Nick Clegg’s leadership: A summary of the coverage

Nick Clegg visits Manchester VelodromeWell, there was a certain inevitability that poor election results would lead to calls for Nick Clegg to resign. Today, the papers are full of comments from activists and MPs critical of the Deputy Prime Minister.

John Hemming, John Pugh and Adrian Sanders have all gone public with their criticism of Clegg. It should be noted that none of them are particularly noted for being his biggest fans. There is a certain irony that where there were elections on their patches, they did reasonably well. In Pugh’s Southport constituency, as Iain Brodie-Browne reports in Birkdale Focus, their result bucked the national trend and Birmingham Yardley’s Councillors were all returned.

The Sunday Times  (£) quotes Pugh as saying:

I do not wish in any way to pre-empt the post-mortem the parliamentary party is going to have, but it has to include a truly open, mature and balanced look at our whole strategy including the leadership issue,

Although I admire enormously Nick’s bravery, it does not follow that because the captain should go down with the ship, that the ship has to go down with the captain.

He elaborated for the Independent:

I canvassed a number of backbench colleagues in the run-up to the elections and two strong themes emerged. There was a widespread view that no matter how much Nick spoke, there was a section of the electorate that would not give him a fair hearing; but, equally, there was a need to avoid civil war in the party. That’s why I welcome the party calmly taking a root-and-branch look at our current strategy, including how and by whom it is presented. [The former Liberal leader] Jo Grimond’s approach of walking ‘towards the sound of gunfire’ has been replaced by the less sustainable and more negative approach of digging in, in our constituency trenches.

We need to try to improve the national profile and try not to make Nick such an obvious target. It’s the elephant in the room and the party can’t ignore it.

John Hemming told the same paper:

I’m not an enthusiastic fan of Nick’s leadership, but whether any action is needed at this stage is an issue I will come to when I return to Parliament.

Sanders told the Times:

The problem is the messenger, very few people say it’s the message,” he said. “We are now in the sixth year of losing elected representatives that predates us going into government and that has to be addressed.

Two parliamentary candidates, Ros Kayes for West Dorset and Jackie Porter have also called for a leadership election. Ros told the BBC:

If you were to ask the general public what it is they don’t like, they wouldn’t say they don’t like the coalition; they would say they don’t like Nick Clegg.

As an individual he’s a lovely bloke, I just don’t think he’s the right person to carry on leading the party.

In a comment on George Potter’s post on this site explaining why he backed the open letter, Sarah Ludford MEP, who had a brilliant stand up row with Clegg on the floor of Conference last year over secret courts, backed him.

I will not be signing the petition even if I lose my seat tomorrow, I will be preparing to help deliver thank you leaflets.

Former Party President Des Wilson has written a total hatchet job in the Mail on Sunday, which has been not so tastefully illustrated with a headstone.

It’s all quite gloomy and the reports are quite unbalanced in that the journalists have been very busy talking to people who want Nick to go rather than those who want him to stay. So far the Lib Dems 4 Change open letter has been signed by 211 people. There is not one single name on that list that surprises me.

It’s important to note that the journalists have been so busy talking to people critical of Clegg, that they have not had the time to find his supporters. My phone has thus far been silent.

A bit of respect and empathy, please

One thing is for sure. As a party we will be judged on how we conduct ourselves in the next few days. These are difficult discussions to be had. Let’s be sure that we have them without rancour. That goes for Parliamentarians as well as activists who can get a bit heated on Twitter. I am not signing the letter, but some of the people who have done are my friends and they have done so because they have legitimate concerns, because they are feeling anxious and fretful about the future of this party. I actually share a fair few of their fears. We need to be talking to each other constructively and respectfully. That’s why Danny Alexander needs to find some empathy before he opens his mouth. Look what he told the Sunday Times:

We have to work harder to sell the recovery as a Liberal Democrat achievement. People need to get on with that rather than muttering.

This is so offensive on so many levels and entirely unhelpful to Nick’s cause. Grips need to be got in the Westminster Bubble.

