My message to liberal Tories: join us

During the General Election campaign I found myself in an interesting position. Standing as the candidate for the most liberal, pro-EU party, I found myself against an incumbent MP who spent a lot of time talking about his enthusiasm for Europe. He also spoke often of the need for ‘liberal pluralism’ and his enthusiasm for a change to the voting system.

He was against grammar schools for the same reason we are. He repeatedly stated at every hustings the need to reform the education system to encourage technical training schemes that were given as much respect as academic courses. He stressed the need to ensure per-pupil funding was maintained in state schools.

He was an enthusiast for tackling climate change and took a pragmatic approach to the energy sector, favouring a liberal model with a sensible mix of energy sources.

So it may surprise you to hear that he was the former Conservative MP for Stroud, Neil Carmichael. He lost to the arch-eurosceptic Labour MP David Drew (a finer and more dedicated MP you will not meet, by the way). Of course, Neil’s voting record in parliament might suggest that he is less committed to these aims than he might say when put on the spot in a hustings event. We might very well, however, look back at some of our own actions in coalition government for a reference point. But I digress.

When I asked Neil after a hustings one evening about his enthusiasm for these issues, he described himself as a ‘Heathite Tory’. Sadly for Neil, he and others who believe in that brand of liberal conservatism are no longer represented by the Tory pitch to voters. They are likely to remain aliens in their party the foreseeable future as the Conservatives plunge into years of squabbling over the EU, rolling back climate legislation and failing to fund public services.

So this is my pitch to Neil and Tories who share his progressive world view: if you’re a liberal in the Conservative party, you are now politically homeless. Join us. You’ll like it.

* Max Wilkinson is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Cheltenham. He’s also a local councillor and cabinet member for economic development, tourism, culture and wellbeing.

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  • Would he get close to winning his seat as a Liberal Democrat? Also, being Liberal is not just about being pro-EU or “progressive”.

  • Richard Fagence 21st Jul '17 - 9:43am

    As Max, for all his hard work and effort, only managed to secure a 3.22% share of the vote it seems unlikely. I grew up and went to school within ten miles of Stroud and would never have thought of it as Liberal or Liberal Democrat territory. Mind you, I would never have seen it as Labour territory, either, so things may have changed locally since I was a lad.

  • Max Wilkinson 21st Jul '17 - 9:54am

    Richard and Andrew,

    Thank you for your comments. I was rather hoping people might engage with the substance of the article, rather than the success of Liberal Democrat candidates in Stroud.


  • The deeper question is how come a constituency that polled 32% in 1983 polled only 3.2% this time ?

    Add to that, why should a Tory moderate want to join a party with that measure of success ?

  • Max Wilkinson 21st Jul '17 - 10:28am


    Thank you for partially engaging with the substance of the article, even if your first inclination is to avoid it.

    The pitch is clear and written in the article: the Tory moderates have been deserted by their party. They share many, of not all of the key tenets of our philosophy, and their party is resorting to authoritarian English nationalism. Why would they want to remain a part of it in such circumstances?

  • Max

    I would point out that the obcession peoepl have with talking about the 48% is a problem. Before the election the FT was running articles pointing out that what was being seen as 48% was around half that as about half the electorate were in the easily swayed category. Too much assumption has been made that the 48% is solid and there is an easily persuadable mass on the other side. The reality is that there has been decades of Anti-EU messaging and we pro-EU types have been bad at addressing that.

    A second referendum would also be lost (possibly by a much larger margin) if there hasn’t been an effective effort to persuade people over to the pro EU side. Until that happens the liberal Tories will simply keep their heads down.

  • Christine Headley 21st Jul '17 - 11:04am

    Staying parochial, the Labour vote in Stroud is heavily attached to David Drew. We were second with more than 30% of the vote in the 1980s; David Drew became Labour candidate in 1992 and overtook us, winning the seat in 1997. He retired after losing for the second time, in 2015, but found himself back in the saddle in 2017 as they hadn’t actually replaced him. He is personally very popular locally.
    Widening the relevance somewhat, Neil Carmichael is one of a number of active Tories who started off politically in the SDP. I don’t know when they jumped ship, but they presumably feel that the political ideals they had at the start were best served by the Conservative Party at that time, though they must be feeling high and dry now. I was on LB Sutton in the 90s, and the Conservative leader there then joined the LibDems before 2015, horrified at the way the Tories were going. (And he wasn’t ex-SDP.)

