Naomi Smith’s speech at the Progressive Alliance launch

Last night, a rally attended by over 900 people launched the Progressive Alliance’s campaign to support single anti-Tory candidates in a number of seats around the country.

The event was addressed by Labour’s Clive Lewis, Greens leader Caroline Lucas, Zoe Williams, Paul Mason and Make Votes matter. The Liberal Democrat speaker was former Social Liberal Forum Chair Naomi Smith. She has sent us her speech. Here it is:

I’m Naomi Smith, former Liberal Democrat PPC for this constituency (Cities of London and Westminster), former chair of the Social Liberal Forum and very proud Remoaner!

I’m not standing this time round, but am campaigning in St Albans where with a 63% remain vote, we’ve got a good chance of taking the seat from the Brexiteer, Anne Main.

Of course, we’d have a much better change if an electoral pact between the progressive parties have been brokered. I’m pleased, of course, that the Lib Dems have stood aside in two seats, but am disappointed it wasn’t more. I commend, as we all should, The Green Party, for having done so in a great number of seats. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

What has happened in South West Surrey, where the Labour Party and my own, failed to step down for the doctor running against Jeremy Hunt, tells us all we need to know about the culture changes needed in our parties.

SW Surrey, could have been the new Tatton, where if you remember in 1997, both Labour and the Lib Dems stood aside for the anti-corruption candidate, Martin Bell. This helped to highlight Tory sleaze and bring it under the spotlight during a general election campaign. How differently our parties behaved then. Had we not done that, Neil Hamilton may be restanding as the MP for Tatton in June. If we’d make like Tatton in SW Surrey this time, we could’ve made Tory under funding of the NHS a greater feature of the 2017 General Election.

To change those cultures in our parties is a longer term project. We need to engage in a process of building and reciprocating goodwill and trust. Milestones along that journey in my opinion, should include Labour moving its position on Brexit quite markedly, and for the Lib Dems to rule out working with the Conservatives.

Given the lack of leadership in our both our parties on this, it is now very much down to us, as progressive activists. But before I get on to what Liberal Democrat local parties can now do, let me just put in to context the vision and leadership shown by some:

On the other side of the debate, the organisation has been ruthless. The Regressive Alliance is real. UKIP are giving the Conservatives a free run in 41% of the seats the Tories are contesting. In 2015, UKIP stood 624 candidates. This time, they’re contesting just 377 seats. By comparison, our parties have managed to stand down for each other in around 40 seats. And while I highly commend those local parties that have managed to strike a deal, I sincerely wish it could have been more.

Let’s not fight fire, with dire.

It matters, because we know when we work together, we all benefit. The greatest periods of success for progressive over the last 100 years all involved some degree of cross party collaboration (1906, 1945 and 1997). Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. As long as progressive parties are estranged from one another, the Tories will always be able to present themselves as the providers of secure and stable government.

So what can we do now, right now, to help reduce Theresa May’s majority? Well, we have to try and offset the ill effects of the Regressive Alliance. I’m encouraging all Liberal Democrat supporters in marginal Labour/Tory seats to critically engage their candidates on the key issues of Brexit and that most progressive of issues, Equal Votes.

The reality for Lib Dem supporters is that the Conservatives are generally terrible on the things we care most about, from LGBT issues to internationalism and democratic equality. While we still have this horrendous first past the post system, we have to vote tactically and encourage others to do so  as well.

Tactical votes and non-aggression pacts are what we have left between now and 8 June. And it’s so important that we employ them. As the American philosopher Carl Friedrich said, ‘Democratic order is built, not on agreement of the fundamentals, but on the organising of its dissent’. Or in other words, what distinguishes the health of a democracy , is the vitality of its opposition. If Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders won’t yet collaborate, then we must. And it’ll be no coalition of chaos, but a rebel alliance, and I look forward to working with you all – tactical voting is now our key message, as we begin to build our progressive future. Thank you.

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  • Matt (Bristol) 16th May '17 - 1:42pm

    “let us not fight fire with dire” — please tell me that’s a typo???

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th May '17 - 1:42pm

    This is very odd. The Labour party have a senior former shadow cabinet member, mp and potential leader in this meeting and the Green party have their leader, and an mp too. We have the former chairperson of an internal grouping of our party, not someone who has ever been an mp, and someone who in the past, with her Liberal Left efforts , has rubbed some up the wrong way with this left unity stance .