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

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46 Comments

  • Bill le Breton 25th May '14 - 9:51am

    LDV has been brilliant on this issue over the last day or two and is doing the Party a great service. Thank you. Especially for keeping the debate to one particular thread.

    But now you have necessarily had to cover recent press comments, I hope you will forgive me posting a suggestion already posted elsewhere. It does seem to tie in with the apparent determination of the Parliamentary Party in the Commons to review the situation. viz comments by JP and JH above. The rest of us need to give then added authority in the matter:

    The present situation surely calls for some kind of review. This must necessarily be speedy. To provide speed and legitimacy, that review should be conducted by the Parliamentary Party in the Commons.

    The Leader should resign the leadership of the Party during this process, with Sir Malcolm Bruce overseeing the review process.

    ‘Candidates’, for that is what she, he or they would be, would be invited to put themselves up to their colleagues in the Commons for consideration as their leader for at least the next 12 months.

    This would not disbar the present leader from putting himself forward.

    All ‘Candidates’ would put forward policy and campaigning proposals for the coming 12 months.

    The selection if there is more than one candidate would be by secret ballot.

    If the Party in the Commons decides to stay with the present leader, then, he would resume his office.

    If it chose another, then, that would be the sole name that would go forward to the Chief Executive of the Party for due process. But as the only candidate their mandate could begin immediately.

    The only condition on their tenure would be that if the Party was no longer in Government after the 2015 general election, the leader would put themselves forward for re-election by conventional means in the summer of 2015.

  • Alisdair McGregor 25th May '14 - 10:05am

    My only message to those currently calling for Clegg’s head is that if this is what they believe, then they need to work in a constitutional manner through Article 10.2 of the federal party constitution. Anything else (including this open letter) is pointless posturing which can only cause damage to no positive effect.

    10.2 An election for the Leader shall be called upon:
    (a) the Leader asking for an election;
    (b) the death or incapacity of the Leader;
    (c) the Leader ceasing to be a Member of the House of Commons (other than a
    temporary cessation by reason of a dissolution);
    (d) the receipt by the President of the resignation of the Leader or of a declaration of
    intent to resign upon the election of a new Leader;
    (e) a vote of no confidence in the Leader being passed by a majority of all Members of
    the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons;
    (f) the receipt by the President of a requisition submitted by at least 75 Local Parties
    (including for this purpose, the Specified Associated Organisation or Organisations
    representing youth and/or students) following the decision of a quorate general
    meeting; or
    (g) the first anniversary of the preceding general election being reached without an
    election being called under any of paragraphs (a) through (f), provided that:
    (i) the Federal Executive may postpone such an election for no more than one
    year by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting; and
    (ii) this paragraph (g) shall not apply if the Leader is a member of the
    Government.

    Either put up and get motions pursuant to clause (f) going, or shut up.

  • The Sunday Post coverage not included in Caron’s piece —

    http://www.sundaypost.com/news-views/politics/lib-dem-candidates-urge-clegg-to-go-1.387398

    It should perhaps be noted that the few areas of success on Thursday (including Southport, Gosport, Winchester) are areas from which people have put their heads above the parapet to call for change.
    This is in stark contrast to the rather sad and self righteous tone from Richard Kemp in Liverpool where we were wiped out having not even been able to put up anything like a full slate of candidates.

  • Chris Keating 25th May '14 - 10:13am

    Caron – of course it’s gloomy. I haven’t seen a single person who seriously believes Nick will lead us into the election with a clear, distinct narrative about what we’ll achieve in the next Parliament.

    By the way, I don’t know what kind of names would surprise you – but I was a 2008 Clegg voter and am normally hyper-loyal, so I surprised myself by signing….

  • This cannot be left to Parliamentary Party. Nor to PPCs.
    There are issues of tactics and style which I question. Telling most of the country not to bother does not help.
    PP got rid of one leader who was popular and successful, then another. So some of them have form.

  • Radical Liberal 25th May '14 - 10:17am

    Clegg needs to go. I encourage all members who have a Lib Dem MP to contact them and make clear that its time for Clegg to go, refuse to campaign for them until they call for Clegg to go. The parliamentary party have been very weak to date, perhaps they are about to develop a backbone. And if Ashdown continues with the threats tell him where to go. He is yesterday’s man.

