obvious first choice: the real Tories!

    “We don’t need to dilute our liberal/social democratic beliefs to win over voters, but we do have to be relevant and interested in people’s everyday issues.”
    People in poorer constituencies have issues too, and many discussions on this site demonstrate the genuine compassion and concern that Lib Dems have for them, but national and by-election campaigning seems to abandon that with a more targeted conservative and NIMBY focus, sometime appearing to contradict party policy.

    Radical, redistributive policies like LVT and UBI will impact those better-off target voters, and by ignoring them, it looks at best dishonest, and at worst, like soft-Conservative voters are winning over the Lib Dems rather than the other way round.

  • No Brad, I’m not sure why, but it seems you have an urge to apply the term ‘Tory lite’ to an article and an overall situation that it has nothing do with it at all.

    MP used a clearly defined word to express a view as to how Lib Dems should go about getting people who have voted Conservative to vote Lib Dem. You misinterpreted this and portrayed it as the Lib Dems becoming ‘Tory Lite’. I explained your fundamental error, disproving your conclusion.

    Now you have changed your position to imply that my explanatition “Wooing is … a process of gradually persuading someone to move towards your position,” could somehow be twisted to become “a deliberate tactic of Liberal Democrats … as a trick?”

    How on earth can you deconstruct what I said as possibly meaning as “a trick to get unhappy Tory voters to vote for a Party that is not what they believe it is.” Do you believe that wooing is a trick and do you really believe that the Lib Dems could ever accept that such a trick? That would reduce our politics to the level of Johnstonian lying and has no place in Liberal Democracy.

    There is no need to lie or redefine Liberal Democracy to win in Tiverton and Honiton, just get out there and help people understand how Liberal Democracy is closer to their values than Conservatism as Shirley and I have been doing this week.

  • Russell Simpson 19th Jun ’22 – 8:57am…………….. ‘expats’, If libdems are going to tack it should be right rather than left if they want any significant Westminster representation………….

    There is a party already to our right; a party I wanted no part of when it was run by May, Cameron, et al, let alone Johnson.. The ‘centre ground’ has a nasty habit of shifting to the right and, before you know it, you are living Orwell’s last lines (Animal Farm)

    Anyway, as we found out to our cost in 2015, voters will usually vote for the organ grinder rather than the monkey.

  • It’s a stumbling Mother of Parliaments we’re all looking at. But is there an old outsider coming up on the inside, to rescue us?

    I believe — and hope — that the latest scion of our Mother of Parliaments has been so wasting his inheritance that the revolutionary Proportional Representation may very soon throw all into confusion — and new Hope for the united kingdom, capital letters or not.

    The principal brake on the surge from PR is the leadership of Labour. I believe they covertly cling to the notion that Buggins’s Turn will see them home under FPTP. It may be too late for that now.

  • Nonconformistradical 19th Jun '22 - 12:54pm
  • mick Taylor 19th Jun '22 - 1:10pm

    There is too little concern expressed in this blog about the very real problems of working with Labour. Few outside the big northern cities have any idea of the hatred that Labour have for the Liberal Democrats and it’s not because of the 2010-15 coalition as it long predates that. Many years ago, as a young idealistic councillor, I worked with Labour councillors on Local authorities against apartheid. I remember clearly the discussion with a Cardiff Labour councillor. who was very unhappy about working with Liberals. In the end he told me that if an agreed Labour policy was put forward by a Liberal, he would vote against it.
    Roger Lake is spot on. Starmer and his ilk still believe they can win under FPTP. Even if the Labour Party conference votes through PR, I would put money on it NOT being in the next Labour Manifesto. Labour have promised PR twice in my lifetime. In the Steel/Callaghan LibLab 1977 pact they promised PR for European elections. In 1997 they promised PR as part of the Blair/Ashdown accord. They reneged on both occasions.

  • @ Mick Taylor ” In the Steel/Callaghan Lib-Lab 1977 pact they promised PR for European elections. In 1997 they promised PR as part of the Blair/Ashdown accord. They reneged on both occasions”.

    So how come we’ve now got PR in Scotland for local elections and Holyrood, Mick…… and before Brexit…. for the EU Parliament too ?