    I was and am from , past membership of Labour, and , for many years in this party , in favour of a realignment of politics.

    But of the centre and centre left.

    I do not want to ally myself with Andrew Murray et al, especially as our good , sensible candidates, and present mps are in a fight for their careers , this party and our country!

    And to draw yet more attention to this , unorganised, last minute, plays to May, and her unspoken alliance with UKIP !

  • I am on record for supporting local parties standing down candidates if the circumstances are right, but must disagree with the idea that we ‘owe’ the greensand great debt.

    They stood down to benefit the country and local constituents, and to avoid expensive campaign costs. They continue to get media attention for this stance.

    We can and should be grateful, but they didn’t do it just to please us.

  • paul barker 16th May '17 - 2:02pm

    I am sorry but Naomi is wrong, she should not have been there & if she was going to make a platform speech she should have made it very clear that she “represents” a tiny proportion of LDs. The whole Progressive Alliance thing plays to the Tory narrative.
    I reccomend Darren Johnsons piece on the way that Caroline Lucas is undermining every Green candidate & effectively telling Voters “dont vote for us”. All his arguments apply even more to us.
    We should knock this idea firmly on the head, in fact I am not even sure that LDV should be publishing this article.
    We are in an Election, every Vote for us counts, even the “wasted” ones.

  • Simon McGrath 16th May '17 - 2:04pm

    ” what can we do now, right now, to help reduce Theresa May’s majority? Well, we have to try and offset the ill effects of the Regressive Alliance. I’m encouraging all Liberal Democrat supporters in marginal Labour/Tory seats to critically engage their candidates on the key issues of Brexit and that most progressive of issues, Equal Votes”
    ” tactical voting is now our key message”
    So can you confirm that you think that Lib Dem voters in these seats should vote for the Labour candidate if they support opposition to hard brexit and PR ?

  • @ Lorenzo Is there any evidence that the said Andrew Murray had anything whatsoever to do with this meeting ? Do tell, because some people are clearly more easily rubbed up than others.

    @Paul Barker “She should not have been there”. What happened to the liberal principle of free speech, Paul ?

    She “represents” a tiny proportion of LDs”. How do you know that ? Have you any evidence for that statement ?

    “I am not even sure that LDV should be publishing this article.” Thanks for wanting to protect our delicate sensibilities and lack of judgement, Paul. No doubt you’ll be going on to change the world with the army of paper candidates you support.

  • Tom Papworth 16th May '17 - 3:19pm

    The Greens are stepping aside in seats they can’t win to make a virtue out of concentrating their efforts where they are best used. The deal they have done in Brighton (leaving us the unwinnable Kemptown seat while focusing on saving Lucus) is a case in point.

    They meanwhile continue to actively target Lib Dems in seats we can win, including Kelly Marie Blundell in Lewes, who is a member of the Social Liberal Forum Council.

    As a former chair of the SLF, I would have thought that Naomi would show a little bit more loyalty to her own party – indeed, to her own SLF allies – rather than giving support to candidates from parties that are not even liberal.

  • A few points.

    1. While we’re ‘playing the man and not the ball’ readers should note Tom is also a former board member of Liberal Reform, an organisation many perceive to be primarily set up to oppose SLF, so it’s hard to take his comments about the direction of SLF or Naomi’s interests in representing social liberals entirely seriously. But thanks for worrying about us.

    2. As a social liberal, I’m entirely happy with Naomi’s speech and presence at the event. I’m not claiming to be representative of anyone of myself there, but I thought it would be useful to counter the ‘pile-on’. I personallu think these events that seek to build bridges rather than raise them are useful because…

    3. …A progressive alliance doesn’t just ‘[give] support to candidates from parties that are not even liberal’ *IT ALSO* gives to support to our candidates. How soon we forget Richmond. How confident we are with 9 held seats to defend and 10% national vote share that the wisest course is to field 650 candidates and not countenance a range of options under the auspice of progressive alliance.

    I hope you lot all donate heavily to your local party to cover all those paper candidacy deposits.

