More influential than the Liberal Democrat chief executive, 2 former cabinet ministers and a Council leader Really?

One of the biggest laughs I’ve had in a long time came during our Conference in Bournemouth when Iain Dale published his list of the top 50 influential Liberal Democrats. I’ve been meaning to write about it for ages but never quite got round to it.

I, believe it or not, am at number 30, up 11 places from last year. This puts me above Keith House, Leader of Eastleigh Council in charge of a budget of millions, 2 former Cabinet ministers, Ed Davey and Danny Alexander and the Chief Executive of the Party. You can perhaps see why I was laughing so much. Mr Dale clearly has his finger on the pulse of what’s going on in this party.

Iain’s list certainly reflected our departure from government, with Tim Farron and his key allies close to the top. There are 17 women and 33 men in a vaguely random order. He said himself:

There are 19 new entries in this year’s Liberal Democrat list, many of them close allies of the new party leader Tim Farron. The LibDem wipeout in May made this almost inevitable, although the changes are largely due to former MPs dropping off the list altogether rather than an amazng amount of new talent forcing its way onto the list.

Nick Clegg has only dropped three places, which may come as a bit of a surprise, but this list is all about influence, and it cannot be denied that Clegg will have an enduring influence over the LibDems, but also in the country. He’s a bit like John Major in that he rations his public pronouncements so everyone pays attention when he decides to hold forth.

One of the big risers in this list is the leader of the Welsh LibDems, Kirsty Williams. The deputy leadership of the party was offered to her but she decided to concentrate on fighting the 2016 Welsh Assembly elections. Even if those don’t go well, and they probably won’t, she’s one of the next generation of LibDem stars.

Many of the LibDem old guard are on the decline. Paddy Ashdown, for instance, has to fall this year even though he remains immensely popular. Vince Cable seems to have opted out of frontline politics and to have become a commentator, while Danny Alexander plummets 36 places and appears to have completely disappeared from view.

These things are always to be taken as a pinch of salt but, as Iain says, our mission is to remain relevant so that he and others think that we are worth talking about at all.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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12 Comments

  • If Ian Dale had ever known anything about the Lib Dems, he would have known at the time that Norman Lamb was going to defeat him heavily in North Norfolk.

    These lists are ‘Just a bit of fun’ for people who like compiling useless lists – and the even stranger folk who like to pay for then to do so. Leave them to their harmless pursuits.

    I would, however, personally think that Canon you are far more influential in the present party than both those former Cabinet Members. What have they communicated to Lib Dems over the last six months which has had any influence? You, on the other hand, set an agenda in the only present major public forum engaged in by Lib Dems. It’s a no-brainer.

  • David Allen 18th Oct '15 - 8:06pm

    Clearly what Iain Dale should firstly be seeking to judge here is whether LDV is influential within the Liberal Democrats. Not an easy thing to do! It is far too simple to assume that LDV is just third-rate tittle-tattle that nobody important pays any attention. It is of course equally far too simple to assume that blogging rules the world.

    I’d say that 30th place is a bit low. I think it would be healthy for the party if LDV was recognised as an important mechanism for development of policies and attitudes – as, to a fair extent, it already is.

    Tories frequently recognise that ConHome is influential. It is also pretty open to all strands of opinion within the Tory party. That helps their party. It helps them work out their ideas and involve more people in doing so. Lib Dems would benefit from a similar level of influence and openness for LDV.

  • Ruth Bright 18th Oct '15 - 9:30pm

    Caron – surely that position must be about right if not a bit on the low side.

  • Martin Pierce 19th Oct '15 - 7:00am

    “He’s [Clegg] a bit like John Major in that he rations his public pronouncements so everyone pays attention when he decides to hold forth.”

    Meanwhile back in the universe the rest of us inhabit…

    I still find it amazing that after years of 8% poll ratings, followed by an 8% real poll rating in May, plus wipeouts in just about every elected forum along the way, there are people who still think the great British public has any interest in listening to Nick Clegg. They stopped listening over the course of the second half of 2010 and gave their verdict repeatedly – any time they were asked in fact (locals, Euros, Scottish, Welsh, London and any by election you care to mention). I would have thought the least the Cleggistas could do now would be to do the decent thing and humbly admit that Nick was a disaster and best forgotten.

  • Forget Nick Clegg. He is the failed past so far as the party is concerned. Renewal is needed. The Canadian Liberals appear to be achieving that, and the latest polls folr todays election have the mood swinging apparently decisively to them. Looks like Trudeau with a minority government or even a majority, if the swing continues. Interestingly they campaigned on running three deliberate budget deficits! Seems to have been a very positive factor. Canada, like ourselves, is in a deflationary type situation, are there lessons for our party.

  • Iain – I only recently found that out myself. Thanks for replying and confirming that. Maybe it should be made clearer? Have a Lib Dem panel certainly increases the value if it. (no offence.)

  • Tony Dawson 19th Oct '15 - 2:37pm

    @Iain Dale

    “The List was not compiled by me. I chaired a panel of four LibDems – an ex minister, two party apparatchiks and a Li bDem Peer.”

    Possibly people who know even less about the Lib Dems than does Ian Dale! 😉

  • SIMON BANKS 20th Oct '15 - 6:28pm

    The basic question is “influential on what?”. Local services in Eastleigh probably don’t excite Mr Dale much. Paddy down and Kirsty up seems right, though.

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