    One of the unfortunate things about politics in all parties is that folk have long memories. My guess as to the hostility you faced as a youngster is that the Labour folk you mention had long memories of what the then Liberal Party got up to in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

  • Paul Barker 19th Jun '22 - 3:57pm

    Labour have certainly moved a long way on Electoral Reform, their membership is overwhelmingly in favour & there is now a majority among Affiliated Unions as well.If Conference are allowed to Vote again there will undoubtedly be a big majority for change.

    However Labour Conference doesn’t make Policy – that’s down to The Leader, MPs & Unions.

  • @ Paul Barker, “However Labour Conference doesn’t make Policy – that’s down to The Leader, MPs & Unions”. I’m afraid that’s not entirely accurate, Mr Barker. As a point of information, a quick internet search (see below) would reveal the actual process :

    “About Labour’s Policy Processhttps://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk › about › policy…… Labour is a democratic socialist party. Our policy development process is designed to involve members, local parties, trade unions, socialist societies, …

    How We Work – The Labour Partyhttps://labour.org.uk ›
    The ultimate authority in the party, Annual Conference decides the policy framework from which the next manifesto will be drawn and sets party rules.

  • Chris Moore 19th Jun '22 - 5:38pm

    @Peter Watson: UBI is less redistributive than simply redistributing through the existing benefits system with benefits targeted on those who need them. UBI horribly expensive, pointlessly sweeping reform that is a guaranteed vote-loser.

    LVT: complex and far-sweeping. We would spend our whole GE campaign trying and failing to explain this.

    We have to be pragmatic and practical. Get away from these gargantuan vote losers.

    @Brad Barrows and Peter: People change allegiances to us for a variety of reasons. Those who do so because of converting to a deeply felt liberal outlook are likely to be in a vanishingly tiny minority.

  • Jason Connor 19th Jun '22 - 6:51pm

    UBI isn’t horribly expensive it would supplant the benefits system and represents a credible social liberal policy in itself with Universal appeal. Any income would be topped up by employment, an incentive in itself.
    People like myself, a council tenant in a labour controlled area, look for an alternative. It is very depressing to read on here this notion of abandoning Lib Dem leaning voters in Labour areas for blanket wooing or converting Conservatives. As pointed out on here before Lib Dems have so much more to offer when their candidates are given support by the Party rather than under-resourced. Just ask the Councillors in Kingston Upon Hull after their recent local election successes. Now many of these voters are turning to the Greens as the Lib Dems no longer seem to bother in Labour held areas. It’s unbelievable that some on here seem to evoke those non halcyon days of the coalition and the destruction it caused to the LD party in its wake. Matthew Parris would probably want to preserve the two party system and sees the Lib Dems giving up on in Labour held areas as the best way of doing that.

  • Joseph Bourke 19th Jun '22 - 8:41pm

    Matthew Paris comments chime with earlier analysis of the issue of Valence i.e about competence and trust in particular.
    This concept explains the roughly decade long alternation in power of Labour and Conservatives in the post-war period. When the government swings too far left or right the opposition is voted in to redress the balance.
    The Liberal Democrats as a centre-left party finds itself aligned with most voters – “Asked where they put the Lib Dems and themselves on the political spectrum, voters kept on putting the party near to themselves overall.”
    James Carville’s quip “it’s the economy, stupid.” is at the heart of every election and will be in the next one with Inflation and the cost of living , jobs, pensions, housing and taxes dominating over health and education services, policing and defense, immigration and foreign affairs, the environment and electoral reform.
    LibDems have to be able to present both a convincing prospectus for the economy and living standards together with a leadership team that inspires confidence in voters that things will get better with Libdem participation in government.

  • Russell Simpson 19th Jun '22 - 10:30pm

    @David Law
    PR in Scotland. Kind of. SNP got 55% of seats with 45% votes. Not quite right! Need to deal with overhang.