  • “The event was addressed by Labour’s Clive Lewis, Greens leader Caroline Lucas, Zoe Williams, Paul Mason and Make Votes matter. The Liberal Democrat speaker was former Social Liberal Forum Chair Naomi Smith”

    It’s gatherings like this that make the “coalition of chaos” slogan believable. The Tories don’t need any help, but the Lib Dems keep on providing it.

  • Disgraceful sharing a platform with Paul Mason I am speechless,.
    Quite appalling,Naomi should apologise to the party. The Tories must be laughing all the way to the ballot box.

  • Caron, are we here to help the party or not. If we are could I respectfully suggest that this article is withdrawn and the subject declared taboo. No more please

  • nvelope2003 16th May '17 - 4:27pm

    Perhaps you should all have listened to Miss Long-Bailey trying to explain how the Labour Party would pay for the nationalisation of utilities. I do not think we need an alliance with them. Even their supporters seem happy to believe none of it will happen. At this rate we shall hear nothing but stories about the coalition of chaos and the Liberal Democrats will be crushed. The only way for us to advance is to finish off the Labour Party as at present constituted under Corbyn. Alliance with the enemy is not very wise.

  • Roger Billins 16th May '17 - 4:33pm

    This is all very interesting but will someone actually answer the point as to why our campaign has made zero impact upon the public and indeed in one poll today we are actually on 7%, that is in a worse position than 2015. This is nothing to do with Progressive Alliance or otherwise but the fact is that most people are sick to death of the Brexit debate, believe either that Mrs May is the best person to lead us out of the EU or that Corbyn and his manifesto are the best thing since sliced bread. As for us, we have nothing very interesting to say unless you smoke weed. My local party want me to go and help in Yardley but I actually like Jess Phillips and would rather go and help Liz Leffman unseat the Tory twerp who won the Witney by election and there lies another problem. Finally, given our poll ratings, I don’t believe the Tory machine cares a fig whether we support a Progressive Alliance or not. Once this terrible election is over, we need seriously to consider what we are all about.

  • nvelope2003 16th May '17 - 4:43pm

    Roger Billins: It is Theresa May they all want. I hear lifelong Labour supporters going weak at the knees over her though a few say they will go back to Labour after we have left the EU. But it does seem to be all about BREXIT and anyone who is opposed to it might just as well be dead. The Labour Party are getting a lot of verbal support which will keep them in the game but May is going to win barring a miracle and the others will be nowhere sadly.

  • Naomi should be ashamed of herself.

    Labour is toxic in this election, and we should be focusing on accelerating their demise, not trying to prop them up.

  • Todays polls are worse than 2010! Can it get any worse. Yes it can only 1MP from the North Seas islands off Scotland!

  • nvelope2003 wrote:

    “But it does seem to be all about BREXIT and anyone who is opposed to it might just as well be dead.”

    Odd then that support for BREXIT is actually falling (if not by much). This compulsory bandwagon that all must climb aboard for fear of ridicule and anathematisation, as imagined by the right-wing press, is missing half the nation.

    As for this Theresa May Beatlemania supposedly sweeping the country, I am left nonplussed. She is one of the most gauche, uninspiring and mediocre senior politicians ever to step the national stage.

  • Nick Collins 16th May '17 - 5:29pm

    Sorry, but Naomi Smith is talking nonsense. South West Surrey was never going to be “another Tatton”.

    The National Health Action Party has fielded the same candidate here as they did in 2015. On that occasion they displayed zero campaigning skills and she came fourth with less than 5,000 votes. There is absolutely no evidence to indicate that she is likely to do any better this time and it would have made no sense for the other parties to stand down in her favour.

    I think that Naomi Smith owes the LibDem candidate (not to mention the Labour candidate) for South West Surrey an apology: or, better still, a donation towards his campaign.

  • Nick Collins 16th May '17 - 5:33pm

    The main problem with the “Progressive Alliance” is that it is neither progressive nor an alliance.

  • Eddie Sammon 16th May '17 - 5:34pm

    Talking about non-aggression pacts: the whole Lib Dem campaign looks like it has signed one with Labour. I’ve looked through Lib Dem Press tweets for the past week and a half and the only criticism I’ve seen of Labour is that they aren’t organised enough, aren’t anti-brexit enough and in some cases simply aren’t left wing enough (on refugees and education spending). The only criticism I’ve seen from the HQ on their manifesto and Marxism admiration is that the party has more in common with Groucho Marx than Karl Marx.