  • Everyone seems to have got hung up on the Stroud specifics instead of addressing the actual point of the article. I agree, Max, well said.

  • All political Parties are broad churches and hence anyone who chooses to join one has to recognise that this choice involves a necessity to make a set of evolving compromises throughout his/her membership. However, the purpose of the liberal Democrats is meant to be to try to achieve a Liberal society. So, the Party should not want ‘liberal Tories’ any more than it should want ‘liberal socialists’ to effectively confuse and disrupt its liberal task from a perspective of actually having other political motivations but presently feeling uncomfortable with life in the Conservative or Labour Party respectively. We have had these people before – some of the most prominent ‘flippers’ have then re-flipped within a very short time when the political environment or the advantage to their bank balance and/or personal prestige has altered. It is hard to escape the fact that a number of the ‘Pro-Europe Conservative’ Party who joined the Lib Dems basically always were and still are essentially Tory across a wide range of issues and outlooks, personal, national and international – they just felt they had nowhere to go at a time when Europe was a key issue and thought the Lib Dems was a convenient dropping off spot. Such people are very different to the genuine liberal who has found themselves esconced in either of the two other main parties and who wishes to relcate to an appropriate ‘home’.

    I am more than happy to have lost the end of my finger on polling day and spent hundreds of hours as a successful agent getting someone of such a background elected as a Lib Dem councillor. The excellent Wera Hobhouse MP is also such a person having previously served as a Rochdale MBC Conservative councillor. What I suggest should be welcomed is the defection of’liberal’ members of the present Conservative and Labour Parties who have come to recognise that their outlook on domestic and world affairs is actually powered more by a liberal perspective than by perspectives of socialism or conservativism, especially where these two perspectives have a heavy authoritarian manifestation.

  • Peter Watson 21st Jul '17 - 11:36am

    “if you’re a liberal in the Conservative party, you are now politically homeless. Join us.”
    Turning that around, surely it would be more productive for Lib Dems on the right of the party to join the Tories. They could bolster the liberal wing of the Conservatives and influence a party of government. Indeed, your first three paragraphs suggest a good fit.
    Lest that feels like a dig at the so-called Orange Bookers, similar arguments could be made for those on the left of the party joining and influencing Labour.
    The Lib Dems look firmly like the party of the 5%, and worse still, it looks like the party of two 2.5%s who have some bitter disagreements over socio-economic policy and political strategy. If people want to achieve something, such as blocking Brexit, surely that is more likely to succeed by joining one of the parties of 40% and influencing them from within. Or if one subject is of overriding importance, e.g. blocking Brexit, a single-issue pressure group would not carry with it irrelevant baggage like tuition fees and Christian faith.
    From threads on this site over recent weeks, I am struggling to see what is the point of the Lib Dems at the moment. What does the party want to achieve? What can the party achieve? Might Labour and the Tories fight harder for the middle ground if the Lib Dems weren’t trying to occupy it?

  • “So this is my pitch to Neil and Tories who share his progressive world view: if you’re a liberal in the Conservative party, you are now politically homeless. Join us. You’ll like it.”

    Umm – but will he?

    Last night on another thread I was advised that some of my views particularly around “leadership” and a more top down approach may be better suited to New Labour or the conservative party?

    Actually it’s a fair comment.
    When I was trying to decide which party was the best fit for me, the Lib Dem’s and Labour were very close (the tories were miles behind, so I think I can discount that option).

    However, like many recently, what finally tipped me over the edge was the Lib Dem’s stance on the EU. Coupled with the fact I have an ecology degree and am passionate about the environment, it appeared to me obvious which party was the best fit?

    However, over the months that I have been active on this site, there has been much frustration (and judging by the length of threads recently dominated by debates around strategy, community/garage politics, Lib Dem direction, perceived slow progress, economic v social liberal dimensions etc etc), it would seem to me I am far from alone.

    Therefore, I think it may be fair to assume two things – at least:

    1. the reasons for many thousands (tens of thousands even), who have joined the party over the last 2 years and who now out number the older more established members are probably different – I suspect they may not be as rooted in community politics as maybe members of the past were.
    These members are likely to have little fear in looking at all options which would lead to the party progressing as quickly as is possible.
    This presents risks for many who are deeply attached to community politics/20C liberalism?