  • Radical Liberal 25th May '14 - 10:19am

    By the way why are some people so loyal to Clegg? He certainly wasn’t loyal to Kennedy or Campbell. Time’s up.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th May '14 - 10:20am

    Farron was good on Marr this morning. Clegg is our leader for 2015. It is right to take election results seriously, but many of us will fight tooth and nail to prevent the party going to the anti-small business and anti-white men Guardian left.

  • peter chapmanbsyb 25th May '14 - 10:27am

    I too signed the letter and I think I am loyal…..probably too loyal…in 32 years as a Councillor I have never voted against my group even when needing to be persuaded….But on the question of our leadership we have reached the end of the line…clegg is a nice man no doubt but he Is a busted flush in electoral terms and nothing will change that. on the doorsteps he gets two reactions patronising sympathy or total contempt.

  • Caron, I think you have been unusually unfair in your dismissal of Des Wilson’s piece. He accurately lists some of Clegg’s big errors. That’s not a hatchet job, that is expressing an opinion based in fact. You might disagree, Caron, but don’t dismiss it as a hatchet job.

    Who can deny Des Wilson’s pithy conclusion as to how Clegg is seen by most people ? —
    ‘In political terms he had become the walking dead, disliked by his Coalition partners, treated with contempt by his Labour opponents, and the cause of despair by his own party’

  • And we used to complain that as a party we didnt get the publicity we deserved.

  • I agree it’s time for calm heads. I bucked the trend and held my sear on
    Thursday – albeit more narrowly than it should have been
    – and although it’s clear that there are voters disaffected with the leadership, I’ve yet to see any convincing Plan B. We’re falling into the trap of saying what we don’t like without any plausible alternative. Government robs us o that easy comfort of opposition, and I can’t consider supporting a putsch without that clarity.

    Many comiserations to everyone who lost their seats though. I lost good colleagues – certainly better than me – and there is no justice for many of your efforts in your wards.

  • Sandra Gidley interviewed by Murnaghan just now —
    “Nick Clegg is not the face for us at the next General Election”
    “…. ….
    so many of our MPs are frightened of losing their seats”

  • Everglyn Churchill “I don’t object to coalitions, and they do require compromises. However, in making those compromises you do not fly in the face of your party’s core values and beliefs. On too many of the big issues, Nick and his cabinet colleagues have done precisely that. It left me ashamed to carry the membership card, which is why I relinquished it two and a half years ago.”

    You are absolutely right and a great many people feel exactly the same as you.

  • Charles Rothwell 25th May '14 - 11:10am

    I was on the point of signing the open letter but have decided not to after reading the postings above and those which were in the thread yesterday. Three things seem clear to me: (1) The problem with the Party among many potential voters can be summed up in three words: “lack of credibility”, which stem primarily from two words “tuition fees” and are most closely associated in voters’ minds with one word/name: “Clegg” (even though, as was rightly pointed out, he was by no means alone among the Party leadership in ramming this through). (A letter in yesterday’s ‘Guardian’ (from a now Green voter) summed it up by stating her view; “All three of the main parties are liars, but the Lib Dems are the biggest liars of all”); (2) To indulge in a leadership contest in the run-up to the general election would be a complete disaster and, if anything, just make things worse. There is no viable successor in sight (and Farron was so desperate to slip “under Nick’s leadership” into the answer to virtually every question on the Marr Show this morning, it became embarrassing); (3) Cllr Beckett is absolutely right in stating how the Party was not the party of economic ruin or greed but answered the call/proved itself fully capable of responding in a dire situation of national emergency and by forming a Coalition and how this needs to come across ‘loud and clear’ (unlike the Kipper ‘patriots’ who cannot even be bothered to attend EP Committees dealing with fishing policy etc directly impacting on British people’s livelihoods) while, at the same time, making it totally clear how the Party is different from the other main parties in its policies (cutting basic income tax plus mansion tax, complete commitment to rebalancing the economy, building social housing on a large scale, reforming the EU etc) and, in particular, how these policies can really benefit voters directly, with the message being delivered at local doorstep/community levels in targeted areas as much as can possibly be done.