    Other Lib Dem MPs have spoken out against Labour’s manifesto, such as Norman Lamb and Vince Cable. We need more. More will have done, but these are just the ones I’ve come across in the news.

    There’s still lots of criticism of brexit, but a weaker pound is good for exporters too, but where is the mention of that? The Lib Dems just look like the Les Misérables Party.

    Look at the policies that have been in the press this past week too: cannabis legalisation, end to mass snooping, 5p coffee cups. There’s been other policies too on bigger areas such as the NHS, but the media are getting distracted by these small novel policies. We need to focus on the big issues.

    I’m not blaming Lib Dem Press, who work long hours and generate humour, but the general direction of the media campaign.

  • I see a lot of people are knocking Naomi Smith for advocating tactical voting. Have they never delivered a leaflet with a bar chart and a headline along the lines of “It is a two-horse race”.

  • Nick Collins 16th May '17 - 7:54pm

    This is the second article which LDV has published, criticising South West Surrey Liberal Democrats for fighting this election as such. How much more space are you going to devote to undermining your own candidates?

    @ Richard, in horse-racing a stable which nobbles its own horse renders itself liable to prosecution.

  • Mick Taylor 16th May '17 - 8:28pm

    In this election Labour is neither progressive nor a potential party of government. We must stop this navel gazing and get out and fight for every vote. No-one is going to help us win seats. Naomi has this touching faith in the Labour Party as a partner totally belied by real experience. Faced with a choice of us or the Tories Labour attack us every time. Stop wasting time debating this nonsense and support our leader Tim, who is doing a great job.

  • Once the MP’s reach Westminster we will fully expect certain issues to lead to cooperation and coordination of action but in not being prepared to do that before they enter Westminster we are increasing the odds of them facing a large majority of fox-hunting, hard Brexit, regressive right-wing politicians. An alliance cannot last forever and can only work long term if it’s building towards a democracy where a voter can vote for what believe in rather than having to think primarily tactically (and if that means voting in a more progressive Conservative candidate than Labour candidate then go for it) but in the mean time it is too important not to.

  • Ruth Bright 16th May '17 - 8:50pm

    Lib Dem candidates should certainly not stand down for one issue candidates unless there are exceptional circumstances but it is a shame to see people giving Naomi Smith a kicking when she showed a courage during the coalition years that was distinctly lacking in most quarters. Everyone is keen to drone on about the nasty uncaring Tories and their benefits’ cuts now but an awful lot of these were the same people who were cheerleaders for “alarm clock Britain” and voted for things like benefits’ freezes right up until 2015.

    Lorenzo – Naomi Smith might be liberal left or Liberal Left but she had nothing to do with the Liberal Left group in the party.

  • @ Eddie Sammon

    I think you are wrong to think we should be attacking Labour nationally. I think as we are in opposition we should be attacking the government and stating why our vision for the UK is better than theirs. In seats where we are facing Labour then we need to attack them and encourage Conservative voters to vote for us because we are better than Labour from their point of view.

    We should be seen as a party that will reduce economic inequalities if elected to government and controls bases of power, which at the moment are more often large businesses. Also we need to be saying something about moving taxation away from labour towards capital.

  • nvelope2003 16th May ’17 – 4:43pm…….. It is Theresa May they all want. I hear lifelong Labour supporters going weak at the knees over her…

    Rather OTT but May will win…However, those ‘working class’ But, those who vote for her ‘Strong and Stable’ nonsense will spend the next 5 years bemoaning the cuts to Services, NHS, closure of facilities, etc., etc…..

    Who says turkeys don’t vote for Christmas…

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th May '17 - 11:10pm

    Very mixed responses.

    Ruth, as ever a good person well meaning and sensible,Iaccept that Naomi has spoken with principle, I did not want to confuse matters implications that Naomi was involved in that divisive group would be a mistake you rightly corrected, due to my capital letters. But to say that she and her father Trevor, would not be able to recall one decent thing they have said about Nick Clegg yet might recall several critical bordering on real dislike, would not be satire , but truth !