  • Peter Watson 20th Jun '22 - 12:16am

    @Chris Moore
    “UBI horribly expensive, pointlessly sweeping reform that is a guaranteed vote-loser.”
    “LVT: We would spend our whole GE campaign trying and failing to explain this.”
    But are they party policies or not? And if they are, then why hide that from voters?
    I don’t know about LVT (I recall the party voting against Labour’s “mansion tax” proposals during coalition), but in 2020, Ed Davey was “thrilled” a Lib Dem conference voted to campaign for UBI, “a truly radical, liberal solution”, so why not actually, errr … campaign for it?
    Similarly, Lib Dem conferences voted (and the party promptly ignored it!) to call on “the government to abandon the selection by ability and social separation of young people, into different schools” and to “ensure that selection in admissions on the basis of religion or belief to state-funded schools is phased out over up to six years”. I doubt either message would go down well in Chesham & Amersham or many other Lib Dem Blue Wall targets: is that why these “policies” have been conveniently forgotten?
    Apart from “Ed’s not Boris” (but then, neither is Keir), what makes the Lib Dems campaigning priorities distinctively Lib Dem?

  • From media reports it looks as if Tory support is hardening in H&T; a combination of their acceptance of the Tory agenda of ‘moving on’, Rwanda, anti-strike and Ukraine..

    Whether or not moderate Conservative voters will stick with their party on these issues (and in this by-election) is debatable but the hard core certainly will.. This is not the time and place to open a ‘second front’ against those of any persuasion whose vote may not be for our policies but against Johnson’s..

    If Churchill could work constructively with Stalin to defeat Hitler we can, and should, work with Labour to rid ourselves of this government and it’s despicable practices..The first step is Johnson; without him Truss, Patel, Shapps, Dorries, et al, are just so many ‘headless chickens’..

  • Russell Simpson 20th Jun '22 - 8:21am

    @expats
    Not sure how helpful it is comparing Labour with Stalin and the tories with Hitler?

  • Russell Simpson 20th Jun ’22 – 8:21am….

    For heaven’s sake; it’s just an analogy.. Rathermore concise than explaining in detail why an alliance with a belief you dislike may be necessary to remove a belief you hate, etc. etc.

    Anyway, it’s a long time since I saw Godwin’s Law invoked..

  • Brad Barrows 20th Jun '22 - 9:09am

    @Russell Simpson
    I think you are unfair to expats. The point was being clearly made that Stalin was so much worse than Labour and yet a Tory was able to work with him when the cause – defeating Hitler – was so serious. By the same token, the Liberal Democrats should be able to work with Labour when the cause – defeating the Tories under this particularly unacceptable leader – is of paramount importance.

  • David Evans 20th Jun '22 - 9:26am

    Russell,

    I really don’t think Expats tried compared Labour with Stalin and the tories with Hitler. He just used a well understood analogy of how in extreme times (and these are the most extreme times our politics have been in since the 1970s at least), unlikely alliances have to be forged to turn things around.

    Now I do accept that some of our enemies would deliberately try to twist the analogy he used, to portray it is as something malicious, but some do that whatever we say. However, I don’t think we should let ourselves be sucked into such debates.

  • Tristan Ward 20th Jun '22 - 9:48am

    ” get out there and help people understand how Liberal Democracy is closer to their values…”

    Hear hear!

    “Labour is a democratic socialist party”

    How any Liberal can view a party that describes itself as such with anything other than caution at best I will never know. Socialism and Liberalism are contradictory, just as much if not more so than Liberalism and Conservatism.

    We have to be prepared to deal with either (though it is very difficult to see how we could deal with any party Johnson and his like lead).

    And lets not forget Churchill spent many years in parliament and Government as a Liberal. Arguably the Conservative Party since (say) 1935 has been a coalition been Tories and Liberals against the threat of socialism – an alliance that is now breaking down as the threat from socialism (including democratic socialism) in the West receeds and the threat from right wing authoritarianism increases. It ought to be an opportunity for Liberals.

  • @ Tristan Ward “And lets not forget Churchill spent many years in parliament and Government as a Liberal”.