  • First off, those behind and have signed the letter have done what they believe is best for the good of the party. I know and have worked with many of them, they work incredibly hard and are unwavering supporters. But I do believe the letter was doomed before it began and, even though it was intended with the best of attention, has achieved only negative headlines at exactly the time we didn’t need any more of them.

    This wasn’t done through malice or intent, but was very niave, the press are having a field day and we’ll be left more bruised than we were before. The reason behind this is that there was no viable candidate to replace Nick – calling for a resignation without any realistic plan beyond that was hardly likely to go anywhere except shoot ourselves in the other foot as well.

    Tim Farron’s comments and interviews on Marr, the BBC 10am news and Sky have ended any hope people may have in Nick stepping down. If not Tim to repace Nick, then who? Tim’s tone and points were pitch-perfect – empathy for those who have signed the letter, respect for the work everyone in the party has done, support for the Liberal measures passed by the government, unflinching belief that the coalition was the right decision and level-headedness about the error of thinking that removing Nick would be an answer to the position in which the party finds itself.

    He is, without doubt, the next leader and after his performance this week he absolutely deserves to be. That though is for the future.

  • Andrew Neil to Paddy Ashdown on BBC1 Sunday Politics. —. “…well there must be a problem because you have had to come out to defend Nick Clegg.”

    Poor old Paddy was reduced to repeating his tired old story about how bad things were in 1989.

    Poor old Paddy, what a humiliation. I bet he wishes they had sent him to Afghanistan after all.

  • Following on from my earlier comment on Paddy —

    Paddy on BBC and then Sky makes the same apparent off the cuff joke about Lib Dem Friends of Cake in a attempt to rubbish the hundreds of members calling for change.

    This would have been better if Lorly Burt was not making exactly the same off the cuff joke on Radio 5.

    The line obviously dreamed up by some “jolly clever young thing” at party HQ would also have had more credibility if there had not been a sudden increase in “likes” for the Facebook page in the last 24 hours.

    Of course increasing the numberof “likes” on a Facebook page is a very easy thing to do. But this is not serious politics and Paddy Ashdown should have known better than to fall for this sort of nonsense. It demeans him and it demeans the honest and committed members of the party who are openly declaring the,selves in favour of change.

    #Libdems4change http://www.libdems4change.org/

  • Tony Dawson 25th May '14 - 1:08pm

    @Eddie Sammon

    “many of us will fight tooth and nail to prevent the party going to the anti-small business and anti-white men Guardian left.”

    Where did you find that paper tiger, Eddie? Over 42 years in the Party I have never met anyone who is or was either of those things.

  • To be clear, Des Wilson is a former President of the Liberal Party, not the Liberal Democrats.

  • Tony Dawson 25th May '14 - 1:17pm

    Des Wilson also knew how to win elections and run campaigns. Other than Paddy A (whose judgement took two spectacular tumbles on Blair and Iraq) I cannot see anyone associated with the Clegg leadership who has either attribute.

  • @JohnTilley

    You miss out the part where Paddy said he was on because had been booked to appear before the letter appeared. A representative from Lab, Con, UKIP and the LibDems appeared and he answer the questions that were put to him. Does Paddy ever do anything he doesn’t want to do?

    And, it also not that surprising that the same line is appearing on many shows – unlike us, most people don’t spend Sunday mornings listening or watching every single political show 🙂

  • Peter Watson 25th May '14 - 1:33pm

    I think the timing of the comments and criticisms of Clegg is inevitable. Going public immediately after the poor local election results means that the anticipated worse European election results will pour more fuel on the fire and make Clegg’s position less defensible. Waiting until after the weekend would have made it easier for the rejection of the party by voters to be complacently dismissed in much the same way as it has been at every type of election after May 2010.

  • Charles Rothwell “lack of credibility”, which stem primarily from two words “tuition fees” and are most closely associated in voters’ minds with one word/name: “Clegg” (even though, as was rightly pointed out, he was by no means alone among the Party leadership in ramming this through)”

    You forgot the biggest one of all “No more broken promises” . Clegg made the last GE ALL about his own personal integrity.