    As for Eddies point, yes , as often hes correct, the joke about Marx, was not even good as not correct, Groucho was in life a sensible , Liberal Democrat in US parlance !

    The campaign needs to get off Brexit as the main focus .

    That is putting it mildly !

  • Unfortunately the only thing that stops Brexit being the main focus for the Lib Dems is when they are on the defensive. From today’s Guardian website:

    “Tim Farron claimed that “abortion is wrong” and something that he would like to wish away in a 2007 interview with a Salvation Army publication that he later claimed he had never read, seen or heard of”

    It might be rubbish, but it’s easy to see it overshadowing tomorrows manifesto launch.

  • Latest opinion polls:

    Kantar has topline figures of CON 47%(+3),LAB 29%(+1), LDEM 8%(-3), UKIP 6%(-2). (tabs)
    Panelbase have topline figures of CON 47%(-1), LAB 33%(+2), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 5%(nc) (tabs)

    Remember a few weeks ago when everyone thought it was just Labour that was in a mess.

  • I was at the Progressive Alliance launch last night and thought Naomi spoke brilliantly. I am perplexed by those who bang the liberal drum and then call for a totally illiberal response. The regressive alliance of the Tories and UKIP is a reality, can we really stand on our pure moral high ground and not consider, at the minimum, tactical voting? I personally have struggled with this issue as I believe that the electorate should be given a real choice, but the reality is, our current system denies millions any choice at all with what amounts to a foregone conclusion on the ground. So, if by vote swapping, tactical voting, and making agreements at a local level, as we benefitted from in Richmond, we make greater choice a reality, I for one think it is a price worth paying. If a progressive alliance means more Lib Dem and less Tory MP’s I fail to see what’s not to like. I can only conclude that those making the most vile and unfounded comments about Naomi do so because they’d rather see Theresa May and the Tories back in government, strengthened in their resolve for hard Brexit and a return to a Victorian approach to the poor and vulnerable – a situation which flies right in the face of the values we claim to share as expressed in the preamble to our constitution. Too many are happy to let the best be the enemy of the good.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th May '17 - 1:42am

    Linda Jack

    You don’t contribute to this site much . If you think any of the comments above are vile about Naomi , you either never contribute to any site much , never read online political comments , or are reading something into them not meant ! This site is edited very , very strictly in the direction of only accepting decency. Norman Lamb got more criticism on here of a , lets say , caustic sort, than anything above times several, when he did not vote with colleagues on refusing to trigger article fifty, and Nick Clegg has received more criticism from you and on this site others, that make the comments and views on Naomi seem like compliments !

    I was in Labour years ago. I would love a realignment of politics and called for it in that party, in the Fabian Society and in this party for years. A realignment of the , wait for it, centre left. I would serve in any party of government with Clive Lewis, who gave a terrific speech at the meeting, and anyone who wants PR and believes in coalition.

    Andrew Murray, Seamus Milne, John Mcdonell, ….Iam not trying to get them into positions of power or influence.!

  • Nonconformistradical 17th May '17 - 8:58am

    @Linda Jack
    “I believe that the electorate should be given a real choice, but the reality is, our current system denies millions any choice at all with what amounts to a foregone conclusion on the ground. ”

    The system does indeed deny millions a real choice. Labour had the chance to fix that – at the end of the day, for the most important elections of all, they bottled it.

    Is Labour seriously interested in real choice for voters as opposed to command and control? I think not. I could not begin to trust the socialists any more than I would trust the tories.

    “So, if by vote swapping, tactical voting, and making agreements at a local level, as we benefitted from in Richmond, we make greater choice a reality,”

    That is a decision to be made locally. Nominations have closed so apart from any decisions not to campaign in particular areas there seems little which could be done at this stage anyway.