    2. Anyone coming into the party from either the tories or labour are quite possibly going to demand this to an even greater extent. If that means a more top down approach to dragging the party kicking and screaming back into power, than that is what they will demand.
    They are of course very used to that way of operating in their own parties and it appears to work (when was the last Lib Dem government).
    So maybe Lib Dem’s calling for these ‘rebels’ to join us need to be careful what they wish for?

  • Max Wilkinson 21st Jul '17 - 12:47pm


    I consider myself neither on the left nor the right of the Liberal Democrats. I do, however, see liberalism in people who are in illiberal parties and I would hope they would want to join the country’s only liberal party.

    Mike S,

    I have a great deal of sympathy with what you say. While community politics is a great strength of our party, it often overshadows our liberal values. I’d urge you not to get preoccupied too much with online debate and become more involved with the political events your membership enables you to attend. To answer your starting question, I strongly suspect most liberal Tories are inclined to remain in a Tory party with which they have fundamentak disagreements. But they need not and we must look at ways to draw them, and liberals in Labour, into our movement.

  • Peter Watson 21st Jul '17 - 12:49pm

    “He was against grammar schools for the same reason we are.”
    I find the Lib Dem position rather unclear on this. The party opposes Tory plans to expand grammar schools but says nothing about plans for existing ones. I suspect this is to avoid scaring away voters but it looks vague and unprincipled. A party conference in 2016 called on government “to abandon the selection by ability and social separation of young people, into different schools” but this did not make it into the 2017 manifesto and party policy still seems to be a conservative position of maintaining the status quo.
    Apparently Stroud has grammar schools. In a hustings in Stroud last month ( the Green candidate repeated her party’s line on academic selection: “we should get rid of it altogether”. You spoke well, putting the case against grammar schools, but limited it to opposing their expansion and you “applauded the decision” of parents in the audience who chose grammar schools for their children. This inconsistency just makes it so much harder to pin down what Lib Dems stand for on this subject and feeds a narrative that the party tries to face both ways on a range of issues.

  • Peter Watson 21st Jul '17 - 1:00pm

    @Max Wilkinson “I consider myself neither on the left nor the right of the Liberal Democrats.”
    Unfortunately, “neither left nor right but liberal” is not always helpful since it just shifts the debate on to “what does liberal mean?” and much of the debate on this site suggests that there is not universal agreement on that.
    The term “liberal” divides between economic and social liberalism. Other warm words are just as unhelpful: “equality” divides between “equality of opportunity” and “equality of outcome”; “freedom” divides between “freedom to” and “freedom from”. Often those divisions are along the same familiar lines!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Jul '17 - 1:06pm

    I , as with Max, not on the left or right of the party, but either or both or neither depending on the issues, and who in comparison with, welcome this article.

    The trouble is , the sort of people our excellent Mike S , mentions , the naysayers to anything much other than what they want and see to be Liberalism, would say yet again as they have when I express a view that it would be good if Chuka and co in Labour , or Heidi and co in the Tories came to us, “they’re centrists , they are not really Liberals , and that is not real Liberalism!”

    I get red in the cheeks and blue in the face , listening to and engaging with that sort of purist tripe, and , though would not agree with Max when he says to Mike to do less online effort, do it , say I , but with a big , pinch of salt taken, as big as the effort given, or more so !

  • Max Wilkinson 21st Jul '17 - 1:52pm


    Thank you for taking the time to watch the hustings. I don’t object to parents sending their children to grammar schools where they exist. This is largely on the same basis that we can only work within the system that exists. Other parents might move to the catchment area of a school which achieves better results. I don’t object to that either. This position is in no way inconsistent. it is up to politicians to solve these issues of educational inequality, not make high-minded moral judgement about the actions of people who are, quite rationally, seeking to provide the best future for their children.


  • Peter Watson 21st Jul '17 - 2:25pm

    @Max Wilkinson “I don’t object to parents sending their children to grammar schools where they exist. This is largely on the same basis that we can only work within the system that exists.”
    But do you and other Lib Dems believe that steps should be taken to stop those grammar schools from existing and to change that system? That is the glaring inconsistency that concerns me. Rather than “applaud” grammar school parents in Stroud for “making exactly the right choice” (even when that choice is “very socially divisive” and means “the rest of the cohort does significantly worse”), why not explain to those voters why and how you want to take that choice away from them? Or perhaps you are only opposed to parents elsewhere from ever having that choice.

    The Green party is pretty unambiguous:” the Green Party will allow no new grammar schools and gradually integrate grammar and secondary modern schools into the comprehensive system.” Why can’t the Lib Dems be equally unequivocal and ambitious?