  • Charles Rothwell “Cllr Beckett is absolutely right in stating how the Party was not the party of economic ruin or greed but answered the call/proved itself fully capable of responding in a dire situation of national emergency”

    Yes but Clegg in the Rose Garden and saying ‘ there won’t be anything for us to disagree on in the next leaders’ debates’ etc etc paints a picture of people very comfortable with the Tories.

  • Charles Rothwell “making it totally clear how the Party is different from the other main parties in its policies….”

    I refer you to your Point No 1 .

  • Charles Rothwell “how these policies can really benefit voters directly, with the message being delivered at local doorstep/community levels in targeted areas as much as can possibly be done.”

    Well yes but there are no longer the activists in place to deliver leaflets etc or even candidates standing in much if the country because so many have left the Party in disgust. Or by ‘targeted areas, do you mean the 57 seats for MPs ?

  • The post on the challenge to Clegg’s leadership by TSE at Political Betting includes an item of news I hadn’t seen elsewhere:
    Crucially, Rallings and Thrasher have published their national equivalent share of the vote, and for the Lib Dems it is 11%, which is the lowest the party has recorded at local elections since Rallings And Thrasher records began in 1979.
    http://www.politicalbetting.com/

    That is a couple of points lower than the figures I’ve seen quoted from other projections. That figure would be absolutely disastrous if UKIP weren’t taking so many votes from the other parties.

  • jedibeeftrix 25th May '14 - 6:59pm

    pretty predictable that the Gender Neutral Putsch would arrive at some point.

    the timing makes sense too, after the locals (thereby providing a cassus-belli), but before the euro’s so there is a nice head of steam ready (for the expected bad results).

    oh well, let’s just hope it is swiftly crushed or swiftly succeeds, for the festering sore that LDV has become in the last few days is unedifying in the extreme.

  • Michael Parsons 26th May '14 - 4:16am

    Perhaps the best hope for Party reform is to go down under Clegg’s disastrous False Flag leadership. Kicking him out (however necessary and just that would be) lets him escape the consequences of his actions, and shift the blame on to the disruption of caused by a new leadership contest, croaking that if only we had stayed with his neo-conservative lead things would have gone better. Anyway it is too late to regenerate the liberal and radical surge before the next election – that will take years of patient work afterwards, as it did in the ’50’s after the last National Liberal Coalition sell-out, if it happens at all. Silencing the voice of radical liberal criticism of monopoly capital and “free” market economics, and preventing effective action by coalition with the forces of reaction, has opened the door to a different path that we all may come to regret. And that is the measure of Clegg’s failure, leader or not.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 26th May '14 - 8:50am

    @ Cllr. David Becket
    I agree with most of your points but it seems to me there is an alternative to Nick resigning and causing instability in the party and government. Let me state that I am still completely sure that the problems of Nick’s leadership stem from cutting himself off from the members of the party and using the wrong approaches to senior management. It appears to members that the party constitution on leadership and Nick’s autocratic management style are at loggerheads. Why have we accepted the style? Because Nick is such a pleasant and seemingly listening person.

    However, autocratic leadership, also known as authoritarian leadership, is a leadership style characterized by individual control over all decisions and little input from group members. Autocratic leaders typically make choices based on their own ideas and judgments and rarely accept advice from followers. Autocratic leadership involves absolute, authoritarian control over a group.

    If Nick really wants to put right what has gone badly, he needs to change his advisory staff immediately, call a special conference to be attended by representatives of the membership – including those who have been involved actively in the recent elections. From this meeting there must be a determination never to make up policy centrally like the ‘Party of IN’, like capitulating to the Tories on any new parliamentary proposals like [oft-called] bedroom taxes etc which run counter to the principles and policies of the Lib Dems.

    In short, someone or a group has to go – so the party can survive and move forward. Policy-making changes have to be ratified by the members who know better than a central group dominated by the leader. Nick should show himself as I believe he will, and make the call for a new image based on better consultation.