  • Chris Bowers 17th May '17 - 10:07am

    Personally I found Naomi’s speech inspiring, but that’s not the point I want to make here. My main point is that this is supposed to be LIBERAL Democrat Voice, and to me the word ‘liberal’ means respect for the views of others, especially those with similar values. I find the abuse heaped on Naomi – some of it personal – deeply distressing and makes me wonder whether some respondents really are liberals. LDV was quite right to print the piece, but in future serious liberal debaters may decide to avoid LDV if all their ideas get is a volley of invective.
    The most prescient point in all this is that, after this election, those who advocate a more compassionate politics will have to get their act together in some shape or form. What form that takes remains to be seen – Brexit has shown a massive divide in this country, and we liberals must somehow find a way of sticking to our principles while forming a platform for government that will strike a chord with many of those who currently seek solace in anti-EU and anti-immigrant anger. Who we try to form that platform with is also part of the discussion, and those like me who choose to view Labour as the broad mass of the party (most of whom share our values) rather than the current leadership must pitch our arguments against those who are rightly sceptical of being seen to make common cause with Corbyn, McDonnell etc. In this process, LDV will have a big part to play as a forum for intelligent discussion, but not if the comment section is populated by those who use snide and hyperventilating comments whenever they don’t like what a writer is saying.

  • Obvious concerns with informal, ad-hoc arrangements are that they sound like desperation to subvert the “will of the people” and allow the entire party to be tarred with the brush of “fellow travellers”.

    Every poll is now indicating that not far short of 50% of voters intend to vote Conservative. Any electoral arrangement between the other parties will be presented as a “coalition of the losers”.

    And of course if we encourage tactical voting for Labour then we will be characterised as agreeing with their manifesto – which Paul Johnson of the IFS has just said has a £28bn annual shortfall despite creating the highest tax burden in the UK in 70 years.

  • The Greens standing down in North Norfolk to support Norman Lamb. Just announced on BBC.

  • And in Westmorland & Lonsdale to support Tim as well.

    Perhaps the Know Nothing tribalists on this link need to rethink a bit before launching negativity at Naomi.

  • Nick Collins 17th May '17 - 1:24pm

    ” … comment section … populated by those who use snide and hyperventilating comments whenever they don’t like what a writer is saying.

    “Know Nothing tribalists ”

    Perhaps the pots believe that the kettles have been exposed to too much soot?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th May '17 - 1:27pm


    As with my comments above, your referring so constructively and yet so blushingly to comments you do not like , seem a one off.

    I am not only never personal, I go out of my way to be constructive , yet constantly face mockery and insults from one or two left wing old timers, and sarcasm, an offender or two herein.

    I have to put up with it as a regular contributor. Yet words of understanding here , fine, but , sorry, I do not see Tom Papworth and others as not allowed to be taken as having a view due to his being in Liberal Reform, a perfectly decent and constructive group, I am not a member of but , in common with the Social Liberal Forum , receive mailings from, to know about a range of policy ideas .

    I think Naomi entitled to do what is best , in her view. But when some others with views they too are entitled to are called, know nothings , herein, it offends me, as the most tribal are the farther left of this party, tribal in their constant denigration of those, like Eddie here , who they mock.

    I can think of not one insult anyone from the right of the party , which I am not in, but , am , in the centre, has made to anyone on the left, but constantly , see the vilification of “orangebookers !”

    Tribalism begins at home , like charity. If some had less of one we would have more of the other !

  • nvelope2003 17th May '17 - 3:18pm

    Sesenco/ expats:
    Many of those traditional Labour voters who plan to vote Conservative do not care about cuts in benefits, the NHS, services etc. They are probably comfortably off and only voted Labour out of habit. They regard Mrs May as just the right sort of Tory, unlike say Cameron or the other public school types. She might be ordinary but she went to a grammar school like many of them did and they want to see them brought back and of course they want to see a Britain free of the EU.

    The problem for the Liberal Democrats is that the policies they advocate are just a rehash of the status quo. People are looking for something bold and new or even the restoration of the past in for example grammar schools. They are sick of comprehensives and all the excuses for failure, teachers leaving because of pupils misbehaving.

    I have no problems with joining up with the Greens where it makes sense. Bristol NW would have been a good place to do so. Linking with Labour would have been a gift to the Conservatives.
    It is just as well the Greens are standing down in Norfolk NW – the BBC could not find anyone who was going to vote for Norman Lamb. I hope they are wrong.

  • nvelope2003 17th May '17 - 3:29pm

    Sorry should have typed Bristol West and Norfolk North. I have just had a letter from Mrs May telling me not to waste my vote by voting Liberal Democrat – in a constituency that had a Liberal Democrat MP for 18 years until 2015 and where the Labour candidate normally polls about 5%. She is in favour of fox hunting and that will do her no good here. Maybe she has been misinformed !