    Indeed, Tristan, but I’d suggest caution when advocating Churchill’s version of “Liberalism” between 1904 and 1923. Apart from clear evidence of advocating Eugenics (‘sterilise the feeble minded)’, advocating forced feeding of imprisoned suffragettes, dashing off with the Royal Naval Division to Antwerp and as a reckless architect of the Gallipoli campaign (for which the Tories refused to serve with him in a senior post in the 1915 Coalition), the people of Dundee – for very good reasons – happily disposed of him as their ‘Liberal’ M.P. in 1922.

    A well respected review of his Liberal career can be found online : “Dundee’s Disenchantment with Churchill: A Comment upon the Downfall of the Liberal Party”, William M. Walker, The Scottish Historical Review, Vol. 49, No. 147, Part 1 (Apr., 1970), pp. 85-108 (24 pages), Pub : Edinburgh University Press.

  • Tristan Ward 20th Jun '22 - 11:02am

    Incidentally, why do people say voters should “lend” us their votes?

    Surely we want them to be persuaded that Liberal Democracy is the original and best – not to imply they should dump us next time.

  • Tristan Ward 20th Jun '22 - 11:06am

    “Churchill could work constructively with Stalin to defeat Hitler”

    If I recall correctly, when he was asked about this, Churchill said If “Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference of the Devil in the House of Commons.”

  • Why are so many LDs so convinced that UBI would be hideously expensive?

    Apart from any other notion, have they failed to consider how little Govt spending on Benefits there will be, when the great army of Local Government staff who administer those benefits is radically demobilised? Everybody is to get the UBI, so nobody is needed to say to anyone “Prove that you’re entitled to it”.

    Yes, UBI will be funded by taxing the well-off: by most LDs that means, I suppose. [et al]. But UBI will be part of every Personal Income — and Income Taxed accordingly.

    The matter will be further clarified when its name explains where it is to come from, or ‘how it is to be paid for’. When UBI is officially, logically, and truthfully described as the “National Income Dividend” everyone will sit up and take notice, in wonder and delight.

    And that cannot be far off, because our Blessed Boris is surely giving the arrival in the House of Commons of PR, to replace FPTP, an irresistible boost, for the next General Election but one. In ten years, PR — and the House of Commons transformed, with about ten effective parties (not counting nationalists). The NID will be the first thing announced in the Budget Speech,

  • Simon McGrath 20th Jun '22 - 5:32pm

    @Roger “ Why are so many LDs so convinced that UBI would be hideously expensive?“

    Because they can do basic arithmetic

  • @ Simon McGrath, just above.

    Simon, you’re surely not going to deny me, and hundreds of us, an insight into how and why only basic arithemtic can show clearly that UBI would be “‘hideously expensive”, are you. I have made several positive remarks of an explanatory kind, and would welcome a straightforward or basic counter argument.

  • Mick Taylor 21st Jun '22 - 7:13am

    David Raw is being disingenuous.
    .
    1. We had PR for Europe because the EU insisted. Callaghan reneged on his commitment in 1977.
    2. We have STV for local elections in Scotland because the LibDems insisted as part of their deal with Labour.
    3. Blair reneged on PR for Westminster which had been part of the Ashdown/Blair accord.
    4. All the devolved administrations got a sort of PR with the addition of regional lists to FPTP because Labour felt it had to do that to get devolution accepted.
    You can’t trust Labour to deliver unless it is part of the agreed deal we may have to make with them after the next GE and PR must be a prerequisite for any deal and must be voted in BEFORE any deal even begins. Otherwise, I am confident that regardless of what the Labour Conference says, Labour MPs will not willingly vote for PR unless it is the price for getting into government.
    Unlike David Raw, I have bitter experience of the hatred for LibDems by large city Labour bosses.
    There is far too much naivety in our party and too much misguided belief in the idea that Labour is in any way progressive.
    I am not against working with Labour – indeed I have done so many times – but I just want people to recognise that it won’t be easy and trust will be difficult. Goodness me, we trusted the Tories in 2010 and look where that got us!