  • Caron, thank you for this post including covering quotes from the Times, which is often difficult. I appreciate you may feel now is the wrong type to get engaged in Tory-esque fratricide of the party leadership.

    I am a little more cynical however. If ever there was a time for unsettling the party leader, it is exactly now. Its a v convenient way to extract significant concessions from the Queen’s Speech from a No 10. They know Clegg resigning means the early end of the coalition and the “long term economic plan”.

    Dear Alisdair, the tone of your message eg “put up or shut up” is exactly the one which would breed dissent. I started looking for the facebook page as soon as I read your comment.

  • edna murphy 26th May '14 - 9:09am

    The party’s disquiet isn’t about one set of election results or even pros and cons of the Coalition – the decline started before 2010 and has been steadily downwards ever since. Clegg is toxic uniquely of all party leaders and electoral decline the necessary result, which cannot change by doing more of the same or working harder. There are only so many seats you can win when you are at 6-7% in national opinion poll ratings – maybe 25? – we are facing a wipe out but we do have a chance to avert disaster. #libdems4change.org

  • Peter Chivall 26th May '14 - 9:10am

    The problem with that apparently nice man Nick Clegg is that the Party he claims to want to continue leading is now only a hollow shell of the Party he inherited eight years ago. Many of the local Council losses on Thursday were where former activists had simply given up working for the Party in recent years and many others had stopped believing in it.
    Just as Nick Clegg himself never believed in Liberal Democracy. I remember so clearly that his acceptance speech referred frequently to ‘Liberalism’ but never to Liberal Democrats. I have to assume that his personal aim was to transform the Liberal Democrats into some sort of neo-liberal globalist free market party with a bit of compassion tacked on. That may explain some of the poor decisions of the Coalition in which he and his acolyte Danny Alexander appear to have acquiesced too easily.
    Significantly, as others above have pointed out, valid critiscism has come often from those, like John Hemming, John Pugh and Winchester LDs where our result on Thursday were actually quite good. It would be interesting to know what opinion the likes of Bob Russell or Paul Burstow may have in boroughs where they made gains from the Tories and also kept UKIP at bay.
    Perhaps, like us in Peterborough, a small Party starting to expand and recover membership, who had increased majorities for our Councillors in key seats and increased votes even where we only had paperless candidates, they focussed on local issues in the campaigns, but also gave space in Focus over the months to positive news about issues where we believed our MEP, Andrew Duff and LibDems (including Nick Clegg) in the Coalition had made a useful contribution.
    Perhaps, as some suggested, we should simply let Nick carry on to the GE next year, and suffer the consequences so we can rebuild our Party with a clean slate. I would made one demand, however – that he and the National Executive sack some of the clueless adolescents who inhabit his office and Party HQ now and get the rest to undergo training on the values inherent in Liberal Democracy, starting with what is written on the Party card.

  • Perhaps a better title might be., “Nick Clegg’s Leadership- a summary of…”

    Under Nick’s leadership the LibDem ‘brand’ has, in the eyes of the voting public become synonymous with duplicity….

    The LibDem message has gone from, “70% of coalition policies are LibDem” to “we moderate the extreme policies of the Tories”…Neither of which are apparent to the public….

    To my mind ‘supply support’ of a minority Tory administration would have been a better option…However, even if Cameron had gone for an early election (very doubtful), and won, would the lot of those at the bottom (or those at the top) be any different?
    Tuition Fees, NHS, Disability/Welfare, Unemployment, Secret Courts, Bedroom Tax, etc. have all happened; how many would the LibDems have supported in opposition?
    So, under this coalition, society has become even more polarised and not just with LibDem passive acquiescence. but with active support (Clegg, Alexander, et al)……
    Liberal social values were those of Labour, their difference was in their dislike of the ‘heavy hand’ of central office… What has transpired is that those benefitting from this coalition have stayed Tory, those who feel that the burden has fallen disproportionatley on the poor have migrated to Labour and the LibDems are left with a rump of Tory lite supporters….