    P.S. I fast-forwarded to the grammar school question, but I’m sure the other 2 hours were just as interesting 😉

  • Dave Orbison 21st Jul '17 - 4:06pm

    I agree with Peter Watson the LibDems are rapidly becoming a single issue Party only but with Coalition baggage.

    It may suit some here to portray opponents as ‘illiberal’ but I think that is a desperate attempt to reassure themselves there is still a point to the LibDems. You cannot define a party with just one label. To suggest Labour of today, with near 500,000 members and over 40% of the vote as ‘uniformly’ illiberal is silly.

    The LibDem only strategy at the moment is to point to other leaders abroad who are enjoying success and then simply claim, as per Cable and Macron today, ‘I’m like him’. Presumably so we will all skip to the polling station and vote accordingly. It’s laughable.

    The LibDems are becoming a rump, split between Orange Bookers and Social Liberals each pulling in different directions and with different perspectives re the Coalition. No wonder by election results continue to show the party bumping along the bottom.

  • Christine Headley 21st Jul '17 - 5:56pm

    Max was mentioned in a discussion between Drew and Carmichael on Radio 4’s PM programme. Friday 21 July, 50+ minutes in.

  • Max Wilkinson 21st Jul '17 - 9:21pm


    I fear, like others, you’ve missed the point of this article and failed to engage with the key point: that we should be the home for liberals.

    Tony Dawson,

    I think you’re trying too hard to disagree with me. What I’m saying is precisely that there are liberals in other parties and they should join us. A liberal in the Tory party is as liberal as a liberal in the Labour Party is as liberal as a liberal in the Liberal Democrats. Let’s start from that point, look for common ground and build for the future.

  • Dave Orbison 21st Jul '17 - 11:02pm

    Max on the contrary I fully understand that liberals would of course feel at home in the LibDem Party. Naturally. But is that their limit if their ambition or purpose. Do they not want to change things ‘for the better’? How is this to be achieved nationally with 5-7% of the vote?

    As Peter suggests, wouldn’t they stand a better chance of changing things by joining the respective Left Labour or Tory Right parties?

    To be clear I would like there to be a left leaning radical LibDem party. A political conscience that challenges Labour in Government. But the LibDems are not radical as they once were and are so consumed about being in the centre that they serve no real political purpose. May as well vote Green for a radical, left of centre alternative.

  • @Peter Watson – We may be too much of an imperfect party for political purists like you, but we’re the best vehicle for those who have no home in the Tories or Labour.

  • *Unfortunately, “neither left nor right but liberal” is not always helpful since it just shifts the debate on to “what does liberal mean?”*

    On the contrary, it is exactly the right approach, so long as we know what “liberal” means – and we’ve no business in politics if we don’t. And that, I think, is Max’s point. The Lab-Con divide is substantially on class loyalties and economics. Liberalism is completely other, about the individual and citizenship, balancing the freedom of citizen against the duties, and the responsibilities of the state to its citizens against the risks of authoritarianism. There are people currently corralled into the Conservatives and indeed Labour who are liberal. That may have been OK when both parties had liberal and authoritarian wings but now both parties have been captured by enemies of liberalism.

    Both those parties won voters who held their noses and voted to keep the other lot out. And what did it get them? A stalemate. They have record vote shares but neither has a majority. Neither is a government or anything like one. In 20 years the Conservatives have had a majority for 2 years (and a small one at that). Their last Chancellor who could present budget without it unravelling within a week was Ken Clarke 20 years ago. Labour last won a general election 12 years ago. They’ve lost 3 out of the last six and 7 out of the last 10. These people aren’t strong, they are weak. Potemkin villages.

    This is our time. We can break this cabal of Brexit-loving authoritarian economic incompetents. We just need to get decent intelligent liberals who currently vote for other parties to see where the battle lines are. Much of the focus will be on Labour Remainers who will sooner or later have to face up to Corbyn and McDonnell’s relentless Anti-Europeanism (and the statist origins of it) but Max is quite right to remind us of the homelessness of the pro-European liberal-minded blue voter.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Jul '17 - 2:14am

    @Adam Cain “Liberalism is completely other, …”
    Meaning what exactly?
    From the furthest right of the Tories to the furthest left of Labour, and then adding the Greens, UKIP, and Scottish, Welsh and Irish parties, politicians will claim they are “balancing the freedom of citizen against the duties, and the responsibilities of the state”, but they disagree over just where that balance point should be. Indeed, one only has to read threads on this site to see the similar disagreements within a single centrist party about how policy should be derived from “liberalism”.