  • Russell Simpson 21st Jun '22 - 12:07pm

    I understand that STV is the Libdem’s preferred system but can someone please explain this to me. In the recent NI elections the TUV got 1 seat from 8% of 1st preference votes. I assume this is because it averaged 0.4 MLAs in each of the 18 constituencies, clearing the hurdle on only one occasion. The Alliance benefitted, getting 19% of MLAs from 13.5% of 1st preference votes. I understand that, under STV, 2nd preferences contribute but I would much rather see my 1st preference honoured. This seems a glaring weakness of STV compared with other PR systems?

  • Mick Taylor 21st Jun ’22 – 7:13am………… Goodness me, we trusted the Tories in 2010 and look where that got us!……………..

    Eating fish once made me ill; so I won’t be eating meat in future..

  • David Evans 21st Jun '22 - 2:03pm

    expats – Actually, it was a bit more like I thought I would try eating raw whale meat. Unfortunately, I thought it was dead, but it wasn’t and so it ate me! All they found of me when it was finished was one leg and a bit of heart. 🙁

  • Peter Watson 21st Jun '22 - 2:07pm

    Mick Taylor “Goodness me, we trusted the Tories in 2010 and look where that got us!”
    Sadly, I think the party’s wounds were self-inflicted rather than the direct result of trusting the Tories. 🙁
    One can only hope that lessons were learnt that can be applied in any future coalitions, but for me the key one would be finding a way to maintain – and communicate – a distinct Lib Dem identity within coalition government. I think the party has been unable to shake off the impression that it is too much like the Conservative party … which brings my comment back on-topic! 😉

  • Tristan Ward 21st Jun '22 - 2:19pm

    “the party has been unable to shake off the impression that it is too much like the Conservative party”

    And yet the soft Tory voters are the ones it is most important for us to appeal to to (i) win MPs (ii) get rid of the Tories.

    Even if every single Labour voter voted for us in T&H, and every single Green, but no Tory changed, we would not win, and it is the same in many places across the country.

    I remain to be convinced that Britain (and especially England) can every really be a Democratic Socialist country, while it is liberal and democratic.

  • David Evans 21st Jun '22 - 5:44pm

    A Democratic Socialist country? Now there’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one! Lots of people believe in it, but no-one has ever shown me one. Bit like a unicorn I guess. 🙂

  • Inbetween all of the gnashing of teeth about political purity vs pragmatism, we forget that most voters don’t follow politics like we do. Many vote for whoever is dominant where they grew up, based on what their parents voted for with many taking a football approach – only deciding they like a policy if confirmed their team back it, having been reassured by their own team that their opponents’ suggestion is stupid/immoral/anti-British.

    In an ideal world everyone would start off with an open mind and vote for parties with policies that best meet their values, but in the real world you need to get voters on side, and then take the opportunity to convince them that the rest of our policies are the best way of achieving their values after all.

    I expect there are many ‘life-long Conservatives’ in N Shropshire discovering that, now that they’ve had a chance to see it in action, the LibDems have more to offer.

    A life-time of political prejudice takes time to overcome, and there are conversations to be had about not scaring the horses. But if we don’t see at least some of those who voted Tory last time as potential converts, what’s the point?

  • Brad Barrows 21st Jun '22 - 6:10pm

    @David Evans
    It is impossible to have democratic socialist countries as the USA either causes a military coup, as in Chile, finances terrorists to undermine the government, as in Nicaragua, or tries to bankrupt the country with trade sanctions, such as Venezuela.

  • Mick Taylor 22nd Jun '22 - 7:41am

    It is possible for socialist parties to be democratic, even communist ones. There are a number of Indian states for example that switch between Marxists governments and others, most notably, but not exclusively Kerala, which is interestingly the most equal of Indian States.
    I know that some LibDems foam at the mouth when Cuba is mentioned, but despite decades of US sanctions the socialist government there has survived and its education and health services are some of the best in the world. It certainly isn’t democratic in the western sense but they do have elections.
    You might also argue that the Scandinavian countries are largely democratic socialists (although they often call themselves Social Democrats).
    Of course, it doesn’t help regimes like Nicaragua, Chile and Venezuela that they set out to antagonise the US instead of quietly creating the society they want. Not that that in any way excuses the actions of successive US administrations for seeking to bring down regimes they don’t like, whilst tolerating oppressive regimes elsewhere.

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