  • Denis Mollison 18th May '17 - 9:09am

    “People are looking for something bold and new or even the restoration of the past in for example grammar schools”

    Heaven help us! So back to the 1950s is something bold and new? All the evidence is that students do over all better in a comprehensive system than in a mixed (secondary/grammar) one; but of course we live in a post-evidence age. Th key problem with our comprehensive system is under-funding, another is over-management (targets and classifications).

    Theresa May didn’t just “go to a grammar school”, she went to one which was turned into a comprehensive while she was there. That’s where her urge to restore grammar schools comes from: to set right the loss of privilege she experienced in her schooldays.

  • nvelope2003 18th May '17 - 2:55pm

    Denis Mollison: Please read what I said. I did not say grammar schools were bold and new, but not everybody wants things that are new if they do not work. I was merely pointing out what many people think. However, in places like Finland where comprehensive schools have been the only form of secondary education standards are said to be in decline and there are complaints that they do not produce any outstanding results. In the post Brexit world we will need some outstanding results and not everybody can afford to send their children to private fee paying schools. Whenever I talk to people from abroad, which is often, they are appalled by the state education standards here. On my visits to what are called third world countries I am always impressed by how informed the people are, in contrast to the mass ignorance which prevails here. Many people do not even seem to understand how an election works.

  • @ nvelope2003 Professor Mollison is more than capable of reading what you said, and of having an evidenced based view of the matter..

    You’ll have to do better than a mere anecdotal collection of ‘what many people think’.

  • Mr Raw: It is what people think that wins (or loses) elections. I did not say that grammar schools were bold and new. My post clearly stated they meant going back to the past, just like voting Liberal ! I am not going to be intimidated by you or anyone else and will say what I have heard. It might help the Liberal Democrats if they paid attention to what ordinary people think too. It looks like the obsession with another referendum is doing the party immense harm but I guess it is too late now to change direction.

  • Mr envelope Oddly enough I agree with your last sentence.

  • nvelope2003 19th May '17 - 6:00pm

    I have studied the evidence and it appears inconclusive. If all you want is for everyone to be levelled down to a common standard then comprehensives may well be best but we need outstanding people and ordinary folk know that. One day I hope to meet a supporter of comprehensives who sends his own children to them but all the ones I know send them either to a grammar school or a fee paying independent (public) school.That says all I need to know.
    I thought the comment about Mrs May was unfair, even though I am not one of her fans.

  • Simon Banks 19th Jul '17 - 8:12pm

    The Progressive Alliance targeted a small number of seats where it was felt a Labour, Liberal Democrat or Green candidate stood a chance against the Tory and where that candidate was felt to reflect common progressive values. The candidate had to express support for the Progressive Alliance and put his or her case – not unreasonable. The hit rate was quite high. If anything, it leaned towards us because it included, I think three seats at least where it appeared to be us versus the SNP (and we won). There is a respectable argument (though I would tend to disagree with it) that the SNP is a progressive party.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Oct '17 - 6:59pm

    George Osborne has stood down from being MP for Tatton, now held by another Tory, but, according to the Daily Politics on 16/10/2017, he does want to return to the Commons. They did not say where, but he is the editor of the Evening Standard, so somewhere in London perhaps? He would need to be adopted by a constituency, but his recent writings do not imply a Theresa May loyalist. His commitment to the Northern Powerhouse might be in doubt.

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Recent Comments

  • Katharine Pindar
    Fiona and David LG: yes, for young people we need to have policies that give them hope for the future, whether more emphasis on our environment, encouraging bus...
  • Alan Jelfs
    The best thing we can do for young people is to reduce the National Debt by increasing taxation on the property-owning, land-owning wealthy....
  • James Moore
    I'd recommend people read Isaiah Berlin's famous lecture 'Two concepts of Liberty' alongside Mill. Berlin argues that the 'harm principle' and 'positive libert...
  • Simon R
    @Martin Bennett: Thanks for the clarification about JS Mill. Interesting. As it happens I'm in the process of reading him - read most of On Liberty (bu...
  • David LG
    Whilst I do agree with the sentiment of this article, the differences between us and labour are too slight and technical to really grab the attention of young a...