    For example, should Lib Dems support the freedom of people to hunt and kill foxes for pleasure? Surely that would be the “liberal” position?

    Staking a claim to “liberalism” does not uniquely define the Lib Dems. Nor does it magically give a reason for voters or politicians from other parties to flock to the party. And right now, the party desperately needs to find some reasons for people to do just that.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Jul '17 - 2:33am

    @Tim Hill “we’re the best vehicle for those who have no home in the Tories or Labour.”
    It’s not enough though to simply claim that, especially when people have the choice of other parties or non-party political organisations through which to campaign on individual issues.

    No party is politically pure, but it is probably easier for people to identify with a party which is broadly to the left or broadly to the right. The centre is vague and when surveyed, most people tend to consider themselves to be “centrist” anyway, even if others do not! Indeed, I suspect that a true political centre does not really exist. There are so many issues and policy areas and on each of these people might have different combinations of opinions which fall a bit to the left or a bit to the right but average out at a centre around which they can still argue bitterly with each other.

    I think the party needs to define itself more clearly, and it needs to do this with concrete policies rather than relatively abstract terms like “liberal”. Pro-Europe / anti-Brexit is a given, but banging on relentlessly about it has squeezed out the Lib Dem messages on other issues, and this is not helped by negative campaigning against Tory and Labour policies without enough positive messages about a Lib Dem alternatives. It is those alternatives, other Lib Dem policies, that the party needs to communicate better (but by all means remind us about Brexit occasionally), and then the party’s own brand of “liberalism” will be better understood.

  • @ Adam Cain

    Perhaps our problems start from the belief of some of us that Liberalism isn’t concerned with economics. All of life is about economics. If a person has to worry about paying the rent, mortgage, the bills, for food, for clothing or their transport costs their freedom is restricted by their economic circumstances and it is duty of liberals to fix it. It is only when we have fixed these issues that these people will turn to worry about authoritarianism and our lack of open and accountable government.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 23rd Jul '17 - 7:21am

    Peter Watson, You suggest that the liberal position would be to support the freedom of people to hunt foxes. But the liberal view is surely that people should have complete freedom, *so long as their actions do not harm anyone else*. Fox hunting, of course, does harm someone else – the fox.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Jul '17 - 11:31am

    @Catherine Jane Crosland “Fox hunting, of course, does harm someone else – the fox.”
    So all “liberals” should be vegetarians since the choice to eat meat leads to the death of countless animals?
    For the avoidance of doubt, I oppose fox hunting and I don’t care if that position is illiberal.

    The point I am trying to make is that it is not enough for Lib Dems to hope that voters will rally around a holier than thou flag of “liberalism” for its own sake. if Lib Dems cannot agree precisely on what that term means then it is difficult to guess the party’s default position on any issue or how its MPs will vote in Parliament. It is the party’s specific policies which demonstrate what liberalism means for Lib Dems. And often those policies have appeared to be vague, equivocal, inconsistent, conservative, changeable, and failing to match the priorities of the average voter.

    Recent debates on this site about branding and strategy have looked depressingly like navel-gazing by a party uncertain what it stands for. But as those threads have moved to discussing how the party formulates policy then they have thrown some light on to a way forward for the party to quickly re-establish in the mind of voters exactly what Lib Dems are for.

  • @ Peter Watson: of course all parties have to consider balancing the state vs the individual, just as we have to consider class. No-one can simply ignore whole policy areas. The point is that it is the role of the citizen that defines our approach; for the parties it is incidental.

    To take your fox-hunting point: Tories don’t defend fox hunting because it is matter of individual rights (though they may use that language) since they were perfectly happy to squash the individual rights of new age ravers back in the day. They support fox-hunting because of class loyalties and tradition. And Labour opposes it on exactly the same grounds. Frankly I don’t care much about fox-hunting – I don’t mean that I don’t have a position on it, I just mean that it is not an issue that impinges on the rights of almost any citizens at all, therefore we should not waste time on legislating about it.

  • I quite agree with your basic thesis that we need distinctive policies rather than abstract ideas. I merely say that our approach to those policies (and what should make them distinctive from Lab or Con) should start not from defending narrow interests groups (“business” “the working class” “ethnic minorities” or whatever) but from asking: does this policy reinforce citizenship?