    It is not just Clegg it is the whole tone of LibDem Westminster policy…..Politics is, sadly, all about soundbites…The voting public see ‘foodbanks’, ‘bedroom tax’, ‘NHS’, etc….trying to explain the nuances between Tories and LibDems has (even in the few cases where even a desultory attempt has been made) has been lost in the headline….

    Will replacing Clegg improve LibDem standing? Perhaps, by attracting back some of those those who left, some improvement will happen…However, whoever replaces Clegg will have to explain, through a sceptical media, why they voted for the very policies that ousted Clegg….

    Good luck! Politics needs a liberal third way; will that be the LibDems? Not unless policies change…

  • @Tony Rowan-Wicks

    Nick has always been an autocrat, he’s never made any bones about it. What’s amazing is how tolerant and accepting the membership has been of this style. Nick can’t survive as leader, in any scenario. This has been true for a while, but members are just starting to wake up and smell the coffee (about 3 years too late), prior to oblivion. Now they’re debating whether it’s worth doing anything at all, maybe a train wreck is preferable to an argument aboard about how to change directions before the track runs out?

    Many of us have jumped and are hollering at the remaining victims/members to do the sensible thing before they all wind up part of a fireball of wreckage. We do so because we loved the train and often still have loved ones aboard, plus it’s a long journey on foot with no transport at all! Nobody seems to know of a better driver.

    It’s not Clegg that I’ve got no faith in, it’s remaining members. In this moment they could of done something different – instead they choose to stay aboard and compliment the driver, they’re responsible for the death of UK liberalism for a generation. The driver’s doing the best he can and its not his job to decide who should drive and what to do about the oncoming cliff. Also, he’ll be just fine – he has a parachute; it’s the train and the passengers won’t fair so well.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 26th May '14 - 2:26pm

    @ ChrisB
    When we have a Liberal way of thinking, it is not possible to jump train or jump ship. I jumped out in 2010-11 because I thought the way forward , early on, was wrong and the messenger would realize the huge mistake made by agreeing to the student fees saga and then agreeing, as a puppet, to the Tory method of working in an autocratic way. I returned to membership [NB I’m a former chair of a section] in order try to stabilize the party but the messenger continues to ignore the active members at conference and elsewhere – even to his death as a Lib Dem. I’m trying to give him a way forward or out. I’m saying that his silly group of advisers will kill him off and he should return to Lib Dem principles. I will not leave the party again but will work to have a leader who follows our principles and policies – or she or he will have to jump ship or train. It’s no ta bout me. It is about the dwindling learship.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 26th May '14 - 2:29pm

    Beg pardon, connections again ….It’s not about me. It is about the dwindling leadership.

  • Hey Tony, fair play and a good tale. Sounds like we might agree on most things except how you might resolve the situation and move forward. One point that former members have to come to terms with is they won’t have a say in who the next leader is, whereas you will. However, by that time that vote happens it might not matter – I’ve got no idea who the leader of the Liberal Party is, I can’t even remember the new Green leader’s name because these people are fairly irrelevant in mainstream UK politics.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 26th May '14 - 6:14pm

    Hey ChrisB
    I might doubly support my view, with Nick, as I just heard Nick say, on the Monday evening news that he would change policy, strategy and more IF it would solve matters [not his words but what he means, I think]. That gives us hope that he will change. But if he doesn’t I will be with you. Everything is in the timing now, and time is short to make a new programme which will get us on board in support.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 26th May '14 - 6:19pm

    Nick says he wouldn’t hesitate if [it would change matters] …. so we will give Nick this week and then the waffle is over.

  • SIMON BANKS 2nd Jun '14 - 5:41pm

    Danny Alexander’s comment is cheap. He dismisses reasoned criticism as “mutttering” and equates “Nick’s cause” with the future of the Party. As for getting out and selling our achievements, nearly all of us have been doing that, but should that stop us agonising in private and among ourselves over the damage we’ve let happen?

    It is this sort of response that has driven many people unhappy with the direction of the party into either despair, or revolt, or leaving.

    Still, let’s give this review a chance, though I don’t expect it to change anything fundamental. I do agree that if possible criticisms should be voiced within Party circles and not in public, but I understand why some critics see no chance of the Party circles following any course but, precisely, circles.

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