    I’d also say that it is values that matter, rather than policy detail; policy illustrates the values but people vote for values (sound economics, welfare, and so on) rather than policy tweaks.

  • @ Adam Cain
    “The point is that it is the role of the citizen that defines our approach;”

    I don’t agree. This sounds like Blairism or Conservativism and the “good citizen” approach. The freedom of the individual defines our approach, we don’t restrict it to only UK citizens. The main problem for us is we don’t all agree that the most important thing restricting people’s freedom is their economic situation and until we sort that out freedom with be restricted for millions of people in the UK. Another problem is we can’t agree on how best to achieve this and we have far too many members who reject radical solutions that involve expensive government intention.

  • Katharine Pindar 24th Jul '17 - 12:54am

    ‘Liberalism is completely other’: I agree with you, Adam Cain, in that I think the Liberal Democrats are completely different both from the Tories and from Labour, in values, standpoints and policies. They are nonetheless a broad church that encompasses both economic and social liberalism, and they are not in danger of oblivion because they take a moderate, reasonable viewpoint, for instance on grammar schools and free schools. For policies beyond Brexit, read our Manifesto, which includes an economic overview praised by the Economist, and no doubt to be further expounded by our new Leader.
    @ Peter Watson. Peter, you seem to have become so relentlessly and dogmatically negative now that I seriously wonder if you ever found a party or a candidate worth voting for in the General Election?

  • This article and many of the comments show the LibDem party as a muddled group who have no idea where they are going…
    The article reaches out to the left of the Tory party and the right of the Labour party; how many times has that been raised? Why should they leave rather than stay and change their parties? After all, Corbyn represents a section of the Labour thinking that Blair tried to eradicate and many within the Labour party still yearn for a return to the Blair years (internal change)…The Tory party is also covers a wide spectrum…

    Are we OK with Labour/Tory rebels? After all, Adam Cain thinks we are ‘other?’ and, Katharine Pindar writes that “the Liberal Democrats are completely different both from the Tories and from Labour, in values, standpoints and policies” and adds that we are a broad church???????

    So we are a broad church that is completely different from other parties; except for those in other parties who have similar views….My head hurts

  • simon hebditch 24th Jul '17 - 10:23am

    At least this article focuses our collective mind on the future role, if any, of the Lib Dems. I was astounded by some of the coverage of the GE results for us. One article referred to the “significant” advance made by an increase in MPs from 9 to 12! This is ridiculous. The results were disastrous and we should not try to hide that. I am interested in being in a party that sees itself as being radical. on the left in the political spectrum and looking for a transformation of British society in terms of economic and social justice. At the moment, the Lib Dems are not offering this vision. We are still transfixed by being in the centre. As has been said by many, standing in the centre of the road simply leads to us being run over!

  • David Allen 24th Jul '17 - 1:22pm

    I’m seeing two unhelpful strands in this thread. One is “Let’s define ourselves very restrictively, so that we keep out people like Blairites, who will contaminate us with illiberal ideas”. That way madness lies, as it reduces us to a tiny sect that will go nowhere.

    The other is “Let’s create a broad church, by looking for what people like liberal Tories want, and adapting our policies to attract them.” That opposite way madness may also lie, because it risks losing clarity, seeking the lowest common denominator, trying to appeal to everyone, and ending up appealing to no-one.

    Basically, there are two broad political stances that can work. One is “A plague on all your houses.” That’s what UKIP said, and thirty or forty years ago it is basically what we said, in contemptuous opposition to both Thatcher and Foot. That kind of stance can work, when the case for contempt can be made. That is what we are saying to the Tories and Labour over Brexit, and whilst the stance failed when tested prematurely at the 2017 election, it must surely stand a better chance in future, as the reality of Brexit beomes clearer to all.

    The other stance that can work is “Hey, we have done some thinking and come up with an attractive new programme for Government, won’t you all listen and come along with us?” That’s what Thatcher did, what Blair did, and in many ways, what Corbyn 2017 did. That’s the other thing we need to do, if we are to get back into the game. And there, sadly, we are basically nowhere, yet. But Vince is trying, so – let’s hope!

  • Seems to me there is a huge gap between Labour’s belief in the Big State solving all problems and the Conservatives pandering to Big Business interests whilst churning out empty rhetoric. Vince Cable seems a lot more capable of articulating this than previous Lib Dem leaders and the voting public has become very fickle so anything can happen. Seems some Lib Dems have already given up even before the game has played out…

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